Artwork

Artwork

Posted on Apr 21, 2018 in Art, Photography |

The girls have been into painting lately, which has inspired me to dive back into trying to be more creative on a semi regular basis. I have done very little art, including photography over the last few years. But I can only go so long without a creative push. Art is one of those things that I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to do it. Maybe it’s just in my blood. My family, particularly my mom’s side is loaded with incredibly talented artists. I enjoy all kinds of art but the one I seem to like the most is painting even though I’ve never considered myself exceptionally talented at it. For a long time I finished about 1 painting every year or two. I liked the idea of painting but found the reality incredibly frustrating. I think that’s mainly because I used acrylic paints which dry way too fast for my taste. I felt rushed and stressed out the whole time. I also ended up with a lot of ugly harsh edges from painting over areas that had already dried. I never really considered using oil because I thought it was too complicated and expensive. As it turns out, it’s not really all that complicated nor is it particularly expensive if done correctly. Though there are a lot of aspects to oil painting that are difficult to just “figure out” on your own so I have stumbled a lot. When I finally found some time to do a painting of my own I  was fairly happy with the overall outcome given how long it had been since I had done any artwork. It’s definitely amateurish looking and there are several things I don’t like – for example the fact that it looks more like tomatoes and pumpkins than peppers. But I am particularly happy with the bowl. It just kind of happened by accident, so I don’t really know how I did it. But overall I think it’s a good attempt and I’ve done a few more since then. Like anything it just takes a lot of practice. I will try and post more creative works here, or possibly resurrect my old instagram if you want to follow...

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Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains

Posted on Oct 4, 2017 in Day / Weekend Trips, Photography, Places I Go | 0 comments

Rocky Mountain National Park was my first experience with the mountains.  I was about 6 years old and it is one of my earliest vacation memories. I’ve always thought of this place as one of my favorite hiking spots, although oddly enough I haven’t actually be there all that many times. It’s been nearly 15 years since my last visit. Not much has really changed over the years, as should be the case in a national park. With one notable exception… it is MUCH more crowded than it used to be! A phenomenon not unique to just this park. Aside from that, this place is every bit as majestic as I remember from back in the day. The girls and little baby man particularly enjoyed any trail that involved water. Whether it was a lake, a stream, or a waterfall. I have often commented that quality nature photography with small children in tow is a difficult proposition. The best shots often require being in a particular difficult to reach spot at odd times, either very early in the morning or at dinner. Bad weather often makes for interesting shots as well, but who wants to be out in the rain with kids AND camera equipment? The vast majority of what I see is spectacular scenes but with exceptionally boring mid-day sunlight. Which makes for a very ordinary snap shot. So most of the time I just enjoy the trip and if something presents itself I take it and hope that by the end of the trip I’ll have a couple “keepers”! A small series of waterfalls with the Aspens that were just beginning to become bright and colorful!   Aspen trees are rad. Especially in the fall. I have a small cluster of them in my backyard but by the time fall rolls around their leaves have mostly been scorched brown by the summer heat. Nothing like the bright yellow you see in their native habitat!   As much as I love the Ozarks, a scene like this is tough to beat!   A hole in the clouds let the sun shine on this small spot at the base of the mountain.   My original plan was to climb this mountain with Emma but we ended up settling for a slightly smaller one, though not much smaller.   I took this photo while standing precariously on a wet rock in the middle of this stream.  I tried a similar stunt a few years ago while visiting a different part of Colorado but slipped and fell in, jamming my index finger in the process.  It hurt for almost 3 years and the picture ended up being pretty meh. This one turned out better and without the penalty of a bum finger.   Ahh and really what is more glorious than a grove of Aspens backlit by the sun.  Especially with a dark backdrop of Fir trees.  Here in the Ozarks our fall color...

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Into the Wild (Part 2)

Into the Wild (Part 2)

Posted on Aug 15, 2017 in Mountain Climbs, Photography, Places I Go, USA | 1 comment

I didn’t sleep exceptionally well.  One reason was the rocks under my tent.  Another was that my bladder was about to explode. But it was cold outside and I was convinced that if I waited long enough, the uncomfortable sensation would eventually go away. I was wrong and eventually went outside.  After that I slept remarkably better until I was awoken in the early morning light to the sound of my tent shaking violently. Fortunately it was Ian, not a bear.  It was time to get this party started! Like any other day, the first priority was making a cup of coffee, which in this case was some special cinnamon Don Francisco, courtesy of my friend Blake. Yum. My method for brewing coffee on the trail is incredibly clunky but it works (barely) and doesn’t taste too much like dirt.  We then cooked some freeze dried eggs that I had been looking forward to for weeks….a let down of epic proportions. But it was a hot breakfast in the mountains and the mosquitoes weren’t out yet, so really, what’s there to complain about?   Without the weight of our camping supplies, our packs felt remarkably light and we seemed to be zipping across the landscape towards the incline at the base of the mountain. Of course I was still carrying my large and very heavy camera. Oh well, I have learned that if I want good photos, there is no substitute for that camera. It was about 5 miles to the summit (one way) and we had to cross a number of streams, pass a few lakes, and cross a small basin before starting the steep part of the ascent.   After passing the last lake, we left the trail and started hiking up and across a meadow of sorts, following a drainage that was cascading melting snow, feeding the numerous lakes below. Then we found this skull. Neither of us being hunters, we really didn’t know what it belonged to but our guess was an Elk perhaps.  Hopefully we would fare better in this place than this animal! We were now having to cross more and more patches of snow. At first it was a novelty, seeing snow in August. But eventually the reality set in that hiking across old, crusty snow is really not that much fun.   And here is the final part of the approach leading up to the incline.  There is no official trail to the summit, but our route was to aim for the low gap in the saddle, then find the fairly narrow route that can be climbed all the way up the southwest slope to the summit. It’s the only route that does not require technical gear, so it was important that we find the correct route and stay on it.  It was certainly not as much snow as our climb up South Sister in Oregon several years ago, but it was enough.    I was trying...

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Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Posted on Aug 10, 2017 in Day / Weekend Trips, Featured, Mountain Climbs, Photography, Places I Go | 1 comment

My college roommate and I have a kind of ‘tradition’ where we climb a mountain or do some kind of wilderness activity, generally every other year or so.  Even after we’ve both married and had families, our wives have continued to be supportive of our occasional adventures so we’ve managed to keep it going. Usually we’ll fly to another part of the country, though sometimes we opt to enjoy some of the scenic wilderness here in Missouri. This time we decided on Wyoming, a state with the distinction of being America’s least populated state. The mountain we selected was a remote peak in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. It was a 35 mile round trip hike to the summit. The plan was to hike about 12 miles and setup “base camp”, then climb to the summit on the second day and return to camp.  Then we would hike back out on the third day. We were hiking and sleeping in grizzly country, so we had to take some extra precautions, like storing our food in “bear cans”, carrying bear spray, and I also carried a gun for good measure. The trail started out as a gentle climb through a forest of mostly spruce and lodgepole pine. Being a tree nerd, I always enjoy the sights and smells of hiking in a coniferous forest and seeing species of trees that aren’t particularly common here in Missouri, especially the Whitebark Pine, a species I had never seen before. I recognized it as soon as I saw one – basically it looks somewhat like our Eastern White Pine, but with white bark similar to a Paper Birch.  As the trail climbed, we started encountering lots of very large boulders and slabs of rock, only a hint of the rocky terrain that was still to come.   The first few miles seemed to go by quickly, and then we arrived at this overlook. It provided our first good view of the area in which we were ultimately headed.  It looked SO FAR AWAY, and the terrain was a maze of ups and downs that was not going to be easy. Our eventual goal, the summit of the broad dome shaped mountain towards the right side of the photo was still about 13 miles away.    We stopped for a short lunch break, then carried on.  About 6 miles in, we started passing ponds and lakes.  Some of them reminded me of the ponds at Acadia National Park, while others were more similar to those found in Rocky Mountain. The trail was not a typical mountain approach that basically climbs the whole way.  We climbed up, then down, then back up. It was exhausting!   We crossed this mountain stream by walking across a wobbly log.  This, along with about a million other points along the trail would have been a nice place to stop and hang out, throw rocks in the water, listen and...

