Pooped Out – Crowley Museum & Nature Center – Sarasota, Florida

With all of these newfangled cameras that shoot high def video and they take stills with color that are so vibrant, it’s hard to miss one of the most striking forms of photography…black and white. There are times where color can’t do a photo justice.

The photo to the left was taken at the Crowley Nature Center and Museum. It’s located in Sarasota, Florida in the sticks. If you are familiar with Myakka River State Park, it’s on the north end of the park about a quarter mile up the road. Admission was $7 when I went, it might have changed since then.

When you arrive at the property there is a fork in the road, bare left and you will go up a long unpaved road. This will lead you past the eagles nest and take you to the gift shop/entrance. It’s worth the trip if you are looking for something inexpensive and different to do. They have a house on the property that was built in 1890. It is two stories and housed 13 children and the parents. Ugh, thanks for the invention of the the television! The house has a class room, dining, living room and bedroom open for view. This place is also VERY PHOTOGRAPHY FRIENDLY. I would recommend taking a tripod and either setting up some off camera flashs or HDR the inside of the house.

Also on the property is a make shift black smith workshop and a barn that has been retrofitted into the museum. The museum has all kinds of items that people used back then. It’s neat to see how much labor was involved with the simplest task back then.

They also have a nature/board walk that goes out into the sticks. If you are going to visit this place, I might advise going before it gets hot. (Read mosquitoville in the summer time) If you are quiet you might see some wildlife. Just look out for low hanging spider webs. Being taller than most, I almost got one to the face!

The trip was coming to an end, when I saw this cat staring at me. Thinking that I might be able to get a cat portrait added to my collection, I wandered over. The cat had laid down and was tired apparently. I let him get comfy and started taking some photos. He was laying in this old trunk that had to be from the early 1900’s. I immediately saw this photo in black and white. I took about 15 different frames and what you see above is what I considered to be the best.

Conversion Time…
I know that Elements and Photoshop both have that lovely “Convert to Grayscale” function. I have found that this will result in a muddy photo. I like photos that look like Ansel Adams or Clyde Butcher. Very contrasty and have some punch to them. You can use Camera RAW to get you started. Best of all, Camera RAW is all non-destructive. However, I use Nik’s Sliver Efex Pro. This plugin has won many awards and has made my life really easy. I start by choosing a preset and moving a couple of sliders to dial in the exact look I’m going for. Total time converting the photo…about a minute. If you do alot of black ans white, I highly recommend looking at it.

I hope that you get a chance to visit the Crowley Nature Center and Museum. It’s not a really fancy place, but the price is right and you can get some cool photos while you are there.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


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