Today, I am honored to share “ Timeless Waters ~Suwannee Springs,” a recent photo essay by renowned Florida nature photographer, friend, and fellow water warrior, John Moran. https://www.johnmoranphoto.com/about.html
Timeless Waters ~ Suwannee Springs, by John Moran
Hello Springs Lovers,
Happy Fourth! I’m pleased to share my latest night-time photographic collaboration with my friend, David Moynahan.
The object of our attention (and affection) this time is historic Suwannee Springs. A series of photos sets the stage for our nocturnal photo adventure to follow.
Unlike most Florida springs with their famously (or formerly) blue waters, Suwannee Springs is characterized by a honey golden color, infused with the distinct aroma of sulphur water.
These walls remind us of a time when trainloads of visitors would come to take the healing waters at one of the South’s most celebrated spa springs, on the Suwannee north of Live Oak. The spring pool and adjacent lands and river access are now publicly owned under the stewardship of the Suwannee River Water Management District.
I have a long history with Suwannee Springs. A photo of friend George Tortorelli in 1987 was featured in an exhibit of my Suwannee photographs, which the Museum of Florida History toured around the state for many years. The photo also appeared on the cover of the Florida Humanities Council magazine. They don’t call me Suwannee Johnny for nothing.
A couple of hundred yards downstream, within sight of the springhouse ruins, one of Florida’s most beautiful old bridges spans the Suwannee. Shot on color slide film in 1989, this early endeavor in “light painting” was created by triggering an electronic flash 88 times as I crawled across the bridge (to stay out of the photo); uplighting the superstructure as the stars pinwheeled around the North Star during the course of a one-hour star trail exposure.
Abundantly tagged with graffiti, the bridge remains a sweet spot to take in a view of the river that inspired Florida’s state song. The bridge would factor into the picture David and I were determined to create.
Back at the springhouse, and well before sunset, David and I set up and secured twin JohnnyPods—our homemade climb-able tripods. The J-Pods independently supported the camera and camera operator, enabling precise alignment of the hundreds of photos we would shoot during the course of the night to come. David is pictured above at the camera.
When the sun went down, the lights came out and the fun began. Nearly every facet of this scene was lit over the course of the next six hours with a mix of underwater video lights, electronic flash or moonlight. In the photo above, I’m probing the depths of the spring with my 20-foot JohnnyPole and custom bare-bulb underwater flash, which David remotely triggered from the camera. Back home on his computer, David would commence the days-long task to artfully build the picture in Photoshop, layer by layer. After extensive evaluation and discussion by phone and email, and multiple proof print revisions on my Epson printer, all those many photos finally merge as one, revealing the magic of Florida that can only be found in the dark.
Photography is ordinarily a solo pursuit but David and I have collaborated on many such light-painting photos over the past decade. We gratefully acknowledge the on-site assistance of our friends, Anthony Ackrill and Oscar Psychas.
David has put together a fine blog post of his own on this project, including a nifty little time-lapse video that sequentially shows nearly the entire collection of individual photos we shot that memorable night, baked down to just 60 seconds.
Feel free to share this email picture report and David’s blog.
To learn more about our priceless and irreplaceable springs and what you can do to help protect them, check out the following online resources…
Springs Eternal Project ~
Florida Springs Council ~ https://www.floridaspringscouncil.org
Florida Springs Institute ~ https://floridaspringsinstitute.org