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2017 Southwest Photoshoot August

Week Of 08-13-2017

AT&T Building

                                           AT&T Building

Sunday 08-13-17
Attended worship services at the Connell United Methodist Church in Goodlettsville, TN. The congregation was very kind, friendly, and accepting. The service was very moving and the pastor delivered a very thought-provoking sermon on prayer.
Took a backstage tour of the Grand Old Opry House at Opryland.

Monday 08-14-17
We had planned to leave today but there is so much to do here in Nashville; things we had not had a chance to do yet so we extended for site for a couple of days. Today we rode the truck into Nashville, parked in a lot neat the Ryman and went sight-seeing on foot. Visited the Ryman again to photograph the outdoor sculptures. Went to the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge for lunch and a drink. Heard some really good musicians. Visited the Johnny Cash museum and walked around a lot.

Tuesday 08-15-17
Today we went back into Nashville and took the hop-on / hop-off to the Parthenon in Centennial Park. The statue of Athena on the second floor is a must see. We then went back to the Country Music Hall of Fame to finish the tour we started last Friday with the Grey Line Tour. We listen to country music on Sirius Radio a good deal of the time and it was nice to see so many artifacts and learn so much history about the artists we hear all the time.
Came back to the trailer and prepared to leave in the morning.

Wednesday 08-16-17
Finished prep and got under way this morning. Still have about 850 miles till home so we have plans to stop somewhere in Georgia for the night.

Thursday 08-17-17
Made it from Nashville, TN to Perry, GA before we stopped for the night at the Fair Harbor Campground. Everyone was very nice considering it was only a one night stay. Clean restrooms and pizza delivery. Who could ask for more?

Friday 08-18-17
Well, our summer odyssey is over for this year. Made it back to New Port Richey around 3 PM today. Tired and lonesome for the road but glad to be back in our own bed. Time to start planning for next year!!!!



Week Of 08-06-2017

Country Music Hall of Fame

                                     Country Music Hall of Fame

Sunday 08-06-17
Attended worship services at the Cornerstone United Methodist Church in O’Fallon, MO. Also drove around the area scouting for any areas to photograph.

Monday 08-07-17
Spent the day visiting with our son’s family and playing with the grandchildren.

Tuesday 08-08-17
Spent the day visiting with our son’s family and playing with the grandchildren. Had to take the Truck in to have fuses replaced due to the issue trying to inflate the coach tires.

Wednesday 08-09-17
Today was Mary Lou’s birthday and our son’s significant other prepared a scrumptious meal (she is a professionally trained chef) and a beautiful cake. Lots of presents a good time was had by all. Went back to the coach rather late and prepared for getting underway tomorrow morning. Have decided to visit Nashville for a few days to celebrate ML’s birthday.

Thursday 08-10-17
Traveled from O’Fallon, MO to Nashville, TN. Long trip and I was tired by the time we pulled in to the Grand Ole RV Resort and Campground on 31W. Set the coach up and had a bite to eat in the little restaurant on site. Arranged to join a Grey Line Tour of Nashville in the AM.

Friday 08-11-17
Took the Grey Line Bus Tour called “Discovering Nashville”. This was a good tour giving us a basic idea of the layout and where things are actually located in the Downtown area.
Tonight we cruised the Cumberland River aboard the General Jackson Riverboat. Not as good as I thought it would be on the boat. I had to use flash and I rarely like my flash photography. However, the cruise took us up to Nashville and the city lights proved to be quite interesting. I especially like the lights on the walking bridge. The lights presented interesting compositions as we passed below the bridge. Because it was not totally dark I believe some of the images will be too noisy to use but I have high hopes for the bridge shots.

Saturday 08-12-17
Spent the day in the Opry mills area. We found a great gem for photo opportunities. It is the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. There are three atriums within the hotel lobby. These atriums have exotic plants, waterfalls, ornamental iron work, etc. There is currently an Alice In Wonderland themed art show being presented throughout the Atriums and the formal gardens that has very interesting colorful flowers of various shapes and sizes and beautiful topiaries. If you are in the Nashville area I would highly recommend you spending some time here. I believe you will be presented with some excellent photo opportunities.
Tonight we attended a performance of the Grand Ole Opry. I really like taking photos at live events. They simply come out great. I think I am going to print some of these up and try to sell them.

2017 Southwest Photoshoot July

Week Of 07-30-2017



Sunday 07-30-17
Today we drove from Edwards, CO to Russell, KS approximately 500 miles. Pulling a trailer through the Rocky Mountains is an experience. Some of the climbs and the down hills were extreme but we made it through them all without incident. I am very impressed with our 2500 Chevy Truck. On down hills, it automatically shifts into downhill breaking by down shifting into lower gears and depressing the gas pedal releases the downhill breaking. This feature really helped us a lot in keeping the vehicles under control on the steep downhill grades. Also, the temperature gauge remained steady when pulling up the steep grades.
We stopped at the Pilot Truck stop in Denver. While there we refueled and I purchased another 12 volt extension for the air pump. Remember the original extension was broken and I tried to repair it but it kept blowing the fuse mounted in the extension so I decided to purchase a new one.
We arrived at the Triple “J” campground in the early evening. We decided to stay for 2 days to rest up. The campground was very convenient because it was right off of the interstate exit ramp.

Monday 07-31-17
We traveled about 30 miles to Russell, KS hometown of Senator Arlen Specter & Bob Dole. They have a Walmart close by in Hays, KS so we drove over after setting up the coach at our campground and stocked up on what we needed. After returning to the coach and depositing our purchases, we went into the town of Russell in search of something to eat. Afterwards, we found several old abandoned buildings and oil pump jacks. We photographed the buildings, the pumpjacks and some of the other artifacts lying about the buildings. Because we did not know if we were on private property or if the natives were friendly we used the smaller and less obvious NEX to capture these images.
After doing a little research, we found that Russell is in the middle of the Kansas Oil Fields. Back in the early 1900’s when the Kansas oil industry was booming, Russell was right in the middle of the boom. Today it costs between $15 and $25 to get a barrel of oil out of the ground in Kansas and with oil prices at $20 a barrel it is almost impossible to make money. Consequently, most of the industry has died. So the photographs we took were of the buildings and associated hardware used during those hay days.

Tuesday 08-01-17
I worked on getting the proper inflation of the coach tires. As I mentioned I did purchase a new 12 volt extension cord that plugged into the cigarette lighter (now called the accessory outlet). Well that turned out to be a disaster. The part of the extension that plugs into the lighter and the cord got so hot it could not be touched. It also blew the fuses in the extension as well as several fuses in the truck. I have decided that I need to start all over from scratch. I am going to purchase a new tire pump that works on 110. That way I can use regular extension cords that hopefully will be more reliable.
The Triple “J” campground was a very good overnight campground. Most of the sites are full hookups with 30/50 amp service. There was one men’s room and one ladies room with one shower in each. Both were clean and neat. There was no pool that I could see. There was an excellent laundry room with large washers and dryers. The campground was very quiet and there were restaurants and gas stations nearby. This is certainly a good campground to spend the night and while we were there most of the campers came in the late afternoon and were gone by noon. The management was very friendly and very accommodating.
We also made preparations for getting underway tomorrow.

Wednesday 08-02-17
We are on the road again. Heading to O’Fallon, MO. The trip is about 500 miles so we again got on the road early so we could arrive before the office closed at the Cherokee Campground. This leg of the journey was basically rolling hills most of the way. Not as exciting as the drive from Edwards, CO to Russel,l KS but a welcome change from the desert we saw so much of this summer We arrived late in the day and spent the rest of the day setting up the coach in the site.

Thursday 08-03-17
Spent the day visiting with our son’s family and playing with the grandchildren

Friday 08-04-17
Spent the day visiting with our son’s family and playing with the grandchildren. Helped with some chores around the house.

Saturday 08-05-17
Spent the day visiting with our son’s family and playing with the grandchildren



Week Of 07-23-2017

Capitol Reef

                                                                                                     Capitol Reef 

Sunday 07-23-17
Attend the morning service at the Grace Christian Church in Torrey, UT. The church members were very welcoming and friendly. The pastor David Schuh gave a very moving and informative sermon. After the service, we went to breakfast and basically took the rest of the day off. However, I did work on the Blog and reviewed photographs. For me a day is not complete unless I spend some time with God and with photography.

Monday 07-24-17
We headed out early in the morning into Capitol Reef National Park. We ventured down the Scenic Drive. We did not get far when we came upon the Gifford House. It had just opened and we found that they had just put up warm apple pies along with several other varieties. We chose an apple pie then went out to a picnic table and had breakfast.
The sky was very grey and cloudy as we continued our drive out along the Scenic Drive. For the most of what I wanted to photograph the sun was not where I wanted to be (if it was visible at all) and because it was so grey, we decided to try along Utah State Rt 24. We followed Rt 24 into Hanksville. With a few exceptions, the day was just too grey for good pictures. So decided to stop in Hanksville and have Lunch at Stans Burger Shack. The food was good but the shakes were better. On our return trip it began to rain and we were basically rained out for the rest of the day. We returned to the RV and I downloaded the images we did manage to capture.

Tuesday 07-25-17
Was rained out today. Rained off and on most of the day. We stayed in around the coach and did housekeeping choses. We extended our stay 2 days due to the weather.

Wednesday 07-26-17
It started out being a clear day but the clouds quickly moved into the area. With this type of landscape, I prefer a clear sky. In spite of the weather, I think we still got a few keepers today. Tomorrow is another day and it is supposed to be a bit less cloudy tomorrow.
Cloudy or not, it was a good day for exploring. I did take quite a few HDR photographs. I like this type of landscape captured in HDR. It gives more detail. I also I like to be able to get up close as possible to my subjects but due to some health issues extensive hiking is out. So we drive as close as possible then we walk as close as we can.
I find Capitol Reef to be a very Photographer-Friendly National Park. There are not the great hordes of people here that are at Bryce or Zion, and the landscapes are awesome. We were planning on driving the Cathedral Loop, however due to the daily storms most of the back roads are closed. So we are focusing our efforts on the main roads.

Thursday 07-27-17
Spent most of the day shooting in the Capitol Reef Park. It was mostly cloudy and grey so, after setting up, I spent quite a bit of time waiting for the sky to be just right before I snapped the shutter. We never did get to do the Cathedral Loop because of the atrocious conditions of the muddy back roads.

Friday 07-28-17
Very grey cloudy and rainy most of the day. We made preparations for getting underway tomorrow morning. I tried inflating the tires on the trailer several times but failed each time. I blew a fuse in the 12 volt extension cord several times. I am going to try purchasing a replacement extension cord while on the road. I believe I have seen them at the Piolet/Flying “J” truck stops. We use a tire minder to monitor the Trailer tires when we are on the road. The tire minder is letting us know that we need to add some air to the tires.
We were staying at the Wonderland Campground in Torrey, UT for the past 7 Days (8 nights). The campground is just outside of the Capitol Reef National Park. The campground is small and very well managed. The sites are a good size and they allow pets and have 30/50 amp full hookups. There was free WIFI with a good signal. However, it was not possible to do email from the park WIFI. I had to go to the office and use their WIFI to get my emails. The restrooms and showers were very clean with plenty of warm water. There are pull through sites, back in sites, cabins, as well as tent sites. Our site was a back in site that backed up to RT 24, which is the main road through Torrey and the main road that runs through the Capitol Reef Park. Also, there was a Philips 66 gas station and a small shopping center right across the street from the back of our site. There is a convenience store and a Subway sandwich shop contained within the gas station. Because this is a pretty remote area, that was also the only gas station for several miles around so needless to say is was a very busy station with a lot of traffic. However, after 10 PM the traffic did subside and it was no bother to us because we ran the air conditioner in the evening and that drowns out most noises. This campground was very convenient for us and our work. The campground also provided free popcorn.

Saturday 07-29-17
Today we said Goodbye to Capitol Reef and our Southwest Photo Shoot and are beginning our trek back to the East Coast. Today we drove from Torrey, UT to Edwards, CO. We did most of our packing and getting ready last night. We left early because we will be traveling about 350 miles and we want to make sure we get there in time to get to the rest area to get a parking space away from the middle of the truck parking. We do not have AC when staying at rest areas or Walmart parking lots. When we do not have AC we do not have the air-conditioning which helps drown out the sound of the Trucks Diesel engines which run all night. So, we look for parking areas where we can get as far away from the trucks as possible or maybe only have one truck on one side. The Edwards rest area was unique in that it was not actually along the highway. It was about a ½ mile off in the town of Edwards. It was Ideal for staying the night in a camper.




Week Of 07-16-2017

                                                                                                              Mystical Slot Canyon

Sunday 07-16-17
Working on moving images from the cameras to the computers and working on the blogs. Also, have been dealing with an eye issue since I was bitten in the corner of the eye by a bug while in New Orleans. That issue has been getting worse and I went to the Garfield Hospital ER in Panguitch, Utah today to have it addressed. I want to thank all of the folks at the Garfield Hospital ER for their attention and kind care.

Monday 07-17-17
We returned to Zion National Park. Decided to bypass the masses within the park and headed for the Kolob Terrace Road. According to the Park map this road will take us in and out of Zion Park and to the upper Kolob Plateau. At the end of this road is the Kolob Reservoir. The reservoir is at 8100 above sea level.
From our location, it was necessary to drive through the park in order to reach the Kolob Terrace Road. Route 9 on the Springdale side of the park also provided some excellent photography opportunities. We stopped several times along this road to capture images. When we reached the Kolob Terrace Road, we made a right and thoroughly enjoyed the trip to the reservoir. At the reservoir, we found there were several tent type camp sites right on the reservoir. We found the area to be very restful and beautiful. After a little picnic at the reservoir we headed back down to route 9.
To our eye, the morning light on the west side of the road provided the best lighting as we were traveling to the reservoir and on east side of the road when returning from the reservoir in the afternoon. There were several photographic opportunities on both sides of the road. Many of these can be shot right from the roadside or by a less than a quarter mile walk from the road.

Tuesday 07-18-17
Was rained out today. Rained off and on most of the day. Very grey and cloudy. Reviewed images.

Wednesday 07-19-17
We signed up to take a Dreamland Safari Tours photography tour of the Grand Escalante National Park. However. it rained all night and into the morning the day of the tour. The roads of the Grand Escalante Tour were washed out and dangerous and the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for the area. So instead of that tour, they took us on the Ultimate Kanab Tour. This tour was fabulous! We visited the Mystical Slot Canyon, The White Wave w/petroglyphs, The Coral Pink Sand Dunes, The Rosy Canyon Petroglyphs, The Dinosaur Track site, and Red Knoll. Our guide gave us plenty of time to setup and capture images as we went along. Also, although Mary Lou and I are not the best when it comes to rock climbing and hiking, our guide, Ron Camp, was very patient and very helpful in helping us over the rough spots. If we return to this area, I would not hesitate to take a tour with these folks again.

