Monday, November 2, 2015

Where Three Winds Meet: Reception and Publication...

Where Three Winds Meet: Poetry by James Hoggard and images by North Texas artists.

A few months back one of my good friends, Elizabeth Hawley, asked if I would participate in a project she was overseeing. The project was for a book of poetry by James Hoggard that would feature local Texoma artists. Elizabeth has followed and supported my work for a long time and she thought my work would be appropriate for the book. In all honesty I wasn't sure how my work was going to fit in a poetry book. But I agreed and happily submitted photos hoping they could use one or two of them. Well, it turns out they used seven! Not bad at all...This past Thursday was the reception for the exhibit and my first time reading Jim's poetry. When I met Jim and his wife Lynn, I received one of the best compliments about my work. I am truly honored to be a part of such an amazing project and humbled to be featured with such outstanding artists. If you would like a copy of the book you can purchase them here:, or at the Kemp Center for the Arts gift shop. Below are some photos of the book and the reception. Thanks again to Elizabeth Hawley and Jim Hoggard!

The artists and Jim Hoggard. Photo by: Elizabeth Hawley
Me at the reception standing behind one of my pieces (top right)
Photo by: Tim Jacobi

Signing one of my photos for a fellow artist. The artists would sign each other's books kinda like a high school yearbook.
Photo by: Elizabeth Hawley. 

I had a great time at the reception meeting new people and seeing old friends in the art community. Here are some close ups of the book and my photos that were featured. 

Mr. Hoggard signed my book "To Ben: with a world of respect"
After the bio and introduction page you see Jim's first piece and my photograph "The Howling Winds". The poem is appropriately names "Earth and Wind". This image was made several years ago when I was just starting to get into storm photography. 

A photo from the storm season this year. 
On page 50.

"When Four Tornadoes Joined" is a poem about the tragic F4 tornado that struck Wichita Falls in 1979. The image was from the April 22, 2010 Goodnight, TX tornado

Page 120

Crooked Creek Falls in Arkansas

My last photo was featured in the index of the book. 

I am so honored to be in such a great collection of poetry and art pick up your copy today!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

RRPC Field Trip: Benjamin, TX...

This past Saturday (7/25) the Red River Photography Club went on a field trip to Jim Bob Art Park in Benjamin, TX for a night photography excursion. We stayed out in the wee hours of the morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the milky way over some photogenic terrain. Around 5:00 members of the club met up at Memorial Stadium, we started off towards Seymour, TX around 5:30. Our first stop was to the Rusty Spur Steakhouse and Saloon. After some nice dinner conversation and a good steak we left for Jim Bob Art Park.

Satellite view of Jim Bob Art Park and Nature Trail (Google Earth)

A few miles north of Benjamin is the Jim Bob Art Park and Nature Trail. It is a privately owned park by the Bisbee family. The park was created in remembrance to James Robert Bisbee (Jim Bob as the locals called him). On the far west view of the park is swing where visitors can take in the amazing view of "The Narrows" of Knox County. Sitting at an elevation of 1568ft the views from this plateau are quite impressive and would make for some excellent sunset photography and being in a rural area we were expecting a great view of the night sky. 

We arrive to the park just in time to catch the sun going down. I was only able to make one image of with the sun in the frame. I would like to come back and shoot more sunsets at this location. Members of the RRPC gathered all their gear and began shooting the sunset over the amazing vista. 

Beautiful sunset over "The Narrows".
After the sun went down we were greeted with some really nice crepuscular rays.

Once the sun set it was time to start setting up for some night photography. Some of us started to shoot some of the stars other's kept photographing the landscape, and some just sat enjoying the scene. The waxing gibbous moon was shining very bright and was painting the landscape in a soft glow. But we could not make the milky way out just yet. 

The moonlight played a major role in the type of night images we could make. The milky way was just barely visible and moon was not supposed to set until after 2:00 am. On the plus side the moon lit up the landscape quite nicely and using a long exposure and a tripod you could capture details in the breaks over a starry canopy. In this image you can see Ursa major (Big Dipper) and a great view of the landscape thanks to the moon.

A group of the RRPC waiting on the moon to go down. It was a smart idea to bring some lawn chairs.
You can start to see some of the milky way in the upper left corner of the photo.

