Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lake Martin Misty Morning

The fog this morning was as thick as a good roux. I have been wanting to try my hand at photographing isolated oak trees in morning fog, so I jumped in the car and headed out. I wasn't having much luck finding the right trees in the right setting and I didn't want to drive too far away from home, so I headed to Lake Martin, naturally. I walked to the end of the point and stared into nothingness. I could not tell where the water ended and the air and fog began. It was a very weird feeling. To the left of me were the trees that dot the shoreline. The air was very still so the water was smooth as glass and the trees' reflections were unbroken. The effect was that of a Rorschach inkblot test. I think my favorite shot of the morning was of the little tree that lives at the point (shown above).

The stillness of the air was broken only by the flapping of birds' wings and splashing of fish and fowl. I always enjoy witnessing daybreak at the lake. I left the launch area and headed down the road toward the boardwalk. I stopped across the street from the farmhouse with the cows and wandered over to the water's edge. A great egret was stalking its breakfast and had no problem with me being there. In fact he moved a bit closer during his pursuit.

I keep my camera in my car with my "everyday lens", which would work for landscapes. I didn't take my 500mm lens with me because it was with the rest of my equipment in my bedroom and I had wanted to sneak out without waking my husband. So of course, I had plenty of photo ops with a mere 28-135 lens! Not only could I have gotten some great closeups of this egret, but while I was standing there a beautiful red-bellied woodpecker decided to play around in the tree above me. I still don't get why it's called a red-bellied woodpecker when the head is red, not the belly! Then I saw a little bluish-gray, finch-like bird land in the duck potato plants growing in the water directly in front of me. He flitted around for quite some time, obviously aware that he was taunting me. Tonight I saw that a fellow photographer took some shots of the same kind of bird and identified it as a blue-gray gnat-catcher. I'll have to go back and get some shots of my own.

I hated to leave, but I knew that I had to. I could have spent all day there. It was in direct contrast to the craziness I had experienced Saturday at the mall when I attempted to do some Christmas shopping. I'll take the lake over the mall anytime!

What a wonderful way to start my day!

If you like these photos, you can click here to see more photos taken at Lake Martin, part of the Cypress Island Preserve in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Alligators are supposed to be afraid of us. But visitors to Lake Martin have been feeding them marshmallows and wieners and now they associate people with food instead of fear.

This is not good.

Once an alligator loses its fear of humans, it is a danger to humans. When this happens to gators at Lake Martin they must be removed and relocated or, even worse, put to death.

Ironically the alligators that are being fed hang out within INCHES of a sign telling people not to feed them. The people who choose to ignore this warning are going to be the first to try to file a lawsuit when they are injured by an alligator.

This is a slideshow I made from still shots I took of a one of the larger gators at the lake. It was just hanging out by the roadside (probably waiting for someone to throw it a marshmallow). I was taking pictures of it when it started to move toward the bank. (Yes, I was in my vehicle). Then it came out of the water and picked up a plastic shopping bag in its mouth then retreated back to the water and spit the bag out. Then it came up again. And THAT'S when I discovered that it was coming back for marshmallows that someone had left there!

At first I was really upset that people had been feeding it. Then I was amazed that it came up out of the water to retrieve a marshmallow - something so small and sweet! Gators are carnivores known for eating rotting carcasses. Not marshmallows!

OK. I'll stop now, because if I don't I'm going to get on the subject of all the LITTER from people throwing stuff at the gators!

Click on the picture below for a larger view.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mist-ical Mardi Gras Morning

Lake Martin Sunrise

View Large On Black

It's February 24, 2009, Mardi Gras. No work. No school. I awaken early, dress in the dark, grab my gear and dash out of the house headed for the lake - careful not to wake my sleeping husband and children. I thrilled to learn that it's 37° outside. If I'm right, the water in Lake Martin is warmer than the air and a nice steamy mist will be rising from the surface.

As I drive away, the sun is just appearing over the horizon. It's burning bright on the winter morning. I've never driven to the lake in the early morning, so I am excited at the prospect of what I will find.

I arrive at the lake and out of my side window I immediately notice a blue heron standing still as a statue in the water, waiting for breakfast to swim into view. Then, I notice the mist. Just has I suspected, its dreamy tendrils are rising from the lake. I am giddy with anticipation. Within minutes, the golden sun breaks through the trees and beams of light streak across the lake, illuminating the mist.

From where I am standing, a tree-lined peninsula separates the lake so that the water on the other side of it glows like an ethereal cauldron. I carefully compose my photos and fire away, knowing that something wonderful awaits on my memory card.

The air is soon filled with the noises of lake activities. The cries of birds beginning their day. The rumbling of boat engines starting up and racing off to find that perfect fishing spot. I continue to shoot on foot, then I return to my car and tour the lake road, enjoying the morning as it unfolds.

I have witnessed the birth of another beautiful day in South Louisiana.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Louisiana has some of the best sunsets on Earth.

This is another beautiful Louisiana sunset as it unfolded tonight at Lake Martin.

5:51 p.m.
Glow - 5:51 p.m.

6:02 p.m.
Glow - 6:02 p.m.

6:09 p.m.
Glow - 6:09 p.m.

6:12 p.m.
Glow - 6:12 p.m.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Day Comes to an End and New Friendships Begin...

Today I made new friends...

After picking up my daughter at a friend's house, we made a quick trip to the lake since we both had our cameras with us. No clouds to be seen, but we could still get some sunset pics. When we arrived at the lake, I was excited to see a few clouds just above the horizon, reflecting the golden glow of the setting sun.

But, before I was out of the car - surprise! John sees me through the window and recognizes me! Beth wasn't far behind. Then I find out D and C are there, too! It turned out to be a surprise Lake Martin Flickr Group meet and greet. A quite chilly one, I might add.

After setting up my tripod and mounting my camera, I turned it on only to discover I had left my CF card in my computer at home. Luckily, I had some smaller cards on me for backup. While my daughter ran back to the car for the backups, I used her point and shoot to get in some shots.

It didn't take long for me to figure out what a fun group of friends I have made. In fact, after a couple of minutes it was like we had known each other forever. We've corresponded through Flickr, but I had never met them in person. We had fun taking pics of the sunset and a few birds and enjoying a few good laughs. It was nice to know that I'm not the only one trying to figure out which settings to use for what. Since Tuesday is Mardi Gras and most of us will have the day off, we talked about meeting up on Tuesday.

On the way home my daughter asked if I was going to the lake Tuesday and if she could come with me. It looks like photography is becoming more than just a creative outlet for me. It's helping me to make some wonderful new friends and creating some great memories for me and my girls.

I wasn't very focused (pardon the pun) on what I was doing, so my shots were pretty unremarkable. In honor of Mardi Gras, I took some liberties with this photograph and gave it a purple cast to complement the gold.

Photo taken at Lake Martin, Cypress Island Preserve, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Happy Birthday, Korey!

Pink Polka Dot Chocolate Cake

Korey turned 10 on February 17th. She wanted her party decorations to be pink and brown. For her cake, she wanted chocolate with pink polka dots and a "K" in the middle, just like the one I put on Kasey's cake.

I baked three 8" layers of Devil's Food pound cake and used Bavarian cream filling between the layers. I frosted the cake with homemade chocolate frosting then decorated it with bright pink fondant polka dots. I finished it off with light pink pearls and a circular plaque with a large, bright pink "K" in the center.

Just as for Kasey's party, I displayed the cake on a glass cake pedestal rimmed in silver. It's the same one that was used for our cakes when we were kids, so it holds a special meaning to me.

She loved her cake and her friends were amazed. Now they all want me to make their next birthday cake.

Happy Birthday, Korey!

Happy Birthday, Kasey!

Kasey's Birthday Cake

Kasey turned 12 on February 11th. She requested a cake decorated in "her" colors - aqua blue, lime green, and purple. She wanted the concentric dots like I had done for her daddy's birthday cake last August.

I baked three 9" layers of French Vanilla cake using the White Almond Sour Cream recipe. I separated the batter into two equal parts and tinted one aqua blue and one purple. Then I dropped alternating scoops of batter on top of each other. The result was a purple and blue striated cake when you sliced it. I used Bavarian cream filling between the layers. Frosted the cake with butter cream frosting and then covered it with fondant and then the fondant appliques. I finished it off with a large "K".

I displayed the cake on a glass cake pedestal rimmed in silver. It's the same one that was used for our cakes when we were kids, so it holds a special meaning to me.

She loved her cake and her friends were amazed. Now they all want me to make their next birthday cake.

Make a Wish!

Sunsets Are Like Snowflakes

December Sunset

Sunsets are like snowflakes - no two are the same. You could set up a camera in the same spot and shoot the sunset for 365 days in a row and never see the same thing twice. On a clear day with no clouds in the sky, you'll see a huge, glowing ball of fire. Throw in a few clouds and that's where you'll find the best action. It's like looking through a kaleidescope, the image is never the same. Sometimes the colors are magnificent; sometimes they are muted. Reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, blues...and an infinite combination of them all. Some days the clouds glow golden like spun gold.

My favorite place to photograph the sunset is at Lake Martin in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. It's a large body of water so you get a large, unobstructed view of the sky, a tree line in the distance. You can include trees in the foreground of your photos, which will give you some wonderful silhouettes, which can create dramatic effects. Best of all, it's only five minutes or so from my home. I've been known to jump into the car and rush off at the end of the day because I just know the sunset at Lake Martin is going to be beautiful and I have to get some photos of it.

Not only do I like a beautiful sunset, but I love the golden light created by a setting sun. I often take photos of objects basking in the glow of the setting sun. The warmth of the light is very complimentary to everything it shines upon.

Here are some of my favorite sunsets and objects glowing in the sun.

Still Standing

My Grandpa's Barn
My grandfather's barn. December 2008, Sulphur, Louisiana.

I've always enjoyed photos of old structures that have fallen into extreme disrepair, but still exhibit the character and workmanship that are rare in today's modern world. Here in South Louisiana, cypress was the lumber of choice because it resistant to insects and rot. Because of its durability, you can find many old structures that have stood the test of time...and hurricanes.

Now that I'm exploring the world of photography I have learned that old, abandoned structures in rural areas are often referred as "rural decay", especially if you visit the Flickr photo-sharing website. (If the structure is located in a city or metropolitan area, it is referred to as "urban decay").

Here are my recent contributions to the rural decay photography populous.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight

Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

It takes about an hour for us to drive to work each morning and then home again. My husband drives and I usually observe all the stuff I'd love to stop and photograph. But, alas, I'm not the driver. Probably a good thing, because I may never make it to work in the morning or home in the evening. Before you know it, you'd see my face on milk cartons.

Today, I noticed some wonderful clouds in the sky. As the sun started its decent I knew we were in for a beautiful sunset. And I was right. I watched it unfold through my window and the sideview mirror. I could feel my anxiety build. I hadn't been to the lake since January 30th. Of course I had my camera with me and my tripod was in the car, too. Maybe we could make a quick trip to the lake tonight.

As we neared the sitter's house, I could see the magnificent fireball building in the sky. Layers of clouds looked like spun gold...and I was missing it. So, I asked if maybe we could make a quick trip to the lake after picking up the kids...Nope. Not happening. Too tire...No problem, as soon as we get home I'll drive out...and I did...I was racing against the clock once again to beat the sun to its final five minute drive seemed to stretch on chances for catching today's magical sunset were fading as was that spectacular glow...eventually I drove down the lake road, parked at the launch, grabbed all my gear, got my camera mounted on the tripod head (my first time, I might add) and snapped away as quickly as I could. Time was of the essence.

