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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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.

Final-DSC05592
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

This Photo, #2

This Photo, #2

Paintbrush Reflections
Image 00842, date 2007

Paintbrush_Reflection-s-00842

Years ago, I saw my first image of water drops refracting a background flower, probably in Outdoor Photographer magazine.  I was fascinated, and began the  pursuit of my own water drop reflection photos…

Occasionally, I am asked if the photos are real or if I created them in the computer.  Signs of the times, I guess.  These are 100% “real.”  The water drops are from dew, occasionally rain, and the reflected image (“refracted”, actually) is just as I saw it.

This morning was bright, sunny, and humid at Cherokee Prairie Natural Area, but with a slight breeze, so I needed to keep the shutter speed up and still shoot at f/16. However, the photo was dark – very underexposed.  I either misread the meter’s suggestion or ignored it, or the camera erred, and underexposed the image.  The problem probably was not the camera.  So, I adjusted exposure and made another photo, then moved on to another composition.

Later, in post-processing, when I looked on the computer, that second photo was blurred – that pesky breeze.  My first thought was that I had blown the shot; one was blurry, and the other was underexposed.  And, I had only made 2 photos…

unedited-00842

original image, unedited

I opened the first image, the dark one, in PaintShop Pro and increased overall exposure of the RAW file by two stops.  It was amazing – the Sony .ARW image was beautiful!  It held up really well to being lightened.  (For comparison, I tried the same adjustment on the camera’s jpeg version, and it was not pretty…)  I have always shot RAW ever since.

Over the years, I have made a good number of water drop photos like this, but “Paintbrush Reflections” is still one of my favorites.  Just the same, I look forward to wildflower season, and more attempts to make the perfect image.

May we all continue to look for great light!

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!  🙂

 

Favorites for 2014

It is the end of another year!  Although it seems that I did not do as much photography as the previous year, when I reviewed our libraries, it was difficult to narrow down to a reasonable number of favorites.  But with no further to-do, here are my dozen choices for the past year, in chronological order.  Note:  click on the image if you want to view a larger version…

During the winter, it seemed we had an unusually high number of goldfinches at our backyard feeders.  They are fun to watch!  In February, while snow was falling, a number of them would pause on the same branch, and wait – impatiently – for their turn at the seeds…

Goldfinch in falling snow

Goldfinch in falling snow

1/750 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400  Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 200-500mm, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

A bit later in February, my friend Mike Leonard and I hiked down to the Glory Hole.  There was ice and snow, and frozen waterfalls all around.  I took this photo to illustrate the conditions, and the environment.

The Opening to the Glory Hole, Ozark National Forest

The Entrance to the Glory Hole, Ozark National Forest

1/15 sec. at f/22, ISO 100  Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 f/2.8, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

In April, as the redbuds and dogwoods began to bloom, and temperatures were rising, I visited the Jack Creek Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest.  As the sun rose over the ridge, light danced across the cascade.

Sunlight on Jack Creek at sunrise

Sunlight on Jack Creek at sunrise

 1/2 sec. at f/22, ISO 100  Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 f/2.8, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

Wildflowers begin to bloom in April, also; Indian Paintbrush is one of the first.  Here are two photos I made at Cherokee Prairie State Natural Area, near Charleston, Arkansas…

Paintbrush Trio Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, Arkansas

Paintbrush Trio
Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, Arkansas

1/20 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100  Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 180 f/3.5 macro lens, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

Paintbrush Family Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, Arkansas

Paintbrush Family
Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, Arkansas

1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100  Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 180 f/3.5 macro lens, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

Who has not ever blown dandelion seeds for fun?  Here are some seed pods that were caught up in a spider web.

Dandelion Seeds, caught in a spider web

Dandelion Seeds, caught in a spider web

1/45 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200  Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 180 f/3.5 macro lens, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ball head.

One photograph I continue to try to perfect is of dew drops with a background image refracted in it.  Here is one I photographed in June, at Cherokee Prairie State Natural Area

Dew Drops reflecting Black-eyed Susans Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, Arkansas

Dew Drops reflecting Black-eyed Susans
Cherokee Prairie near Charleston, Arkansas

1/125 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200  Sony Alpha 77, Tamron 180 f/3.5 macro lens, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

Mid-year, Gayle gave me a new camera:  the Sony Alpha 7R.  A “mirrorless” camera, it carries a full-frame sensor, and has great dynamic range.  I had always wanted to photograph the Milky Way, and after researching for “dark sky” locations, I visited Lake Hinkle near Waldron, Arkansas, for my first attempt.

The Milky Way above Lake Hinkle, near Waldron, Arkansas

The Milky Way above Lake Hinkle, near Waldron, Arkansas

20 seconds, f/2.8, ISO 6400  Sony Alpha 7R, Minolta 24mm f/2.8 lens, Sony LA-E4 lens adapter, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

In October, we took part in Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk.  It rained.  In Van Buren, the city still hosted the “Fall Festival and Craft Show, and I found this umbrella on the street.

Colorful umbrella on the street, Van Buren, Arkansas

Colorful umbrella on the street,
Van Buren, Arkansas

1/250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400  Sony Alpha 77, Sony 16-50 f/2.8 lens handheld.

October signals the start of fall foliage, although we did not have exceptional color this year.  In Devil’s Den State Park, the canoes were ready for visitors.

Canoes at the ready,  Devil's Den State Park

Canoes at the ready,
Devil’s Den State Park

 1/30 sec at f/11, ISO 200  Sony Alpha 7R, Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lens, Sony LA-E4 lens adapter, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

In October, near Waldron, Arkansas, this spider web was sagging under the weight of the dew drops, creating a pearl necklace…

Necklace of spider-web and dew drops Near Waldron, Arkansas

Necklace of spider-web and dew drops
Near Waldron, Arkansas

1/30 sec at f/11, ISO 200  Sony Alpha 7R, Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lens, Sony LA-E4 lens adapter, Manfrotto tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

On Christmas morning, I visited the Fort Smith National Cemetery, at sunrise.

Fort Smith (AR) National Cemetery at sunrise Christmas Morning

Fort Smith (AR) National Cemetery at sunrise
Christmas Morning

1/3 sec at f/16, ISO 400  Sony Alpha 7R, Minolta 24mm f/2.8 lens, Sony LA-E4 lens adapter, Manfrotto, tripod, Really Right Stuff ballhead.

A look back, but now we look ahead to 2015.  As always, we hope and expect to make new photographs to enjoy.  Have a Happy New Year!