Familiar Places

Familiar Places

Many photographers, especially outdoor and nature photographers, including me, like to travel and to seek out new locations and scenes.  There is so much in this country, not to mention the world, yet to be seen.

However, circumstances and time often prevent us from traveling, so we learn to make the best of the locations near to home.  And, we soon find that we have favorites:  “go-to” places that always give us a photo opportunity.

Returning there often, we learn the best times to go, we see the seasons change, and we challenge ourselves to see familiar things in a new way.

My go-to locations near my home in Western Arkansas have been Natural Dam, Devils Den State Park, and Cherokee and Flanagan Prairies, among a few other spots.  I always find something to photograph at these locations. Continue reading

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The 2017 Annual Ten

The 2017 Annual Ten

Once again, it is time to review the photographs made this year, and select my favorites.  We have been doing this for the past several years, and I look forward to it every year.  This year, I started with over 50 photos, and after making several passes through the collection, and making some tough decisions, I selected the 10 photographs that gave me the most joy and satisfaction when I made them, and continue to do so now.  Here are my Favorites for 2017, in roughly chronological order… Continue reading

The Greatest Time of Day

The Greatest Time of Day

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Devil’s Den State Park f/16, 1/200 sec, and ISO 400, 24-70 zoom lens set to 24mm.

Ever since I began making photographs, I prefer to photograph the morning.  I like to be there for that transition from night to day, when the colors change, and the light changes, and the day is fresh and with a new beginning.  And… every morning, every day, is different…  

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Natural Dam f/16, 1/8 sec, ISO 100, 24mm pre-dawn light

In the winter, you see frost on rock edges and on the edges of leaves, and ribbons of ice from stems of plants, and you see frozen water, and fog rising from streams, and you feel the crispness of the air, and you see your breath… Continue reading

This Photo, #6

This Photo, #6

Two years ago, at dawn on a cold December morning, I visited Natural Dam and made one of my favorite photographs ever. There was a fog rising from the water, and the sun was just about to rise, and the fog glowed in the pre-dawn light.

December Sunrise

This was the first photo I made that morning, and after I tried some different compositions and exposures, I moved on to different locations around the waterfall. This is my normal approach – to look at a scene, and to explore different viewpoints.  Eventually, I saw this scene… Continue reading

This Photo #4

This Photo #4

Some years back, we suffered a computer hard disk crash.  There were some photos on it, but I did not consider them a great loss, and thought they were backed up… somewhere.  I said “some years back” meaning before I had learned about serious back up and better organization.  (Today, we use three duplicate external hard drives, with more drives for images prior to 2015.)

As time went by, I did not find that back up.  Until recently.

Since I retired as store manager, I have gradually been re-organizing my office.  And, some old CD’s have appeared.  On one of them is this photo, my first good water drop with refraction.  For me, it is important, as it marks a turning point in that part of my photography.  My first success!  Although it is not a perfect photo, I learned much about searching for the right combination of water drop, refracted flower, and light… Continue reading

This Photo #3

This Photo #3

Canoes with Morning Reflection

Image 5105     Date:  April, 2016

A couple of years before this, I had begun photographing the canoes at Devil’s Den State Park.  Probably, I had seen similar photographs of canoes elsewhere (I know – who hasn’t?), and was inspired to make my own version.  Each time I revisited these canoes, I would make new photographs, and with each visit, it seemed my photographs improved.

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On this day, we were holding our spring macro photography workshop in the park.  I arrived early, and while waiting, I walked to the canoe docks.
From early spring to late fall, the park rents the canoes and paddle boats for use on the Park’s little lake, formed from Lee Creek.  It’s a very small lake.  Besides the lake, the Park has miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and plenty of the rugged beauty Arkansas is known for.  It is my favorite Arkansas State Park. Continue reading

The Annual Ten

The Annual Ten

Each year, we review our photos from the past 12 months, and select ten (or 12, on occasion) as our favorite images for that year.  Never easy, and does not appear to serve much purpose, but it is a fun exercise, and we enjoy sharing.  So, here you go, my 10 for ’16, in chronological order.

  1.  Going Back to Mexico

Going Back To MexicoIn February, I was photographing the sunset over the Arkansas River, near the Garrison Avenue bridge in Fort Smith.  The Arkansas River originates in the mountains of Colorado, then travels through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas before merging with the Mississippi River on the Arkansas-Mississippi border.

