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10/14/16 Fall starting to show it’s colors in Arkansas, but still a lot more needs to happen

This photograph featues the fall vista along Bee Bluff which is on the Buffalo River.  This row of gum trees provides a wonderful display of color the problem is just catching the right light.

This photograph featues the fall vista along Bee Bluff which is on the Buffalo River. This row of gum trees provides a wonderful display of color the problem is just catching the right light.

It’s already the 14th, and in Arkansas the fall colors are really just starting to show.  Arkansas had a very wet August, but extremely dry and hot conditions prevailed during September.  Most of the creeks dried up again and the trees did take a hit for sure.  As of last week, the areas up around the Buffalo river have some nice color beginning to show, but still I am not seeing enough to feel that it will be a uniform color year.   Instead I feel we will have individual species of trees starting to change.  So for now up on the Buffalo, the Sweet Gums and Maples are starting to change, but the oaks and hickory trees have very little to show.

Closer to home around Pulaski County, I visited the Pinnacle Mountain State park this morning.  There were spots of yellow along the road, but also quite a bit of brown.  In my local neighborhood, I am seeing more brown than anything else and we have a very good cross section of trees to look at.  Around the Maumelle River Valley, I am seeing some nice yellows off in the distance so hopefully in about a week the true nature of the color will show.

I still need to travel out to Flatside Pinnacle, as the fall display there can be one of the best in the state, but it always tends to be much later in October.

As of last week, the colors at Sam’s Throne were just starting to show, again mainly in the gums and maples.  Sam’s tends to peak the first weekend in November and has never been a disappointment for me.

Rainfall is still way off for this time of the year even though rainfall totals show Arkansas way ahead for rain.  The Ozarks took a nice rain yesterday, but it only seemed to effect the middle of the Buffalo River.  The Carver gauge showed around 3000 CFS running in the river which is a huge amount of water for this time of year so somewhere nearby the Buffalo watershed received a lot of rain.  Richland is up just a bit to 20 CFS, but that is still not enough to really make the creek attractive for photography.  The upper Buffalo is still very low in the 5 to 10 CFS range.   I have not checked the Cossatot, but I don’t believe it received any rain of measure.

Next week, the heat is back, so it’s still a guess as to if the state will have a good fall display or not.



02/05/16 Somewhere new in Arkansas-White Oak Mountain in the wintertime

White Oak Mountain creeks

Some of the huge boulders along a small creek on White Oak Mountain

Some of the best spots for photography in Arkansas are working the smaller creeks up into their headwaters.  This tends to involve a lot of down hiking but the results can be well worth it.  White Oak Mountain, is actually a long ridge that runs east and west near Hector Arkansas.  To get there, you need to drive to Hector, through the town and as soon as cross a small bridge over a minor creek, you will see a dirt road heading up to the right.  Stay on this road for about 7 miles, there will be some turn offs but once you find the right spot, you can hike right down into a great creek valley.  This creek has a nice run which offers several nice smallish waterfalls in quick succession.  If you hike up the far hillside, you can find some much more dramatic waterfalls, but these will only be running after a locally heavy rain.

What I found most interesting on White Oak mountain was the number large boulders that were just laying in the creek.  This reminded me of Richland creek, however the terrain is a bit more open than on Richland.

Once you are done in the creek valley walking is very easy and you can make good headway.  There is a RV trail and a marked hiking trail that will take you down to the creek.  This creek outwardly appears to be about 1/5 the volume of Richland creek, but the unique geography surrounding the creek makes the hike worth a trip.  I would warn anyone that crossing this creek in high water could be a bit dangerous as the bottom is full of large mossy rocks easy to slip on.

I hope to make another trip here in the future to see what the area looks like in Spring with more water running.

To capture this photograph, I used a Phase One XF camera with a IQ260 Medium Format back and 55mm LS lens.  The photograph was taken with a nodal panorama setup and I used the captures to make the one horizontal shot.  To slow the water down I used ISO50 on my camera and a polarizer.  As you can see in the photograph, the light was already marching up the far side of the valley, so I did not need a ND filter.  The raw files were converted in Capture One software and then I used PtGui to stitch the 3 images together.  I then added a bit of Topaz clarity to my liking.


