January 16, 2012 update: A fire has destroyed The Senator. See this post for more details. –Edro
Intro / Description
What if you could visit one of the oldest living things in the world, something that’s been alive since 1500 BC, when the Hittites were storming Babylon, and the Mayans were just getting started? What if you didn’t have to travel across the country or the world to do so?
Well, you can do this in Central Florida. The Senator is the largest bald cypress tree in the United States, and is thought to be the oldest of its species (~3500 years old). It’s also the fifth oldest living tree and most likely the largest tree east of the Mississippi River. The tree’s size is particularly impressive because it’s survived many hurricanes, including one in 1925 which destroyed the top 40 feet.
The Senator: 3500 year old Bald Cyprus tree in Big Tree Park, Longwood, Florida
Info for Photographers
The Senator is located in Big Tree Park in Longwood, Florida. A wooden boardwalk leads from the small parking area through the swamp to the two large trees. The second tree is “Lady Liberty” and is about 2000 years old.
Lady Liberty: 2000 year old Bald Cyprus tree
The two large cyprus trees aren’t the only things in the park. Keep your eyes open for other vegetation and occasional wildlife such as Owls, and Turtles. The tree canopy can also be quite interesting, so look up too.
Tree canopy: That’s a very tall palm tree!
Bring your tripod so you can bracket your images. You’ll be shooting up and the contrast between the sky and the dark foliage is a perfect application for HDR techniques.
To me, this place cries out for a wide-angle lens and the wider the better. I made the photos in this post with a Sigma 8 – 16mm zoom on a crop body camera.
Best time to visit:
If you haven’t seen this yet, then by all means go whenever you get a chance. It’s a quick trip and you can visit just about any time of the day or year. Cyprus trees do change color in the fall, so an autumn view might be interesting. You’ll want to avoid bugs and heat, so plan accordingly.
There’s a small playground for the kids, and it’s right on the cross Seminole bicycle trail.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved