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Take Chances With Your Lighting

Florida nature photographer John Moran, whom we previously have featured several times, gets up close and personal with a wild alligator in the latest in his ongoing Florida nature series.

John has long been a mentor and compass point of mine. I have always admired the lengths to which he was willing to go to make a striking photo. As for protective gear in this instance, John was wearing a false sense of security and little else.

For more on his lighting technique, "alligator luv" and links to more work, hit the jump.

Alligators All Around

Says John:
" I shot it with a Nikon D200 with a 10.5mm fisheye lens in a Subal housing with a dome port. I used twin Inon underwater flashes plus a slaved nikon SB28DX flash held above the gator.

I worked with a biologist and a lighting assistant in a clear-water spring run in the ocala national forest. I've long been fascinated with alligators. My initial concept was to do a split half-in, half-out photo of the gator, but once I was in the water I saw the surreal surface reflection and knew that was my picture.
I made the photo in September and displayed a large, framed print soon after at my gallery for the monthly gallery walk in downtown gainesville, an event that allows art lovers to enjoy free wine and hors d'oeuvres to go along with the paintings and photographs on display.

A woman who'd been enjoying more than her share of the free wine stepped into my gallery, gasped when she saw the photo and blurted out, 'are those alligators making love?'

My work is driven by my desire to show people Florida in a way they've never seen it. my background as a newspaper photographer taught me to welcome the challenge of making pictures that surprise the viewer."

Typically, photographers start out taking unnecessary chances to get cool photos and graduate towards smarter, safer environments. Given this earlier, long-distance flash shot of a herd o 'gators taken safely from a dock, I would say that Moran is on somewhat of a reverse track:

You may remember John from the other times he has been featured on this site, including his Hale-Bopp Comet photo, and his shot of fireflies at dusk.

To see more of John's work, visit his site at


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