Entries in flora (3)
Just a simple dandelion at the end of its flowering life ready for the wind or a young child to come by and send its parachuted seeds in flight. Do kids still even do such things on warm spring days out in open green spaces? I hope so.
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!
I woke up early (for me) this morning to go to Weedon Island State Preserve because I had been feeling like it has been a long time since I went out and did nature photography by myself. Now I first visited this preserve a few months ago, but only walked along its winding boardwalk. I thought this time if I go on one of its trails early in the morning, surely there would be birds to photograph, not to mention the stray armadillo or other critter or insect. I did not see a single bird nor a single creature of any kind.
I had my macro lens on and ready to discover something tiny and interesting. The only photograph I made with it all morning was the above tiny pink flower puff, which was the only bit of color (other than green) to be found anywhere in the preserve.
For a peaceful stroll in pristine Florida woods and wetlands, Weedon Island State Preserve is a great spot. The paths and trails are fairly well marked and are long enough to spend hours on. However, they are definitely for the meditative mind rather than a photographic one. If I return to this preserve it will be to go cycling on the long roads that run through the preserve, or to just take a nice, undisturbed walk. I'll save my back some work and leave my DSLR at home.
If you have visited this preserve and photographed any fauna or interesting flora, please let me know in the comments below.
MAP OF WEEDON ISLAND STATE PARK: