Thursday, September 19, 2013


Another example of the surprises offered up at St. Joseph Peninsula during our visit last spring.  This burned area was within 1/2 mile of our camp spot.  As I mentioned in an earlier post about this state park, my preconceived vision of its scenery was blown way out of the water.  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we could go from white sand beaches to a dense pine forest in less than 100-200 yards.

We never did find out any details on the fire that burned here.  Then again, I'm not sure we actually asked any of the park staff.  But, it didn't appear to burn too much vegetation, although there were a few buildings (at least one was someone's house) that came very close to getting damaged.  I was drawn to the intense contrast it offered from the rest of the healthy, green vegetation elsewhere in the area.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

More from St. Joseph Peninsula

I really enjoy photographing birds and, leading up to our trip to Florida, I read that St. Joseph Peninsula is a hot spot for a large variety of birds.  It definitely didn't disappoint as I saw and photographed many birds that were all new to a mid western dweller.  Although I typically like to get the "up-close-and-personal" shots, I really like how this photo turned out.  I used my 70-300 lens, standing probably 75 yards from this tree, which was right on the edge of the water overlooking Eagle Harbor.  The Cormorant looked pretty relaxed, looking one way and then the other.  It sat there for quite a while, even before I decided to frame some shots.

Conversion to black and white was an easy decision and one that went through my mind even as I was framing my shots.  The light wasn't fantastic with very harsh mid-day contrast.  The sky was also giving me fits as it wanted to simply blow out to complete white.  I backed down on my exposure enough to get the sky to not blow out and also leave some good light and detail in the bird and tree.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Ocean is Amazing

I had to wait almost 30 years to see the ocean, finally getting my chance on a family trip to Hawaii in 2008.  Definitely not a bad place to see it for the first time.  I was shocked at its enormity!  Even now, thinking about it as I type I'm still in awe and have a hard time picturing just how big it is.  Sadly, I can still count on one hand the times I've relived the experience of walking onto a beach to take in a vista of endless water.  But, I know it's an experience and feeling I'll never forget and I look forward to more opportunities to sink my feet into sand and swim in the surf!


Catching Up

I'm finally finding some time to catch up on some past photos.  I've spent the last two nights browsing and selecting photos from our March vacation to Florida's St. Joseph Peninsula.  It's been great looking at all the photos from that trip and letting the memories really sink in.

I'm finding that I actually prefer delaying my major photo edits whenever I'm able to snap large numbers of photos.  I know some who shoot and post photos right away.  For me, I enjoy going through my photos as soon as they are downloaded to my computer and I always flag some photos as my early favorites.  But, then I step back from those photos for quite a while.  When I finally do revisit them I typically discover that photos I had previously flagged might not do much for me anymore and other photos start jumping out as my favorites.  I wonder what would happen if I shelved those photos again for a couple months and revisited.  Would I discover different favorites once again?  I think this plays into our normal way of seeing things.  Look how often fads and trends come and go...and come again.  Before I know it my son is going to be pegging his pants and feathering his hair.

 I definitely didn't stumble upon this "delayed" routine on purpose.  It's an effect of living a typical family life where kids, work, honey-do's, and, sometimes, laziness all come into play.  Being able to sit each night and edit photos just hasn't been an option.  Fortunately, I managed to stumble into a method that works quite well.

Anyway, this photo was one that I flagged as a favorite the first time I went through my Florida pictures.  I can't count how many different edits I did until finally getting one that I really like.  I played around with several color versions before deciding to go black and white.  But, it took several attempts to get all the tones the way I envisioned them.

I remember the first thing that caught my eye in this scene was the way the blades of grass etched patterns into the sand as they moved in the wind.  I took some close-up photos of those patterns, but the end pictures didn't offer much.  So, I re framed, going wider, and was able to capture the shadows across the sand along with the grass and patterns.  I think this final picture turned out well.

This week is going to turn into my St. Joseph Peninsula week as I finish posting several more photos from that trip.


Monday, August 26, 2013


Today I offer you a twofer.  Both photos taken this spring when the pasture grass was well past knee high.  I think I had one of our dogs with me on this walk and it was comical watching her bound through the grass - appearing, disappearing, and then reappearing over there.  Pretty enjoyable, these strolls through the field.

I find it quite amazing how, when you really stop and take notice, you find some pretty awesome stuff, stuff that's too often overlooked.  It's easy to do as we rush through our days, struggling to meet deadlines, transport kids, make ends meet.  I'll leave you with a quote I heard once...or twice:

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller


Friday, August 16, 2013

Revamped Website

My photography website hosting service recently offered some new fantastic tools to aid in customizing my website.  The timing was perfect, considering I'd been going through ideas on how to give my site an updated look for quite some time.  Change is a good thing, right?

So, I finally took the time to play with some of the new tools and over the course of several late night customizing sessions, I managed to arrive at something I'm quite pleased with.  Refreshingly simple, but effective.  I released my new look into the wild last night (or was it early this morning?), so I hope you take the time to check it out:

I'm sure I'll continue to tinker with it some more in the future, but for now I'm pretty happy with it.  On that note....

