A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Pottery Express and Bamboo Farm in Punta Gorda, Florida. I have taken photo classes out there to shoot, as there is a wide array of subjects to shoot. When you are driving out to this place, you may be thinking, “Did I fill up the gas tank?”. It’s not really that far but here in Florida it seems as if everything is spread out. I always take my long lenses as I might see some wildlife on my way out there or on the way home.
The Pottery Farm imports all kinds of pottery from all over the world. They have pots from Mexico, Vietnam and other various places. They also have a wide selection of plants and bamboo as the name suggests. One could get lost in the rows of bamboo that they have lined up for sale. Driving into this place you think that you are entering another world. They have a beautiful oasis of manicured lawns with a lake decorated by plants and pottery. I have even seen yoga classes being conducted while I was there on the lawn next to the lake. They also offer some creative classes and there are a couple of gift shops that sell jewelry and other forms of artwork. My favorite is the “liquor tree”. I just wished they had called me when they were going to empty the bottles to use for the tree! There are white pebble walkways that lead you through the property. This is not your average outdoor home store.
I like to arrive a little early before the students so I can get a lookaloo at what is around so I may have some suggestions for the students. It was overcast, dreary and threatening rain. Being stupid the trooper that I’m am I decided to go ahead with the class and hope for the best. I walked around the warehouse part of the property and they had every kind of pot or pottery kind of thing you would ever want. While I was scouting, I came across a blue pottery vase that had a great wavy texture.
You may be asking, “I thought he just said a BLUE vase?” You are correct. However, it wasn’t the color that caught my eye, it was the lines on the side of the vase. This is something that you don’t see everyday. It reminded me of photos that I had seen of sand dunes. Maybe I’m licking too many stamps these days, but that is what I saw!
Part of the display that they have set up is a waterfall fountain. Now, the word waterfall might me a little strong here. The water is falling down some rocks so I guess this will have to work. Since I don’t get a chance to get home to upstate New York much, this is going to have to satisfy. Those of you, who are in northern states, please go out and take some waterfall photos since you are more than two feet above sea level!
I’m a big tripod guy; most of you know this already. This was one of those times that I was going to need it. I wanted that silky water look and this was going to require a very slow shutter speed. I set the camera for ISO 100, f/36 at 2” (that would be 2 seconds”). I also had my electronic release attached so I wouldn’t disturb the camera during the long exposure. I zoomed in on part of the falling puddle waterfall and took the shot. I was pleased for what I had to work with!
At this point the students had arrived and I got them off and running. As they were working on their projects I noticed that some of the plants near the lake had some amazing water on them. I have had some folks laugh at my tripod and give me a hard time about it. This was one of those times that I was going to show exactly why I like the tripod that I have. It’s heavy and has a center column. The center column comes up and will run horizontally so I can get the tripod literally inches off the ground. The tripod is also fitted with a ball head so this makes getting the camera in any orientation that I wish a breeze.
Since I’m infatuated with drops of water, I know that I want to get as much detail as possible and this is going to require using my macro lens. I switch lenses and I still have my electronic release attached. Here is the hard part. Most of the grass in this part of the country grows on the ground. This means that I need to get low to the ground as well. I have the tripod set up and I plop myself on the wet pebble walkway to get into position. At this point, I’m surrounded by students and they think that I have really lost it. However, since all of the blood in my body has filled up my head and I feel as if I just at all of the “herbs” in Mexico, there was no way I was going to be able to see what was in the viewfinder. This is one of those rare times that I use Live View. This is a great feature if your camera has it for situations like this. I usually don’t use it because I have a hard time telling what is in focus on the LCD versus looking through the viewfinder. The maco lens is a prime lens meaning that there isn’t any zoom. I adjusted the tripod to get the composition that I wanted. I’m on a tripod so I can use a really low ISO such as 100. When shooting in macro, your depth of field is in quarter inches therefore, I’ll use really high f-stops to ensure that what I want is in focus is in focus. Most of the time I like to use f/40 if I can get it. As for the shutter speeds, they are usually in the seconds, but that’s OK, I’m on my sturdy tripod. After all this set up, I pushed the plunger on the release and click, another macro shot in the can. I figured since I’m already on the ground I might as well and see what else I can shoot.
Right next to me was a rather uneventful plant, but the leaf had grabbed some of the water when it rained before I got there. Anything that has water beads on it, I’m all over it. I guess boys like water, what can I tell you? Now that the camera and I were all set up all that had to be done was recompose for the shot. Push the plunger and another photo ready for Photoshop. Across the lake I saw these beautiful flowers that were multicolored. I really wanted this shot, but was it worth getting up and relocating? I have some back issues so this has come to mind when I get in these precarious positions. I thought it over for a moment.
OK, so as you can see I made the effort to make it to the other side (that didn’t sound right!). I was glad that I checked it out, as I really like the colors in the flower. There was also water drops as well, so this was a keeper. When it comes to photos like this, I’m glad that I have manufacture glass, I know it’s more money but I’ll have this for the rest of my life and get my return back over the next few decades of shooting.
It may seem kind of strange going to a pottery and bamboo place and shooting fountains and flowers. Sometimes things move me and it’s not logical, what can I say. These are some great macro nature shots and I also managed to get a raging water fountain to boot! Shoot everything, as you never know what you’re going to run into. Some folks might only see pots and plants. All I did was look a little closer. The details that usually get lost in a place like this is what made the day for me. The photographer Gods were on my side, the rain held off and I had great light to shoot in. Get low and mingle with the grass and flowers in your area, you just never know what will show up in your viewfinder.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean