Time To Get Back To Work...

I ran into a friend at an art event here in Rockport last night. She said that she had just visited my website and saw that I hadn’t posted in blog entry in months. And she’s exactly right…

After finishing up the 2019 Wildlife In Focus photography contest in July, I was frankly just burned out. I gave this contest just about everything I had in me. I’m extremely proud of the portfolio of my images that I submitted for judging. And after an excruciating wait of months, the winning images will be announced this Friday… October 28!

Yes… I am excited but cautiously so! Three judges decide who’s in and who’s not in. I do know that I have at LEAST one image in the book, but selfishly I want more… a LOT more. Do I deserve more? You bet I do! I gave this contest the very best effort I could for six months. I feel that I got everything I could out of the Johnson Ranch. It was such an honor to represent the Johnson’s in this contest, and I’m hoping for a strong placing this year. We’ll know soon…

I’m heading up to Caddo Lake in Eastern Texas in a couple of weeks to do some work. I’ve wanted to shoot there for a long time, and am really looking forward to making this trip a memorable experience.

So I’m feeling the urge to get back “out there” and make some good images. I’m ready…



“I Can See For Miles” Rockport Beach Park, Rockport, TX



Back To Normal... But Not Really!

OK… So I’ve finished the 2019 Wildlife In Focus photography contest. I made all of my final portfolio decisions and turned them in on time. Now we wait… and wait… and wait! It’ll be October before I hear anything. Thats just the way it works…

Immediately after finishing the WIF contest, I did some volunteer work for the Rockport Center For the Arts 4th of July Art Fest. It’s a big show and it takes a lot of work to make it happen. As it’sl ikelyy to be here on the Coastal Bend… July was a scorcher. Hot and humid! The Art Fest was a huge success…

I just returned to Rockport from a 10 day road trip out to Breckinridge, CO and Santa Fe, NM. Honestly… I was just pretty burned out. I felt that I needed to get away from here and get charged back up again. While I did take a lot of my camera gear, I made a decision to follow Georgia O’Keeffe’s sage advice to “Take time to look”. I used my iPhone camera almost exclusively on the trip… and loved it! It was good to be in pure tourist mode and just have fun. I probably used my Canon gear for less than 25 clicks. (I’ll post one below). What I did do was to work on composition in a completely different environment. And my iPhone gave me the freedom to be spontaneous and just try to make good images. I had fun…

So now that I’m back here, I have some photography projects that I want to do. I’ll be shooting for just me for the first time this year. No required categories and no restrictions! I’m looking forward to doing some good work. Let’s see what happens…

“Summer Aspens” Breckinridge, CO

I’ve always wanted to photograph Aspen trees in mid September when their leaves are brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. But I was there in July, and had to try and create something different than my vision. So I decided to use shadows and highlights instead of those beautiful colors. I like this photo of the “Summer Aspens” …


45 Days...

The 2019 Wildlife In Focus contest has been tough for me. Selfishly… I hope all of the other competitors are feeling the same way…

Everything is different this year. Some songbirds aren’t showing up when historically they should… and many others just aren’t showing up at all. I’m not seeing many rodents and other small mammals. It’s pretty strange…

Other categories are really working out for me. I feel that I’ll be strong with alligators, deer, and some of the other bird categories. We’l see soon…

In my heart I know I’m doing everything possible to make it happen for me this time. I think I’m a skilled shooter, and I’m putting in the necessary time on the ranch. I just need Mother Nature to smile on me…

Whooping Crane Portrait Aransas County, TX


Good Intentions...

Yes! I had very good intentions about journaling more often. It hasn’t happened…

I have reasons… actually they are excuses… for not following through on this. The reasons (excuses) are exactly the same ones I use not to workout more or get this place organized. A least I’m honest…

The Wildlife In Focus contest has been challenging for me. Ever since January we have had crazy bad weather here on the Coastal Bend. Lots of rain and almost daily heavy fog. It makes it tough to get decent images… but I’m trying! It’s probably the same for most everyone in the contest. I still have a little over 2 months to shoot this contest. We’ll see…

More later…

Turkey Vulture #2 Hidalgo County, TX

Update...

I know… I know… I know…

I said I was going to be much more dedicated in keeping my Journal updated. Well… that hasn’t happened! Give me another chance…

The big thing going on right now is the 2019 Wildlife In Focus contest.I’ve been trying to get out to the Johnson Ranch every day, but the weather just has been awful. We’ve had fog and rain almost every day for a month now. The ranch is so saturated that I keep expecting to get my Jeep stuck.There aren’t really any roads out there. In spite of the bad weather, I feel like i’m off to a pretty fast start with some good images. Fortunately, the contest runs thorough June 15. I still have some time…

I was elected to the Rockport Center for the Arts Board of Directors this year. It’s an exciting time because we are in the midst of planning a new art center here. The old one on Navigation Circle was a total loss after Hurricane Harvey. Everyone is really looking forward to having a brand new art center here in Rockport. Ground breaking soon…

More later…

Juvenile Great Egret Galveston County, TX



Here We Go Again...

