Having lived in Florida for longer that I would like to admit (I’m a Yankee at heart) I thought I had seen most of the “real Florida”. This is what the state is now promoting, “Come see the REAL Florida.” This means kick Disney World to the curb and visit the beaches and inland area parks. Going to state and local parks is a very affordable way to entertain the family. When Harbor Style Magazine sends me an assignment, I never know where it’s going to take me. Recently I had to photograph a “green” winery. I’m from upstate NY (Finger Lakes region) and I know what wine is supposed to taste like. In Florida, grapes don’t do so well, so there is only one variety that does grow here, the muscadine grape. All I can politely say is that I would rather drink unfiltered river water than drink wine that comes from these grapes. Anyway, one of the wineries that I visited was way, way, way out in the country. I kept driving on a dirt road for mile after mile. I was beginning to wonder if I was set up to be the star at the local BBQ if you know what I mean. I finally found my location and got the job photographed. What is the point to all of this? Even though I have lived down here for some time, there is a lot of Florida that I have never seen before, and there were many photo ops along the way.
Case in point, I was teaching a photo class in Punta Gorda, Florida a few months ago and part of the class is to take a field trip and get some hands on with the camera. One of the students mentioned Morgan Park that is in Arcadia, Florida. Arcadia is known for its antiques and simple living style. The historic downtown district is an amazing place to photograph if you are ever in the area. In fact, I did a self project of shooting some of the buildings in downtown and some how the PBS TV program, Antiques Roadshow found one of my photos and wanted to use it on their show. This is why I promote blogging as you never know who is going to see your wonderful photos.
We decided to check out Morgan Park. I had never been there before and didn’t know what to expect. I looked up the location on Google Earth so I had a clue where I was going. I followed the map and before I knew it, I was in a wonderful place. This park is tucked away next to the Peace River and has places to have picnics and parties. I felt bad that I showed up without a hot dog, but hey, I was there to take photos, not roast weenies!
One of the amazing features that I really like is that they paved half of the trails so these are very accessible for folks who may use wheelchairs or even bikes. Since my student lives up that way, she acted as my tour guide. There were many things to photograph as we walked along. After a bit we came upon some benches that caught my eye. Your probably thinking, “Benches? What’s so great about benches, except to rest my rump?!” Here is what I saw…
As you can see from the photo, the bench in the upper right was the original bench followed by the one to the left of the frame. Now taking center stage is a brand new plastic coated wire bench. I think it’s cool that they left all of them there. All of the photos in this post are going to be in black and white. Black and white just felt right while I was there, to help illustrate the features of this place.
This is the turnaround point for the main path that is paved. The Peace River is winding its way down to Charlotte Harbor. I was there in the middle of the day, which means really bad light. I set the camera up for bracketing, thinking that I would merge them down the road in the computer to get all of the detail. I also framed it so the foliage and overhanging trees would partially frame the river.
As we were walking along, we came up upon this bridge. It has a lot of details and character. I photographed the bridge as the railings pull your eye into the frame, or at least I think so. This was a great spot, don’t get me wrong, but this isn’t what got my attention. It was what I couldn’t see that got me excited. Let me explain, I like repeating patterns, aged wood and even better, broken stuff. If the bridge looked this good on top, what did the bottom look like?
Like a four hundred pound two year old jacked up on a bag of jelly beans, I started going over the bank to see what the bottom looked like. When I got down there, all I could see was wasp nest after wasp nest. I stopped and thought to myself, is this worth possibly going to the hospital for? I’m allergic to bees, but haven’t been so bad that I need an EpiPen. At this point, I’m hooting and hollering to the other folks to get to the bottom of the bridge to see the woodwork. When they got down there, they were kind of like, well that’s nice. I said we needed to get in the middle and get a vantage point shot. They just looked at me and I know what this is code for. We’ll let the fat one (me) go in first to make sure it’s safe and more importantly, knock down any spider webs that may be in the way. This is not my first rodeo! Well, stupid me, it worked and before long I was hunched over heading into the space and before I knew it, I had a face full of spider webs. As I have said before, if you want to get some great shots or photos that are different, you are going to have to do or try something different. Once we got down there I was in awe of all of the old wood and hardware that was holding this up. The camera was secured on a tripod and I bracketed the frames as I was in deep shade and there was full sun outside which can be difficult for the camera to capture. As I was finishing up, one of my friends was calling me over as they had found something. I packed up my gear and wiped off the webs that were on my face to see what all the excitement was over. It was then I saw what my friend Debbie Bowe had found, another crown jewel.
I just stood there looking around and I couldn’t believe the landscape. Here was this very old Cypress tree that was in the middle of this little island. There was so much detail that I didn’t know where to begin. Again, since I was there in really bad light, I bracketed my exposures to make sure that I was going to capture all of the detail for later. One of the details that I was amazed and worried about at the same time was the water line stain on the trunk of the tree. When the water was this high, the river must have flooded the area for quite some time. If the water ever gets this high again, I’m grabbing my winter coat and heading back to NY where the state is more than six feet above sea level! If you aren’t familiar with the shoots that are coming out of the ground, these are the roots of the tree, called knees. This almost looks like a scene from a distant planet, strange but beautiful.
A great time was had by all on the field trip. This just goes to show you that sometimes to get “the photo” you have to get off the beaten path. If I hadn’t jumped over the side of the bridge like a lunatic, we wouldn’t have gotten the great shots of the bridge bottom and the Cypress tree. Yes, this requires more effort and possibly blinding you with spider webs while walking through snake bite country, but hey, I walked away with some great photos. This is what it’s all about. Go to your local park and see what there is off the beaten path. (If you run into snakes, spiders, scorpions, pigs, wolves, woolly mammoths, T-Rex or Big Foot, I’m not responsible for what may ensue!) Be careful out there and shoot lots of photos, it’s digital, the pixels are FREE!
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean