"Gus" - Portrait of a gopher tortoise, Florida

The simple portrait that follows is one of my favorite images from Florida. Not because it is the most inspired image I created on the trip, but because of the circumstances that led to it. This species, the gopher tortoise, is endangered and has long been on my list of most sought after reptiles to photograph. Every time I visited Florida I hoped to find one. On this day, out riding my grandpa's old Trek with my cousin (she was on my grandma's Huffy), we came across a beat up dirt path behind some motorhomes in my grandparent's retirement community. Quite a setting, right? I'm sure the images swirling through your heads are stunningly beautiful. Anyways, we head down there on our old bikes, and right in the middle of the trail is this big old gopher tortoise. After watching him from afar for a few minutes, I raced back to the house to grab my gear. When I got back, he remained in the same location nibbling on some grass. I focused on creating close-ups to emphasize his amazing scales and texture. After spending about 10 minutes with him, he went happily on his way. Now, I know I may be a little crazy over cool reptiles, but it was really an amazing experience. Thanks for looking.

"Gus" - Portrait of a gopher tortoise, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 168mm. 1/8th second, f/9, ISO 400. Tripod.

"Calligraphy" - Backlit palmetto leaf, Florida

Arriving in Florida on the first day of my short visit, my family and I decided to visit a local park and take a walk. It was just what I needed after spending even a few short hours on the cramped and busy airplane. The quick transition from Virginia winter to Florida spring green made me giddy with excitement. Every sight, sound, and smell felt new and shocking. It was like I hadn't seen the color green, heard the warble of a passerine, or smelt the nectar of a fresh bloom in years. It was then that I saw a palmetto leaf shining brightly among its neighbors. The sun struck the backside of the leaf at a perfect angle. The leaf was transformed into a sharply defined jigsaw of shape and line. A few lone fronds of another distant palmetto cast small shadows. Nature's calligraphy was complete.

"Calligraphy" - Backlit palmetto leaf, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 135mm. 1/8th second, f/22, ISO 400. Tripod.

"Wise Beyond Years" - Florida redbelly turtle basking, Blue Spring State Park, Florida

Well hello there! Just got back from beautiful, sunny, and muggy central Florida. I had such a great time visiting with my grandparents, mom, and cousins (they flew all the way in from Colorado!) It's a little rough being back here in northern Virginia again with all of our brown trees, but I feel rejuvenated. I also managed to bring home a couple of images. This particular photograph was taken in one of my favorite parks in the area, Blue Spring State Park. While kayaking along the St. John's River, numerous Florida redbelly turtles began to emerge as the day warmed up to bask on the various logs and roots dotting the shoreline. This individual chose an especially photogenic location with a nice green reflection surrounding him. What a nice guy. While he was quite small in stature, the moss on his back seemed, to me at least, that he must have been wise beyond his years. More to come soon, thanks for reading!

"Wise Beyond Years" - Florida redbelly turtle basking, Blue Spring State Park, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 400 f/5.6. 1/500th second, f/7.1., ISO 400.

Tricolored Heron against Mangroves in Shadow, Fort De Soto Park, Florida

I'm going to head back to Florida this morning. Back to that morning in the lagoons of Fort De Soto Park. It's a nice respite from the freezing rain predicted today, and it makes me even more excited to get back down to Florida in a few weeks. In this image, a beautiful tricolored heron in full breeding plumage is stalking some prey. The heron is bathed in sunlight, but the distant shore full of dark mangroves remains in shade. The contrast between the two really brings out the texture, detail, and color of the heron.

Tricolored Heron against Mangroves in Shadow, Fort De Soto Park, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 400 f/5.6. 1/2500 second, f/7.1., ISO 400. Tripod.

"Reflections Through a Fuzzy Lens" - Great blue heron fishing, Fort De Soto Park, Florida

I think I'll take a break from the ice images for a bit! Besides, I'm sure everyone on the east coast is sick of the cold. Bunch of wimps, we are. Anyways, this photograph is of a great blue heron fishing for minnows in a lagoon in Florida's Fort De Soto Park. Truly one of my favorite places in Florida. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, abundant wildlife. This place has it all, as long as all you are looking for is a picturesque white sand beach with crystal clear water and abundant wildlife, that is. Looking at this image brings back so many great memories of that morning spent in the lagoons. It brings me just a touch of warmth during a day otherwise filled with freezing rain.

"Reflections Through a Fuzzy Lens" - Great blue heron fishing for minnows, Fort De Soto Park, Florida.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 400 f/5.6. 1/2500 second, f/7.1., ISO 400. Tripod.