There is no better way to relieve stress than to take a walk in a nature preserve. My wife saw that my stress level was reaching it's maximum and suggested we take a trip to the west coast of Florida and visit the Six Mile Cypress Slough (pronounced sloo) in Fort Myers. I was a little concerned about the perceived six mile walk and the South Florida heat, but the reality is that it was only 1.4 miles and a well sun insulated walkway. To my pleasant surprise I discovered this was a very mature preserve with a beautiful canopy of vegetation providing a nice roof-like covering for the wooden walkway. The canopy provided all types of challenging lighting opportunities with brilliant colors and reflection opportunities at every turn.
When I start walking, my focus is not about looking for any particular birds, flowers, or nature items. I focus on seeing everything and allow myself to relax and experience the walk. To my amazement when I follow this approach, I always just begin to see things. I don't make much noise. I walk softly in the hopes that I am blending in with nature as opposed to being a foreign object invading the environment. I find myself avoiding others on the walkways. I will generally find a cool spot in the shade where I can observe the movement of leaves, branches, and most importantly water. Still water presents reflection opportunities. Rippled water presents fish, turtles, or alligators that blend silently and seamlessly into the colors. As I walked "through the slough" all the stresses that life has presented me quickly evaporates from my mind and soul. This level of consciousness allows me to see the ripples. I start to observe birds camouflaged within the tree leaves while sounds of movement become more prominent. My camera now becomes my weapon for the hunt. "Capturing" in my camera prison what I see and being able to tell the story of my surroundings through pictures becomes the goal of the hunt. Ultimately I want the viewer of my images to feel as if they were walking in my shoes.
The Six Mile Slough was a great photography opportunity that I am grateful to have been able to take advantage. I look forward to returning and walking "through the slough" in the spring and once again use the preserve as an opportunity to reduce life's stresses.
Have you had a similar experience, I'd like to hear about it.
Enjoy and remember,
"Moments in time are lived once. Images of those moments live forever."