CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - November 2014
Cloudland Cabin Cam November 30 - warm and WINDY!
Journal updated Saturday evening the 29th
FREE SLIDE PROGRAM in FAYETTEVILLE (library) TODAY, SUNDAY November 30th, 2pm
Our remaining SLIDE PROGRAM SCHEDULE:
- December 1, Russellville, 7pm, Doc Bryan Lecture Hall, Ark Tech, sponsored by Ark Tech Parks and Recreation Dept. , TAKAHIK, and Monfee Medical Clinic
- December 2, Dover, 7pm, High School Cafeteria (101 Pirates Loop)
- December 4, Conway, 7pm, Faulkner County Library (1900 Tyler Street)
- December 5, Springfield MO, two shows - 5pm & 7pm, Springfield Nature Center (Missouri - reservation required).
- December 6, Bentonville Library, 1pm (405 S. Main St.)
- December 7, Little Rock, 2pm, Central Arkansas Nature Center (602 President Clinton Ave.)
- December 10, Clarksville, 7pm, Clarksville School District Fine Arts Center (1703 Clark Road)
- December 11, Benton, 6:30pm, Saline County Library (1800 Smithers Dr.)
- December 12, Harrison, 7pm, Lyric Theatre on the square
- December 16, Ft. Smith Library, 7pm (3201 Rogers Ave.)
- January 9th, 2015 - Bull Shoals-White River State Park Eagle Awareness
CLICK HERE for Prints Of The Week SPECIALS (shown below)
11/01/14 I'm baaaaack! My main cabin computer blew up a week ago and I have been mostly offline since - a new computer arrived direct from China last night and all of my files have been restored, YIPPIE! All book, calendar, and print orders were processed and shipped normally as always - my lovely bride does all of that on her computer - she's a peach! I'm on the road today delivering our new publications to HASTINGS stores in Conway and Russellvlle, so it will be Sunday before I get the chance to write anything to post here. I've been in the woods with photo workshops the past eight days, so will have a picture or two to post as well. Workshops are done for 2014, so it is now onto our new slide program season, which begins on November 14th in Hot Springs Village...
11/02/14 Cold winds are howling late tonight, and bright moonlight shines across the wilderness. As I made my way back towards the cabin from the gallery a few minutes ago, a hound began to howl. Yup, it was Mr. Wilson, howling with a deep voice at the ghostly figure out there in the darkness - ME! Poor guy, I know it must have been uncomfortable for him - he got neutered on Friday (our other new puppy, Mia, did too). But so far he is taking it in stride (literally) and stepping up to protect the cabin.
I've been mostly offline this past week due to computer failure - which was probably OK since I was in the woods or classroom doing workshops anyway. I still don't know if the computer is toast or not, but I was able to pull the harddrive out of it and install into a new computer that arrived Friday evening. My old computer was on its last legs anyway and was due to be replaced, I just waited a little bit too long. All of our retail and wholesale sales are handled by a different computer, and with my lovely bride at the wheel all orders continued to be processed and shipped as usual.
We had some great workshops this fall, and all the students produced some really terrific work. To give you some idea - here is how the four-day workshop went last week. We met Tuesday afternoon for the first time, then headed directly into the river in search of blazing fall color and reflections. Everyone had either rubber boots or hip waders, and not a single one complained. We spent more than two hours in a single location as the light changed from brilliant to glorious to soft and finally to dusk. One of the more experienced photographers remarked that he had never taken pictures of the same scene for so long - and could not believe how much the light changed. That's why we do it that way - most folks just take snapshots, I want my students to become part of the scene, get to know the light, learn their equipment - and what they are willing and able to do just to get a picture. I want them to experience the wilderness, and bring home images that reflect what they saw and felt (well, maybe not the cold water!).
