Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Myakka River State Park Experience.

The Myakka River State Park was voted one of the best State Parks in Florida and after spending a day there, I can clearly see why. This place is not only beautiful but it's also laid out in a way that invites visitors to explore and experience Florida in a way most tourists don't get to do.

We arrived around 10am on Saturday morning, hoping to catch the 10am airboat ride around the lake.. we didn't make it but that's to be expected, we arrived just as the airboat left dock. No worries, there was another at 11:30 am, we'll hang around the lake area for a bit and wait for that one. I was very happy to see that my fan club had assembled below, they are such loyal fans often posing for group photos in support of me.....err what? Oh, these are the vultures that frequent the park. I gotta talk to my publicist about this...

So after the airboat ride, which was a lot of fun by the way and well worth the $12 for an adult to go do. Photography wise, you won't get many decent shots from this, the boat keeps moving during the entire tour so as you know, trying to photograph animals from a moving boat isn't the easiest thing in the world. Oh and if you do go do this, keep your ticket stubs, they get 50% off the ride the remainder of the year. Not a bad deal at all. We elected to eat after the boat ride and we weren't disappointed with the quality of service and food, it was excellent, much better than one would expect from a State run park. Our next stop was the boardwalk or birdwalk as they labeled it on the map. This was just north of the area we started at (North Lake Myakka) and accessable by car.

As we travelled along the winding road to the birdwalk, we spotted some Doe's grazing in the tall grass beside the road. I managed to get one good shot before they ran off into the woods where I wasn't about to chase them.

We arrived at the birdwalk/boardwalk. This was one of the best boardwalks I have been on in a swamp/lake setting. The water was right up to the bottom of the walk, a few inches more and it would have flooded the walk, which made it much more interesting to walk across. Especially when you look to the right and see this guy staring at you.

This is a 8-9ft American Aligator, I took this photo of him at almost water level through the slats in the side of the boardwalk. Yes, he's big enough to not care that I am there taking his photo. He was about 8 to 10ft away when I took this. It's a really intense experience to be that close to something that could attempt to eat you and all that's standing between you and him is a couple of 2x4s and your tripod. This boardwalk was my favorite part of the park, I could have spent hours there just shooting the landscapes and birds that flew by, highly reccommend this area of the park.

The photo below was taken from the boardwalk area, the boardwalk is actually to the right side of the photo.

This next photo was taken from the end of the boardwalk.

The last stop on our trip to Myakka River State Park was the Canopy Walkway. You climb a 40 foot tall tower and then walk on a suspended walkway to a 70 foot tower where at the top you treated to views like the one below. Because the water level was so high in the area, this wasn't the easisest place to get access to, we have to walk through ankle high water for about 20 to 30ft to reach the 40 foot tower. The view was amazing though and definately worth wet shoes to get to it.

If I had to rate my experience at Myakka River State Park, I would give it a 10 out of 10, this was such an amazing place and the people that run the park are so nice and helpful. I highly reccommend this part to anyone traveling on the west central or south western regions of Florida. You won't be disappointed.
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, I do enjoy reading the comments and if you would like to see more of my photography work, you can find it at .

Thanks again,
~Photographing life, one click at a time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Delapidated Art

This is one of my favorite structures to photograph in Plant City, Fl. It's an old and still functioning fertilizer depot. Alright, maybe functioning is pushing things a bit but it is open for business although I doubt any trains stop there anymore.

This is an HDR image, made up of 5 exposures. I took this particular version while out on a photowalk with the photo club I belong to. I think this is the 3rd time that I have photographed this building. This is one of those buildings that if the walls could really talk, they would probably have some really interesting to stories to tell.

Was this warehouse used for bootlegging back in the '20s? Hmm, maybe, Tampa/Hillsborough County was a hot bed for organized crime back in those days. Perhaps some folks went missing after visiting the warehouse? Maybe a reporter got too close to a story here. Who knows. The place has this mysterious aura about it which is why I am always drawn to photogrpahing it when in Plant City. Of course, it could always just be my vivid imagination or something else much more sinister. (cue dramatic music). Anyway, it's a fun place to photograph and let our imaginations run wild.

