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Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Top Ten Images From 2013!

Picking my favorite images each year is always a tough thing to do. It would be nice to say that it is hard to decide because I shoot so many wonderful images but the subjective nature of the process is what really makes it difficult. It is much like judging a photo contest with several other judges. You like an image but the other two judges don't. Then you and judge #2 like an image but #3 says "this doesn't do much for me". Such is the nature of the beast! I did get some feedback from several friends and family before finalizing the choices. Several opinions were given but nothing strong enough to make me change things much. 
Another thing that helped make the choices difficult is that most of these have several very similar versions that are also on my web site. Horizontal or Vertical? This angle or that angle? Most of the time they all work well...but which is the best? I welcome your comments. If you like a different version of one of these ten then feel free to say so in the comments. You might also see one on my web site that I took this year that you feel I overlooked. One thing you might also notice is this...I am becoming quite the night stalker. Almost all of these were taken well after sunset.

Looking to the Stars

I have put these images in the order that they were created during the year.  I will also give you a little information about each. The image above was taken at the Very Large Array about 40 miles west of Socorro, New Mexico.When I finished shooting on this cold February night the temp gauge on the car said 10 degrees.

 Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

While I was in Kansas City for a show in  May I had several evenings to shoot the downtown area. I didn't really have a plan the first night but as soon as I saw the Kauffman Center it was like "where do I park the car". The building is really a photographer's dream. I spent the entire evening shooting it from different angles.

 Fulton Beach Fishing Pier #2

 I was in town for the Rockport Art Festival which is held over Fourth of July weekend. Somehow during previous visits I had missed the green LED lights of the pier on nearby Fulton Beach. Not this time.

 Devon Energy Tower and Sculpture

 I had photographed the Devon Tower the previous year and felt the area was worth exploring some more when I was back in town Labor Day weekend. I couldn't resist combining this interesting sculpture with Oklahoma City's tallest building in the background.

 Pensacola Pier

Last year I bough several neutral density filters in order to take long exposures lasting several minutes. I really had not used them very much but from seeing other photographer's work they were usually most effective when you have moving clouds or water that will blur heavily during a long exposure. Spending a November evening on Pensacola Beach was a good opportunity to see what they could do. I was pleased with this 3 1/2 minute exposure.

 A Nice Place to Swing

One of my favorite places to fish and photograph is Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border. I was blessed with a clear and calm night to shoot this dock that was built around one of the many Bald Cypress trees that grows in the lake. The light was coming from a nearby boathouse.

McDonald Observatory and the Milky Way

The drive to my last art show of the year provided me with several of my top images. I had planned to take several days to get to El Paso, Texas and do some photography on the way. The first day I detoured off the interstate about 40 miles in order to shoot the McDonald Observatory after dark. Most of the drive from Dallas had been cloudy but the skies cleared around sunset and I had some great conditions for picking up the Milky Way above the telescope domes. Be sure and check out the similar images on the web site. There were numerous winners from this nights shoot.

Guadalupe Reflections #2

The following day I drove to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I was a little late for fall color but recent rains had a salt flat flooded that was just west of the park. The winds were dead calm at sunset and the reflections of El Capitan and Guadalupe Peak could not have been better.

 The Light From Within

After sunset I drove a few miles down the road to some abandoned buildings and did some light painting. I shot numerous versions with different colored gels on my flash, but this version definitely worked the best.

Futuro Home With Green Light

I have driven by this abandoned Futuro Home for years on my way to the lake. A clear December night with a full moon was just the time to make the 45 minute drive to photograph this structure which looks much like a spaceship that has landed. Unlike the previous photo, I used an LED light with a colored gel to provide the light for the inside. The light coming down the steps was made with a green flashlight.
I hope you have enjoyed these and have a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beale Street

Several months ago I participated in the River Arts Festival in Memphis, Tennessee. While I was there I couldn't resist spending a little time on the very popular Beale Street with my camera. As you can see by the sign it is the "Home of the Blues" and the "Birthplace of Rock and Roll". Several of my previous images from the area sold well at the art show and these are welcome additions to my Memphis Gallery. You can see the full collection on my web site here. http://clarkcrenshaw.photodeck.com/-/galleries/travel-and-architecture/united-states/memphis

  Welcome to Beale Street

 Daisy Theater

 Orpheum Marquee

 Big Ass Beers To Go

Voodoo Alley

Pee Wee Saloon and the Hard Rock Cafe

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Web Site Featured in Shutterbug Magazine!

