Wednesday, February 28, 2024


The art gallery at the University of the Ozarks was kind enough to host my photography show on the Arkansas Delta, and even had a little reception last weekend. So Caroline and I headed over to Clarksville for the reception, and for a trip down memory lane.

I'm a graduate of the U of O, having attended college there way back in the olden days (I had a scary realization that I probably graduated the same year that some of the current students there were born). The college has a long history. It was established in 1834, and is the oldest college in Arkansas. It was also the first college in the state to admit women (in 1875), and was the first predominately-white college in Arkansas to integrate (in 1957). And some very notable people have graduated from there, like me (I feel like I can make that joke since I'm still paying back my student loans!). But it's a small school, and it often gets unfairly confused with the very conservative College of the Ozarks in Missouri.

After the reception was over, we walked by the old Munger Chapel. The chapel was built in 1933, with some of the labor coming from students as a sort of work-study job. Which sounds a lot more difficult than the work-study job I had when I was there.


Sunday, February 25, 2024

An Old Church In Keo

The small towns of Keo and Scott are just a short drive from Little Rock, but they still feel like they belong in another era. Both towns are home to numerous old agricultural buildings, and lots of old homes and churches. I drove through Keo last week, and stopped at this old cotton gin. It was built in the 1940s, and was in use until the 1970s.


I was there to visit an old church that sits just to the south of Keo. My plan was to get out there before sunset, and to get the camera set up in time to start some star trail pictures. This would be my second attempt at star trails here. I tried last summer, but the lens fogged up and ruined almost all of the shots. I hoped this time would have better luck...

I arrived at the old church, which sits along a dirt road. Across the street is a cemetery, which contains many old graves. I wish I knew the history of the church, like when it was built and when it was abandoned. It does have a very sad feeling to it, especially since it not in the best of shape and probably won't be standing for much longer.


The front door was open, so I went inside. The former sanctuary of the church looked rough. A large hole had formed in the roof, along with one on the floor. Fallen ceiling tiles littered the floor, next to a bright green carpet that once ran between the pews.


The back room of the church was in worse shape. Most of the roof was gone, and the floor was covered with a carpet of fallen leaves.


And the view looking out the back window of the church:


And one more view of the front of the church, taken across the road at the old cemetery. I did want to make another star trail attempt here in the winter, when the brush in front of the church was bare and wouldn't cover as much of the building. And also, when there wouldn't be any mosquitoes out.


I set up the camera on the tripod, found the composition that I wanted. I put a hard-warmer inside a sock, and wrapped it around the lens (which is a crude, but effective way to prevent the lens from fogging up). And when it was dark enough I put the camera into manual mode and set the right exposure time, ISO, and aperture. Everything was going great until I tried to use the remote shutter release. It was plugged in, but it wasn't communicating with the camera. I pressed the button in vain, but it wasn't working at all. It is a vital piece of equipment, and without it I was out of luck.

After saying a few choice words (that were probably inappropriate to say in front of a church, sorry!), I had to sadly pack everything up. With the shutter release not working, my second attempt at star trail pictures here was a bust.

The next day I made an emergency run to Bedfords, which luckily had a shutter release for sale that fit my camera. So that night I headed back out to Keo to make attempt number three. Luckily I remembered to charge the batteries, pack the memory card, and bring the camera and new shutter release. I set up the camera, and got a little creeped out when I heard something emerge from under the old church and move around in the brush nearby. I was afraid it might have been a skunk. But I shined the flashlight on it, and it was just a little armadillo.

And amazingly, the third time was a charm! So here the star trails over the old church, taken over the course of about two and a half hours:


Monday, February 12, 2024

Pam's Grotto

A little bit of fog still clung to the Ozarks as I drove along the winding mountain roads. I pulled over at an overlook, which provided this view:


I met up again with my good friend Zack Andrews, and we decided to visit one of the prettiest waterfalls in the Ozarks - Pam's Grotto. The falls are reached via a short but steep trail that runs up the side of a hill and then down to the falls. It's been a few years since I've done this hike, and the last time I was here it was a little traumatic. As I was climbing up the steep hill I encountered another hiker. This hiker was standing in the middle of the trail and was, well, pooping. Just right there. And to make things more awkward, he wanted to have a conversation with me while he finished up his business.

Luckily there were no pooping hikers, or actually anyone else out on the trail that day. We made it to the falls, which were running well after all the recent rains. For a sense of scale, see if you can spot Zack in this shot:


The falls here are 37 feet, and they tumble into a small grotto.



We headed back to the cars, but made one last stop to get pictures along the creek. The orange in the background is from beech trees, which hang onto their leaves after the fall. They provide a lot of nice color, even in the dead of winter.


Sunday, February 4, 2024

Boxley Valley

Boxley Valley, along the Buffalo National River, is one of the most photogenic places in the state. Especially on foggy days.

I drove up there at dawn, as thick fog clung to the mountains and along the river.


There was some fog around the old Boxley Baptist Church (built 1899).


One of the main reasons that Boxley is so photogenic is the large number of old barns there:


And other historic structures, like the old Boxley Mill. The first mill in Boxley Valley was built in 1840 and was even the site of a small Civil War fight. The current mill was built in 1870 and operated until the 1960s.





It was hard not to stop every few feet to take pictures, since there is so much to see there.



This is the old Beechwoods Church, which was built back in 1918.



This old building was used, I think at one point, as a school.


It was a quiet morning in the Valley. I was surprised that there wasn't anyone else out there taking picture of the elk. There's usually a few elk paparazzi out there.


And one last shot from Boxley, showing some other visitors to Boxley Valley. A flock of Canadian geese had taken over this pond, which still had a little bit of ice remaining from the big freeze.