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Friday, December 31, 2010

Some of my favorite images from 2010!

For my final blog post of 2010 I decided to look through the images I took during the year and pick out some of my favorites. Sometimes at art shows people ask me what is my favorite image. Usually I mention  one of the better images that has been taken on my most recent trip. I've looked at the older images quite a bit and the initial thrill has worn off. My choices here were probably influenced in much the same fashion. The first three are from my recent trip to California. I photographed Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, the Alabama Hills and Death Valley. The weather was a little questionable at times but I did get a few nice ones.

Dusk at the Tufas

Mono Lake Sunset

 Tahoe Fog

 Badwater Salt Flats

The next three images were created while spending some time in Alabama and Florida between my two November shows. The Little River Canyon is definitely worth another visit because better timing would have given me a lot more good shots. It wasn't really a good year for the fall color and I was also about a week late. Because of this I decided to spend several days at Pensacola Beach. It is a great area to photograph and I could have chosen more images from my time there.

 Sea Oat Sunset

Fence and Dunes

 Little River Falls

The next two images were created while I was in the Lincoln, Nebraska area while participating in several art shows. Did mention that I love Google Earth. That's how I found the "Old Nebraska Church".

 Barn and Storm Clouds

 Old Nebraska Church

For the first time in several years there was a great display of wildflowers in the Texas hill country. I was able to spend several days there and had good conditions to shoot in. I could have chosen more than I did from that trip.

 Fish Hatchery Fence

 Hill Country Spring

Reunion Tower is a favorite area in downtown Dallas to shoot. The NBA banners put on the buildings for the all-star game made a great image. The reflections of the tower is an angle I have never seen in any other photos.

 Reunion Tower and NBA All-Star Banners

 Reunion Tower Reflections

 A record 12 inches of snow! Turtle Creek and the Dallas area may never look this way again. Almost had a tree limb break and fall on my truck while shooting at this location.

 Snow at Turtle Creek

 Gary, Dan, and myself drove up to the Tishomingo Wildlife Refuge near Lake Texoma in Oklahoma for this last shot. I had several variations of this which were also nice. Special thanks to Dan who was running around in the dark structure firing off different flashes with colored gels attached.

 Tishomingo Deserted Building

Everyone Have a Great 2011!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another trip to Lincoln!

 Last weekend I was in the Kansas City area for the Zona Rosa Arts Festival. Tomorrow I set up my booth for this weekends Lincoln Arts Festival. I wasn't planning on going home after KC so I headed on over to Lincoln on Monday. Tuesday evening I drove out west on I80 to photograph an old church that was near the exit to Milford.  I initially discovered the old church by looking at Google Earth and coming across a geo-tagged photo of it.

After photographing the church I spent some time driving through the farmland on my way back to Lincoln. I didn't find anything else that I felt the need to photograph until I was almost back to town on highway 6. I was now just looking for someplace to get some dinner before going back to my hotel. When I saw Shoemaker's Restaurant and gas station I knew I had to stop, have some dinner and check the place out. The restaurant is decorated with gas station memorabilia including a lot of gravity fed gas pumps. While eating a steak dinner I asked if they cared if I brought my camera and tripod in. They said "You can take all the pictures that your little heart desires". That ended up being about 200.

The following evening I went out to the east side of Lincoln and photographed the Joyo Theatre. I found it the same way I found the old church. Love that Google Earth! I had photographed for about 30 minutes and the prime light of dusk was approaching. The owner just happened to come by about that time and went inside. I knocked on the door and he was kind enough to turn on the lights. Because of that I got some nice shots. Old theaters just don't look the same without the lights on. Wish I had prints of some of these for the show this weekend.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Trip to Cornhusker Land!

This evening I will be setting up my booth at the Omaha Summer Arts Festival in Omaha, Nebraska. Last weekend I was in Leawood, Kansas for a show. Instead of driving back home I spent the last couple of days taking it easy and looking for some photo ops in Nebraska.

This first image was actually taken on my way to Kansas. It is a 1938 Ford Club Cabriolet Convertible. I found this at Scotty's Classic Cars in Arma, Kansas. For $100,000 you can own it. The next image is of an old barn which I came across in the Nebraska countryside. There are lots of interesting old barns to be seen but getting the light and the setting right is the hard part. This one had some nice storm clouds behind it at sunset.

