Winter Landscape Photography – Ozarks Style

Castor River Shut-ins, February 2019

Miguel and I headed south early on Saturday morning. We arrived at Amidon Memorial Conservation Area in Madison County, MO long after first light, but early enough to get some good from what would turn out to be a very dynamic sky over most of the day. Castor River Shut-ins was our main target, as I knew we weren’t too far following some significant rainfall in the area and there was a fresh snowfall from the day before. Unfortunately, the total snow fall was nowhere near the forecast 3″-5″ that was supposed to blanket the Fredericktown/Farmington area. However, as a nature photographer knows, you take what you find.

What turned out to be a very nice day of hiking and photography was nearly the complete opposite. On our way down to the river to make the above image, yours truly, normally as sure-footed as an Ozark billy goat, got one leg caught between two narrowly separated boulders while slipping with his other foot. As I went down, nearly landing on my face, I twisted my leg at just the right time and likely narrowly avoided snapping both my tibia and fibula in the caught leg. I also lost control of the tripod with the camera attached. Thankfully, most of the impact was to a small spot on the camera’s L-bracket, avoiding disaster again. Very-slight damage to the equipment and some bruising and scrapes to my leg – I will live with that when I think about the potential alternatives.

Castor River Shut-ins, February 2019

For whatever reason, I find myself drawn to vertical compositions at this location. We had nice and light cloud clover which typically provides the perfect scenario for capturing water and can make it easier to include the sky in a composition.

Miguel Acosta at Work

Here you can see Miguel hard at work nailing his composition.

Rhyolite? More like RhyoLIGHT!

I think the light yesterday was perfect in helping me avoid a problem I often have at this location, getting the color balance perfect for capturing the real colors of the rocks that make up this geological feature. Of course, those colors don’t show up the same as they do in direct sunlight.

After we had our fill at this location, still having the entire place to ourselves, we headed to Silvermines Recreation Area. Here we were primarily focused on the large defunct dam that is one of the famous features for which this location is known. We were faced with a more broken sky, but I noticed the thin cirrus/cirrostratus clouds were moving with extreme speed. Always on the lookout for a reason to use my neutral density filters, I pulled out my heaviest one and made the image below with a 30 second exposure.

Silver Mines Dam

Unfortunately, we weren’t in a good place and time to take advantage of a fantastic sunset. But, we made some nice images, memories and left a few calories behind on the trails.


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