The St. Francis River

“The river has great wisdom and whispers its secrets to the hearts of men.”

Mark Twain

The St. Francis River is 426 miles long and is located in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas. It is only floatable in spring or after heavy rains. It passes through Wappapello Lake that was a result of a dam that was constructed in 1941. Anglers can fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. There are also catfish, bluegill, sunfish, and crappie. The St. Francis is the most diverse Ozark stream.

The Hubb’s, golden and spothanded crayfish make the St. Francis their home and can only be found in the Ozarks of Missouri and northern Arkansas. The St. Francis crayfish is only found here and nowhere else in the world. Six mussel species are also found here.

Two state parks that the St. Francis River meanders through are Silver Mines Recreation Area and Sam A Baker state park and both have camping available. Sam A Baker has a separate equestrian campground. They also have hiking trails and picnic areas. Baker also has equestrian and bicycle trails.

High water over the bridge in Silver Mines
The water recedes

I have many fond memories of the river as an adult and as a child. I don’t know how many pounds of catfish we caught. We used to pay a farmer to cross his field to the St. Francis and we would set up camp. He had an old wooden boat he would also rent us. One night around 11 pm we were tight line fishing for catfish. Our camp was below Wappapello dam and too far away to hear the siren indicating they opened the dam gates. My mom stands up and said here comes a boat. Yep, you guessed it. Sure enough, our boat. We had pulled it up on the sand bar around the bend. The water had come up and set the boat free. We started trying to hook it and my dad finally hooked it and reeled it in.

My Take on Photography

“Every artist has a central story to tell, and the and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.”

Gregory Crewdson

Photography is an art, and the photographer is the artist. There are those that will say this isn’t true however I have to disagree. Both must have a passion for what they do, along with creativity and a good imagination. A photographer only has one time to snap a photo then that moment is gone forever and can’t be recreated.

When l am framing a shot, I examine every possible angle I can shoot it from, then I imagine what I want it to look like. It requires an eye for detail, patience and flexibility. Light is a key composition and can greatly affect the photo. In a studio one can use artificial light but in nature one must learn to use what light is available.

When I take a picture, the subject must excite me. I sell my photographs and I have to rely on people buying them. If I’m not excited, I can’t expect the viewer to be excited. I have to capture the viewers’ attention and hope they buy it.

In Bruce Barnbaum’s book The Art of Photography Mr Barnbaum lists 14 elements of composition. They are light, color, contrast and tone, line, form, pattern, balance, movement, positive and negative space, texture, camera position, focal length, depth of field and shutter speed. There is so much more involved than point and shoot.

I am basically a landscape photographer. I love nature and am mesmerized by a river. Sunrises and sunsets always grab my attention. It never seems to fail that I see the best ones when I am driving down the road. They can be short lived, and the photographer has to act quickly. When I go hiking, I always have my camera with me. Quite frankly I suck at portraits, and I am in awe of those who have mastered it. Wedding photographers I think have the hardest job. It takes a lot of patience and creativity with some imagination. I am in awe of them.

There was only about 10 minutes between these two photos, and it changed quickly. I took them in Silver Mines Recreation area. This is the St. Francis River that meanders through the park. It is located between Ironton and Fredericktown, Mo. Kayakers love this area and have kayak races here in the spring when the water is up. When the water level is up the kayakers head for the river.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my photos. In closing I am going to post a few more photos I took when hiking at Silver Mines.

The first two were taken of the trail and the last one was a photo of what is left of the damn that was built when the old silver mine was in operation. Thanks for reading and remember to be kind to one another and spread the love.

The Campfire

“The campfire is the most important part of camping. It’s far more than just a source of heat or light. It’s the heart of civilization. All other activities revolve around the fire.”

David Lubar

Many a night I have sat in front of a campfire and watched the flames perform their magical dance. A campfire can calm the soul and renew the spirit.

It’s a place where stories are born, world problems are solved and some of the biggest fish are caught. It’s a place for singing with an acoustic guitar showing up occasionally.

The campfire is used to roast hot dogs, make s’mores a favorite of the young ones. Let us not forget it is the perfect place to tell a ghost story.

