Atchafalaya Basin Fall Workshop Report

The weather was marvelous, as it usually is on a Louisiana fall day, when we ventured into Grand River Flats with six canoes for my Atchafalaya Basin photography workshop, which was held a couple of weeks ago in late November.  The low sun and scattered clouds gave all a great opportunity for landscape photos of the bald cypress trees decorated with roosting cormorants and ancient stumps cut in the cypress logging hey day of the early 1900s.

The surprise was numerous 4 to 5 foot alligators and one seven footer, we were not expecting gators since we have had some frosts already this year. All 10 students got close. I reminded everyone that in my first years out here when the alligators were endangered I rarely saw one in this part of the basin.

Sunset was colorful and the cypress trees continued to gain more cormorants, as the evening grew dark. We also saw two bald eagles that have a nest nearby.

 Check out our next workshop on February 11 at the Eagle Expo in Morgan City, where we will visit an eagle’s nest in Terrebonne Parish. Stay tuned for more info on that coming soon. And, don’t forget, the next Atchafalaya workshop will be in March 2010.  Hope you can join us.


Low Water on the Mighty Mississippi

Sunday, I had a guest in town from the mountains of New Mexico.  He’s a river guide, boat builder, musician, author and artist by the name of Renny Russell. He was with us last month when we rowed the Grand Canyon for 19 days.  He heard so much about Louisiana on the trip, a visit was necessary, and he wanted to see the Mississippi River.  He was flabbergasted that Old Man River has an average of 600,000 cubic feet per second of water as compared to only 8,000 cfs on the Colorado, with its raging rapids.
Renny Russell and Susan Roland stroll the beach.

With six others and two boats we ventured out to an island in the Mississippi below Angola.  When we arrived 1,000 white pelicans were resting on a massive sand bar on the upstream tip of the island. 
CC on a huge sandbar.

They flew eventually and circled high above showing the black feathers on their wings contrasting all the white.  
Part of the flock of a thousand pelicans circle overhead.

We walked the beach and ventured into the willow cottonwood forest on the higher ground.  These islands as most on the lower Mississippi are covered with water during the spring, making it a changing a diverse habitat for many species of wildlife.  
Sycamore and Black Willows grow along the higher ground.

We headed home to an amazing sunset and enjoyed showing a desert dwellers the wonders of a wet Louisiana, for more water passed us, I am guessing than New Mexico has in the whole state.


Lava Falls

Oh what a grand time, on a river, in a canyon with the same name. In 1994 I put my name in for a private river trip on the mighty Colorado, a river with 80 named rapids. It also contains a number of big riffles and powerful eddies in the 226 mile stretch from Lee's ferry to Diamond Creek. I finally did it last month with family and friends.  As you can see in this video of my dory flipping in the biggest rapid in the grand canyon, it was quite an adventure.

I will blog more about this trip after I get back from speaking on the oil spill at a conference in Costa Rica. It was quite a shock going from 19 peaceful nights under the stars in the Canyon to going through thousands of ugly photos of the oil spill.


Fall Workshops!

My Fall Photography Workshops in the Atchafalaya Basin and Tunica Hills are right around the corner.  I hope you can join me for one or both. See below for details.

*Price listed below for each workshop covers the lecture, field trip, and follow-up critique session.


Join me on my popular workshop into the scenic Atchafalaya Basin.  The seminar includes a lecture, a day trip by canoe in the swamp, and a follow-up session to critique the photographs taken on the trip.  Learn helpful information on techniques, equipment, as well as locating and approaching wildlife.

This workshop is open to photographers at all levels of expertise as well as non-photographers, but the group is limited to 15, so reserve your spot early.  Read more about this workshop HERE.

DATE: November 20, 2010
PRICE: $290.00 per person


Photography and hiking in the Tunica Hills will include an early morning exploration of fall foliage in the rugged Tunica Hills.  We will focus our cameras on the landscape of the forest, the flowers, and waterfalls.  Digital techniques for close-up shots as well as panoramic views will be discussed.  Tripod and flash usage will be practiced throughout the day.  Pack a picnic lunch and wear your sturdy shoes!
Read more about this workshop HERE.

DATE: November 21, 2010
PRICE: $290.00 per person

Lecture for both workshops:November 18, 2010
*Location to be announced.

Critique Session for both workshops:
November 23, 2010
*Location and time to be announced.


Ready to Sign Up?

You may print out the sign-up forms and mail it to us along with full payment:Atchafalaya Workshop Sign-up Form PDF
Tunica Hills Sign-up Form PDF

Mail check and sign-up form below to:
Cactus Clyde Productions
PO Box 14876, Baton Rouge, LA 70898

You may also call us to sign-up:
CC's office: 225-769-4766
or the Backpacker: 225-925-0777 or 1-800-414-4685

*Full payment is due at time of sign-up.
Please review the Cancellation Policy:

Hope to see you there!