We were at it again before dawn the next morning, hiking to and shooting for several hours. Then we spent several hours in the classroom going over my digital workflow - and dining on BBQ and homemade oatmeal Cloudland chocolate-chip cookies right out of the oven (my business partner and CEO is also a great cook!). That afternoon we headed to another section of the Buffalo River, hiked a half mile and waded in - but were stopped in our tracks by an explosion of color just upstream. One of the students had been a professional forester for decades, and he remarked it was some of the most intense color he has seen. We all stood in the river or on a gravel bar and tried to capture some the blazing color of beech trees, sweetgums, and maples - all growing right down to the edge of the river, and of course reflected on the calm pool before us. We hiked on further into the woods and back out to the river again for a final burst of evening light amidst a jungle of giant boulders, all worn smooth by eons of water. We hiked more than a mile through the woods and across the river again, and finally back to the cars.
Another early morning start before dawn the next day, and more beautiful light - this time we stood at the base of a towering painted limestone bluff that was reflected in the river. When sunlight first appeared on the top of a distant hillside, the trees glowed red from our special brand of "Alpenglow" - or rather "Ozarkglow" - with everything reflected in the calm pool. It was one of those special moments when light and color and stillness and glory all come together for a few brief moments. One of the students took an image of that scene that rivals anything I've seen before - I could see it on the back of her camera from 20 feet away.
We spent the rest of that day in class working on individual images and the digital workflow, then made a large canvas print for each student of their personal favorite.
The final morning began before dawn once again, and we hiked to yet another location along the river and spent several hours photographing giant boulders in the river, beech trees, macro shots of RED beech tree leaves, and river whitewater scenes. At the very end of our journey I had everyone set up their tripods about 100 feet away from an interesting row of giant hay bales in front of a rustic barn at the edge of a hay meadow. The temps had been below freezing with some hefty winds moving in - it was kind of chilly, especially after mostly standing in just one or two spots for hours and not moving around much - and we were moving slow. I wanted to end the workshop on a warm note, so I had everyone set their 10-second self timers and we all ran across the field to get into the picture. Of course we had to do several takes to get everyone with eyes open. By the end of it all our hearts were thumping and everyone was warmed up! When I showed the photo to my bride and commented about how I felt bad about making men and ladies sprint across the field like that, she said "How many times do they get to run free and giggle and have a great time!" I think it did us all some good!
For years I have preached about how too much rain early in the fall is not good for the best color. It has always seemed to me that drought and stress years have produced the most brilliant widespread color. But I have no idea if or why either might be true. The professional forester in our group confirmed my feelings and explained why they were true. When there is too much rain in the early fall like we had this year, the leaves will get and stay wet, then mildew will form and make spots on the leaves - thus producing less than brilliant color. We were discussing all this while hiking through a dense forest area surrounded by maple and sweetgum trees. We had only to pause and look around to see all the spotted red, yellow, and orange leaves. NO complaints here though - we've had a great fall season here, and I hope everyone got the chance to get out and enjoy it! (Still lots more color to come in many places around Arkansas too.)
I am happy to report that both puppies and the new computer are doing fine...
1/05/14 The woods were silent as I crept along in the darkness early this morning. Wet leaves and soft earth make no noise. I paused in the middle of some dense underbrush, straining to find my next step. There were thick clouds hanging low above, blocking what should have been the break of dawn. I feel more a part of the forest when I travel like this, closer to the earth. Sometimes I reach out and wrap my arms around a big tree, then lean up against it, close my eyes, and try to imagine what towers above me.
As I got closer to the top of the bluff I could see light beginning to flood into the canyon out in front of me - very soft and dim light, but plenty to find my way. Trees that had been all mixed together with the darkness were now silhouettes - one of my most favorite shapes of nature.
I spent the next two hours taking pictures as daylight advanced. It remained overcast, with low-hanging clouds - or rather thick fog that covered the ridgetops. My subject was Hawksbill Crag, and the colorful trees that remained in the canyon. The Crag would move in and out of the mist - sometimes in near white-out - other times the air was about as clear and crisp as you could imagine. I like misty air, especially with fall color.
It remained mostly silent, with two exceptions. First was Whitaker Creek. It was up and running from the recent rainfall and singing a lively tune. The music drifted up and engulfed me the entire time - and beckoned me to come climb down the steep hillside and take a splash. I wish I could have. We don't get to see too much color and running water around here at the same time, but time was the issue - not enough of it!
