Do you ever flip through the glossy pages of National Parks magazine and wonder what it's like to take photos of some of the country's most amazing landscapes and monuments? We did too, so we asked two photographers on assignment for the magazine to tell us about their experience!
As a couple of photographers who love the outdoors, Jeff and I are always thrilled when we get an assignment for National Parks magazine, and our latest trip capturing the beauty of Florida’s beaches in the upcoming feature, “Coast to Coast,” was no exception.
Photographing Gulf Islands National Seashore on the Gulf Coast, and Canaveral National Seashore on Florida’s Space Coast gave us the chance to explore paradise. We watched the sunrise over the water with early-rising fishermen, kayaked to a secluded campsite on Shipyard Island, and toured Kennedy Space Center. It was hard work.
But there’s a consensus between us that the highlight of our trip was the bobcat—and I say that with certainty, even though I never actually saw the creature. Something about an encounter with a wildcat (even a near-encounter in my case) served as a subtle reminder that we were in fact in the wild despite our close proximity to relatively tame Titusville, Florida.
Cats aren’t like armadillos, or turtles, or even the alligators we commonly see dead-logging in the waters near our home in Mobile, Alabama. Normally, if they don’t want you to see them, you won’t. That’s why each time you catch a glimpse, you feel like you pulled off a magic trick, like you somehow made yourself appear out of nowhere to take the cat by surprise. Jeff pulled it off on the Cruickshank Trail at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, adjacent to Playalinda Beach entrance of Canaveral. I was a few steps behind and by the time I arrived, their staring contest was over.
By coincidence, the only other time we’ve seen a bobcat in the wild was also at Canaveral National Seashore last year while watching the final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. We only got a brief glimpse of the animal, but just knowing it was there, hunting in the saw palmetto dunes, provided an interesting counterpoint to the feat of human ingenuity we had come to watch. That’s what’s so cool about Canaveral—you can see some of America’s most primitive coastline and highest technological achievements in a single trip.
Watch Meggan and Jeff Haller’s video above and see more of their work in the fall issue of National Parks magazine.