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CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - October 2015

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camCloudland Cabin Cam, October 31st - workshop students working the river reflections

***2016 Photo Workshops Just Announced!

Journal updated October 31st - search for lost hikers

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OUR NEW PICTURE BOOK HAS ARRIVED!

(Shhhh, don't tell anyone, but see all the photos here - Rare Light Online Gallery)

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2016 Arkansas Scenic Wall Calendar (now shipping)

2016 Arkansas Scenic Engagement Calendar (now shipping)

2015 Holiday Package Special is now shipping

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Print Of The Week special (above) - Hawksbill Crag In The Mist

10/01/15 Autumn in the Arkansas Ozarks is one of the very BEST seasons on the planet, and I think the color display this year will be splendid! October 1st marks the beginning of fall to me, and each new day will bring with it treats to delight the eye and other senses too. We are still out west, but headed back to Arkansas in the next couple of days to begin soaking up the progression of color. When and where is the color going to be the best? I say when/wherever you are able to get out and see it! It will vary from day to day, from region to region, from drainage to drainage, and from tree to tree.

I'll be working on a marathon photography project the next nine months that will take me to every state park in Arkansas - and I plan to visit as many as I can in October and November to shoot fall colors. I'll post notes and photos here when I can. And I'll try to give some color updates - but it really will vary constantly all over the state, and especially with the type and direction of light and time of day. You just have to GET OUT and find great color where you can!

In the meantime, we are still in Colorado and the colors are pretty amazing - which is one reason why I think Arkansas colors will be so good - Colorado color has usually been a good forecaster for things to come back home.

Today we hiked to the largest tree in this part of Colorado - a giant Douglas Fir tree on a hillside just a few miles from our campsite (nearly 20 feet around at chest high). There were tons of evergreens everywhere, but also amazing stands of colorful aspen trees - including MANY orange and red ones. I think our Arkansas fall color will lean to the red side as well (vs. yellow as in recent years). RED is in this year!

Along the way to the big tree this morning I found myself down on my hands and knees looking closely for a special leaf that I knew was there somewhere. We had several hours of gentle rainfall yesterday, and so many of the leaves were still covered with tiny raindrops/dew that were turned into sparkling jewels in the sunshine. I finally found the one I was looking for, an individual leaf with a wide range of colors, and of course, all those jewels.

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(I wandered around for an hour this morning looking for the most wonderful leaf in the forest. When I turned around I realized she had been with me all the time - my lovely bride, Pam! Along the way I found this nice aspen leaf covered with dew.)

Early this morning we had a wildlife encounter of sorts. I had been hiking with the puppies several miles at the break of day, and as we approached our campsite at the end of the hike, the airwaves were filled with screams from a large hawk. He swooped down towards the puppies and I feared that he might try to grab one of them. I raced towards the pups as the hawk came within a few feet of them - then he dropped something and flew off. It was a rabbit - a rabbit he had just caught (and killed). Not sure if he was leaving the rabbit as a gift for the puppies, or if he just lost hold of it accidently. Either way I was glad the puppies were safe!

This evening we gathered with other campers around a large campfire with fine food, liquid spirits, and a guy playing a guitar. As the fire cracked and he sang songs, my lovely bride and I quietly got up and wandered over to the edge of a pond - the sky was on fire, and reflected in the still waters below. And the melody of it all fit together quite nicely. HAPPY to see October come - YIPPIE COYOTE! (The photo below was taken with my iphone - please don't tell anyone!)

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10/03/15 We were totally surrounded at first light. Large dark critters that breathed heavy. Mia and Wilson were not amused, and before I could grab their collars, they were out the door and headed for the herd of COWS! Our campsite is in an open grazing area, which means cows roam free wherever they choose. Turns out there was a salt lick near our campsite, and the herd wanders up to the salt every few days. Mia returned with a present for us - a new green coat!

My lovely bride and I hiked to the top of the hill in the brisk mountain air, then hiked off in opposite directions. I took Wilson with me, and Pam had the girls, Lucy and Mia. We each hiked a loop of about the same distance, but Pam beat me back to camp. Wilson spent a lot of time chasing "chippers" (chipmunks), and that slowed us down a bit.

