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Sunday, October 1, 2006

Lone Star Hotspots

Discover the American landscape, Texas-style

In The Melting Pot Of East Texas

Beneath the canopy of pine, cypress and hardwood, life in the Big Thicket and Piney Woods of east Texas moves at a very slow pace. Rivers and streams, slicing through the shadows of tall timber and undergrowth, meander slowly to the Gulf of Mexico, creating a favorable habitat for countless avian and reptilian species. Caddo Lake, an immense natural body of water, is so large that without a guide, it's easy to become disoriented and lost in the sea of cypress growing from its murky waters. Bird life abounds in this region, along with other aquatic creatures that are also indigenous to its eastern neighbor, Louisiana.

Only a relatively small acreage of this region remains in its natural forested condition; however, with state parks and national forest land available for access by travelers, it's easy to document the contrasting features that define this area.

Daingerfield State Park, located between Hughes Springs and Daingerfield on Highway 49, is a must-see, especially in the month of November. Caddo State Park, Tyler State Park, Sam Houston National Forest and Angelina National Forest offer a unique view at what this portion of Texas once was before unrestricted clear-cut logging activities almost destroyed the Big Thicket.

The Neches River is flanked by the Big Thicket National Preserve for more than 50 miles, from below Lake Steinhagen to the Gulf of Mexico. A motorized boat ride down the Neches will reveal a land and its wildlife reminiscent of a century ago. Note that this stretch of the Neches is patrolled by national park officers who insist on boaters wearing floatation devices along the route.

Texas is a land of contrast, and accommodates the needs and wishes of photographers the world over. From the undulating prairies of the Texas panhandle to the sweltering desert mountains of the Big Bend, the Lone Star State offers countless opportunities to test your creative skills, whether your interest lies in landscape, wildlife or simply the oceanic expanses of our big sky.

Texas Essential Gear

1) Hiking around Texas is sure to mean crossing some tough terrain. You want your feet to stay comfortable, cool and weatherproof so that they keep you moving swiftly. Gore-Tex® XCR is a high-performance fabric that allows for extra breathability by reducing sweat buildup in the membrane.
Example: Salomon Super X PRO XCR hiking shoes
Contact: Salomon, www.salomonoutdoor.com

2) Camera gear and dust don't mix, and those flat, open Texas plains can make for rather dusty conditions. If sand or dust blows into your gear, have cleaning equipment on standby, including a microfiber cloth, air blower and soft-hair brush.
Giottos Rocket Air Blower
HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com

3) Cover all angles with a wide-range zoom lens. From wide-angle to telephoto and macro focal lengths, a versatile high-power zoom should come in handy when looking out onto the sweeping Texas landscape.
Example: Tamron Zoom Super Wide-Angle 18-20mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens
Contact: Tamron, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com

4) Protecting your valuable photo gear from harsh weather elements is crucial. Be prepared to give your equipment some extra padding, especially when you're headed into a weather climate that can change unexpectedly.
Example: Novoflex Blue-Wraps
Contact: HP Marketing Corp., (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com

Visit www.wymanmeinzer.com.


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