Taken with a Nikon D810 and 14-24 Lens, @ 24mm in 3 vertical shots, stitched together in Lightroom
The view from the summit of Mt. Magazine offers some amazing vistas, and one of the best is looking out to the due south towards Blue Mt. Lake and Blue Mountain behind it. This shot was taken last year, in late October and I was able to catch the rising sun hitting the rock and old tree in the foreground. Mt. Magazine is the highest place in Arkansas and has a lot to offer the visitor. There is a wonderful lodge where you can spend the night and enjoy a great meal after hiking around on some of the trails. The area is also a favorite for rock climbing and hang gliding.
I like to work this particular spot on Mt. Magazine year round, but the spring and fall are my favorite times. The sun will only come into the frame during December and January, but you can still get great photographs during the rest of the year. The play of light is amazing here.
Mt. Magazine’s summit is 2,700 feet high, and is the highest place in Arkansas. You can see for many miles off in pretty much any direction. The lodge offers a higher vantage point so when you visit make sure stop by.
The view from Mt. Magazine’s north side is just as impressive, so make a point of driving over to that side also. There is a one way drive which has several pull outs for viewing. During the fall you can expect a lot of traffic and a bit of congestion, especially during the weekends. The lodge will be booked up a year in advance for the best dates in the fall so plan accordingly.
This image was taken with aid of a tripod, in 3 vertical segments with a Nikon D810 and 14-24 lens. I used the 24mm focal length and F8 with the base ISO. I did not use a polarizer since I was panning across the scene and knew that would cause problems with composition later. I used Lightroom to work on the raw files, and also to make the panorama. The fall colors were just a few days before peak when this image was taken.
Taken with a Fuji X-Pro2, ISO 400, 35mm F2.0 lens, at F9, Panorama taken in 4 vertical images, each segment 3 exposures for a total of 12. Worked up in Adobe LR
Calico Rock, is one of the more interesting spots on the White River in Arkansas. You can drive right to it and when you arrive, you have a sweeping view of one of the larger bends of the White River. The bluff is about 150 feet above the river and you really cannot see much of the bluff itself. However there is one vantage spot where you can look to the west an there is a small out cropping that adds a lot to the photograph. Many call this “little Hawksbill Craig” after the larger feature up on the Buffalo River. However I just like to photograph the valley. If you look downstream, you will see the town of Calico Rock on the left hand bank of the river.
This shot was taken in a series of vertical segments, 4 total and for each segment I exposed 3 images. I then worked each of the 3 shots into a HDR balanced image in Lightroom. After that, I took the final 4 images and created a panorama. It’s very important to realize that you do not want to do any work on the individual HDR segments before the panorama merge. I prefer to use the boundary warp feature of Lightroom also as most of panoramas in taken like this will only work in a spherical format and thus your top and bottom edges will have some problems.
The Fuji X-Pro2 makes this very easy with it’s automatic bracketing shutter, where you only have to press the shutter once to fire all 3 brackets.
I have found that Fuji made some very good positive changes to the dynamic range of the X-Pro2 as can be seen in this image. Also Adobe must have done a bit of tweaking to their X-trans conversion for the X-Pro2.
You can get to Calico Rock from Little Rock, in about 3 hours and the drive is quite beautiful.
Taken with a Phase One IQ100 and 35mm LS lens, 2 part horizontal pano. Taken in 4 shots to merge later for foreground and background in Helicon Focus
Arkansas has many great streams to hike but one of the best is Falling Water Creek, which is well named as it has a large number of waterfalls it’s entire length before emptying into Richland Creek. Falling water creek has an upper and lower half, and some of the best spots to photograph are on the lower half. There you will find creek wide ledges like 6 finger falls. 6 finger falls, named for the cut outs the creek has made in the ledge, is quite a wonder. It offers great photographic opportunities year round but is best in the fall and spring. You will be lucky to find any water in the creek in the fall and if you do consider yourself lucky. The banks are lined with deciduous trees that offer a great display of fall color.
You will also like the fact that for most of it’s length, falling water creek has a forest service road that parallels it’s length and so offers quick access. This of course means in Arkansas you can expect to find all types of folks here on a good weekend, so plan your trip during the week if at all possible. The forest road is number 1205. Heading due north on the road, falling water creek will be on your right for the upper half, and then after you cross it on the left. For a portion of it’s length, the Ozark Highland trail is just above the road on the right, below the bridge. This is great day hike also.
Make sure to include a trip to the mouth of falling water creek at Richland Creek campground. Richland is the crown jewel of creeks in Arkansas and is also protected as a Wilderness Area, so you can enjoy a day without hearing a 4 wheeler.
