The Ascent

No, Steve and I did not take a daytrip to make it to the summit of K2 or one of the other Himalayan peaks, although we easily could.  This image was made on one of this winter’s sub-zero days at Elephant Rocks.   I had an idea of the image I wanted to make that may showcase an optical effect that Galen Rowell made famous called “diffraction fringe“.  By putting oneself in the shadow of your back-lit subject at just the right difference and position, one may see a ring of hot light that outlines the silhouette of the subject.  This proper geometry of sun, subject and camera (including optical settings)  is just one requirement to observe and capture this effect.  The other, as far as my understanding allows is the need for dry, clean air.  On this particular day we had temps below zero degrees Fahrenheit and the air was as dry as could be with no interference from any noticeable smog.  With the air quality requirement met, it was simply a matter of trying to position the model (Steve) at the correct position between myself and the sun.  This part was more difficult in this setting and ultimately led to us missing our ultimate goal.  Trying to work this out in minus 30 degree windchill proved our undoing.  I could only ask Steve to climb so many boulders in this type of weather, which seemed to be increasingly affecting our mood and thought process the longer we were in these elements.  Ultimately, I did not achieve the diffraction fringe.  I am not sure as to the reasoning for this failure.  I feel the geometry of our positioning, afforded by the placement of boulders and the limited availability of where I could position myself was the biggest factor.  Getting the required distance that I believe necessary was impossible.  Other factors that could have played a part were not having the most appropriate focal length and aperture settings, the air quality not being as suitable as I thought and perhaps the quality of the optics I was using.  Many of these optical phenomena are the result of imperfection in lens design.  Galen took most of his images with older generation optics that were often lower quality compared to today’s standards.

I’m not exactly sure what the reason for the failure in acquiring this diffraction fringing was. I guess this was just a very long explanation of an image I thought turned out to be pretty successful anyway.  I look forward to trying this one again one day.


The Gulf

Pulled from Beveridge’s gift early after my discovery of the book, “The Gulf” of Wayne County has been on my list of desired destinations for a while now.  Recently Steve and I made this our target in a winter’s outing, which is an appropriate time for nice viewing of many of the Missouri Ozarks geological features due to lack of green vegetation that blocks views and light.  The Gulf is a narrow sinkhole that is approximately 100 feet long and 20 feet wide.  This sinkhole is actually an opening to an underground lake that is more than 200 feet deep at its maximum depth.

Here Steve posses for a bit of reference.  In periods of lower water, the entrance of the “cave” portion of the underground lake would be seen at the opposite end of the sinkhole from where Steve stands.  A small boat and/or scuba equipment would provide for excellent opportunities for exploring.


Just as the Tyndall Effect explains why the sky is blue, it is also the reason that the deep bodies of water found in the Ozarks often appear blue.  These carving waters carry the dissolved limestone with them.  This ultra-fine suspension scatters the shorter blue wavelengths more than the other colors of natural light, giving the blue appearance in the waters, even though there are no blue pigments to be found. In fact, this blue appearance is somewhat dictated be the angle of light and the viewer’s position to the reflecting light.  With a slight turn of the head, the water will often change color.


A potential practice picture for spring, here you can see some old wild hydrangea growing on the edge of the sinkhole.  Can you find Steve in this image?


Potholes In My Lawn

Specifically referred to as potholes, this feature was found in the long stretch of shut-ins of the St. Francis River between Silvermines Recreation Area and Millstream Gardens.  Steve and I took this, one of our favorite hikes, this autumn, just before peak color came into this section of the Ozarks.  Here is a wonderful description of this feature’s formation from Tom Beveridge’s Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri:

Potholes are formed at the nearly right-angled intersection of channelways where the direction of flow is abruptly changed.  The abrupt changes in direction of flow and the intersecting channelways create local whirlpools where the swirling waters grind out circular holes using sand and gravel carried in suspension as a natural abrasive.  Man did not invent sandblasting – he only mechanized it!  Deepening of the holes is also expedited by the steep gradient of the stream;  some holes are in part plunge pools formed by the impact of water descending vertically and gouging out the bed at the base of individual waterfalls.”

See my Flickr account for similar images made on this day.


“All Seeing Eye”

Big Spring Trip – Autumn, 2013

For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life — the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.

-Claude Monet


“Ageless Banks”


“Amber Mists”

IMG_6171 - 76

“Changing Time”

Sutton Bluff Recreation Area

I have driven past signs for Sutton Bluff Rec. Area dozens of times speeding past on Highway 21, but had not visited until recently.  Located in Reynolds County about five miles or so from Centerville, it  is quite a drive over hilly and windy roads to this creation of the Black River as it bends its way across this hill.  This is a view on top of the bluff following a quick mile or two hike that is on an OZT spur.  Unfortunately, this is about as scenic a view you’ll find from here as the blacktop-covered recreation area covers the majority of this valley.  The rec. area is nice and clean, one of the nicest camp sites of this type I have seen.  I spoke briefly with one of the camp hosts and he was very helpful with some information and maps.  If this type of place is your scene, then it looks to be top notch.  It seems to me the best time to visit here would be in full autumn colors and the best compositions will likely be from the riverbanks below shooting up at the tree covered bluffs.


“Sutton Bluff Recreation Area″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 67mm, ISO 100,  f/11, 1/30 sec