Photographing Sweetwater Wetlands Park


Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville, Florida.
A cloud is passing overhead, shading the marsh.
Compare these colors to the images below.

Spring greens are appearing among winter’s golds and reds, and the colors inspired me to take some scenic shots.

This park can actually be difficult to photograph. As clouds pass over the fields, hues suddenly brighten then subdue. A second or two can make a difference in whether the marsh looks well-lit or muddied.

But clouds are nevertheless welcome! The terrain here is so flat, that a solid, empty sky means an uninteresting picture. Imagine the photos in this article with a solid blue sky or, worse yet, a dull gray expanse.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville, Florida.
Click on the picture to enlarge.

Cloud patterns add character, but another important consideration are diagonals. Diagonal lines add energy and movement to the composition.

Look at the picture above. The diagonal trail on the left and the diagonal waterway on the right come to a point. They lead the eye toward the tiny human figure jogging the trail. The tiny coots in the foreground enhance this directional flow, as they swim in the direction of the point.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Here is another landscape with more diagonals. Here our eye is guided toward two tiny coots. Meanwhile, the clouds sweep slightly upward, creating additional movement.

In this view of the marsh, what do you notice as your eye is led back?

Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Click image to enlarge.

There is a gray bird where the blue water merges with the field of pennywort. And in the distance, at the tip of the arrow, is the roof of a building.

Although these tiny figures – the jogger, the coots, the rooftop, a bird – seem insignificant, they are points of focus that add interest to the photo.

Now let’s look at an additional photo. Where do you see diagonals and focal points?

Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Click image to enlarge.

Now let’s look at a different type of photo. I was attracted to the colorful reeds and their reflection in the water. But the photograph isn’t that interesting, in spite of an American Coot adding a focal point.

Click image to enlarge.

So let’s zoom in and see what happens – let’s change our perspective.

Colorful Reeds.
Click on image to enlarge.

While I was at the park, I noticed a tour group standing on a covered section of boardwalk. I’ve taken multiple pictures of this construction, all of which I’ve discarded as “So what?” photos. But now, look how the people add interest to and document the space.

Boardwalk at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
Click on image to enlarge.

I hope that showing you what I look for as I shoot pictures and select the best shots has helped. Look for additional posts like this in the future.

Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She has a passion for day-hiking and nature, and also enjoys writing. Be sure to visit the TenPaths YouTube channel, which is still in its infancy.

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