If you have any questions please email us at atchbasin@aol.com


Wood Duck Print

The Print of the Month for October 2010

A great gift for the outdoorsman, husband, son, or boyfriend.  This male wood duck in full breeding plumage sits on a bald cypress branch overlooking a nest box where the female he bred with is sitting on eggs.  The wood duck was at a low ebb in population until wildlife management brought the bird back to a healthy population. 

Regular Price: $100
Special Print of the Month Price: $40
Paper size: 8.5" x 11"
Image size: 6.65" x 10" with white border (see image above)
Paper Type:  Epson Ultra Premium Luster Photo Paper

For more info and/or to purchase a print please visit the Print of the Month webpage: HERE


Malaysian Tiger at BR Zoo

On a cool morning in March I accompanied the Baton Rouge Zoo’s general curator Sam Winslow to a temporary cage holding three Malaysian Tigers.  My goal was a great picture for the 40th anniversary commemorative poster to help celebrate the zoo and the new Realm of the Tiger exhibit.  Earlier I had asked Sam if I could get in the cage with the three feline sisters.  He laughed and said, “No way, they would tear you up”. 

So to make my job more difficult I had to shoot through the bars.  This requires the camera lens to be right up to the cage so the bars would be so out of focus they would not show up in the picture.  The curious tigers came right to me and leaped onto the bars throwing up sand from their paws and all over my equipment.  It just goes to show wildlife photography is never easy, not even in a zoo.

It took patience to capture two of the sisters in front of the vegetation Sam had set up.  Finally, with a well-timed click I got the photo used in the poster.  I support the Baton Rouge Zoo and donated my time and expertise to supply Phil Frost, Zoo Director, with this photograph.  STUN Design designed the poster and Franklin Press printed it. 

Support our Zoo by visiting the new Realm of the Tiger and by buying a poster in their gift shop.  The Baton Rouge Zoo is a great place to visit and 100% of all funds received from the sale of the print will support field conservation of tigers in Asia.


Fall in the Atchafalaya Basin

Fall in the Atchafalaya is my favorite time of the year.  Frontal systems push out the heat and haze that makes photography difficult and makes way for clear, clean, blue skies dressed with slight  wisps of clouds that produce October sunsets.  The moss is spectacular in the basin.  As for the moonrise  you can expect a clear night to see it over the bald cypress trees.  October 22 is the next full moon.

Full moon rises over Bald Cypress Trees on Belle River

This time of year is also good for camping.  You don’t  have to deal with the cold of winter, the high water of spring or the insects and heat of summer.  

Autumn campers in the Atchafalaya Basin

If you are uncomfortable going out into the basin by yourself, be sure to check out October’s Atchafalaya Days program.  For the entire month educational seminars and field trips will be available to help the public learn more about , as well as provide the opportunity to view,  America’s largest river basin swamp.  

You can see more of my Atchafalaya Basin photographs HERE.
Are you a photographer interested in going out into the basin to shoot?  Check out more info on my Atchafalaya Basin photography workshops HERE.  The next one is in November!


Isles Dernieres Barrier Island Refuge

Monday’s paper quotes Thad Allen saying the cement is holding and the Deepwater Horizon well is capped for good.  No new oil will leak out, but what about the oil that’s left on the bottom of the gulf. Only time will tell. Yesterday more good news as I had my first happy trip into coastal Louisiana since before April 20, 2010: a rehabilitated bird release.

We took off from Lumcon in Cocodrie, Louisiana at 6:30 AM.  The destination was Raccoon Island, one of my favorite colonial bird rookeries on the coast and part of the Isles Dernieres Barrier Island Refuge. On board five boats were twenty people from LWF, FW Service, Tri-State Bird Rescue, Gulf Coast IMT and some press. It was a bit of a rough ride as the wind was 10 to 15 knots out of the southeast and once out of the marsh and into the bay the boats were rocking and rolling.

Once on the island, the cages were unloaded. Rhonda Murgatroyd and Danene Birtell set up the release.  The first was a ruddy turnstone, a small shorebird that hopped out, looked around, hopped a few more steps then took off to freedom.  Next were two terns, one a sandwich and the other a royal. Both these species nest on this island in the thousands.  It’s comical to see their nursery pods where a large group of young is watched by only a few adult birds so most of the parents can go find food.

Mike Carloss watches as Rhonda releases a pelican

The highlight was the pelicans.  The first one didn’t stay long.  It was an adult that took to wind after about a minute of walking on the beach and joined a wild pelican flying by.  The next five were juvenile birds, born this spring and not able to fly when they were captured covered with oil.  They were let out separately about two minutes apart.  Each hung around near the people and as the next bird was released they immediately joined their fellow birds.  You could almost tell they were smiling and happy as the group of five waddled together on the beach. 

Home and free at last

Rhonda and Danene tried to herd them toward a pile of fish the helpers put out on the gulf side of the islands.  The young birds did the opposite and headed for the bay and once in the water they flew and dove for fish like old pros.   

