Thursday, November 18, 2010

My 2011 Calendars

I am doing three calendars this year.  The cost per calendar is $15.00.  The shipping and handling starts at $2.00.  If you are a Texas resident, there will be sales tax added. If you are a friend that I see regularly, I will hand deliver your calendar and waive shipping fees.  

Here is my Texas Wildflower Calendar:

To get a better view of the sample pages, click on the image:

To purchase my Texas Wildflower Calendar, click here:

Here is my Lighthouse Calendar.

Click on this image to get a better view of the monthly pages:

To purchase my Lighthouse Calendar, click here:

Here is my Waterscapes Calendar 2011:

You can click on these, to get a larger view of the pages of the calendar.

To purchase my Waterscapes Calendar, click here:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Great Smokies - Planning your photography

When you are traveling through the Great Smokies, it is always so tempting to stop at every overlook. They are all so breathtakingly beautiful, regardless of the time of day.  But photographing that beauty can be challenging.  This 2010 trip had given us unusually good weather - sunny, cloudless days for the most part.  But great weather doesn't always make for great photographs.  

Here are a couple of photos from this year's trip taken at either the same or a very similar overlook.  Late afternoon sun, most of the composition is shaded.  The shrubby growth in the foreground is showing its color and is backlit, but this is just not a great image.
I changed  my composition and this one is a little better, we can see the colorful hill on the left and the exposure is dark enough that you can see the mountains in the distance.  That horizon line is a little too centered though.  But then again, I don't think the shrubby growth is that photogenic for a foreground.

Two years ago, I photographed this from the other platform, different time of day, when the weather was provided that magic lighting.  I did use HDR techniques on this one, but it all came together.  To me, this is a much more pleasing image.

Also two years ago, we caught what I think is the hill that is shadow in the first two. Different weather, different lens, different time of day . . .Plus, I think the foliage two years ago was closer to peak, this year so much was past the peak. Oh, what a difference these seemingly little things make between an ordinary photo and a "magic" one.

There are definite advantages to visiting one location over and over. Each day will have different weather and different lighting.  Some days, the photos are mundane . . . snapshots.  But some days you get lucky and end up with images to be proud of.  But at the beginning of any photography day, you never know if the light and weather are going to cooperate.  The discipline is to get yourself out there on location regularly, because you sure won't get the beautiful images if you aren't out there making the attempts.

Water Studies

 I like to sit at streams with my camera finding different compositions with the water.  Fall is such a great time because the leaves land on the rocks, blanket the banks, and flowing down the water.

I've learned to photograph streams when they are shaded. The least bit of sunlight blows out the highlights in the water.  The other nice thing about shade is that it requires longer shutter speeds that give the water a soft, silky, flowing look.

I accidently left one of my lenses at home, so I played with using my 300-800mm lens to try to get "intimate" landscapes of the streams and leaves.


These last two are the same scene, just different compositions. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

North Carolina's Outer Banks


 As we started our drive along North Carolina's outer banks and I studied the map on the iPad, I realized that I was geographically challenged again this trip.  I knew that there were barrier islands off the North Carolina shore, but I didn't realize how far out they curved from the mainland. To my defense, when you are looking at a big United States map, that set of islands is so small as to be virtually invisible.  Earlier in the trip, Henry and I had noted that we had never seen the Outer Banks and put that in our mind as a possibility for this trip.  

At this point in the journey, the Great Smokies with their fall foliage, beautiful mountains, and rocky streams had begun its pull.  But we kept to our plan to see the Outer Banks, an exploratory trip so we could better plan an extended trip later.  

We entered the Outer Banks from the north where it is really a narrow strip of land with good sized dunes and lots of houses.  We stopped briefly at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. They had references to otters - my mind immediately thought sea otters, but no, in the freshwater ponds there are river otters. We were at the refuge in the middle of the day with too much of an agenda to be able to do more than get the information and promise ourselves another visit.

By the time you get to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you have a wild natural area that is lovely.  

We started our day at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. It is a long way to Cape Hatteras.  

We checked out the ferry schedules, hoping that we could take one of the 2-3 hour ferries to get back to the mainland. The Ocracoke Island-Cape Hatteras Ferry departs regularly throughout the day with a 40 minute ride.  However, to get back to the mainland,  there are two different North Carolina Ferry Routes.

The Cedar Island-Ocracoke runs six times a day from May until November, but when I called to make reservations, the schedule was full.  The Swan Quarter-Ocracoke  runs four times a day, but it was also full.  We had lunch and made it all the way to Cape Hatteras. It was interesting to see the old location for the lighthouse and how far they moved it.  

Looking at how long it took us to drive to Cape Hatteras and how long the ferries were to get back to the mainland, gave me a new perspective at how difficult it must be to evacuate this area when a hurricane threatens.   The protective dunes are large with many sand fences to keep the sand in place. 

There are warnings everywhere about staying on the boardwalks crossing the dunes to protect the fragile dune plants. 


Sometimes it helps me to have several days in a location to figure out what time of day and how to photograph it to bring out the natural beauty.  The beaches are wide and featureless and peaceful - the iconic images here include the rustic sand fences. I knew I didn't have time to wait for the right time of day or to study where would be the most interesting composition here on the Outer Banks - so I settled for some "snapshots," with the hope that some day we'll be back.

My first impressions were that this would be a great place to come and relax - to sit on the beach and read a book. There is also some great kayaking, bird watching and fishing.  There are areas where you can drive the beach in your own jeep or dune buggy or rented ones.  We were there in the quiet season, but I can picture these beaches crowded with people during the summer months.

But for this trip, the call of the Great Smokies and fall photography was now very strong, so we headed back up the islands and took the first bridge to the mainland.