Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Capitol Fireworks

Every year, the state of Arkansas is kind enough to drape 100,000 lights on the outside of the state capitol building. And then, if weather permitting, there is a little fireworks show when the lights are switched on after a little ceremony. This year, instead of fighting the crowds gathered in front of the capitol, we headed behind the building where we could hopefully catch a slightly different perspective of the fireworks show. As an added bonus, we managed to miss the lighting ceremony, which has gotten too political the past few years.

When the fireworks started, I realized that I had seriously misjudged where the fireworks would be exploding and that my shot was woefully composed. I quickly zoomed out to get more of the fireworks, but one of the shots where I was zoomed in closer to the capitol turned out to be my favorite shot of the night.

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And a shot from near the end of the show, with a wider view of the capitol and the fireworks. By the end, there was a lot of smoke from the fireworks that hadn't blown away. But if you look closely, you can see part of the full moon sneaking its way into the shot on the left.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Oh Christmas Tree

This year, the city of Little Rock installed a new feature downtown for the holiday season - a 40 foot tall Christmas tree at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Main Street.

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Even at 40 feet, the tree does seem to be a little dwarfed by the tall buildings that surround it. But apparently we were supposed to get a taller tree, it was ordered from a place in Oregon but it was vandalized before it was shipped. It's still a lot taller than the tree we just set up in our living room though.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

On Broadway

While the new Broadway Bridge opened to traffic a few months ago, construction has continued to finish out the bridge. Recently, a ramp that connects the bridge to the Arkansas River Trail just opened up, providing access to the trail and Riverfront Park. It also provides a nice place to get some pictures of the bridge.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dagmar

The other weekend, I headed out to try to get a few more fall color pictures before the trees all dropped their leaves. This time, I headed east towards the Delta region and visited the Dagmar Wildlife Management Area near Brinkley. The WMA contains 9,805 acres of protected lands that encompass lakes, forests, streams and bayous. The first stop I made was this spot just above Apple Lake. I'm not a tree expert so I can't say for certain, but this tree has to be several centuries old. It is massive, and it's surrounded by dozens of cypress knees that stick out of the ground like buildings in a downtown skyline.

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According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the WMA contains some old-growth forests of cypress and tupelo trees that may date back to around the year 1000 (they note that some of the trees here would have been sprouted some 500 years before Columbus sailed to America). It definitely feels like an ancient area, and it's amazing that the trees here have not been cut down for their lumber.

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And one more shot of a cypress knee, sticking out of the murky water like a snaggly tooth.

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The Dagmar WMA is very near where someone spotted the long-extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in 2004. On this trip I didn't spot any woodpeckers, or really any other wildlife. Hunting season has started, so most animals were probably in hiding. But even if there aren't any Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers here, this is a neat space. The Dagmar WMA has even been recognized as a "wetland of international importance" by something called the Ramsar Convention.

From there I headed over to Hickson Lake, which is part of the Dagmar WMA. The lake is lined with cypress and tupelo trees, and fallen leaves drifted across the still lake. The only thing that disturbed the waters would be the occasional splash from a fish and the wake from two fishing boats.

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This is one of my favorite places to take pictures of in the state. Especially this time of year when there are some fall colors, and there aren't as many snakes or mosquitoes. I stayed out taking pictures until it got dark.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Collins Creek

Collins Creek, which sits in the JFK Memorial Park by Greers Ferry Lake and Heber Springs, is a wonderful little spot to visit to take pictures. It's one of the very few places in the state where you can be guaranteed running water no matter what the weather conditions are.

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Even though the creek is by Heber Springs, the constant flow of water doesn't come from any natural spring. Instead it comes courtesy of a pipe from Greers Ferry Lake, which sends cool water from the bottom of the lake over to the creek so that it can be used a habitat for baby trout that are born in the nearby hatchery. It also provides a great habitat for photographers, because there are several small waterfalls and cascades along the creek.

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This was taken a few weeks ago, and was just about near the peak of the fall colors here.

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A bunch of fallen leaves had collected in a pool just below some of the larger waterfalls along the creek, and were slowly swirling around in the current. It was starting to get dark, so this ended up being a 25 second exposure that captured the leaves dancing around below the falls. From here, the leaves will flow downstream, and eventually into the Little Red River, which then flows into the White River.

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