Eco Pond

Memorial Day offered light afternoon traffic and thus an easy opportunity to catch the sunset in Everglades National Park. The weather looked promising for photography so I drove down, arrived in good time and decided to go all the way to Flamingo at the park’s southern tip. It was almost deserted. I couldn’t find a route to the main beach, and not wanting to miss the sunset fell back on Eco Pond (so named because it was created to hold effluent from Flamingo’s showcase wastewater treatment plant). The pond appeared full, a small beach provided a good vantage, once the alligator left, and the storm-filled sky was full of lovely clouds and color. I made bracketed exposures until the color faded, then hurried back to my car to escape the insects (I had to blow across the front of my camera lens during longer exposures to keep the deer flies off).

Many people avoid the Everglades during Summer and miss great photo opportunities. This is when the skies are most dramatic and the vegetation lush. The tradeoffs are rain, humidity and bugs. You can deal with the bugs by wearing layers of clothing (jeans, thick socks, two or three shirts), putting a net over your head and covering exposed skin with deet. The biting flies are not entirely deterred, and I am experimenting with permethrin applied to the outer clothing layer. In conditions of low wind, exiting your car without a head covering is like leaving the airlock in the movie 2001 — everything seems OK for a few moments and then the bugs find you and you realize why there is nobody else around. But with some preparation you can be comfortable enough, and I think the results are worth the hassles.

Technical Details: Two-image composite, images exposed a couple of stops apart and manually blended in Photoshop. Canon 17-40mm lens @23mm on 5D MkII camera.

The colorful red skies of a rainy-season sunset reflect off the surface of Eco Pond in the Flamingo section of Everglades National Park, Florida. (©2012 Jonathan Gewirtz/jonathangewirtz.com)

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