New Adventure: Sunken Gardens in St Petersburg, Florida.

Don't let the blue sky fool you, it was pouring rain five minutes before this.

Don’t let the blue sky fool you, it was pouring rain five minutes before this.

A new adventure to another place I have driven by, for what seems like forever, and always wanted to stop. I have had my eye on the Sunken Gardens for almost two years now. I’d notice its lovely retro sign (which I regret not snagging a photo of) flashing as I drive by. I would tell myself, and others, “I’m going to go there soon.” Never did it. But, after starting this blog, I began thinking of all the beautiful opportunities waiting, and the challenge of shooting in such a shadowy place. So, visiting it became my number one priority.

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I have no idea what these are. But, I like to call them “doodley bits.”

The photo below is a far away view of the same tree from my Zigzag Photo Challenge post. A new perspective 🙂

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When I bought my camera I was afraid of sticking out like a sore thumb. I have always starred at people with large cameras. I love to look at what they’re looking at in hopes I can see what they’re seeing. But, I have no interest in being starred at by a stranger. Funny how that works? So, I built it up and psyched myself out about being in public with my camera. I was very timid at first. However, now I feel liberated. 

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Having a camera has given me the personal reason I needed to get out there and do all the “I’m gonna do that one day” stuff.

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So, in my new-found boldness, my boyfriend and I (I’m not that bold, yet) ignored the rain and set off on the most humid day, ever. 

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The gardens were absolutely beautiful. However, after getting there, my idealistic attitude crumpled as I was hit with a new wave of photography issues. Like, the light rain getting on my lenses and into my camera bag. This, of course, made them slippery and terrifying to handle. Also, in my panic, I kept thinking, “how much water can these cameras really take. Am I ruining it?!” 

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The colors ^_^

But, my most favorite panic-inducing, arm-flailing melt-down had to be when I took the lens cap off and the lens glass fogged so thick I face-palmed. What was I supposed to do?! I had no cloths. The lovely little ones that came with my newest lens? Yeah, left those right at home. 

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So, I wandered around helpless. Trying with ever fiber of my being to not wipe the fog off with my obscenely abrasive shirt. 

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Obviously, I got it under control. But, that was after five minutes of mentally coaching myself through the largest test of self control I’ve had in a while. Interesting how five minutes can seem like eternity, right? 

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After my melodramatic episode had concluded, I focused on my surroundings. I loved walking through the gardens. There were so many different plants to see that were completely new to me. I was shocked by Florida’s ability to grow some of the weirdest little plants. Kind of makes you wonder what this area would look like without all the buildings and highways. 

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I’m still working with trying to get the exposure I want in unevenly lit areas. I have really gotten the hang of manually picking the point of focus. Even though its a little time consuming at first, I love the control it gives you. The one thing I regret about these photos was that I kept it at a very low aperture, about f/4.5. I was having trouble getting a crisp photo with a higher stop with all the shadows around. I haven’t quite mastered, or even been able to achieve this, yet. Lower lighting takes some work. I know fiddling with ISO should help. But, does anyone have any tips for situations like these?  

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Despite my setbacks, I still had a great time. The birds were a nice surprise. I wasn’t expecting animals, too. 🙂

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They didn’t bite. Just a lot of singing. 

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Even though everything was beautiful, it was so humid and so dense in the gardens that it was almost miserable. It is funny how having a camera and a purpose completely engulfs my attention. It allows me to ignore the worst conditions. Basically, I didn’t whine half as much as I would have in the past. 😀

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Chris made a friend. 

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Along with bird whisperer, he doubles as a pretty good photographer. 

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Me

Exciting things are coming. Another blogger told me about a monthly subscription to Photoshop and Lightroom. This is awesome news! This means that you guys are going to get to join me while I learn how to overcome photography challenges and witness as I stumble my way through editing. Stay tuned 😛

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15 thoughts on “New Adventure: Sunken Gardens in St Petersburg, Florida.

  1. 🙂 I felt just like you the first couple of times when i started taking my camera out! Really didn’t want people to stare at me 😀 For the crispier shots in low light I would say a tripod or monopod should to the trick 🙂

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  2. Beautiful! Yes in Florida summer it takes some effort to get nice pictures. The first plant is called string-of-pearls. The yellow one is shrimp plant. The huge lily pads are Victoria waterlilies. For low light you can either increase the ISO, use a tripod, or use an adjustable dial macro flash. Good luck! Looking forward to more!

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  3. Using a Tripod in public the first time was daunting. I felt like everyone was watching me, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I’m a “pro” shooting for something specific whenever I set up my tripod to shoot something in a city. After that first time I got over it.

    Acclimating your camera and lens to the ambient temperature is sometimes harder than one thinks.
    I used to have a car with a trunk which I kept my gear bag in while driving. That kept it away from the A/C in warmer months, and also away from the heater when in colder months. I rarely had foggy lenses then. Today I don’t have a car with a trunk, but I still keep my bag all the way at the back of the car hoping it stays closer to the outside temperature that way. So far, so good! Only on really cold nights do I get condensation on my lens.

    Re: the high dynamic range scenes…when they’re really shady like you experienced I over-ride my camera and move my exposure compensation a bit to the right. I start out with one or two ticks then check the Histogram. That’s called “chimping” btw. If it needs a bit more light I tweak my EV a bit more. I can always pull back some of the shadows in post development.

    The other thing you can do is Bracket your shots for exposures ranging from -0-, +1, -1, and more if you need it. Using your Histogram will tell you if you need to bracket more for the shadows or light. If I get what I need with a +1 for the highlights I don’t shoot for them anymore, but if I need more color and detail in the shadows I bracket up to -2 EV. You’ll need a tripod for this to get the best image quality. You can blend them in Photoshop.
    Which leads me to Photoshop! I wish you all the best with that. It has a very steep learning curve, but it’s very rewarding when you get the image to look the way you want it to, or saw it.
    I’ve found Scott Kelby’s books very well written, and extremely helpful, and YouTube is a great resource too. There’s loads of stuff there.

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