David Moynahan Photography: Blog http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog en-us (C) David Moynahan Photography david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Mon, 30 Apr 2018 21:10:00 GMT Mon, 30 Apr 2018 21:10:00 GMT http://www.davidmoynahan.com/img/s/v-5/u739731233-o849357579-50.jpg David Moynahan Photography: Blog http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog 120 80 Spring Migration at the Florida Gulf Coast http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/5/spring-migration-at-the-florida-gulf-coast Blackburnian Warbler 2Blackburnian Warbler 2

Blackburnian Warbler

A big storm front was predicted to push through the Florida Panhandle in mid-April (a couple weeks ago), followed by the wind shifting to the northwest. Based on what Crystal understood from birder friends, that sounded like prime conditions for lots of weary neotropical migratory songbirds to drop to the first land they came to after crossing the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan.  Our dear friend, Susan Cerulean (our primary birding mentor) had witnessed a "fall out" in similar conditions just the week before at St George Island and encouraged us to go for it.  So, Crystal and I, and our dog Scruff, with minimal planning, left mid-storm on Sunday, headed for the state park on St George.

Cape May Warbler 3Cape May Warbler 3

Cape May Warbler

As we arrived on the Island, the tail of the storm was breaking up, and sure enough, the brisk wind had shifted to WNW. There were so many birders there, we had trouble finding a place to park.... and we struck GOLD!

Black-throated Green WarblerBlack-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

We stayed for two days and saw 52 species in an area not much bigger than our yard.  Of those, 20 were warblers -- 12 of which we had never seen before! It was incredible and so lucky.  To a large degree, our luckiest encounter was meeting Alan Ashley who was leading a small group from Albany (GA) Audubon Society.  Other birders pointed out (and helped identify) many birds for us, but Alan was one of those teachers one dreams about. His birding experience stretched over 6 decades, his knowledge vast, and best of all, he loved sharing his enthusiasm and expertise. Alan's group had left Sunday afternoon (our first day), so we were surprised to see Alan and Peggy there Monday morning, but they'd decided to stay another day. And so all day Monday, Crystal and I were Alan's fledglings.  If you happen to see this, Alan Ashley, thanks again for your kindness, humor, patience, and sharing.

Peewee 2Peewee 2

Eastern Wood-Peewee

For many years now, I've been much more a FL landscape photographer (than wildlife). On top of that, I was recovering from surgery and had a weak left shoulder with limited range of motion - that's the arm I use to hold up my heavy telephoto lens. These birds, especially the warblers, are small (4-6"), and they seemed to move non-stop through the scrub oaks and pines.  So, I was rusty and my subjects were challenging, but I was really psyched and determined... and somehow managed to get a good assortment of well-focused portraits (out of very many duds). Just for my own record, warblers we saw but I was unable to photograph: Yellow-throated, Yellow-rumped, Black and White, Tennessee, Blue-winged, Magnolia, Prairie, Palm, female Redstart, Wilson's, and Swainson's.  

Prothonotary WarblerProthonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Parula FlightParula Flight

Northern Parula

Cerulean WarblerCerulean Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Blackburnian WarblerBlackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

Brown-headed NuthatchBrown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Black-throated Green Warbler 2Black-throated Green Warbler 2

Black-throated Green Warbler

Blue GrosbeakBlue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Cape May Warbler FlightCape May Warbler Flight

Cape May Warbler
Scarlet TanagerScarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Later on Monday, we suddenly heard a cry of distress and looked up just after a falcon - a Merlin -  had chased down and caught a male Scarlet Tanager. We stood aghast as it landed on a snag to finish killing its prey. I made a few photos, said a prayer for the dying bird, and felt sad, particularly thinking of the treacherous and exhausting flight the tanager had just successfully completed across the Gulf. Many of these migrants perish in the sea before reaching North America.

Merlin with TanagerMerlin with Tanager

Merlin with Scarlet Tanager

Hermit ThrushHermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Hooded Warbler ImmatureHooded Warbler Immature

Immature Hooded Warbler

Hooded WarblerHooded Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Peewee 3Peewee 3

Eastern Wood-Peewee.  The one bird who'd sit still and pose.

Redstart 2Redstart 2

American Redstart

Summer Tanager MaleSummer Tanager Male

Summer Tanager

Worm-eating WarblerWorm-eating Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler

PS- For those of you who wondered, Scruffy got a few walks during birding breaks, but mostly he was happy to nap in his car-bed. He's become a great travel dog, adaptable, ready for new adventure, and always wanting to go along. What a great dog! 

That's it for this month. Hope you enjoyed the birds.  Please leave a word or two in the comments below, and share this link with anyone who might enjoy it.  Thanks for visiting.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) bird photography birding david moynahan photography florida florida state parks migration nature photography neotropical birds st george island http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/5/spring-migration-at-the-florida-gulf-coast Mon, 30 Apr 2018 21:10:21 GMT
Seven Runs Creek - Florida Forever! http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/4/seven-runs-creek---florida-forever Florida Mountain LaurelFlorida Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel on Seven Runs Creek

In 2009, I was asked to make a photo at Seven Runs Creek in FL's western panhandle for the 2010 Florida Forever calendar. The calendar featured photographs made by "12 celebrated conservation photographers" of vulnerable properties in the queue for purchase by the Florida Forever Program. Having acquired and protected over 2 million acres over the previous 20 years, in 2009 -- for the first time since its inception -- the Florida legislature approved NO funding for this program!

So, as part of the effort to get this program back on track, I was honored to accept this volunteer assignment. Seven Runs Creek in Walton County is a 15,000 acre parcel adjoining already-protected Nokuse Preserve to the south and Eglin AFB to the west. I made 3 trips to the property that spring and marveled at new wonders on each visit.

This land acquisition was successfully completed in 2013 through a complex partnership between private and public entities.

John Moran.  "We're sorta lost."



In February, John Moran and I explored the lowest section of the creek - as it loses its creekiness and turns into a braided cypress swamp that flows into the Choctawhatchee River. We started at a small roadside park (Hwy 81) where the shallow sand-bottom creek flows honey-colored through a lovely forest....misleading... Soon we felt like Hansel and Gretel, trying to figure out which watery trail to take and gawking at twisted gnarly cypress knees deep in the swamp. 

Seven Runs Creek-1.jpgSeven Runs Creek-1.jpg

As darkness approached, we wondered if we'd miscalculated. This was no place to spend the night: huge cypress trees in a deep swamp, owls calling... were we even following the right course? We paddled faster and faster. Finally arriving at Dead Lake Road, our aptly-named takeout, the sky had turned a deep purple. The familiar silhouette of a big split cypress stump standing near shore was a relief... and beckoned to be photographed.  Then John took off on his bicycle in the dark to ride the long dirt road back to the truck while I waited with the boats. We were really bushed when our heads hit the pillows that night.

Wild Azalea BudsWild Azalea Buds


In March, I returned, this time in the company of 'Turtle Bob' Walker who is one of the biologists working at the Nokuse Preserve,  the Seven Runs property, and teaching at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. Bob hadn't had a chance to paddle much of the actual Creek that winds through the acreage, but was game for a thorough exploration. By now, the mountain laurel and wild azaleas were in full bloom in the bottom lands. 

Mountain LaurelMountain Laurel Wild AzaleasWild Azaleas

Bob gave me a tour of the property, stopping for "visits" with wildlife, like when we encountered a large diamondback rattlesnake who was friendly enough... and many of the resident gopher tortoises, who weren't so friendly... Mostly we caught glimpses of their tail-ends as they dived into their burrows. But we recorded locations of the most active burrows for a possible later photo.

Diamondback RattlesnakeDiamondback Rattlesnake RattleRattle

We stopped on the Creek at Bad Bridge (burnt to ruins) and waded upstream. I got caught up in making a photo of the Creek with the mountain laurel as two hours floated by. When I noticed, dark was upon us. I was grateful for Bob's patience (he is the model of patience), for this beautiful setting in which I thought I had made the "calendar shot", and for Bob's knowledge of the property and how to get back to his cabin in the dark.

Florida Mountain LaurelFlorida Mountain Laurel

The next day, we arranged to drop a truck at Bad Bridge and some fellow workers drove us to a field in the middle of the property some miles away. We were sort of following a map. As we ran out of dirt road, we had to be careful to avoid the small recently hand-planted longleaf pines dotted across the field. This was formerly agricultural land, now being restored to longleaf forest. But the Creek ravine and its seven steephead runs have never been very accessible or useful and weave through this land, relatively untouched for many decades. We could see the dark lush treetops lining the waterway across the field and got as close as we could. As we watched our ride rumble off in a dustcloud, it felt strange standing in an open field with paddles, kayaks and camera gear.


 

We hiked down into the woods, dragging our boats, and we came upon as lovely a spot on the Creek as I could imagine. The early morning sunlight was bursting through the canopy. I was psyched. We had the whole day ahead to explore a creek that perhaps had never been paddled before. The water level had been bolstered by recent rains and appeared to be perfect.

Seven Runs Creek, Forida Forever

Seven Runs Creek Put-in

Bob was in his element. He knows most every creature and plant in this part of Florida, has a delightful sense of wonder and enthusiasm, and loves adventure. So, in spite of all the logjams, rafts of debris, and snakes, we had a blast. In fact, because of those things we had a blast. Bob taught me to smell the snakes before we saw them. I'm not kidding.  This is a really valuable trick on a wild creek like this.

CottonmouthCottonmouthPaddling beneath a low branch on a small wild creek in N Florida, we were both surprised and unhappy when this venemous snake fell into my lap.

A closely-encountered Cottonmouth

However, I was still a bit blown away when this cottonmouth fell from its perch above my kayak as I was bushwacking through debris and landed with a soft cool thud on my hand. Even before it visually registered, my gut said "NOT GOOD!". It slowly slid down onto my kayak and then into the water (as opposed to my lap). That was before I learned to smell them. Bob got a good laugh and feigned disappointment that I got off so easy.  I did hop out of my boat anyway to get the photo above.  After that, we smelled, then saw, many snakes that day...  We both were sorry to see old Bad Bridge (our take-out), but made a pact on the spot to paddle another section of the creek in the near future.

Seven Runs Creek-20.jpgSeven Runs Creek-20.jpg

Lots of smelly cottonmouths.

Following through on our pact, we explored the upper segment of the Creek in April.

Seven Runs Creek-21.jpgSeven Runs Creek-21.jpg


This time our wives, Crystal and Leslie joined us... after hearing about all the snakes and stuff, they just couldn't resist. (Yes, I'm kidding.) So this time we put in at "Good Bridge". (You knew there had to be a Good Bridge if there was a Bad Bridge... such creative names too!) And yes, Good Bridge is still functional, although it has a locked cable across it. We left a vehicle in the same field of mini longleaf pines for our takeout. The creek was beautiful as ever, snaking through these bottom-lands with tributaries (the seven runs) pouring in from left or right along the way. 

