Although my boat restoration project still has a good ways to go, I reserved a morning last week to take my flat boat out into the Techefuncte River at Lake Pontchartrain. I’ve been very excited about the photographic possibilities that working from my new ‘shooting platform’ would provide for my lake work, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I was at the back-down ramp right at daybreak—I don’t yet have running lights on the rig which would allow me to go a bit earlier—and there was just enough cloud formation to provide some hope for a decent bit of shooting. It was already muggy and warm, a typical August day in south Louisiana.
I’m still ‘beta testing’ my outboard, which has laid up for years wating on me to get things back together; on this day, it cranked right up and then promptly died, leaving me with no serious means of propulsion. After several fruitless pulls on the starter rope, I lowered the battery-driven trolling motor into the water and set off, at a far more leisurely pace, for the far bank.
The clouds were already starting to build into what would become thunderheads by midday but the water at this juncture of lake and river was mostly calm. I made a few photos on my way across to a little beach, thinking I could work that area for long enough for the outboard to crank. Up away from the shoreline, the land behind the beach quickly becomes the grassland savannah that I’ve found further east in the Big Branch Marsh. It’s green-green, full of marsh grass and red wing blackbirds, the occasional tough cypress or oak tree poking up out of the landscape. Beautiful!
After 20 minutes or so I gave the outboard another try, and this time it cranked right up and ran. I headed north on the river, eager to see what this new perspective might reveal. I wasn’t disappointed.
A lot of my photography seems to happen at the juncture between nature and manmade objects and structures. I don’t know why really, and I’m careful not to spend too much time thinking about it. Guarding my intuitive sense from too much analysis seems like a good idea, so I go with that.
On this day, I was drawn to a huge cache of extra parts for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, rising up like monster cannon from the water on the shoreline. The pilings and concrete cross beams are ready to go, should a disaster happen. Here they sit quietly serene along this backwater spot, making for an interesting image in the sunrise.
Further along, I spot someone’s fishing shack, run up and hidden along the grassy bank of the river, accessible only by boat. Nestled in amongst the reeds and cypress trees, it’s quintessential Louisiana, life stripped down to its barest necessities. I pass this by twice, making pictures as I go. With one hand on the outboard’s tiller handle, I work the camera with the other, learning I can operate the shutter dial with one finger and the zoom ring with another. Boat photography is calling upon a new skill set now!
All in all, a successful and encouraging trip. Using Google Earth and Maps, I’m researching new areas to explore. As usual, my lake project continues to provide meaningful and interesting new possibilities for me simply by a shift in my perspective.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog