Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hot Spots For Birds in Winter

Birds are certainly not the easiest subject to include in a photo, but you can greatly increase your chances if you understand some of their basic needs. Most of us think about feeding the birds in winter, but we neglect something even more important. While some food remains abundant during the winter months, in many locations water does not. Sources of open water are a must for our feathered friends, and, if you take the time to locate such sources, you'll be astounded by the birding activity to be found there.
Not far from my home is the head of an underground spring, and this constantly moving water is a life saver for wild birds. As the temperature gets colder, more and more birds arrive to drink from the spring. While all other sources of water have long since frozen, the 55 degree water bubbling up from the spring provides an endless source of water for the birds, and a great place for this photographer to perch.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sandhill Cranes Have Returned

Once again, the Sandhill Cranes have returned to Dayton, Tennessee. Each year we look forward to the sound of over 15,000 Sandhills filling the skies with their song and flight. It's really one of the most amazing sights in the world. Traveling thousands of miles each fall, these magnificent birds return to the marshes and the fields of rural Tennesse. I am one of the lucky ones, as these birds fly over my house each morning and each evening as the go to feeding areas around Dayton. Each year I go out looking for the perfect image of these birds, but as yet I have not found it. Perhaps it's the hunt that makes it so much fun. For whatever reason, I just can't seem to get enough of these incredible birds.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rappahannock Wildlife Art Show Print of the Year

For over two decades, the Rappahannock Wildlife Art Show has highlighted some of Americas' finest wildlife artist and sculptors. This wonderful gathering of artists has endured, while so many other shows have sadly disappeared. It stands as a testiment to the high quality art and the dedicated artists, who each year present their work to an audience of enthusiastic wildlife art collectors.
For the first time in the history of the show, a photographer has been selected as "Artist of the Year" , and I am so proud to have been given that honor. As is the tradition, I will be signing and giving out 3500 prints of my image "Bluebird and Berries." This photograph has never been printed, nor has it ever been seen by the public. I look forward to sharing it with everyone.
Be sure and join us the third weekend of March 19 - 20 in White Stone, Va. for this wonderful weekend of wildlife art and just plain fun.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just a Walk in the Woods

Recently I had the chance to spend some quality time in Smokey Mountain National Park, where I love to just walk. As a bird photographer, I have found countless images by simply strolling through secluded areas in search of the slightest movement or simplest song. Birds, like humans, seem to love the solitude of the forest, and perhaps that is what draws me to them. Deep in the darkest of forests one can find the most incredible beauty. Sadly, far too many of us fear what we can't see, and so we pass by the beauty that lies just past the end of the road. I believe that life is too short to miss what is beyond the road, and I love the exploration of the darkness. I think life would be so much richer if we could all learn to trust the song of the bird that calls us.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finding Color in the Smokies

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Maybe it's the cooler mornings, and perhaps the crispness of the air, but I love Fall. Here in the Smokey Mountains of eastern Tennessee we wait patiently all year for the spectacle of fall color. Here our trees put on a display of color that rivals any show on earth. When the conditions are just right, Smokey Mountain color can be like something you just can't imagine. Although some years are better than others, every fall is worth a trip to see what nature has provided for us all. I have yet to be disappointed by any fall in these wonderful hardwood mountains. So......come see what you are missing. The show has started, and you still have time before the curtain falls.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Catching the Light

So much of my work is conditional upon the lighting available at the singular moment in time that I need to hit the shutter button. Too often, clouds, tree branches, blowing grasses, or whatever else can destroy an otherwise perfect moment for a photograph. An amazing amount of my time is spent simply waiting for the light to get right. Sometimes I find myself just sipping a coffee, as I wait for hours to see what the light is going to do to my subject. But, when it finally comes, and when you're ready for the magic moment........something special can happen.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Annual Hummingbird Migration

Here in east Tennessee the annual fall migration of hummingbirds is well underway. Each year I look forward to the first two weeks of September, when swarms of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive to fill their tummies with nectar, before beginning their long flight to Central and South America. Our gardens become alive with the flying little jewels, and I grab the cameras and go to work. Hummers are one of my very favorite subject, and I might add one of the toughest to photograph. To say they are fast....is an understatement. These little guys can move out of the frame in a fraction of a second. Their extreme territorial nature makes them almost impossible to capture with a camera, but after years of practice, I seem to have come up with a plan of attack. I love these birds, and I love the joy they bring to so many people around the world. Let's face it.......their Special.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pelicans of the Gulf

