Revisit: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota, Florida

One of the nice things about where I live in Florida is that I’m located in the middle of all the action. Ninety miles north is Tampa. Ninety miles south is Naples and the beginning of the Everglades. In between there are other towns such as Ft. Myers and Sarasota. What I’m getting at is that there is a lot to see and do. The only time this can be an issue is during the harsh summer months when the heat index is over 100°, because everything here is outside. There are a couple of attractions that are inside, but not many.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. I have blogged about this venue before and it’s always nice to revisit. If you would like to see some of my other posts, check out: Revisited: Marie Selby Gardens – Sarasota, Florida and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota, Florida. If you would like to visit their official site, here’s the link: Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota, Florida.

Since I have been to this location many times before, I know what two lenses that I like to take with me. I have come to shoot mainly with my Nikon 105mm Macro and I also take my 50mm f/1.4. These are both prime lenses and they are very sharp. They also open up very wide which allows me to shoot in the lower light of the greenhouse an easily blur backgrounds. This is a consideration, as they don’t allow tripods on the property. Since everything has to be done hand held, you want a faster shutter speed to ensure that you get a sharp photo. The challenge when visiting the same venue multiple times is to try and come up with something different each time you go. The beauty of the blooming orchids in the greenhouse still strikes me, even though I probably have 10,000 photos. For example, when I walked into the greenhouse, I was presented with this beautiful purple orchid…

 Spencer Pullen photographed this purple orchid at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Purple Orchid – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

I have photographed these many times, but what’s one more? As for my camera settings, I need to adjust things accordingly as I’m working in a macro distance, as in a few inches of the subject. In order to get what I want in focus, I will need to step up the f-stop a bit. I choose f/8 for these photos. Since I was in a lower light of the greenhouse, I pushed my ISO up to 800. I don’t like doing this, but a sharp photo is better than a blurry one! A rule that I use on shutter speed when I’m working is that I want to stay faster than my focal length. What does that mean? Since I’m shooting with a 105mm on a crop sensor, I know I have to say above 1/160 (105 x 1.5 (Nikon crop factor) = 160 (rounded up to the next available shutter speed) of a second to get a sharp shot with this lens. This might sound confusing; just shoot faster than what your focal length is and you’ll be fine.

 Spencer Pullen photographed this tree trunk at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Wicker Trunk – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

As I was passing this tree trunk I thought it kind of looked like wicker baskets that had been stacked up. Since I love texture and black and white, I thought this would make a great subject for this look. There was shade behind the trunk so it was rendered black. A clean look that shows off what nature has in store for us to photograph, all we have to do is look for it.

 Spencer Pullen photographed this red plant at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Christmas Scene – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

This was photographed in the greenhouse. I saw how the light was falling on the leaf and it was backlit. Exposing for the brightest part of the scene creates a natural vignette around the subject. With the red and green in the image it reminded me of Christmas colors.

 Spencer Pullen photographed this railing at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Geometric Railing – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

It was full sun outside and it was about noon, harsh light to say the least. This is the time when most folks head indoors and take a nap. I too love naps, but I thought I would get mistaken for a homeless person if I crawled up under a tree for a while. So, I like to shoot subjects that lend themselves to this kind of light. This is a set of steps and a railing that lead up to one of the buildings. I liked the intersecting patterns and turning this into black and white really shows of the geometry of what I was seeing.

 Spencer Pullen photographed this rain drop at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Water Drop – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

As I mentioned before, I’m always trying to add to my collection and not duplicate it. While I was in the greenhouse, I noticed this leaf by itself that was glowing since it was backlit. I was also in luck; the leaf was holding a drop of water from the mornings watering. This was a challenging shot as this was so small; the camera was having difficulty focusing on exactly what I wanted. I switched the camera to manual focus mode and adjusted accordingly. He’s the problem; this was at an odd angle so I’m moving around like someone who is waking up from a night of partying on Sunday morning. Any little movement that I was causing was making the leaf go in and out of focus. Realizing what was happening, I changed the camera to burst mode and let ‘er rip. Within the 20 photos that I shot, I got one in focus. All you need is one good one.

 Spencer Pullen photographed this boat at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Lost Boat – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

I actually found a path that I had never been on before that lead down to Sarasota Bay. Nestled within the mangroves I could see a small boat that has been anchored. I also had another composition element present itself, a frame within a frame. I usually don’t make use of these as often as I should, but this was a slam-dunk. Also, I was able to put the boat off to the left hand side to help increase the interest in the composition. Since the scene wasn’t that colorful, I just converted it to black and white.

 Spencer Pullen photographed this roof mold at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.Mysterious Pattern – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

I know some of you are very talented and can paint or make use of other medias. Frankly, if I had to paint something, it would be a scary day! I found this interesting pattern and wanted to capture it. This is my attempt at painting, and it’s about as creative as I can get. Oh, what is it? This would be the mold that was growing on the roof of the greenhouse!

Another successful trip, it seems when you least expect it opportunities will present themselves. Nature provides photographers with some amazing subjects, all we have to do is go out and look. Also, objects found in nature don’t require model releases or complain that they look too fat!

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. Love those shots. Hard to pick a favorite as they are all great shots.

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