June 30, 2015
Recently, I had the opportunity to photograph Caddo Lake located in east Texas. This unique Texas landscape is a giant swamp covering 25,000 acres. The bog was formed by the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 and is now home to the largest cypress forest in the world. When my friend offered his boat and was willing to escort me around the lake at sunrise and sunset for a few days, I packed my bags and made the 6 hour drive from my home in the Hill Country to Uncertain, Texas, a small town on the shores of Caddo Lake. As I neared the area, I think the number of churches increased exponentially. I also saw lots of folks sitting on their front porches. They were quite friendly – always waving as we passed by – and seemed to enjoy watching the world go by in a much slower pace of life. (Maybe I could learn something from them!)
Out on the lake, I found a surreal landscape of cypress trees draped in Spanish Moss. Most of the lake is only 2-4 feet deep, and we skirted several passageways just barely wide enough for our boat to fit. There were even places we couldn’t go, but a kayak or canoe would have been perfect. I enjoyed seeing the well known “Government Ditch” and “the Cathedral” – two areas where cypress trees reach up and over the waterway and form a canopy-like tunnel for the boat to slip through.
I did find photographing this location quite challenging. I normally shoot 99% of my photographs using a tripod. However, while bopping around in a boat, a tripod is pretty useless. So most of my images were taken hand-held while kicking up the ISO to 800 or even 1000. For sunrise, I jammed my camera against a waterway signpost to steady it in order to take long exposures. One glorious sunset we used a duck blind to set up a tripod. Our efforts were rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen this year.
I had hoped to see an alligator on our treks, but alas, the only gator I encountered was deep fried as an appetizer for one of our lunches (tasted like chicken). We did see turtles, snakes, egrets, herons, and a huge wolf spider that was the size of my hand. I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay and am already thinking of ways to be more productive on a return visit in Autumn.
See more photographs from this unique area of east Texas in my Caddo Lake gallery.