Thursday, December 31, 2009

Store in the Flint Hills

Interesting little store in the Flint Hills. The store was built shortly after World War II and continues to operate to this day by the same proprietor, actually the wife of the original builder. She lives across the street and walks across to open the store with her walker which is in the photo near the steps. Amazingly, she is legally blind or at least close to it. We stopped in to buy a soft drink and package of chips/pretzels. I try to stop every time I drive passed the store and it is open. My total was $1.65 and I handed her a $5. She held it up to her glasses and asked what it was. I told her a $5 and she said, "OK" and counted out change. I am told that local residents and people that she knows make their own change. Not telling exactly where this is because some idiot will want to go rob this poor woman who is on her own and spritely! Got to love that generation!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fall Grass and Buffalo

From an earlier trip to Maxwell, when the grass was spectacular in color and texture. This morning found the buffalo along the roadway and close enough for some nice images. I must have shot 8 gigs worth of shots that morning. Several were just excellent and this one turned out OK as well. I read a post by Clark Crenshaw about a technique he used overlaying a B&W version with lowered opacity. I will try that with this image and post it soon.
Could not resist cropping this as a panorama. The bison that day were in a line across the prairie and moving my way. I shot several images like this one before they got too close to get many of them in one shot. The flowers were at their peak or near peak for fall.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

I try to get through the refuge several times a year. the best time to be there is in November and December when the snow geese are in town, towing along their "friends" the bald eagles. The geese count has been very low this year, maybe 150,000 vs. the normal 300,000+ that usually show up by T'Day. The eagles were there, official count showed 18, but none were anywhere accessible for visitors except for one lone guy who was silhouetted against a very bald sky.

Squaw Creek is about 3 hours from home, maybe 4, but is on one of my normal routes to see customers. Stopped in for sunset on Monday night then I was back for sunrise the next morning. Shots below are from both days:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Depot - Shawnee, OK

One of the earliest things I can remember doing as a child was riding with my mom on a train from Shawnee, OK to Houston, TX. I was almost 4 years old. It was an exciting time to be boarding a train. I don't remember much but I remember the seats, the window and getting to travel all night. OK, maybe I was asleep for a lot of it, but it is still a memory I can recall. The year would have been 1950. My brother was not around yet but was "in the hanger" which is very appropriate since he became a pilot eventually. I always drive by the station when I am in Shawnee just to see what photo ops exist and every time it is cloudy or dreary. Thanksgiving day was EXCELLENT! Required a delay before lunch so that I could get out and walk around this fine bit of architecture and history. It is now a museum and warrants a return visit to see the inside, not that I remember anything about the old depot, but somehow I want to see that part of history. Having traveled in Europe by train, this station has none of the size and grandeur of some of their stations but then most of the ones in Europe I visited were new, the old ones demolished in conflicts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Photographers in the Mist

Just completed the annual meeting of the Great Plains Nature Photographers here in Kansas. Attendance was almost 140. Our featured speaker this year was none other than world renowned conservation writer and photographer, Boyd Norton. Excellent programs were presented about his work and the history of saving places both wild and beautiful all over the world. We also had a very interesting presentation by Gene Worsley of MPIX concerning color and color space.

I have been a friend of Boyd's since 1981. he and his wife, Barb, drove in from Denver on Thursday and spent the weekend at our place in McPherson. Great evenings of wine/beer/food and conversation. To make the weekend even that more special for me we also had Keith Schwamkrug (an excellent photographer and teacher of Photoshop) here along with great friend Allen Crenshaw (I worked for Allen in his studio in Denison, TX back in the 70's) and his brother Clark Crenshaw (a fine art photographer from Dallas, TX). WOW! Could not have been better for me in any way.

