Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What's Behind the Door?


a way of access (upward and downward) consisting of a set of steps

The year is almost over and, as usual, it was filled with the typical assortment of up's and down's. For my part I'd have to say the up's have the lead, despite the sad state of the economy, etc.... and I hope everyone else feels the same.

But, if not, there is always next year!

Wishing everyone the best,


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sleeping Beauty

Sometimes you get a offhand image that works. Today's image of Mallory, my daughter, dozing on the couch is one of them. When I saw her sleeping there under the lamp the quality of the lighting struck me as moody and serene, and I thought enough of it to grab a camera. And, as luck would have it, it came out well

Taken with the little Fuji f31 at iso800. For a compact camera I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall Colors

My favorite Fall scenes tend to be more intimate, not wide and grand, but tight and exclusive. This is, no doubt, a function of the type of Fall views that I have come to expect around Arkansas. Where the wide shots rarely manage to capture the scene in a way that translates well.

These first few images were captured along the upper section of the Buffalo River near Kyle's Landing. We hiked into the site and spent the night there a few weeks before our week-long sojourn on middle and lower portions of the river. It would have been ideal to include this section on our trip, but you have to go where the water is when traveling by kayak.

The last image was captured at the very end of the big trip at Buffalo Point as I waited on my shuttle to show up. The shuttle was 120 miles long so it took about 3 hours round trip for Dave to make the drive. In the meantime I was greeted to one of the loveliest scenes imaginable... a clearing thunderstorm on a fall evening. It was October 31, Halloween. I'd been flipped into the river by tricky currents and a sneaky limb snag earlier in the day... so I guess this was my treat.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Buffalo Chips (excuses, excuses, excuses)

Photography took a backseat to overall immersion during my latest outdoor adventure on the Buffalo River. While still in the planning stages it became evident that carrying a DSLR and even one or two tiny lenses was going to pose a problem. Not so much for getting the thing on the water... that's easy enough, but actually having\taking the time to make good use of it would be the issue. I wound up taking my two pocket cameras instead.

My last week-long outing on the Buffalo was nearly 20 years ago but I was remembering all too well how that went. Of course, it was all film back then, but I recall taking about 8-10 rolls and being worried that I might not have enough. As it turned out, though, I only went through a couple of them.

I learned on that trip that the open water is a hazardous place for a camera. It's bad enough if you are just along for the ride, but add piloting your watercraft to the equation and it gets even more interesting. Taking photos becomes a task that has be balanced against paddling and keeping the craft in a straight-forward and upright position. Now, the Buffalo is not a particularly difficult river to navigate by most standards. There are long, lazy pools separated by short, often feisty rapids. Sometimes the swifter sections are clear and easy, like riding the log flume ride at the amusement park. But other times there are rocks and limbs waiting to capsize those who choose a poor line or fail to execute the required maneuvers quickly enough. All in all it makes photography while on the water challenging.

So what about photography once out of the water when the boat is safely banked? As it turns out, there are problems here too.

Direct sunlight comes up over the Ozark hills late and goes down early. You still have ambient light, of course, but the light isn't predictable because you are moving from place to place within the mountains every day.

Then there are the morning and evening mists. Warm water streams like the Buffalo start creating mists every time the air temp drops below the water temp... which for us was around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. So each chilly evening and frosty sunrise brought about mists that wouldn't burn off until mid-morning.

Then there is the fact that daylight is the time of greatest activity. Once up, there is a fire to be re-stoked, coffee to be made, breakfast to be prepared, tents to be torn down, things to be packed, etc.... And because you are often already late getting on the rive because you were wating on the sun to finish drying the dew\frost off your tent, these moments happen all at once and are often the prime moments for photography. And, of course, in the evening the setup is much the same as the tear down.

Lastly, we really planned too many miles for the conditions (a lesson I thought I learned last time out... only to repeat it again) and wound up having to spend several days on the move with little time for fishing, photography, or other sight-seeing. Stop for 5 or 10 minutes on one of those days and you would spend the next half-hour working hard to catch up with the group.

So, time for photography? Of course, as long you weren't busy with something else.

This image is one of my favorites from only a few dozen Canon S30 images. The flare makes the image seem more interesting than it really is, and, if you look close, you can see all three of my kayaking partners.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Movin' Right Along

I would not be misrepresenting myself to say that I never intended to be away from my blog for so long. It just worked out that way.

