Since I have lived down here for quite some time, I can find it challenging to explore new places that I haven’t been. No matter where you live in the world, each location has it’s hot spots and over time if you visit them regularly, you will milk them dry. Since I don’t get a chance to travel much, I find that I do get in a photographic rut as it’s just easier to go to a place that I have already been “just to see what’s there” and hope that I can find something.
I was teaching an HDR course at the Englewood Art Center in Englewood, FL awhile back. Part of this course is that we go out into the big world and shoot bracketed frames that we can use for the following week in class. I don’t get a chance to visit Englewood as often as I would like to. When it came time for the shooting part, I was coming up with the big goose egg as I wasn’t sure where we could go. One of the students suggested Artist Acres. This was a new place for me and I had never heard of it. This sounded interesting and I wanted to know more about it. This is what I found out. While back there was a person who owned a good chunk of Englewood. She was an artist and wanted artists to have their own space for creating art. It was to become known as Artist Acres. The woman died at 106 years old and her family now manages the property.
The following week, we decided that we were going to meet at the Englewood Art Center and drive over together. As we were on our way, I couldn’t help notice that the streets were named after famous artists. Since the one student has been there before, he was taking us in the back way. As we pulled off the main road on to a shell road, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We came a wooden sign that said “Welcome to Artist Acres”. We found parking and got out of the car. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “We’re in Pandora.” If you have seen Avatar, then you know what I’m talking about. It was like we had stepped into another world. It was quiet and serene.
Once we had a little look around, my photographic antennas were in full tweaking mode as there were so many things that I wanted to shoot. It was hard to believe that we were only five minutes from downtown Englewood and this place had a serenity that I would have never imagined was here. For equipment, I had nothing special. I had my Nikon 18mm-200mm lens and a 24mm prime. I also had my tripod, since the goal was to shoot bracketed photos. Now that all the equipment was assembled, it was time to go take some photos.
The big thing that I couldn’t get over was the huge leaves and vines that were growing up some tall pines. The leaves were bigger than my head (we all know how big that is!) There were also these paths cut throughout the property that made getting around very easy. I tried this in black and white and it didn’t seem to fit the bill, so this one stayed in color.
On top of one of the buildings, there were a set of flags. I liked how they were grouped together. Since I’m a black and white Americana photographer at heart, this was right up my alley. I was told that odd numbers make better composition so it was meant to be.
As I was passing by an old barn that was on the property, I noticed the old handles and aging wood. You can tell this barn has survived the elements over the years and just has some amazing character. Since the subject was aged and really didn’t have any color to speak of, this made the black and white conversion easy.
I have seen many things in my lifetime, but this makes the top 10 list for sure. They had built a chair out of concrete blocks into the hill side. I just fell in love with this as I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to try it, but never got around to it.
There is a lake on the property and the water was still. As we were walking around, I noticed a beautiful reflection of the trees in the water. I set up the tripod and shot off a bracketed set to ensure that I was able to get all of the detail in the highlights and shadows. At first I created this photo in color, but then realized that it looked better in black and white.
It was a great shoot and we all came home with some amazing photos. The following week we processed them and saw how they came out. When it came time to decide where to shoot again, one asked if we could go back to Artist Acres. The following week we went back and shot again. It’s a wonderful place and I feel honored that I was allowed to visit this magical place. Just when you think you have seen it all, locations that you have visited frequently will show you even more. As the old saying goes, it’s not always what you know, but more importantly who you know. If that student hadn’t been in that class, then I would have never known about this place.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean