Cypress Swamps Adventure
Start Location - Savannah, GA
Dates: November 8 - 17 of 2019
Tuition: $2700 per participant (limit: 7 participants).
Instructor: Alex Mironyuk
Deposit: $750 (payments accepted for the remainder of the balance)
Come explore one of the most unusual, picturesque ecosystems in southern USA - cypress swamps and lakes, where old trees are growing in the middle of the water. Those places are very seldom visited by tourists due to their remoteness, lodging problems, luck with restaurants, and so on. In addition, most of the time the weather is hot and humid.
But we’re going there during the most comfortable season when the temperature usually won’t go higher than 75°F and won’t go lower than 50°F. But most importantly November is usually the peak of fall colors, when the cypresses get some dark red tones along with other yellow and red trees and bushes.
However, these swamps and lakes are home to Florida’s infamous gators. With that in mind the safest place to take pictures of the cypresses is a kayak, boat, or a lake shore. If you feel comfortable and safe in that environment you may carefully set up your tripod in shallow water. In that case some waders would be very helpful.
Don’t forget your telephoto lens at home - aside from alligators these swamps are home to many bird species, deer, rabbits, raccoons and other beautiful animals.
You will get a chance to photograph the area like you have never seen it before. I will lead you to photograph my favorite places all around the cypress swamps and lakes.
This workshop is designed to master your photography skills and to also boost your creative process. This entire workshop is hands on and I will be with you every step of the way covering composition, camera settings, chasing the light, and much more.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. This Workshop Involves some kayaking at the cypress lakes and rivers and easy walks on the shore lines.
Fitness Level: Like any outdoor nature photography workshop, a reasonable degree of fitness is ideal. We will not be engaging in any strenuous physical activity.
Simple hotels and cabins lodging are included in the workshop's tuition (2 people per bedroom). Also couple of nights we will spend in a camping, sleeping in a tent (2 persons per tent).
No level of experience is necessary for participants of this workshop. Whether you are just beginning or are a seasoned pro, I am happy to help you move forward with your photography.
Day 1. November 8, Friday
Our group will meet at the hotel in Savannah, GA November 7 around 3 PM where you can meet everyone and get to know each other. After short introducing meeting we will go to a pleasant photo-walk to the historic center of that beautiful southern city with a big history. During this our very first evening photo-session we will have informal practical workshop. We will teach a variety of photo techniques that will help you improve your skills and your artistic vision, focusing on a number of professional tricks for shooting powerful nature images, such as:
- Working with dramatic light during a sunrise and a sunset;
- Using regular midday light to your advantage;
- The fundamentals of powerful composition.
Night in Savannah, GA
Day 2 - 4. November 9 - 11, Saturday - Monday
At the early morning we will have our first sunrise session on the beach next to the ocean fishing pier. After breakfast we will visit one of the most picturesque places in Savannah area - Wormsloe Plantation with very impressive 300+ years old oak's alley. By 1 PM we will head to the our first cypress lake.
Believe it or not, there are hardly any mosquitoes at these swamps and lakes. However, I would still recommend you to have bug repellent with you.
For the next two nights we will live close to the lake in comfortable forest cabins. We can cook for ourselves (there are several different options such as: grilling, stove-top cooking, and of course the age old microwavable food) or within a 15 mile range from the cabin you can find a couple of restaurants and some grocery stores.
In order to get perfect shots we need to be on the water and float between cypresses. You workshop tuition includes 2 person canoe so you will ride it with another participant. You can upgrade it to single ride (canoe or kayak) for an additional cost.
Every day we will have morning and evening session at the swamp, during the day time we can rest and improve our skills in a pictures' editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. We will have at least one informal class, where also teach professional “Digital Darkroom” secrets and the fundamentals of image processing, including but not limited to:
- Raw converting in Lightroom
- Using some Lightroom’s filters
- Working with adjustment layers;
- Layer masking and image blending techniques;
- Color management and special effects for artistic expression;
- Preparing images for optimum web presentation.
We will stay 2 nights in comfortable forest cabins
Day 5. November 12, Tuesday
After our morning photo-session by 11 AM we will check out from our cabins and will go toward Florida. Next 4 days we will deeply explore cypress ponds, rivers and springs in North Florida.
