Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The End

I have decided to take a break from day to day blogging for a while. I have many projects that I need to be working on in which I will direct some time. I also want to develop my photographic style a little more and will concentrate on that.

I will check in and leave a few comments once in a while but you may not see any updates here unless I have something I feel strongly about sharing. I will miss you all and hope to regain contact as fall approaches. (I have at least one request for fall colors that I will definitely need to keep.)

Take care everyone and as Spock would say "Live long and prosper."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stones River National Battlefield

I know, most of you are thinking "oh no, Mike found another battlefield."

Teresa and I did stumble onto this one in Murfreesboro, TN. It was a picturesque little battlefield that we noticed on our Tennessee road map on the way back from the Smokey's.

The object of this battle lay in the background of this picture. Yes, the rail like and the old Nashville pike were the objects of the battle here at Stones River.

More on the battle tomorrow.

Now for a little unfinished business...The information on Meriwether Lewis came from the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambroise. He speculates based on large gaps in the journals of the trip west and on writings of Thomas Jefferson that Lewis suffered from depression at times. There is NOT a lot of other support especially in earlier books on the two explorers. I encourage you to read the book and draw your own conclusions.

Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Meriwether Lewis

Tucked away in the rolling hills of Western Tennessee are the remains of one of the most celebrated of Americans. Meriwether Lewis was on his way back to Washington to meet with President Jefferson when he suddenly took ill and passed away at a local tavern/stop along the way. He was en route to bring his journals from the Corp of Discovery trip. Long known for extreme bouts of depression it is unknown if one of these contributed to his death.

Lewis died a scant three years prior to the Second War of Independence. It would have been interesting to have seen his roll in that conflict.

This monument stands along the Natchez Trace. This highway is maintained by the National Park Service and itself is pretty amazing. Rolling along in a park like setting with a maximum speed limit of 45 mph and no trucks it was quite enjoyable for the short time we were on it. We plan to return at some point and drive the entire length from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi.

I hope everyone has a great Monday.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


A large scale model of the Titanic is on display at the Library Center in Springfield. It promotes the Titanic Museum now open in Branson. The model is very well done but showing it's age. It is kept in a beautiful glass enclosure. The lighting is adequate for viewing but terrible for photography.

The last photo is a charcoal rendering done in Photoshop. Yes, I was playing.

I can hear Celine Dion singing now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Roller Derby Part 2, Finally Home!

I made it home from sunny North Carolina with no more wild stories to tell about my flights except that Northwest put on a perfect on time performance coming home. We even got into Memphis about twenty minutes early.

I have been astonished by the reaction to the Roller Derby post so I am putting up the rest of the shots I liked tonight. These ladies really enjoy doing this and they were truly blown away by the response they got. Like I said earlier there were close to perhaps 4-500 hundred people at the rink. There could have been even more than that for all I know.

This is a rough sport and you can see that in some of these pictures. The team nurse is the lady in white.

I was also surprised at the number of responses I am getting on my last post about the Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. Let me assure you I am not thinking about moving into one of these. At least not until my daughters are out of the house!:)

Thanks you all for the many comments you have been leaving and the many new faces I am seeing. I wish you all a great weekend. Teresa and I are working on the 3rd quarter competition entries for our camera club. We get with the judges tomorrow and we have about 50 entries this time. Not as good as the first quarter but better than last time. It should be a blast.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Looking For Something Different?

As you probably guessed from yesterday's post I am thinking about smaller houses. Well here is a real treat for you. Take a look at some of the small houses on this website and tell me what you think.

Hopefully by the next post I will be able to get some pictures posted.

Take care and have a good Friday!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pictureless Wednesday

Just a thought for today taken from a book I have started reading.

"Not everything that counts can be counted,
and not everything that can be counted counts."
--Albert Einstein

The book I got this from is called The Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka, an architect I admire for her concepts of building smaller homes that function well.

Have a good remainder of the day and a good Thursday. I will be glad to get home and back to my camera.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Adventures in Travel

I am sitting here in Charlotte just a little upset with myself as I forgot to bring my trusty Olympus. Most of you will recall this is my first digital camera that I usually throw in my computer bag when I travel. So there will definitely not be any pictures today.

Yesterday I flew here and it was quite an adventure. I got on the plane at the Springfield-Branson National Airport (had to throw that in as I have a few former Ozarker's that may not know about the new status of our little airport) and the Northwest Airlines pilot announced his name was Ricky Bobby. OK, for those of you who are not up on your movies Ricky Bobby is the name of the Nascar Driver played by Will Ferrell in the movie Talladega Nights. One guy quipped "I ain't flyin' in no plane with someone with two first names." Everyone laughed and the lady sitting next to me in a heavy Southern drawl said "well I hope he shakes and bakes because I only got a thirty minute layover." We all laughed again. He did like to go fast...we had to skirt a whole bunch of storms on our way to Memphis all the way down to Fayetteville, Arkansas and over Little Rock and we still made it to Memphis with minutes to spare.

Then on the flight to Charlotte we had a hilarious attendant. She was a young African American lady who had a wild hairdo and kind of danced and laughed and talked her way all the way to Charlotte. Everyone loved her. She had to fight an uphill battle because we were delayed about 20 minutes getting out of Memphis for a minor repair. Then on the approach we abruptly aborted and shot straight out of the approach and made another go this time landing. The pilot announced the plane behind us had a medical emergency so we gave up our spot to get him in faster.

All in all, just another day in the friendly skies.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Roller Derby!

I finally found the Roller Derby group I had been looking for. A rough and tumble bunch of women that like the somewhat old game of roller derby. If you remember a previous post (without pictures) Teresa and I had been searching for this group after learning about it from one of the teachers she works with came in with bruises on her arms. We finally found it with about a thousand other people. They did an exhibition game and whomever did their marketing was pretty good. The place was jammed.

The top picture shows the court the orange oval the track they used. The bottom three pictures shows some of the girls, remember one of these is an elementary school teacher. They were a rough group!

I hope you enjoyed the roller derby tour. I will be traveling this week so posting will be spotty or non-existent. I should be able to comment however.

Have a great week.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


On the same day as our Wilson's Creek field trip our camera club did a field trip to Murphy Water Gardens. Of course we just had to get to both of them somehow. We chose to arrive at Murphy Water Gardens late so we missed the really good light, but I was able to get a couple of photos that I really liked.

You talk about a colorful place. One of our members that set up this field trip said the next field trip would be at her house, just bring your shovels. I guess she was pretty impressed by the sight.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. Tomorrow we are off on a different track. Remember from several weeks ago the Roller Derby game I kept searching for. We finally found them and we found them in grand style. They were doing an exhibition match and about a thousand other people found them at the same time!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Segal's Second Position

On the south side of Wilson's Creek is a place called "Segal's Second Position." This is the place where Segal's cannons ended the battle of Wilson's Creek. It is at this spot where most of the artillery demonstrations take place which is where these photos come in.
This is one of the supply wagons to an artillery group. There were two of these wagons but the cannons were not present in the morning.
I like the colors in the top photo but wanted to get the second one in so you could better see the support wagon.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Price's Headquarters and the Fog

This is another view of the small cabin that stands in for Price's Headquarters. I thought this was a neat view with the fog. I had to crop it severely left to take out most of a handicap accessible ramp that kind of ruins the original atmosphere of the cabin from straight on. I love the effect this little fog band gave us. I may try to do a major Photoshop project on this shot to take out the offending ramp thus enabling me to bring the picture back to the right a bit.

Tomorrow we will head to Segal's final position and close the second chapter on Wilson's Creek. I have been out taking many pictures lately so I have several other things I want to share with you all.

I am leaving you with the picture below of one of the reenactor's. In my typical fashion I was so intent with the expression on his face that I cut the bottom of his legs off, but this gives you a flare of the atmosphere last Saturday as they were filming this documentary.

Have a great Friday and I will see you all tomorrow.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Price's Headquarters

During the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Confederate General Sterling Price took over a small cabin on the Wire Road to serve as his headquarters. The original cabin did not survive the years but a small cabin was moved in by the Park Service as a stand-in. This location provided excellent views of his artillery positions and of Bloody Hill where most of the fighting took place and where his Union counterpart, General Nathaniel Lyon fell, becoming the first General killed in the War Between the States. I guess some Southerners prefer to call it "The War of Northern Aggression" even to this day.

Just as we walked to the small cabin a ground fog bank rolled in creating this surreal landscape. I focused on the grass for this shot leaving the cabin in the background as a blur. I kind of like the effect. I will show an opposite tomorrow and will let you all be the judge of which you prefer.