Seven Runs Creek-18.jpgSeven Runs Creek-18.jpg

This trip the snake did fall into my lap. In the lead, moving with fast water around a turn, I saw it moments too late -- hanging on a low branch in a logjam. My kayak rammed the debris as I grabbed hold of the very limb on either side of the snake to keep from being dumped over.  I was locked there by the strong current. There was the snake, fortunately this time, a brown water snake, inches from my face, right over my lap. Shocked from slumber by a human face, there was only one intuitive "escape": drop into the "water"... aka, my lap. Knowing that he was non-venomous didn't diminish the experience by much of having a flipped-out snake writhing frantically on my lap, while both my hands were keeping me from capsizing. By the time I got the boat out of there with Crystal's help and beached it, the snake was under my seat and not willing to come out.

Seven Runs Creek-19.jpgSeven Runs Creek-19.jpg

In a few minutes, ol' Turtle Bob arrived, and with glee, reached into the dark crack under my kayak seat -- trusting me when I said "I think it's just a watersnake, Bob". He gently pulled the scared snake out and after showing it around and pointing out how non-aggressive it was, released it back to the Creek. We all got pretty good at smelling out the snakes before crashing into them after that. The cottonmouths outnumbered the water snakes from what we saw.


One last note about, oh yeah,  the Florida Forever Calendar. Preserving the gopher tortoise, one of Nokuse's primary missions, is another story of its own. But here I'll just say, I couldn't have been with a better guide than Turtle Bob. I had a great opportunity to photograph one of the endangered gopher tortoises.  And this is the photo that made the calendar. 

Gopher ExitingGopher ExitingSeven Runs Creek, Forida Forever

Here's to Florida Forever!

 

Thanks for visiting my blog. Your comments here at the blog are much appreciated. And please share this link widely. 

 

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) david moynahan photography florida florida forever nature photography paddling walton county http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/4/seven-runs-creek---florida-forever Sun, 01 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Suwannee River Camping http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/3/suwannee-river-camping Tree Muscle ReflectionsTree Muscle Reflections

Ogeechees

If you've followed my blog for at least a year (this is my 12th year of near-monthly posts), you'll probably remember that my Men's Group enjoys a wilderness river camping trip every January. Last month we were back on my favorite North Florida river, the Suwannee, paddling a section we hadn't done before, from Roline Landing to Cone Bridge Road.

Roline_Creek_RagingRoline_Creek_Raging

Creek at Roline Landing

Our 3 day trips are more about getting out into nature, hanging out together, and camping than covering long paddling distances. That also allows time for taking advantage of photo ops.  This particular section is transitional - the tail end of the magnificent Ogeechee Tupelos upstream and the modest beginnings of the classic sculpted limerock banks more prominent downstream.

Ogeechee Tupelo TwinsOgeechee Tupelo Twins

Ogeechee Tupelo Suwannee BendSuwannee Bend

Suwannee Limerock
 

We had a chill time.  And chilly too... with frost both nights.

Frosted DriftwoodFrosted Driftwood

Frosty Firewood

Riverside FireRiverside Fire

  Camp 2Camp 2

Moseying downstream in the midst of nature's beauty...

Dwarfed on SuwanneeDwarfed on Suwannee Tree MuscleTree Muscle Classic SuwanneeClassic Suwannee   Study in TextureStudy in Texture Blackrock BankBlackrock Bank Moseying DownstreamMoseying Downstream

Dave and Jacques travelled in the comfort of hands-free foot-peddled boats with umbrella canopies.

Kayak Umbrella DudesKayak Umbrella Dudes

From our Eightsome, this year we were missing Geoff. 

Mens Group Camp 2018Mens Group Camp 2018 GlenGlen

Glen

SteveSteve

Steve

DaveDave

Dave

Bram

MarkMark

Mark

JacquesJacques

Jacques

DavidDavid

... and me.

Jacques and his bowsprit...

Spear of JacquesSpear of Jacques

  Jacques' SpearJacques' Spear

Campsite Sights...

Frosty MornFrosty Morn

Early Light on a Frosty Morning

Cold MorningCold Morning

Moss RockMoss Rock Rainbow Water ColorRainbow Water Color

Rainbow Water Color -- as the white sand dropped off in the red tannic water, then disappeared beneath the reflected sky.

SandbarSandbar ScribblesScribbles

Nature's calligraphy in the Shallows

Suwannee Star TrailSuwannee Star Trail

Suwannee Star Trail. Tough to break away from the fire to make this shot with freezing fingers in the dark... but the stars were magnificent.

Suwannee Light 2Suwannee Light 2

Suwannee Light

That's it for now. Thanks for visiting my blog.  Please take a moment to leave a comment below.  And feel free to share this link with anyone you think might enjoy a virtual paddle on the Suwannee River.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) camping david moynahan photography florida nature photography suwannee river http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/3/suwannee-river-camping Thu, 01 Mar 2018 16:50:09 GMT
Reflections http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/1/reflections Dead River SunriseDead River Sunrise

Sunrise on the Dead River

As 2017 ends, the news is filled with reflections on events of the tumultuous year gone by. As a break from that, I'd like to meditate on the calm and peace in the reflections of nature. Whenever the chaos, tragedy, or drama of the world starts to weigh too heavily, I find a good dose of nature provides a welcome antidote, or at least some balance and perspective. So I've selected a few favorites from my archives to share, hoping to give you a respite, and inspiration for a deep breath.

Bradford CreekBradford Creek

Bradford Creek - formerly in our backyard

Watching calm waters for abstract compositions is a sub-conscious habit for me.  The soft blurs or wave-squiggled lines offer painterly interpretation of our so-called fixed terrestrial world.

Crooked MastsCrooked MastsReflected sailboat rigging.

Crooked Masts

Fleur-de-lysFleur-de-lysAbstract composition from reflection in water.

Fleur-de-lys

Dock of the BayDock of the Bay

Dock on the Bay

Abstract Reflection 3Fall Impression

Fall Impression

Monet on MyakkaMonet on Myakka

Monet on Myakka

Impression of TreesSketchy Impression

Sketchy Impression

Under the RainbowUnder the RainbowA think sheen of pollen refracts the sunlight that reflects off the water surface. Apalachicola National Forest.

Under the Rainbow. Refraction + Reflection

Water Colors 2Water Colors 2Aucilla Sinks Trail with Crystal. 09-01-16. 11 am to 3 pm. clear day.

Water Colors

Rainbow PaddlerRainbow Paddler

Rainbow Paddler.  Reflections from a passing kayak.

Woven LightWoven Light

Woven Light

As each day begins, whether we are out there or not, nature offers a wondrous show in its awakening. 

Picnic Pond SunrisePicnic Pond SunriseSt. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL

Picnic Pond Sunrise

BobBob

Bob

Stick Light MagicStick Light MagicLake Windor, FL

Essence of BahamaEssence of BahamaPlacid sunrise, Andros, Bahamas

Placid Lucidity

Reflections on the Suwannee PanoramaReflections on the Suwannee Panorama

Suwannee Panorama

St Marks LighthouseSt Marks LighthouseCabbage palm at sunrise offers a golden foreground. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL

St Marks Lighthouse

One day on the Chipola River...  The surreal mirrored images from roots and leaves and carved limerock captivated my eye. Rotating them 90 degrees ... whoa!.

Rorschach Test

Arrow Head

Arrow Head

Surreal & Sub-Lime-Rock IISurreal & Sub-Lime-Rock II

Surreal & Sub-Lime-Rock

I sometimes envy the creatures, flora too, whose lives are so in tune with the rhythms of night and day, birth and death.

Zen HeronZen Heron

Zen Heron

Lazy DaysLazy Days

Lazy Days

Reflecting RoseReflecting Rose

Reflecting Rose

Palmetto Light ReflectedPalmetto Light ReflectedSt. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL

Palmetto Light Reflected

Hood Spider & the Golden EggHood Spider & the Golden Egg

Hood Spider & the Golden Egg

 

Lily Light SoloLily Light SoloWater Lily in Spotlight

Lily Light Solo

Surreal Suspension

Surreal Suspension. Crystal (and her shadows), lost in reverie, float through "Inner Space".

Often it's the edges in reflection -- whether marsh, river or lake -- where the composition happens or not.

Edge of Marsh

Edge of Marsh

Devon Creek TunnelDevon Creek Tunnel

Devon Creek Tunnel

Turtle RocksTurtle RocksUnusual round rocks cluster in the reflective Peace River. FL.

Turtle Rocks

Tree BurstTree Burst

Tree Burst

Misty_Palm_PanoMisty Palm Pano

Misty Palm Pano

Econ_GloryEcon Glory

Econ Glory 

Sunset into dusk is another time of magical light ...

Double SunDouble Sun

Double Sun

Marsh Light

Cattail Lightplay

Line of DuskLine of Dusk

Line of Dusk

Even at night, where there is light and water - human or starlight - there are reflections. 

Night Lights

Night Lights

As the Worlds Turn

Polaris Vortex

May your days of 2018 be uplifted when you take a long moment to wonder at the marvels of nature.  Thanks for your visit, your comments (below), and for sharing this link with all those who might enjoy it.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/1/reflections Mon, 01 Jan 2018 19:00:00 GMT
Galapagos http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/12/galapagos

Marine Iguanas by Tidal Pool

Holly and Steve by grazing tortoise

I had the great fortune to be invited to the Galapagos Islands recently by my brother Steve and his daughter Holly.  We lived aboard a small cruise ship and traveled what was called the "outer loop".  Ecuador does an exemplary job of managing this vast national park.  Despite its popularity, during our week in the Galapagos, we rarely saw visitors outside our group.  Most of our landings (in small inflatable zodiac boats) were at natural shorelines -- often stepping off in the shallows along a beach or onto rough lava rock.  Twice a day we hiked along rugged trails that minimally marred the landscape.

Marine Iguanas

Blue-footed Booby

Sea Lion

Galapagos Tortoise

As you probably know, the fauna of the Galapagos are mostly species unique to their island(s), and have no fear of humans.  This makes photographing them a lot easier than bringing camera gear there (with the tight weight restrictions of the planes).  Knowing we'd be hiking for 5 or more hours a day, I limited myself to one camera body with one telephoto lens and no tripod for the creatures.  And for landscapes, I exclusively used my iphone in panorama mode.  

Lava Cactus

As you can see, these are rugged volcanic islands, our trails often traversing old lava flows.  But parts had also been coral reefs - evidenced by the sandy beaches and coral rocks - later pushed above water by the still active geothermic forces.  It looks like a tough place to eke out a living, yet a diverse animal population managed to evolve and adapt to the unique habitats.

Once a coral reef.

Sally Lightfoot Crab

White-tipped Reef Shark

Marine Iguana sunning. Also seen in the landscape in photo above it.

Sally Lightfoot Crab

Darwin's Finches are perhaps the most iconic birds of the Islands, but there are plenty more colorful.  Afterall, this is a place where flamingos and penguins cohabitate! 

Darwin Finches

Greater Flamingo

Red-billed Tropicbird

Galapagos Flycatcher

Great Frigatebird

Galapagos Mockingbird

Yellow Warbler atop Galapagos Tortoise

Sea Lions were everywhere, and just plain fun.  Especially underwater.  If I did a somersault underwater, the sea lions went crazy-playful.

Sea Lions nap as hard as they play

Obedient pup, camouflaged in the rocks, awaits parents who are out fishing.

Snorkeling in that icy water was exhilarating to say the least (at least for this Florida boy).  I wore two wetsuits, and still had blue lips and chattering teeth at the end of every dive. But every dive was fascinating, and kept me going back for more. We saw so many sea turtles, some sharks, sea lions, marine iguanas, the occasional penguin dart by, and Steve (an expert spotter) even found a sea snake and an octopus.  

Iguanas, classic Galapagos critters, come in two unique forms.  The Marine Iguana, who suns, sometimes in great numbers, on the shoreline lava rocks, swims out and dives to graze on the beds of algae covering the seascape offshore. And the Land Iguana, who reigns over the inland territories where succulent cactuses grow out of the rocky terrain.

Marine Iguana

Lava Lizard atop a Marine Iguana

"Say Cheese..."

The land of the Land Iguana

Land iguana

Mm Mm!...Juicy cactus, thorns and all.

The giant Galapagos Tortoises live where there is more lush vegetation, often in the misty fertile lands around the volcanic rims.  We saw most in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Prehistoric in appearance, slow and deliberate in movement, these endangered creatures are protected and revered throughout the Islands.

In such a photogenic and exotic place, it's tough not to shoot a zillion photos.  I admit I did.  But then I agressively edited them down to just a hundred or so nature photo keepers, and limited this blog to 50, so as not to overwhelm you.  And, here we are at the end of the journey.  Hope you've enjoyed the exotic break.  Back to my beloved Florida next month.  Thanks for visiting. And please leave a comment below.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) darwin david moynahan photography ecuador galapagos marine iguana south america tortoise http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/12/galapagos Fri, 01 Dec 2017 20:06:00 GMT
Milky Way Revisited http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/11/milky-way-revisited Palms of St MarksPalms of St Marks

Palms of St Marks

The central core of the Milky Way is visible in our Florida night sky mainly in the summer.  But it stretches into fall, so in September I made a trek to one of my favorite sites in St Marks  (where, in the past, I made the photo above) for one more starry night sky.  Oddly, I had a bit of trepidation going alone, perhaps because the location was somewhat remote.  But I set out on my hike in plenty of daylight, with a flashlight in my pocket for the journey back.  Walking the grassy trail in my trusty Crocs and loaded with gear, some spark of intuitive warning made me look down just as my foot was about to land squarely on a pygmy rattlesnake.  In that fraction of a second, I managed to step a little longer, just missing the snake, startling it, and we both leapt to safety.  Whew!  Pretty rattled, I imagined the alternate-night in the emergency room sick with pain.  I plodded on. 

g

After setting up at the edge of the marsh, I started to relax, until... a large curious alligator swam up pretty close and glared at me.  What?!  Was I in its night spot?  S/he hung around the whole time, but backed off a little.  As twilight dimmed, I shined my light across the water and counted 8 sets of eyes watching me, one from as close as 10 yards. Creepy.  (I made the photo below in South FL years ago - but it gives you the idea, though the St. Marks gators weren't as tightly assembled.)

Far less shy, swarms of mosquitos, and worse -- no-see-ums -- ascended from the marsh, forcing me to poison myself with DEET. Ugh.  (What we do to get the picture!)  Here's a selfie making an early frame. (Looking closely, you can see the gator in the water.)

I made about 30 images of the exact same scene over a few hours. I brought a 2nd camera and even a 2nd tripod, knowing there would be periods of time between frames during some sweet light, though I didn't stray far.  Didn't find anything too inspiring, especially with all the distractions, but here's a marsh shot of an old snag.

Why 30 "duplicate" images, you ask?  And mostly before the stars even appeared?  I put together some of the frames into this 45 second time lapse video so you can see what I was trying to do.

Putting it all together, here's what I got. 

Galactic Vortex

From this St. Marks vantage, I could see the whirling disk of our galaxy wrapping from horizon to horizon across the sky above me.  The "core" or center of the Milky Way, near the horizon in this photo, is more dense and colorful.  Our sun is one of the tiny dots that comprise this vast awesome collection of stars, and our planet Earth, an invisible speck of dust.  With such perspective, we humans are both miraculous and insignificant. I wish we could make fewer "mountains out of molehills" and get along better with each other and take better care of our fragile speck of dust.  

Your comments here are most appreciated.  And please share this link across the universe and cyberspace.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) astrophotography david moynahan photography florida milky way night photography nightscape spring wakulla county http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/11/milky-way-revisited Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:24:28 GMT
The Awe of the Storm http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/10/the-awe-of-the-storm

In deference to the mighty punch of this season's Atlantic hurricanes, I'm presenting a selection from my portfolio of storm photos.  Mind you, these do not include any photos from the 2017 Hurricane Season.  As Irma approached Florida, my focus and energy were on storm preparation and safeguarding my family. (Plus, I'm not a photojournalist.) We were fortunate to have this massive and destructive storm lose much of its strength before it reached our area and we came through it just fine.  But I've included a few sobering shots (like above) that I made years ago after Hurricane Ivan so this post doesn't entirely gloss over the wrathful side with what otherwise might be a photo collection of beauty in nature's fury. 

Beach FlowersBeach Flowers

The Calm before the Fury . Indian Pass

Mashes Sand Sunrise StormMashes Sand Sunrise Storm

Stormy Sunrise . Mashes Sands

Storm Cloud CompositionStorm Cloud Composition

Florida Mountains . St Marks

Storm FrontStorm Front

Frontal Assault . St Marks

Rainbow PalmRainbow Palm

Rainbow Palm . Cocoa Beach

Florida SkyFlorida Sky

Cotton Candy Panorama . Panacea

FrontFront

Ominous Sky . Apalachicola River

Total Loss . Dog Island

Tubing Wave . Ft Clinch

St. Marks Sunset StormSt. Marks Sunset Storm

Sunset Storm . St Marks

Night Rage . Atlantic Ocean

Sitting Ducks . Indian Pass

Angry Sky . Panacea

Angry RollersAngry Rollers

Roaring Rollers . Cocoa Beach

Bay Storm . Apalachicola

Ebbing Tide & StormEbbing Tide & Storm

Ebbing Tide Rising Storm . Mashes Sands

Hue of StormHue of Storm

Hue of Storm . St Marks

ImminenceImminence

Imminence . Panacea

Mashes Sands StormfrontMashes Sands Stormfront

Stormfront . Mashes Sands

Mashes Sands Grass SpitMashes Sands Grass Spit

Grass Spit . Mashes Sands

Ominous DawnOminous DawnSt. Vincent Island, FL

Ominous Dawn . St Vincent NWR

PromisePromise

Promise . Panacea

Rainbow Sky & Lily Pool . St Marks  Sky FurySky Fury

Sky Fury . St Marks

Storm Casualty . Dog Island

  

Stormy Bayou . St Marks

Stormy MornStormy Morn

The Sky is Falling . St Marks

Starkness . Cape San Blas

Stormy SandStormy Sand

Sand Storm . Cumberland Island

Lucky StrikeLucky Strike

Lucky Strike . Panacea St Vincent Storm PanoramaSt Vincent Storm Panorama

Island of Storm . St Vincent NWR

Next in Line . Dog Island

My heart goes out to all who suffered from the mighty storms this fall, especially to those islanders in the Caribbean hammered repeatedly. May the rest of the season be calmer, and the storms to be remain asea.  Thanks for visiting my blog. As always, I really appreciate your comments here, and encourage you to share this link with friends and family. 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) cloud david moynahan photography florida hurricane nature photography storm storm cloud http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/10/the-awe-of-the-storm Sun, 01 Oct 2017 15:29:09 GMT
The Great American Solar Eclipse http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/9/solar-eclipse

Playing with my Iphone - using my eclipse glasses as the solar filter.

On Saturday, Crystal and I embarked on our 2017 Solar Eclipse trip to Tennessee. We met our good friends, Chris and Susan Smith, who'd long ago reserved a campsite at Montgomery Bell State Park near Nashville and invited us to join them there. Knowing that we'd have only about 2 1/2 minutes of total eclipse, I had been torn about spending too much of that precious time fiddling with my camera trying to get my "best shot" (that would likely look like dozens of others shown on the Internet), and ultimately decided to spend the vast majority of those few awesome minutes taking in the whole experience with Crystal and our friends. I intentionally left behind my larger telephoto lenses so I couldn't be tempted "to get too serious".

Susan and Chris Smith, singing Let the Mystery Be at our campsite.

On Monday morning after a leisurely camp breakfast, we headed north to "the line" of peak totality.  We chose the small town of Pleasant View, in part because of the apt name.  The traffic jams were nonexistent on the lovely small country roads through the rolling hills and woods of Tennessee.  The large community park in Pleasant View was prepared for a crowd, including food trucks and music.  Having arrived plenty early, we opted for an area in the far back corner, away from the hub-bub, where we could set up our shade shelter directly by the truck.  Chris and Susan had been camping cross-country for two months, and so were prepared with tarps, bamboo, stakes, and line for us to rig up a nice patch of shade on this blistering clear-sky day.

Eclipse PartyEclipse Party

Pleasant View Community Park, Tennessee

Pinhole Viewer (and partial eclipse through a grommet hole in the shade-tarp)

 

I had studied online sources for information about shooting the eclipse, but still felt uncertain about settings and strategy. I had my camera pre-focused and the focus ring taped securely. I took my best guess at an exposure setting and then set the camera to auto-bracket a wide range of under- and over-exposures  for a total of 7 shots.  I was shooting at 105 mm (not much power) so it was quick and easy to get the sun in the frame as totality approached.  The moment it arrived, all I needed to do was release the shutter one time and I'd be done with photography.  That way, I could fully take in the awe of the moment.  The moment arrived... click...There was the black sun, the glowing corona, the red sparkly threads along parts of the rim, the few stars as the light dimmed to twilight, the sudden coolness (dramatic on this hot day), the collective gasp, and then cheer of the crowd. A thrill shot through me, a fleeting feeling of some ancient connection to this phenomenon, and a connection with the millions of other Americans looking up in awe today. While I had a clear understanding of the physics of the eclipse, and had seen simulations and films from every imaginable angle, there was still a momentary primitive sense of fear and mystery that bubbled up.  

