Football season has started, so no diehard Gator fan in his or her right mind would be out exploring Florida’s deeper reaches when instead he or she could be sitting on the television sideline.

The games have kept us off the road for the last couple of weeks, as has an illness that both Mr. B. and I picked up from the saliva of a small and nearly extinct marsupial found only in the Belgian Congo.  You understand that I am only joking.  We have no idea where we got it.  Just when the weather cooled enough to go back outdoors, the fever rose.

Neither of these things stopped me from trying to get a third photo to enter in the city photo contest.  My prior two entries were either too soft-focused or too obscure, so I hit the road to attempt to get a decent third entry.

I take thousands of photos. Most of them are small in size and therefore ineligible.  In thinking about what might make a good photo, I considered a picture Mr. B. entered into the pool.  His picture is of the giant Victoria water lilies at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, and what makes it unique to him is that the water rippled in such a way that it appears to be a Monet.  It has a trompe l’oeil effect that makes it look as if he’d taken an Impressionist paintbrush to it.  No one else could have taken the photo, because the sun would never have hit the water in the same way and whatever fish was causing the surface disturbance would not have swum the same way at the same time the sun reflected off the surface in dabs of bright gold.

None of my photos was like this.  One of my entries was static; anyone could have taken it.  The other was something that could have been posed.

I went back to Kanapaha on my own to photograph the palms, only to realize that the palms wouldn’t be special unless something happened in the atmosphere that would give an unusual effect or texture, like a meteor.  Or a funnel cloud.  This didn’t happen, so I walked over to the koi pond.  Fifty pictures later, I snapped one that satisfied me.  Koi are hard to photograph.  If they get too far below the surface, the picture is murky.  The water is murky to begin with, and some of the fish aren’t as boldly colored as others.  The trick is to coax them to the surface with fish pellets, but they flash out of the water and retreat so quickly that it is hard to get them in the frame.  You have to toss and snap, reversing a football play.

I also spent some time photographing decaying plants that signal the change of season.  I grew up in the Northeast, among the reds and golds of the sugar maples.  Seasonal change in Florida is less dramatic.  The greens are a bit less vivid and the flowers have faded into duller tones where they still bloom.  The light in the last two photos is the way I remember October light in California.  It is my favorite season even as the geographic significators are different from place to place.

Coming this week:  More of my photography, plus another episode of Big Yellow Dumpster.

This is the picture I entered.  The two below were also strong contenders, but ultimately this one seemed to have more action.

I almost went with this one because I thought the composition was better.  Ultimately, I decided that the orange fish in the first picture was more animated.


I liked this one a lot.  You can’t control koi, though.  Had the fish in the bottom been completely in the frame, I might have gone with it.  The one I did enter is a moodier picture; this one is more cheerful.


Shadow portrait facing into the stands of giant bamboo.  The light was marvelous. 

Lake Kanapaha.  No filter to remove glare. It created a pleasing haze so I left it.

See what I mean? Anyone could have taken this picture. Where’s that meteor?


One of the “decay” series.  These are the actual colors. It is easy to over-saturate nature photos in Florida.


I used a slow synch flash to get the color of the autumn sunshine.

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