Favorites for 2013

Favorites for 2013

This past June, I stepped down as store manager at Bedford Camera in Fort Smith.  Called it “retirement,” but I knew I would return on a part-time basis, and I did.  Let’s call it “semi-retirement.”

One result of semi-retiring is having more time to make photographs – and I have tried to do that.  Enough that when I tried to select my favorite images for the year, it was difficult to narrow it down to just 10.  But here are the ten images I most enjoyed creating this year.  I hope you enjoy them, too!

(Click the image for a larger version.)

  1. In early June, the purple coneflowers at Cherokee Prairie were in full bloom.  I used the Tamron 180mm macro lens for its telephoto effect, blurring the background.  The early morning light was soft and warm.

    Field of Purple Coneflowers, Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas

    Field of Purple Coneflowers, Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas

  2. Also in June, an Eastern-tailed Blue butterfly showed up at Cherokee Prairie, just as I was setting up my camera.  A first of the species for me.
    Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido [Everes] omyntas) at Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas

    Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido [Everes] omyntas) at Cherokee Prairie, near Charleston, Arkansas

  3. In August, two friends and I were exploring in the Ozarks, and found this small stream.  I admit one of the reasons I like this photograph is because I made it without following Mike up the side of the hill to where he was!  (Yes, Mike did have some great images.)

    A small waterfall in Arkansas' Ozarks

    A small waterfall in Arkansas’ Ozarks

  4. This image was made in our front yard.  We have a number of feeders, and a good number of birds visit year-round.  Using a macro lens, and then cropping tighter in post resulted in this close-up, which reveals detail of the structure of the feather.

    Feather, left behind

    Feather, left behind

  5. The Grand Canyon image almost did not happen.  Originally, my travel plans for the trip home from the California Photo Festival included my first visit ever to the National Park. However, our governmental leaders had chosen that time to close all federal facilities.  The day before I got there, the State of Arizona, as several other states had done, took it upon themselves to open the Park.  Yay for them!  – and me!

    Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

  6. Two days after visiting the Grand Canyon, I stopped at the famous Cadillac Ranch in Texas.  What I did not know until then, was that graffiti artists are encouraged to use the old cars for their art – so much so that you can hardly tell these once were luxury automobiles.

    The Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

    The Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

  7. My friend Mike and I went looking to make fall foliage photos and we found some of the best I have ever seen.  This image is in the Arkansas Ozarks, on Haw Creek.

    Autumn colors on Haw Creek in Arkansas

    Autumn colors on Haw Creek in Arkansas

  8. Muskogee, Oklahoma is home to Honor Heights Park, known in our area for its annual “Azalea Festival” in April.  In addition, the park also puts on a dazzling Christmas lights display.  This photo is of an animated LED light tree, and so required a long exposure so that all the light were lighted at some point during the exposure.  Then, during the open shutter time, I rotated the zoom ring, creating the “burst” effect.

    Christmas Lights, Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma

    Christmas Lights, Honor Heights Park, Muskogee, Oklahoma

  9. We have had some snow already this year – unusual for us – and I made this photo one evening of the Crawford County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which sits on the County Courthouse grounds.

    Crawford County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, County Courthouse, Van Buren, Arkansas

    Crawford County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, County Courthouse, Van Buren, Arkansas

  10. This last photo is one of the most recent, and I caught this Mallard blasting off from a pond in Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, in Oklahoma.

    Mallard drake taking flight at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, near Vian, Oklahoma

    Mallard drake taking flight at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, near Vian, Oklahoma

So, there you have them:  my favorites from 2013.  They may not be great photos, but each one of them holds special memories for me.  I hope the next year brings as many.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2014!

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California Photo Festival

California Photo Festival

In October, I traveled to San Luis Obispo, California, to attend the California Photo Festival, aka “Click 4”, the fourth annual event.  The week-long event is organized by Hal and Victoria Schmitt, who own and operate Light Photographic Workshops in Los Osos, California.  There was a wide selection of subject matter in the classes, and photo shoots in vineyards, on the California beach in several locations, and on the city streets.  We took photos of horses and riders, small critters, sunsets and sunrises, birds and other animals, and portraits of various models in a multitude of locales.

Instructors included Marc Muench, Rob Sheppard, Ben Willmore, Lee Varis, and Rick Sammon, as well as a dozen more.  In addition, a number of vendors and equipment companies were on hand to show their equipment; not a huge trade show, but plenty of goodies to see and touch.  🙂

The cost for the Festival  is reasonable, given the huge amount of information presented.  Interested?  Next year’s event is scheduled, but not yet accepting registration.  Click the link above, or here, for more information.

Here are a few photos from my library.  Hope you enjoy them!

“Horses on the Beach”

The intention was to photograph members of Cal Poly Tech’s Polo Team riding their horses in the surf at Morro Bay with a marvelous sunset in the background.  The riders were there with their horses, but alas! we had no sun, just clouds, fog, and mist.  We still made photographs!  🙂

Horses on the Beach

Polo player in the surf at Morro Bay

Horses on the Beach

Polo players riding in the surf at Morro Bay

One of the Cal Poly Polo team takes a break from the action.  I really liked the reflection the wet sand gave us...

