Cypress Swamps Adventure
Start Location — Charleston, SC
End Location — Jacksonville, FL
Dates: November 19 — 29 of 2020
Tuition: $ 2950 per participant (limit: 7 participants).
Instructor: Alex Mironyuk
Deposit: $ 950 (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).
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 19, Thursday
Our group will meet at the hotel in Charleston, SC November 19 after 3 PM where you can meet everyone and get to know each other. We are not planning anything particular on that evening, except the our very first group dinner right after short introducing meeting.
Night in Charleston, SC
Day 2. November 20, Friday
After the breakfast we will visit the oldest oak tree in the United States — The Angel Oak. You will be surprised how big that tree!
And by 2PM we will go to the first cypress swamp in our trip! Here not so far away from the city we can really enjoy the reflected view of the cypress' trunks in the water. We will ride a paddle boat between these big trees with a Spanish Moss hanging on their branches as well as walk along of the shore line with our tripods.
During this our very first afternoon 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 Charleston, SC
Days 3 — 5. November 21 — 23, Saturday — Monday
At the early morning of November 21 we will have our first sunrise session on the world famous Folly Beach next to the ocean fishing pier.
After that we will spend some time to buy some food and other supply for next 4 days and by 1 PM we will head to the our next 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 three 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 25 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 6. November 24, Tuesday
After our morning photo-session by 11 AM we will check out from our cabins and will go toward Florida. Next 5 days we will deeply explore cypress ponds, rivers and springs in North Florida.
That day we will drive for 3−4 hours to get our evening shots of the cypress trees along of the river bank right next to one of the countless clear springs.
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 7. November 25, Wednesday
That morning we will get in our canoe at about 8 AM to start the adventure on one of the most amazing Florida’s river with countless springs along of the river banks.
Believe it or not but for about 4 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.
But don’t be afraid that this would be a hard workout — a regular not trained person can make it for about 2 hours in a very relaxing pace because the river’s currant will work for us too!
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.
Afternoon we will get to our next stop, where we will sleep 2 next nights at simple forest cabins. Each cabin furnished with 1 queen bed and 2 twin bunk beds. Linens, towels, blankets and pillows are not provided, so each participant suppose to have his own set or just a simple camping sleeping bag. 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 .
But before the dinner we one more time will launch our canoe to get to the one of the most unusual Cypress Ponds in Florida. Don’t worry it wouldn’t be a hard workout — we will paddle our canoe downstream just about a mile or so.
Night in forest cabins
Day 8. November 26, Thursday
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.
And that night we will celebrate the Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully the restaurant will serve turkey!
Night in forest cabins
Day 9. November 27, Friday
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 west along the Florida-Georgia state line toward Panama City to get peak of the cypress foliage colors.
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 huge dead cypress' trunks along with live cypress in the middle of the lake and creating unbelievable abstract pictures.
Night in Panama City
Day 10. November 28, Saturday
On that day on the morning and evening we will visit on our canoes different parts of the lake that we saw yesterday.
After sunset we will return back to our hotel in Panama City
Night in Panama City
Day 11. November 29, Sunday
After our morning session at the cypress lake we will start drive toward Jacksonville. It takes about 4 hours and the earliest time that we can get to Jacksonville International Airport would be around 4 PM. Keep that in mind when you will book a return flight.
In Jacksonville we will have the last dinner as a group and our workshop will be officially over.
VIEW FULL PICTURE GALLERIES BELOW