11/10/15 Springtime at Haw Creek Falls–A great place to spend a day in Arkansas

Haw Creek Falls, waterfalls in Arkansas

Springtime View of Haw Creek Falls in the Arkansas Ozarks

Taken with a Phase One IQ260 and Arca rm3di tech camera/40mm Rodenstock lens

This is a typical day at Haw Creek falls, and I was again lucky to be there without anyone else to stand around and get in the way during the shoot.  Haw Creek is a lovely smallish creek that runs in the Big Piney Creek, not far from these falls.  The falls are impressive since there is a large ledge that runs all the way across the creek and in higher water conditions the water will start to consume the entire ledge.  I like to catch water about like this, just enough to keep most of the ledge in play but not too much to flood out the rocks below the falls.  To get this shot, I used my Arca rm3di camera which allows movements like a large format camera with my digital camera back.  The shot is actually a composite of 3 images, Left, Center and Right.  The Left and Right segments represent 16mm of shift in those respective directions.  This allows you to create a very high resolution panorama without any of the issues like parallax.  The lens I used was as 40mm Rodenstock HR-W which allows for an excellent field of view when shifted.

You have to be careful when working Haw Creek as there tends to be a lot of wind blowing down the creek.  In most cases, I prefer to take a 1 to 4 second exposure of the water which in most cases will have a lot of wind blur in the trees.  So you have make sure to cover the tree movement with a second series of exposures around 1/125 to 1/250 to stop the wind movement.  It’s a simple process to combine the files later since I am using a tech camera and the movements are very precise.  To allow the longer exposures I used both a Circular Polarizer and a Neutral Density filter.    The polarizer will help with glare on the water and rocks and adds about 1.5 stops of exposure to the shot.  As this was a bright day, I had to use a 1.2x ND filter.  When I was taking the faster exposures for the trees, I left the polarizer on, but took the ND filter off as I no longer needed the extra exposure compensation.

As I already mentioned, Haw Creek Falls, tends to be overrun with people during the peak times of the year.  The best day to go is a Monday as there will not be as many people at the campground and thus less traffic around the falls.  There are some great swimming spots above the falls in the large pool that is created by the ledge.  It’s a great place to head to when you know you have some water running in the creek.  Also the Ozark Highlands Trail runs right by Haw Creek falls, so if you are planning a hike on this part of the trail make sure to stop and take a look.

The falls run year round, but the best times to photograph them are in the early Spring and winter when water levels are more consistent.  In the summer and fall you can sometimes get lucky after a locally heavy rainstorm and catch the falls running.  The fall display here is wonderful if you can catch it at the right time.

12/14/14 A nice view taken from the Mt Magazine summit

Fall Vista from Mt Magazine

Fall Vista from Mt Magazine

Fall for 2014 in Arkansas was not too much to write home about.  Colors were way off in most places, production mainly showing up in a dull brown color.  I attribute most of this to the weather pattern we had.  Warm, and then cold, and warm, then freezing the trees just did not have much of a chance.  I was at this same spot this year and the colors were just not the same, much more muted.  Still it was a nice day to be out for sure.  Read more about how this shot was taken here:  Mt. Magazine fall vista taken with an Arca rm3di.

07/24/14 Rain and more rain brings up Arkansas’s Prime Creeks in July

Richland Creek Arkansas Ozarks

Springtime on Richland Creek in the Arkansas Ozarks

This is a view of Richland Creek in late May, taken in the 2007 time frame, but I wanted to use this photograph to show just what Richland Creek should look like now, in July!!.  Normally this time of year, the water levels in the Arkansas creeks is very low, to almost dry.  Richland will run a bit of water in the summer months, but not anywhere enough to make it worth a trip up the creek.  All that normally is available will the pools below each of the drops, like the one in this picture.

However in 2014, Arkansas has had a series of large rains, all of which hit the Ozarks.  Just 2 days ago, the Buffalo River, near Ponca was running at over 1000 CFS, which for the Buffalo in July is unheard of.  Richland was running in the 250 CFS range.

Water levels for the Buffalo River in Arkansas

USGS gauge levels for the Buffalo River in July 2014

As you can see in the graph above, the Buffalo was as high as 1000 CFS and is still in the 241 CFS range 2 days out from the rain.  This means that you could canoe the entire river from Highway 21 all the way to the mouth of the Buffalo where it runs into the White river.  But what is even more significant is look back 7 days and you can see that the Buffalo was holding in the 100 CFS range which is even more impressive.  Normally this time of year, you could expect to see around 15 CFS or less.  This is great news for the local canoe outfitters along the entire river as they can continue to rent boats into July.

Richland creek water levels in Arkansas Ozarks

Richland Creek water levels in July 2014

This graph shows the water levels for Richland Creek, which shows it did not hold to the 100 CFS range of the Buffalo but was still at 28 or so CFS before the last big rain.  Again, this is pretty impressive for a creek the size of Richland.

