I noted this site along Otter Trail in Cuddo East while doing some scouting the afternoon of the third full day of my SC AIR trip. In fact, this is very near the area where the herd of wild pigs (mentioned in a previous post) was observed. I arrived before the golden hour to position my tripod and camera in a favorable location. After preparing for the sun to descend into the scene, I experienced another one of the trip highlights I wrote about in a prior post. Sitting here in this spot, watching the golden light filter down through the trees, is where I heard the coyotes wailing. Their boisterous excitement seemed to serenade the retreating sun and add an aural element that served as icing on the cake to a wonderfully enriching time with nature. Fighting off ever increasing numbers of mosquitos, I waited until the magic light streaked across the duckweed covered canal and completely enveloped the opening at the tree line in the background before creating the composition in Otter Trail Sunset.
I referred to the piece in this post previously when writing about how superb the Cuddo East Unit of Santee NWR is. I returned there after a break for lunch during the third full day of my SC AIR trip, and continued to be elated with both the photographic opportunities and by the experience itself.
The alligators in Gator Alley Family were found just before the sign for Alligator Alley, which I felt was quite appropriate. Before this piece was composed, at least six of the small hatchlings were spotted along with several of their older siblings. Most of the junk and debris on the surface was created when the cow leaped into the water from the bank she had been sunning on while watching over her hatchlings. A polarizing filter was used to cut the glare on the water and make her easier to see. The hatchlings (one older and one quite a bit smaller and younger) appear fairly content to lie on the log and catch some rays while their mother stands ever vigilantly on guard in protection mode.
During the second full day of my SC AIR trip, I was headed back toward the car after hiking through the trails of the Dingle Pond Unit. While I searched for another scene like the one in Dingle Pond Color Flow, I discovered an equally exciting but completely different type of opportunity. The abstract lines, colors, and patterns in my Water Colors piece come from what lies beneath the water running through the area. The grains of sand and colorful sediment show a pattern of flow and movement as the force of water drifting across this spot randomly redistributes the tiny particles. The work was composed in a manner that allowed the shades to follow that same current from the darker bottom to the lighter top as if the water had an ability to influence the direction the colors flowed.
On the second full day of my SC AIR trip, I continued to explore the Santee NWR units. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but was delighted when presented with the scene in Dingle Pond Color Flow. Though I didn’t have the magic light associated with a sunrise or sunset, the lighting was still quite special. The oranges and reds in the water were similar to other areas I’ve been where plant decay produces fantastic color combinations (e.g., my Swamp Reflections piece). Normally, afternoon light is simply too harsh for my tastes, but thanks to some passing clouds, the diffusion was enough to allow a composition to be found. Getting the colors from trees and sky reflecting off the water as well as all of the light from the background trees to coalesce with the foreground colors required a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image. It has an inviting sense of warmth and feels like a place where you could easily spend time relaxing and taking in the beauty and wonder nature has to offer.