CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - SEPTEMBER 2011 Journal Archives
Cloudland remote Cabin Cam September 30, 6:15am - the Zen Tree, pond, and the Big Dipper
NEW HAWKSBILL CRAG limited edition POSTER PRINT AVAILABLE AT A SPECIAL LOW PRICE -
SEPTEMBER PRINT OF THE MONTH (Moonrise Meadow - available in two sizes, including a giant 24 x 36!)
UPDATED Friday morning the 30th - the Zen Cow
09/01/11 A warm and hazy start to the month, but I have a feeling things will cool down and get very nice as we move towards autumn! The new Print Of The Month above is also available as the giant limited-edition poster-size print at a special price - limited to only 20 of these beautiful large prints. There are still a few Accord Hollow Falls prints available at this poster size and special price. And we will add additional prints to this collection soon.
FALL COLOR REPORT. I saw a single poison ivy plant yesterday that was a beautiful BRIGHT red! That's about it for now...
09/03/11 Rose, pink, I'm not sure what you call it, but that is what shook me awake this morning about an hour before sunrise. I had slept in and it was after 6am - oops! But the sky was glorious and filled with this beautiful color. As I tried to de-blur my eyes the color faded - I should have been standing next to a stream or a lake or a pond somewhere with a camera and tripod to record this. A little while later the color returned - less intense, but beautiful just the same - and I was able to make a snapshot for the deck cam. I've seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of amazing pre-dawn skies - they all delight and I never tire of them!
Yesterday it was yellow that got my attention. A bright, giant, YELLOW butterfly came out of no where and landed on a bright, giant YELLOW wild sunflower in the meadow below the cabin. For the next ten minutes we were transfixed on this electric dab of pure yellow as it went from flower to flower, pausing at each to suck in the sweet nectar. I wondered how she picked which one to land on next? Sometimes she would go from flower to flower to flower, all in a row. Other times she would skip four or five. Then she would float to the far end of the scene, land on a yellow flower there, and begin to work her way back towards us. A gust of wind came up and she held on tight, swaying back and forth - two streaks of color, both yellow, both beautiful. And then a stronger gust came up and she let go and sailed on to another patch of colorful nectar.
I spotted a GREEN walking stick near the gallery building. Usually the green ones are very small, something like an inch or less long. Then they turn darker and the green drains. But this guy was about six inches long and still quite green through and through. And he was on a big hickory leaf that was also GREEN - pretty darn good camouflage. Green on green. About 90% of the forest landscape is green-on-green right now. This guy never moved even a twitch, even though I sat there in the other 10% (brown leaves) and stared at him for ten minutes.
Later in the evening I hiked up the lane to check and see if UPS had brought us anything. There was a flash of BROWN ahead, and then some pure white. 'Twas an old buck deer sneaking through the timber trying to escape my gaze, but he had put up his "flag" for a moment or two and so it was easy for me to spot him. He stood motionless down on a bench below me, broadside, and staring directly into my eyes. They say you should not look into the eyes like this, but I always do when there is a deer out there. A little bit of that deer was beaming right into me, and I into him. His antlers had hardened now and he had left the softer "velvet" behind. Soon he would be ready to do battle with the bigger bucks in the area and vow for the affection of a doe or two or three. He might win some of those battles since his rack of antlers was nice, but he would probably lose a battle or two as well since he was not the largest buck in the area. His healthy coat was shiny and bright and kind of stuck out against the forest floor and backdrop of the green trees. And then a bit of blinding sunshine broke through the forest canopy and bathed him with glowing golden evening light - WOW!
I know the landscape is often drab, dull, and monotone right now, but it you spend a little bit of time looking around you can find the colors of the rainbow...
09/04/11 We spent an hour today watching this yearling buck browsing near the old chicken coop just outside the cabin. I also saw him near midnight nibbling away in the same area. This is a little "forked horn" buck - next fall he will be an eight-pointer, and then in 2013 will be a fine mature buck ready for his pick of the does...
