LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - OCTOBER 2017
Little Bluff future cabin cam, 10/31/17 - 20 degrees cooler at dawn - HAPPY TUESDAY!
Print Of The Week special (above)
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10/31/17 Crispy-cold and windy early this morning as we made several trips down to the cabin site and back trying to warm up and work off a calorie or two (had brats off the grill for dinner last night, and plan to eat leftovers this morning!). Pure-blue skies and colorful trees surround us here, and fall days are just quite delightful - no finer season anywhere than in Arkansas.
We had a couple of breakthroughs yesterday. I created the beginning of the new slide show - then it took six or seven hours until late into the night of tweaking to get what I hope is a very nice start to the program for everyone. Funny how that worked - getting the first, first beginning to the show was pretty easy. But the tweaking took a long time. But it is a START, probably the most difficult part, and now I'm able to work on the next 20 minutes and 100+ photos, getting everything completed by the end of this week.
My lovely bride spent much of the day working with her dad on a special project down near the cabin site. 'Tis one of the reasons we moved closer to them, so that Pam's dad would be able to come help us out more (um, I mean spend time with us, ha, ha!). My greatest regret in life is not spending nearly enough time with mom and dad, especially in the later years. No one can ever get that time back. There is no time like the present - in fact it is the only time we know for sure.
Today I will begin working on the rest of the slide program, the beat goes on...
Just FYI, here is a list of songs and notes I made the other night after I completed review of the 266 pieces of music Pam picked out (from thousands she listened to). This is my working list to pick from, which will end up bring five or six or seven in the final program. We've purchased the musical licenses to use and/all of these...
***Daniele Balelli & Alessandro Russo - Distesa, 3:36
***Mateja Kojadinovic - Here and Now - All There Is, 1:31
***Young Rich Pixies - Rainy Day, 2:53
***Ian Post - Made In Hollywood - The Ambassador
***Golden Tree - In My Ears - 1:33 (guitar, fast)
****Marco Martini - Window On The Park - 3:51 (viola, medium - builds, ENDING?)
**-*Muted - Altitude - 2:59 (piano, strings, slow-medium)
**Muted - Belonging - 2:27 (piano, rapid-slow)
*Oren Tsor - Reflections - Valley Shine - 2:47 (guitar, viola, builds to rapid, changes tempo)
Sofia Barcala - Behind The Truth - The Moments Is Coming - 1:59 (slow, piano & strings)
****Young Rich Pixies - Rainy Day - 2:53 (fast, strings, building
***Young Rich Pixies - Summer Walking - New Day Comes - 2:47 (piano, slow, strings, pleasant, slow end)
***Young Rich Pixies - Summer Walking - Rendezvous - 2:30 (fast, bright, clapping, toe-tapping piano)
**Around Us - Clear Sky
Be Still The Earth - Animos - Fortress --- LONG, building, maybe intro?
****Jim Gaven - Forever In Love - Just Leave Him - Instrumental - rapid guitar
*** Kevin Graham - Sierra - Rae - good ending for timelapse or video at end...
*** Kyle Preston - Like Clockwork - It All Comes Together - long, multi tempo
*** Salt Of The Sound - Echoes Of Wonder - Dawn (begin with a slow video or timelapse)
10/30/17 At 24 degrees yesterday morning just before dawn we began the second coldest photo workshop of mine ever. (Coldest was a brisk 17 degrees with howling winds and three inches of fresh snow as we huddled in a field at 3am to photograph stars and light-paint an old rustic barn.) It was crunch, crunch, crunch through the frozen tundra of the Steele Creek area to make our way to the bank of the Buffalo River at the base of Roark Bluff. For the next two hours our group photographed a spectacular scene with ever-changing light every few minutes. Then some got down on their hands and knees in the tall frozen weeds and photographed delicate "frost flower" formations. Through it all I never heard a whimper or moan, but lots of ooooohs and aahhhhhhs!
Later we bellied up to the Sunday Brunch buffet at the Ozark Cafe in Jasper, then spend the rest of the day at our Canvas Gallery classroom selecting and printing images from each student. At the end of the day we had six of the most beautiful prints in the world. And so ends my photo workshop season for 2017 - one filled with floods, waterfalls, bull elk, fall color, wildflowers, sunrises and sunsets, CHOCOLATE, and a whole heck of a lot of great people, food, and most importantly - more WORLD CLASS PRINTS by students! Thank you one and all who attended - we really appreciate your willingness to go that extra mile (sometimes two or three) to learn how to do photography the right way.
We do not have a 2018 workshop schedule posted yet but I will let you know here when that happens - probably in another couple of weeks.
The past couple of nights we've been out romping in the woods with the pups and the cold and wind and MOONLIGHT. I rather love this phase of the moon - not quite full, yet bright enough to light up the landscape and create dancing shadows.
The week ahead will bring slightly warmer temps and perhaps a little rainfall. AND, maybe, the first trick-or-treater we've had in 20 years. We never saw a single one at Cloudland - and I'm sure that cost me 20 pounds or more since I was required to EAT all the candy we had available for them that was not given away. We are still pretty remote here at Little Bluff, and it is possible no one will show up - or not know where to show up if they do arrive. And if not, we'll take that in stride - I have a plan to keep the unused treats locked up for at least a day or two, but all bets are off after that.
10/27/17 It was a chilly night and a cold morning here - my bride is out of state attending a pastel workshop and the puppies did not do a very good job of heating up the van. When we did a quick fitness hike around the property this morning the wind was howling and cut right through all the layers I had on - hiking fast UPhill felt great though!
We had a terrific week of photo workshops and as always each student took home an AMAZING color print of their work. We put in some long and exhausting days that for me usually ran from about 4am-11pm or longer. One highlight was when we made an unscheduled stop where I ran out into the middle of a grove of maple trees - then laid down on my back and took a nap. The students soon realized it was their turn, and before long everyone was down on the forest floor - taking pictures of the beautiful towering YELLOW maple trees above them. Sometimes you just gotta' lay down and be a kid and get a little crazy with your camera.
My lovely bride's odometer rolled over once again this week, and while the number might be higher I do believe she gets younger and better looking each time (she will always be 14+ years younger than me). I don't know how she does it working so many long days and nights - must be the lovely camper van her boyfriend makes her sleep in, ha, ha! And while I know this is NOT every girl's dream b-day gift, she really wanted a new vacuum cleaner after 17 years, so the one that arrived this week came complete with a sexy red electrical cord (her description).
They are just about to complete the trench to move power to the new cabin site. Hit an underground snag and had to blast out a giant rock slab that was a couple feet underground in order to get the power line deep enough. We're hopeful construction of the cabin will begin before the end of this year.
I'm mostly stuck inside today and tomorrow continuing to work on the new slide program, then will have our last photo workshop of the year on Sunday. Colors will be better then weekend than before, so we hope you get the chance to get out and explore some and ENJOY!
10/23/17 Cool and breezy at first light today. Almost crisp. The landscape was washed and refreshed by both the fast-moving severe weather that moved through early yesterday, and also by the light rain that lingered all day. While the rain at this point in time really didn't have anything to do with the progress of fall color here, wet things are usually richer in color and so the moisture has produced brighter and more vibrant visible color in the landscape - moss and rocks and trees and pretty much everything looks better.
We had our first photo workshop of the marathon week yesterday morning, delayed an hour by the threat of severe storms. After things died down we spent an hour standing in light rainfall getting everything set up and ready to go; then the sky opened up and started to rain pretty good as we got ready to shoot. SHOOT! Contrary to so many discussions about how "weather proof" this or that camera is or is not, it's not a good idea to actually take pictures when it is RAINING, and photos generally don't look good if you do. So we huddled beneath trees along the bank of the Buffalo River waiting for the rain to let up, eventually returning to our cars to wait it out having not taken a single photo. When we returned to the river a little while later, the rain had let up and gradually revealed a most beautiful and classic painted-limestone bluff with reflections in the scene that was just STUNNING!
And as an added bonus, the river rocks all along the banks and gravel bars that had been soaking all night with rainfall were rich and saturated, and students often used them as strong elements in their compositions. Many times dry rocks can be distracting elements that we try to crop out.
The workshop ran late and we had to eventually order pizza for dinner, but finally got everyone's prints done before bedtime. It continues to amaze me how unique and special each student's work can be, even with all of them shooting the same scenes at the same time (I always laugh when folks talk about not taking pictures of something because it has been "done before" - I'm not really sure what that means but few things in this world are ever the same twice, and certainly no two photographs by two different people will be the same. In other words - shoot whatever you want to if you are attracted to a scene no matter what "they" say!
Later today we'll begin a four-day workshop, then another workshop next weekend. Colors are coming along here in the Buffalo River area and I expect we'll see more wonderful sights - although mostly brilliant sunshine and blue skies instead of wet rocks.
Saturday morning as I was headed out to do some chores, I ditched the van along the road and ran off with my snapshot camera in hand - the sky had opened up and dozens of Godbeams were streaking across the landscape. I only had time to shoot three or four exposures before the beams disappeared, but one of them turned out pretty good. It was a powerful display of the glory from above. 'Tis the reason I try to always carry a camera of some sort that only takes seconds to activate vs. only having a big camera that requires a tripod be set up first. What is the BEST camera? The one you have with you!!!
Godbreams from the corner of our property (above); and sunrise from the cabin site (below)
10/19/17 It has been very dry and dusty this past week, but I hear rain is on the way. There are some nice trees here and there with good color; overall landscape remains mostly green, but I think we'll have a lot of color in the next couple of weeks. NO way to predict where or when that will happen - my advice to leaf peepers (like myself) is to get out and drive around and just enjoy the hunt! TIP - drive into the sunshine and colors will be more vibrant (backlit trees are more colorful).
A crew started to clear off the new cabin site here at Little Bluff this week and we discovered that we actually have DIRT instead of just solid clay - yippie! We don't have a start date yet for the building project, but needed to get the lot cleared and electrical service trench built first. The cabin will face south, with a nice view looking off the backside of the cabin, including a direct shot at the sunrise from about September through about March. As they clear the lot I've begun to take the daily photo to post in the Journal here from the site instead of from the corner of our lot there the cow pasture is. It will be interesting to see how the view develops.
Wilson has been busy making sure the crew gets everything in order, and in fact runs down to the site and waits on the guys to arrive each morning and start up their machinery. He spends the rest of the day tracking lots of dust back home to the book warehouse.
Pam has been working with her dad to get her "Hummingbird" nest in shape so she can resume her studio painting (it's a temporary 8' x 10' covered space attached to the building). I've begun work on putting the new slide program together - Pam has narrowed the music down to 266 selections (from thousands). The first slide show will be in Hot Springs Village on November 10th. My photo workshops begin this coming Sunday. Our busy season is about to begin...
Sunrise looking out the back of our Roadtrek van:
10/13/17 We woke up on the beach this morning - well, 20 feet from the edge of the lake anyway. My lovely bride had a two-day oil painting workshop she attended in Cave Springs so I decided instead of her having to make the long drive back and forth that I would meet her at Horseshoebend Campground on Beaver Lake to spend the night - a hot date on the "beach" with my girlfriend on a Thursday night - yippie! AND I arrived complete with a chicken-fried dinner from Monte Ne Inn - YIPPIE COYOTE! (the chicken and blackberry cobbler were terrific, the sides were just OK)
Even though we spend nearly 24/7 together week after week, we never seem to get tired of each other, nor really get time to just sit around and talk - there's always work to do, deadlines to meet, someone wanting something done to take our attention away from one another. But last night we had a golden HOUR of Cloudland Moments together. We pulled the camper van into our lakeside campsite backwards, and the back of the van was almost out over the water. Then we opened up the back doors to let the lake breezes come in. The sounds of the waves lapping against the shore were wonderful.
But the big thrill was the fact that we got to spend a full hour just being with each other - no phones or nothin'. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. What in the world did we have to talk so much about? I have no idea, but while we were just laying there chatting away, the sky turned dark and the stars came out. The lake below shimmered, and a hoot owl or two called out. We were happy campers...
Can you find the ghost of me walking around on the shoreline during this long exposure?
10/11/17 There was a beautiful rainbow stretched across the western horizon early yesterday morning at sunrise. We could see it through the trees from our warehouse, but we were in the middle of working so were not able to move to get a clear view or picture of it. I heard from many folks in Newton County how fine a rainbow it was, with lots of pictures - thanks all for sharing!
Here's Mia exploring along the "little bluff at dawn
10/09/17 Monday morning wildlife update. Seems like this is the year of the Mantis. We've seen hundreds of praying mantis bugs, and they are getting smashed all over the place. Normally I only see one or two a year unless I go looking for them. This year they are as common as walking sticks. I guess they are related somehow.
We've been spending time sitting out on the back "porch" at twilight each evening and also sometimes at dawn. We've always enjoyed the music of our barred owls coming from the Buffalo Wilderness, but at Little Bluff the owls that are calling out are a different species - not sure if they are great horned owls or something else. Their hunting areas are mostly wide open meadows, with some forest lands (like our property). It will be interesting to see how the owl community develops as fall moves along - and hopefully we'll get to see some...
Speaking of wildlife, while trying to organize our new book warehouse (aka living room too), we discovered an unopened case of brand new ARKANSAS WILDLIFE picture books! We sold out of them a while ago with folks still wanting them, so we have decided to offer these few for sale once again at the original price. Order direct from us and get them autographed and personalized to the person of your choice - but HURRY, when these are gone we don't expect to discover any more!
10/08/17 We just had a wonderful Sunday dinner out on the veranda (covered cement slab attached to the book warehouse building). My bride cooked up a batch of chicken, wild rice, and veggies in her tiny Instant Pot. We love one-pot meals, and this device makes it a lot easier and quicker.
The sky is pure blue, cool breezes are bringing in a bunch of butterflies of different species - some just riding the air currents on past, while others land on either the ground (covered in pine needles) clinging to the side of trees. We have a bunch of mature pine trees, plus black gums (brilliant RED leaves are almost done and mostly on the ground already), sassafras, hickory and oaks. There are squirrels playing - and Mia in Pam's lap is just about to have a cow since she's not allowed to go chase them at the moment.
