Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best of 2010

2010 is gone - time does just get away from us. It was definitely a crazy year. But it was a pretty good year, photographically speaking. I had a showing of some of my pictures at the Historic Arkansas Museum for a few months, and had a picture tour the state as part of Small Works On Paper exhibition. I even traded my tax return in for a new camera, a new toy that I’m still trying to figure out what all the buttons are for. And not to toot my own vuvezeela, I think there were some ok pictures taken during 2010. Here is a countdown on my favorite pictures from last year...

On the fence
February 13: Near Heber Springs, Arkansas.
The weather in 2010 was weird. The summer was the hottest on record, with many days with temps over 100 degrees. But in the winter of 2010, we also saw some really cold weather and several snow storms pass through. I was happy since it actually snowed enough for me to miss a day or so of work. This shot was taken after one of the snow storms. Most of the snow had already melted in Little Rock, but there was still some snow on the ground up on this hill on the way to Heber Springs. The white of the snow matched the white from an early morning fog, effectively casing the scenery in a white void. It was just below freezing outside, and I think some of the fog hit this fence post and froze.

March 27: Pizza Hut Park, Frisco, Texas.
I'd be remiss if I didn't have at least one soccer picture. This was taken at the FC Dallas season opener against Houston. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, and I had no clue after that game how good of a season my favorite soccer team would have. Out of the 30 game season, they only lost four times. They also went on a league record 19 game unbeaten streak. The FC Dallas player in the middle in this shot, David Ferreira, was named the league's most valuable player. The FCD head coach was also named the league's coach of the year. Their good run got them into the playoffs, where they beat the defending champions (Salt Lake) and the Supporter's Shield winner (the team with the most points at the end of the season - L.A.) and won the western conference championship. That put them into MLS Cup, where beat by Colorado 2-1. Oh well, here's looking forward to next season, which starts in March...

East of Eden
September 18: Hickson Lake, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, Arkansas.
This is a really neat place that few people ever visit. It's not that far from Little Rock, only about a 50 mile drive to the east. You follow a dirt road that follows a swampy creek for a few miles, passing by tons of cypress trees. The drive ends at this lake, which is lined with thousands of cypress trees. This was taken while late afternoon light was streaming through the trees, casting everything into a golden glow.

October 28: Roark Bluff, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
I took a few days off work in the slim hopes of catching the fall colors at their peak. The fall colors weren't the best this year, but it was worth spending a few days up at the Buffalo River anyways. This is one of the prettiest places along the Buffalo, and in the state.

Collins Creek
November 13: Collins Creek, Greers Ferry Lake, Arkansas.
This year was really dry, and most waterfalls in the state turned into a sad trickle by June. Luckily, there is always Collins Creek. The waterfalls here run year-round, thanks to a pipe from the nearby Greers Ferry Lake. This wonderful spot is always a trustworthy place to turn to for pictures, especially when there is a bit of fall color left lying around.

Union Station
March 20: Union Station, Little Rock, Arkansas.
It was pouring down rain when I got this shot of the old train station. I was carefully trying to keep the camera dry with an umbrella, and probably looked a bit odd to anyone driving by.

Lonesome Hollow Falls
April 24: Lonesome Hollow, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
This 47 foot-tall waterfall is rarely visited or seen. Very few people have ever taken pictures of it before, it had actually just been discovered a few weeks before. It is a really neat place, and actually pretty easy to reach too. The coolest part about the falls were the numerous Native American artifacts sitting under a shelter under a nearby bluff. This waterfall won't be lonesome for much longer, it will be included in the next edition of the Tim Ernst waterfall guidebook (which is good, since I can't remember how to get there).

April 13: Silverton, Colorado.
Considering the events mentioned in number #24 above, I seriously considered keeping any shot from my trip to Colorado off this list out of spite for that state. But hopefully Silverton is far enough away from the home stadium of the Colorado Rapids to make this shot ok to mention here. This was taken during a trip to Colorado I took with some old friends from college. We stayed in Durango, and decided to make the short drive up to Silverton for the day. Silverton sits high in the mountains, at an elevation of 9,318 feet. There was still a few feet of snow on the ground, which proved very interesting to try to cross. Being from Arkansas, where we only see maybe a few inches of snow, I wasn't used to trying to walk across deep snow. This old steam engine sat by the train station, surrounded by a deep sea of snow. To try walking over there meant traversing the snow pack, which looked solid at first. But every few steps would find a leg quickly disappearing into the snow - which was about knee-deep. My friend, who stayed in the warmth and safety of the car, said she enjoyed watching us Arkies try to negotiate the snow while occasionally falling over.

Bridal Veil Falls
February 6: Bridal Veil Falls, Heber Springs, Arkansas.
This is a neat waterfall, which is pretty easy to reach. But it's another waterfall that you don't see too many pictures of, since the falls are on private property. We were of the understanding that it was ok to visit, as long as you didn't trash the area around the falls and the creek. It's really pretty there, with another tall waterfall located nearby.

