Posts from the “Durbin Creek” Category

Durbin Creek 6 – Late Spring

Posted on April 12, 2015

Jungle Cruise - Durbin Creek

Jungle Cruise – Durbin Creek

This is my 6th visit to Durbin Creek. It’s an easy choice, close to the house and a convenient launch. Watch the tides here as low water makes navigation very difficult in some areas. The creek is very long and wonderfully wild. As I’ve complained in the past, the land clearing for the new housing is really disturbing, as they are getting very close to the creek. I hope that the residents are not going to have direct creek access, as there are no docks or openings until the development on Bishop Estates Rd.

Reflected Greens - Durbin Creek

Reflected Greens – Durbin Creek

The water was low this morning but the cloudy conditions made for a great outing. The leaves are back on the trees but not at their full density, still a lot of growing left to do. The morning was calm and it seemed like the intensity of the reflections was greater than normal. Maybe because the new foliage is creating a new visual experience for me. Since my year of exploration is almost complete, I am still experiencing views that are new and in a few weeks the cycle will be repeating. Every excursion is like going to a new place, as the seasonal transformations keep the views fresh. I’m wondering if I will grow tired of these places, if the repetition will make a place less interesting. There are so many other variables that influence an image, the most important of which is my own state of mind. I don’t think i will run out of fresh material to photograph, if so, I have become a boring person!

Almost Summer - Durbin Creek

Almost Summer – Durbin Creek

One variable that I am highly dependent on is the light. Very rarely do I experience the “perfect” light for any length of time. Usually the sun comes up and ends my day for shooting. So as I travel further from the launch point, there is a less likelihood of me having the best light for what I want. As the summer approaches, sunny mornings are the norm. So on those days were there is an extended time of overcast conditions, I am happy. But I haven’t had that in the summer, when the clouds roll in so does the rain.

Green Soup - Durbin Creek

Green Soup – Durbin Creek

Today I was able to capture several overall “creekscapes” that I felt expressed the “greenness” of the landscape. Green is a highly evocative color, especially in the context of nature photography. Green symbolizes nature and is the color of energy producing chlorophyll in the leaves of all plants, surrounding us with oxygen, and providing a cool and calming blanket over us. To represent the green color of what I see, it is necessary to set the color temperature and tint of the image using software. Usually it is not until one makes a print can the right green be adjusted for. This is often an iterative process and is what I like about a photograph that represents feelings rather than documenting actual conditions. I don’t see any problem in making small adjustments “to taste,” as my photographs are my personal interpretations of a scene.

Durbin Creek 5 – Spring

Posted on March 7, 2015

Connection - Durbin Creek

Connection – Durbin Creek

Before I make a commitment to venture out for a personal photo session there is always hesitation. There is a resistance that questions your motives, and reminds you of leaving the comforts of not doing anything. There is a fear of returning empty handed, of having poor conditions, and of the sheer labor of moving the boat on and off the car, the potential problems of parking, and the chance of the boating mishap. What a big bunch of obstacles to overcome just to get out the door. I’ve never been disappointed when I approach a session without expectation. My operative word is “reconnaissance.” When one is on recon, we are just checking things out and making mental notes for the “real”trip that will come when all the stars are in alignment. Sure, some recon trips are more successful than others, but I’ve never regretted getting out the door and wished I had spent the morning at my computer checking Facebook.

Durbin Creek is another jewel in our local creek system. In addition to being only 30 minutes from my house, the creek is long and heavily canopied, relatively clear of branches, and there is a great launch point at the Bartram Canoe Trail off Racetrack Road. Yesterday I was completely alone and did not see another paddler all morning.

Opening - Durbin Creek

Opening – Durbin Creek

This is my fourth time on Durbin and each time I revisit a creek I feel more comfortable and relaxed. Yes, I miss the rush of excitement to be in a place for the first time, but often it is so overwhelming that your experience is less personal. I enjoying noting the changes in the landscape and quality of light as the seasons progress. So in a way it is like being here for the first time. Nothing is ever the same.

Today was cool and windy, low tide, and I knew the sun would be beating down on me soon. All of this does affect my disposition, although most of the stress of having “ideal”conditions dissipates after the creek takes you in. Today my mind was busy chattering, and I had to take some time to let things quiet down. I don’t know why I was being bothered so much by personalities and events that have nothing to do with me. I was thankful that I was in a place where peace and stillness surrounded me.