Each spring my wife's grandmother has a couple flower gardens that explode with a colorful rainbow of Iris flowers.  Interestingly, the name "Iris" is actually derived from the Greek word for a rainbow since the many Iris species come in so many colors.  I've taken a lot of pictures of these Irises during each Spring, but I was never able to capture an image that I really liked, until I captured this one earlier this Spring.  The sun was low on the western horizon and the light transmitting through the petals caught my eye.  This flower appeared to glow.  I moved to arrange the brightly lit grass as a background, which makes the flower's colors really pop.

(click image for larger version)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Along the Kansas River

(click image for larger version)

Just a quick post to let everyone know I'm still alive and we didn't have to leave anyone alongside the interstate during our move.  Always a plus.  But, we are official St. Louisans - not sure if that's the correct term, but it sounds good.

I haven't had a chance to venture out around St. Louis with my camera, since we're still getting situated.  Therefore, this is an older photo taken during an afternoon visit to the Kansas River, which was one of my favorite places to photograph.  I loved how vibrant the yellow and green grass was against the tree trunks.  That color really popped and easily caught my attention.  I also wanted to capture greater depth of field, so that details are seen throughout the photo.  I think it turned out good.  I like to think of my images like this as mini-landscapes.  We often get caught up in the "Grand Vista," but sometimes it's the smaller details that affect us most.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Sun Going Down

Wow, the last 2 months passed in a blink.  That can sometimes be good or bad.  In this case, it's a little of both.  Since my last post, I accepted a new job in St. Louis and have been commuting weekly from our current home in Basehor, Kansas.  I've been doing that since April 29 and I'm ready to get my wife and kids moved.  I've told many people in the past that Northeast Kansas was the farthest east I was ever going to live, so I guess I'll proceed to shove my foot in my mouth over that comment.

With all the new work and all the traveling, I've had very little time with my photography.  But, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and there's nothing you can really do about it.  Obviously, a primary objective has been finding a house and we succeeded.  Now, we are anxiously awaiting our July 8 closing.  My second objective was another obvious one - make the most of my weekends spent back with my wife and kids in Kansas and I think I've succeeded on that front, also.  But, the weekends have gone much too quick, as well.

I mentioned previously about time passing quickly being both good and bad.  It's good in the sense that I'm really enjoying my new job and I only have a little more than 2 weeks before my family makes the move to St. Louis and our new adventure will officially begin.  If the job was going poorly, then I can't imagine how miserable I'd be having to be away from my family.  It's bad in the sense that we'll be moving away from family and an area that has grown on me over the last 11 years.  It's never easy to leave family, but at least we're not moving so far away to make frequent visits difficult.  As for leaving Kansas, I never imagined I'd ever admit that moving there was probably one of the better decisions of my life.  Have I enjoyed Kansas?  Yes, at least for the last 9 years.  Will I miss Kansas?  Absolutely.

So, to honor the state I've called home since 2002, I give you another magnificent Kansas sunset.  I've been awed by many of these over the last 11 years.  Seems fitting as the sun goes down on one chapter of our lives and a new chapter begins.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Southern Surprise

Had someone tried explaining to me prior to my family's trip to the Florida panhandle that 60% of the route would consist of driving through dense pine forests, I would have told them they were crazy.  My mind had already painted a picture of what I was going to see and that painting did not include pine trees.  But, my first trip through the south was a pleasant surprise regarding the scenery.  I was amazed as we drove through Mississippi and Alabama - pine trees everywhere and the overall scenery was gorgeous.  How could this be?  Was I ignorant or just uninformed?  Probably both.

Even as we crossed into the Florida panhandle I figured there HAD to be some point where we'd leave the pine forests behind and we'd move into flat grassland...or palm trees.  Where were all the palm trees?  I kept picturing breaking free of the pine "tunnels" we'd been driving through to see the ocean waves breaking on the horizon.  But, this vision never materialized and those pine trees followed us right up to the edge of the gulf coast.  Oh, there were palm trees, too, but how did these pines get there?  

This photo was taken on our first morning waking up on the peninsula.  We'd finally arrived at the camp ground after dark, so there was some mystery left as to what things would look like right on the beach.  Once again, I was thinking there would be more palm trees than anything else.  But, walking 20 feet through an opening in the bushes behind our camping spot yielded the beautiful scene here: tall grass, a marshy waterway, and...towering pine trees.


Thursday, April 4, 2013


The winter season has finally ended...or at least we'd like to think.  Kansas winters aren't too terrible, but this last one seems to keep dragging on and we had a couple significant late season snow storms.  And, just when we finally do get a little spring weather tease, it seems like we slip back into cooler temperatures.  I know more than one person who'd like to strangle that stupid groundhog in Pennsylvania.

So, what does a sunny summer photo of a beautiful river have to do with winter?  Absolutely nothing! I'm tired of cold weather and I'm ready for summer.  In fact, let's just skip spring altogether and bring on the heat wave!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's Been Cold

Cold, wintry weather is upon us.  But, that doesn't mean we can't have warm thoughts!  This photo is from our October camping trip to Roaring River State Park located in southwestern Missouri.  The park is a wonderful place to spend some time relaxing with family and friends.

A trout fishing destination known for its beautiful natural spring that feeds the river and local trout hatchery, this state park also offers some good hiking trails with access to gorgeous scenery.  This year, we lucked out and experienced some marvelous fall colors.