This means that if you like to hike the Arkansas Outdoors, July is a great time to get out.  Richland is not an easy hike in July as the undergrowth of the forest will make for a pretty hard hike.  There is no “official” trail up the creek, but if you get up there, work your way over to the left side of the creek, (when facing upstream) and you will find the age old trail that hikers have created from years of hiking up to Twin Falls or Richland Falls.  Your best bet right now is to start the hike from Richland Creek campground and after crossing Falling Water Creek, head up to the top of the adjacent ridge, where you can find the beginning of the trail that heads up Richland.




04/30/14 New Images added to my Arkansas Panorama Gallery

Haw Creek Falls Sunset Arkansas

Haw Creek Falls in Arkansas, taken at sunset.

I have recently added several new panoramas taken throughout Arkansas to my Panorama Gallery.  You can view the images here:

Over the years, I have started to shoot more panoramas than standard format photography as I feel it gives a better view of landscape subjects.  Many times I will shoot both ways, but after reviewing the images I will come back to the panorama images.  I have found three  ways to accomplish this:

1.  You can take the shot in a panorama format, which involves using special equipment to keep the foreground and background in focus.

2.  You can take one high resolution image and crop into it with a 3:1 ratio.  This requires a image of 50MP or more to allow for a large print.

3.  Setup your camera for a nodal pan.

With my current equipment I can work this either way since I can now use my Arca rm3di camera to allow for a stitching capture.   I can pick up as much as 18mm of new image details on each side of the center, and since I am stitching, not panning the camera, I will not have to worry about parallax issues.  Parallax comes about when you pan your camera/lens combination without consideration for the nodal point of that particular camera/lens.  What will occur most times with parallax errors is foreground and background elements of your subject will not line up.

With a digital back of 60MP it’s also possible to crop into a single image to a 3:1 ratio which is the standard for panoramas.  This most times will leave me around 25MP to work with and from that I can get a print sized to around 24″ x 60″ or 36″ x 72″.  Working this way is much faster as you don’t have to worry about merging the stitched images together.  During this process you can run into color balance issues or blurring, as the wind may have picked up during the stitching process and effected one of the 3 stitches.   This process allows you the greatest amount of freedom to compose as you can shoot with a tripod if the shutter speed allows it.

When time and conditions permit, I will try to work in a nodal pan also.  This is by far the most complicated of the three solutions as you have to have several factors taken into account:

1.  You will need a tripod that is level

2.  Your camera and lens need to set to the correct nodal point

3.  A panning head is usually required to help keep the panning lined up.

4.  Some form of stitching software will be needed to put the images together

5.  Most times even with a nodal solution, there will be issues while lining up the images

6.  Working with wide angles lenses is still complicated

The main reason I don’t prefer to use this setup is that you need to be level as if you pan with a non-level tripod, you will add all types of distortions to the final image.  Many times even if you have the camera/lens set to the correct nodal point, many of the images won’t come together correctly since I am mainly working with wide angle lenses.  This solution does allow for the highest amount of final resolution as you are using about 80% of the sensor on each shot the rest being lost to overlap.

Panoramas are very challenging, but can offer the photographer an excellent final image that can be printed in many more possible output solutions.




03/30/14 Mountain Lions in Arkansas–A follow up on my 1st report

Mountain Lion near Boxley Valley

This is a still taken from a Game Camera of a Mountain Lion near Fallsville Arkansas

Recently I was sent a copy of this video from a game camera near Fallsville Arkansas by David Smith.  The series is about 11 seconds long total, but clearly shows an adult mountain lion.  If one has any doubt, just take the tree in the background for scale.  If you are familiar with the Arkansas woods as I am this is about a 18″ inch and then a smaller 5 or 6 inch tree branching out from the main trunk.  You can see the entire video here:

It’s most interesting to watch this series, as the cat is at first turned away from the camera, then must hear the camera activate.  The cat turns towards the sound of the camera and then moves off the frame right below the camera.  The motion of the mountain lion is very much like any other large cat and is most definitely not a fake or a small cat, bobcat or other creature.  Notice the loping motion as the cat approaches the frame.  It’s also interesting to watch the mountain lion’s head as it comes in closer and begins to look up towards the noise the camera must be making.

mountain lion and game camera

This is another shot of the large mountain lion coming towards the game camera

I have followed all of the comments I have received from my first post on Mountain Lions in Arkansas which have number over 120 total comments.  Taking out about 10% which were fictitious you are left with around 100 comments from people around Arkansas.  Most of these people are reporting sightings within the last 2 years, however some are commenting on sightings which would go back as far as 20 to 30 years ago.

