By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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After losing patience with lugging heavy tents and ground sheets around America, wildlife and conservation photographer Mac Stone, 32, traded it all in for his trusty one pound hammock.
While most people only use a hammock for a lazy nap underneath their favourite garden tree, or to sunbathe on a beach, Stone loves the spontaneity of carrying his own hotel room wherever he goes.
Mac said: “When I see a hammock I think of lightweight efficiency, a portable hotel offering the best views and the cheapest rates to destinations only limited by the reach of my imagination.
“It’s not a groundbreaking epiphany. After all, the Caribbean islanders introduced hammocks to early explorers as the answers to gnawing rodents, venomous snakes, and the ground dwelling creatures of the night.”
Now Stone is incorporating his cosy bed into eye-catching landscapes of America’s swamps, using a variety of flashlights to spotlight his airborne home.
Camping in a tent is a thing of the past for Stone, especially as it calls for dry upland areas, which is where many other creatures like to retreat to at night.
For those reluctant to part with their tent’s precious mosquito netting, Mac insists that he has never had an issue with creepy crawlies.
The Florida-born photographer said: “Everyone always says, ‘Don’t camp in Florida in the summer’. I think it’s a form of crowd control to keep the masses only visiting during the winter.
“I sleep all the time in the summer without a mosquito net and I never use insect repellent. My skin isn’t made of leather or anything, the key is to find a breezy spot or one near moving water.
“I bring a mosquito net with me just in case things get buggy, but I’ve never had to use one.”
America’s swamps have frequently been labeled as spooky and inhospitable places, which has led to their gradual degradation due to draining and their complete replacement with golf courses or malls.
By leaving himself open to the elements in America’s shrinking number of swamps, Mac hopes to dispel the idea that they are dangerous places and encourage adventurers to explore the beauty of these untamed landscapes.
The photographer added: “I’ve camped in dozens of places but I can tell you one of my favourite places was on the Econlockhatchee River in Florida.
“The waterway looks like a movie set with picturesque palm trees lining the entire shoreline and sky in every direction.
“When I peer out of the hammock at night and shine my flashlight I can see a handful of alligators cruising the waterway.
“I love that - it's like I have my own protective moat around my humble home.”