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Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Top Ten Images From 2012!

Every year I look back at the images I have taken and choose ten of my favorites. I don't base this on how well they sold or how much they were liked on social media. They are just images I like. Images where I feel that I successfully captured with my camera the essence of the scene that was offered to me. They are in the order that I took them with a little story about each one. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

"The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Cable Design"

Early March found me attending the celebration of the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas. It would be the last chance for the public to walk around on the bridge before it opens to vehicle traffic. The graphic nature of the arch and the cables make the bridge a real treat for a photographer. I shot a lot of images that I was happy with but this black and white is probably my favorite of the graphic ones.

"The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Fireworks  #1"

At 9 p.m. a fireworks display was planned. I was told about where they would shoot them but it was still a little bit of a guess as to the best location to photograph them from. Fortunately I set up and composed in just the right spot. I was pleased with many of the Firework images but the red, white, and blue theme of this one made it stand out.

"Flooded River Reflections"

Several weeks after the bridge celebration, the Trinity River flooded. I definitely wanted some good shots of the lighted bridge reflected in the river. I spent two evenings shooting the river at dusk. One of the last compositions on the second evening turned out to be the favorite.
"Field of Dreams"

The wildflowers in Texas were great this spring but they did peak out several weeks earlier than I ever remember. I saw a photograph of a field another photographer had taken just south of Dallas near Ennis. It was already being called the "Field of Dreams". Several days later I made the short drive to Ennis and got this image at sunset.

"Annular Eclipse Sunset"

On May 20th there was going to be an Annular Eclipse. The "Ring of Fire" would not be visible from my home but I determined that I should be able to see the eastern edge of the eclipse in Roscoe, Texas. After driving around the Roscoe Wind Farm I finally stopped at this location for my photography. Fortunately the clouds moved out of the way enough so I could capture the sun just as it hit the horizon. A few minutes later it was all gone. This is one of the most interesting photos I have seen from the eclipse.


During the last week of July I was driving to Ruidoso, New Mexico for an art show. As my brother and I drove towards Brownfield, Texas, we noticed some lightning up ahead. It was also close to sunset and we were looking for something to photograph. We had been driving awhile and needed a break anyway. After locating a pump jack for some fore ground interest, we spent the next hour shooting the lightning. It put on quite a show.

"Oklahoma Sky"

This image is another one which was created while traveling to or from an art show. In early September I was driving home from the Arts Festival Oklahoma. With no moonlight on a clear night, I took a quick detour into a scenic overlook north of Ardmore, Oklahoma just to check out the stars. It was very hard to see but when I noticed the windmill on the hilltop, I decided I better get out the camera and take some pictures.

"Pink Skies Over Bryce Canyon"

A few weeks ago my wife and I traveled out west to several of our favorite places. I was blessed with great sunrises for two mornings at Bryce Canyon National Park. It was hard to choose the best one of the bunch.
"Wagon and Old House in Morning Light"

While driving back to the hotel after shooting the sunrise, I noticed that the great clouds and sky were still with me. A last quick stop at this old wagon and house was definitely worth it.

"Evening Light Over Cathedral Gorge"

During our trip out west we drove up to Cathedral Gorge State Park. It is a small park near Panaca, Nevada. The area had received a little snow the day before. Hiking around in the wet mud was not much  fun but the snow which hadn't melted yet sure made for some nice images. The following morning was cloudy and drizzly so I am grateful for my afternoon of good light at the Gorge.

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you have a great 2013!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The "Bird" competition!

Last night I was one of the judges for the annual "Bird" competition between the Dallas Camera Club and the Fort Worth Camera Club. Each club entered 20 prints and 20 digital images. Subject matter was open. The photos did not have to be of birds. The "Bird" is actually a small sculpture which is the trophy that the winning club gets to keep for the following year. I was told I had 2-4 minutes before the judging to show some of my work, promote myself, or just tell the attendants about myself and my work. We were free to do this however we pleased. I had purchased ProShow Gold about 3 years ago and decided to use it to create a slideshow to music. Photodex has since upgraded the software but I did not feel that I missed any of the bells and whistles included in the upgrade. They also make a more powerful slide making tool called ProShow Producer. 
The small version of this video doesn't even come close to doing it justice. However, it looks great if you watch the full screen version. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Chinese Lantern Festival

If you live in the Dallas area and were planning to go to the State Fair of Texas, don't miss the Chinese Lantern Festival which will be there until the fair closes on October 21.