No matter. I'm back, sort of, and soon hope to get into the swing of regular posts again. Just how regular remains to be seen.

My photographic efforts remain rather uninspired, but I am working back into it slowly.

The image presented today was actually captured back in May at a local festival. I was just sitting on a bench digesting my latest gastronomic adventure from one of the many barbeque vendors, and I was continually struck by the range and diversity of the footwear passing by. Once I decided to get the camera out, I snapped several dozen shots before the light went flat.

This was my favorite of the bunch. The footwear is normal enough (some were not) but I like the "in-step" feeling I get from it with the two sets of feet moving in unison.

I'm off on a week-long kayaking trip soon to the Buffalo River in North Arkansas. I'm hoping to get at least a few good snaps along the way.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Looking for the Other Side of the Fence

For the time being I will be offline with regards to my (formerly) weekly blog. I'll be back as soon as I have something worthwhile to contribute, and feel that I'm ready to do so.

In the meantime, I'll be taking a break to explore some of the mysteries of the world in greater detail. Soon enough, no doubt, I will get bored with these pursuits (I always do) find some tranquility among the grasses (it will happen eventually) and get myself in a better frame of mind for posting.

Until then,


P.S. For the regular readers of my blog, please don't get the wrong impression. I'm in great spirits, but the creative side of my personality that produces photography is presently at odds with another, different creative side that has nothing to do with imaging. (or blogging!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walking The Line

I know, I know. I had originally promised something new for this weeks post, but that has given way to an older piece that I believe is finally at a point I am comfortable with.

The image was captured at the area around Arches known as the "Windows," and as you can see there was quite a bit of weather blowing through. I took multiple shots of this scene, fully expecting to blend them together later so that I could capture more of the dynamic range than a single image could manage. The problem was that, once back home, I could never get the image to look anything close to what I was after.

I kept after it, and would pull it up from time to time to give it a tweak, and have finally come up with a version that works well enough. The only problem I have with it now is one of ethics. On the one hand I really don't have a problem using photoshop to enhance an image. But on the other there is a point where you have either gone too far, or not quite far enough, to make your image believable. Ted's images, for example, go far enough that there is little, if any, doubt about the manipulation involved. The viewer realizes that they are not looking at a "straight" photo. Andreas' images, however, may have as much work behind them, but they still maintain the look of a more or less "straight" photograph.

Has this image stretched into the realm of fiction, or does it look like a straight enough photo? To be honest I can't tell anymore. I've got too much time behind it. For the sake of comparison I am providing the originally blended and tonemapped result from three images.

Until next time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Once again, a weak, weekly post. (albeit a day late)

I'd thank to thank everyone for their continuing support.

Would also like to note that I have not sat down to comment or even look upon what everyone is doing these days... but I will soon.


'Till next time.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Not many words this week. Just a few peaches.

'Til next time.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Down Time

As far as proper photo "taking" goes, I have been on extended leave. Call it "down-time," if you will. I stopped carrying my point and shoot as a matter of habit back in December, and I have been using various excuses NOT to carry ANY camera into the outdoors of late. And while I'm not sure what it all means, I am cognizant of the fact that I'm doing it.

Admittedly, I have been concentrating on hunting morel mushrooms the past few weeks. So far, though, no luck. In fact, I'm about to consider this year a bust and focus on looking for better sites to search next year. I say this, despite the fact that I just plopped down a not insubstantial sum of money for a shiny new Garmin GPS, an Etrex Venture HC, just in case I did (do) find a morel. Then at least, I would know where to look next year.

None of this, of course, is any excuse for venturing into the forest camera-less, and that is exactly what I have found myself doing.

This week I offer up another old image (goodness I'm tired of saying that) that was taken back in December. It showed up on my drive as a horizontal, but I think it works much better as a vertical. In any case, I guess it's better than nothing at all.

Monday, March 24, 2008


The image I chose to work with for this demostration is an old one. It was shot from the balcony of the second floor in the Old Arkansas Statehouse. And after working with it to put this post together it occurred to me that I could have picked a better subject. This one has more things going on with it than I would have liked, but at the same time the lack of color in the final image simplifies things a great deal. Hopefully the idea will still come across clearly enough. (figure 1--Original image)

The first thing I knew I wanted to do was crop, but because of the distortions there were no straight lines available to draw a crop from. Or at least not one that I liked. So the first thing I did was select the entire image and use the Photoshop Transform command (Edit >> Transform >> Distort) to bend the image and give me some straight lines to work with. (figure 2 -- Transformed)

OK. Thats better. At least now I some straight lines to work with. And in the process I removed an unwanted line as well (the rear section of tiling).

Next, I cropped the image to get the composition I desired.

Now is where the fun stuff comes in. The image was mostly balanced the way I wanted at this point, but the color wasn't working for me at all. I was seeing the image in monotone. So knowing that I was going this direction I made what was to be the first of many selections to manipulate the overall tones. (Figure 3 -- Crop and Initial Selection, Please forgive me for covering both with one image!)

As you can see, I made a selection of the tiling with the Lasso tool, and modified it with a mild tone curve. Next, and this has become one of my favorite tricks, I used the Invert command (Select >> Invert) to select the other half of the image. Then I modify it with a reverse of the previous curve. The trick is making good selections that Feather enough and/or follow existing lines of light and shadow so that you don't notice the transition zones.

The basic technique is nothing new, of course. It's really just the digital equivalent of dodging and burning using selections made with the Lasso tool. But with digital you can also use your selections to do lot more than dodge and burn. If I want to manipulate the color in an area, or the saturation, the sharpness.... whatever, it's all right there, just waiting to be adjusted.

Now, you could easily do something similar and make it even better (less destructive to the image) by working in layers. I typically choose not to because I dislike layers, but that's just a personal preference thing.

For the final image I did several more things. So many that I don't recall them all. But it includes everything mentioned above, along with a conversion to black and white that was later given a sepia tone. I also added a bit of grain.

From the original to the finished piece the individual changes were very subtle, but when taken as a whole they tend to add up.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Picture in a Box

Explaining ones personal approach to composition, even to fellow artists, is always a difficult proposition. I believe most everyone learns the so-called compositional rules--the "rule of thirds," how to recognize and direct "leading lines," image balance, and any number of other esoteric descriptions that can be used to sum up what is essentially a picture in a box, if only so we can break them later.

But it's in the way we incorporate these elements into our work once we have an understanding of the "rules" that things begin to get interesting. This is where style comes in, because I believe no two people will see and compose things in exactly the same way, for all the same reasons. They may end up with results so similar as to make it pointless to dissect the differences, but the approach, the journey, and the motivations, will always be somewhat unique.

In fact, one of the most beautiful things about composition is that you need not know a thing about formal compositional techniques in order to be able to do it well. Some people, it seems, just get it right.

I am not one of those people. I have to work at it to make something happen. (I try to get what I want while framing with the camera, but it almost always takes some fine tuning in Photoshop to get it just right.) The only ideas I try to keep in mind as I'm cropping are how I can bring a sense of balance and order to the composition, and how will the cropping affect the amount of depth (or perceived depth) in the finished product.

That's it.

By keeping the formula simple I like to think I'm keeping the possibilities open. And, as corny as it sounds, I try to listen to the image, to visualize the finished product before I even start working with it. The idea being that if I can understand where an image wants to be, then maybe I can help it get there.

Over the years I have developed a few tricks and techniques to make my visualizations as complete as they can be. Next week I'll share one of my favorites--Selections and selective tonal manipulations.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Composition, Cropping, and Intended Usage

The original idea was to babble on about the kinds of thoughts and ideas that go through my head as try and frame up an image. So here goes:

Does this make sense? Might it look cool from this angle? Would it be better with more or less DOF; and do I even have the light to experiment? Have I seen this kind of image somewhere before? Will this light translate into anything like what I'm thinking once I begin to process it? Is this shot even worth pulling out the camera for? And if I do, I'll look like such a dork... taking a photo of this puddle here in the middle of the street. But then again, who cares? I am a dork. I might as well be a photo taking dork. So take the photo already. Should I bother with a tripod? Maybe I can get away with bracing up against this pole with a beanbag. Should I include some figures in the scene? Maybe if I use a long exposure... What's the lowest ISO I can get away with? And how many shots are left on this card?

These are but a few of the fleeting thoughts that occur to me often as I photograph. Not all of them, all the time, of course, but you get the idea.

Over the years, though, I have come to discover that these questions often end up meaning very little to my final product. I seem to do better if I take LOTS of images to work with and crop thoughtfully later, depending on how I plan to use the image. We get lots of megapixels to work with these days, so we might as well make the most of them.