Occasionally I will get a comment where a person is reporting the sighting of a “black panther”, or a mountain lion in a full black phase.  I have looked into the possibility of this.  However so far, worldwide, there have not been any captured, killed or sighted, North American cougars in a black phase.  The panther, which ranges in South America and Mexico, can have a black or dark phase.  You can read more about that here:   Panthers may also have ranged into the southern United States, but so far I have not heard of a panther being sighted in Arkansas.  However many people still claim that they are seeing “black panthers” in this state.  I am not sure what they are seeing.

This camera video for sure tells me that the North American Mountain Lion is alive and well in Arkansas.  The cat shown in this video seems a bit thin, however it’s also March and natural food supplies may not be as readily available.  The fact that his cat was sighted near Fallsville, is what give me a bit of of concern as Fallsville, is very close to the Glory Hole, the upper Buffalo River and several other popular outdoor recreation areas in Northwest Arkansas.

David Smith, the owner of the video, told me that he had sent a copy of this video to the Arkansas Game & Fish, and their only comments were that this was a “significant sighting”.  I believe since the Arkansas Game and Fish are now allowing bow hunters to purchase a mountain lion tag which allows the killing of a mountain lion, they are starting to take mountain lions in Arkansas a bit more seriously.  Hopefully with the number of sightings I have had reported, that many of these have also been reported to the Arkansas Game and Fish.  In the past the standard response has been, “this must be a cat that was released to the wild”, meaning it was not breeding naturally.  This cat looks to have done just that and has matured into an excellent example of the species.








01/04/14 It’s offical Sam’s Throne is now a full featured Forest Service Campground.

Sams Throne rock climbing campground


This actually happened in Mid 2013, but I never got around to writing about it.  They finally finished the improvements and created a formal campground status for Sam’s Throne.  This spot is a climbers paradise and for me a photographic wonder.  I work this area year round and love to work the bluffs of Sam’s after dark.  If you have not ever been here, it’s worth the trip up Hwy 7 to the Hwy 123 Junction.  Take Hwy 123 for about 10 miles north and then start looking for this sign.  You won’t find a bunch of RV steps here, and it’s a very informal campground, but it now has facilities and that’s a big improvement.  Sam’s Throne is one of the most famous climbing spots in Arkansas and is featured by a over 1 mile long bluff line made from primarily sandstone.  You can also look off the bluff to to the rock prominence that is the actual throne.   The road down to the bluffs has been dramatically improved since the early day’s when it was just a logging road.  Sam’s throne campground is pretty much on top of the bluff and you can get a great nighttime sky from there.  Once you get down to the bluff line looking northward you get a great shot of Red Rock and the valley of Big Creek.  Looking south towards the throne gives you a great view of the rolling hills moving off into the distance.

I have photographed Sam’s in pretty much all types of weather and as I mentioned above love to work it at night.  It’s not a bad compromise as you won’t be too far out from your car.  This area does get some rough folks driving by at times during the week, and I would not consider leaving a car alone at the trail head after dark unless there are some folks camping near by.  During the summer months and peak climbing season you can expect to have people there.  At the Bluff line you can walk along the top of the bluff in either direction and find great subject matter for your photography.

This shot is one taken during the night after the moon had set at the campground.  There was a group that had started a huge bonfire and the way it was lighting up the trees really caught my eye.  This shot was taken as single long exposure for about 30 minutes and during the time I had the shutter open a group of people walked by with head lamps on, and I really liked the effect they created.

Sam’s is a great spot to take the family and spend the entire day, be aware that there are sharp drop offs everywhere so if you are taking young children be careful.

Star trails over Sam's Throne in Arkansas

Star trails over Sam’s Throne in Arkansas

11/20/13 Notes on Sylamore Creek and Gunner Pool

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

One of my favorite spots to spend time with a camera is around Gunner Pool campground.  There are some great old growth trees around this area and in the fall they tend to have a wonderful fall display.  Two of my favorite spots to work are from the old CCC (Civilian Convervation Corps) concrete bridge over Sylamore creek and then the old rock dam (featured in the photo) that creates Gunner Pool itself.  Around the old bridge there are some Sycamore trees that are over 70 feet tall and probably over 100 years old.  They can create a beautiful display in the fall.  Around the rock dam you will find hickory and maple trees most of which are 2nd growth forest and not very tall, but still they can create a wonderful display of color.

