South Louisiana swamps explode with color


Spring bloom-out offers opportunities to create Louisiana iris photography

Louisiana iris photography

The South Louisiana swamps are alight with color each spring as Louisiana irises bloom.

Last April I needed a break from my regular job as editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine, so I hooked up to my boat and headed out to Lake Verret to spend a day relaxing and hopefully catching a few bass. I didn’t even grab my camera.

I didn’t catch many fish, but that’s not what really bothered me. Instead, I was put out that I hadn’t brought my photo gear because the swamps were ablaze with purple irises (aka Louisiana irises). I couldn’t believe how beautiful the banks of Bayou Magazille were, with these wild flowers crowded along every available patch of high ground.

When I returned about 10 days later armed with my Nikon D300s, a variety of lenses and my tripod, it was quickly apparent I had missed an opportunity. The flowers that remained were pitiful, wilting and turning brown.

I promised that wouldn’t happen again, so this year I kept an eye out on the swamps along the highways between my home and my office.

It happened the first week of April: I was on Interstate 310 only minutes from the office and glanced down into the cypress trees and saw a flash of purple. Sure enough, there were Louisiana irises scattered throughout this swamp just to the west of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. I knew where I’d be that Friday morning at sunrise.

Snail on a purple iris photography

A snail slowly crawls along the petal of a purple iris, also known as a Louisiana iris.

I launched just as the sun was peaking over the horizon a few days later, and made the several-mile run to Bayou Magazille, and was greeted with clusters of irises.

It took some time, but I found a bank I could reach through all the cypress knees. And then I spent about an hour capturing images of these gorgeous wild flowers.

My outboard pooted out (again), and it took me almost two hours to get back to the landing using my trolling motor, but I could take comfort in knowing my SD card held some fantastic images of the iris bloom.

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About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.