Mistaken Identity

I recently entered this image in a local competition (didn’t make the cut for any points) and had titled it Bosque Snow Goose At Dawn.

Not sure what I was thinking, but it is a Ross’s Goose. They are a ‘cousin’ to the Snow Goose but lack the size (Ross  is about the size of a mallard) and also the ‘grin patch of a Snow. Beak length is different at well.

Ross Goose

Snow Goose

Just goes to show that even after chasing waterfowl for more years than I care to admit, I still make mistakes.


Bosque del Apache and Cranes

For years I’ve wanted to photograph Sandhill Cranes. Even looked into the blinds you can rent from an organization in Nebraska when the cranes head to their breeding grounds. The drill for these blinds is the organization people take you into the blind after sundown and they come get you the next day after sundown. From accounts, you can’t leave the blind unless it is an emergency. The blinds are reported to be very cold and cramped. A couple of folks I asked said the openings to photograph out of were not real conducive to longish lens.

So when I read some of Arthur Morris’s articles and saw his images from Bosque years ago, I decided that some day I would go there and photograph cranes. As most of you know, Paul Fisher and I made the journey and tried to wear out our cameras photographing cranes,snow geese, ducks, harriers,javelina and Rio Grande turkeys.

A photographer by the name of Jim Palmer (https://www.jimpalmerphotography.com/) gave us some information of where the cranes would be and some places we could set up to capture them feeding and flying. Paul and I found a place along the flight line and it became our go to place. We nick named it “The Beach” due to the sandy soil where we pulled off the main road. From this vantage point we photographed cranes until we thought we were “craned” out. Looking back on the images as I work through them, it just makes me want to go back and try some different settings and different vantage points etc.

Here is a small sample.

FREE 2019 Calendar Photoshop Action and FREE 2019 Lightroom Preset/Templates

We finished our calendars a couple of days ago. Printed them on Red River 60lb. Polar Matte and had them spiral bound at Office Depot using their ‘report’ covers. I broke out our heavy-duty commercial paper punch and they are ready to go.

In case you have the urge to create your own calendars, here are a couple of links.

Photoshop Action


Download and read the ReadMe file. Pretty easy peasy– see sample at the end of the post

For those of you that like to play in Lightroom

A photographer named Ed Weaver has been making template/presets for use in Lightroom for several years. Matt Kloskowski has a video tutorial on how to set up the templates for use in Lightroom– read the text on the download page for the link to the video

Looks pretty easy for those of you that play in Lightroom–


Here is a sample off of this years calendar– a Bosque del Apache mallard no less with a gorgeous blue mountain background– 8.5 x 11

Bosque images are being edited– got a ton of them so be patient LOL

The road to Socorro

Thursday,November 29th, Paul Fisher and I embarked on a photo “safari” to Bosque Del Apache (Woods of the Apache). The goals were to test out Paul’s “new” camera and his existing lens, bird and bird in flight photography and generally photograph anything that would allow us to photograph it.

Betty (Paul’s wife) and Molly acted as the quartermasters. I am not sure if we had enough snacks,soda, green tea and water to circumnavigate the globe, but anywhere in North America was certainly covered. Being amply supplied, Paul and I were able to drive for extended periods with pit stops for gas and other reasons.

Twelve hours after leaving New Haven, we arrived in Amarillo and spent the night there. Next morning we headed to Socorro. We were hoping to beat a winter storm forecast. While on the road, we saw an isolated snow storm falling about 3 miles off Hwy 40. White from cloud to the ground. The rest of the area was untouched. Quite the sight….and no, we didn’t stop to photograph it. Sometimes the memories can’t really be captured with a camera. This was a recurring lesson on this trip. How do you capture that landscape and do it justice? We measured our trip in hours and not miles.

To paraphrase Robert Frost–we had miles to go before we sleep.

I am still thinking of how vast the country is from Oklahoma City and the Short Grass Prairie to the Mountains and the desert scrub of New Mexico. While not “The Road Goes On Forever” by  Robert  Earl Keen the vistas do bring to mind The Allman Brothers “Midnight Rider”. Poets and photographers, what a mix this trip would be.

Next post– Arrival and our first afternoon.

For larger image click thumbnail

Catalysts and Plateaus

I’ve mentioned having writer’s block for quite some time. Yeah, I’ve been able to squeeze out the intermittent blog post and hopefully, it hasn’t bored too many of you but I’ve been trying to get a new presentation about photographing birds in flight out of my head and on to paper. Not much success at this point.

My old friend Sam Hampton, who has the soul of a poet and the scientific/technical ability of a physicist  once explained how a super saturated solution could change to a solid or a gas if the right catalyst was found. Sam was and is a pretty smart fella that lives in California and can be found with a fly rod fishing in beautiful places when he gets the chance. Definitely a person that I have listen to over the years.

I guess we could say the same about photography plateaus. You know…when it seems like you are in a rut. You pretty much have the technical aspect of photography down enough that you can overcome bad light or poor backgrounds and all the things that seem to interfere with producing top notch work. You have to reach a point where you are ‘saturated’. in photography. You are looking for that ‘catalyst’ to solidify the images in your head so you can figure out how to achieve them. You are looking for something to move you off dead center.

That catalyst can be new equipment. It can be switching to a new genre of photography but in my case, I think it is time to do a road trip. Not just any road trip but a road trip to one of the iconic hot spots for bird and nature photography.

In this case, Bosque del Apache.

I leave the end of November. Stay tuned for updates. Hopefully, it won’t bore you.


Until then, here is a warm up image that I made to start dusting off the ‘cobwebs’. It was also part of a focus test to determine if there was any back or front focus issues.