By the time I got this picture, the brilliance had faded... and along with it the stresses of a Monday in the corporate world. This photograph won't win any awards, but photography has won my heart.

This is what it's all about. Feeling that moment of peace and tranquility. And capturing that moment to share it with others.

Photo taken at Lake Martin, Cypress Island Preserve, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, on February 16, 2008.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fire Crackers

Fire Crackers! So addictive they should be called CRACK Crackers!

These are so addictive they should be called CRACK Crackers! They are wonderful served with cream cheese and pepper jelly, or with soup or chili. They are so good and flavorful that they make a great snack that can be eaten alone.


4 sleeves of saltines
1 packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing mix
1 or 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup vegetable oil

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl with oil and whisk together.

Put crackers in a 2 gallon resealable bag. Drizzle oil & seasoning mixture over the crackers. Seal bag. Gently toss crackers so that they become coated with mixture. Lay bag flat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then toss crackers around some more and lay the bag on the opposite side for another 10 minutes.

Remove crackers from bag and place in an airtight container such as a large glass or plastic canister with a tight-fitting lid.

Soup's On!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!

Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!

Having fun trying out some macro photography. Although according to some purists, this isn't a true macro shot. Just a really close, close-up.

Anyway, since Valentine's Day was right around the corner, I placed a heart-shaped cookie cutter on a black tray. Sprinkled some red pepper flakes in the cutter, then gently removed the cutter. Took some close up shots using my camera's macro setting. And this is what I got.

Valentine's Sentiment

Monday, February 9, 2009

Night Photography Rocks!

We rocked it old skool with Tesla at the House of Blues in Houston!

Sean and I attended a Tesla concert at the House of Blues in Houston on Sunday, February 8. No cameras allowed. Boo. Hiss.

So after the concert, we returned to the car. I got my camera out and had Sean drive me back to the H.O.B. and drop me off so that I could get some shots of the neon signs while he drove around the block. I had never shot photos after dark, so I winged it hoping things worked out. I also shot some pics of the front doors since the door pulls create the H.O.B. flaming heart logo and it was February, after all. You know...Valentine's Day.

When we got back to the hotel room, I decided to try out the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens I had bought the day before at the Houston Camera Exchange - a wonderful place for all things photography. Anyway, I laid my jeans on the coffee table and stuck the tickets in one of the back pockets.

When we returned home I was pleased to learn that my neon sign shots were terrific and the tickets pics were exactly what I wanted. I selected my favorite ticket pic and tweaked it with Picnik so that the colors were bright and glow-y like the neon signs. Then I combined the tickets pic and two neon sign pics to create a collage as a remembrance of a wonderful weekend with my husband.

Here are some more photos I shot that weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

No, We're Not in Kansas

Dorothy and Toto must be close by
For me, some things beg to be photographed. Like this tree.

It was late afternoon and my daughters and I were headed to Lake Martin to take a few pics before the sun went down. Late afternoon is my favorite time of day because of the beautiful glow that the sun casts on everything as it makes its way down to the horizon.

As we drove by a field that we have driven by numerous times, I noticed this tree. Perhaps it stood out because it is apparently dead, as opposed to those trees around it. All I know is that it seemed to reach out to me, like those trees that come to life in the Wizard of Oz. So I pulled off the highway as much as possible, turned on the safety flashers, and got out of the car. I took what photos I could without getting run over by oncoming traffic. My adventure was cut short when the puppy that lived across the highway decided to come after me. I was afraid he would enter the highway and get hit by a car, so I got him home safely, got back into the car and headed for the lake.

I've processed the photo a bit to give the tree the prominence it deserves. Judging by the vines that cover it, it may be host to wisteria or trumpet vines in the Spring. I'll definitely be visiting it again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Polka Dot Baby Shower Cake

I was asked to make a cake to match the shower invitations, which were light blue with a polka dot border in blue, green, yellow, and white. My plans were to frost the cake then add circle fondant appliqués. But I've learned that simple graphic design means the slightest imperfections are magnified. So, rather than struggle to achieve a perfect coat of frosting, I frosted the cake as smoothly as I could and I covered it in pale blue fondant. I then mixed the other colors to match the dots on the card. I cut the dots using a cookie cutter. They looked perfect...until I tried picking them up. They kept stretching out of shape. So I let them sit a while until they stiffened a bit, then I gently lifted them and placed them on the cake.

I intended to create concentric rows of dots, but the diminishing circumference meant that the dots didn't align properly. So I went with a single row around the top of the cake. I cut a large circle of white fondant for the center plaque and mixed some frosting and piping gel with blue color to pipe the personalized message.

The cake itself was three 10-inch rounds made using the white almond sour cream recipe, but instead of using white cake mix, I used French vanilla. It tasted wonderful. I filled the layers with Bavarian cream filling. I frosted the cake with white butter cream frosting. The fondant was vanilla flavored.

I was told that everyone thought the cake looked great and was delicious.
Blue Green Yellow Polka Dot Cake
Blue Green Yellow Polka Dot Cake

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly...

Snowy Egret on a Blustery Winter's Day

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,
I gotta love one man 'til I die,
So I can't help lovin' dat man of mine.

Excerpt from the song "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" by Jerome Kearn; lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, from the 1927 musical Show Boat!.

When visiting Lake Martin and surrounding areas, it's apparent that Mother Nature is always busy at work, even during the winter months. There's always something to be seen at the lake. Even on the coldest of days, fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly.

Here are some my favorite photographs taken during January, 2009.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Facebook Photo Shootout #1

I joined the Photo Shootout group on Facebook.

It's a group that Keith Thibodeaux started. Basically it's a friendly photo competition that works kind of like Iron Chef. On the scheduled date and time a "secret ingredient" will be announced. You then have 24 hours to shoot photos that somehow incorporate that secret ingredient.

The premier event began today at 7:00 a.m. CST. The secret ingredient was "reflection". It was fun to look around the house and think of ways to capture the reflection theme.

These are the four pictures I posted.



Dieting Can Be Fun!

Dieting Can Be Fun!

Verboten. South Beach Diet: Phase One.

Verboten.  South Beach Diet Phase One.

Dieting makes me grumpy.

Dieting makes me grumpy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Learning to use a new camera can be daunting. I've found that the person who is the most patient and willing to sit still while I fidget with different settings!

I also enjoy experimenting with Picnik's post-processing techniques. So I shot a few pics of myself in the mirror and had some fun.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January One With Nature

A good start to the new year.

January 1, 2009. The first day of the new year. I decided to spend it being one with nature.

I arrived at Lake Martin at around 1:00. Since it's a new year, I wanted to try something new - see the lake on foot. So I parked my car at the boat launch and headed down the road, traveling counterclockwise around the lake.

For those of you not familiar with the lake, you should know that you can drive around part of the lake, but much of the lake is off limits to motorized vehicles. But you can walk around the entire lake since it is surrounded by a levee, topped by a footpath. I walked it in a little under four hours. You can probably walk it in much less time if you walk fast and don't stop to enjoy the wildlife along the way.

At first, it was quite sunny. Saw a few turtles out sunning. Of course there were great white herons and anhingas out and about, as well as lots of beautiful cardinals and tiny, little yellow bellied birds that suffer from severe ADHD so I couldn't get any pics. A terrific flock of wood ducks was surveying the scene before landing in the lake not far from me. Saw a little blue heron at a distance. Oh, and a green-headed mallard took flight. Wish I had seen him before he took off.

Met up with a few people along the way, including someone I worked with about 10 years ago. Visited a bit with a friend who actually lives on Rookery Road. The day became overcast around 3:00 so by the time I reached the area where I usually see gators, there were none to be found. And, unfortunately, no pretty sunset to speak of.

I have to say that this was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable days that I've had in my life. Sometimes it's good to be alone.

Happy New Year!

Map of the Lake