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Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake and the surrounding Big Cypress Bayou are part of the largest cypress forest in the world. The bald cypress trees of the bayou may look like evergreens, but their feathery "needles" turn orange and red in autumn before falling off for the winter. The trees are covered with Spanish moss, which glows when backlit by the sun. This hauntingly beautiful place is an incredible photo destination filled with seemingly unlimited possibilities.

Where: Caddo Lake is found at the border of Texas and Louisiana. Marshall, Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana are the closest large towns. Uncertain, Texas is a very small town right in the heart of the bayou (accommodations and services are limited).

When: The best time for autumn color is during the second and third weeks of November, but the bayou is a fascinating place to visit any time of year.

Photography: Opportunities to photograph the cypress bayou from the land are somewhat limited. Mill Pond in Caddo Lake State Park (Texas) is a popular place to photograph the bayou, although at certain times (especially sunrise in autumn) it can get crowded.

The best way to explore the bayou is with a canoe, kayak, or boat. There are plenty of public and private boat launches around the lake (the private launches typically ask for $5 or less to launch), giving you the ability to explore just about anywhere. If you don't have your own boat, ask around at some of the private marinas and camps, you might be able to hire someone to take you out for some photography.

On overcast days, you can photograph all day. On sunny days, early morning and late afternoon are best, when the light is low and colorful. Backlighting works particularly well, making the Spanish moss seem to glow from within. If you are lucky, you can get fog on the lake at sunrise. Although wide-angle opportunities are available, a telephoto zoom lens is ideal for zooming in on interesting and colorful trees and their reflections in the water, or on wildlife (herons and egrets are common). Unless the sky is interesting and colorful, you typically want to exclude the sky from your compositions.

Learn more: This site has a lot of information about Caddo Lake, boat ramps, marinas, and lodging:

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