Apr 29, 2010

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Sarasota, Florida.

Described as a tropical oasis Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is located on the Gulf of Mexico, in sunny Sarasota, Florida.  Limiting myself to one brief sentence I would describe Selby as an extraordinary feast for the eyes! 

Note*  Please click each image to view larger and sharper!

  Sophie Enjoying Selby's Gardens.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

Speaking of limits, I tried my best to limit myself to one camera and lens for the visit.  I had a good idea of the sights we would witness as we've had the privilege of visiting Selby several times over the last few years.  I will elaborate more about my camera and lens choice later in the post.

The Selby family were very well off from their prosperous oil company and built their beautiful home here in the 1920's on eight acres of land.  Today the Gardens span an impressive 13 acres of gardens and trees and maintain a collection of more than 20,000 greenhouse plants in eight greenhouses. Also included is the Tropical Display House where unusual flora can be viewed.  Selby is a well respected center for research and education which receives over 180,000 visitors a year!

A walk through the impressive gardens reveal not only a myriad of flowering plants and cactus, but also Banyan, Fig, Eucalyptus and a host of other trees.  The banyan tree can grow to be so large that Napoleon was said to house his entire army under just one tree!

 Single Bloom and Succulents.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

 Miniature Beauty.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

Looking up on the Veins of Life.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

 Hanging Seedpods.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

 Leanne and Sophie Under the Banyan Tree.  Nikon D700.  Nikkor 18-200mm VR.

Sophie and I Standing in the Roots of a Fig Tree.  Nikon D700.  Nikkor 18-200mm VR.

Outside the Orchid House were a few items that looked a little more familiar than some of the other wondrous sights at Selby.  There were four Bonsai trees on display during our visit that we had never seen before.  Even though the tallest of them might have been only sixteen inches the ages of these carefully 'crafted' trees were between seven and almost twenty years!

Brazilian Bonsai planted in 2003.  Nikon D700.  Nikkor 18-200mm VR.

The Orchid House is something that everyone in their lifetime should be able to experience.  On our last trip an interpreter mentioned to us that most of the orchids in this greenhouse would not be able to survive in such a harsh climate as Florida!!!  Even though it may be hot and humid outside it is nothing as compared to inside!  However, the temperature and humidity assault is nothing as to the visual assault!  We learned that they never display ever orchid they have in the orchid house.   The selectively choose the best plants that bloom during different times of the year.  If I had my time back I would have been more careful as to get the names of each of the orchids I photographed.

Unknown Orchid.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.  Fill Flash with SB-800.

 Unknown Orchid.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

 Unknown Orchid.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

Unknown Orchid.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.  Fill Flash with SB-800.

The interpreter inside was quite friendly and even took the time to point out one small but beautiful blossom on a smaller tree growing inside the Orchid House.  It is amazing to think that this is where the chocolate we love and adore begins it's life!

Cocoa Tree Bloom.  Nikon D700.  Tamron 90mm Macro.

This is only a small sample of what Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has to offer.  This past winter was one of the harshest winters Florida has faced in some time.  Multiple frosts did damage quite a few of the plants inhabiting Selby.  The caretakers were confident that much of the damage was reversible and to be honest it didn't affect our day in the least.

I hope you've enjoyed this small sample of what Selby has to offer.  If you are ever in the Sarasota area take the time to visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  There is a small admission fee.  But I promise you will forget all about it after you take fifty steps inside!

Most of the images I took at Selby were taken with a Nikon D700 and Tamron 90mm Macro lens.  The D700 offered me the best image quality I could ask for.  I set the camera to Auto ISO with a limit of HI-0.3 (equivalent to ISO 8000) and set the minimum shutter speed to whatever the situation called for....faster outdoors in the wind and slower in the greenhouse.  From past experience at the Gardens I knew that the macro lens would be a great choice for the day.  This gem of a lens is sharp, contrasty, small and light and offers stunning image quality with beautifully smooth bokeh (the term used to describe out of focus areas in an image).  By choosing to limit myself mostly to one lens it limited my choice of composition and made me work a little harder to produce great imagery.  It was a great exercise to open my creative boundaries as creativity is not one of my strong suits.

I also remembered to take a flash with me, especially for the Orchid House.   A little fill light went a long ways in the dim interior under the canopy of plants overhead.

I did use my Nikkor 18-200mm VR for the large tree images in this post as it would be impossible to capture their grandeur without a wide angle.  Being a DX lens (meaning the lens is designed to only cover a digital sensor that is smaller than 35mm film) the resolution of the camera was reduced to 5MP.  However, the D700 more than made up for the lack of pixels.  I would feel very confident printing 11X14's as the quality of the pixels as compared to my D200 or D300 is simply stunning.

All the images you see in this blog post are available for sale, except for my family photos of course. :)  Custom framing is available.  I print all images myself on a wide format professional series Epson 7880 printer.  Please contact me by email listed below.

RONiN photography (Scott Grant) offers print and image sales, printing and enlargement services, photographic instruction, and wedding, graduate and portrait photography.  If you would like to contact me please do so at scott@roninphoto.ca or call at (709) 634-3693.  I'm located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in Canada.

If you would like to learn more about RONiN photography please visit www.roninphoto.ca.

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