Behind My Lens on Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island is designated as a National Seashore. It is southernmost barrier island along Georgia's 100 miles of coastal barrier islands. I consider it Georgia's most enchanting island...

Piliated Woodpecker Racoon

I camped on this island in mid-July. It was a very challenging weekend to say the least. It was very hot this time of year, full of mosquitoes, racoons got into my food, etc, etc. What did I expect for a Friday the 13th? I did get a good shot of some Pileated Woodpeckers and the Raccoons (above) before the raccoons stole my food! My main objective for the weekend was to photograph the Dungeness ruins at sunset and at night, a feat not so easily done. The Dungeness are the ruins of a mansion left behind by the millionaire Carnegie family who once owned the island. The only way to get to this island is by ferry or by boat. From the dock, it's a 4 mile round trip of either walking or bike riding. Since the last ferry leaves around 4:30pm in the afternoon to take visitors back to the mainland, most people that come for the day don't get to see the Dungeness at sunset or at night. So, the only way to do so is to tent camp overnight and be willing to hike at least 1.5 miles with all your camping gear and equipment needed for your weekend, and then another 4 miles round trip of hiking or biking down to the Dungeness. If you want to see the Dungeness at night, then you must be willing to hike at night.

Cumberland Island Canopy Cumberland Island Canopy 2

"Cumberland Island Canopies"

The closest camping area to the dock is the 1.5 mile hike across the island to Sea Camp. It is a set of primitive camping sites among these live oak canopies surrounded by these palmettos. These oaks protect the island from the ocean winds which can reach hurricane strength at times. From the image on the right above, with the oaks slanted in one direction, you can tell which way the prevailing winds have been blowing. However, in mid-July, they also cut off any breeze that you might get from the ocean making the area beneath shaded, but feeling like a sauna in the summer heat. Mosquitoes are also quite prevalent so don't forget your insect repellent if you go in the summer. It's very beautiful to see and experience in person if you ever get the chance..


"Wild Horses" and "Milky Way"

So, I left camp and hiked down to the Dungeness before sunset. Along the way I saw plenty of wild horses, deer, and turkey. Oh, plenty of those pesky Mosquitoes as well. I captured a few of the wild horses behind the Dungeness overlooking the marsh river. The first piece above is simply titled "Wild Horses". It is a male and female. Many of the wild horses will form a small horse family and it is quite common to see male, female, and foal together this time of year. The second one above, I decided to name the horse "Milky Way" and also title this art piece "Milky Way" in honor of her milky white color.

Dungeness, Cumberland Island, Georgia Dungeness Sunset, Cumberland Island, Coastal Georgia

"Dungeness" and "Dungeness Sunset"

The Dungeness had plenty of wildlife around it at sunset, especially the wild horses which you can see above. "Dungeness Sunset" is a rare photograph of the Dungeness mansion ruins on Cumberland Island in Coastal Georgia at sunset. It is rare because the only way to get to the island is by ferry. For day trip visitors, the ferry leaves to go back to the mainland at 4:15pm, well before sunset. So, the only way to capture this is to camp overnight and hike two miles to the Dungeness before sunset. It's a two mile hike back to the camp, so some hiking in pitch black dark is required.

Dungeness at Night

"Dungeness at Night"

"Dungeness at Night" is a very rare photograph of the mansion ruins at night. For the same reason a sunset photograph here is rare, a night sky astro-photograph is even more rare. Again, you have to camp overnight on the island in order to capture this. From the campsite, it's a two mile hike to the Dungeness ruins. So, at least two miles of your four mile hiking trip is going to be at night. The tent camping overnight and the hiking at night will eliminate most photographers who are not willing to do so. Now, the number of actual photographers that can do good night photography is growing, but is also way less than the number of photographers who can do good daytime photography. Now, take this limited number of photographers willing to do all this and how many would be willing to walk about in this field at night in the pitch black darkness of night knowing there are wild horses in the field who also know you are there? So, all this adds up to a rare photograph which is why I wanted to capture it in the first place. 

However, capturing a rare photograph is not my only motivation. I like mixing something interesting and preferably old in the foreground with the Milky Way or the stars which are ancient. No matter what man made object you can put in the foreground, the age does not compare to the stars or the Milky Way and most of the time doesn't compare to it's glory either.

Let me know if you like or dislike this article or have questions by leaving a comment below please.