Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An Unusual and Special Mother's Day Gift Idea

I am copying this from David and Linda Gregersen's blog:

"We would like to suggest a mother's day gift that can make a difference for mothers and children in Zambia. A donation of $10 will purchase two Clean Delivery Kits (CDKs). These will be given to expectant mothers during Zambia Medical Mission this summer and throughout the year at Namwianga Rural Health Center. We will be targeting mothers who will not have access to a hospital or other health facility for delivery.

Each year about 60 million women in developing countries give birth with only the help of an untrained attendant or family member or with no help at all. Many of these deliveries take place at home and often in a small hut in a remote village. The infection rate is high, with some 1600 women per day dying from complications associated with pregnancy or childbirth, according to the World Health Organization. Many of these infections can be avoided when Clean Delivery Kits (CDKs) are used. Each kit includes the following supplies: bar of soap, square yard of plastic sheeting, razor blade and string for the umbilical cord, cotton cloth to wrap baby, candle and matches, pain relievers, vitamins, disposable gloves, and sealed bag for packaging.

We are making a special drive for Mother's Day by encouraging family and friends to donate to Zambia Mission in honor of their mother or special friend. A personal note will be sent to inform each recipient of her gift. If you are interested, please make checks to Zambia Mission and send them to the following address: Zambia Mission, 658 E. N. 21st Street, Abilene, TX 79601. Mother's Day is May 11, so please send in your requests as soon as possible. "

I would encourage any of you that can to support this cause. The Zambian people are wonderful people, but most of the rural population live in what we would call "primitive" conditions. Even little things like this can save lives.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Photo Exhibit

The 2008 Michael H. Kellicutt International Photo Show - Through a Lens: Patterns of People or Patterns in Nature was my reason to go to California. I had two photos - one hanging on the wall and one in the Display Book.

"Geometric" was priviledged to hang on the wall:

"Deadvlei" was in the display book:

I wanted to go to the exhibition and reception for a couple of reasons. I learned at the Hubbard Museum that it is a good idea to see the venue and the exhibition because you learn more about what kind of photos are chosen and how they are presented. Going to the reception allows you to meet the juror, the people who run the contest, and other photographers. It allows me to be better prepared for my next submission.

The Reception at the Coastal Arts League and Museum was wonderful. As they announced the awards, the juror explained why he chose each image. It was fascinating to view each of the winning images through his eyes. The photographers also got to talk about their image. The juror also made some general statements about judging that I think are worth repeating. He reiterated how special each image in the show was - that it was a winner to just to be on display. Judging is very subjective. On any given day, his choice for the images that won honorable mention, first, second,and third places would be different. If photography and art were just judged on technical merits, then the choices might be easier and more consistent from one day to the next. But photography is also art, and photos are judged not only by the skill level and "perfection" but also on how the subject matter and its presentation touches our emotions, inspires us, and makes us think or see the world differently.

You can see each of the images on the website, but it is different when you see how each photographer presented the image for hanging. Two of the winning images were presented on stretched canvas. They were gorgeous. Sometimes seeing the image full sized and with vivid print colors brought out beauty that you don't see the same way on the web. I think I learned some things about how I can make stronger presentations of future photographs.

The Coastal Arts League website is set up very well. If you click on the first image, it takes you to a slide show so you can see each image in a larger format on screen. The Award Winning Images are also set up to be viewed either as a group or as a slide show. It would be well worth your time to take time and enjoy some of the wonderful images.

San Francisco Area - Saturday

I stayed out late Friday night and since Friday morning was foggy, I did not get up with the sun. Small regrets because it was a clear and sunny day. There might have been a "sunrise" worth photographing. i headed back the direction I had come, knowing I had a deadline to be at Half Moon Bay for the exhibition.

As I drove up Bolinas Bay and enjoyed the shore birds and the seals hauled out on the sand. I marveled at the seals because they seemed so far inland. As I drove the road above Stinson Beach, I stopped at a pullover. Yesterday all you could see was the fog clouds extending out into the sea. Today was clear. I could see the narrow opening of water that leads into Bolinas Bay. This is how those seals got so far "inland." How do they know to go there. They have to swim in and out at high tide. The seals are not really close enough for great photography, but it would be fun to watch the action through a few tide cycles. How often do they swim out to see to feed, or does the tide bring in enough fish to feed them within this small bay? Due to the time of day and lack of "magic" lighting I knew this would not be a great photo, but i could not resist the memory shot, the snap shot to remember how pretty things looked from this overlook.

I headed back through the redwood area near Mount Tamalpais State Park. While there were not many places to pull off to photograph (without my trusty driver, Henry to drop me off), I found that I could not resist this spot. Once again, time of day was not conducive to "great" photography.

This was also a great place to try some artistic motion photography. And lighting is not as critical. On this first one, I chose a slower shutter speed and did a curving motion as I shot the photo (handheld.) I have a quick wrist action for this method where I'm quickly making a backwards "C" with the camera or almost a circular motion. This one needed just a little bit of doctoring in two places, but I liked the end result.

