This Photo, #9

This Photo, #9

Lone Tree, Oklahoma Panhandle, April 2021

Image File MGC04924.ARW

Lone Tree, Oklahoma Panhandle

Driving across Oklahoma for my first visit to Black Mesa – the most western, the most remote, and the most elevated point in Oklahoma – I could see why some people have considered this part of the state barren and even worthless over the centuries…  But the landscape fascinated me with each mile I traveled.  The seemingly never-ending plains, the occasional rolling hills, the distant windmills, the tall grasses and the wheat fields – all were new to me, and I enjoyed every every scene and every moment.  I made several stops to look with my camera, and made notes of many places worth a return visit.

I drove by this tree, alone on the prairie, and argued with myself (the light is wrong; it’s the wrong time of day; I could stop on the return trip, etc.) for about a half-mile, but the photographer-self won:  I stopped the car and went back.

After parking on the side of the highway, I pulled out the camera and the telephoto lens, mounted it on the tripod, and crossed the highway so as to fill the frame with the tree, the grasses, and the sky.  I was intent on composing the photo to emphasize those elements – expressing my vision of the lone tree.

Oh?  The nest in the tree?  Yes, I saw it, but did not “look” at it – composition of the landscape was my concern!  After making a few exposures, I moved the tripod to the right about 20 feet and recomposed.  When I looked up from the camera, a female Northern Harrier was taking flight from the nest!  I was stunned and did not photograph her as she flew – I only watched her fly and marveled at her grace and beauty, and gave thanks for the moment, and apologized for my disturbance…

Tech data: Sony Alpha 7RIV, Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 lens, Manfrotto 055 tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head; 1/640 sec, f/11, iso 400, zoom set at 83mm.

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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…

 

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

Familiar Places

Familiar Places

Many photographers, especially outdoor and nature photographers, including me, like to travel and to seek out new locations and scenes.  There is so much in this country, not to mention the world, yet to be seen.

However, circumstances and time often prevent us from traveling, so we learn to make the best of the locations near to home.  And, we soon find that we have favorites:  “go-to” places that always give us a photo opportunity.

Returning there often, we learn the best times to go, we see the seasons change, and we challenge ourselves to see familiar things in a new way.

My go-to locations near my home in Western Arkansas have been Natural Dam, Devils Den State Park, and Cherokee and Flanagan Prairies, among a few other spots.  I always find something to photograph at these locations. 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

This Photo, #6

This Photo, #6

Two years ago, at dawn on a cold December morning, I visited Natural Dam and made one of my favorite photographs ever. There was a fog rising from the water, and the sun was just about to rise, and the fog glowed in the pre-dawn light.

December Sunrise

This was the first photo I made that morning, and after I tried some different compositions and exposures, I moved on to different locations around the waterfall. This is my normal approach – to look at a scene, and to explore different viewpoints.  Eventually, I saw this scene… Continue reading

This Photo, #5

This Photo, #5

Building the Nest
Great Egrets, High Island Sanctuaries
April 2007

For many years, we traveled to the Upper Gulf Coast of Texas in the spring. We would visit Brazos Bend State Park, Galveston Island, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Bolivar Island, and High Island. Spring is breeding season for birds, alligators, and many other creatures. In 2007, we timed our visit quite well, and were able to photograph several animal species in prime breeding plumage and nest building, including alligators’

Displaying alligator
Alligator during breeding season, Brazos Bend State Par

mating displays.

 

East of Galveston is the small community called High Island.  It is not an island, but sits on a “salt dome”, 38 feet above sea level.  (This is the highest point above sea level on the Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama, to the Yucatan.)  The Houston Audubon Society operates a bird sanctuary within the community, and is a popular destination for birders and birdwatchers from all over the world.

Cormorants at the Nest

Cormorants at the Nest, High Island Audubon Sanctuary

Within the Smith Oaks Sanctuary, is Claybottom Pond – home to a bird rookery. Species nesting there include Cormorants,  Night Herons, Tri-colored herons, Roseate spoonbills, and more. The rookery is on a small island at a perfect distance for photographing and watching the birds. If you want to know more about the rookery, and all of the High Island Sanctuary, here is a link to Houston Audubon’s site.

Today’s photograph was made late in the afternoon, with the sun behind us. This pair was early in the nest building stage, as most of the other birds were well into the season, with eggs laid already. The male came flying in with nesting material (tree branches and sticks) to add to the structure, and as he landed and gave the stick to his mate, his wing  spread in a gesture that appeared to be protective, supportive, warm, and nurturing.

Great Egret Pair Building the Nest

Great Egret Pair Building the Nest, High Island Audubon Sanctuary

 

I was using a Sony Alpha 100 DSLR Camera, with a Tamron 300mm f/2.8 lens and a matching 2x teleconverter, making the lens 600 mm. Shutter speed was 1/800, ISO 200, and aperture of f/8. Today, I would not hesitate to shoot at an ISO of 800, maybe higher, resulting in a much faster shutter speed. The photo would be sharper… but, the point of the image, its mood, and the story, still is clear, and speaks of companionship, teamwork, family, and love.

This photo, #5 in this series, is about capturing a moment, and sharing a story, regardless of technical perfection.  The original image suffers from camera movement blur.  Today, we can edit the photo in Photoshop, and apply shake reduction sharpening, and at the least, improve the sharpness of the image.  And, that was done with this photo.  But, was it necessary?  Does it now tell a better story?  I believe photography is about capturing a moment, about telling a story, and sharing that moment and the story.  If the story is clear, and if you see the moment, and if you feel the passion of the photographer, does that not make it a good photograph?  Would like to hear your opinion!


“Capturing a beautiful moment in a photo is something I’m very passionate about.”                                             ~Nigel Barker


Until next time …  wishing you good light!

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!  🙂