Gulf of Mexico
WILSON HAYNES / Oceanographic Magazine

FL - Floridian water: Exploring Florida's water - Oceanographic


Florida is surrounded by ocean, namely the Atlantic Ocean, the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. At its core, the country is made up of an interconnected lake and river system that is feeding the Everglades National Park in the south which is home to the American alligator, Florida’s own panthers, manatees and many more species.

Photographic exploration of Florida’s waterways, the Atlantic Ocean, major rivers, springs, and lakes near my home is the basis of a significant part of my body of work. Each one of these ecosystems, and my relationship to them, has inspired my perspective. Of these places, the ocean is the most special to me.

Starting out as a photographer, Florida’s ocean was where I would go to work and find inspiration. Back then, my main focus was surf photography. Unfortunately, Florida surf is not always photographically exciting; creativity became paramount. Transitioning from shore-based photography to shooting in the water was a significant step in my creative journey. I decided to ditch the telephoto lens and get a surf housing. I wanted to wade into shallow water to allow for those immersive shots that really give you the perspective of being in the action.

I quickly learned that the ocean can be a fickle beast. The lone photographer fighting waves, tides and sea life… constantly adjusting my position to line up with any surfer who might be charging down the line. Random shots came from a place of turmoil and ended up being some of my best shots.

When using a surf housing it is hard to check and review any pictures during the shoot, which means you have to be very confident in your settings producing the outcome you see in your mind. I can remember so many times thinking I had just gotten the shot of the day, going home to edit, only to find the focus off or a huge water spot on the lens port.

As a photographer, I have always wanted to learn new skills and try to capture new moments. I remember scrolling through Instagram one day and coming across an abstract photo taken by Josh Kirshner. It really had an impact on me: the blurred horizontal lines, saturated intense colours, and the fact that it did not even look like a picture amazed me. Kirshner’s image was a pivot point for me, creating the tension to have to try for myself this new abstract form, inspiring me to begin a journey of exploring new angles, perspectives, and stories with my photography.

One day, just like on a typical morning, I was heading down to the beach, about 45 minutes before the sun came up, camera in hand, ready to try out this new technique. After many, many tries I was able to figure it out. I used all the elements of my Florida home to capture a new moment. Florida might not have the bluest water, there aren’t any huge waves or ridiculous cliffs that line the coast. What the country does have is plenty of white sand, water, beautiful sunrises, and the ability to surprise yourself. It can help show you something beautiful that you might not have seen before.

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