So, . . . .
What are feral horses??
Cumberland Island is one of the Sea Islands of the southeastern United States and is the largest in terms of continuously exposed land at about 17 miles long. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the U.S. state of Georgia. Access to the island is by Ferry boat from St Marys Georgia, and the National Park Service controls access. I had the opportunity to visit the island many years ago, and recently went back to see how it would look in Infrared.
A day on Cumberland is not for the faint of heart. The temperature from April thru November is usually above 80 degrees, and often the humidity level matches the temp. There are no motorized vehicles, you get around the island on foot. As you walk across the island, you go thru a marsh, forest, desert, and then beach. There is no food for sale, and only limited access to “necessary amenities”. Basically, you are taken by boat to the island and then someone returns to pick you up hours later.
Having recently been there, I have a few suggestions.
– Pack your camera bag properly. You will carrying your gear all day; don’t bring stuff you won’t need. Often times I carry more lenses than I actually need. Include a rain cover for your bag. Even with my gear trimmed down, the backpack was over 10lbs. Ten pounds at 10am feels like fifty pounds by 3pm.
-Bring water. Lots of water. More water. It’s hot, ….very hot
– Bring sunscreen and a first aid kit. Outside, hot day, lots of walking. You get the idea
-There is the obvious stuff like walking shoes and proper clothing, but you’ve probably figured that out.
The island is famous for many things, I was going for two in particular; the Dungeness ruins and the feral horses.
So, what are “feral” horses? Feral horses are free roaming horses that are descendants of once domesticated horses. There are several stories on how the horses came to Cumberland Island; one is that a tall ship had to drop it’s cargo which included domesticated horses, on the island. They roam the island free and unattended. Often they may look rather thin because they live in the wild.
Depending on their mood, feral horses can be quite tame, or just the opposite. They are just like any other animal in the wild and need to approached with caution. I was careful when I came along any groups and held still if they seemed to notice me.
I was shooting with a Canon 7DMKII with a Super Color conversion (590nm), and mostly used a Tamron SP AF 10-24mm f /3.5-4.5 DI II Zoom Lens.
Everything was shot using AEB auto exposure bracketing of +/- one stop. Since I didn’t know how long I would have with the horses, I overshot like you would not believe.
Here’s and example:
The RAW image
Was able to turned into these.
You will notice I took the liberty of removing those unsightly humans and the building that was not needed.
In several instances, I found the slightly underexposed images gave me the best results.
Once again, the pesky people went away. This was processed using NIK Color Efex Pro 4.
For the most part, the horses were calm. It was quite hot and I think that may have made them lethargic.
As I approached a solitary horse, the light seemed to suddenly brighten, so I adjusted my settings and did another quick white balance.
I did level the finished image. For some reason when I hold a camera it tends to be always off level. Once again this was processed with NIK.
I did break my rule and get a little closer on the solitary horse. She seemed to not care that I was there, so I switched to a 50mm f 1.8 and made this close up.
That became this one
Then the horse decided to stop and look me directly in the eyes. I did get this one.
After that, I backed away slowly.
. . . . Now next,
The Dungeness ruins are the remains of a Mansion built by the Carnegie family in 1884, that burned down in 1959.
This is how the Mansion appeared before 1959. No, I did not take this image.
And this is how it appears today.
I tried several white balance images, before deciding on the stone.
The structure of the mansion is off limits except from a safe distance, and I did respect the rules. There are several locations where you can shoot thru the gates, and with a wide angle lens it gives the appearance of being inside.
Here’s a few
Behind the ruins is a long trestle that was likely covered in ivy for riding in the shade.
The structure was interesting and the shadows caught my attention.
Became an interesting mirror image like this
Once I left the ruins area, there is a very long walk to the ocean on the east side of the Island. To get there, you follow a set of boardwalks, or hike across the sand dunes. I was feeling,…lazy, so I took the boardwalk.
They are quite long and expansive and make for great images.
Both of these are 3 exposure HDR images.
The boardwalk ends at a set of sand dunes with dead tress sticking up like the weathered bones of a large beast.
Which I mirrored into this
A trip to Cumberland Island is a long day definitely worth the time, as long as you come prepared and realize you WILL leave tired.
I plan to go back next year, you should come with me.