Only after the moon's shadow continued its eastern journey and sunlight filled the field again did I venture a peek at what my camera had done. My widely bracketed shots went from too dark to all white frames, and there, near the darker end, was this momentary capture of Totality. It's just a souvenir shot showing only part of our eclipse experience, but I'm so pleased to have it.  

You can see there is another star (beside our sun) in the frame as well.  That feels like the cherry-on-top, for I'd imagined a starry sky during Totality.  That star is Regulus (aka Alpha Leo), never seen from here at this time of year EXCEPT during a solar eclipse.

The sun and moon can make great photo subjects, even un-eclipsed.  Taking artistic liberty, I've thrown in a few from my portfolio that might never otherwise find their way into the blog. 

Eclipse... well, not quite. A nearly new moon rising in the east just ahead of sunrise over St Vincent Island and the Gulf of Mexico.

Cormorant Sunrise IICormorant Sunrise II

Cormorant Sunrise

Rising Sun & Morning MistRising Sun & Morning Mist

Eclipsed by Clouds

A closer crop of my solar eclipse photo, in black & white.

Experiencing the total eclipse was truly amazing, and exceeded our expectations.  For those who didn't, there's another one crossing our continent in just 7 years! Start planning now.

  Thanks for joining in on our Great American Eclipse journey. I appreciate your comments here at my blog, and please share this link freely with your friends and family and social media sites.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) david moynahan photography eclipse nightscape solar eclipse totality http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/9/solar-eclipse Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:15:00 GMT
Milky Way Over North Florida http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/8/milky-way-over-north-florida As a boy in South Florida, I nearly forgot the time my dad pointed out the Milky Way while camping far from city lights.  And in my young adulthood, I can only remember seeing this celestial wonder when camping out west, so it's no wonder it didn't occur to me that I might be able to photograph it here until recently when I started seeing occasional Florida Milky Way shots online.  Even then, I assumed it required special equipment, technique, and timing. Last month, I finally got around to investigating these challenges.

With the improved sensors in modern digital cameras, shooting at night has become much easier.  As you know, I've been playing with light painting and nightscapes for some years.  Equipment? Check.  A little online research -- lots of info out there -- suggested the technique is fairly straightforward. That left timing. Sure enough, timing is critical. It so happened that I was in the midst of the right season, and even the right time of month to see the Milky Way in North Florida.  

With that revelation, I grabbed my camera and went looking for a nearby view of a big southern sky to make a test shot.  The conditions at the Wakulla River were far from ideal - cars whizzing by, light pollution from the town of St. Marks to the south - but, there it was. I could faintly see the Milky Way.  And to my astonishment, my camera's sensor could see it far better than I could.

River of GloryRiver of Glory

River of Glory

Whoa. Really?!  I was pretty blown away. There were only a few MW-potential nights remaining in the moon cycle, and most of them were to be foiled by rain and overcast skies.  But I determined to take every opportunity to make more trials.  

I wouldn't normally present my "learning curve" work in this blog, nor do I like so much redundancy in photos presented in one post.  But, I confess, I was thrilled with the results of my clumsy first efforts (and even more excited to learn that dramatic Milky Way shots are within my purview)  so I'm throwing those rules out the window and showing you my first four successful attempts.  Hopefully one day I'll have a more masterful piece to show you, and look back on this post and smile. But this is part of the journey, maybe even my favorite part.

Beacon in the CosmosBeacon in the Cosmos

Beacon in the Cosmos

This night's forecast and radar called for clouds and scattered storms, but I was out shooting and scouting at St Marks, and watched the southern sky gradually clear. Hermit crabs kept pinching my toes through my Crocs in the shallows where I had waded out to set up my tripod for the first St. Marks Lighthouse composition.  My calculation was that, from where I stood, the MW would be just over the lighthouse and the softly lit Gulf waters would nicely frame my composition in about an hour.  Then I waited for darkness.  It came much later than I expected.  Sometime after 10 PM, the sky finally darkened enough to see the core of our galaxy, but by then, it had moved too far south (right) for my composition.  And the tide had fallen so my soft Gulf waters turned partly to dark muddy flats.  Oops. I had to move and re-compose.  Composing in the dark is not so easy.

Heaven and EarthHeaven and Earth

Heaven and Earth

Since I had a clear night, I decided to try a second shot. From the viewing tower beside the lighthouse, I could frame both the MW and lighthouse but the platform roof kept slicing part of the sky from the frame.  The viewfinder is essentially black after dark, so each move required a lot of trial and error. Mostly error. I didn't have the right tools to secure my tripod and nearly lost the whole rig over the side. Ultimately, I had to compromise my composition in order to be safe, but I did succeed in getting rid of that pesky ceiling in the shot.

Still StandingStill Standing

Still Standing

On another iffy night, I headed to Mashes Sands with a beautiful dead tree in mind. When I arrived, an active thunderstorm raged out in the Gulf, distracting me for a half hour, but I just couldn't catch the lightning in my frame. When I finally got to my snag after sunset, I expected the low tide to be lower. Trying to set up in two feet of flowing water, I came to realize my composition was not going to work.  Mike Riffle had driven down to meet me there.  He had thought I meant a different dead tree and wondered where I was.  So, once again, by the time we both arrived at the stilted pine snag he had chosen, it was nearly dark (except for distant flashes of lightning).  We were making some test shots and playing with light painting the tree as a huge unanticipated storm hurled at us from the northeast.  Nearly every long exposure was spoiled by a blast or two of lightning, and the storm quickly forced us to scramble out of there just before the deluge.  I was amazed that I got one frame where enough elements came together for a presentable photo.

That's a lot more writing than I usually throw at you, but I wanted you to be able to get a taste of how it goes.  I didn't mention the mosquitoes, or stubbing toes on roots and rocks, or nearly dropping my lens into the sand.... but you get the drift.   We live in a glorious natural world, by day and night.  Nature is the medicine we all need to help balance and lend perspective to the stress and grind and fear that seem to come at us each day.  I encourage you to get out in it for plenty of first hand healing.  

PLEASE leave a comment for me below, and share this link widely.  

Addendum: Just got back some test prints and they look good, so prints can be made!

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) astrophotography david moynahan photography florida milky way nature photography night photography nightscape st marks national wildlife refuge wakulla county wakulla river http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/8/milky-way-over-north-florida Tue, 01 Aug 2017 17:15:00 GMT
Photography in Conservation http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/7/photography-in-conservation The first Sunday of each month, St Marks National Wildlife Refuge presents a program for visitors.   A few months ago, I was asked to present my "work and its influence on conservation" for the July 2nd slot. I don't often speak publicly, but this was my "home-base", (and the program was to include an ice cream social), so I've been working hard on a Power Point (which for me, always means re-learning how to use PP!)  Since I'd never before assembled a collection of my photos used specifically for conservation, it has been daunting to gather the wide-flung material, and I've been impressed by how much of it there is.  So, now that it is done, I'm going to get some extra mileage from that prep by creating this month's blog post from selected Power Point slides and some of my talking points. 

These photos kind of picked themselves in that they have all been used to speak for the education and conservation of our remaining wild lands and creatures by a wide variety of organizations and institutions. (I've excluded most of my own direct conservation efforts to keep the length manageable.)

An early success, this photo was chosen as one of the winners in a National Wildlife Refuge Association contest in 2007...   

Then I was contacted in 2010 by the US Dept. of Interior, after the Gulf Oil Spill, for permission to make silk prints of my photo for a special collectors cachet (envelope) for the new Duck Stamp.  Needless to say, I was deeply honored.  This effort raised money and awareness for the National Wildlife Refuges along the Gulf of Mexico.  

Whoa!  My efforts to expand my audience -- via my website (from 2005), monthly blog (2006), searchable keywording, and contest-entries -- were moving me into a bigger world of conservation photography.  As if the Duck Stamp Cachet wasn't enough recognition in 2010...

The Nature Conservancy Calendar contest - with tens of thousands of entries from around the world - chose two of my photos to represent April and July that year. Heady stuff, and earned me a lot of "street cred" in the alleys of conservation photography.

I recently read a Time Magazine article called Wildlife Photography: Why It Matters in a Post-Truth Era. It was based on an interview with veteran National Geographic wildlife photographer Nick Nichols.  He said that, because images hit you emotionally, they can still get through when science and facts can be ignored.  I thought, yes, that old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words" is more true than ever.

Shot blind from my kayak in a small clearing of a cypress swamp where I had found this solo lily in the Apalachicola National Forest.

Over several years when the Florida Forever Program was being de-funded, I was invited to participate  in creating a Florida Forever Calendar -- to be used for fundraising, awareness-raising, and lobbying. Each of 12 Florida conservation photographers was assigned a vulnerable property from the Program's priority list.  In 2011, my shot made the cover.

  Early on, I had learned that donating my photos to non-profit organizations for use in conservation and education was a good way to help them juice up publications, websites, and statistics for their viewers... and keep me in the field instead of meetings.  Requests have come in regularly over the years from a surprisingly wide variety of sources.

For example, 1000 Friends of Florida, ...

...and American Forests...

Audubon Florida...

American Museum of Natural History in New York asked to use one of my scallop photos for this exhibit in 2015-2016. The exhibit is now travelling through museums across Europe.  

From local newsletters...

... ...to nationally distributed ones.  Scholastic News has a young readership of 1.5 million.

Beginning in 2005, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hired me part time to create photos at our managed properties across the state for use in Recreation Guides, on-site educational kiosks, webpages, and presentations.  Most people don't realize that FWC manages thousands of acres in Florida, far more than even the relatively known Wildlife Management Areas.  Traditionally hunters have used these lands, but our division, Office of Public Access and Wildlife Viewing Services, promoted our lands for other recreational uses like hiking, birdwatching, paddling, fishing, and bicycling. 

Florida Wildlife Magazine had access to my work in the FWC database, but the editor often called to see if I had photos in my personal database of a given animal or habitat for upcoming articles.  Here are just a few examples of many.

Crystal and I were founding members of a local grassroots environmental advocacy group called Heart of the Earth.  The Group organized educational and activist events, and published several books.  One book was Unspoiled : Writers Speak for Florida's Coast, which coincidentally hit the stores immediately after the BP Gulf Oil Spill.  This is a collection of stories by Florida writers with a theme of love for and stewardship of our coast, written when our legislature was leaning toward allowing offshore drilling.  I did the artwork for the book, using my photos to create these stark black and white (oil-on-sand) images.

I am always deeply honored when asked by authors to use my photos for books they've spent years writing.  Coming to Pass, by Susan Cerulean, published in 2015, is very special to me because Crystal and I shared many adventures with our good friends, Sue and Jeff, that Sue later described in the book.  This is a beautifully written, engaging book -- part memoir, part natural history -- of the barrier islands along our Gulf coast.  I highly recommend it if you haven't read it.

