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Black Bears

October 7th, 2014

Black Bears

What is it about a black bear that creates fear or at least reverent respect on the viewer? Is it their size, brute strength, or what? One thing is certain they can be a force to be reckoned with.

Native has specific names for black bears, those names are: Abenaki: awasos, Algonquin: makwa, Blackfoot: kiááyo, Carrier: sʌs, Cree: maskwa, Dene: tsah, Ojibwe: makwaa, Crow: daxpitchée, Gwich'in: shooh-zhraii, Hopi: hoonaw, Lakota (Sioux): mato, Navajo: shash (łizhinígíí), Nez Perce: yáakaʼ, Sahaptin: yáka, Shoshone: wedaʼ, Tlingit: sʼeeḵ, Tsalagi: gv-ni-ge-yo-na, Nahuatl: tlācamāyeh, Tarahumara: ojuí, Guarijio: ohoí, Kiliwa: kmákan, Kickapoo: mahkwa, Yoreme: jóona, O'odham: judumi. Regardless of what name you call a black bear by the fact of the matter is that it is a marvelous beast.

Contrary to popular belief the black bear is not endangered. As a matter of fact it is regarded as “of least concern” by those who rank, judge and evaluate animal species to determine if they are in danger of becoming extinct. International Union for Conservation of Nature is one such agency and rates the black bear as secure and estimates their numbers at 900,000 in North America and Mexico. This is roughly the same population as the population of Dallas, Texas. To give even more depth and understanding to this population for bears there are only 8 cities in the United States that have a larger population than the bear population in North America. They are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and San Diego. All other cities in the United States have a human population lower than the population of the black bear throughout its natural habitat range.

Male Adult Black Bears generally weigh between 130-550 lbs, and Females between 90-370 lbs. The coat of the black bear is determined based on where it lives.


Color variations of black bears by location

Location Pelage Color

Michigan 100% black

Minnesota 94% black, 6% brown

New England 100% black

New York 100% black

Tennessee 100% black

Washington (coastal) 99% black, 1% brown or blonde

Washington (inland) 21% black, 79% brown or blonde

Yosemite National Park 9% black, 91% brown or blonde


The bears diet generally consists of roughly 85% vegetation the other 15% is the meat of fish and small animals such as young deer, elk and the like.

The best and safest way to view this large mammal is to view it in a zoo. If you dare to venture out and view this creature in its natural habitat, be extremely careful particularly with a female has cubs. The end results of those types of encounters generally do not bode well for the individual or the bear.

To photograph a bear in nature a long lens and tripod are ideal. Setting your camera to sports mode with a high ISO will also assist in capturing great images without too much risk of danger.



To view this image in our photo gallery

Dorothy Falls

October 7th, 2014

Dorothy Falls

Dororthy Falls is a waterfall in Colorado Springs, CO. It is on private land so the waterfall is not visited often. It’s fed by a natural spring and creek. When there is a lot of rain it really flows but most of the time the water flow is as seen.

Colorado, because of the heights of the Rockies is virtually a desert. The west side of the state gets quite a bit of rain but most of the rest of the state not much at all. Colorado is the only state in the union I have experienced snow in August.

At any rate I hiked with a few friends from the Glen Eyrie castle the 1.5 miles or so to the waterfalls. The whole area is truly a work of natural art. To get to the waterfall you have to follow a creek or stream bed. Being in Colorado the stream had quite a bit of native brook trout in it. I feel there is little more beautiful than native brook trout. The creek bed is also loaded with snakes. I have to admit I cannot stand snakes and regard them as somewhat a necessary evil.

I found it interesting that long before we reached the falls we could hear the water running over it. The area definitely did not disappoint. It was quite a sight the red granite, the water running, and various critters running to and from all over the spillway area of the waterfall. For some time I was not sure if one of the numerous chipmunks that were running around in this area was going to run up my pants leg or not. It kind of reminded me of the scene from Bambi when all the critters were congregated.

It was interesting both warm and cold water moss were growing in the area chipmunks everywhere, a variety of different birds and larger brook trout were swimming in the pool at the base of the falls. Although the water flow was not as high as I have seen in other locations and other waterfalls there was something really special about this place. I found a specific serenity, a specific oneness with nature at this place. I think I shot the falls and the flora and fauna around it for maybe 15 minutes but I stayed at the location for somewhere around 2 hours. It was a great time of rejuvenation both mentally and spiritually.



