Landscape and Nature photography by Shane Srogi

Everglades

World Animal Day

 (Shane Srogi)

 

The American Alligator for World Animal Day. 

The American Alligator was listed as an Endangered Species in 1967 even before the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This protection and much effort allowed the Alligator to repopulate it’s home range. In 1987 Alligators were considered to be recovered enough to be removed from the list. Alligators are fascinating animals. They are ancient and primal, capable of some very interesting behavior. Watching them is like looking at a portal into the past.  One of the best places to view them is Shark Valley, part of Everglades National Park.

Big Cypress National Preserve

 (Shane Srogi)

 

Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve is primal landscape.


Ode to the Thistle

 (Shane Srogi)

Thistle

A Thistle too good to pass up!

Thistle lore: Origin as the symbol of Scotland “According to a legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scottish army’s encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders.”

The Thistle root can be boiled and eaten as the Lewis and Clark expedition found out. They must taste good because they are Eeyore’s, from Winnie the Pooh, favorite food.


Double Sun Rising

 (Shane Srogi)

Double Sun Rising

I made this image while TAing for National Geographic Photographer Raymond Geyman with Special Guest Lewis Kemper.  True Masters in the field of Photography.  Raymond’s workshop was part of Fotofusion 2012 an annual week long photo festival run by The Palm Beach Photographic Centre.


Wind on the Water, Grassy Waters Preserve.

 (Shane Srogi)

Wind on the Water


One Tree Above Hobe Sound

  (Shane Srogi)

One tree above Hobe Sound.

This little fellow is the only survivor of Hurricanes Rita, Gene and Wilma. A trifecta of destruction that left landscape strewn with broken trees. It’s hard to put into words or pictures how vast the scene really is. Standing on the Hill above Hobe Sound (at 80 feet high it towers over the landscape of South Florida) as far as the eye can see are broken tress.  Photographed in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.  Florida.


Pines in the Grassy Waters

 (Shane Srogi)

Pines in the Grassy Waters 

These Pines are amazing trees.  New comers to the area, as compared with the ancient Cypress, the Pine root system has adapted to the extreme wet/dry conditions of Everglades.  Even being able to endure the regions hurricanes.

 

 


Everglades Grassy Waters Preserve Restoration Area.

 (Shane Srogi)

Everglades Grassy Waters Preserve Restoration Area.  West Palm Beach. Florida.

I was lucky enough to be invited into the Restoration Area of the Grassy Waters Preserve last week by a veteran preserve photographer.

The Restoration Area is closed to the public so this was a rare opportunity.  Having photographed there over the last 5 or 6 years he knew many little details, things a wildlife photographer would be interested in.  Game trails, natural food sources (swamp apples) and which plants when rubbed on the skin act as mosquito repellent (this I knew you quickly file oh this plant repels insects under good to know in the Everglades) .

We had a great conversation ranging from butterflies mating and dragons flies cannibalistic tenancies to the merits of Photoshop.  He showed me where a alligator had rushed him….after uttering the words “oh don’t worry that gator will run.”  Seems she was chasing him away from her nest.

I was interested in the landscape.  The area had been restored on one side of the access road, pictured above.  A beautiful forest of native trees.  The other side left alone was a jungle of invasive plants that threatened to choke the native species out.  I was able to get this one shot before we hustled back to the trucks.  The man made good time he is I’m guessing 30 years my senior and I bike daily.

The impending thunderstorm made driving back to the ranch near impossible.  Lightning struck within 100 feet 3 times.  Sounded like a shotgun going off.  I was grateful for the wide stance and new tires on my Truck.  Most people pulled off the road.  Driving in Florida can be like that.  I’m glad the drought has broken.  But out Everglades are very thirsty.


Grassy Waters Preserve 2011 Photo Contest

Grassy Waters Preserve 2011 Photo Contest Grand Prize Winner (Shane Srogi)

Grassy Waters Preserve 2011 Photo Contest Grand Prize Winner:  Shane Srogi

I would like to thank the Mayor of West Palm Beach Jeri Muoio.  Pat Painter Manager of West Palm Beach’s Watershed Management Division.  Sam Dorfman Grassy Waters Preserve Program Coordinator.  Pat and Sam came to talk at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre and the way they spoke about the Preserve inspired me to turn my lens toward it.

In addition I would like to thank Fatima NeJame Executive Director of the Palm Beach Photographic Centre and Steve Scherer Liaison to the Center.

Sam Dorfman did the lion’s share of work for the contest.  And it would not happen every year without his efforts.  Steve Scherer as Infocus group leader shouldered much of the work on the Photographic Centre’s end of things.

I would also like to thank the Judges and Show Printer for their involvement.  Masters all.  Raymond Gehman, Steven Nestler, and Steve Spring.

I am extremely honored to have made the Grand Prize winning photograph for the 2011 Contest.  The Contest has been held for 10 years by the Grassy Waters Preserve.  The Preserve is aptly described as the American Amazon and I urge everyone to go an enjoy this unique part of the Everglades ecosystem.  This is the first year that it was held in conjunction with the Palm Beach Photographic Centre.  I would like to thank all of my fellow photographers at the Photographic Centre who participated.  The City of West Palm Beach is a true supporter of the photographic arts and the Centre is a world class facility.

Master Photographer Ralph Gibson has a show currently in the museum and I’m proud to have an image hang during his show.  He was the first photographer I wrote a paper on in college so I am well acquainted with his work.