I still recall how utterly astounded I was after cropping and printing some 11x17 images from a good friend's 8mp point and shoot. I was used to the quality of output from my 6mp DSLR, and initially felt his desire for 11x17 from an 8mp digicam was a real stretch. I wasn't expecting much. Besides, his images were JPEG's, and was used to working with RAW. But I cropped and sized and printed them... and wow! I wasn't used to JPEG's looking so good. And I never would have thought that the 2 extra megapixels on a point and shoot would add anything much to an image. I was wrong.

Those 2mp allowed me to crop just enough for a good composition and still have the image size available for a very large print. One that, quite frankly, looks just awesome. And I can't even take credit for it! All I did was prep it.

None of this would have meant much, though, if I had not been planning on printing it so large. And that, really, is the whole point:

Crop to get the composition you want, not the file size you think you may one day need.

This is probably the best approach to take when cropping, but I don't always follow it. I have a tendency to try and retain the largest file size regardless of how the image is likely to be used. Sometimes, at the expense of what would be a better composition. And, yes, we may want the big print (and need the big file) every once in a while, but it makes no sense to crop images based on preserving a larger file size unless we know we are going to be printing it big.

These are all subjective observations based on my own experience, of course, but really, they seem to hold up in that eyes of almost all non-photographers. I have found that very few photo viewers, who are not also photographers, care anything at ALL about file size, file quality, sharpening, or any of the other stuff we work so hard in Photoshop to create or maintain. They look at the photo, be it a web image or a large print, and get an impression based only on what they see:

Composition, Color, and Clarity.

Photo viewers who know nothing else about an image (such as who or what the subject is, for instance) will respond to the image based only on these three criteria. Besides, if they don't recognize a subject, such as Mom, uncle George, or a Ferrarri F430, what else have they got to go on?

I wanted to discuss my thoughts on compositions first because I have always thought they carried the most weight. Next week I'll babble about what I look for in my compositions and try to explain a little bit about why I make the selections I make.

Now, about the images.

The first example above is not my own work. It's the web version of the 8mp image I printed for a friend showing the famous gooseneck of the Colorado River at Dead Horse Point. The second image is a DEEP crop from a 3mp image that has been Photoshop'd to the point of begging for mercy, but it still makes what I think is a nice web image. Mostly due to its unique composition. It would probably not make a very good print, even in the 8x10 size.

(Incidentally, it was the first image that sold me on going out west to Utah with my friend last year. I mean, who could resist that?)

Monday, March 3, 2008


If you come from anywhere in the South, especially someplace in or around Louisiana, then you probably know what the Cajun Cooking Trinity is all about--Celery, Onions, and Bell Pepper. Yum-Yum.

I hail from south Arkansas, not 30 minutes from the Louisiana state line, so this vegetable trinity has been a constant throughout my life. I don't use many of the meat ingredients common to Cajun cuisine (shrimp, crawdads, blood sausage, etc...) but I do use the Trinity in a large number of the dishes I prepare. As far as I'm concerned, some things, soups and stews, for instance, just aren't done right unless these ingredients are in there. And if I don't I have them fresh, then I'm not afraid to use them dried. Doesn't matter, really, as long as they are in there.

Today's post, however, isn't really about cooking with the beloved vegetable Trinity of Southern Louisiana, it's about my own Digital Image Processing Trinity--Composition, Color/Tone, and Sharpness.

I fell into using this triplet before I was even shooting digital, because this was the method I used for tweaking scans from slide film. Digital just made it easier, not to mention more fun.

Over the past 10 years or so (it was about that long ago when I began working with digital scans) I have developed a good many techniques for image processing that not only suit my style, but please my senses as well. And if I'm not happy with an image, then no one else is ever gonna see it.

Starting next week I'll begin, in some detail, to break down the processes I go through with image making. Not that I feel I have anything new or better to say than anyone else, but just because it seems like a fun thing to do.

As for todays image, it's a real oldie. In fact, this was the shot that ended my use of film forever. back then I didn't know a thing about printing from a "pure" digital image. I was used to seeing at least some film grain, even in my smallest prints, but this image, born of a tiny digicam and printed from an aging HP printer changed all that. From 3.2mp the resulting 8x10 was amazing. Not that the image was that great, it's not, but the print was so colorful, so pure, so EASY. I had done it all by myself, and it was unlike anything I had ever created before. No more film for me.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Curves Ahead

As I write this I'm pushing 72 hours without a cigarette. No big deal if you're already a non-smoker, but it's quite the beginning if you're looking to become one.