And then a little gray squirrel ran across the forest floor in front of me and jumped up on a pine tree. He scrambled up several feet to the lowest limb, turned and took a few steps towards me on a limb, and then sat down. Hum, a small squirrel in a pine tree - he must have been from Colorado or Wyoming - they have a lot of "pine" squirrels, and this fellow looked exactly like one of them. It was nice to have a little company as the fog rolled on.
Towards the end of my stay that fog billowed up and rolled back and the top parts of it began to reveal a little bit of blue color above - although there was no clear sky. But the light was good, perhaps the best of the morning. I was hoping for a single image that might tell the story of autumn in the Ozarks this year, and I found one I liked.
During the hike out I had hardly even started up the hill before I looked around and realized I was already back at my car! Never enough time in the woods. Never enough. As I was loading my camera gear into the car I heard a flock of geese flying overhead, low and slow, and also with a delightful tune. Fall has nearly come and gone, and winter will soon follow. COME ON geese - we are ready for ya! It was great to have a couple hours in the woods, and a picture to remember it by...
You can order this print at a special low price for the next few days - click here.
11/06/14 My internal alarm went off at 3:20 this morning, so I got up and went outside to have a look around. The sky was crystal clear, with a full moon high above sending down brilliant moonlight. I loaded up the camera gear and headed to a meadow where a certain pine tree lives. I've always wanted to get a picture of this old and leaning pine tree with a setting moon behind it, and conditions looked good this morning.
While digging out the camera gear I remembered that I had my dome tent with me. After only a tiny struggle to set the tent up (my brain was not fully engaged yet), I set the tent up under the tree and did a series of test exposures. Have you ever tried to race a setting moon? I have many times, and almost always the moon wins - that sucker moves pretty fast, especially when it gets low on the horizon!
It was a beautiful early morning, and I got my photo and was back at the cabin well before first light. I believe this moon was the "Beaver Moon" - each month has a different name. I guess the shape of the dome tent is kind of like a beaver lodge, so I had my beaver lodge all lit up in celebration of the Beaver Moon!
When we had the cold snap last week I reluctantly shut down the Ray Scott Memorial Outdoor Shower here at the cabin for the winter season. I wanted an outdoor shower ever since working in the Wind River Mountains for five years back in the 1980s and getting to shower at a "guard shack" at the edge of the wilderness (the shower was outside, nailed up to an aspen tree - it was BEAUTIFUL!). Our shower has dogwood and maple trees surrounding it here - a pretty good match for the aspen.
I'm not as young as I used to be, so don't like to chip away ice just to take a shower, so I shut it down in the winter. The ironic thing this year was the very same day I shut down the shower, the Governor of Arkansas announced that the very same Ray Scott our shower is named after, is retiring from state government after more than 40 years of public service. Ray has worked for seven different governors, including being Chief Of Staff for one, and also Chief for one of our greatest United States Senators; plus he has also headed up one of our state agencies, and done countless other important things - we all owe Ray a debt of gratitude for all that he has done for the state of Arkansas, and our citizens! Ray also happens to be one terrific nature and travel photographer, with two photo books and countless magazine covers to his credit - plus a two-page spread in National Geographic a few years ago (visit his web page here). He has also been my right-hand man during multiday photo workshops for years - I don't know how I could have done them without him - AND I hope he continues to attend them in 2015 (hint, hint Master Scott). We have photographed together in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, and many other wild places - with a long list left to do! So here is a SALUTE to one of the very best people (and a GREAT AMERICAN) who ever served the state of Arkansas in public service - THANKS sir to making our lives so much better!
I'll turn your shower back on again in March...
The bookmobile is ready to hit the road - it's PROGRAM SEASON!
11/12/14 Cool, clear and crisp here early this morning. Hope you have been able to get up and view the brilliant pre-dawn skies we've had this past week or two - winter typically brings on some really spectacular light shows! We've been in crisis mode at the cabin this past week, and in fact I've not even left the property - been locked away in the gallery working on the new slide program and canvas prints. I'm happy to report that the new slide program is nearly complete (good thing since our first program is day after tomorrow), as are new canvas prints for our first gallery open house on Saturday. If I didn't leave everything until the last minute I would never get anything done!
There is a spot in the cabin where I can sit and see up our driveway - to see when someone is approaching. I first found this spot when dating my lovely bride more than 13 years ago. She would drive down from Missouri each Friday after she got off work, and I would sit and watch and watch and watch, waiting for the first flicker of headlights way on up the hill - just like a watched pot it took FOREVER for those headlights to appear! Later one I would spend what seemed like hours waiting to see the headlight flicker of Amber's car coming home from school or some school function - usually in foggy weather. Minutes seemed like hours.
And last week one day I sat in the very same spot and watched - this time during daylight hours. In the middle of all this slide show and canvas prints madness we are trying to get done right now, we are also expanding the limited parking space here at the gallery - and I was waiting for the gravel truck to bring another load of gravel for me to spread. But at the same time I was waiting for my lovely bride to get home from a long day of work in town running errands - AND most importantly, bringing me a fish sandwich from McDonalds! (hey, I don't get out much, so fast food is often pretty darn terrific to me) Just as my anxiety grew to nearly unbearable levels, I thought I heard engine noise - from either the dump truck or Pam. But then I realized the noise was coming from the opposite direction, and when I stood up to look, there was a helicopter flying directly at the cabin just above tree level! So I ran out onto the back deck to wave as we always do - just as both the dump truck and my lovely drive appeared in the driveway - YIPPIE COYOTE!
I'm so easy to please - just give me McDonalds and gravel and I'm a happy camper. It was the best fish sandwich I'd ever had! And the gravel was pretty nice too. Any of you who have been to a gallery open house or workshop here before will appreciate the new parking space I hope...
While working this past year on the ARKANSAS NIGHTSCAPES picture book, I also shot many different timelapse sequences of the night sky. These involved setting up one or more cameras to take pictures of the moving sky/stars all night long - one picture every 30 seconds for 9, 10, or even 12 hours. Some nights each camera took more than 1,000 pictures of the same scene! I picked about a dozen of these timelapse sequences to include in the new slide program - along with all the still images from the new book. Each of the timelapses made it into the book, some as individual frames, others as "stacked" frames that include all the photos from the timelapse combined into a single image (if you don't understand, don't worry - most don't - but it will be easy to understand if you come see the slide show).
Before I could create one of the timelapses for the program, I had to process each of the thousand or more photos - or rather have the computer do so. These were all shot with very high resolution digital cameras, and each file took a while to process. Fortunately, it is easy to automate all of the processing - it just takes a lot of time. And while a batch of photos were being processed, I could not use the computer for anything else. I ended up using two different computers to do all the processing (which could take many hours for each timelapse sequence).
At one point I had both computers running and was able to take a break for a few minutes to just go sit out on the back deck and enjoy the view. The fall colors were peaking, afternoon light was terrific, and it was just one of those Cloudland Moments when I could sit back and ENJOY the moment (because the computers were doing all of the work!). While I'm quite happy out there in the woods sitting on the bare ground leaning up against a big old oak tree, I've also always embraced technology and the digital age as related to photography - which allows me to photograph and create things I never could do before.
Through all of this my lovely bride has been working overtime (literally - yesterday she worked from 3:30am until after 10pm last night). And I've also had a great deal of help from my good friend, Jason. I'm physically unable to do the actual stretching of canvas prints right now, but I've taught Jason the secret method that I use and he has been doing a terrific job stretching the canvas prints (I think perhaps even better than I can do!). THANKS JASON!!!!!
Our grueling schedule begins Friday morning when we leave for Hot Springs Village at about 4:30am. Hope to see many of you during our program schedule travels this next six week - and/or at one of the Gallery Open Houses!
We still have lingering color in many trees here - in fact some of the oaks have turned red and orange unlike I've ever seen them before. It has been a beautiful fall color season in many ways, and I hope each of you have been able to get out an enjoy...