Recently I was contacted by Kevin Enge, one of the authors of a soon-to-be-released field guide, Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida.  He had found my river swamp tadpole photos online.

In 2009, Florida Natural Areas Inventory began creating a comprehensive atlas of Florida biodiversity.  As photo editor, it was my job, not only to contribute some of the many photos, but to locate quality shots of species we didn't have in our databases.  The book is now used for both education and lobbying for protection of our natural heritage.

These are some highlights from my talk at St. Marks.  May you be inspired to get out for a taste of nature and to make some contribution in your own way toward seeing that our wildlife and its habitats are safeguarded. 

I appreciate all comments left here at the blog, and please feel free to share the link widely.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida conservation photography nature photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/7/photography-in-conservation Sun, 02 Jul 2017 01:29:00 GMT
Sweet Satilla http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/5/sweet-satilla Camp 2Camp 2

Broad white sandbars greeted us at most bends in the river.  Those bars are like beacons for river campers, so when Steve saw them on Google Earth when scouting a new river for our men's group to paddle, he circled and starred it. In January, the month of our annual trip, with water levels just right, we headed to SE Georgia's Satilla River for a fine long weekend of camaraderie and wilderness camping.  Ron Easton, who owns a nice spot on the river called Deep Bend Landing, was our "insider connection"- a veritable fountain of knowledge about this place where he'd spent his whole life, and he provided us with shuttle service from our take-out back to our vehicles at his place.

Satilla PanoSatilla Pano

So here's your opportunity to take the trip, vicariously, through my snapshots along the way.  But I'd recommend making your own journey too. It's a long scenic river with multiple paddling/camping options.

Tree BurstTree Burst

Tree Burst

Let's start out with my favorite shot.  Jacques had wandered into this willow thicket across the river, entering through a small channel, just before we stopped to camp the first night. When he told me about it a little later, the sun was getting low with lovely light.  I paddled over and was blown away by the fantastic vignettes I saw in every direction.  Wow!

Thicket in ReflectionThicket in Reflection Thicket Light B&WThicket Light B&W Reflections on Satilla PanoReflections on Satilla Pano

Willow Thicket, from Camp.

Our first day was calm, glassy calm... reflections galore!

Reflections on SatillaReflections on Satilla Reflections on Satilla 2Reflections on Satilla 2 Reflected Abstraction B&WReflected Abstraction B&W

We always leave plenty of room in the evening and morning for camp-time.  Sandbar camping out of kayaks and canoes is a pretty luxurious affair.  We eat, drink, lounge, and sleep in fine accomodations.  Truly.  

Camp 1Camp 1

And while comfy, we have the backdrop of pure nature, away from the noise and light and hub-bub of human habitation. (A lofty notion, except that we campers bring some with us... I guess the wildlife there would take exception to this imagined "escape into pure wilderness".)

Satilla Pano 2Satilla Pano 2 Satilla SunsetSatilla Sunset

 

Paddling the SatillaPaddling the Satilla

Moving on downstream...

BramBram

Bram Canter

GeoffGeoff

Geoff Brown

DaveDave

David Johnson

GlenGlen

Glen Gifford

JacquesJacques

Jacques Depart

SteveSteve

Steve Mills

DavidDavid

There's me, through Geoff's lens.

Sadly, Mark Canter was unable to make the trip this year.  Our eightsome has been gathering regularly and camping annually for 15 years.  It's been a privilege to be a part and an honor to know these great guys.

Satilla MenSatilla Men

Paddlers 2Paddlers 2 AFter the Rain 2AFter the Rain 2

We had a brief rain the middle of Day 2, which resulted in a lovely mist floating on the river for the remainder of the day... YES! Good for shooting photos.

AFter the Rain 3AFter the Rain 3 Nature PhotographerNature Photographer

The next afternoon, we set up camp at a mysterious underwater sand formation (well, not all that mysterious to anyone who knows the South. And knows that rivers rise and fall.)

Spiral MysterySpiral Mystery Camp 4Camp 4 Campfire RoundupCampfire Roundup Camp 3Camp 3 Satilla B&WSatilla B&W    Web of NightWeb of Night

satilla Vistasatilla Vista Satilla B&W 2Satilla B&W 2 Satilla Sunrise 2Satilla Sunrise 2

Goodbye sweet Satilla for now. 

Satilla Pano 3Satilla Pano 3

Hope you've enjoyed the journey.  If so, please share this link with anyone you think might enjoy it as well. And every comment you leave here helps others find their way to my blog... so, even if just a word, your comments are very welcome.  Thanks.  I'll be back with more in a month.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Georgia Satilla Satilla River camping nature photography paddling http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/5/sweet-satilla Mon, 01 May 2017 20:51:00 GMT
Palmy Dreams on the Econlockhatchee http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/4/palmy-dreams-of-the-econlockhatchee Econ_GloryEcon_Glory

Econ Glory

The Econ, as locals know it, is a long & winding creek that feeds the mighty St. Johns River in Northeast Florida.  Finding the nondescript mouth and picking a path in through the bars during low water were challenging for newbies like us.  But Crystal and I had heard of this creek's great Florida iconic beauty for a long time, and had seen a slew of luring photos, so we were determined to spend a few days camping from our boat while exploring its serpentine passages.

Palms of the Econlockhatchee B&WPalms of the Econlockhatchee B&W

Please join us as we celebrate our wedding anniversary camping on the Econlockhatchee River.

Family_PortraitFamily_Portrait

On the floodplain marsh near the mouth, cattle grazed the grasses, while a few chilled in the tannic river.  Calves danced near the bank as we passed.

Palm_Isle_MooPalm_Isle_Moo

Palm Isle Moo

Calf_LeapCalf_Leap

But the real draw for me, were the graceful clumps of palms, evoking strong affinity dating back to my childhood.  Such grace and beauty.  And one of my clear notions of the real Florida.

Reflections_on_Palm_GrovesReflections_on_Palm_Groves Palm_LightPalm_Light  

As evening approached the first day, we came upon a raised shelter overlooking a lovely bend in the river.  Often used by hikers along the Florida Trail, but not another soul around on this day, we accepted the gift of a lofty perch.

Econ_Camp_HutEcon_Camp_Hut

Econ Camp Hut.  Look closely, it's there.

Camp_EconCamp_Econ Palm_Panorama_2Palm_Panorama_2 Location. Location. Location!

FiresideFireside

Fireside

 In the morning, mist rose eerily from the river. Always a nice photo op!

Misty_Palm_PanoMisty_Palm_Pano Palms_in_Fog_&_HeronPalms_in_Fog_&_Heron Bending_into_MistBending_into_Mist

And then the sun rose...

Econ_SunriseEcon_Sunrise Econ_Sunrise_2Econ_Sunrise_2 Foggy_Palm_ReflectionFoggy_Palm_Reflection

After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and idled further upstream.  No calves playing on the banks up here.

The_Man_Behind_the_CurtainThe_Man_Behind_the_Curtain

The Man Behind the Curtain

Alligator_ComingAlligator_Coming

Big One.  Incoming !

Stark_Tree_StudyStark_Tree_Study

Stark Study

Palm_SunsetPalm_Sunset Econ_Camp_TwoEcon_Camp_Two Camping Neath the PalmsCamping Neath the Palms Coffee_Time_at_CampCoffee_Time_at_Camp

Coffee Time

Painterly_Palm_StudyPainterly_Palm_Study

Painterly Palms

Sabal_Palm_DetailSabal_Palm_Detail

Texture of Palm in Early Light

Gators were aplenty.  We kept Scruff on the boat or on a short leash and kept a keen eye out.   Gator_Launch_PanoGator_Launch_Pano

It was an effective strategy.  We left the Econ behind, safe, happy, and fulfilled for now. Hope you enjoyed the snapshot of a Florida river.  May you be inspired to get out for a walk, paddle, hike, or ride in Nature's finest. And devote some time or energy toward helping to conserve what wild beauty we still have.

Palm PanoramaPalm Panorama Thanks for joining us. Your comments - no matter how brief -  here at my photoblog are greatly appreciated!  And please share the link with friends.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) American Alligator David Moynahan Photography Econlockhatchee River Florida Seminole County cabbage palm camping nature photography night photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/4/palmy-dreams-of-the-econlockhatchee Sat, 01 Apr 2017 17:45:00 GMT
Naked Under the Stars http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/3/naked-under-the-stars Living WatersLiving Waters

Blue Spring is a name given to many a Florida spring, but to me, Gilchrist Blue is the jewel of them all. And within the (Blue Springs) Park, there is another, much smaller and more intimate spring called Naked. This was the spring on which John Moran and I set our focus for our latest collaborative nightscape, creating a surreal image that swirls around Polaris,  the North Star.  You will find this "master piece" at the end of this blog, but don't cheat yourself out of the photos that precede it.  This is a place of rare beauty.

BluesBlues

Blues

Night Spring AbstractNight Spring Abstract

A Night at the Main Vent

Rainbow of Blue SpringRainbow of Blue Spring

The Rainbow of Blue Spring Run

Having heard so much about these springs and the wonderful "mom & pop" family-run park and campground that envelops them, Crystal had been wanting to behold the crystalline waters and river floodplain for herself. So I've included some photos from our recent camping trip at Blue to help fill out the bigger picture of this Florida jewel-of-a-park. 

CampCamp

Minimalist camp. But we have the essentials!

Wet Garden WayWet Garden Way

Watery Garden Way

Crystal and I arrived mid-week during off-season -- our favorite time to camp anywhere -- and practically had the place to ourselves... the big Blue Spring on whose beach we kept our kayaks, the boardwalk along the run to the Santa Fe River, a woodsy isolated campsite near Naked, the wonderful nature trail, and the star-filled night sky. My photos show only the natural part of the picture here. In season, Blue Spring Park is a popular swimming hole and camping getaway... the main spring teeming with "kids" of all ages having fun. 

In the RacesIn the Races

In the Races. Snorkeling down the run all the way to the river is exhilarating as you dodge logs and whip past turtles and fish.

Elixer from the EarthElixer from the Earth

Blue TurtleBlue Turtle

Deltas DawnDeltas Dawn

Delta's Dawn. Early morn at the end of the spring run, where clear water meets the tannic waters of the Santa Fe.

Santa Fe River PanoSanta Fe River Pano Paddling the Santa Fe

Battle-scarred SentinelBattle-scarred Sentinel

Battle-scarred Sentinels

We paddled in search of a nearby spot - Jonathan Spring - where I made the above photo years ago on my first trip to Blue with John, but Crystal and I never found it, or anyone who'd even heard of it.  (I've since re-learned where it is.) Our paddling did take us to a number of other springs along the river... but none nicer than Blue.

Naked SpringNaked Spring

Naked Spring

A stone's throw from our camp, the clear waters of Naked Spring bubble up into a veritable Garden of Eden. That night, inspired by this flowery scene,  Crystal and I took turns lighting the trees and waters while the other ran the camera's shutter for the duplicate long exposures.  Below is the result: Nightfall in Eden

Nightfall on EdenNightfall on Eden

Nightfall in Eden

One morning we took the meandering nature trail through the floodplains and past other springs.  It is a beautiful walk overlooked by too many visitors.

Aric the Giant, a champion tree

Johnson Spring RunJohnson Spring Run

Johnson Spring Run

Trail to the SunTrail to the Sun

Trail to the Sun

Below is another oldie I made one night from the dive platform, using the eerie stray light from a nearby sodium vapor security lamp, a waterproof flashlight John dangled on a line, and freediver, Lesley Gamble, holding VERY still. (It was a fairly long exposure.)

Nocturnal Spring LightNocturnal Spring Light

Nocturnal Spring Light

And now for the finale, Naked Under the Stars (below).  When first visiting Blue Springs Park 5 years ago, I fell in love with Naked Spring (and wanted to make a portfolio shot of it. My recent Nightfall in Eden, above, qualifies).  After our last collaboration, Eye of the AquiferJohn suggested we light-paint big Blue.  I agreed, but proposed we do a two-fer, and make a starry shot of Naked as well.  John, a long admirer the old cypress snag by Naked, went to scout it out, and came back on fire. Yes!  A project to be far more complex than Nightfall... or any of our previous projects.

Like our many collaborations over the years, John and I spent a full evening lighting up the spring and its surroundings (with canoe-control assistance from Anthony Ackrill and George Tortorelli).  The challenging addition here is the star-trailed sky. Neither of us had much experience with star trail photography, but John duly noted that our angle was due North, toward Polaris, and we had a patch of clear sky in the composition... it only made sense to take advantage of the stars.  

I spent many hours online researching star trail shooting and post-processing.  During that time, I made multiple trial efforts (some of which "failed" in teachable errors).  Finely ready, I made a checklist of steps and settings for both the shoot and the processing. So when we finished our light painting, we began the series of 120 long exposures, each of which captured a small movement of the stars circling around Polaris. When all those frames are stacked together (like a double-exposure but with 120 shots), the stars appear to streak across the sky. (Actually, the Earth's rotation accounts for the movement, not the stars.)  Late into the night, the shoot was complete. (Well, almost... we left the camera set up all night so that we could rise early in the morning to see if we could get some shots of mist rising from the spring. There was indeed nice "polar smoke", adding some magic to our compilation.)

Over the past month, John (in Gainesville) and I (in Crawfordville) spent countless hours on the computer, phone, email, text, and sending prints via FedEx to finetune this image.  Getting a composite nightscape to look great on a screen is far easier than getting it to look great as a fine art print.  We tweaked and dinked until we felt it was there - the final (?) version just a few days ago.  (Note: only my watermark signature is on this thumbnail, as will John's signature appear solo on the prints he sells at the art festival April 1-2 and beyond. But, like Eye of the Aquifer, this piece is a joint collaboration, and when feasible, we share joint credit.)

What do you think?

Naked under the StarsNaked under the Stars

Naked Under the Stars

That wraps up Naked Under the Stars (and more) at Blue Springs Park on the Santa Fe River in Gilchrist County, Florida. Hope you enjoyed the tour.  As always, I greatly value your comments left here at the blog. Please let me know what you think of Naked and the other shots.  Share my blog wide and free. And happy (nature) trails!  

 

Naked Under the Stars -- POSTSCRIPT

On June 12, 2017, just a few months after this photo was made, the old cypress snag central to this photo fell into the spring.  What a grievous loss.  And yet another reminder from the great circle of life.  Here is an excerpt from a posting made by my dear friend John Moran yesterday: 

Yes, it’s a picture of a beautiful spring, and there’s our awe-inspiring galaxy spinning through the night. But from the inception of our vision for the picture, we considered this bare cypress to be the photographic linchpin joining water to the sky. Accordingly, we honored the tree with a veritable golden shower of light.  Talk about living life large, even in the afterlife. For many years, this fine old snag was as a stately conductor in the dark. Appearing nightly even as we slept, conjuring visions of Springs Eternal and Cosmos Everlasting.

This photo was made at Naked Springs by the owner of Blue Springs shortly after the fall.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Blue Springs Park David Moynahan Photography Florida Santa Fe River camping nature photography night photography nightscape spring underwater photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/3/naked-under-the-stars Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:52:00 GMT
Blue Cypress Lake Christmas http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/2/blue-cypress-lake-christmas Blue_Cypress_PanoramaBlue_Cypress_Panorama This was a rare year that we celebrated our family Christmas with kids and relatives early.  That freed Crystal, Scruff, and I to have a Valentine-kind-of-Christmas - out in nature, "far from the madding crowd".  And far away we were - the only humans (and dog) spending the night amidst the beautiful trees on Blue Cypress Lake.   We trailered our jonboat down to the Lake (near Yeehaw Junction, FL) where a single small road that dead ends at a fish camp is the only lake access/development on the whole lake.  The family-run spot was getting ready to close for the holiday, but said, "sure, you can leave your car and trailer overnight."

Crystal_&_ScruffCrystal_&_Scruff

This was Scruff's first boat-camping experience, and in the back of my mind was this question: where we might stop for him to pee and poop? Luckily, he can really hold it, because it turns out, the lake is ringed with cypress swamp, and the folks told us the fish camp was the only lakeside land. 

Little_TreeLittle_Tree

We tootled along taking in the gorgeous Christmas Eve afternoon until the sun was low. Then, to our amazement, we saw a small cabin standing on stilts back in the shadows of the cypress. It had a deck around it, a landing dock, steps down to the water at the back... and best of all, no signs forbidding a respectful stop.  The cabin itself was securely locked up. It took a bit of coaxing and encouragement, but we got Scruff to make use of the back steps covered with cypress needles (easily rinsed off with a bucket of water.)  Home free.

Typically we pitch our tent on the large custom foredeck of our boat (made for it); but here there was ample room on the deck beside the cabin - and under a roof so we could forgo the tent fly - to set up the tent with a wide open view.  Thank you to the fisherman/family for such a lovely accommodation. 

Christmas EveChristmas Eve

The lake is famous for fishing and also renowned for its gnarly short cypress trees adorned with giant osprey nests... some so low we could stand on the boat deck and peer down into them!

Big_Nest_Little_TreeBig_Nest_Little_Tree On GuardOn Guard Stuggle_in_SolitudeStuggle_in_Solitude And osprey by the dozens...

FlightFlight Preparing_for_TakeoffPreparing_for_Takeoff Osprey_SentryOsprey_Sentry

Our lake and view from the cabin deck was to the southeast - Vero Beach glowing over the horizon, but the stars still put on a show. 

Christmas StarsChristmas Stars

And as morning stirred, the birds moved from their roosts to their day's feeding grounds. 

Ibis Under Crescent MoonIbis Under Crescent Moon

We had a beautiful Christmas Day deep in nature, and returned to the boat ramp in the late afternoon rejuvenated and joyful.  Here are a few more of my photos from the day.

Moss_PlayMoss_Play Crystal_&_Scruff_on_deckCrystal_&_Scruff_on_deck Cypress_StudyCypress_Study Solo_Dwarf_CypressSolo_Dwarf_Cypress Osprey_LiftoffOsprey_Liftoff Tenor_of_CypressTenor_of_Cypress Back_LightBack_Light Blue_Cypress_Fish_CampBlue_Cypress_Fish_Camp

A lovely Florida jewel, Blue Cypress Lake was the perfect Christmas-Valentine getaway... and we had more adventures in store before heading home... but that's another story.

Your comments here at the blog are much appreciated!  Thanks for visiting, and please share this link widely. 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Blue Cypress Lake David Moynahan Photography Florida cypress nature photography night photography osprey osprey nest http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/2/blue-cypress-lake-christmas Thu, 02 Feb 2017 01:35:00 GMT
Eye of the Aquifer http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/1/eye-of-the-aquifer

OUR JAWS DROPPED as we came around a stony outcropping at the end of the obscure trail.  A sunbeam poured through the oculus into water almost too blue to believe.  Actually, the whole scene was a bit hard to believe... a karst window sinkhole beneath a dome of limerock with a 30 foot oculus high on the wall through which the sun and moon and stars can keep an eye on our Aquifer.

John Moran's new friend, a young ardent springs advocate, had visited this place a few times as a guest of the owner and knew that an amazing photograph might be made here.  He knew of Moran's photography and springs advocacy work.  And so, after obtaining special permission from the owner for a photo to be made here, he contacted John.  One look and John recognized the unique potential for a killer addition to our collaborative nightscape series.  He sent me a note with a teaser photo.  Months later, here we were ready to make it happen.

That's Crystal in the ocular sunbeam.

On that initial scouting trip, our host led John, Lesley Gamble (who along with John is co-director of the Springs Eternal Project), Crystal, and I  to the sinkhole so we could meet the owner, figure out a strategy for our night shot... and take a dip.

On the night of the shoot, we fine-tuned the above composition for our nightscape.  That's my little kayak in the left corner.  We'd spent an hour cleaning the surface of leaves and pollen.  Lesley, George Tortorelli and Anthony Ackrill, as well as our host spent the full 7 hours there serving as models, light bearers, and general assistants.

We made more than 300 frames of the identical scene (each lit differently) from which about 30 were chosen to layer into the final composition.  Here's a quick timelapse video of the whole series.

In talking with John about how I'd present our finished photo in my blog, he had these words:

"The Floridan Aquifer -- source of our springs and our drinking water -- is closer than we think. Like a great hidden sponge, that mass of wet rock beneath our feet is the very foundation of Florida's ecological and economic well-being.  Out of sight, it delivers its bounty too often out of mind.  Simply put, the Floridan Aquifer is the everyday miracle we value too lightly.  The point of this picture is not only to amaze, it's to inspire.  It's all connected.  Those are words to live by, Florida.  What we put in our water, we put in ourselves."

Please take in these words carefully as you now view our latest collaboration, Eye of the Aquifer.

This is a sacred place in Florida, privately held and protected, its location intentionally not divulged.  We were humbly honored to be given a chance to record and celebrate this karst window and are pleased to be allowed to share it with you.  I hope you feel some of the awe and joy we had in the making of this photo, and are inspired to be good stewards and ambassadors in your own ways for our springs and watersheds.

Please share this link widely, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and responses to this photo and story below.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) david moynahan photography diver diving florida karst window limerock nature photography night photography nightscape oculus sinkhole underwater photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/1/eye-of-the-aquifer Sun, 01 Jan 2017 21:49:00 GMT
Aucilla http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/12/aucilla Aucilla River Sink Autumn IIIAucilla River Sink Autumn III

Aucilla - since the meaning of this river's Indian name has been lost, I'll venture a guess as to its meaning: Peek-A-Boo River or Now-You-See-Me-Now-You-Don't... you get the drift.  The Aucilla River has the unusual feature of disappearing into underground caves again and again during the course of its run.  There is a great stretch of the Florida Trail that meanders along the course of the underground sections of the river and its sinkholes or "windows" into it.  I recently hiked the Aucilla Sinks Trail with Paul Marcellini. So this month, I'm featuring my photos from this walk, as well as shots I've made of other parts of the Aucilla River on past hikes and paddles.