For nearly all of my life, I have been an environmentalist. I have taken pride in the fact that I have tried in every area of my life to make this world a better place, a place where the beauty that I have seen would remain for my children and grandchildren. Through my photography and my art, I have worked to show the world the wonders of nature, and the beauty it holds for all of us.
Several weeks ago, when we all heard the news of the BP oil leak, I knew the world was about to change. I sensed that this was not going to just pass, but that something major had just occurred and that the very nature of it would change our lives. Many of my friends thought perhaps I was just over-reacting to an event that would soon be cleaned up and forgotten. At times, I thought perhaps they were right......maybe I was over-reacting. But now I know better.
Last week something called to me to visit the Gulf and to see for myself what had happened. So, I and my wife decided to just go down for a few days and have a look for ourselves. We both had an idea in our minds of what we would find, but neither of us were prepared for what we saw. Beaches in late July empty of people. Hotels empty. Parks empty. Restaurants empty. Highways and roads empty. Retail stores empty. Million dollar condos empty. For Sale signs everywhere!
You really can't prepare yourself for what has happened and what lies in store for the people of the Gulf in the years to come. Keep in mind that only one well experienced a leak. Nearly three thousand wells remain in the Gulf, and every one of those wells was put there with the same lack of regulation as the BP well that leaked. Also, remember that those wells have been in place for decades and can potentially develop problems at any time. No sane person can look at this situation and believe that we are not going to see more failures in these existing wells. People in the Gulf know and understand that many more hammers are yet to fall. Tar balls on the beaches of Mobile are just the beginning of what is to come in our future. We, all of us, have stood by and allowed oil companies to drill off our shores with very little regulation and almost no enforcement. Our thirst for cheap oil has made us close our eyes to the dangers of this kind of environmental disaster. Not BP nor the government of the U.S. should shoulder all the blame, as we all must look in the mirror and admit our part in allowing this to happen. This is not about oil on birds or beaches, but rather about our willingness to sacrifice the planet to satisfy our desire for cheap fuel. You, me, our children, our neighbors.....all of us owe the planet an apology. WE DID THIS......you and me. It's time to call those who represent us and say enough of this nonsense. Please......make one call and start a movement.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunsets in Smokey Mountain National Park

One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to spend much of my time in the outdoors. I never cease to be amazed by the sights and the sounds of nature, and I love the magic of her surprises. Sunsets are a case in point. You really never know how they are going to turn out, unless you are willing to stay the course and let them play themselves out completely. Just when you think it is over, more often than not, something magical will happen before your eyes. The magic moment when light and color come together to paint a picture for us. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a camera in hand to record that special moment in time. How blessed we all are to witness nature's last show of the evening.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stories Untold

A couple of years ago, while hiking near Yellowstone National Park, I came upon this old truck. Sitting in the middle of nowhere, this truck seemed oddly out of place, and I wondered how and why it had ended up here. There is, of course, a story to explain how and why it is here, but that story remains unanswered for me. I know that someone walked away from this spot and left it behind, maybe thinking he would return for it someday, but here it still sits parked. I can't help but wonder about those that must have used this truck to earn their wages, to haul what unknown loads to a job site. Looking at this photo makes me wonder the truth of this picture. Who owned this truck? Why was it left behind? How many others have walked this path and found it here? Photographs should make you think, and I like what this one does to me.

Keeping Images Simple

Most of the time, I find that simple images, those uncluttered with distraction, are the most effective. Photographs rarely need the "stuff" that we pack into them. Images often speak to us more clearly, when they have breathing room. The older I get, the more I am trying to unclutter my life, and my images. I think it's a good thing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Working with Lightroom 3

This image of the Coyote on a snowy ledge is a very difficult exposure. With this kind of contrast, it is tough to process for both the light snow and the dark rock of the background. But Lightroom 3 handles it without any trouble.

The photo above was taken two years ago in Yellowstone National Park in early May. It was shot with a Canon 30D and Canon 17 - 85 lense. A fill flash was used to bring out some of the foreground detail. It was post-processed using the new Adobe Lightroom 3.

To say that I am excited by the new version of Adobe Lightroom is certainly an understatement. I love this new program, and I am blown away by the improvements from the previous version. Adobe has been listening to its' users, and they have given us the best processing program on the market. It's simple, and it's powerful. I am now reprocessing my older images, and the results are nothing short of amazing. Images that were once rejected are now back on the table, and many are just plain stunning. Thank you Adobe for listening to real photographers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yellowstone in the Spring

Yellowstone National Park is always an amazing destination, but in the Spring it is truly an exciting wilderness adventure. Nowhere in North America can you find a more concentrated and diverse assortment of wildlife, and all within the boundaries of our nation's premier national park.