09/06/11 For some reason I got up at 2-something and so naturally I wandered outside to see what the sky looked like. The half-full moon had already set and the sky above was dark yet filled with shimmering stars. The Milky Way was not where I wanted it to be so after standing around in the front yard for about 20 minutes trying to figure out what I wanted to do (my brain does not always work too well at 2am - 'tis a bit slower than normal), I finally decided to climb back to the loft and crawl in bed. A half hour later I was still wide awake, and then my lovely bride - sensing my frustration - said "What would the star's look like from Cave Mountain Road?" Thanks honey - now I HAD to get up and go see! And then I heard "Can I go with you?" (Pam is NOT a middle-of-the-night kind of person.) OF COURSE you can! And so we drove off into the night and soon were parked along the road and gazing up at a zillion stars.
I spent a while playing, I mean working - actually the correct term would be testing some new equipment. My lovely bride laid back in the front seat and looked up through the open sunroof and counted shooting stars. I think she had a good night with plenty of wishes to make! Before we knew it the sky in the east began to glow and stars faded into the morning. It was fully two hours before sunrise when I saw the first sign of the approach of day - TWO hours.
Yesterday was indeed a labor day for us, starting out with both of us taking turns mowing the yard. "Mowing" is a relative term out here. Pam also did a bit of weed-eating. Then we hiked up the lane to deliver invitations to a gathering that a friend of ours is having later this month - we stopped off at Benny & Mildred's first (where a very young lady was filling up the bulls-eye of a target on a nearby tree with a .22 rifle). And next we dropped on down the hill to Kennie's cabin, where he was also mowing the yard (see Trish, he really DOES work when he is out here - and make sure he gives you the invite). At about a mile and a half this was the longest hike I'd made in a month.
Benny told us that he had mowed about half of Aspen's meadow for us, and so not wanting a thoughtful neighbor to do ALL of my work for me, later in the day I climbed on my tractor and headed up to the meadow to finish the job - with a tall cup of B&C in hand (bourbon and coke). I spent the next couple of hours driving around in circles and enjoying the last rays of sunshine - and dodging clouds of pollen or some other sort of "dust" produced by some of the tall weeds I was cutting down.
But before I drove the tractor around, I spent a couple of hours installing a roof rack of sorts on my car. This rack will provide a stable base (when I add a couple of loose boards to it) that will serve as a shooting platform (for pictures, not .22s). I'm always wanting to climb up on top to get a better view, and this platform will make enough space for my tripod and I to stand safely.
The sun has finally arrived now and is flooding the canyons below with brilliant light. Looks like we are in for another textbook early fall day here - crisp and clear and WONDERFUL!
The shot below shows Orion in the middle ("The Hunter" with his belt of three stars in a row), with some light pollution along the horizon - it was taken about 4am and before there was any predawn glow.
3/4 moon from the cabin (above), Moonset from Aspen's meadow (below)
09/10/11 Fall Color Report. Not much to report, other than goldenrod plants are beginning to look really nice - bright yellow along the roadsides and in fields. Some species are late getting started and have not turned yet - like sumac, and black gum trees. I expect we'll see some changes in the underbrush in the next week or two.
09/12/11 It was already beginning to break day when I headed out in search of a spot to photograph the moonset this morning. The full moon happened at 4-something AM this morning, and since this is the full moon closest to the fall solstice, it is called the Harvest Moon. According to a computer program that I use for this sort of thing, sunrise would happen before moonset, so I wanted to get a shot of the landscape lit up by the sunrise while the full moon was still hanging in the sky. My plan was all set and everything looked great!
Only problem was about two miles away from home it suddenly hit me that I had forgot all my MEMORY! It is possible to take pictures these days without BRAINS, but not without memory! So I turned around and returned to the cabin to get my memory cards. That little detour cost me enough time that I had to abandon my original shooting location - but thankfully I did have a plan B.
The full setting moon looked great but I only had a few moments to locate a suitable location at the far end of a hayfield where I could get a nice composition with this old barn and the setting moon. I found the perfect spot, but then the moon moved and messed it up. My next spot was even better, but that old moon kept moving and destroyed my composition! The sun was about to pop up over the ridge and light up the scene at moment, so I frantically searched for yet another location, this time I put the moon over to the left of perfect, hoping it would move into the right spot at the right time. If anyone had been watching me I'm sure they would have laughed out loud at this idiot who was running around in the hayfield!
The sun arrived and lit up the landscape with brilliant golden light. I jammed my spiked tripod feet firmly into the ground and zoomed out the long telephoto lens. I only had a few seconds to make some test shots and get the correct exposure before the moon moved into the perfect position. I shot about 30 frames in the next minute or two, and then it was all over - the moon had dropped too low and then disappeared into the horizon.
I've been shooting the moon in different phases and at different times of the day a bunch this past week - I've always been rather lunar and absolutely LOVE the days leading up to the full moon, especially since it has been cool and clear lately. Getting good photos of the moon is not difficult, but you do need some good equipment and very clear air - and most of all, GREAT TECHNIQUE! I've developed my own way of shooting the moon over the past 36 years, but I still continue to refine my methods and hopefully will get better.
HEADS UP FOR WEB PAGE CHANGE THIS WEEK. We moved all of our web pages to a new host and servers several weeks ago and it was a very clean and smooth transition. However this week there will be an internal address change made that could impact our web pages for a day or two - hopefully you won't notice any difference, but just in case you have issues, it should only last for a day or two. ALL of our web page addresses will remain the same. If there are issues I will try to keep folks updated via our facebook page.
09/13/11 There was a hint of wood smoke in the air here just before first light. But soon the aroma changed to a much different and really lovely smell - RAIN!!! My lovely bride and I sat on the back deck sipping mocha/tea and watched as the distant sky filled with color - and with sheets of rainfall. There was a cool breeze, and every now and then an acorn would get knocked off a limb and come crashing down. It has been fun to watch deer in the front yard lately - every time one of those acorns hits our tin roof it sounds like a gun shot - but the deer do little more than just look up attentively for a few moments, then go about browsing or sniffing around.
And then a nice little rain shower blew in - YIPPIE COYOTE! It felt, smelled, and sounded great. Before the shower, we could hear only crickets. Then almost immediately as things got wet there were many birds that woke up and started to sing the praises of the new day - and of the rain. There were even a couple of baby clouds born in the canyon below. As the rain passed the babies began to rise, expand, and eventually when they reached the top of the canyon they were blown off to parts unknown.
The color in the sky didn't last long and faded to gray with the rain - and then stayed gray. But I did manage to get out of my cedar Adirondack chair (THANKS Harold for building these for us!) long enough to take a snapshot of the color and the rain sheets for the daily cam.
I hope a cloud hovers over you today and dumps its load!
09/17/11 It was raining, wet, and COLD yesterday afternoon, so naturally I put on my hiking boots and headed out the door. And my oh my what a wonderful ramble I was about to have! It had been a couple of months or longer since I'd been out in the woods - I wondered if I even knew how to bushwhack (bad knees and legs since June, but getting better!). The forest was dripping wet and LUSH with a full summer's growth, and I was instantly soaked to the bone despite my goretex jacket (those things rarely ever work as advertised, but we all keep buying them for some reason). The air was clean and crisp and heavy with the sweetness of the rainfall.
I was no in condition to be able to climb up and over many downed trees left over from the big ice storm a couple of years ago, so my rambling route through the forest was determined by where the downed trees were - or actually were they were not since that is where I hiked. Both dogs were with me but the cats stayed back at the cabin sleeping. My progress was slow and sure - I was not out to make any speed records due to my bad legs.
We rambled through the forest and out across a wide open meadow, back into the forest again, then along a narrow lane and out to our small orchard - where a bear had stripped every single bit of fruit from the trees a while ago. There were some small and colorful wildflowers in the meadows - scattered here and there - most likely where they could find a spot of moisture during the long hot spells. Most of the landscape was monotone green, but these bright little beams of color added a great deal.
At one point while I was walking along the lane - with trees hanging over and bend down low since they were so heavy with moisture - the air got really heavy with sweetness - it was almost like springtime when all the trees were in bloom. I stopped and hunted around a little bit as best I could in the thick forest, but never found the source. We started to have a great crop of wild plums this past summer, but they all disappeared - perhaps into the bellies of a certain bear or two. I surveyed all the wild plums in the area and could not find a single plum, or even where one had been. The sweetness was not from the plum trees, but it was plum sweetness for sure!
And then I came to our pawpaw patch that is hidden back in the woods near the lane - when those puppies get ripe they can sweeten up the entire landscape! But today they were still weeks away from being ripe, and there was not that many of them to begin with nor were they very large. But that is OK - any pawpaw is a GREAT find! I hope to be able to make a daily visit to this little spot of heaven next month when I can have a pawpaw for breakfast!