I hope everyone has a great Thursday.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ray House at Sunrise, Part 2

Let's see, I left off yesterday with things amiss at the Ray House and a dog growling. Well from inside this tent a dog growled. I said, "Good Boy" and walked on determined to get my pictures. Teresa was a little more hesitant or perhaps a little brighter than me. She called out to whomever in the tent and said, "We are photographers can you get the dog?" A ladies voice replied, "Sure." So we went on taking our pictures and after a little while the Park Superintendent came out to check on us and the camper and take a few of his own pictures i guess.

He reported the camper was one of the reenactors and she loved camping on the grounds. He always worried a little about her but she insisted on staying on her own. You can barely make out her tent in the center background of this shot.

I took this picture just after the one yesterday using a fill flash technique we had talked about in our camera club a couple nights earlier. Of course that fill flash series was more for smaller things like insects and portraits, but I had to try in on a larger scale. I dialed the strength of the flash back considerably and shot away. This was my favorite of the bunch.

I hope each of you has a great Wednesday and that you get to try something new today.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ray House at Sunrise

We rarely get up early to take pictures, which means we miss one of those golden hours. The camera club scheduled an early morning shoot at Wilson's Creek to take advantage of the early light so I convinced Teresa to go. We trudged out half asleep to witness a sunrise. I noticed no clouds in the sky which meant no real outstanding pictures. Oh well, at least we would still have the light.

We made our first stop the Ray House primarily because I wanted this shot. Normally the Ray House sits by itself and at this hour there would be no one there we thought as we drove into an empty parking lot. As we walked to the Ray House it became apparent something was amiss. There was an old military wagon and an old style tent with a dim lamp glowing in it pitched on the site. Ok, I thought this must be some of the props for the reenactors. Then the dog started growling.....

Have a great Tuesday.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wilson's Creek Revisited

Put together a camera club field trip, the filming of a documentary and about a hundred reenactors and you get a revisit to Wilson's Creek. The National Park Service has commissioned a new documentary about Wilson's Creek. They were filming it this weekend so we were there. This shot was taken near the Ray Cornfield and featured two of the reenactors on horse back. It looks just like something out of the movie "Gods and Generals" or "Gettysburg".

Talk about dedication, these guys were out in 100 degree heat wearing these wool uniforms. They were getting judicious amounts of make-up and bug repellant applied all over them. They were sweating and hot but we didn't hear a one of them complaining. They were having the time of their lives!

I am running late today so there will be more tomorrow. Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Terrible Swift Sword

Today's picture as you can tell is a little off my normal base. It had its beginnings in two areas. First, it is a result of my "playing with the macro" the other night. Second, it comes from my interest in military history Ala Wilson's Creek.

The picture above is a macro shot of the upper engraving on a US Calvary Dress Sword. We picked this sword up at a restaurant going out of business auction in Lawton, OK (Fort Sill). It is my sole weapon in my rather limited collection. There is engraving all up and down the sword blade and this is only one area that I shot. I have cropped it to include only the blade. It is amazing how these can be engraved. I believe the sword dates from Calvary days in the 1870's or 1880's.

I have come to realize that this has become more of a history blog rather than a photo blog. What do you guys think? Do you like this trend or would you rather see it go back to more of a photo blog. I am not sure how this transformation took place. One reason is my intense interest in history. The other reason was the reaction I got from you the reader.

Thanks for your interest and suggestions. Please let me know how this blog is doing. Tomorrow we go back to Wilson's Creek for a short visit. If you missed the earlier series go back about a month.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Million Little Details

First off for any of you remaining Biltmore fans out there, after I have beat it to death, I thought I should include the postcard version of the mansion shot. That is not what today is about though. Everywhere you look there is a detail on this mansion. It is absolutely incredible the thought and the craftsmanship that went into this building. You know what is funny though? I personally wouldn't care to live in it. The images that follow the overall mansion shot are some of the details that went into the building. I hope you enjoy them.

This concludes my little tour of the Biltmore Estate. I hope you enjoyed it.

Today Teresa and I went on two, yes, count them two field trips with our camera club. The first was a sunrise event at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield and the second was a a local business, Murphy's Water Gardens. Both were incredible experiences. I have enough photos to do another Wilson's Creek series and Teresa got some really incredible shots when we returned to the battlefield after the water garden shoot. There is a documentary being filmed there and there are a fair number of reenactors. Teresa does such good people shots.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday. The temperature here is approaching the century mark, so I imagine everyone is going to go into hibernation this afternoon.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More Images of Biltmore

This is a shot of the house from the gardens. This part of the gardens was more formal and designed for strolling.

This shot is of what I would call the flower or cutting garden. Mrs. Vanderbilt was an absolute fanatic about having fresh flowers throughout the home. This was her source.

A refreshment stop on a hot day. Anna, the Diet Coke was $2.75 for a 20 oz. bottle. Even I balked at that one.....but if it had been Diet Pepsi....

I hope you have enjoyed your tour of the Biltmore. I think I have one more day of pictures of what I will call details of the Biltmore.

Have a good Friday!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Playing With the Macro

I have a macro lens that I really don't use very often. Since it has been so hot and dry here in Missouri I decided that I would get the macro out and play around with it one evening indoors where it is cooler. Hence, the break from postings about the Biltmore.

This is an N scale model built by Kato of Japan. Each of these items in reality is approximately one inch tall. Yes, the engine in the top photo runs quite well. The car in the the bottom photo is a domed passenger car. The models are from Kato's exquisite replica of the famous California Zephyr passenger train that ran in real life from Chicago through Denver, Salt Lake City to San Francisco on three railroads; the Burlington, the Denver and Rio Grande and the Western Pacific. The train was the first to use the dome car. There were five of these dome cars on the train in all and passengers could sit back and watch the mountains of Colorado roll by in comfort.

This picture was taken very simply, straight on in normal incandescent light. It was kind of fun for a change and got me a little more used to a lens that I have rarely used and I am not a real fan of.

What have you tried new recently?

I hope everyone has a great Thursday, boy has this week flown by!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Gardens at the Biltmore

The house is the main attraction at the Biltmore Estate but I bet the gardens are a close runner up. There are few words that can describe these gardens.

Even though it was hot, there were many people out enjoying the color and work they have put into the gardens.

The top photo is the entrance to the greenhouses. The second photo is an arbor that runs between the house and the gardens. Look at the trunks on those wisteria.

As I have talked about here I have changed my way about having people in my pictures. I used to wait until everyone is gone. Now I look for interesting people to have in the picture. Especially at a place like this where they can give a sense of size.
This Japanese Maple trunk caught my attention.

This is a flower on a bromilead. Bromileads are relatives of the pineapple.

This last shot was taken at the gift shop of all places. They had a really nice garden gift shop. I could have spent half a day there!

I hope every one is doing well and I hope you have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Approaching Biltmore

Between the parking lots and the Biltmore Mansion there is a large grove of trees, as you saw yesterday. These trees afforded an opportunity for a framed shot, albeit a kind of exaggerated one. The Biltmore was spectacular and even though you couldn't take pictures inside offered many opportunities outside. I would encourage anyone traveling near Asheville, NC to spend what could be the better part of a day on the Estate.

Just to the left of the main entrance is the grand staircase. These windows follow the stairs up, hence their skewed positioning. The effect is quite unusual and stunning.

I hope everyone has a great Tuesday. I have been amiss getting around to your blogs due to things going on around here but hope to resume my visits soon.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Looking Up

I have always wanted to take a picture like this with the tall pine trees and a wide angle lens. Walking from the parking lot to the Biltmore Mansion afforded me that opportunity. Taken near Asheville , NC at the Biltmore Mansion. This tour was well worth the admission price which was quite hefty. Besides the mansion we toured the gardens, the winery and there were a couple of other places we didn't get to including a horse shoe and the original farm.

I hope everyone has a good Monday.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wood Carvers at Silver Dollar City

I didn't have my laptop on and images ready from the Smokies so I am going back in time a couple months to our trip to Silver Dollar City. Part of that amusement park's attraction are craftsmen that work on traditional crafts. Here are two from the wood carver's shop, which is my favorite, working on their creations.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Spots of Color

Let's face it. The forest can be a mainly green or brown (if there is a drought) place in late July and August. This spot of color attracted my attention while we were hiking the Laurel Falls trail in Smoky Mountain National Park the other day.

What adds color to your life?