I decided to use the camera's multiple exposure feature to get the moon and the landscape in the same shot. I actually had to expose the landscape first, switch lenses, then readjust the exposure for the moon, and place the moon in the viewfinder above the horizon line. This took a couple of attempts to get it just right. 

A lot of the members went home after 12am (understandably so) while the moon was still out and harsh. But there are ways to pass the time. 

(Photo Credit: Elizabeth Hawley) Elizabeth captured this image of me trying to get a shot of the Andromeda galaxy with my sky tracker. The milky way was just now starting to become visible on the cameras and we could almost make it out with our naked eye. Elizabeth was also kind enough to let me use her Tamron 150-600mm lens to make my image. Thanks for letting me use the lens and for taking the pic, Elizabeth!
A very mediocre shot of the Andromeda. If I really wanted a great shot I would be stacking multiple images for fine detail and less noise. I mostly shot this to show everybody how the sky tracker works. 

It was now close to 2am and almost everyone had left for home. But a few stayed behind hoping to get more impressive views of the milky way. As the moon set it began to get darker and darker out there. I wanted to be set up and ready to shoot when the moon finally dipped below the horizon.

Milky way now starting to come out and the setting moon sinking below the horizon. The bright light in the center is a ranch in the area.
With the moon now gone the milky way was truly incredible. This is one of the best views I have ever seen of the milky way. This area is rated as a "2" on the Bortle light pollution scale which is one of the best ratings for astro photography. The next closest area to the same rating is about 30 miles north just outside of Crowell at the Comanche Springs Observatory.
This image was made with the sky tracker which helped me capture amazing detail in the milky way. This particular image is actually made of two separate photos. One image was exposed for the foreground (30sec tracker off) and the other was exposed for the milky way (3minutes tracker on) and then I combined together in Photoshop.
I did not like the light pollution and ground haze so I placed the camera in front of some trees to cut back on the lights. Plus they made an excellent silhouette against the starry sky. It was starting to get late and some of us needed to be back for church the next morning. But there was still one more image I wanted to make.
This was my money shot! This is a panorama consisting of 46 individual photos stitched together for an ultra wide angle view of the milky way and night sky. See it much better here. I spent more than a half hour getting the shots for this image. I, again, did not want the light pollution/ground haze interfering with the view of the night sky. It took almost five hours for me to stitch and process this image, but it was so worth it! I think this is my favorite milky way image to date!

Timelapse video of the moon set and milky way. If you watch closely you will see an iridium flare from a passing satellite and a short lived meteor. 

After I finished the series of photos I was satisfied. It was now 4am and we debated staying out longer and catch the sunrise of the breaks. We decided to go ahead and call it a night and gathered up our gear and began the drive home. I got back to my apartment around 6am browsed few some of the photos and slept until 1pm that afternoon. It was a really awesome field trip and I'd love to go back there again. Though next time I think we will plan it during a new moon. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arkansas 2014: Day 2...

DAY 2: Sunrise from Grandview Vista, Cossatot River, Highway 278, and Sunset at Lake Wilhelmina.

The sun was set to rise around 6:45 that morning. I woke up around 5:45 got my gear together, grabbed the keys, and headed back to the Talimena Scenic Byway. I was hoping to catch the sunrise hitting the mountains and possibly capture the setting moon in the same shot. I really underestimated how great the view to the east is up on the mountain. While driving up the mountain I would look back in my rear view mirror and see a giant red ball over the horizon. It was so amazing. I really REALLY wanted to stop, but I didn't want to miss opportunity to capture the sunrise at Grandview vista. I pressed forward and would occasionally glimpse back in the rearview mirror catching sunrise behind me. I arrived to Grandview vista and the light was just starting to hit the mountains. To make things even better there was a thin layer of fog in the valleys and near full moon descending to the west. 
Without a doubt, the best view of the byway. We are looking south and the sun over to our left just now rising over the mountains. I had hoped we would see some dramatic light.

A thin layer of fog down in the valleys.

And a thick layer of fog over Lake Wilhelmina. We would return to the lake later that evening for sunset photos. 

A near full moon setting to the west.

I also tried some telephoto landscape photography. 

This is looking off to the northeast from Acorn Vista.

Thirteen image panorama of the Grandview vista sunrise.