To view this image in our photo gallery click below:

Turkey Tail tree fungus

October 7th, 2014

Turkey Tail tree fungus

The turkey tail tree fungus is an interesting colored and textured tree growth that breaks down dead and dying trees. This example is probably the best that I had seen on that day. Not that I went our specifically looking for tree growth. I actually went out in search of a red fox, which incidentally I never did see.

Well the trip for the most part did not go as I had planned, I had planned to capture an image for my gallery of a red fox. I was told that there was several sightings of this red fox. Now I will give you that a red fox is rather elusive but I figured that since the sightings were by people I know and that they all had seen it that it should not be that big of an issue for me to as well.

I packed my gear and off to Logan State Park in Logan West Virginia. Which was about an hour drive from my house. When I got to Logan State park I had talked to a game warden and he assured me that the fox had been coming out and which mountain it was coming down and it had a den on the north face of a certain hill. So me in my infinite wisdom (yeah right) decided to climb up the mountain.On the way up I stopped to rest about a two hours hiking up the mountain. I hadn't seen anything but a few squirrels. Stopping by a tree I saw this weird growth, the one you see above. I decided that since I hadnt really seen anything interesting except this and a single elm leaf on a sapling that I would explore this for a few minutes. I captured the above image as one of several shots I took trying a few different things with the camera. The texture shape and color caught my attention. My first thoughts were it does somewhat look like a turkeys tail. About the right colors for it as well. So after capturing a few shots I continued on my trek.

Three hours from the bottom of the hill I got to the top of the mountain to find out that either the dnr agent was wrong about the mountain or it was already gone for the day which was now quickly turning into night. No fox no deer a few bear tracks and the sun was quickly going down. It was decision time do I try to follow the trail back down (which will take several hours) or do I do what was affectionately known as the "hill jack slide" down the mountain. I chose the hill jack slide. Why you might ask, well remember it took 3 hours to get up there and following a trail in the dark for several hours was not my idea of a good time. So here we go I began to take a stance that somewhat looked like skiing sideways and leaned back putting my weight mostly on my rear foot gear now stowed in my backpack and slid down the mountain which was about 3/4 of a mile high.

With the exception of some wild rose bushes the slide was uneventful. Fifteen minutes later, at almost dusk I reached the bottom of the mountain. Note to self bring a flashlight and allow extra time to get to and from my shooting location preferably with some daylight. Truth be told sliding down the side of a mountain is not exactly the best idea, you can break an ankle very easily slip and get hurt or a host of other things I really wish not to think about..

The trip was not a waste though I did get some pretty interesting images. The turkey tail happened to be one of them. I suppose that when you are hiking looking to take an image of a specific thing be aware of whats around you. Some great images are captured with one thing in mind and finding other things as well.

To see this image in our photo gallery click below:

Power unleashed - The Waterfall

October 7th, 2014

Power unleashed - The Waterfall

Power unleashed the waterfall is a stop motion shot that shows the power that a waterfall whether man made or natural actually has. There is quite a bit of power when water is in motion. This shot happens to be an image of a man made waterfall. The energy is caused from the spillway of a dam in North Carolina . The water as it comes down the slope of the spillway gains speed, air and energy. While the image is represented as a work of art, one has to admire not only the image and its components but that which is behind the water in motion as well.

This specific image is different than most in our photo gallery, many of the images display the whole scene this particular image shows the object close up and personal. It is just one of those strange images that I really like.

Photography how to

The shoot is simple get close, in this case I was standing in knee deep water. Use a lens that can shoot macro or has low powered zoom (18mm). Set the shutter spped very quick 1/125 of a second or faster on iso 400 or the lowest iso you can capture a clear image. Shoot several photos no two pictures will be exactly the same, the images are just like snowflakes, no two will be the same.

To view this image in our photo gallery click below

Hollow Log

October 7th, 2014

Hollow Log

The hollow log is an interesting specimen. I am not all that sure what the draw to this specific log is. Could it be nature’s fine art could it be that it is unusual that a stream of water is running through it, in either case I am not sure exactly what the draw is or was but what I do know is that everyone who saw it stopped and admired it.

