Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, October 2017

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, October 2017

I finally made it to the annual balloon festival held in Albuquerque each fall.  It’s one of the biggest weeks of the year for the city and they put on a great show.   There were several hundred balloons lifting off each of the two mornings I went and it was a non-stop visual experience.  In additional to the photos I was taking, a put together a collection of video clips caught on my camera that gives you a pretty typical look at a morning’s mass ascension.



A few weeks ago a pair of Carolina Wrens had built a nest in a flower pot on the patio. Soon there were three eggs, and thinking it’d be helpful to shield the nest from the high traffic area near the door, the plant stand was moved to the other side of the patio a few feet away. Unexpectedly, the wren seemed to have problems locating the bright red flowers and abandoned the nest.  So the planter was moved back to the original spot and over the next three days the total of eggs grew to 6!  Wrens will sit on the nest for about two weeks, but about a week later a strong storm came through and toppled the plant stand. The three new eggs were on the ground in the driving rain.  So I did my best to put things back in order and the wren came back later in the day and continued sitting. Somewhat miraculously, two of the eggs still managed to hatch.  I took a series of photos of the nest as the days passed, with both the male and female continuously bringing food for the growing chicks.  Today they fledged and only the original three eggs were left inside.  Wrens will often lay two or three broods, so we’ll see if they reuse the nest in the next few days.  Happy Spring!

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Ode to Norman Rockwell

I was watching a documentary on Norman Rockwell last week and saw one of his illustrations for the first time – it was called “The Connoisseur”.  It was featured in early 1962 as one of his 322 covers of the Saturday Evening Post.  I hadn’t seen this artwork before, but it immediately reminded me of a photograph I took in a small museum in Georgia earlier this year.  Not exactly the same, but brought a quick smile…



Quiet States

Farmhouse, North Dakota

Farmhouse at Dusk, North Dakota

“Nothing could be more lonely and nothing more beautiful than the view at nightfall across the prairies to these huge hill masses, when the lengthening shadows had at last merged into one and the faint after-glow of the red sunset filled the west.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt is big in the Dakotas.  And that’s not referring to Mt. Rushmore.  But when thinking of how I could describe North and South Dakota, “quiet” came quickly to mind.  After driving more than 2,200 miles in just over a week, the scarcity of development, people and changing landscapes are a constant.  There was sound- the wind and birdsong is always around, but it didn’t erase that quiet. Continue reading

Midnight (1993)

I vaguely remember watching the movie “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” some years back and not enjoying it very much.  But I also remember seeing the book that inspired the movie and appreciating its cover photograph.  I haven’t given it much thought since, until I was in Savannah, Georgia again this week.  I was looking for something new to do and bought a ticket to the Telfair Museums.  The $20 ticket provides access to the Telfair Academy, the Jepson Center, and the Owens-Thomas House.  It was in the Jepson Center, a small contemporary art gallery, that the original “Bird Girl” statue was standing.

Bird Girl Statue, Telfair Museum, Jepson Center, Savannah, Georg

The “Bird Girl” Statue, now displayed in the Jepson Center, Savannah, Georgia

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Is Yosemite Overrated?

Now when looking at the great western parks for an autumn trip, Yosemite wouldn’t probably be my first recommendation.  It was a first time to the area, so I carved out a few days to camp and explore in late September, hoping to discover the type of iconic views made famous from the likes of Ansel Adams and many other talented photographers over the decades.

Valley View, Yosemite National Park

Valley View, Yosemite National Park

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Kinderdijk, South Holland

A windy afternoon at Kinderdijk, in South Holland

Holland- renowned for tulips, windmills, and extracurricular activities.  On my recent visit though, I stuck to PG-rated pursuits.  I was determined to get windmill shots while in the Netherlands, so I carved out a day to visit a small village outside of Rotterdam.  This impressive location about one and a half hours south of Amsterdam is the UNESCO site of Kinderdijk.  A series of nineteen windmills, mostly from the 18th century, are spaced out along canals stretching approximately two miles. Continue reading

That’s Photoshopped!

I was thinking on how quickly everyone is now to assume a picture is Photoshopped these days when something looks too good to be true.  But other than manipulating images to try and mask reality, there are practical reasons to adjust images.  One great use of the Photoshop tools is to salvage an old photo that has been mistreated or has faded with time.  Here are two examples where a small amount of retouching made a noticeable difference.  The first picture I downloaded from the Library of Congress.  It’s an old Edward Curtis shot of “Weasel Tail” from about 1900.The scan from the transparency has a red tint and there are a few light scratches and some dust.  I used a spot healing tools and then adjusted the color and contrast back to a richer black & white using the Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 plug in.  Probably less than 10 minutes of work made this much change.vogan_Indian Continue reading


Southern Giraffe, Okavango Delta, Botswana

A Southern Giraffe with her calf watch from a clearing, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Recently I took a safari trip to Botswana in Southern Africa.  It was at the height of the Ebola scare, but the portion of the trip I dreaded was the 16 1/2 hour flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg.  At some point, the plane’s pilot mentioned it was the second longest commercial flight in the world,  so I made a mental note to avoid that one longer flight if ever given the chance.  From South Africa, it was only a couple more hours north to Botswana.  Once the logistics of getting to the camps were over, the lodges were very comfortable given the remoteness of the areas visited.  It was the start of the rainy season, and the Linyanti River area near the Namibia border was starting to transition quickly to a greener, more dense landscape. Continue reading

Philly Art


Roman Goddess of the Hunt, Diana

Roman Goddess of the Hunt, Diana

The Museum of Art in Philadelphia is one of the largest in the U.S.  It’s been a few years since my last stop inside so I made an effort to visit last week while in the area.  The exhibits are divided among two large floors, with the contemporary and special exhibits on the first floor, and Asian, European, and miscellaneous collections on the second.  Separating the floors is a grand staircase with a large statue of Diana on the balcony.

Man with a Violin, Pablo Picasso

Man with a Violin, Pablo Picasso (1911-12, oil on canvas)

Photographing in large museums is usually pretty easy as the lighting is well designed and the galleries provide a lot of space to move around.  I shoot in raw, so any fluctuations in light temperatures are easily corrected back at the computer.  I do usually have to increase the ISO settings to 800-1600 to get an adequate shutter speed to avoid blur.

Paul by Chuck Close, 1994 Oil on canvas

Paul by Chuck Close, 1994 Oil on canvas

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