It was a busy week for the tour business. Dede Lusk, a professional photographer and photo workshop teacher, contacted me about taking out groups of women photographers with varied interests in photographing landscapes, skies, wildlife, birds, and anything of beauty and interest. Well, y’all know I love photography, and a chance to meet eight or nine women with that same interest intrigued me. They came with their industrial strength equipment, including Cannons, Nikons, huge zoom lenses, and an excitement to be out in our wetlands like I haven’t encountered in a while. I took great pride in showing them around and giving them photo ops. I hope they took some great photos, and I hope they gained a new appreciation for our wetlands and their importance.
I felt like a child with my little Nikon and pitiful zoom lens as I sheepishly pulled them from my well-worn camera bag. One of my school teachers taught me many years ago to always do the best I could with what I had. So, that is what I did. I’m not easily intimidated, but these ladies definitely knew a thing or two about photography. Of course I had to operate the boat and put them in the best possible positions to get the best shots of their subjects; but from time to time I was able to grab my camera and snap off a few, although I didn’t have time to do things like change apertures and f-stops. Don’t let that last sentence fool you, though, because I’m not a technical photographer–I’ve always had trouble wrapping my head around the tekkie side of photography, no matter how hard I’ve tried to learn those things.
So, as a tribute to reader Steffi and the good ole days of this blog, here are a few of the results of my attempts at capturing some of the beauty we encountered. This post will most likely be divided into two so that I don’t bore you with the photos. So, here’s Part 1. I hope you enjoy!
I call this little series “Symbiosis”, because of the wild things I captured in their co-existence.
~~ SYMBIOSIS ~~
This was taken in the Mauvais Bois Swamp, (“Mean Trees”), of a Bald Cypress tree draped in Spanish Moss, which is really not a moss. It is an epiphyte (air plant), which doesn’t harm the tree. The long, gray tendrils take moisture and dust particles from the air and are members of the Bromeliad family; a true example of symbiosis in the swamp.
These plants are Water Hyacinth, initially brought to America from South America around 1884 as an ornamental, floating pond plant. They produce a beautiful violet flower, similar to a grape hyacinth, hence the common name and attraction. In the wild, they form thick floating mats, often blocking waterways and sunlight, and crowding out native species. Hitching a ride on this mass of floating plants is a clump of pink Apple Snail eggs, a relative newcomer to the non-native species list in south Louisiana. The largest snail shell I’ve ever seen, these snails are also native to South America, brought here as part of the aquarium industry. No wonder they’re hanging out together. Once released into the wild, they reproduce prolifically, competing with native freshwater species for food and habitat. Not recommended for human consumption for various reasons, these snails grow unhindered, and at this time there is no big plan for eradication. It is our hope that they don’t travel west to the rice fields of Louisiana, because they can totally destroy the rice fields, eating their way through them.
This old boat, called a skimmer, is pushing for shrimp in the shallows of Lake Decade. As opposed to trawlers, which pull long nets along the bottom from the stern of the boat, skimmers collect shrimp in the nets attached to metal frames extending from the sides of the vessel. As the boat motors against the tide, the shrimp are passively caught in the nets providing a much cleaner catch than the trawler. These nets are often locally referred to as butterfly or paupiere nets.
And what I’ve come to see as my favorite of Day 1 of the Photo Lady tours is this accidental photo. As we stood on the dock of an old camp in the Mauvais Bois, I glanced up and noticed a jet passing quickly under the moon. Deep into their own intrinsic photo shoots, none of the others seemed to notice (except Dede standing beside me), but I took a shot at it and have to say I’m very well pleased with the results. I’m not a moon photographer, but I really got lucky on this one!
Thank you, Dede, for calling me and having faith in me to take your wonderful photo friends out for a wetland shoot. Thank you Rene`, Beverly, Tony, Linda, Cindy, Cathy, and Theresa for taking the tour, and I hope y’all come back next spring to see these wetlands in a whole new light and season.
See y’all soon with Part 2.