Garvan Woodland Gardens

In April this year, I visited Garvan Woodland Gardens, in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  My first time there, although it is a place high on my want-to-go-to list for some time.  Mid-April was a little late for the tulips, which are reportedly spectacular, but there was still lots of colorful flowers covering the grounds.

So here are a few selected photos.  Hope you enjoy!

Rhododendrons by the waterfall.

3064WaterfallAndRhododenrons

Garvan Woodland Gardens, small waterfall with rhododendrons.

Some remnants of tulips in front of red flowers (no – I don’t remember what they are.)

Tulip remnants with red flowers in the background.

Tulip remnants with red flowers in the background.

Along a path, there was a late blooming river of tulips.

A River of Tulips

A River of Tulips

 

 

 

Here is a tight crop of the tulips from the “river.”

The river of tulips, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

The river of tulips, crop, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Closeup of rhododendrons.

Closeup of some rhododendrons, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Closeup of some rhododendrons, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

 

 

The Gardens have flowers in bloom throughout the spring and summer, but are well known for their tulips displays in early spring.  Maybe next year…

Photos were all taken with the Sony Alpha 77, and the Sony 16-50 f/2.8 lens and the Minolta 100 f/2.8 macro lens.

 

 

Route 66 Revisited

Route 66 Revisited

Two years after our Route 66 day trip, I journeyed to the little town of Bristow, site of the “Route 66 Classic Car Show.”  I had searched for a destination and found the car show, and decided to check it out.  Gayle was unable to go with me, so I didn’t plan an extended outing, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to revisit the Mother Road.

Bristow, Oklahoma, is a small town, but on this day, it was full of cars, people, motorcycles, and tractors.  The car show was bigger than I expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bristow Classic Car Show

Main Street in Bristow was full of classic cars, both restored and custom.

 

1956 Ford Thunderbird

A 1956 Ford Thunderbird sits on Bristow’s Main Street during the Route 66 Classic Car Show

 

1966 Ford Mustang Coupe

A 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe on display at the Bristow, Oklahoma, Route 66 Classic Car Show. As an 18-year old, I drove one just like it!

 

I left Bristow, and headed back toward Tulsa.  But, there are always photographs.  These mailboxes were just off the highway, and I had to stop.  They speak of rural Oklahoma, and simpler times gone by.

Mailboxes along Route 66 in Oklahoma

A rural Mail Center, along Route 66. It could be any location; where I grew up, the families still get their mail similarly – 2 miles or more from home.

 

I also stopped by the Rock Creek Bridge, and the Tee Pee Drive In, near Sapulpa.  The drive-in theater has not seen a movie in a decade or more, but still stands as a reminder of other times.

Tee Pee Drive In near Sapulpa OK

Near Sapulpa, Oklahoma, the Tee Pee Drive In Theater still stands, only a few faded letters remain on the sign

 

Rock Creek Bridge

The Rock Creek Bridge, near Sapulpa, is about a quarter mile from the Tee Pee Drive In. It is unique being one of few brick paved bridges remaining in the country.

 

These photos were taken September 1, 2012.  I used a Sony Alpha 77 camera, and Tamron lenses – mostly my favorite, the 17-50 f/2.8 zoom.

 

Route 66

A couple of years ago, we spent a day traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City, via the remains of old Route 66.  In some areas, there is still highway; in others, we have to travel on newer roads that parallel the old.  We plan to do more, but for now, here are a few images from that day.

Many of the attractions from the old days are still in place – as well as new ones for the tourists.  It is interesting to note that many people, some from around the world, come to see what was known as “The Mother Road,” even those that are too young to have ever traveled upon the road…

The 5 and Diner restaurant, Tulsa

A neon sign lights up the Tulsa night at the 5 and Diner restaurant, reminiscent of a 50’s diner

Coca-Cola Sign refurbished in Stroud

In Stroud, a Coca-Cola sign has been colorfully restored on the side of a downtown building.

Hickory House Mural

Mural painted on the wall of the Hickory House Barbecue Restaurant in Sapulpa depicts Route 66 scenes and history

Chandler Interpretive Center

The Chandler Interpretive Center is an interactive multimedia museum, with film clips of Route 66 stories, viewed in seats from period cars, theatre seats, and even a motel bed.

