Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Large Format Photography

Living in Florida has its advantages. It’s nice in the winter and we can get radio and cell signal for miles on end. However, as a photographing the flat plains can get a bit stagnate after awhile. I’m originally from upstate New York where we had mountains and amazing waterfalls. Something about seeing a waterfall is so relaxing. How does one get enough elevation in Florida for a waterfall? It’s not easy, but possible.

I was helping someone recently at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida with some photos. Having been there before, I knew this was one of the few places in Florida that had a waterfall. It’s man made, but when your options are limited, one has to go with what ever they can get!

I set up the 8×10 film camera after I came up with the composition. One of the challenging things with getting silky water in the middle of the day, is achieving a slow enough shutter speed to blur the water. In the past I have used polarizer and natural density filters to help slow down the light. With the field camera, I have f/64 on my side. This is a much smaller f-stop than what I’m able to achieve on my digital camera. Also, the film speed I use is ISO 125. Between these two factors, this allowed me to get a shutter speed of 51 seconds. As you will see in the photo below, this combination was perfect to get the look I was going for.

One of the biggest tools that will ensure a successful shoot such as this is a very stable platform, a.k.a. a sturdy tripod. As humans, we could never hold the camera absolutely still for seconds. Once your camera is locked down on a tripod, this will keep the details around the moving water crystal clear. Is carrying a tripod a pain? You bet. However, this is one of the keys to success with a scene like this.

I hope where ever you may go, you can find a waterfall. They are quite something and when photographed with long shutter speeds, they take on a serenity look. Not only will you find the finished photo below, there is a YouTube video I shot as well.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


Spencer Pullen took this waterfall with the Zone VI 8x10 camera at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Marie Selby Botanical Garden – Waterfall – Spencer Pullen All Rights Reserved © 2017

  1. Beautiful!

  2. Awesome… as always, thanks for sharing!

  3. As always, thanks for the utube and finished product. It was also helpful to get settings for more accuracy in something I may try.

  4. I think this is one of your best if not the best photograph you have composed! Great Work! Congratulations, John.

    • Spencer


      Thanks! I really like this one too. I know silky water has been done forever, but I still like it. Appreciate it!


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