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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.

 

 

08/16/16 A few notes on the Dynamic Range of the Phase One IQ100

Early mornings are some of the best times to photograph the Buffalo River.  This is from Buffalo Point.

Early mornings are some of the best times to photograph the Buffalo River. This is from Buffalo Point.

I am starting to get a better feel for the Phase One IQ100 and just where the dynamic range of this amazing digital back performs.  You can read a lot more this in a new article I just published over on photosofarkansas.  This article covers some discoveries I have made in regards to handling both shadow details and recovery of highlights.  You can read more about it here.

11/19/15 Red Sky at Night Sailors Delight!!, Wonderful evening shot from the upper Piney Creek Wilderness Arkansas

Piney Creek Arkansas

Sunset from a bluff in the Piney Creeks Wilderness

This is a shot that I like to think, puts all things back into perspective.  For 2015, the Autumn in Arkansas the colors were just terrible.  We also had a lot of rain late in October, which was too late for the streams.  All the streams are running now, but of course they look like they do in winter, just bare trees.  I like to work some of the smaller creeks in Arkansas during fall as the combination of fall colors and running water can be additive.  Arkansas has so many streams, one could never work all of them in a lifetime.  But what we found this year, were mainly cloudy skies, and dry creek beds.  The spring and summer had been so promising.  We had record amounts of rainfall and cool conditions.  But then July, and August.  Basically Arkansas recorded almost no rainfall during these months and it was hot.  Basically what happens, the trees start to go dormant and into protect mode.  If this continues for a long period of time, it will have a negative effect on the fall colors. 

What we basically saw in the fall in most of the spots, were trees turning a dull brown, even in early October.  But even worse, some trees, were staying green much longer so there was no balance in the colors.  I have seen shots from all over Arkansas, and in most of them you are still able to see quite a bit of green trees and most of the trees that have turned are just brown, or dull red.  Gone from the woods this year were the bright yellows, and reds, mainly from the Black Gums, Maples, Black Gums, Hickories and Golden browns from the Oaks. 

I had found a great new spot in the upper Piney Creeks wilderness thanks to Chris Kennedy.  Chris had found this place a week before during the opening of Arkansas Deer season.  I had been here a lot during my kayaking days in Arkansas, but had never taken some time to go look for fall color.  This is a great spots as you are looking due south on one side of Parker Ridge Road and if you cross over and take a short hike, you are looking north.  Either view gives an expansive view of the valley of Big Piney Creek.  If we had been here just one week earlier, the possiblites were endless as it was apparent that the trees in this part of the state did not go into as much stress.

Chris and I drove back to this spot a week later, and most of the color was gone, at least in the trees.  We had a mixed sky with only partial clear patches, but Chris felt it was worth staying around until about 20 minutes after the sun had set.  He had been here before and felt we might get a great play on the afterglow.  He was right, as you can see in this shot, the sun’s angle was just at the right position to really pop the clouds and just painted the sky red.  Chris took this shot with his phone, and it’s a good one even from a phone.  You can see both cameras setup and a good bit of the view from the place were were setup. 

In the spring, this might be another great place to setup, and I hope to come back here for both a milky way shoot and star trails shoot.  It’s not far from the road so working at night will not be a big danger to the photographer. 

But back to my opening, yes this shot did put things back into perspective for me.  I had been chasing color on and off for 30 days and just had not found anything to feature for this year.  In fact this will the first year I have basically no photograph from the fall in Arkansas.  Maybe I am just tired of it, and don’t have the energy anymore as the market I am shooting in has changed dramatically in the past 3 years.  But it was nice to sit on this bluff edge, and think back over the years that I have enjoyed in Arkansas’s outdoors.  We have a beautiful state in many ways. 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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

Sams Throne rock climbing campground

THE ENTRANCE TO SAM’S THRONE CAMPGROUND IN ARKANSAS

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

11/19/13 Some more thoughts on my nighttime photography

Stary night at Sam's Throne

Stary night at Sam’s Throne–Click on photography for a larger image

I have a new write-up on some of my nighttime photography throughout Arkansas.   I have place a small gallery inside the article and then have some descriptions about the various images.  Each of the images involves a different form of photographic technique such as stacking, or single long exposures.  I have have a shot of a lightening bolt directly over Pinnacle Mountain that was taken during a series of images I took during the storm.  These are some of my favorite images from the last few years.   You can read the entire article here:

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.