Pic of the Week 9/6/18: Tower View, Lake Murray

September 06, 2018  •  1 Comment

Pic of the Week 9/6/18

"Tower View: Lake Murray"

Date taken: 9/2/18

Location: Lake Murray State Park, OK



Tower View: Lake MurrayTower View: Lake MurrayWaves crash into the rocky shore of Lake Murray in southern Oklahoma.

© Ben Jacobi


Over this Labor Day weekend some friends and I made a quick trip to Lake Murray State Park for some hiking and photography. Lake Murray is Oklahoma's first and largest state park. My friends Jaden Corbin and Ryan Litton joined me for this adventure. Our plan was to leave Wichita Falls in the afternoon and take the 1hr 45min drive to Lake Murray and stay there through sunset and possibly into night time. We did not plan to stay overnight, due to other commitments. But it is just a short 2hours away so we would be home at a reasonable hour. I have wanted to visit Lake Murray for some time now. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails and the lake has this stunning blue-green water which could make for interesting photography. I had scouted out some possible compositions through Google Earth and internet research and one shot that I really wanted was a view of the lake from Tucker Tower. 

Tucker Tower is a stone building constructed by the WPA boys in the 1930's. It is believed that the home was built as a retreat for Oklahoma governors, now it serves as a geological museum/nature center. The base of the tower is about 60ft above the lake level, but the tower stretches another 65ft above the patio. This 120+ft gain in elevation gives you an excellent view of the lake and landscape. I thought this would be a great spot for sunset. But I did not do my research for this location and failed to realize they close the nature center/tower at 4:30 every evening. When we arrived to the gated entrance at 4:47pm I was naturally disheartened, but I had a few back up shots I wanted to capture. 

No photography adventure would be complete without at least some hiking, but the weather was going to be in question and I decided to forgo the usual hiking amount. Also, we arrived an hour late to the lake so that cut into some hiking time as well. Regardless, I don't feel I can enjoy these locations unless I get out of the car and experience it myself. So as we turned on the Buzzard's Roost campground road I could see ridge off to our left and dead ahead was Tucker Tower. We reached a small parking lot and followed an unmarked trail to the top of the rocky ridge. The views from up here were nice, but nothing very scenic of the lake itself. Still it was fun hiking and scrambling up the rocks and bluffs. Afte our short .25mile hike we drove off in search of potential sunset locations. 

We looked at Marietta's Landing, Ski jump, Sunset Beach, and despite some of these excellent locations, we did not find a good sunset spot. I don't know if it was the number of people, or my disappointment in arriving to late for my Tucker Tower shot, but we decided to head back to Buzzard's Roost for sunset. Maybe we could photograph some nice color and/or light on Tucker Tower? The thick clouds hovering off to our west had me concerned. When we reached Buzzard's Roost again we climbed out of the car and I immediately started for the shoreline. I thought if I could get farther away from people I might be able to concentrate and find a nice shot. I led Jaden and Ryan to a rocky shore at the end of the parking lot. I watched as jet skis and Seadoos darted across the water sending waves splashing into the rocky shoreline. This gave me an idea, if I could get enough large waves to crash into the rocks I might could do a long exposure and the photography that day could be saved--at this point I hadn't pulled out my camera once. 

After I set Jaden and Ryan up, I went just a feet over from them as to not crowd them and also to find my own unique composition. There was a very small pathway between two trees that led to the shore. It was just quiet and secluded enough for me to enjoy the view and pull out my camera. We spent the next few hours watching waves and hoping for a good sunset. Though the good sunset never came, I was still able to capture the waves splashing against the rocks giving this scene a little bit more energy. The view of Tucker Tower from this point was quite nice and I included the tower in my composition as an anchoring point. Its strange, if you just glimpse at the photo you might think it was taken along Lake Michigan or somewhere along the northeast coastline. The tower does look like a lighthouse added more to the illusion. I was pretty happy with this image that I captured, but I sure wish I had more color in the sky, but I do plan to return to Lake Murray during the fall and maybe I can capture the shot I envisioned. At the very least, there should be significantly less people. Also, I'll try to be on time next time.


It is dynamic and vibrant.
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