Thursday, July 31, 2008

Night Moves

Put together this little time-lapse video from some of the shots taken the other day, showing dusk falling on the state capitol. This has about 30 shots in it, taken from 8:38 to 9:09pm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I admit to being too lazy to get any pictures last weekend. It was about 100 degrees outside on Saturday, so I slept in. On Sunday I made sure I was around a tv so I could watch FC Dallas play the LA Galaxy (which was time well spent, since Dallas won the game 4-0, yay Hoops!). But since I didn't get to take any pictures, I thought I needed to go somewhere to find something to take a few pictures of.

I ended up going to the Arkansas State Capitol last night, trying to get another shot of the old building lit up at night.

I got out there at sunset, with enough time to get the camera ready before it got too dark. As I was standing on the lawn in front the capitol building, a couple parked on the road and walked along the sidewalk by where I was standing.

"Are you filming right now?" they asked.

No, actually I'm just standing out there waiting for it to get a bit darker to get pictures, I said.

"Why are you filming out here?" they asked, again.

"Uh..." I said. "Well, I'm just waiting for it to get a bit darker to take some pictures of the building at night," I said, wondering why they would confuse my Olympus camera for a movie camera.

"Oh ok," they said, and then didn't move any step closer to the capitol. I assume because they didn't want to get in my way of the "filming" of the capitol. Whoops. They posed for a few pictures of themselves in front of the building, and then got back to their car and drove off. I hope I didn't ruin their visit to the capitol. Who knows, they could have been there to step in the same footsteps of their favorite movie, Stone Cold, which had a few scenes filmed here in all of its 1991 glory.

But here is a shot of the Capitol Building at dusk:

Monday, July 21, 2008


By the time last weekend rolled in, I got in my usual panic of trying to decide where to go take pictures. Since it's July in Arkansas, with the heat index being well over 100, it wasn't good hiking weather. And any place in the Ozarks would require a good drive. So I pulled out the always reliable Arkansas Nature Lover's Guidebook by Tim Ernst, in order to find a good spot to get a few pictures.

I settled on a few places in the swampy lands of the Arkansas delta, places that I'd never been to before and were a relatively short drive from home. Those places were Apple Lake and Robe Bayou, in the Big Woods area near Brinkley (or about 50 miles east of Little Rock).

This area is close to the spot where the elusive and long-thought extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was spotted a few years ago. No one has been able to get a good shot of the bird to prove that it still exists, and at both places there are signs up with detailed descriptions of the bird, with the hope that someone will find it amongst the cypress and tupelo swamps.

I got to Apple Lake and started on the short hike that leads to the lake, keeping an eye out for any sort of bird. I did see this one out there, but I'm not sure if it's the Ivory-Billed or the more common pileated woodpecker. See if you can spot it here in this picture:
Searching for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Actually visiting these swamps in person shows just how immense of a task it would be to spot the bird in the wild. The Ivory-Billed was seen around the White River Wildlife Refuge, which contains just 160,000 acres. Much of the land is like this, underwater, so it's hard to get a lot of people out to keep an eye out for a few birds.

While I didn't end up spotting the Ivory-Billed woodpecker, I did manage to see an armadillo.

Apple Lake is a neat place, lots of neat trees sitting in the water.
Apple Lake

Apple Lake

From Apple Lake I then drove into Brinkley, with the idea of trying to find something to eat. I drove around the small downtown area of the city, and found this random building that had some interesting writing on it:
No Drinking

I wanted to reach the next place, Robe Bayou, when there was some nice evening light coming through. I did ok on the timing, the light wasn't all that bad on the drive into the Wildlife Management Area.
Robe Bayou Scenic Drive

And a view of a dirt road that stretched out deep into the refuge:
By Robe Bayou

The road I took followed along Robe Bayou, which would have some nice views of the water along the way. I stopped but didn't really get any good shots. The road ends at Hickson Lake, which provided some good spots for pictures.
Hickson Lake

Hickson Lake

Hickson Lake

There was some good evening light falling through the trees, and I have to say that it is a scenic little area.
Hickson Lake

After that I headed on home, but was pleased with how the day turned out. I was a bit hesitant to go out there. The scenery in this part of the state isn't as famous as that of the Ozarks (plus I was worried about snakes), but it made for a good trip. Plus I was only about 50 miles from home, so the drive back didn't take that long at all. I might just have to head back out there, maybe to resume my search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. There is a $10,000 reward for any pictures of the bird, so it would be a good place for another trip soon...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Bridges of Pulaski County

It has really been a wacky year for weather so far. It has been a wet summer, something quite rare in this part of the South. All this rain means that the Buffalo River can nearly be flooded in July, and that a lot of waterfalls are still running during the summer. Sadly, I haven't had a chance to go waterfall hunting, but did get to visit a few places around town that at least have water running under them...

Last Saturday I was leaving to attend a birthday party for my 4-year old cousin (Happy Birthday, Landen!), when I noticed some dark clouds looming on the horizon. It looked like a massive storm was just about to hit. I quickly headed off to the Big Dam Bridge in the hope of getting some sort of stormy shot. There were a few bolts of lightning off in the distance, and I hoped that I might be lucky enough to catch one in a picture. Well, of course, that didn't turn out. I also hoped that I might see a tornado or something (that would be sweet in a picture), but then realized that the storm looked like it was about to hit my apartment complex and tornadoes might not be that great. But here is a shot of the storm rolling in, from the Big Dam Bridge.