As a wildlife photographer, I have visited the park on numerous occasions and have never been disappointed. No matter what time of year you visit, the park delivers incredible photo opportunities. But, if you want to see the spectacle of natures renewal, the birth of just about everything, you need to come to the park in early spring. Late April and throughout the month of May the park is alive with newborns. It's one of the most exciting times to see nature at her best. Bring along your binoculars and long lenses, and sit back and enjoy the show. It's like no other on earth.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rainy Days

Like so many others, I sometimes look out my studio window at the falling rain, and I think about the things that the rain is going to prevent me from doing. I think that is a natural reaction for many of us. But, as I have grown older, I am becoming increasingly aware of the beauty in the world that remains around us, even as the rain falls.

Today was one of those typical Spring mornings, where the showers arrive early and the clouds block the sunshine from hitting the gardens. It was one of those mornings, where the rain was a gentle falling shower that evenly soaked the yard and the flower gardens. Instead of locking myself in for the day, I went to the patio garden, opened the french doors, and sat listening to the rain and watching my birds come to the feeders. I find a peace and tranquility that comes on such days, and beauty as well.

Since I had my camera already set up, I decided to scan the garden and just see what I might find. What I found was a world soaked in raindrops and a beauty that inspired me to do fun things today. I hope you all enjoy the Lilly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where Have They Been?

This has been one of those years, where we have not seen many hummingbirds. It is not all that unusual, as they seem to run in cycles. Some years we are overrun with them, and others not so many. This Spring has not been a good year for them here in eastern Tennessee, but it looks like a few have finally started to arrive. They are, of course, very difficult to photograph, but that's the challenge and the fun of trying to capture them.

A few years ago, a nice lady approached my wife and I and offer to send us some seeds of a plant that she sworn would attract hummers. So, shortly after, we received a small packet of seeds, which we planted in the garden. Turns out she was right. Hummingbirds love the honeysuckle trumpet vine, and it has proven to be one of my best photo locations.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fire in the Hole

I think as an artist, it is imperative that we step out of the box occasionally and look at the world with fresh eyes. Real art, I believe, is always evolving, moving away from one thing and taking a journey to a new and different place. Sometimes those trips can be unsettling, but ultimately I think they take us to a higher place.......a place we needed to see.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's Not Just the Gulf in Trouble

It's not just the Gulf in trouble with leaking oil. I took this picture here at one of our local marinas, where oil from the boats leaches into the lake everyday. No one seems to be bothered by this, even though the lake is the water source for the city of Chattanooga and the surrounding area. I am saddened by the lack of interest people have in their own backyards. Wake up folks, we are destroying this planet. Our local birds and our fish are being attacked too!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gallery Show at Bill Shores Gallery in Chattanooga

This evening was the opening of my show at the Bill Shores Gallery in Chattanooga. For those of you wishing to see the show, it will remain in the gallery thru June 30. I hope you will stop by and see all of the new images and perhaps add one to your home.

The First Day Out

My backyard can only be described as a baby bird nursery. Over the past several years, we have carefully planted all sorts of things to attract birds, and they have certainly come to enjoy the surroundings. This year we have an amazing number of birds that have decided to nest in the yard. In the past few days, I have found several young birds fledging the nest and exploring the world around them. The adults, of course, keep a close eye on them. feeding them continuously, but these little guys seem to be having fun bouncing around the yard. I hope everyone enjoys the photo.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sometimes We Forget It's Not the Tools

Like a child, who has just broken his new toy, I have been miserable since my Sony A900 crashed last week. Admittedly, I have been pouting over the tragic loss of my trusted 24 mega pixel picture machine. In fact, I have been downright awful about my plight these past several days.

So, this morning I decided perhaps a haircut might just help me rid myself of the blues, and get my life back on track. In fact, I thought I would just take my wife and her friend out to breakfast, and then get my haircut, and then........go do some shooting. I pulled out one of my older DSLR cameras, and threw it in the car. I had no idea where or what I would shoot this morning, but I knew in my heart that this was going to be the only medicine that could help.

After a wonderful breakfast, and a decent haircut, I said "goodbye" to the girls and off I headed for the morning adventure. Within a few minutes, I came upon a beautiful Magnolia tree in full bloom. This looked like the perfect place to start the day. I reached in my camera bag, and pulled out my old camera and exited the car, all the while, scanning the tree for the perfect blossom.

Within a few minutes, I saw a flash of red moving through the branches, and I could feel my heart start to beat faster. The thought of capturing yet another Cardinal in amongst the Magnolia flowers was all I needed to start this boy's blood pumping. And then......there he was. Directly in front of me stood this incredible specimen, and he seemed to be checking me out as much as I him. Starring at each other, I started shooting, making sure to adjust my exposure and focus as I moved sideways to get a better angle. Never knowing whether you will get 3 sec.s with a bird or maybe 10 mins. , I quickly began a series of rapidly fired exposures, bracketing each shot by a third of a stop.

