Florida Keys Photography

I recently was given the opportunity to tag along on a Florida Keys Workshop put on by a local Photographer Robert L. Chaplin.  The workshop started out early in the morning with a trip to Anne’s Beach in the middle Keys.  I captured a great shot of a Mangrove Tree illuminated by the morning sunlight with a color sky and wading Egret.

From Anne’s Beach we went further south to Robbie’s to capture some Tarpon pictures before the crowds showed up.  I got two I liked.

After Robbie’s we continued further south to the old Bahia Honda bridge.  Along the Bahia Honda Beach I found some driftwood that had washed ashore and had been bleached white by the sun.  I used my wide angle lens to get close to it and capture a nice scene between the blue sky and water and white wooden tree.  I also got a good shot of the Bahia Honda Bridge that I liked as well.

We left Bahia Honda around noon and continued our trip south where we started to encounter Florida’s thunderstorms.  While we pulled over to try and capture some lighting shots I found a picturesque lagoon and waded in to try and photograph a lone mangrove I liked.  I was able capture a dramatic storm cloud in the distance to give my mangrove tree a nice back drop.

We did not make it to Key West this trip as we were all getting tired.  We decided to start working our way back north and home.  On the way we saw a great line of thunderstorms coming in off the Atlantic and pulled over near the card sound bridge to intercept them.  I got a great shot of the sun setting with a lightning strike in it surrounded by silhouettes of the nearby mangroves.

All in all it was a great trip and I am glad the Robert Chaplin invited me to tag along.

Fakahatchee Ghost Orchid

I have been monitoring a Ghost Orchid I discovered in Fakahatchee Strand for the past few weeks and waiting on it to bloom.  I knew it was getting close to when it would be in full bloom and did not want to miss getting some photos of it before it withered and died.  Luckily when I got there the Ghost Orchid was still in full bloom but I was a few days late as it had alreadys started to turn brown in a few places.

I spent about and hour shooting the orchid in different light and compositions.  The day I went was during the rain storms that we had been having hear in South Florida that were lasting days at a time.  I got lucky in that once I got to the site the rain had gone from a downpour to a sprinkle and eventually became intermittent.  This gave me a small window of opportunity to take some shots before the rain started again.  Unfortunately, it also meant very low light conditions as it was cloudy and I was under a pretty thick tree canopy.

Downtown Miami Skyline

After a late afternoon court hearing downtown I decided to stick around and see if I could capture some nighttime skyline shots.  For the most part all of my shots to date have been nature shots captured in the varying Florida Wilderness.  I decided to try something new and capture the multifaceted and colorful lighting of Downtown Miami.  I was pretty happy with the results for my first effort.  I definitely learned some things and will hopefully plan additional trips now that I know what to expect and can envision the shot before I get there.  I enjoyed it so much that I added a South Florida Gallery to my website that will predominantly be city scape shots of varying types rather than nature shots.

I also hope to expand my experiences by trying to capture South Beach at night if I can just bring myself to fight the traffic to get there.

Canon 10-22 Wide Angle Lens

I recently purchased a new Canon 10-22 Wide Angle Lens from B&H Photo and Video and was excited to try it out.  Below please find some sample images I took while becoming familiar with the lens.

I had researched this lens thoroughly before buying it.  The main competition was the Tokina 11-16.  After reading many reviews and looking at sample images, I decided that the Canon was the lens that best suited the applications I was purchasing it for.  Mainly wide angle nature shots.  I liked the extra zoom range of the Canon which would allow me to adjust my composition without changing lenses.  Many times I am shooting in swamps and wetlands that make it difficult to change lenses mid shoot as there is no dry place to set your pack down while swapping lenses.  The Canon gave me more flexibility due to its increased zoom range.

I have been very happy with my purchase and so far do not have any complaints.  I found the images to be very sharp with very little chromatic aberrations for such a wide angle lens.  Most of my shots are with a tripod so the lack of image stabilization is not a problem for me in most circumstances.

The biggest challenge with this lens has been learning to see the world with wide angle composition in mind.  The key to wide angle photography is to make sure that you have an anchor foreground object in your scene.  Without a foreground object the resulting picture will come out boring and non-inspiring.  I have found that the closer I can get to the foreground subject the better.  It creates a scene that you will want to walk into, or feel that you are a part of.  Wide angle lenses are great if you learn how to use them and understand their drawbacks.

My next purchase will be a Circular Polarizar to help darken my blue skies and enrich the flora and fauna in my scenes.

Gator Hook Cypress Dome

I recently took a trip to Big Cypress National Park to visit a place called Gator Hook.  Gator Hook is a trail off of Loop Road that is about three (3) miles in length one way.  There are many side trails off of the main trail.  One of these side trails leads to a magical place called Gator Hook Cypress Dome.

Inside Gator Hook you will find large Cypress Trees more than 100 hundred years old covered with air plants such as Bromeliads.  The entire area is surrounded by water that ranges from ankle deep to chest deep.  In the center of the Cypress dome is a large pool where it is too deep for the cypress trees to grow creating a small lake.  This lake is the deepest part of the dome and is also called a gator hole.  I have seen a few very large gators swiming around in this area.  In the dry season when the water recedes you can see the alligator drags where they have left Gator Hook to visit a neighboring cypress dome.  On this trip I captured one of my favorite shots showing the large cypress trees, air plants and blue reflections off of the deeper water.

Gator Hook is a great place to visit and has a unique aura that surrounds you when you walk into it.  It is very calming and peaceful while under the Cypress Canopy.