On Friday we drove out early to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton, KS. The goal was to photograph bison and elk on the refuge. The fog was so thick we were not sure we would even see any much less get chances to shoot images. Refuge worker and wildlife expert, Owen, took us out on the range in the refuge pick up. Within 10 minutes he had us in the middle of a herd of Bison. Owen apologized for not having sunny skies little knowing at the time that we were delighted to have the fog, a nice change for the type of images we were seeking. After 45 minutes with the Bison we left in search of the Elk. Again, Owen had us in great shooting range within just a few minutes. The elk, all big bulls, were spread across a hilltop with a row of leafless cottonwood trees faded into the foggy background. WOW! Excellent shooting again!

The photographers in the truck are left to right: Boyd Norton (; Clark Crenshaw ( and Duane Graham, my great friend from Hesston, KS and a shooting companion on many trips! Hope you can join us next year.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great Blue Heron and his reflection in a small pond near the entrance to the drive around Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. On the way home and found a "short cut" thru the refuge. Added about 45 minutes to the drive home but when I am that close....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dad and Oslo

Jenny came to town to let Dad meet his great grandson, Oslo, for the first time. Dad was all grins! In addition, Dad's brother came in from Oklahoma for the afternoon. We have my brother and his family here as well. Dad was really worn out by about 3 this afternoon. His brother has since headed back home but Jenny, Jeremy, Olympia and Oslo are here for the evening. My brother is staying in town but his family has gone back to Goddard, KS.

Original 7

When I was a senior in high school back in 1964/65 I had the opportunity to spend a Saturday with the 7 original NASA astronauts. WOW! That was inspiring and awesome. My favorite was Wally Schirra. Little did I know that 12 years later he would be the VP of Marketing for Johns-Manville. I was a productin manager at our plant in Texas. I met him in my boss' office during a trip from a plant in Texas to HQ in Denver. My boss asked if we had met and I said, "No, not really." Wally blurted out, "Didn't we meet in Texas a few years ago? You were in high school and on a tour?" I was floored. No wonder he was an astronaut and I was just a production manager in a pipe plant! These guys were gutsy, full of life and adventure, ready for whatever was thrown at them. I wanted to go into flying and maybe into the space program but being 6-1 and 185 pounds made that impossible so I went to Engineering School so I could design things that were exciting, like rockets maybe. Did work on some weird science stuff like terrain following radar and laser guided bombs. This was back in the late 60's and early 70's. Had a secret clearance and had a blast working on conceptual ideas and prototypes but that soon faded and I got out of that business.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Welcome - Oslo Ryder Gegg

Thursday we were joined by our fourth grandchild, Oslo Ryder Gegg. Oslo is in keeping with the capitol theme, joining his sister Olympia. At 9 pounds 5 ounces he came in as about half grown already! We got online with them on Skype last night in dad's room. The little guy brought a big smile to his face except dad was upset that Oslo has more hair then he does.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interview Released

Not sure how long the link will be up but this is a video about the 40th anniversary of the Houston Intercontinental Airport. It just so happens that the airport opened on the day we got married AND my dad worked the first shift that the new airport was opened, starting at midnight on 6/8/1969. He came home from work in the morning, slept a little then got dressed and was at the church for our wedding. Our little portion of the video is short and near the very end if you have the patience to wait for it to show up. There is also a quick shot of dad sitting in the cockpit of a 727 at the new airport.

A Week of Ups and Downs, but mostly Downs

Last Friday we lost our dog of 13 years, Ranger. Dad was fairly well upset about it as this dog was very special to him as well as us. Dad, at 92, has been having some difficulty breathing the last few weeks. We took him to the ER last night and he has been in the ICU portion of our local hospital since then. We were here with him until late last night and back again this morning. I am staying in his room. Cindy went home to pack. She is on call to go to our daughters house to take care of our 5 year old grand daughter. Jenny is 8.999 months pregnant and will need someone there to help for a few days. We are sharing duties here and I need to be here with dad. We have our fingers crossed that dad gets better and can come home soon.