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Recent Photos

Recent Photos

Posted on Jun 27, 2017 in Photography, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I thought I would take a few minutes and share a few photos I’ve taken lately. The first is from a line of menacing, though not particularly damaging storms that approached the farm from the south a few weeks ago. Next, a few I took last night of some storms approaching from the north. This time of year it’s much more typical for storms to approach from the north or northwest.  I always enjoy that because it provides a better, more open view. Also, at night there is less light pollution to deal with in that direction. I was hoping to frame some of the thousands of fireflies into the shot, but the conditions were making a particularly difficult subject even more so. I did manage to get a couple cool shots of the storm at least, even thought the fireflies aren’t very visible. Not my greatest work ever, but I’ll share them anyway. I like the second shot because of the dramatic clouds that were pitch black in person, only made visible by a 15 second exposure.  I find storm photography to be particularly fun, even though it is at times frustrating trying to manually focus in the dark and figure out which settings are working that night. Mainly it just gives me an excuse to stand out in the elements and nature comes roaring in, which is kind of an adrenaline rush.   And here’s a picture of my cute baby just for good measure…...

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Sandstone Trail

Sandstone Trail

Posted on Jun 20, 2017 in Day / Weekend Trips, Featured, Photography, Places I Go, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Stephy suggested I do a hike or something for fathers day. So I took the opportunity to get in some “training” for an upcoming backpacking trip. After tossing around several ideas, I finally set out for Prairie State Park, armed with my 17-40mm wide angle lens and a backpack full of unnecessary baggage, just to help get me into shape! I have been wanting to visit this park during the summer when wildflowers are in bloom, but the prairie is notoriously lacking in shade. Since I don’t particularly like being stranded in the sun on a hot day, I usually visit this state park only in fall or winter. But today was relatively cool (for June) so I thought it might be a good opportunity for a summer prairie hike! I selected the Sandstone Trail, most of which I had never hiked before. It starts high on a ridge and gradually descends across the prairie towards a small stream. My first impression was how many birds call the prairie home. I didn’t actually see many of these birds because they were hiding out in the tall grass, but I could sure hear them! The sound of all the birds and the wind made for quite a peaceful experience. Various areas seemed to have different assortments of plants. I particularly liked these coneflowers. The trail gets it’s name from the rocky sandstone areas found along the trail, particularly along the stream. Sandstone is not particularly common in Missouri, so I found the geology here interesting. Most of the prairie is rolling, but this spot has some small rock outcroppings and steeper slopes overlooking Drywood Creek, as well as some small groves of trees. It was a little more difficult to explore this spot in summer than it was in winter because of the tall grass and plants. But I still climbed around on some of the rocks. Another bonus of hiking this time of year is the free treats. After crossing back through the stream and beginning the return loop towards the truck, the trail started to wind through a wooded/thicket area where I discovered lots and lots of blackberries just off the trail. Even though I wasn’t hungry I felt obligated to pick a handful, getting my arms torn to shreds in the process, and munching them as I walked. Blackberries are such a cruel fruit! By the time I finished the 4.5 mile loop I had seen an owl, a turkey, lots of tadpoles, several quail, and numerous other birds that I could not identify. If you have never encountered quail, it is kind of a startling experience. Especially if it’s quiet and you are alone on the prairie! Given my obsession with trees, some might find it unusual that I frequent this state park, known for it’s lack of trees. But there are times where the open...

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