Photographing in the heavy foliage of swamp wetlands is exciting but also challenging. In this video, outdoor photographers, Doug Gardner and Jason Hahn, take you into the Florida Everglades where they explore the freshwater Cypress swamps and show you how to capture beautiful, nature photographs.
The sunlight pockmarks the dense swamp vegetation and trees. Because of this extreme range of light, Doug says you have to think on your feet. He compares the experience to photographing in the Amazon jungle, and uses a variety of camera settings for depth and exposure. Jason suggests shooting in High Dynamic Range or HDR, taking multiple exposures, which can be stacked together in post production to create the final image. In a swamp environment, the general approach is to expand your tonal range so you can pick up the brightest colors, and also capture details in the deep shadows. When shooting in the thick foliage of a wooded wetland, it’s important to control your white balance to avoid color cast. For the most accurate result, you should try to shoot in the RAW format with custom white balance.
Doug and Jason wade further into the swamp waters and discover orchid flowers and Bromeliad air plants growing off the trees. Jason explains, “This is the Orchid and Bromeliad capitol of America” There are 44 different species of orchid and 14 species of air plant. The men take close-ups of a colorful clamshell orchid. To isolate the unusual flower, Doug shoots at f2.8 to blur the dark, background colors. He explains why you should shoot your subject from different angles in order to take advantage of lighting variations. These two pros go on to photograph ferns, cypress trees, wildflowers, air plants, and swamp animals including crocodiles, mink, and birds.
So join pro shooter, Doug Gardner, in the freshwater Cypress swamps for tips on photographing exotic flowers, plants, and wildlife.