Ranger and Colet

Our daughter has a cat that got along OK with Ranger. It was not a matter of him getting close to her. She had to let him get close. One year Colet, the cat, sent Ranger a Christmas present of his own to open. When Ranger had finished passing out the presents that morning, we told him this one was for Ranger. His eyes lit up and he tore into the package like a three year old kid. When he had the small football out he tossed it around a few times then brought it to me to throw for him. I tossed it into the air so he could catch it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Ranger

This time a video of his favorite "trick"; well not so much of a trick as a service to mankind:

Ranger was really proud of this one. It took a total of 6 takes to get this final version that was edited down from all the different shots. He waited patiently while I set up each shot. The amazing thing is it took no more than 5 minutes to teach him to do this and he was always ready go get one for us!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our Friend - Ranger

I went through some of the photos we had of Ranger and made a small composite in Photoshop. Some of his favorite things. I also have a couple of images with Ranger and our grand daughter, Olympia together. She was sad to learn that Ranger had died and wanted to know where he went. We told her he had a room full of tennis balls and someone to throw them for him as well as a laser light to chase whenever he wanted one.

The snow shot in the composite is not very easy to understand so I will add a short video to explain. Even this spring when he was not feeling well and the cancer was keeping him slowed down he begged to go out in the snow with us to "help" shovel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

O's Birthday Party

After a short drive - 4 hours - we went to Olympia's birthday party at the YMCA on the south side of Lincoln. We had the pool for 90 minutes then time for cake and ice cream in the pavilion! She is now 5 and really getting to be a young lady.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cut Short

Our extended four day weekend in Colorado with Boyd and Barb Norton was cut short with a simple phone call on Sunday morning. My dad had been taken to the emergency room with some pains in his chest and shoulder. We packed up and headed back. Within about an hour of leaving we learned that they didn't think it was too serious, no heart problems, but at 92, we take everything serious with dad! We elected to keep driving home. My brother was able to drive up and be with dad until we got home that evening. We took a short detour off Interstate 70 to visit Castle Rock again. This time the truck was home and we were in the Honda van and hurting for ground clearance. I am not really afraid of bad roads as long as they are not muddy or icy. The Honda has very low ground clearance but if you know how to drive it, the roads there are mostly passable. We had to go slow over some parts and take some small detours but we did get to all the places I wanted to see. Excellent! The clouds were perfect. The lighting was a little "young" but we dealt with it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July Hike

My friend Duane Graham and I took a short hike in one of the open space parks in Evergreen, Colorado. We are in Evergreen with our wives having a great visit with Boyd and Barbara Norton, - check it out. Nice recollections of our trips together to Tanzania, the Galapagos Islands, Photo Workshops in Colorado and Wyoming.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Kansas Sunset

I was headed home from Arkansas this evening, called home and found out the farmers were burning the wheat stubble left in the fields. This always makes for great sunsets so I diverted my route from the fastest way home to the best chance for a sunset in the Flint Hills which took maybe 15 minutes more. I barely made it to a slight hill to be able to screech off the road, pop the trunk and grab my 100-400L IS and Canon 40D. No time for a tripod so I braced off the roof of the car. Time for 34 exposures before the sun was down. I like this one the best; double processed to get the foreground to show a little.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Junk Yards

Years ago, I spent a weekend in the east Texas piney woods in an area known as the Big Thicket. After shooting wildlife and fauna all weekend I headed home. There was a light drizzle and it was fairly cool. I was only thinking about getting home to some warm soup and relaxing for the rest of the weekend. I had to turn on the defroster. You know those days when it is not that cold but the dew point is low enough that your windows fog up. As my side window cleared I saw a field full of old cars, mostly 40's and 50's vintage. I had to stop! I grabbed one of the Canon F-1's and added a macro lens for some close up work. WOW! The rain had made the colors spectacular. I had planned on being home by 3 in the afternoon. I think I made the turn into the driveway about 6 pm. I could not drag myself out of the field of old cars.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Scans

