Entries in tree (13)
I must have walked right past this double headed date palm tree dozens of times, but not until I was out teaching a DSLR Photography Lesson last month did I notice this most unusual tree hiding in plain sight. Believe it or not, this is not the first time I have seen a double headed palm tree before. Two years ago I found a cabbage palm in Cape Coral with two heads (see here). Perhaps they are actually not that rare of an occurrence in nature?
This double headed date palm is near the corner of 1st Ave N and 1st Street N in downtown St. Petersburg. Go and check it out for yourself!
My favorite time of day is the transition from day to night. In my mind I imagine all the day time creatures shutting it down and getting ready to yield dominion to all the night time creatures. During the transition period things overlap as the sun approaches and passes the horizon. This great physical change always produces a large mental change. I have always wondered why just the lack of being able to see at distance, which really is all the sun setting causes, results in the world feeling entirely different? In addition to the lack of light it must be that other creatures hold sway over the night, and this causes peculiar feelings among day creatures that overlap too far into the night.
I made this lens flare dominated photograph of the setting sun burning its way visually through a tree in downtown St. Petersburg's North Straub Park as it shows just the start of that transition time. Some shadows are starting to increase in size and the signal is out for day time creatures to start to head home. There is just a peak of the human world in the shot, which no longer abides by the timing of the sun.
Seeking a desert, Kiki and I returned to Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park which has long trails made up of sandy fire roads with little tree cover. Why seek a desert? Because yesterday I heard America's "Horse With No Name" and it became the theme for today's outdoors adventure. There were other reasons for seeking a desert too, but those are more omnipresent and need not be singled out. Our first visit to this park was back in November of 2009, and based on the lead image of that post and the one below, you can see how my HDR technique has improved in the past three years (no more ghosting!).
Wandering for 5-miles (including the beginning 1.9 mile loop) in mostly desert trails with the strong Florida sun beating down on you may not sound that appealing, but it is exceptionally good for producing clarity of mind, if not clarity of photographs. I cannot speak for Kiki, but the desolate trails provided exactly the environment I wished to be in. We saw not a single human our entire time out there. If you do not count the countless ants and flying insects, and the two birds' shadows I saw fly by (I did not use the energy to lift my head toward the sun to see them), then the only creature we encountered was a friendly gopher tortoise, who kindly yielded the right-of-way to us. I am fascinated by the mechanical movement of tortoises and how they can withdraw from the world anywhere they want to. I did not stop to photograph him, because in the desert you risk forgetting even your own name. Indeed we took refuge for awhile at the max point out in the desert under a very well placed roofed picnic table (top image). Kiki dug a hole to cool off in as I took a few photos. Once she had sufficiently ceased panting, we continued on, though I know shade break or not, we were good for more miles.
Once back in the corral area, I chomped on a few crackers and Kiki a dog biscuit, and we both took water. Just as we arrived back I noticed off to the side a very peculiar tree. I saw none in such condition anywhere else in the park, not even in the middle of the desert trail where one would think such a tree would be found. This scary tree was right next to the campground (see blue tent). I would not want to get the campsite within eyeshot of it.
It was a good visit to Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park and if you do go make sure it is as early as possible to avoid the hot Florida sun, bring lots of water as there is none on site for humans and prepare to cross a desert.
- 10500 Wilderness Park Boulevard
New Port Richey, FL 34655
- hours sunrise to sunset
- dogs ok!
- camping - car, primitive & backcountry
There are banyan trees throughout the downtown St. Petersburg area and nearby surrounding areas, but no banyans are as famous or more photographed than the two trees above located right on Beach Drive NE. As large as they are, they always seem to appear all of a sudden to passersby who often audibly gasp upon seeing them.
I first photographed banyan trees in the St. Petersburg downtown area back in August 2011 when walking back to my car after a meeting I passed by this pair.
Photographing the famous Beach Drive NE banyan trees is rather challenging. Their large branches and wide trunks create deep shadows and on one side of them is always a row of parked cars not making for the greatest background. The angle of composition I chose was the only one I could find that included almost no man-made objects in the shot. I used my Induro CT214 tripod with all the legs collapsed, shooting from just about a foot of the ground. I chose to make a 9-exposure HDR image in order to get detail from within the trunk shadows as well as in the bright sky above.
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!