Monday, January 02, 2017

Website Refresh!

Whenever I get around to it I try my best to update my main website with my latest work.  Not only does it now contain a LOT of new work, but much better key wording so the search feature is actually useful.    It seems I get around to doing this once or twice a year.  I really should get better about it.  Anywho, stop by my site and have a look at what I spend most my time photographing.  Perhaps one day I'll get better about updating this blog.  It's neglected, but not forgotten!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I've made some of my most popular landscape images available over at Etsy.  Check them out and decorate your walls with something beautiful!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Intense!

This Spring, Texas has had record level rain fall.  I've never seen anything quite like it in all the years I've lived here.  We've had so much rain that all the local lakes are reaching or are now over capacity.  They've started releasing water at spillways.  Such was the case last week at the Lake Ray Roberts Spillway.  They opened that puppy 100%, releasing 25,000 gallons a second!  I've never seen such violent and intense water come through that spillway chute.  To get this shot, I had to lean out over the wall, avoiding the high waves which crashed over onto the crowd every couple minutes.  I got soaked, but managed to keep my camera dry... enough.  It was a fun evening.

Lake Ray Robers Spillway

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Wednesday Addams

I teamed up with my friend Alaina to create the adult version of Wednesday Addams.  She pulled it off with perfection!  We were really happy with the photos from this shoot.

Wednesday Addams

Long Live Banter

This was my favorite photo of one of my favorite places to eat and hang out in this little town of Denton Texas.  Banter Bistro was a mainstay just off the town square for 10 years.  They recently closed this past spring.  This made me sad.  But i'll always have the photos I took there to keep my memories alive.  What a great place, filled with great people.

Banter Nights

Catching Some Air...

Skate parks are a great place to shoot some quick action.  I captured this image last summer at the Lewisville Texas Skatepark.  We just showed up with our cameras and some lighting gear and started setting up.  It didn't take long before most the advanced skaters in the park because performing jumps and stunts for us.  It was a fun time.  I shot this with a Canon 5DmkII and a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8mm L II lens.  Funny thing was, when I first looked at this shot, I flagged it as a "reject".  It wasn't until I went back through my photos about a month later that I decided to give this one another look.  After working on it a bit, it's become one of my favorite skateboard shots from the day!

Half Pipe

Etsy Prints Available!

I'm now offering discounted prints over at my new Etsy shop on select photos.  Some of my favorite travel and landscape images can now be purchased on beautiful Kodak Endura Metallic paper.  This prints look absolutely incredible when matted, framed and hung up on the wall.  Check it out!
#etsy #prints #crafts #sale #photo #landscape #travel #art #decor #homedecor

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I'm Pretty Sure It's Time For An Update...

   Ah the burden of social media.  Between personal facebook, fan page facebook, Google+ and twitter, the old blog sometimes slips through the cracks.  Which is a shame because I don't really keep this blog going for it's massive readership (sarcasm alert).  I've kept it going all these years as more of a public diary of sorts.  It's fun to look back at where life has taken me, what I've learned and who I've met.  I've documented places I've traveled to, exciting events in my life and boring days at work.  It makes me sad to look back and see a block of months where I posted nothing.  So time to get things up to date.  Might as well use this post as a recap, right?

    Rather than go in depth about every photo shoot I've done, I'm just going to skim the highlights and give a few words about each image.  As I recall, my last post was in November (geeze..) after an awesome camp out in Beavers Bend Oklahoma.  About a week after returning from camping, I had a really cool session with the very photogenic Rosie. We had been trying to arrange a shoot for over a year and our schedules finally aligned.  Rosie is a very talented roller derby skater.  But unfortunately tore her ACL at the start of this season, putting her out for the year.  I wish her a full and speedy recovery!


     As fall set in and things cooled off closer to Halloween, Denton held its annual Day of the Dead Festival.  At this festival they hold a downhill coffin kart race.  Which is nothing short of hilarious  With the street lined with hay bales and people, karts are pushed off two at a time in a race to the bottom!  Some karts fall apart on the way down, many crash... a few hold together for the win.  Overall, it's a hilarious event!