I am really utilizing my spare time scanning older slides on the new Epson Perfection V500 scanner.  I am amazed at the quality I get from this excellent piece of equipment.  Back in 1998, my company sent me to Moscow to help our agent there sell some equipment.  We were successful but my visa was expiring and I had to get back home.  Unfortunately my trip over was in haste and they were unable to get me a flight home so....   ....I had to fly to Paris and spend over 4 days there on company money just walking around seeing things and taking photos.  I had some great adventures since what little French I knew was from being in Montreal and useless in France.  My first morning I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral and tried to get in to the Hotel De'Ville but was stopped by some rude policemen.  It looked like a very swank hotel and I just wanted to look around the lobby.  Later when I got home I learned that Hotel De'Ville means "City Hall" in French.  Crazy Americans!  Later that same day I followed a group down an escalator, put my small backpack thru the x-ray and went into the Louvre for 1/2 a day.  I was amazed the place was free!!!!  The next day I went back and tried to get in the same way and was told that is the employee entrance.  I had to get a ticket for $20 and stand in line to get in.  Ignorance is bliss.  I did figure out the Paris subway system and rode out to the Arch de Triumph and the Eiffel Tower.  The experience there was sublime.  Contrary to what I had always been told, the French people were very friendly toward me and would go out of their way to tell me about things I must see and some I could skip.  I have always wanted to go back but the chance to do so has evaded me.  For the same money I can go to Scotland or Tanzania, places where they also speak foreign languages.

I made it to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  I think hype has a lot to do with the painting.  It was crowded and not easy to view.  There are literally thousands of paintings in the Louvre that I liked much better than the Mona Lisa with no one looking at them. I could have spent the entire 4 days inside and not have seen 1/2 the place.  Amazing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Epson Perfection Scanners

Just acquired the Epson V500 scanner, the low end of the Perfection series. Been scanning some slides, some old, some not so old and the results are very nice indeed. The shots below are from 1977 in New Jersey where I lived for two years. One is an ice storm near our house where I went out with my golf spikes on to keep from busting my butt and the other is from a place called Jockey Hollow, one of Washington's winter encampment areas where I had been cross country skiing.

Pop Ups!

In this case we are talking about thunderstorms and not anything to do with the internet! We get these from time to time here in Kansas once the heat starts to build and there is sufficient moisture. Monday evening I was working on some images in the downstairs (basement) office when I flipped on the radar and BAM! Sitting right outside was a fairly large pop-up. I ran upstairs, took one look and grabbed the gear. Drove out into the country west of town and took a few images. The storm was absolutely stunning and the colors went from chalky white to the orange of Florida's Best after the sun went down. A couple of shots here:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Teterville and Teter Rock

Rather than sit at home and eat a nice meal, we chose to make a trip out into the gravel road country of the flint hills. The rewards were some nice bird images adding to my "fence post collection" of the critters and some spectacular skies at Teter Rock (Teterville). Teterville was once an oil boom town. Now only a few foundations are left along with chunks of steel and other remnants of a town gone bust. The rock was erected as a prank and has been there since the 30's. It will probably out weather the spray painted love notes that cover the surface.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Moody Gardens - Galveston, Texas

After my appointments today I had a couple of hours so I made a quick trip to Moody Gardens in Galveston.  The area is still recovering from the effects of Ivan.  The hurricane left the island devastated.  The signs of the invasive weather are still evident all over the place.  Moody Gardens was inundated with 14 feet of storm surge.  The pyramids were flooded and lots of destruction took place, based on the photos on exhibit there.  The Gardens are open.  I only had a short time so I limited myself to the rain forest pyramid.  Unlike the last time I visited maybe 5 years ago, the birds, butterflies and monkeys are gone, visiting the zoos in Dallas and Houston, waiting on the rebuilding of the rain forest facility.  The plants were there and appeared to be intact although I was told that a lot of reconstruction was needed to get to where it is today.  This fall the facility will be closed and totally remodeled with a bridge walk overhead.  At the end of that project the exiled will be allowed to return from their temporary homes at the zoos.