Whats hiding just below the surface?
I captured this image of an American alligator on private property in the Big Cypress region of the Florida Everglades. I find that making up close images of predators is one part preparation and knowledge, one part bravery or stupidity, and many parts luck. Luck comes down to being in the right place at the right time with the right subject. I have spent decades around Florida alligators and have not had this opportunity before. I spent the day working as a camera assistant for a film production. I was a bit apprehensive on the way down to the Everglades as it was mid June when the heat and bugs were sure to get the best of us. Amazingly, it turned out to be one of the nicest days that I have ever experienced in the glades. The heat was bearable, and the bugs were kept at bay by recent rain and water levels. As a result it was both an active day for wildlife and a pleasurable day to work outside. Towards the end of the day our crew came across this alligator hiding alongside a trail. It was either an exceptionally tolerant individual or believed its camouflage to be perfect. It allowed us to work in its vicinity and then capture some sequences of it. Once our film work was complete, I was able to retrieve my personal camera and capture a series of stills including this image.
The image was made with a Tokina 10-17 fisheye lens and available light. The wide angle lens required my dome port to be within inches of the alligator. I preset my exposure to F8, to allow some depth of field, and a shutter of 1/125th to ensure no motion blur. I used auto ISO to allow me to work quickly with minimal adjustments. Working quickly was important to minimize stress for the subject and ensure that I got the shot before the gator decided it had had enough!