Ancient Dunes: Live Oak/Palmetto Forest
Once upon a time the ocean levels along the Florida coast were considerably higher. When they receded they left a pattern of ancient dunes well inland. Over time, vegetation conquered the sand, mostly Live Oak, Bay Tree, Palmetto, and in the troughs between the dunes, Cabbage Palm and Slash Pine. You see this habitat at Ft. Matanzas National Monument and, as pictured here, at Anastasia State Park (among a host of other spots). Add the inevitable Resurrection Fern and Spanish Moss and you have a truly tropical look.
In a shot like this, for me, it is the variety of shapes and textures that capture my eye…and, of course, the way the light plays over it all. I have taken more than a few shots on every visit to this kind of habitat. They rarely work. This one, I think, manages to hang together and capture something of the experience of being there.
One of the limiting factors in these shots is always exposure. It is very difficult to capture the range of light…from sky visible between trees, to the shadows under dense vegetation. I make no claim to special skills in this area. I have come to trust the auto exposure in most modern compact digital cameras to do a better job of balancing exposure than I could…at least getting it close enough so that the image can be post-processed to bring both highlights and shadows back in range. The SX20 on Landscape program certainly handled it well, with enough balance so that a little extra work in Lightroom brought it up to something quite close to the naked eye impression.
Canon SX20IS at about 48mm equivalent. F3.5 @ 1/80th @ ISO 80. Landscape program.
In Lightroom, fairly heavy Recovery for the backdrop of skylight. A touch of Fill Light for the foreground shadows. Blackpoint slightly right. Added Clarity and a smidge of Vibrance. Sharpen landscape preset.
From St. Augustine FL 2010.