Cypress Island Preserve

From my journal while working on Louisiana Wild…….August 29, 2013. I put in Lake Martin early.  Went near yesterday's location and set up for a nicer sunrise. A lone bald cypress with good moss and a few lotus scattered around. Wonderful light, top of the morning, many Bird sounds.  The squawk of the little blue herons, the sweet sweet song of the prothonotary warbler, the loud call of the pleated woodpecker and the whoosh and flap of cormorants, egrets and others landing in the treetops. It is a still morning, flat calm lake, ripples only come from my movement in the bateau, even as I have trained myself to step gingerly across my boat to get a different angle.  Starting with silhouettes of the fore mentioned tree, almost black and white looking with little color yet and it grows into the yellows, oranges and peachy pinks as the sun starts its daily climb. Then the red ball of fire pops up over the bald cypress across the lake and the colors explode into sunrise.  I never get tired of it.  Every one is different. I prefer sunrises and you start from dark to the ever changing movie and the beginning of the new day.  In contrast to sunsets, of which you see many more, for the logistical reasons alone starts with the day ending. You’re more expectant for sunset.  You go from daylight to nice light to pre sunset to the set its self.  You kind of have a better feeling or knowledge of what's coming, where as sunrise is a surprise, and surprises are good. 

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Sunrise Cypress Island Preserve

Once up everything is green, not quite the fresh green of spring, but green, even the water with the reflections is green. But touched here and there is the creamy white of the lotus flowers and the golden yellow of the inner flower parts, the red of a cardinal, the orange of the trumpet creeper, the iridescent blue of one of the dragon flies, the showy yellow of the prothonotary and brown of the osprey's back or the millions of midges that must have just hatched. So many on the lotus flowers it looks like they have the brown measles.  It's a big and important habitat here, but the little ones interest me too.  One I find fascinating is the water droplet on the top of the lotus leaves. Boy do they shed water, amazing. I wonder how long they would last as roofing material.

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One drop - a thousand words


Copenhagen Hills

This is the start of a series on places I visited for my new book. Most will come from my journal on a day we visited that site.

Journal……7/31/13.  We are off to a great start. The first day of shooting is at Copenhagen Hills Preserve in Caldwell Parish.  This the home to the largest diversity of woody plants in Louisiana and a spectacular show of purple coneflowers.  We just missed the peak, but there is plenty left to shoot.  I decided to think like I did with my film camera, look for the good shot first and not waste too much film.  Got to think that way, makes for better images over all.  When I finished my last book 5 years ago I switched to digital and now shoot more frames and less with a tripod.  Why, images stabilizer and free clicks.  Now I have to get serious and go for great images to make a wonderful book. This project is about good things, the lands of The Nature Conservancy.  Saving endangered plants and animals, producing clean air and water and leaving places of joy, quietness, solitude and meditation for all of us.
Image# 130731-0001
The first photograph I took on this project

I found some purple coneflowers, a touch ragged but still pretty and made my first image count.  I think I did. Why is this place different?  First the limestone-based soil is rare here in Louisiana and gives the flowers a place to grow. There is more than prairie here, you also see the piney woods, the hardwood bottomlands, a cypress lake and the riverbank communities. Butterflies are all over the flowers.  Not much wildlife today.  Too hot, they are in the shade resting. Fall Spiders are out.  Lots of Maple on the slope to the river could be good colors. 

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Maple Magnificence    

Ronnie Ulmer, the Northeast land manger for The Nature Conservancy sums this preserve up best with one of his Ronnie-isms, “You can see more kinds of nature here with the fewest steps than anywhere else in Louisiana.”  Its true we came back and visited this site five times.

LouisianaWild in your bookstore or on this web site soon.


Digital Wonders

At 12:10 PM the other night I used my Nikon D-800 to shoot a night shot at a friend’s lake.  The moon was setting to my right and it along with the stars made my exposure of 30 seconds at f6.7 give me great detail in the water and sky. I shoot in raw format and by using the exposure slider in Adobe Lightroom I was able to make another rendition of the above image. This one showing detail to make it look almost like day time.  Look closely at the second image below and you can still see the stars.

Southern stars over Havenwood Lake
Image# 150627-0130

Way back when (2006) when I was still shooting film, there was no way to get these two different versions of an image out of one Kodachrome 200 slide or any other film. These days you can do hundreds of editing tasks with LR or Photoshop much easier and quicker than you could in the darkroom and many more such as this two examples that you could not do before because of the limitations of film.

Fake daylight over Havenwood Lake
Image# 150627-0130 adjusted

But with traditional photographers like myself, you can use these remarkable cameras to make straightforward images of beautiful places such as the lands protected and restored by The Nature Conservancy in Louisiana.  I did so over the last two years when I visited multiple times the 60 plus properties covering over 350,000 acres in Louisiana by TNC.  My book, Louisiana Wild, which has been researched, photographed, written, edited, designed and printed is now being shipped to the warehouse.  It will be in books stores by September.

New book cover

Every Tuesday, I will write about one of the areas I visited making this book. I will start July 28 with one of the most interesting areas which is named Copenhagen Hills.  This hilly sylvan paradise has more different species of trees than any place in Louisiana.  I started my shooting for this book there on the last day of July 2013 and have been working on it since.  Please tune into my blog every Tuesday to learn more about these interesting habitats. And look for Louisiana Wild in your bookstore or on this web site soon.


Sunrise on the Gulf

Sunday I had the delight of looking at another hazy Grand Isle sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.  For the past 40 years, I have seen many of these stunning mornings while either photographing, scuba diving or fishing on the coast of Louisiana.  The humid air makes the haze. Then a thundercloud partially hides the sunrise,  thus making this special time of day even more picturesque. 

Sunrise South of Grand Isle
Image# 150607-1289

Just about the time it was full daylight, Jim Roland gets a strike on light weight 10 pound test line while fishing a voodoo shrimp.  He quickly realized it was going to be a fight, which was confirmed 45 minutes later. That's when Macon Roland used the net to help him pull the 29-pound bull red into the boat. That’s a redfish. Jimbo posed while he grinned widely then Jacob Roland gently placed the fish back in the Gulf to breed again. A day well spent in Louisiana’s prolific coastal waters.
Big Red