Just as I was about to top out on a high ridge - and while being nearly totally consumed by the brilliant YELLOW of the aspen groves I was hiking through - the largest and most beautiful red fox I'd ever seen snuck across the hillside about 50 feet above me. His puffy tail was about as wide as his body, and his coat was a very bright red. He was the size of a healthy coyote, but he was all fox. Later this afternoon, we saw another red fox at our campsite - probably not the same guy, but also fat and furry and colorful. Today was fox and cow day, and thankfully the cows moved on to greener pastures. (and Mia no longer has a green coat)

10/04/15 The rain began right after first light, about half way into our four-mile hike. It was a chilly rain, with the temp about 36, but oh my it felt SO GREAT! Part of it was the delightful aroma that rain brings. But with fall colors peaking, the moisture also intensified that color - it was as if every step I took the colors got brighter and more vivid.

Speaking of the scene getting brighter, I was sitting in the forest a couple of days ago killing time until first light, when the landscape around me began to lighten up. Pretty typical an hour before sunrise, but this was a couple of hours before sunrise - and the light was coming from the WEST instead of from the east. It took me a minute or two to realize that something was amiss and to figure out what it was. The light was moonlight - it had been cloudy with no moonlight, then the clouds moved and uncovered the moon - and for about out twenty minutes it was moonlight from the west that lit up the landscape before the light from the approaching sunrise caught up with the moonlight, eventually overpowering it from the east as normal. Note - fall color becomes richer when the air is moist.

There was a coyote in the meadow just below our campsite this morning while I had the dogs out hiking. It left a few minutes before we returned to camp. Thirty minutes later we realized that Mia had wandered off from camp - something she does frequently, but she had never gotten out of sight like this before. Then we heard her scream - she was far away, but it was certainly her voice. Then she screamed again, and all was silent. We had been told by others that the coyotes in this area stalked dogs and to be alert to them, and since Pam had just seen one nearby we immediately feared the worst. I took off running across the meadow in the direction of Mia's screams, through the forest of small aspens, and through the next meadow, calling out her name as loud as I could. I stopped several times to scour the steep hillside beyond, hoping that I did not see a coyote up there with Mia in its grasp. Nothing. I circled and yelled, hiked a wider circle, but still nothing. Pam was out doing the same thing, both of us desperate to find our little Mia. And then I heard "I've got HER!" Pam found Mia, safe and sound, and we were able to breathe once again. (Mia had probably been chasing chipmunks and just kept going and going and going...)

'Tis one of those times when we really don't know what to do. We've kept a pretty tight rein on the puppies out here, keeping them tethered most of the time at camp, and almost always on a leash while we are hiking. But we've also been giving them a little more freedom to hike around within sight of our camp - it just makes their life so much more pleasant not to be tied up all the time. But we let our guard down and let Mia get out of sight - and it could have cost us dearly. Mia spent the rest of the day within a few feet of us - but oh my goodness did she want to run out and chase chipmunks!

10/06/15 We just had a bizarre thing happen tonight. It was dark and cold when we returned to our campsite. While sitting in the front seat of our van Pam said that Lucy was shaking. So was Mia. Then we heard a very weird noise - kind of like a blood-curdling screem you hear in the movies, only shorter. I opened the door of the van and we heard it again, only this time it sounded pretty close. It was unlike anything we’d ever heard before - sounded a little like a combination of deer whistle, owl, and a mountain lion scream. I grabbed two flashlights and a coat and headed towards the sound, up the hill, and in-between stands of small aspens. The scream stopped me in my tracks. Again. And again. Whatever it was was not bothered by my approach. I had to see what it was - I wanted to know.

I continued up the steep hill and the sound continued. (and Pam began to think this might end as the script for a horro movie) Got louder and faster. And then there it was - a pair of eyes glowing back at me from the middle of the aspen trees, and a chill ran down my spine. I couldn’t see anything else, just the eyes. I switched to the more powerful flashlight and shone it into the trees, but the eyes were gone. Then it screamed again, and again, and I saw the eyes moving off to my left, back and forth, pacing - kind of like a caged lion. My light was not powerful enough to light up a body, just the eyes, but it was obvious it was no winged critter. The screams and movement continued but it walked back into the woods and I lost contact with the eyes - the sound was coming closer. YIKES! 

I started to backtrack towards camp and the screams continued, but I still could not see the eyes. It kept getting louder, I continued to back off. Then I heard the noise coming from the direction of our van, where Pam and the dogs where - I ran and opened the front door and the screams were right THERE! Pam was playing a recording of a lynx that she just found on uTube. It was clearly a lynx that was pacing around our campsite - an exact match. The real lynx continued to scream and move across the hillside just above us, but I never saw the eyes again.

Lynx are loaners and usually hunt at night. They leap onto their victim and bite the back of the neck of their prey.

Turn your volume up all the way and listen to this short utube video - it is exactly what the lynx sounded like, only louder, and well, in real life...

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10/09/15 We arrived back home to Arkansas after a long two-day drive from Colorado. Our caretaker did a great job of looking after the place and keeping the attack cats happy and fat. We'll be home now until probably June working on new book projects in Arkansas. Our really busy season is already upon us, and we hope to see ya in the coming weeks somewhere!

10/13/15 We're seeing some pretty nice color in individual trees across the landscape right now - especially when you look at backlit trees. The overall landscape remains mostly green in most places, but some of the maples are getting very nice - brilliant reds and yellows. Also the usual suspects that turn early like black gums (VERY NICE!), sassafras, sumac, poison ivy, and persimmons are all turning nicely. I've also seen some oak trees that were bright RED - a very rare color for them. I think we'll see more red this year in many of the trees. As always, the direction of the sunshine has a big impact on how much color you see - backlit trees are MUCH more colorful!

Speaking of oaks, we have seen some trees loaded with acorns, but not many on the ground - that is because we've had an EXPLOSION of squirrels across the Ozarks, and they seem to be harvesting the nuts before they are able to fall from the tree. The big red oak that grows up through our lower deck here at the cabin has had several squirrels working it since we've been home, and most of the nuts coming down are just crumbs falling from squirrel's mouths as they much on the acorns. Once in a while there will be a loud BANG that startles us - an entire acorn made it to the metal roof of the cabin or the sunroom.

It is very dry in the Ozarks right now, dusty-dry everywhere that I've been. Many creeks are bone dry, and the Buffalo has a few pools here and there with some springs flowing. I LOVE this time of year because I can hike up and down the riverbeds and find beautiful, still, reflecting pools with lots of fall color. My only problem is finding the time - we've been on the run 18+ hours a day since getting home from our recent trip to Colorado, and that won't let up any for a while.

Good news is that we have all of our new products in stock and shipping (within ONE business day), including the new picture book A RARE QUALITY OF LIGHT. We have our holiday open house schedule posted, as well as all of our slide programs for the holiday season. Workshops are mostly full, with only one slot remaining in our October 31st workshop.

One funny note about Wilson. As I was pulling into the driveway the other day, Wilson and Mia stood on the front deck barking like they always do - sometimes howling at the tops of their lungs when a car approaches. Wilson gets his hackles up and ready to attack. Lucy often runs out into the yard barking and ready to attack at well. But on this day Lucy was sound asleep in the grass in the middle of the driveway lane - I was about to drive right over her, when Wilson came flying off the deck and ran over and stopped right in front of Lucy. He stood there defiantly, barking and jumping up and down trying to get my attention. Then he reached over and tapped Lucy on the nose to wake her up and tell her to get out of the way. He was trying to protect Lucy from being run over - how great is that! (I of course saw Lucy - we always slow to a crawl when coming into the yard - but Wilson didn't know that. GOOD DOG...)

