In 1998, Hurricane Mitch demolished most of the older red mangroves of Pig Keys off the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Mac discovered this survivor while exploring the area. Of all mangrove species, the red mangrove grows closest to the sea. Its supportive prop roots can withstand tidal waves and submersion in salt water. The thickets of roots shelter many marine animals and also help protect the coast, dissipating the energy of storm waves. For Mac, the surviving tree ‘not only symbolises the beauty of this coast but also the strength and endurance of the people who live there’. Bad weather prevented him from taking the shot he wanted on his first visit, so he made the difficult trip again a few months later. ‘You need permission, a boat to cross choppy open ocean and plenty of gear – there is no running water or electricity,’ he says. At dusk, with the full Moon rising, Mac had his chance. ‘I wanted the tree to stand out, especially the roots,’ he explains. ‘So I used a polarising filter to cut glare, a wide-angle lens to exaggerate the arches, and a long exposure to smooth the water.’ The next day, a great storm came through, forcing him to leave once more.
Canon EOS 30D + 10–22mm f3.5–4.5 lens at 10mm + polarizing filter; 3.2 sec at f16 (+0.3 e/v); ISO 100; Manfrotto tripod + Really Right Stuff ballhead.
Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
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