I looked in my mailbox yesterday and there it was...the January edition of Shutterbug magazine. I have been anxiously awaiting its arrival because my web site is featured in one of the articles. Each month, Joe Farace writes an article called WEB PROFILES. He will review four or five photo sites. He will write several paragraphs of praise for each site, show a screen shot of the home page, and of course include the web address. Thanks a bunch Joe!

Pensacola Pier

Quite honestly, I think my web site deserves a lot of praise. Not very much of my business happened on the web until I built my Photodeck web site. Today, I have more than 1200 images on the site. Images can be licensed or prints can be ordered. Purchases can be made through Pay Pal.When a purchase of a print is made several emails are automatically sent out to me and the client. Several emails are also sent out when an image is licensed. One of those emails will contain a link to download the image file in the size that was purchased. AWESOME! If you are interested in getting your own site through Photodeck, use the code YG@UNGXXE to get 50% off your first month.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Caddo Lake and the Giant Salvinia Problem!

A Nice Place to Swing

I have been fishing Caddo Lake since I was a kid. These days I will bring along my camera equipment in order to get some photographs of this shallow lake on the Texas-Louisiana border. Early November is usually the best time to capture the Bald Cypress Trees after they have turned rusty orange.

Colorful Caddo in 2013

I was shocked this fall to see how much of the lake is being taken over by an invasive species named Giant Salvinia. The main lake was so clogged with the weed that I did not even try to run through it with my boat. Surprisingly, some more confined areas were not so clogged up with the weed but I think a little current in these areas keeps the channels clear. You can see some of the weed in all of these photos. The bottom photo is completely covered with the stuff. I have yet to figure out if this is all Giant Salvinia or if the brown seed stalk looking things are a separate plant growing in the Salvinia. Either way, most of this water is about waist deep. 
I don't think we have heard the last of Giant Salvinia. I hope the biologists figure out a way to control this nasty weed before it starts taking over other lakes.

Overgrown With Weeds

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The McDonald Observatory and Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

 McDonald Observatory and the Milky Way

 Last weekend I traveled to El Paso, Texas to participate in my final art festival of the year. Weather for the festival turned cold, windy, and even icy, but the two days I photographed prior to the festival were great. The weather was warm with little wind and the clouds vanished after sunset for my first stop at the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis. I had driven all day from my home in mostly cloudy conditions but it seemed the farther I drove west the clearer the skies became. My last minute decision to go photograph the observatory paid off. Skies cleared at sunset and a gorgeous Milky Way was clearly visible once all signs of the sun were gone. I was also pleasantly surprised by the red glow coming out of the observatory. I could barely make it out with my eyes but a long exposure made the red very obvious in the photographs.

Guadalupe Reflections #2

 After photographing at the McDonald Observatory, I drove 80 more miles to Van Horn and finally stopped for the day. After shooting a few things in Van Horn the next morning, I drove to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The first thing I did when I arrived was to scout out the salt flats west of the park. I had heard that there was some flooding back in September and I also remember seeing pictures of the mountains reflected in a large lake. Sure enough part of the salt flat was now a very large shallow lake. My plans for the evening were now to come back at sunset.
 Guadalupe Sunset

After driving back to the park, I spent most of the afternoon hiking in McKittrick Canyon. GMNP has a lot of maple trees growing in the canyons and the fall color can be spectacular. Unfortunately, I already knew that I was about two weeks past the peak. Many of the trees had already lost their leaves and the rest were soon to drop. Peak color or not the hike is still very pretty. After the hike it was back to the flooded salt flats. Conditions could not have been better. The winds totally died and a few clouds pinked up at sunset.

 The Light From Within

Before starting my final drive to El Paso I had one more image I wanted to create. Just down the road from the salt flat was some abandoned buildings. I set up the tripod and set the camera for 30 second exposures. This gave me enough time to fire a flash with a colored gel several times during an exposure. I had planned to combine parts of several exposures but decided the light on this single exposure worked just fine.
Sooooooooo...after two pleasant days of photography just how bad was the weather for the art show? Well, the weather changed dramatically on Friday. During the show on Saturday and Sunday it was windy and the temperature never reached 40 degrees. I also knocked some snow and ice off the roof of my tent Sunday morning. That is the first and hopefully the last time I have to deal with that. I did manage to sell a few pieces despite the less than favorable conditions. Overall, I would consider it a successful trip to west Texas.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Penn Valley Park and the Christopher S Bond Bridge

Last month I spent a few days in Kansas City. The art show that I participated in kept me pretty busy but I did manage to get out and shoot some of the local landmarks.  This first image is of the Christopher S Bond Bridge. This bridge crossing the Missouri River was opened in the fall of 2010. It is sometimes called the New Paseo Bridge since it was a replacement for the Paseo Bridge.