     October also means it's time to participate in the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk Event!  Groups of photographers around the world gather in their local town and cities to host photo walks on the same day.  We then submit our photos to the Kelby website for voting.  Even if our photos don't win any awards, it's a great time getting out with other photogs, going for a walk with our camera's and capturing the sights of the day.  As usual, the Denton Camera Club held our walk here in Denton where we had a decent turn out despite a sudden rain storm.  I felt it just made photos all the better!


     Winter is usually a slow season for me photographically speaking.  There just isn't much to shoot during the winter in North Texas.  Everything is brown and cloudy.  Blah!  One of the few things I get to shoot are team portraits and head shots for the local womens roller derby league!  These are always one of my favorite types of shoots.  Below are the Hickory Street Hooligans of the North Texas Derby Revolution.  I was really happy with how this team photo came out.  It took a bit of photoshop creativity, as their original location was a little on the bland side.  I think they enjoyed it as well!


     As things warmed up into March, so do the photo shoots.  I had the chance to work with the talented Shelby to practice some lighting and posing ideas.  It was a fun shoot and gave us both some portfolio work.


     Near the end of March the days began to get longer.  Fellow photographer Stephen Masker and I decided to get out early and shoot the sunrise over Denton. We captured some nice images of the Corn Kits building and the Courthouse on the square.  It was a great morning to be up shooting, but it was very windy and cold at our shoot location.  By the time I left, I couldn't feel my hands or face.




     I had the chance to shoot two more local roller derby teams in March.  Below are the Elm St. Nightmares and the Main St. Mafia.  Both came up with great locations for their shoots.  The Nightmares gained access to a boiler room, similar to the one in the Freddy Krueger movies.  And the Mafia got the use of a turn of the century old style bar.  I was really happy with how these came out!




     In April I ventured out again with Stephen Masker to the downtown Dallas area.  We wanted to capture some nice evening images of Victory Plaza and the American Airlines Center.  We shot through dusk and I was most happy with this image from the night.


In May I had the awesome opportunity to shoot from the sidelines of the FC Dallas vs NY Red Bulls match at Toyota Stadium in Plano Texas.  It was a great match and even though the Red Bulls won 1-0, I had a fun time and came away with some nice shots.



   
     Continuing with a sports theme, in late May I headed out to the Oakhill MotoX park in Alvord Texas to shoot some race action.  This was a lot of fun because I used to race motoX myself (on quads) and had not been around that scene in many years.  I'll be headed back out there again to shoot for sure!


   

     In May I went with the Denton Camera Club to the Frank Buck Zoo in Gainesville Texas.  Id been to this zoo a few times over the years, but because we were a camera club we were able to secure a behind the scenes tour.  This was great because it gave us chance photograph some of the animals from perspectives the normal zoo visitors cannot.  It was a fun morning at the zoo.


     April 5th was the opening bout (game) of the Dallas Derby Devils, another league I shoot for.  This is guaranteed action and I always come back with some good derby photos.  This particular photo is actually more of a creative edit.  I added some motion blur behind the skater to highlight her.


Spring in Texas is the idea time for camping, which is one of my favorite things to do!  You have to go in the spring, unless you're ready to handle the 100+ temps of summer a month or two later.  So, some friends and I headed up north into Oklahoma to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.  This place is full of great hiking trails, camping spots and free roaming Bison.  Like this big fella.


And... that pretty much gets me caught up with my photography work the past few months.  I'll try not to let the blog go for five months again!  Geeze.  That's bad.  With it being Spring/Summer now, I should be shooting a lot more.  And with that, I'll update things here as well.
Thanks for stopping by for a read!




   


  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Getaway

Beavers Bend State Park

Those who know me, know I am rarely happy sitting at home on the couch.  I like the outdoors.  Correction.  I LOVE the outdoors.  This is only second to traveling, which ranks only slightly higher.  My only problem is by living in Texas, outdoor activities can be limited by the brutal heat of summer.  And since camping is one of my favorite outdoor activities, attempting to camp during the summer here in North Texas is a lesson in pain.  So, I wait till the spring and fall to get my camping trips in.

