LOCATION: Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, USA
STORY: In the year 1900, the captain of the SS Copenhagen made some grave navigation errors, and ran aground in my hometown of Lauderdale by the Sea, FL. While it’s crew scrambled to unload the cargo of 5000 tons of coal, much of it was lost in the wreckage and still today over 120 later, it’s possible to find bits of coal washed up on the shore after a big storm. I actually have one small chunk that I found underwater in my backyard, just a mile south of the shipwreck which I believe (but admittedly can’t prove) came from the Copenhagen. This admiralty anchor lies just a few meters off the main wreckage, where the captain made one last attempt from being pushed further ashore. It’s really quite amazing how this perfect example of maritime history has withstood the test of time, and not succumb to the elements over the years.
While the coral growth has completely encrusted the anchor, it’s sort of in that perfect goldilocks zone – not too overgrown – just right. To make the shot match my vision’s sketch, I had positioned myself underwater, planned my composition into the sun, fired a few test shots, and almost as if Mother Nature decided to give me a gift, this massive school of Bermuda chub fish comes from out of nowhere, and gives me the shot I didn’t even know I wanted! My sketch had a French angelfish in it, but there’s no way I could have planned for this school! Chub have the habit of approaching in a hurried school to bite at my bubbles while scuba diving. They often swarm in, and as soon as they realize the bubbles aren’t what they were hoping for, they’re gone as fast as they arrived. So really, this shot took 2 weeks of waiting for the weather, 2 hours of kayak prep and paddling, 30 minutes of exposure and composition experimenting, and then the magic all happened in the 5-8 seconds of the chub school coming to investigate my bubbles. Simply a moment that I’ll never be able to replicate, and I probably never would added 1900 into the print collection if it hadn’t been for those chub. But as the old saying goes, “luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.
I have photographed shipwrecks all over the world, yet I rarely turn them into wall art. But the SS Copenhagen’s anchor just felt right to me – both because of the chubs, and that it’s perhaps the most important piece of maritime history in my hometown. If ever you’re visiting Lauderdale by the Sea, I’d highly encourage you to snorkel or dive it. It’s definitely shallow enough to snorkel, and while if you’re a proficient swimmer, you could totally get there from shore, but I’d usually recommend going out on the boat of one of our local dive & snorkel shops, and they’ll drop you right on top of the shallow wreckage, which is home to schools of grunts, eels, sea turtles, anemones & coral, and is actually quite large. Check out this link to the National Park Service article about the SS Copenhagen shipwreck.
For printing, 1900 is best kept in it’s native ratio of 3:2, and is available in huge art sizes up to a maximum of 200″ wide. You can purchase this luxury wall art online in our standard sizes, but if you’d like to discuss a custom crop or size, please contact one of our design consultants.