Anyone Seen Escher? – Sarasota, Florida

I always enjoy using lines and patterns in my photographs as visual art elements. I was walking around one of my favorite places to photograph…Myakka River State Park. It’s pretty bad when the staff at the concession stand know you by name. This park allows you to practice any kind of photography. I have done nature, flash, HDR and macro photography at this location. Best part, it’s only $6 for up to 8 people to get in. That’s very affordable for any family.

One of the trails they have is called the “Canopy Walk” trail. Basically, what this is, are two towers that go above the treeline with a suspension bridge between them. You are walking in the “canopy” of the trees. Think of the movie Medicine Man, only on a smaller scale and without the zip line. It’s neat to see the effort that someone has put into this bridge. Also, with Florida being flat, you can see for miles when you get to the top. Usually, this space is reserved for our feathered friends. I took many photos going up the tower and over the bridge, like most people do. One of our jobs as photographers is to see things that not everyone sees. This is what helps separate good photography from great photography.

As I said earlier, I was admiring all the wood and bolts that was holding this whole apparatus up in the air. That is the anal analytical part of me. On the way down from the end tower, I happened to look down through the middle. I instantly got this vision of M.C. Escher in my head. I have always been a fan of his work and not being able to paint or draw, this was my big chance to emulate his style with a camera. When I got to the bottom of the tower, I looked straight up and the tower had many patterns and repeating lines. I saw many people taking photos of this great tower but, the angle didn’t really do anything for me. I walked around the outside and I noticed the the center was clear of obstructions. This was going to be my defining moment…if I could get inside.

Anyone who has seen me in the past couple of years, knows that I’m a little on the big side. The opening to the center of the tower was small as this was not really meant for people to enter, however I was determined to get this photograph. Doing a pilates/twister move I was able to get inside. After I regained feeling in both legs and started breathing again, it was time for a photograph. I had my trusty 18mm-200mm lens on the camera. Keep in mind that every critter and insect made this space their home since it’s usually undisturbed from people (except idiots like me). There was no way I was going to lay on the ground in this area and go home with more than what I came with. The next best thing was to get into another pilates/twisted pretzel position and get as low to the ground as possible. I zoomed my lens all the way back to 18mm to get the widest view in. This is one of those times, I’m really glad that I opted for the vibration reduction feature in my lenses. Being all huddled down next to the ground, sweating and swearing at myself with a crowd gathering on the outside watching this charade, I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane. At least the vibration reduction was going to help counteract some of this wobbling.

I took a few frames and stood up to get the blood flowing to all parts of my body again. I checked the LCD and I was happy with what I had grabbed. Now it was time to get out. Remember the crowd on the outside? They wanted to see this too. Lucky for me, I don’t take myself to serious and made a funny as I as twistering my way back out of this small space. I probably shouldn’t have wore shorts for the occasion, but sometimes you don’t plan on these things happening. I went to the concession stand and got a banana split and enjoyed every bite with what little dignity I had left.

A note about black and white…
This is one of those questions that I get asked a lot. Pretty much all cameras come with some special effects built in. One of these is called “monochrome”. In english, this means black and white. I have been seening more interest in black and white photography again. It goes in cycles and it seems that we are heading for another cycle. I like black and white photography as well…if it’s done right. I’m not a big fan of muddy black and white images that most software programs give you on the “convert to grayscale” function. I prefer the crisp contrasty look of black and whites like what Clyde Butcher achieves. Why and I telling you all of this?

Here’s the thing, when you have the camera shoot in black and white, you are loosing the control to make the conversion. Also, if you wanted to see that picture in color ever again, your going to have a problem. This is what I do, I like to shoot all of my photographs in color. When I get back to my workstation, this is where I make the conversion to black and white. There are a couple of ways to do this. First, if you have Photoshop or Elements, I would recommend using Camera RAW for your conversions. This is a great start however, if you have the Nik software, then you are really in the front row. Nik has this software called Silver Efex Pro. This is what I use. Why? It gives me a really, really good image out of the box. I usually tweak it, but not much. If you do alot of black and white photography, I encourage you to try it. Nik allows you to download a 15 day trial. I have to warn you though, once you go Nik, it’s hard to go back.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean



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