Travel Tales from The Hub
Apalachicola and “The Forgotten Coast” With a Friend.
By Ken Hubbard
The term “The Forgotten Coast” refers to a short stretch of the Florida panhandle that sits on the Gulf of Mexico, with the small town of Apalachicola as the center of this unspoiled and serene little universe. I heard of Apalachicola before but never really thought much about going there. Honestly, I had already been to Pensacola, Destin and Panama City, enjoying the good times those towns had to offer. I figured Apalachicola would be very similar, I could not be more wrong.
When I contacted friend and fellow photographer David Akoubian (www.bearwoodsphotography.com) about being part of a project Andre Costantini and I were working on, it didn’t take him more than a second to suggest Apalachicola for its location. Even though I was slightly hesitant, I could sense his fondness for this location and what we would see and photograph there. The more he spoke about the people, places and wildlife, the more I realized I didn’t know anything at all about this amazing little town.
Scipio Creek Shrimp Boats: Tamron SP24-70mm Di VC USD – 24mm, 1/40 sec, F/14 @ ISO 200
Day 1: Early Morning Birding and Late Afternoon Conversations
On the first full day in town David wanted to bring us to one of his favorite spots for capturing sunrise images and birds. Scipio Creek Marina is an old school fisherman’s spot with its collection of shrimp boats in varying conditions. Some floating quietly on the placid water and others slowly sinking below the waterline. For many years shrimp fishermen and oystermen have made a solid living harvesting these delicious items from the sweet waters of Apalachicola bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Like many places, the times are slowly changing and it has become harder to make a living on the sea, but this hardy community continues on steadfast. The beautiful sunrise we encountered at this tranquil location allowed for great images of the fishing boats as well as the brown pelicans, Herons & Ospreys flying by.
Brown Pelican: Tamron SP150-600m Di VC USD G2
After a tasty breakfast of oyster cakes and eggs ( I know what you may be thinking, but don’t knock it before you try it) at Caroline’s Dining On The River http://apalachicolariverinn.com, we headed out to do some sightseeing around the area during the harsh mid-day light. As the day lingered on and the miles rolled by we decided to go over to Eastpoint and see if any of the local oystermen David has made friends with over the years were around. Due to some illnesses and unfortunate accidents, not many were around, but we did end up meeting up with Carson and a few other locals. We spent a few hours with Carson talking about the local area and how things have significantly changed with the fisheries over the past few years. The oyster beds in this part of the country have been some of the richest and fastest growing in the country, but due to water regulations in other states, the beds are shrinking and there are less and less oysters and fishermen every year. As the sun started to set and the light became really soft and perfect for a portrait, David and I asked Carson if he minded sitting for a couple of shots. He graciously obliged.
Carson: Tamron SP35mm Di VC USD - 35mm, 1/20 sec. F/8 @ ISO 640
Day 2: Another Early Morning and a Ride Up River With Capt Gil
So, once again we were up before sunrise to capture the early morning light, but this time there was no glow in the horizon due to a dense fog that rolled in overnight. Since the lighting was so dramatically different from the day before we decided to head back to Scipio Creek Marina to see what we could capture. When we got there it was pretty well socked in, but there was no wind at all and the water was perfectly still without a ripple in sight. I decided to go back to the shrimp boats and capture images of the reflections on the still water. Suddenly, a small outboard motor broke the peaceful silence and out of the corner of my eye I saw a small boat slowly making its way to the center of my frame. I raced to capture a few images before he broke the glass like water and reflections, I continued to capture images as he entered and then exited the frame. Turns out, the ones with the boat driving through the frame ended up being my favorite!
Scipio Creek Marina: Tamron SP24-70mm Di VC USD - 44m, 1/3 Sec, F/16 @ ISO 400
Good food sometimes may be the one thing wonderful little towns are lacking, in Apalachicola that is not the case. After a successful morning shoot, David, Andre and I set off for a quick breakfast at Café Con Letche. Our breakfast consisted of a breakfast sandwich with ham, cheese and eggs on a creamy buttery croissant as well as a couple of delicious breakfast burritos. After which it was time to download the hundreds of images taken and maybe catch a quick nap before our next outing.
After catching up with organizing images, charging batteries and a little rest it was time to eat again before we set out for our sunset river ride. This time it is was off to The Tap Room at the Owl Café for some succulent 13 mile Apalachicola Oysters on the half shell, Owl Café Crab Dip and Italian olives. Once we were done with our late lunch it was time to head out for our ride up the Apalachicola River. We met up with Capt Gil of Capt. Gils River Cruises www.captgil.com at the Rivercrest lodge dock and spent the next 4 hours chasing eagles, ospreys and great blue herons up and down the river. Capt. Gil was a fantastic guide with a wonderfully dry sense of humor, an impeccable knowledge of the river and where to take us to capture all the images we were looking for. At some point during our ride up river I lost count of how many birds of prey we got to see and photograph.
Bald Eagle: Tamron SP150-600mm Di VC USD – 600mm, 1/4000 sec, F/11 @ ISO 1000
At some point something usually has to go a bit wrong on any trip I am on. Either it rains the entire time, there isn’t a cloud in the sky or there aren’t any wildlife anywhere in site. This time, there were some prescribed control burns in the local national forest and as the sun started on its way down, smoke from those fires started to fill the sky, dampening the light. As time went on the light got flatter and flatter, and looked like sunset may be a wash. But then I was quickly reminded that I wasn’t traveling alone, I was with David and Andre and their luck always turns for the better. As the sun got closer to the horizon the more golden the sky became, until it finally turned this brilliant orange and yellow. Go figure, I guess now I need to bring David and Andre where ever I go.
Sunset: Tamron SP150-600mm Di VC USD – 300mm, F/11, 1/2000 @ ISO 2000
I was honored to spend a few days with David, showing us the places, the people and most importantly THE FOOD of the place he considers a “second home” . His love for this tiny town on the “forgotten coast” could be seen on his face where ever we went and it became infectious as the days went by. I can now see why he returns year after year and I will be back to see more of what this beautiful part of Florida has to offer. If any of you have an interest in visiting Apalachicola and capturing some great images there, sign up for one of the hands on workshops David runs there each year.
To see more images and continued info about Apalachicola go to Ken’s facebook page at @tamronken hubbard
To find out more about the Tamron lenses used in this article click below
SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD
SP 24-70mm Di VC USD
SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2