Aucilla RocksAucilla RocksAucilla Sinks Trail with Crystal. 09-01-16. 11 am to 3 pm. clear day.

Tea-colored water typically fills the sinks. 

Off-the-Trail SinkOff-the-Trail Sink

In early December, we were nearly at the peak of our modest fall color.

Aucilla PanoAucilla Pano There are nice paddle runs on long stretches of the river as well.  (This shot was made during a severe drought, a rare time when the water was clear.)

Aucilla Fall PalmAucilla Fall Palm

Late Light on Half Mile Rise

Aucilla CypressAucilla CypressFrom west bank of Lower Aucilla River at moderately high water, including site of the rapids (now too high).

Water levels vary dramatically.  The more typical level is the line on this tree.

Aucilla RapidsAucilla Rapids

Several rocky rapids make paddling exciting at the right water levels. (This is high water just below the main rapids - a long exposure.)

Aucilla River PanoramaAucilla River Panorama Starting early is always a bonus for me and my work.

Aucilla River Sink Autumn IIAucilla River Sink Autumn II

Aucilla River Sinks Autumn

BedrockBedrock

Bedrock. A former path of the river, now dry, exposes the underlying karst topography.

FlowFlowGoose Pasture through 'braided swamp' to confluence with Aucilla River. Then up Aucilla River 1 mile to Half Mile Rise landing. Final swallow-tailed kites at cleared land along Half Mile Rise road.

Flow.

Floating RockFloating Rock

Floating Rock

Half Mile RiseHalf Mile Rise

Big Sky over Half Mile Rise

Aucilla River Sink Autumn IVAucilla River Sink Autumn IV

Sinks Trail.

RootsRoots

Conjoined Roots

Water Colors 2Water Colors 2Aucilla Sinks Trail with Crystal. 09-01-16. 11 am to 3 pm. clear day.

Water Colors (An artsy rendition of reflections in a sink.)

Aucilla River Sink AutumnAucilla River Sink Autumn

Sinks in Autumn

Red-tailed Hawk HookedRed-tailed Hawk Hooked

Red-tailed Hawk. On one trip in very low water, Susan Cerulean and I found and rescued this hooked hawk who'd been caught in a trot line.

Merging WatersMerging Waters

Merging Waters.  The clear-watered Wacissa ultimately drains into the tannic Aucilla. The confluence is a magical place.

Live Oak ReachLive Oak Reach

The Long Arm of Live Oak.

Aucilla River Sink Autumn VAucilla River Sink Autumn V

Our recent hike was blessedly cloudy (for less contrast), but the sun popped out late, back-lighting the fall colors.

White Ibis PerchWhite Ibis Perch

Not a lot of wading birds here, but this ibis was happy to pose.

CorkscrewCorkscrew

Corkscrew. The tree appears to be screaming from the giant vine's stranglehold.

Palm IslePalm Isle

The End of the River.  

Seemed appropriate to end with a shot from the mouth of the Aucilla at the Gulf of Mexico, a place of  beauty all its own. Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, and that the New Year provides you ample opportunities to get out into the wilds.  

 

Please share this link with your social media and email friends and family. And leave a comment here if so moved --  I love reading them and am told they help get this post to new viewers.    

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Aucilla River Aucilla Sinks Trail David Moynahan Photography Florida Florida nature photography cypress nature photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/12/aucilla Tue, 20 Dec 2016 21:28:00 GMT
November http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/11/november Tom TurkeyTom Turkey

November... that's a pretty thin theme to hold together this random-seeming collection of mostly not-fall-like photos - all shot in November.  I suppose that is my point though: wherever I go in our beautiful state, my eye feasts on photo compositions in the flora and fauna, the panorama and close-up.  For that, I am deeply grateful.  So from me to you this Thanksgiving month, a taste of November photos, many of which may never have otherwise found a spot at this blog.  (Ironically, the one non-November image is the Tom Turkey above - I threw him in simply as iconic Thanksgiving eye-candy.)  All shots were made in Florida - from the Keys to the Panhandle.

Alligator HideAlligator Hide

Alligator Hide. A marvel of nature. A good size fellow, and perhaps I'm closer than I should be? (Not. I'm careful and respectful.)

Alum Bluff SunsetAlum Bluff Sunset

Alum Bluff Sunset.  The mighty Apalachicola River.  After sunset, it was a very dark hike out through the ravines of the Garden of Eden Trail, but so worth it.

Asteroid LandingAsteroid Landing

Asteroid Landing. Actually, I'm gliding in my kayak on the black waters of the Suwannee River toward one of its spectacular limerock walls.

Battle-scarred SentinelBattle-scarred Sentinel

Battle-scarred Sentinel.  In the realm of the gnomes and goblins. Light-painting from Jonathan Spring on the Santa Fe River.

Bent OakBent OakSt. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL

Salute to the Sunrise.  An oldie-goldie from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Dark Scare...er, Stare.  A most startling thing to find in one's weak flashlight beam on a sleepy-headed late-foggy-night camping pee break. That's the nightmare conjured up for me by this photo. But actually, it's an-accidentally-under-exposed shot of a Florida Panther at Gatorama in midday.

Dead Lakes MoonriseDead Lakes Moonrise

Dead Lakes Moonrise.  Afloat in his boat just after sunset, John and I took in the grand beauty of this magical place and the rising moon.

Eel Grass Abstract IIEel Grass Abstract IIAucillaRiverRRBridgetoRamp8LizSparksSueCerulean

Eel Grass Abstract.  The red tannic waters flowing over shallow white sand of the Aucilla River with the vibrant tendrils of eel grass flattened by the current, blend with the blue-sky reflections on the deeper water's surface... or... simply, an abstract of nature.

Floral EtherFloral Ether

Floral Ether.  An Angel's Trumpet in our backyard gently swaying in the breeze during a long exposure.

Foam FeatherFoam Feather

Foam Feather. I looked down from a culvert at St Marks to see the roiling waters squeezing into the pipe, leaving this lovely trail of foam.

Green Heron Strike IIGreen Heron Strike IICoconut Grove Yacht Basin. Wading birds on Bait Shrimp Trawlers.

Green Heron Strike.  Clever opportunist, the small heron uses a low-hanging dock line to fish for the unsuspecting minnows around the shrimp boat (reflected).

Head OnHead On

Head On. What a surprise to look over a small footbridge on a St Marks trail and see this sleeping giant a few feet beneath me.

Life AnewLife AnewA fallen tree hovers over the swamp providing a perch for new life. Fakahatchee Strand, FL

Life Anew. Fakahatchee Strand hides some marvelous Guzmania swamps. Slogging through the knee-deep water, photo ops beckoned everywhere. Here, a deadfall becomes a perch for the abundant bromeliads.

Magical Moonlight PaddleMagical Moonlight Paddle

Magical Moonlight Paddle. As the ghost of a big ol' gator rises out of the mangrove tunnel on the Turner River (Everglades) at midnight, my paddle became a jet as I skedaddled, leaving only a trail of light.  Well, something like that. John and I did spend 6 hours late at night in chest-deep alligator-infested waters to make this light-painted photo.  Actually, it took two nights. (First try was a failure.) 

Mystic Spring DawnMystic Spring Dawn

Mystic Spring Dawn. Another light-painted all-night collaboration John and I made at a lovely little spring on the Chipola River.  No alligators here, but that little fish in the small lit window was a lucky cherry-on-top.

Palm Leaf StudyPalm Leaf Study

Palm Leaf Study.  From a majestic South Florida exotic called a Silver Palm.

Pines in Mist InversionPines in Mist Inversion

Pines in the Mist Inversion. Early morning mist lends a painterly filter for landscapes, especially reflected ones.

Reddish EgretReddish Egret

Reddish Egret.  This handsome bird showed off its graceful fishing dance for me and my lens before flying up to a nearby perch to pose for its portrait. That was a lucky day at St. Marks.

Reflections on the Suwannee PanoramaReflections on the Suwannee Panorama

Reflections on the Suwannee - Panorama. Here's the big picture view of one of those gorgeous Suwannee limerock banks (seen close-up in Asteroid Landing above).

Solo MangroveSolo MangroveTavernir, FL

Solo Mangrove. Waded in treacherously deep mud from my jonboat near sunset to this unusual isolated flat-topped mangrove in the Florida Keys. We hurried back at the boat ramp but arrived too late... it had been locked up minutes before.  A long story I won't go into here, but all worth the photo.

Twisted CypressTwisted Cypresshttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Twisted Cypress. Kayaking along a tributary of the Apalachicola River one fall evening, I found rich beauty in the color-changing cypress trees.

Under the Rainbow EyeUnder the Rainbow Eye

Under the Rainbow Eye. Reflection, refraction, and intense back-lighting created magic in a small sinkhole in Apalachicola National Forest. Here, a swamped lilypad cups a smear of cypress oil rainbow.

Z TreeZ TreeA different view of the iconic Z Tree among the dwarf cypress in the Everglades National Park.

Z Tree. This dwarf cypress is an icon in Everglades National Park.  But finding it in the pre-dawn darkness took the intimate knowledge of local master nature photographer Paul Marcellini.  As the light came up on the soft river of grass, I found a small slot of water where the Z was mirrored.

 

 For those of you who don't already know, you can follow me (or friend me) at Facebook where I publish several of my nature photos each week (and steer clear of politics).  And recently I have opened an Instagram account and am posting photos there as well. Hope you have/had a Thanksgiving filled with family/friends, gratitude, and an open heart - and a refreshing reprieve from the troubled world. 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Florida Nature Photography Florida Panther November Suwannee River abstract cypress night photography nightscape osceola turkey spring wildlife photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/11/november Wed, 02 Nov 2016 00:38:00 GMT
Wild Florida http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/10/wild-florida Wild Florida Flyer

Many of my photos look pretty good online, but I'm looking forward to seeing 10 of them as large framed canvases in an upcoming show in West Palm Beach, FL early next month.  A show called Wild Florida will feature the work of some of Florida's finest nature photographers - Marina Scarr, Carlton Ward, Jr., Mac Stone, David Moynahan, Greg Matthews, Paul Marcellini, Chris Gilette, Raymond Gehman, as well as the outstanding pieces by contest winners as picked by judge, Clyde Butcher.  The work will be on exhibit from November 5th through December 17th in THE GALLERY at Center for Creative Education.  There will be a gala Opening Reception from 6ish to 9ish on Saturday evening November 5th for those of you in the vicinity.  (There is a $10 donation, 100% of which will go to a Florida environmental charity). Here are the pieces I'll be showing.  