The rest of our view from the veranda overlooks piles of new lumber and scraps, used pallets, some discarded metal roof parts, a bright orange tractor (on loan from Pam's dad), a Rubbermaid tool shed, and the trash trailer. Luckily my bride has the ability to see past all the construction debris into the woods and enjoy the atmosphere of a beautiful afternoon at home.
Oh yes, I brought her favorite outdoor chair back from our campsite in Colorado a few days ago (it's a folding camp chair rocker from the Big R store), AND set up an old five gallon paint bucket to put her cup of iced tea on. It ain't the back deck at Cloudland, but Ma and Pa and puppies are doing OK in our new digs!
Speaking of Colorado, we had planned a leisurely 10-day trip there this past week to enjoy what turned out to be SPECTACULAR fall color season of both aspen and cottonwood trees. But one thing led to another, and the trip had to be cancelled before we were even able to start packing. We still needed to winterize our little campsite area though, so I made one of my marathon runs to Colorado and got the job done (16-hours driving out, worked a few hours, then 16-hours driving back).
I didn't take any pictures of the color, but did get to experience and photograph a terrific sunset while driving west in the Oklahoma panhandle. I could see the sun about to drop behind a cloud bank in front of me, so I sped up and frantically looked for two things - an old-fashioned windmill, and a road leading to the left so I could line up the windmill and the sun (without trespassing). Fortunately there are lots of both in western Oklahoma (windmills and intersecting roads), and soon I was standing next to one of those roads with a big lens and camera on a tripod firing away as the sun disappeared, the reappeared again below the cloud. It was one of those moments that ya wish for as a photographer, and I enjoyed each click of the shutter.
Towards the end of my little photo shoot, I remembered one of the main things I am NOT SUPPOSED TO DO with my ailing back - take pictures. Oops. That was almost a week ago now, and my back remains in pretty bad shape as a result of whatever it is I do while setting up and taking pictures that just shreds my disks. Anyway, I did get a couple of pictures of the sunset, got the campsite winterized, and made it home without any further incident. Oh yes, and I delivered a fresh-baked (the day before) calzone to my bride from the Three Barrel Brewery in Del Norte, Colorado - so she was a happy camper when I returned!
FedX found the one-ton pallet of books they had lost last week - sent it to Fargo, North Dakota for some reason instead of to us. But we now have all the books in our warehouse and Pam is processing and shipping orders every day.
We got to attend the opening reception last week for a photo exhibit at the Art Ventures NWA gallery on the square in Fayetteville (used to be Fayetteville Underground). Master photographer, JAY McDONALD, has a series of AMAZING botanical prints on display there now - each protected by a clear resin coating that he applied himself. Such terrific color, vibrance, and detail - I made about ten trips around the gallery to look up close at each.
OK, so I will get back to making regular posts here and hopefully not such long times in between. Fall will be happening later this month in Arkansas, with a few bits of color here and there, and LOTS more to come. We'll possibly have our Canvas Prints Gallery open a day or two in October, and if so I will post that info here and also on Facebook. In the meantime, I think I'll go have another bowl of Pam's Sunday dinner and watch a few more butterflies float by..
FYI, here is our little camper van tucked away under the covered porch at the west end of the book warehouse. The veranda covered porch is across the north end of the warehouse (much lower, but longer).
10/01/17. We made a quick trip yesterday to the campground at Maumelle Park outside of Little Rock to surprise one of our dear friends on her first day of retirement (after 32 years working for the state of Arkansas). We only knew they were camping there over the weekend, not where, or what their schedule was - so we were kind of shooting in the dark if we would even find them at home in a campsite. We found their camper van easily and I think the young lady was a little taken aback when my lovely bride walked up to her, followed by me with a large black garbage bag slung over my shoulder (a gift for her), as we shouted -"HAPPY RETIREMENT!" She was duly surprised - something (like me) she does NOT enjoy!
It was a glorious evening 'round the campfire with great friends and terrific food. And while Pam and I walked the pups along the Arkansas River just before dawn this morning, clouds in the east lit up and put on quite a show. Mission accomplished, and not only did we get to surprise and spend time with our dear friend, but we also got to add another campground to our growing live of 100 favorites (for a new guidebook we've been working on).
OCTOBER is here already - oh my goodness! It's going to be a great one, and we can't wait for more...
PERSONALIZED PICTURE BOOK NOTE - We are happy to personalize any of our picture books that you order to the person(s) of your choice (simply indicate this in the "comments" section of the shopping cart). If you DON'T SPECIFY a name, we will send a book that is autographed but NOT personalized. I.E. if you place an order for a picture book - even if we know you - and you don't spell out who to autograph it to, it will only be autographed, not personalized. Just sayin...