One of the Cal Poly Polo team takes a break from the action. I really liked the reflection the wet sand gave us…

“Macro Critters!”

Another photo shoot set up for us was captive small animals – lizards, chameleon, snakes, spiders and insects – in “stations” that we could move to and from, making photographs of the small animals.  Great fun, although somewhat cramped space.  I carried my tripod, but left the legs together, using it like a monopod.

The Chameleon was perhaps the most photographed

The Chameleon was perhaps the most photographed

Colorful, exotic lubber grasshopper

Colorful, exotic lubber grasshopper

Gila Monster.  I grew up hearing terrible stories about this animal...

Gila Monster. I grew up hearing terrible stories about this animal…

“The Elfin Forest”

The morning after photographing the horses on the beach, I was in a group that went out for sunrise.  Again, fog, drizzle, and clouds hid the sun.  So, we turned out attention to details.  We were in an area called the “Elfin Forest” which was populated with a dwarf oak tree, and more…

Small shrub with dried flowers and seed pods.

Small shrub with dried flowers and seed pods.

Bracken Fern closeup

Bracken Fern closeup

“Photo Walk With Rick Sammon”

Another sunset opportunity, and finally, we saw the sun.  Not to complain, but that is all there was to see – not a cloud in the sky, leaving the sun without a complement.  We walked along the street at the Morro Bay Harbor, and still made photographs.

I photographed one of the other participants, with the sun backlighting him, creating the sun-star.

I photographed one of the other participants, backlit by the sun.

Morro Bay Harbor with Morro Rock on the horizon, just after the sun has gone down.

Morro Bay Harbor with Morro Rock on the horizon, just after the sun has gone down.

Morro Bay Harbor at dusk.

Morro Bay Harbor at dusk.

There were other classes and photo shoots; these are just some of my favorite images…

The California Photo Fest makes for a good destination, and will present the participant with a lot of information.  Almost too much info!  🙂  But, if you pick and choose your classes and shoots, and don’t overdo yourself, you can learn much.

All photos were taken with the Sony Alpha 77; lenses were the Sony 16-50, Tamron 180 macro, Tamron 70-300.

California Coastal Highway

California Coastal Highway

In October, I attended the California Photo Festival in San Luis Obispo, California.  (I plan to discuss that event in a forthcoming blog post.)  Arriving a couple of days in advance of the event, I spent most of one day driving up the Pacific coast on California Highway 1, also known as Cabrillo Highway, toward Big Sur.  No destination, just exploring.  Although my family lived for a few years in California a long time ago, I had never visited this part of the state, and on this trip only a portion of the route.  Another time…  Anyway, here are a few photographs from that day…

In a sharp bend of the road – and there were many of those – is this small beach, gated and marked with a “private property” sign.  One of several enjoyable sights to be seen on the drive.

Small, private beach along Highway 1

Small, private beach along Highway 1

 

This is another photo, shot vertically, of the same beach from a slightly different viewpoint.

Private Beach along Highway 1

Private Beach along Highway 1

 

High on a bluff, with sea lions below – so far away they almost cannot be seen in the photo – is a private residence.

Home with an ocean view

Home with an ocean view

 

 

This photo is a crop of the previous one.

 

Home on the bluff

Home on the bluff

 

The Big Creek Bridge, not quite as photogenic as the Bixby Creek Bridge from what I have read, but I enjoyed photographing it.

Big Creek Bridge

Big Creek Bridge

 

Just a short visit to this beautiful part of our country, leaving me with a strong desire to return.  I only scratched the surface, and did not visit at the best (photographically speaking) time of day.  If you have been there, you know what I mean.

 

Sony Alpha 77, Sony SAL 16-50 and Tamron 70-300 lenses.

Frontier Rendezvous

Frontier Rendezvous

As a young man, I read many books of western exploration and adventures.  In school, the history books fascinated me with stories of Fremont, Bridger, and others.  In September, a small frontiersman rendezvous was held nearby at Dwight Mission, and I accompanied other members of the Fort Smith Photographic Alliance on a Saturday to the gathering.

Axes and woodpile

A wood pile and axes at the frontier rendezvous, Dwight Mission, Oklahoma, September 2013

 

Snoods

Snoods, 18th and 19th century hairnets, available for purchase, frontier rendezvous, Dwight Mission, Oklahoma, September 2013

 

Mirror Reflection

One of the tee-pee tents is reflected in a mirror hanging in another tent on the grounds at the Frontier Rendezvous, Dwight Mission, Oklahoma, September 2013

 

 

Fur Trap

Fur trap hanging outside a tee-pee tent at the Frontier Rendezvous, Dwight Mission, Oklahoma, September 2013

 

 

Throwing the Axe

A rendezvous frontiersman reenacts throwing an axe at a target during a competition, Frontier Rendezvous, Dwight Mission, Oklahoma, September 2013

 

 

 

The day was a lot of fun for all of us.  The rendezvous/reenactment was a relatively small one, and it was the first time held at Dwight Mission, but the spirit of the time was obvious in all the participants.  (I even tried my skill at the axe throw, but with little success.)

