Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Special Edition Duck Stamp Cachet

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Yesterday, I was invited to Memphis for the unveiling of a first-of-its-kind special edition Federal Duck Stamp cachet (envelope) which will be sold to collectors, conservationists, hunters, birders, and the general public ($25, $10 more than the standard duck stamp) to raise funds for additional land acquisition for National Wildlife Refuges along the Gulf Coast. Duck stamps have been a conservation tradition since 1934 -- many thousands are sold each year.

The press event was staged at Ducks Unlimited headquarters (the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation) and included such VIPs as Ken Salazar, United States Secretary of the Interior, Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, and Rowan Gould, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

So why would David Moynahan, Conservation Photographer, be invited to such an event? Well, last week, I got a call from National Wildlife Service in Washington asking if one of my photographs from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge could be used for this project. They had searched for the right photo of coastal wildlife refuge wetlands and found my image among the winners in a National Wildlife Refuge Association Photo Contest (click - here's what they found ).

Wow! I was happy to be able to contribute in yet another small way toward healing the Gulf and protecting her shores.

The project suddenly went into the fast lane... and on Monday, a flight and hotel were booked for me to attend the press release on Tuesday. It was a great honor to be thanked by Secretary Salazar and many others, and to meet the heads of federal agencies who are working relentlessly to help restore the Gulf -- a closeup view of our government in action.

And, for the day, I was a VIP too. Cool.

ps- The public can purchase the special edition Federal Duck Stamp cachet from the FWS's distributor at 1-800-852-4897 or at

Here is what the cachet looks like. The photo is printed on silk and set in an embossed gold frame.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Best Shot at Bay Scallops

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With black crude spewing in the Gulf, and the resulting cloud of poison moving ever closer to Florida's coast, I am seeing the beauty and bounty of our clear clean waters with new eyes. Like so many Floridians, Crystal and I are taking every opportunity to visit our beaches and swim in the Gulf. This summer (scallop season), that has meant going scalloping. The scallops apparently don't know about the oil yet and have flocked to the seagrass beds of Florida's Nature Coast.

Every year (for the 30 years I have been scalloping), I kick myself for not making the effort to photograph these incredibly beautiful sea creatures. Gather, shuck, saute, broil on-the-halfshell... or freeze some for off-season, but not photograph. So this year, finally, I spent all day Saturday with photobuddies, John Moran ( and Eric Zamora (, making scallop photos. (Well, we did have to collect some first, and then, why not shuck and eat them too?)

John and I have been talking scallop-photographing strategies for a few months. Between his mastery of lighting and the contraptions and ideas we came up with, we had a fantastic and successful day. Eric is ever-mindful of documentation (a big failure on my part) and uses video, audio, and still photos to show the process and progress of the adventure. I look forward to seeing his piece on our day in the Gulf off of Keaton Beach.
While scallops are social creatures for sure, you don't often see them this cozy. But they do make a great group portrait!
Scallops see through those lovely blue eyes... and with eyes that beautiful, why not have a hundred of them instead of just two?
Scallops don't sit around like other bivalves. They use their strong (delicious) muscle to swim by sucking in water and then jetting it out. This photo also shows the sea grass habitat of the Gulf of Mexico's bay scallop.
This was a "failed" test shot as far as ambient light settings - the sea grass was supposed to show in the background. But the underexposure combined with bright flash (in a bag underwater) and the flecks of silt that we had stirred up came together to make this extraterrestrial delight. Nothing was altered here (except the viewer's perception).
What intricate beauty! A jewel of the sea.
The wind and waves made the water's surface tricky to shoot through (and most of the shots like this failed). But luck was with me on this one - the wavy surface creates the painterly quality, yet the detail and sharpness of the scallop is not obscured by reflections.
The scallops we gathered for the background here would occasionally swim to the surface and shoot saltwater at my camera or flash, leaving bubbles as they sank back to the bottom. Quick reflexes were a must -- saltwater is BAD for cameras.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve

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In Orlando for a conference, Ted and I snuck out one afternoon to visit the Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve. Through a friend, I had been introduced to some of the scientists there and so I had an invitation to take a tour. The roads were rough and wet in places so it took a special big wheeled vehicle to get around, but what a place! A variety of habitats, loads of wildlife, and great restoration work being done. The scrub jays showed off, Red-cockaded woodpeckers
kept their distance, sandhill cranes stalked around the marshes, some with chicks, some on nests, and, as the sun was setting, a flock of turkeys wandered across our path, strutting and shining and unconcerned with their human audience. We even saw a bobcat. It was a taste of Florida Nature -- I look forward to an extended visit next time.