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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Land Of Cypress

Please Scroll Mouse Over Image to See 'Before' Version

On with our travels through the "deep south, USA." This shot was taken at a black water swamp, in which cypress trees thrive. I had never seen a black water swamp, but i assumed it meant that the water was black. Well, I was right! It was a pretty incredible sight. The water appeared completely black, with only the reflections of the trees adding color. However, this is an illusion of sorts. The water is actually crystal clear if you scoop some out with a cup. It appears black in the swamp because of a certain oil that is released by the cypress trees. Anyways, getting shots of this swamp was quite comical. First of all, I don't like boats. However, a small row boat was the only means of transportation through this cypress tree jungle. I didn't have a choice. So imagine me, a typical tourist geek, nervously trying to step onto this small row boat with my camera backpack strapped onto my back and holding my tripod in hand. All I could think about were the trillion alligators swimming around under the boat in this pitch black water. So, once i was settled in the boat, and popped a Xanax, i attempted to set up my tripod and camera on the boat. This proved to be a waste of time as the boat was way to rocky to get any decent photographs that way. So, most of my shots were handheld. i was so busy setting up my camera gear i didn't notice the paradise around me for the first 5-10 minutes. Once i noticed....I was mesmerized. It was truly enchanting. The beauty of this swamp was overwhelming, and the exotic sounds of bugs, birds, and reptiles native to this swamp area only added to the experience. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we only saw one alligator peeking its eyes above the water. Can you see him in the image below?
Post Processing: This is NOT an HDR image. I processed it as an HDR, but didn't like it. So I used one of RAW images and performed traditional post-processing in Photoshop and Phototools only. The exif data is as follows: f/7.1, shutter speed was 1/50, and ISO=400. In Photoshop, I correct the midtones with Levels, added a bit of contrast with Curves, painted in some lighter greens in the foliage with 'Multiply' blending mode, Dodged some light on the sides of the Cypress trees with Dodge tool, boosted saturation, and Unsharp Mask. The only filter I used in Phototools was the Edge to Black to create that black frame around the image. I usually also use Noise Ninja to reduce noise, but I did not use it with this image because it took away the great texture of the bark. Many times, particularly with images of things with a lot of texture such as trees, buildings, roads, etc., much of the 'texture' you see is actually noise. If you take away that noise, you'll notice that the image looks way to flat. I'm always happy to answer any questions you might have about my images or how i created them. Good Day!!


  1. Truly magical. Those swamps are a living, breathing entity. Not well known to outsiders, but home to many.
    You photograph is wonderful, and evocative.

  2. Thank you my friends!

    Yes, these swamps are magical. Sounds like you're familiar with this type of terrain. Rowing through this 'forest in the water' was a photographer's dream. :)