Bay Scallop

Gin Clear

Plumage

 

Lily Light

Into the Mystery

Pines in Mist

Night Patrol

Polyps

St. Vincent Sunrise

Star Struck

The virtual show here is one thing... but I'm holding out for the real thing.  Maybe I'll see some of you in Palm Beach.

Please share this link.  Oh, and I greatly appreciate your comments below.  

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Gallery at Center for Creative Education West Palm Beach art show nature photography nightscape underwater photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/10/wild-florida Sat, 01 Oct 2016 21:38:00 GMT
Florida Spring Hopping http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/9/Florida-spring-hopping Crystal SinkCrystal Sink

From high in a tree, our very own Crystal Sink

Nothing is more refreshing than to jump into the cold clear water of a Florida spring in the balmy heat of a summer day.  September is upon us but little reprieve from the heat, and Hurricane Hermine just passed right over us leaving a soggy mess in her wake... a hot, sticky, mosquito-laden mess.  So I'm all for revisiting some of Florida's greatest swimming holes and shivering at the thought of diving in.  Ahhhh.....

I have to start with Crystal Sink (above).  It is a karst window sinkhole, not a spring, but its fed from the same caves as Wakulla Springs and I am so grateful to be able to cool off in it every day when the need arises... like when a hurricane has killed the electricity (and A/C),  or when the sweat from doing yardwork is dripping into my eyes, and especially when its time for relaxing.  Instantly rejuvenated, I think of Ponce de Leon's search for the Fountain, and know that this is it.

Here is a selection of a few of my springs favorites, starting at nearby Wakulla.  You may have seen some of these before - or been there in person.  Maybe you have a favorite too.

Manatee LoversManatee Lovers

Many swimmers enjoy Wakulla Springs...

Pied-billed Grebe & CrayfishPied-billed Grebe & Crayfish

And some even find it to be a great place for breakfast.

Flying_Fish_3Flying_Fish_3

In the depths of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge one can glimpse the Flying Fish of Shepard Spring.

Spring AbstractSpring AbstractLooking straight down into a large hole in the rocky creek floor, from which boils the pure elixer of life.

To the west in the panhandle, on the Chipola River many springs beckon. Mystic Spring (3 photos) ...

Hidden SpringHidden SpringChipola River, FL

Mystic Spring DawnMystic Spring Dawn

Mystic at dawn. A collaboration with John Moran.

Maund Spring RunMaund Spring Run

Not far downstream, Maund Spring. The spring is visible (upper left) flowing down the arc of its run to the Chipola (mid-right).  A wide angle lens captured the entire "smile".

Baltzell-2Baltzell-2

Almost a caricature of a Florida oasis, one of the Baltzell Group on the upper Chipola.

Baltzell SpringBaltzell Spring

And another gem from the Baltzell Group.

Blue Spring BassBlue Spring Bass

Jackson Blue Spring, the biggest of the Chipola River system, is spectacular, and a popular swimming hole.  In early morning by boat, I had the place to myself... well, me and this bass.

Jackson Blue Cavern VistaJackson Blue Cavern Vista

Looking out from Jackson Blue's cavern... there's a diving board just overhead...

Swimming at Jackson BlueSwimming at Jackson Blue

Cypress SpringCypress Spring

Cypress Spring's old maple tree in fall. It's a short paddle on Holmes Creek (FL Panhandle) - - so worth it.  

Fall_Spring_Run_VFall_Spring_Run_V

Cypress Spring Run

Surreal_SuspensionSurreal_Suspension

Surreal Suspension. Crystal in the clear waters of Cypress Spring Run.

Where_Spring_Meets_CreekWhere_Spring_Meets_Creek

And where Cypress's waters meet those of a small tannic creek. Some invisible barrier slows the blending of the waters.

Springside FoxgloveSpringside FoxgloveFalso Foxglove. Econfina Creek, FL

Gainer Springs on Econfina Creek (also in the Panhandle) -- a series of crystalline spring vents and surprising wildlife...

Pile UpPile Up

Rise & Fall of Tads 2Rise & Fall of Tads 2

The giant tadpoles of the River Swamp Frog. (I've only seen them there once in these large numbers.)

Bathtub2Bathtub2

One of the many Suwannee River springs... by day...

Oasis_in_DarkOasis_in_Dark

And by night. This one, Oasis in the Dark , was a collaborative project with John Moran. Swimming it at night (to operate the underwater lights) was a chilling experience.

Suwannee BlueSuwannee BlueJohn entering vent at Suwannee Blue Spring

Speaking of the dude... there he is, John Moran in his element.

School of MulletSchool of MulletConvict Spring, Suwannee River, FL

And John's not the only one in its element in Suwannee's springs.  Convict Spring.

Devils_Den2_IchetuckneeDevils_Den2_Ichetucknee

The entire run of Ichetucknee River is like a giant spring, full of clearwater-revelers afloat in tubes all summer.  I had to wait awhile to get this break in the tube traffic.

Devil's DenDevil's Den

Near Williston, Devil's Den is deep inside an above-water cave  The cave roof has a natural skylight, dripping with curtains of vines and soft light.  The underwater caves accessed from here are popular with divers.

Denizen of the DeepDenizen of the Deep

In the wild springs of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, I found myself sharing my swim with an undesirable denizen ... not the best of swimming buddies.

GarfishGarfish

Not far away, the young punk gar hangout was a cool spot.  Fearless of the old gators.

Flowering LightFlowering Light

Volusia Blue Spring, a flower of limerock layers and light. The hard-to-see-diver about halfway up gives you some perspective.  It's deep.

BluesBlues

Pals enjoying Gilchrist Blue Spring. (Every county should have its own "Blue Spring" and many seem to.) Gilchrist Blue is another wildly popular swimming hole for the locals.

Ledge_Spring_0031-lgLedge_Spring_0031-lg

In Ocala National Forest, springs abound, from this small un-named one on Juniper Creek...

Silver SunriseSilver Sunrise

To the most famous, Silver Spring. The spring run is the beautiful Silver River.

Fern Hammock SpringFern Hammock SpringJuniper Springs Recreation Area, FL

Another of my favorites in the Ocala Forest is Fern Hammock Spring, with its beautiful arched foot bridge and stretching live oaks.

Spring Run LightSpring Run Light And here the day (and blog) ends... way back upon the Suwannee River.  

May your eyes (and to the depths of your souls) have been cooled and refreshed.  

Please share this link freely... and I love your comments here at the blog.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Chipola River David Moynahan Photography Econfina Creek Florida Holmes Creek Suwannee River Wakulla Springs night photography spring underwater photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/9/Florida-spring-hopping Thu, 01 Sep 2016 19:23:00 GMT
Bay Scallops http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/8/bay-scallops Best Bay ScallopBest Bay ScallopGulf of Mexico

Every summer, our Big Bend sea grass beds become home to thousands of delectable bay scallops.  The "hot spots" become packed with boatfuls of snorkelers in search of the crusty shells hidden like easter eggs in and around the eel grass.  You can't look too closely into the (many) lovely blue eyes of these delicate creatures or you might find it hard to kill and eat them.  But year after year, many of us have joyfully filled our bags, shucked out the sweet white muscles, and enjoyed every finger-licking morsel... and year after year, the maturing scallops return, often bountifully.

Bay ScallopsBay ScallopsGulf of Mexico Baroque ScallopsBaroque ScallopsGulf of Mexico, FL

But after the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 -- realizing that our scallop populations might be doomed --  John Moran, Eric Zamora, and I set out to photograph these beautiful bivalves.  Until then, for all the years I'd been scalloping, I didn't have a single snapshot, much less an artful rendition of the bay scallop.  We spent a full day working on this project, and while at the end of the day, we harvested a good dinner's worth, we made sure that our primary "models" went free.  Most of the photos here are the ones I made that day, but a few I made in subsequent seasons.

Scallop on EdgeScallop on EdgeGulf of Mexico Blue EyesBlue EyesBay Scallop. Gulf of Mexico Bivalve from OuterspaceBivalve from OuterspaceThis was a "failed" test shot as far as ambient light settings - the sea grass was supposed to show in the background. But the underexposure combined with bright flash (in a bag underwater) and the flecks of silt that we had stirred up came together to make this extraterrestrial delight. Nothing was altered here (except the viewer's perception). Gulf of Mexico.

Bivalve from Outerspace.  

This was a "failed" test shot as far as ambient light settings - the sea grass was supposed to show in the background. But the underexposure combined with bright flash (in a bag underwater) and the flecks of silt that we had stirred up came together to make this extraterrestrial delight. Nothing was altered here (except the viewer's perception). 

 

The oil spill pollutants didn't make it to our local waters and the scallops remained plentiful, but now there is a new threat: the wastewater of the Georgia-Pacific Foley Cellulose (formerly Buckeye) Pulp Mill in Perry, Florida. For decades, the Mill has discharged its nasty effluent into the once pristine Fenholloway River, turning it into Florida's only Class 5 industrial waterway, a black-sludged riverbed full of toxic chemicals.  Foley now has a "plan to clean up" the Fenholloway by building a pipeline all the way to the Gulf -- so instead of flowing down the 24 miles of river to the Gulf, the wastewater will be discharged directly into the coastal Gulf waters, about 20 miles from the scallop beds off St. Marks. Part of the plan is to improve the quality of the effluent before discharging it, but given that our state politicians and their gutted "regulating" agencies have just weakened the standards for toxin discharge concentrations into Florida waters, a healthy level of skepticism seems in order.  If the Gulf grass beds that used to be at the mouth of the Fenholloway -- now a dead zone --are any indication, we may be in for severe degradation of our scallop grounds, and the safety of eating the meat of these filter-feeding shellfish, those that dare to venture into the area, may become dubious.   

Swimming ScallopSwimming ScallopBay Scallop. Gulf of Mexico

I rarely use this blog as a political soapbox, prefering to entice my readers to visit our wild places and inspire them to find their own voices for stewardship. But what has happened and continues to happen to our state's public lands and waters at the hands of our current short-sighted greedy governor and legislators is just too extreme... and extremely sad.  So I am imploring you to get involved, to learn about the issues, and to vote your conscience.  You, YOUR VOTE, can make a difference. Here are a couple resources (of many) that can help keep you informed about what is going on: Springs Eternal Project and  Florida Clean Water Network.  Staying informed and VOTING in every election is a great way to make our marks.  (The officials we elect in local and state elections impact our daily lives and environs far more than the big national ones... though this year's presidential race might be an exception.)  Thanks for visiting, caring, and sharing!  Please leave a comment too!

 

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Wakulla County bay scallop scallop sea shell underwater photography http://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/8/bay-scallops Mon, 01 Aug 2016 18:43:00 GMT