Sylamore creek also has some very nice spots to work with.  The lower level of the campground features about 5 separate campsites all of which are close to the creek.  The creek opens into a large pool.  For years I always thought that this was “Gunner Pool”, but the actual Gunner pool is made by the small side creek with the rock dam.  However the pool at Sylamore creek is a wonderful swimming hole and in the summer you can count on a large crowd to be there.  I prefer to go in the late spring and late fall when there are less people milling around.  The far side of the pool has some large rocks that have fallen off the tall bluff on the far side of the creek.  The campground side of the creek has a nice beach.  Further downstream you can find some nice rapids.

There is a trail that runs along Sylamore creek from Gunner Pool campground all the way to Barkshed campground.  This trail starts down by the creek as soon as you cross the high concrete bridge and then slowly works its way up to the top of the ridge.  It will pretty much stay up on the top of the ridge until you start to get close to Barkshed campground.  Barkshed is not a very large spot and does not have the same ambiance that Gunner Pool has.  The sites are much more primitive.

From Gunner Pool, you can hike on this same trail until you come to Blanchard Springs campground.  Here you can also spend sometime in the caverns which can be a nice experience especially in the summer.  There is a much more formal campground at Blanchard Springs with RV hookups and it’s definitely not a primitive campground.

If you are looking for a great place to explore and spend the weekend, then consider heading to Gunner Pool campground.




06/15/13 Gunner Pool Campground and 5 others closed to swimming due to e-coli outbreak

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

Fall view of Gunner Pool CCC dam at Gunner Pool Campground

After reading the Arkansas Gazette yesterday, I noticed that several noted Arkansas swimming areas were closed due to a outbreak of e-coli in the water.  One of the areas mentioned was one of my favorite spots in Arkansas, Gunner Pool.  Sad to here this, and surprised to hear it due to the recent spell of high water we have had in Arkansas.  However Gunner Pool does tend to get a lot of use and the road will allow larger RV’s to make it into the campground.

This picture is of the CCC dam that creates the actual Gunner Pool, which is off to the far side of the campground and missed by many people who think the large pool in Sylamore creek is Gunner Pool.  This rock dam was made with local stone and created in the 1930’s by the CCC.  There was a formal CCC camp at Gunner Pool for many years.  I took this photograph of the dam back in 2008 after a rain storm.  The fall colors were just starting to peak.

Gunner Pool Campground and Barkshed Campground swimming areas were both closed along with the larger swimming area at Blanchard  Springs.  This implies that the problem is in Sylamore Creek itself and may be from some farm effluence running off into the creek.  These types of breakouts tend to occur later in the summer after the water has started to stagnate.  However Arkansas just had record streamflows less than two weeks ago and I am sure that Sylamore creek was effected.

Hopefully this ban won’t be for the rest of the year, but with all of the layoff and cutbacks in the federal programs, it’s hard to tell what’s going on anymore.  Just recently a large number of campgrounds along the Buffalo river had their facilities reopened since locals volunteered to keep them clean.  Gunner Pool is a full service campground with facilities, Barkshed is more of a primative site with tents sites only.  Both are bordered by Sylamore creek.

Sylamore creek is a great spot to visit in cleaner times.  It’s one of the best small creeks in the Arkansas for day hiking and if you hike up the creek from Gunner Pool you will be treated to several nice small bluffs and rapids that make for great photographic subjects.  There is also a formal backpacking trail that runs from Gunner Pool to Barkshed.  This same trail also runs all the way to Blanchard Springs caverns.

06/13/13 Review of recent highwater levels in Arkansas Ozark and Ouachita streams

Bills Thrill rapid on Richland Creek in low water

Bills Thrill rapid on Richland Creek in low water

In Arkansas, there are times of drought and times of heavy rains which create high  flows in Ozark and Ouachita mountain streams.  In a normal year, most of this high water will happen in mid to late March and most of April, and starts to wind down by mid May.  Usually by June stream flows in all but the largest trunk streams will be down to a very small flow.   However this year, all of that logic was thrown out the door as Arkansas had quite a late spring with freezing temperatures still happening into late April.  As May rolled in strong storms developed several times during the month, however by the heaviest amount of rainfall came in a period over 2 days, 05/30/13 and 06/01/13.

