The weather is getting warmer each day and the day’s light is lasting longer. It’s that time again; we are transitioning from winter to spring. This is the time of year for the folks who stay in Florida all year long try to get any outside activities wrapped up as soon it will feel like the bottom of a NASA rocket when it’s taking off. Usually we don’t get too much rain during the winter months so when the transition time from winter to spring rolls around, the flowers notice and start to show themselves. I have posted many areas around Southwest Florida, however one venue that I teach at quite a bit is in Punta Gorda, Florida. Punta Gorda is dubbed, the city of hibiscus. When we first moved down here from upstate New York, I was taken up with the flower, it looked as if we had moved to Hawaii with these exotic specimens.
One of the places that I go to for our field trips is the History Park in Punta Gorda. This History Park as its name implies has a collection of old homes that were saved from the area. Also, there is quite an arrangement of flowers, birds and butterflies on the property. I was told that there are over 100 species of hibiscus in the History Park so there is always something blooming year round. The colors and styles vary so one would probably never get board photographing these amazing flowers. Recently I took a class there on a field trip and let them loose to see what they would come up with. Since I have been there many times, I try to change it up to challenge myself to create the next big thing (ugh, I’m still working on that). During this trip I took my Nikon 105mm macro lens. I have posted about this lens before and I love it. The build and image quality is top notch. It’s an investment, however I have already received all my money back due to all the wonderful photographs that is has returned to me. Here’s the thing, it’s not just a macro, you can use it for general photography as well. It has an f/2.8 aperture on the wide end so that makes it a great contender for low light use. There isn’t a zoom so that means it a prime lens, hence why it’s so sharp. I would rather shoot with prime lenses instead of zooms any day of the week if I can get away with it.
When shooting macro specifically, there are a couple of guidelines to follow. First, a tripod is highly recommended. Any movement made by the photographer will show up in the completed photo. Also, depending on how close you are to your subject, you will want to shoot at the other end of the f-stops such as f/22 or even f/45. The closer the person gets to the subject the less depth of field they have. When I arrived at the location, I kept all of this in mind. I pulled the camera out of the bag and looked at the tripod. It had been a hard week and I made the executive decision to, “screw it” as I didn’t feel like going through all the set up. I went along my merry way and was going to hope for the best just free styling.
As I made my way around the park, it wasn’t long until someone was mentioning about the bees. Makes sense since there so many flowers around that the bees would be here to do their part. The doctors said that I’m “sensitive” to bees but not allergic. I have had many run in with different types of bees up north. I try to say out of their way and wish them well. Since I had the macro on the camera, I was going to try and get a bee portrait without having to call the wife and tell her that my arm is the size of the Goodyear blimp. I approached the area with stealth like ninja moves as to sneak up on the bees. Any of you who has seen me recently, this looked more like a 400lb burnt marshmallow tromping through the forest, what can I say. When I reached the area, there were many bees at work.
One good thing that happened while we were on location is that it was overcast. I love overcast days as the light is nice and soft. This was going to make for some great photos. I set my f-stop to f/11 and managed to get a shutter speed of 1/125. I wasn’t sure at this slower shutter speed if I was going to be able to hold the camera steady. As you can see from the above photo it worked. You can even see the little things coming out of its face to collect the pollen. I just had enough depth of field to get the bee in focus from front to back; f/16 would have been a little better.
Until this photo, I didn’t realize that bees carried the pollen on their legs. As you can see he’s got one full and will be working on the other side. It’s pretty amazing when you get to see nature up close. Even at f/11, you’ll notice that the background is blurry, this is because of the subject to lens ratio. I was pretty much right on top of this little fellow.
After harassing the bees, I decided to take my attention to some of the flowers. This particular one didn’t have any dings in the petals and had a red center. When I photograph these types of flowers, I like to try and get the stamen so that the viewer can see the depth. Also, the petals act as a background.
I can honestly say I didn’t plan this. I saw this photo as it was, there is a new bud that was against an existing flower and it looked like the one that was open was cradling the new soon to be flower. (Maybe the meds are wearing off?!)
I spotted this one from afar and the rainbow of colors really grabbed me. I didn’t want to shoot it straight on so I tilted the camera a bit to help give it some dimension. It was another flawless flower and I wanted the background to be filled with color. This would make a great background for a card; there is room for type at the bottom.
This flower is just in the early blooming stages. If you look closely, you can see the hairs inside the petals in the middle. This is what I’m talking about, great quality photos from a quality lens.
As I mentioned before, this lens can be used for general photography as well. There is an old home that is undergoing restoration. There is one side that they haven’t gotten to yet. The paint is pealing and the locks are all rusted over, it’s beautiful. I love shooting old, broken down stuff; it has character and has seen the world. This was a straight shot, I wasn’t worried about macro here, just liked the old doorknob.
On the property, there are a few stacks of pavers awaiting their final resting place and to be stepped on. The color of these weren’t anything to write about so I changed it to black and white and added a vignette. I shoot all of my photos in color, even if I know I’m going to convert to black and white as the computer gives me more options than the camera.
It was a wonderful shoot at the History Park. If you are in the neighborhood, I would stop by and check it out. It’s never crowded (unless you are there on Sunday when the Farmer’s Market is going on) and there are many subjects to photograph. If you don’t have a dedicated macro lens, no worries, take your longest lens with you and zoom in as close as possible. The camera will reach a point where it won’t focus, when this happens, just back up a few inches and try again. You can create some amazing photos using this technique, and without emptying out your wallet.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean