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Florida Landscapes: a photoessay

Centre St

Of all the photographs I’ve taken, the Florida landscapes are my favorite. Because who doesn’t love beaches, sunsets, and natural springs? I recently decided to enter one of my Florida Landscape photos into Lake Shore Camera’s monthly photo contest, and I actually won a free 11×14 print. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but we’re not talking about a drug store print here. At Lake Shore, pro photographers actually look at your photo and make sure it prints out looking awesome. In celebration of my good luck, I have compiled some of my favorite Florida landscape photos below.

Clearwater Beach

I live in Florida, so I’m starting with a beach. As far as beach towns go, Clearwater Beach is one of the best. In 2013, Clearwater Beach was named USA Today’s Best Florida Beach Town, and in 2016 Clearwater Beach ranked #1 in the U.S. on TripAdvisor. It is know for its sugar-white sand, clear water, and sunsets at Pier 60.

Clearwater Beach, with all of its rooftop bars, is one of my favorite places to photograph from above. Some of my favorite views of Clearwater are seen from the roof of the Clearwater library, Jimmy’s Crow’s Nest (rooftop bar), Beach Walk, the Sand Pearl, Pier 60, and adjacent beach restaurants: Frenchy’s Rockaway & The Palm Pavilion.

Courtney Campbell Causeway/SR60

Beach Traffic

Clearwater Harbor

Clearwater Marina

Beach Walk During Taste Fest

Pier 60

Sand Dune

Life Guard Station #2 at sunset

Sunset from Frenchy's Rockaway

The Sand Pearl at night

Tarpon Springs

Between Lake Tarpon, the Sponge Docks, Brooker Creek Nature Preserve, and Craig Park/Spring Bayou, there are plenty of beautiful places to photograph in Tarpon Springs. Although Tarpon Springs is best known for its thriving Greek community, it should also be known for its natural beauty.

Lake Tarpon is, without a doubt, one of Florida’s most beautiful freshwater lakes. It is also one of the 10 best lakes for Bass fishing in the state of Florida according to FWC fisheries biologists. You can enjoy great views of Lake Tarpon from John Chesnut Park, Anderson Park, and The Tarpon Turtle; but Lake Tarpon is best experienced by boat.

Reflections on Tarpon Lake

Lake Tarpon reflection

Lake Tarpon in black and white

Lake Tarpon's pirate invasion

Craig Park is best known as the beautiful backdrop for many Tampa Bay area events, including Art on the Bayou each spring, the bayou dive for the cross during Epiphany, and the annual Light up the Bayou event on Christmas eve. Sometimes you can see manatees in Craig Park’s Spring Bayou during winter.

Spring Bayou

The Sponge Docks are the heart of Tarpon Spring’s Greek community. Greek immigrants came to this area in the 1890’s to work in the sponge industry. You can still see the sponge boats docked here between trips out to the ocean (and shrimp boats, sailboats, and more). Sit on the patio at Dimitri’s Greek restaurant for a great view of the Anclote River and the boats passing by.

sponge docks and Anclote River

Walk a mile in Brooker Creek Nature Preserve, and you will come across four different Florida wildlife habitats: sandhills, pine flatwoods, wetlands, and oak hammocks. All are beautiful in their own right.

sandhill

pine flatwood

wetlands

oak hammock

Dunedin

Dunedin is known both for its charming downtown and its natural beauty. Most of my time in Dunedin is spent watching the sunset at the Dunedin Causeway and attending special events in Downtown Dunedin’s Pioneer and Edgewater parks.

Downtown Dunedin, with all of its restaurants and craft breweries, is a popular place to be these days. There is always something going on. Pioneer Park, on the eastern edge of downtown, is host to many events during the year, including Movies in the Park every October and Dunedin Wines the Blues in November.

Downtown Dunedin and Pioneer Parl

On the opposite end of Main Street, Edgewater Park hosts its share of events as well. My favorites are the Old Bay Cafe’s Craft Beer & Crab festival and Dunedin House of Beer’s Craft Beer fest. The best time to go to these events is near sunset, when you can watch the sun set over the Dunedin Marina. At twilight the marina is cast in a cool shade of blue that is very photogenic as well.

Dunedin Marina

We will leave Dunedin with photographs of the Dunedin Causeway at the sunset. It seems like all the locals converge here to watch the sunset. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also free.

Dunedin Causeway sunset

driving off into sunset

John’s Pass

John’s Pass used to be an old fishing village, and the fishing here is still top notch. Standing on the docks near Gators Café & Saloon, you can watch pelicans dive and men cast nets for their next catch.

John's pass

John's pass fishing

Safety Harbor

You’re not a Tampa Bay area photographer until you’ve photographed the Safety Harbor Pier at sunrise/sunset. It’s a rite of passage.

Safety Harbor Pier

Tampa

Tampa: home of the urban landscape.  Ever since Tampa’s Riverwalk construction picked up around 2012, it has been everyone’s favorite place to photograph in Tampa, and it is easy to see why. Here the urban landscape is broken up by the flow of the Hillsborough River, passing behind many of downtown Tampa’s most famous landmarks.

river walk

Hillsborough River

Crystal Beach

Crystal Beach is both the name of a beach and the name of the unincorporated small town near Palm Harbor, FL where it resides. My parents used to take me here when I was growing up to see the sunset, and we still visit here on occasion.

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Orlando area

The Orlando area is home to both urban landscapes and rural ones. The urban landscapes of Orlando can look pretty cool at night. For example, I love the blue lights of City Walk, pictured below. But it is the rolling hills of Clermont, just outside of Orlando, that are the most picturesque.

city walk

Clermont

Florida’s Emerald Coast

Florida’s Emerald Coast was named after the coastline’s green color, caused by harmless algae in the water. The green color is evident on Panama City and Destin beaches. Destin-area marinas also make great photography subjects.

Panama City beach

Henderson Beach

Henderson Beach 2

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Florida’s Nature Coast

I love visiting Florida’s Nature Coast, because it’s almost like taking a trip back in time. The coastline is relatively undeveloped here, occupied exclusively by small towns known for their rivers, natural springs, birds, manatees, clams, and fishing.

Port Richey dock

Crystal River

Three Sisters Springs

Fort Island Gulf Beach

Fort Island Gulf Beach sunset

Dock St.

Crystal River outside 3 Sisters Springs

Crystal River

Crystal River

Crystal River

Cedar Key

fisherman and pelicans at Cedar Key marina

Homosassa Springs State Park

Florida’s First Coast

Florida’s First Coast (a.k.a. historic coast) is an alluring combination of history and beauty that encompasses St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Amelia Island, and Flagler Beach. It is a great area to photograph beaches, sunsets, and historical buildings.

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Shopping on St. George Street a web

In a sea of Florida water and sunset photographs, a picture of a historical district at night stands out. That’s one of the reasons why I chose to enter the photo below in Lake Shore’s photo contest. It was taken in Fernandina Beach’s historic district on Amelia Island close to midnight on a Thursday night. The street was practically deserted as I tried to capture the loneliness of life after midnight in a small town.

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I am thrilled that my photo was chosen this month, but mostly I am grateful to the guys (and Dawn) at Lake Shore Camera for nourishing my photography hobby with great gear and great advice.

 

Jennifer Ring

Jennifer Ring is a freelance writer & photographer living in the Tampa Bay area, on Florida’s west coast, home to some of the best beaches in the state.

http://flillustrated.com
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