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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Once again I ate way too much and am sitting here feeling like a stuffed pig. I did want to mention that I have some of my work hanging at the Garden Cafe. If you live in the Dallas area you might want to go by and check out my work. It will be on display until the first of the year. Several of my new images are hanging. The Garden Cafe serves breakfast and lunch everyday except Monday.
I also wanted to show some of the images I took at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge last week while in Kansas. Processing raw images that were shot under such foggy conditions is a little different than processing images created under stronger lighting conditions. There was very little contrast in the images and they look quite dull  until you make some big adjustments to the contrast. In the shot of the three elk these adjustments made the color of the grass a little too red and saturated but the elk still needed some contrast in their faces to bring out the details. I used Topaz Adjust to bring out the features and details of the elk. Unlike the examples on the Topaz web site, I use a pretty light touch with my adjustments because I don't want my work to look like an illustration. I also desaturated the grass a little to keep the scene looking the way I remembered it.
The image below of the bison was processed a little differently. I created a color version which I liked but then made a second layer which was converted to a black and white. I then made the layer about 40 percent transparent in order to let a little of the color show. It almost looks like a brown toned photograph, but not quite.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Could I just stay at home for awhile?

 It seems like I have been constantly on the move for the last four weeks. I arrived back home from a week out west only to leave town again less than 48 hrs later. After completing my last two shows of the year I then spent all day Monday driving back home. Early Thursday morning I was off again driving to Kansas with my brother. I got back home about midnight last night.

So... just where did this variety of pictures come from? The top image was taken at Orange Beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was taken on November 11th, the day after the remnants of Hurricane Ira passed through the area. The next image was created in northern Oklahoma while driving to Kansas. Great clouds that day. On Friday we went to the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge just north of Canton, Kansas. The refuge has a lot of Bison and Elk which can be photographed. It was very foggy that day. Notice how quickly the background fades to gray in the image below of a mother Bison and her calf. Later that day we drove to nearby Lindsborg, Kansas to see the gallery of National Geographic Photographer, Jim Richardson. Great work!  On Saturday we attended a program put on by the Great Plains Nature Photographers. It was held at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, Kansas. The main Speaker at the program was photographer, Boyd Norton. He was also photographing with us at the refuge the day before. It was great getting to know him and hear his program on Saturday. Back in the early 90's when I started getting serious about my photography, the first photography book I bought was written by him. The Art Of Outdoor Photography


After the program was over we jumped in the car and headed back to Texas. It had been a short but fun trip. I had made some great new friends in Boyd and Barb Norton, Jim and Cindy Griggs, and Duane and Eddy Graham. Special thanks to the Griggs and Grahams for all their hospitality.Check out Jim's blog post about the weekend.
The last image was taken at a gas station in Perry,Oklahoma, one of the small towns that we passed through on our drive back home. It was a very old gas station located right off the square and it did appear to still be selling gas. The pumps were fairly modern and I chose not to include them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Waiting for Covington!

I'm sitting in the McDonald's in Fairhope, Alabama watching it rain. I'm glad it didn't do this yesterday at the show in Pensacola. It would have been every artist's worst nightmare. What's left of Hurricane Ida is going to go right over this area tonight. Thank God it is supposed to clear back up by this weekend where I will be at the Covington Three Rivers Art Festival. Sales have been tough enough this year without getting drowned at the same time. Come out and see me if you are in the New Orleans area.
I've added a couple of images from my recent trip. The top one was shot at Bryce Canyon. The next two were shot about 15 miles away at Red Canyon. Its really weird how Bryce failed to get an accumulation of snow, but it gave me a good excuse to stomp around in the snow for an afternoon and explore the Red Canyon area. I need to go back and explore it some more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sometimes you just have to be flexible!

Red Canyon
Monday night I landed at Dallas Love Field after spending the week photographing in Utah, Arizona, and California. In some ways the trip was like many I have made...fly to Las Vegas, rent a car and then drive to some location to photograph. What made this trip different was all the changing of plans I made. I usually schedule what I will do and what days I will do it. I then make the necessary reservations at campgrounds or motels. The day I arrived in Las Vegas the TV weather guy said there would be 60 mph wind gusts. 60?????????? I decided it may not be a good time to spend two nights camping out in nearby Death Valley. Soooooo...I headed to Zion National Park but ended up driving all the way to Bryce Canyon. No camping out either! The next day was cold and windy with blowing snow. It was probably the most brutal conditions I have ever tried to photograph in. That afternoon at Rainbow Point it was 18 degrees with 50 mph gusts. The snow and clouds finally started to go away on what was now the third day of my trip. Bryce Canyon didn't really have much of an accumulation of snow but nearby Red Canyon had about 4 inches of fresh snow. I spent that afternoon hiking through the snow and getting some of the best photographs of the trip.
Left Fork of North Creek
Day number four was spent hiking in Zion National Park. While driving back from my hike in North Creek I decided to drive out to the LaVerkin Overlook before it got too dark. The sun had been down about 10 or 15 minutes but a long exposure gave me a good image of this viewpoint which looks back towards Zion.

LaVerkin Overlook

The following day was Halloween. It was kinda ironic that I ended up camping at Little Finland a place that is also known as Hobgoblin's Playground. It is way out in the middle of nowhere, about an hours drive east of Mesquite, Nevada. There you will find some of the strangest rock formations you will ever see.

The Head of the Beast

The last night of my trip was spent camping at Death Valley. The temperature that afternoon was about 83 degrees and the winds were now completely calm. Quite a switch from what I got at Bryce Canyon. Before heading to the airport the next day I spent the morning photographing the salt flats near Badwater, the lowest point in the United States, 282 feet below sea level. The salt flat was different than I expected. The crystallized salt has cracked much like mud will crack as it dries in the hot sun, but on a larger scale. The round area in the bottom of the photo is about 4 or 5 feet across. The edges of the cracked areas are knee high in many places.

Badwater Salt Flats

Overall, I think I got some usable images despite all the changing of plans that I made. It is interesting to note that the images taken in Red Canyon were probably the best of the trip and I didn't really have Red Canyon on my radar when I planned the trip. Oh well. Sometimes you just have to be flexible with your plans!