The heaviest amount of rain fell in the southwest part of the state, and this brought up all the main streams.  There was locally heavy flooding and some fatalities occurred during the flooding.  I tend to gauge the stream flow in Arkansas by reviewing the levels of what I determine are critical trunk streams:

  1. The Cossatot River in the southwestern corner of the state
  2. The upper end of the Buffalo National River near Ponca Arkansas
  3. Richland Creek in the center of the Richland Wilderness

I use the USGS gauges, which are online at this location.  You can get an excellent feeling for how much rain has fallen by looking at the stream flow increases.  If you look at the series of images from the gauge on the Cossatot, you can see that the stream rose to around 30,000 CFS (Cubic Feet per Second of flow) in around 2 hours.  This is classic flash flooding and is a very dangerous time to be out driving around on local road.  What’s also telling is just how fast the Cossatot fell back to a “normal” level.  By looking at the charts, you can see that really before daylight, the Cossatot had already dropped back down to a much lower level.  What is even more interesting, is that in the 2nd heavy rainfall on the night of 06/01/13, the Cossatot rose back up to close to 20,000 CFS again in less that 2 hours.

The first graph shows the two peak levels, of 30K and 20K in a total overall time frame of less than 24 hours.  The 2nd graph shows the final peak reading on 06/01/13 where the river recorded over 20K CFS. I have seen a video taken by Max Wellhouse way back in the late 1990’s of the Cossatot at 10,000 CFS, so I can only imagine it at 30,000.  The 6 falls of the Cossatot would be a site to behold if you could even get down to shoot around them.  I am assuming that the water would be pretty maxed out in the narrow canyon that is created around the 6 falls and any viewing would have to be done from above the level of the falls on the surrounding bluffs.  So what about the northwestern part of Arkansas, well not quite as much rain fell, but Richland creek most definitely saw the same double peaking like the Cossatot.

Anyone who know me or my work, knows I am a bit partial to Richland Creek.  Hands down it provides some of the best photographic studies in Arkansas.  This is true in winter, spring, summer and if you are lucky fall.   Catching Richland with a good flow in the fall is very prone to luck.  Richland is enjoyed by a huge cross section of recreation seekers in Arkansas and other local states.  This includes:

  1. Kayakers
  2. Hikers/Backpackers
  3. Photographers
  4. Hunters
  5. Fishermen

There is a great primitive campground about 1/2 way of Richland’s length where forest road 1205 crosses the creek.  Since 1974 I have hiking, photographing, or kayaking on Richland and know it very well.  By gauging Richland creek you can get a great feel for how high the smaller tighter streams are running, like Falling Water Creek, Bobtail Creek, Big Devils and Long Devils creeks.  All of these smaller creeks have individual features that make them appealing.  On the 30th of May, Richland rose up from around 150 CFS to over 9000 CFS in less than 3 hours.  This much water on Richland is easily what I would call a flash flood, and would most definitely cover the bridge at FS 1205.  This amount of water may also start to flood into the lower level of the campground. What also has to be remembered is that at the campground, Falling Water Creek also comes into Richland.  Falling Water Creek would be the largest tributary to Richland, with Bobtail creek being the 2nd.  If there was 9000 CFS at the Richland gauge, easily 1/3 of it was coming in from Falling Water Creek.   In the images below you can see just how fast Richland rose up.

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06/11/13 The Cut on Forest Road 1205 in Searcy and Newton Counties of Arkansas

The cut along Forest Road 1205 in Newton County, Arkansas

The cut along Forest Road 1205 in Newton County, Arkansas

Image was taken with a Sony Nex-7, Sony 16-80mm Zoom Zeiss lens @ 16mm (effective 24mm on Nex7), iso 200.  This is a composite image taken in 3 vertical segments then stitched together in Photoshop CS6 to get the final image.  Raw files were converted using Lightroom 4.1

If you have traveled the back roads of Arkansas much, you will have driven on forest road 1205.  This single road passes some of the most impressive scenery in the state.  1205 runs pretty much north and south and for about half of it’s length it parallels Falling Water Creek.  Falling Water Creek has some very impressive features including Falling Water Falls, which is a ledge drop that covers the entire width of the creek and is about 13 feet high.  1205 follows along Falling Water Creek, and then crosses over Richland creek, which is one of the best places to hike, camp and photograph in Arkansas.  From the crossing of Richland, 1205 begins a long climb up the adjoining ridges and then tops out about 1000 feet higher at Dicky Junction.  1205 can be driven in a car, but there are places where it might be a bit tough as the road has started to really fall apart here it enters Newton County.   There are many people who live along 1205 and it’s a road that is important as a U.S. mail connection.