What was most inspiring about the event was the youth category getting kids involved in photography and the environment is critically important.


The Power of the Still Image

 (Shane Srogi)

I think the power of the still image is stronger than ever.  The power to tell a story.  It’s not just in a monthly magazine (although there is a place for that).  It’s on your desk.  It’s in the palm of your hand.  It’s the democratization of photography.  Do you have something to say.  Pick of a camera and say it.  At it’s heart the still image is about a story and if anything people want to hear more stories not less.

There is always someone who will look at a place and see $$$.  A forest, a mountain, a river or species as pure profit.  Hopefully the people that see the beauty of a Yellowstone or a Yosemite will put more weight on the scale than the profiteer.  Your local park, the one you bring your family to for a Sunday picnic, there is someone who wants to see that as a condo development.

I just finished reading Bill Keller’s interview with Joao Silvia and Greg Marinovich at the NY Times blog LENS http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/05/the-inner-lives-of-wartime-photographers/ .  They wrestle with photojournalism and the power of the still image.  I agree with Chase Jarvis’s blog http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-debate-illustrates-the-power-of-an-image/#comment-36804 the power of a singular image is not in doubt.

-Shane


A drop of water

 (Shane Srogi)

Clean Water.  It is how the Grassy Waters Preserve earns it’s keep.  The Preserve is the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River.  At 4 feet in elevation it towers above the surrounding landscape.  As the water source for people of West Palm Beach it is also a 20 square mile undisturbed habitat for the wildlife of the Preserve.  A win win.  I noticed this drop of water on the lilly pad and moved in with a Marcro lens.  I love the clean drop of water and the surface tension.  Nature is amazing.


Florida and Juan Ponce De Leon

 

 (Shane Srogi)

April 2nd 1513 Ponce De Leon discovers Florida for the Spanish.  Legend has it that he was looking for the rumored Fountain of Youth.  Gold being a more likely a reason as it was the driving force of the day.  The sliver of truth in the Fountain legend could very well be Vitamin D.  Florida’s true gold it’s number of sunny days.  As Ponce De Leon’s ships reached the beaches he claimed the lands for Spain and christened it “La Florida” after the Spanish Easter season Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers).  An apt name because Florida has no shortage of flowering plants.  The expedition was separated when they encountered the Gulf Stream which proved too strong for their smallest ship.  The powerful currents of the Gulf Stream would become the naval super highway for ships returning to Europe.  Ponce De Leon’s exploration lasted 8 months and he would sail as far west as Tampa Bay or perhaps Pensacola.  The Spanish would seed Florida with horses, cattle and pigs.  The descendants of these animals “Crackers” have adapted to the climate and exist in Florida today.  Ponce De Leon would meet his end at the tip of a poison arrow in 1521.  He led a group of 200 bent on colonizing the Gulf Coast of Florida which the Calusa people resisted.  The Manchineel tree, the poison’s source, carries the Spanish name “Manzanilla de La Muerte” (Little apple of Death).


Great Blue Heron

 (Shane Srogi)

This Great Blue Heron hunts in the shallows of The Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach Florida.  The preserve, the headwaters of the Loxahatchee River, is both sanctuary for wildlife and drinking water for the city of West Palm Beach.  I was intrigued by the colors here.  Both the bird and it’s surrounding landscape seem to draw from the same palette.


Jaws

 (Shane Srogi)

The close up of an Alligator making a dramatic display and the translucent quality of the teeth was really interesting to me.


Grassy Waters

 (Shane Srogi)

The Grassy Waters Preserve in the City of West Palm Beach was called “The American Amazon.”  That’s quite a bill to fill and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.  There is a certain feeling that a healthy and thriving wilderness has.  Grassy Waters has that vibe.  More on the Preserve to follow as I add images.  Seeing a place for the first time can really get the creative juices flowing.  Often times my first photographs are a sketch that I will go back time and again to refine.  Excited by the adventure of the day and the results, I submit my first take.


Barn Storm

 (Shane Srogi)


Amphitheatre at Flamingo

 

 (Shane Srogi)

Amphitheatre at Flamingo has been selected for the LONG SHOT 2010 gallery show.


A room with a view

Tropical Hideaway

This last winter was the coldest in 150 years.  The animals took a big hit.  Tropical fish died.  The usually ubiquitous frogs and lizards are scarce.  I was hiking in a local South Florida park and came across this little guy.  He had sheltered himself from the wind and heat robbing ground all while getting a better angle for some sun.  I shot this with my mobile phone then headed back to get my DSLR.  The sun had come out from the clouds by the time I got back.  Good for the frog not so good for the image making.


Alligator

When you think of The Everglades you think of Alligators. Every Park is like that. The Alligator is part ambassador part indicator species. I’ve had some interesting encounters with Alligator’s. None threatening, basically animals are going about their day it’s up to the park visitors not to interfere. There is no mistaking the cat like hiss of an Alligator that has had enough. All wildlife require a personal space boundary, it’s a matter of respect and Federal Law.

The health of the park it’s self can be measured in the animals that call it home. Some of the challenges facing the ancient animal are easy to see, like enough water and habitat. Things like pesticides are invisible but deadly. The python has invaded the Everglades and found a habitat to thrive and multiply in. They have been known to attack Alligators. Bold.

For the Nature Photographer Alligators make fine subjects. They hunt from stealth so stillness is one of their hallmarks. This large adult was perfectly happy to sun himself as I shot with my 300mm.