After the sun goes down in the Louisiana swamps

'Light Painting' Louisiana's bayous

I love to spend time in the Louisiana swamp when I'm not traveling. And one of the most exciting times to be out in the wilds of the state is after the sun drops below the horizon, when the swamps come alive with mosquitoes, the croaking of frogs and alligators, the call of a random night bird and the splashing of fish.

This photo was taken during one such night, using the city lights of New Orleans to add just a touch of color to the clouds on the horizon. I used a flashlight to "paint" this cool cypress tree to create a moody photo that illustrates the mystery of these wonderful wetlands.

These kinds of photos aren't accidental; they take a lot of work. I go out days, even weeks before and drive my boat through the swamps to find likely subject matter. Then I arrive hours before sunset so I can decide what angle I want to use. I have a 12-foot-tall tripod that is a pain to set up, but is vital in the deep, mucky bayous.

And then I wait in my anchored boat. Sometimes I get a nice sunset shot, but often I just watch the sun go down, battle hordes of mosquitoes that seem oblivious to anything but 100% DEET, listen to the swamps quiet and bide my time until it's dark enough to get to work.

That's when I finally stir. That's when I create. That's when I feel most alive.