While staying in Lincoln I decided to spend one evening photographing the state capital. I used my tilt-shift lens for this image because the building is tall and you are so close to it. The lens helped me keep the perspective looking natural. The image below was almost better than it came out. When I spotted this scene a deer was on the hill to the left of the trees. I had to stop the truck, put the longer lens on the camera and dig out the tripod. He walked away just after I stepped behind the truck and was ready to shoot. The last image tells me why I don't see many fireflies in Texas ...they are all in Nebraska. It took some experimenting with ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds before I was able to see many of the "lightning bugs" very well on the image. This was at ISO 1600, f5, for 2.5 seconds.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not what you want to see parked near the art festival!

I'm writing this from my hotel in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I will be showing my work at the Renaissance Fine Arts Festival this weekend. They had some storms here yesterday but it is supposed to be nice weather on Saturday and Sunday for the show. That is good because the show is outside. Last weekends show in Midland, Texas was inside but it was affected by the weather just the same. While looking for a place to park at the Midland Center so I could check in and begin setting up, I noticed one of those storm chaser vehicles with all the instruments on top drive by. Hmmmmm! Several hours later I found out why they were in the area as all the artists were sent to the basement for about 30 minutes because a funnel cloud had been seen about a mile away. The streets became flooded and water came right up to the front doors of the Center. The attendance at the VIP Party that evening was definitely lighter than normal because of the rainy weather.
 On Sunday morning while driving to the show I noticed an armada of storm chaser vehicles parked in a lot about three blocks from the show. I decided I had time for some photos so I pulled into the lot and took a few. Most vehicles had noticeable hail damage. Several of the radar vehicles were from the Vortex 2 research that you see on the Weather Channel. Glad to see that they were in Wyoming today. The last vehicle looked like a homemade tank. I don't think they were too concerned with getting hail damage.

I also worked in a little photography at nearby Odessa and Monahans. Since the show was over at 5 pm on Saturday it gave me time to drive over to Monahans Sandhills State Park for a sunset shoot. I got a break in the cloud cover but not a sky full of pink clouds that I had hoped for. Nice ripples in the dunes though. On the way back to Midland, I photographed the Ector Theater in Odessa. I got there a little late to capture a deep blue in the sky, but still some nice neon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

To Lubbock and back!

Back in the early 70's I spent a couple of years at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.   Last weekend I participated in the Lubbock Arts Festival.  This was my third time back since being in college. 

Majestic Theater in Eastland, Texas

While driving to Lubbock I took a detour through Eastland, Texas to photograph the Majestic Theater. I wish it had a few more lights on but fortunately there was enough ambient light to get an interesting shot anyway.  During the festival I was asked if I had a shot of the Cactus Theater. I didn't at the time, but I do now.  After packing up on Sunday I drove through Whataburger, stopped to get gas, and then headed for the freeway to get out of town. I didn't get far. Only half of my burger had been eaten when I noticed the Cactus Theater and several other neon lighted businesses that were calling my camera. I found a place to park along Buddy Holly Drive where the Theater is located. It was approaching that magic time of day where the lights are on but images would still show a deep blue in the sky instead of black. I spent the next forty five minutes creating the next three images.

Cactus Theater



After leaving Lubbock, my goal was to drive to Sweetwater and get a room for the night. I really hadn't planned on shooting anything else but then I spotted the Tower Theater in Post, Texas. Much like the Majestic, the lights were not on but there was enough ambient light for a decent image. While looking at the  high resolution version of this I could see that most of the lights are not even there any more. I guess that explains why they were not on!
Tower Theater in Post, Texas

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Texas Wildflowers!

I recently spent a couple of days exploring the Texas Hill Country and photographing the wildflowers. A rainy winter and spring has created one of the most colorful displays that we have had in years. Several of my favorite locations were as good as I have seen them.

The area around Burnet, Llano, and Marble Falls had an abundance of bluebonnet and paintbrush. I particularly liked hiking and photographing the trails in Inks Lake State Park. There is always a good mix of roads, trails, cactus, and rocks to compliment the flowers in my photographs. It is also a much more enjoyable experience than pulling off the side of the highway and photographing the flowers. I can't wait until next year.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Trip to Albuquerque!

  Magnolia Station

On Wednesday I loaded up my vehicle and headed to my next show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I decided a 45 mile detour would take take to Shamrock, Texas. This would allow me to shoot the Magnolia Station and the Conoco Tower at dusk. I think I got several new images which will add to my previous work from this location.