Thursday 07-20-17
Made preparations for getting underway.

Friday 07-21-17
We finished packing up and got underway from the Wilderness Ranch RV and Golf Club. Mary Lou picked this location because it was between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks and it worked out great. Another opportunity we found in this area was the Dixie National Forrest along Utah RT14. Our campsite at Wilderness was beautiful. The campsites are in the middle of a ranch with not much around but the beautiful landscape and the big sky. Our hosts were very accommodating and very friendly. There is a men’s and woman’s room but they were about a half a mile for our campsite. There is also a free washer and dryer. There are no showers at this time but the owners are working on them. The owners recently purchased the place and they are working on fixing it up after the previous owners let the propery go downhill. Being two photographers that love nature, we found this to be one of the best campsites we have had. We would definitely return here if we were back in the area.
We arrived at the Wonderland campground in Torrey, Utah in mid-afternoon. The trip was only about 150 miles. It was windy and raining off and on as we tried to setup.

Saturday 07-22-17
Finished setting up and did an exploratory run into Capitol Reef. We went to the visitors’ center and obtained maps of the area, spoke to the rangers about places to photograph and drove around the area. Can’t wait to get started tomorrow. It is really beautiful here and not extremely crowded.


Week Of 07-09-2017

                                                                                                   Bryce Canyon


Sunday 07-09-17
Was sick today and did not leave the confines of the Coach. We updated our blog post

Monday 07-10-17
Spent the day running around trying to get the materials to trouble shoot and repair the Slider and the Coach Under Liner. The closest Home Depot/Lowes type store is in Cedar City. So we drove the 54 miles into Cedar City, Utah. We purchased the materials we thought we would need then we headed back to Hatch. Still not feeling well.

Tuesday 07-11-17
All our research for this location shows that it is necessary to arrive early or late in order to have a parking space. To avoid the crowd, we were up at 4 AM to get ready to head into Bryce Canyon. Bryce is approximately 40 miles away from our campsite. We arrived just a few minutes after sun up and there were only a few people at the first few overlooks we went to. However, as the day wore on, the crowds did start to increase. There is an optional shuttle bus service to the Bryce canyon Park. The bus service starts on May 10th and runs from 9 am to 6 pm. The parking areas at the various overlooks can fill up quickly during the summer months. The shuttle staging area (restrooms, parking, and offices) is located just north of the park’s entrance across the road from Ruby’s Inn. Buses run at regular intervals with stops at Ruby’s Inn, the park’s Visitor Center, Bryce Canyon Lodge and General Store, campgrounds and at Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints.
Our plan was to arrive early and leave by 10 AM. So at 10 AM we took a break and had a snack. However, the park was still not very busy so we ended up staying until about 2 PM. We are planning to return another day but later in the day to catch the sunset. Below is a list of some of the viewpoints we visited and some comments. When Shooting in the morning you are basically shooting into the sun rise. This can give you some interesting reflected light amongst the Hoodoos. But I would say that depending on your eye and what you are trying to photograph, you will need to determine the best time of day for you to visit these viewpoints.

Sunrise Point – As you can guess is thought to be best photographed at Sunrise. I found it good at Sunrise to mid-morning.
Sunset Point – Again, the name says it all and it is thought to be best photographed at Sunset but for my purposes I found it good at sunrise also.
Inspiration Point – I found this good at Sunset
Brice Point – Great view each time we went. I liked it.

Natural Bridge – Shot this in the morning
Agua Canyon – Good in the early afternoon
Ponderosa Canyon – Good in the early afternoon
Black Birch Canyon – Late Morning
Rainbow Point – Morning
Yovimpa Point – Morning

Wednesday 07-12-17
Today we Photographed one small portion of the Dixie Forrest. There are truly a lot of photographic opportunities here. There is an extensive network of back roads that are passable with a high clearance vehicle. We took advantage of a few of these roads. We photographed in the morning but by about 2 PM the light was too harsh.

Thursday 07-13-17
We traveled to Zion National Park today. This was an exploratory trip because all our research indicated that driving through the park was not allowed and that folks visiting the Park had to use the shuttle bus. Actually, the shuttle bus is required for only the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Zion/Mt. Carmel Highway (UT9), The Kolob Terrace Road and the Kolob Canyon Road are open to vehicular traffic. So we decided that tomorrow we will arrive early and take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Shuttle to the end and work our way back to the Visitor’s Center.

Friday 07-14-17
We were up at 4:30 AM, packed up and headed to the park. We arrived at the Zion NP around 6:30 and caught the 7 AM shuttle. We took the shuttle to The Temple of Sinawava which is the last stop for shuttles going UP the Canyon road. Then we hiked out to the point were it became necessary to wade across the creek. This area is called “The Narrows” and is a destination all in itself with many folks renting special shoes, socks and poles to make the walk. We chose to stay dry however and returned to the bus stop at this point. We stopped often and photographed. I found it difficult to photograph because of the closeness of the steep canyon walls. It was also a cloud free morning so when the sun began entering the canyon, the contrast was so great it was impossible to get the shadows.
We also stopped at the Emerald Pools and the Zion Lodge. It was latter in the day and the canyon not so narrow there so we did get to capture a few more images there. We also stopped along the Zion/Mt Carmel road and again captured a few more images. We will be returning to the Park after the weekend. We have housekeeping duties to perform this weekend.

Saturday -07-15-17
Worked on resolving issues with the coach. If you remember, when we arrived we were (and still are) having issues with the main Slider. Several of the wires controlling a slider motor were either broken or worn through from rubbing on the ground. So one of the members of the RV Park staff spliced the wires together. I ohmed out the splices and found that two of the splices had fusible links and those links were open. So I respliced those wires with non-fusible splices. I also had to tape up the areas where the insolation had worn through. I then taped up the wire bundle. Fortunately, we had the forethought to purchase a cardboard box that I used to provide a barrier between me and the rocky soil under the coach. Also working upside down was no fun.
After that repair was completed, I had to repair the under liner of the coach. We had purchased a two- foot metal bracket on Monday that would span at least two of the screws that hold the under-liner in place. The reason we purchased the bracket was because the underline had ripped out from under the screws. So we purchased the bracket and larger washers to give the repair more bite.
I also noticed that as I was making repairs water was dripping out from the under-liner. I am hoping the water is just some water that was left from condensation and not a plumbing leak. I need to keep my eye on this. Also need to find a dealer that can facilitate repairs to the coach quickly. So I will be on the phone working with Grand Design on Monday.
While I was working on the coach Mary Lou was doing Laundry. With only one washer and dryer at this camp ground, it took a while. However, there was no charge.


Week Of 07-02-2017


                                                                                          Hoover Dam Spillway


Sunday 07-02-17
We got up early and tried to go to church. I say tried because we initially put a United Methodist church into the GPS. We followed the GPS but when we got to the destination we found no church. So we put another United Methodist Church into the GPS. We followed those directions and again when we got to the destination there was no church. It’s kind of comical. We kept driving round and round the destinations and the GPS would indicate it was on the left, we saw no church so we made a U-turn then it would indicate it was on the right. Again we made u-turns over and over again thinking the church would magically appear. But no such luck. So we called off the search and went to IHOP for brunch. When we got back to the Coach we watched church on TV. Watching church on TV just doesn’t do it for me. I like being physically present with my Christian Brothers and Sisters.
I spent the rest of the day emptying SD cards, backing up files, and charging batteries….

Monday 07-03-17
Visited Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead Visitors Center. We were originally planning to do the Hoover Dam Tour and the Lake Mead Scenic Drive. However, this did not happen as the crowd at the Dam was enormous. It took us forever to get into the Hoover Dam Area. Then when we finally got up to the security check point, I was pulled out for a search of my vehicle. While I was pulling junk out of the back of my truck for the park police to review, I noticed that every truck that had a cap, a cover, or containers in the back were being pulled over for inspection while SUV’s, mini vans, small busses, and cars were allowed through. I believe if this had a name it could be called vehicle profiling. I am not offended that I get pulled over for a car or truck search or pulled out of a line and get scanned at Disney. I am offended that a few terrorists have succeeded in planting the seed of terror so deeply into our society that these types of things are necessary. Even though we say we will not give in to terrorists and let them change our life style …. we already have.
Most of the day was spent at the Hoover Dam. Trying to get into the park and then finding a parking place. Once in the park the first place we visited was the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. This bridge spans the Colorado River and joins Arizona and Nevada on US Route 93. When the bridge was build a Pedestrian walkway was created to allow Hoover Dam visitors to get a very dramatic view of the dam. We parked in the area designated for the bridge and walked up the steps to the bridge. The walk way is right next to the cars and trucks zooming along US 93. There is a very bulky divider between the pedestrians and the traffic. There were quite a few people sharing the bridge with us. Even though there was a good crowd of people, parking in this area was not a problem. I guess that’s because there is not much to do there but view the Dam then leave. Parking at the Dam itself was a different story. There are a lot of things to do and see at the Dam so people stop and stay for a while. At the time of day we were there, finding a parking spot can be difficult. There is a small parking garage but to park up close there will cost you $10.00. And, when we were there, all those spots were full. We did manage to find a parking space but it was one of the furthest from the Dam. quite a walk away. And although the walk to the Dam was OK, the walk back to the car was all up hill. And in this heat it can be extremely uncomfortable. We used the Sony NEX to capture our images today. There was no way we were going to try to use a tripod and most of my lenses for my 5DsR are not the modern anti-vibration type. Battling the crowds did eat up a lot of time so, when it came time to take the Lake Mead Scenic Drive, we thought it too late in the day to start the trip. With no other spots on our list, we returned to the Coach and stopping on the way to have dinner at a casino called Sam’s Town, which is right down the street from our RV Park.

Tuesday 07-04-17
Today is the 4th of July. We are taking a down day… It is so hot here we had an indoor bar-B-Q.

Wednesday 07-05-17
We headed back to the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Our goal was to spend the day traveling along the Scenic drive. We started early and the opportunities were beyond our expectations. We really enjoyed the ride and stopped frequently to capture images. We left the visitor’s center and traveled along the Lakeshore Rd. There are several pull-overs along this road and several views of the lake from picnic areas. The Lakeshore Road intersects with the Northshore Road. We then took the Northshore Road to I-15. We found there were great landscape opportunities along both roads. I believe the better opportunities were along the Northshore Rd. What I liked about shooting here was that we did not need to hike too far off the road to get a good photo. Especially since the temperature was anywhere between 110 and 120 degrees. There was also an extreme heat warning and hiking was being discouraged. We used the NEX and the 5DsR when shooting here.

Thursday 07-06-17
Today we prepared for getting underway and tended to housekeeping issues. First, we needed to get the oil changed in the car. Because of all the towing, we are using full synthetic motor oil. I had previously made an online appointment at Fairway Chevrolet to have the oil changed at 09:30 this morning. A Fairway representative had called me back the next morning to confirm the appointment. So I arrived at Fairway Chevrolet this morning about 15 minutes before my appointment. I waited until a service writer became available. When I spoke to him he informed me it would be at least 3 hours before they could work on the truck. He stated that this type of service was on a first come/first serve basis. I said it did not say that on the web site and that Fairway had called and confirmed the appointment for 09:30 but this logic did not phase them. So, not having the luxury of 3 hours to waste, I left Fairway Chevrolet, drove a minute or two down the street, and within 1 hour I had my oil changed. THANK YOU JIFFY LUBE.
We had to take the dogs to the groomers and get them bathed. The last few RV locations had a lot of gravel and the dogs got very dirty, very fast. We took them to PetSmart where for only $25.00 a dog they did a very good job. We also went to Walmart and stocked up on consumables. Our next stop is in a wilderness ranch in Hatch, Utah which has very little in the way of convenience stores.
While packing up the Coach I noticed that there was a piece of something hanging down under the Coach. I crawled under the Coach and noticed that the bottom of the Coach had a gash in it. My assumption is that something hit the bottom of the Coach along the way. I ran out to Walmart and brought emergency repair supplies. Mary Lou and I used black Gorilla Glue tape and a can of Flex Seal to patch up the bottom of the Coach cover. What I did not know was that all the heat vents and wiring are between that cover and the Coach. I believe the patch will hold until we get home.

Friday 07-07-17
Traveled from Las Vegas, Nevada to Hatch, Utah. The campground we are leaving is the Las Vegas RV Resort. It is an 18 years of age and over (Adult Community) which has good sized pull-through sites and all sites are paved with a gravel yard and a picnic table. There is 50 and 30 amp service but there is no 110 service. The showers and baths are very clean and the water is hot. It is an animal friendly park. It was our good fortune to have one of two dog runs directly across from our unit. Unfortunately, there is no shade to speak of and with the daily temperatures between 110 and 120 the two air conditioners could not keep up. In the late afternoon, it averaged between 85 and 90 degrees with the thermostat temperature set at 77 degrees.
Here in Hatch, it is great to be out of the desert. The temperature here is in the high 80’s during the day and the mid to low 50’s at night. Great sleeping weather with no air-conditioning needed and we can be outdoors without frying. We only have 1 or two trailers with us here at the Wilderness Ranch RV Park as it is very remote and just this side of primitive. The park is very new but the owner’s are super accommodating and friendly. We were greeted at the front gate with lots of useful area information and a jar of homemade local honey.
When we arrived, our main slide did not work. I will not bore you with the whole story, but when we pulled into our site I noticed a wire hanging down from the bottom of the coach. Upon inspection, I found that the wire had been dragging on the road and that several of the conductors had been worn through from the dragging. I twisted the wires together but they apparently went to the slide because the main slide would only move about 4 inches, then stop, and would not go out any further. The slide would not go back in unless we waited a few minutes, then it would go back in to its starting position. We attempted to fix the problem for about the next 5 hours. Let me tell you, we are in the middle of nowhere with the very basic, very limited phone reception, and WIFI only at the office which is about a quarter mile away from the sites thus severely limiting our ability to contact anyone for help plus everyone from tech support from Lazydays and Grand Design had gone home. When I contacted Lazy Days I got the answering service. The answering service indicated that the emergency number was most likely transferred to them. When she called the number for me, it was in fact transferred back to the answering service. The folks at the answering service said that no one calls in to see if anyone called in on that line.
We reviewed all the manuals that came with the trailer, they were very little help. We downloaded manuals from the internet and watched YouTube videos, they were very little help. There were basically two solutions we could find. One was to disengage the motors and push the slide out manually (more complicated than advertised). And, once this is done, they don’t tell you how to reengage the motors. Even worse, it seems like something like a 2X4 would need to be jammed between the slide and the wall of the coach in order to tow the coach. So we felt # 1 was definitely a last option.
The second solution is to use the bypass mode on the controller. The first problem is the controllers are hidden. We did a lot of research in the information provided with the coach to try to find them but no luck. But while watching a YouTube video the narrator said that every time you push the slider button the board will click. So with Mary Lou pushing the button and me listening (I wanted to push the button but lost the rock, paper, scissors) we located where we thought the “click” sound was coming from. (One thing I wanted to add here is that, in our coach, when the main slider does not move out, the only way to get into the living area is to squeeze between the counter top and the overhead cabinets. During our search, I had to perform this maneuver twice. Another 5 pounds and I would not have made it.) After listening for the clicks, we finally found the slider controllers in the bathroom wardrobe/towel cabinet near the floor behind a wooden divider that was screwed to the floor. We followed the emergency operation of the controller instructions on the YouTube Video and (Thank You Lord) the slider is now out. I need to call Grand Design on Monday and see if they can tell me how to resolve the problem. Continued next week.