In front of my camera, the river was flowing without waves, and reflecting the sunset-colored sky and clouds.  I made several images as the sun dropped lower in the sky, then this canoe floated into my composition.  The first thought was, “oh, no!”  However, I then thought how this would add perspective and a human element, and I managed to get two frames, before he left the scene.  As I stood there behind my camera, the canoeist called to me, “I’m going back to Mexico, buddy!”  At least, that’s what I think he said…   🙂

 

2. The Pot o’ Gold

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On St. Patrick’s Day, I visited Natural Dam, a favorite site to me – and many other photographers.  The challenge is to see a different image of this small waterfall, as I and all those other photographers have taken a million photographs here.

So, I selected this viewpoint that revealed the sunrise reflected along the edges of the waterfall – like seeing the legendary Irish “pot o’ gold”.  Exposure was set for the highlights, and I made sure the shadows remained dark, resulting in a near-abstract of light and shadow…

 

3. Devil’s Den Redbuds

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April 1 was not a Fool’s Day, at least not entirely, as I found this wonderful juxtaposition of a blooming redbud tree and the spillway cascade in Arkansas’ Devil’s Den State Park.  The Park is another favorite photography destination, and you will see three more photos made there among these 10.

 

4. Waiting Canoes in Spring

Morning Reflections

In April, we held a Macro Photography Workshop, which included a trip to Devil’s Den State Park.  While I was waiting for the students to arrive, I visited the rental canoes.  I always visit them, and make photos.  Usually, I use a wide angle and get fairly close, but this time, I backed up and used the 70-300 zoom.  The telephoto really provided a narrow angle of view, and brought the background much closer and larger.  This background was the reflection of the mostly bare trees across the small lake, lighted by the rising sun, and reflected in the lake water…

 

5. Spring Afternoon at Falling Water Falls

Afternoon at Falling Waters

Later in April – one of my favorite months, it appears – I spent the day driving the Ozarks, visiting some popular locations, including Falling Waters Creek and its falls.  It was spring, and in Arkansas in the spring, the sky is never clear for long, and I was treated to some great clouds in a blue sky above the waterfall.  The clouds’ reflection creates a line from the foreground rocks to the falls to the clouds.

 

6. Flanagan Prairie

Flanagan Prairie Morning

Flanagan Prairie is an Arkansas State Heritage Site, and allows no vehicular traffic.  The result is a natural area that abounds with wildflowers throughout the spring and summer.  On this June day, I was trying out a new Sony lens, the 90 mm macro.  I often visit here, looking for water drops, which are refracting an image of the background  But there were none.  That is, until about an hour after sunrise, and suddenly everything was wet.

Later, someone asked about only including half of the sunflower.  That was intentional, as the image is not about the flower, but the setting.  It was about the morning, the water drops and the Prairie.

 

7.  The Milky Way

Milky Way at the Fire Tower

Along the Talimena Drive, near Queen Wilhelmina State Park just east of the Oklahoma State Line, is a picnic area around the Rich Mountain Fire Tower, with picnic tables and restrooms.  Gayle and I spent an August evening there, photographing the Milky Way.  My favorite of the night was this one.  It is also my favorite of the Milky Way photos I have made thus far – but there will be more in 2017!

 

8.  Brigadoon (Petit Jean Morning Light)

Summer Morning, Petit Jean Mountain

Also in August, on the way home from the Bedford Camera Photo Expo in Little Rock, I drove to Petit Jean State Park.  I missed the sunrise, but the morning light was amazing on the flats below the mountain.  This photo was made from Stout’s Point on the eastern end of the mountain, overlooking the Arkansas River.  (The river is just out of the frame behind the tree.)  Looking at this scene, the light, the green grass and trees, the fog on the horizon, I am reminded of the 1954 Gene Kelly movie, Brigadoon.  Look it up.  🙂

 

9.  Autumn Starburst

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On an October morning in Devil’s Den State Park, there was not much color found for a photograph, except for these leaves against the blue sky.  I moved until the sun was backlighting the leaves and shining through a small hole caused by a hungry caterpillar or beetle.  With an aperture of f/16, the sun peeking through presented a lovely burst of light, a sunburst.

 

10.  Autumn Canoes

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In late October, I once again visited Devil’s Den State Park.  And, once again, photographed the canoes.  This time, there was a bit of color in the reflection, and complemented the red of the canoes.  The canoes are floating at dock, waiting for some park visitors to take them out for a ride on the small lake.


So, that’s my 10 for ’16.  Not necessarily the best photos you will see, but my favorites.  The photographs I enjoyed making this year, and the ones I still enjoy viewing.  Hope you enjoy seeing them, too.

If you follow me on Facebook (Larry Millican), Twitter (@LDMillican) or Instagram (@LDMillican), you may have seen them before.  Would enjoy hearing from you; comments are certainly welcome and appreciated.  In any case, thank you for looking.

And, keep looking for the light.