Wayne Rhodus and Scott Bean, two friends I met through NPN, are conducting a digital photography workshop in Alma, Kansas on Saturday, April 24, 2010.  The workshop is geared toward those who want to learn how to use their digital camera and improve their photography skills. Classroom lecture with handouts is included, and students will also receive hands on instruction on how to set various camera functions to achieve creative control of their images. Lunch is even included at a local restaurant. At the end of the day, participants will have the opportunity to shoot photos in the beautiful Flint Hills surrounding Alma. Since spring is the most beautiful time in the Flint Hills, everyone should come away with some amazing images of the area.

Please visit Scott’s web site for more details about this workshop.

I’m excited to announce that another one of my photographs has been published!  My photo of a wintery leaf was published in the Winter 2009 edition of “Kansas!” magazine and is located on page 31. I shot this photo last winter at one of my favorite local haunts, MacLennan Park, on the grounds of Cedar Crest (the Governor’s residence).  We didn’t get much snow last winter, but I did get out to shoot the few times we did. This was taken just a couple days after Christmas. The day after Christmas we had almost record-high temps and thunderstorms (yes, thunderstorms in December) followed by an immediate blast of cold air which froze everything quickly, followed by a light dusting of snow. It turned the wooded area at the park into a winder wonderland.

Two other of my photography friends also have photos in this issue.  Wayne Rhodus snagged the front cover with a beautiful pink wintry sunset shot, and Scott Bean has a great image from Tuttle Creek on the back cover as well as a half-page photo inside.  Yet another NPN member, Brad Mangas, has a full-page photo inside showcasing the Flint Hills in a wintery setting.

The “Kansas!” web site is found at:  www.kansmag.com.

Frozen Leaf

The Nature Photographers Network declared October 4 as “Nature Appreciation Day” and requested its members go out and shoot photos, post them to a special gallery, and explain why nature and nature photography helps to ease the stress of everyday living and enrich their lives.

Fellow NPN member Scott Bean had taken Wayne Rhodus and I on a great tour of the Tuttle Creek Dam area on Sat. and I found some areas I wanted to revisit for sunrise the next morning.  So for a second day in a row, I arose while it was still dark and headed toward Manhattan.  The moon was huge and beautiful, and I kept hoping I could get a shot while it was still up.  I did make it to my destination before it went behind the clouds, but without a good big lens to magnify the moon, it appears as a tiny, white, undetailed ball in the sky in the upper right corner of the frame.  I really would like to learn how to shoot the moon successfully.

Tuttle Moonset copy

After the sun topped the horizon, I found a spot where I could frame the hilly prairie with the beautiful, vibrant sumac.  I can’t think of a year when the sumac has been so colorful, and the hillsides around Tuttle contained huge patches of the stuff.  The combination of green leaves, warm golden grasses and sizzling sumac were almost more than the senses could bear!

Prairie Fall copy

I then explored a dirt road we hadn’t been down the day before, and found a small waterfall near a low water crossing. It was on private land so had to be careful not to cross the fence and couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.  The stream was one of those beautiful rock-bottom Flint Hills creeks, running clean and clear over the rocks.

Otter Creek Cascade copy

Next I was off to explore Wildcat Park near Manhattan at Scott’s suggestions. What a pretty little place! Found lots of creeper vines (and poison ivy) so didn’t bushwhack.  I did make my way down the bank to the creek bed and shot a number of fall foliage images. 

Wildcat Creek 1 copy

Wildcat Creek 2 copy

My favorite shot of the day, however, was not a grand scenic.  It’s the image of submerged leaves in the creek, spotlighted by a shaft of light.

Leaves Down Under copy

I had only encountered one other person earlier, and I had the entire area to myself. I breathed deeply of the air, listening to the gurgling and bubbling creek moving along. I was at peace, as I always am while enjoying nature’s beauty. If I didn’t have the means to get out and enjoy these moments, I honestly think I would go insane.

This is what Nature Appreciation Day meant to me.

After a busy Saturday in Wichita on August 29 for my firm’s annual picnic (held at the Sedgwick Co. Zoo), on Sunday we headed to Wilson Lake for some biking & hiking. We then headed back home via the northern route (Highway 36) and stopped at a couple of sunflower fields in Washington Co. near Morrowville that fellow CSNP member Scott Bean told me about.  The fields were in great condition!  The rolling hills in the field combined with the sunny sunflowers to create quite a dramatic combination.  When looking through the viewfinder, I just wanted to see sunflowers going into infinity and nothing else. I set my tripod up in the bed of our truck to gain extra height.  I also used my 70-300 mm lens @ 300 mm to accomplish this. Although I did get some distortion on the edges, that was easily cropped out.  The sun hid behind some clouds for a few minutes, which caused the light to be more diffuse and pleasing, and saturated the colors. I fired off a few shots and came away with this.

Sunflower Fields Forever

Of course, the classic combination of bright yellow sunflowers against a bright blue sky couldn’t be ignored in a more intimate portrait.

Walking on Sunshine

I liked how the petals were slightly backlit against the sky and seemed to glow.  Unfortunately, these sunflowers weren’t the large variety and were planted very close together, making it impossible to get close-up individual portraits like I did last year near Beloit.

The next weekend, I found out about a field in Jackson Co. just north of Holton on Highway 75. Of course, I had to visit!  Again, I used our truck to give me the height advantage over the tall blooms.  I liked the pattern created by the sideways sunflowers and noticed one lone flower was above the rest.

Above the Crowd

This field also had an added bonus of the quintessential Kansas windmill off in the distance.

Sunny Windmill

The ground wasn’t quite as hilly as that in Washington Co. and those feed trucks that kept blasting by me were quite annoying, but I still enjoyed my time with my favorite flowers on earth. There are two things I can literally spend hours shooting:  waterfalls and sunflowers.