Yesterday was Day 1 for the 2019 Wildlife In Focus photography contest. I parked my Jeep at the gate and took a few minutes to reflect on what the next 5 months MIGHT have in store for me. The decision to compete again this year was an on and off situation... for a lot of reasons. I'm glad that I was there at the gate and ready to go.

After making the photo below with my iPhone 8 Plus, I entered the code and the gate swung open. I spent the next 4 hours just driving around. The weather was just horrible… drizzle, cold, windy, and no light. All I could do is just scout out different locations on the ranch for some of the various categories I need to photograph. I left a little after noon and drove back home.

I was going to say that “tomorrow is another day”, but this IS tomorrow… and it’s raining again. Well… tomorrow is another day!

Johnson Ranch Entrance Aransas County TX

Out With The Old... In With The New!

2018 was a very good year for me both personally and professionally. Still have a way to go on some things, but I’m getting there…

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m getting ready shoot the 2019 Wildlife In Focus photography contest. I’m going out to the Johnson Ranch this afternoon to begin my scouting and planning. January 15 is just a few weeks away and I want to hit it full speed. This will be an action packed 5 months of photography!

I believe I became a better photographer in 2018. I’ve worked pretty hard on my post-processing skills, and I feel it shows up in my images lately. I’m pretty locked into a workflow that both feels good and provides me with all of the tools I need. Still want to get better…

I bought into the Studio C Gallery in Corpus Christi. Not only is it a pleasure to have 4 highly creative artists as partners, I’m enjoying the luxury of having my own place to show my art.

And finally I want to thank all of my FB Friends and fellow artists who have supported me, encouraged me, challenged me, and inspired me all year. Thank you very much!

Best wishes to all for a healthy and prosperous New Year…

Boat-tailed Grackle Trio Aransas County TX


2019 Wildlife In Focus

Nope! I had pretty much decided that I wasn’t going to do this contest anymore… for a LOT of different reasons.

My dear friend and owner of the River Ranch near Woodsboro, TX, Wade Grassedonio and I had talked about entering again many times over the last year or so. The River Ranch had taken a real beating from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Having said that, it continues to be a place that I’ll always love.I shot the 2013, 2015, and 2017 Wildlife In Focus photography contests on this ranch. Thats a lot of time being out there! Wade and I had pretty much agreed that both us and the River Ranch had had enough of this contest. And then something magical happened…

Out of the blue, I reached out to Al and Diane Johnson… owners of the Johnson Ranch and the world famous Crane House Retreat in Lamar, TX. This is a very special place and it’s very dear to me both personally and professionally. I’ll get in to this in future posts.

It was a long shot but the Johnson Ranch was the only place I’d shoot the contest again. Six months is a LONG time to commit to anywhere,. But the Johnson’s said “YES… we’d love for you to represent us”!

So this old guy is gearing up for one more Wildlife In Focus contest. I plan to be journaling here frequently as I prepare for the January 15, 2019 start. Once the contest gets going, I’ll continue to update here as to how Mother Nature is treating me. I’m excited

This is an image I made last year on the Johnson Ranch. It’s so diverse and full of life out there. Let me know what you think…


The Johnson Ranch Lamar, TX


Light Is Light...

I like to make low light photographs. For me there's something about being out in the dark waiting for the very first light of day. Sometimes I get help...

I made the image below around 6:00 AM yesterday. This time of the year it's still plenty dark at that time. I was driving to my planned location and saw across the bay that Port Aransas was really being lit up by the low cloud cover reflecting the city lights. I also saw a street light illuminating the left side of the frame. I changed my plan...

I'm always looking for the very best light. This morning I found 2 man-made sources to make my photograph... the street light and the reflected city lights. It was a good morning...

Port Aransas Lights   Aransas County, TX

Breakthrough...

In my last posting, I had to admit that I was trying to come out of a real lock up. I just didn't feel very creative. I had a hard time even getting my gear out of my studio. It just wasn't there...

Last weekend Sharon and I had a well known Rockport artist over to our home. We commissioned her to do a watercolor for us. We had seen a photo of a painting she did of some of the old oaks out on the Johnson Ranch in Lamar, TX. It was the exact spot where Sharon and I exchanged our wedding vows over 6 years ago. The original has been sold several years ago, We are so excited and can't wait to see our new piece.