Now, where is that Tower of Terror image I was looking for?
As always, thank you so much for reading my blog. You can find my work at .
Warm regards,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What inspired foray into black and white.

You probably looked at this image and instantly thought, "He's going to say Ansel Adams is who inspired him to try Black and White as a medium." Well, you would be wrong. While I do like Ansel Adams work, it wasn't his images that spurred me on to process some images as black and whites. It was a gentleman by the name of Clyde Butcher. (you can find his site here ).

Clyde for the lack of a better comparison is a modern day Ansel Adams. He even shoots with a similar camera. Clyde is on a mission to photograph the Florida Everglades which starts in the Kissimee, Florida area.

Here's a link to a interview of Clyde that the St. Pete Times did. I'm a little disappointed in the reporter, there are so many things to ask Clyde about, surely they could have come up with less fluff and more content. To spend a day with such an interesting soul would certainly lead to some more in depth conversations, wouldn't you think?

Most photographers who shoot for the art aspect of photography, are well, doing it for the art aspect. I thought it was really interesting that Clyde thought of himself as more of a historian with some of his work. Quite honestly, he has a good point. He's shooting trees and areas of the state that are often affected by the violent weather we have in Florida. Some of these places and subjects might not survive much longer and without his photos and that of other photographer/historians, we won't have anything to show future generations.

So anyway, my inspiration for the photo above was purely Clyde. Please take a few moments to go to his site ( and check out his online gallery, trust me, it's time well spent.

The image above is of Lake Hooker, here in Seffner. I took it with the sole purpose of trying my hand at Black and White and I have to say, I'm hooked now. It was a fun photo to take and even more fun to work with in the digital darkroom.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Is Ybor City a Ghost Town?

I know, this is way too colorful to resemble a ghost town and you're right it is but the final image looks a lot like a ghost town and as you can see I didn't have to "remove" any humans to achieve that deserted feeling. It's what is not there that makes this photo so interesting. Ybor City is usually a pretty hopping place, you can go there any day of the week and find people milling about the area. It's very unusual that you could go there during the day and find absolutely no one. This was taken in November of 2008 on a Saturday around 10 to 11 am. Not exactly the time of day you would expect to find no one there. There are a few things that I feel would have added to the ambience of this photo, tumble weed (probably not going to find any of that in Florida) and rain (which I could have added digitally to this but decided against it...or did I hmmmm more on that later).

So while I was taking the photos I needed (5 of them, it's an HDR Image) to make this image, I decided that perhaps Black and White would yield the results I was looking for, the photo above is the result of the conversion to Black and White. It would stay like this for a little over 6 months, it was fairly popular photo and people tended to enjoy the dimensional pull they felt from the photo and it did have that Twilight Zone feel to it but it was still not exactly what I was hoping for, it always felt like it was missing something.

So I went to the place I always go when I need some advice on a photo. NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals My friends there were really glad to help me figure out what I should and shouldn't do with this image. I tried several things including, desaturization, keeping the outsides in color and the insides portions in Black and White and several other things to try to pull that ghost town feel out of this image. The final version is below.

As you can see from the above image, there were a lot of little changes in the photo. I decided to go with a Sepia quad tone treatment that I made myself and then used one of the suggestions I received about straightening the buildings a bit. The original photos were taken with a 12-24mm lens and as with most wide angle lenses it has some distortion in the corners. As you can see, there's a lot more detail available in this image now than there was before. The bricks on both the street and the buildings are a lot easier to distinguish.

Oh yeah, before I forget, the image with the added rain is below. I'm still on fence with it but it was fun to do.

As always, thank you so much for reading my blog. If you would like to see any more of my work, it can all be found at .

Until next week.............

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About Me

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My name is Michael White and I'm a Fine Art Photographer based out of the Tampa Bay area.   I enjoy photographing various landscapes and wild life that can be found in the US.  I am also the creator of a new process called High Key HDR. 
You can find my website at and I can also be followed on Twitter at @rorymadstudios .