This next shot, I shot moving the camera on a diagonal. I know there is an art style that uses lines to create images - I need to learn the name of it, because sometimes this method produces a pleasing image.

This type of experimentation requires a lot of shots - horizontal pans, vertical pans, Comma movements, quick movement, slow movement, move up, move down . . . And you only end up with a few usable images out of a bunch of shots that don't work.

This last image had some potential, but needed something a little more to really work. So, I played with contrast, color, and sharpening. Then I went into the artistic filters. Poster edges added just enough definition to make this last one work.

While these last shots are not for everyone, they are a creative style that I am enjoying playing with. I've entered some earlier shots taken with these techniques at the Shell BBC WIldlife Photographer of the Year and at Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards Contest. We'll see how they do.

P.S. I got the idea for playing with this style at last year's NANPA Summit from a presentation by Dewitt Jones.

Secrets of a Lazy Trainer

My good friend, Bettye Baldwin has started a new blog, Secrets of a Lazy Trainer. She is my "horsey" friend, but she has horses, cats, and dogs. I love to hear her animal stories. There are so many things that we can learn from animal behavior that will help us understand ourselves better and that will help us be better people.

I want to recommend this blog to you because I think you will enjoy it and be wiser for having taken time to read it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

San Francisco

I've gotten to visit the San Francisco area several times over the last few years. I find it a very interesting place. I love eating at Fishermen's Wharf - fresh seafood and wonderful Boudin sourdough bread. I need to find a place to buy it at home - or find a substitute that is as good.

This trip I did the wharf, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, the Golden Gate Recreation Area and the Point Reyes National Seashore. As I drove around just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, I enjoyed the beautiful Marin Headlands with their beautiful green rolling hills. I drove by Muir Woods and my route took me through several groves of redwoods. I discovered the small community at Stimson's Beach and had a wonderful lunch. I enjoyed the drive through the Olema Valley and through the historic ranches on the way to the point. At one of the overlooks, I could see the seals and elephant seals far below. The waves on the north side were huge due to the winds. Although I usually never end up with outstanding wave photos, I always have to try. This photo is from South Beach:

I drove over to Drake's Beach expecting the water to be calm as it is on the lee side of the peninsula, but while the waves were more gentle, there were definitely waves. I was delighted that the wind was blowing the tops off, one of my favorite things to see. And the wind was blowing so bad, that you could watch the sand blow across the beach.

I keep visiting the Point Reyes National Seashore hoping to get photos to send to National Parks Magazine. But so far, I have not gotten the dramatic lighting or interesting weather that makes marketable photos. This next one is about as close as I got to a marketable shot this trip:

As the sun went down, I was over at North Beach. The glow on the waves was pretty against the golden sky. A little photoshop work adding yesterday's sun to the sky and bring out the waves more leaves me with this parting shot for the day:

Friday, April 25, 2008


I feel like I'm behind on my blogging. I have much to blog about my trip to California. But i came home very tired and tomorrow is the deadline for the Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards. I have 18 photos ready to burn to a DVD in the morning.

Hopefully, I'll get caught up with my blogging next week.

Remembering the Buffalo

I am a Christian - so I don't quite buy into the "spirit" of the buffalo. However, I really hope that the message of the unusually large number of buffalo slaughtered this year gets heard - so that a better plan can be implemented.

I've found it hard to read the Yellowstone Newspaper lately, because it does hurt that so many bison have died so needlessly. Yellowstone is one of my favorite places because of the abundant wildlife.
Buffalo Spirits on the Wind" is a beautiful article about a tribal service for the buffalo spirits. Even if my viewpoint is a little different, this article is worth reading.

And from the Billings Gazette the Billings Food Bank buys 3200 lbs of buffalo meat at 55 cents a pound. While I'm glad the meat was not wasted, I think I would have a hard time eating this particular buffalo meat. (I don't have a problem with buffalo raised for this purpose . . . but the national park buffalo deserved better - they are part of the national heritage at Yellowstone.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I've spent the last 5 days or so in California. I'm hoping to get some blogging done as I wait around in airports today.

While I don't expect ever to live in California, I sure do love to visit. I love the Pacific coastline - always something special to see and experience.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yellowstone's Buffalo - Update

WIth great sadness, I report that between the slaughter and normal winter die off, it seems that half of the buffalo (bison) may have died this year in Yellowstone.

While there is a new management plan in the works, I hope that someone takes note of what a significant loss of genetic diversity this is for the Yellowstone herd.

The other sobering information, the spring deaths from predators while the buffalo are still weakened from winter is not over.

There HAS to be a better way to handle the buffalo's need for winter grazing and the issues with the Montana ranching industry. The number of buffalo deaths this year is unacceptable.

It is an election year. Writing your congressmen might make a difference. Write your newspaper. Get the word out. Most people are not aware of this sad situation.

North of San Francisco

I got up at dawn to try to get more lighthouse shots - cloudy . . .

