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Low Country Photography - with My cameras on Skidaway Island, Georgia - Photography by Kirk M. Skidaway Island State Park and the largest coastal residential development in the Savannah area entitled The Landings. Skidaway Island was the site of a small skirmish during the Revolutionary War when a party of British Marines was found foraging on the island and driven off.
Civil War, earthen breastworks and a battery were erected and occupied by the 4th Georgia Battery. After the war in the days of the Carpetbaggers, former slaves assisted by the Freedman's Bureau and Benedictine monks occupied Skidaway Island. Most historical data excerpted from 'Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Georgia Coast & Okefenokee' - Richard J. The images in this account were taken in the fall of 2007 through the winter and into spring of 2008. Photographing birds has been one of my primary interests in ‘daylight’ photography and when I first geared up in the digital age this pursuit was always paramount in my planning. It was stated earlier that I took thousands of exposures in the timeframe noted while in Georgia. These do not necessarily represent the best images of the subjects I’ve ever taken, but serve as a marker of my time on the island from the different months so appear in a rough chronological order.
A group of Tricolored Herons photographed as they foraged near the rookery in The Landings. One Saturday morning while I was still living in Pooler I decided to take a ride through the refuge to see what may be going on – this was a near daily occurrence as my schedule permitted in any event. Doug was interested in my equipment and had read about the Wimberley Sidekick I was using and was checking out my 500mm lens. When I returned to the area I talked with Bill about staying with him because the upcoming trips would be of shorter duration. During the time I was in Georgia in January and February ‘08 I stayed in Pooler, about thirty miles from The Landings but really close to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. I observed the heron at left for over two hours while sitting nearly motionless behind my tripod. Most of my available field time while in Georgia in January was spent in the refuge with only occasional trips over to Skidaway Island. I learned where the bluebirds, other perching birds and many wading birds winter – there were many around this time of year. Country in general and The Landings in particular is an exceptional place for many reasons but it would be a stretch for me to say I’d like to live there during the warmer months. I didn’t spend a great deal of time on Skidaway Island in early 2008 but was over there on occasion to visit Billy or my other friends.
He often had a destination in mind but at times we just explored to learn what we could find as he checked out various places. When I was back in Maine Fitz and Doug kept me informed on the goings on around the island. As indicated previously the rookery is a nesting site for Great Egrets but there were many other species represented in the times I visited. When I made the return trip to Georgia in March I carried a group of photographic prints from earlier in the year taken at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR).
Besides providing some high resolution images from my archives, she also asked if I would consider doing some photographic missions with specific views in mind.
Fitz had become an insect seeking machine by this time and was dedicating most of his field time in pursuit of whatever dragon or damselfly may be flying at that particular time. I must admit his study and growing knowledge of these creatures and his dedication is impressive.


