All posts by Tom Dills

Blurry Aspen 2.0

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Long-time readers of this blog may recall a series of Aspen motion-blur photos that I shot during our first visit to Colorado in June 2015.  Because it was springtime, the vertical trunks of the Aspen trees made for great subject matter when combined with the fresh spring green.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

Since our most recent visit to Colorado was in the fall, I hoped to add to my Aspen Blur collection with some photos of trees with the golden yellow of fall.  A lot of the trees we saw in the first few days of our visit were on the mountainsides, too far away to effectively get the results I wanted.  On our final day, a drive through the Poudre Canyon with my pal Monte, we came across several excellent stands of trees.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

It sometimes takes a lot of “misses” to come up with a handful of keepers.  In this case I shot a relatively light 200 photos, and came up with a few that I’m really happy with.  A couple have some really funky looks to them as a result of a happy accident or two.

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

I suppose the next step will be to get out there in the winter and make some photos of Aspen with snow.  I’m not sure I’m up for that yet, but it may make it on to the to-do list, you never know! 🙂

Fall colors along the Poudre Canyon Road through Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests

We Got Planes!

EC-135A Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) – South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota

Years ago I hung out with a bunch of guys who were pilots.  Some of them owned their own planes – small homebuilt planes or private planes like a Piper Colt or Ercoupe.  I actually got my own private pilot license, although I haven’t actually driven a plane in about 30 years.  Photography is a very economical hobby compared to flying!  But I still like planes, especially big noisy ones. 😉

C-130E Hercules at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois
C-130E Hercules at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois
C-141B Starlifter at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois

One day a bunch of us were talking about going to the annual EAA Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  For a week at the end of July, the EAA “AirVenture” as it is now called, is the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration®.  Kathy was understandably skeptical about the idea of spending a week at an airport with a bunch of airplane geeks, so she asked, “is there anything to see there besides airplanes?”  One of the guys looked up and said to her in all seriousness, “well yeah, there’s parts!” 🙂

KC-135 Stratotanker at Scott Field Heritage Air Park at Scott AFB, Illinois

We didn’t see many airplane parts on our western road trip, but we did see lots of planes.  We visited the static displays at Scott Field in Illinois and Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota.  There are a few photos here, but for those who need to see more, I’ve posted a gallery of airplane photos on my Adobe Portfolio site.

B-52D Stratofortress at the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
B-1B Lancer – South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota
A-7D Corsair II – South Dakota Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota

Maybe The Camera Just Doesn’t Matter That Much

Locomotive used by the Great Smoky Mountains Railway in Bryson City, North Carolina

I was reading a recent post on Monte’s Blog in the context of a commercial print job I’m currently working on.  Monte was discussing how much he wanted a new Fuji lens (me too!) but indicated that his current cameras – 4 and 6 years old – still suited him fine, and he reminded us that all cameras still require a photographer to work.

I was recently contacted by a local restaurant owner about providing prints for their bar and dining rooms for an upcoming remodel.  I’m flattered that they asked me, and even more excited that it is one of our favorite restaurants.  And that they want 17 photos!  One of the things that interested me in the context of Monte’s post and the discussion about needing a “pro” camera for doing quality work is the breakdown of the cameras that were used for the photos we chose for this project:

  • Canon 5D  – 1
  • Canon 5D Mark III – 3
  • Canon Powershot G12 – 4
  • Fuji X-10 – 2
  • Fuji X-E2 – 1
  • Fuji X-T1 – 1
  • Medium Format Film Scan – 1

I wasn’t too surprised about the number of 5D shots, and I wasn’t at all surprised at the number of shots from the Fuji X-E2 and X-T1, my current cameras.  But I was quite surprised at 6 of the photos coming from two point & shoot cameras!  Maybe there is something to be said for ditching all of the interchangeable lens cameras and just buying a single, good, point & shoot camera!

I’ll share the photos later.  Or even better, photos of the photos once they are hung! 😉

Walkway leading to Everett Street in Bryson City, North Carolina

 

 

Going Nowhere

“The Road to Nowhere” in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, NC

Kathy & I paid a visit today to  the so-called “Road to Nowhere” in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Bryson City, NC.  I wrote about this place in a previous post from last October (just a year ago?  Wow!).  We caught just a little bit of the end of fall color, before the bottom falls out of the thermometer in a few days.  We’ll be back home to our toasty house and our gas fireplace by then! 😉

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Our original plan was to stop at the visitor center at for a stamp in Kathy’s Passport book, take a few photos and move on.  But even though the weather was iffy when we got there, the scenery was so captivating that we decided to stick around until dark.  And we’re glad we did!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
View of The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

The visitor center is situated at a rest stop along I-94 and is one of the few interstate rest areas where you can actually see bison.  We didn’t see any at the rest stop, but did see a lot of them in the park, both up close and from a distance.  The best way to see the park is to drive the loop road, which is what we ended up doing.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

A portion of the loop road through the park was closed due to some aerial spraying being done, but the road was open enough to get some good views from within the park.  “Prairie Dog Town” was a lot of fun, with hundreds of the cute little critters popping their heads out of their holes to peek at us.  We got a little “up close and personal” to some bison that wandered through a parking area right behind our car.  I was very glad to be in the car and not out wandering around with my camera!

Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Our visit could have been longer had we gotten there earlier or if the weather had been better, but it was longer than we intended, and that is a testament to being open to change and flexible in our plans.  It was a worthwhile detour, for sure!

A Truly Enchanted Highway

“Geese In Flight” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota

One of the “must visit” places on our recent trip through North Dakota was a place called The Enchanted Highway.  The Roadside America website gives this brief overview, and you can visit the link for more details:

“Thirty miles south of the nearest major highway, the town of Regent was dying, and Gary Greff decided someone had to do something about it.

A metal sculptor and retired school teacher, Gary started the work in 1990. His master plan was to create ten giant sculptures, one every few miles along Regency-Gladstone Road, paired with picnic areas and playground equipment. All the sculptures face north, toward the oncoming traffic from the interstate. Seven have been completed.

An additional sculpture towers along I-94, essentially an artistic billboard enticing travelers to exit and head south to Regent. Geese in Flight went up in 2001, next to the Gladstone exit — and it is claimed to be the World’s Largest Outdoor Sculpture.”

“Pheasants On The Prairie” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
“Tin Family” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
“Tin Family” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota

Our visit occurred on one of the nastiest (relatively in North Dakota terms!) of our trip.  We started off in the morning with rain and 35 degrees, went through 3-4 inches of snow at 31-32 degrees, then finally ended up in Rapid City where it had warmed to a welcome 40 degrees with light drizzle.  You can see the progression of rain to snow in the photos, as the snow increased as we went south on the route.

“Fisherman’s Dream” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
“Fisherman’s Dream” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
“Grasshoppers In The Field” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
“Teddy Rides Again” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota

It’s easy to see the mud that we found at all of the pulloffs, so I made good use of my “car-pod” to make the photos, only getting out of the car where I could do so without tracking through the muck.

“Welcome to Regent” sign along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
“Whirly Gigs” One in a series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota
The Enchanted Castle, a hotel in Regent, North Dakota at the southern end of “The Enchanted Highway”

These photos are a few of the highlights of our visit.  I’ve created a separate gallery on my Adobe Portfolio page for anyone who just needs to see more of The Enchanted Highway!

Series of metal sculptures along “The Enchanted Highway” between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota