Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is composed of 7 islands approximately 70 miles west of Key West. It also contains and protects about 101 square miles of marine habitat. The most notable landmark of Dry Tortugas, however, is Fort Jefferson. It was thought a good idea to have the fort to help protect the straits connecting the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Construction began in 1847 and continued on through the Civil War, but was never fully finished. It served as a prison during the Civil War and its most famous inhabitant was Samuel Mudd, an American physician who was convicted and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in the 1865 assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

I had been wanting to get to the Tortugas for years and finally planned a trip this past December. I timed it for the full moon, so I could try some night photography. I booked a two night camping trip and got all my gear ready.

The trip started with 25 mph winds and made for a rough boat ride. I took the Yankee Freedom over, from Key West. I paid to have a kayak ferried with me, which never was launched do to wind. It also clouded over and I spent 2 days waiting for the wind to subside and the sun to come out. Snorkeling is supposed to be great down there, but with all the wind, visibility was pitiful. Just at sunset on the second day, the clouds began to break and I made sure to take advantage of it.

The clouds also stayed sparse enough for me to get something including the moon, or at least the light from it.

I went to sleep a little less nervous about a failed trip and awoke for sunrise. It didn’t amount to much but I knew what I wanted to do with the warm early light.

Although this image is iconic of Ft. Jefferson, I felt this light was pretty rare to capture. Most photographers are day-trippers and are never on the island when the light is this good. I camped for 2 nights and finally got this on the third day. Lucky me!

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8 Comments

  1. Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:59 pm by Alex Filatov | Permalink

    Fantastic collection of images Paul, thanks for sharing!

  2. Posted January 31, 2012 at 9:09 am by paul | Permalink

    Thank you Alex!

  3. Posted April 4, 2012 at 3:24 am by Larry Lee | Permalink

    Incredibly beautiful. Looks like the two rough days were worth it! And, once again, we see it’s all in the light.

  4. Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm by Doug | Permalink

    Some of the best images I’ve seen of Ft. Jefferson and surrounding area. I’m going there for the first time in a couple weeks and was looking for some photo ideas– nicely done!

  5. Posted June 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm by Hesap Makinesi | Permalink

    These pictures of Dry Tortugas are amazing! Do you use a graduated filter for the landscapes? I think I can see a hint of one in the third picture. Just trying to learn from the best! 🙂

    Hesap.

  6. Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm by paul | Permalink

    Thanks! These images are all blended by hand using luminosity masks. I stopped using grads years ago.

  7. Posted August 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm by Tom Potter | Permalink

    Hey Paul,

    Been working on my blog & social sites today, getting things all up and functioning – well, barely – I came upon your site and wanted to tell you I just absolutely love your work!!! My brother & family are in Lakeland, FL…..a bit away for you. :O)

    All The Best,

    Tom Potter
    Aurora, CO

  8. Posted September 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm by paul | Permalink

    Thanks Tom! Glad you stopped in.

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