Florida Edition: With a wide variety of landscapes, here are 50 ideas of what to capture while you are in Florida.
Sand is everywhere on the coasts of Florida and looks very different on the dunes, near the water and the different coastlines. Try different angles and include a variety of elements. Sand can be different colors on each beach too.
You don’t have to be in the water to capture waves. You can capture them crashing on rocks or the shoreline as well as by themselves in the ocean. Try the difference on a calm day versus a windy day. They will appear different colors depending on the time of day as well as the clarity of the water that day.
This can be on a walk and you use a puddle or you can use the reflection of the water on a beach or in a canal. Find an interesting subject and see if you can incorporate a reflection using the water around you.
There are so many different kinds of birds in Florida and depending on the time of year and the time of day, you can have a great variety of photo opportunities. It helps to have a longer zoom lens as they may fly away if you get too close and you don’t want to disturb them.
Roads are always fun to photograph because the scenery around the road can be so different and the curves are fun to capture. Even if it’s a straight road it makes for great leading lines.
Trees, sand, various plants and trail material can help transform a trail into a welcoming environment and make you feel like you are there. Add a person which helps to show depth as well.
There are hundreds of plant varieties in Florida and it’s neat to capture them in a landscape as well as up close and personal. If you get up close you can most likely capture some insects on the plants.
I love a good lone tree whether it’s a palm tree, dead tree with a gorgeous silhouette or a different variety in a beautiful grassland or wetland setting.
Have you ever been mesmerized by the glistening movement of water in a pool? It is constantly changing and creates a cool kaleidoscope effect. Works best when the water is moving and sun is shining on it.
Fluffy billowing clouds are fun to capture. Not everyday will be blue skies so embrace the days when it’s cloudy and overcast. Some days you can just stare up at the sky and think about what animal that cloud looks like.
If you are on a kayak and moving through a canal you can look in the mangrove roots and you are sure to find some fish. If the sun is shining just right on the water you can get a great photograph. You can also go to a Marina and find Tarpon swimming close to the top of the water.
In the ocean you can see some pretty large boats especially sailboats near the horizon at sunset. They are a great element to add to your landscape or sunset shot.
Accessories: Shoes, Sunglasses, Beach Bags, etc.
There’s always the classic sunglasses on the beach shot. You can get pretty creative when you add a prop like sunglasses into your shot. This helps to tell a story. Think about all the beach accessories you may have like a beach bag or shoes as well.
Sunset and Sunrise
I love this time of day because there are so many options. Do you want to shoot the sunrise or sunset itself with clouds changing a variety of colors or go under a bridge and get some great light hitting the structure. A line of cypress trees helps make a sunrise or sunset shot interesting as well. Look for something of interest to go along with the sunrise or sunset.
This one takes a little patience but if you wait long enough they will land close to you and then snap the shot. Look for a field with flowers along the roadside or a trail and you could get a dragonfly as well.
You will want more of a zoom lens as you never want to approach an alligator too close. They like to hang out in small pools of the canals, and you will see them outside the water during the day as they are enjoying the warmth of the sun. Look for their eyes to pop out of the water if it’s a colder day or early/late in the day.
I’m a huge shell collector and I love finding all the unique shells as well as photographing them when there’s a ton by the shore. Get down low by the shells and it will make it look like there are thousands of them. You can also just photograph a gorgeous shell on it’s own or set on a log or rock.
I like to photograph palm trees from a variety of angles. You can get one by itself or a grove of palm trees. They can be found almost anywhere in Florida.
I try to wear tennis shoes if I’ll be climbing on the rocks to capture shots because sea rocks are very rough and you can get scraped up so be careful. If you don’t have the proper footwear you can photograph the rocks while standing on the beach or in the water.
Always be on the lookout after it rains because you may see a rainbow. I was photographing the storm clouds and walked along the beach, turned around and spotted a rainbow peaking around a hotel building so remember to look around the sky after it rains.
You can see so many amazing things to photograph if you hop in a kayak and get closer to nature. I always have a dry bag with me and keep my camera in it until I see something I want to photograph or I use my phone if I don’t want to take my camera out due to the salt water.
There are so many choices for docks to photograph especially near the canals. You can find some remnants of old docks or bridges that are neat to photograph. They make for interesting foreground in sunsets and sunrises as well.
When you have an area with a lot of islands like southern Florida you will find more bridges and they all have a unique look and style.
There are quite a few small and large fishing piers in Florida. You can photograph them from below, at a distance as well as when you are walking on them. With so many different angles to choose from, you are bound to get a variety of images.
Whether you are fishing from shore, on a boat in the sea or a kayak in a canal you will find some great photographic moments. You can capture the act of fishing, the big catch or use a fisherman in the foreground as the sun sets.
When you are near the water, you are bound to find a lighthouse. These are fun to photograph during the day or when the lights are on at night. Capture them in a larger scene or get the small details. Learn the history of the lighthouse and try to capture it in a way that you don’t see very often.
I enjoy getting people in my photographs because it tells a story and adds perspective. If there are a lot of people in your shot, take advantage of it and see what you can capture with the people in mind.