Saturday 07-08-17
Was sick today and did not leave the confines of the Coach

2017 Southwest Photo Shoot June

Week Of 06-25-2017

Sunday 06-25-17
This morning we attended church services at The Sunrise United Methodist Church. Then went to Cracker Barrel for Brunch. After that we returned to the Coach and began getting ready to get underway to head to Las Vegas tomorrow. While in Phoenix we are staying at the Phoenix Metro RV Park. Other than the intense heat, the Park was good. It is a 55+ RV Park. We had full hookup with 50-amp service. We also used the WIFI. The WIFI worked well but it was a little slow. The sites can be a bit close together but fortunately we picked a site where no other RV parked on either side of us. Most sites are gravel but the drives are black top. Which makes them extremely hot for pets. We have 2 Corgis so I made sure I kept them in the shade of the Coach when I walked them. I believe there was a dog run but not near our Coach so we did not use it so I am unable to verify this. There is very little shade other than the man-made shade created by the permanent residents at their sites. We did not use the pool. There are dumpsters for trash and recycle. The restrooms and showers were clean and a key was required to use them. The laundry room was also very clean with a number of washers and dryers. The management was very friendly and caring. There is a shopping center with a Walmart within a mile of the Park. We would rate this park as a 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it.

Monday 06-26-17
Traveled to Las Vegas. The GPS took us out US 60 to US 93 then 515 into Las Vegas. There were sparse services along the way but the views of Saguaro Cactus Joshua Trees and mesquite were plentiful. We left early and arrived about 2PM. The first thing I noticed is that it is just as hot here as it was in Phoenix. We spent the rest of the day setting up the Coach.

Tuesday 06-27-17
About a week or two ago we signed up with MOJO Market Place (WordPress Live) to help us build a new website with themes that have templates we can manage. Today I spent the day on the phone with them getting things setup and understanding how to work with their support teams. Also drove into the Las Vegas strip in the evening. We explored Cesar’s Palace. On line yesterday we found that Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn were appearing at the Coliseum there and bought tickets. We picked them up tonight and get the lay of the land.

Wednesday 06-28-17
Continued working with working with WP Live. Yesterday we got the High-end Theme with the Photographic child downloaded onto my PC. It took several tries to get it downloaded. For some reason, I could not download it to my PC so they ended up emailing it to me and I loaded the apps up from the email. The folks at WP live are very helpful. The only issues I have are they only work 9 to 5 and they are limited to a 25-minute help time. After the 25 minutes, you need to wait a few minutes while the notes get updated then call back in. So the chain of events may need to be repeated to the follow-up person. However, we did have one issue that the support person was having difficulty resolving and he did stay on the line past the 25-minute mark.
This evening, after dinner at Carmine’s in Cesar’s, we went to the show mentioned above. t We purchased our tickets through American Express. We have purchased tickets through them in the past when we needed last minute tickets. They provide a great service and always seem to have good seats at the last minute. The show was fabulous. The performers were very energetic and it was two hours of non-stop energetic spot on entertainment.

Thursday 06-29-17
Continued working on the new web site. I am still having problems moving images up to the new site and having the sliders appear the way I want them to on the front page. I also down-loaded images from the camera and backed them up.

Friday 06-30-17
Traveled to the valley of Valley of Fire State Park. Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert approximately 58 miles Northeast of the Las Vegas Strip. Valley of Fire is the oldest Nevada State Park and was dedicated in 1935. Valley of Fire State Park covers an area of approximately 35,000 acres. It was named for the magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era). These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. Other important rock formations include limestone, shale, and conglomerates. There are also many areas formed by lava ash.
To get to the Valley of Fire we took I-515 to I-15. Then took I-15 to the Valley of Fire Highway. There is a Ranger Station upon entering the Park and there is a $10 a day admission fee. Amenities include several rest rooms and picnic areas throughout the park plus a welcome center and a park store.
Valley of Fire is dominated by creosote bush, burro bush, and brittlebush. Cactus species such as beaver tail and cholla are also abundant. The springtime blooms with desert marigold, indigo bush, and desert mallow. We’ve been told this makes the park look especially spectacular in the spring but we were a little late for this display of God’s grandeur.
Valley of Fire is teeming with wildlife, but most of the animals that reside in Valley of Fire are nocturnal. There are many species of lizards and snakes, as well as coyote, bobcat, kit fox, skunk, jackrabbit, and antelope ground squirrel. It is always a nice treat to see desert big horn sheep and you are likely to see sheep in the middle of the day. The desert tortoise is a rare species and is protected by state law. We were lucky enough to see a Desert Sheep Ram and a Desert Sheep Ewe.
The park is very Older-Photographer friendly. It is possible to get right up into the rock formations without hiking miles. We entered the park from the west and we stopped several times to capture images before we even got to the official park entrance. In this heat, the subjects close to the road are heaven-sent.

Saturday 07-01-17
We returned to the Valley of Fire to continue shooting. We finished shooting the Scenic Loop and headed towards the Domes and the Rainbow Vistas. The canyons, domes, towers, ridges and valleys of Rainbow Vista were carved from sand deposited 150 million years ago, during the time when the dinosaurs walked the earth. Rainbow Vista is a viewpoint in Valley of Fire State Park, where the road reaches the top of a low ridge revealing a vast area of multicolored rocks stretching for many miles northwards, rather different than the dark red cliffs found further south. The panoramic view from Rainbow Vista is a great place for photos.
While in this area I saw a scene I simply had to capture so, I backed up then pulled off to the shoulder of the road. Did I tell you that the road has a soft shoulder? Well I got a little too far off into the soft sand and got my Chevy 2500 with the 4:10 posa-traction rear stuck in the sand. After determining that I was terribly stuck (both Rear Wheels to the Axel) and having no phone signal, I left my wife in the Truck to guard our photographic equipment while I tried to get a ride to the Visitors Center which also acted as a Ranger station. Fortunately, within minutes, a kind passing motorist gave me a ride to the Ranger Station in the Visitors Center. I spoke with a Ranger and fortunately there must be several folks like me. He did not seem the least bit alarmed. He simply radioed his peers and help was immediately on the way. The Ranger drove me to our truck but on the way we found another person stuck in the soft sand. The Ranger retrieved a shovel out of his truck and dug a trench for the front wheels. After emptying out the 7 passengers from the SUV, we pushed the SUV out of the soft sand. I was thinking to myself this was nothing compared to the hole we were in. But the Rangers were undaunted when we finally got back to our truck. We discovered another Ranger had already been working on the truck and he had already dug out the passenger rear wheel. The Ranger with me immediately started digging out the driver’s side rear wheel. Within 5 minutes, two more Rangers arrived. One had me sign a waiver, the other backed his truck up to mine and attached a tow strap to my hitch. Within 15 minutes of arriving back at the truck we were out of the sand trap. If I had to call for a tow we would have been there for 4 to 6 hours. THANK YOU NEVADA VALLEY OF FIRE RANGERS.




Week Of 06-18-2017

Sunday 06-18-2017
We are staying at the KOA in Anthony right along RT 10. The sites are all pull-throughs, very Large and very convenient for hooking up (There are 3 sewer connections to accommodate any size Coach). There is 50 AMP electric and full service at each site. There is no shade anywhere so it can get hot during the summer. The entire surface of the campground is small white gravel so it is a very dusty and uncomfortable for the dogs to walk on. It is convenient to shopping and restaurants and about two miles up the access road is a Loves, a Flying “J” and a Pilot. There is also a Camping World right in front of the campground. And a WalMart not too far away…. A very convenient spot.
We attended church services at the Anthony United Methodist church. The congregation was very friendly and the service was lovely. The church is conveniently located on Franklin Street just off South Main Street. Lay Pastor Missy Scott gave a very moving Father’s Day message. There were refreshments after the service and members of the congregation took us to lunch. I would definitely give the UMC in Anthony TX/NM a 4-star rating for friendliness and for spiritual enlightenment.
We are also making preparations to get underway tomorrow. We will be leaving for Phoenix, AZ in the morning. We will be hooking up with Fred Newman. He owns the View Camera Store online. I have purchased some items and attended workshops given by Fred. He also provides photography trips in the Utah area.

Monday 06-19-2017
Traveled to Phoenix. It took approximately 7 hours to travel to Phoenix from El Paso. We have a Piolet/Flying “J” credit/rewards card we use when traveling. It gives us an additional 3 to 7 cents off the published price of gas. Also, the Flying “J” stations have special refueling and dump station areas for RV’ers. So if you are an RV’er, the Pilot/Flying “J” stations have recognized your special needs AND offers you added discounts. GREAT!
While traveling along the interstate recently, I noticed a piece of edge molding on our Grand Design Imagine RV flapping in the breeze. This was the second piece of edge molding that came loose. The first piece that come loose was on the front edge of the passenger side of the RV. When I saw it, I pulled over on the interstate and worked it back into the track. Luckily, we have a telescoping ladder in the bed of the truck. If we did not have that I would not have been able to reach the top of the RV and work it back into the track and I’m sure it would have ripped off by the time we reached our destination. The edge molding stayed in the track while we finished our trip that day. However, a few days later, again while traveling along the interstate the same piece of edge molding popped out again. So I pulled over and again worked it back into the track. In order to fix this issue, I purchased a tube of clear silicone and ran a bead of silicone along each side of the track. That piece has not come out since.
Problem solved? Not quite! A week or so later I looked in the side mirror (again while traveling down the interstate) and saw that the roof molding on the driver’s side was flapping in the breeze. This latest piece that came out ran the whole length of the Coach’s roof edge. So again we got the ladder out of the truck and set it up to fix the problem. I highly recommend carrying one of these ladders. It is compact when not in use and works great when you need it. It telescopes to 14 feet, just right to reach the top of the Coach. The circumstances were not very good….I had to work 35 feet of edge molding into the track with traffic whizzing by. Oh, did I mention this was on the driver’s/traffic side and that it was 120 degrees in the shade but there wasn’t any.. I don’t know who had the worse job, me working 14 feet in the air on a ladder with the Coach swaying every time a car or truck went by or Mary Lou making sure I did not get hit by waving at the traffic so they would see us. Unfortunately, due to the heat and flapping in the breeze for God knows how long, the edge molding had stretched and had about 6 extra inches that also needed to be worked back into track. So after I got it back into the track I used the clear silicone in a few areas along the track to keep it from coming out again. I will need to do a better repair when we get to some place a little cooler
Speaking about heat, when we arrived here the inside of the RV (Travel Coach) was like an oven. We travel with vents and windows open but it is crazy hot here. It took about 6 hours to cool off the RV.

Tuesday 06-20-2017
It is very hot here. Today it topped out at 117 on the trucks outside temperature. Tomorrow it is supposed to get hotter. HOTTER!!!! Can it get any hotter? It is so hot the RV’s two air-conditioners cannot keep up. The temperature on the thermostat is set to 77 degrees but it gets up to 89 degrees in here at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I am thinking that the air conditioners are undersized for this unit.
We have the main air conditioner set on Auto so the fan can change speeds as necessary. However, the fan actually stops to change speeds. The fan stops but the compressor keeps running sounds weird when it happens….
Reviewed a few images and found an image I liked but is not as crisp as I like. I worked on it most of the day. I worked on it in the JPEG format because I want to include it in my Blog. When I capture images, I do a JPEG and a RAW image. I usually don’t need to do too much work to get an acceptable image for a blog posting. However, as you may know, raw images are another story.

Wednesday 06-21-2017
Today we traveled to Scottsdale to visit with a fellow photographer, Fred Newman. Fred runs an online business called “The View Camera Store”. I took a large format workshop delivered by Fred around 2000. Photography has changed dramatically since then. We were both doing large format and using the “Beyond The Zone System” (BTZS). Fred owns the rights to that system and still works with Large Format photographers showing them the benefits of the system and providing them with the latest tools for using it.
We have a lot of mutual acquaintance’s in photography and it was good to catch-up. Fred has become a Leica Dealer and, like me, has dismantled and ceased using his dark room and is instead using a scanner to make pictures from his large format negatives. Fred also has a large Epson Printer (I’m jealous). I am still using my old 3800. So if anyone is interested in Large Format or a new digital Leica give him a shout at ”The View Camera Store”.

Thursday 06-22-2017
I am working on creating more room and cataloging Images. I know I said I would never do this but, due to the large size of the images of my 5DsR, I signed up with a cloud storage company. The company I am using is Backblaze. They came highly recommended by Kelby One. Backblaze backs up all PC files for about five dollars a month. I also back up to an external drive and to a jump drive. But right now I am basically out of PC memory. So I am working on eliminating some of the older files. However I capture images faster then I am deleting them. Also my older images were taken with a 24meg camera and the newer images are taken with a 50 meg camera. So it is like trying to empty the ocean into a hole using a seashell. I think I need to breakdown and purchase another backup drive.

Friday 06-23-2017
We have been trying to get into a campground in the Flagstaff area for several days. However, they are all full and there is no hope of getting there within the near future. It is very unusual that we cannot get into a campground near any area in which we would like to photograph. I think the reason we cannot get in to a campground in the Flagstaff area is due to the extreme heat here in Phoenix. So far it has been over 115 degrees every day. So with just a few days of our stay left, we decided to work out of Phoenix. Today, we took a tour to Sedona and to the south Rim of the Grand Canyon. We spent a lot of time in the bus but as a result of the tour we determined that we wanted to return to but not to the Grand Canyon. Sedona was only about an hour and a half away and had more of our type of photographic opportunities although not less tourists.

