Florida On A Tankful: Exploring Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery

By Virginia Johnson, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7:24 AM EST

Acres of swampland, inside Big Cypress National Preserve, in between Naples and Miami, sits Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery.

Its beauty inside is only rivaled by what is outside.

From Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming to the island nation of Cuba, Clyde Butcher has traveled the world with his camera.

His black and white photographs show his vision on things far and near.

"His images show you how very beautiful the swamp is," said Carol Gowing.

Gowing, a retired nurse, now works in the Gallery and is also a Swamp Walker Guide.

She showed some of Butcher’s most iconic works. There is beauty in nature’s simplest expression of life and grandest display.

Many can see it in the close-up solitary picture of the Ghost Orchid deep in the wilds of Florida.

Others can gaze it in the sweeping Everglades landscapes and craning cypress trees of the crowded ponds.

And all can see this is a beauty worthy of preservation.

"We want to do everything we can to protect the swamp and the ecosystems that surround us here," said Gowing.

Although Butcher had a health set-back this summer, he is back taking pictures — the two latest ones are currently on display at the gallery: "Lake Myakka 1" in Sarasota’s Myakka State Park and "Dennis Creek" in Cedar Key.

At 75, he remains a champion of Florida’s natural habitat.

To that end, the gallery offers swamp tours behind the gallery and now rental cottage where Butcher and his wife Niki once lived.

The tours last about two hours, and if you are a photographer, there is also a tour for you that lasts a little longer.

Butcher’s business manager is daughter, Jackie Butcher-Obendorfer.

She says they worked hard to clean up after Hurricane Irma, as did nearby Everglades City.

They are open and Gowing and the other guides are happy to walk guests through the rain-fed pristine waters of the preserve.