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

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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

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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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This Photo, #8

This Photo, #8

Just an Old Barn

Image File DSC05688

August 2013

The last post, here, we talked about photographing a Chevrolet pickup truck

After leaving the truck, Mark and Mike and I drove past Cass and Turner Bend and were heading home.  It had been a long day, and we were ready to go home, and it was nearly sunset.  Along Highway 23, we saw an old barn in some amazing light, looked at each other, stopped and jumped out… Continue reading

This Photo, #7

This Photo, #7

Just an Old Truck

File DSC05669

August 2013

 

A few years ago, on a warm and humid August day, two of my friends and I explored some backroads of the Arkansas Ozarks from sunup to sundown.  We photographed landscapes, old buildings, little waterfalls, wildflowers, and more.

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Continue reading

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

Larry-Sunrise-Pano-Crop-A7R-3805

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…  

NaturalDam-Dawn2-A7R-4363

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

This Photo

great_blue_heron_10039

Great Blue Heron Flying Across the Arkansas River, Slide file 10039, date 1989

Location:  Citadel Bluff Park, near Cecil, Arkansas

Of all the photos I have made, this one fills a special place in my memory.  The moment, the location, and the image all added up to make it one of the best photos I had made at that time…

In the 1980’s and 90’s, I often visited Citadel Bluff Park and Campground on the Arkansas River, just outside the small community of Cecil, hoping to see bald eagles – and frequently I did.  A trail led from the end of the campground, through the woods, and along the river.  However, no matter how quietly I approached, wildlife knew when I was there…

On this cool but pleasant winter morning, the Great Blue Heron flew when I got too close, sounding its blood-curdling alarm call.  A grove of cane blocked my view, but I pushed through and saw the heron flying away.  I had learned the hard way to preset the camera, but I still only had time for two photographs: the one you see here, and a second one with its wings in the downbeat.

Is it a good photo?  I like it; but, for me, there is more: the image includes the sounds of the breeze in the trees and the river lapping on the bank, the smell of the forest, and the breathtaking flight of the heron.  There’s nothing else there but the Arkansas River, with its own reflected image of the heron, and small ripples in the current…

Some tech stuff, as I remember it:  Minolta Maxxum 7000 camera, a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 lens, and Kodachrome 64 film.  (Yes, film.)  Settings were probably f/5.6, at 1/500 sec shutter speed.  I frequently set the camera ISO to 80, so as to underexpose the film and add saturation to the colors.

Oh – we have since incorporated the heron’s image into our logo:heron_logo

 

 

In closing… this is the first post in a series.  Would love to hear your thoughts about my little story, and if you have a photo that means something similar to you, we would love to hear about that, too!  🙂

 

Milky Way Photography Adventures

Milky Way Photography Adventures

Despite the fact that Arkansas’ River Valley has had a dry year, it seemed that every time I planned a star photography outing – there were clouds.

 

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On this night, the clouds parted over Shores Lake just for a few minutes, and just enough to see the Milky Way.

 

And, this trend included our Night Photography Workshop in August.  We tried 3 times, before we finally had a marvelously clear night to see and photograph the Milky Way.

 

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Same location – Shores Lake – but no significant clouds!  🙂  To add a little foreground interest, I set up my film camera to photograph the stars streaking across the sky, aka “star trails.”

 

If you live in an area with little light pollution, you may wonder what’s the big deal.  However, for those of us who live in an urban area, it is a rare treat!  Some of the photographers in our workshop had not seen the Milky Way since childhood.  Seeing it and making photographs was very exciting!

Would you like to photograph the Milky Way?  Here are 5 things I think you need:

  • A DSLR camera, because shooting in manual exposure mode and manual focus mode, and at a high ISO is necessary.  Very few compact cameras have all those functions.
  • A wide angle lens.  How wide?  My preference is a 24mm for a “full-frame” sensor, but up to a 35mm will work.  If you have an APS-C sensor, sometimes called a “crop-sensor,” 18mm to 24mm is the equivalent.  That does not mean that we cannot use even wider!  Many photographers use a 14mm, 16mm or an 18mm, and sometimes a fish-eye.
  • A Good tripod.  Shutter speeds will be measured in seconds, and no one I know can hold a camera steady for that long.  Your tripod will need to be solid, and easy to adjust in the dark.  I recommend a carbon fiber or aluminum tripod, with a ball head.
  • A remote control for firing your camera.  Pressing the shutter button will cause your camera to move, so use a remote cable or wireless remote.
  • A headlamp or flashlight with a red lens.  Without the red lens, your night vision will be compromised each time you turn on the light.

Also helpful:  an app on your phone.  “Photo Pills” and “The Photographers’ Ephemeris” will provide photographers where and when information – I like and use both.  I also like “Star Guide” which does just what it says – displays on screen where and when the stars are.

Once you have the equipment, the techniques we use are different from most other types of photography:

  • Locate an area with a probable good view of the Milky Way.  Helpful web sites:  www.cleardarksky.com, www.darksitefinder.com, and Google Maps www.google.com/maps.
  • Check the moon phases – a full moon is so bright you cannot see the Milky Way.  A crescent moon is also bright enough to interfere, although if it sets early, the light – coming from the opposite direction of the Milky Way – can be helpful by lighting up the foreground.

    moon-composite

    Nearly a full moon means no visible Milky Way.  When the moon went behind the clouds, there was still enough light to photograph Shores Lake with a 10-second exposure.

  • Camera settings:  Start at ISO 3200, a shutter speed of 15 seconds, and your aperture at its widest.  Make a test shot, check your image exposure, and adjust as necessary.  It is not uncommon to set ISO at 4000 or higher.  (Note:  to calculate the longest usable shutter speed, divide 500 by your lens focal length.  Example:  with a 24mm lens, 500 divided by 24 = 20.83, so you would keep your shutter open no longer than 20 seconds.)  A too-long shutter speed results in trailing stars, not points of light.
  • Focusing can be difficult.  We tried to use autofocus before dark, then switched to manual focus.  We also applied gaffer tape to the focus ring to avoid accidentally bumping and moving it.  If you need to focus after dark, try using “live view” and magnify the display.  (Practice this before dark!)  The good thing about digital photography, of course, is we can see what we shot, then adjust and reshoot if necessary.

The end result can be very rewarding photos.  And, watching the Milky Way – and other stars and constellations – begin to appear after the sun goes down is exciting and breathtaking!  Especially the first time…

 

Milky Way at the Fire Tower

This photo is from a shoot with just Gayle and myself, when preparing for the workshop.  Rich Mountain Fire Tower, Talimena Scenic Drive, near Arkansas’ Queen Wilhelmena State Park.  Sony A7R, 24mm lens, f/2.8-15 seconds-ISO 5000

 

The “season” is about done for this year; during the winter months, the Milky Way is not visible.  When it is most visible is late spring to late summer.  (I can hardly wait!)  The apps I referenced earlier are great for helping us plan.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions – or search the internet for more information.

Wishing you good light!