It had been too long since a couple of old college friends and I had one of our outdoor adventures together. That was remedied by a recent visit to the surprisingly amazing Edward Medard Park and Reservoir in Plant City. They said it had hills, so I was expecting some modest plain grass covered round and soft hills. I never expected to step into an alien environment where live oaks sat perched upon angry hills of clay-like dirt with all their roots exposed in a display of their might.
After a few handheld shots with my 80-200mm f/2.8 lens, I quickly relized that was not the setup ideal for photographing this environment and switched to my 17-50mm f/2.8 lens and mounted my Nikon on my Induro carbon fiber tripod the rest of the day. Without that wide lens I would never been able to capture one friend who is an avid tree climber surprisingly high up in the branches of this long limbed live oak.
Edward Medard Park has more traditional looking Florida outdoor areas by the reservoir itself offering shady live oaks, with roots all neatly underground, well, save for one that was uprooted long ago.
Just to show you I did not spend the entire time behind the camera, in the above shot you can see yours truly performing my patented "Liu Kang" method air leap over some roots perfectly shaped like hurdles on a tricky downslope. Some of you who have know me well will already have seen my debut of this move, which was over a much more dangerous gap. I set up this shot with my Nikon D300 mounted on my tripod with all the settings dialed in.
As you can see shooting an action shot into the sun required some very unusual settings. My DSLR photography lesson students should be able to see I used settings I have told them probably never are needed, such as using f/2.8 on a wild angle lens. In order to expose the subject (me) enough, a long shutter speed is needed especially shooting into the sun like this. However, to freeze the action, a fast shutter speed is needed. The solution to this is to go ahead and set the needed shutter speed, 1/800th of a second, then adjust aperture and ISO until there is enough exposure to show me and not worry if the sky gets blown out. So that is my photography tip for action shots into the sun!
Using the tripod all day did not slow me down, but rather freed me much more to make the photographs I wanted to and still enjoy all the action with my friends. Shooting on a tripod is not physically demanding and the setup is pretty easy to carry, so I did not get tired from having a camera hanging off me all day. Plus, since I did not have to constantly keep taking a camera strap on and off, but rather just let the tripod stand up on its own, it was really easy for me to switch from photographer to adventurer. I just had to leave the camera standing where it was on the tripod then explore the area as I liked.
As you can see Edward Medard Park, despite the unfortunate name, is a great place for photography and adventure!