Many people won’t remember back to March of 2008, but during this time in Arkansas there were several really heavy rains that fell in close succession to each other.  The first one of these rains started a minor slide in a weak hillside along 1205.  This spot was about 2 miles south from the Richland Creek Campground.  The slide was minor and with some bulldozer work most of it was cleared up.  In the next few weeks, more heavy rainfall caused a further weakening and eventually the entire mountainside slumped away.  The damage was tremendous and for about 1/16th of a mile where 1205 had been was only a mass jumble of downed trees and huge rocks.  Several times I attempted to hike through to the other side, but the damage was such that you really could not make much progress before coming to a huge tree or rock which required a long detour.

The plan was to have the U.S. Forest service repair the road and do a repair that would last.  In the interim, Richland Creek campground was closed and one of the most vital links for transportation was no longer there.  For about the next 2 years, not too much was done.  Many people complained about the campground being closed, but the Forest Service felt that they could not get access to this area fast enough if there was an emergency.   Traffic was routed back around the upper end of 1205 if you wanted to get to Richland.

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02/27/2013 Back online after a brief period of sequester

3/4 moon rise in Pulaski County

3/4 moon rise in Pulaski County

It’s been a while since I have been able to write, and like the shot of the new moon above, I am hoping that I will be able to get back to a more steady stream of new  postings.  For most of December I was running and gunning with sales of my prints from several shows I had done.  Then in the later part of December, Arkansas had one of the biggest snowstorms on record and I was out of power for 7 days. We were just starting to get our heads above water when in January, a member of my family received a cancer diagnosis. What a surprise it was to go from such a high in December to the lows we had in January. Needless to say, January was not a great month for my family.  We had the  cancer diagnosis to contend with and my mother took a severe fall.  During this time, I was not focused that much on my website and blogsite and stepped away for a while. I went into a tailspin with the cancer and have just started to get my hands around everything.  My family is very grateful for the care we received at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences,   Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Research Center.  The entire staff of that facility made this situation much more manageable and I personally owe them a debt of gratitude.   I also wanted to thank a few friends  for their close support during this time, and also wanted to let others know, cancer is not contagious.  I was amazed at how fast some of my closest friends chose to distance themselves from me during this time of great personal need.

I was able to do some photography in January, mainly night work, and then again in February.  I will report about some of these trips and show some results in some following posts.   Spring is just around the corner here in Arkansas and I am hoping to be able to capture the state in one of it’s best seasons.




08/28/12 When Lightening strikes…….A few thoughts to keep your electronics up and running

Lightening over Pinnacle Mountain

Lightening over Pinnacle Mountain, in western Pulaski County

Just a few words to those out there who have a photo business that is totally dependent on Mac’s or PC’s, in regards to the extreme damage that is possible if lightening happens to strike nearby and you are not prepared.

One of the worst things that can happen is to be struck by lightening, and I would have to say the 2nd worst thing would be to have you house struck.  I understand the rules about lightening and most time will give it a wide berth.  An example, when I shot this, I was inside my car with my camera on a tripod outside being trigger by a remote release.  Lightening around electronics always spells disaster always.  I know this, yet I still got burned about 3 weeks ago.  I live on a ridge top and thus am a bit more susceptible  to a direct hit.  I have lived in this house now for over 12 years and in that time, I have never had a direct hit to the house but I have had several close ones.  My rules are that whenever a strong storm is approaching everything of value has to be unplugged from the wall.  What you say, just go get a power stip with surge protection, or a UPS either of these will save you.  Well, I have news, that is far from the truth.  Here are a few things I learned.

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07/21/12 Richland Creek has Flatlined, a first in 18 years of hiking and boating the best creek in Arkansas

USGS graph of Richland Creek for July 16th 2012

USGS graph of Richland Creek for July 16th 2012

Arkansas has many famous spots for outdoor recreation which feature lakes, or streams.  For sure one of the best is Richland creek, in the northwest part of Arkansas.  With Richland Creek one can find a stream that is the 2nd largest tributary of the Buffalo river which has a huge watershed that cross through several Arkansas counties before emptying into the Buffalo river at Woolum.  In the winter and springtime Richland is famous for kayaking both the upper and lower portions of the creek.  During the late spring and summer Richland tends to offer a quiet and tranquil location to get away from busier parts of Arkansas.  During the autumn, Richland can offer one of the most dramatic displays of fall color in the state since there are several areas along the creek that have trees approaching 50 to 70 years of age.  I like to try and hike Richland at least 4 times during the year to catch the creek at it’s different stages each of which can offer amazing photograhic opportunities.