If you have never sat around a campfire put it on your bucket list. A lot of friendships have been made around the campfire.

Pickle Springs Natural Area

Pickle Springs Natural Area is located in St. Genevieve County in Missouri. Inside the area is a 1.9-mile loop that is rated moderate. Average time to cover trail is 52 minutes. It is popular among hikers, trail runners and bird watchers. The trail is open all year-round, but you will have to leave your pups at home. Dogs aren’t allowed.

The area was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. Inside the area you will find unique rock outcroppings, seasonal waterfalls, bluff overlooks, shallow caves and be prepared to cross wet weather creek crossings. You might want to take along a pair of binoculars or camera. There is ample wildlife to spot. The area has some steep uphill climbs, bridged creek crossings and you will find the trail is well maintained.

You will find 250 species of vascular plants and rose azalea. Creek inhabitants include four toed salamanders, pickerel frogs, green frogs and southern leopard frogs. Also found in the creek is a crustacean, amphipod, known to be only found here.

From Farmington, MO, take Highway 32 east, then Route AA east, and Dorlac Road north.

Devil’s Honeycomb Trail (Hughes Mountain)

Located in the Hughes Mountain Natural Area is a trail called Devil’s Honeycomb Trail. It consists of glades, savanna, old fields and it is half forest. Polygonal columns of rhyolite make up what the locals call the Devil’s Honeycomb and is located at the highest point of the mountain. It is one of Missouri’s geologic wonders.

Around 1.5 billion years ago the rocks were liquefied by volcanoes associated with the St. Francois Mountains. The molten rock contracted, and as it cooled cracked and created multi-sided columns and created a rhyolite formation that locals named the Devil’s Honeycomb. The Precambrian rock outcrops are among the most ancient, exposed rocks in the United States.

The Hughes Mountain Natural Area is located off highway M, 3 miles southeast of Irondale.

Do You See What I See

“To me photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Elliott Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt was famous for his uncanny ability to capture on film the humor and irony of everyday life.

Fortunately, we are all different. The world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things. Ten people can look at the same picture and see it fourteen different ways. As a photographer I want the viewer to see what I see. When I see something that excites me, I immediately begin analyzing the shot trying to figure out how to shoot the picture for the viewer to understand what I see. In this particular picture I would have to ask which came first? The rocks or the tree.

This shot was taken on a ridge that paralleled the St. Francis River inside the Silver Mines Recreation Area near Fredericktown, MO. It is along a trail that runs parallel with the river along the ridge and just to the right a trail takes off up the ridge. My thinking is the rocks were put there many years ago to mark the trail when the tree was small.

More pictures of the trail that runs along the west ridge overlooking the river.

Capturing Nature

St Francis River at Silver Mines Missouri

“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – Your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.”

Annie Leibovitz

Lighting is an integral part of a photograph. In a studio setting a photographer has many tools he can use to manipulate the lighting. When capturing a landscape photo, a photographer doesn’t have the luxury of controlling the light. He/she is pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature. The only option really at his or her disposal is to use the time of day when the sun is at different locations and casting a different light on the subject matter. They have to figure out when the sun will work to their advantage. On a cloudy day the photographer can use cloud cover to change the lighting. It is a complicated guessing game.

I absolutely love this quote.

St Francis River located in Silver Mines Recreation Area
Original Photograph
Same area zoom changed and edited in Dark Room Classic.

Adobe has some great apps that can be used to change the lighting in a photograph.

Get Excited

Trail In Silver Mines Conservation Area

“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.”

Robert Frank

When someone reads a line twice it usually means that something about that line excites them and grabs their attention. Purchasers of artwork do so because something about it excited them. Photography is no different. The photographer has to make the photo exciting to catch the viewers’ attention. They have to be passionate and excited about what they are going to capture through their camera. If the photographer isn’t excited about their composition, it is hard to expect the viewer to be excited. To be a good photographer one should not overlook the power of excitement.

Capturing The world of Nature

Storms a Coming
  • “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
    – Aaron Siskind

I started as an artist and a high school art teacher changed my dream of being an artist. I was devastated. Then one day I saw a work of Ansel Adams and I became hooked on photography.

Spirits Dancing
Ice Man Cometh