Later in the day I headed up Highway 1. At one point I was up on Mount Tamalpais and there was a huge cloud bank that extended out over the Pacific ocean. Wrong time of day to get a great photo, but it was amazing. The number of parked cars at Muir Woods did not encourage me to enter, but my drive led me through redwoods. I stayed at one of the older motels near the Point Reyes National Seashore. And drove out to the point. The winds were strong, the surf huge, and the scenery dramatically beautiful.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Point Bonita Lighthouse

As I was packing up from my photoshoot this evening, one of the passerby's commented that the lighthouse I had been photographing was called Point Bonita. He added, "In Spanish, that means beautiful."

While I had noted the name as I drove in, I was glad to be reminded. On my first day in the San Francisco area, I headed first over to Fishermen's Wharf for supper. Then I headed straight for this lighthouse. I had seen it last year on a cloudy day, at the wrong time of day. It was on my list to photograph at sunset.

I started photographing while the sun was still bright. Some of those may work. But I was really going for the after sunset, glowing lighthouse with those silky waves.

I'm hoping to get out at sunrise and see if I can get some morning colors in the sky.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Henry's Interview

Henry's interview with Lia Metal at is now out there. Check it out!
Henry's interview

Water Issues

When I was a freshman in college up in Canyon, Texas, I took a geology course. One of the topics was the aquifer for the Texas Panhandle, the Ogolala aquifer. I've paid attention to water issues ever since. I currently live in Central Texas where most our water comes from rivers and from the Edwards Aquifer. While the water issues here are different, keeping our aquifer pure and using groundwater resources rather than wells is important.

In the 1990's I served on two committees dealing with financing of the canals for the water which brings water from the Colorado River to the farmers in Arizona. So I learned more about Arizona water issues than I probably wanted to know.

Reader's Digesthas a good article this month about America's current water crisis.

As I browsed my news feed today, I came across yet another issue about water around the world.

My question: Are world leaders paying attention? What can we do to conserve water? As a nation and as a global community, we must find new ways of dealing with our precious resource.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

MidSouthCon - Non-Secular Science Fiction and Fantasy

Because I am a Christian, I am always pleased to see panels related to religion at science fiction conventions. For too many years, I used to hear "intelligent" people disparage those of us who were believers. It was the intellectual position that science with all its knowledge had propelled man beyond the need for a creator.

I've always believed that science and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive. There is much that even science admits it does not know.

The panel today consisted of Dan Gambler from Meadowhawk Press, and Bryan Davis, author of the Dragon in our Midst series, and Bill Snodgrass, author and Executive Director of Double-Edged Publishing.

Each of these Christian men came to this panel with a different perspective. Bryan Davis has a very successful series of young adult dragon books and a new series coming out for adults. He and his wife spend an hour in prayer every day as they take a three mile hike. One of the fans in the audience has a child who loves these books. I am eager to get the first one and get a sample of his work.

Bill Snodgrass seems to write Christian themes or allegories into his work. He publishes several web magazines:
The Sword Review
Dragons, Knights and Angels Magazine
Ray Gun Revival
Haruah: Breath of Heaven - A Magazine of Inspiration

Don Gambler publishes books choosing content that you would not worry about handing to your children. A portion of the proceeds of One of Meadowhawk's recent publications, Touched by Wonder is being donated to Breast Cancer Research. I picked up a copy of this book in the dealer room but I have not yet had a chance to read it.

One of the issues brought up by the audience was that Christian readers are often thrifty and many times Christian fiction books costs more than other books the same size and quality. Because of Henry's work, I did know the answer - smaller print runs cost more to produce than mass production. But I liked the comment from the panel: If you enjoy reading Christian fiction, support your small press by purchasing these books even when they do cost a little more.

Other interesting things from the panel:
The response from Christians to Christian fantasy and Christian fiction is interesting. Many of the more fundamentalist groups have problems with fantasy. And so the writers get mixed feedback. Some families are so excited to get an alternative to Harry Potter and others have issues with some of the fantasy elements. Since I got home (and after starting this post) I read the first of the Dragon in our Midst series. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But, he commented that it really hurt when one Christian blog called him lower than a roach. While the concept of how dragons are living in our current world is a bit of a stretch, I found that the main characters exhibited Christian values and Christian faith to deal with the issues that confronted them. Yes, scriptures were used, but tastefully. This would be a great book to give older elementary and middle school kids (and I think it is enjoyable enough for all ages.)
When they asked how many of us read Christian fiction, I was a little ashamed that I could not truthfully raise my hand. Early Christian fiction felt a little syrupy to me. I think I need to revisit the Christian bookstores and check out some of the latest fiction.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ron Riedesel

On our way home from Memphis, we learned that a special person had died. Ron Riedesel, husband of one of my close friends died after a battle with cancer. Found in late November, the cancer did not respond to the treatments the doctors attempted. Some cancers are fast and deadly.

Ron was also my Care Group Leader as part of my church family. He and Linda created a welcome environment in their home each month. His humor, his joy of life both before and during his illness, and his genuine concern for all of us in his group will be sorely missed.