About a month ago I was talking to friend and fellow photographer Shaina and I mentioned always wanting to camp at a place called Beavers Bend, near Broken Bow Oklahoma.  It's a fairly secluded place, with rolling woods covered hills, a lake and an ice cold river full of trout.  Located about 4 hours from Dallas... this was the getaway I needed.  Shaina had been to this location before and insisted I needed to go there, so why not get some friends together and let's camp!

A week later we had all the details in order and had added another friend, Katy, to the crew.  Check lists were made, directions mapped and good camp food bought... this was happening!  We knew going into this trip that it could well be one of the best documented camping trips any of us had been on.  Myself and Shaina being photographers and Katy who also enjoys picking up a camera now and then were going to make sure there were photos of all of us and everything we did throughout the weekend.  To put icing on our adventure-cake, weather reports just before the trip showed absolutely perfect weather for the 3 day trip.  Mild days with sun and cool nights would provide great weather for day time activities and night time campfires.

We arrived that Friday evening and were greeted by this river side view at our camp site.  It was difficult not to spend the next hour shooting.  But we had to get setup and start cooking dinner.  We were in the prime color change week of fall.  This was just a perfect start.

With night setting, the campfire going and dinner cooking... we just relaxed and enjoyed the sounds of mother nature.  There weren't many people in the campground at this time.  So it was very remote and peaceful feeling.

After dinner Shaina and I grabbed our camera's and headed down to the dam in the river to get some night photos.  Although it was starting to get cold out, the air was still.  The river was perfectly calm and this location is so far from any major city, the stars were quite bright.  You could even see the Milky Way slightly.






















The next morning we got up, made breakfast and headed up river so Shaina and Katy could do some trout fishing.  I just wanted to shoot while they fished.  It was Shaina's mission to catch us lunch/dinner.  It didn't take long before she caught one!  She named him Henry.  Unfortunately, they didn't catch anymore.  She hooked one more, but it got loose as she reeled it in.





















That evening got quite a bit colder.  But, we were ready for it with lots of clothing layers and a good camp fire!  It was really nice to just sit around the fire and talk, tell stories and laugh.  This is what camping is all about.
























The next morning was the start of our final day in this magical place.  None of us were really ready to go home.  I think all of us could have stayed another 2 to 3 days and been quite happy about it.  But, life in the real world called so we started our day off with camp chocolate-coffee (Shainas brilliant idea) and some amazing food cooked up by Katy!























As we packed up our tents and gear we all knew this campout was a complete success.  We were returning to civilization with great memories and great photos.  What more could we ask for?  And I couldn't have asked for two better camp buddies.  These two were real troopers no matter what challenge we ran into.























I'll be returning to you Beavers Bend.  This is probably one of the most scenic and beautiful camp grounds I've been to.  I felt like I barely scratched the surface of things to see there.  Next time I need to rent a canoe and go down the river and explore some of the hiking trails.  If you're looking for a real outdoor experience, you definitely need to check this place out.  And if tents aren't your thing, they also have cabins for rent.

I could I not return to this?!





Friday, September 20, 2013

Head West Young Man!



Fire in the Skies


The Great American Southwest has always been a region I knew I wanted to photograph.  After my trip out to Moab Utah, I knew there was so much more to see and photograph.  There are enough amazing landscape features and places to explore to keep a photographers attention for months on end.  I knew I wanted to see more, but I had no idea where to start.  So get comfy, this is a long blog post but will contain a lot of valuable information if this is the type of trip you're interested in taking.

That's when friend and fellow photographer, Stephen Masker, approached me about going to shoot the famous Antelope Canyons in Page Arizona.  Of course, I jumped at the chance.  Within a weeks time I had scheduled time off work and begun to research the details of the trip.  We quickly discovered that flying into Page was an expensive method of travel.  Being such a small town, there were no airlines flying directly in.  Most options had us flying into Flagstaff Arizona then taking a puddle jumper into Page.  Our trip was planned for the end of August and every airline search returned ticket prices of around $690 per person!  Well, we both knew we could a lot more with $690 than give it all to an airline.  So we decided to turn this into an epic end of summer road trip.  Stephen's car was practically new, so we'd have reliable transportation and we could switch off driving to make better time.  What this also did was open the door to MANY more photographic opportunities!  After just a bit more research, we began to find many locations along our route that would be incredible to shoot.  We sat down on Saturday and made a list of where we wanted to hit, where we would stay while traveling and how much everything would costs us.  Said and done, we were going to be able to take this entire trip for roughly the same price as the airline would have charge us just to fly there!

Our final location shoot list came down to; Cadillac Ranch, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, Horseshoe Bend, Four Corners, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and a location known as Navajo Bridge.  Because of our schedules, we couldn't leave until a Sunday morning, but we have a week to travel and make it home by the following Sunday evening.  We would leave Sunday, drive 9 hours to Albuquerque New Mexico, then finish the final 6 hours to Page by Monday afternoon.  We were able to reserve our lodging in Page as well.  While other hotels in town wanted $140 to $170 per night, Motel 6 was only charging $70 a night!  All we wanted was a place to sleep, shower and leave our suitcases while out shooting.  So we jumped on that price!

We loaded the car and hit the road at 8am sharp, Sunday August 18th.  Weather forecast for the week and our route was to be mostly sunny and clear.  Great!  The first few hours of the trip flew by.  Fueled by breakfast, coffee, snacks and road tunes, we made it to Wichita Falls TX quicker than expected.  It was there, while Stephen was driving that we got pulled over by a motorcycle cop for speeding.  Oops!  He gave us a seriously lame lecture about how today was a "no tolerance" day, so he had to write us a ticket.  Really?  A no tolerance day you say?  Whatever.  Back to the trip.

The rest of the drive that day was uneventful.  We decided against stopping at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX because it was on the East bound side of the highway and turning around was a hassle. So we bumped it on our itinerary for the return trip.  We arrived at the Best Western in Albuquerque at about 6:30pm and got all checked in.  The room and hotel were actually quite nice!  We grabbed some Mexican food for dinner and then hit the hotel pool and hot tub that evening.  Which felt great since we'd spent the entire day sitting still in the car!  I believe our room rate was $90 for the night.  We were told we were getting some kind of discounted rate because of the day and the room was normally $120.  The next morning we were up at 7am to get packed, check out and grab some food and coffee at Starbucks before hitting the road.  There was an excitement in the air as we put Albuquerque in the rear view mirror.  It must be noted that on this particular morning Stephen was suffering from excitement overload and sounded like a broken record and he repetitively made unintelligible sounds and yelled phrases that didn't make sense.  I just smiled and looked out the window.          

It was on this day things got a little interesting.  Our planned route has us heading West on highway 40 to Gallup NM, then heading North for a short time on 491, then West on 264 and North again on 191 until we hit 161 which takes us to highway 98 and into Page. While we had planned the route on Google Maps, we were going to be a long way from phone data service, so we couldn't use Google Navigation on our phones.  Our backup plan was a Garmin GPS unit for the car.  We believed it to be trustworthy.  Just after passing Ganado, NM, the Google route had us staying on 191 for a long time.  It was then the Garmin GPS tells us to head west out of Ganado and take a new route which could save us almost an hours time.  After a short discussion we decided to go for it.  We stayed on the 2 lane highway and headed West out of the little town.  Suddenly the Garmin tells us to turn right.  We look to the right and see a road that could be better described as a jeep trail.  A cattle guard separated the road from the start of this new dirt road.  We thought surely this must be a quick cut through to a new highway.  After more discussion we decided to take the dirt road and hope it was a shortcut.