11/19/14 It was just after 3am Friday morning last week when I woke up and stepped outside to water the puppies. The only sound I heard was a flock of low-flying geese overhead. When I looked up towards a 1/2 full bright moon, I would see the geese fly by, heading south. It was an amazing moment - I LOVE being outside at night! And it also was so appropriate because we were heading south ourselves for the first program of our holiday book promotion tour - to speak to the Audubon group in Hot Springs Village! (geese/birds, Audubon - get it?)
We had a wonderful visit with a packed auditorium (more than 200) for the world premiere of the new show, and everyone was so nice. And much to my great delight - the slide show/movie actually WORKED when I pushed the go button on the computer! (Always hold my breath - computers and software are great, but sometimes they hiccup.)
Both my lovely bride and I worked late into the night that day back here trying to get the canvas prints gallery ready for our first open house of the season the next day. I was out at almost midnight putting up directional signs - 21 hours after that flock of geese flew over to honk hello.
Even though the crack team of weather forecasters scared many people away from attending the open house (dire predictions of snow and cold that never happened), we were flooded with folks who ignored the warnings and made the trip to Cloudland (never saw a flake all day, well, except when I looked in the mirror!). It was SO NICE to see everyone and get to visit and share experiences with them - oh, and I did have my share of granny's homemade cookies - YIPPIE! We had folks from five different states attend, including one who drove 11 hours up from near Houston - and I didn't even recognize him at first - he is getting more of an Arkie accent instead of a Texas one since he spends more and more time around the Buffalo River area (it was GREAT to see ya Rollin!).
Very late Saturday night/Sunday morning during a trip between the cabin and canvas gallery, the air changed, which stopped me in my tracks. I inhaled some of the SWEETEST air ever, took it deep into my lungs and held it there as long as I could. Then took another. Oh how I LOVE nighttime air in the winter! And then something very odd happened - the sky lit up and the ground shook and rumbled - a THUNDER storm was somewhere nearby! yet the temp was well below freezing. A few moments later that air filled with tiny frozen mist particles - I turned my face skyward and let them land softly on my skin. AHHHHH, it was a great feeling, and the perfect end to our opening round of programs and open houses. A couple minutes later it was all over and life got back to normal.
We did finally get some snowfall on Sunday, and Pam got the pups out in it to play - their FIRST snow ever! We all went on a quick hike around the mountain - through the woods and across the meadows - the puppies just love it! I have a feeling that they will enjoy deep snow that we hope happens later this winter.
We worked most of Sunday trying to play catchup, and then also on Monday doing regular business chores and getting the van prepared for our next program in Ft. Smith. By 4pm we were feasting on a BBQ chicken salad in a small empty BBQ place - I've never tasted anything GO GOOD! And it was a salad, so HEALTHY, right? Pam's parents had met us there to help with the unloading and setup, and the BBQ was their only pay. (NO ONE has better in-laws than I do!)
It was another great crowd of about 170 folks, and we enjoyed visiting before and after the show. My most favorite part of these programs is getting to answer questions during the second half of the program, after the lights come back on. I could go on and on and answer questions for hours, and I really appreciate each and ever question. So if you come to one of our programs, PLEASE ASK! It was midnight when we got back home.
Tuesday was a repeat of Monday, except we didn't get any BBQ, but did spend most of the day on the road and gave a program to the fine folks in Dardanelle. We did make a stop at Sonic on the way home for some ice cream - I just can't seem to drive at night without just a little bit of it in my belly!
We are playing catchup again today, and tomorrow will head back south for our largest show in central Arkansas - in North Little Rock. This is also one of the best places to view the program, so if you are in that area - or know of anyone who might like to see this - there will be plenty of seats available, along with all our products available at SALE PRICES!
This is a rock formation that we can see from our back deck, but it is NOT Hawksbill Crag (the formation is about a half mile away from the Crag).
