If you live in the Sarasota, Florida area and have not visited Myakka River State Park, then you are missing quite a gem. I have been to a few state parks in the past few years and I have to say that Myakka River State Park is probably one of the nicest parks in the state. Not to mention that admission is only $6 per car up to eight people. This makes it very affordable to visit. They just finished building a brand new concession stand. This consists of a gift shop, restaurant and an area set aside to buy the necessities when you are camping. The main road that runs from end to end is about six miles long. You see people walking, riding bikes or taking a slow drive. If you are driving, here is my word of caution, the speed limit is 25 mph. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND sticking to the speed limit if you know what I mean.
They also offer airboat and land tours. When I went on the land tour it was $12.00 and lasted around an hour. They take you back into the “bush” and educate you on how the land was used as a ranch when Mrs. Palmer owned it back in the early 1900’s. Mrs. Palmer owned most of Sarasota back in the day. Just imagine how much that would be worth today!
They have many places to see wildlife and they are also very photographer friendly. No one cares if you want to use a tripod or 20 flashes to light up the little gecko’s eyelids. In the thumbnail above, this is the Bird Walk that is on the northern side of the park. If you are lucky enough to stay there over night, you can visit this location and watch all of the birds come in to eat. Hence, the name Bird Walk. There is a nice photo blind/resting place at the end of the board walk.
How this was photographed…
When you click the thumbnail for this image, it’s a little special. First I photographed this scene as a panorama. There are 27 frames that were used to make this completed piece. The best part, I didn’t even break a sweat stitching it together. I did use Photoshop CS5 however, I have also used this as a demo in my Photoshop Elements class and it worked just as well. When you click on the thumbnail, it will open in a new window and will allow you to click and drag around with your mouse.
When I took this scene I knew I wanted to have the camera vertical so I would be able to capture as much height as possible. I mounted the camera on a special panorama rig that I like to use for this type of scene. At the bottom of the rig I have a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod legs. Mounted on top of that I have the Manfrotto 438 leveling plate. This to me is the secret to the whole system (and the cheapest). No matter if your tripod legs are off a little, the leveling head will make sure that the pano head is…you guessed it, level. It only takes about five seconds to level the whole rig. Lastly, where I mount the camera to is a Manfrotto 303Plus VR Pano Head. This head has two rails that slide back and forth so you can get the center or “nodal point” of the lens exactly in the center of the tripod. It also has a set of detent discs in it so it tells you exactly where to take the next frame of the scene. This makes making panos very effortless and you know that they are going to stitch together later in the computer. If you don’t feel like spending this kind of money, here’s the free way. Take a couple of photos and make sure that you overlap them by at least 30%. This will give the computer sufficient data to line things up later. As you move around your scene, shift your feet. This will help keep your body lined up with the scene. Chances are, Photoshop CS5 or Elements will have no trouble stitching these together.
One last tip, before you take your first “official”photo, hold out one finger and take a photo. When you are finished, hold out two fingers. Later, you will know where the start and end frames are for that panorama.
I hope this will help you go out and try to do a few panoramas. This is MUCH easier than it used to be. If you have Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 or Photoshop Elements you’re good to go. Give it a try.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean…