Off the beaten track

…and one of my very favorite places.

Eureka Springs Park is a quiet, secluded place that was originally developed by a Russian immigrant, amateur horticulturist, and traveler who somehow made his way to the Tampa area. Beginning in the 1930s, he filled the garden with plants he found during his travels. In 1967, he donated the 31-acre garden to the county, stipulating that it should remain a botanical garden and free to the public. The county maintains many of the garden’s original features including a rose garden, lily pond, and butterfly garden and has added a greenhouse for bromeliads, ferns, and orchids, as well as the boardwalk which traverses the dense woods and swamp behind the managed section of the park. Unfortunately Eureka Spring, which gave the park its name, is much smaller than it was originally due to construction of a nearby canal.

I spent a couple of hours there over the weekend enjoying the solitude (I only saw five other people while I was there!), birds singing, and a cool, blue-sky kind of day. I was also trying to use some of the techniques we are learning in the Finding My Eye class and now have a better appreciation of my camera’s program mode and exposure compensation. Once home, I reviewed the lesson on composition and focus compared to the photographs I took and realized that most of them do not achieve the objectives of this lesson. I spotted some bright red roses and a few other spots of color but, for the most part, the park’s flowering plants are dormant until spring. I don’t have much to share from the boardwalk (except the boardwalk itself!) because most of the photos I took there illustrate exactly the opposite of Kat’s points about bright colors and brightly lit and/or isolated objects attracting the eye.

Still, I do love this park and think it has real potential for photography. So, I’ve decided to make it a point to visit there at least once a month for the rest of the year in order to see everything it has to offer and to get a sense of when the garden is at its best.

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