by Brent Bergherm
Pioneer park is about 58 acres of beautiful goodness with many opportunities for your photographic interests. As of this writing the aviary is under construction so I’ll be focusing my efforts on the other parts of the park that look good through the viewfinder. I’ll reference locations as they relate to the gazebo which has recently been renovated and looks pretty sharp.
- The Main Pond. The main pond is located southeast of the gazebo. It has a path that you can follow to walk around it. You’ll find geese, ducks and other wildlife along this path and especially as you get close to the tiny island that is somewhat close to shore. This is a nesting island and the geese, as shown in this first photo, like to remind you who lives here and who doesn’t. They get a little noisy.
- Trees. The park is loaded with trees. From the sycamore in the center around the gazebo to the other trees, many of which are also sycamore, that populate the rest of the park grounds. You’ll also find a few evergreens as well. Fall is great for the colors seen here. But anytime is great for enjoying the trees. You can see some details in the other pics whether they’re bare, or the roots showing, the trees definitely help define the character of Pioneer Park.
- Gazebo. If I remember right, the gazebo was built in 1910, but I can’t find my reference. I know the park was established in 1902, but anyway, the gazebo has been the central focal point for the Park for likely more than a century. It was recently renovated and things are looking pretty sharp. It’s fun to walk around and see how the background of trees changes as you move. Compositions are fluid and the slightest move to the right, left, up or down can change the scene rather dramatically. It’s great fun to explore.
- Other ponds. Straight west and a slight bit to the north of the gazebo is a secondary pond You’ll find a more “natural” setting here as there’s no paved pathway that goes all the way around, at least not really tightly as with the main pond. You’ll find many insects, fish and other birds in this area. This is also a popular spot for folks to pass by as they’re out on their morning or afternoon walk. It’s smaller, so it’s more intimate and peaceful than the main pond. Other ponds are in the aviary and I can’t wait until that construction is finished so we can get to photographing the great variety of birds they have there. Hopefully they’ll put in a few photo stations so we don’t have to constantly fight the chain link fence that has been there for years.
Really wide angles work perfectly here. While it may be too wide for some, I find the 11-24 to be a great landscape lens. I also recommend the 16-35, or this 16-35 that has IS. If you shoot a crop-sensor camera go for the Tokina 11-16. It’s such a nice and incredibly sharp lens. For a prime shooter, the 24mm by Canon or the 21mm or 25mm by Zeiss is sure to please. I’ve also got an example here with the fisheye lens (the distorted gazebo image). It’s a great lens bit I understand it’s not for everyone. For the ultra compact experience, don’t forget the Fuji with the 10-24mm lens.
I actually struggle between recommending the 24-105 or the 24-70. The 24-70 is sharper and has the f/2.8 aperture, but the greater reach will be appreciated by many. If you’re more of a casual explorer, go for the 24-105, if you have higher demands for technical quality then the 24-70 will be more to your liking. If you’re looking for the ultimate sharpness and clarity, go for a 50mm prime (non-zoom) lens. The Sigma 50mm Art or the Canon 50mm or even the manual focus Zeiss. All are insanely sharp and they’ll allow you to render the subject very well with a “just right” field of view.
For my shooting, it’s hard to recommend a telephoto. The longest lens used for these example shots is the 24-105. If you like the more isolated views then certainly go for the 70-200. This is my go-to lens for isolating details. Of course, if you’re mixing it up with various locations to shoot, then by all means go for the 70-300 or the 100-400. Each lens will serve you well here but the preference goes to the 70-200 for its f/2.8 opening. I just like that for handheld shots when it’s needed. All these lenses are image stabilized so that helps keep the subjects sharp as well.
Subjects abound that just scream for macro. Get the 100mm or 180mm by Canon if you really want to explore the flowers, insects and other items with incredible detail. But you could also save a bunch of money by getting the extension tubes and pairing it with any of the other lenses you have. I recommend a tripod for any macro shots, but it’s not required.