The rain picked up a bit, then almost quit, then started up again at about half speed. Each and every drop felt terrific, and it was just SO NICE being out in it, even though each tiny drop also bright a slight chill with each impact. As I hiked along I realized that the trees and underbrush all had these wide grins on them - no doubt from the refreshing moisture they were covered with.
One leaf caught my attention. I didn't know the species, but it was a rounded leaf, green, and thick with a shiny top. The leaf was curled up a bit - almost cupped - and each little raindrop that hit would slide to the middle of the leaf and then turn and continue down towards the pointed tip. The drop would leap off the leaf towards the ground. Just below this leaf was another leaf, wide and rough and yellow-orange in color. The drop would impact with a splash - if I got down right next to this leaf and listened carefully, I could close my eyes and hear the splash! I must have spent a good five minutes with this little pair of leaves and raindrops - time well spent in my book.
Sweetgum ball with a fat, juicy orb weaver spider in the background
Later on I while I was rambling across a wide and mostly level bench I looked up and realized I was standing in the middle of a large patch of bright RED leaves. This was the most color I'd seen, so I took out my little camera and started to find a picture. I know most folks don't care much for poison ivy - I've never been allergic to it so have not paid much attention to that part. But right now these patches are just so brilliant and colorful, and I don't know of another spot of color right now that is so good. The only problem with them yesterday was the fact that Aspen liked to sit down right in the middle of the most colorful spots! It was great to see him up and out of the cabin though (he is growing slower with age - like we all - and in fact will be back in for more surgery next month).
By the time I returned to the cabin the rain had all but stopped, but the forest would get to soak up more moisture after dark - nothing heavy that would wash dirt away, just slow and soaking - the sort of rainfall we need right now. It was a great ramble of about a mile - the first time I'd been able to walk mostly pain-free in a long time. We've still got some warm weather ahead of us, but no doubt there will be a lot more cool days like this one than hot this month. And soon it will be "jeans and sweater" weather every day - YIPPIE!
09/21/11 The sky is pink and blue early this morning, with baby clouds moving around down in the canyon. Cool temps and clear air allow even the lowest of sounds to be heard, even from across the valley (there are some crows having a meeting in the meadow a mile away that I can hear!).
Yesterday morning I got to take a picture that was years and years in the making. There is a piece of property I've driven by hundreds of times that is high on a ridge and has a pond in the middle of a large meadow. I've always wanted to photograph around that little pond, but since it was/is on private property I never got the chance. (Going onto private property without permission is trespassing and is against the law.) I finally got the chance to speak with the land owner several months ago and he was happy that I asked - he's had problems with trespassers and does not look kindly on them. Funny thing though - ever since I got his permission I've been unable to actually hike to that pond due to my bad legs, ha, ha! But I gave it a shot yesterday, and was able to make the short trip to the pond with my camera bag.
I often find the colors and the mood and the personality of the landscape rather appealing an hour or so before sunrise - in fact usually once the sun arrives my shooting is over. This was the case yesterday. It was just lovely being out there under a sky filled with stars and that beautiful sky as it turned from coal black to deep purple to deep blue, and many colors in between. The air was still and the surface of the pond was an oval mirror of the universe. I don't recall hearing a single sound. It was a moment of serenity, pure and clean, and well worth the wait.
I took a few pictures - the color of the sky changed ever few seconds so no two photos looked alike and I had to just keep on shooting until the color began to wash out (still a half hour before sunrise). A funny thing happened hen it was time to pack up and hike back to the car. I had removed my camera from the tripod and stepped over to put the camera in my backpack, which was laying on the ground carefully placed in between fresh cow pies. I had forgot that one leg of the tripod was shorter than the others and so as soon as I released my grip on the tripod it tipped over and headed straight for the cow pies! But for some strange reason, the tripod changed course during the fall and landed directly on top of my camera bag, YIPPIE COYOTE! I would say that on a normal day even if there would have been a single cow pie the tripod would certainly would have hit it dead on, so I knew it was a great day for having missed the cow pies!
On the way back to the cabin I stopped and bushwhacked a short distance down to the top of a tall bluffline and took a few pictures of the sunrise, which rose over a canyon absolutely stuffed full with a sea of clouds. I had to get down on my belly in the mud to include some old, twisted cedar trees in the foreground and to help block the bright sun.
As I've been writing this today I've been able to watch the very same type of color change in the sky going on right outside the cabin - rich tones of purple and pinks and blues and oranges. And in a few minutes the sun will arrive and flood the canyons below with brilliant sunshine. The official beginning of autumn is just a couple of days away.
FYI, we have added several new slide program dates to our fall schedule. All are free and open to the public and we'll have tables filled with all our books and the new calendar - all at special sale prices! Speaking of the new 2012 Arkansas scenic wall calendar, they are beginning to make their way onto store shelves now so you can go have a look - here are a few locations: Colliers Drug stores, the University of Arkansas Bookstore on campus, and Hastings in Fayetteville; all Bedfords cameras stores; Wordsworth Books in Little Rock; also Hastings Books in Conway and Russellville; the Elk Center and Chamber of Commerce in Jasper; the gift shop in the hospital and Cristian Book Outlet in Harrison; and Petit Jean State Park Visitor Center. Lots more locations will be added as time goes on, and of course you can also order direct from us here. The new picture book will be available about October 11th, and the new waterfall guidebook sometime in November.
09/25/11 It is an absolute DELIGHTFUL morning today! We have a heavy cloud layer that is hanging low over the wilderness and hiding the tallest ridgetops and trees and is moving past ever so slowly. The air is crisp with coolness - not quite cold yet - but with that special fall feeling to it - and why not, autumn began two days ago so it has arrived! The foreground sound is nothing at all - just the quiet purr of the landscape. But in the background there is an almost silent chorus of a dozen or more crickets - again another sound of the fall season. Stepping outside you can take a deep breath and fill your lungs with the heavy, chilled air, and it just makes you feel so alive today!
I've had a couple of photography sessions the past few days, one that was quite personal and intimate but I probably did not get any commercial images from it; while the other was more on the grand scale that lasted a long time and yielded several "portfolio grade" images that you will mostly like see in books and calendars as tie goes on.
While driving out to the mailbox the other day I was stopped by a scene right out the window - it is a view I look at literally hundreds of times a year and is frequently changing, though in the past few months it has been mostly the same. It is the stand of maple trees that actually stretches for more than a mile along the benches that include our cabin, and goes all the way out to the mailbox on Cave Mountain Road. Two things that struck me about the scene at the moment - first, there was a light fog around, and I always love what fog does to trees. It was a sea of green mixed in with the fog - the maples still have another couple of weeks at least before they turn color. But in the very back, actually in the background of the scene, a single tree had turned red - probably a maple - and if I stood in exactly the right spot on the hillside I could see this red spot through the sea of green. I scampered back up to the car and brought down my camera.
I spent the next hour shooting exactly the same scene, over and over. Sometimes the success or failure of a photograph depends heavily on where you put your tripod leg - a few feet one direction or another can easily ruin a great scene. And that is always part of the creative process - deciding exactly where to take the picture from. But that decision was already made for me and I didn't have to spend time trying out other angles - there was only one. But I did spend a good bit of time there taking the same picture, but it was different since the fog moved in and out, in and out, and the personality of the scene would change with each movement. I think I was also just ready to be standing out IN THE WOODS because sometimes I would just stand there and do nothing - but soak it all in. Not a great scenic icon shot, but it was a nice bit of time for me, and I love the promise of the coming of blazing fall color the little lone maple tree gives.
A couple days later I was up and out the door very early - hours away from sunrise. I knew from watching TV the night before that we would have 'thick fog" in the valleys, and so I headed to the best sunrise views in the state - along Hwy. 7 south of Jasper. It was a clear sky above and filled with zillions of stars, although less stars than normal since there was an almost-half moon already up in the eastern sky. I stopped at one viewpoint and took some pictures of that moonlight, stars and fog, then motored on and visited a couple of different viewpoints to access the best location for sunrise - which was still an hour or more away.
The sea of fog extended from below me to literally the horizon - even in the dim light before any color happened it was easy to see this sea as far as you could see! WOW, it was amazing! And out there in the distance there were ridges and mountains sticking up through the sea - all coal black. I started taking pictures and didn't stop for nearly two hours - actually closer to three hours.
And like many of these types of sunrise shoots, the actual moment of sunrise was very nice, but only for literally a few seconds, then I had to point the camera elsewhere because the brilliant ball of sun was just too "hot" (bright) for the camera to exposure correctly. But it was the sea of fog that stole the show - nor only was it GIANT and expansive, but it was fluid as well. As the sun rose it began to warm the air, and the fog started to move around - not only contracting to reveal more forest along the edges, but also expanding back up into the forest - which sometimes created these really neat sunbeam light shows. And also the center of the foggy beast expanded and moved around as well - some parts catching the low yellow sunshine while other parts remained in shadow.
There was a neat scene of sunbeams through the forest several hundred feet directly below me (I was standing on the top of a tall bluff/steep hillside), and one minute that forest was filled with these amazing sunbeams, the next minute the trees were either completely engulfed in fog or had no fog around them at all.
I used a couple of different cameras and many lenses during this shoot - my big camera wide angle lenses for the big, expansive scenes so I could capture as much of the distant detail as possible; and my "medium" camera system and a very long telephoto lens to capture the sunbeams in the trees and other distant scenes. Cameras and lenses are the tools that I use, and my job often calls for different tools and so I try to match the right tool for the job. There is no single "best" camera for landscape photography. It had been a great morning for photography, and I have no doubt there were hundreds of great photographs taken around the area by many other photographers - I was glad to have gotten out of bed so early to get a few myself!
Still not much color changes around here yet, although some of the landscape is beginning to take on a yellow hue. Still some good stands of poison ivy, a little bit of sumac and sassafras turning but most are still green. And I did see several sweetgum trees the other day with some color. But otherwise we have mostly green. But the forest is really healthy and I think we'll have a splendid fall color season in the next month - so get ready to fill up your gas tanks and enjoy!
A couple of random notes. We continue to see more and more deer all over the place - but the mast crop (acorns, hickory nuts) is really spotty - some trees are loaded while most don't have any. I think if we have a hard winter the deer population that has exploded might have a difficult time of it. At least they won't have to compete with squirrels - I've seen exactly one squirrel up on our mountain in the past month - they know. Also I've seen several trees in BLOOM right now - including the popcorn tree that touches the windows of the shipping department here at the cabin - in fact it has been in bloom for three weeks!
Oh, one other note - there was a gathering last evening of the human residents of Cave Mountain for an informal cookout - hosted by the famous Mike Beebe and his lovely bride, Susan (not that Mike Beebe, the other one). It was the most neighbors I'd ever seen together in the same place - in fact I'd never even met some of them, even though we have lived here for more than a decade now. The group included not one or two, but three of the leading artists in Arkansas. And some of the folks there were born on the mountain, attended the little school in Boxley, and could tell first-hand stories of the early history of Cave Mountain. Others had migrated here from the bayou, upstate New York, and other parts of the country. It was a grand feast with a mountain of food and conversation - and we hope the first of many gathering of these find folks!
The sun must be awake by now but the landscape has not changed as a result - still heavy fog on top of us that has now settled into the canyons below. PERFECT conditions for a morning hike, so I think I must obey!
09/26/11 Here are a few photos from an early-morning photo trip towards the far end of Cave Mountain:
09/30/11 Last night there were frogs, cicadas, and crickets; plus more frogs, cicadas and crickets - all SCREAMING as loud as they could. It was as if they felt the end of the season was upon them and they wanted to sing out just one more time as loud as they could. This morning I was up and outside at 4am and it was almost total silence.
The temp said 58 so I didn't bother to grab a jacket, but by the time I arrived at a place where I was going to take a few pictures of stars and predawn, the temp was down in the upper 40s with a strong wind - and all I had was a thin shirt and a photo vest - it was CHILLY! Seems like the trips where I take every piece of warm clothing that I own the temp never gets below 90, but when I go out unprepared it always gets me! I would say "live and learn" but that doesn't always happen with me!
The fact that I was standing beneath the heavens filled with a zillion stars probably kept me quite warm since after a minute or two I never really noticed the cold at all. I had gone back to my favorite "Zen Tree" to see what the stars looked like with it, and found the Big Dipper wanting to be included so I did my best. It was not a brilliant predawn or sunrise, but the deep blue night sky was pretty nice.
