Tripod holes 47

American alligator Alligator mississippiensis lurking under thick duckweed in pond, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina
N 32°14’36.57″ W 80°46’9.83″ Google Earth location

On our way to Hilton Head Island many years ago, we found ourselves passing right alongside Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and stopped to do a quick tour. Nestled within the marshy wetlands of the coastal islands, it was brimming with a large variety of shorebirds and waders, crabs, and of course these guys: American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis,) though this is quite a small specimen. Several species of waterfowl were herding their new offspring around in the pools, and while we were there, we could hear a mother – moorhen, maybe? – bringing her brood close to the edge of the little island within this pond, though we couldn’t see them at all. The gator heard them too, and cruised silently over to the very spot on the shore of the island whence came the mother’s calls, waiting patiently for their appearance. So was I, because I’m happy to catch anything feeding, or indeed most kinds of wildlife behavior, but a gator especially. Yet nothing happened, possibly because mama was smart enough to know that the coast was not clear.

I have mixed feelings about this visit, because while we saw countless aspects of wildlife in pretty decent conditions, this was when I was still using slide film for the ‘important’ stuff, but most of the slides have a horrendous color cast to them that’s difficult to correct. I’d say it was a bad batch of film, except it’s on multiple rolls, and I kept my film refrigerated until use. I’m inclined to believe, then, that it was processing error, but it meant very few keepers from the trip, and between this and the increasing difficulty in even getting film processed, it spelled the end of my film days. I still pine for the colors and vibrancy of Fuji Provia 100F and Velvia, which digital has never been able to approach, much less duplicate, but between my associations with the lackluster results from this trip and the bare fact that no one seems to recognize those differences, staying with digital seems to be the best move, or at least not more than trivially reductive. Though some of my former results still beckon