I've been here before. Several years ago I managed to "quit" for nearly two and a half years until some nicotine-fit devilry conspired with circumstance and weak-mindedness to start me up again.

So I'm giving it another go.

Today's image is yet another oldie. It was taken with the modified camera contraption I call the mini-view, and it's the extreme DOF manipulation made possible with that setup that gives this image its oddling fuzzy, sharp, then fuzzy again look. Which, in many ways exemplifies how I feel at this moment.

Whatever happens, I'll strive to enjoy the ride.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Might There Be Morels Here?

Some 23 odd years ago a good friend introduced me to morel hunting. You go out into the woods, look around a while, and hope you find some mushrooms. More often than not we came up empty-handed, but it was so much fun when we scored. It was like finding treasure amongst the trees. And the taste... ooh, the taste. Crispy, Nutty, buttery goodness. If you have never had them then you just don't know, and I can't describe them properly. Suffice to say that there is nothing quite like a lightly breaded and fried-in-butter Morel.

In fact, looking back on it all, it's hard to say which I preferred more, finding them or eating them. Because for me the two always went hand-in-hand. And to this day I have never eaten any without having found them first.

For several years we were avid hunters. We noted the change in seasons, the amount of rainfall, the severity of the winters, all in an attempt to make some magical connection that would lead us to another big score. Ultimately, though, what we found was that we could never predict things worth a damn. Those freakin' mushrooms would pop up in places and at times when we weren't even looking, and often fail to surface in the same soil that had them in abundance the years before.

Such are the trials of Morel hunting in Arkansas.

Eventually my friend moved to Tennessee, I moved to south to Little Rock, and Morels became a fond memory of times past. I'd still think about them when the season rolled around (March to June in Arkansas... dependent on where in the state you were looking) and I always kept my eyes peeled for them when I was out, but it's been a long time since I made a concerted effort to find them. Not surprisingly, then, its been a great many years since I have tasted them.

The other night I happened to sitting around chatting with my Daughter when we caught a show on the Travel Channel about hunting Morels. She has never been, so this is the year I begin searching again.

And the image... well, this is one of the places I plan to look. Though it was taken years ago and I have never seen a Morel in there, it's all about the timing. And luck. Lots and lots of luck.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Coco's Coming to Town

It's been a couple of years now since I last saw one of his performances. He always puts on a great show, and I just learned last night that he will be in town this weekend. Yippee!

I got this image at the Hot Springs Blues Fest in '86. Great fun.

Maybe I should do up a print and see if I can get him to sign it?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hash... Re-Hash

As much as I hate to admit it I have come up completely empty this week. This was not for lack of effort. I went out into the world and snapped a good many images, but none of them tickled my fancy once they were back home on the monitor. All in all they amounted to a big, fat... Ack!

So I went in search of an image and came up with this one from the depths of my photographic past.

Titled Winterberry, this shot was entered into an online photo contest on a site called Dpchallenge back in November of 2004. The theme for the week was impressionism, and my image placed 21rst in a field of 39 with an average score of 6.2. Not bad, considering the talent that trickles through there.

Those were the days...

I used to spent a lot of time with sites like Dpchallenge, but I have largely given them up. Just like going to school, they were fun, a great learning experience and all that, but I am rather glad to be done with them. I still keep up my membership to read the forums, and I still feel compelled to enter a competiton once in a while, but for the most part I just don't have the urge to mix it up with that crowd any longer. There is some good stuff going on over there, though. Mighty good. Just be sure to look back through at least the top 100 (200?) images of each challenge. You never know where you'll find the real gems.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Hair in My Soup

The bad thing about finding a hair in your soup is not so much noticing the thing before you ever put the spoon in... that's easy enough to remedy. It's finding it after you have taken a few sips. Somehow, for me at least, this is worse. Much worse.

Why should it make any difference?

I guess finding the hair before I get started prepares me psychologically to indulge in the soup without further concern. I found a hair. I removed it. No big deal.

But, if I have some soup, then find a hair, its like my entire dining experience has been tainted or sullied in some way. It doesn't seem to matter that the soup is just the same no matter when I find the hair (or if I find it at all) or that the fix--prompt removal--is exactly the same in either case.

Which brings me to todays image. Despite its size, I never saw the hair as I was framing the shot. Then, as I began processing it, I had to decide if I should clone it out or leave it in.

One the one hand, this critters hair (a deer, an opossum, a squirrel or a skunk... I have no idea) is certainly a part of the outdoor environment in which the shot was taken. It's natural. On the other, it distracts (if only a little) from the main subject.

