Date Of Visit: June 1, 2019
Location: 40 Asbury St, Topsfield, MA
Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset
Cost: Daily parking fee charged Memorial Day weekend through October 31
MA resident $5
Non-MA resident $10
There is a pay station located at the parking lot.
Parking: There is a parking area for about 50 or so cars.
Trails Size and Difficulty: 721 acres, easy to moderate
Universally Accessible: Yes, the main trail is universally accessible
Dog Friendly: Yes
Website: Bradley Palmer State Park Website
Highlights: equestrian trails, meadows, plants, flowers, scenic views, wildlife, historic site, wading pool (June 26 – September 7 Open daily, 9:30am to 7:00pm)
Named after noted attorney and businessman Bradley Palmer, Bradley Palmer State Park has numerous trails for cycling, horse riding or just hiking as well as beauty unmatched by most parks in the area.
There is a variety of wildlife at Bradley Palmer. Snakes (garters mostly), frogs and toads and birds are abundant at the park. I was careful to not get too close to the Fowler’s toad as it has poison glands that meet at the back of their eyes. Actually, I had no idea about this while I took the photo. It was only after I had somewhat foolishly gotten close to the frog, taken the photo and researched what type of frog it was that I found about this. I am always careful to not disturb the wildlife though. The only reason it looks like I was very close was because of my telephoto lens. But it is something to keep in mind next time.
There are also numerous equestrian trails for horse riders to take their horses on.
There are also open fields with obstacles for horses to make jumps.
In fact, it is the open areas with long trails that make Bradley Palmer so special. There are so many pretty trees and flowers along the trails which are located along the Ipswich River. I could walk along the seemingly endless trails just taking in the scenic views along the way.
There are also historic buildings at the park. Palmer had constructed a mansion called Willow Dale where he resided. The building was restored in 2007 and is used for wedding receptions and other celebratory events under the name Willowdale Estate. I didn’t take photos of the remodeled building as there was a wedding reception taking place there during my visit.
There is also an old abandoned building at one of the entrances to the park. I’m not sure what it was originally used for (perhaps a horse barn as Bradley Palmer enjoyed horses). But, it is fun to think of it as being the home of a gnome or some other fantastical creature.
Bradley Palmer is a dog friendly park. There is more than 720 acres for you and your pooch to explore. Luke, a 7 year old, Tree Walker Coon hound, had fun on the trail.
The one thing that made this shoot somewhat challenging (despite the birds who kept flying away before I could shoot them) was the lighting at the park. Sunlight can be very difficult to work with. Frankly, it is often easier to get a darker image and fix it in post production. An over exposed photo can be very hard to “fix” later. This is why it’s important to get the photo right in the camera whenever possible,
There are two easier ways to avoid getting too much light in your photo: come back later and (time permitting) shoot the photo at a later time when the lighting may be better or try to position yourself in a different angle where the light may be less harsh. Those suggestions may seem obvious but sometimes the most obvious ideas do not always come to mind, especially if we may not have time to shoot the image later in the day.
When I took a beginner photography class, the teacher told us to shoot at 5.6 “because he said so.” While it is obvious that this is not always the best setting to use, I did notice I shot most of my photos at 5.6 or 4.0. Of course, it will vary upon where and when and the environment you’re shooting in, 5.6 is a good place to set your camera at and you can always adjust from there if you’re unsure what setting to use, particularly for beginners.
In a future post I will share some thoughts on photographing birds. You know, the least frustrating part of photography ( :