The Old Cotton Gin

The Old Cotton Gin, it has also been a restaurant, an antiques store, and a second-hand goods store.

Having lived in California for several years as a child, I remember traveling Route 66 to visit family in Oklahoma.  Before there was an Interstate 40 highway, we drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and into our home state of Oklahoma.  Nostalgic?  Perhaps, but I also appreciate the history represented by the remnants of old Route 66…

These photographs were created with a Sony Alpha 77 camera, a Tamron 17-50 lens, and often a circular polarizing filter.  I edited the raw files with Paint Shop Pro.

A Morning at the Nature Center

The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, actually.  That’s a mouthful; so those of us in the area simply say “The Nature Center.”  Regardless, it is a marvelous nature resource for the Western Arkansas region.

Recently, Jim Nieting and I spent a few morning hours walking some of the trails at the Nature Center, with cameras in hand.  Once again, I was amazed at the resource this is for us.  We saw or heard a number of bird species, numerous butterflies, a cottontail rabbit, and more…

At the Visitor Center, the staff has installed housing for Purple Martins, and it is very active.  Here are a couple of nestlings looking for their parents.

Purple Martin Chicks

Looking for their next meal on the wing

Also, near the Visitor Center, are a number of Canada Geese.  Most of us have more photos than we’ll ever need of this species, but I usually cannot resist taking another.

Canad Goose at the Nature Center

Canada Goose at the Nature Center

From the Visitor Center, we headed out on the Beaver Creek Trail, where we heard and eventually found probably the highlight of the morning:  a pair of yellow-billed cuckoos.  Here’s one of them.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, with snack

Lots of butterflies, including this Pipevine Swallowtail:

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail, enjoying the sun

On the Wells Lake Trail, we found this Cottontail Rabbit, very near Wells Lake.  He posed for us for quite some time.

Cottontail Rabbit

Cottontail Rabbit, near Wells Lake

Among the butterflies, we saw Hummingbird Moths.  Hard to photograph, because they never stop moving – and they move fast!  🙂

Hummingbird Moth

Hummingbird Moth at the Nature Center

Finally, as I was heading home, I saw this Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher on a high-line wire.  Technically, not at the Nature Center, but close enough to count as part of my morning adventures…

Scissortailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, near the Nature Center

The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center is one of 4 the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission has built across the state of Arkansas.  In Western Arkansas, we are appreciative of and thankful for the facility.  As you can see, there is a large variety of fauna as well as flora to be seen here; I’ve only touched on a small portion of it.

All photos were taken with a Sony Alpha 77, and a Tamron 200-500 lens.  Yes, I used a tripod, built by Manfrotto.

Also, a big thank you to my fellow photographer, Jim Nieting. Definitely a better birder than I; several he saw and identified before I knew they were around. 🙂

The Wheatfield

Most days, I drive to work via the Clayton Expressway, also known as Highway 255 truck route.  For me, it’s a relaxing drive along the Arkansas River, through rural areas of plowed fields, often planted with various crops.  I’ve seen bald eagles and red-tailed hawks, deer and coyotes.

Recently, it seemed to me there was a photo in the wheatfields, so I slowed down and looked for it…

What I saw was texture and patterns.  This first image wasn’t close enough, but here’s the full image.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a long enough lens to create the image I wanted, so here’s a crop from the first photo.

Patterns and texture.  And color – the yellow gold, with a few greens mixed in.  I think there are still some photos to find.  I’ll have to stop again.

Sony Alpha77, Minolta 70-210, Manfrotto tripod – and a GMC Jimmy.  🙂

Of Waterfalls and Wildflowers

In late March, I took a week off from work.  The first day, I went to see a waterfall along the Mulberry River.  It’s one of those only showy during the rainy season, and the week before, we had substantial rainfall; unfortunate for those on spring break, but a nice set up for waterfall hunters.  🙂  Three years ago, my friends Mike Leonard (www.michaelleonardphotography.org) and Jim Anderson showed this particular waterfall to us, and Gayle and I were fortunate to sell some prints from this location.

So, I drove there again this year.  Here’s what I found.

