Vegas and Not Vegas

Keri and I found a window when we could both get away and we decided to hit Las Vegas. We’ve both been and it had been a long time since either of us had gone. We like food and she REALLY likes to try new things (I do too, but it is really her passion). Vegas seemed like this place to go.

I pretty much packed my full photography kit and ended up only getting it out once. Our room was not conducive to shooting a time lapse with the GoPro so it stayed in the bag. We spent most of our time walking around the strip and I did not really want to drag my DSLR all over so in the bad it stayed too. My primary reason for taking the big backpack was a possible run out to the Grand Canyon.

We picked on day to rent a car and drive out. Let’s just say that was poor planning on my part. A lack of research lead to not getting any shots of the canyon. I picked driving to the Skywalk, a mistake for a photographer. You can only get to eagle point and the skywalk via a tour. The cheapest of which is $70 a head. Notes on the pamphlet also tell you no bags or cameras. We had a nice drive out there and back at least. I did catch this out of the corner of my eye and pulled over to try to get something.


Our backup plan was Hoover Dam and that turned out to be a nice stop. For whatever reason it wasn’t busy and you can once again take a short tour down to the turbine room. the hallway from the elevator yielded a nice shot too.


Prints and a Much Needed Gallery Update.

It is time to update that gallery area of the website and bring a little focus back. I’m also looking into options for printing some larger format pieces and plan to sell some limited editions of those. More to come on that as the details are worked out. For now I have some prints listed at Rocket Paper Scissors. Go take a look, there are some works there from several local and regional artists.

I’m really torn on the large format pieces. I have one photo in particular I would love to print large however I really love the way it looks on a quality matte paper. Put that behind glass or acrylic and the texture is ruined. This leaves me with experimenting with mounting and framing it myself or contracting that out. I think I’ve been stuck here at this decision for nearly a year. It festers in the background until it’s time to pick shots for a show entry or I wander through a gallery. 

A less pressing problem to solve - do I invest in a larger format printer with more versatility or do I start printing through a service.  I really like the control of doing my own prints but that gets expensive. 

Well, right now I’m going to enjoy some time here in Vegas with Keri and figure out next steps later.


Fall Isn't Just for Leaves

Fall is a special time visually for many reasons. The classic is the color of the leaves however the shift in temperature combined with some increased moisture brings out some season fungus too. My backyard and the backyard at OctoPi yielded some tiny treats last week. I’ve got quite a bit going on it seems and having these things pop up just a few feet from my door is really handy. My only regret is that I haven’t started any mushroom logs to replace the ones that gave up the ghost last winter. That will be a project for next year and hopefully I can get more varieties going.


Fall at Rock Island State Park

The weather was excellent today and it looked like today was going to be my only chance to get a shot of the fall colors. Rock Island seemed like as good as any place to give a try.  



Grundy Forest Natural Area

A friend wanted to go hiking and follow it up with some pizza and beer this weekend at OctoPi. I was happy to oblige and the weather was excellent for some hiking. We had our first real coldsnap this fall. Temps got down into the 30’s on the Cumberland Plateau. I picked a mid level hike, not too long but with some elevation changes and a little rough terrain to cross. Grundy Forest Natural Area near Tracy City has two trails. Fiery Gizzard which runs from the natural area picnic site and ranger station 11.75 miles down to Foster Falls. There is also a nice loop trail the branches off from Fiery Gizzard and comes back out near the picnic area. We took the loop.

 Really nice browns on this cluster of mushrooms along the side of the trail.

Really nice browns on this cluster of mushrooms along the side of the trail.

There were recent rains and the temperatures had been down consistently enough to trigger some nice mushroom growth. I got a few shots, but this cluster of mushrooms that were at the end of their time really worked for me.

