The yellow flowers are back at the Circle B Bar Reserve! Each year in November, the marsh landscape bursts into color with the blooms of the burr marigolds. These flowers are of the scientific genus bidens, and another common name for them is beggartick. They are native to Florida and grow well in swampy locations like Circle B. Their seeds stick easily to clothing and animal fur, so they spread really easily. Two years ago the flowers almost completely covered the marsh. Last year they barely bloomed at all – I guess the conditions weren’t quite right. This year they are in pretty good numbers and make great photographic subjects!
My good friend Michael Libbe met me in the early morning darkness for a sunrise shoot. We hiked out to the Wading Bird Way trail, where it’s the right time of year for the sun to come up picturesquely behind my favorite clump of trees in the marsh. Often those trees are covered in Anhingas and Double-Crested Cormorants – the swampy version of a Christmas tree!
The best colors of a sunrise are often half an hour before the sun first shows itself on the horizon. Michael and I were excited to see the wispy clouds and orange and yellow colors. We found clumps of bidens to use in our foregrounds. I started with my wide-angle lens, then switched to my intermediate telephoto…
I’ve just finished reading a great book about flash photography (Speedliter’s Handbook, by Syl Arena). It inspired me to pull out my flash and try to light the foreground flowers, which were strongly backlit by the rising sun. I forgot to strap on my orange gel to match the color of the sunrise light. But it was still a fun little experiment. I’ll be curious to see Michael’s sunrise shots, as he got closer to the flowers and framed his images completely differently.
After the sunrise, we turned around and shot the landscape lit by the golden light. The yellow flowers are not up on the path edges this year, so I used my intermediate telephoto a lot to frame my shots. Many plants are starting to die back already at Circle B, making the primary colors of the landscape browns and greens. The yellow colors of the flowers are a great contrast!
As Michael commented that the flowers weren’t at great angles for framing landscape shots, I reminded him of a fun feature on the 5D Mark III camera – multiple exposures! We both put on our 500mm lenses and aimed straight into the masses of flowers. The above image was a composition of 5 shots, each one from a slightly different camera angle.
I tried isolating single blooms, which was challenging. When I started to play with the above image on the computer, it yelled “Topaz me!” So I started playing with the “I’m Feeling Lucky” (randomization) button in Topaz Simplify. After a few clicks I had a painterly feeling that I really liked.
If you want to take pictures of the yellow flowers at Circle B, you’d better hurry! They only bloom for a few weeks. Try to go on a sunny day with blue skies. You won’t be disappointed!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Circle B Bar Reserve?
Check out my Circle B Bar Reserve page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!
I’ve got to meet this Michael dude. He sounds like a lot of fun!!! :-)
Great shots, Jess! The first image is quite striking, and I like how you answered the call for Topaz on the last one.
Thanks, Michael! I can’t wait to see your take on the sunrise.