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

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

We Are Proud To Announce……….

that Molly and I have been juried into the Manchester Arts “Art At The Crossroads” Artfest,scheduled for September 29.

We have a lot of work to do to get the display walls finished and all the things necessary for our first outside art show. We will try to show some of our display wall construction for those of you that might be interested in such things.

We are excited to be chosen– wish us luck



Courtesy of Take’em Magazine

In the last blog post, I mentioned being published in Take’em Magazine but not being able to post the images and essay due to having my back up drive in Troy Missouri.

Publisher, editor, ‘jack of all trades’ and chief cook and bottle washer, Gordy Gordon was nice enough to send me a pdf file with the actual copy used in the magazine.

I converted it to an image and uploaded it.

Here is the pdf conversion to jpg–

I have tried to set up a down loadable link —  I think it will work– if not, nothing ventured– nothing gained

Thanks Gordy– I appreciate it

Published in Take’em Magazine

Most of you know that my first love in photography is waterfowl. Even now, I try to get away and head to Two Rivers or DiSalvo’s farm as often as I can to try to get duck photos. Some of my favorites are green wing teal, blue wing teal, mallards, golden eyes, gadwall, wood ducks and of course more mallards and pintails.

I had an essay with photos about Northern Shovelers published in Take’em Magazine’s latest issue. I have had ‘writer’s block’ to some degree for several years and it was nice to begin the breaking out process. I hope to continue to make progress with overcoming my writing block.

Unfortunately, my back up hard drive is in Foley, MO and it has the essay and the photos on it. Depending on how long it takes to get it back, I will post it on the blog if it isn’t “ancient history” by then.

Many of the archive blog posts have waterfowl in them. I find going back and looking at them is a good way to pass a hot summer day.

Try it— you might like it