08/21/16 Featured Arkansas Landscape Photography–Storm Clouds over Buffalo Point, Buffalo National River Arkansas
Taken with a Phase One IQ100 and Phase One XF/35LS lens, at ISO 100, F12 for 1/40 of a second on tripod, single exposure.
This was taken back in early August 2016 on the Buffalo River in Northwest Arkansas. This part of the river is known as Buffalo Point, and is one of the more popular spots on the river. It features one of the larger campgrounds on the Buffalo along with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Within 9 miles of Buffalo Point, you can driver over to Rush Arkansas which is an old mining town which dates back to around 1917. There is not much left standing at Rush, but it still offers some nice hiking.
This image shows just how fast conditions can change. I walked down to the river before sunrise. This particular bluff is on the east side of the river, thus will not get any sunlight until mid day. It’s a great spot to catch a sunset if the clouds lineup, but you also can expect to find hundreds of people wandering around the beach which just add confusion to both the scene and water. On this morning I was hoping to catch the area to myself, and for about a magic 40 minutes I had just that. There was almost no wind blowing, so I also was able to get a very nice reflection of the bluff. This bluff is about 80 feet tall and the face about 35 feet or so and it’s one of the classic Ozark bluffs made 100% from limestone so you can expect to get some interesting color from the rock.
I worked the area up and downstream, but this spot was the best as a early morning storm rolled in. When I first arrived there were no clouds in the sky at all just a bit of river fog, but within 30 minutes the top of an old thunderhead came over the river and really added to the shot. The heat and humidity were intense but the photographic opportunities were excellent.
This is single exposure from an IQ100 Phase One digital back and I have to say that the overall dynamic range of this back is impressive. The ability to finally cover a shot with just one exposure, knowing that you have room to work up shadows without a bracketing series of exposures is a great feature and long overdue from Phase One.
08/08/16 Featured Arkansas Landscape Photography–Milky Way over Buffalo Point, Buffalo National River
Taken with a Pentax K1 and 15-30mm lens @ 15mm and F 3.2 ISO 3200 for 2 minutes using the Pentax Astrotracer function in camera.
This was my first test for night photography with the Pentax K1, and overall I was pleased with the results from the Astrotracer feature in camera. This photograph is a combo from a 2 minute Astrotracer shot for the MilkyWay, and several different shots for the foreground at various times. I used a small lantern down by the bluff to add some local illumination.
Chris Kennedy and I worked for about 2 hours, starting with a very clear night sky and temperatures around 89 degrees with 100% humidity. 2 hours later the temperature was about the same, so I was sweating just standing around waiting on the camera. But there was little to no wind so I was able to pull a nice reflection of the bluff on the river and if there had been a bit more water or a better angle by me, I might have gotten a Milky Way reflection.
Buffalo Point is one of the more popular spots on the Buffalo River, and the only campground with full electric hookups, so it will always be crowded in the summer months. You can either reserve a campground in the lower camping loops or you can try to get a spot in loop A, where it is always first come first serve, and loop A is the original WPA worked sites. I hope to get back to work this place in fall, both for the Milky Way and later on for Star trails. Star Trails will be a bit more difficult due to the location of the moon and due north.
Taken with a Canon 1ds MkI, and and Canon 24-70 lens, iso 200.
I had to dig back a few years to find this, as it goes back to 2004, but since Arkansas had such a terrible fall in 2015 I have found myself doing this a lot lately. Haw Creek has some wonderful fall color displays but catching the falls with water in them and fall colors is one of the harder things to do. On the afternoon I caught this shot, I have been driving around looking for late fall color, stopping at both Falling Water Falls, and Richland Creek, but neither of them had much water. For some reason the rain that fell the night before did hit the Haw Creek drainage harder and the falls were running. I almost did not make the driver over from Lurton on Hwy 7, but was glad I did.
I was able to setup and get this shot before the sun moved over to the lower left of the frame. As it was the sun was perfect hitting on both the falls and the pool below. Note the green color, which is common to all Arkansas Ozark streams, but seems to be more prominent in the fall and winter. I have always assumed it’s due to the limestone content in the water.
I shot this photograph in 3 separate segments as I was wanting to get more overall resolution. The older Canon 1ds MKI only had 11MP and that’s just not enough for a large print. Now that Lightroom has added a stitching solution, I am going back to a lot my older Canon work, either from the 1ds or 1ds MKII as both cameras captured great color, but I was using either a totally manual stitching method or a Zork adapter. Using Lightroom’s new solution makes for a much faster stitching process and you are left with a dng file. This allows you still use Lightroom’s excellent tools on the image as if it was a raw file.
This year, the colors were terrible at Haw Creek, mainly brown. The water level was actually pretty good for a few day’s and I ran into a few photographers up there, but I didn’t even get my camera out. The trees just didn’t have any life to them.