There are 3 different types of mangroves (red, black and white) and you can find many species of birds and fish hiding in them. I love the exposed roots and the detail you can discover as you get close to them.
I do not like spiders in general but I do like to photograph them at a distance. Somehow I have managed to capture spiders without knowing it while taking a photo of a plant or flower. I really like the spider webs when they are covered with dew and the light hits them just right. Sometimes they can be hard to focus on so I use manual focus a lot of the time.
After a storm there are a lot more sea creatures that have washed up or during low tide you can find creatures inside the shells. Always be respectful and never take home live sea creatures, check the shells carefully if you take any with you. I take pictures as things are and do not move them for a picture. They are where they are for a reason.
My boys like to make drip sand castles which make for some fun photographs. Try taking photos at different angles and have someone stand far away or up close for a fun unique perspective.
I enjoy taking photos of people surfing, wakesurfing, fishing or kayaking. They also make for a good subject during sunrise or sunset.
There is always some kind of flower blooming in Florida. Get up close and personal and capture nature’s colors. You might even get an insect like a dragonfly, bee, or spider in your image.
There are several areas designated as dark skies in Florida and these are the best places to capture the milky way. For best results pick a day when there is no moon or very little moon from April - September and make sure it’s a time of night when the galactic center is visible.
When photographing at night make sure you are aware of your surroundings as a lot of animals are very active at night like alligators, bobcats, panthers and deer. You can get photos of the sky, hotels, large buildings, lighthouses, amusement parks, fireworks, etc.
You can find anoles everywhere in Florida. I especially like when they stick out their dewlap which a male does to protect his territory or attract a mate. You can capture them on a boardwalk, a tree or leaf or right by your pool. The green anole can change color from brown to green and vice versa and have a pink dewlap. Brown anoles are always brown and have a bright orange-red dewlap.
These owls are very prevalent in Marco Island and Cape Coral. Their burrows are usually blocked off with pvc pipe and rope to protect them. I like to photograph them with a longer lens so I don’t disturb them.
When you walk along the beach you may see holes or something scurrying out of the way as you pass. If you stop and do not move you will see the crabs coming out of their holes and you can get some shots. They are fairly skittish so you may have to be patient and have a longer lens. You can also find horseshoe crab shells like the one pictured. Fun fact: Horseshoe crabs aren't actually crabs and are more closely related to arachnids.
There are some really neat hotels along the beach or in a busy area. They may look great from a distance or you can look closely at all the detail. I like to take a wide lens and look up at the hotel for a different perspective
Find out when the moon is rising and setting and take a picture of it at that time because it will appear larger and may have a different color to it. Try photographing the moon at various stages. I use the photopills app to get my information on night skies.
Parks and Wildlife Refuges
You should be able to find a state park or designated natural area anywhere in Florida. They all offer something different and you can go to the Visit Florida site HERE for more information (https://www.visitflorida.com/travel-ideas/articles/outdoors-nature-florida-state-parks-natural-adventures/) There are so many different images you can capture so try to be creative and try to take the same shot from at least 3 different angles.
I love a good boardwalk shot in a forest or on your way to the beach. Try getting low to the ground for a different perspective. Boardwalks are great for getting leading lines as well.
You can’t go to Florida and not play mini golf. I love to take a picture when someone gets a hole in one or when they are hitting the first shot. It makes for great memories to look back on.
I like to take pics of empty beach chairs overlooking the ocean. Makes you feel like that could be you sitting on the beach. You could take some sunglasses, a blanket or drink and add that to the scene too. People sitting in the chairs is fun too. Get creative and set the scene.
Food and Drinks
I like to take pictures of the food I eat or what I'm drinking when I’m out and about. I do this to remember what I ate and drank and I might want to replicate it at home sometime. Food and drinks can make for great photography subjects especially when it looks almost too pretty to eat or drink.
Watching a storm come in on the ocean is an amazing sight to see. Always be aware of strong winds and lightning and stay safe. The cloud formations and coloring can be really dramatic. Even better if the sun is out alongside the storm clouds.
This is a simple concept but there is so much variety in capturing a landscape scene whether its a cypress forest, sandy beach or sunset you are sure to capture a great scene. Pay attention to your composition and look for a foreground, background and middleground to make the most of the image.
A good way to remember where you go while out exploring is to take a picture of the sign. There have been way too many times I wished I would have taken a picture of the sign because I couldn’t remember what the place was called. I also like to take a picture of the information posted or maps so I can go back and look at it later.
It’s fun to capture a sun starburst in your photo. If you are using manual I would use f22 and then change the other settings accordingly. If you place the sun behind an object and move slightly so the sun is peeking out then you can capture it. Play around with it and see what you can come up with.
Don’t forget to put yourself in the image. Set a self timer and get into the scene. You want to remember you being there just as much as anyone else you are with. You can also ask someone to take your photo.
There are so many possibilities for photos opportunities in Florida. These are just 50 of the infinite amount. What do you like to capture when you are in Florida?