Saturday 06-24-2017
Returned to Sedona. Our plan was to get to Sedona in the morning. From our location in Phoenix we took I-17 to Rt. 179. The first town you come across is the Village of Oak Creek. The area between the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona along 179 provided good photo opportunities. One side of the formations are lit by the morning sun and the other side by the afternoon sun. There were pullovers that were not crowded. However, if you wanted to park it was necessary to purchase a five Dollar day pass. We traveled along 179 stopping to photo as we went along. The pull over areas also have trail heads that allow you to get closer to the formations. After we got to Sedona our plan was to travel out 89A then come back and photograph all along 89A because on yesterday’s tour we determined that that would be the best time of day to photograph this area. Well that did not work because the Sedona shopping area and all along 89A was absolutely jammed with people and cars. We could not find any pullovers that were not already overfull. We could not even stop to get out of the truck. I think everyone from Phoenix was there trying to cool off in the Oak Creek. So after a nerve racking drive on 89A, we headed back into town and we drove into the residential sections of Sedona to see if that would prove fruitful, and it did. We found very few people and very little traffic. Surprisingly, by going to the residential sections we could get up close to some of the rock formations. There were some areas where there were vacant lots for sale that allowed us unobstructed views. So we spent the rest of the morning there because the morning sun was best there, and after lunch we spent the afternoon shooting along 179 between Sedona and Oak Creek Village photographing the formations that were lit by the afternoon sun.



Week Of 06-11-2017

Sunday 06-11-2017

System Administration, worked on images and general Housekeeping


Monday 06-12-2017

We ventured into Big Bend Ranch State park.  This proved to be another treasure trove of landscape opportunities.  Texas 170 runs through this park and it basically follows the Rio Grande.  There are several trails, camping, and picnic areas in the park.  There are also several areas where there is river access.  There is one spot in the park that is a picnic area and was used in several films over the years.  We drove through the park stopping frequently to capture some images and continues to the town of Presidio TX.  This town was a thriving Metropolis with a population of 5,000 compared to the town of Trelingua with a population of 58.   On our way back to the campground we again drove through the park and captured several more images.  Our plan it to return tomorrow and take a few more photos.  Interestingly at one of the picnic areas there was a marker placed there by the par service.  It stated that the following were filmed there. 

  • Uphill all the way
  • Gambler 5
  • Streets of Lerado
  • Rio Diablo
  • Dead Mans walk
  • The Journeyman
  • My Maria (Brooks & Dunn Video)

Tuesday 06-13-2017

We returned to the Big Bend Ranch State Park.  After our day long visit to the park yesterday we had a better idea of how the lighting for the area.  We spent the better part of the day again shooting the park.  Did I say it is hot here?  There are several thermometers along the desert floor.   When we stopped to view them they were pegged at 130 degrees Fahrenheit so we did not do much in the way of hiking. The terrain here is very rough and not very forgiving.  Only the very tough survive here.  It is had for me to imagine what the early settlers must have endured trying to make a homestead here. 


Wednesday 06-14-2017

Today we prepared for getting underway.  Tomorrow early morning we travel to El Paso TX.  It will take us about 7 hours to get there.  We plan on staying there for a few days to restock and regroup.  We also traveled into the Ghost Town of Terlingua to grab a few departing photographs.  We took the photographs in the late afternoon to try to get some drama into these photographs.   St Agnes Church sits up on a small hill overlooking the Ghost Town.  The late afternoon sun proved to be a great subject.  If you manage to get to Terlingua I would recommend a visit to St Agnes.


Thursday 06-15-2017

We departed Terlingua and traveled to El Paso.  We are actually on the western side of El Paso in the town of Anthony TX. Because we cannot travel at the 70 and 80 miles per hour posted speeds it takes us longer to travel the distances provided by the GPS.  So it did take us just a little over 7 hours to arrive in El Paso.  Spent the remainder of the day setting up camp.  We also had to drive into El Paso to pick up our prescription medication.  So this proved to be quite a long day.

Friday 06-16-2017

Today we spent most of the day inventorying and restocking.  We traveled into El Paso to a Walmart and did some required shopping.


Saturday 06-17-2017

Drove into the Franklin Mountain State Park.  Not a good day for photography.  Very smoggy.  I don’t think the Polarizer can cut through this stuff.  We also took the trans mountain drive and the scenic loop drive around El Paso.  We drove along the border of Mexico and the US and were surprised to find that there is a wall of sorts already in place between El Paso and Juarez.  However, when we were in the Big Bend area there is only the Rio Grande to separate the two countries.  The land in that area is very rugged and very sparsely populated.   Also in the Big Bend area as we drove along the Rio Grande we were in and out of Mexico.  The boarder jumps back and forth from one side of the river to the other. 

We also drove around the town of Anthony.  Parts of Anthony sit in New Mexico and Parts in Texas.  There motto is that they are “The Gateway to Texas”.  We saw more Texas State Troopers along the first 5 miles of I RT – 10 entering Texas then on any other road in Texas.  There seemed to be a car pulled over mile or so. 


Week Of 06-04-2017

Sunday 06-04-2017

Went into Big Bend National Park.  Our intention was to drive the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from end- to-end to determine if this would be a good place to begin focusing our efforts.  At one end of the drive is Texas 118 and at the other end is the Santa Elena Canyon.  Plan A was to reach the Santa Elena Canyon via Old Maverick Road and then drive back to Texas 118.  The ride along the unpaved Old Maverick Road would have been about a 20-mile drive.  But about 5 miles down the road where the Alamo Creek crosses the Old Maverick Road, the road was washed out completely due to the recent thunder storms so it was impossible for us to continue down the road even with our high clearance truck.  We had to back up about ½ a mile to a place where we could turn around and go the long way around.  That amounted to about 50 miles one way.   Since we never did make it down the Old Maverick road during the rest of our stay, we still do not know what it has to offer. 

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive should be driven the full length in both directions.  There are abundant opportunities for landscape photography.  Depending on the time of day, the light and clouds seem to come and go all during the day.

I took a few HDR shots along Texas 118 and the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and when I got back and reviewed them I was not happy with the results.  So I plan on doing some testing and calibration tomorrow.


Monday 06-05-2017

I reviewed some photos yesterday and was not happy with the results.  They were not as sharp as I would like so I spent the better part of the day calibrating most of my lenses with my camera.  I am an old large format guy so when I did my calibration in the past I only used f16 and f24.  There never seemed to be much of a difference between these two f-stops.  However, when I did the calibrating this time, I started at f8 (based on a lot of research) and worked my way up to f22.  I was using an ISO of 100 and was in aperture priority and had the camera mounted on a steady tripod.  I photographed in a direction that provided me with 4 elements.  One very close and the last out to Infinity. 

For my landscape photography, I try to use prime lenses.  The lenses I have are a 14, a 24-ts, a 45-ts, and a 90-ts mm that are my primary landscape lenses.  As stated, I started at f8 and worked my way up to f22.  I set the camera to the f-stop being tested and turned the middle of the infinity mark on the lens f-stop ring to the appropriate f-stop on the lens.  I then took a photograph.  I did this for each f-stop for each lens. 

I then moved the images into my computer for analysis.  I used the Canon Digital Professional 4 to perform the analysis. This tool let me pin one image and compare the other images to that image.  As a result of this analysis, I found that each lens had the same sweet spot.  The sweet spot was f8.  When looking only at the mid and distance focus, both f11 and f8 appeared to be identical.  However, when looking at the closer distances f8 was clearly the winner.  At f8 all the closer items were clearly in better focus than f11.

This was a complete surprise to me with my long time large format photography experience, I was accustomed to using f32 and f64 to make sure everything was sharp.  I found that f8 was the stop to use.  So, if anyone is getting images that are not as sharp as you would like,  I would recommend that they re-test their lenses.

In the afternoon, we set out to shoot some local stuff so we could review the images to make sure they were in fact what we wanted.   We shot Bee Mountain, Cigar Mountain, and Wild Horse Mountain.  We also stopped by the local cemetery and Ghost Town in Terlingua.  We took several photos of the cemetery but did not shoot anything in the Ghost town.  If we have time, we will shoot the Ghost Town at a later date.   We were pleased with these images so we are ready for tomorrow.


Tuesday 06-06-2017

Very Sick today.  I have had the onset of a cold for several days but now I have a fever so I believe it is a little more than a common cold.  Stayed close to home base all day and worked on a little catch-up.


Wednesday 06-07-2017

Today we reshot Texas 118 and the beginning of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  We made it about halfway down this beautiful road.   The afternoon light seemed to be working very well for us.  The morning light seems to be very hazy but as the day wears on, the haze burns off. 


Thursday 06-08-2017

Feeling more myself today so we finished shooting the Maxwell Scenic Drive then drove 118 to the Chisos Basin Campground road.  This Road also provided us with abundant opportunities for landscape images.  Lighting for the opportunities along this road were more susceptible to the time of day than along the Maxwell Scenic Drive.  We have found that shooting from the road is very convenient.  There are areas to pull over and the road runs close to the opportunities.


Friday 06-09-2017

Today we spent the day completing the photographing of the Chisos Basin Campground Road.  We drove into the campground and walked along the service road.  The service road provided excellent photographic opportunities.  While walking along the road I tripped over my shoelace and I went flying in one direction and my camera and tripod went in the other.  I somehow managed to catch my balance just before I went crashing face first into the gravel.  I walked back and picking up my camera I expected the worst because the camera did go face first into the gravel.  Fortunately, the lens glare cover took the brunt of the fall and I ended up with just a few small scratches on the lens.  I will need to review some of the images to see how badly the scratches will affect the images.   Which was very reassuring since the thought of an accident up in these hills was a little scary.  We also went to the lodge and had lunch.  There was a little trail there called “The Window Trail” which we walked along.  Got some really nice shots without being in the heat too long. 


Saturday 06-10-2017

System Administration, worked on images and general Housekeeping


Sunday 2017_05_28 to Saturday 2017_06_03


             San Antonio River Walk Water Fall

We have decided to post Blogs weekly. The reason being we just can’t keep up with the daily posts and keep our busy photography schedule as well as some days there is not much going on other than housekeeping chores and the like.

We went to a Methodist Church in Boerne this week. It was a beautiful big building. Very Impressive. However, it was not as friendly as the small unassuming Methodist church in Bertrum. This week’s service was very good and there was time to meet and greet the 2017 graduates that attended the church.
After the church service, we ventured into San Antonio. Our goal was to do a survey of the touristy area of the city for photographic opportunities. We drove into the city and parked in one of the many public parking areas that are close to the Alamo and the River Walk. I was surprised to find that the parking was only $15 for 12 hours and in some places, it was only $5 for 12 hours. I am accustomed to parking in Philly and NYC where it costs anywhere from $60 to $75 to park for 8 to 10 hours. Our parking spot was only 2 blocks away from the Alamo and we had to walk past it to get to the River Walk so we did stop by and grab a few snaps. The main point of interest for me was to find out that the name Alamo is not the name of the Mission. The name Alamo was give to the mission after Spanish soldiers from the town of Alamo were stationed there. The official name of the Alamo is the Mission San Antonio de Valero.
In order to get a fast tour of the River Walk, we rook a ride on one to the river walk tour barges. It provided a great vehicle for reviewing the River Walk in a short period of time and it only cost $7.00 each. We made note of the areas we wanted to revisit after the ride.
After the tour, we noted a church off a square close to where the River Walk Tour started and stopped. We walked up the steps from the River Walk across the square to the church. The church is The San Fernando Cathedral also known as The Cathedral of Our Lady of Candelaria and Guadalupe. In the Narthex we found the Burial Tomb of the ashes of Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and Jim Bowie. They were initially buried in the Alamo but later moved to this church.
This Church is very picturesque and provides some good photo opportunities both inside and out. I am not a fan of flash photography for my work. So on these excursions I carry a Monopod. It helps me keep steady in lowlight situations and it also seconds as a walking stick. It came in very handy when taking photos in the church.
After visiting the church, we went back to the River Walk and headed back to the areas we wanted to photograph. One of these areas had a waterfall. I usually set the camera on Aperture Priority with a low ISO – nothing higher than 400. To shoot the waterfall and achieve the effect I was looking for I set the camera to manual for a long exposure. Again, the monopod came in handy when shooting here.


Today we returned to the downtown area of San Antonio as there were a few buildings we wanted to shoot and do a better review of the history of the Alamo. We parked in the same location and we were able to shoot the buildings we saw the day before. One of the buildings reminded me of the famous Flatiron building in NYC.
After our return visit to downtown we headed out to the missions. Counting the Alamo (Mission San Antonio de Valero) there are 5 old Spanish Missions right in Sab Antonio. Since we had already been to the Alamo, we thought we might be able to get to all the missions in one day. Turns out, we were very wrong. Each of the missions has their very own personality and we ended up spending several hours at each mission. Also, after driving around San Antonio, I found that there is very interesting architecture out in the neighborhoods. Every time we venture to a place to photograph, no matter how long we stay it seems like there is more to photograph than we have time for.
All the missions are a part of and managed by the National Park Service. From the Alamo we traveled through local neighborhoods to the Mission Concepcion. The church in the mission was open and photographs were allowed. The mission had a National Park Visitor Center but it was closed for renovations. Thankfully the restrooms were not. We spent several hours photographing here. It was a holiday and I was expecting large crowds (similar to the Alamo) but not so. There were very few visitors so feel free to bring your tripods.
At the time they were constructed these missions were actually small towns. The mission consisted of a wall surrounding a large open area. Within the wall could be found a sanctuary, nave, convent and/or abbey, and granary. Since the missions were originally built to protect and convert the native population, this area also contained the buildings where the native inhabitants that worked the fields, did the construction work and worked in other areas of the mission lived.
In 1716 the Franciscan friars established The Mission Concepcion. The Mission Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña was originally called Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de los Hainais.
What I found interesting about this mission was that it had a rotunda which made for some interesting angled photos.
From the Mission Concepcion we traveled along the mission road to the Mission San Jose. Again, there were few visitors and we spent several hours photographing the mission. I especially like photographing old buildings or buildings that are in a state of dis-repair.
One of the featured architectural elements of this mission is the Rose Window. I have copied the writeup on the rose window from the website and have included it below:
“Sculpted in 1775, the Rose Window is considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America. Its sculptor and significance continue to be a mystery. Folklore credits Pedro Huizar, a carpenter and surveyor from Spain, with carving the famous window as a monument to his sweetheart, Rosa. Tragically, on her way from Spain to join him, Rosa was lost at sea. Pedro then completed the window as a declaration of enduring love…..”

