SMP logo

Bookmark and Share


Lyonia - A Florida Upland

October 18, 2013 February 2, 2014
Exhibition Opening Reception: Friday, October 18, 6:00-8:00pm
Artist's Talk and Reception: Saturday, November 9, 4:00-6:00pm


The austere landscape at Lyonia is almost a Zen experience, with its pure white sand and sparse vegetation. At first I thought there was not a lot to photograph, because, as a whole, it looked more forbidding than enticing. But the more I returned to it, the more I saw. I worked with the changing light, weather, and seasons, finding beautiful details in the plants and terrain.” – Lee Dunkel


Since 2009, Lee Dunkel has been photographing the Lyonia Preserve, a 360-acre joint project of Volusia County's Land Acquisition and Management Division and the Volusia County School Board to restore and maintain this scrub habitat in Deltona, Florida. Her photographs poetically bring out the intricate patterns, textures, and shapes that compose this unique and fragile ecosystem. Using traditional black-and-white film and gelatin silver printmaking methods, Lee Dunkel emphasizes the small details that may otherwise go unnoticed in this untamed, distinct Florida landscape.

"What viewers see when looking at Lee Dunkel’s work is much more than a photographic reproduction. Her views of the landscape are more intimate and personal than the grand views of her West Coast influences, such as Adams, Weston, and Sexton; and the work is more aptly described as an emotional view of a natural scene, containing elements of abstraction. Dunkel does not aim to preserve a remote, unobtainable grandeur in the landscape, but instead invites the viewer into her world, and, in that process, we often get our feet wet."  — Rick Lang



“Sweat dripping from my nose, glasses slipping down my nose from the sweat, sweat running down my back and under my arms, sun beating down on the white powdery sand, no shade, no where to hide from the sun, no water to make one feel cool. This was the beginning of my one year photographic exploration of Lyonia.

Upon my first visit I thought this was an impossible landscape for me to tackle with artistic zeal. Arid and plain. Not the soft and lyrical that make the wetlands such a pleasure. However, once I put my tripod legs down and really focused on what is there I found it to be every bit as interesting an area to photograph as any of my other areas. It has this Zen-like quality that brings out a sense of peace and quiet not found in the wetlands. The openness, the sky always present. I found myself not only exploring the landscape but opening myself up to find new ways of interpreting what I am finding and seeing. The portfolios from Lyonia are quite varied as each image has its own interpretation and identity. The different seasons brought different artistic problems to be solved. In some ways it reminded me of photographing in the badlands of North Dakota, another very simple, and some would say, plain landscape. Both Lyonia and North Dakota have a unique beauty all their own. You just have to stand still, be patient, and let the quiet and simplicity of the landscape take over


I am attracted to black-and-white photography because of the abstract quality it lends to the image, making it something more than documentation... I took photographs, not with exact replication in mind, but rather 'seeing' through the lens what the images might look like once I could manipulate the prints in the darkroom. Each image is made using the whole negative, but the tonal quality is composed with a combination of photography, film development, and darkroom techniques."  - Lee Dunkel

Lee Dunkel has been capturing the Florida landscape in her photographs since 1985 and has created over 10 extensive bodies of work, most notable of which are her series titled Shore Patterns, the St. Johns River Portfolio and Florida Etudes. Dunkel began her photographic education at Daytona State College (when it was Daytona Beach Community College) and also studied under the renowned photographers John Sexton and George Tice to master the art of traditional black and white darkroom printing. She has stayed true to this gelatin silver printing process and continues to print in this fashion today.

Her work is regularly featured in exhibitions throughout Florida and is held in many public and private collections, including the Southeast Museum of Photography and the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach. She has been the recipient of numerous artist awards and honors including the Florida Individual Artist Fellowship. More recently, she has published a retrospective book of her work titled: Nine Portfolios: 1985-2008 which is available for purchase on her website.  For autographed copies, please contact the artist. She currently lives and works in Ormond Beach, Florida.


Located in Deltona, Florida, Lyonia Preserve is considered an "upland" or “scrub” landscape, meaning that it is high and dry with nutrient poor soil made up of white powdery fine sand. This ecosystem is unique to central Florida and is home to a host of plants specific to this area, such as the Sand Pine, Myrtle Oak, Sandhill Oak and Florida Rosemary. This ecosystem is also home to the Florida Scrub Jay, a bird unique to the state of Florida and currently on the endangered species list.

There are not many areas such as this left in Florida. Since 1994, restoration efforts have been made to remove overgrown sand pines and open up the understory, creating bare sand areas with low-growing vegetation preferred by scrub species.  For more information about these restoration efforts please visit

All images are Untitled, from the series, Lyonia - A Florida Upland, 2009-2011.

Click here for more information about Lee Dunkel.

All photographs are Gelatin Silver Prints.

lee lee

Current Exhibitions | Upcoming Exhibitions | Past Exhibitions | Traveling Exhibitions


The Southeast Museum of Photography is a service of Daytona State College
1200 W. International Speedway Blvd. (Building 1200) Daytona Beach, FL, 32114, (386) 506-4475
Free Admission & Parking

Click HERE for museum hours of operation

Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

Daytona State College prohibits discrimination and assures equal opportunity in employment and education services to all individuals without regard to age, ancestry, belief, color, disability, ethnicity, genetic information, gender, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, and veteran status. For more details, read our Equal Opportunity Statement or contact: Lonnie Thompson, Chair of the Equity Committee at 386-506-3403 or 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, Fl. 32114.