Frosty St. Francois Mountains

A bluff face covered in ice along the the Little St. Francis

A few images from our recent deep freeze. Casey and I visited the St. Francois Mountains and collected some images along the Little St. Francis River and Little Rock Creek.

Nice shelf ice formed along the river. Hip boots and metal cleats, along with thinking about where you step, are all recommended.

Looking down river

Looking upstream, the ice-shrouded bluffs (~125 feet tall) can be seen through the trees.

A close up look at the frosted bluff face of this rugged river bed.

Finally, a small, ice-crowned shut-in along Little Rock Creek. More interesting shut-ins are found further upstream but those will have to wait for another day.


C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Comet

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Comet in the northwest sky after sunset at Duck Creek C.A.

The NEOWISE Comet, whose actual name is C/2020 F3, was a pleasant surprise for the astronomical community who await such events as a newly discovered comet. First discovered in late March, the comet grew steadily brighter, eventually becoming the brightest comet to be seen in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. According to the experts, this comet had an orbital period of about 4,400 years prior to making its latest trip through the inner solar system. It will now be another 6,700 years before beings on earth will be able to see it again.

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Comet image taken at 200 mm focal length

I have long had a very strong interest in astronomy and astrophotography and the current pandemic has allowed me to do quite a bit of studying on both topics. Hopefully soon I can get the practice in this area that I desperately need. Although it has some issues, I was relatively pleased at capturing the closeup of the comet pictured above.

Although I had a star-tracking mount that would have been perfect for this situation, I had not yet used it so I did not make this the first time. This image was “untracked” using a full-frame camera and a 200 mm lens. It is comprised of 20 “light” images (the actual photos of the comet) taken at 3.2 seconds per exposure. The aperture was f/2.8 and the ISO/gain was 6400. I combined these images with 10 “dark” frames for noise reduction purposes.

The processing here could be better and I might give it another try sometime. But, both tails of the comet are visible and I think the background stars came out alright as well.

Milky Way at Lee’s Bluff, MO

After awhile the comet began to dive towards the horizon with the remnant glow from twilight. I happened to show up at Lee’s Bluff on the same night as accomplished Missouri nightscape photographer, Dan Zarlenga, and so we both turned our tripods around to the south and found this lovely scene. Here, the Milky Way has recently risen above a nice foreground of trees. Again, I wish I would have been a bit more prepared with a plan, but I guess this isn’t too bad.



Playing Around with Infrared

Woodland Infrared

I have had some opportunity lately to try for infrared landscapes with my converted Canon 5D mkii. There is still so much I want to try with this, but between summer laziness and a lack of time and opportunity, I get by with what I can. The image above was taken in an Illinois woodland.

Infrared White Oak

I found this white oak in the same woodland and it screamed for the IR treatment. I’m still getting the hang of processing the images from the “supercolor IR conversion” of this camera. Although the basics are simple, I find the plethora of options one has in processing these files to be a bit intimidating. I’m trying to go a little more on the subtle side with these, but there’s a fine line between just enough and too much.

Hughes Mountain in IR

These final three images were taken at Hughes Mountain C.A. – a place that I find begs for the infrared photographic treatment. These were taken on one of the evenings of potential for extra color from the Sahara sandstorms. There was nothing extra for the sunset due to these storms other than increased haze, but the high clouds made for interesting skies in IR.

Hughes Mountain in IR

Finding green plants in the glade areas is important in getting the contrasts for an IR image. This hasn’t been a very wet summer but there was some green still left among the rocks. Optimally, it would be best to try in late spring to early summer to get this setting just right.

Hughes Mountain in IR

So these were some of my first serious attempts at IR landscapes with the newly converted camera. If you have any suggestions for improvement, particularly in the processing area, I would be grateful to listen.


Return to Black Mountain Cascades

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020
Camera settings: f/11, 1/3 sec., ISO-250, 17mm focal length.

I’ve posted images of the cascades on Black Mountain before. After some good rains, Casey and I visited this past March with hopes of making it to the top. This is not an easy hike, but Casey had not yet seen most of the cascades. This was our intention, but it was quickly realized that the overcast afternoon we were promised was not going to be. So, we utilized the few clouds remaining to the best of our ability and climbed high enough to find some falls hidden behind canyon walls that blocked the harsh afternoon sun.

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/11, 1/2 sec., ISO-100, 24 mm focal length.

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/11, 0.6 sec., ISO-100, 24 mm focal length.

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/14, 1/2 sec., ISO-200, 25 mm focal length.

Black Mountain Cascades, March 2020 Camera settings: f/14, 1/2 sec., ISO-100, 20 mm focal length.

