Valley of the Moss

As a wandering photog, there is nothing worse than finding that spot that you just can’t get to (within reason), that spot you just can’t dig into and engage. One of those haunting spots is pictured above. This is a reservoir near Loggy Bayou, a spot you can only see from a narrow, no-shoulder bridge that passes over the floodway. I’ve passed it countless times and have driven every tangential back road in hopes of finding a relative vista. I’ve even exhausted Google maps hoping to find a hidden road. I have even stopped before the bridge, and walked below it as far as I could, alligators rolling into the water and everything. But on ground level, there is a loss in perspective. And with the drought, normal boat access really isn’t an option. An airboat or a related “mud” boat would be the only option.

I passed one overcast morning recently, and it was filled with a soft glow. The narrow bridge is remarkably busy for such a remote area. Most of the traffic tends to be big, usually speeding, logging trucks. On top of that, there is maybe a half-meter between the road shoulder line and bridge barricade. I had enough that morning, and just stopped. I pulled my camera from the bag, rolled down the passenger window, and framed up the shot. Already in my rear-view mirror, there was a truck coming up on the bridge. Then, right before the shot, the blue heron swooped into the center. I wasn’t ready, but had to take it.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a stellar capture. My shutter speed ratio was just a hair above the focal length as the overcast and dark wooded area wasn’t providing great light. I’m sure there was some camera shake involved too. In post, I took the RAW file and exported two additional exposures a stop above and below. While not as good as a true bracketed exposure, it does decent. Then I fused the exposures in Photomatix which helped decently. I haven’t given up on the spot, but at least now I have something on record.

14 thoughts on “Valley of the Moss

  1. What an incredible place…and an awfully compelling image, particularly based on your description of what it took to make it!

    I’ve long wanted to get down to Louisiana to photograph some of these cypress swamps. (I’m aware of several places in Missouri that have them; there’s even a spot in extreme SW Indiana that has a cypress bog–the northernmost such place, I believe.) If I may ask, in your expert opinion, where’s the best spot in Louisiana?

    1. Thanks, Kerryl. Cypress flats like these are actually common throughout LA. Anywhere you find a body of water, there is sure to have something on the edges similar. The above was taken in Shreveport, LA (northwest LA, not a place known for swamp). The most sprawling areas are below Lake Charles, around Morgan City, and some surrounding areas of New Orleans. There are several great wildlife refuge & parks below Lake Charles. Too far down and you end up with more marsh wetlands. However, great photographic areas can be found around the lakes (Lake Ponchartrain, Lake Martin, Lake Fausse Point, Calcasieu Lake, etc) I like these areas because you can get to the edges since the lakes open the land up a bit. You get in a middle of a swamp, and it is pretty suffocating and dense.

  2. Wicked man, I love this image! I really wish there were places like this where I live, I will make it down there of these days and you will so have to take me around!

    Sorry I’ve been missing, been crazy busy for me the last month. Sigh, hopefully I’ll be able to find the time to view all the posts I’ve missed!! 😀

  3. On my first visit to your site (following a link from your recent comment on Mike Pillows’s), I find I must send a comment on this spectacular image. Beautifully framed, executed, and processed. Oh…and too bad about that greedy heron trying to hog the focal point… What a lovely bit of luck–or was it?

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