Seems like most places we've been this past year traveling around the country have been CROWDED with lots of people enjoying the great outdoors - exactly what we hope to see. It is much better for humans to be outside than inside on the couch watching TV or surfing the web. The same holds true for many locations in Arkansas - many popular areas are CROWDED, especially during the fall color season. There was a record crowd at Hawksbill Crag last weekend, and this will continue on until November. My suggestion is to avoid the obvious popular places on the weekends, or at least show up early and plan at least double the amount of time - heavy traffic on our narrow, rough, dusty, county roads just takes longer than normal. Same is true in Boxley Valley at the beginning and end of each day - there are YELLOWSTONE-style crowds to view and listen to the elk - which by the way is an amazing experience (the elk, not the crowds). Go during the week if you can, and even then plan a lot of extra time and be patient with the traffic. And also, be sure to get completely off the pavement - if any part of your vehicle is touching the white lines on the side of the road you are subject to a ticket. There is also a lot of private property in the area, so be careful not to trespass!

We are mostly doing business work here all day, every day, and won't get many chances to get out and enjoy this incredible fall color season that is upon us - we'll keep getting your book and print orders filled and in the mail on time, but you will need to pick up the slack and GET OUT AND ENJOY the great outdoors for us!

10/15/15 My lovely bride stepped out of the shower early this morning humming this song - or at least the words to the song (utube music). Since this great song was way before her time (she's at least 14 years younger than I - I robbed the cradle), I don't know if she knew the song, but with only three clicks I had it playing on the computer speakers. The cabin was filled with joy and beauty (and the music just added to that!). "Closer, do-da-do, let me whisper in your ear. Do-da-do. Say the words you long to h-e-a-r...I'm in love with YOU..."

Pam was out the door way before first light headed to War Eagle Fair with her mom, and the pups and I soon followed on foot. It was still mostly dark but just beginning to lighten up a bit. It was dead still, no wind breezes to stir the leaves. We the puppies sure did STIR THE LEAVES! Amazing how LOUD a little puppy can be in the woods! It was one of those morning when each step brought a little more light and a lot more color into the landscape. We hiked past and through the large stand of maples near our cabin (actually a couple of miles away, so I guess "near" is relative), and they really lit up as the sun begin to illuminate the hillside behind the trees.

It remains dry and crunchy in the forest, with very low humidity - I hear we might be some moisture in the next day, with cooler temps - both making for just a delightful time in the woods! Hope you get the chance to spend time outdoors this weekend - its no SECRET that it should be one of the best times to be out in the High Ozarks, at least until the following weekend, and then the next...

10/17/15 They FIXED Cave Mountain Road! Well, at least a short section of it. Mysteriously, on Thursday they sent out the county grader to work on a section of the road that was level, but was one of the more dangerous and terrible parts of the road - it was mostly solid clay, with very deep ditches on either side, and very narrow overall - barely able to pass two cars without one of them sliding into the deep ditch (which I've done before). Somehow they filled the ditches and widened the road so that now two cars can pass - YIPPIE!!! (he also graved several other miles of the road - THANKS!). The very next morning, a U.S. Congressman traveled that road to hike to Hawksbill Crag. Hum, I wonder if the two events were connected?

Connected or not, I don't really care - it was GREAT to have even a small part of the terrible road fixed, and it was also great to see one of our elected officials out in the woods. I didn't get to meet Congressman Bruce Westerman, but I did happen to be on the trail at the same time he was (with our two puppies out for our morning exercise). I saw two groups of forest service and congressional staffers that hurriedly came past us on the trail, and a friend I stopped to talk to said there were two other guys ahead of those groups - one of them must have been the congressman. I later saw a picture of him on the Crag - I think he is a fast hiker and the others were just trying to keep up! It was wonderful to know that one of our elected officials was out in the woods, and he couldn't have picked a better day or location (I'm much more likely to vote for someone who wears hiking boots once in a while than all the rest in their shiny shoes). So THANKS for visiting Newton County Bruce - next time I hope you can stay longer!

My lovely bride and I headed into civilization today to visit with a most-talented Arkansas landscape painter, Bill Garrison, and his lovely artist wife, Gloria. They were at the annual Colorfest event at the Ponca Elk Center. One of Bill's paintings on display was one he painted just yesterday during the event, just a few steps away of the little creek that runs through Ponca. Bill is a master. LOTS of nice folks attending Colorfest, and it was great to see so many smiles.

