“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” William Wordsworth may have never seen Caddo Lake, yet it is a perfect way to describe the effect of the lake’s beauty. On this second day at the lake we were now set out to capture this captivating grandeur through the lens of Mark Burns.
Daybreak Voyage, By Ryan Knesek
The LEAP Ambassadors met with photographer Mark Burns early in the morning to continue with our documentary process. As you may remember, Mr. Burns has been a part of the National Parks Project where he photographed all fifty-nine national parks in black and white.
On this expedition to Caddo Lake he focused mainly on the color scheme of the autumn cypress during the dawn hours while taking wildlife photos here and there.
LEAP Ambassadors were able to converse with the accomplished photographer and expand their knowledge of composition, lighting, and color scheme in photography.
Being amateur photographers, we benefit from the knowledge he provides–even if it isn’t evident in our own photos!
And as we saw the beautiful landscapes of the lake and the graceful wildlife, we set these newly learned skills into practice.
Starr Home, By Ryan Knesek
After meeting with Mark Burns in Uncertain, Texas, Leap Ambassadors found themselves in the city of Marshall. There, Ambassadors toured the historic Starr Family House, a Victorian-style home that was built with the money from the Starr’s land possessions.
Dr. James Harper Starr was commissioned as president of the board of land commissioners and receiver of the land dues for Nacogdoches County by Sam Houston in 1837. The tour showcased refurbished wood flooring and antiques that were unique to the home. Art, woodworking, and portraits illustrated the family’s status when the Starrs had guests at home. Now, years after the owners’ lifetime, their elegant lifestyle is still admired as people visit and tour the home, which is operated by the Texas Historical Commission.
Among the most interesting aspects of the home were all its artifacts. Ambassador Makayla and I were even allowed to use one of these artifacts, the stereograph. This contraption functioned as early 3-dimensional glasses for photography and was the first time that Makayla and I had used one.
As one would imagine, the home showed portals into the past through its architecture and artifacts.
One interesting aspect of history while touring the home was Dr. Starr’s relationship with Sam Houston. Apparently, Dr. Starr owned land close to land owned by Sam Houston in Nacogdoches. However, land disputes arose while they were neighbors and Dr. Starr tried to sue the celebrated Texas war hero and politician. This tour helped highlight the fact that the more you learn about history and the present, the more connections you see, and this is the beginning of true understanding.
Lunch at R & R Bakery, by Christina Perez
After the LEAP Ambassadors finished their tour of the Starr Family Home tour, we headed to lunch. We arrived in historic downtown Marshall, Texas…
and pulled into R & R Bakery and Coffee Shop. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by friendly staff and sat down ready to enjoy our meal. As we waited on Sierra and Sarah to arrive we shared our favorite things about the sunrise tour. We discussed the birds, the colors of the trees, and our favorite part of the tour. Ryan got the South Western roast beef sandwich with jalapeño bread and a garden salad on the side and lets just say he enjoyed his meal, clearly evidenced by a clean plate a few minutes after his order arrived. After lunch we shared some desserts, apple cinnamon scones for some and choclate chip cookies for others. It was a sweet way to enjoy the afternoon.
Michelson Museum of Art, By Makayla Mason
With such a filling lunch, we decided to walk it off with a small shopping session through town. Our wallets turned to the various antique shops along N. Washington Ave. And even though we could have spent longer at the shops, we made our way to the Michelson Museum of Art.
Opened in May 1985, the museum houses hundreds of pieces of art by artist Leo Michelson. The museum was founded following a donation from Leo Michelson’s widow. The donation consisted of more than 1,000 of Michelson’s art pieces.
Today, the museum consists of Michelson’s work, as well as works from locally and nationally recognized artists. The traveling exhibit that was currently at the museum was of illustrator Marla Frazee.
Frazee has illustrated several well-known children’s books such as The Boss Baby, Clementine, Stars, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever and even one of my favorite book series, The Borrowers.
The Ambassadors enjoyed looking through books they remembered reading when they were younger and appreciated the detailed illustrations.
The other exhibit at the museum was “Our Artists and their Selfies.”
This exhibit contained thirteen artists with pieces of their work paired with their self-portrait and a list of highly-recognized art museums that feature each artist.
One of the thirteen artists was Henri Matisse, a name familiar to the LEAP Ambassadors, so we decided to take a selfie!
But from indoor art…we went back to the natural art of Caddo Lake. Sunset and sunrise lighting conditions are far from the same. That is why it was important for Mark Burns to return to the lake during the late afternoon. Swaying in the tranquil waters of the lake, Mr. Burns continued to look for that perfect spot to photograph.
During his National Parks Project, he spent five years visiting and revisiting parks. This search, as you can tell, is continuous and ever changing. Even though we had been here over the summer, the lake is not under the same conditions as before.
“Water levels have fallen by three feet,” Wes, our captain and tour guide, told us.
This affects the composition of Mr. Burns’s photos since cypress roots are more visible. Of course the most prominent change is the fall colors in the foliage of the cypress trees. This is such an important trait of the lake since it changes the format in which Mr. Burns takes his photos.
Now that the fall colors are so rich, Burns sought the right light for the perfect color.
Tomorrow will be our last chance, for now, to get the last few shots of the lake. As we returned to Marshall for dinner we reminisced on the day’s success. We even got to see a few of the photos that Mr. Burns had taken through out the day. With excitement in our step and a show of confidence…
…we returned to the hotel welcoming tomorrow’s adventures.