Taken with a Phase One IQ160 and Arca rm3di camera and Rodenstock 28mm lens @ iso 50 for 1/2 second exposure.
I am a huge fan of Richland Creek, having spent at least the last 20 years or so exploring it’s vast reaches. I was lucky enough to Kayak this creek for over 10 years as that one of the best ways to get to know a creek. Richland (the name comes from the fact that the mouth of Richland near Woolum Ford on the Buffalo was excellent farming land) has some beautiful features throughout it’s length as it moves towards the Buffalo, but by far the best scenery is found in the 5 miles of the creek above Richland campground. This shot was taken on a fall morning and the sun was popping back and forth between the clouds. I was setup and waited on the best light for at least 20 minutes and only got about 2 minutes before the next bank of clouds rolled in. The level of water in the creek on this day was low but in many respects this is an excellent level for photography as you can safely stand in the middle of the creek for the best vantage points. One aspect of creek photography, if you don’t plan on getting wet, don’t bother.
This spot is directly below one of the larger rapids on Richland called, Shaw’s Folly. In this shot, look for the large rock on the upper right which is about the size of a small house. This marks the end of the rapid and all of the creek in the picture is just the run out. But in this shot you can see why I love Richland as it’s just full of huge rocks and each one has it’s own unique shape and color. The water was gin clear this day so I was able to feature some of the bottom of the creek by using a polarizer to cut the glare.
Taken with a Nikon D800e, single exposure with 0.9 ND grad filter on a Nikon 14-24 lens, F7.1 for 1/6 of a sec @ iso 320. The views from Mt. Magazine are some of the best vistas in Arkansas. The valley to the south, which is featured here looks towards Blue Mountain and below it, Blue Mountain lake. It’s easy to see where the timber industry has harvested all the natural hardwoods, below the Mt. Magazine as the deciduous trees run down the mountain to the park boundary. Springtime is a special time in Arkansas, I like to call the power puff period as all the trees will have different shades of green for about 2 weeks. After that, all the leaves will take on a similar dark green hue until fall.
This shot features the most famous tree on Mt Magazine, the bonsai shaped juniper. I would have loved to make it up to this spot when the huge dead cedar was still alive as it is a huge tree. It’s interesting still standing there and when you look at the roots, you have to wonder how it managed to live as long as it did as the vast majority of them are above the ground on the rock. Mt Magazine is the tallest spot in Arkansas at around 2,700 feet high.
Taken with a Canon 5D MK2, Canon 24-70 lens at F5.6, iso 400 for 40 seconds.
This photograph was taken in early January 2009, back in the good old days for me at least, (if you know me well, you know what happened in February of 2009). I was on a trip to photograph Elk in the Boxley Valley and this was my first field use of my new Canon 5D MK2. Before I purchased the Canon 5D MK2, I had been using my older Canon 1ds MKII, which just did not have a very good higher iso range. On this morning, I came around the last bend of Hwy 21 as it drops down into the western end of the Boxley Valley and saw this view of the moon setting over one of the larger mountains that surround the valley. What caught my eye was how the shadows played with the fence row in the foreground. The old oak tree provided a nice touch also as I framed the shot between the branches. You can see just a very light layer of clouds or fog that was starting to rise up over the mountain in the background.
When you view this photograph up close, you can also see all the frozen dew drops on the grasses and fence posts. If you have never taken a trip to the Boxley Valley, which is on the western headwaters end of the Buffalo National River, it’s well worth the time.
Taken with a Canon 5D MKII, Canon 14mm F 2.8 lens, in a bracketed series of exposures @ iso 200 This one is a special shot as it was one of those photographs that was just pure luck. I was up on the Buffalo River with Bob Shull, mainly to work the night skies, and we were just up on the river setting up our cameras. I had been looking downstream as the moon was starting to rise and it was in a very nice position. I had left my Canon 5D MKII setup for a upstream shot of Roark bluff for later that night. The evening skies had been cloudless, so I was not very interested in a sunset. I remember for some reason I looked around, probably due to a noise on the river, and wow, all of a sudden a bank of clouds had rolled at just the right time and they were on fire! I had to shoot the 5D MKII in a series of bracketed exposures as I knew that I would not be able to pull in the entire exposure with just one frame. This scene only lasted about 6 minutes and then the sun dropped below the bluff. My first series, missed the reflections of the sunset on the water at my feet. The river was not dead calm, but I still was able to pull in the reflection of the sunset on the water and the river rocks.
This was one of those once in a life time lucky lighting shots, that unless you happen to live on the river and can be out there everyday, just doesn’t happen very often. This was one of the last major photographs I took with the Canon, as I was in the process of transitioning to my Nikon D800, however I was much more familiar with the Canon at the time, so I shot with it.