Spring Day - Durbin Creek

Spring Day – Durbin Creek

I didn’t make it very far today, probably around 2 miles. I did not even reach the power lines. Sometimes it’s not about how far you go, but rather about how complete your experience was. I began to notice that the clouds were dissipating and the sun was having a strong presence. Time to turn around.

I normally bring a cup of coffee and a granola bar for a snack and this becomes an enjoyable part of my ritual. Changing one’s pace and stopping to receive physical and spiritual nourishment is very special. Usually I begin to notice details about the water or the trees or the way the sun is casting shadows. Riding the current and drifting is true relaxation. Now that Spring is in full swing I’m still hopeful that I’ll get a foggy morning one day soon.

Home Bound - Durbin Creek

Home Bound – Durbin Creek

Durbin Creek 4 – Early Winter

Posted on December 20, 2014

Winter's Presence

Winter’s Presence

It’s late December but still quite warm in Florida. Late Autumn is strange here, the leaves start to change in mid-November and it seems like there will be changing leaves on the trees until early spring. For the most part, the maples, beech, and ash are all losing leaves, and the landscape has transformed to a mix of browns, oranges, and dark greens. A big difference from the greens of summer. It’s much brighter due to the loss of leaves, so the look of the creek is more heavily influenced by the light. I still prefer the overcast, mostly cloudy skies that may bring just a hint of sunlight. This provides a much longer day to be shooting.

Creek Cloud Line

Creek Cloud Line

I started at the Bartram Canoe Trail launch off Racetrack Road at sunrise (7:20). The sky was filled with beautiful soft white clouds and the sky was a deep blue. Being alone has its advantages. I enjoy the peace and quiet of an early morning paddle. There’s nothing like it. As the sun fills the creek with light, you can hear the birds. On a calm day there is silence in the trees. I made my way past vaguely familiar views as the leafless trees take on a new characteristic. I scan for new compositions and find that the reflections in the water are particularly striking. I think this is because of the quantity of light and stillness of the water. As I set up for a shot, for the first time I notice how my own presence creates ripples in the water. Even if I anchor and wait in stillness for several minutes, each small movement I make moves the boat just a hair, and this sends a field of waves into the frame. As I paddle I am “ahead” of the wave and can see many incredible crystal-clear reflections. But when I stop to setup for a shot, I can never be still enough to keep the water absolutely still. I’ll be working on stillness techniques for sure, as I am continually intrigued with the nature of the reflections.



As I started paddling I started to notice the droning of the land clearing machines working on several large subdivisions off of Racetrack Road. Not only was the silence of the morning broken but the smell diesel fumes permeated the air. My deep concern was the closeness of these developments to the creek, and if the home owners were granted dock access to the creek. This happened recently to some estate sized homes built on Bishop Estates Road. Although several hundred yards from the creek, these homeowners were granted permits to build long boardwalks through the wetlands and build a dock to anchor their boats. Nothing distracts more from a pristine creek than a dock with a motorboat. I can’t understand how these permits get granted, but like anything else, those with money can buy the rights to just about anything they want.

Inside the Corklan Branch

Inside the Corklan Branch

During the summer the area around the power lines is clogged with water hyacinth and Spatterdock. Since the winter has killed most of the vegetation, the creek is clear throughout. I did a quick detour to explore Corklan Branch, a small tributary. These side streams are always fun but normally you can’t get very far before being stopped by fallen trees. I paddled out about 4.5 miles and then decided to turn around. It was now noon and I knew I had a long paddle back to the car. The day was perfect and I enjoyed seeing the continuing transformation of the creeks as the seasons progress. As we move into winter, more leaves will be lost and the creeks will take on their most lifeless appearance, signaling the coming of spring.

Creek Tangles

Creek Tangles

Autumn Paddle on Durbin Creek

Posted on November 1, 2014

Autumn Reflections on Durbin Creek

Reflections of Autumn on Durbin Creek

Signs of Autumn from the kayakToday almost didn’t happen but I desperately needed to break my long hiatus and get out on the water. Cold, wind, and sun were in the forecast. The temperature today was 48 at the launch site with 30 knot winds. I know the tops of the trees were going crazy but the creek stayed relatively calm. Gray kindly let me sit in the boat while he pushed me in since I did not have my waterproof boots yet. I was dressed in several layers with my North Face ski jacket on the outside. Florida boys get chilled easily! As we started the paddle my first impression was the slight yellowing of the leaves. The deep, dark greens of summer were gone, and so were the mosquitoes and flies. More light entered the forest and I immediately rejoiced at being able to set my ISO lower. The creek was also running high, as in prior weeks a healthy amount of rain had fallen. We saw some small side streams that we didn’t recognize.