"Never before in the Southwest, the Chinese Lantern Festival is an outstanding visual delight. By day, it’s a collection of architecture, fabric flora, and fauna figures—pandas, flamingos, dinosaurs. A dragon made from 15,000 porcelain dishes!
By night, the festival lights up, setting the lagoon and imaginations aglow. The Temple of Heaven, Statue of Liberty, animated creatures, and a Blossoming Lotus—these are among the 22 dazzling lantern sets in and around the Nature and Science Buildings and lagoon."

Last week I visited the Festival while at the fair with my wife. I took some pictures but it was not the serious photo shoot that I had yesterday. Several other photographers that had been at the Cottonwood Art Festival last weekend were with me.  The crowd at the fair was huge since it was fair day for the Dallas schools. I think every student in town was there. Trying to take photos on the Midway was difficult. It was more like a cattle drive.

Fortunately, my main interest was shooting the Chinese Lantern Festival and it did not disappoint. As the lights started coming on at 7 pm it was hard to decide what to shoot first. I think I could make ten visits and still shoot new compositions each time. 

Photographing the Lantern Festival is an HDR photographer's dream. Shooting subject matter like this after dark is perfect for bracketing a range of exposures and combining them for your final image. You can capture a lot more detail than you could with just one exposure.

 The "Tunnel of Light" is the last part of the Festival that you walk through before you get to the exit. I decided to have some fun while zooming my lens during the exposure. Maybe I should do this trick more often!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Devon Tower and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Lately, the photography I have been shooting has all revolved around my participating in art shows. Last weekend wasn't any different. While driving back home from Wichita, Kansas on Sunday night my plan was to stop and get a room somewhere south of Oklahoma City. The interstate passes near the downtown area and I couldn't help but notice the lights on the Devon Tower. Several weeks earlier when I had been there the lighting was pretty basic. Tonight there was brightly colored accent lights that went the whole length of the building on several sides. Cool! They also changed colors very similar to the lights on the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Bridge that I had photographed over Labor Day weekend. Red, green, neon blue and then a pale violet before turning red again. 
After a quick detour, I found myself driving through downtown Oklahoma City looking for a good location to shoot the Devon Tower from. I soon spotted another structure which was also lighted with neon blue. This building turned out to be part of the Myriad Botanical Gardens. I parked the car and spent the next 30 minutes shooting a variety of compositions. This was my favorite of the shots but I definitely need to go back to Oklahoma City when I have a little more time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oklahoma Skies!

 While driving home from the art show in Oklahoma City last night I couldn't resist pulling into a scenic overlook near the Turner Falls area and checking out how well I could see the Milky Way. Sure enough it was very easy to see the Milky Way in the night sky despite being so close to the city lights of Ardmore, about 10 miles away. Those same lights revealed the silhouette of an old windmill, a perfect addition to any pictures I might take. I got my headlamp out of my camera bag and scampered several hundred yards up the hill in the dark to get a little closer to the windmill. The silhouette in the final image is still pretty small since this was shot with the lens at 16mm but I think it works pretty good that way. After all, this image is really about the vastness and the beauty of the night sky. It is also neat that I could capture an image like this within several hundred yards of the busy night traffic on I35.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Skydance Bridge and the Devon Energy Tower

I'm showing my work this weekend at the Arts Festival Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. After setting up my booth today I grabbed some dinner and then headed towards downtown to find a good location to shoot the skyline. I admittedly had not prepared like I usually do and was just driving and looking for something. When I spotted the Skydance Bridge I knew what I would be shooting. It is a sculpture on top of a footbridge which goes over Interstate 40 just south of downtown. It is constantly changing colors and I was able to frame the Devon Tower and several other downtown buildings just after sunset. Construction on both of these structures was completed earlier this year. The bridge is made to look like the state bird which is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

