This swamp is in Florida and is a good thing, meaning we don’t want to drain it; instead, we want to protect it as a national resource.
The swamps, marshes, and bogs are quite beautiful. I did not expect I’d ever consider the swamp as beautiful before visiting, I was wary of what I might find. But once inside, I was struck by its vastness, rich biodiversity, and remoteness.
I am not a naturalist and know very little about the ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve, but if you want to know more, one recommendation is to visiting Clyde Butcher’s site. Not only is he a passionate advocate for maintaining our natural habitats, but his photographic legacy is considered a national treasure.
There is something about a stand of palm trees that begs to be photographed. These are from a nature preserve surrounded by urban sprawl.
I have never been forward thinking enough to be passionate about green spaces and parks. But as I get a little wiser, I’m grateful to other people that are. This park is named after the late Tom Bennett who was a local resident. Apparently, he and his family were indeed passionate about green spaces, and I have them to thank for this photo.
I once had a colleague in Toronto who invested in land to be used as a wild preserve. She only wanted the property to be left to nature and not developed. That was a long time ago, and since then, Toronto has gone crazy with development. As I think back, I see that she was a visionary and, I wonder if she held out. For the sake of short-sighted folks like me, I hope she did.
Here’s another perspective of the sandstone formations I saw while visiting Wisconsin Dells. We took a boat tour up the river and made a couple of stops to see the formations. These are the kind of things I’d expect to see in Arizona, not Wisconsin.
We were here at the hottest time of the year. It’s funny because when we leave Florida in the summer and head north, we expect we’ll be getting moderate weather. During peak summer months, that’s not the case; it’s hot all over.
To create the star effect I set the aperture to f16 and positioned myself with the sun peeking out. F16 makes the aperture opening very small, and that creates a flaring or starlike effect with bright lights. However, it was so sunny I couldn’t be sure it worked until a few weeks later when I got home to look at the results on a monitor. Here, in the comfort of A/C, I can confirm we have a hit.
The main thing that catches my eye is the contrast of the flower against the green and earth tones of the preserve. I suppose I could have waded into the swamp to get a better look, but I could hear the croaking of alligators close by and I needed to get home to re-organize my sock drawer. Not that I was afraid or anything.
The flooding of Myakka River State Park is a normal this time of year. In my opinion, it’s one of the best times to visit and take photos. Most of the roads are just above the water so you can pull over and gaze out at the surreal landscape and reflections.
This is a photo of a scene I’m familiar with, but my past pictures didn’t convey it well. However, it seems that on this recent attempt I finally got it. The reflections create this mesmerizing spectacle alongside the road. It reminds me of Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades.
I mounted the camera on a tripod and used an aperture of f22 to get everything in focus. I also used a remote shutter release to reduce shake. However there was a lot of light, and with the Sony’s stabilization, the remote wasn’t necessary. Now I have several pictures just like this that I quite like. So I randomly chose this one to share today.
I drove through our local state park the other day. Typical for this time of year, Myakka River State Park is flooded from recent rains and the rising of the river. I stopped at a submerged path next to the river and watched as Egrets, Limpkins, and Herons forage for food in the shallow water.
Also typical for this time of year is the oppressive sun and heat. But this section of the trail is covered in a thick canopy. The shade was a welcome reprieve and the scene was quiet and peaceful.
I set up with a tripod at the edge of the water and tried not to move too much. Once I was still the birds would ignore me and I managed to get a couple of shots like this. The light would filter through in beams and illuminate small sections. I caught this heron (at least I think it’s a heron) at just the right moment.
Here is a scenic section of road through Myakka State Park. It’s not too far from the campground, so it’s not uncommon to see cyclists and hikers.
Spanish moss hangs from the oaks all around this region. Where I live, we have oaks draped with it. Squirrels and bird use it for nests, and after a storm, enormous loads of it get blown to the ground.
There are several roads like this in the vicinity. I think they’re called canopy roads. There is one just outside the park that I’ve taken photos of a couple of times.
I’ve tried taking pictures of the oaks and moss near my home, but there are too many houses in the background, it’s not the same. So when I’m out and about in this area, I’m always on the lookout for these types of scenes.
The other day I was at Myakka River State Park to try out some experimental gear. I didn’t have a plan other than to line up a few landscape shots. As I sat on a bench working with the apparatus, a mama and baby Limpkin strolled by.
They were eating snails and clams. The snails were easy enough to catch and eat. The clams they would batter with their beaks to break open the shells. I was no more than six feet away and what I found surprising was that, as long as I remained still, they tolerated my presence.
There’s nothing better than to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. The baby Limkin was more wary of me, but the mother seemed to decide that it was more important to eat than worry about me. Or maybe she did both. Whatever the case, it was a rare privilege I’ll not soon forget.
To be honest, “Dogs” should be singular, there is only one dog. This image is a fun creation from a night in Central Park. To make this, I stood on an overpass and snapped several pictures as a couple, and their dog walked below. Then, in post-processing, I blended the images to create multiple copies of the people and dog.
There are endless opportunities for composition in Central Park, particularly at night. Low light is my preference anyway so for me it’s especially fun. The park is so big that I decided to rent a bike to cover more ground. It was a little awkward because I had a tripod hanging out of the basket as I rode. I get torn between the desire to cover a lot of ground and slowing down to focus on a small area. But either is okay; there are times for both.
I remember when walking around Central Park at night seemed a little scary. But now it feels like it’s a reasonable thing to do; there are a lot of people out, and NYPD patrols it quite visibly. The park is a peaceful break from the city, but even more so at night. I came away that night with a lot of compositions and a desire to get back and do it again. And next time maybe I’ll walk.
Nearly five years ago I flew to Queenstown New Zealand to participate in a workshop with Trey Ratcliff. Due to jetlag, I woke up on the first morning at an ungodly hour. But after a couple of hours walking around the hotel, dawn began, and we had the most amazing pink sky. It was an excellent start to a week of photography.
I’ve had this in my backlog for a very long time. The biggest challenge was that the sky was so red and orange that it did not seem real. In the original RAW images, it looks like I photoshopped the colors. To make it seem a little more realistic, I’ve desaturated the glow. Usually, it’s the other way around; I might saturate or add vibrancy to give a photo a little extra pop. Not this time.
In the grand scale of things, five years is not a long time, but for me, it feels like a lifetime. It was a life-altering trip; it moved me in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I had such a fantastic time that it almost didn’t seem real. Life is rarely perfect, but that week came about as close as I’ve ever known. And it all started on the morning of this sunrise and continued building from there.