For the first mile, you could hear the big machines clearing the trees for a new subdivision. I could even smell the diesel fumes. The development (called Julington Estates or something like that) is part of the huge complex that has taken over Race Track Road. There is no stopping them, and the housing recession only temporarily halted their goal of leveling every forest in St Johns County. If I see a dock emerge on Durbin Creek from that development I will be seriously upset. They are getting very close to the boundaries of the wetlands.

Durbin Creek is well maintained, and we knew that the big hyacinth clog under the power lines (at about 2 miles) was cleared. We don’t know if someone came in and sprayed or if they physically removed the vegetation, but it was so nice to be able to paddle through. We went another half mile before turning back. I was very happy with the images from the trip. I’m also trying a few B&W conversions. Normally I would not have gone out on a cloudless bright sunny day, especially one that was both windy and cold. But this goes to show that you need to just show up to make things happen.

Egret on Durbin Creek

Egret on Durbin Creek


Autumn Morning on Durbin Creek


Creek to Sky – Durbin Creek

Durbin Creek 2

Posted on June 15, 2014

Launch Point View - Durbin Creek

Launch Point View – Durbin Creek

I love Durbin Creek. In addition to being close to my home, the creek represents my idea of an “ideal” Florida creek – twisty and overgrown with vegetation, a wild place where you could surprise a gator sunning on a log or a big blue heron fishing for dinner. The creek is long but unfortunately water hyacinths have clogged passage at several locations. You can only go less than a mile from the launch on Race Track Road. We can thank the good folks of the Clean Waterway Society for their efforts in establishing and maintaining the small park and keeping the creek clear. The water hyacinths have proved too much of a challenge to clear and we will have to wait for an industrial solution.

The light levels were very low at the beginning of the paddle. The creek was calm but the yellow flies very active. I hate those things! The water level was very low so we didn’t make it very far. There are several large fallen trees that must be crossed when the levels are high, so we did not even make it to the water hyacinth clog.

Durbin Reflection

Durbin Reflection – Durbin Creek

As the sun rose the forest began to glow.

Cypress on Durbin Creek - Durbin Creek

Cypress on Durbin Creek – Durbin Creek

There is a lot of residential development going one in the area. Everyday acres of land are being cleared for new tract houses. The creeks are being continually threatened by encroaching development. I don’t expect this to stop until every last inch of desirable property is consumed.

Durbin Creek

Posted on May 17, 2014

Creek Abstract - Durbin Creek

Creek Abstract – Durbin Creek

Durbin Creek has been one of my favorite mystery place for some time. I had visited the Bartram Canoe Trail launch point on Racetrack road many times to photograph the impressive creek entry. I thought about buying a pair of waders to go further into the creek to see what was just beyond the next bend. Now I could solve that mystery. Gray and I continued our practice of backing his trailer and unloading the boats. With my small point and shoot, I was gaining confidence in my ability not to destroy my more expensive equipment.

The yellow flies were at the height of their activity. Yellow fly bites hurt, and I have a particularly bad reaction to their bites. They didn’t seem to bother Gray at all. In addition to a liberal application of OFF! I brought along a can of Raid flying bug spray. Turns out that these guys never heard of OFF and you have to swat them out of the sky to get rid of them. Yellow flies are noisy and you can hear them swarming about like a bunch of bees. I think they must be territorial too, as they will annoy the heck out of you for a while and if you keep paddling they will disappear, soon to be replaced by one of their friends. I wore long sleeves and pants but they manage to bite through the thin “expedition” gear I was wearing. Sigh!

Golden Morning - Durbin Creek

Golden Morning – Durbin Creek

We paddled up to the big “clog” at the power lines. We made no attempt to go further, the area was thick with water hyacinth and without a massive effort there was no way to get through. Later we learned that the Clean Waterway Society had cleared the area last year and everything grew back. This is a big problem for the creek, as these plants are invasive and can cause a major disruption to the health and flow of the creek.

Overall we’ve been happy with our boats and our ability to get out to some wild places. All of this is new for us and it is truly a wonderful feeling to know that all of this exists in your backyard. I may never leave this place!

Paddle Dip - Durbin Creek

Paddle Dip – Durbin Creek