I only carried my Canon 70D with the 100mm Macro lens even though we were going to be hiking along a creek with tons of falls and cascades. The sky was clear and blue, this was really a hike trip not a photography outing. I generally don’t take good photos when I am out with other folks. I don’t get into my zone very easily if I know someone is standing around waiting on me to get moving. Even so, I spotted this cascade in full shade and found an angle to get a pretty satisfying shot.

grundy forest cascade.jpg

Back Yard Anemone

My back yard is pretty raw and wild. I’ve got some rotting logs here and there. I used a few to make some raised beds a few years ago that are decaying nicely. There are also a couple of stacks that haven’t made it into the fire pit yet. The logs I was growing shiitake on are finished and I need to get some fresh logs to start a new crop. Mostly my back yard works because I’m lazy and hate yard work. However it also offers up some pretty cool photo ops if I pay attention. I’m a fan of fungus and it really pays off some times. 



Video Production

This is my first pass at editing a video more than just a cut or trim and adding some music to a single cut. I'm working on learning DaVinci Resolve which at first blush looks to be an amazing tool. I've also included footage from all 3 tools in my bag here. Comments on this post are appreciated. 

Gator Hunt

One of my favorite places to go close to home is Blackwell Run. I mentioned Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in the last post. I’ve been out there a couple of times this week because other local photographers have gotten shots of one of the alligators that haunt that inlet off the Tennessee river. It’s been a couple of years since I saw one but the conditions are great right now. The water is down and the temperature is up. After about 4 hours of watching I managed to snag one photo and a video of the one running around an easily accessible section of the swampy area. 

I also grabbed a couple of other shots too while waiting.  


Close to Home

I live within 10 miles of a section of Wheeler Wildlife Refuge along the Tennessee river. One particularly accessible area is Beaver Dam Boardwalk. Handy for me and the dog to go for a nice mile walk which is about as much as she needs or wants. Can usually count on a bug or two and depending on recent weather a little fungus as well.




Savannah - The Last Day First

Keri and I took a trip to Savannah, GA this week and had a great time. Lots of food and just wandering around the historic district. So many excellent places to check out and the Victorian architecture, well, it gets photographed and hyped for good reason. This was the first trip Keri and I have taken together without some other agenda attached. Just the two of us headed somewhere with no real agenda. We've been on other trips together, but those have been tied to family which were great. We were due.

The last day we rolled out of the excellent hotel and to one of what could be the most photographed roads in the south. Located in the Wormsloe State Historic Site, the avenue is lined with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss (not actually moss). 

 Wormsloe Avenue

Wormsloe Avenue

This history of the site was very interesting, not really all that photographic, but interesting. However, there are several trails to hike through the cedar and live oak forest and along the salt marsh. Lots of palmetto and cabbage palms as well. This was the part of the 4 day trip where I really took the time to concentrate on the camera and take some pretty good photos. I did still use the iPhone as well and there will be a few of those dropped into the post below too. 

 The Salt Marsh

The Salt Marsh

 Wormsloe Tabby Ruin

Wormsloe Tabby Ruin


3 Views of a Hunter

This is the reason I try to always have my camera in my FJ. Was packing up to come home from Keri's in Tennessee this morning and noticed the dragonfly who was dead set on staying perched on this stick. It looked like a prime spot to watch for prey on another bush about 2 feet away. I walked right by it and it launched and then returned. I grabbed my tripod and camera and set up to get a few good shots. I love catching the facets of the eyes. 

Trying something different, 3 images above - click to progress through the slideshow. 

A Trip to Nashville Part 2 - The Frist

Finally - part two on the trip to Nashville. After visiting 21c, we started wandering the streets which is always fun. I mentioned the first Saturday art crawl that happens in several locations around Nashville where there are galleries and that the Frist often has an architectural tour of the building (or so I've heard). The it dawned on me I had no idea what exhibitions were going on. A quick check and there were two exhibitions that looked really interesting. Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century and Image Building: How Photography Transforms Architecture

Both shows were quite good, I was obviously more interested in the photography exhibition and there were prints from a couple of photographers I admire so that was a bonus treat. There were several large prints by Hiroshi Sugimoto and smaller prints by Julius Shulman. Those two photographers are a pretty good examples of the wide scope of the exhibition and well worth the price of admission for me. Everything else was pretty amazing too. I'f you'd like to learn a bit more about either of these photographers I can't think of a better way to get a start than Ted Forbes and his YouTube channel The Art of Photography.

