Monday, August 5, 2013

A little diversion at Fairchild Tropical Gardens

Years ago when I first began learning photography from a DSLR, I would go to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, about a 20 min drive from home, at least once a month. There I used both my telephoto and macro lens to photograph all kinds of flora and fauna. It was like being a kid in a candy store, lots of eye candy to photograph. Artists display their art among the lush gardens, including Chihuly that had an exhibit there back in 2007. So between the artwork, flora and fauna, the opportunities were infinite. Here is one image with a Chihuly displayed.

Over the years, Fairchild has changed. Before the 2010 freeze, iguanas overran the gardens (fun subjects to photograph, but a nuisance for the garden). When I wasn't photographing the flora, I found lots of animals, the iguanas being among my favorite. Here is one of them.

After awhile, I stopped going to the gardens for a few years because it was undergoing dramatic changes that included construction which made the place busier and nosier than usual. Plus, my biggest complaint with the gardens was that it did not open until 9:30 am, which meant that the two best hours to photograph were past before entering the grounds.

Recently, a few of my Florida Trail Association friends were heading over to Fairchild and invited me along. As soon as they told me the gardens now open at 7:30 am, I jumped at the chance to go back. And wow, am I glad I did. I rediscovered this incredibly beautiful place with a fresh eye and the joy of walking among the flora and fauna at 7:30 am while very few bothered to venture in that early on a beautiful, overcast Sunday morning. It was if we had the entire grounds to ourselves.

I brought along my macro and telephoto lens, but never used the telephoto. I had way too much fun with the Sigma 180mm macro which I have not used in a couple years. With the overcast sky, the lighting was perfect for photographing the colorful plants and butterflies. Not only that, the thicker foliage areas were bursting with goldensilk orbweaver spiders, my favorite insect to photograph. In between spider shots, I played around with some abstract images, something that was created as "Plants As Art" from my Fairchild visits. So for this post, I am highlighting that aspect of the day spent at the beautiful Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

FYI, if you are in the area, during the month of August, the cost to get into Fairchild (normally $25) is $7.50 on Sundays.

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