Today we visited the last two missions. We first visited the Mission San Juan. I believe this is the most photographic of all the missions. Unlike the other missions, this one is white washed and really stands out in the afternoon light. As a matter of fact, all the missions look better in the early afternoon light. Now of course it is summer time here so in the winter that would probably be in the late morning light. The church portion of this mission is only open for Mass. So we were not able to photograph the inside oif this mission. Mission San Juan Capistrano (originally christened in 1716 as La Misión San José de los Nazonis and located in East Texas) was founded in 1731 by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order, on the eastern banks of the San Antonio River in present-day San Antonio, Texas. The new settlement (part of a chain of Spanish missions) was named for a 15th-century theologian and warrior priest who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The mission San Juan was named after Saint John of Capestrano.
Again there were only a few people visiting the mission while we were there. I am really into shooting these types of architecture and could have easily spent a day at each location. Unfortunately, we have a limited time on this earth so I have to push myself forward.
The last mission we visited was the Mission Espada. I found the history of this mission to be quite interesting so I am including a short version below:
Founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near Weches, Texas and southwest of present-day Alto, Texas, Mission San Francisco de la Espada was the first mission established in Texas.
Three priests, three soldiers and supplies lived among the Nabedache Indians. The new mission was dedicated on June 1, 1690. A smallpox epidemic in the winter of 1690-1691 killed an estimated 3,300 people in the area. The Nabedache believed, and rightly so, that the Spaniards brought the disease and hostilities developed between the two groups.
Drought besieged the mission in the summers of 1691 and 1692, and the Nabedache wished to get rid of the mission. Under threat of personal attack, the priests began packing their belongings in the fall of 1693. On October 25, 1693, the padres burned the mission and retreated toward Monclova. The party lost its way and did not reach Monclova until February 17, 1694.
The mission was re-established in the same area on July 5, 1716 as Nuestro Padre San Francisco de los Tejas. The new mission had to be abandoned in 1719 because of conflict between Spain and France.
The mission was tried once more on August 5, 1721 as San Francisco de los Neches. As the Nabedache were no longer interested in the mission, and France had abandoned effort to lay claim in the area, the mission was temporarily relocated along the Colorado River in July 1730. Mission Tejas State Park encompasses the original site of the mission.
The mission relocated to its current location in the San Antonio River area in March, 1731 and was renamed San Francisco De la Espada. A friary was built in 1745, and the church was completed in 1756. The relocation was in part inspired by fears of French encroachment and need for more Missionaries to tend to San Antonio de Bexar’s Indian population. The Mission encountered great difficulties in presiding over the Indian population and experienced common rebellious activity.
Several modern churches have been architecturally based on the design of this mission including St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wimberley, Texas, north of San Antonio.
Again all these missions provide great opportunities for architectural photography

Today we got ready for our trip to Big Bend National Park. We created a list of necessities and went to Walmart to stock up. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we also did the laundry and other chores that needed to be done. The trip to Big Bend is going to be longer that our usual tow so we are getting ready to get out early tomorrow morning.
While we were in this part of Texas we were staying at the Top of the Hill campground in Boerne TX (pronounced bur-ney). This campground was perfectly located for us. They have full hookups and the staff and the residents are very friendly. The pool is a 3 footer and they do have a club house with a TV and kitchen. There are clean restrooms and showers. There is also a meeting hall that was locked during our visit. The owners were very friendly and there is a store that has any necessities you may need. Within close proximity is the town with several eateries, a super market and a Walmart. Also within a quarter mile of the campground is the POPO Restaurant. The food was good and the prices reasonable. If you are into decorative plates, this is the place to eat. They have hundreds from all over the world decorating the walls.

Traveled to Big Bend (BB) National Park. We actually traveled through BB to a town called Terlingua where we are staying at BJ’s campground. It took us about 10 hours to travel the 475 miles between Boerne and Terlingua. As we were traveling through the last 150 miles or so we ran into several thunderstorms. The roads became flooded and we were lucky to have a high clearance vehicle. Otherwise we may have had to pull over for the night. Arrived at the campground and set up the necessities and called it a night

Finished setting up the travel trailer and had a down day to rejuvenate after the long arduous tow

Began to familiarize ourselves with the park. We set off to the welcome center at Panther Junction. We got a map of the park and discussed photo opportunities with the Park Rangers. We took a short drive on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive to see if this would be a good place to start.


2017 Southwest Photo Shoot

Saturday 05-27-2017

A very windy and cloudy day. Rained off and on.  We set off between the rain drops and found a few locations in Welfare Texas along Hein RD, Cravey RD, and Waring Welfare Road.  It was very windy so I am not expecting the HDR photos to come out.  I did take a few with the NEX I have better hopes for them.

Welfare Café and Goat Barn seems to be one of the few commercial buildings left in Welfare, TX.  It is a small café but mostly an event venue for weddings and such.  In fact, they were preparing for a wedding the day we were there.  But the wait staff was very welcoming and helpful in allowing us to go into the gardens to take all the pictures we wanted.  We got butterflies, old out buildings, bottles and old farm equipment plus lots of flowers and potted plants.    

When we left, we only got a bit down the road, taking pictures all along the way, before we decided we were hungry.  So we went back to the Welfare Café to sample some of their scrumptious appetizers;  bacon wrapped shrimp, potato cakes and homemade pimento cheese and crackers.  All three were so delicious!!!!____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Friday 05-26-2017

Today we traveled from Bertram TX to Boerne TX (pronounced Bur-nee).  It was a short tow and took us only a few hours.  The GPS took us on local roads and one thing we discovered about Texas is there is a lot of land and not so many people.  We spent the rest of the day unhooking and getting situated in our new location.

On our way to this new location we followed up with Explore America in Borne TX. and arranged to have the recall fix for our trailer completed before we moved on to Big Bend.  The Service Manager, Ray Casey, was very accommodating and worked with Grand Design to have the recall parts expedited to his location,  

Our new campground gives us a great view of the area called the Texas hill country.  In fact it is called “Top of the Hill”.  We usually pick locations that put us in the middle of the area we would like to photograph just in case the weather turns bad and we have only a few brief periods to get out.  This one turned out to be perfect! ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday 05-25-2017

Today we spent the day at Inks Lake State Park in Burnet Texas. Burnet Llano Inks Lake State Park sits on the east edge of the Llano Uplift, the geologic heart of Texas. It has some of the best views of pre-Cambrian (more than 600 million years old) geology in the state. With the park is a lake with blue water, colorful rock outcrops. The pink rock islands jutting up through the limestone in the park are metamorphic rock called Valley Spring gneiss (“nice”). This gneiss is often mistaken for Town Mountain granite since they have similar color and texture.

There is a road that runs for about few miles that leads to the park entrance.  We did find several interesting places to photograph on our way to and from the park entrance.  There was a small bridge that crossed over a stream that provide to be very nice.  There was not very much traffic on the road that day so I took a few shots from the bridge.  It gave a great perspective

We found the landscape in the park to be quite interesting.  The day we were there is was very windy.  I did try to capture several landscape shots but there was a lot of blurring on the 5D HDR photos.  However, some of the NEX photos taken with SCN Landscape selection look like they may be OK.   

We spent the evening packing up and preparing to leave San Antonio  


Wednesday, 5-24-2017

Spent Wednesday morning on the phone with the credit card company again.  It took several hours of discussion and follow up on the internet to finally get things straightened out.  After our latest discussions with the bank we went to visit the local distillery in Bertram, Flanigan’s by name.  They serve a light lunch there also so we split a patty melt and did a local wine tasting.  The wine was very good with some unusual ingredients and a very good taste.   The bar was very non-descript on the outside but the inside was made to look like a 30’s hotel lobby.  It was redone that way to shoot some scenes from the movie “The Newton Boys”. 

We than drove around some of the back roads around Bertram but due to the shoulderless roads and the speed limits of 60 and 70 miles per hour we had to bypass many of the opportunities or risk being run over, however we did find a few good spots and took advantage of the opportunities when they came up. 

Then we headed off to RT 2341.  We were looking for Spider Mountain but could not find it.  Instead we ended up at the Canyon of the Eagles Resort.   We found it to be a good place to photograph.  If you want to stay more than an hour then you will need to pay a daily fee unless you decide to stay at the resort.  Also, the couple miles of road just before the Canyon of the Eagles has very good photo opportunities.  It was very windy when we were there.  It was also flooded and the flooded areas were very picturesque.

We ate dinner in Burnet at “Mama’s Home Cooking”.  Again, as in most restaurants we have found in Texas, the portions are humongous.  Mary Lou ordered a child’s plate and still couldn’t finish it.


 Tuesday 05-23-2017

After breakfast at the Good Crazin’ Café in Bertram this morning, we spent most of our time on the phone trying to fix issues.  I was on and off the phone almost all day with my web host trying to get my 403 forbidden issues resolved.  This problem has been going on for months and every time I called I was told there was not an issue or they could find no problem. Finally, after speaking to about a half a dozen agents across 2 different organizations, someone was able to discover a code issue and fix the problem.   It is very frustrating when folks don’t believe you or when they fail to recognize a problem.  I think some call centers are only interested in closing calls and moving on rather than spending the necessary amount of time with a customer in order to resolve the problem.

Then we got a notice of an emergency recall on our travel trailer.  Of course, we are a thousand miles away from home and we are trying to find a dealer that will help us by fixing the recall.  Our next stop is San Antonio and I am contacting dealers there in hopes that someone can help.

Then to top it off our credit cards have been cancelled.  We got on the phone with our credit card company and they said they fixed the issue but when we were finally able to go to dinner last night we found they were still not working.  So we will be spending time on the phone tomorrow trying to get the credit card and travel trailer issues resolved. 

Went to a very popular restaurant in Liberty Hill tonight for dinner called Dahlia’s.  The portions were humongous.  Guess everything in Texas is BIG.


Monday 05-22-2017

Back to the Good Grazin’ Café for breakfast (it’s the only restaurant in Bertram for breakfast) we spent the day traveling around the Texas Hill Country.  We decided to head out to Luckenbach Texas and work our way back to our RV Park.  However, on our way out we came across the LBJ Ranch (there is both a State and a National Park) in Stonewall TX.  LBJ was born in a little house on the ranch, used it as his Texas White House during his presidential years and he and Lady Bird along with all his siblings are buried on the ranch in a little tiny family plot.  We decided to stop.  We found the State park to be an excellent place for photography.  There was a restored 1800’s house and barn along with some great landscape opportunities.  The folks in the farm area were in period dress and very friendly.  There were also farm animals and wild turkey wondering around the grounds. There was a herd of Texas Buffalo but they were off behind 2 fences so we did not get an opportunity to photograph them.

Not as much photographic opportunity at the national park as you can only take pictures outside of the residence.  However, it was terribly interesting.  Neither of us knew very much about LBJ before this tour.  He was a very different man I think than the public persona shown to the world.  Very complex.

All around the hill country there are vineyards and wineries. Some of the vineyards make for excellent landscape subject matter.  Our route to Luckenbach took us past several vineyards which could be photographed from the road.  However, extreme care must be taken when shooting from the roads in Texas.  The speed limits on the back roads can be as high as 75 MPH with no shoulders or guard rails.  It’s much safer to pull off into a winery and take your photos from a safe place.   There are so many wineries here that it is reminiscent of California’s Napa and Sonoma Valley areas. 

Luckenbach Texas is a very interesting place.  I was expecting a town with a classic main street setting and a bunch of stores.  Not so.  It is just a place where people go to enjoy country music and each other.  The official population is noted as 3 but I think that may be overblown.

We purchased a couple of Stetsons so we would feel like “real” Texans.



                              Luchenbach TX

                                      LBJ Ranch



Sunday 05-21-2017

Today we went to the United Methodist Church in Bertram TX.  The church members and Pastor Roberta were very warm and friendly.  It’s great to meet folks like these when you are on the road.  If you ever happen to get to Bertram Texas and you are there on a Sunday morning I highly recommend going to the First United Methodist Church in Bertram.  The cookies and coffee after the church service were delicious.  After the church service, we headed into Austin and spent the rest of the day at the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center.  We found it to be a great place for photography.  We have been to arboretums and the like that were not very photographer friendly but the wildflower center was very welcoming to photography.  There are a few very interesting buildings here and fields of flowers wooded areas and small gardens.   This is a good place to come to for an introduction into the Texas Hill Country and a lot of Hill Country can be obtained from here.

I would not say it was crowded but there was a substantial number of people in the center so I brought my Monopod and used my NEX-7.  The NEX is much smaller than the 5 D, less obvious and is easier to use when there are crowds.  My Monopod also doubles as a walking stick.  So the small camera and a walking stick do not attract that much attention.

Had lunch in the café at the Center.  It was unexpectedly delicious for the venue.  Salads and soup and some very good tea.  The portions were even reasonable.  Very nice surprise!


Saturday 05 -20-2017

Today we Left Houston TX(Katy) and traveled to Austin TX.  The Katy Lake Campground was delightful.  Nice small lake concrete drives and sites.  There are small grass spaces between the sites and there are no trees or bushes.  Good laundry facilities, clean restrooms, showers, and facilities.  There is a dog run and facilities to bath dogs and a blow drier.  There is free coffee at the clubhouse in the mornings and free coffee and Donuts on Saturday mornings.  It was also convenient to shopping and restaurants.  We are sorry to be leaving it and our friends behind. 

Trying to find a place to stay in Austin proved to be an unexpected chore.  Because we kind of flow from place to place we do not make reservations too far in advance.  As a matter of fact, we usually make them only a few days in advance.  For some reason, most of the camp grounds around Austin TX were full.  Many with full timers.  We ended up calling 25 campgrounds before we found one that had available space for the dates we wanted.  So, we were lucky to get into the Brooks Mill RV Park in Bertram TX.  Bertram is about 30 miles North West of Austin. The campground was small but quiet and friendly.  The office was in a building built in the 1840’s.  This is called the hill country of Texas and it lives up to its name.  We hope to get wildflower photos while we are here.  The rest of the landscape is also beautiful.

The roads between Houston and Austin were much better than the roads between NOLA and Houston.  We plan on staying here about 5 days.  We stopped in a store called Buckee’s along the way.  Apparently,  they are quite the rage in Texas.  And like all things Texan we are finding, it was HUMONGOUS!!!!  It has to have contained every known variety of food in the United States. 

The biggest surprise we saw on the way was the LBJ ranch and its surrounding countryside.  More on this later.


Friday 05 -19-2017

Today we I spent most the day working on the web site.  I think I need to spend a lot more time playing with my site so I can learn more on what I need to do to manage it.  I also worked on an image in Photoshop.  Sometimes you get an image that you feel could be very interesting but no matter what you do to it, you just can’t get it to be what you saw in your mind when you captured the image.  I think that is what I was trying to do with this image.  We shall see……   

I also did some initial getting ready for tomorrows trip to Houston.   I try to do some of the getting ready the night before and that way we can get away quicker in the morning.  Of course, I need to do all the setup work when we get to the other end.  There is no getting around that.  I do the outside and Mary Lou does the inside….division of labor. 