I found myself, just like everyone I was with just stop and watch in a somewhat mesmerized trance over what they were seeing. Was it obvious? Of course it was. But yet how often do you see a tree rot in the center fall into a stream and divert water through the cores now missing due to tree rot.

I waited until everyone had a chance to check out the scene and begin to more on before I set up to take the shot. This scene was captured in Cherokee, NC . I really wish there was a lot to say about this tree limb but honestly there is not much to say. The image was shot in a standard fashion no special filters or setup. The camera was set with an exposure of 1/60 sec at 5.6

I believe the wow factor is the fact that its an unusual shot rather than some grandeur image.



To view this image in our photo gallery click below

A Star is Born - The Acrobat

October 7th, 2014

A Star is Born - The Acrobat

I love watching performers particularly this one she was pretty amazing. Think about it you’re a performer for the circus, you are 100 feet in the air, no net no safety nothing to stop you from plunging to the ground except a solitary “silk sheet”. Yet you hang on to this sheet and slowly descend out of the light and down to the ground doing acrobatic feats that would be a challenge even for the best gymnasts. Even world class gymnasts would have problems pulling this one off. Yet with beauty and grace you begin your descent.

This is exactly what this young lady did. Down from the lights, which is where I captured the image and slowly descending to the earth, seemingly defying gravity and softly touching down in the middle of the three rings in Charleston, WV. I had to admire her grace, probably even more so considering I, at times, am very uncoordinated.

I enjoyed the fine art performance at the circus. Many go to the circus and watch but do not really realize what a true art form it is. It is pure performance art.

The Shoot - The Fine Art



Shooting at a circus can be tricky and this image came out splendid. Photography in the semi dark, in a setting such as a circus has many obstacles. First there is quite a bit of stray light. Second it is mostly low light shooting. Third the subjects are moving in low light. So what do you do?

There are a few things first you do not just jack up your ISO as high as it will go. You take some test images to set the ISO as low as you can and still get a bright enough picture to see the object. The higher the ISO no matter what camera or how well your nr is will introduce artifacts. The ISO must be kept as low as possible and still allow for a clear shot. Second you will need a filter and hood to block most of the stray light. A ND and Polarizing filter and hood were used to block most of this stray light. This combination worked well however it slowed the camera about 3 stops and had a long exposure time so handholding the camera was out of the question; a tripod had to be used. Third is a bunch of test shots to set the ISO. By a bunch I mean I used 7 shots to set the ISO. It took two shots to get it in color and exposure in range and the last 5 to dial in the right ISO setting. The end result of this is what you see.

The best part, my family was with me during this shoot we all had a great time at the circus and I managed to polish off my skills and determine the best setting for this type of low light situation. Incidentally this is the same setting I would use as a wedding reception during the dance or other performances where low light or high frontal light is an issue.

to view this image in our photo gallery Click below:

Fontana Lake before the storm

September 17th, 2014

Fontana Lake before the storm

What can I say I like nature photography.More following that genre even father animals and landscapes. My portfolio is full of them. Now this shoot was different than anything I had previously done. The shoot was done from a moving train.

I took about 1200 images that day. This is one of my favorites. The smoky mountains are in the background the lake up close and a cloud reflection over the water. The conditions were just right to shoot it with an unfiltered 50mm lens, which at 11am is a rarity. I took the trip with my good friends Captain and Mrs Captain, Annette, Chandra, Austin, and Caleb. I believe everyone was shooting pictures on this trip. We would shoot a few and then go to one another and say "hey check this out". As far as photo shoots go, they are all a good time, but this one was different and special. It is not often we go as a group all shooting and sharing what we captured. When we do it makes for a memorable trip.

SO we are on this train, which is traveling about 20 miles an hour and we came up to the lake. Wow what a breathtaking sight. The challenge was, we were crossing the lake on a train trestle (train bridge), with about what seemed like a billion obstructions in the way. The only thing you really could do was shoot in burst mode to try to capture a few good images between the beams and supports of the bridge. This one was timed perfect.

I still sit and look n amazement of the blue skies, the reflection off Fontana Lake of the clouds, the formation of the clouds over the smoky mountains, and reflect on how enjoyable this special trip was. I look forward to doing it again in the fall. The view i am sure will be nothing short of spectacular.

