When Clyde Butcher stands chest-deep in the swampy spread of the Florida Everglades with his Civil War-era camera, always hunting for the perfect photograph, he must summon an uncommon patience.
Butcher once remained patient for three years. In 1991, the photographer was swimming alongside a canoe on the winding Loxahatchee River outside Jupiter, waiting for still winds and bright sun, when Butcher spotted his chance. He unloaded his 8-by-10 field camera, planted it on a tripod just above the river's surface, and snapped a six-minute-long exposure of the scene: bright, glassy water, drooping palms along the riverbank.
"That day was perfect, absolutely still. How often do you have the right light and no wind?" Butcher, of Venice, says, recalling the landscape that took three years of visits to capture. "That's the way I photograph: from the water. What I see are feelings created by a scene, instead of just a picture of a plant or bird."
Starting Friday, Feb. 12, six of Butcher's photographs depicting National Park vistas from Florida to California have a new permanent home at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale. The unveiling of the large-format black-and-white prints, donated by Butcher and collectors Jim and Lisa Dobson, will coincide with Friday's IMAX premiere of the Robert Redford-narrated documentary "National Parks Adventure 3D."
The film, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, captures off-trail adventures in 30 of the country's 408 national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, and, yes, the Everglades.
On the Museum of Discovery and Science's second floor, Butcher's snapshots offer stark postcards of Aspen trees in Deer Creek, Utah; moss-covered redwoods in Pepperwood, Calif.; beaver ponds at Rocky Mountain National Park; and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.
"I did a whole series on Escalante in the '90s and these images helped convince [President Bill] Clinton to declare it a national monument," says Butcher, 74, and a conservationist. "They wanted to drill inside the park. What else do you do in Utah except mine and drill?"
Butcher plans to publish a photography book titled "Celebrating the National Parks" in April. He'll recall his adventures in the wilderness after the 12:10 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, screenings of "National Parks Adventure 3D." He will also sign copies of his photography books between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Clyde Butcher photography exhibition will open Friday, Feb. 12, at the Museum of Discovery and Science, 401 SW Second St., in Fort Lauderdale. Butcher will appear at the museum from 11 a.m.to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. Admission costs $16-$20. Call 954-713-0930, or go to Mods.org