We were supposed to have left Katy this morning for Austin but we spent an extra day.  We’ll be pulling out in the morning.


Thursday 05 -18-2017

Really a down time day today.  I worked on pictures and the website and blog and Mary Lou caught up on things around the trailer.   And she caught up on the laundry.  Funny how these things just seem to pop up.  It was like where did that big pile of dirty clothes come from…..   Fortunately, this camp ground has a very nice laundry room (if there is such a thing) so it went smoothly.  Didn’t even need our hoard of quarters as the washers and dryers were paid for by credit card.

The only negative in our stay (and we were very surprised) was the wind.  Every day was really, really windy.  Made taking pictures somewhat difficult some days.  We just didn’t realize the wind blew all the time in Texas.    

Ate leftovers for dinner and turned in early.  We are sooooo boring sometimes…..  LOL


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Well I worked with the Dish people again this morning and finally got the dish up and running.  The Dish people told me that the Tailgater had to be connected to the back of the receiver and would not work if I ran it through the travel trailer wiring.  So, I did what they said and connected the Tailgater directly to the receiver.   However, once the dish got up and running and after I hung up with tech support, I reconnected the receiver through the travel trailer wiring and it is working fine. I don’t know if it will work that way on all travel trailers but, I am glad it is working fine on ours. 

I was having problems connecting to my web site at the campgrounds.  As a result, I have been using my phone as a hotspot.  Then I was running out of data on my phone so I had to up my data plan to unlimited otherwise I would not be able to connect to the internet. 

I was working on my web page but then began getting forbidden error messages.  I called IPAGE tech support.  They told me to try different browser.  I did but kept getting the same errors.  Then they told me to erase the browser cache.  I did that and that seemed to work.   

I am using a product called WordPress.   The issue I have is that I am not a web programmer and I am trying to manage my web page myself.  However, whenever I have a problem, and 95% of the time it is a problem with WordPress, and I call IPAGE they tell me they cannot help.  So yesterday I worked most of the day trying to make changes to the website.  I was able to complete two changes without making things worse.  But I’m really afraid to do much moreConnected with our friends this evening and went to a very nice seafood restaurant called Babins for dinner.   

The food was delicious and the portions were definitely Texas sized.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Finished packing up and left NO headed for Katy, TX outside of Houston.  The ride from NOLA to Houston took us along I-10.  I-10 was a VERY bumpy ride.  There were a few places were the road was paved but most of the ride was on concrete and we felt every expansion joint.  It took us longer than expected to get here because we had to go slower than the posted speed limit.  Even though in some places the speed limit was 75, we could not go over 65 MPH because of the road condition.  The we ran into a major traffic jam going through Houston. 

We stopped at the Texas welcome center to use the restrooms and we found that the rest area has a boardwalk out over a swamp.  We spent a few minutes there but needed to get on our way because we did not want to arrive after dark.  

Got into the campground in Katy about 6 PM.  Lovely little campground in the middle of a residential area off !-10.  All pads and roads are concrete and the size is walkable from the laundry/shower area or the front office.  Close to shopping and dining.  Our plan is to stay here just a couple of days to connect with a couple of old friends we haven’t seen in a while.   


Monday, May 15, 2017

Today we were going to go back to St. Louis cemetery #2 in New Orleans but instead we went to the Metairie Cemetery.  Jefferson Davis used to be buried in this cemetery but they moved him to a cemetery in Virginia.   There are several cemeteries located at the end of Canal street.  We chose this cemetery in hopes of finding one of Mary Lou’s relatives she thought might be buried there, but we had no luck finding her.  The cemetery did provide a us with tons of photo opportunities.   I took about 300 photos but could have stayed there for a week, and that was just one of the 4 cemeteries that are in that area. I brought my tripod but did not use it because it would have taken me all day just to capture a few images.  This cemetery has an older section and that is where we focused our efforts.   In this section, the graves are very close together so getting a tripod in a lot of the spaces just would not work.  So, I did it all by hand.  I used aperture priority for some of the shots and auto for others.  My aperture was set to f16 at an ASA of 100 making for a very slow shutter speed. I have seen advertisements for a device looking like a rifle grip. It gives 3 points of contact and would probably be a good tool for this type of shooting situation.  I have not looked at the images but I tried to hold the camera steady…. We shall see….

We also took a few photos of buildings in the area.  There was an abandon bank building as well as a few manufacturing sites that I thought would have good results.  The one thing I noticed that there are still homes that are still in bad shape after Katrina.  I am thinking of maybe making a return trip and focusing on those homes.

We spent the rest of the day and the evening getting ready for our departure tomorrow morning.  The longer you are in one spot the more comfortable you get and the more you spread out all your things to make them more accessible. We plan on pulling out tomorrow around 9 or 10 am.


Angel of Grief


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Today is Mother’s Day and Took Mary Lou out to Brunch to celebrate.  The campground has a bar and restaurant on premises.  It was a lovely meal.  Today is a work from home day.  We will be working on trailer and Photography projects. 

We are working on our Dish TV hookup.  But in order to hook up the Dish box I needed to gain access to the back of the TV which is mounted flush against the wall with no way of seeing behind it.  I searched the internet for how to release the TV with no luck.  Then called Grand Design (the manufacturer) but this being Mother’s Day and a Sunday, they were not available.  Also, I went through all the literature provided by the manufacturer and could not find any instructions on how to remove the TV.  However, I did find out how to remove the TV from its bracket on my own.  Once I did that the rest was very easy. The TV in the living area is on a vee mount.  It simply slides into the vee.   If you place your hands on either side of the bottom of the TV and lift, the TV will come up and lift away from the wall.  So we got the Dish hooked up but kept on getting various errors.  A few times it looked like it was going to come up but no luck.  We got Dish on the phone and still could not get it working.  So I put that project back on the back burner and will work on it again at a future stop. 

 I reviewed all my blog entries from the past week and tried to move them up to the web page I had several images attached but I could not get them to move up with the text.  I will call the web provider and see if it is possible to attach images. 

We also copied the images we captured over the past few days up to the computer and also to a backup thumb drive.  You just can’t have too many backups.


Saturday 5/13/2017
Yesterday’s initial experience with Uber went so well, we decided to go that route again today. Well. since this is our 3rd day exploring the city, I think we finally have our bearings in getting around the French Quarter. We did quite a bit of walking over the past 3 days, even though we found that the French Quarter is really quite a small area, only 7 blocks by 13 blocks. And the blocks are short blocks. During our walk today, we found a Fine Photography Gallery at 241 Chartres Street. The name of the gallery is the “A Gallery for Fine Photography”. The gallery had a collection of classic fine art photographers such as Jan Sauder, Berenice Abbot, Jock Sturgis, Youssef Karsh, Ansel Adams, Helmut Neuton, etc. as well as the work of some contemporary local photographers such as Richard Sexton, Maggie Taylor, Birney Imes, Eugene Smith, etc. Most of the images in the gallery are in Black and White (my most favorite photography format). Viewing the work of other photographers is very exciting to me. I love to see their perspective on things and I love the feelings that are invoked in me when I view other photographers work.
We finally got to St. Louis Cemetery #1 this morning. It is a Catholic cemetery and is managed by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It used to be free to access this cemetery, however, due to vandalism, the only way to view this cemetery is with a tour guide. We went into Basin Street station early this morning and signed up with a guide for the tour. However, I later found that I had failed to re-insert an SD card in my camera after my file back-up this morning. So, because of my failure to properly check out my equipment before we went out on a shoot, I had to do a re-do of the cemetery later in the day. Fortunately, we connected with a very nice independent tour guide who charged us a minimal amount to do the tour over. Thank you, Ashley.
There are three St. Louis cemeteries within a few blocks of one another so we took a walk to St. Louis cemetery #2 # 3. I believe, from my eye, # 2 is more photographic than cemetery #1. Although this cemetery is also a catholic cemetery and belongs to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, you can explore it on your own, unguided and free of charge for as long as you like. A little off the beaten path but well worth the 3 to 4 block walk. 
We had to leave # 3 unexplored for now as closing time came very quickly. We headed back to Basin street station where we contacted Uber for a ride home and chilled out with pizza for the remainder of the night.

Image From Cemetery #1 NOLA 


Friday 5/12/2017

Decided to go in to the Quarter a little earlier today so we got an Uber ride around 8:30. The shuttle at the campground doesn’t make its first run until 10 AM. We ate breakfast at the famous Mother’s restaurant. Jim had the “debris” which is the drippings and meat scarps from a roast beef. He said it was really good but very filling.
The idea was to get in to town in time for one of the first tours that day of St. Louis cemetery # 1 but just as we were about to buy tickets the heavens opened up and we had a huge downpour. The rain fell in buckets and the wind blew like crazy for almost an hour. So we sat in the hop-on, hop-off main station and kept nice and dry. Saw a movie about New Orleans, did a bit of shopping and kept dry.
Afterwards, things were a bit soaked (including the hop-on buses) so we took a dry one (hard top) to the Mardi Gras float plant to look around and do the tour. The way they decorate those floats is just behind the scenes look at an important part of New Orleans life.
It was about time for coffee break so we took the bus back to Decatur Street and had Biengnets and coffee at another restaurant called Café Biengnet to do a taste comparison with the Café Du Monde. Du Monde wins hands down.
Our little feetsies were worn to the bone so we Ubered back home to our comfy recliners, ate chili mac from the fridge and settled down for the night.

Thursday 5/11/2017
Today, I was surprised to see that in the wee hours of the morning a statue of Jefferson Davis was removed from NOLA. The news stated that another statue was already removed and there are two more statues that are planned to be removed. Apparently, there was a lot of controversy over these statues. I haven’t really given a lot of thought to civil war statues. I know there has been controversy over the flying of confederate flags but have heard nothing about the statues and monuments. What are your thoughts on this?
Today we finally made it into the French Quarter for some exploring. We took the shuttle in from the campground (only $12.00 roundtrip for both of us) and had breakfast at the Café Maspero at the corner of Toulouse and Decatur Streets. Afterward we got on the hop-on, hop-off bus and rode the full route. It takes about two hours and covers most of the Quarter, the garden district and the central business district. The ride gave us a good idea of what there was to photograph and a good working plan of the area. I am using my Sony NEX7 here. It is equipped with an 18 to 200 mm lens. The camera is very compact, light, and I don’t need to change lenses. This is a “C” format camera with a 24 MP sensor and it also has image stabilization, so I can produce very large images with the output of this camera.
We walked through the French Market and flea market and had biengnets and coffee at the Café Du Monde. We followed up with more exploring, photography and dinner at the famous Pierre Maspero’s. This restaurant used to be the largest slave market in the Quarter. On the way there we stopped to rest for a while in front of St. Louis Cathedral. A gentleman there was drawing sketches of those around him, just people watching. But he said he saw Jim was a photographer so he made a sketch of us and came over and nicely presented it to us. It was such a lovely gesture.
A little more exploring and shopping and the shuttle ride home rounded out our night. We settled in for the night with all the pets and rested our tired feet.
Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday 5/10/2017
Today was a down day for us. We slept in in the morning then did some work around the trailer. Since the water had a little odd taste to it, I moved the filter from the faucet end of the hose to the trailer end of the hose and that fixed the problem. I guess it was picking up some taste from the hose itself, although the hose I have is a special white hose that is not supposed to add any flavor to the water. I am thinking I have had this hose for several years so maybe it needs replacing. I also drained the holding tanks. They were getting full. I don’t think I drained them after our initial towing. I always like to tow with some stuff in the tanks. The sloshing is supposed to help keep them clean. I also put a couple additional cranks on the jacks. We are sitting on gravel here and the things that are supporting the jacks can settle. I also did some house work and we went shopping.
I tried several times to upload my notes into a blog on my site but am having problems connecting in the camp ground. I am thinking it is going to be necessary to use my phone as a router. Eventually that is going to lead me to a need for a larger data plan from Verizon. I LOVE technology! We also made a Walmart run to pick up a few things. I purchased a tube of clear silicone. On our way here the molding on one side of the trailer came out. My plan is to place some clear silicone in a few spots in hopes that this will keep this from happening again. However, I am going to wait to see if it happens again before I apply the silicone. I am hoping it was just a freak thing that happened.
Finished the day with some TV and a light supper.

Tuesday 5/09/2017
Today we drove approximately another 350 miles from Marianna FL., to New Orleans, LA. We stopped at the Alabama welcome center and rest stop and to our surprise they were having a vendor fair. While there, we not only got a state map but we also dined on shrimp and grits, peanuts, pecan cheesecake pie, and Zeigler smoked sausage and hot dogs. We also got a lot of information about Mobil and met a lot of nice people. The experience was so good that we are thinking about returning to Mobile, AL for a longer look around.
We arrived in New Orleans late this afternoon and are staying at the Pontchartrain Landing camp ground. We have a very nice pull through site and are only a few feet from the lake. We have a view of an old paddle wheeler right across the channel from where we are staying. The campground has about 130 sites and a lot of amenities. There is a restaurant and bar with a view of the lake, a store, hot tub and pool. There is also transportation into the French Quarter. Spent the last few hours setting up the trailer because we are going to stay here for a week. We are going to visit the onsite restaurant and bar after I take a shower. I am beat. I think more from the push of getting everything together before we left than form the trip. Tomorrow will be a down day for us.

Monday 5/8/2017
We have begun our 2017 photography quest. We are heading to the southwest this year. We have been preparing for the past several weeks. Our photo family consists of my beautiful wife (who is also my photography assistant and girl Friday), our two Welsh Pembroke Corgis, Murphy and Guinness, and our two finicky cats, Lightning and Patches. As you can guess, getting ready for a trip with this crew is quite an event.
We purchased a different travel trailer and tow vehicle this year so we had to spend a few weeks preparing ourselves and the vehicles for the trip. We had one short test trip this year and found several issues that needed to be addressed before we left. They were all minor and I addressed most of them before we left for our journey. The others I will address as we go along and have time to address them. We left about 8AM this morning. Our route took us North on RTE 75 then West on RTE 10.
The trailer, hitch, and tow vehicle combination works very well. We have an Imagine 2950 RL trailer, a Chevy 2500 pickup truck and a Hensley hitch. Our last towing combination did not work well. There was a lot of sway, thus the purchase of the Hensley hitch. The Hensley hitch did ease the sway to a satisfactory level but did not eliminate it. However, with the current combination we have no sway.
Today we drove 350 miles from our home in New Port Richey FL., and are spending the night in the Alliance Hill campground in Marianna. FL. This campground is about 8 miles off I-10. It is a boutique, 55+ campground with only about 15 sites right now although an additional section is planned for construction very soon. Although there is no store, at this time, on property, there is a small pool and a well-appointed clubhouse with clean restrooms, showers, a comfy lounge area with a big screen TV, kitchen area, craft area and a large, well-equipped laundry area. The campground is partially wooded with a dog run and lots of walking trails plus the owner is very nice and friendly. There is no planned photography for this stop but I always have a camera on my hip so if I see anything interesting I will capture it.
Tomorrow we push on to New Orleans. We plan on capturing cityscapes and landscapes during our stay there.