About the train ride itself. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion carries you 44 miles from Bryson City, NC to the Nantahala Gorge and back again. It travel the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers across Fontana Lake and into Nantahala Gorge. The Cherokee Indian word Nantahala means "land of the midday sun"—an appropriate name for a forest in which deep mountain gorges and valleys are illuminated only when the noon sun is directly overhead. For the photographers out there "the golden hour" is most of the day. "The golden hour" is generally 1 hour around sunrise or sunset where there's enough light to shoot without using a long exposure or needing filters to block the glare from the sun. Noon is the worst time to shoot landscape photography because the glare from the sun on the landscape is at its highest.

to view this image in our photo gallery click below

Clydesdale Amish Plow Team

September 17th, 2014

Clydesdale Amish Plow Team

This is the image that restarted it all. It had been years since I picked up a camera and began shooting anything but family snapshots. I missed Photography but at the same time the professional work I did somewhat burnt me out. A close friend, Bob Mullins, who I call Captain and regard as family finally convinced me it was time to rekindle the passion I had for photography as an expression of who I am. It has been several years now that I have been on “the Hunt” looking for that defining image of my essence. I may never find it, but living is all about that which drives you and that which makes you who you are. It is through faith in God and motivation to see the wonders man made and that of nature that inspires me to get up in the morning (for those who know me that means before 2 pm).

This image was taken in Sugar creek, Ohio. We had left the group for a few minutes just to see what we could see and we ran across this Amish Driver and Plow team. After asking permission to take an image and received it we shot this image along with some others. It was an unforgettable trip.

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Baby Donkey in a Barnyard

September 17th, 2014

Baby Donkey in a Barnyard

One of the things a person must do when on an outing is expect and look for the unexpected which is the case with this image of the baby donkey. We were winding down the day, found and shot several choice images and was getting ready to call it quits for the day when we saw this road. After 10 Years of living in an area you would think that you would know all the nooks and crannies pretty much everywhere in that area. I found that this just is not true. I have driven rt 2 no less than a hundred time truth be told the number was probably closer to 200 or 300 times. To make the situation worse this old road was less than 1/2 mile from one of my favorite spots to shoot at, "the swamp". The swamp is a story for another day though.

At any rate we see this road, the road less traveled and decided to take it. Now this road was interesting, somewhat like stepping back in time. There was nothing but farms and churches for as far as the eye could see. Then all the sudden close to the road was a horse farm. I like horses, they are majestic beasts so we stopped for a few minutes. Lone and behold we saw it a baby donkey. Now I have seen donkeys before but I have never really seen a baby one. So we stood there by the fence for a few minutes and watched it. The creature was just beautiful, well as beautiful as a donkey could be and I went and got my camera and tripod and voila here you have it.

Interesting when you are looking for pictures that qualify as fine art photography some days you just never see them. Some days the common can become something of amazment and beauty that on other days is just common and usual. It all has to do with frame of mind and framing in the camera. on this day in West Virginia the home run image was not that which I went out to shoot but rather that chance encounter the decision to do something different or try something different that makes this image special. If your in a rut maybe just try taking the road less traveled, you might be suprised what you actually discover.

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Carter Caves Hidden Waterfalls

September 17th, 2014

Carter Caves Hidden Waterfalls

I have to say this is one of the few places I miss from the WV/KY area. This place is one of my families favorite day trip getaways. This cascade waterfalls at Carter Caves is really a hidden place stuffed behind some trees and 2 creeks. The only way to get there is to cross the cold creek water. During the hot weather the cool stream waters are a welcome place to wade and cool off. In the backwaters my wife and children have claimed at least one injury a piece from the slippery rocks and fast running water.

In the mouth of the cave itself, which is where this image was shot the water is only a few inches deep and we all enjoy climbing up the cascade to the top and looking at the natural spring that feeds this waterfall. it does get pretty tight up there though. Yea the area is mildly dangerous but a fun place for the family and a place to make memories to last a lifetime.

The shoot itself was very tricky. with the naked eye and with a normal exposure time and no filters the cavern is pitch black to the camera sensor. on this shoot I had to use two ND filters and one polarizing lens and a long exposure. Voila and here you have it. I enjoyed this shoot as well as spending time with my family. The cave itself lends itself to the fine art photography. This photograph was one of my first attempts at long exposures.

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