Spirit of the Suwannee Music Camp, Live Oak, FL - One of our favorite places to stay in the panhandle area of Florida is the 800-acre Spirit of the Suwannee Music Camp, located just north of Live Oak and situated right along the Suwannee River. While they specialize in various camp experiences for young musicians, they are also open to travelers and have a couple large camping loops with full hookups. One reason we like it is all the shade! The forests are evergreen pines with Spanish moss draped around. Several music concerts are held here, as well. During the winter months, you can visit the bat house and watch thousands of them take off every dusk. They can also accommodate horse campers. During the winter months, they have a small village with various artisans selling their crafts. More info: www.musicliveshere.com.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tundra at Sunset, Montgomery, AL - Well, I eventually had to show you our tow vehicle! It's the only thing that hasn't broken on this trip! The last couple days have been eventful, but little in the way of photography was done. We stopped to visit Sheila's cousin, Jeane, who recently retired from the USAF. She had spent the last five years as an AWACS officer, running battlefield strategies in various parts of the world. She's also a talented artist, mainly painting horses (her specialty) and other wildlife. We hit it right off; comparing recent photos. The next day, we headed across the ROUGH roads of Arkansas and (yesterday) managed to blow out a trailer tire, which I replaced in 102-degree heat. Then, some time later, a leaf spring broke on the other side...something I didn't realize for at least a couple hours. Finally, limped into our next camp in West Memphis, AR, right along the Mississippi River. Sure glad the A/C in the trailer works as well as it does! The next day - today, actually - we were able to find a shop to replace the leaf spring (bought an extra!) and replace four tires - one of which was about ready to blow out. They had scrubbed badly, wearing off much of the tread, due to the catywumpus angle of the axle. During the time they were replacing the spring, I noticed that one end of the bracket holding our 40 gallon water tank had torn off from the frame, so they were able to weld it back. Lesson: avoid I-40 through Arkansas! Hopefully, we'll make it to Florida and more photos!
Sunset, Tucumcari, NM - We camped here the first real day of our road trip to Florida. The next two days, we'll be visiting Sheila's cousin, Jeane near Oklahoma City. I have a week-long photo assignment in Ft. Lauderdale and we have a week to get there. We'll head through Arkansas, through Memphis and down through Birmingham and Montgomery to the Florida Panhandle. The sunsets in the desert can be rather spectacular in the summer time, as there is a good chance for clouds this time of year. To get the sun this big, required a 300mm lens with my new Canon Rebel T2i (1.6X crop factor), for a total effective 480mm.
Hummingbirds in Camp - Getting away a little late from the wildflower tour, we ended up camping in Tucumcari, NM - on our way to visit Sheila's cousin, Jeane. A travel day today, so not much of interest taken. Before we left Ouray, Sheila spent some time photographing the hummingbirds at the bird feeder she had set up. The Canon S3 IS compact camera does a great job freezing the wings, so long as they are in the up or down position. Here's a couple feeding. As soon as she hung it up, the hummers just mobbed the feeder!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wall from Miner's Cabin - This was a travel day for us, as we head for Florida and a week-long photo assignment in Ft. Lauderdale. So, I'll pull one more image from our collection taken yesterday in Gold King Basin. Just outside the turnoff to the basin, is the ghost town of Alta - now a collection of old cabins in various states of collapse. After the group finished photographing the flowers, we spent some time exploring around the old town. I was particularly attracted to the patterns in the old wood siding.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Indian Paintbrush - We took the tour group to a new wildflower location today - Gold King Basin - near Telluride. This little-visited wildflower hotspot is more lush than Yankee Boy, but is smaller in size. The colors, though, are fabulous. This yellow hybridized indian paintbrush is one of four varieties that grow there. Besides indian paintbrush, other flowers included larkspur, sneezeweed, geraniums, large quantities of columbine and many others. We ended the day with a group image critique and dinner. We all had fun and our tour participants went away with a wonderful collection of wildflowers and Colorado scenics. Can't wait for the fall color tours!
Today was the first full tour day for wildflowers! We started off with world-famous Yankee Boy Basin, which is a few miles from Ouray, CO. There was a large variety, but typically not as dense as other areas. Following lunch and a critique session, we headed off to Mineral Basin, where this picture was taken. The flowers there were a lot more lush than Yankee Boy, with several new species I'll need to look up. Tomorrow, more wildflowers.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Wildflower "Zoom-Blur" - OK, call me crazy, but I do like to experiment with abstract art, as many of you know from past pictures of the day. Maybe one out of a hundred images turns out to my liking and this is one of the few that struck a responsive chord.I like how the reds balance the whites in this shot and that the focal point is dead-center. Zoom-blurs are created by adjusting for a slow shutter speed - maybe 1/8th of a second - and then you simply zoom your lens during the exposure. I normally start with the lens zoomed out and then zoom it in (towards the telephoto setting). Experimentation often helps. There are also "twist-blurs" and horizontal or vertical "nudges", but I'll spare you!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Sheila, Adam and I did a little scouting in the classic Colorado wildflower location, Yankee Boy Basin, near Ouray this morning. The day dawned cloudless and hot, but with a little breeze, which helped cool us. While a little rough, the road in to YBB is relatively good for the typical Colorado 4WD road and, with careful driving, a regular car can get in pretty close. However, at least a high-clearance vehicle is the best bet. Much of the road up to the basin is a "shelf" road - that is, it's been cut into a steep cliff face. Needless to say, the views are breathtaking - downwards! This is a shot from the upper basin and looking westerly towards 13,809-foot Dallas Peak. There are many varieties of wildflowers there this year, including a few new ones I'll have to look up. The orange bloom is indian paintbrush. I believe the yellow flowers are mountain parsley and I'm not sure about the white ones. There were also several clumps of columbine along the hillside.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
We're starting up another round of Pictures of the Day for your viewing pleasure! Sheila and I are at the beginning of a four- to six-week tour, starting with our annual wildflower tour through the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. After that, it's on to Ft. Lauderdale for a week-long photo job and then we'll be traveling up the east coast to Kentucky and Tennessee; both states we haven't explored yet. Associate instructor, Adam, joined us today and we're all camped at the KOA near Ouray, CO. Tomorrow, we're planning to scout out the best areas prior to the arrival of our clients. Adam and I actually were able to squeeze a little time at the end of the day and explored the Mineral Basin area. There were an amazing number of wildflowers there - both in variety and quantity. We'll be adding this area to the tour this weekend, for sure! One thing that struck me was the number of columbines (our state flower). There were literally thousands all across the hillside. More than I've ever seen before! We're going to have fun with this!
Friday, July 02, 2010
Crystal Geyser, UT - One more bonus picture for you! This is a shot of the terraced formations around Crystal Geyser near Green River, UT. While it never erupted while we were there, the terracing is very photogenic near sunset. The pipe you see is where the eruption occurs. Crystal Geyser is powered by carbon dioxide, rather than geothermal activity. It was originally an exploratory well drill to locate oil, but it never produced and was never properly capped. It was drilled down about 800m and ended at a fault zone containing a reservoir or CO2. Cold-water geysers powered by CO2 are very rare and Crystal Geyser is the world's largest. A recent study confirmed eruptions were at regular 8 or 22 hours intervals - that is, it's bimodal. About 2/3rds of the time, the intervals are the shorter, while the remaining times are the longer. We keep driving out here in hopes of seeing an eruption, but so far, no luck!
Well, that's it for photos of this trip. We were happy to have all of you along for the ride! Thanks very much for all your comments!
Ken & Sheila
Gizzard Stones, UT - During our stay at Green River, Utah, we traveled a couple times to Crystal Geyser, just south of town about five miles. On the way there, we ran into a layer of Morrison Formation (very colorful...greens, grays, reds) - which is typically where you would find dinosaur bones. While we found no bones, we did locate several "gizzard stones", or more appropriately, gastroliths. These are small rocks the beasts would swallow to help crush up their food. After time, these small stones would become highly polished and eventually pass through the digestive system. There are several ways to identify gizzard stones. First, they are highly polished, as mentioned, such that they actually feel "soapy" to the touch. Second, they are usually found in the desert amidst mainly sharp, angular rock - i.e., they seem out of place. So why would they not be river rocks? River rock is generally much rougher in texture. So next time you're out in the desert, keep a sharp eye out for these!
Claret Cup Cactus Blooms, San Rafael Swell area, Utah - June is typically a good month to catch cactus in bloom. Here is a shot of claret cup cactus. Since the sun was out and it was mid-day, this would have been a tough shot to capture without the subject becoming grossly contrasty. To soften the light, I used a diffusion screen directly between the flowers and sun. The softer light allows finer details in the flowers and decreases the harshness of the shadows. You'll learn how to do this in our wildflower tours coming up next month!