David Moynahan Photography: Blog https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog en-us (C) David Moynahan Photography david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Sat, 02 Jan 2021 21:57:00 GMT Sat, 02 Jan 2021 21:57:00 GMT https://www.davidmoynahan.com/img/s/v-12/u739731233-o849357579-50.jpg David Moynahan Photography: Blog https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog 120 80 The Great Conjunction of 2020 - Solstice Star https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2020/12/the-great-conjunction-of-2020---solstice-star Lighthouse LightLighthouse Light
St Marks Lighthouse


Some say that the Christmas Star followed by the Wise Men was actually the Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. This year on the Solstice, December 21, a Great Conjunction occurred again - meaning the two planets were closer to each other in the (observable) night sky than any time during the past 791 years!  But what intrigued me as much was that one was supposed to be able to see moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn through BINOCULARS (or in my case, a telephoto lens on my camera).  No telescope needed!

Ducks at Lighthouse PondDucks at Lighthouse Pond

Lighthouse Pond Ducks Aplenty

So Crystal and I rigged up our binoculars on a tripod (to keep them very still) and headed down to St Marks National Wildlife Refuge a few days ahead to test it out.  We had a delightful evening show - the ducks and wading birds in the late-day light, the sunset, the crescent moon, and finally the almost-Conjunction - as we ate our picnic dinner along the shore. When the final curtain dropped (clouds moved in), we headed home, full of awe, wonder, and anticipation of the preeminent performance on the Solstice.

Dusky MoonDusky Moon Heron in Dusk LightHeron in Dusk Light

On the Solstice, we returned for the Grand Finale, with another more ambitious picnic and a couple friends. We were careful with social distancing (and well away from the parking area), but also marveled at the >100+ others who showed up to watch the Great Conjunction.  The evening's performances that night were every bit as brilliant as the dress rehearsal. (While intently focused on nature photo ops, I neglected to take a single shot of the people scene, even of our own picnic gathering. "In the zone"...  my excuse... sorry)


Sailing in Solstice SunsetSailing in Solstice Sunset

The Wide Angle Sunset

Dusk Sky DetailDusk Sky Detail

The Telephoto Sunset

Quarter Moon in 3D

The Great Conjunction

Lo and behold, THERE in our lenses, we could indeed see four of Jupiter’s moons and the rings encircling Saturn... they were tiny, but visible. A thrill to see.  Somewhat underwhelming as little photos on a computer screen, especially compared to the experience in the BIG SKY theater. I highly recommend getting out there somewhere where you can see the sun set, dusk settle, and the moon and stars appear. You'll be glad you did.
 

Thanks for your visit. I really enjoy all comments you leave below. And feel free to share the link with family and friends.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Great Conjunction nature photography night photography St Marks National Wildlife Refuge sunset Wakulla County https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2020/12/the-great-conjunction-of-2020---solstice-star Thu, 31 Dec 2020 21:56:00 GMT
Spelunking a Spring https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2020/12/spelunking-a-spring  

Merritts Mill PondMerritts Mill Pond

Merritt's Mill Pond, Before the Drawdown


Gator Hole Spring, Before the Drawdown
 

Merritts Mill Pond, a spring-fed dammed lake near Marianna FL, was "drawn down" for maintenance and repair at the headspring, Jackson Blue.  This only happens once every 50 years or so.  The Pond water level was lowered 6 feet or more -- quite an opportunity "to see what's underwater" without actually diving.  One of the springs, Gator Hole, had become a large partially-out-of-water cave into which adventurous folks could actually paddle part way.  And from there, one could wade in the crystal clear knee-deep waters and explore the many nooks, crannies, and side tunnels.  After seeing some photos on FB (Thanks Giedra Mazelyte and Guy Bryant), we were intrigued, and then hearing the Pond would be refilled very soon, Crystal and I decided to try to see it. We got there just in time - they began refilling it a couple days later.

Foggy LaunchFoggy Launch

Scruff is keeping a close eye on Crystal as she fades into the whiteout. Meanwhile, we're struggling in the 1 1/2 inch deep water.

As a safeguard during the pandemic, we decided to be there at dawn on a weekday in hopes of having the caves to ourselves for a couple hours. We didn't anticipate the entire area (and Pond) being socked in by dense fog... and, as a result, never saw another soul on the entire Pond all morning.  We launched before sunrise, wading through some mud, and then struggling to get our kayaks into deep enough water to float, but soon enough we were afloat and shrouded in beauty. Our scout, Scruff, was on high alert in the front of my boat.

Foggy SunriseFoggy Sunrise

Hmmm... which way do we go?

Scruff ScoutScruff Scout

SearchSearch

Friend, John Moran, had given us some landmarks for finding the cave entrance. Oops, the landmarks were lost in the fog.  But we had a good general idea of where it was, and my GPS, which didn't mind the fog one bit, soon had the cave pinpointed.

Entering the Secret PassageEntering the Secret Passage

Entering the Secret Passage

Kayak CavingKayak Caving

Fog swirled around us as we floated into the tunnel. Fifty feet in, we secured our boats and proceeded into the alluring dark stony holes by flashlight. We set Scruff atop a large flat stalagmite as sentinel. (Honestly, he would have had to swim in many spots and soon we'd have a miserable shivering doggie on our hands. He sensed that his post was the safest place to keep his eye/ear on us and remained relatively content for a couple hours.)
 

Sentinel ScruffSentinel Scruff
 

We were out to have fun more than to make photos, so without much gear to lug around, we spent most of our time just exploring. I had brought several waterproof inflatable solar LED lamps which we placed strategically in holes in the rock walls to guide us as we ventured into the various passageways. 

Inside the Spring WorkingsInside the Spring Workings

In Earth's Heart

But there was so much mystery in the dark recesses, the dimly lit swiss-cheese-limestone walls, and clear blue water swirling at our knees, that I made a few stabs at trying to capture the drama of it.

Spring CavingSpring Caving

Spring Caving

In Earth's HeartIn Earth's Heart

Inner Springs

One small side tunnel led us to the deep hole from which the Aquifer gushed, and into which divers go way beyond our reach.

Gator HoleGator Hole

Gator Hole

Deep DiveDeep Dive

Gator Hole Denizens (No gators to be seen!)

Upon return to our boats, the sun was beaming into the entry tunnel.  

SpelunkersSpelunkers

The Spelunkers

We had to back out as the channel was too narrow to turn around.


Backing OutBacking Out

Backing Out

One last look at the entrance to Gator Hole, before turning out into low-water Merritts Mill Pond and its eerie skeletal tree stumps stabbing at the sky.

Gator Hole MouthGator Hole Mouth

At the Mouth of Gator Hole

cypress Bones 2cypress Bones 2

Cypress Bones

Cypress BonesCypress Bones

We paddled back to our launch site, gleeful in our success and giddy from the adventure.  And headed home. 

I hope you enjoyed the trip into a spring cave. Please feel free to share this link. And leave a comment below - I love to read your impressions.  And may we all journey safely to the end of this pandemic... the light (vaccine) at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) cave David Moynahan Photography Florida fog Gator Hole Spring Jackson County Merritts Mill Pond nature photography spelunking spring https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2020/12/spelunking-a-spring Fri, 25 Dec 2020 22:24:00 GMT
Adventures in Search of Gander Spring https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2020/6/gander-spring-adventure

Last Wednesday, Mike and I launched our kayaks in a gentle breeze from Wakulla Beach, intent on our missions:

1. To find his lost gear and 2. To find Gander Spring.

MikeMike

My neighbor, Mike, had been pretty animated when he came over earlier in the morning asking to borrow a kayak... he'd "lost" his kayak the previous day! He had been making solo kayak trips into the coastal creeks and sloughs during the pandemic.  Mike became particularly intent on finding Gander Spring, rumored to be a beautiful clear spring deep in the coastal swamp/forest.  There are no trails to it, only a very obstructed shallow spring run that spills into the saltmarsh and bay not far from where we live. So, Mike had made a few exploratory trips part way up Gander Creek, turning back each time due to inaccessibility, time constraints, or conditions. He made it furthest up the run the day before, and thinking he must be close, tied off his kayak and struck out on foot. With a bit of searching, sure enough he came upon the spring. After making his way partially around it, he headed back, thinking he was retracing his steps, but actually heading in the wrong direction. The edges of the spring are ill-defined, and there are several "channels" going in different directions.  Mike's only compass (his phone) was in his boat, along with his lunch and water. Unfortunately, it was a hot humid overcast day.  So no sun to gauge direction. Once he realized he'd lost his way, all efforts to reorient to his original path, or even the spring, failed. Soon he was doing his best to keep heading in the same direction (which was hard, given the swampy conditions, dense vegetation, and deeper sloughs that had to be circumnavigated).  SEVEN HOURS LATER, parched and worried as darkness approached, he spotted a power line through the forest and came out on a dirt road.  Whew. I can only imagine his relief.  I know Mike to be level-headed, stoic, and in great physical shape, but spending the night in that swamp would rattle anyone. To his credit, he never panicked (which is KEY) and stuck with the best plan given his circumstances.  Other than the dehydration, the spiderwebs (complete with the spiders) encasing him and the many ticks needing to be picked off, he made it home that night in one piece. A blessing. We both learned some important lessons (me - the easy way) from Mike's misadventure, and he agreed to let me share it for other adventurers to consider and possibly learn from. 

Dense SwampDense Swamp

The two of us had been talking for a month or two about taking on Gander Creek together one day soon. So, the moment was ripe with motivation, and the conditions seemed ideal.  We paddled a short distance along the Gulf Coast, then turned north into Goose Bay. It was a good hour or more of paddling over oyster beds and winding through the marsh, past alligator roosts, and wading birds.  Eventually, the channel narrowed to a creek as we approached a stand of mostly dead cypress trees - victims of sea level rise. 

Shell Point

Great Blue Portrait

Basking Gator

Victims of Sea Level RiseVictims of Sea Level Rise

Cypress Skeletons, Victims of Sea Level Rise

Swamp GateSwamp Gate

Swamp Gate

From there we quickly entered an enchanted forest and the challenging obstacle course/maze. Between the drag-over shallows, the soft creek bottom, the multiple large logs requiring portage, the false-creek side channels, and the mosquitoes, it was slow going. But oh-so-beautiful.  I expected this so I had packed light, my only camera being my iphone.  In the lower creek, each cypress knee had its own little population of crabs. 

PullOversPullOvers Mouth of the RunMouth of the Run Knee CrabsKnee Crabs

Crabby Knees

Spiders galore, but also spider lilies.  And even a nice crop of my favorite-eating wild oyster mushrooms.  After another hour, we spotted Mike's yellow kayak off on a side channel. Mission One, accomplished.  We plowed ahead.

Spider Lillies AfloatSpider Lillies Afloat

Spider Lilies

Oysters at GanderOysters at Gander

Oyster Mushrooms

RecoveryRecovery

Lost Boat Found

It can be tough knowing which way to go.  There are often multiple obstructed channels in view, and the "easiest path through" isn't necessarily the right way. Once you realize that it may be the wrong way, you've committed considerable energy to get there and still aren't sure another better way exists.  Once, when we realized we'd gone wrong, we explored a bit on foot and ended up dragging our boats across a short stretch of swamp to get back on track.

Sabals & CypressSabals & Cypress Gander Run B&WGander Run B&W Obstacle CourseObstacle Course

And then, there it was: Gander Spring. An oasis in the swamp. I had remembered to bring my mask and snorkel, so I took a quick swim around the main spring bowl, keeping an eye out for alligators.  No gators in sight, but I saw plenty of beautiful garfish.

Entering GanderEntering Gander Gander SpringGander Spring
GarfishGarfish

Garfish. (This older photo is from a different spring. I had no underwater camera here.)
Gander PalmsGander Palms

We stopped for Mike's yellow boat on our way out.  I thought it might be quite a challenge to extract it from the swamp, but being empty, it didn't drag Mike down too much.  He towed it all the way back to our launch site without help. 

AtowAtow Knee FieldKnee Field

And that's the story. Your comments below are much appreciated.  And please share this link with anyone who might enjoy it.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) cypress david moynahan photography Florida Gander Spring kayaking nature photography paddling spider lily spring run Wakulla County https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2020/6/gander-spring-adventure Tue, 09 Jun 2020 21:40:00 GMT
Favorites https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/12/favorites Do nature photographers retire?  Maybe, but for this one, it's a gradual process.  I still love being in nature and making art, but I have slowed down, with fewer pre-dawn forays into the wilds, and I even make some outings unencumbered by gear (well, except for the phone-camera in my pocket). A lot to be said for travelling light and taking in the awesome scenes and surprises in nature (and wildlife) without the compulsion to "capture" them.

I've been publishing my monthly photoblog pretty consistently for 12 years now, but I'm ready to slow that pace as well.
Starting in 2020, I'll post at the blog randomly, maybe every 2 to 3 months.  Those of you on my photoblog email list will still get notes (unless you instruct me otherwise). For anyone not on my list who'd like to get an email when I post a new entry (4-6 times per year via BCC. This e-address list is used for no other purpose), you can send me a note asking to be added: david@davidmoynahan.com.

For my last formal monthly blog, I've decided to pick back through previous posts (only as far as 2013) and re-share some of my favorite photos along with the links to accompanying shots and the backstories....

In spring of 2013, we had a "bumper crop" of fireflies in our backyard.  And I was "on fire" about lightpainting at night... put that together and here's the photo, and the story of its becoming: 

Firefly Magic Round the Sinkhole (click this link).

Firefly Magic Round the SinkholeFirefly Magic Round the SinkholeWow! The fireflies are abundant this year... maybe because of less general mosquito spraying. Set up my camera by our classic karst window sinkhole last night and had fun painting the water and trees with a flashlight, while the fireflies danced. For more about this photo: http://davidmoynahanphotography.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/5/firefly-magic

Chassahowitzka - that's a mouthful of a name and an eyeful of a beautiful place.  Have a look here for underwater caves, mermaids, manatees and springs hidden in swamps, and a dive with a sizable alligator: 

Chassahowitzka (click).
 

GarfishGarfish ChassahowitzkaChassahowitzkaChassahowitzka River, FL

Chassahowitzka River

One winter we had an unusual double freeze, during the infamous Polar Vortex.  The ice formations in a nearby swamp were psychedelic and FULL of ART:

Polar Vortex Embraces Florida (link)


Magical_WindowMagical_Window Zebra_IceZebra_Ice

Snorkeling the springs of the Econfina Creek, Crystal and I came upon (and became enthralled by) the rise and fall of giant tadpoles. Here's the full story... 

The Giant Tadpoles of Econfina Creek


Rise & Fall of TadsRise & Fall of Tads

John Moran and I began a series of nightscape-lightpainting collaborations in early 2009. Oasis in the Dark and Magical Moonlit Paddle, below, are two of more than a dozen (and counting).  Here's a blogpost that includes more of our early projects along with some of my solo efforts. 

Nightscape (click this link)

Oasis_in_DarkOasis_in_Dark

Oasis in the Dark

  Magical Moonlight PaddleMagical Moonlight Paddle

Magical Moonlit Paddle

For many years, each January, a group of 8 guys make our traditional camping trip, usually on the wild parts of Florida rivers via kayaks and canoes.  These good times often makes for good stories (and photos).  Here's the link to our 2014 trip on the Suwannee River (you'll then see why it's called Fire):  

Suwannee Fire

Suwannee_Sunrise_PanoSuwannee_Sunrise_Pano

Swapping a gallery of my best photos about a single subject in place of a tale of adventure has been another way I've blogged... such as this one on the weird and sculptural cypress knees I've seen over the years. Not to be missed and ...  

On My Knees

Knee_WavesKnee_Waves Grazing DragonGrazing Dragon

Grazing Dragon

The first time I visited Merritts Mill Pond in Jackson County FL, I was blown away by its beauty. Here's that exploration through my lens - springs and caves and wildlife and people having fun.

Springs of the Mill Pond 

Merritts Mill PondMerritts Mill Pond Dawn Egg LayerDawn Egg Layer

Apple Snail Laying Eggs at Sunrise

The Realm of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a collection of my photos that give a good overview of the majesty of this magical place we call our backyard.  I have posted several photoblog entries about this Refuge.

The Realm of St. Marks

Realm of St MarksRealm of St Marks

Rarely have I posted photos from outside Florida, but here's one of those exceptions. As a boy, I was an avid saltwater aquarist and spent a LOT of time snorkeling and diving throughout the Caribbean, so when I had a chance to dive in Belize a few years ago with my brother Jay, I was happy to have my underwater camera rig with me.  Many are the same creatures I grew up with in my South Florida homewaters.

Under the Sea

Gray AngelsGray Angels Browsing HawksbillBrowsing Hawksbill

Ginnie Springs in Central Florida is another jewel... actually, a whole necklace of jewels strung along the banks of the Santa Fe River! Devils Ear Spring (Into the Mystery, below) is one example. When the river level is just right, her tannic waters blend eerily with the crystalline waters boiling up from the deep spring.  Here are more... 

Ginnie and Her Santa Fe River Springs

Into The MysteryInto The Mystery

Into the Mystery

Gin ClearGin Clear

Gin Clear

One summer, we set out into the Gulf from Steinhatchee in search of the scallop beds on a mission to make the Best Scallop Photos Ever. You decide... how'd we do?  ... here they all are, at this link...

Bay Scallops

Bay ScallopBay ScallopI take an intimate look into the delicate blue-eyed bay scallop and wonder how I can kill and eat such a creature.