The next night I was driving and saw a nice sunset in the sky. But, of course, I didn't have my camera. I tried to rush home to get the camera, and somehow managed to hit every red light and get stuck behind every slow driver in the entire state. By the time I got the camera, the best light was gone. I drove back out to the Big Dam Bridge again, and tried to get a few more shots (and also be a buffett for tons of mosquitoes). I tried to get a few pictures while there was still some light in the sky, but nothing was turning out. I gave up and changed locations, only to then realize that the reason why my pictures were not turning out was because I had left a filter on the camera. Whoops! Here is a shot of the bridge from the northside:
Big Dam Bridge

Since the Big Dam Bridge is close to my apartment, I've been out there many times. And this year I've only been out there once when the area at the base of the bridge hasn't been flooded. This trip wasn't an exception, a lot of the sidewalks along the river were still under water. Here is a shot of some stairs leading down into the Arkansas River:
High and Dry

Last night, I met some family for another birthday celebration for dear little Landen, this time at Chuck E. Cheese. Now it seems a bit like a travesty to go there, instead of what it should be, Showbiz. But afterwards I stopped by downtown on the way home and tried to get a few shots of the Junction Bridge. More of the park around the bridge has opened up, and I went around looking for places to take a few pictures.
Junction Bridge

It was hard to find a good angle to get the whole bridge in view, but I scrambled around and found this view. I kinda like this shot because the traffic on the I-30 bridge creates a red streak in the background.
Junction Bridge

Friday, July 11, 2008

3-day weekend

I went to visit my brother in Fayetteville on Independence Day, with plans to go see some fireworks that night. We thought we would go see a game at the new minor league baseball stadium, which would have fireworks afterwards, but the game was sold out. So we ended up going to see a movie instead.

But we missed seeing a big professional display, but lucked out because apparently people in Fayetteville love fireworks.

I had my tanks and hens, which would not make for a long-lasting fireworks display. Luckily there were two stands set up within walking distance of my brother's house. The stands were set up in people's frontyards, who were in a fierce competition against each other. One of the stands was called Uncle Sam's, and the other store had a sign up that said something like "Don't believe the lies at UNCLE SCAM's, we are cheaper!" We ended up going to Uncle Scam's since it was closer, and tried to find some fireworks that would give us a good bang for our bucks.

The cashier said that someone had been in and spent over $500 that day on fireworks. It must have been someone in the neighborhood because there were people setting off some decent-sized fireworks all around us. It put our little display to shame.

This was taken in the backyard of my brother's house, with some sort of firework that would shoot up and then explode with a rather unimpressive and anticlimactic poot. We ended up just sitting out and watching the neighbor's fireworks, which lasted a few hours...
Fayetteville fireworks

The next day I drove over to visit some other family who were camping along the White River near Mountain View. The drive out there was along Hwy. 412, which has a lot of neat old buildings along the way. I was a bit pressed for time, so I didn't stop to take as many pictures as I should have. But I did pull over and get a shot of this old building, in some random small town that I can't remember the name of.
Along Hwy. 412

The morning after it was time to break camp and start heading home, which was good for me since it let me take a stop at the Buffalo National River on the way home. The Buffalo River is really one of the prettiest places around, but I just happened to be there on a sunny day around noon, which isn't the best of conditions for taking pictures.

My first stop was to go by one of the put-ins along the river, at Woolum. I got this shot of a field along the road.
Baled out

After that I went to Tyler Bend and went to take a few pictures of the river. The river was up, all the rain the past few days had it running high and muddy.
Tyler Bend

I then went and did some hiking, which probably wasn't a great idea since it was about 95 degrees out that day. But the trail was short, and led to the old Collier homestead, built in the 1930s.
Collier Homestead

The light was really harsh, and this is the only view of the building that I liked. This is actually the back of the cabin, the sunlight and shadows ruined any shots of the front. But the homestead is well-maintained, and you are able to go inside. There you can still see some of the old wallpaper and magazine pages that the previous residents used on the walls.
Collier Homestead

The Collier family left the homestead in the late 1960's, which still had no electricity or running water. When the National Park Service took over the property, the land was nearly covered in vegetation. It's nice to see them preserving these old buildings instead of letting them fall apart. But anyways, here is a view from the inside:

From the homestead, a short trail heads out to some overlooks of the Buffalo River. The trail runs right alongside a tall bluff, so there were a few of these signs to remind people that bluffs and gravity aren't a great combination.
Stay Back From The Edge
I like how someone added a little board to the stick figure's foot.

From the first overlook I got this shot of the flooded Buffalo River.
Buffalo River

And another shot from further down the trail. I've seen the river higher than this once, on a disaster of a float trip a few years ago when me and a few friends tried to put some canoes in the river when it was nearly flooded. Good times! I really want to head back up there for another float trip sometime soon.
Buffalo River

After the hike I went back down to the river at Tyler Bend, and tried to get a few more shots in the awful light.
Along the Buffalo

The Buffalo National River is a great place, if only it was just a bit closer to home. I'm trying to convince some friends to head back up there in some canoes, hopefully soon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

For the 4th

My apartment sits right on the border between a city that outlaws fireworks, and one that lets people shoot off any sort of explosive in honor of the 4th of July. After work tonight I strolled over to a fireworks stand that set up in a parking lot next to my apartment and picked up a few small explosives. I ended up getting the tank and hen, mostly for tradition. Growing up, my brother and I would always buy these fireworks, only to be disapointed when they failed to work right when lit. The little wheels on the tank would barely work, and the hen would tend to fall over.

But I bought them anyways, why not? And then took them home to take pictures of my prized haul. Happy 4th of July!
Happy 4th of July
And I love how it has "SAFE AND SANE" written on the tanks. Whew! That's good to know!