Photographer gets spooked by his own subjects

Lost in a Florida swamp, he climbs a tree to avoid alligators.

Published May 5, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

It's amazing what photographers will do for a thousand words. Gemini Wink, a 26-year-old photographer from Louisville, Ky., went down to Florida recently to take pictures of alligators and wound up in a tree, hiding from his own subject matter.

According to a Reuters report, Wink left his friend's house in Tampa for a Hillsborough County canal, with the intention of capturing alligators on film. He used duct tape to mark his trail, but he became lost in his work and eventually wound up in a swamp -- in knee-deep water -- at dusk. Suddenly scared, the photographer decided to head in the one direction he knew was safe: up.

Wink climbed 40 feet up a tree, as far as he could get from the jaws of toothy reptiles. Afraid that he would doze off and wind up at the bottom of the swamp in bite-size bits, the jittery shutterbug taped himself to the tree's branches.

As darkness set in, Wink's friend in Tampa got worried and called sheriff's deputies. Meanwhile, back in the swamp, Wink heard noises from a nearby house and yelled for help. The homeowner heard his pleas and called the sheriff's department. Soon deputies, a helicopter and police dogs were dispatched, and before you could say "Ouch," Wink was untaped and saved.

Wink assured the Tampa Tribune that he would "definitely visit again," but, he added, "I'll probably stay out of the swamps."

Maybe he should start photographing Weimaraners instead.

By J.A. Getzlaff

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