Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cumberland Island

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Last month, I had the great fortune to be one of the instructors for the NANPA High School Scholarship Program that always accompanies the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) Annual Summit.  I've been a member of NANPA and enjoyed and learned a great deal at the annual conferences for years, but this was my first year working with the high school program. Mac Stone, the program director, has already blogged about the student program and our adventures.  I encourage you to check out his post here.

This year's Summit was in Jacksonville so we took advantage of the great natural beauty and wildlife in the area.  We spent two nights camping and exploring Cumberland Island National Seashore.  And a third day as special guests at the wading bird rookery at St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  All of this before the Summit officially began!  While the highlight of the week was working with 10 amazing students and watching their individual creativity in action... I also stole moments along the way to do a bit of shooting.  Here's a sampling from Cumberland.
Cumberland Island, accessible only by boat (mainly a ferry from St. Mary, Georgia), is a wild and beautiful place... its wild beauty amplified during our visit by the huge storm front that accompanied us there.  There is a small exclusive hotel there (which I've never actually seen), but I can't imagine it could be as beautiful as Sea Camp (campground) in the heart of the maritime hammock just inland from the coastal dunes. Here are several shots made in the rainy pre-dawn right around our campsite.

Songbirds filled these moss and fern-adorned oaks, somewhat safe from hungry raptors eyes while, at least the cardinals, trained their own hungry eyes on bits and morsels dropped by sloppy campers.

Dungeness, once a luxuriant mansion and playground for the wealthy and connected, is now a surreal ruin with wild turkeys, armadillos, deer, and horses parading leisurely around it's grounds.

The dunes along the Atlantic beach offer rich photo ops -- a boneyard of old half-buried oaks, wind-sculpted sands and salt-sculpted trees -- and the wide flat beach, a treasure-trove of flotsam, as well as the occasional wild horse and ever-present gulls.

Saltmarsh and bits of beach along the inland waterway also held riches in the way of textures - gnarly driftwood, oyster beds and creek-cut marshes.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, or in this case, the southern tip of the island.  For those who've not been, this is a destination to add to your list. (Oh, and for non-campers, daytrips on the ferry are an option.)

At the end of Mac's blog (link above), there is a short video showing many of the amazing photos made by the high school students and telling their stories. Don't miss it!