On my weekly checks of Richland Creek’s USGS Hydro-graph I have watched as my favorite creek has slowly dropped down the chart.  However today when I checked the creek, I was amazed to see a flat-line 0.00.  I have never in 18 years of monitoring Richland seen it this low.  The gauge is near the concrete bridge immediately below the campground and I have to assume that the large pool at the bridge is now dry or very close to being dry.  Richland’s being this low really puts into perspective just how low the state of Arkansas’s wild stream flow is currently.  I also check the Buffalo River and it is now showing 0.25 at the Boxley gauge which is also very low, even for this time of the year.

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07/12/12 Rain comes to Arkansas and provides some much needed drought relief

Pine needles after the rain

Pine needles after the rain

All of the photos in this entry were taken with a Sony Nex-7, and a Sony 18-200mm E mount lens.  I used Adobe Lightroom 4.1 for all the raw conversions.  This first image was taken in color and converted to B&W by using the conversion process in Lightroom 4.1

I was out in my backyard and kept hearing the ominous sounds of thunder, but every time I looked around the sky, I couldn’t see any thunderheads.  Soon the wind picked up and it was clear that a good rain might be headed my way.  While walking around the side of the house, I was able to see a break in the trees and saw that all along the Arkansas River, that a large storm was forming and would soon be headed over to my house.  The wait was not long and soon we were blessed with about a 30 minute heavy rain that was really needed.  As soon as the rain stopped I decided to try and get some pictures since it had been so long that I had been able to work around water in Arkansas.

Robin after the storm
Robin after the storm

I wanted to try out my Sony Nex-7 with the Sony 18-200mm F3.2 to F6.3 lens.  I had not really used this lens in low light/high iso photography and was curious how well both the camera and lens would perform.  Since the Sony Nex-7 has a cropped sensor with a 1.5x factor, the 200mm lens would be the 35mm equivalent of a 300mm lens. I did not use a tripod and mainly used the cameras LCD for all the focus/framing of the various subjects I photographed.  The robins were a push at 1600 iso and a F stop of 6.3.  I quickly realized that the Sony 18-200 lens was not a low light lens.  I ran into immediate focus problems which I had not experienced before. Even though the lens was showing good focus confirmation, it was not really able to lock on to many of the finer subjects I was trying to work with.  The shot of the robin came out very well.  He was moving around quite a bit and this shot is a crop of about 1/25th of the full sized image.  In this case the 18-200 was able to lock in very well, but even with 300mm, it was really not enough to work this robin which was about 25 yards away from me.  Still after working up this crop in Lightroom 4.1, I was very happy with the results.  The robin had been through the worst of the rain as can be seen by looking at his head.

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07/07/12 Relief comes to Arkansas from both heat and drought

The high temperatures in Arkansas for the 6th of July set many state records.  LIttlle Rock hit 107 degrees and Russellville was at 108.  However yesterday, during the afternoon and into the night, Arkansas received the first rain in almost 30 days.  The rainfall was sporadic and thus not uniform but still offered greatly needed relief to parched areas of Arkansas.  The other added benefit was the addition of cloud cover over most of the state.  This also added relief since the sun’s direct effect was blocked.

I have noticed now that many of the parts of Arkansas are showing the effects of the drought.  If you hike along any ridge line in the central part of the state or in the northwest, you can see oak trees that have turned brown along with other deciduous trees.  These trees most likely will hold their leaves until fall and then drop them.  If they drop off now, more than likely the tree will not recover in the spring of 2013.  I am also starting to see some pine trees that are also developing brown needles.  Pines in Arkansas seem to react different than deciduous trees in that they will turn from green to brown in a few days and then die.  The short leaf pine which is native to Arkansas seems to be able to hold a bit better than the imported slash and loblolly pines.  The later two varieties are for pulp and paper only.

I have monitored a few very large short leaf pines around Pulaski county and have noticed that they are all developing some brown needles, but have not turned all brown yet.  Hopefully this continued cloud cover and lower temperatures will help keep things in Arkansas from getting out of control.  The weather forecast for the next week is for lower temperatures and chances of rain for the next few days.  The high temperatures are forecasted to be below 100 degrees for at least 5 days.

What does this mean to outdoor activities for Arkansas:

  1. Keep your campfires out for now as any type of spark or cinder could cause a major wildfire.
  2. If you are going to hike, get an early start and try to stay out of the sun.  Make sure you carry plenty of water.  Odds are you will not find any potable water on your hike.
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