Boxley Mill
July 17: Boxley Valley, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
This is the old Boxley Mill, built back in 1870. The mill sits in the great Boxley Valley, surrounded by hills and other old barns and homes. I was nervous getting this picture, since I wasn't entirely sure if I was trespassing or not. The mill is supposedly owned by the National Park Service, but there are signs posted around it that say that this is private property. I visited anyways, on a summer morning where a thick fog had settled over the valley. If you're brave enough to visit it, you can peek in the windows and still see the old machinery and equipment used back when this was an operating mill.

The Blue Hole
January 23: The Blue Hole, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
This is another great spot that not very many people venture to see. There are no signs pointing to the Blue Hole, nor are there many directions on how to get there (but you can get directions HERE). It's a great spot, with several neat waterfalls. There are tons of pine trees around the creeks here, so the ground was covered with lots of pine needles. This was just part of a waterfall that stretched for maybe thirty feet across the entire width of the creek.

The low road and the high road
March 27: Downtown Dallas, Texas.
This was taken during my trip down to Texas for the FC Dallas season opener. The soccer game was during the day, which left the evening free for a trip down to downtown Dallas for some skyline pictures. I spent several days trying to scout out places online that might make for good pictures, and had a plan to hit a few different spots at dusk. I managed to hit a few places, but my carefully planned shots turned out to just coincide with my being in downtown Dallas on Earth Hour. This is the night every year where cities across the world shut off lights, which managed to turn my night into getting shots of a dimmed Dallas skyline. This was taken before Earth Hour, right around dusk. This shot is looking towards the Arts District.

Big Devil's Fork
April 24: Big Devil’s Fork of Twin Falls, Richland Creek Wilderness, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
This is just one half of one of the greatest waterfalls in Arkansas. We got here by hiking about six miles through the rough and difficult terrain of the Richland Creek Wilderness. This is a wonderful hike to take if you want to see some beautiful waterfalls, and to be reminded of just how woefully out-of-shape you are.

Lee Creek
October 30: Lee Creek, Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas.
This was taken during a hike along the Devil's Den trail, which drops down and follows Lee Creek for a bit. The light was harsh this weekend, which made getting any good shots of the fall colors a bit more difficult. But we managed to time our hike so that we were there towards the end of the day, when the late evening sun was streaming through the trees and reflecting nicely on the creek.

Junction Bridge
June 7: Junction Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Junction Bridge was actually built upon the actual "little rock" from which the city of Little Rock took its name. During the construction of the bridge, most of the landmark chunk of rock was blasted away, and unceremoniously dumped into the Arkansas River. Last year, the city of Little Rock tried to dig out and expose as much of the old "little rock" that they could, but didn't really end up finding much. But they did end up building a nice little plaza around the base of the Junction Bridge, which opened up new views of the bridge. This was taken last summer, not too long after the new plaza opened up.

Hickson Lake
September 18: Hickson Lake, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, Arkansas.
Another shot from Hickson Lake, in the delta area about 50 miles from Little Rock. If you can catch it at the right time, the trees along the lake manage to perfectly catch the light from the setting sun. I like this spot because it looks best in the evening, which means I can sleep in and still manage to catch it with good light...

Old Mill and a rainbow
April 7: The Old Mill, North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sometimes it's amazing how you can just luckily find yourself at the right place at the right time. I had gone out to the Old Mill one evening after work. The day had been stormy, and the rain and winds trampled the flowers by the mill. I had been taking pictures and was walking by the mill when I looked up and was amazed to see this rainbow, hanging up in the sky above the mill. I rushed to get a few pictures, but the rainbow faded away a few minutes later.

Electrical Storm
March 10: Downtown North Little Rock, Arkansas.
This is another time when I had some good luck. I headed out to downtown to get some pictures while a heavy storm was heading in. While it wasn't raining downtown, the tornado sirens were going off. I ended up going to Riverfront Park in North Little Rock, setting the camera up next to this new sculpture. I managed to get a shot of some lightning, then realized my folly of placing the camera next to a tall metal sculpture. I quickly decided it was time to find someplace a bit safer to stand...

Uploaded to the Web
July 17: Boxley Valley, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
This shot was taken while exploring Boxley Valley on a foggy summer morning. This spider web was growing along a fence post by this old barn, one of the many in the valley. There were also numerous spider webs strung along the trees and fences out in Boxley. I managed to walk through a few of them, which resulted in the web getting grossly stuck to my face like a veil. I did feel sorry for the poor spider who spent so much time building the web, only to have some idiot human walk by and destroy it. Sorry guys...

