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Chiefland photographer published in NatGeo

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

If getting published in National Geographic Magazine is the Holy Grail for photographers, then underwater picture taker and explorer Mark Long is Chiefland’s version of Indiana Jones.

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“I’m a pretty lucky guy,” Long said Friday afternoon about his latest accomplishment, a watery image of descending cave divers published in this month’s edition of the iconic and ever-popular magazine.

Long, who has been diving since childhood, took up underwater photography a few years ago. He’s had a handful of photos appear in other publications, but he said he never dreamed he’d make it into National Geographic.

At the suggestion of fellow cave diver and friend Kenny Broad — one of the divers in the photo who’s also heavily involved with the magazine — Long submitted a series of photos from several dives at the location for consideration.

“They said, ‘Yeah, we’re interested in this particular picture.’”

Long, not wanting to jinx the possibility of publication, said he kept the news under wraps for several months. “Then I got an email saying it was going to press.”

The exact location of the cave, somewhere in the northern part of Florida, is known to only a few, including Long and the two men in the photo, Broad and Tom Morris. And, Long said, they aim to keep it that way.

“Northern Florida has some of the last mysteries of what’s going on,” Long said, explaining that cave divers?members of a sport that has grown in popularity?have already investigated much of what’s available in other areas of Florida. And it’s the feeling of discovery that makes cave diving so exciting, he said.

“It’s, like, right up there with the moon explorers, or like the early Florida explorers.  To go where no one has gone before? Star Trek syndrome.”

Discovery and exploration are the themes of the article, “ Failure Is an Option: Where would we be without it?” that Long’s photo accompanies. Check out his work on page 132 of the Sept. 2013 issue.