 Conoco Tower and UDropInn

I arrived in Albuquerque on Thursday and set up my work for the show. That evening I drove a stretch of Route 66 looking for something interesting to photograph. When I spotted the Route 66 Diner I knew it was time to get out the cameras. After shooting the exterior I decided to go in and try the food. I took the picture of the car from my table. The chicken fried chicken was also good.
Route 66 Diner

 Interior of Route 66 Diner

Today was the first day of the Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival. After it was over at 5pm I decided to go shoot a few more locations along Route 66. Yesterday I never saw the lights come on at the Hiland Theater. I didn't think they would come on today either so I photographed it right before sunset. I took a few shots of several old hotel signs after that and then spotted the Absolutely Neon building. I would hate to pay their electricity bill.
 Hiland Theater

Absolutely Neon

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Evolution of an Image!

Not too long ago I was shooting film. I would take my film in to be processed and anxiously go pick it up as soon as they said it was ready. Fuji Velvia, a positive slide film, was my film of choice. It was also preferred by most professional nature, landscape, and architecture photographers. Sometimes I miss the sharpness, extra contrast and rich color that you got from looking at a Velvia transparency. Despite all the good things about digital,  matching the look of Velvia is not an easy thing to do most of the time.
Today I shoot everything with a high end, high megapixel camera. I have it set to capture in what they call "raw". This is the image in an unprocessed state. Shooting in raw will give you color and contrast that is dull compared to what you saw and photographed. Many things may need to be adjusted until this image looks the way you remembered it. However, who says it has to look exactly how you remembered it. Neither film nor digital have ever recorded things exactly as we saw them anyway.


 The top image was taken last November on Orange Beach in Alabama. This is how the raw file looks in Adobe Bridge before any type of adjustments have been made. This image is surprisingly dull considering it was about five minutes before sunset and the sun had just popped out from behind the clouds. The light was about as sweet as it gets. Its also has not had any sharpening applied to it.

This second image was processed back in November not long after it was taken. Many adjustments were made with the raw converter in bridge. The image was then opened in Photoshop where some final adjustments were made. The last thing I do is sharpen the image. It may seem strange that it needs to be sharpened. I have a $7,000 camera body with a $1,200 lens attached. I have a very steady tripod and use good technique to create the sharpest image possible. However, this is one of those little things about digital that most people don't realize.

The other day I felt compelled to fiddle with this image a little more. Originally I had opened up the shadows some which is probably closer to the way our eyes see it. However, darkening the shadows and kicking up the contrast brings out more color and accentuates the shapes of the dunes. It dawned on me that this is close the way a perfectly exposed Velvia transparency would have looked. Next time I print "Orange Beach Sunset" I am going with this version unless someone talks me out of it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snowmageddon! New record snowfall for Dallas!

On Wednesday I saw a tweet from Pete Delkus one of the weather guys at channel 8. "snowmageddon is on the way!!!!!!!!!!!!" A few tweets later he said we should get 1"-3". HA! If he had said we would get 10"-12" we would have all thought he was nuts but 36 hours later he would have looked like the weather genius if he had. I woke up Thursday to see that an inch had already fallen. The forecast still called for snow all day. Well, I don't think it stopped until around 2am Friday morning. We ended up with 11.2 inches for the day which broke the old record of 7.8 inches. We must have had another 1.3 inches after midnight which made the total for the storm 12.5 inches. That was also a new record.

Bird Houses on our Fence

The temperature was at or just above freezing the whole time it snowed. There was little wind and this wet snow stuck to the trees and bushes like crazy. It seemed every little twig had at least 2 inches clinging to it. Bigger limbs had a lot more.The more it snowed the more incredible all the trees looked. Around 11:30pm we noticed that it seemed really bright outside. Much brighter than earlier in the evening and much brighter than when I got up the next morning. The clouds must have been just right so that the lights of the city were reflected right back at us. The front of my house was photographed at 1:45 am. I actually had to darken the exposure some to make it look more like night. The light had such a great quality to it I almost got in the car and drove around to find something else to shoot.

My Back yard

 My Front yard
I headed out early Friday morning. Fortunately the temperature was still  at 32 degrees and not the 29 degrees they predicted. The roads were slushy but not frozen solid. Driving was not a problem. Everything looked awesome. I first stopped where the road crossed White Rock Creek. I got a few photos of this area where a trail follows the creek. I then got back in the car and headed to Lakeside Park located along Turtle Creek. Many limbs had broken off the trees in this part of town but I was still able to get some good shots of the trees reflecting in the creek. While I was out shooting I heard several loud cracks as another limb broke and fell to the ground. When I got back to my vehicle a limb was now laying in the street about 10 feet behind my truck. The snow was now starting to fall off the trees pretty quickly. I knew it wouldn't last forever. I did get one last shot of a dock at White Rock Lake.

The Trail near White Rock Creek

 Another View of the Trail near White Rock Creek

 Turtle Creek

Dock at White Rock Lake