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.

Life Is Like A River

St Francis River

On a recent visit to Silver Mines Recreation Area, I sat and watched the water of the river flowing under the bridge located in the park.

When we arrived at the park the water was up and running over the bridge I was sitting on, now watching the river run under the bridge. Like life the river has its lows and highs.

St Francis River

As I sat looking up river I watched as the river rolled past the rocks headed for its final destination. It rolled past the rocks so gracefully not letting it stop it or slow it down. These rocks could represent the obstacles in our life. We need to approach our obstacles in life like the river deals with the rocks. We need to learn to roll around them and leave them behind us like the river and be thankful they are behind us.

St Francis River

At the end of the rapids there are deeper pools of slow moving water. Those waters represent the slow, peaceful times in our life when we can relax and enjoy the peace in our lives. A time when we can reflect back on where we have been and what we have accomplished. A time to be thankful for surviving all the obstacles we have faced.

A Dog Named Remi

Remi

My story begins last year when I bought a new home in Belgrade, MO. On the day of closing I drove out to my new home to take a look around. Upon arrival I exited the truck to only be met by a very angry dog.

Now I had never seen this dog and was to find out later that it was the previous owners dog. Now they had not only not told me about the dog but they seemed to have forgot to tell her they were moving and she no longer lived there. Bad, bad owners.

It seemed she was very protective of her abode and had no intentions of letting me in the house. She became even more angry and at one point had me by the pants leg.

My house

Well I managed to get loose and back in the truck and pulled out. Now all I could think was what in the hell am I going to do now. I can’t call animal control because she would have probably eventually been euthanized.

I returned the next day armed to the hilt with treats. The neighbor met me and explained that he had agreed to take care of her until they could get her. So he introduced us and we became friends. It is very difficult to explain to a dog that the home where she lived for five years was no longer hers. Being the sucker I am I let her in and she had no intentions of leaving.

My bed my house

So now I have a dog. She still goes and visits the neighbor. We are best of friends and she is a joy to have around. The old owners never returned to get her. She seems to be quite content and I don’t think she really misses them. I said I would never have another dog when I lost my two to cancer. Shows you how little I know.

Ahh. Home sweet home.

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.

Fracture Art

Looking for a different way than traditional prints, framed and hung on the wall to display your photographs? Fracture art does just that. It takes your digital images and prints them directly onto glass, turning the print into a frame.

The photograph above doesn’t really do the Fracture print justice. It’s amazing how it makes the colors pop out. It seems quite pricey but you don’t have the cost of a matte and frame and the time it takes to frame them.

A medium, 7.2”x 9.6” will set you back $50 and a classic 10.8” x 14.4” will set you back $80. I have done a couple this way and I love it.

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.

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