The 2018 Annual Favorites

The 2018 Annual Favorites

Every year, I spend time reviewing and then selecting my favorites for the past year. It sometimes is not easy; not that all the photos are great, but because favorites often have emotional ties that go beyond the image itself…

 

After starting with a first selection of over 100 photos, I narrowed it down to about 50, and then to 17. From there, it was much harder! However, I took a deep breath and have included here the ones that I most wanted to present and discuss.

 

These are the photos that I enjoyed making – because of the spirit of the photo shoot, or the content, or because of the friends with me. My wish is that you feel some of the emotion I felt when making the photographs…

 

In chronological order…

 

Winter Morning at Natural Dam

Winter Morning, Natural Dam

Natural Dam has always been a favorite place, and I have learned to look beyond the obvious here for a surprising photo. On this January morning, it was cold with a mist in the air, but there was music in the water as it tumbled and splashed over the rocks… (Sony Alpha 7R, Sony 24-240 lens)

 

The Bridge at Natural Dam

natural dam bridge-5679

In the spring, some friends and I stopped here during an outing. Attempting again to create a different image, I made this photo to include the rock shelf along the creek, and the bridge, as well as the falls. Our friend Tracy commented that few people really notice the bridge… (Sony Alpha 7R, Sony 24-70 lens)

 

Dogwood on the Lake Alma Trail

Dogwood

Dogwood trees with their blossoms in the spring are a favorite sight.  This morning, I was scouting for an upcoming workshop on the Trail, and was stunned by this tree’s beauty…

 

Orchard Web Weaver on Fern

Orchard Web Weaver on Fern

This Orchard Web Weaver was very small, and a surprise find during our workshop on the Lake Alma Trail.  However, she was a lovely, delicate creature, and we were happy to make photographs of the lady…  (Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 90 macro lens)

 

Dew Drops and Wild Onions

Dew Drops, Wild Onions

In early Spring, Flanagan Prairie was covered in blooming wild onions.  They were spectacular!  I do not ever recall seeing so many.  Which means there was a feast for the macro lenses.  A cool May morning presented the flowers covered in dew drops, and this photo became the favorite of many of my friends…  (Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 90 macro lens)

 

The Pink Katydid…

pink katydid-512-03588

Mid-May, some friends posted photos on Facebook they had made at the Prairie of a pink katydid.  Most of us had never heard of that!  A little research on Google and we learned that there are a couple of colors besides green, and pink is actually more common than we knew, but because the little creatures stand out in the green grasses, they do not survive long.  This one lived for nearly a week, and had its photo made by numerous photographers in the area.  I think he liked the attention!  (Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 90 macro lens)

 

A Stormy Morning at Cherokee Prairie

stormy morning cherokee prairie-512-6652

Blazing Star (Liatris, Gayfeather), Yellow Coneflowers (Black-eyed Susans), and some Queen Anne’s Lace covered the Prairie this morning in late June.  Our friend Tracy met up with me there, and we made photos, all the while hoping the storm would not also join us!  It did not, and even gave us a small rainbow…

 

Koi!  At the Little Rock Zoo

Koi - Little Rock Zoo

For a quarter, you can feed the koi fish in this little lake at the Little Rock Zoo.  How much fun can you have for 25 cents?!  The color, the action in the water, all the movement, still makes me smile!  (Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 24-240 lens)

 

Arkansas-Oklahoma Bridge 

garrison avenue bridge-512-6945

In late summer, from Fort Smith’s park by the Arkansas River, you can see this view of the bridge.   And, sometimes you get lucky and have a sky like this!  (Sony Alpha 7R, Sony 24-70 f4 lens)

 

A Rainy Morning at Devils Den State Park

devils den rainy morning-512-7266

One of the canoes in an early autumn rain that soaked the wood of the dock, and gave us a bit of mist on the water of the lake.  I try to visit the canoes each time I go to Devils Den.  They make a good photograph by themselves, but sometimes Nature gives us the extra something…

 

A Puddle of Leaves

autumn's end-512-7453

As Autumn ends, and few leaves hang on, the wind and the rain will bring the last of them down to earth, then gather them to a puddle of rainwater.  A “puddle of leaves.”  (Sony Alpha 7R, Sony 24-70 f4 lens)


 

2018 is now history.  These photos were fun to make, and I am thankful for the opportunities I had last year.  Now… I am looking forward to 2019, and I hope you are as well.  It is my wish you might see something here that will give you hope and inspiration for the photographs you will find in front of your lens!  Watch the light – and follow it for the best photographs!!  And joy…

 

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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

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.

600pixels-00775600pixels-09980

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

2015 Favorite Photos

2015 Favorite Photos

Selecting favorite photos from the past 12 months is a fun exercise, and also an opportunity to see where my interests have taken me.  And, sometimes a way to measure one’s growth.  Mostly, however, these are the photographs that bring a smile to my face when I remember pressing the shutter release…

So, here we go, roughly in chronological order:

Trout Lily

This is one of my favorite flowers, as it is one of the first signs of spring in Arkansas.  This one reminds me of a sea creature…Trout Lily 1767


 

Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas

After a short hike on the Devil’s Den Trail, you will find yourself at Twin Falls – unless it is the dry season.  This is the west falls, with photographer for scale…

Devil's Den-02417


 

Wild Rose, Cherokee Prairie

Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas, continues to be one of those locations I return to regularly.  This wild rose was past its prime, but I liked the patterns, color, symmetry, and its friend.  I hope you notice the antenna that mimics the flower petal lines…

Cherokee Prairie-02591


 

Colorado National Monument

In June, I traveled to the Eastern Sierras of California to attend Derrick Story’s photography workshop.  (You can read about it here.)  The road trip included a one-night stop at the Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction, Colorado.  I would definitely camp there again.

