Monday, August 15, 2016

120 Film Series: SWLA Cypress and Oaks

The pick of the litter from the film results of the recent trip to southwest Louisiana turned out to be oak and cypress portraits. For whatever reason, that appears to be what was grabbing my eye when it came to trying things for film. The remainder in the roll were either underexposed brackets or overexposed wetlands shots, better caught on digital this time around.
Looking them over I silently said "oh shit" to myself when Richard Sexton's Terra Incognita popped into my head - the collection that has a lot of really awesome live oak porn - but that's in black and white, and Sexton's photos are mostly on the Mississippi coast, with none at all from my personal haunts of Cameron and Vermilion parishes.
The tricky part for me with film photography under giant live oaks was what to expose for. It always ends up having to be a compromise; something is always going to be a little blown out or underexposed, and that's the challenge. (The other challenge is composing with a backwards image in the viewfinder.) With no photoshoppy "shadow removal" or "adjust highlights" or other magic gizmos to toy around with in post processing, once you click the shutter, there it is. Notice the difference in the photo taken under oaks of the two decaying structures - the sun momentarily ducked behind a small cloud, and it was the easiest shot of the day to make, with no heavy shadows and light to worry about. I took a break on Rutherford Beach and made the one seascape; the clouds here eventually became the massive supercell that blew around 3PM later that day. For some reason I was moved by the view of the front door of the camp I stayed at - reason enough for a photograph. The photo at top looks toward the Cameron coast from inside the oak canopy of a small cheniere. The film is Kodak Portra 160; photographs were made in Lake Arthur, Lowry, Creole, Rutherford Beach, and Avery Island.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lake Arthur & Cameron Parish

Some digital captures here from last week's trip out to southwest Louisiana, which went pretty well. 120 film results should be up here in a few days or so, but here's some digital junk I got when not looking through the twin-lens. This trip had stops in both the Lacassine and Rockefeller wildlife refuges, as well as towns and locations in Cameron Parish west of Calcasieu Lake. I stayed in Lake Arthur, in a lakeside camp loaned by friends. It felt so good to make the drive on LA82 from Creole, around Pecan Island and up to Kaplan that I did it twice. The stretch of LA82 that runs west of Pecan Island through the Rockefeller refuge area to Grand Chenier (about 30 miles) is casually referred to as Louisiana's "outback." It's nothing but you and the road running through completely undeveloped, raw coastal prairie and wetlands. You will notice the increasing abundance of clouds, as the tropics are really lit up at this time of year. These results all show one supercell, first seen in the fourth frame below, that started in the Rockefeller refuge and kept growing, eventually dogging me the whole afternoon. It drifted north, catching up to me at Gueydan (5th frame below); I then had a pretty scary both-hands-on-the-wheel drive west through a part of it to get back to Lake Arthur, where the photo at top shows what it looked like from the other side. Film results coming soon.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Southwest Louisiana Trip

I'm off on another return trip to Cameron and Vermilion parishes to continue the 120 film series, staying in a "secure, undisclosed location" somewhere in southwest Louisiana. I've been playing around with Google Earth for the past week plotting some new spots to check out that I haven't seen before but are definitely accessible by road, deep in middle of the unoccupied Cameron prairie. Though these roads appear to be dirt or gravel, they are marked as parish roads, so they are publicly accessible. Though most of Cameron Parish is checker-boarded by a grid of roads of all grades, many of them are private, or are only there to access private land or oil wells. However, any road that is named or marked with a parish number is public access, even though many of them dead-end in the middle of nowhere, somewhere deep in the vast, sparsely populated cheniere plain. The above photo, from summer of 2014, shows what on maps is called Parish Road 217 near Grand Chenier, but publicly it's also marked as Pumpkin Ridge Road. Anyway, hopefully in a few weeks I'll have some results up here from this present trip back to one of my favorite places.