Cumberland Island + Okefenokee Swamp + April Full Moon + Peter Essick Instructing

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Dungeness Ruins, Cumberland Island ©Cumberland Island National Seashore

APRIL 25, 26, 27, 28, 2018

We begin on Wednesday when we’ll meet in St. Mary’s, Georgia for afternoon shooting and scouting. Wednesday evening we’ll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the local marina, getting to know – or reacquainting ourselves! – with one another.

St. Mary’s:



Thursday morning we leave for Cumberland Island on the 9 am Ferry.  A private van service will take us around the island so that we may visit the important sites and have time to shoot at each one.

Cumberland pathway ©Cumberland Island National Seashore

Starting at the Sea Camp Ranger Station we will visit both cultural and natural landmarks which may include the remains of Robert Stafford’s plantation and cemetery, Plum Orchard Mansion, Cumberland Wharf, The Settlement, and First African Baptist Church.

Please click here to read about the Cumberland Island tour, and what you’ll want to bring.

A picnic lunch will be provided. We will return to St. Mary’s on the 4:45 ferry. Refreshments at the Headquarters House while sharing our stories and critiquing our photos from the day.

Cumberland Island National Seashore:







I took the SxSE Okefenokee/Cumberland Island photo workshop with Sylvia Plachy instructing in ’16. It was wonderful: incredible sunrise/sunset on quiet guide boats … fun people, new friends. A great opportunity to photograph in timeless, beautiful settings. Can’t wait to go back! -Lucie Canfield

Cumberland Island is a place where hair flows like moss living in oaks, and where you can breathe the moisture that awakens your soul. You will be able taste and smell each image long after the workshop. It’s an experience of a life time for any photographer.  -Teri Darnell,



We’ll climb out of our warm beds early on Friday morning, grab a cup of coffee to go at the Headquarters House, and then leave for the Okefenokee at 4 am. Breakfast awaits our 5 am arrival at the swamp café.

Suwannee Canal before sunrise, Okefenokee Swamp ©NancyMcCrary

We’ll travel into the swamp in our guided Carolina skiff with the stars overhead and the red-glow of alligators eyes twinkling in the dark. We’ll ride down the historic Suwannee Canal through a tangled forest of bay, cypress, pine, and shrubs, then out into the open expanse of Chesser Prairie.

Okefenokee Swamp:







Our guides will share their knowledge of the swamp’s cultural and natural history, tell interesting swamp stories, and identify plants and wildlife along the way.

Lucie and Wiff at Chesher Prairie, Okefenokee Swamp ©Nancy McCrary



We may encounter egrets, herons, ibis, sandhill cranes, red-shouldered hawks, and American alligators, as well as wood storks in the summer and fall. Sometimes we spot deer or raccoons, or, if we are really lucky, a bobcat or a bear. Wildlife activity varies with water levels, season, time of day and reasons known only to the wildlife, of course. The swamp scenery is always spectacular.







And then the magic happens.

Sunrise, Cheshire Prairie, Okefenokee Swamp, ©Nancy McCrary




















We’ll enjoy a slow boat ride through the prairie and down side canals experiencing every angle and backdrop we can find!

Returning to the dock before 9 we’ll head back to St. Mary’s for a respite, and shooting around the historic town before …



Leaving again at 4pm on Thursday we’ll enjoy a cookout dinner at the Okefenokee Café before boarding our boats again at 5:30. As we use the Refuge’s public use partner for these tours, they offer us the opportunity to experience the swamp later in the evening after the Refuge waterways are otherwise closed to visitor traffic. The quiet and darkness is transforming. We travel down the canals into the swamp and out into an Okefenokee prairie sunset.

Okefenokee Sunset ©Nancy McCrary


We’ll move slowly around the prairie and smaller canals as the sun sets and the Full Moon rises. Sunset is 7:04 pm, Moonrise is 4:00 pm.



Saturday is the time to go back to Cumberland, or back to the swamp if there was a shot you missed or want to do again. There’s also the Alligator Farm outside of Jacksonville (an hour away) which was a big hit with some students last year! Late in the afternoon we’ll gather for showing our work and a Farewell Dinner at the Headquarters House.



Named one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world by Outdoor Photography Magazine, Essick has traveled extensively over the last two decades photographing spectacular natural areas from around the world. He is a working photojournalist, but his photographs move beyond mere documentation revealing in careful compositions the spiritual and emotional aspects of nature. The unique and sometimes surprisingly similar forms and color of divergent pristine lands provide the raw material for Essick’s art. As a counter point, Essick has also done photographs to illustrate many environmental issues, portraying both the human impact of development as well as the enduring power of the land.


Essick has been a frequent contributor to National Geographic Magazine for 30 years. At the Geographic he has produced over 40 feature articles on many different topics. Some of his favorite and most rewarding stories have been on the American wilderness, the carbon cycle, global warming, and global freshwater. Recent stories include a June 2010 cover story on Greenland, a story on the Ansel Adams Wilderness in October 2011,and a story titled “When The Snows Fail” in October 2014. He is the author of two books, “Our Beautiful, Fragile World” and “The Ansel Adams Wilderness.”


He has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri. He lives in Stone Mountain, GA with his wife, Jackie and son, Jalen.



In-field instruction, and classroom group critique with Peter Essick.

Wednesday’s Welcome Supper at the local marina

Thursday’s Ferry to/from Cumberland Island, including island admission

Thursday private van service around Cumberland Island

Thursday’s Picnic Lunch

Refreshments at the Headquarter’s House on return from Cumberland Island Thursday

Friday’s Breakfast

Friday’s private skiffs at the Okefenokee, sunrise and sunset, including admission fee

Friday’s Cook-out Supper at the Okefenokee

Saturday’s Farewell Supper at the Headquarter’s House



We recommend staying in or around St. Mary’s.

Previous students enjoyed the small cabins and houses they rented through VRBO and AirBnB in St. Mary’s.

There are also hotels in close proximity.



Early Bird Rate (through December 1st): $1200


Full Rate: (after December 1st): $1350


Companion Rate: ($500)


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