October Wetland Photography Tours

Day 2 Photog Ladies
Photo courtesy of Linda Medine

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.


Cypress and Spanish Moss
Cypress and Spanish Moss

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.

Non-native Nuisances
Non-native Nuisances

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.

Skimmer Shrimper
Skimmer Shrimper

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.  

Moon and Jet
Moon and Jet

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.


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  1. Well done. I’m sure the photographers were able to get some wonderful shots because of your own experience photographing the wetlands.
    I’d comment more, but it’s time for church. I’ll check in tomorrow night to read the comments.

  2. Part 2! Part 2! Part 2! Part 2!

    Who would ever even noticed those eggs had you not shown them to us? What a discerning eye!

    I was on the porch last week talking to the contractor and made mention of the time of year, because of all the jet contrails being seen in the sky that day.

    Nice pictures, pretty day, I bet not only will the come back, but they’ll tell their friends. It was just too lovely a day with such wonderful photo ops to not.

    Great job! It sort of makes up for all those miserible hot or rainy or midge and misquito infested days when your boat breaks down doesn’t it.

      1. As we say in the boat guide business . . . I’ve paid my dues WITH customers onboard, I’m afraid to say!!!

    1. Looks like there will be FOUR parts, Goldie! Next one coming out on Wednesday! Gotta give everyone else a few days to enjoy this one before bombarding y’all again!

  3. As one of the ladies you mentioned, let me tell you what a wonderful experience you provided for us! We loved every minute, learned a lot about the land and what’s happening there, loved meeting you, and now I’m being very impresssed by your photography. If you’ve never had “lessons” then you are a natural. Maybe you should teach them.
    Looking forward to the next installment of your work.

    1. Hi, Bev! It’s great to hear from you and so glad you got to see this post. Turns out there will be about 3 more over the next week or so, and I saved you for the very last post! So you must come back or sign up for the email notifications. That’s a little box in the right-hand margin and easy to do! Since it’s your first time commenting, I had to approve your comment. Now that you are approved, they will post immediately, and now I will go delete your second comment, ok? Thanks again for a great trip! BW

  4. Love, love, love those photos!! I fell in love with the moon/jet shot. And I had to follow the link to read up on the Apple Snails. Their shell is very close to the ones we eat. Yes, I am one of those weird ones who love escargot! My husband makes sure I only fix them when he is at work. He can’t stand the smell. 🙂 Beautiful shots and I bet everyone enjoyed their tour.

    1. So, where do you buy your snails? And where are they grown? The warning about these is the parasites they carry which are very hard to kill, even in cooking, so please do be careful! I’ve never had real escargot! How do you prepare them?

      1. I used to buy them from our local grocery store when it first opened. There were about 3 or 4 of us in town that would split a case. I was still working at that time and could afford to have them fresh. They are already cleaned, re-stuffed into clean shells and the opening of the shell was filled with a delicious garlic/parsley/chive/butter. I simply put them on a plate and heated in the microwave or oven. But, they quit carrying them due to cost.

        Now, I get them at Central Market in Dallas whenever I get a chance to go by it which is not very often. They are in a can like canned oysters, mussels or shrimp. You simply heat them in your choice of garlic butter or you can purchase a “kit”. It includes canned snails & cleaned shells. I think the ones I have seen have a dozen shells. You stuff them yourself, heat and serve. To me, it is sort of like eating garlic butter flavored, smoked oysters which I also love.

        1. Well, aren’t you full of surprises? I do have to say you’ve impressed me with your culinary broadness, Cammy! I have a hard time eating mussels, although I will eat oysters raw and cooked other ways. I’m still not sure I could eat a snail, though. Just not sure!!!

  5. Adored the marvelous pictures you took. I always look up waiting to see a vapor trail from planes. I spotted the pink within the hyacinths, although I didn’t know what it was. I’m going to check out your link for that. Thank you for an award winning shot!

    I’m not going to “google” but ask you instead: Are all mosses that grow in our trees air plants? I know you’ll know this answer for me. I told my sister that the moss in her trees were harmless so I hope I’m right! Her trees are loaded down with the lacy stuff. Just a lovely as you picture here.

    Waiting for the next installment with anticipation!

    1. If it looks just like this, it’s Spanish Moss – this exact air plant, and will not harm her trees at all. Typically appearing naturally on cypress and oaks, it can be blow by the wind or placed by humans and exist in other trees like the Swamp Maple. Thanks for your sweet words, dear Cuz.

    1. I wish that all of you could come take a tour and see the unique beauty of these wetlands which so many of us take for granted. I really appreciate your compliments, Louise, and thanks for coming back and reading and for taking the time to comment! And yes, there are a couple more stories to come this week!

  6. Love reading your blog first thing in the morning–Makes my day! I am so glad you were able to take Dede and the other photographers on your boat. I told them you would be the perfect person. They spent some time at the store and were a bunch of sweet ladies. I think she has another group coming soon and I hope you can take them out again. I will take the tour one of the days and you can teach me some things about our Bayou’s. Thanks again for always brightening my day with your stories and pictures

    1. Good morning, Etta, and thank you a million times for sending them to me. I was remiss in not thanking you before. Please forgive me! We can take a boat ride anytime you want, as long as the wind isn’t blowing over 15 mph! Monday was a little rough, but they were real troupers; but Wednesday the weather was absolutely perfect! I’m happy to brighten your morning, Etta, and it’s the least I can do for such a good friend!

  7. Wendy, all the ladies loved your wetland tour. We learned so many interesting things about the southernmost part our beloved Louisiana. Of course, we documented the wetlands from beginning to end with our cameras. Thanks for your patience in putting us in the right place at the right time. A word of encouragement – we all started with minimal equipment, but it never hindered us from doing the best we could with what we had at the time. Despite the big lenses we now pack, which really can capture eyeballs of birds, my iphone is the camera that is with me all the time and brings me such joy. You have a great eye for composition. That moon shot of yours is perfectly timed and awesome. We look forward to the continued story and to seeing more of your photos. Thanks for the adventure. Until next time, Dede and the photo gals.

    1. The pleasure was equally mine! y’all were a shot in the arm for me with all your talents and enthusiasm. Thanks for the encouragement and the kind words about the Moon and Jet photo. you are most welcome, and can’t wait to see you again!

  8. I’m just thrilled to see your photos. Once all the excitement’s over in your neck of the woods, I really want to bring me and my new camera your way for the same kind of trip. I finally bought something to replace the one that died last fall while was on vacation. I dithered and ditherd, and didn’t get a true DSLR, partly because then I’d be tempted toward macro and telephoto lenses I can’t afford!

    But, the camera I got is going to be just fine for what I want to do: learn how to take photos. Why, I’ve already sort of figured out the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I may rest a bit before I learn something else!

    I hadn’t heard about the snails, but I sure do know about that water hyacinth. We had quite a rain with the front last Monday, and whenever Clear Creek rises, that stuff comes down the creek, into Clear Lake, and out into Galveston Bay. It clogs up the marinas, and the dock workers roll their eyes, because they know they have a few hours of pulling the stuff out of the water ahead of them.

    It’s so great to see your post. Now you’re getting my traveling itch going again. No trip north this fall, so east may have to do it!

    1. Yay! You’re thrilled! Well, you and that new camera just pull out the calendar and plan to head this way. I’m game if you are. If you understand all that, then you’re way ahead of the curve! So, let me know when you wanna scratch that traveling itch!!!

  9. Capt Wendy your photos are amazing, and your Nikon is the coolest, funny I was embarrassed to pull out my little Olympia camera when you pulled out your big Nikon. Your teacher was right, make do with what you have and you’ll be amazed! Remember, ” Use it up Wear it Out, Make it do or do without” has always been my motto and it seems to work. I miss being down there on and near the bayou and your tours. You do such a wonderful job keeping those of us out here informed and interested in the wetlands, THANK YOU!!! Gonnna get me a great camera and come down and take photos maybe you could give me some pointers!

    1. You know you are welcome anytime, Sharon. Sorry I couldn’t make it up to Shreveport last weekend. Let me know what camera you’re looking at before you buy. Mine is a great starter camera and a whole lot easier to operate than you might think! Great hearing from you and hope to see you soon, too!

  10. Good job on the photos. The Jet and Moon shot is impressive and there was a similar one in my news feed in a “photos of the week” display by pro photogs, so don’t sell yourself short. And don’t sweat the equipment. I have, as you know competed with ppl that have $2000.00camera and $1500.00 lens get up and held my own and sell my prints and do pro shoots. One does what one can with one has is some of the best advice I ever had too.
    My photography mentor and teacher of the seminar I went to last year has told me that equipment doesn;t make the photographer. You don’t get the shot if you aren’t there, shoot, shoot shoot, and learn to use the equipment you have. He has thus far never steered me wrong.
    Keep up the good work. You have talent by the yard and great places to shoot. Go for it.

    1. All very good advice. Dede said I just need one good week-long workshop where I have to learn and use manual settings. It takes practice to get it right, and when I’m ready to shoot something, I don’t have the patience to try to set things up and miss the shot. Also, I’m not in the habit of looking at my photos in the LED screen. Typically, I don’t see the photos until I load them up on my desktop and check them out. And yes, I do take several shots of the same image while it’s in front of me . . . I just don’t manually change the settings while doing so. I admit that I am a lucky natural . . . and I know I have a lot to learn . . . that’s why I said I’m not much on the tekkie side of photography! You have done a great job with your consistency and have come a long way in a short time . . . so we keep on keeping on!

      1. I don’t look in the field either. I usually use aperture priority and set for what kind of light (sun, clouds) then if necessary I will only change exposure by under or over exposing for shade or white objects in bright sun. I’m not fast enough to reset all 0f it on the fly for birds and stuff.

  11. Do I have to use “Common Core” math to figure out the answer to 7 + { } = nine? If so I’m in trouble. LOL I’m from the old school that the captain and I attended. I met you with him at the courthouse square for the festival in Houma. Have a good day and tell him hello.

    1. Hi John and welcome to the blog. Yes I remember meeting you. I will tell him you said hello, for sure. And I guess you know a thing or two about Eureka math, LOL!!! Or you used the old math to get your comment through! Whew! I’m so glad you did! We will have a good day as the weather has been gorgeous!

  12. blu only has one rule in photography for us goofs that post on internet only and never print anything.

    ‘buy sony or be sorry’

    Oh that is it and all. Carry on girls.

    1. I guess Sony is the safe choice for the point and shooters, right? I don’t think our big lenses would work, though! I’m looking forward to seeing some of their photos from the trip and plan to share them with y’all so we can all enjoy their talents!

  13. Captain Wendy, Just wanted to tell you what a pleasure it was meeting you and to thank you for such a wonderful time on the water. You live with such amazing beauty all around. It was such a blessing to be able to enjoy it and on such a perfect day.