You might be noticing a recurring theme in these posts - - Florida Springs.  Florida is blessed with so many of them, and they - our water supply - are under siege from run-off pollutants, development, and overpumping. So, yes, here are some more springs we need to protect and revere.  Here's a sumptuous sample of springs around Florida.  From wilderness to county parks, bountiful wildlife to joyful recreators, there is much beauty still.  (I have not included photos of the many springs now choked with algae, dead muddy green, or flat out stopped flowing... there are too many of those as well.)

Florida Spring Hopping

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

In addition to springs - the eyes to the underground aquifer - we have rivers that run along the surface, but periodically dive underground for a stretch. I know of none other that takes as many such dives as the Aucilla River here in North Florida.  In some parts, the Aucilla just pops up as an oblong sinkhole before snaking down into the earth again. The Florida Trail travels these parts - the Aucilla Sinks Trail.

Aucilla

Aucilla River PanoramaAucilla River Panorama

Aucilla River

Aucilla River Sink AutumnAucilla River Sink Autumn

Aucilla Sinks

...And then there are rare sinkholes that are also Eyes of the Aquifer, like THIS incredible place.

Eye of the Aquifer

One Christmas, Crystal, Scruff, and I set out to explore the Econlockhatchee River, a little known river winding through pristine central Florida forest before opening into palm hammocks and the St. Johns River.   We camped out of our jonboat, exploring the lower reaches.

Palmy Dreams of the Econ

Econ_Sunrise_2Econ_Sunrise_2 Palm_Panorama_2Palm_Panorama_2

Back to spring country, Moran and I had a great time making one of our nightscapes at Naked Springs in Gilchrist County.  Naked was finely clothed by the floodplain forest and massive old cypress snag (since fallen) which made a statuesque subject to lightpaint, the stars (trails) swirling around Polaris in the northern night sky behind it. The now-state-park around Gilchrist Blue Spring (including Naked) is equally spectacular.  The post includes a camping trip with Crystal, and several other explorations of the area.

Naked Under the Stars 

Naked under the StarsNaked under the Stars

Naked Under the Stars

One year, I made several trips to Nokuse Plantation in the Florida Panhandle to explore Seven Runs Creek, a wild and scenic creek being considered for protection by the Florida Forever Program.  I was to make a calendar shot.  Here's the back story.  (The property has since been conserved.)

Seven Runs Creek - Florida Forever

Florida Mountain LaurelFlorida Mountain Laurel

I always thought one needed the dry clear mountain air to photograph the Milky Way, but in 2017, I tried making a photo at the nearby Wakulla River and was kind of amazed. That led to a series of Milky Way shots some of which found themselves in a blogpost...

Milky Way Over North Florida

River of GloryRiver of Glory

River of Glory

In the spring of 2018, Crystal was watching the weather and her intuition said that we were going to find a bounty of migratory neo-tropical birds down at St George Island, so we dropped everything and went. Wow, so many birds we'd never seen!

Spring Migration at the Florida Gulf Coast

Blackburnian Warbler 2Blackburnian Warbler 2

Blackburnian Warbler

Rock Springs Run rocks!  As does the spring itself. Not far north of Orlando, clear springwater flows from a limestone cave into one of the prettiest natural swimming pools imaginable.  The water continues a meandering course through swamp and forest, a summer dream for tubers and paddlers. Despite its popularity, this spring and run are magnificent.

Water from Stone - Rock Springs

Emerald Cut 2Emerald Cut 2

Where the Ochlockonee River/Bay reaches the Gulf of Mexico, a small Wakulla County Park called Mashes Sands sits on the north side.  I don't know the history of the name, but the Sands there are certainly a special feature. This is another place that feels like our backyard, a place I go for big sky, beach, and solitude.

Mashes Sands

Gulf Dawn PanoramaGulf Dawn Panorama

Mashes Sands

Sand RibsSand Ribs

Sand Ribs

The Super Blood Wolf Lunar Eclipse of 2019 had such a fancy name and hype that I got myself out of bed to make a photo... and I'm glad I did.  Here is the link to all of my best moonshots...

Eclipse of the Moon

Lunar EclipseLunar Eclipse

Last January 2019, our men's group explored the tail end of the Suwannee River- the estuary where the mighty river spills into the Gulf of Mexico. It was beautiful, yes, but you'll also find tales of the harrowing adventure. Check it out if you missed it:

Suwannee Estuary

Palm Bay 2Palm Bay 2 Reflecting CreekReflecting Creek

And I'll finish with Florida Swamps, a worthy gallery ranging from our Wakulla Swamps here in North Florida to the Everglades. Swamps are among the most amazing and beautiful places most people never get to see.  Here's your chance...

Florida Swamps
 

BladderwortBladderwort

Bladderwort Fall Cypress PanoramaFall Cypress Panorama
There you have it -- a wide ranging sample of my work and stories, enough to satiate even the hardest-core fan.  Seriously, I invite you to return to this post and visit each of these places and photo collections.  But beware, you might just find yourself infected by Florida wanderlust.

Thanks to all for your visits to my blog over the years.  I wonder how many of you might remember back to the early posts in 2006 or 2007. Lots of great adventures.  There will be more to come, just not as often.

Anyone who'd like quick access to the past 6 years, here is the index (including name, description and link): https://www.davidmoynahan.com/david-moynahan-photography-blog-index. Posts made before that (2006-2013) via Blogspot, not connected to my current website, are here: http://davidmoynahan.blogspot.com/

As always, your sharing this blog link with family and friends is what sends it on its wideflung journey through cyberspace - so, please do.

And leave a comment below, however brief. 















 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/12/favorites Sun, 01 Dec 2019 18:34:00 GMT
Art & Artifacts of St Vincent Island https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/11/art-artifacts-of-st-vincent-island

Prehistoric Pottery Shard


On a recent visit to St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal, Sue, Jeff, and I discovered a spot where an ancient Indian midden (=prehistoric trash pile) was eroding into the Gulf. That is, the beach was loaded with old worm-riddled oyster shells and pottery shards. In short order, we found a few dozen “choice” pieces and I photographed them on site.  It wasn’t the first time for such an adventure, nor is it likely our last, but it seems timely to present some of my artsy photos from years of exploring this island paradise with our friends.  
 

Cabbage Top PanoCabbage Top Pano

Cabbage Top - a prominant palm grove on the island's bayside.

Tahiti Beach Palm GroveTahiti Beach Palm Grove

Tahiti Beach - the rarely visited jewel-of-a-beach at St. V's east end  St Vincent SunriseSt Vincent Sunrise

St Vincent Sunrise - the dunes on the Gulf front.

There!  Three images to establish that this is one beautiful island. In this post, I'm mostly going to zoom in to treasures and artsy jewels found in the course of our many explorations.  Let's start with the sand beneath our feet.


Last Rays on BeachLast Rays on Beach

Last Rays of Light

Corrugated SandCorrugated Sand

Sand Corrugation

Microbial ArtMicrobial Art

Microbial Art I - The amazing palette of  algae and micro-organisms

WheeliesWheelies

Snail-spun “Doughnuts” ...in Slow Motion 

Sand in SunriseSand in Sunrise

Sand Storm at Sunrise

Sand ScallopsSand Scallops

Sand Decor

Microbial Art 2Microbial Art 2

Microbial Art II

Sand BandsSand Bands

Sand Bands

Snakeskin WaterSandSnakeskin WaterSandPatterns emerge as tannic pond water overflows across the beach sand into the Gulf.

Snakeskin Water.  A small rivulet draining across the beach.

Sand CastlesSand Castles

Sand Castles
Living Beach SandLiving Beach Sand

Living Beach Sand. Coquinas in the surf wash on the Gulf beach.

Shells AboundShells Abound

Shells Abound

Then there are the living creatures of St. Vincent -- the birds, crabs, fish, even jellyfish -- who sometimes find themselves the subject of artsy photos. 

Black Skimmer SunriseBlack Skimmer Sunrise

Black Skimmer Sunrise

Blue Crab ArtBlue Crab ArtWatery impression of an underwater blue crab burying itself in the sand. St. Vincent Island, FL

Blue Crab Art

Feeding on LightFeeding on Light

Feeding on Light

Pygmy RattlerPygmy Rattler

Pygmy Rattlesnake. 

Why do these deadly little masters of camouflage seem to always like trails?  I've very nearly stepped on three of them in my Crocs or flip flops.

Heron SilhouetteHeron Silhouette

Heron Silhouette

Praising the SeaPraising the Sea

Praising the Sea

Stingray ArtStingray ArtA large Southern Stingray swam near as I waded the shallows along the Gulf shore. Both curious, we checked each other out. St Vincent Island, FL

Sting Ray Art

Skimmers in LightSkimmers in Light

Skimmers in Light

Gar ScalesGar Scales

Gar Scales

Home in a CannonballHome in a CannonballA juvenile sheepshead seeks safety in the folds of a cannonball jellyfish. Notice the bubble by the sheepshead holds a perfect fisheye replication of the fish and jellyfish. St. Vincent Island, FL

Cannonball Jellyfish -- with Pilotfish pal

Watery SunbeamWatery Sunbeam

Watery Sunbeam

Over many years, Crystal and I have shared adventures (and misadventures too - stories in themselves) with Susan Cerulean and Jeff Chanton at St. Vincent Island. We've seen the roaming wolves and soaring eagles, crossed paths with big alligators, watched the dolphins leap and the pelicans dive, and hiked the forests and beaches.  Sue, a writer and biologist wrote a beautiful book, Coming to Pass -- about St Vincent and our stories, as well as other nearby barrier islands and their fragile ecology.  She is currently the President of the Friends of St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, and the island's fiercest defender. Jeff is a renowned FSU oceanographer, and one of his research projects is measuring the impact of sea level rise on this barrier island.

Bookcover

So my photos made the cover and are scattered among the pages of this wonderful book.  I encourage you to check it out.  For a little taste, here is my blogpost about Coming to Pass (with several passages quoted from the book).  And here are a few snapshots from our forays on the Island.

Exploring St VExploring St V

Sue and Jeff -- Exploring St. Vincent

Crystal AseaCrystal Asea

Crystal Cools Off

Exploring St V -3Exploring St V -3

Exploring St. Vincent

Exploring St V 2Exploring St V 2 Hiking St VHiking St V

Sunrise SpeedboatSunrise Speedboat

Sunrise Speedboat

Native Americans inhabited St. Vincent Island starting more than 2000 years ago.  Fresh water, few predators, and all the oysters you can eat. They left some big trash heaps, er, middens, as record of their presence and food source.  Now, the middens are receding heaps of treasure, slowly eroding as the island sinks into the rising sea. The oyster shells from these old middens are quite beautiful.

Oyster Shell 1Oyster Shell 1
 

Eroding MiddenEroding Midden

Eroding Midden

Oyster Shell 4Oyster Shell 4
 

Oyster Shell Comp 1Oyster Shell Comp 1

Oyster Shell 3Oyster Shell 3 Oyster Shell 6Oyster Shell 6 Oyster PaversOyster Pavers Oyster Shell 2Oyster Shell 2 Fried EggFried Egg

Oh, and a few other shells thrown in...

Shell ToolShell Tool

Shell Tool - I imagine a stick was driven through the holes.
Moon ShellMoon Shell

Modern Moon Shell (not from a midden)

Seashell in SunsetSeashell in Sunset

Seashell in Sunset Wash

Scattered amid the numerous midden shells are many fragments from old pots made by the ancient Native Americans.  Most are just black and quite worn, but a few have patterns, colors, and rims. They're fun to find even though it's forbidden to take them away (except as photos).

Pottery Chards 1Pottery Chards 1 Pottery Chards 4Pottery Chards 4 Pottery Chards 3Pottery Chards 3 Pottery Chards 5Pottery Chards 5 Pottery Chards 6Pottery Chards 6 Pottery Chards 7Pottery Chards 7 Pottery Chards 8Pottery Chards 8 Pottery Chards 9Pottery Chards 9 Pottery Chards 11Pottery Chards 11 Pottery Chards 10Pottery Chards 10 Pottery Chards 2Pottery Chards 2

Here are a few classics of the earth and sky that reflect the many moods of St. Vincent.

St Vincent Storm PanoramaSt Vincent Storm Panorama

Stormy St. Vincent
 

Front Beach SunriseFront Beach Sunrise

Front Beach Sunrise

Flying the Amazing SkyFlying the Amazing Sky

Flying in Glory

Morning Storm over St VMorning Storm over St V

Morning Storm over the Island

Textured SkyTextured Sky

Lying on the Beach Looking Up

Pelican SunsetPelican Sunset

Pelican Sunset

And finally, a few artsy images of St. V's flora.

Palmetto FanPalmetto Fan

Palmetto Fan (post-burn)

Palm TotemPalm Totem

Nature-totemized Palm Trunk

Sand SpursSand Spurs

Sand Spur - aplenty

Waves of WoodWaves of Wood

Waves of Wood

Rattle BoxRattle Box

Rattlebox

Pine MosaicPine Mosaic

Pine Mosaic (post-burn)

Palm BarkPalm Bark

Fallen Palm Patina

As usual, I could go on... and on. But I've given you a look at St. Vincent through my eye and lens.  I encourage you to find a way into the wild places near you -- galleries of Nature's Art to delight your eye and soothe your soul.  Your comments below are much appreciated, and please share this link generously.
 

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) art artifact David Moynahan Photography Florida nature photography pottery shard prehistoric relic St. Vincent Island https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/11/art-artifacts-of-st-vincent-island Fri, 01 Nov 2019 14:19:42 GMT
Bahamas https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/10/bahamas Andros SunriseAndros SunriseAndros, Bahamas 08-03

Andros Sunrise

By now, we have all seen the newsreels and photos of the devastation wreaked upon the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian last month... lives, livelihoods, homes, and loved ones lost.  Communities wiped out.  I wept.  In my youth, I spent so many joyful months in the Bahamas, and came to know the out island Bahamians as a kind, gentle, and generous folk, living simple lives amidst tropical beauty. Not easy eking subsistence from rugged limerock isles, but generations of native wisdom passed down allowed a rhythm of life in nature.  Hurricanes have always been part of that rhythm, but nothing like ferocious slow-moving Dorian.

Bahamian FlagBahamian Flag

Bahamian Flag

My time in the Bahamas was, of course, as a relatively well-off white man being an adventure tourist, so I make little claim to intimately know Bahamians or their culture, but the people and parts I've known, I love. This month I'd like to share a bit of my Bahama Time. 

Leonard Moxey. Crawdad fishermanLeonard Moxey. Crawdad fisherman1974

Leonard Moxey, with his Conch Hook

In this post, I'm sharing snapshots from a scant selection of faded images lifted from my old photo albums from the 1970s to add life and form to stories from one of the most wonderful times and places of my life. I've also interspersed some more recent (digital) shots from various equally great sailing, diving and fishing trips. (Full disclosure: some of the underwater photos are of common Bahamian critters, but I made them in other parts of the Caribbean, mostly on diving trips with my brother, Jay. I didn't have an underwater camera for most of my trips in the Bahamas.)

Gray Angelfish PairGray Angelfish Pair

Gray Angelfish

In high school, I fell in love, not only with Antonia Marmesh, but also her whole family - Doc, Sarah, and brothers, Mike and Rob. They had recently bought a remote Bahamian property at the end of a narrow trail a quarter mile beyond the end of the road on a small island in Andros called Mangrove Cay.  There was an old house with no electricity or plumbing. Only a hand-pump well. It fronted on Middle Bight, a channel through the islands that gave us boat access to the amazing beauty of reefs, lobstering grounds, blue holes, conching pastures, and adventures beyond our imaginations.  There were a couple small villages and scattered residences along the few miles of road (including a widened stretch of road called the airport).  The Marmeshs spent every August there - and me too, for many years. 

Doc & Sarah RelaxDoc & Sarah Relax1973.

Doc and Sarah

Waterbed TalkWaterbed Talk1973. Antonia, DM, Sarah

Waterbed Talk - Antonia, me, Sarah

Bahamians, Robert and Mamie Moxey, lived in a small neighboring house. Through our shared experiences with them, and many of the local islanders, I came to learn some bits of native wisdom and lore.  (As well as some local cooking. Mamie's conch fritter recipe is still prized in "my cookbook".)

Robert & MamieRobert & MamieOver for dinner. 1974

Robert and Mamie Moxey

Robert Teaches Conch CleaningRobert Teaches Conch Cleaning1974

Robert teaches us how Bahamians clean conchs.

Net Fishing HaulNet Fishing Haul1974

Checking out a net fishing haul.

Termite MoundTermite MoundAndros, Bahamas 08-03

Bahamian Termite Nest

One day Robert was cooking some goo in an old soup can over a fire. He explained (as I recall) that it was a mixture of termite nest dust and termites (larvae and adults) that made a waterproof epoxy-like resin. He used it to patch cracks, holes and leaks in his skiff. 

Reef SharkReef Shark

Reef Shark

Robert night-fished for sharks from right there at our Middle Bight shoreline. He taught us to fillet a shark, but also cautioned that once you eat flesh from a shark, you must never swim in the ocean because your scent will forever after attract other sharks to attack.  I don't remember whether we ate some of Robert's shark.  I suppose we did, because we had a couple of attacks in subsequent years. Luckily no one was injured, but spearfishing on the outer reef along the edge of the Tongue of the Ocean, in retrospect, seems pretty risky. Lots of big sharks cruise that reef. One shark stole Mike's grouper as we rode a breaker through a hole in the reef on our way back to the boat.  I remember turning to see that we were clear and instead saw Mike going round and round with a big shark. It was all over quickly, but I felt shaken and can only imagine how Mike felt in that moment.  Another time, a shark grabbed Doc's fin as he and Sarah were swimming along the outside of the reef.  Thereafter, we spearfished on inner reefs.

Robert Butchers SharkRobert Butchers Shark1974

Robert fillets a shark.

Rug MakingRug Making1974. Robert Moxey

Robert thatches palm fronds for making floor mats

In the course of years at Mangrove Cay, the Marmeshes made some major improvements to the place.  A new house with a "water tower" (that we hand-pumped full every morning) so the kitchen had running water. All the walls were only 4 ft high to allow full cross ventilation. We slept on cool bare waterbed mattresses on concrete floors - as good as air conditioning - with the luxury of mosquito net tents over each bed (since the eaves were not sealed)... That net backfired on me one night... I awoke with a start from what felt like a really bad dream - that a giant crab had crawled across my face. I laid there a minute and then heard a scratching beside my ear. In search of a flashlight across the room, I awoke the whole house.  I was already known and teased for being somewhat crab-phobic.  There, inside the net by my pillow was a huge land crab that apparently had tried to climb up the inside of the net and fell into my face. Never knew how it got there. A lot of teasing ensued, but I always checked for crabs in the bed after that.

Handpumped ShowerHandpumped Shower1972. Bear pumping shower for DM

Mike pumps while I shower. Pretty wonderfully basic.

Sally LightfootSally Lightfoot

Sally Lightfoot Crab. (Land Crabs are bigger and creepier.)

Tented WaterbedTented Waterbed1973. New house.

My brother, Steve, and I enjoy the comfort of a tented waterbed.

Marmesh Homestead - Middle BightMarmesh Homestead - Middle Bight1970. First trip to Mangrove Cay

Middle Bight.  Mangrove Cay, 1970. Doc, the Kid, and Robert Moxey

Mike & NancyMike & Nancy

Mike Marmesh with his high school sweetheart, Nancy Spahn... (still together, 50 years later).

 

In 1974, the Marmeshes bought a new boat, a 21' open Boston Whaler with twin engines called The Outrage.  Perhaps our plan seemed outrageous to some, but young Rob ("the Kid") was, by then, a master mechanic. Mike, Rob, and I set off one calm evening from Miami for a four day journey to Mangrove Cay. That first year, we stayed in little hotels in Bimini, Chub Cay, and Nicholl's Town (N. Andros), but by the next year, we were snorkeling and camping along our way.  We camped on the old concrete ship wreck off Bimini at least once. I remember crossing the very deep Tongue of the Ocean between Chub and N. Andros one year -- as being pretty hairy -- when the waves towered over our little craft.  And another time, an engine failed, but we made it on one, and Rob had the dead engine torn down, figured out, and new parts on the way (with family arriving by plane) in no time.

The CrewThe Crew1974. DM, Capt. Kid, Bear. 21' Whaler- The Outrage. 4 days from Miami to Mangrove Cay.

Me, Rob, and Mike, ready for first voyage of the Outrage

Boston Whaler - The OutrageBoston Whaler - The Outrage1974. Day 3 - Nicholstown.

The Outrage

Back in those days, I was an avid saltwater aquarist... built my own aquariums, innovated filtration systems, and collected my own specimens. When fish didn't get along or outgrew the tank, I even returned some to the reef.  Years later, I only captured my specimens with my camera.

Curious Young Rock HindCurious Young Rock Hind

Young Rock Hind

Queen AngelQueen Angel

Queen Angelfish

Anemone FingersAnemone Fingers

Anemone Fingers

Fairy BassletsFairy Basslets

Fairy Basslets. Among the most challenging to catch.

Christmas Tree Worms 2Christmas Tree Worms 2

Christmas Tree Worms

  Reef-scape 1Reef-scape 1

Reef Candy (to an aquarist’s eye)

Mermaids BouquetMermaids Bouquet

Mermaids Bouquet

Among the many adventures we had on Mangrove Cay, a daily "task" was catching dinner.  That usually meant spearfishing (snorkels only) on a reef for grouper or hogfish, or sometimes lobstering and conching in the Bight. We had delicious fresh seafood every day.

HogfishHogfishBelize

Hogfish

DM with dinnerDM with dinner1972 Third trip.
That’s me, back in the day, with a prize grouper.   SpearfishingSpearfishing

My brother, Steve, spearfishing.

March of the LobstersMarch of the Lobsters

Lobster Crawl

Mamie & Robert Moxey. Cleaning triggerfish.Mamie & Robert Moxey. Cleaning triggerfish.1972.

Robert cleaning a Queen Triggerfish he caught.

Queen Triggerfish

Sarah with Moxey grandkidsSarah with Moxey grandkids1974

Doc and Sarah during a Moxey granddaughter visit... so very SHY.

Farmer Samuel RolleFarmer Samuel Rolle1974

Visiting Samuel Rolle's farm... always fun, and bountiful.

Years (and many Bahama trips) later...

In 2008, with our friends Sue and Jeff, Crystal and I visited Forfar Field Station in North Andros, where friend Pete Davidson, artist and teacher, lived.  Our daughter, Lumin, had been there many times, and encouraged us to see this beautiful remote spot in the Bahamas.  Here are a few of my photos.

Placid LucidityPlacid LucidityPlacid sunrise, Andros, Bahamas AndrosAndrosAndros, Bahamas 08-03

Andros Sunrise 2Andros Sunrise 2Andros, Bahamas 08-03

Barnacles on Red Mangrove StiltBarnacles on Red Mangrove StiltAndros, Bahamas 08-03

Red Mangrove Stilt with Barnacles

North AndrosNorth Andros Opening CoconutOpening CoconutPete Davidson. Andros, Bahamas 08-03

(Crystal, Sue, and...) Pete opening a coconut while Mullet keeps watch.

Sailing into SunsetSailing into SunsetAndros, Bahamas 08-03

Sailing into Sunset

Over the years, we've made several sailing voyages to the Bahamas as well.  Here are photos from a trip to the picturesque Abacos (hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian) with our family adventure travel pals, the Chancanteruleans.

Island FloraIsland Flora

Hopetown LighthouseHopetown Lighthouse

Hopetown Lighthouse

Striped Grunts on Brain CoralStriped Grunts on Brain CoralBelize DinghyingDinghying

David Canter and our daughter Marley dinghying to shore from our sailboat.

Conch Fritter FeastConch Fritter Feast

Dining on Conch Fritter Sandwiches... Cleaning ConchCleaning Conch

Lumin cleaning and tenderizing conch astern

Queen Conch ShellQueen Conch Shell

Queen Conch Shell...

Crystal & DavidCrystal & David

... and me, with my "Queen", Crystal.

Remote Beach CoveRemote Beach Cove

Sandy coves waiting to be explored...

Hiking Jagged RocksHiking Jagged Rocks

... as well as sharp rock shorelines.

Limerock CastleLimerock Castle OffshoreOffshore Rocky ShoreRocky Shore Nature's BonsaiNature's Bonsai

Nature's Bonsai

Sea Grape Color PaletteSea Grape Color PaletteAndros, Bahamas 08-03

Sea Grape with a rainbow of leaves

Octopus Lair - BewareOctopus Lair - Beware

Octopus peeks from its lair.  Lumin is a master at finding octopi.

My younger brother, Steve, has been a lifelong adventure companion too. He often joined us in Mangrove Cay, and in fact, has been with me for most of my travels in the Bahamas - Andros, Abacos, Exumas, Berrys, and Bimini. We had some especially amazing times in Great Exuma... all pre-digital days and very few snapshots. Steve is a fisherman (and sailor) extraordinaire. A few years ago, he invited me to join him (and his buddy Rob) on his boat for a fishing trip from Miami to the Berry Islands in the Bahamas.  Here are a few shots from that recent trip.

Got OneGot One

Brother Steve in his element

Yelloweye SnapperYelloweye SnapperJust caught.

Yelloweye Snapper

Nightfall in Great HarbourNightfall in Great Harbour

Great Harbour Cay nightfall

So many more tales of yore I could tell. I look forward to more Bahama Time in years to come. But today, the Bahamas and Bahamians are suffering. Those of you so inclined, I encourage you to reach out and help in any way you can.  A donation of money, goods, and/or time.  Even a Bahamas Time visit to the islands -- many parts of the islands were not so hard-hit and are open for business.  Tourism is still the economic lifeblood of these Caribbean jewels.

Rolle granddaughterRolle granddaughter1974. At Samual Rolle's farm.

Child at Rolle Farm

Thank you for joining me all the way to the end of this marathon blog post.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Please share this link, and I love reading your comments below (no matter how brief). 

 

 


 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Andros Bahamas Bahamian David Moynahan Photography nature photography underwater photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/10/bahamas Tue, 01 Oct 2019 20:24:32 GMT
Fisheating Creek https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/9/fisheating-creek Fisheating Creek SunriseFisheating Creek Sunrise

Upper FEC near Venus, FL

Fleeting memories are all I have left of paddling on Fisheating Creek (FEC) with our dad when I was a boy, but, because of that experience, the Creek has always held a place for adventure and wildness in my imagination.  I've since been back many times - camping, paddling, slogging, even working -  and would like to share a few of my photos and stories.

Memorial Tree FECMemorial Tree FEC

Thlothlopopka-Hatchee is the Seminole name for the Creek, which translates to "the river where fish are eaten". The area has been inhabited by humans from as early as 1000 BC!  Where is this place, you ask? Smack in the middle of the lower Florida peninsula, FEC flows directly into Lake Okeechobee.  Wait!? Isn't Lake O is surrounded by a dike with carefully controlled-flow canals for inlets and outlets? Yes, but there is one break in that system - Fisheating Creek - which flows freely into the Lake from the swamps and marshes to the west.

Sue on Upper FECSue on Upper FEC

Susan Cerulean on the upper FEC


When I was shooting photos for Florida Fish and Wildlife, Susan Cerulean and I spent nearly a week exploring the full length of FEC - the Creek and surrounding land having been acquired by the state and protected as a Wildlife Management Area. At the time, the water level was low. We spent a good many hours dragging our kayaks down a shallow trickle in parts of the swamp.


Fisheating TrickleFisheating Trickle

Fisheating Trickle

 

Cypress Swamp LightCypress Swamp Light

PhoebePhoebe

Phoebe

 

Kayak WalkingKayak Walking

Kayak Walking

Fortunately, there were deep spots along the way where we could paddle, but also where the alligators accumulated.  We came to one short stretch of deepwater - a gator hole - where we had to paddle a gauntlet of alligators.  Many slid into the water ahead of us and disappeared into the dark tannic water, but this youngster swam right over to investigate me.

Young DenizenYoung DenizenThe creek was so low we spent hours dragging our kayaks over a trickle. Every so often we came to a deep spot in the creek, always full of gators. This nest of hatchlings had one youngster who was bold and curious enough to swim over to see what I-in-my-boat might be. As I tracked the moving tyke with my camera, the water became silken in the image. Fisheating Creek, FL

Young Denizen

Some adults held their ground.

Gator PortraitGator Portrait

More shots from along our journey...

Adrift on FECAdrift on FEC

Adrift on FEC

TouchdownTouchdown

Touchdown. Swallow-tailed Kite

Air Plant AbloomAir Plant Abloom

Air Plant Abloom

Black-crowned Night HeronBlack-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

FEC ShallowsFEC Shallows

FEC Shallows

Vulture PoseVulture Pose

Vulture Pose

This Black Vulture was not far over my head as I paddled beneath. I felt like I was being sized up as potential soon-to-be carrion. What might the wild miles ahead have in store?  You get the clear picture below -- the typical water level is at the line across these "trees in the swamp".
 

Tree LineTree Line

Waterline

After an arduous passage, we finally paddled the last leg through Cowbone Marsh, sighting a few limpkins along the way.  The real treat, was the "welcoming committee" as we reached the Lake...  a small flock of American White Pelicans flushed very near us as we came into view of Big O.

Limpkin 1Limpkin 1

Limpkin

White FlightWhite Flight

White Flight

 

Okeechobee KayakOkeechobee Kayak

Okeechobee at last!

There's a great campground near Palmdale right on Fisheating Creek. Once on a trip to the Everglades and Keys with John Moran, we stopped for a couple nights to explore parts of the Creek.  Here I am with my all-purpose adventure boat that has a large shooting/camping deck, a kayak rack, bike rack, ample dry storage for cameras and camp gear, and even hardware to attach the johnny-pod (a 15 foot ladder tripod designed by Moran).

DM with boat at FECDM with boat at FEC Fisheating CreekFisheating Creek

FEC from the campground

Memorial TreeMemorial TreeFisheating Creek, FL

Memorial Tree

On another trip, Crystal and I camped along the Creek.

C&D at FECC&D at FEC

Picnicking after a swim

Creek LightCreek Light

Creek Light

Crested CaracaraCrested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Glide of the Great BlueGlide of the Great Blue

Glide of the Great Blue

Favorite CampsiteFavorite Campsite

Favorite Campsite along FEC (not Campground)

Pond FracturePond Fracture

Pond Fracture (closeup of pollen and oils on pond in above photo)

Crystal at FECCrystal at FEC

Once, when I had lagged behind (to make a photo no doubt), by the time I caught up, Crystal asked, "did you see that fish on shore?". No, I hadn't.  What fish?  It looked alive?  We turned around and paddled back to the spot. There, 20 feet from the water, in full sun, "stood" a fish! Literally standing. It looked and felt prehistoric... like we were witnessing evolution on fast forward. What the...?! 

Dawn of the DinosaurDawn of the Dinosaur  

Dawn of the Dinosaur

Other than flinching a bit when I approached, the fish seemed perfectly content soaking up the rays.  Its gills and mouth appeared to be "breathing" in the air". I later learned it is a sailfin catfish, one of the renowned "walking catfish", but I had no idea they could be this comfortable on land.

Walking CatfishWalking Catfish

Walking Catfish

On another working trip, my daughter Marley came up from Immokalee and camped with me at Fisheating Creek.  And so, we circle around. As my dad inspired me, paddling at Fisheating Creek when I was young, so was I able to inspire Marley. (She, of course, grew up camping, paddling, and exploring the Florida Wilds with me, so she already had the spirit of adventure in her by the time we made it to FEC.  And lucky her, she lives nearby the Creek and lots of other protected Florida wilderness.)

Marley & DadMarley & Dad

FEC CypressFEC Cypress

Roots

Base PaintBase Paint

Base Paint

Sunrise Meadow KneesSunrise Meadow Knees

Sunrise Meadow Knees

FEC KingfisherFEC Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Iris DewIris Dew

Iris Dew

Dawn FECDawn FEC

Fisheating Creek Dawn

Lk_Paradise_BromeliadsLk_Paradise_Bromeliads

Lake Paradise Bromeliads. (a wide spot in FEC)

Moving InMoving In

Moving In.

Floating EyesFloating Eyes

Floating Eyes

I've told the tale of these two alligator photos before... how I learned that imitating a small animal at water's edge could draw a gator to me like flies on... well, you know. Then standing tall stopped him dead in the water. Crouch-stand-crouch-stand, I felt like I had a remote control for that gator's motor.

There you have it - another place and reason to cherish and protect our wilds. May we all be good stewards of the remaining wild places and their flora and fauna, so that our children's children may look in awe and find solace in Nature as we do now.

Please share this link with your friends and families, and leave a brief note here at my blog - I appreciate it.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) camping David Moynahan Photography Fisheating Creek Florida Florida Wildlife kayaking nature photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/9/fisheating-creek Sun, 01 Sep 2019 20:41:01 GMT
Maine Rocks https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/8/maine-rocks Maine Rocks - ANP 12Maine Rocks - ANP 12

Maine really rocks... mainly because of its rocks. Well, not only the rocks, but I couldn't resist the pun. As a rare exception, this post leaves my beloved Florida for a jaunt to the Mid Coast of Maine.  Crystal was itching to go (I was resistant)...and so she planned the whole trip, with or without me.  When presented with the enticing details, my resistance melted away. She had us set up in a sweet little studio apartment along the upper Passagassawakeag River just outside Belfast. We explored the lovely coastal town (and others nearby), the beaches and trails, and the nearby state and national parks. While North Florida was steeping in tropical-storm-rains, heat, and humidity,  Maine's cooler weather was a welcome reprieve.

Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 1Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 1

So, this could be a travelogue... with a lot more snapshots of our daily adventures.  But it isn't. Suffice it to say, we enjoyed ourselves and each other immensely, and will be going back.  This blog is about Rocks. I've always been a rockhound, though my youthful days of hauling home embarrassingly heavy suitcases are long over.  Instead, I've been "collecting" them with my camera for many years now. 

Maine Rocks - ANP 10Maine Rocks - ANP 10

And Maine is a goldmine. Have a look for yourselves.  I've grouped these selected photos by location, named in the first photo of each collection. Take a moment to look at each composition individually, as you might a large abstract painting at the Museum of Modern Art.

I'll start at my favorite rock place, just outside Belfast - Moose Point State Park. The rocks ROCKED!

Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 13Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 13

Moose Point State Park

Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 12Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 12
Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 7Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 7
Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 17Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 17 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 10Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 10 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 18Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 18 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 8Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 8 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 15Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 15 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 19Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 19 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 14Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 14 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 3Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 3
Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 5Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 5 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 2Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 2 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 4Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 4 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 20Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 20 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 16Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 16 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 11Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 11 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 9Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 9 Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 6Maine Rocks- Moose Pt- 6

An hour or so northeast was Acadia National Park.  After our planned "one packed day for Acadia", we went back for an encore 2 days later. 

Mid-summer and almost NO people on our hikes... how did we manage that? Hint: the sun rises at 5 AM.

Maine Rocks-1Maine Rocks-1

Acadia National Park - Mount Desert Island - Ocean Path

Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 1Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 1 Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 4Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 4 Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 3Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 3 Maine Rocks - ANP 13Maine Rocks - ANP 13 Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 5Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 5 Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 2Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 2
Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 6Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 6 Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 8Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 8 Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 7Maine Rocks - ANP Detail 7 Maine Rocks - ANP 15Maine Rocks - ANP 15 Maine Rocks - ANP 16Maine Rocks - ANP 16 Maine Rocks - ANP 17Maine Rocks - ANP 17 Maine Rocks - ANP 11Maine Rocks - ANP 11 Maine Rocks - ANP 9Maine Rocks - ANP 9 Maine Rocks - ANP 14Maine Rocks - ANP 14

Rounding the Loop in Acadia, we had a leisurely visit and hike at Jordan Pond. Seemed wherever you looked was a postcard.

Jordan Pond VistaJordan Pond Vista Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond - DavidJordan Pond - David

That's me.  Photo by Crystal Wakoa

Jordan Pond Rocks 2Jordan Pond Rocks 2 Jordan Pond Rocks 1Jordan Pond Rocks 1 Jordan Pond Rocks 3Jordan Pond Rocks 3

We were told that the summit of Cadillac Mountain was a must-see...

Cadillac Mountain VistaCadillac Mountain Vista

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain Rocks 1Cadillac Mountain Rocks 1 Cadillac Mountain Rocks 2Cadillac Mountain Rocks 2

A ferry in Bar Harbor took us to the more remote part of Acadia, the Schoodic Peninsula, where we spent time at the Point.

Schoodic PointSchoodic Point Schoodic Point

Schoodic Pt Rocks 7Schoodic Pt Rocks 7 Schoodic Pt Rocks 1Schoodic Pt Rocks 1 Schoodic Pt Rocks 5Schoodic Pt Rocks 5 Schoodic Pt Rocks 2Schoodic Pt Rocks 2 Schoodic Pt Rocks 4Schoodic Pt Rocks 4 Schoodic Pt Rocks 6Schoodic Pt Rocks 6 Schoodic Pt Rocks 3Schoodic Pt Rocks 3

Despite these all being coastal Maine, each place we visited had uniquely different character clearly exhibited in its rocks. I was thrilled and enthralled.  And next time Crystal says, let's go, I'll be all aboard.

Thanks for putting up with my rock passion, and getting all the way to the end (50 photos, yeow!)  But if you made it this far, you must like rocks too, so please let me know... leave a comment below.  Next month, back to Florida.  Until then, stay cool.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) abstract Acadia art photography David Moynahan Photography Maine coast nature photography rock stone https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/8/maine-rocks Thu, 01 Aug 2019 14:15:00 GMT
Suwannee Spring Illuminations https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/7/suwannee-spring-illuminations  

Suwannee Springs

From the railing of the overlook, the view is grand:  Suwannee Springs - once a healing-water-destination for the infirm, with its now-crumbling stone walls - directly below us; and beyond, the meandering Suwannee River; and peeking out of the distant forest, an arc of the old retired trestle, reminding us that this spot had its heyday.  Might there still be magic here?  Maybe under a star-filled sky?  John Moran and I were sure of it. For more than a year, we have been planning a nightscape photo-collaboration at Suwannee Springs. 

Old TrestleOld Trestle

Old Retired Trestle - now for foot traffic and graffiti artists.

Festive TrestleFestive Trestle

For those not familiar:  for the past decade, John and I have joined our talents to make a series of elaborately-lit dramatic night scenes - from swamps in the Everglades to springs in the FL Panhandle. You may have seen some in previous blogs, museum exhibits, books, and other publications. (Here are 3 illustrative photoblog posts from my archives: Nightscape, Earthly Eyes Aglow, Eye of the Aquifer.)

DM on JpodDM on Jpod

That's me on the J-pod during setup.  Photo by John Moran

Starting well before sunset, we precisely set up our two homemade tripod ladders (johnnypods) - one for the camera, the other for a photographer to operate the camera without touching the camera's support.  With the composition agreed upon, we locked the lens rings with tape, tightened the ballhead, and strap-braced the pods. Shortly after sunset, we made a series of base shots from light to dark, and then began to "paint" with light.  Typically we take turns at the camera and at the lighting gear.  We create a series of several hundred photos of our scene, each with different lighting - using flashlights, strobes, and underwater lights. 

John lights the Spring Vent

John invented the JohnnyPod, a nature photography tripod on steroids ... mine's a close copy.  He also has an eye-popping assortment of lighting gear.  We both love the challenge of "MacGyvering" solutions to the problems that always arise, and our MacGyver wavelengths are definitely synergistic.  These projects and evenings are always exhilarating (if also exhausting).  Once we can't think of any other ways to light the scene, and think we've covered all the elements, we consider it a wrap. That was about 3:15 AM for this one.  (Strong) young Oscar Psychas, John's neighbor, helped on this project - carrying a ton of gear from our remote vehicles. (Thanks Oscar.) In return, he got to enjoy the moonlit river and watch our process, even taking a turn with some of the lighting gear.  Memories in the making.  Thanks also to Anthony Ackrill for logistical help during an earlier scouting trip.

Suwannee Springs ArchSuwannee Springs Arch
Cool golden mineral water flows up from underground limerock caves... not a blue spring.

Weir from the River, looking in

Suwannee Springs Clouds & RocksSuwannee Springs Clouds & Rocks

Rocks & Clouds

Waves of Gold

We don't use all of the frames in the final image. For example, a series of about 60 long exposures to capture the sequence of stars moving through the window of sky in our photo (for making star trails) got jettisoned (see below).  Serendipity (always welcome) offered a lingering red glow in the lower sky as the stars were coming out.  Working that into the picture out-ranked the star trails. 

SS Star TrailsSS Star Trails

Star Trail Composite - Rejected

One of my jobs is to layer the frames in the digital darkroom (Photoshop), masking out the unwanted parts and blending the useful parts of each frame into a cohesive whole picture.  It is like painting with collections of sort-of-similar pixels.  While tedious (23 hours over a week for this one), it's a labor of love and learning. As layered versions evolve, we share them over the internet (John lives 150 miles from me), pore over the details, and strategize for the next version. Gradually the composite image comes alive and, voila! a final version!  John then optimizes it for printing, using his extensive printing experience and equipment. People sometimes ask us, "what do you mean, collaboration? It's a photo."  No, it is truly a complex joint effort.
 

Here is a one minute scroll through 250 frames  (approximately the whole series - those used as well as those rejected):

Timelapse of Suwannee Springs Lighting

Putting that all together, we present the finished art:

Timeless WatersTimeless Waters

Timeless Waters - Suwannee Springs               by David Moynahan and John Moran

Thanks for visiting my photoblog. Please SHARE this link with all whom you think would enjoy it.  And leave a comment below - I really appreciate every note.  Until next month, stay cool... (Swimming holes abound)!

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography fantasy Florida mineral spring nature photography night photography nightscape spring surreal Suwannee River Suwannee Springs https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/7/suwannee-spring-illuminations Mon, 01 Jul 2019 19:54:11 GMT
Tallahassee Museum & the New Snake Digs https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/6/tallahassee-museum-the-new-snake-digs Tall Mus Pond DinosaurTall Mus Pond Dinosaur

Loch Tallee Monster?

Our kids grew up with the Tallahassee Museum nearly in their backyard... and they spent many joyful hours there.  Any of you who knows this amazing place, also knows how lucky we were.  So when Mike Jones and Suzie Buzzo called me a year ago to see if I'd be willing to donate some of my photos to use in creating a new (renovated) Snake Center, I was honored and said, "Of course!" But - of course - it wasn't that simple. The new habitats required images 108 inches wide by 20 inches high, meaning EXTREMELY WIDE panoramas.  Nothing in my portfolio could be adapted.  Plus, the photos needed to be of specific natural habitats for six species of snakes. So, I took it on as a challenging and fun year-long project: learning the right ecosystems, finding them nearby (with the help of my knowledgeable photo pal, Bob Thompson, a retired park ranger), composing attractive landscapes representing them and then making very w-i-d-e panoramas, typically 180 degrees or more, each composited from about 12 photos that I stitched together.

Spoiler alert: There ARE photos of snakes below toward the end... (I have had enough feedback over the years to know that snake pictures creep out some people.) But I've included other photos of the Tallahassee Museum to give you a broader sense of this cool place.  And, for the snake lovers, I've included some extra snake photos from the Florida wilds.
 

Prayer BearPrayer Bear

Prayer Bear

Zip Line CrystalZip Line Crystal

Crystal having fun on the Zipline.

The Museum backs up to a gorgeous cypress wetland, Bradford Brook, and includes a nature trail that winds among fenced habitats housing local native wildlife. Plus there is an authentic (semi-functioning) old Florida cracker farm (which my kids LOVED).  And more recently, a tree-to-tree zipline and adventures course.  There is an art gallery and open air sculpture venue, a hands-on Science Center, a beloved playground and cafe, and other historic buildings, and more.  If you haven't been here and get a chance to visit, it is a Must-See-Do.

Bradford CreekBradford Creek

Bradford Brook wetland

Gray FoxGray Fox
Grey Fox

The "zoo" part is not remotely your typical zoo. The fenced areas are large enough that, from the boardwalks and trails, you sometimes can't see any animals in the woodsy habitats.  When you do, it might be after a careful search... like finding a camouflaged sleepy fox way up in a live oak tree...  Or finding a Florida Panther lying regally beside a tupelo tree down by the creek.

Panther PortraitPanther PortraitFlorida Panther. Tallahassee Museum

Here are some more sights you might see along the nature trail and Museum grounds.

Red Wolf PortraitRed Wolf Portrait

Red Wolf (Pups born here are used in a re-population effort in North Carolina. N. FL was historically part of their territory too.)

StegosaurStegosaur

Stegosaur

Hawk (Many of the animals were found injured, rehabilitated, but are unable to be returned to the wild.)

Bobcat in OakBobcat in Oak

Bobcat

The Farm House

Turkey FaceTurkey Face

Kid's Eye View of Turkey Face at the Farm (There are sheep, a cow, a pig, a mule, and other fowl.)

Sugar Cane Press... still used!

SnapperSnapper

Snapper

(Tiny) Screech Owl

Marley GatorMarley Gator

Marley participating in Science Center activities

And now, on to the newly renovated Chapin Snake Center.  Note that this is much more than just "caged animals".  These snakes are used both actively and passively to educate thousands of children and adults about the value and importance of snakes in our ecosystems, as well as a chance to see their beauty up-close, even to touch and hold these mostly gentle creatures... perhaps reducing that reflex fear and repulsion among the snake-phobics referred to in my "spoiler alert" above.  Too many people will reflexly get the garden hoe if they see a snake in their yard. This Snake Center may diminish some of that reflex.

Mike & Suzie at Snake CagesMike & Suzie at Snake Cages Mike Jones and Suzie Buzzo, Animal Curators

While these snakes may also live along the Nature Trail, they tend to stay out of view of the visitors - a good thing I suppose. But at the Center, visitors can safely get a closeup view of six (or more) local snakes.

Six of the photos below -- those showing the wood-framed face of each cage -- were photographed after-hours-after-dusk (when reflected glare on the front glass was absent) by one of the Animal Keepers and generously offered for my use here -- thank you, Laura Augustine!

Let's start at the Diamondback Rattlesnake in a (simulated) upland meadow...

DiamondbackDiamondback

In this fisheye-like distortion, I attempt to show you how my "backdrop" photo wraps the back and both sides of the cage. (No, the snake is not there... it has access to a small side cage where it can go, especially when keepers need to tidy up the main cage.)

Upland Meadow Pano - RattlesnakeUpland Meadow Pano - Rattlesnake Here's what it takes to wrap the whole cage - the full upland meadow panorama is 108" x 20" - a composite of 12 stitched together photos.

Diamondback DisguiseDiamondback Disguise

Eastern Diamondback in the wild (Despite its amazing camouflage, s/he was spotted by Bob Thompson on a hike together.)

Diamondback CamouflageDiamondback Camouflage

Suspend your fear and see the beauty.  The snake never moved or reacted despite our close proximity.

Next we'll visit the Cottonmouth aka Water Moccasin at the edge of a spring... 

CottonmouthCottonmouth
WetlandPano -CottonmouthWetlandPano -Cottonmouth Here's my spring/wetland habitat panorama for the Cottonmouth  (that wraps the above cage).

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.

Florida Cottonmouth in the wild (This one literally fell into my lap while kayaking. I made the photo a few minutes later.)

And the Banded Watersnake habitat... very similar to that of the Cottonmouth.

Banded Water snakeBanded Water snake
Wetland Pano - Water SnakeWetland Pano - Water Snake My spring/wetland scene for the Banded Watersnake exhibit

Banded WatersnakeBanded Watersnake

Banded Watersnake in the wild

Slithering HouseSlithering House

Slithering House - Watersnake convention at Wakulla Springs State Park

Two species of rat snakes share the next cage...
Shed in habitat -Red and Gray RatShed in habitat -Red and Gray Rat

Wood Shed Pano-Rat SnakeWood Shed Pano-Rat Snake For this one, Mike and Suzie wanted a man-made structure, like a shed, included (our woodshed?) - popular Rat Snake digs!

Yes... we have lots of (especially Gray) Rat Snakes around our yard...

AcrobatAcrobat Oak Snake PortraitOak Snake PortraitGray Rat Snake in tree Limbless ClimberLimbless Climber

Expert climbers, even without hands or feet.

Red Rat SnakeRed Rat Snake

Red Rat Snake aka Corn Snake, in the wild

DM looking inDM looking in Backdoor view of the Rat Snake habitat. Me, looking in from the front window.

Next, the Eastern Indigo...

Indigo SnakeIndigo Snake Scrub Flatwood Pano -IndigoScrub Flatwood Pano -Indigo

My panorama of Scrubby Flatwoods for the Eastern Indigo Snake habitat

 

IndigoSnake-CU-2IndigoSnake-CU-2

Eastern Indigo Snake at the Museum

Eastern Indigo CloseupEastern Indigo Closeup

Scary? Nah. Harmless (and beneficial) Indigo Snake

Indigo ScalesIndigo Scales

Indigo Scales

Finally, we needed a scene of sandy flatwoods for the Pine Snake...

Florida Pine Cage_v3Florida Pine Cage_v3
Sandy Flatwoods Pano - Pine SnakeSandy Flatwoods Pano - Pine Snake My panorama of sandy flatwoods - Pine Snake habitat

Sides are 30" wide and back is 48" - so for each,  the wrapped image measured 108 inches wide by 20 inches high!

I've never seen pine snakes in the wild, much less photographed them. But I'm taking this photo op to throw in one of my favorite snakes from our yard - the Scarlet Kingsnake. (No, it is not a "red-on-yellow" Coral Snake.) This is a sweet secretive and beautiful creature.

Scarlet KingScarlet King Scarlet Kingsnake Head OnScarlet Kingsnake Head On

Nose-to-nose. This one oughta make you smile!

There you have it... the Tallahassee Museum and it's new Chapin Snake Center. It is a wonderful (and super-kid-friendly) way to visit nature.  Enjoy!

Cypress PondCypress Pond

Thanks for visiting my photoblog. May you be inspired to find a way to get out into nature to play, view, hike, paddle, or simply sit and be. I promise it will be soul-restorative.   Please share the link to this blog with friends and family who might enjoy it. And I always love your comments below.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Leon County nature photography panorama snake Tallahassee Museum wildlife photography zoo https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/6/tallahassee-museum-the-new-snake-digs Sat, 01 Jun 2019 14:00:00 GMT
Wakulla Springs Picks https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/5/wakulla-springs-picks Thanks to YOU ALL who helped me choose photos for the Wakulla Springs Lodge lobby - per last month's photoblog.  In all, I received nearly 200 responses - votes for your picks. So, as promised, here's what we all together came up with.  The voting was close in some cases, revealed surprises in other cases, and included some runaway winners. 

The lobby lightboxes are in pairs, an important consideration, so I am presenting the chosen photos here as they will be paired.  The large Duratrans (transparencies) are being printed at this time and should be on display by mid to late June.  Again, I am grateful for your help and kind words.

Angel WingsAngel Wings Bird Paradise - Wakulla SpringsBird Paradise - Wakulla Springs

Angel Wings  and  Bird Paradise    

Manatee MomentManatee Moment c005483c005483Commerce Collection

                               Manatee Moment and Glass Bottom Boat (historic photo)                     

Morning has BrokenMorning has Broken Egret IntimacyEgret Intimacy

Morning Has Broken  and  Egret Intimacy                     

Mirrored BeautyMirrored Beauty pr10672pr10672Print Collection

                 Mirrored Beauty  and  Wakulla Bathers (historic photo)

This has been a fun and challenging project.  And like many of you, I'm looking forward to seeing it in person once completed.  The spring water is running aqua blue and perfect for a swim these hot days, and it's rumored that there will even be an ice cream social/ unveiling of the new art sometime soon.  Maybe see you there.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Florida Lodge Moynahan nature Park Parks Photography River spring Springs State Wakulla https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/5/wakulla-springs-picks Fri, 31 May 2019 15:00:00 GMT
Help Me Pick - Wakulla Springs https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/5/help-me-pick---wakulla-springs

Have you ever been to Wakulla Springs State Park?  There is a historic lodge there that has been renovated in recent years. At each end of the vast lobby are four large backlit frames that house photographs of the Springs. (Lightboxes built into the walls.)  Late last year, I was asked to make photos for 6 of those frames, and to hand-color two historic photos from early days at the Springs for the remaining two. Each frame is 25" wide by 36" high.  The photos will be printed on large transparent sheets (duratrans) and then sandwiched between two pieces of glass which fit into the internally-lit frames.  Naturally, I was deeply honored by this request (and challenge) and have been working hard on this for the past 6 months.

Existing (damaged) hand-colored historic photo in one lightbox.

Wakulla Springs is only about 3 miles from my home, so I've been visiting the Springs often to capture "vertical" landscapes and wildlife images. (Typically, landscapes are in... well, "landscape" orientation, so "portrait mode" needed for these fixed lightboxes challenged my "eye for composition". 

I have come up with 24 images to consider and now it's time to figure out which ones make the cut.  That's where you come in.  I'd love to know your favorites... which you think might look best at the Wakulla Springs Lodge. Please leave a comment below with your picks.  I've included LETTERS with the titles - so it's ok to say, "my favorites are X, Y, and Z."  And if you'd like to go a step further, rank your top three of the birds, and your top four of the landscapes.  I'll be choosing in the next month or so.  Thanks so much for your help.

Wakulla Springs State Park is famous for its wildlife - alligators, manatees, birds, and more.  Many kinds of waterfowl and wading birds find refuge in the Park. Here are nine bird images.  Probably we will use two of these images.

A Great Egret in flight... 

Angel WingsAngel Wings

A. Angel Wings

A Common Gallinule, with its iconic "jungle cry" at Wakulla, considers its own enormous feet...

Mirrored BeautyMirrored Beauty

B. Mirrored Beauty

A backlit Cattle Egret, strikes a pose...

Egret IntimacyEgret Intimacy

C. Egret Intimacy

A Pied-billed Grebe scores a prize breakfast...

Pied-billed Grebe & Crayfish vPied-billed Grebe & Crayfish v

D. Grebe & Crayfish

A mated pair of Great Egrets welcomes the new day...

Sunrise SentinelsSunrise Sentinels

E. Sunrise Sentinels

Four gangly juvenile White Ibises, too young to be fully white...

Teen Ibis TeamTeen Ibis Team

F. Teen Ibis Team

You can count on seeing a Great Blue Heron on every river boat cruise...

Great BlueGreat Blue

G. Great Blue

A Double-crested Cormorant in breeding plumage...

Cormorant PoseCormorant Pose

H. Cormorant Pose

And finally, the Little Blue Heron, smaller, but no less lovely that its Great cousin...

Little BlueLittle Blue

I. Little Blue

Picking your favs was easy, wasn't it? Well, this next batch may be a bit more challenging. As you'll see, cypress trees dominate the Springs scenery. However, hopefully the expression, "If you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" does NOT apply here.  When possible, I tried to include wildlife or special light to enhance the compositions.  There are 15 images.  Which are your favorite 4 or 5?

Early on a cold morning, the White Ibises were still roosting, but many of the Black Vultures had taken to the sky...

Bird Paradise - Wakulla SpringsBird Paradise - Wakulla Springs

J. Bird Paradise

Another day, as the sun was about to rise, the Black Vultures dotting the treetops began moving toward the springbowl...

Dawn Vulture FlightDawn Vulture Flight

K. Dawn Vulture Flight

Further downriver, the sun blasted golden light across the misty scene...

Morning has BrokenMorning has Broken

L. Morning Has Broken

An anhinga took flight, mirrored in the placid River...

Flight into Morning LightFlight into Morning Light

M. Flight Into Morning

Two Pied-billed Grebes were dwarfed by majestic moss-laden cypress backlit in sunrise light...

First LightFirst Light

N. First Light

Early light caught the new coloring of early spring, including the winged seeds of the red maples...

First Light 3First Light 3

O. First Light 3

Iconic old cypresses, with their knees and moss abounded...

First Light 5First Light 5

P. First Light 5

Mid-river cypress stood in silhouette against a sun-drenched shoreline...

Cypress StandCypress Stand

Q. Cypress Stand

Juicy light rose downriver of the big cypress...

Crack of DawnCrack of Dawn

R. Crack of Dawn

Polar smoke rising from the River, glowed in the sunrise...

Wakulla Winter SunriseWakulla Winter Sunrise

S. Wakulla Winter Sunrise

On a cold blue-water morn, polar smoke billowed into the sky...

Wintery WakullaWintery Wakulla

T. Wintery Wakulla

Mama and calf swam upriver on a gorgeous spring morning (next two photos)...

Manatee MomentManatee Moment

U. Manatee Moment

Manatee Moment 2Manatee Moment 2

V. Manatee Moment 2

Another Mama comes up for a breath...

Manatee Moment 3Manatee Moment 3

W. Manatee Moment 3

There are all my best shots. May the few chosen images shine well in the lobby of the Lodge. 

Lodge from the Waterfront

Here are the two historic black & white images we obtained from the State Archives of Florida in downtown Tallahassee. And my hand-colored renditions...

pr10672pr10672Print Collection Wakulla BathersWakulla BathersPrint Collection

Wakulla Bathers

c005483c005483Commerce Collection Glass Bottom BoatGlass Bottom BoatCommerce Collection

Glass Bottom Boat

Please let me know which photos you think would be best for this project. Wakulla Springs State Park, the Wakulla Springs Lodge, and I will all be grateful. Then come on down to the Park this summer for a swim, a boat ride, dinner, and to see the framed photos in person!

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Florida State Parks nature photography spring Wakulla River Wakulla Springs Wakulla Springs Lodge Wakulla Springs State Park https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/5/help-me-pick---wakulla-springs Wed, 01 May 2019 13:00:00 GMT
Florida Swamps https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/4/florida-swamps Bladderwort PanoramaBladderwort Panorama Bladderwort Panorama

I'd seen Little Floating Bladderwort - Utricularia radiata - in bloom before, but never blanketing such large swaths of the swamp.  The sun was setting behind the cypress as thousands of yellow blossoms hovered 8 inches above the blackwater, each standing atop a mast anchored by a radiating raft.  The scene was magical.

Swamp Bloom PanoramaSwamp Bloom Panorama BladderwortBladderwort

Bladderwort


Florida is home to some amazing wetlands, so I thought I'd share some of my swampy shots (as well as a few denizens who call the swamp home). 

Swamp GemSwamp Gem

There are often surprising hidden gems one might stumble upon while trudging through the swamp, such as an azure spring welling up in the middle of a vast muddy tract, like an oasis in the desert.

Swamp SpringSwamp Spring

Here's one deep in the vast swamp of Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area... a trail-less slog through mud and mosquitoes.

Trying not to get lost

Bluestripe Ribbon SnakeBluestripe Ribbon SnakeChassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, FL.

Bluestripe Ribbon Snake

GarfishGarfish

Garfish

Leon County is home to some beautiful wetlands - both around Lake Bradford and Lake Lafayette - where I've loved paddling and exploring for more than 30 years. 

Lily Among CypressLily Among CypressLake Bradford paddle

Lily Among Cypress

Fall Cypress PanoramaFall Cypress Panorama Fall Cypress Panorama

Textures of the SwampTextures of the SwampDried Dog Fennel and Spanish Moss laden Cypress Trees at Lake Bradford.

Dead Dog Fennel

Macro Work in the SwampMacro Work in the SwampNature photographer at work.

Standing in a canoe while concentrating on not tipping over AND getting the spider in focus was challenging. But here's what I got...

Swamp WebSwamp WebLake Bradford paddle with John Moran

Swamp Web

Once after a drought - when the "swamp" had been a dry sandy hike - the flood plain filled quickly after a tropical storm.  Crystal and I came upon an unusual sight... the colony of a flooded fire ant nest had clambered to "high ground" - a cypress knee - to survive.

Fire Ant Island 3Fire Ant Island 3Lake Cascade after TS Fay with Crystal

Don't touch

Fire Ant Island 2Fire Ant Island 2

Swarming Swamp Knee

We found another less fortunate, but more innovative fire ant colony that relied on collective buoyancy and created its own floating island.

Fire Ant IslandFire Ant IslandFloodwaters call for desperate measures. By clinging to each other, the fire ant colony creates a floating island. Apalachicola National Forest, FL

Fire Ant Island

Cascade Cypress SwampCascade Cypress Swamp

Pollen AbstractPollen AbstractLake Cascade after TS Fay with Crystal Pollen Abstract

Cracked Cypress OilCracked Cypress Oil

Cracked Cypress Oil (Actually, the natural source of the oil is controversial.)

Swamp TrailSwamp Trail

Swamp Trail

Wakulla County, not to be outdone, has more than its share of swamps.  St Marks National Wildlife Refuge manages multiple wetlands, each uniquely beautiful.

St Marks Fall FogSt Marks Fall Fog

St Marks Fall Fog

Marsh MallowMarsh Mallow

Marsh Mallow. Native relative to the hibiscus

And if you look closely...

Mallow Frog 2Mallow Frog 2

Mallow Frog

In the LimelightIn the LimelightPine Woods Treefrog. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

In the Limelight

Tupelo LightTupelo Light

Tupelo Light

Double SunDouble Sun

Double Sun

Pearled Web 2Pearled Web 2

Pearled Web

Swamp FogSwamp Fog

St Marks Swamp

Not far to the east, we have the Lower Wacissa River that flows into the dreaded Braided Swamp, which is actually really beautiful, even if it's easy to get lost in it.

Braided SwampBraided Swamp

Braided Swamp

Young Denizen 3Young Denizen 3

Young Denizen 3

White Ibis PerchWhite Ibis Perch

White Ibis Perch

Spider LiliesSpider Lilies

Spider Lilies

Lower Wacissa Paddling B&WLower Wacissa Paddling B&W

Lower Wacissa - in Infrared

Angelic Little DevilAngelic Little Devil

Angelic Little Devil

Lunch Stop on Wacissa 2Lunch Stop on Wacissa 2

Lunch Stop. No dry picnic spots on the Lower Wacissa.

And further west in the Panhandle, you come to the floodplains and tributariess of the Apalachicola River...

Owl Creek TunnelOwl Creek Tunnel

Owl Creek Tunnel

Devon CreekDevon Creek

Devon Creek

Devon Creek TunnelDevon Creek Tunnel

Devon Creek Tunnel

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

Twisted Cypress

 

Chipola Floodplain IIChipola Floodplain II

Chipola Floodplain 2

Cypress & TupeloCypress & Tupelohttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Cypress & Tupelo

Deadfall SwampDeadfall Swamp

Deadfall Swamp. Chipola floodplain.

Swamp UnfurlingSwamp Unfurling

Swamp Unfurling

Chipola Floodplain 1Chipola Floodplain 1

Chipola Floodplain 1

One cannot speak of Florida swamps without including The Swamp, itself - the Everglades.  Here's a very small sampling of its vast beauty.

Guzmania SloughGuzmania SloughFakahatchee Strand, FL

Guzmania Slough - Fakahatchee Strand

Cypress PanoramaCypress Panorama

Cypress Dome Panorama - Everglades National Park

Butterfly Orchid SceneButterfly Orchid Scene

Butterfly Orchid - ENP

Roseate FlightRoseate Flight

Roseate Flyover

Underwater Cypress SwampUnderwater Cypress Swamp

Underwater in the Cypress Dome - ENP

Alligator FlagAlligator Flag

Alligator Flag - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Swamp KingSwamp KingA curious Cottonmouth came over to check me out while I was slogging through his territory. Fakahatchee Strand, FL.

Swamp King - Fakahatchee Strand

Magical Moonlight PaddleMagical Moonlight Paddle

Magical Moonlight Paddle - Turner River Mangrove Tunnel

That last one is a story unto itself, but I'll just say, making it was a late night harrowing adventure for two foolish photographers (collaboration with John Moran) deep in the Everglades.  I expect you are waterlogged, or at least bleary-eyed by now, so I'll stop (having skipped way too many places and photos).  Thanks for  visiting. Please leave a quick comment below, and share the link widely.

SwamplandSwamplandFakahatchee Strand, FL

Swampland

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Florida wetlands little floating bladderwort nature photography night photography nightscape spring swamp underwater photography wetlands https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/4/florida-swamps Mon, 01 Apr 2019 19:51:37 GMT
Suwannee Estuary https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/3/suwannee-estuary Camp VistaCamp Vista

Flood stage! All the rivers in North Florida were too high, including the Upper Suwannee where we'd planned for this year's Mens Group Camping Trip (our 17th year). What to do? Going on tips from John and George, we ventured out on a Gulf exploration of the islands at the mouth of the Suwannee in search of a rumored secret beach. A few years ago, Crystal and I had camped and explored some islands between Cedar Key (southeast) and the Suwannee. This time, our group of 8 launched at Shired Island, a little northwest of the mouth of the Suwannee River... new territory for all of us.

LaunchLaunch

We launched on a tranquil January morning at high tide, paddling over oyster beds, weaving through saltmarsh, and crossing creeks, all part of the Suwannee estuary. Soon enough we came to tropical-feeling islands with long sandy coves and spits, palms curving up from the beaches, just inviting exploration.

Calm SeaCalm Sea Three PalmsThree Palms

Finding gorgeous campsites was not hard. Harder was deciding where to stop - why not try the next spot? And so we spent the next couple nights, camping, hiking, sailing, paddling, and fishing in this idyllic setting... accounting for most of my photos. But that was not the whole story... the third night was a doozy. You'll find the rest of the tale below (near the end).

Camp 1Camp 1 Big Pine BaseBig Pine Base Johnson Creek SunriseJohnson Creek Sunrise R & RR & R   Camp Sunset 2Camp Sunset 2 Low Tide Sunrise 2Low Tide Sunrise 2
Beach WalkBeach Walk Big SkyBig Sky ChristmasberryChristmasberry Christmasberry... debateably edible.

Low Tide SunriseLow Tide Sunrise

Low tide Sunrise

Big Pine StarsBig Pine Stars

A big old pine snag stood at the shoreline...
Erosion StudyErosion Study

Polished and hued in fine detail by nature's paintbrushes and sculpting tools...

SentrySentry

a resting spot for birds, crabs, and others...
 

Old Man TreeOld Man Tree

Wild Sunset IsleWild Sunset Isle

awash in sunlight each day...

Moonlit SnagMoonlit Snag

and moonlight by night.

Camp SunsetCamp Sunset

View from my tent.

Johnson Creek FishingJohnson Creek Fishing

David Johnson ready to hook one in his namesake creek.  Any luck, Dave?

\ Fisherman Johnson-webFisherman Johnson-web

Oh yeah!

RedfishRedfish

Redfish

Island ExplorationIsland Exploration Island Exploration 2Island Exploration 2 One Foot LandingOne Foot Landing OystermanOysterman

Oystermen find bounty in these creeks.

Palm Bay 2Palm Bay 2 Palmy Night 3Palmy Night 3 Glens Antique SunglassesGlens Antique Sunglasses

Beachcomber find. Palm Beach SunsetPalm Beach Sunset FiresideFireside Reflecting CreekReflecting Creek Sailing KayakSailing Kayak Three Palm DawnThree Palm Dawn
Palmy NightPalmy Night Pelican Take OffPelican Take Off Moonlit SnagMoonlit Snag

Jacques's Camp
Island LakeIsland Lake Island Lake. Rain and over-wash from the Gulf storms make for variable salinity. These islands are "ever-changing"...

Hurricane ErosionHurricane Erosion

eroding away on one side (this destruction from Hurricane Hermine 2016)...

Wash OverWash Over

and building up on the other side. Here, sand washed completely across the low island.

Mens GroupMens Group

Here we are, 17th year camping trip: Mark, David, Dave, Glen, Bram, Jacques, Steve, and Geoff.

Storm ReadyStorm Ready And now for the rest of the story... battening down the hatches.

The third day, the wind picked up. A storm front was predicted to blow in that night (our last) followed by a freeze the following night. But we (thought we) were prepared. We hoisted a 16'x32' tarp (above photo) into the trees to create a windbreak and rain shelter in our main camp area, pulled the boats high up to the edge of the trees well beyond the high tide line, and Jacques moved his tent from the unsheltered beach into the more protected woods. Dave and Bram, camping in rugged hammocks (more like suspended tents) in the palms along the upper edge of the beach, decided to stay put. This all worked well enough into the evening, and the rain even held off until bedtime.

Flying TentFlying Tent

Flying Tent

And then the Misadventure Began. You'll have to imagine the scene... because my cameras stayed locked in their Pelican case all night: The onshore wind continued to increase (way beyond what was forecast) – to gale force, 35 knots, gusting to 50 -- we later learned from the oystermen. The wind, combined with the pull of the full moon and midnight high tide, resulted in a massive storm surge. Bram awoke to waves crashing into the trees beneath his hammock. Looking out through the wind-driven rain, he could make out kayaks rolling in the surf. Imagine jumping out of bed into icy wind, rain, and roiling waters, knowing it was up to you to avert a pretty serious crisis. I cannot account for how it all unfolded in the chaos of it all.
 Bram first enlisted Steve and Glen to help save boats. By the time I got there, all boats were accounted for.  Just one more to pull to higher ground. Some gear had washed away from beneath the hammocks, a paddle was gone, and Dave's tent-hammock had lost an important fly stake, so his bedding got soaked. We got the fire stoked to warm up and dry stuff. Luckily the big tarp shelter held, affording us (and our fire) a respite from the fury. By the wee hours, the hammockers found shared tent space and some of us got a few hours sleep.

Tent RescueTent Rescue

Tent Rescue. As we were breaking camp, one tent flew into the saltmarsh, like a tumbleweed across the desert.

By daybreak, the ordeal was -NOT- over, but at least the rain was. The wind was blowing like crazy and had clocked around to blow from the northwest – exactly the direction we needed to go to get back to Shired. The tide was still dropping, the water receding 50 yards out from the edge of the sandy beach, and only inches deep far beyond that. Not paddleable. I had pulled my little kayak up into camp the previous afternoon, hoping to load and launch it in the small tidal creek that ran through this island and past our site. Steve and I proceeded with that strategy, though by the time we were loaded, all we could do was drag our boats down the winding mostly-dry creek bed until it spilled out into the larger deep creek. The others had dragged their boats and hauled their gear along the beach to the same large deep creek. From there, all we had to do was paddle into the wind and waves about 100 yards to reach the saltmarsh on the other side. After that, if need be, we could wade and drag our boats about a mile further to reach the campground at Shired. Speaking for myself, it took all my might and will to get across that wide creek. And then, I immediately ran aground on clumps of oysters. It was too shallow and too windy to paddle, so it meant a long cold slog – my boat banging my legs with each wave – back to Shired camp. The only shoes I had were Crocs (dumb! - note to self), so I had to pick my path carefully (and mostly blindly), avoiding oysters and deep mud. A friendly fellow at the campground stood aghast in the wind as I dragged onto the shore. He invited me to defrost in his makeshift shelter wrapped with tarps where he had installed a small, divinely-warm woodstove.

Dragging HomeDragging Home

Dragging home... one, two, three, four, and five - way in the distance. Two more not yet in sight.

Each of us had his own individual struggle. One by one I counted kayaks strung out across a mile. Finally a seventh one just appeared from the now distant cut in the marsh. No eighth boat followed! Turned out that the wind was just too much for the one canoe in our fleet, and Steve had to turn back. The bow of a canoe is like a small sail-rudder combo that will almost instantly catch a stiff headwind and turn dramatically off course in a flash. Steve figured on settling back by the fire with his book until conditions became more favorable, even if it meant another (this one, freezing) night... and sent us word via Geoff who'd been the last to leave him behind. This did not settle well with any of us, Geoff included, even though we all knew Steve to be tough and resourceful.  Leaving a brother behind just wasn't right. Not that we had the capability of a rescue. But, luck was with us. Turns out, the oystermen, shore-bound by the weather, were congregated in the shelter around the hot little woodstove. After awhile hanging out with them, and telling them of the plight of our brother, one of them, Tick, volunteered that his son, Coon, might be willing to launch his skiff and go after Steve. We found Coon sitting in his red truck outside. He was willing, and within half an hour he was pounding across the waves toward the island.  

Coon to the Rescue 1Coon to the Rescue 1

By the time all eight of us were loaded, pretty beat, into our vehicles, we decided to debrief and refuel at Salt Creek Restaurant in the coastal town of Suwannee.  I got home near dark that evening, still planning to photograph the lunar eclipse (photo here) that night about midnight.  Rich tales of this camping adventure are sure to be revisited and embellished around future campfires.

Palm BayPalm Bay

Hope you enjoyed the tale and pictures. Your comments below are always appreciated.  And please share this link with friends.
 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Dixie County Florida Gulf of Mexico Mens Group nature photography night photography nightscape Shired Island Suwannee River https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/3/suwannee-estuary Fri, 01 Mar 2019 16:07:44 GMT
Eclipse of the Moon https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/2/eclipse-of-the-moon Lunar EclipseLunar Eclipse

Super Blood Wolf Lunar Eclipse of 2019
 

Media hype for the "Super Blood Wolf Lunar Eclipse of 2019" conjured up enough momentum in me that, despite having had little sleep the nights before (kayak camping) and a commitment to take Crystal to to airport at 5 AM Monday morning, I was determined to drag myself out of bed at midnight that Sunday night to make a "quick photo".  I admit I was a little skeptical about all the blood and wolf super-stuff. Boy was I wrong. Wow, what a heavenly show!  After I made my photo (which proved more challenging than I anticipated), I joyfully continued to lay out in the cold on my gravel driveway and watch the unfolding drama. 

This paragraph is the backstory, with a few technical details, for those interested (some have even asked): I used my Canon 6D with 500 mm prime lens plus 2x teleconverter, iso 2500, 1 second at f/8 (wide open with the teleconverter) on Gitzo tripod with gimbal head.  I practiced on the (much brighter) full moon earlier in the evening (below shot) and thought I was ready.  NOT. A little before midnight, the eclipsing moon was almost straight overhead. My tripod with the big heavy rig atop it was not stable when configured to point straight up. (Not to mention, hard to look through the viewfinder.) With that much zoom and long exposure, even the slightest vibration ruined the shot, so ultimately I resorted to shortening the tripod legs a lot and bracing the upward-pointing lens against the side of our deck as I wriggled on my back to get my head under it. I did have to get in and out of this restrictive position a couple times so I could get some chair cushions - the gravel was cold and bumpy. I manually focused and shot in LiveView so the mirror was locked up. And then, finally, I could get a sharp shot.  I made about 10 bracketed shots over about 20 minutes before I was satisfied. 

Full Moon PortraitFull Moon Portrait

Practice Shot.

When you chance upon a view of the moon, especially low in the sky, are you awed by it?  By its beauty? by its seeming impossibility? By the vast soft nightlight it reflects from the not-visible sun?  This celestial orb has long captured my imagination and focus. Here are my favorites among the moonshots I've made over the years.

Moonrise Before SunsetMoonrise Before Sunset

Super Moonrise 2018

New Moon Gradient

Here's the bigger picture, early morning over St. Vincent Island...

Sunrise MoonriseSunrise Moonrise

Sunrise Moonrise

Crescent_MoonCrescent_Moon

Crescent Moon

Dead Lakes MoonriseDead Lakes Moonrise

Dead Lakes Moonrise

John and I scouted out this scene in the Dead Lakes, secured the boat (to be able to make longish exposures), poured a glass of wine, and waited for the moonrise, as this gorgeous sunset unfolded before us.

Big Moon LighthouseBig Moon Lighthouse

Big Moon Lighthouse

Big Moon Lighthouse is a photo of the 2011 super moon. This took a lot of scouting and planning (with a handheld compass guesstimation of exactly where the moon would come up). And actually, full disclosure, I missed by a few degrees, so this is a composite of two photos, where I slid the moon a little to the left so it would be behind the tiny distant lighthouse - but I did NOT change the zoom or size or position relative to either frame.

Below are a few shots made at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, my favorite Big Sky location.

Heron MoonriseHeron Moonrise

Heron Moonrise

Super Moon UpSuper Moon Up

Super Moon Rising

The Grackle & the MoonThe Grackle & the Moon

The Grackle & the Moon

Super_Moon_PanoSuper_Moon_Pano Super Moon Panorama

Fiddler in MoonlightFiddler in MoonlightWakulla Beach morning and evening

Fiddler in the Moonlight

This fiddler crab is at St. Marks, but is NOT in moonlight - that's just the title (based on much lighting effort and crab cooperation)... which is the only justification for being in this post.

 

Moonset Over MarshMoonset Over MarshSt. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL.

Moonset Over Marsh

Moon HaloMoon Halo

Moon Halo

Moon Light HouseMoon Light HouseSt. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Sunset - Full Moon rise - St. Marks Photo Club

Moon-Light-House

When the moon rises over the sea...

Moon Over Craggy PeaksMoon Over Craggy PeaksOn my way home from Apalachicola, I saw the moon just beginning to break through the clouds on the horizon. Pulled off the road and scrambled down the rocks to the water's edge. Composed and focused with a flashlight and hoped for the best.

Moon Over Craggy Peaks

 

Full Moon Rising over Gulf

Super_MoonSuper_Moon

Super Moon Rising

Sun_&_Moon_RiseSun_&_Moon_Rise

Sun & Moon Rise

Moon Rockers -below - is a portrait of a group of friends (including Crystal and I at the right end) enjoying a rising full moon after a fine dinner at a cabin in Apalachicola, Florida.  The shadows cast are entirely from moonlight. Sublime evening.

Moon Shadow RockersMoon Shadow Rockers Moon Rockers

Here's a 2017 super moon from "Gator Country", Newnans Lake in Gainesville. Nice of that gator to show up for my photo...

Super MoonriseSuper Moonrise Super Moonrise & Gator

I'll end with a moon over our upper Suwannee River camping trip 2016.  This year, my men's group camped a few nights at the Gulf-end of the Suwannee -- the trip mentioned in my opening sentence -- the day of the lunar eclipse - opening photo.

Moon_Over_Suwannee_CampMoon_Over_Suwannee_Camp

Well, enough mooning for all of us today. I hope you've enjoyed the show, and have a chance to watch the moon float up from the horizon one evening soon.  Please leave a comment below, and share the link for this post with friends and family and social media.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida moon nature photography night photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/2/eclipse-of-the-moon Fri, 01 Feb 2019 05:14:00 GMT
Mashes Sands https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/1/mashes-sands Morning Glory SloshMorning Glory Slosh

Mashes Sands... I first heard this mysterious-sounding name many years ago - said to be a local beach at the mouth of Ochlockonee Bay. It took a few more years before I visited. Bob Thompson (above) invited me to meet him there for a sunrise low tide (..."and bring your wading boots.")  We hadn't walked far before I was taken in by the magic in the sand and how it was shaped by the tides and currents and wind. We walked - and waded across Sand Creek - going a mile or so, around the point into Dickerson Bay.  And then back again.

Sands of Mashes SandsSands of Mashes Sands

Less than a half hour from my home, Mashes Sands has become one of my favorite places on Florida's Gulf Coast. Let me show you why.

Sand RibsSand Ribs

Sand Ribs

Sky PondSky Pond

Sky Pond

Gulf Cloud ArcGulf Cloud ArcMashes Sands

Gulf Cloud Arc

I love the ever-changing patterns in the sand, the big sky, and the little surprises found on each and every visit.

Ghost Crab ReflectingGhost Crab ReflectingMashes Sands, FL

Ghost Crab Reflection

Barnacle AdornmentBarnacle Adornment

Barnacle Adornment

Crab Trap AbstractCrab Trap Abstract

Crab Trap Abstract

Sand PerspectiveSand Perspective

Sand Perspective

Dawn Sky Mashes SandsDawn Sky Mashes Sands

Dawn Sky Mashes Sands

Sunrise SnagSunrise Snag

Sunrise Snag

Beached JellyBeached Jelly

Beached Jelly

Gulf OaksGulf Oaks

Gulf Oaks

Vulnerable acreage adjoining this county-owned beach was high on the list for acquisition by the Florida Forever Program. In 2011, I submitted the next three photos for consideration in the Florida Forever Calendar, an effort to raise awareness and to get the FL Legislature to re-fund the neglected Program. 

Mashes Sands  HammockMashes Sands Hammock

Mashes Sands Hammock

Horseshoe SurferHorseshoe Surfer

Horseshoe Surfer

Florida Forever CoverFlorida Forever Cover

Florida Forever Cover

The third one was selected and ultimately made the cover.  It was one of those serendipitous moments. I'd just set up to make a photo of this rather plain scene when suddenly a flock of Black Skimmers approached from beyond those trees, circled and landed right in front of me. Surprise!

 

There are freshwater and saltwater marshes between the beach and mainland - full of life and diversity...

Prints in SandPrints in Sand

Prints in the Sand

Blanket Flowers and Wood StorksBlanket Flowers and Wood StorksMashes Sands, FL

Blanket Flowers and Wood Storks

Gulf Dawn PanoramaGulf Dawn Panorama

Gulf Dawn Panorama

Close LookClose LookTiny periwinkel snails cling to nearly every blade of marsh grass in this scene. Mashes Sands, FL

Close Look

Horseshoe Crab MoltHorseshoe Crab Molt

Molt

Nature the Artist creates (and destroys) amazing new sculptures at Mashes Sands each day...

Sandy ScallopsSandy ScallopsMashes Sands

Sandy Scallops

RidgesRidges

Ridges

Tidal CreekbedTidal Creekbed

Sand Creek Delta

And the Seep Trees always draw me in...

Seep TreesSeep Trees Seep Trees IISeep Trees II

This is a popular place for folks to walk and dogs to romp... [but don't let 'em chase the shorebirds]

Full Tilt BoogieFull Tilt Boogie

Scruffy... Full Tilt Boogie

Skimmer Flock in FlightSkimmer Flock in Flight

Black Skimmers [NOT roused by Scruffy]

Mashes Sands commands a wondrous view of the Universe...

Still StandingStill Standing

Still Standing 1

Still Standing IVStill Standing IV

Still Standing 4

And magnificent vistas of fierce Gulf storms rolling in...

Ebbing Tide & StormEbbing Tide & Storm

Ebbing Tide & Storm

Mashes Sands Grass SpitMashes Sands Grass Spit

Grass Spit

ImminenceImminence

Imminence

Mashes Sand Sunrise StormMashes Sand Sunrise Storm

Mashes Sands Sunrise Storm

Whats LeftWhats Left

What's Left

Mashes Sands and the surrounding area was hit hard by Hurricane Michael a few months ago. (What's Left was made shortly after the hurricane.) "Still Standing" is no longer. In fact, the topography is largely altered, but this natural shoreline is remarkably resilient. We're still wandering there, in awe of the surprises and life along the Gulf.

Now you know. If you are near Wakulla County, this unique wild Florida coastline is a place not-to-be-missed.   Thanks for your visit.  Please share this link widely.  And please leave a comment here at the blog.  I'd love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) beach David Moynahan Photography Florida Florida Forever Florida Panhandle Gulf of Mexico nature photography night photography saltmarsh Wakulla County https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/1/mashes-sands Tue, 01 Jan 2019 14:00:00 GMT
Before the Eye of the Storm https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/12/before-the-eye-of-the-storm American OystercatcherAmerican Oystercatcher

American Oystercatcher on the Gulf Coast

In the wake of Hurricane Michael and all its devastation, my heart goes out to all the people who lost so much.  And to the creatures, trees, forests, and wildlife habitats.  Godspeed to all in your recovery. 

Chipola Floodplain IIChipola Floodplain II

Chipola River Floodplain

Through the years, I spent many joyful hours exploring nature in this swath of the Florida Panhandle, and have captured many images of its beauty.  Here, I've chosen some pre-storm photos from Michael's path and want to share them in honor of what was lost, what remains, and of the resilience of the folks whose lives have been disrupted, but are rebuilding anew.  

Line of DuskLine of Dusk

Line of Dusk - Dune lake west of Mexico Beach

Hurricane Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach - not far from where so many of my Gulf Coast adventures date back to 1978.

Dune SunsetDune Sunset

Eroding Dune

Pink Sea Wash - Cape San Blas

Grayton Beach State Park, FL

Grayton Dunes

Gulf AbstractGulf Abstract

Gulf Abstract

New Day DawnsNew Day DawnsThat's St. Vincent Island, FL in the distance across the Pass. Sunrise.

New Day Dawns - Indian Pass

Dune LakeDune Lake

Dune Lake

Seashell in SunsetSeashell in Sunset

Sea Shell in Sunset

Caspian GiftingCaspian Gifting

The Gift -- Least Terns

Cutting EdgeCutting Edge

Cutting Edge - St Vincent Island

Grayton Beach State Park, FL

Grayton Dune Lake

Last Rays on BeachLast Rays on Beach

Last Rays

Shell Seeker

The storm roared north between Econfina Creek and the Apalachicola River basin -- two of my favorite wild places...

Springside FoxgloveSpringside FoxgloveFalso Foxglove. Econfina Creek, FL

Springside Foxglove - Econfina Creek

Econfina LimerockEconfina Limerock

Early Light on Econfina Limerock

Mountain LaurelMountain Laurel

Econfina Mountain Laurel

 

 

Cypress & TupeloCypress & Tupelohttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Cypress & Tupelo - Apalachicola River Basin

Dead Lakes CypressDead Lakes Cypress

Dead Lakes Cypress

Prothonotary MouthfulProthonotary Mouthful

Prothonotary Mouthful

Owl Creek LightOwl Creek Lighthttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Owl Creek Light

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

Twisted Cypress - Apalachicola River Basin

Dead Lakes MoonriseDead Lakes Moonrise

Dead Lakes Moonrise

Dr Seuss in the Florida WildsDr Seuss in the Florida Wilds

Dr. Seuss in the Florida Wilds

Oxbow_Alum_Bluff_CampOxbow_Alum_Bluff_Camp

Apalachicola Oxbow Camp

 

 ...Maintaining Category 4 force winds all the way to Jackson County on the FL-GA line. 

Misty Cypress DawnMisty Cypress Dawn

Misty Cypress Dawn - Merritts Mill Pond, Jackson County

Swimming at Jackson BlueSwimming at Jackson Blue

Plunging in at Jackson Blue Spring

Spring of the BaltzellsSpring of the Baltzells

Spring on the Upper Chipola

Primordial ForestPrimordial Forest

Primordial Forest - Florida Caverns State Park

Luminous UnderworldLuminous Underworld

Luminous Underworld - Chipola River

Maund SpringMaund Spring

Maund Spring - Chipola River

Silver Pond CypressSilver Pond Cypress

Silver Pond Cypress - Merritts Mill Pond

Chipola FogChipola FogCool misty dawn on the Chipola River.

Chipola Dawn Fog

Troubadours of TupeloTroubadours of TupeloOld black gum or tupelo tree on the Chipola River.

Troubadours of Tupelo - Chipola River


Chipola OvensChipola Ovens

Chipola Ovens

 

Chipola CanopyChipola Canopy

Chipola Canopy

Blue Spring BassBlue Spring Bass

Blue Spring Bass

Florida CavernsFlorida Caverns

Florida Caverns

Indian PinksIndian PinksJackson Co. FL

Indian Pinks - Florida Caverns State Park

Green Heron BreakfastGreen Heron Breakfast

Green Heron Breakfast - Jackson County

Florida OasisFlorida Oasis

Florida Oasis - Chipola River

Deadfall SwampDeadfall Swamp

Standing in Honor at Grandmother's Grave - Florida Caverns State Park

The Storm whirled onward, wreaking havoc in Georgia and beyond.  Climate change is here and now, fueling these epic storms and other extreme phemomena in our state, country, and across the planet. A sad new reality that might have been averted, and with some political will, might still be mitigated.  There is much remaining natural beauty worth protecting.  It/we are all interconnected -- a delicate balance -- and surprisingly fragile.  May we humans have the wisdom to do what we can for the health of our Earth.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Your comments below are greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) Apalachicola River Basin Bay County Cape San Blas cypress Econfina Creek Florida Florida Caverns State Park Grayton Beach State Park Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Michael Jackson County nature photography nightscape spring underwater photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/12/before-the-eye-of-the-storm Sat, 01 Dec 2018 14:00:00 GMT
Tour of Prints https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/11/tour-of-prints Canopy Road VCanopy Road V

Canopy Road V. 12x18

I just finished the very un-glamorous task of making an inventory of my "hard-copy"prints. As some of you know, I do sell prints of my work (as described here).  Generally I have prints custom made per order by professional print labs and try to keep a very low volume of inventory in my studio.  Over time, a random collection of prints has grown. And lately, whenever I've looked at the stack of plastic envelopes containing prints in my map chest, I've groaned. (Not infrequently, I have custom ordered a print, not knowing that I already have the exact print in my map chest!)
So, now I have an inventory -  titles, sizes, (and even thumbnail images) that I hope to keep current.

Dr Seuss in the Florida WildsDr Seuss in the Florida Wilds

Dr Seuss in the Florida Wilds. 20x30

A selection of some of these photos makes up my photoblog this month.  This is about half of them.  If you wish to see the whole list, it's here. You can see larger versions by entering the Title into the search box on my homepage.

Eye of the Aquifer. 12x18. Fine Art Paper (Backstory here.)

Given that the season of gift-giving is upon us, I'm discounting my whole print inventory -- "for sale, while supplies last" -- half off through December.

Emerald CutEmerald Cut

Emerald Cut. 12x18 (Backstory here.)

Typically, I have just one print of each. The prints are all on paper and signed, (not matted or framed). A few are on fine art paper, but most are on semigloss archival photo paper.  The fine art paper prints are a little more, as noted on the inventory list, but generally the SALE PRICE will be 8x12=$16; 12x18=$25; 16x24=$32; 20x30=$45; 12x12=$20; 18x18=$$30; 10x20=$25. Other sizes listed are in line with these prices. Just ask me. (Plus sales tax for Floridians (7%) and $7 shipping.)  The way to request a print is to email me directly: david@davidmoynahan.com.

Baroque BivalvesBaroque Bivalves

Baroque Bivalves. 18x24

Your gift to me would be Less Full Drawers in 2019, but please feel guilt-free to simply take a deep breath and smile while having a look at the photos here, (and perhaps share the link with others).  Thanks for being here.

Lake Vista. 10x20 

Beacon in the CosmosBeacon in the Cosmos

Beacon in the Cosmos. 12x18 (Backstory here.)

Bracket Fungi PanoramaBracket Fungi Panorama

Bracket Fungi. 8x24

Florida Forever CoverFlorida Forever Cover

Florida Forever.  8x12, 16x20 (Backstory here.)

Barnacle Adornment. 12x12

Earthly Eyes AglowEarthly Eyes Aglow Earthly Eyes Aglow. 8x11, 12x18 (Backstory here.)

East River MystEast River Myst

East River Myst. 24x36

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

Fleur de Lys Abstract. 12x18

GarfishGarfish

Garfish.  8x8

Green Heron BreakfastGreen Heron Breakfast

Green Heron Breakfast. 10x20

Leaning Into MarshLeaning Into Marsh

Leaning Into Marsh.  12x18

Lily Among CypressLily Among CypressLake Bradford paddle with John Moran

Lily Among Cypress. 18x24

Live Oak Whorls. 12x12 (cropped)

Lookin AtchaLookin Atcha

Lookin Atcha. 16x20

Magical Moonlight PaddleMagical Moonlight Paddle

Magical Moonlight Paddle. 8x12, 12x18 (Backstory here.)

Marsh & SkyMarsh & Sky

Marsh & Sky. 8x10

Mating DanceMating Dance

Mating Dance. 12x18

Mother Nature's PaintbrushMother Nature's Paintbrush

Mother Nature's Paintbrush. 12x18

Naked under the StarsNaked under the Stars

Naked Under the Stars - Naked Springs. 12x18, 16x24 (Backstory here.)

Osprey in RainOsprey in Rain

Osprey in Rain. 8x12

Night BloomerNight Bloomer

Night Bloomer. 16x20

Owl Creek LightOwl Creek Lighthttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Owl Creek Light. 8x12 (Backstory here.)

Oasis in the DarkOasis in the Dark

Oasis in the Dark. 12x18

Night PatrolNight Patrol

Night Patrol. 12x18, 16x24

Pile UpPile Up

Pile Up. 8x12 (Backstory here.)

Pitcherful of SkyPitcherful of Sky

Pitcherful of Sky. 12x18

Reflections on the SuwanneeReflections on the SuwanneeIconic limerock wall and late fall color are doubled in the placid Suwannee River, FL

Reflections on the Suwannee. 16x24

Rising in the Mist IRising in the Mist I

Rising in the Mist. 8x10 (Backstory here.)

Ruffled TakeoffRuffled Takeoff

Ruffled Takeoff. 8x12

Runes of Nature IIRunes of Nature II

Runes of Nature II. 5x15

Scrub Jay TakeoffScrub Jay Takeoff

Scrub Jay Takeoff. 8x12

spicebush Swallowtail 2spicebush Swallowtail 2

Spicebush Swallowtail. 15x22

Star_StruckStar_Struck Star Struck. 12x18 Fine Art Paper

Still Standing 3Still Standing 3

Still Standing. 12x18

Sunfolower QuadrantSunfolower QuadrantWashington, DC

Sunflower. 18x18

SwamplandSwamplandFakahatchee Strand, FL

Swampland. 12x18 (Backstory here.)

Totems to Picasso - TriptychTotems to Picasso - Triptych Totems to Picasso - Triptych.  10x15

Wacissa LightWacissa LightLower Wacissa River. FL

Wacissa Light. 20x30

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

Water Color Abstract II. 12x18

Water From Stone - Rock SpringsWater From Stone - Rock Springs Water from Stone - Rock Springs. 10x20 Fine Art Paper (Backstory here.)

Wintery WakullaWintery WakullaWakulla River, FL.

Wintery Wakulla. 8x12

There's a pretty eclectic collection for you!  Hope you enjoyed the "Tour of Prints". Each image has a backstory (location, adventure, process) - some links to the backstory I included in the caption. Don't hesitate to ask if you'd like to know any particulars.  Whether or not you're interested in prints, your comments HERE AT THE BLOG are much appreciated and help me reach a wider audience in cyberspace.

May your days be merry and bright.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida nature photography night photography photo print https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/11/tour-of-prints Thu, 01 Nov 2018 22:06:02 GMT
Tallahassee Magazine - "The Moynahan Edition" https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/10/tallahassee-magazine---the-moynahan-edition

In mid-September, I got an email from the Director of Editorial Services (and author of article referenced here), Steve Bornhoft, saying, "The Moynahan Edition of the Tallahassee Magazine has arrived..."  Earlier in the summer he'd interviewed me for this article to feature my nature photography.  Ultimately, it turned into a beautifully written cover story and 12 pages spotlighting my work. 

Thanks Steve.  And thanks to the many who've already seen the magazine and sent words of support, encouragement, and congratulations. (A copy is readily available from Roland Publishing on Miccosukee Road or at Books A Million in Tallahassee for $3.95.)

Floating EyesFloating Eyes

Floating Eyes Lake VistaLake Vista

Lake Vista Panorama

This collection is assembled from five of my "top drawer" portfolios: Flora, Florida Landscape, Reptiles & Amphibians, Hand of Man, and Invertebrates.  All the photos are from Florida.  You will likely recognize some of these images from previous posts.  Mr. Bornhoft started off the article with a spread from my FLORA portfolio.

Lily Among CypressLily Among CypressLake Bradford paddle with John Moran

Lily Among Cypress

New Day DawnsNew Day DawnsThat's St. Vincent Island, FL in the distance across the Pass. Sunrise.

New Day Dawns

Florida Mountain LaurelFlorida Mountain Laurel

Florida Mountain Laurel

Thistle SunriseThistle Sunrise

Thistle Sunrise

Marsh MallowMarsh MallowShepard Spring walk with John Moran

Marsh Mallow

Turn the page and you find FLORIDA LANDSCAPE. These are from my website's largest portfolio.  Tough choices!

Lucky StrikeLucky Strike

Lucky Strike Spring Run LightSpring Run Light

Spring Run Light

East River MystEast River Myst

East River Myst

Naked under the StarsNaked under the Stars

Naked Under the Stars - Naked Springs

The next spread is from REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS (well, except for one Crustacean from the Invertebrates Portfolio).

Night PatrolNight Patrol

Night Patrol

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

Rise & Fall of Tads

Fiddler in MoonlightFiddler in MoonlightWakulla Beach morning and evening

Fiddler in the Moonlight

Gopher TortoiseGopher TortoiseSeven Runs Creek, Forida Forever

Gopher Tortoise

When human impact is evident in the photo, I file my portfolio images in the HAND OF MAN gallery.

Canopy Road VCanopy Road V

Canopy Road V

Fire WaterFire Water

Fire Water

Fern Hammock SpringFern Hammock SpringJuniper Springs Recreation Area, FL

Fern Hammock Spring

Beacon in the CosmosBeacon in the Cosmos

Beacon in the Cosmos

White DinghyWhite Dinghy

White Dinghy

The last spread is of images chosen from my INVERTEBRATES portfolio (Wildlife Gallery).

Bay ScallopBay ScallopI take an intimate look into the delicate blue-eyed bay scallop and wonder how I can kill and eat such a creature.

Bay Scallop

GabrielGabrielHark! Gabriel, with wings aglow, alit his trumpet and blew with all his heart.

Gabriel

Fire Ant IslandFire Ant IslandFloodwaters call for desperate measures. By clinging to each other, the fire ant colony creates a floating island. Apalachicola National Forest, FL

Fire Ant Island (Survivalists from a flood.)

Dawn Egg LayerDawn Egg Layer

Dawn Layer

In case you're in the mood for more, there are plenty of cool shots in other portfolios at my website -- davidmoynahan.com -- such as Birds, Mammals, and Underwater (found in the Wildlife Galleries); or Animal, Vegetable, & Mineral (compositions from nature found in my Details Galleries); and mostly abstract compositions from nature in Photo Art.  Please take a look sometime when you need a re-balancing visit to the great outdoors.  

Thanks for your return visits to my blog posts, your encouragement and support of my work, and your caring and actions toward the stewardship of natural Mother Earth.  Please leave a comment, however brief, below.  And share this link wildly and widely.

 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) alligator David Moynahan Photography flora Florida invertebrate landscape nature photography night photography tadpole underwater photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/10/tallahassee-magazine---the-moynahan-edition Mon, 01 Oct 2018 16:04:10 GMT
Infrared Vision https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/9/infrared-vision Carabelle Beach

Having long-admired Paul Marcellini's infrared photos as well as others, I've been tempted for years to try my hand at it.  Then my friend, Mike Riffle, had a camera converted to IR and started making some very cool photos right here in Wakulla County.  So earlier this year, I had one of my older DSLRs converted as well (which means having the sensor modified to read infrared light and reduced sensitivity to visible light).

Excitedly,  I started testing the new rig. And... got lots of disappointing images.  I quickly learned that I needed to start "seeing scenes in infrared".  Just having a dramatic sky wasn't enough, nor was simply a pleasing landscape composition.  Seeing in this new way is going to take experience... a lot more experience than I have by now.  But I've had a few successful shots, and one panorama that I was particularly proud of.  So, I thought I'd share those with my blog audience (while honestly admitting to trashing dozens of duds for each of these).  Please let me know what you think, and maybe which you find most pleasing in the comments below.  That will surely help my learning curve.
 

Palms of St Marks IR Pano

Lake Vista. 

Lake Vista is my favorite IR shot so far. It was the "calm before the storm".  We had to do some hard paddling to make it back to the safety of the car (moments) before the deluge and cracks of lightning, but I was pretty sure I had the makings of a portfolio shot.  This is a "stitched panorama" made of a series of 7 shots, so it is a huge file (that makes amazing large prints).

Paddleboard Tour

I was surprised to find that humans appear pretty normal in the IR images.  This is our granddaughter, Liv and her daddy, Hendrik in the Gulf.

Grand Wacissa


Lower Wacissa Paddling

Bradford Brook in the Rain

Color tints can be used, but generally I prefer to stick with straight black and white interpretations of the infrared image files.

St Marks Sky5 IRSt Marks Sky5 IR

St Marks Sky 5 (another of my favorites)

Marsh Skyscape

Half Mile Rise Panorama

St Marks Sky IRc - Pano38St Marks Sky IRc - Pano38 St Marks Sky Pano38

Fallen Palm

Into Light 2

Salt Marsh Panorama IR31Salt Marsh Panorama IR31 Salt Marsh Panorama IR31

St Marks Sky3 IRSt Marks Sky3 IR

St Marks Sky 3

There are my keepers so far. Let me know what you think below. Thanks, and happy wanderings.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida infrared infrared photography landscape nature photography panorama St Marks National Wildlife Refuge https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/9/infrared-vision Sun, 02 Sep 2018 00:48:02 GMT
The Realm of the Gator https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/8/the-american-alligator Gator PortraitGator Portrait Fisheating Creek Gator

I remember being thrilled when I photographed my first wild alligator about 20 years ago.  I was hiking by Fisheating Creek and came upon a sizable fellow sunning on the bank.  I managed to squeeze off one quick shot before he exploded into the water and disappeared.  That's what they usually do when surprised on land -- they're really dramatic, making a leaping plunge.  It's always a momentary scare, then thrill.  Maybe the same for the gator? 

Anyway, I realized that, over the past couple decades, I've made a couple hundred photos of Florida alligators in all sorts of conditions -- on land, in the water, underwater, at night, babies and big'uns. 

Young Denizen 2Young Denizen 2

Young Denizen.  This youngster swam out to my kayak from shore to investigate, while its seemingly-bored teenage babysitter (a 4 footer) sat nonchalantly on the bank.

Alligators TwoAlligators Two

I never feared gators as a boy tromping, swimming, or paddling in the Everglades.  Naive boy.  As an adult, I've come to respect these prehistoric top predators.  They act on instinct...

so don't ever look like a smallish animal coming for a drink (by squatting and splashing at water's edge),

or harass babies or nest - Mama's nearby, or annoy a big male by getting too close,

or think it's cool to jump in to see one underwater,

or wade around in gator-waters at night. 

I'm embarrassed to confess that I've done all of these things.  I've been lucky, but I'm more cautious now.  So, here is a selection of my favorites for "armchair viewing".  Enjoy!

Alligator_ComingAlligator_Coming   

Menace. Just as we were passing, this big boy slipped quietly into the creek, just like in the Tarzan movies - before the attack.  

Floating EyesFloating Eyes

Floating Eyes

Years ago, Crystal squatted in the shallows at the edge of Shepard Spring to wash her face after a hot hike.  We were on a summer camp dayhike and our gaggle of middle-school-age campers had just seen the big resident gator explode into the water from that very perch and dive deep into the clear water.  (I'd seen this gator on previous visits, so we had approached stealthily in hopes of spotting him before he split.)  So now the coast was clear, right? Not. A minute later, our daughter Marley screamed a warning to Crystal ...and C scrambled up the bank to where we were.  From the gator's perspective, a "small animal" was splashing at water's edge. We watched in horror as it came charging up fast through the water for its prey...right to the spot where Crystal had just been.  Marley was a hero that day.  Later, as I thought about it, this gator had, only moments earlier, been suddenly scared by the 20 humans arriving at its quiet forest spring.  Then, instantly, when "food" appeared, the reptilian brain took charge and all wariness disappeared. Years later I tested this observation.  At a remote "pond" along Fisheating Creek, I saw a large alligator about 25 yards out in the water.  I squatted at the edge and splashed lightly.  The gator immediately made a beeline toward me, coming fast. (The photo below.) But as soon as I became a tall human again (standing up), s/he instantly stopped (the photo above).  I tested this repeatedly and it was like I was holding a remote control... small animal = attack. Scary human = stop and be wary. No seeming connection between the two versions of me.  A little disconcerting.

Moving InMoving In Moving In.

Alligator HideAlligator Hide

Alligator Hide.  Beautiful, especially when worn by its source.

Smiling GatorSmiling GatorAmerican Alligator portrait in Fakahatchee Strand.

Happiness is a warm sunny log. Same big gator as the Hide photo above, deep in the Fakahatchee Strand.

What do you get when two (foolish?) photographers, determined to make one striking photograph, are willing to spend 6 hours after dark standing in chest-deep alligator-infested Everglades swamp?  If they are lucky, you get the photo below.  We were doing a lot of experimental lighting and trying to make our enormous alligator skull hover at the water's surface.  We weren't so lucky... initially. So we spent the next day devising new strategies and tools and returned for a 2nd long evening in the same spot, still hoping alligators dislike wetsuits and lights.  We passed quite a few gators on our paddle in and out, but fortunately didn't encounter any (live ones) in this mangrove tunnel. This was our first of many nightscape collaborations over the past decade -- with my good friend, John Moran.

Magical Moonlight PaddleMagical Moonlight Paddle

Magical Moonlight Paddle.

Once when paddling the Braided Swamp (Lower Wacissa) with Sue, Jeff, and Crystal, we came upon a nest of youngsters. Mama was nowhere in sight, so I took the opportunity to make some portraits.  Love the "halo" of light this first one was wearing.

Angelic Little DevilAngelic Little Devil

Angelic Little Devil. 

Young Denizen 3Young Denizen 3

Another Youngster.

Visiting another beautiful remote spring -- this one deep in a coastal swamp of central Florida -- my family quickly slipped into the cool waters to escape the heat and mosquitoes, and wash off the mud.  I was assembling my underwater camera rig onshore when someone yelled "Gator!"  It was about a 6 footer in the shallows along the far bank. As they retreated, I scrambled to get in.  I felt confident this gator would not aggress and was thrilled by the chance to photograph one in clear water.  Sure enough, the gator wanted none of our mess.  I had to follow it down, shooting away, until it found a shadowy crevice in which to wedge itself about 25 feet down - safe from the human invasion.  By then, I'd run out of breath.

Denizen of the DeepDenizen of the Deep

Denizen of the Deep.

Spring GatorSpring GatorGlad he fled rather than attack.

Then there was this memorable day at Paynes Prairie where the BIG gators convened on a sunny bank... and babies convened on a sunny head.

Big Gator PanoramaBig Gator Panorama

Big Gator Panorama.

Isle of SafetyIsle of Safety

Isle of Safety. Mama's head!

And another time  -- of drought.  Alligators tend to gather at the water holes (where the fish have concentrated) in dry times.  John and I lucked into such a moment.  We set up our tripods in the shallows late in the day... Stepping StonesStepping Stones

Stepping Stones

... As the daylight faded, the flashes on our cameras reflected a lakeful of gator Eyeshine!

Night PatrolNight Patrol

Night Patrol. Alligator EyesAlligator Eyes

Alligator Eyes.

 

Like turtles, alligators love to warm up on a nice sunny log...

Gator LogGator Log Wakulla River.  You can tell this log gets napped on a lot.

Lazy DaysLazy Days

Lazy Days.  St Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

The_Man_Behind_the_CurtainThe_Man_Behind_the_Curtain

The Man Behind the Curtain.  In the spotlight and framed in shrubbery along the Econlockhatchee River.

I've seen some real giants too... like this one. Peering over a small bridge along a trail at St Marks -- there just a few feet away, asleep in his enormity, was the bridge's sentry, submerged but for his eyes and nostrils.

Head OnHead On

Head On.

And this one... who looked like it just ate a horse.

SatedSated

Sated.

And one more. This "pet" goliath was a bit too friendly at Gatorama.  As I was setting up low to the ground near the edge of his pond, he kept trying to climb out toward me and Allen had to keep urging him back into the water (and reassuring me). I had (and still have) faith in my Gator Whisperer... though I was prepared to run if told.  It was impressive that this huge prehistoric reptile responded to Allen's sounds and commands.

Eyeshine PortraitEyeshine Portrait Night of the GatorNight of the Gator

Super MoonriseSuper Moonrise Super Moonrise. 

There you have it.  At the end of the day, the gator swims off into the sunset (and moonrise) at Newnan's Lake in Gainesville.  Hope you've enjoyed my alligator tales and shots.  Your comments here at the blog are much appreciated!

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) alligator American Alligator David Moynahan Photography Florida gator night photography nightscape underwater photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/8/the-american-alligator Wed, 01 Aug 2018 13:45:00 GMT
Water from Stone - Rock Springs https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/7/water-from-stone---rock-springs Rock Springs Main VentRock Springs Main Vent

Rock Springs - Main eVent. Where the magic begins.

Tucked away in an off-the-beaten-trail corner of Orange County is a gorgeous Florida gem called Rock Springs.  Not that it is a sleepy place... the locals know and love it well, with hundreds of tubers floating the run on any pretty weekend. The springhead lies in Kelly Park, a beautifully-kept  county park with camping and many other amenities.  A dramatic rock wall - pierced by two caves from which cool crystaline water gushes - stands at the heart of the Park.  John Moran made a spectacular photo on Rock Springs Run last year, and raved about the beauty of the area. So I was inspired and psyched. He and I spent two lovely days here in May, intent on making one of our signature collaborative nightscapes.  While at the Park we hiked the trails, swam in the springfed  natural pools, and watched the wildlife. We spent most of one day paddling on Rock Springs Run downstream from the park, putting in at Kings Landing. The spring run meanders through lush classic Florida habitat, and eventually spills into the Wekiwa River.  Words describing its beauty are inadequate, so let me entice you with a selection of juicy photos... ending with our nightscape, Water from Stone.

Rock Springs Panorama 38Rock Springs Panorama 38

Rock Springs Panorama. A pretty spectacular spring bowl. (I used artistic license to digitally remove the red and white buoyed line from mid-frame.)

 

Summer Delight. Pretty beautiful way to stay cool!

Upper Rock Springs RunUpper Rock Springs Run

Upper Rock Springs Run. Late afternoon, the last of the tubers has floated around the bend.

Upper Rock Springs Run 2Upper Rock Springs Run 2

Upper Rock Springs Run 2. With early morning sunburst, a quiet peaceful scene.

Limpkin with SnailLimpkin with Snail

Limpkin with Apple Snail. We sat quietly watching a nearby pair of limpkins rustling up their favorite escargot.

 

Rock Springs BridgeRock Springs Bridge

Rock Springs Bridge. 

Emerald CutEmerald Cut

Down the Run. Yes, this is a real place.

John Moran, hard at work. (Best job ever!)

Paddlers on the Run 2Paddlers on the Run 2

Paddlers on the Run.  A steady stream of paddlers passed to and fro in the dappled light.

Palm Perch. Getting a little higher perspective.

Swallowtails TwoSwallowtails Two

Swallowtail Delight.  We came upon a buttonbush in a cloud of flitting yellow (Eastern Swallowtail) butterflies drawn in by the sweet-nectared flowers.

Coral Bean BlossomsCoral Bean Blossoms

Coral Bean Blossoms.

Creekside Nap.  Hammocks make the perfect portable bed in Florida.

Drinking the Hemlock 2Drinking the Hemlock 2

Drinking the Hemlock. Deadly to us, but I guess not to the honeybees.

Bee on Hemlock Pano12Bee on Hemlock Pano12 Shining a flashlight from beneath, the bee is brought into the limelight.

Emerald Cut 2Emerald Cut 2

Emerald Cut.  A pair of treed isles center stream...

Paddlers on the RunPaddlers on the Run

... transform the run into a gentle obstacle course.

Eastern Swallowtail on ButtonbushEastern Swallowtail on Buttonbush

Eastern Swallowtail

Limpkin PortraitLimpkin Portrait

Limpkin Portrait

Palm FanPalm Fan

Palm Fan. Art is all around us.

John and I spent a good part of one evening at the springhead.  We had a long pole rigged to handle any of several different lighting attachments - video lights, flash, underwater lights - with which we lit the scene, making over 200 exposures of the exact same composition, but with different lighting in each.  Then, with great patience and effort in the digital darkroom, the files were carefully layered and finessed into this final art piece...

Water from StoneWater from Stone Water from Stone - Rock Springs

This was my first visit to Kelly Park's Rock Springs, despite having lived and traveled in Florida my whole life.  What a treat!  And so great to know that our state still holds hidden treasures and fountains of youth, even for old explorers like me. Hope you enjoyed the visit to Rock Springs as well.  I'd love to hear your reactions in comments below, and please share the link widely. 

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) David Moynahan Photography Florida Kelly Park nature photography night photography nightscape Orange County paddling Rock Springs spring https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/7/water-from-stone---rock-springs Sun, 01 Jul 2018 16:17:05 GMT
Florida - Land of Flowers https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/6/florida-land-of-flowers  

Beach SunflowersBeach SunflowersFlorida

Beach Sunflowers. Canaveral National Seashore.

Where I grew up in South Florida, you could literally stick a piece of "many-a-shrub" in the ground and it would grow. It was the land of tropical lushness and abundance - which flourished in my heart.  Moving to North Florida (40 years ago) - where seasonal cycles dictate the growing patterns - took some getting used to, but I've come to love the rhythms of nature here as much. 

Indian Pink PerfectionIndian Pink PerfectionFlorida Caverns State Park, FL

Indian Pink. Native wildflower found abundantly in spring at Florida Caverns State Park (and now a modest patch in our yard.)

This month - celebrating spring kind of late - I've pulled together a small gallery of photos of flowers I've made over the years (and all over the state).  Most are native, but with my S. Florida roots and having been an appreciative Master Gardener, I've included just a few shots of cultivars.  Enjoy!

Thistle SunriseThistle Sunrise

Thistle Sunrise. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

ButtonbushButtonbush

Buttonbush. Wakulla River.

Floral EtherFloral Ether

Floral Ether. Angel's Trumpet (Datura), non-native, swaying in the breeze during a long exposure in our former Tallahassee backyard.

Drinking the HemlockDrinking the Hemlock

Drinking the Hemlock.  Bee on Water Hemlock at Rock Springs Run, Orange County

Goldenrod in Muhley GrassGoldenrod in Muhley Grass

Goldenrod in Muhley Grass. St. George Island.

Lotus after the RainLotus after the RainI got caught in a big thunderstorm during a shoot... pretty stressed out. Then I found this place nearby. Magical. The stress melted away.

Lotus After the Rain. Lake Jackson, Leon County.

Ginger BlossomsGinger Blossoms

Ginger Blossoms.   Butterfly Ginger in our yard in Wakulla County.

Blanket Flowers and Wood StorksBlanket Flowers and Wood StorksMashes Sands, FL

Blanket Flowers and Wood Storks. Mashes Sands, Wakulla County.

SunflowerSunflower

 Sunflower. A cultivar grown by a friend - Judye, gardener extraordinaire - in Gadsden County

Peace Before FuryPeace Before Fury

Peace Before Fury. Railroad Vine at Indian Pass, Gulf County.

Black-eyed Susans in the FlatwoodsBlack-eyed Susans in the Flatwoods

Black-eyed Susans in the Flatwoods. Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, Hernando County.

Fritillary and Plant BugFritillary and Plant BugFritillary butterfly and leaf-footed plant bug come face to face on a thistle. Wakulla Co, FL

Fritillary and Plant Bug. Standoff on Thistle at St Marks, Wakulla County.

Lily LightLily Light

Lily Light. Tate's Hell State Forest, Franklin County.

Marsh MallowMarsh MallowShepard Spring walk with John Moran

Marsh Mallow. Swamp mallow along Florida Trail, Wakulla County

Florida Mountain LaurelFlorida Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel. Seven Runs Creek in Walton County.

Blissful PollinatorBlissful Pollinator

Blissful Pollinator. Honey bee deep inside a Seminole Pumpkin flower, Wakulla County

Speculated Pine LilySpeculated Pine Lily

Speculated Pine Lily.  Native wetland wildflower, the Pine Lily, Wakulla County.

Rose Over GoldenrodRose Over Goldenrod

Rose Over Goldenrod. Pre-dawn at Hickory Mound Wildlife Management Area, Taylor County.

Swamp Iris PortraitSwamp Iris Portrait

Swamp Aster Portrait. Silver River State Park, Marion County.

Swamp_AsterSwamp_Aster

Swamp Aster In Situ. Silver River State Park, Marion County.

Wild Azaleas in DetailWild Azaleas in Detail

Wild Azaleas in Detail. Focus-stacked composite, Wakulla County.

Wild Blue IrisWild Blue Iris

Wild Blue Iris. St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County.

Magnolia grandifloraMagnolia grandifloraFreshly opened Magnoia grandiflora blossom

Magnolia grandiflora. Magnolias aplenty in our woods. Wakulla County.

Lady LupineLady Lupine

Lady Lupine. L Kirk Edwards State Wildlife and Environmental Area, Leon County.

Springside FoxgloveSpringside FoxgloveFalso Foxglove. Econfina Creek, FL

Springside Foxglove. False Foxglove at Emerald Spring, Bay County.

New Day DawnsNew Day DawnsThat's St. Vincent Island, FL in the distance across the Pass. Sunrise.

New Day Dawns. Railroad Vine buds. That's St. Vincent Island in the distance across Indian Pass, Gulf County.

Night BloomerNight Bloomer

Night Bloomer. Nightscape of a large water lily on the Turner River, Everglades, Collier County.

Morning GloryMorning Glory

Morning Glory.  Another showy wildflower at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County.

NamasteNamasteWater lilies in golden light.

Namaste. Water lily at dawn. Wakulla County.

Japanese Magnolia ArtJapanese Magnolia Art

Japanese Magnolia. Obviously non-native, but beloved in Tallahassee. (artsy rendition.)

Indian Pinks VIndian Pinks VJackson Co. FL

Indian Pink. In all its glory at Florida Caverns State Park, Jackson County.

Wild AzaleasWild Azaleas

Wild Azalea. The short blooming season only makes wild azaleas all the more stunning in the woods. Walton County.

Pitcherful of SkyPitcherful of Sky

Pitcherful of Sky. Yellow Pitcherplants in Apalachicola National Forest, Liberty County.

Monarchs on GoldenrodMonarchs on Goldenrod

Monarchs on Goldenrod. In golden afternoon light at St Marks, preparing for migration, Wakulla County.

Iris & BokehIris & BokehThe purple flag iris in a small wetland in central FL. A saw palmetto provides the pattern in the bokeh background

Iris and Bokeh. Bokeh is the artsy background blur, (of a palmetto frond in this photo). Lake Winder, Brevard County.

Spider LiliesSpider Lilies

Spider lilies. Bespeckled in dew, these wetland beauties were growing near Sumatra in Liberty County.

 

This is, of course, the tiniest fraction of the diversity and species of flowers growing in our fair state, but a good reminder to "stop and smell the roses"... and all their kin. Drink in their delicate floral beauty. Spend a moment and find how busy with buzzing visitors their short lives are.  These jewels in the outdoors can be a balm to us all in these fast and furious times.  Enjoy.  And please share this link with anyone you think might enjoy it.  Thanks for visiting.

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david@davidmoynahan.com (David Moynahan Photography) david moynahan photography florida flower nature photography https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/6/florida-land-of-flowers Fri, 01 Jun 2018 18:59:00 GMT
Spring Migration at the Florida Gulf Coast https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/5/spring-migration-at-the-florida-gulf-coast Tue, 01 May 2018 15:50:00 GMT
Seven Runs Creek - Florida Forever! https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/3/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 banded 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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/3/seven-runs-creek---florida-forever Thu, 01 Mar 2018 16:50:00 GMT
Suwannee River Camping https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/2/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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/2/suwannee-river-camping Thu, 01 Feb 2018 16:50:00 GMT
Reflections https://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) abstract david moynahan photography florida nature photography night photography reflection https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2018/1/reflections Mon, 01 Jan 2018 19:00:00 GMT
Galapagos https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/12/galapagos Fri, 01 Dec 2017 20:06:00 GMT
Milky Way Revisited https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/11/milky-way-revisited Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:24:28 GMT
The Awe of the Storm https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/10/the-awe-of-the-storm Sun, 01 Oct 2017 15:29:09 GMT
The Great American Solar Eclipse https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/9/solar-eclipse Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:15:00 GMT
Milky Way Over North Florida https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/8/milky-way-over-north-florida Tue, 01 Aug 2017 17:15:00 GMT
Photography in Conservation https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/7/photography-in-conservation Sun, 02 Jul 2017 01:29:00 GMT
Sweet Satilla https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/5/sweet-satilla Mon, 01 May 2017 20:51:00 GMT
Palmy Dreams on the Econlockhatchee https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/4/palmy-dreams-of-the-econlockhatchee Sat, 01 Apr 2017 17:45:00 GMT
Naked Under the Stars https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/3/naked-under-the-stars Wed, 01 Mar 2017 19:52:00 GMT
Blue Cypress Lake Christmas https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/2/blue-cypress-lake-christmas Thu, 02 Feb 2017 01:35:00 GMT
Eye of the Aquifer https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2017/1/eye-of-the-aquifer Sun, 01 Jan 2017 21:49:00 GMT
Aucilla https://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 https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2016/12/aucilla Tue, 20 Dec 2016 21:28:00 GMT
November https://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<