In the end I decided to leave it in. I had no moral quarrel with either option, but once I realized I could spin an entire post around this silly hair the choice was made.

Of course, the hair was in my picture... not in my soup. This made the decision to leave it alone a lot easier to swallow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Saturation, Sharpness, and Salvage

Like so many other film_to_digital photographers the first digital tools I experimented with were saturation and sharpness. With a few simple mouse clicks my previously dull and otherwise not so interesting image could be brought up to a new level. One that I imagined more closely matched my perceptions of the scene when the shutter was tripped.

After all, I was there, I ought to know. So was the sunset not truly as crisp and colorful as my newly saturated and sharpened image suggested? Did I go too far and step over some invisible line that took my work from photograph to digital art? To be honest, I worried about such things.

These days I don't worry about it so much, though I try to remain thoughtful whenever using these tools. They are easy to overdo, and I have certainly done it.

I should also mention that, early on with digital, I had a definite fascination with purposely going too far. Sometimes in the name of enhancement, and sometimes to salvage images that otherwise failed to meet my expectations. Ultimately, though, I decided it was not something that I wanted to do on a regular basis. My photoshop skills were sub par. I did good, in my opinion, to not oversaturate, to not over sharpen, and my early digital art creations were often disappointing given the mind-numbing amount of work required to create them. I still consider myself a photoshop novice, and the thought of layers makes me ill. I can use a few simple ones, but I have never really tried to master them. Kudos to those that feel at ease with these tools.

Part of my reluctance towards layers was in their seeming complexity. They may not be that hard, but they required more effort than I initially cared to invest. Besides, I usually work in RAW and developed a certain fondness for reworking the image several times. Once perhaps for web viewing, later as a print, then again as different crop or to try some other technique. The first few runs would be like practice, and once I started sharing the image it was like performing the same song to a different audience each time.

Another thing I began to work with after going digital was the ability to crop. I wasn't used to having so much freedom when it came to choosing the final composition. With film I felt bad if I shaved a little here or there, but with digital you could crop heavily with 3 megapixels and still manage a great web image and usually a decent 8x10. And now, with 6 or more megapixels being the norm, you can carve an image up like a butcher if you want.

Times have certainly changed.

Oh yes. Three images today. A old digital art piece (dogwood in fall colors on Petit Jean mountian), a sunrise image of rocks in Negro Bill creek, Utah, and sunset shot of the Arkansas river.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dancing with the Devil

OK, not really. But the image today is one of the Devil's Walking Stick (aralia spinosa). It's quite common around these parts (central Arkansas) and it is a thorny, dangerous thing, to be sure. Resembling a small tree, or sapling, it's really more of a large shrub as it rarely gets over 15-20 feet in height and the "trunks" are usually no more than 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

They grow in clusters and don't branch much, and when isolated (especially during the winter months) they look like a a stand of thorny sticks stuck into the ground ( hence the name). They are usually found along densely overgrown river banks and in low lying areas where its often hard to notice the thorns before its too late. Yeeouch!

At first glance it might seems as though the thorns would be impossible to miss. And usually they are. But at times they are so interleaved with other vegetation that the thorns get hidden, and the trunks look like the most stable thing to grab onto.

The image was taken using what is perhaps my most favored "botany lens", an old Tamron manual focus 90mm f2.5. It's hard to beat this lens for woods walking. The reasonably fast aperture and excellent optics usually assures a crisp shot.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Black Canyon

It's time for my first post of the new year and I'm almost ashamed to not be posting something new. As you know I have grown rather weary of mucking through the Utah images, so I'm offering up a few from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado.

I only dropped by the Black Canyon for one night before flying out. My companions, though, had spent several days hiking and camping in the canyon prior to picking me up for the trip to Utah. (Nothing like getting picked up at the Montrose airport by a pair of four-day-in-the-canyon, unshowered and unshaven adventure partners.) So while I didn't get to have a "real" inner canyon experience, I did get s small taste of it at the East Portal campground.

The first image is a view of the canyon from one of the many scenic overlooks. The other two are a before and after set. Sort of a photo essay of our dinner that night, smokey trout. It took four hours to cook them over our open fire, but it was worth the wait. I can honestly say I've never tasted anything quite like it.

My companions tell me the trout tastes even better from deep within the canyon... after you have hiked in. Maybe next time.