Punta Gorda History Park – Punta Gorda, Florida – Part 1

Lately, I have been taking my classes to get some camera time in to the Punta Gorda History Park in Punta Gorda, Florida. There are a collection of homes that have been moved here to preserve them and their history. The organization is volunteer based and all facets of the park somehow owe their existence to the volunteers. They have had a tremendous job keeping the landscape, homes, parking area and walkways looking perfect. Since this is right down the road from some of the venues that I teach at in Punta Gorda, it makes it easy to stop by and see what is going on. There is also a mating pair of bald eagles that are on the property. There is some yellow tape around the tree, but is very accessible to anyone who wishes to take some photos.

Since I was taking class after class there, I had to keep coming up with ideas to not only keep the students interested, but also myself. That is where some of the content comes from for this blog. When I’m out wandering the area, I never know what is going to present itself to be photographed, so I have to be prepared all the time. The first time I visited the History Park, I took my usual workhorse, my 18mm-200mm as I have mentioned before on this site that this is a very versatile lens and let’s me do a variety of things. I shot mostly flowers the first day as I was walking around checking on students. This lens does an amazing job considering it’s not Nikon’s top of the line lens (or bottom of the barrel for that matter.)

After my third trip in a week, I wanted to find something that would be different to photograph. It was then it hit me; it was time to blow the dust off my 105mm macro. Macro is a wonderful type of photography as it’s always amazing to see what things look like to a bug. In fact, I shot so much stuff this will be a two-part post. This week, I will focus on the critters that I ran into at the park. Some subjects came to me and others, well, let’s just say they got to see the light! Next week I will post on the flowers that I ran into.

As in all of my posts, please click on the thumbnails to see the full size photos. I will explain how these were photographed as we go.

 spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park butterfly eating nectarNectar of the Gods – Spencer Pullen © 2012

spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park butterfly holding on Get my good side – Spencer Pullen © 2012

I was photographing an upside down purple flower that had some raindrops on it when this little guy showed up. At first I was set up on a tripod and had a cable release attached. This is a great set up for flowers, horrible for critters. This guy went from flower to flower doing his thing. After watching him for a bit, I took the camera off the tripod and hoped for the best. The good news is that there wasn’t any wind and he was holding still for the most part. Since I had my macro lens on, any shake would be amplified in the camera. I started with ISO 400, f/22 at 1/500. Since there was a light layer of clouds in the sky, this acted as a softbox, but still allowed most of the light to come through. As I was hunched down trying to fill the frame with this critter, I was glad that I had a fast shutter speed to help cancel out any of my movements.  This macro lens is one of Nikon’s best lenses so you are able to see every hair or fur on his little body. It pays to have good glass.

 spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park tree frog close upKermit on the runway – Spencer Pullen © 2012

spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park tree frog on leaf Strike a pose – Spencer Pullen © 2012

spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park tree frog It’s not easy being the same color as a tree – Spencer Pullen © 2012

One of the folks, who works at the park, let me know that there was a frog that lived in a palm tree that was studded with bromeliads. If you can picture this, there are three of us carefully looking into each crevice around the palm tree looking for a frog. Then he was spotted. I’m thinking a frog like what I’m used to seeing in upstate New York, a big bull frog. What I was encountered with was a little skinny tree frog. This little guy was cute, small and he was in for something that was about to rock his world. Since he was down in the fronds of the tree, I had to use flash to get any light on him. Once my other students saw what I was doing, they too were flashing this creature. After about ten minutes, he had enough and went into another part of the tree where we couldn’t get to him. At least I was able to get a few of his portraits before he left. I really like the gold ring around his eyes. Also, if you look closely, you can see a glint of white in his eye. This is Numbnuts (me) with the flash going off on the camera. You can also see the top of the trees and sky reflected in is eyes. Again, good glass does make a difference!

 spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park lizardHere, lizard, lizard, lizard – Spencer Pullen © 2012

These things are all over the place, if they could only eat more mosquitoes that would be great. He was on a post and didn’t seem to mind that I was photographing him. He was in really crappy light so I used the flash to help fill in some of the shadows to help even out the scene. After a couple he tilted his head as if he was posing. He must be used to 400 lb. photographers taking his portrait.

 spencer pullen photography punta gorda florida history park monarch butterflyA little top heavy – Spencer Pullen © 2012

Last, but not least is a Monarch butterfly. I have told that these are also called “Queen” butterflies down here in Florida. So what ever you call this species, I think it turned out ok. Again, I was patient watching as he went back and forth between flowers. As he stopped for food, I would crank off as many as I could. I probably shot twenty five frames of him to get this decent one.

Well, there it is, a couple of critters and bugs for your enjoyment. If you have been to a place before and not sure what to shoot, try changing lenses. Your world may come into view.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. Excellent. I enjoyed seeing the photos that you captured and how you did it.

  2. I really love that Butterfly!!!

    • Spencer

      Thanks! He was fun to watch and try to get a shot of….


  3. Cool shots … what were your settings on the frogs, light conditions, and were they shot on a tripod? All these questions are your fault! You opened the flood gates by giving me a little knowledge!

    • Spencer


      Hopefully this helps with your questions. My settings on the frogs were: ISO 800, f/16 at 1/60 with the flash set to 1/32. The frog was in complete shade so I had to generate my own light for the shot. This was handheld with no tripod. Since I was at an usual angle the tripod was not going to help in this case. The reason why this shot worked is two fold, first I was using a macro lens. Since I have a 105mm, I can be back a little further and get a shot as not to scare the little critter. Second, and the more important, is he was pretty still. He didn’t seem to mind me as I was photographing him. I’m glad this post gave you some ideas. Thanks…


  4. Great shots! That frog looks so close he gave me warts.
    That butterfly shot is excellent. Loved it.

  5. Wonderful shots and you nailed them exactly. I like the way you supply the shooting date efix for us to review. Keep up the good work!


  1. Punta Gorda History Park – Punta Gorda, Florida – Part 2 - [...] get a chance to see the other post that features some of the critters there check out this link:…

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