Since we were that far into civilization we decided to pick up Pam's parents and head to the Blue Mountain Bakery in Jasper for lunch - their sandwiches are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (especially the Lumberjack). Somehow when we got home there were two personal pizzas and a GIANT "mocha muffin" from the bakery in the back seat, which my bride ordered for dinner (she is one smart cookie).

There was been somewhat of a nighttime spectacle in the southwest sky last night and again tonight - we could see both the Milky Way and the crescent moon in the same part of the sky at the same time. Normally when the moon is up the Milky Way is not visible due to the brightness of the moon. But with low humidity and being out here in the middle of nowhere, the sky was dark enough even with the moonlight to be able to see the Milky Way. I've spent more time than normal just sitting out on the back deck of our cabin gazing tonight.

Colors are looking quite nice in many parts of the forest up here - as usual it depends on the direction of the light and which part of the hillside. Still lots of green too, so the color will spread and last for the next couple of weeks.

I stopped on the way home to take a few snapshots of my favorite grove of colorful maple trees. This is one of my "camera painted" techniques that is taken straight out of the camera - I'll be teaching this in my upcoming workshops - a simple way to create a work of art without much actual work!

maplepainting

10/20/15 I just spent some time alone out in the wilderness tonight - just me and some bright moonlight. I hiked around for a little while, trying to unwind from a long day on the road and sitting in chairs waiting. It's pretty warm for this time of year, and quite dry - although it is frequently dry in the fall here so things seem about right.

Crunch, crunch, CRUNCH as I walked slowly through the forest. We've had a good bit of hard winds here lately, and a lot of colorful leaves have been ripped from their stalks and sent sailing, most of them coming to rest on the forest floor. I sat down in those leaves tonight at the base of a big old beech tree, leaned back and soaked up the moonlight. After a while my eyes had adjusted pretty well to the dim light (actually it was BRIGHT by nighttime-in-the-woods standards), and I could see far out into the woods at the many shapes and non-shapes out there.

And then something magical happened - I don't recall it ever before. Leafall in the moonlight! The wind kicked up and filled the air with the flowers of autumn. I could really see color in the leaves, but they were dancing and floating and coming to rest all around me - one even landed on my head. I could hear leaves making soft landings. Time spent in the woods at night like this is a treasure to keep for ages...

10/23/15 We got some nice soaking rainfall overnight - the landscape has a giant smile on it this morning after this refreshing drink! As daylight began to creep into the wilderness, so did a bit of fog, which at times turned our world white. As the fog began to break up a bit the wind started to blow. And blow. And BLOW!

Right now we have straight-line winds from the south that are topping 40mph. Thousands of colorful leaves are flying past the cabin window - also in a straight line - headed for the next county! This is leaf-fall of a different sort - not gently floating to rest on the ground, but rather being ripped from branches and sent sailing across the landscape. When the wind stops it will be lush and beautiful, but until then, hold onto your hat...

We now have an online gallery of all the images in the new picture book (the files are larger than normal, so they make take longer to load and view) - Rare Light Online Gallery.

Speaking of the new book, while you can always order direct from us online within this web site, here are a few local retail stores in the area that now stock some or all three of our new publications -

The University of Arkansas Bookstore, Pack Rat Outdoor Cewnter, Bedfords Camera, and Colliers Drug in Fayetteville; Hastings Bookstores in Conway and Russellville; Bleachers in Bentonville; Bedfords Camera in Rogers; Hobbs State Park Visitor Center; the hospital gift shop in Harrison; Wordsworth Books in Little Rock; the Cliff House restaurant, Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Blue Mountain Bakery, and Hillary Jones Elk Info Center in Jasper. We have a hundred more retail locations in the region that stock some or all of our publications - ask for them at your local bookstore, outdoor store, or park visitor center.

Evening update. I was able to sneak out for an hour or two this morning and wander around in the woods. The wind continued to blow hard, but the forest was a delight to hike through (except for those falling branches!). There were wisps of baby clouds dust rising from the canyon floor, and the breezes kept them dancing.