I spent Saturday morning shooting three different churches with some of my friends from the Dallas Camera Club.  These are two of my favorites from the trip which were both shot at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in north Dallas.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Several of my favorite resources for planning my trips!

http://www.google.com/earth/index.html   Take a virtual journey to any location in the world. Great for planning your next photo expedition!
http://photoephemeris.com/  The Photographer's Ephemeris helps you plan your outdoor shoot, with full details of how the sun and moon move across the land.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pump Jack and Lightning

Pump Jack and Lightning

After spending some more time editing my images from my trip to New Mexico, I came up with several others that I really like. They were both taken before it became totally dark outside. The bottom image looked much better after I converted to black and white. It didn't capture any lightning but I really liked the sweep of rain in the background. These new images will be added to my web site. Next month I will be showing my work at Midland's Septemberfest. Since it is right in the middle of an oil rich area, I plan to have many of my pump jack images on display.

Pump Jack Rain

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pump Jacks


Yesterday I arrived back home from my trip to New Mexico to participate in the Ruidoso Art Festival. Anytime I travel out that way I am on the look out for images to add to my oil industry collection. These type of images sell very well at the Frame-it Gallery in Midland, Texas where I have some of my work. During my drive to New Mexico, I came upon an area of thunderstorms near Brownfield, Texas around sunset. I decided to see what kind of lightning display these storms would produce and found a large pump jack that would make a perfect subject to go with the lightning. The pump jack was also slightly illuminated from the lights of a drill rig in the area. For about an hour the storms put on quite a show. "Energy" was the best capture from my stop.

Pump Jack and Big Dipper

I drove part of the way home on Sunday night after the show ended. The sky was clear and a very large moon was out. This combination made for images that almost look like they were shot during daylight except for the dark sky and all the stars. If you look just above the left side of the Pump Jack you should be able to make out the Big Dipper.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Photo Book!

I just finished a book of my photographs of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. It contains 40 pages of images I have taken of this new icon in the Dallas skyline. I have shot the bridge under a variety of conditions, from a flooded Trinity River to the fireworks during the opening weekend celebration. You can preview all of the book here. http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3409682?utm_source=badge&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=140x240
Hope you like it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Cats of Vernazza

Do You Miss Your Pets?
Yesterday I was going through some old digital files that I shot in Italy back in 2005 with my 6MP Digital Rebel. One morning while shooting in Vernazza, I couldn't help but notice that cats were everywhere. All of the boats had been pulled out of the water and covered. Cats were sleeping and playing on top of most of the boat covers. We used to have three cats. One was a big Siamese and the other two looked very much like this one. "Sugar Bear" and "Shoe Shoe" were very similar except "Shoe Shoe" had white paws. One by one they grew old, had kidney problems and had to be put to sleep. This made me miss them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cinque Terre's Vernazza, Italy

My wife and I went to Italy in 2005. I shot this in Vernazza with my new 6mp Digital Rebel but also with my Pentax 6x7 film camera. Since I was selling large images (32x48) at outdoor art shows, the Pentax images were the ones that were scanned and printed. The images sold like hotcakes but I have always felt there was a slight bluish color cast from the long exposure that was necessary with 50 ISO film. Today I came across the Rebel files and processed this one. My skills and tools are much better today than in 2005. I would love to do this again with my 5D Markll and bracket some exposures for a little HDR processing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Traveling Man at the Deep Ellum Dart Station

Across the street from the Dart Station in Deep Ellum is the 38 foot tall sculpture of "The Traveling Man". I did several things a little different for this image. A 10 second exposure was made possible by adding a polarizing filter and a 9 stop Nuetral Density filter to the camera lens. This was also shot during the middle of the day. What appears to be a very long train behind the sculpture is actually the Dart Train as it went by during the exposure.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas

Last night I attended an artist reception for a friend of mine who had some photographs on display at the gallery of the Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie. It was also a good opportunity to shoot the theater at dusk, something I have done several times in the past. This is the first time to have a great sky to work with instead of the cloudy nothing that I have had on previous occasions. The top image was made from three bracketed exposures that were combined in Photomatix Pro 4. I also have recently purchased Nik Silver Efex Pro2. I am really liking it! It seems that no matter how much I like an image in color I can still turn it into a cool black and white. It really works well when you are converting a color HDR.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge with Fireworks!