If anyone has the opportunity to be involved with a photography/camera club, I encourage you to do so.  Most groups will have outings such as this, as well as classes and workshops, competitions, and social gatherings.  If you are in the Fort Smith Arkansas region, the Alliance is a great place to visit!

The photos here were taken using the Sony Alpha 77, the Sony 16-50 lens, and the Tamron 70-300 lens.  In many cases, I also used a polarizing filter.

 

Another Visit to Cherokee Prairie

Most years, the vegetation at Cherokee Prairie is pretty much dry and dead by September, as is most flora in our region.  This year, though, was different.  On September 2, Labor Day, I drove by and saw late summer flowers and grasses.  Walking through the tall grass, I found flowers, spiders, butterflies and caterpillars.  It was a great, productive, and fun-filled couple of hours that morning…

Pearl Crescent butterfly; late summer

Pearl Crescent butterfly; late summer

Pearl_Crescent_Caterpillar

Pearl Crescent Caterpillar

In the background, you may have noticed a Purple Gerardia, aka Purple False Foxglove, (Agalinis purpurea).  There were a number of these flowers in bloom.

Purple Gerardia (aka Purple False Foxglove)  Agalinis purpurea

Purple Gerardia (aka Purple False Foxglove) Agalinis purpurea

An aster with a Crab spider in residence

An aster with a Crab spider in residence

Bicyclist passing by Cherokee Prairie on Highway 60

Bicyclist passing by Cherokee Prairie on Highway 60

Equipment included the Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 180 macro lens, Manfrotto tripod and Really Right Stuff ball head

Looking into the Past

Looking into the Past

We’ve written before of visiting a small portion of historic Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Extremely interesting to look back and remember the past – the 1930’s and 1940’s, when thousands of farmers migrated to the west, or the 1950’s and 60’s, when a TV show, “Route 66”, epitomized our romantic idea of traveling on The Mother Road, as John Steinbeck called it.  Sometimes melancholy, we look at what was, and think of how time and “progress” moved away from the road, and its people.

A year ago, I visited Bristow for its “Route 66 Car, Truck, Bike, and Tractor Show” on Labor Day Weekend.  Here is my post relating to that:  “Route 66 Revisited”.  The point of this rambling is that I returned again this year, Saturday, August 31.  Here are some photographs from the visit.  Hope you enjoy them.

69 Dodge Charger RT, restored to near-new

69 Dodge Charger RT, restored to near-new

 

 

Hood of the 69 Dodge Charger, with Bristow's Main Street in the background.

Hood of the 69 Dodge Charger, with Bristow’s Main Street in the background.

 

 

1964 Corvette Stringray

Another highly desirable car from the 60’s, the 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, and still highly desirable today!

 

 

Ford Model A.  I thought it appropriate to have "Firehouse" in the background...

Ford Model A. I thought it appropriate to have “Firehouse” in the background…

 

 

Cars and trucks from the 50's and 60's lined Bristow's Main Street...

Cars and trucks from the 50’s and 60’s lined Bristow’s Main Street…

 

 

 

Side panel of a red 1966 Ford Mustang.  Yes, I had one like it...

Side panel of a red 1966 Ford Mustang. Yes, I had one like it…

 

 

Well known along Route 66, the Rock Café in Stroud serves a great lunch.

Well known along Route 66, the Rock Café in Stroud serves a great lunch.

 

 

Road Sign, welcoming travelers to the small town of Davenport, Oklahoma

Road Sign, welcoming travelers to the small town of Davenport, Oklahoma

 

If travel photography interests you, or if just sight-seeing travel is your thing, try to see what’s left before it’s gone – or replaced by new tourist attractions, in an imitation of what used to be…

 

Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 lens, Tamron 70-300 lens

Butterflies, spiders, insects

This spring and summer, I’ve done a lot of macro photography, mostly of flowers, but I’m always ready for other subjects that make an appearance. Here are some surprises thus far this year…

 

 
LR-r-crop-03736

“Yellowjacket Flies” – on a wild rose

 

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Cherokee Prairie, Charleston, Arkansas

OK – I’ve shown this before, but it was also a surprise. 🙂

 

DSC05338

Green Lynx Spider, on the back of a Sunflower.  You have to look on the back of flowers, as well as the front.

 

LR-r-crop-04137

Another Lynx spider, just not as green.  This one was on a yellow coneflower at Cherokee Prairie.

 

DSC04123

This is another fly, but is really tiny.  The real surprise here is the dew drop on its back, that I didn’t see until I downloaded the images.  There is an image of the same flower you can see in the larger dew drop.

 

All images shot with the Sony Alpha77 and Tamron 180 macro lens, on a Manfrotto tripod and Really Right Stuff ball head.