Favorite Photo, April 19

Alligator, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas.
Alligator, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. Monday, April 19, 1993.

This alligator is memorable to me because it decided I would make a tasty lunch. Good for the gator. Not so good for me.

I knew from articles by Lenoard Lee Rue III and other first rate wildlife photographers that alligators are incredibly fast both in and out of the water. Rue said they can gallop (yes, like a horse) at speeds up to 40 mph if they are in a real hurry.

This alligator was about 30 feet away and swimming slowly back and forth in the water. I parked my car and set up my tripod away from the waters edge and right next to the front bumper of the car. I wanted an escape route into or on top of my car.

In its wanderings the alligator was going back and forth but it was also gradually getting closer. I picked up my tripod and backed around the car with my eyes always on the gator. In a flash it burst from the water and it ended up on the bank right where I had been with my tripod. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed how quickly it navigated the water with one powerful swoosh of its tail, and exploded up on the bank.

In my photo workshops I talk about staying safe as a photographer. In terms of gators that means never set up close to the edge of the water in alligator country.  I was back from the waters edge, plus I had an escape route.

This is my favorite photo for April 19. It is also a reminder.

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is one of several wildlife refuges in southern Texas that are great photo locations.

Graceland University Choir Concert, Lamoni Iowa. April 19, 2019
Graceland University Choir Concert, Lamoni Iowa. April 19, 2019. Click for a larger version.

One of the perks to living in a small college town is the constant flow of special events, and most of them have no admission charge. It was Graceland University’s last vocal music concert of the year, complete with strings and pope organ. I always try to get one overall photo of everyone, even if their faces are small in the final image (and especially small on this web sized photo).

Graceland University Choir Concert, Lamoni Iowa. April 19, 2019
Graceland University Choir Concert, Lamoni Iowa. April 19, 2019

But my favorite images at a music concert are tight photos of small groups of performers, like this violinist playing a solo before the choir comes in. This is my favorite image from the concert.

Lighting lanterns, Graceland,  Lamoni Iowa.
Lighting lanterns, Graceland, Lamoni Iowa. April 19, 2019.

This is another water story, but no dangerous alligator was involved.

It was the last Friday night of the school year at Graceland University for most of the students, and right after the above mentioned music concert. Finals would last three days the following week and almost everyone but the graduating seniors would head for home.

As the sky turned a deep blue, the students gathered for a campfire at Big G Lake. You can see the campus in the background.

Music was mixed with the sharing of stories of the year. Then in small groups they came forward and were given candle lanterns to light and set adrift on the lake. In the long 5 second exposure the lanterns drifted in a slight breeze. One lantern (on the lower left) caught fire. It was a beautiful evening.

I would have missed the whole thing were it not for a text message. We were driving home from the last vocal music concert of the year when I got a text message asking me to head to Big G Lake. I did not have a tripod with me (I would not need one for the music concert) so I set my camera on a metal bench by the lake and used that as my tripod.


Series: Favorite Photos by Date – all about this series

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge