STORY: I have to resist thinking of wildlife as “pets”, but sometimes it can be awfully tempting. During the COVID summer of 2020, I spent a lot more time with the local turtles in my backyard, and while getting to know each of their personalities, and their willingness to be a model, I was relying on their physical differences to tell them apart from a distance. That made me break my rule of not naming wildlife, by coming up with descriptive names like “Fibi-Notch-y”, “Old Faithful”, and pictured here in Aurora is “Barnacle Bob”. With local beaches mostly devoid of swimmers & boats during the lockdown months, there were actually tons more turtles living happily right at the water’s edge – at times, so many that it was tough to tell them apart without these silly names!

While I shot the “good models” in countless positions over countless days, on this one particular day, the dancing light ripples in the clear shallow water made for a visual texture that reminded me of the aurora borealis, the likes of which I see underwater only once in a blue moon. The simple geometry of the sand ripples overlaid with the complex and highly dynamic movement of the dancing light made a pattern that blew my mind, as nature’s art once again superseded my wildest dreams.

Gug has many fantastic turtle images – Against All Odds and Turtle In Motion are two of his favorites


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