These photos were made at Lake Mattamuskeet (35°29’11” N 76°12’48” W) in the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina (NC). It was my first visit and I had the good fortune of great guides in the form of Tom and Kathy Dills. Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural lake in NC comprised of a wetlands depression filled with rain water and the runoff from surrounding lands…there is no underground spring, streams, rivers feeding it and the lake bed is about five feet below sea level.
An interesting fact that’s greatly affected the history of Lake Mattamuskeet is:
The bed of Lake Mattamuskeet has long been regarded as some of the richest soil in the world, having received nutrients from thousands of surrounding acres that have drained naturally into it for years. Soil experts have compared it to the rich land in the Yazoo, Mississippi delta region and the famous Nile River delta in Egypt. — Early Efforts to Drain Lake Mattamuskeet
Consider those thousands of acres of rich land covered by this lake might be worth a great deal if it could be farmed and the fact that the lake is shallow, less then ten feet originally and even shallower today, it’s no wonder early efforts were made to drain the lake — at no small expense or labor.
Needless to say they were only partially successful and today the lake is protected by United States federal law as part of a National Wildlife Refuge. It’s an interesting story if you wish to read it via the link above.
Now these particular cypress trees in Lake Mattamuskeet have been photographed thousands of times — if you don’t believe me do a Google search on “cypress trees lake mattamuskeet” and you’ll see photo after photo of them. Some are truly beautiful taken under much better conditions then when these were made. This particular day there was light rain and it was so windy it was near impossible to brace against something well enough to hold the camera perfectly still — I don’t think even a tripod would eliminate all the vibrations and shake.
Still, I hope to return under better weather conditions for another go at them in the future.
Importing these files into Lightroom for processing, I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take them…darker with deep contrast to play upon the stormy conditions or lighter to play upon the limited distance vision that the rain and clouds brought. As you can see I did both. One thing I knew from the start was I wanted to do black and white.
I included this last “bonus” image as the best shot I was able to get of a large raptor, spotted by Kathy, perched in one of the cypress trees (located vertically center and horizontally at about the right third division line — w/red circle.)
I was using my D600 with a Nikon 28-300mm lens and this shot was taken at 300mm — sure wish I had my 200-500mm. At 1:1 you can make out the wings and tail but not clearly the head. I believe it’s an Eagle, which are found in this area, but it could just as well be a large Osprey.