I think I'll post to my other blog more about just walking around and the Chaos and Awe exhibit. 

Short Springs Natural Area and Old Stone Fort in Tennessee

Last weekend, even though it was hot, humid, and spotty rain I took the camera out for a day of driving around in Tennessee. One of my favorite places to visit after a decent amount of rain is Short Springs Natural Area just outside of Tullahoma, TN. The trails are nice, it isn't generally crowded and there are some nice cascades and falls. This trip I just concentrated on some cascades above Busby Falls and didn't bother with Machine Falls at all. I also made a stop at Old Stone Fort but did not stay long at all. I just walked up to an area above the museum and found a couple of critters on the rock wall. It was crowded and the rain was coming in in waves there. 


A Trip to Nashville Part 1 - 21c Hotel and Museum

Keri and I went on a day trip to Nashville on 7/23/2018 to just enjoy the day with a bonus of being able to actually be able to see an exhibition of Beth Cavener's sculptures at the Nashville 21c Hotel location. We weren't really sure what to expect and were really pleased with the experience. We walked in the lobby and began seeing art right away. The galleries start in the lobby and extend down and up one floor from there. It's easy to get to all the art via a nice central stairway. I'm not going to go into much detail about the hotel, the website covers that nicely and if you visit the staff is great about talking about the place if you want to interact. 

I do have a few photos of the art and want to go into that a bit. It is contemporary and stretches across an excellent breadth of that subject. There were a few interesitng photographic works hanging as well as scultpures, painting and mixed media. A large number of the pieces are pretty strong emotionally and or socially. This is a place you need to check out and wander through. The Beth Cavener works are hanging currently in the Gray and Dudley Restaurant and Bar which is on the ground floor of the hotel. 

 Emotions - The Choleric, The Sanguine, and The Melancholic (Beth Cavener Stichter)

Emotions - The Choleric, The Sanguine, and The Melancholic (Beth Cavener Stichter)

 Hank Willis Thomas (photographed without flash)

Hank Willis Thomas (photographed without flash)

 Hank Willis Thomas (photographed with flash)

Hank Willis Thomas (photographed with flash)

The art by Hank Willis Thomas is really something to see. He uses archival new photographs which are printed on refelctive vinal and metal surfaces. Under standard light you can barely make out an image on in the frame. The placards tell the viewer to specifically use flash to photograph the pieces. Once flashed the images resolve as I've illustrated above. Very striking to see it happen. 



There is a park just down the road from my house. I walk Calli there most days and we pass by these flowers. I finally carried the dslr with me today. I’d have kicked myself if I missed getting some shots of them this year.  



Rock Island State Park

I've been to Rock Island State Park several times. I have no idea what I never actually planned a trip there, but each previous trip there was a pit stop to or from Knoxville. I've gone to the same bit of the park, which is fun and is a nice break from a 3 hour drive. However, the iconic waterfalls there are at the end of an access road. Ok, so I finally planned the trip except for getting up early enough that it wasn't crazy hot. The sun was blazing, but I had ND filters and a circular polarizer. I shot these with my Canon 70D, a Sigma 10-20mm, and Tiffen Circlular Polarizer and Neutral Density filters. 

Rock Island Map.PNG

Spider Time

I haven't really been taking many photos of spiders lately. We are well into the warm months and they are coming out and doing the good work, I just haven't had much time or been feeling overly inspired to shoot. Thankfully the two spiders below pretty much made it easy. The jumper was inside sitting on the chair rail in my dining room and the orchard spider was set up right next to my back door.

These are very common spiders but still interesting subjects. 


Book Exchange Idea

I've made a couple of really good internet friendships via Instagram and Facebook. I've also got some people who I share a mutual admiration of work (art) with on several platforms. This post is geared mainly at those people, but hell if anyone else wants to join in I am all for that!

