Revisited: Urfer Family Park – Sarasota, Florida

One of my passions that I have for photography subjects is macro. I’m amazed to see what critters or even everyday objects look like when you’re only inches away. I like to tell my students that if they enjoy macro photography, all they need to do is go out in their backyard and that will keep them busy for some time. Also, since it’s getting warm here in Florida as we starting to enter summer, don’t forget objects such as office supplies and kitchen equipment. I did an off camera lighting class once and the assignment was to take something out of the kitchen and light it. I took my measuring cups and spoons and they became my subject. Pretty cool stuff. What would happen if you got right on top of a marble that has swirls of glass in it?

There are a couple of ways to handle macro subjects. First, you can go out and buy a macro lens. This is the el primo solution. Usually fixed (prime) focal length which makes them sharp as a tack. I have the Nikon 105mm. It will open as wide as f/2.8 and close down to f/32. This is just as important as how wide it will open as when you are working with macro, your depth of field is in quarter inches. If one doesn’t want to go out and purchase one of these, then there are the screw on filters that usually have markings such as +2, +3 and so on. A third option is extension tubes. These are hollow tubes that go between the camera body and the lens. This basically shortens up the lenses minimum focusing distance. There are some that have all the electronics so the camera can talk with the lens. There are also tubes that are just plain ole’ tubes. Then one would have to manually dial in focus and exposure. Another option is to get a “reversing ring”. This allows you to put the lens on backwards. I’ll let that marinate for a minute… For example, if you have a 50mm lens, you can get a ring for that and the end that is pointing towards the subject is actually the back of the lens. This is a very cheap option, however the risk is what if the back element gets scratched? Well, then you get the privilege of buying a new lens! The last option that I’ll mention here is to fake it. Let me explain. What if you were trying to shoot something but you couldn’t get physically close enough because something such as water gets in the way. With today’s high resolution sensors, one can zoom in as close as possible and crop. This will make it look like it was taken with a macro lens.

I was doing a class with Adult & Community Enrichment (ACE) in Sarasota and we went to Urfer Family Park. This is a great place, it’s a really nice park, it’s kept up and they have a nature trail, swamp walk (that’s kind of pushing it) and playground for kids. The day we went, the sun was way up in the sky so we had harsh light and the heat was starting to climb. When we first got there we walked the property and answered questions. About 90 minutes later, we were looking for more possibilities. I looked at them and said, “Here are a couple of ponds, we could shoot the dragonflies.” At first I had looks like I didn’t take all of the pills in the box. After I approached the waters edge and started to point out the different kinds and colors, they started to get into it. Now that they were enjoying themselves, it was time to see how far they would go. I said, “OK, I want to see how many colors you can capture and bring them into class next week.” Ah ha! Next week came and we had some amazing dragonfly photos.

Spencer Pullen photographed this Blue Dasher at Urfer Family Park in Sarasota, Florida.Blue Dasher – Spencer Pullen © 2105 All Rights Reserved

These are the most common around still ponds of water. He was checking me out as I was photographing him. I think he was posing. I’m always taken up with their color of their eyes.

Spencer Pullen photographed this female Blue Dasher at Urfer Family Park in Sarasota, Florida.Female Blue Dasher – Spencer Pullen © 2105 All Rights Reserved

I think this is some kind of joke, the female is brown, but still a BLUE dasher. I checked my identification cards to make sure. Anyway, she was out in the reeds pretty good so getting close was going to be an issue. On this trip I packed my 70mm-300mm lens. This proved to be fast focusing and allowed me to get as close as I possibly could, not to mention you get the advantages of compression.

Spencer Pullen photographed this Golden Winged Skimmer at Urfer Family Park in Sarasota, Florida.Golden Winged Skimmer – Spencer Pullen © 2105 All Rights Reserved

This fellow looks like he’s made out of solid gold. Once he realized that I wasn’t there to eat him, he started to come back to check me out. One thing I learned real quick is that you don’t chase them, you’ll wear yourself out. I find a stick that they seems to keep visiting and then I get into position. I set my focus and exposure (I shoot manual) then when they come back, I’m ready to start taking photos.

Spencer Pullen photographed this Needham's Skimmer at Urfer Family Park in Sarasota, Florida.Needham’s Skimmer – Spencer Pullen © 2105 All Rights Reserved

Another beautiful color. This time I was able to catch him on a reed and use it as a leading line back to him.

If you missed my previous post, you can check it out here: Dragonfly Macro Photography – Urfer Family Park – Sarasota, Florida. There are more photos and techniques in this other post when I first wrote about the wonderful opportunity for dragonflies here. No matter what your subject is that you are passionate about, get out there and shoot. You just never know when you’re going to come home with the next award winner!

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. Nice!

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