Colorado NM-02747


 

Great Basin National Park

From Colorado, my next stop was Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada, home to 13,063-foot Mount Wheeler.  This mountain stream was near my campsite…

Great Basin NP-02862


 

Yosemite National Park

From Bridgeport, CA, where Derrick’s workshop was based, I drove into Yosemite National Park via the Tioga Pass, highway 120.  Road construction stopped me from driving to the Valley; while stopped for the roadwork, I made this photo…

Yosemite NP-02967


 

 

Mono Lake, California

This has got to be one of the most unique places in the U.S., and I made hundreds of photos there…

Mono Lake-03277


 

Antique Airplane Fly-In, Oologah, Oklahoma

Closer to home, some friends and I visited Will Rogers’ Birthplace Ranch for the annual Antique Airplane Fly-In.  Dozens of planes and antique autos were on display, and their landings and departures were a sight to see.  The whole day was fun!

Fly-In-04397


Autumn, Arkansas

Our “fall colors” were not the best this year, but we always try to make the best of it.  😉

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Natural Dam, Arkansas

This rock shelf creates a natural “Dam” with an 8-foot tall waterfall.  I am not the only photographer to visit, and – like many others – I have made hundreds of images over the years.  Just a few days ago, this was the scene just before sunrise on a cold, frosty morning…

Natural Dam 05909


 

“Frost Flowers”

Although I had heard of this for many years, it was only a few days ago I made my first photos of Frost Flowers.  Sometimes called “Frost Ribbons”, apparently they happen on cold, frosty mornings, when vegetation still has moisture in its stem.  The moisture freezes, and forces its way out forming these ribbon flowers…

Frost Flowers 05964


Best wishes for a Great 2016:  Sweet light, peace, and joy…

Angry Bird

Angry Bird

In one of our favorite destinations, Texas’ Brazos Bend State Park, spring is when a number of bird species nest, brood, and raise their chicks.  One of our favorite birds is the handsome Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, with striking colors and intriguing behavior.  (By the way, their feet are not green.) 🙂

Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron in Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

However, the chicks are less handsome, and this one looks like the original “Angry Bird.”

A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

We used the Sony Alpha 700 camera, with a Tamron 300mm f/2.8 and Tamron 2x teleconverter, on a Manfrotto tripod.

Of Alligators, Ducks, and a Sunset

Brazos Bend State Park is roughly an hour southwest of Houston, Texas. In this park are many alligators, which is surprising to many people. After all, this is Texas, home of cowboys and The Alamo…

Actually, there are alligators all along the Texas coast, from Louisiana to Corpus Christi, but this State Park may have the largest population per acre in the state. They’re in the lakes and swamps, and they love to lie in the warm sun on the trails.

Gayle looks forward more to photographing the alligators than the birds in the park – and this is one of the best places I’ve seen for birds!

On this trip, we had just arrived, and as soon as we were settled, we headed out to the trail around Elm Lake. Gray clouds filled the sky, and although not dark, they weren’t the kind you wanted to have behind your subject. As we walked the trail, I saw several Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in a dead tree not too far away. I stopped and took some photos, trying to silhouette the ducks against the gray clouds.

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in a dead tree, silhouetted against gray clouds, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

Gayle had kept going down the trail, but she was within my sight. After I took a few photos, I headed her way. When I was close enough, I could see she was set up near an alligator…

Gayle, photographing an alligator, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

She got some pretty good images, including this one.

Brazos Bend Alligator

Alligator at Brazos Bend State Park, by Gayle Millican

After photographing the gator for a while, I saw that the clouds were beginning to break up. I dragged Gayle away from the alligator, telling her that we were about to be blessed with a great sunset. We headed back to the spot where I had photographed the ducks earlier.

Sure enough, after we had barely set up our tripods, the sun began to make its appearance.

Gayle’s first photo of the sunset, her zoom lens set to about 200 mm

We each took about 20 photographs, then it was over…

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at sunset, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

Lessons learned: Keep your eye on the sky, and always be ready, for anything!

Cameras used were Sony Alpha, with Tamron lenses.

Butterfiles along the Cossatot

Driving the backroads within the Cossatot River State Park & Natural Area, it was warm, dry, and dusty.  I was exploring, and watching for interesting subjects.  Alongside the road was a patch of thistle, the flowers in full, fresh bloom.  Swallowtail butterflies were swarming the blooms – yellow tiger, spicebush, and two-tailed swallowtails were everywhere.  They were in a feeding frenzy, and paid little attention to me and my camera.  Again, I had the 70-210 f/4 Minolta lens mounted on the camera; a long enough lens that I could reach the butterflies without being too close to cause them discomfort, but short enough that I could find them in the viewfinder quickly.  I set the aperture to f/4, with a fast shutter speed of 1/1500 sec to freeze their movements.

Here are a couple of photos.  Butterflies, flying flowers…

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio [Pterourus] glaucusEastern Tiger Swallowtail