5 Questions With Our 2020 Grand Prize #DryTortugas Photo Contest Winner

grand prize winner

Meet Michael Bellchambers, our 2020 Grand Prize #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 visited the Dry Tortugas National Park on January 13th via the Yankee Freedom ferry.

2. If you arrived by the Yankee Freedom, how was your ferry trip?
Overall the ferry trip was very enjoyable. The water was choppy on the way out but the captain did a wonderful job stabilizing the catamaran and ensuring the ride was as smooth as possible. Very informative information was shared on the way out, especially about the sea life and bird migration. Lunch was perfect, plenty to eat, and the return trip to Key West was very smooth and enjoyable, so I took a great nap.

3. How did you capture your winning photo? What inspired you to take it? Did you use any cool camera gear?
When we disembarked from the Yankee Freedom, I wandered over to the south coaling dock ruins. There was an abundance of different birds flying, with a few brave ones perched on the pilings. It was extremely windy and I noticed this small Royal Tern battling the wind as it was trying to groom and dry off. It’s movements reminded me of someone doing yoga, so I wanted to capture it in an awkward and quirky pose. I’m still amazed at its balance. I confess, I wasn’t as stable. This particular image was shot with my Nikon D850 and 70-200mm combo.

4. What made your trip to the Dry Tortugas memorable?
The guided tour was superb. “Hollywood” shared so much information that I wished I could camp out there with him one evening to learn even more. Understanding the history helps you appreciate the design and construction of Fort Jefferson, not to mention the reason for such a remote location. The beaches with their crystals blue waters are worthy of a mention also.

5. What do you plan to do with your National Park Annual Pass?
I’ve been to several of our National Parks, so visiting some of the others on the list will be a goal, especially in Wyoming and Utah. I’d love to get back to the Dry Tortugas so my wife has a chance to see it . . . and take more photos of course.