5 Questions With The March 2021 #DryTortugas Photo Contest Winner

Robert Rees' March winning photo

Meet Robert Rees, our March 2021 #DryTortugas Photo Contest winner. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about his experience at the Dry Tortugas National Park. Read on to learn how he captured his amazing photo!

1. When did you visit the Dry Tortugas National Park? Did you arrive by seaplane, the Yankee Freedom ferry, or another way?
I stayed from April 13th through the 15th in hopes of catching one of the first nights of the new Milky Way shooting season. I booked on the Yankee Freedom III because I really wanted to have my kayak with me while I was staying there.

2. If you arrived by the Yankee Freedom, how was your ferry trip?
The trip out and back were beautiful and the crew of the Yankee Freedom III was exceptional. Seriously, they were awesome.

3. How did you capture your winning photo? What inspired you to take it? Did you use any cool camera gear?
I love shooting Astrophotography, and we typically look for the darkest skies that we can find to pull off complex shots. Unfortunately, the Milky Way did not work out as it was too low on the horizon and was drowned out by all of the boats moored off of Garden Key. Luckily, I had this shot planned as well and used some very basic equipment that most people wouldn’t think of for photography. I used an LED light wand and headlamp to actually “paint” the light into this picture that you see in the water and on Fort Jefferson as well. It’s a method called light painting that allows the artist to highlight an interesting foreground in complete darkness while still being able to capture amazingly rich and detailed night skies.

4. What made your trip to the Dry Tortugas memorable?
Loggerhead Key. As mentioned before, I booked this trip with my kayak for the sole purpose of being able to make the 3-mile trek to Loggerhead Key. Although that paddle across the open Gulf was far more difficult than I imagined, the reward of being able to visit Loggerhead Key and explore the beautiful reef and bird life was an amazing experience. The trip would have still been amazing without the trip to Loggerhead though. After the ferry left for the day and the campers were left to their own devices, I found myself sitting on the beach and watching the sun go down in complete amazement. It is an amazing sight to behold and gave me memories that I will use to fuel further trips.

5. What do you plan to do with your National Park Annual Pass?
I am currently planning my next trip to the Everglades National Park because it is a short drive from my home in Estero, Florida. Camping in remote areas has become a hobby and I take every chance I can to get out into nature. Glacier is on my to-do list for sure and I would like to spend an entire week there camping and exploring in the near future.