Back in the days before the internet people would share things called Zines. The short description of a Zine is a self-published work with a small circulation of "subscribers". It was usually put together by a single person or a few friends and then xeroxed or mimeographed and mailed to the subscribers. These are still produced and some of them are amazing works of art themselves. Check out some of the photography zines Ted Forbes shares on his YouTube channel The Art of Photography

Now we get to my idea. First, I'm a fan of printing my photos. Something like getting them in your hand, hanging them on the wall or even better having someone else want to hang it on their wall. I've tried a couple of online printing services and have had a couple of excellent printers that I use at home. I daydream about creating some handmade books for myself of my prints, but that is something for a different post. For the purpose of this experiment I'd like to do a limited test of a book exchange. maybe up to 6 people or so who are willing to join in. You'll see why initially I want to limit participation and if there is a lot of enthusiasm for expansion I can be convinced...

One of the companies I've used to print is Artifact Uprising. They periodically offer promos for free small format prints and I've taken advantage of those as well as ordered some that I paid for. They also have a small format book (soft or hardcover) called Volumes. The books are 6.5 x 6.5" and have 50 images printed front and back plus the covers.  I'll toss in the usual disclaimer here. I am not getting paid to push their product and they aren't giving me anything free. That is up to the people who decide to join in on this project with me. What I'd like to do is a book exchange with a few folks. 

I've already printed my first volume and am close to curating the images for volume 2. I'm willing to print another copy of volume 1 and swap it with anyone (of the initial limited folks) who will print a volume of their work and ship it to me. I was inspired to go with this format by a couple of series of books published by Aperture and Phaidon. Both are smaller format and yet the quality of the work is not really diminished. Both are photo heavy and text light. I'll post examples of everything below.

Aperture has a series called Aperture Masters of Photography. I picked up copies of volume 1 and 6 recently. They are 8x8" and 95 or so pages printed on just one side. Just the images without text and then followed by an index with details for the images at the end of the book. The series is called Phaiden 55 and goes a little further afield than the Aperture series. Phaidon's series is a smaller format. 6x6" Pages are not numbered and I can't be bothered to count, but feels like around 100 pages or so also. These books all have a small introduction and each facing page includes text related to the image to the right. 

Artifact Uprising Volumes fit with this format and are priced at $24.95 including shipping. I'm very happy with the quality and would love to get this ball rolling. I've got one person who is on board and if that is as far as it goes I'll call it a success. A brief explanation of how volumes work. You install the Artifact Uprising app on your phone, create an account and use an album on your phone to place the photos you want to include in the book. Once you reach 50 photos you are ready to go. They have two versions of the book available. The cheaper, softcover version is what I propose we go with. When you hit 50 the app lets you order the photos so you can organize (or not) the final output. You pull the trigger in the app, they charge you, print and ship. I'll be getting the books shipped to me and then shipping them to whoever wants to swap with whatever else I feel like tossing in the package. 

There it is, message me on Instagram or Facebook if you are interested. 


The Great Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond

I've made several trips to Virginia to visit family. After several years I finally made it to Great Dismal Swamp. It's either been closed due to hunting season or the weather had been bad. When the day started I was concerned the light was going to be harsh, the sky was crystal clear in the morning. As we drove toward the swamp though I noticed some wispy clouds starting to form and my anticipation increased. As a few of the photos below show, I was not disappointed. We did not see a lot of insect activity yet, spring has been very very slow to arrive. The trees were just starting to awaken. Never fear though, I did (with some help) find a couple of smaller critters to get photos of. We also saw plenty of turtles some water foul, and an otter. 


Chrysler Museum of Art - Photographs Take Time

On a recent trip to Virginia, Keri and I were able to view the Photographs Take Time exhibit. There are some photos you see in books or on the internet that resonate and prompt you to seek out more from the artist. Then you see the prints. Granted not all of these were originals. Some were reproductions, others were presented as they were originally presented. The Pirreli calendar pages as an example. It's still worth seeing them as they were intended.  Below are a few highlights for me, starting with a print by Alexey Titarenko. We also saw prints by Alfred Stieglitz, Harry Callahan, William Christenberry, Chris McCaw, and some truly wonderful prints by Henry Peach Robinson that were composite shots from multiple negatives made in the late 1800's (those were incredible).