I happened to mention to this artist that I was struggling with my art. She gave me some very sage advice. In her experience, this was my inner self telling me to move on. I needed to get out of this rut by giving myself permission to take my art in a different direction. She believes that an artist needs to break out of the bad habit of staying in our comfort zones. Shooting the exact scene... or something very similar... every day isn't healthy. This message really resonated with me. I'm going to  take her advice...

I'm so glad this conversation happened. I feel better already...

"Abandoned"  Aransas County, TX

I'm Back...

I think I'm back. It's taken a while to want to make art again. I kind of feel like I've worked through it...

I just couldn't make myself get my gear together and go shoot something... ANYTHING! My creativity tank felt empty. I kept asking myself "how long can this go on"? Way too long...

It felt so good this morning to be back "out there"! I refused to allow any of the numerous excuses I've been using for NOT shooting to take over. I drove 5 minutes to one of my favorite places. it was still very dark when I parked the Jeep and gathered my gear...

I set up and just waited. I didn't even touch the camera for 10 minutes. It felt so good to smell the salty air. I could hear the birds start to wake and move around. And then I opened my eyes and went back to work...

Estes Flats #9  Aransas County, TX

July 4, 2018

OK... so today is the 4th of July 2018! So why am I posting this image I made LAST year on the 4th of July. I mean a fireworks display isn't really time sensitive. Fireworks are fireworks. Most fireworks displays are pretty much the same. A rather slow start and then gradually building to the "grand finale"! See one... seen them all.

Please don't get me wrong. I enjoy a rousing 4th of July fireworks display as much as anyone. And I will be out there this evening probably making photographs. But nothing I shoot tonight can match the photo below.

Like I said, I made this photo last year. How can you tell? Sadly... it's easy. In the lower right corner of this image you can see the Rockport Beach Park bandstand.  it was a painted semi-circle structure with a Great Blue Heron wading in the bay and emblazoned with ROCKPORT TEXAS! You had to drive by it as you made your way down the park. It was an iconic piece of this town.

It's gone! One of many victims of Hurricane Harvey. I miss seeing the old bandstand. By tonight the fireworks display will light up Little Bay one more time. It'll be a classic fireworks display. But... there won't be any images of the bandstand this year...

The Fourth of July 2017

 

 

Still At It!

Things are getting better and better here every day... in EVERY way! I just need to get back out there shooting...

Honestly... I just haven't felt very creative or motivated lately. Sure, we've had lots of rain here in Rockport. We needed it so bad that I can't even complain about it. But... thats just another one of many excuses! I'm not the guy who makes images just to make images. I want to make art! And to do that, I need to feel creative. 

It's coming back! I can feel it. I'm thinking about images I want to make, and even more important, how to make them. I wish I could just posh a button or flip a switch. It's not that easy for me. 

Give me a week and lets see what happens...

( I made this image several years ago here in Rockport on Water Street. I used to go there and shoot 3 or 4 times a week. It was beautiful then, and I'm sure it's just as beautiful today. I'll go there this week for sure...)

 

"Water Street #3   Rockport, TX

I Can See The Light...

It's taken me quite a while, but I feel  I'm coming out of the darkness. I don't think many of us fully appreciate the impact a natural disaster like a hurricane has on every aspect of lives. I didn't. It does... trust me! They say 'time heals"... and it does. I'm officially moving on. This will be the very last time I look back. I'm not lying to myself this time...

I went to one of my favorite sunrise locations this morning. I was excited. I was eager to see what Mother Nature was going to give me this morning. She was very generous... and I'm thankful! 

I think I'm OK. Aransas Bay and Estes Flats are better than OK. Let's do this...

 

Estes Flats #7   Aransas County, TX

Healing...

It's been 9 months since Hurricane Harvey tried to destroy my home town. Rockport, TX was severely wounded. Many homes were lost... and lives were changed on August 25, 2017.

I stopped making landscapes of Rockport until yesterday. I took a few images of the damage right after the storm... and then I just couldn't do it any more. It didn't seem right to me. No... It's not that I didn't love this place anymore. It's just that I didn't want to show it hurt.

A few days ago I started to feel it. I felt a change here in Rockport. Things were getting better faster. Attitudes were becoming much more positive.. We were healing...

I wanted to shoot my neighborhood again. I went out yesterday morning and made some images from my neighbors deck out across Estes Flats and Aransas Bay. All of the reasons that I chose Rockport as my home came rushing back to me.

It's only going to get better and better...

 

"Islands of Rockport #4"  Aransas County, TX

Finally!

This is an image I've dreamed for years about making! And finally I have it...

I was watching an Alan Murphy video several years and saw a similar shot he made. His original setup was different, but the Meadowlark singing his heart out is similar. I wanted to reproduce his shot, tried several times on my own, and never got it right. 

So last month I was up on Galveston Island doing an Alan Murphy migrating songbird workshop. One morning he asked us if we'd like to shoot a meadowlark. YES I would! Alan had been scouting the area and knew where there were a pod of meadowlarks working a beautiful field. I couldn't wait...

