Friday, April 27, 2018

I Went Back to the Ancients and Found Myself: The North Sulphur River

I drove to Ladonia today. It's a small town in Fannin County that was once a bustling hub of East Texas agriculture. The Golf Colorado Santa Fe Railroad once turned the town into a shipping point and its population peaked at 2000. After the Depression it never recovered and its population has continued to decrease ever since.

Lillies in Ladonia Town Square

I walked around the town taking pictures and I was haunted by ghosts of a much simpler time. The old building architecture and the quaint charm of the remnants made me feel like I had walked back in time. I enjoyed the quiet.

Aging Structures in Ladonia

North of town is the Fossil park which is why I made the trip. I have been there before with family but never alone. It's very remote and except for two other distant figures, I felt completely alone and it was wonderful.

There were bank swallows swarming the bridge as I walked down the dinosaur sized steps to the river bottom. There are small schools of fish running through the shallow river and the sound of rippling water.

I enjoyed the sound of buzzing swallows and the quiet of nature. I remember my older son and I found shark teeth there years ago. There are several bridges and areas to access the river and each have their own diversity of fossils.

In this part of the river there were many belemites, ancient straight shelled squid and all sorts of shell impressions in the shale sediment. I felt like a child again, there is something beautiful and exciting about getting back to the hobbies you loved as a child. I have always been a rock hound, I even thought of being a geologist at one time.

I was wishing I had a 500mm lens because I could see the swallows gathering mud and they were just out of range of my 300 mm lens. Just as I got to a reasonable distance they would quickly disperse and I wasn't able to get any good photos.

The sky above the river was a deep intense blue complementing the rich green spring foliage. As I dug through the piles of rock and mud, I had an awareness of the heat. When you are on the river bed there is no protection from the sun and I knew I had to walk up the dinosaur stairs.

What was completely wonderful about the day was the peace and calm. I enjoyed the feeling of being amidst ancient stones surrounded by birdsong and river sounds. It was a great place to find myself and collecting a few fossils was a bonus for the exploration.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Divine Light: The Azaleas of Turtle Creek

Shooting during the right light is a matter of timing, there are certain times of the day where the light is so flat you can't help but capture a flat washed out image. There are other times when we just need to work that much harder with diffusing, isolating or seeking the right angle.

Today I drove down to the Turtle Creek area in Dallas. It's a very special place for me because my oldest son and I used to visit and take what he called travels; he was 5 or 6 years old.

It's nice to see some things stay the same as the old dirt roads are being developed and urban sprawl replaces wild prairies, it's nice to see the green places that have lasted and continue. It is something I think we need, nature is an essential element for our soul's wellbeing.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Going Back in Time: The Spectacle of Bluebonnets

When I first came to Texas the landscape was an adventure as everything was new. I remember long roads, barbed wire fences, longhorns and scissortailed flycatchers as I used to drive back and forth from Waco to Dallas for school.

I worked at a lumber yard where I learned about scorpions and the texas heat. I was always trying barbecue places and drinking soda pop, usually with rum in a go cup, they were different times.

Today I went back to Ennis, as I did last year, for the bluebonnet trails. I went a bit later this year than last year and they were more amazing than last year.

The whole ride I thought back to the days of jumping up into a truck for a delivery to Ferris or Ovilla and I remember how much excitement everything seemed to have back than.

The Bluebonnets are still the same and the roads are unchanged, sometimes we just need to stop and appreciate the landscape that surrounds us instead of seeking new places.

Walking through the rich blue fields where others took portraits of children, families and animals, I sought something else. I wanted to find a view that no one else was shooting.

At first I was looking for the change in pattern: I wanted a rich blue field with a few Indian Paintbrushes. The light wasn't wonderful but the clouds created a bit of a diffused look to the spectacle of blue that surrounded me.

I must admit as much I liked the way some of the images came out, I still haven't found that play of light that separates a nice photograph from something more dramatic. It remains a work in progress and will probably be back one more time.

For now, enjoy the spectacle that is the bluebonnet trails in Ennis, Texas.

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