Happy Fourth of July!
I actually shot this last March but the colors of the fireworks were just too good not to show it on the Fourth of July! Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Reunion Tower, and the Hyatt Regency!

I shot this several months ago but I am heading to the same location on Monday and Tuesday nights. A full moon will be rising in line with these two Dallas icons and I hope to get some interesting images including it. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dart's New Uptown Station

Uptown Station

A few months ago I noticed some neon lights along Central Expressway near the Lemmon Ave exit. They didn't use to be there. I soon found out that it was a new Dart Station for the M-Line Trolley that goes up and down McKinney Ave. Last night I photographed the station for the first time and I did get a shot that included the trolley. While writing this post I did a search for some information about the station and came up with something interesting. http://www.dallasvoice.com/gay-photographer-held-gunpoint-cityplace-dart-station-refuses-give-camera-10117972.html This happened just a few days ago. If I ever get robbed, raped, or murdered while out shooting I hope they just refer to me as "a photographer".

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hamilton Pool and the Texas Capital!

Many times I will take a detour for a photo shoot on my way to or from an art show. Such was the case back in April when I drove to San Antonio, Texas for the Fiesta Art Fair. I left home a day early and gave myself plenty of time to make it to the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve by mid afternoon. Hamilton Pool is a swimming hole and waterfall about 30 miles southwest of Austin, Texas. Years ago I photographed the preserve with film, a tough scene to shoot when half is in deep shade and half is in full sunlight. However, it is a perfect subject for digital and todays HDR techniques.

 Hamilton Pool

 After entering the preserve you have a 1/4 mile hike to get to the swimming hole and falls. Once I reached my destination, I shot many different compositions, but this is one of my favorites. However, I didn't give myself a lot of extra time to enjoy the area because I still planned to drive back to Austin and photograph the Texas State Capital at sunset. Fortunately, I made it to Austin with enough time for some quick Mexican food at Chuy's before heading on to the capital building.

 The Texas State Capital

On my first visit to the capital a few years ago, I approached the building from the south side and completely missed seeing the underground extension that was added in 1993. Well, better late than never. Part of that area makes a great foreground for pictures of the Capital just after sunset. After darkness set in and I felt I had shot some good images, I drove the rest of the way to San Antonio. The following day I set up my booth in preparation for the art festival. Just across the street from the show is San Antonio's Central Library. It has some very interesting architecture and is painted what many call "Enchilada Red". After the artist's dinner on Saturday night I figured I might as well  take advantage of this and spend the rest of the evening shooting the Library. I was a little limited on what parts of the building I could shoot because they were doing some construction, but did get several images that I really like. Hopefully, I will get a chance next year to photograph the rest of the library.

San Antonio Central Library

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Few Extra Days in Omaha!

My visits to Omaha, Nebraska have usually been short ones. I arrive in town and set up for the Omaha Summer Arts Festival. Immediately after the show I must head back home. I have never been able to leave myself time to see or photograph any of the city. That changed this year. I was at the Mulvane Art Fair last weekend in Topeka, Kansas. It made more sense to drive to Omaha on Monday instead of driving home. I would have had to drive right back where I just came from on Wednesday. 

I spent Monday evening exploring a few areas and took a few pictures, but mainly I was trying to decide where I could shoot the Transit of Venus on Tuesday. The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge was one of the things I wanted to shoot while in town anyway and I realized the people on the bridge would make perfect silhouettes for the setting sun during the transit. Several of the images worked out quite well. As soon as the sun set I quickly headed to the rivers edge to photograph the bridge with downtown Omaha behind it.

