Many of Pudney's pictures recently appeared in an article on the Green Swamp in Orchids magazine.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Skip Pudney’s work for the Conservancy is worth at least a 100,000 words and growing.
Pudney, a Philadelphia native now living in Leland where he is a supervisor at a chemical plant, has been taking pictures for three decades, with his photography work becoming more serious in the last ten years. Discovering the Conservancy’s Green Swamp Preserve as well as other preserves in SE North Carolina has brought his photography to a whole new level. The volunteer photographer has graciously allowed the Conservancy to use his work to tell the swamp’s story.
“A couple of friends invited me to join them in the Green Swamp. It was so different from anything else,” he explains. These days he spends a lot of his spare time in the Brunswick County preserve. “Spring time at sunrise, that’s my favorite time to be there – with the mist and the dew, it is magical. I make every effort to get there.”
Pudney’s pictures capture that magic. Take the close-up of the Venus flytrap that resembles something Georgia O’Keefe might have painted. “That one was growth for me, rather than just text book photography,” he says. “That’s one of the things about being able to return to the same subject over and over again. You can do more things with your pictures.”
He credits the Conservancy’s Angie Carl, Southeast Coastal Plain Fire Specialist, with connecting him to the environment. “I actually went on a prescribed burn with Angie. Those pictures were the first thing I gave to the Conservancy. It was really educational. I had no idea how involved it is. It was very impressive.”
Carl says that Pudney captures the real essence of the swamp, something that may be missed by others. “I think that the reason Skip takes such amazing pictures is because he is dedicated to taking pictures through the year. Everyone gets to see a side of the Green Swamp, but you can’t see the whole picture unless you visit there more than once,” she says.
The Green Swamp and other nearby Conservancy properties are filled with fauna that depend on fire for survival. So many of the orchids, fly traps and other plants that he photographs are closely tied to prescribed burning. The August edition of “Orchids,” which is the bulletin of the American Orchid Society, featured a cover story about controlled burning and orchids in the Green Swamp. It included picture after beautiful picture of native flowers shot by Pudney.
Pudney says his predilection for hanging out in the swamp has earned him a new moniker from his wife. “She calls me Swamp Thing,” he explains, laughing.
That’s a title he intends to keep. “There is still a lot that I haven’t seen. I can’t see not going there. I’ll keep going back and taking more pictures. The Nature Conservancy appreciates the pictures and I appreciate the opportunity to visit this special place. I see that as a win-win.”
NOTE: The Green Swamp Preserve is open year-round, sunup to sundown. A parking area for the Green Swamp Preserve is located 5.5 miles north of Supply on NC 211.
Debbie Crane is Director of Communications at the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.