11/25/14 I was up and outside in the woods late last night and again early this morning at 4-something. It was one of those crystalline nights, with air so clear that the stars winked and twinkled and there were zillions of them looking down. A crescent moon set early, so the sky behind the stars was pretty black. But there was enough starlight that I was able to easily make my way around in the woods without bumping into too many trees. Amazing how much our eyes adjust to the darkness in just a few minutes being without any light - and a LOT more after 30 minutes.
I was followed on my short journeys by Orion, The Hunter - the most dominant constellation in the winter sky. It had already risen in the east for my late-evening hike, and had crossed nearly the entire sky and was low in the west when I was out this morning.
Our first week of programs went well, with record crowds for each of our shows but one. It was SO GREAT to see all the smiling faces - to catch up with old friends, and meet many new ones (who even came out in the nasty rain during a Razorback game!).
I measure the success of these programs, indeed my work as a photographer by how much that work touches the lives of others, if it ever does. And in that regard I feel like I just won the super bowl. A young lady came to me after one of our programs last week with a heavy heart and tear-stained cheeks. She had lost her son recently, and she told me that as she sat there in the dark she realized that the images and music of the show were a glimpse of what her son must be seeing - and living - now that he had passed into the next world - and that gave her a great deal of hope, peace and happiness. We do indeed live in an amazingly beautiful world and universe, and we owe it all to those who have gone before us...
ONE NOTE about our upcoming second Holiday Open House at the Canvas Gallery - you can now view all of the canvas and metal prints in our online gallery - just click HERE to open the online gallery, then click on any particular image to enlarge the image and get the caption, size, and special sale price info. ALL of these prints are available at the special 50% discount (some are discounted even 75%!), and you don't have to come to the gallery to get those prices! You can reserve them now for pickup anytime - or in some cases for the smaller prints we can also ship them, although you would need to pay the shipping costs.
CORPORATE, BUSINESS, AND LARGE ORDER DISCOUNTS. Need a case or more of our newest picture book, or either 2015 Arkansas calendar for holiday gifts or promotions? You can get a HUGE discount! See our volume order page here.
11/29/14 And so it begins. We've been on the road the past couple of days to Illinois and back, and today had our 2nd Canvas Gallery Holiday Open House here at Cloudland. (A SPECIAL GIANT THANKS to those who braved the beautiful warm weather to come see us - it was a treat to visit with you ALL!!!) Our cousin, Joseph, has now moved into the guest room downstairs and will be here for the next month at the cabin - we'll be on the road quite a bit and he will be looking after things and making sure the cabin doesn't blow away (the wind is HOWLING at 50+MPH tonight, so he already has his hands full!).
Tomorrow we have the first of EIGHT programs in SEVEN CITIES in EIGHT DAYS this coming week (a program marathon unlike anything we've ever even attempted before - two in a row are difficult, three totally exhausts us - beyond that, we have no idea what is going to happen); then three more programs the following week and another open house; then another program and another open house. We'll begin our 25 Prints Of Christmas this coming Monday, which will run through December 19th (some days will have more than one print available). And even though Joe will be here at the cabin the entire time, we have to drive back home each night (sometimes 8 hours roundtrip just driving, not counting any program time), and spend several hours unloading/loading, printing, processing orders, packing orders, recycling, and oh yes, a couple hours of sleep each night. We really do LOVE doing programs, especially if you are able to come see one of them and we get to talk with you (I especially enjoy answering questions at the end of each program).
Through it all my lovely bride will keep the wheels of our online store running at full speed, and orders should ship within 24 hours - 48 hours at the most - even for personalized books and corporate/volume orders too. She is amazing - I don't know how she gets everything done. On my side of the ship, I probably won't get to set foot back in the woods until probably February. (We have more programs and a major print exhibit at John Brown University in January.) But I plan to be out and about all spring, and hope to splash around in many creeks and climb more mountains and even wander through the nighttime as often as I can - all in search of more pictures for next year's program season!
Our picture books, guidebooks, and calendars are available at nearly 200 different retail locations in the region, and as always you can order anything direct from us here on our online store and I'm happy to personalize anything and get it shipped out to you ASAP. And we hope to see ya at a program or at our gallery!