Arcadia, Florida, USA by Don Donelson

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You haven’t photographed Florida until you submerge half your body and tripod in tannic water; one eye on your LCD and another on the lookout for lurking alligators. It isn’t for everyone, and many people would even call it crazy, but my spirit is filled by it. Florida is filled with amazing unspoiled scenery -almost all of it involves moving through or being in water- yet Fisheating Creek west of Lake Okeechobee stands out as one of my most loved and most visited areas. Photographing Florida is kept fresh by the always changing water levels that hide and reveal; Fisheating Creek is no different. I’ve come across this scene many times while kayaking but on this January morning the water levels were just low enough to reveal all of the detail you see while still being high enough to make a compelling reflection.

I tend to be most inspired by images I make while in the water, usually with my camera just an inch or two above water level as was the case here. When it comes to reflections, calm air is of course crucial, but your own body works against you when you’re in the very water you want for the reflection. So you compose the shot then soak in the beauty while waiting for the ripples you created to subside. A lot of photographers strive for the pure glass water look for reflections; I appreciate the beauty of those shots, but forget about that with a shot like this. The muck at the bottom of any creek or river like this in Florida is going to be full of trapped air, and so you can’t avoid a healthy amount of air bubbles popping up on the surface to give a bit more life to your otherwise mirror-like reflection.

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