Techniques and Tips For Black and White Photography 1

Black and White Photography:

Techniques and Tips

by James Pearce

As you may have guessed by now my passion is Black and White Photography.  I have been shooting in Black and white for about 40 years.  I have attended a few seminars but am pretty much self-taught by reading books and articles.  I guess you could say that I am basically book smart when it comes to Photography.   I think I take after my Dad.  He dropped out of High School to join the Marines during WW II.  After his stint in the Marine Corps he opened a business.  That did not fare so well so he became a mechanic and an Air Conditioning Repair Man. Then he became a licensed stationary engineer and a building manager  for several large facilities as well as the building manager for the construction of the WE Star communication stations.  All his knowledge was self taught.  So here are some of the things I’ve learned over the past 40 years:

A lot of my knowledge came from using film cameras.  My favorite film camera of all time is a used Technika 4×5 camera I picked up in a Pawn Shop in Boston.  This camera was a totally manual camera and I had to load the film holders as well as perform all the film test to ensure I could see an image on the negative.  Learning how to use one of these cameras is an experience unto itself.  Anyway, in order to get the results I wanted I built my darkroom and I developed my own work flow from loading the film holders to printing the final images.  So when I moved to digital photography, the process was similar.  I had to create my own workflow and take the process from loading the card into the camera to the finished print. However it did require modifications.  So here are my hints to creating good Black and White Prints. I am going to address them from a workflow process. So before we even start to capture an image we need to discuss how we are going to store our images in the camera and the options available.

This blog is going to take several editions to complete I am starting with gathering the items you need to take with you to do Landscape or Cityscape (Architectural) photography.


I currently have several cameras but my ‘Camera of Choice’ for landscape photography is the Canon 5D II.  Today all cameras are excellent and I don’t want to go into great detail on cameras but I have a few suggestions.  These suggestions are for DSLR’s but they also apply somewhat to other digital cameras and to some extent to analog cameras…… first, the size of the sensor (Film in a film camera) along with the number of mega-pixels determines how much information the camera can capture.  The camera I have is called full frame because it is the same size as a 35mm negative or slide.  I have no problem enlarging my photographs up to 20X24 prints.  The newer cameras can capture up to 50 mega-pixels of information however the chip is still the same size.  So, the closer the pixels are packed into the chip the more likely they are to influence each other and create noise.  Noise is synonymous to grain or light spots in a film camera and can affect enlargements.  If you are considering purchasing a camera make sure you do your research because a camera that is used for landscape photography may not be the best camera for sports photography.

Memory Cards

I am basically a landscape, city scape photographer.  I shoot one image at a time (with some exceptions which we will discuss later).  So when I purchase memory cards I am not that concerned with the speed of the cards.  I just purchased two 32G cards for $15 each at the local Walgreens.  Someone doing sports photography or filming would probably not use these cards because speed is very important to them.  Therefore, depending on your type of photography, please research memory and purchase memory cards that fit what you are shooting.  I have had people complain that their cameras burst rate is not fast enough to capture action shots but once they upgraded to a faster (and more expensive) memory card their camera worked just fine.


As a landscape/cityscape photographer I always try to capture my images in RAW.  That being said, not all cameras have a RAW setting. So, when I shoot with my JPEG only camera, I always pick the largest JPEG file available to me in the camera.  Remember the bigger the file the more information you are capturing.  Also the bigger the file the slower the camera stores the information.  This is another reason the burst rate of your camera is not going to be as fast as it might  be in other circumstances.  If you are shooting action shots with a JPEG only camera, select a JPEG file (probably not the largest) take a few test shot then put them up on the screen and check the resolution then adjust the file size accordingly.

Here is some information I pulled from the internet that may help you with RAW vs JPEG…


• Not an image file.  It is a propriety machine language (Camera) interpolation of the information captured by the Camera’s sensor.  Since each camera manufacturer captures the information off of the sensor differently, it will take proprietary camera manufacturer’s proprietary software to decode the information.  It needs to be downloaded from the manufacturer.
• At least 8 bits per color (Red, Green, and Blue) though most DSLRs now record 12-bit color (36-bits per location).
• Uncompressed, a 24 megapixel camera will produce a 24 MB Raw file.
• All the data from the camera sensor is made available for processing.
• Has a larger dynamic range so it can show more highlight and more shadow detail
• Normally lower in contrast the image is flatter and maybe washed out looking.
• May not be as sharp as a JPEG file.
• May not be suitable for printing directly from the camera without post processing.
• Read only format.  All changes are saved in an XMP file or to another format such as JPEG.
• Needs to be processed by a computing device.

 Shooting in RAW

If you do shoot in RAW, your computer rather than the camera will process the data and generate an image file from it.  Shooting in RAW will give you much more control over how your image looks.   You have the ability to see exactly what the camera sensor saw.  It allows you to make intricate corrections and gives you the ability to see exactly what you captured so it can be used as a learning tool.

To take advantage of this you will certainly need to use some software on your computer to process the files.  I happen to use LightroomPhotoshop and Adobe Bridge to import and process the images.   Once I am finished developing the image into what I saw in my mind’s eye and evoking the feelings I had, I save the file (how I manipulate the files is a huge process to be discussed in a later installment).  Files can then be saved in a number of file formats.  Photoshop creates PSD files unless told to save the file as something else.  I normally save my files as TIFF files.  TIFF files are larger than PSD files but PSD files are proprietary to Adobe while TIFF files are a common format that are recognized by most other photography programs.  Once my files are saved as TIFF files (and I want to put them up on the internet or view them from a projector) I save my files as JPEG’s.  I size them at 60% of full file size with the longest side of the image being 1024 and the Resolution being 72 Pixels to the inch.


• Is a standard format readable by any image program on the market or available open-source
• Is exactly 8-bits per color
• Compressed by looking for redundancy in the data (like a ZIP file) and stripping out what humans can’t perceive (like an MP3)
• Fairly small in file size  12.7 megapixel camera will produce a small JPEG file of 2MB and a Large JPEG file of 4MB’s in size (RAW = 12.1MB)
• There is much less information so it produces lower in dynamic range (the highs and lows have been thrown out).
• The image is higher in contrast because it has been modified
• The image is usually sharper, again because it has been modified
• A JPEG file is immediately suitable for printing, sharing, or posting on the Web because it has been modified and is open-source file format.
• May not be in need of correction.  However, I modify every image either JPEG or RAW
• A JPEG file tends to compress itself every time it is saved.  So my recommendation is to complete all adjustments to the image at once or convert a JPEG to another format such as a TIFF while you work on it only save it once you are finished.
• A JPEG file is processed by your camera.

 Shooting in JPEG

When you shoot in JPEG, the camera’s internal software will take the information off the sensor and quickly process it before saving it. Because the image is being reduced in size, most of the information is being thrown away.  In the example given above, a 12. 7 MP camera makes a 12.1 MB raw image.  However, it only makes a small 2 MB JPEG file.  So that is about a 60% reduction of the information being presented to you.  So I only shoot in JPEG when there is no other option.  I want to be the one who decides.  Some color is lost as is some of the resolution (and on some cameras there is slightly more noise (spots) in a JPEG than its RAW version).

 The major actor in this case is the Discrete Cosine Transformation (or DCT) which divides the image into blocks (usually 8×8 pixels) and determines what can be “safely” thrown away because it is less perceivable (the higher the compression ration/lower quality JPEG, the more is thrown away during this step). And when the image is put back together a row of 24 pixels that had 24 different tones might now only have 4 or 5. That information is forever lost without the raw data from the sensor recorded in a RAW file.
 The quality of a JPEG taken with a DSLR will still be far better than the same shot taken with a top-of-the-line point-n-shoot camera that is as old as your DSLR. If your camera can burst (shoot continuously for a few seconds) you’ll actually be able to shoot more shots using JPEG than RAW because the slowest part of the whole process is actually saving the file to your memory card – so the larger RAW photographs take longer to save.


I normally use a wide angle lenses.  I do have 3 lenses that have tilt and  swing.  Since I used a large format camera for several years, which allows the bellows to tilt and swing,  I like  having these options available to me on my DSLR.  I do have a 70 to 300 zoom lens I like to use if I want to capture an image of a bird or other wildlife and want to blur the back ground.


I do use filters.  I normally use a polarizer filter when photographing outdoors. I like how a polarizer can make the scene pop.  At times, I use zero density filters to allow me to create more ethereal effects.


I always use a tripod when taking landscape photographs.  I know that most cameras have motion dampening, however, when shooting landscape, it takes only the slightest bit of movement to blur the shot and make things look out of focus. This is especially true for Architectural photography.  So please get in the habit of using a tripod.  When using a tripod it is important to turn off the anti motion dampening.  If you do not turn it off the auto motion dampening may still try to compensate and actually make the photograph Blurry.

More to come in the next blog.





27 January 2016


27 January 2016


Bodie Island Lighthouse (1 of 1)-2 

                     Bodie Lighthouse

Greetings and Happy New Year!  This is my first Blog of 2016.  During the second half of 2015, I was pretty much out of commission due to knee replacement surgery.  No blogs during that time….  I had severe pain and was on pain medication so I was not very creative during that period.  However, now that I am past that, in 2016 I am planning to create a monthly, and then quite possibly, a bi-monthly edition of our blog.   

Dunes V

                                             Dunes V

My assistant (AKA my wife) and I are also planning to participate in some art shows/festivals/fairs during 2016.  We were going to do this in the last quarter of 2015 but again the surgery on my knee got in the way.  We are currently in the process of creating an inventory.  The inventory consists of a cross sectional sample of some of my work.  All of the work will be in Black and White since that is the main medium in which I work.  We have had six (6) images professionally matted, mounted and framed at 20 X 24.  I will probably add at least two (2) more of that size which should complete what I need of that size for our initial foray into this adventure.  I have about 25 images mounted and mated at 16 X 20, which will probably do it for that size in our inventory.  In addition, I have approximately five (5) examples matted and mounted at 11 X 14.  I think I need to have approximately 20 of that size, as well as, about the same amount in size 8 X 10 before we head to the first show but I’ll keep you informed of my progress in that area.

Dunes IV

                                             Dunes IV

I am doing the matting and mounting of all the images (other than the 20 X 24 size) myself.  Initially, I was doing all the mat calculations manually and was encountering a lot of waste.  So I came up with an XL spreadsheet that performs the mat calculations, as well as, keeping track of the inventory.  That way when an image is sold, I’ll automatically know what needs to be replaced.

Dunes III

                                             Dunes III

I was taught how to create mats at a workshop I took in the late 90’s.  The curator of Eastman Kodak came to the workshop and spent a whole day teaching the proper way to create a mat.   He also took the time to show us the proper way to hang an exhibit.  I took copious note and have been creating my own mats ever since. 

Dunes II

                                             Dunes II

My assistant and I took a brief trip to the outer banks last month.  Our intent was to do some exploring for a future visit.  The weather was not very co-operative (cloudy, misty and dreary) however, we did find that December, January, and February are probably the best times to visit that area if you are looking for unspoiled scenery to photograph.  We will probably go back this year for a few days during the month of December.  There is not much open but we did find a campground that operates all year round and we are planning to stay there.  It is a KOA in Rodanthe.  There are campsites as well as cabins for rent.  The outer banks is a very popular place and can be quite crowded from May through November.  Since it is a favorite vacation spot with basically one main road that runs the length of the e barrier islands, the road can get extremely jammed with traffic during peak season. 

Dunes I

                                              Dunes I

I did manage though to capture a few images in North Carolina that I have imbeded in this Blog.   You will also find them in the Gallery


Jim & Mary Lou

St. Martin Butterfly Garden

The Butterfly Farm

St Martian

For the past two years during our annual meetings we took the opportunity to include photographing some of the very interesting areas we had the opportunity to visit.  Most of the images were taken with the Sony NEX-7 camera.  I find this camera is best when traveling to places where I am not sure of what will greet me when I get there.  This camera is smaller and lighter than a DSLR and the only lens I use on this camera is a Sony 18mm to 300mm zoom lens which works well for me in pretty much any situation.  The camera has some nice features.  For landscape it has a Scene setting which is supposed to keep the whole scene in focus.  It does a pretty good job doing that but sometimes I find the close part of the scene may be a little blurred.  It also has a panoramic setting.  What I like about this setting is that it allows one to zoom into the scene before scanning for the panoramic.  I have another small pocket Sony that also has a panoramic setting however it does not allow one to zoom into the scene before performing the panoramic scan.


Butterfly I

Butterfly II

Butterfly II

One of the most interesting places we visited was the Butterfly farm on St Martin.  The one thing I learned here is that even in an enclosed butterfly friendly area it is very difficult to take photos of butterflies. They don’t seem to want to settle for long periods of time and when just when you get in close proximity and in focus they take off.  However my photography partner seemed to have her way with them so with her help I was able to capture a few good photos.   The most difficult part of photographing these beautiful insects is that the background can be very distracting.  That was in fact the case with these photos as well.  It required a quite a bit of post capture editing to remove most of the distractions.

Burrerfly III

Butterfly III

Butterfly IV

Butterfly IV

Post capture editing for these images was completed using both Lightroom and NIK Software.  I really like working with these images.  They allowed me to get may creative juices really flowing.  What is really great about what I do is that every time I work on an image I learn something new.

Butterfly V

Butterfly V

Taj Mahal – Royal Gatway

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Agra India

For several years I had visited India off and on as a part of what I did for a living.  Because my job was very demanding I normally worked 7 days a week 12 to 18 hours a day.  That is when I was not running to catch a plane to my next assignment.  I wanted to carry a camera with me to capture some of the sights but did not want to take my Canon 5D with all the lenses because my trips were normally 6 to 8 weeks in duration, and I was already bogged down with bags and computers So after looking at several point-and shoot cameras, I decided to purchase and began to carry a Canon SX 210.  It was a state of the art camera when I purchased it and served me well for about 5 years.  (I now carry a Sony DSC – HK50V for everyday and also have an RX-100 I use as a backup to the backup when I am out on photography shoots.)  So from time to time there would be an in-country holiday when I would have a few hours free and I would wonder off to snap a few photos.

Taj Mahal Royal Gateway

Taj Mahal – Royal Gatway

Fortunately the SX-210 did an excellent job.  Using the SX-210 handheld, I was able to capture most of the distance shots with clarity and a well-defined detail that, before image stabilization, would be attributed to the top rated lenses & cameras being used on a tripod.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

I love to explore on my own so most of my photographic expeditions are on my own and self- guided. That’s because, every time I do go on some sort of an organized tour or shoot with my camera,  I seem to find many more interesting things that need to be captured for further review.  I am always the last person back and I feel like I am holding the whole group back.  Not that it bothers me that others can’t appreciate the great wonders of God and man that have been laid before us. Everyone has their own vision.  It’s just that I am feeling as if I am being rushed and forced to operate at another’s pace.

Taj Mahal Minaret

Taj Mahal – Minaret II

The photos presented here are from a brief visit I had to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.  This is only one of the famous sights in Agra, although undoubtedly the most famous.

Taj Mahal Corridor

Taj Mahal – Corridor

The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan as a tomb and monument for his wife  Mumtaz Mahal.  It took 25 years and around 25,000 people to build the Taj Mahal. It is estimated that more than 1,000 elephants were used to transport necessary construction materials. It cost about 32 million of Indian currency to build at the time of construction

Taj Mahal Minaret

Taj Mahal – Minaret

The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. The construction began around 1630 and was completed around 1655, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.

Taj Mahal Crypt Door

Taj Mahal – Crypt Door

The Taj Mahal consists of four major structures, beautiful landscaping and courtyards.  The buildings are the Great Entrance, a Visiting Dignitary Building, A Mosque, and the Tomb Building or the Taj Mahal itself.  Mumtaz Mahal, was kept in a mummified form until the monument was complete. Four minarets frame her tomb, one at each corner of the plinth facing the chambered corners. The main chamber houses the false sarcophagi of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan; the actual graves are at a lower level.

Taj Mahal Mosque

Taj Mahal – Mosque

Because I am basically a Landscape & Architecture photographer, I prefer not to have people in my photographs.  So I planned to get there early and beat the crowds.  However, the trip took longer than expected (most trips seem to take longer than expected in India so leave very early) and we arrived a little later than expected.  It was a local holiday and the place was absolutely packed when we arrived. This was the only time I was going to have to photograph the Taj so I immediately began shooting.  I did not shoot as many photographs as I wanted because there were people everywhere.  As you view these photos you will note that most of the photographs are looking up (not many people when looking up).  So most of the photos I took were of minarets’ and domes.  However, I did get lucky and was able to get a few photos with just throngs of people in them instead of huge throngs of people in them.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal II

The calligrapher believed to be responsible for the ornate Persian calligraphy that adrons most of the buildings is  Amanat Khan.  Amanat Khan was resident at the Mughal court. (His signature appears in colophons within the marble inscriptions). It is believed that .Amanat Khan was responsible not only for the design of the script but also for the choice of text. The majority of the text is taken from the Qur’an. There are twenty two passages in all, including fourteen whole chapters, some of which are read out as part of the Islamic funeral ceremony itself.

Taj Mahal Calligraphy

Taj Mahal – Calligraphy

One of the things I have recently learned about digital photography is to shoot the scene even if it is less than perfect.  A lot can be done in the post-processing phase by skillfully using Lightroom and Photoshop (which are very powerful tools) to make a less than perfect scene  better than you thought possible.  I had to work on several of these images for days to get them to the images I pre-visualized when I first snapped the shutter.

Taj Mahal Mosque Dome

Taj Mahal Mosque Dome

So these photos were all taken by me during the brief interludes I had while in India.  There are more photos which I will share in later issues of our blog.  I sincerely hope you enjoy them.

Taj Mahal Guesthouse or Jawab

Taj Mahal – Guesthouse or Jawab



In 2011, I went on a business trip to Krakow, Poland. Krakow is a beautiful city with a mix of the old and new. During World War II, this city was one of the few major cities in that area that was not leveled by bombing raids. As a result there is very beautiful old architecture intermixed with the new. I did capture a few images of Krakow and I hope to publish them in the future. However, in this blog, I want to focus on Auschwitz.

I am a workaholic so I am not one to take tours during business trips. My job as an IT auditor was very demanding and when I was not actually auditing I was reviewing my notes from the current audit, writing audit reports from previous audits, or running to catch a plane to my next assignment. However, for some reason, while I was in Krakow God moved me to take a day trip to visit Auschwitz.

I can’t even remember how I knew that Auschwitz was in the vicinity. I always thought Auschwitz was in the middle of Germany. I assume that there may have been some literature in the hotel. But to my surprise, I discovered that Auschwitz was located in the town of Oswiecim which is approximately 70 km from Krakow and as soon as I discovered the close proximity to where I was staying God put in my heart that I must go.

So I found a tour company that ran day trips to Auschwitz. I boarded a bus early Saturday morning and headed to Oswiecim. The trip from Krakow to Oswiecim is very scenic. We passed through several small towns and the countryside vistas were beautiful. It is so hard to believe such evil once lived here.

Poland, Auschwitz- Birkenau-Birkenau - Auschwitz International M

Birkenau Auschwitz International Monument



















Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners who began to arrive in May, 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September of 1941. Auschwitz II, the camp called Birkenau, was also constructed in the early 40’s and went on to become a major site of the Nazi “Final Solution to the Jewish question”. From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews, as well as, others to the camp’s gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the Auschwitz camps.

Poland_Auschwitz_ Birkenau_ Auschwitz I - Arbeit Macht  Frei

Work Will Make You Free



















When approaching the entrance to Auschwitz I there is a sign which reads “Arbeit Maeht Fri”. Roughly translated, it states that work will set you free. However, very few prisoners that entered the camp were ever set free.

Poland_Auschwitz_ Birkenau_ Auschwitz I - VORSICHT II

Caution High Voltage




















Most of the information I found (a lot of which was from the internet) is very gruesome and chilling. There were approximately 1,200 concentration camps and sub-camps of various types created around Europe during the war. Another thing I found interesting was that concentration camps were first created in Germany after Hitler took power in 1933. They were initially created to house dissidents and desenters of the Nazi regime within Germany. However, as Germany rolled through Europe, extermination concentration camps were setup throughout Europe. Most of these camps became extermination camps and the Auschwitz camps became the most proficient killing facilities/machines of them all.

Auschwitz - No Man's Land Between Cell Blocks

No Mans Land Between Cell Blocks




















 Medical Experiments

During my visit to this place I felt I was treading on the grounds of a very sacred and holy cemetery while at the same time I could not believe the horror that took place here. While the murders committed here were especially horrific, German doctors also performed a wide variety of experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz. Among other experimentation, SS doctors tested the efficacy of X-rays as a sterilization device by administering large doses to female prisoners, injected Chemicals into women’s uteruses in an effort to glue them shut, deliberately infected prisoners with spotted fever for vaccination research and exposed them to toxic substances to study the effects.

Poland, Auschwitz - Birkenau Medical Experimentation Cell Block

Main Entrance to the Experimentation Cell Block




















The most infamous doctor at Auschwitz was Josef Mengele, known as the “Angel of Death”. Particularly interested in research on identical twins, Mengele performed cruel experiments; such as inducing diseases in one twin and killing the other when the first died to perform comparative autopsies. He also took a special interest in dwarfs, and he deliberately induced comas in twins, dwarfs, and other prisoners to study the effects.

In one instance, twenty Jewish children from Auschwitz were relocated to use in pseudoscientific medical experiments at the Neuengamme concentration camp. In April 1945, these children were killed by hanging to conceal the project.

Extermination Cell Block

Extermination Cell Block




















Auschwitz I Cremation Furnace

Auschwitz I Cremation Furnace

There was a single gas chamber in Auschwitz I. However, it was small in comparison to the huge killing complexes built in Auschwitz II. Prisoners that were killed or died in Auschwitz were taken to the cremation furnaces pictured above.

Cell Block11 was the punishment cell block. Initially the punishment cell block was used to test gases that would later be used in the main gas chambers. The tests were conducted in the basement on Polish Prisoners of War. This cell block was used to separate camp trouble makers and camp dissidents from the rest of the camp population. This cell block contained cells that were in total darkness and prisoners were packed so tightly into these cells that everyone had to stand, in some cases to the point of suffocation.

Doorway to Death

Doorway to Death
































Tribunals were also held in this building. A door from this cell led to a courtyard. At the end of the courtyard was the “Wall of Death“. Prisoners found guilty of any camp infractions were taken through the “Doorway of Death” to the wall and executed. Usually with a bullet.

Wall of Death

Wall of Death

Auschwitz II-Birkenau

Remnants of Birkenau Barracks

Remnants of Birkenau Barracks
















Construction on Auschwitz II-Birkenau began in October 1941 to ease congestion at the main camp. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel(SS), intended the camp to house 50,000 prisoners of war, who would be interned as forced laborers. Plans called for the expansion of the camp; first to house 150,000, and eventually as many as 200,000 inmates. An initial contingent of 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war arrived at Auschwitz I in October 1941, but by March 1942 only 945 were still alive, and these were transferred to Birkenau, where most of them died from disease or starvation by May. By this time, Hitler had decided to annihilate the Jewish people, so Birkenau was repurposed as a combination labor camp / extermination camp.

The End of the Line in Birkenau for Millions of Jews

The End of the Line in Birkenau for Millions of Jews































The chief of construction of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, unike his predecessor, was a competent and dynamic bureaucrat who, in spite of the ongoing war, carried out the construction deemed necessary. The Birkenau camp, the four crematoria, the technically complicated central sauna, a new reception building, and hundreds of other buildings were planned and realized. Plans initially called for each barrack to have an occupancy of 550 prisoners (one-third of the space allotted in other Nazi concentration camps). That was later changed to 744 prisoners per barrack. The SS designed the barracks, not so much to house people as, to destroy them.

Inside a Birkenau Barrack

Inside a Birkenau Barrack




















The first gas chamber at Birkenau was the “red house” (called Bunker 1 by SS staff), a brick cottage converted into a gassing facility by tearing out the inside and bricking up the walls. It was operational by March 1942. A second brick cottage, the “white house” or Bunker 2, was converted some weeks later. These structures were in use for mass killings until early 1943. Himmler visited the camp in person on July 17 and 18, 1942. He was given a demonstration of a mass killing using the gas chamber in Bunker 2 and toured the building site of a new  plant being constructed at the nearby town of Monowitz.

Poland, Auschwitz- Birkenau-Birkenau - Crematorium I

Remnants of a Birkenau Crematorium
































In early 1943, the Nazis decided to greatly increase the gassing capacity of Birkenau. Crematorium II, originally designed as a mortuary, with morgues in the basement and ground-level incinerators, was converted into a killing factory by installing gas-tight doors, vents for the Zyklon B (a highly lethal cyanide-basedpesticide) to be dropped into the chamber, and ventilation equipment to remove the gas thereafter.  It went into operation in March of that year. Crematorium III was built using the same design. Crematoria IV and V, designed from the start as gassing centers, were also constructed that spring. By June 1943, all four crematoria were operational. Most of the victims were killed using these four structures.

Remnants of a Birkenau Crematorium

A Replica of a Nazi Transport Rail Road Car






















There seems to be electrified barbed wire everywhere in both camps.  Even when looking up, there is electrified barbed wire.  I can’t imagine how depressing it was to live in these horrible conditions every day knowing the only way out was through the crematorium.   As a species,  we will probably never understand or eradicate horrible evils like this from the face of the earth. For those who believe, this will not happen until the second coming of Jesus when God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away and we will all be made new.

Poland_Auschwitz_ Birkenau_ Auschwitz I - Electrified Barbed Wir

Looking Up




















Poland, Auschwitz- Birkenau-Birkenau - Electrified Fence III

Electrified Barbed Wire Everywhere

































Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Living conditions were brutal, and many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

The information I found contained this list of the Nazi extermination camps. The extermination camps were set up specifically to kill and remove all traces of those that were executed. Although other types of concentration camps not listed here also proved to be efficient killing machines.

Camp                          Location                              Camp Type                                                         People killed
+  Auschwitz-Birkenau         Poland                         Extermination and labor                                        1,100,000
+  Bełżec                                    Poland                         Extermination                                                               434,508
+  Chełmno                              Poland                         Extermination                                                               152,000
+  Janowska                            Ukraine                        Transit, Labor, & Extermination                              40,000
+  Jasenovac                            Croatia                        Extermination                                                               100,000
+  Majdanek                            Poland                         Extermination                                                                  78,000
+  Maly Trostenets                 Belarus                        Extermination                                                                 206,500
+  Sajmište                               Serbia                           Extermination camp                                               23,000–47,000
+  Sobibór                                Poland                          Extermination camp                                                      200,000
+  Treblinka                            Poland                          Extermination camp                                                      870,000
+  Warsaw                               Poland                         Labor and Extermination camp                                   200,000


In my investigations, I came across several articles that discussed the possibility of just letting the Auschwitz Museum go away. There is discussions around the land it sits on and the cost of upkeep of such a large museum. What happened here was not the result of the ravages of war. It was genocide with all the horror, pain and terror that that implies. It was the systemic attempt to eradicate an entire race of people from the face of the earth. And while many knew these atrocities were taking place, most turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to this monstrous behavior. I am sure those that perpetrated this crime against humanity and those that turned a blind eye would rejoice if it just “went away“. I for one believe it should not go away. It needs to remain as a reminder of what happens when we humans fail to treat each other with the Dignity, Respect, and Love the most high God gives to us. God created us ALL in his image and likeness, not just an elite, chosen few. “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Nowhere, I believe is that truer than here in Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is a memorial and museum in Oświęcim, Poland, which includes the German concentration camps Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. It is devoted to the memory of the murders in both camps during World War II. A lot of the information presented here came from my actual visit to the museum, as well as, various internet information sites.


All of the images here were taken with a Canon SX 210. It is a 14 megapixel point and shoot camera that I try to carry with me at all times. It has a 14X zoom and image stabilization. (I have just replaced the SX 210 with a Sony RX 100. The optical zoom is 28mm to 70mm but over the years I found that 98% of my photos are taken within the confines of that zoom.) The SX 210 served me very well. The 2 draw back to it are sensor size and megapixels. But then again, the ultimate answer is to carry an interchangeable lens camera with a selection of lenses. However, my lifestyle does not afford me the ability to do that.

All images were processed digitally using both Lightroom and Nik softwares.