That afternoon we are going to kayaking in easy pace for about 3 miles to get our evening shots of the cypress trees along of the river bank.
The lodging is limited in that area so we will stay at a very simple 1.5 - 2 star motel with 1/2 beds and a shower.
Night in hotel
Day 6. November 13, Wednesday
That morning we need to get to our canoe way before sunrise and paddle downstream for about 2 miles in order to get to our sunrise location at one of the most beautiful springs with incredibly clear turquoise water. Don't forget your telephoto lens today - the river banks are full of life. Prepare to see that morning different species of birds and turtles.
Later on we will paddle for about another 3.5 miles and on that distance we can see up to 12 different springs! And, yes, we can swim in most of them - the water temperature is comfortable 72°F year around. Keep in mind that you may obtain the Florida Freshwater Fishing License so you can try to catch some large-mouth or small-mouth bass or other fish during the day.
Eventually afternoon we will reach the place for our tonight's camping right next to the couple of springs next to the river under giant cypress trees. Rest of the day we will enjoy comfortable Florida's weather, warm clear water and unlimited cypress scenery around. So we will have our evening photo-session not so far away from our campsite. Usually the night temperature at the beginning of November is not less than 50-55°F. We can do some BBQ tonight right next to a fireplace.
Night at camping
Day 7. November 14, Thursday
This day would be the most active day for everybody on the entire workshop. The total distance that we will need to paddle downstream of the river would be about 12.5 miles. But don't be afraid that this would be a hard workout - a regular not trained person can make it for about 4-5 hours in a very relaxing pace because the river's currant will work for us too!
After our morning photo-session, breaking of our camp and breakfast we will get in our canoe to start whole day long journey on one of the most amazing Florida's river with countless springs along of the river banks. Believe it or not but for about our first 6 miles the water would be blue and crystal clear so you will be able to see the river's bottom almost all the time throughout our journey on the water.
I don't think that we will have a lot of stops during the first part of the day to take a landscape pictures from the shoreline. Most of the time we are going to use our telephoto lenses right from our canoes to get some wildlife shots. Expect to see a lot of egrets, herons, ibises, hawks, ospreys, deer, turtles and maybe even some small gators.
We are returning back to our cars only after sunset so plan your day accordingly and don't forget to grab some lunch with you before you leave the camp.
Two next nights we will sleep at simple forest cabins. Each cabin furnished with 1 queen bed and 2 twin bunk beds (linens, towels, blankets and pillows are not provided). Also each cabin has a shower, coffee machine and tabletop stove.
Fortunately within the walking distance from these cabins we can have a dinner in a restaurant .
Night in forest cabins
Day 8. November 15, Friday
All day we are going to explore unique cypress sceneries along the river, discover hidden ponds and bays full of calm water and cypress reflection.
Night in forest cabins
Day 9. November 16, Saturday
After our morning session at one of the countless cypress ponds we will check out from our cabins and will start to drive even more south to get peak of the cypress foliage colors on south Florida.
By this time we have already seen lakes full of cypress with thin colorful trunks and a huge cypress along the river banks and surrounding ponds. The new place would be something absolutely different. Expect to see a bottom parts of a cypress roots that look like a hundreds of snakes meandering along each other and creating unbelievable abstract pictures.
In order to get to these cypress at dusk and dawn we have to camp next to the water, so it would be our second night in our tents and expect even more warm night temperature there. Also the campground has a shower and regular restrooms.
Night in camping
Day 10. November 17, Sunday
After our morning photo-session we will break our camp and start driving toward Miami.
First of all, we will go to the most unusual part of the most southern big city in the US - Wynwood Art District were we will get practice on street photography in the middle of the world famous graffiti on the walls.
At the dusk we will have a dinner with the most exceptional and impressive view on Miami's Downtown and our workshop will be officially over.
* On our way to Miami we can drop some participants at West Palm Beach Airport at about 1PM or at Fort Lauderdale Airport at 2PM. Due to our Miami's itinerary we couldn't drop anyone at Miami Airport before 8.30-9.00PM. So if you need to be there before that time keep in mind that we will be at Wynwood Art-district at about 3-4 PM and you can ride from there with Uber, Lyft or with a regular Taxi (it would be about 30 minutes ride).
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