Amazingly, in just a few short minutes, I had completely forgotten about my broken Sony A900, and had once again become close friends with this old camera. It was like to dear friends coming together at a reunion. It was like I had never left it.......and ashamed of the fact that I had forsaken it when the new guy showed up in my bag. The old camera forced me to think carefully about each shot, checking exposure and framing and composition. The old camera, which has no extra pixels for cropping, made me do it right ........the old way. Maybe we all could benefit from taking a few steps back once in a while.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today's Winner

This evening, as I sat having my dinner, I happen to look outside and see this Bluebird enjoying his bath. Although I thought I would never be able to catch the shot, I jumped up and grabbed my camera, and I very carefully opened the door onto the patio. To my utter surprise, this little guy just ignored me and continued with his bath. I started shooting and captured this image before he finished. Sometimes it pays to give it a try!

Old Barns and Wise Owls

Like lots of people, I am intrigued by the sight of an old barn. I always find myself slowing down to have a closer look, and then driving away with questions about who built the barn, and who stored hay in the barn, and maybe even who kissed in the barn. Old buildings, whether they be barns or bus stations, always cause me to ponder the stories and the secrets that hide within their walls.

As a bird photographer, old buildings have proven to be havens to lots of birds, who have discovered the safety and the protection that they provide. Though most of my exploration of such structures turn up little more than historic questions, occasionally I am rewarded with a special find. This time, while exploring the countryside outside of Greensboro, N.C., I found a wonderful old barn made of log and still being used to store hay and farm equipment. A Great Horned Owl had also discovered the barn, and I suspect was helping himself to the mice that lived in and around the structure. So.....I shot a couple of frames and left him to his work, as I went on down the road to finish mine. Some days are special........but as I have said so many times before, "you have to get out of the house and go discover them." Good luck with your adventures.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Closer Look at Richland Creek

Today I am still feeling the pain of my beloved Sony A900 crashing, so I needed to just get out and do some shooting. So, I pulled out a couple of older DSLR's that have been collecting dust, and off to the hills I went.........with dreams of capturing something special. While I don't think I caught anything earthshaking, I did have fun seeing what I could come up with in capturing the beauty of Richland Creek, a small mountain stream that flows through the Laurel Snow Pocket Wilderness here in East Tennessee. This is one of my favorite places to go, when I don't want to make a road-trip to some distant location. The Canyon, as we locals call it, is one of those special places that calls you back again and again. Over the years, I have made countless trips there and shot thousands of photographs. These are just four more attempts at capturing the beauty of a magical place.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Annual Spring Gallery Show

Just wanted to share with everyone that my annual spring show is being hosted by Kathy Reed, the owner of the Bill Shores Gallery in Chattanooga, TN.. The opening is being held the evening of May 27th and will begin at 6:00 pm. I hope everyone will join us for an evening of fine wine and art. I will be showing a new collection of photos that have not yet been seen by the public. Come and be one of the first to see this years' collection. It should be a fun evening.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

There Are Days.....We Just Count Our Blessings

Today was one of those days, when despite all of the frustration, I just have to count my blessings. On what was suppose to be a beautiful day of spending time with my wife and sharing time in the outdoors, I found myself struggling with a malfunctioning camera, and worse, a camera that finally said, "Enough....I am done making pictures." So, in the midst of a wonderful day, and in a place that was stunningly beautiful, I was stuck without a camera. As one might guess, I was not a happy camper.
However, just minutes before the camera decided to take its' last breath, I manage to capture just four images. I had hiked to a very remote area that had been on my radar for weeks, and the goal was to shoot a couple of mountain streams that I had fished a year earlier. As I arrived on the scene, I located a couple of small falls that I quickly captured while the light was good.
Not knowing what had happened with the camera issue, I returned home with doubts as to whether I had actually recorded any images. But, to my amazement, the four shots I did take turned out to make the day worthwhile. So, even in the midst of a melt-down, I am thankful for the images that came home with me. I would hate to have left these behind. I hope everyone enjoys them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Morning on the Lake

I spent this morning kayaking on the lake, and I managed to get some nice shots that I thought I would share. Early morning light is hard to beat, when you want to make good photographs. I love to shoot the first two hours after sunrise, as the angle and quality of light are magical. Over the years I have consistantly made my best photos during this short time frame. Not only is the light wonderful, but you also have the advantage of shooting before the wind has a chance to get moving too strongly. Calm conditions and good light ........ that's the formula for making dramatic photographs.