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.