On Wednesday evening I arrived downtown a little before sunset in order to check out a few locations I had in mind. Several of my favorites are included below. The skyline reflected in the water is within a few hundred yards of where my booth will be located in this weekends show. The statues and sculpture are in front of the CenturyLink Center.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Annular Solar Eclipse

The western United States enjoyed an Annular Solar Eclipse on May 20th. I didn't even know there was going to be an eclipse until four days before it was to occur. After learning what an Annular Solar Eclipse was I started making plans. The Dallas area where I live was not going to be able to see the full eclipse because the sun would set before it reached its maximum. The news was saying that the full eclipse could be seen as far east as Lubbock, Texas but the maps actually showed that limit to be southeast of Lubbock about 100 miles. My wish was to photograph the peak of the eclipse as the sun set and include some interesting landscape with it. I decided that the wind farm near Roscoe, Texas may fit the bill.

I sent an email to several friends to see if they were interested in shooting the eclipse. Dan was stuck at home babysitting the neighbors bulldog but Gary wanted to go. We left Gary's house around 1:30 to make the four hour drive to Roscoe. I had used a computer program, The Photographer's Ephemeris, to map out a couple of likely locations and we should have plenty of time to scout them out. TPE  uses Google Earth to show the time and direction of sunrises and sunsets from any location and we ended up shooting very near a spot I had scouted with the software. The eclipse started about 7:45pm.  Even after the moon had covered up a large percentage of the sun, it was still hard to notice it. The sun remained very bright during the whole event and didn't seem to dim much at all until it was setting.

When I took the top image it was still so bright that a very short exposure was needed in order to show the detail of the moon and sun. It also stopped the turning blades on the wind turbines and turned them into silhouettes. That was nice! The next two images are very similar except for the sun. I knew the timing of the full eclipse would be close to sunset but I didn't really know just how close. The above image shows the sun just above the horizon and the full "Ring of Fire" is not yet visible. The bottom image was shot 44 seconds after the first and the full "Ring of Fire" would be visible if part of the sun had not already dropped below the horizon. Part of me is disappointed that we didn't get to see and photograph the full "Ring of Fire", but then again it was pretty cool!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Texas Wildflowers in 2012

"Field of Dreams-Ennis, Texas"

Last year Texas was in the middle of one of its worst droughts in history. Rains during the fall and winter changed that and the countryside has become green again. This spring has been a banner year for wildflowers. The top photo is from an area about 25 miles south of Dallas. Ennis has an annual Bluebonnet Festival and this field is located along one of the roads that is part of its Bluebonnet Trail. I noticed today that they are encouraging people on their web site to "Hurry, Hurry! There are still blooms that are up for great viewing." The bluebonnets peaked about a week or 10 days ago. The Festival is not until April 21&22. That is normally when the flowers peak but the warm winter has caused the bloom to run 2 to 3 weeks early this year. I have driven through the area twice and it is as good as I have ever seen it.

"Trail at Enchanted Rock"

I also spent several days photographing in the Texas Hill Country. My favorite area is around Llano. I especially like to do some hiking on the trails at Inks Lake State Park and Enchanted Rock State Park. Over the years I have learned the trails which have the best flowers. Photographing this way is much more rewarding than stopping along the roadsides and taking pictures. 

"Enchanted Rock and Bluebonnets"

Bluebonnets at Lake Buchanan"

Inks Lake has never let me down when it has been a good year for wildflowers. So many fields in other areas seem to be good one year and not so good the next. The areas of the best flowers at Inks Lake State Park have been very consistent from year to year. The mixture of granite rock, cactus, and wildflowers can't be beat. I also have a favorite area which contains mostly Indian Paintbrush. The two photos below were taken there.

"Group of Paintbrush at Inks Lake State Park"

"Paintbrush and Rocks-Inks Lake State Park"

This last image was taken right near the sign to Inks Lake State Park. It is almost like a menu of what is ahead of you during your trip through the park.

"Wildflower Mix-Inks lake State Park"