I can honestly say that I have many wonderful friends that are close to me. These days that is worth more than any amount of money. I got a call from a great friend, Margo Kessler Cook awhile back and she asked if I would be interested in shooting at Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey, Florida. Margo is very talented in her own right and has been featured here on the blog a few times in the past. Some folks don’t like shooting in groups or with other people and others do. In my case, I understand both sides, but in this case, I can act like a sponge and see how much creative ideas I can pick up while on a shoot (and I do enjoy going out with folks, just for the record). I’m great at the technical, but there are days I struggle with the creative side of photography. Margo’s walls in her home are filled with gallery quality work that she has produced and she always has some great pointers. When I was invited, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
I had been to Oscar Scherer park a couple of other times, but what I saw what looked like to be a gator infested swimming hole (anyone watch River Monsters?) and a flat prairie like area that was butted up against the infamous Legacy Trail. Since I was going with a seasoned professional, I was looking to see how this was going to differ from my past experiences. We met at her house before 8:00 a.m. Those of you who know me, know that this must have been important to get me to roll out of bed around 6:00 a.m.! The weather is staring to change from the nice winter cool dryness to the blasting inferno. Early is good so we didn’t come back as puddles. Margo is lucky as she lives right next to the property so it only took about a minute and a half to get there.
She took me to a new spot that I never knew even existed so we were off to a great start. We had parked next to the river and there was still some fog around so this was our big chance to get some foggy shots. Margo had some new toys that she was using and I took my standard gear, camera, 18-200 and my 50mm f/1.4. I had no idea what we were going to run into so this would basically cover the range. As soon as we parked the car and started to head down a path, Margo stopped and started composing. She has a few spots that she likes to visit and see how the light changes from time to time. I would like to share these secret spots with you, but she whipped out a contract that I had to sign in blood that if I told anyone that she would come get me. Let’s try that again, we took the trail that went along the river and got some photos. Since I’m new to this part of the park, I’m not sure what the name is. Maybe I can twist her arm and get more info…or go to the Casey Key Fish House and buy her a piece of Key Lime pie!
This was the first photo out of the gate…er…path. It was nice, quiet and everything was still. I guess there might be something to this getting up early stuff. I set my camera to RAW + JPG. I set my picture style to Monochrome. When I took a photo, what I saw on the LCD was in black and white, but the RAW file is untouched and is still in color. Basically, I’m using the JPGs as reference for when I get on the computer to see which photos are going to be worth working with. Then I take the RAW file and go from there. Make sense?
As we walked along we met up with a mother and child taking a trip down the river in a kayak. Seeing them come down the river and being at one of these outlook points, I wanted the corner of the railing to point at the kayaker. I didn’t want them to be dead center in the point so I started shooting like crazy as they approached, during and after. Then I picked the one that looked like it was going to work. I was satisfied with that, but I was with Margo. She amped it up to another notch. She grabbed the mothers attention and she got them to pose. She took a few and said she would email them to her. How to get the info? Margo gave the mother her cell number….from the outlook while they were in the middle of the river! It was great. In a matter of seconds, Margo’s phone rang and she now had the lady’s contact info. You just never know where this photography industry is going to take you!
Along the path there’s a butterfly garden that has been put in and there were these black smooth rocks. Kind of reminded me of a zen like space. Not everyday you see a perfect pile of rocks out and about, why not take one?
One of the challenges that I faced when we were out there was trying to get the sense of how big some of these Florida Oaks are. Massive is an understatement. We came upon a tree that was so gracious. I wanted to somehow show just how big this tree was. One of the things that I like to tell my students when we are out shooting is to move around. I find that zoom lenses make us more stationary. As we walked around this tree, I noticed there was a picnic table under it and I backed up and tried to compose the table so it was off to one side. But, more importantly use the table as a sense of scale for the scene. Even as far back as I was, I still wasn’t able to get the whole tree in. Would be interesting to hear some of the stories this tree must have for living as long as it has.
There we have it. If you are in the area, stop in and see what this park has to offer. I really enjoyed my time shooting and having discussions about composition with an accomplished and award winning photographer and did I mentioned that she has been published in National Geographic? I won’t that might embarrass her. Even if you aren’t the group type, I would still phone a friend and go out. It can really be beneficial to bounce ideas off each other as you work through a scene, or if you’re like me, once in awhile I would just laugh and say, “Well that crashed and burned and didn’t work!”
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean