Help Me Pick - Wakulla Springs

May 01, 2019  •  77 Comments

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!


Elizabeth McCommon(non-registered)
I'm remembering an LP record from years ago. Charles Laughton,a well known British actor from the the black and white cinema days, had visited the Springs and included a story he had created about it in a collection of stories that I think he was performing, sort of like today's stand-up. This story was about Henry, the Jumping Fish, that one could see through the glass bottom boat.
So hard to choose. My fav's are: A,B,C,D,E,F,N,S,T
Deborah Lawson(non-registered)
As always, incredibly beautiful making choices hard. My daughter-in-laws’s favorite is A, an easy choice. But my favorites are C, I, T and V.

My four favorite birds: C E F and I
My three favorite landscapes: N O and T
But I think the manatees are a great addition and love the colors of the spring!
Katy NeSmith(non-registered)
My word, they are all wonderful. My absolute favorite, and am plugging hard for this one, is N. Also vote for V. For the birds, A and E capture so much. I hope I am not too late to weigh in!
sherry mills(non-registered)
IMPOSSIBLE to choose -- but, if forced -- B, I, J, N, Q & V
WONDERFUL images!!
I remember being a little kid and riding on the glass bottom boat -- the guy calling the fish to jump the stump deep underwater. WAS ALWAYS a magical adventure to go to Wakulla Springs!
Thanks for sharing!!
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