Rosenbaum Lake
November 21: Rosenbaum Lake, North Little Rock, Arkansas.
This is a really neat spot, that thousands of people drive by every single day. I'm one of those commuters, my drive to work takes me right by there. The lake sits just off to the side of I-430, just before the bridge over the Arkansas River. I was somehow awake early enough on a foggy autumn morning, and decided to try to get some pictures of the lake. There isn't any real access point to the lake, so I parked my car along the on-ramp to the freeway and trudged through the thick grass down to the water. I was soon covered in a thick coating of tiny seeds, which clung to my clothes like glue.

Twin Falls
April 24: Twin Falls, Richland Creek Wilderness, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
Another picture of the great Twin Falls. This was actually shot while taking shelter under the overhang of a bluff, while a heavy rainstorm passed over. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state, but perhaps one of the more difficult to reach. I was at the falls with another group of photographers, and after hiking back to the trailhead we went back to our campsite. When we got there, I left my hiking boots by the campfire to dry out. And then I forgot about them, while going out to visit Lonesome Hollow (#19). In my absence, a log from the fire rolled out and landed on my poor shoes. They quickly went up in flames, and were a melted and singed mess by the time I got back to camp...

Typical Spring day in the Rockies...
April 13: Hwy. 550, between Silverton and Durango, Colorado.
Now this shot was taken during one of the more memorable trips during the year. That morning, it had started snowing on us in Durango. It wasn't sticking on the ground, but we were just excited to see snow. How neat! The snow didn't distract us from our plans for the day, which was to drive to the nearby town of Silverton, only 30 or so miles away. We didn't realize, in our ignorance, that the drive to Silverton went over two mountain passes, both over 10,000 feet. So we headed out, enjoying the mountain scenery along the road heading north from Durango. As the road headed up higher in elevation, and the snow started to stick. At first it was a dusting, but then it grew several inches deep. The road from Durango to Silverton is part of the Million Dollar Highway, which it turns out, is one of the more dangerous roads in the country. The highway goes by deep valleys, where the drop off is several hundred feet below you. Oh, and there isn't any guard rails either. The trip to Silverton was mostly my idea, so my friend who was driving was shooting several pointed angry looks in my direction. We stopped at the top of a mountain pass, and debated whether or not it was wise to continue on to Silverton. We decided that we had made it this far, so we might as well continue on since we were nearly there. I went out and got this picture from the side of the road, of this view of some trees. We ended up making it down to Silverton successfully, while a heavy snow fell. At the tourist office, we talked to the lady working there, who said that this was just a "typical Spring day in the Rockies."

Roark Bluff
October 23: Roark Bluff, Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
This is a view looking down on Roark Bluff, high above the Buffalo River. I've been wanting to visit this spot, even if it's not a place for anyone who is afraid of heights. This was taken while standing on a narrow shelf of rock that stands several hundred feet above the river. I wasn't brave enough to stand on the narrow slice of bluff that extends along the far left of this shot, which is barely large enough for a person to stand on. I'm not sure how good my life insurance policy is...

Smoke on the water
May 23: Haw Creek Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas.
I was in the neighborhood, so I decided to drive up and visit this part of the Ozark National Forest. My first stop was to hike to Pam's Grotto Falls, which just had a small amount of water going through. It was about 90 degrees out, and I was a bit tired after making that hike. So I debated whether I should make the short and easy drive over to Haw Creek Falls. It was sunny, and I thought the light might be bad for pictures. But I went anyways, and dang am I glad I did. I got to the falls, and saw that there was some decent water going over the falls. Plus, the light from the setting sun was cutting through some smoke from a nearby campfire. This great light lasted for just a few minutes, before the smoke dissipated.

Diplomatic immunity
April 11: Along Route 66, Newkirk, New Mexico.
If you are going on any sort of road trip, there is no better road to attempt to follow than that of old Route 66. Although the modern interstate has erased much of the old Mother Road, a large remainder of sights from the glory days of the road still exist. If you know where to look for them. This was taken during my road trip out west this Spring. We followed I-40 through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, a path that parallels the old path of Route 66. The old highway is gone in many places, although bits and pieces of it still call out and beckon to any traveler who is wary of the boredom of interstate travel. I had an excellent Route 66 guidebook, which guided us to many of the great sites along the old road. One spot that the guidebook didn't mention was the small town of Newkirk, New Mexico. We stopped there for gas and a bathroom break. The gas station there was the only business open in the old town. Just down the road were the ruins of older gas stations, built in the decades before and left to ruin in the desert sun. While we were stopped, I took the time to explore the old ruins. There was this old station, which had an old car (which I think is an old AMC Ambassador, I'd love to know what year it was made). The car was surrounded by grass, yellowed by the desert sun. These two old relics now just sit to fade and rust as time ever quickly moves away from them.

I am grateful to say this picture was chosen to be used for the posters and advertising for the 2011 Small Works On Paper tour. The opening is this Saturday, at the AETN Atrium in Conway!

Well thanks for making it this far, and sorry if I ended up being too long-winded. Hopefully 2011 will bring lots of good times, and maybe even a few good pictures.

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