Image

To get to this spot requires a climb of about 150 feet up the side of the steep hill.  I think it’s worth the effort.  After a series of photos at this spot, I moved to the other side, and further up the hill:

Image

What I didn’t notice in this image were the white wildflowers at the lower left.  My excuse is that I was concentrating on the waterfall and on not falling!  It was steep and slippery…

So, recently, Mike Leonard was printing this photo for a display at Bedford’s, and pointed out the flowers to me.  I looked them up in Audubon’s Guide to North American Wildflowers on my iPhone.  They are “Eastern Shootingstar.”  I’d never taken a photo of them.  But – they bloom from April to June, so a few days ago, I went back to see if they had bloomed again.

Back up the hill.  This time, the waterfall was only a trickle.  No shootingstars bloomed.  Not surprised, but I was disappointed.  However, the spiderworts were in full bloom and everywhere!  🙂

Image

Spiderworts have long been a favorite of mine, and I seldom pass on an opportunity to photograph them.  After this photograph, and others, I headed back down the hill, then the short walk back to where I had parked.  Beside the road, so close that my tripod was partially in the road, was this little flower.

Image

Looks to me like a freshly bloomed Eastern Shootingstar!  There was only one bloom, but to the left are several buds.  I didn’t see any others in the area, nor during the walk back to the car.  So… my biggest disappointment that morning was that the enemy Time passed far too quickly.  🙂

All photos were taken with the Sony Alpha 77.  For the flowers, I used the Minolta 100mm macro lens; the waterfall photos were shot with a Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens.

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

Dogwood Blossoms

After photographing the cattle in the morning fog (see “Pastoral Morning“), I continued south on Highway 71.  But, since I had a late start – at least, later than intended – and I had stopped for the cattle photos, I knew I wouldn’t have the good early morning light on the Cossatot.  So, I decided to explore a bit.  (Exploring is good!)

Despite having driven this way many times, I had never been to Lake Hinkle, near Waldron.  I took the road to Hinkle Dam, and found it a very pleasant & pretty drive, with a stream alongside the road much of the way, farms and farmland, and woodlands with dogwoods blooming.

After visiting the dam & the lake, I stopped on the return trip near a patch of dogwoods.  From the road, there was a slight slope down to the stream, so the dogwood trees were at eye level or slightly below.  Perfect!  In addition, most of the area was in shade.  I couldn’t have asked for much better conditions.

Here are a couple of the dogwood images:

“Dogwood Parade” looks like the blossoms are lined up ready to say “look at me!  look at me!”  I like the dark background, but wish the stems & branches behind the blossoms weren’t so noticeable.

by the numbers:  Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 70-210, f/4 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 200

The next image, “Dogwood Song”, really does sing to me – or maybe makes me want to sing, which is not a good thing.  I shot again at f/4, to limit the depth of field, leaving the most predominant blossom the sharpest, and the others gradually getting softer.  Camera & lens the same…

Feel free to offer your opinion as to which you prefer.  Comments are certainly welcome…

Next time, we’ll discuss another image from another time…

Larry

About “Pastoral Morning”

The destination that morning was the Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area.  The Cossatot River is well known for its scenery and challenges to floaters, canoeists, and kayakers alike.  I was anxious to be there, but as I drove by a pasture in a valley along US Highway 71, I saw this scene.

An ordinary morning for many farms, cattle gathered near a pond with misty fog surrounding the area, and backlit by the sun.  I drove past it, thinking how nice a little picture it was. Then, about two miles down the road, at the highway 23 junction rest area, I turned around and went back…

Fortunately, there was enough shoulder on the road that I could park the car safely, get my camera and trusty old Minolta 70-210 lens, and look for a vantage point to create a photograph that captured some of the magic of the moment.  I shot verticals; I shot horizontals.  I moved up and down the road; I moved closer.  I set exposure, with the idea of showing the light in the fog, and letting the cows become shadowy silhouettes.  The image shown here is actually a horizontal crop from one of the verticals shot.

Tech stuff:  Sony Alpha 77, Minolta 70-210 f/4 lens, ISO 200, 1/1500 sec, f/11, focal length 105mm.  The date was March 29, 2012 – check back for more photos from that day; I did eventually make it to the Cossatot.  🙂