Fitz and I were joined by another fellow from The Landings, Art Greene, and we went out with the cameras. Fitz knew exactly where he wished to go and after a ten-minute ride we arrived next to a lagoon with some low vegetation next to the water.
Although I understood how to go about photographing these tiny subjects implementing a system to do so took a few minutes.
Fitz and Doug were both using the Canon 40d by this time and had explored using the live view function. In our various golf cart expeditions around the island I usually had my 400mm lens mounted for any bird imaging possibilities.
Getting out and looking around is the key and Skidaway Island offers a great deal of possibilities. Another prominent birding spot which I learned was a favorite for Fitz to investigate for insects was the ‘Sparrow Field’, not far from my friend Bill’s residence. Doug that this was to draw in the Purple Martins during nesting season and now was their time – they were in residence.
Doug, Fitz and I photographed the martins on multiple occasions in March into early April taking advantage of different lighting conditions to learn what worked most advantageously on these dark birds. By the end of March I received a call from Hunt's Camera in Maine that a Canon 1Ds Mark III had arrived and I was next on their list to receive this camera.
As April was looming my work in the area was completeing and the return drive to Maine was being planned.
Fitz and I did the golf cart 'patrol' when we could get together in my remaining time, sometimes joined by Doug. One of our trips before I left Georgia was to the Nature Trail, a path through the woods that is preened and cared for by local volunteers for the enjoyment of all in The Landings. In my system it’s not just lens choices but also the type of mounting device or tripod selection. If photographing these critters is something you’re interested in besides learning when they fly you’ll also need to investigate what types of plants attract your subjects allowing you to monitor these areas. I’m not certain what species this tiny arachnid is… While set up in a shoot zone and seated at the camera I noticed this spider moving across my field of view horizontally.
Probably this is a familiar species in the south but one I wasn't familiar with… If anyone viewing this knows what it is please drop me a line so I’ll know as well. The image at right is the twenty-first exposure captured with my 1Ds camera and is a bit unusual.
Any images viewed that are digitally framed and labeled have been added to my collection of works for sale. These are displayed when at shows and events either packaged on foam core, professionally framed or ArtiPlaq™ mounted as a final for purchase.
However, I had given considerable thought to creating an article only of my endeavors from Skidaway Island and this effort is the culmination of that desire. There is a historical marker denoting this fact located near the roadway at these facilities.
Other cameras I own and used for exposures in this article include the EOS 5d, 40d and on one trip I had Linda’s 30d as a second camera.
I’m going to present a minute sampling of images taken on Skidaway Island so we can share some of the subjects I observed.
Diana was there along with a large Audubon group which consisted of many vehicles on the wildlife drive. Quickly enough he introduced his friend, Doug Herrick and the three of us talked camera equipment the balance of the morning as we looked for birds.
Fitz isn’t located too far from my friend Bill’s house and I thought all of this was a bit of a coincidence.


Much of my camera field time was spent between the island and work related trips to Florida. It's great when one has time to allow the scene to unfold and not have the worry of moving on for whatever reason. Plus, with Doug & Fitz around to get out with nobody had to press too hard to get me to visit. There are always rarities and migrants stopping around and the folks on the island had a good contact system to keep all informed about new or unusual sightings. If you don’t like it hot, I mean gateway to Hades hot in my view, you may not appreciate late spring to early fall. Unfortunately, he doesn’t yet have a website so his work cannot be linked and viewed by all from this article. Shortly afterwards I had an opportunity to obtain Canon’s flagship camera, the EOS 1Ds Mark III and did so. One task related to the new center was to produce an introductory film presentation about the facilities and she was in need of some good nature shots for this effort.
I was pleased with this as Pat indicated my shots exceeded her expectation of quality in every way. I could tell immediately that a few equipment changes would be required to capture these creatures through the lens. The gnats didn’t mind how long it took to get ready and added a bit of misery to the occasion. Lowering your tripod and sitting on a stool makes photographing these subjects much easier and when using live view in manual focus I found it almost a necessity.
I’ve stated before that I will photograph anything that catches my eye from a mundane subject hopefully viewed in a refreshing way to something unusual.
Beth was monitoring the Purple Martin endeavor and had asked for information and photographs anyone may obtain while observing the martins.
I'm not certain about the color range of these lizards, but I've only observed them in the green indicated at left and brown. On at least one of these sessions, an afternoon with no breeze whatsoever, the gnats were out in force to the point we abandoned the effort and ran for home. All our time wasn’t spent in the field though; often we met and discussed photography in general and enhancing methods for different types of images.
I don’t mind this of course and do it all the time, but it’s a difficult choice to decide if you wish to go with long focal lengths for birds or short for more minute subjects. It had been a successful winter for me photographically and I had no problem with returning to enjoy the comforts of home. At first even the Bug Man was stumped about what this was… After some investigation we learned why.
Diana and I spent some time together at Skidaway Island State Park and I returned to the area on multiple occasions. All kinds of birds and spring like activities are underway; the island was alive with commotion with always something going on.
We found several examples of the Horace’s Duskywing, a member of the subfamily Spread-wing Skippers.



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