Indian Route 52

After about 15 minutes of driving we stopped the car in the middle of the road and were faced with the scene in the above photo.  Later we discovered we were now on what was called Indian Route 52.  One of the many practically unmarked roads cutting through Navajo land.  Used mostly by locals... not by people on cross country road trips.  We had ventured too far to turn back, so we could only go forward.  Our only thought was, "Well... we wanted an adventure.  We got it!".  This "short cut" stretched on through a network of dirt roads for 40+ miles, adding an extra 2 hours to the trip.  Luckily weren't on a tight schedule.  And looking back, this detour gave me some really cool photos.  So in retrospect, I'm quite happy we veered off course... this time.

By 2:30 pm (Arizona time) we were rolling into the outskirts of Page.  We decided to head straight to our first tour at Lower Antelope Canyon since the light was good and we didn't want to waste anytime just hanging out at the hotel.  We found the entrance parking lot and bought "Photographer Passes" at the booth.  They run about $65 per person and give you 2 hours in the slot canyon rather than the normal pass which gives you just one hour.  You then meet up with a guide who takes you through.

Lower Antelope Canyon

The narrow swirling Navajo Sandstone of Lower Antelope Canyon is just an incredible sight!  Everywhere you look is an interesting photo!  At about 50 feet below the desert surface, sunlight turns from orange to deep purples and air is cool.  It's a really nice place to spend a summer afternoon!  The main difference between the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are how they are shaped.  The upper canyon is wide at the base, where you walk.  The corridor gives visitors anywhere from 4 feet to about 15 feet to walk and is one constant elevation.  This means it's less physically demanding, hence more people.  The Lower canyon is wide up near the surface and becomes narrower near the base.  The path way in Lower is between 2 to 10 feet wide and has a number of near vertical metal steps you must navigate as you descend through the canyon.  The steps have guard rails to hang on to, but with a full load of camera gear and a backpack, it can be a challenge.  But it's nothing to be afraid of.  For example, my friend Stephen is in horrible shape.  Yet he was able to get through it with only some heavy breathing (sorry buddy! LOL).  Probably the most challenging part was the exit, where you have to climb a series of 3 near vertical steps/ladders and then hike up hill out of the canyon.  Stephen had to stop for a bit.  Something about not being able to feel his hands or face. Whatever.

Upper Antelope Canyon is just as beautiful, but in it's own way.

Upper Antelope Canyon

The most famous features of the Upper canyon are these beams of light.  But you have to get there for the mid-day tours to see them.  I believe it was the 12pm to 2pm tour we were on.  They also offer Photographers Passes.  I believe they were like $80 each.  By the end of the tour the beams were disappearing.  We hear other tourists who were just arriving at 2pm, asking where the beams were.  Too late... they were gone.  Just like Lower canyon the guides lead you, tells you about some history, the best places to shoot, etc.  The guides are all very friendly and knowledgeable.  At each open area where there is a light beam the guide will let the people who purchased photographer passes setup their tripods and get ready.  He (or she) will then throw some sand up into the beam of light.  Everyone snaps away and hopefully you get a good photo.  They are also kind enough to stop traffic both ways so no one enters the scene while everyone is shooting.  Our guide in the Upper canyon, Sonny, was even awesome enough to yell at some kids who were back tracking from another group and entered our scene.  Yeah, get'em!!

Sunset at Horseshoe Bend

After spending the afternoon shooting the slot canyons, we decided to head just a few minutes South of Page to the famous Horseshoe Bend.   Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe shaped meander in the river and is about 5 miles South of the Glen Canyon Dam. Reaching the bend is a fairly easy 3/4 mile hike up and down a sandy trail. It's best to wear hiking boots or shoes because of the soft sand and loose rocks. And be sure to bring water. Once you reach the edge of the bend, use caution. There is no railing and it's a sheer 1500 foot drop to the Colorado River below, giving you enough free-fall time to fully ponder how you got yourself into this mess. But the view from this location is fantastic!  This location is totally free to visit.  There's a gravel parking lot just off the road to park in and the best time to shoot there is dusk because you're facing West.  I've seen a few sunrise photos take there.  They don't look bad, but the canyon has a lot of dark shadow during the morning hours.

