How many of you have ever photographed fall cypress trees? If you answered no, you are missing an incredible opportunity to capture some of fall’s best colors.  In fact cypress trees in fall color are now one of my favorite photography subjects.

I once was like many photographers who headed in when the yellows, reds and orange leaves in popular locations such as the Smoky Mountains disappeared. Then I discovered the amazing photography destinations of Southern cypress swamps and my fall color photography outings extended way into November.  So, today, I want to share two of my favorite destinations for fall cypress trees with you.


Our first photo stop is Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Lakeland, Georgia. Don’t feel alone if you are asking where the heck is Lakeland, Georgia. It is located about 30 minutes northeast of Valdosta, Georgia on Highway 221 way out in the country.  About Banks Lake

map of Bank's Lake Wildlife Refuge in Georgia

The refuge contains a variety of habitat types including:

    1. 1,000 acres of marsh
    2. 1,644 acres of cypress swamp
    3. 900 acres of open water
    4. and 15 acres of uplands.

Facilities at Banks Lake are very limited and consist of a small gift shop, restrooms, boat ramp, short walking trail, and a boardwalk. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at the refuge, however, there are no power boat rentals on site.

Bank’s Lake Photography of Fall Cypress Trees

The cypress trees on this lake are tall and very photogenic but land based photography is limited to only a small boardwalk and one portion of the shoreline. If you are serious about acquiring a variety of different images from this cypress lake, some type of watercraft is highly recommended.

Below are a few photographs taken from the shore.

From the Boardwalk:

From the Shoreline:


The second cypress lake is located in Twin Cities, George at the George Smith State Park east of Statesboro, Georgia on Highway 80.

map showing location of George Smith State Park

George Smith State Park is also a small park but a bit larger than Banks Lake and offers a few more locations from which to photograph cypress trees. The cypress trees at George Smith State Park are extremely photogenic although a bit shorter than those at Bank’s Lake. In fact, three of my images from here has won national awards.  Again, I highly recommend renting a watercraft.

George Smith State Park Photography

Every stage of fall color on the cypress trees is photogenic and worth capturing.  

The Fall Color Begins

Fall color first appears on the cypress trees as needles turn yellow and light orange.

Fall Cypress Tree Color Abounds

As fall color progresses, the needles of the cypress trees begin to take on a beautiful orange color.  

This next image was taken from a boat allowing for a closer view of the trees and received awards in two national contests.

Late Fall Cypress Tree Color

The fall cypress tree colors now turn reddish orange.  Although the colors in this stage are spectacular, the needles are fragile and can fall off within hours under any windy conditions.  When colors reach this stage, do not delay any photography pursuits.

Cypress Tree Photography Challenges

Capturing great cypress tree images is challenging:

  • First cypress tree needles are very prone to movement and blurring with the slightest wind conditions.
  • Secondly, blown out areas in both the sky and water occur if the trees are not photographed in perfect light conditions.
  • In the last stages of color, the water around the bottom of the cypress trees will fill with fallen needles.

Of course the above challenges are based solely on what I am looking for when photography grand scenic images of fall cypress trees. 


The best times to photograph the above cypress lakes are usually from November 5th through the 15th with peak color being around the 11th of November. Of course with nature, it is always wise to check the local conditions prior to any trip.

Thanks for joining me as always on another Road Trip Friday adventure and I hope I have inspired you to add cypress trees to your fall color outings.

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