Later on I stood on the pond back looking back the other direction and took pictures as the sky turned purple and then pure blue while the meadow all around glowed yellow in the predawn light. The pond at my feet took on whatever color happened to be going on around it and up above. At one point I looked up and saw a duck coming in for a landing, and he came to rest only about ten feet away from me - I don't know if he saw me before landing or not, but he did not stick around too long.
Later on I saw what I swear was a WHITE frog that jumped from the bank at my feet into the water.
Just before dawn is most often the quietest time of the day - seems like the world holds its breath just to see what is going to happen next. It was at that moment when I was all alone with my thoughts when what sounded like a jet airplane came WHOOSHING by just a few feet above my HEAD! I turned to look into the glowing eastern horizon and saw a flock of 15-20 birds of some sort - smaller than ducks, but the collective sound of their beating wings shook the bajeevies out of me for a moment!
And still later on, just as the sun was about to wake up, I realized a much larger object was watching me. A GIANT cow had walked up and stood about 20 feet away from me on the pond bank - he wanted to know exactly who I was and what was I doing on his pond.
Even later on, while I was standing back a ways from the pond so that I could get the entire pond, Zen Tree, glowing meadow, an blue sky, all in the same photo, the cow/bull walked right through my picture - I got a really nice 12-second photo of the cow! And then he went to the edge of the pond, reached down and got a drink. And son of a gun, he remained almost perfectly still (and in the frame) during the entire 12-second exposure! Nice cow. Actually I think this is now a Zen Cow (see his blur below).
Going back a few days ago, but in this very same meadow, I arrived again before sunrise to photograph the Zen Tree. It was too late for stars and I never did see a cow, frog, or duck, but the light was beautiful and I got some nice photographs (posted above).
The sea of clouds was really nice but I wanted to move to another area to photograph it right at sunrise, so I packed up all my gear and headed to another spot several miles away. When I arrived at the parking spot I could look right on across the Buffalo River valley and see the opposite side, with a nice ridge rising out of the sea of clouds. The horizon was really ORANGE and the sun would arrive in just a few moments. I jumped out of the car, loaded my camera gear, and took off down into the forest where I would have a clear view of the scene from on top of a tall bluff. But as luck would have it, the air temp had begun to warm up, which made the sea of clouds start to rise - and even before I could reach the top of the bluff I was engulfed with this thick fog and could not see a thing! I waited around on top of the bluff for a while but the sea just kept boiling right on up and over the bluff - it was a bust. But that was OK - I got a few nice photos of predawn and so I was a happy camper!
FALL COLOR REPORT. We are still about 95% green here, but there are a few really nice brilliant RED black gum trees dotted around the landscape. Some underbrush has turned, but still most of it remains green. Sometimes when the light is right you can see a hint of yellow in the landscape - it almost feels like it could all pop and turn color any day, but I think we are still a ways from that happening. Colors in some other parts of the country are late this year - no telling what is going to happen here in the Ozarks.
NO MORE POSTS UNTIL OCTOBER 11th. We will be offline from October 1-10 and there won't be any Journal updates during that time. Our online store will remain open for orders, but the orders will not be processed or shipped until October 11th. At that time our NEW PICTURE BOOK will be here - YIPPIE! This new ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO III is available for preorder right now (click here). We'll also be shipping the HOLIDAY SPECIAL orders on the 11th as well. Our caretakers at the cabin will be taking care of all our livestock and collecting the mail - the property will be gated and the gallery won't be open (but we have three open houses scheduled in November and December).
OCTOBER PRINT OF THE MONTH. We will post the October Print Of The Month on October 11th - and here is just a heads-up for ya - in celebration of the release of our new picture book, the special price for 11x14 prints will apply to ALL images from the ARKANSAS PORTFOLIO III picture book - YIPIEE, YAHOO! So I guess that means we'll have 124 October Prints Of The Month - all on sale, well, for at least until the end of October. I will also be adding a couple more of the special limited-edition poster prints at that time - so save your pennies!
OK, that is about it for her for now. I think October will be one great month in the Ozarks, and I hope you are making plans to get out and enjoy! We'll see ya on the 11th.........