The second image is of the new Kauffman Center which opened in September 2011.

From Wikipedia 
The Center was created as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Unlike some other major civic construction projects, no taxpayer funds went into its construction. The City of Kansas City contributed and operates a parking garage adjacent to the Kauffman Center.
It is the performance home to the Kansas City Symphony, the The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet which in the past performed at the Lyric Theatre (Kansas City, Missouri), eight blocks north of the center. The Kauffman Center houses two unique performance venues: Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall.

I feel fortunate to  have found this last location that I photographed. After leaving the show one evening I quickly searched for a location that gave a good view of downtown. After spotting Penn Valley Park, I parked the car and then saw the statue of "Scout" at the top of a hill. It made a perfect foreground overlooking the Kansas City skyline.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Rochester Institute of Technology's Big Shot project!

I spent last weekend selling my photography at the Art on the Greene art festival. Weather was lousy and they even cancelled Sunday because of high winds. Fortunately, I heard about the The Rochester Institute of Technology's Big Shot project. This event was going to take place Saturday after dark at Cowboy's Stadium which just happens to be across the street from the art festival.  I decided to bring my camera and tripod on Saturday so I could get in on the fun at Cowboy's Stadium.

This annual project has been going on for years at various landmarks. After turning out the lights, hundreds or even thousands of people with flashlights shine them on the structure and "light paint" it during a long exposure. Participants are instructed to move themselves and the lights during the exposure. For comparison I have included a before and after of the stadium.

Several minutes of light painting would be followed by a five minute gap when instructions to the participants were given from a PA System. Adjustments would be made and there would be another two minutes of light painting. After I took several shots from my location, I decided to head back to the art show. The man shooting next to me had mentioned taking some shots earlier by this reflection pool. I decided to stop by it in case they did some more light painting. Lucky for me! They did and I was able to get this shot. I can't believe I was the only one shooting from this location. It gave me the most unique shot I have seen from the event.

Art on the Greene is a nicely laid out show and it is a shame the weather kept everyone at home. All reports from last year were good for attendance and sales but that wasn't the case this year. I took this shot at the show right before walking over to Cowboy's Stadium Saturday evening. I don't think I missed much while I was gone.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A trip to New Mexico!

In January, I was invited by my friend, Gary Kelly to ride with him to New Mexico for several days of photography. Gary is the field trip chairman for the Dallas Camera Club. The field trip was mainly centered around the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge but we also spent some time at several other locations. Bosque is know for it's huge populations of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes that winter at the refuge and it didn't disappoint. Both mornings we witnessed massive blast-offs of the geese from one of the lakes at the refuge. However, I probably spent most of my efforts towards the cranes. Lots of good opportunities for shots whether they were flying, landing, or just walking in the lake.

During the trip, I had the opportunity to shoot some with a 600mm lens. While driving the refuge road I got this image of a White-Crowned Sparrow.

About an hours drive west of Socorro is the The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array. The skies on Friday afternoon cleared so we decided to make the drive to the Array and get some night shots. Conditions couldn't have been better.... Actually, the elevation is 7000 feet and the temperature was 9 degrees when we finished shooting that night. Fortunately, the wind had died down or it would really have been hard to have spent much time out of the car.

We spent the middle of the day on Saturday driving to White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Our plan was to shoot the evening and following morning at the monument. I was able to get some good images but I do wish they would open the gates and let you drive in a little earlier in the mornings. The sun is already up by the time you are able reach your location and start shooting. I bet photographers have spent many a tortured moment sitting in line at the entrance gate watching a great sunrise go to waste. Fortunately, it was a cloudless sky and we didn't really miss anything.

Everything about the trip was great until.............the drivers side window broke and was stuck in the down position. This happened about an hour into the last morning at White Sands and it was about 7 degrees outside. I guess its good that it didn't happen the first day because locking the car with it full of camera equipment would have been a moot point. Dealing with that would have been a PITA. Driving home that day was a little cold. Fortunately, I had brought some of my serious cold weather head gear with me. I don't even want to think about how cold my face would have gotten without it.