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Color has advanced rapidly this past week, with many hillsides peaking right now - a lot of those peaks being blow away today though. There has been a wide range of hues from deep red/purple, lots of oranges, and brilliant, pure yellows. Still lots of green, which means there is more color to come. We have not received all that much rain, so no waterfalls flowing - but there will be rain in the area Saturday morning, so we could still get a good shot. The air will continue to be soaked with near 100% humidity, which means more fog and rich colors!

10/25/15 Cool and breezy this morning, heavy overcast, and a painted landscape outside. Colors are pretty much peaked in our area, with some places losing most of their leaves, but some other spots are green. The best colors are where you find them, which changes with direction of light and time of day. 'Tis the perfect weather to get out and ramble through the woods or hike a trail!

We had a splendid workshop yesterday, which began well before daylight down along the Buffalo River at Steele Creek and Roark Bluff. The heavy rains that had been predicted never appeared - in fact the entire area got less than an inch of rain total this past week. The river levels didn't change a bit, so we had plenty of nice reflecting pools to point cameras at. We also stopped at the maple grove near our cabin and everyone got some pretty amazing images - completely different ones by students even standing right next to each other.

After my lovely bride filled us with BBQ and homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, we got down to business in the classroom. Each student produced a world-class print that I'd be proud to display. It continues to amaze me how folks who show up with a mixed bag of equipment and skill levels (sometimes both being very basic), end up with such terrific and varied work - but then that is the nature of nature photography in this day and age - you can produce a terrific photo with just about any equipment. And the most surprising part to students is the fact that it requires very little processing time on the computer. I hear so many folks bragging about how many hours or days they spend on a single photo working up on the computer (that ends up looking nothing like real life) - yet I feel kind of left out since I teach and practice minimal processing - literally only a few minutes of time is all you need. Our goal is to produce work that is a faithful reproduction of the scene that was before us - nature is beautiful enough without hours and hours of processing!

One funny note about Cave Mountain Road. All of us spun out or got stuck trying to get back to Cloudland Saturday during the workshop, including me, in the lead. I traded my aging jeep for a four-wheel drive van (that is a cargo van, pickup truck, and passenger van with 12 seats). I had to put the van into four-wheel drive just to make it up the hills, as did most of the other drivers.

Puppy collar note - THANKS to someone who sent us a special training collar for one of our puppies. It arrived yesterday from a company in California with no note or documentation. We have no idea who sent this...

10/29/15 We've had a TON of great color in our area this past week - water-soaked air and landscape saturated the landscape and made everything so LUSH! We saw some moss-covered rocks sitting on the middle of a hillside a couple of days ago that were just ELECTRIC green - so much so that they would look unnatural if reproduced here the way they were. Amazing GREEN.

We just completed our only multi-day workshop of the fall, a high-octane marathon of mostly shooting and driving, but also some processing - and oh yes, and we ATE a lot. I always want everyone to be well fed.

One day we left the lodge an hour before daylight and didn't return until after sunset. Then we worked until after 11pm that night making prints, a 17.5-hour workshop day (I'm a slave driver). It was great get to work which such talented folks who were passionate about their craft. They have to put up with a demanding instructor, but everyone came away with some amazing works of art. Note that none of these students were professional photographers in the legal sense - they simply ENJOY taking pictures and want to do the best they can, and we help them do that.

A couple of the many moments from this particular workshop - The last morning, we were all standing on top of a tall bluff. There was no sunrise, but the landscape spread out before us was quite beautiful. It was one of those scenes that you almost have to stop and hold your breath because it was so incredible. Each photographer had their own spot and was working on something that they were attracted to. By this time they were running on auto pilot, and I just stood back and watched, waiting for anyone who needed help. It was a quiet, serious shooting time. Serious about their work, yet every single one of them had a look of euphoria on their faces; relaxed, grinning, and I think happy to be part of something special. I bet every one of their cameras captured a magical scene or two or three.