By Wednesday we had completed 2 trips through Lower Antelope Canyon and one through the Upper and hit Horseshoe Bend a couple times.  We decided to head back 2 hours east on highway 161 to Monument Valley Utah.  Just the drive from Page to this location takes you through some of the most incredible terrain Id ever seen.  Make sure you fill up your gas tank before leaving Page.  There are no gas stations until you reach the town of Kayenta.  Running out of gas between the two places would be... not good.  At one point I looked out the window and saw what I thought was a bunch of little goats running near the road in the desert.  I re-focused and looked closer to see it was a wild dog pack, maybe 20 strong.  Probably not something you want to deal with in the dead of night.    

Monument Valley Highway



So, above is a location in Monument Valley known as Mile Marker 13 on US 163 Scenic.  This happens to be the same spot Forest Gump was running down in the movie when he stopped and said he was done running.  It's an often photographed spot, but I wanted to get the shot while there, since I may never return.  I'm really glad I did get this shot, I was really happy with how it came out.  Ideally I would have liked to have had a nice partly cloudy sky and the warm glow of a setting sun.  Instead we had these storms moving through.  Although I believe I would have rather had this weather than cloudless blue skies.  This is something I could work with!

With three days remaining in our trip and most the Page locations shot, we planned our final leg of this journey..... the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon Sunset

After roughly a 3 hour drive (we had to take a longer detour because hwy 89 South out of Page had been washed out in a recent storm) we arrived at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Words, nor photo's can fully describe the sight you're greeted with when you first roll up to the visitors center parking lot and see what's in front of you.  It's literally the biggest hole in the Earth I have ever seen in my life.  And a very beautiful one at that.  Staring into it, it's hard to comprehend how long it took to form.  We had one day at this location and got to spend a few hours shooting sunset and the dusk hours.  Just as we were finishing, a thunderstorm moved in and it started raining heavily.  We had planned on getting up and shooting sunrise before heading out.  But when we woke up the next morning, it was still pouring rain.  This is a location I could have spent a week at alone!  Guess I'll have to go back sometime.  We stayed at the Best Western Grand Canyon in Tusayan, just South of the South Rims park gates.  We called ahead before leaving Page to secure a room and they happen to have a one night rate (Friday) for $90.  I have a feeling this was a pretty cheap rate compared to normal.  This location is a Best Western "Premiere" and had lots of amenities, including a bowling alley on the first floor!  Yes, we went bowling.

We headed out early Saturday morning, driving South to Flagstaff Arizona.  From there we would turn East and have a straight shot home.  Well, a 9 hour straight shot.

The Big Bang

Located about 30 miles East of Flagstaff Arizona is this hidden gem.  About 50,000 years ago a meteor the size of a car struck the Earth traveling 26,000mph.  The result was this mile wide crater  which can be visited today.  This is one big hole in the ground!  If you look closely at the bottom right of the crater rim, you'll see the observation deck with 2 people standing on it.  They say this is one of the best preserved meteor craters in the world and has been used by NASA as a training location in the 1970's.  We had no idea it was even there.  As we drove down the road, we suddenly saw signs saying "Meteor Crater - Next Exit".  We had to see it and I'm glad we stopped.  Admission at the visitors center was $16 per person.  They have a gift shop which has all types of meteor and outer space related gifts and lots of historical items to look through.  Pretty cool!

We finally arrived home by Sunday evening, exhausted.  This is probably the most epic road trip I've taken to this point in my life.  We covered 3,300 miles over 7 days.  I shot around 1200 photo's using the Canon 5DmkII and the Canon 1DmkIV.  I only used 3 lenses the entire trip; the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L and the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L.  While both our camera's performed great in the blowing sand and occasional rain storm, they both needed a good cleaning once home.  I have a sensor cleaning kit and I'm pretty good at cleaning them, so I had everything back to new'ish withing a couple days.  It's taken me almost a month to get through all the images.  It was a lot of (fun) work taking this trip.  But the photo's and memories I returned home with made it all worth it.

Remember, never stop exploring.