Return to Vilander Bluff

Autumn View of Vilander Bluff
f/11, ISO-160, 32 mm focal length, three exposure blend of 1/60, 1/15, 1/4 sec.

I had a great time introducing some photographer friends of mine to one of my favorite places in the state, Vilander Bluff. With the largest bluffs on the Meramec River, to get the type of view seen here requires a little bit of effort. Dave and I put in some work in finding this new-to-me perspective that was well worth the bit of effort and risk. Next time we’ll need to bring climbing ropes…

Blazing Maple
f/5.6, 1/6 sec., ISO-1250, 45 mm focal length

Wallen Creek Shut-ins

Wallen Creek Shut-ins. Getting it all in.
f/14, 1/2 sec., ISO-200, 29 mm focal length.

Many thanks to Casey Galvin tracking this one down and to the property owners allowing us access.

Wallen Creek Shut-ins.
f 5.6, 1/10 sec., ISO-100, (0 mm focal length.

Wallen Creek Shut-ins.
f/11, 1/2 sec., ISO-125, 90 mm focal length, vertical stitch of three images.

Wallen Creek Shut-ins
f/8, 1/5 sec., ISO-160, 90 mm focal length.

Wallen Creek Shut-ins swirling
f/14, 15 sec., ISO-200, 19 mm focal length.

Ozark Bill Goes Down Under!?!?

Wilson’s Promontory National Park. The hills in the Prom peak at about 550 meters (~1640 feet).

The Australia trip is over and I’m finally getting back to a normal sleep schedule. Our flight miles added up to nearly 21,500 miles and Collin and I drove approximately 3,400 miles in country. I have been spending lots of hours during the past few days going over the nearly 6,000 photos I took during the trip and have roughly finalized my bird list – 89 species, with a couple yet to ID from photos. Not nearly enough to match my dreams, but getting to see a bit over 10% of the continent’s birds (~850 species) while on a work trip is nothing to complain about, I guess.

Here is a good look at tea tree scrub and heath habitats that cover much of the Prom.

On our last day in country we visited Wilson’s Promontory National Park. What an impact this place had on me. Take something like our Yosemite NP and surround it by ocean on three sides, fill it with unique habitats, exotic birds and marsupials and you have an idea of what the ‘Prom’ is like. Of course, one day was only enough to wet my appetite. Two weeks would have been better.

This is looking upstream of Tidal River, the largest river in the park. Birds and wombats were plentiful.

Entry fees for national parks in Australia vary by state. In Victoria, all NP’s are free to enter and all other states charge a very affordable rate. This makes me wonder why the cost of our parks are going through the roof and why so many state parks (not in MO) charge an entry fee. Priorities, I guess.

A higher elevation look at Tidal River. On this short hike we we chorused by Laughing Kookaburra and saw a number of parrots.

Here are a few of my favorite landscapes from the Prom that should give an idea of the diversity of habitats this place offers. All of these were taken less than three miles from the few roads that lie within the park.

A pano showing the meanderings of Tidal River.


The coastlines of the Prom were magnificent. If it weren’t for the 40-50 mph steady winds, coming in from the ocean, Collin and I would have loved to explore these areas more. Silver Gulls were the predominant bird species along these western-facing beaches.


Another look at the coastline. The interesting plant in the foreground is Euphorbia paralias (sea spurge). I found out later that, unfortunately, this is an exotic invasive from Europe that is causing problems along the coast of southern Australia and Tasmania. I wish I’d have known. I would have spent a few minutes pulling.

How I Spent Superb Owl Sunday

For the first time since junior high I did not watch a single down or minute of the NFL this season and I couldn’t be happier for it.  Rape my town three times, NFL – shame on you.  I’ve been pleased to get those precious free minutes back for my Sundays, several of which I found I could spend not dreading the upcoming workweek.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

When the forecast showed a near perfect meteorological condition for shooting the Short-eared Owls of BK Leach, I figured this could be promising.  While most other naked apes with functioning vision would be in front of the picture box and ingesting mass quantities of wings and beer, I would enjoy the warm and lightly breezy evening in my own kind of chair with friends of a different sort.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

Of course there is never a sure thing.  Often, when I have expected the best due to light and temperature, the owls don’t show where I set myself.  On this particular day, all conditions came together and I had a super time.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

I want to give huge thanks for my lovely and talented wife, Sarah, for the special help she gave me this season in getting my best to date SEOW in flight shots.

Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl

A perfect day ended in the perfect way – with a great sunset on the Lincoln Hills.

Sunset on the Lincoln Hills
Sunset on the Lincoln Hills

Until next time…