Yesterday was October 15th

Now, I’m sure some of you are asking yourself…..what is significant about October 15th?

October 15th is when many of the Conservation areas restrict access to their wetlands either for hunting or for refuge areas for waterfowl.

Two Rivers is closed to all foot traffic until after the 1st of January.

Columbia Bottoms closes part of the area (gravel road access) for waterfowl hunting.

Riverlands closes several areas.

Link to access list http://riverlands.audubon.org/sites/g/files/amh741/f/rmbs_map-access_restricts.pdf

So, plan accordingly.

Also the earliest image I have of Trumpeter Swans is October 26th so get prepared for them to start arriving.

Hope to see some of you on the Great River Road sometime.

Trumpeter Swans flying out of the Heron Pond

Two Rivers Fall Wildlife Festival Canceled

I just got off the phone with Cassandra at Two Rivers Refuge. She was calling to let me know that the Fall Wildlife Festival is canceled due to flooding.  The Gilbert Lake parking lot is flooded and the water is coming up towards the Swan Lake Headquarters.

This picture is from the Two Rivers Facebook account and was taken by R. Dietrich, USFWS

You can read the latest at Two Rivers Facebook


High water at Swan Lake viewed from HQ


The Brussel’s Ferry is still in operation but if you are thinking about using it you might want to call or visit IDOT’s Road Closure page


Manchester Arts Show

Friday (9/28) Molly and I loaded the gray truck in anticipation of making the one hour drive from New Haven to Manchester MO and the art show.

On Saturday (9/29),we arrived about 9am and were set up just after 11am. The display walls worked pretty well despite being just a bit too tall for the EZ UP tent. After getting the Square reader logged into the secure internet network, we were ready for business.

The set up was made easier by Kat Douglas of Manchester Parks and her team. Fantastic job considering several tents were messed up by high wind gusts the evening before. The team from Manchester Parks had most of the tents erected by the 9am early entry time. They really took care of the exhibitors with snacks and waters as well as solving the small hitches that can occur in a ‘live’ show.

We had several Jefferson County Camera Club members drop by to see our work and give us support for out efforts. Renee Townsend took several pictures of the booth and Molly and I. She also did us the great kindness of running to Arby’s and bringing us back some food. I didn’t know how hungry I was until I took the first bite of that regular roast beef sandwich. Robin Osborne and Hubby came by and gave us a thumb’s up. Lori and Dan Biehl…..along with the POSSE made an appearance. Lori and I talked about a photo shoot from earlier in the year and her Posse was interested in the process of making the photo coasters. Dan was his usual good natured self. They departed for another social event and we thank them for coming by.

Leah Villmer, Paul Fisher and Betty Fisher came by and a good time was had by all. Leah was cracking puns and Paul and Betty was talking to the other photographers and Molly. Leah,Paul and Betty really did us a solid since they stayed to tear down the display and help us load the stuff back into the truck.

We are blessed to have such good friends.

Summary: The show was a success. We saw friends. Learned some key things if we do this again and yes, we sold a few items.

Here are some images of the set up. Used by permission and courtesy of Renee Townsend.

Been awhile but we are almost done

Ever since we were juried into the Manchester Art Show, we have had a lot of chores to attend to and juggle to get everything ready for the show. That meant being off the computer/internet. When we checked the other morning, we had nearly 700 spam emails in our spam folder. So, we have been gone off the blog for a long time. We have inventoried what we are going to show. Ordered some metal prints to see how they go over and have our greeting cards done as well. We only have our coaster tiles left to make.

Molly and I have had several gallery showings and the images have always been hung by the gallery. This is an outdoor show in a 10 x 10 tent. Any walls to hang images on had to be fabricated. We did research into metal grid walls,fabric walls and other commercial methods of hanging our art. Each was expensive and being ‘frugal’, we just couldn’t see spending the money.

That left making our own. Lots of research led us to modifying what are called ‘stage flats’. As you can see from the pictures below, we developed a wooden frame with a vertical and a horizontal cross members. They were originally designed to have tables set in front but I made a mistake in thinking tables are 30 inches in height— they are 29 inches so that means I wasn’t going to be able to use tables to help stabilize the walls with bracing running from the walls to the undersides of the tables. So, we developed bolt through fastening with bolts, washers and wing nuts. Essentially, we need no tools to erect them.

Building them to utilize a corner wall designed to keep everything stabilized allows us to get away with out using jack wall supports. Also they are 7 feet tall which is the height of the structural supports of a craft tent which means we can always tie them off to the tent itself. Final dimensions are 9.5 feet wide at the rear wall and 10 feet on the two legs of the U. Each panel has its own identifier to assist in setting them up in order.

The walls are 7 feet tall by 30 inches wide ( designed to give lots of white space for a 20 x 24 frame/16 x 20 matted and framed image). They are ‘skinned’ with black out cloth fabric obtained from WalMart since it was cheaper than using cheap plywood and painting. One of the benefits of using the fabric is weight. Molly can handle these with no problems and they fit in the bed of a pick up. We used 1 x 4 (3/4 x 3.5 inches) so we would not need back bracing etc.

We will be using two tables– one that is 8 feet wide for displaying Molly’s 8 x 10 images that aren’t on one of the special corner walls. This table sits at the back wall.The other is a 4 foot that will have the Square Reader and the greeting cards/tiles.

When you start out thinking 10 x 10 is a large space and then do scaled drawings to see how everything will fit and still leave enough room for people to enter and look at your stuff without feeling trapped– you realize that 10 x 10 is not really that big.

If you are in the neighborhood next weekend– drop by and see us. If you can’t make it– wish us well and I will try and take a picture of our set up.

For larger image click