It certainly was a great start to the day. I drive back to Mena to meet up with my mother and plan for the rest of the day. We're sitting around trying to decide when we would like to leave for Texas. I was planning to leave around 3:00pm and that would get us home around 8:00pm that night. I had work the next morning and I was sure my mom didn't want to drive that far that late at night. My mom was looking through a local brochure and mentioned something about the Cossatot River State Park. We settled on that for a late morning/early afternoon field trip. It was only 30min from Mena and when we finished we could go back to Mena for a late lunch and head on home. Like many of the places in AR we were once again creeping on dirt and gravel roads to get to our destination. Along the way we saw some colorful foliage and some nice landscapes, but mostly it was winding dirt roads and tall slender trees blocking out our view.. We finally arrived at the upper Cossatot River region. Specifically we were looking for the rapids in the river on this particular outing. The river was not at its highest state so the rapids were not that impressive, but I still came back with some great shots.

Upper Cossatot River near Cossatot falls.

Some of the nice fall foliage we encountered on a short hike.

The only "rapids" I was able to photograph. I had to climb over several rocks and hopscotch my way to an isolated piece of dry land to get this shot. Judging by the smoothness of the rocks and the striations, I imagine the river can get to much higher levels and intensity. 

More fall colors. 

View of the lower Cossatot river from Highway 278. We stopped in the middle of the road to get this shot. Luckily, there was no other traffic around us. 
Once we finished hanging around and exploring the upper region of the river we drove to the visitor center,(which was really nice) and made our way to the low water crossing of the river. This was actually a little better, I was able to see some decent movement in the water and with the use of my vari ND filter I was able to slow my shutterpeed down to 3 seconds creating a soft silky look to the water.

Getting longer exposures in bright sunny daylight can be a challenge without the use of filters. I used my vari ND filter to decrease my shutterspeed and blur the movement of the water.

7 image panorama of the lower  Cossatot River. 
All along the river we saw some really nice foliage and naturally I had to take some close up shots.

We left the Cossatot River around 1:30 and headed back to Mena to get some lunch before driving home. We drove west along highway 278 which was almost entirely surrounded by trees. At one point outside of Wickes, AR there was a break in the forest. The land sloped down where a long line of hay bales were resting halfway across the field. Behind the hay was a cluster of changing fall leaves and just above the treeline the distant craggy peaks of the Ouachita mountains could be seen. I really liked this composition, I just wished the light would have been better. We pulled off near the Duckett cemetery to photograph the landscape.

I had to stay near the top of the hill. The further I went down the more the treeline would cover up the mountains.

15 image panorama of this wonderful scene. The original is sized at 100"wide by 14.5" tall!!!
After I was happy with a couple of frames we drove back to Mena and had a late lunch at a place called the Branding Iron (not to be confused with our local restaurant). The place was quite nice and the food was really good. We filled our bellies and started off for home. But before we left I wanted to get one more shot. I wanted to get some photos at sunset of Rich mountain reflecting in Lake Wilhelmina. We pulled up and found a nice spot to get the mountains reflecting in the lake.
Found a great location in a more still part of the lake. This would be perfect for some long exposure photography.

Beautiful light and reflections of the nearby woods.

If you look real closely you will see a structure on the top of the mountain. This is the Queen Wilhelmina lodge as seen from lake Wilhelmina. We stopped by this location, but there were easily 100+ people when we arrived. We decided to just keep driving. 

Wider view of the lake.

Beautiful light hitting the face of Rich Mountain.

Stunning sunset that evening and a great opportunity to use some long exposure to get a near perfect reflection in the waters. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to end the trip.

We made the drive home and I arrived at my apartment around 11:30pm. It really was a unique experience. I have been through Arkansas before on the way to Indiana for family reunions. I never had the opportunity to explore the mountains and forests of the state. Thanks to my mom for tagging along and doing all the driving. I have to say it is truly a beautiful place and a well spent vacation. I hope to one day return to the Ouachita Mounatins again.


About Me

My photo
I am 25 years old and I have been a photographer for 11 years now. I love nothing more than taking my camera out on a photo shoot with me. I mainly focus on nature photography.That is where my passion is. I love looking at all of God's wonderful creations and capturing them in the photographic medium. I have won awards and have received special recognition for my photography. It is my calling and my passion!