It took Alan maybe 5 minutes to get the setup prepped for the meadowlark. It took probably another 2 minutes for this handsome bird to climb up on the perch and begin to sing and sing and sing. 

So now I have my version of this shot. It was worth the wait...

 

Eastern Meadowlark  Galveston County, TX

A Great Experience...

Yesterday I returned to Rockport after spending almost a week up on Galveston Island. I went there to participate in a photography workshop... as a student.  Well I know how to use my camera, and have been a "full-time" shooter for almost 10 years. Why would I spend the money going to someone else's workshop? Lots of reasons...

I wanted to photograph songbirds migrating north for the spring/summer. This is an annual event and I wanted to be in the perfect place at the perfect time to do this. I could have gone there on my own, but wouldn't have had access to the best place on Galveston Island to see these birds.

I would have also missed out on the workshop leader's years and years of experience studying these birds during their migration.  These guys know the set-ups needed to get some amazing images of a LOT of different species... right in front of you. Their knowledge of the habits of each species really shortened the learning curve for me. Why reinvent the wheel?

And then theres the fellowship of being with 4 other expert photographers wanting exactly what you want. We were all there for basically the same reason. Sharing experiences with like-minded people is a good feeling. I made friends that I will definitely keep in touch with on a regular basis. 

Was it worth it? You bet! Will I do it again? You bet!

This is a bird I would have NEVER found on my own. It's a Seaside Sparrow. This sparrow does't migrate... living all year in the salt marshes of Texas. We hiked out in the marsh to find this handsome small bird perching on tall shoots of marsh grasses and singing his heart out. We had to kneel in the wet and muddy marsh to wait... but it was a treat.

 

Seaside Sparrow  Galveston Island, TX

Make The Time...

As usual, I've been a bit busier than I'd like to be. What I need to do is make some time to work my journal...

Things are a bit different for me since I became a partner at Studio C Gallery in Corpus Christi. I have to be in the gallery one day a week. At first I thought that would be not a good thing for me. I'm just not a stay inside person. But I actually enjoy the time I spend in the gallery. We're trying some different things there... and it's fun.

Teaching is something else I've worked into my life. My monthly "Photography Boot Camp" courses at the Rockport Center for the Arts are a treat for me. I find it rewarding in a lot of ways. I'm getting a lot of requests for private lessons, so I'll probably add that to my schedule.

I'm leaving today for Houston, and then on to Galveston Island to photograph the Spring Songbird Migration. I'll be up there until next Tuesday... and can't wait to see what species "fall out". These migratory birds leave the Yucatan peninsula at dusk and fly over the Gulf of Mexico all night. Galveston Island is the first landfall they find, and they literally fall out of the sky from exhaustion. After eating and drinking for a few days, they're back on their way. Can't wait...

This is an image of a Northern Mockingbird and Great Kiskadee having a heated moment.I made it down in the Rio Grande Valley in January. Now that was a great trip...

 

Angry Birds #2

Wow!

Both of my "lives" have been crazy lately... crazy good!

It feels good to sit here and start to journal this morning. Looking over at my postings, I see I haven't done this since February 16... over a month. I've missed this! It's therapy time for me...

I did go ahead and buy into the Studio C Gallery. Studio C is a nice private art gallery located inside of the Art Center of Corpus Christi. I have 4 nice partners and I seem to be enjoying this experience. I have to work in the gallery 1 day a week... and in exchange I get some nice wall space to show my art. This will be a good deal for me.

I offered an Introduction to Digital Photography course in February at the Rockport Center For The Arts. We had about 12 great students who were enthusiastically interested in improving their photography. I plan on doing a course there monthly or at least bi-monthly. 

Last week I participated as a Guide in the first annual Brush Country Photo Safari in Beeville, TX. I did several landscape "safaris" in the field and gave a presentation on Landscape Photography. We had a big turnout, and I think all of the attendees had fun. I believe this program has the opportunity to grow into a well-attended annual event. 

My "non-photography" life is also moving forward. We're making progress on repairing all of the effects Hurricane Harvey bestowed on our properties here in Rockport. It's amazing how those "small victories" can add up. Slowly but surely we are getting our lives back in order. 

This Northern Mockingbird and Great Kiskadee "scrapping" image resulted from an Alan Murphy workshop I attended down in the Rio Grande Valley. I had wanted to shoot with Alan for years, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. 

More later...

Angry Birds #7  Hildago County, TX

Still Busy...

I guess being busy is the new norm for me. All of a sudden, my professional life is taking me in directions that I had never considered... and wasn't looking for! I think that's a good thing...

More later! I'm busy...

Northern Cardinal #6   Hidalgo County, TX