Tag Archives: full moon

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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Those Foggy Mornings

I am not a morning person. As a photographer, this can be a big hindrance. It means I am missing 50% of the good-light opportunities of the day.  If you look through my portfolio you will notice a lot of sunsets. The sunrises, however, are a bit limited.

One thing that sunrises have that definitely helps pull me out of bed, is the possibility of fog. I always strive to have a mood or atmosphere to my images. This can be created most easily by lighting at the ends of the day(sunrise/sunset). Fog, however, really can ramp things up.

In the Everglades, I  seem to gravitate to the pinelands when it is foggy. Sometimes hard to shot, the fog can really simplify things and allow you to isolate elements easier. I went out twice recently and got several images I am happy with.

The first morning I stayed around the Long Pine Key Campground. There is a lake there with an awesome island of pines that is a wonderful element. I created this panoramic before the sun came up and the moody blues really helped here.

The Still of Morning

This morning was so thick with fog, and you could hear the condensation dripping off the trees.  It was perfectly still and quiet. As the sun broke through the fog I hiked out in the pinelands to get a composition I had in mind but never with these conditions. As I was hiking out to this spot (1 mile away) I could hear turkeys calling. They were reintroduced to Long Pine key after several attempts and it is good to know they have stuck around and not become bobcat food.

A New Beginning

I hiked back to the lake to see how everything looked with different lighting conditions and got this tighter shot of the island.

This was the first shoot of the year and for several months. It definitely helped renew my desire to get out and to create new images.

As the forecast called for fog again, I ran out a week later and it happened to coincide with the full moon. What is great about the full moon is that it rises and sets opposite the sun. This can help with the evening out of lighting conditions and lead to some dramatic images.

As I was driving out this morning I noticed the fog wasn’t as thick as I wanted. I was thinking of running out to the dwarf cypress but decided to go to Pine Glades Lake. I figured getting the  moon setting would be a nice image. I waited until the sun was about the break the horizon and got this image. It is a single image double processed to just barely bring back the overly bright moon. The sun’s light on the foreground helped to even out the dynamic range.

Moonset Over Pine Glades Lake

I briefly walked back into the pinelands and shot this clump of pines, with a nice glow behind them.

Fog doesn’t always help produce dramatic images but sometimes subtle is what you need. Still there is no denying it helps set the mood. Have a great weekend everyone!

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