5 Questions with the November 2014 #DryTortugas Photo Contest Winner

Image of November Dry Tortugas Photo Contest Winner

Meet John Paul Vincent Rosario, our November 2014 #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 came to the Dry Tortugas in mid-July; it was a birthday present from my girlfriend. It had been quite a while since I’ve done primitive camping, and we wanted to get away and disconnect, so we did. We arrived at Ft. Jefferson via the Yankee Freedom Ferry.

2. If you arrived by the Yankee Freedom, how was your ferry trip?

The ferry ride was perfect; it was smooth sailing from the port to Ft. Jefferson. The seas were so calm, and the ocean was a mirror where you couldn’t tell the horizon from the sky. The crew was so nice and helpful as well. We took a personal kayak with us and were having troubles getting it to the boat. A very nice gentleman helped us on the gangway from the terminal and ended up being the captain, which made us feel very special.

3. How did you capture your winning photo? What inspired you to take it? Did you use any cool camera gear?

Walking around in the courtyard, I saw a beautiful old looking tree and approached it. From there, I saw the perfect angle from where I was and took the shot. I originally had it in color, but because of the time of day with the noon light, I decided to change it to black and white. I wanted every detail of the leaves and the trunk lines and knew the lighting would make it more dramatic. So I used the tree in the foreground to frame the Ft. Jefferson Lighthouse in the back.

4. What made your trip to the Dry Tortugas memorable?

Honestly, everything was memorable in our Dry Tortugas trip. From the loading up of the kayak, the 2 night/3 day primitive camping trip to the nice ride back to Key West in full AC. But the one that pops out the most was having the island to yourself. After all the planes have left, the Yankee Freedom left and the island was all yours. Shared with only a few campers, we would just setup our chairs on the westerly wall and watch the sun fall past the horizon with Loggerhead Key in sight. The stars would come out and illuminate the whole sky. You’d never know that many stars existed, but because of the lack of light pollution on the remote island, it seemed there were unlimited stars to count. The stars combined with the heat lightning would cause a silhouette at night, illuminating Fort Jefferson & the sight was amazing. I would also highly recommend to any traveler kayaking. Following the perimeter of the bird sanctuary, we saw the sooty terns up close as they flew over our heads and saw sharks breaking the surface of the water.

5. What do you plan to do with your National Park Annual Pass? Which national park would you like to visit next?

Acquiring this annual pass, I can see myself traveling within the US to see many of the National Parks. Just last year I was in Yosemite National Park to climb Half Dome, so I will definitely be seeing some National Parks this coming year. The next National Parks are going to be Biscayne National, Everglades National and the monument in St. Augustine.