Pelicans playfully practicing fishing 

I am guessing these birds were well prepared for the wild and will live just fine on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.


Print of the Month: September '10

We're trying something new over here starting this month of September 2010:
The Print of the Month. I'm hoping everyone will enjoy it.

Print of the Month #1: 

This photograph entitled "Bonding" is our first in  the series of Prints of the Month we are now offering. This signed archival print is available at a special price of $40 until the next Print of the Month becomes available. At that point this print will be available at its regular price of $100.

For more details and/or to purchase your own signed CC Lockwood "Bonding" print visit the
Print of the Month webpage: HERE

If you have any questions please let us know!


Five-year anniversary of Katrina

Volume 1 Issue 2   

Yesterday was my five-year anniversary.  It was September 1, 2005 when I found out about this devastating storm that hit on August 29, 2005.  How could one not know about the hurricane heard around the world?  One way is to be at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on an eight-day river trip.  Each year I join a Grand Canyon Expeditions Colorado river rafting trip as a Photography guide.
S-rig white water raft
On August 24th, I met with my 28 students in a conference room of our Las Vegas Hotel to explain to them how we would photograph 100 wild rapids, majestic desert bighorn sheep and mile high canyon walls.  None of us had a clue what was brewing in the Atlantic.  The next morning at 5 AM we took a bus to Lee’s Ferry to begin our adventure with no radios, cell phone or any communication with the outside world except a signal mirror and a satellite phone that was hidden in the Guides box and only to be turned on in emergency.  We had no emergency on this wilderness river, unlike friends and family back home that lost lives, homes and their way of life.  Some with problems still going on today.

On September 1 our trip ended at South Cove in Lake Mead. Our two 37 foot s-rigged rafts were pulling up to the truck with long trailers when I heard one of the drivers yell, “Where is CC Lockwood, I have a packet of letters and a newspaper for him”.  I was startled, for never in 29 previous Colorado River trips had anybody been waiting for me at the boat ramp with a newspaper.  When I saw the cover of USA Today showing the Superdome surrounded by water, I did not have to read the headline mentioning Hurricane Katrina to know that we had the big one.
80% of New Orleans flooded by Hurricane Katrina
I knew with the loss of 2,000 square miles of marsh and barrier islands along coastal Louisiana that it was only a matter of time before New Orleans got the Sockdolager, which means knock out punch in German and is also the name of one of the bigger rapids I had just run in the Grand Canyon a few days before.  With a ton of trouble I managed to fly home the next night and get in the air and on the ground to photograph the wake of destruction left by Katrina on Louisiana’s vanishing coastline.  Much more to come in future blogs about this subject so critical to all Americans. 


Exercising Your Writing Skills

“Write every day”, Grits Gresham told me between takes of The Clean Team Public Service announcements we were shooting at Chicot State Park in 1985, “even if its only writing down what you had for breakfast, write every day.” I know what he was talking about even though most of the time I did not practice what he preached.  Grits, shooting editor for Sports Afield, Miller Light Beer Personality, and Clean Team member taught that writing was like a sport that you have to train for every day. Runners run, Golfers hit balls and writers need to write.

My method was the lazy way or at least to do my favorite part of a coffee table book project first, the field work, the adventure and the photography and save the writing for last.  The fact is I chose my job as a natural history photographer to be in the woods and waters as much or more than for the photography. Most of my books I worked on for two years to make sure I got all the seasons in twice before I headed home to write with the press deadline looming.  Kathy Silvia, past Assistant Director of LSU Press used to joke that she had to hire someone to block my driveway to keep me home writing, lest I would sneak out into the swamp for one more picture.

The Clean Team was the brainstorm of Tommy Casanova, LSU All American and eye surgeon who thought if he could get some celebrity personalities together, the group might be able to help change the way of thinking of those that littered our beautiful state.  I joined this clean team along with LSU football greats Hokie Gajan and Bert Jones, author Grits Gresham, Cajun humorist Justin Wilson and blues singer Irma Thomas
Clean Team founding members: Tommy Casanova, 
Hokie Gajan, Bert Jones, CC Lockwood, 
& Grits Grisham. See more Clean Team 
photographs HERE.

World famous director of Ocean's Eleven fame, Steven Soderbergh volunteered his time to write touching and hilarious scripts for the TV spots.  Watch one of The Clean Team PSA videos from 1985 here:

Clean Team PSA from CC Lockwood on Vimeo.

The Clean Team succeeded in making nine 30 second PSAs that ran on statewide television for years.  They presented slide shows to groups across the state as well as helped to organize the first three Beach Sweeps along the Louisiana coast.  Could you guess the most numerous type of litter we picked up on the first beach sweep?  Six ounce Styrofoam coffee cups.

I begin my blogging to follow Grits's suggestion, probably not to post every day, but to write something every day to exercise my writing muscles for my next book to be published in the fall of 2012.