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Another time it was late towards the end of a very long day, the landscape was once again quite still and quiet, and students were spread along a stretch of the Buffalo River that held many reflecting pools. Some tripods were along the river bank, others were out in the water. That water was so clear that we could easily see every pebble under the water. Slight breezes would come up and ripple the surface, and all that color that had been sitting still on the surface took on a kaleidoscope of shape and color. Then the water would settle down again, and those pebbles would return. There was laughter once in a while, and I knew memory cards were filling up. As I made my way from tripod to tripod, checking that everything was OK, I stopped and looked around, and realized that the students themselves seemed to be part of the scene - reflecting their joy into the pools. I believe that while it is our duty to preserve and protect the beautiful natural world around us, it is also our right to be out there in the middle of it where we belong, cameras or not, where we can renew and refresh out spirits and our souls.

(* A special thanks to my assistant, Jason Weaver; and as always to my lovely bride; for making this workshop possible! And, of course, to all the students who came from four different states and worked so hard...)

Our 2016 workshop schedule.

When I returned home from the workshop we opened up the gallery here at Cloudland for a group of lady hikers from Mountain Home who had just been out enjoying the amazing fall landscape themselves. I don't recall ever seen so many happy campers at the same time before - and they were as colorful in dress and personalities as the trees!

We have one more workshop on Saturday, but no time to rest as I'm just beginning to create the new slide program from our RARE QUALITY OF LIGHT picture book tour that begins NEXT WEEK - oh my! We'll actually be showing the ARKANSAS NIGHTSCAPES slide program from last year one last time - Tuesday night, November 3rd, in Fayetteville, 6:30pm (free and open to the public as always). If you missed this show last year and are in the Fayetteville area, I highly recommend it - it will be the last time this program will be seen. Our first RARE QUALITY OF LIGHT program will be on Saturday, November 7th, at the public library in Mountain Home - the world premiere! I only hope I can put a show together that will be worth your time.

10/31/15 The fog was so THICK early this morning when I left the cabin at 5-something that I could only use fog lights on the van to drive by - headlights were too strong, but the fog lights cut through just above the ground level and I was able to drive at about 10mph until I got off the mountain. Once I dropped down into Boxley Valley it was clear.

Not much rain overnight and none after first light. I stood in the darkness with my workshop students for 45 minutes as we went through all the camera control systems and got everyone ready to go take pictures. By first light we were all standing at the edge of the Buffalo River. Weather conditions were PERFECT for reflection photography - no wind at all, and it was just beautiful along the river. We spent a couple hours wandering the river in search of reflecting pools. After a great BBQ lunch and homemade Cloudland Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies by my lovely bride, each student produced a masterpiece color print to take home - my oh my their prints were WONDERFUL!

This was the last photo workshop for 2015 - it has been a grand year filled with amazing people creating beautiful photographs. And we got to eat a lot too! THANKS TO EVERYONE who participated or helped with the workshops, and also to the National Park Service at Buffalo National River and the good folks at the Ozark National Forest for providing the necessary permits and paperwork. We'll do it all again beginning in April 2016.

We were called out late tonight by the local search and rescue coordinator to help look for a pair of teenagers who were (are still) lost somewhere up here on Cave Mountain. I've been out for the past hour doing what I could, and a search team is assembling and will be out here soon to begin the official search mission (we are not part of the search and rescue team, but do whatever we can to lend a hand when needed). I had already taken my six-hour sleeping pill when the call came in, but so far I'm still upright and being coherent I think - but I probably don't need to be doing any sleep walking around the blufflines here! The teenagers had initial phone contact with family and said they were OK but "lost as hell." We're hoping for a quick resolution to their saga later tonight.

Tomorrow, I get back to fulltime work on the new slide program - picking music and syncing it to photographs from the new book. I enjoy this part a great deal - once I find the perfect match for music and photos that is. Then I play each section over and over and over again, tweaking the movement and speed of each picture until it all just fits together just right.

I'll post an update here when we find out good news of a rescue of the two teenagers, in the meantime please keep them in your thoughts and prayers...

And oh yes, this is my 18th halloween here at Cloudland, and still not a single trick or treater has ever knocked on the door! That's probably a good thing since I normally consume every last morsel before they would have a chance!

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