Shoot Out in Texas

I am a fan of photographers.

I am inspired to see how someone else looks at a place, or an object, or a person. I enjoy the comradery of seeing my fellow photogs out in the trenches at a parade, in the field with the elk, or out chasing the fall colors. One of my favorite things to do is to have a “shoot out” – shoot a photo of a fellow photog shooting a photo of me shooting them.

Your camera is an extension of your eye, or is it your arm? Whatever. It has to come between you and whatever it is that you’re shooting. In my book, a portrait of a photog requires a camera somewhere in the frame.

Last spring I shot the Artrageous Parade with my pal Judy. After the festivities I asked for a shoot out…20130124-104337.jpgNote her concentration and the delicate way she operates the zoom, she’s closing in on me. Judy has a love for shooting, and a love of life. She can tell a story better than just about anyone I know and her photos are full of insight – Judy shoots thoughtfully, capturing the light at just the right moment.20130123-211132.jpgShe seems to have caught me growling. That’s what she gets for insisting I not cover my face with my camera. When I know I’m shooting outdoors I wear my Transitions Aviators – I can mash the eye cup all over those huge lenses. I must not have noticed the lack of sunshine, since I’m sporting the huge rectangular hood. I used exactly one lens that day, so of course I carried 4. That Domke Bag is classic though…

This is my sister-in-law Karen in the Observation Car of the California Zephyr. We shot constantly for 3000 miles last spring. We shot elk, marmots, prairie dogs, and each other.

20130124-110911.jpg I like Karen’s grip, it’s almost like the camera was made to fit in her hands, corners covered with fingers free so that she can still zoom. Karen always seems to hold her camera so level, she studies shots carefully. It shows in how she holds onto the camera and how she has all the controls completely in within reach.

This is Chip – an amazing local photog who has self-published the definitive work on the area in and around Eureka Springs. 20130123-211222.jpgOn this day Chip was shooting for the local paper, the Lovely County Citizen. He was shooting me, covering my show last summer. Chip is not only one of the most talented photogs I know, he also shows so much grace covering silly things like my show or a parade. You might see his work in galleries, and you might see him covering a traffic jam. He does it all and does it all well – and he does it with one kick-ass Nikon. That sucker is the most amazing camera I have ever seen. Great photography may not be about the camera, but rocking a D4 can’t hurt…

Just last weekend I had the opportunity for a shoot out in Texas…20130123-211243.jpgI met Honie Briggs!! This is a shot of Honie shooting me. I was in town for a trade show and I read her awards post – she shared her position on crazy Dallas Freeway Onramps – Seriously, no one does an awards post like Honie. I left a comment about having driven on one that day. She emailed me and asked if I had time to meet – it was awesome to meet her and her Loyal Follower…20130123-211313.jpgHere is Honie’s shot of me shooting her, she did a better job with the light inside this amazing Italian market. I was using my Leica portrait lens, I had hoped to shoot my reflection in her filter, but that prime doesn’t focus close enough. A couple of times we snapped at the same instant and all I got was flash, those shots look a bit like an alien with a huge glowing eyeball, nothing at all like Honie…20130123-211345.jpgAnd one more shot of Honie shooting me. Nice form – nice gear. Honie takes wonderful shots of nature and flowers, I love her classic car shots too. Truly a renaissance woman here.

My quick trip to Texas gave me the chance to meet on of my favorite bloggers in person. 20130123-230717.jpgShe was a warm, thoughtful, and funny in person as she is here in the blogosphere!

Starting in the Middle

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for a couple of years now. I would think about how to start it and how it should be organized. Every time I started to write I think about how my story should be organized, how it would make the most sense, how it would evolve – all the while writing nothing. I thought about what my influences were, what got me started, my first camera – organizing this and making sense of it stopped me from starting. I may talk about those things someday, for now I’ll just start from the middle, the very recent past.

In my professional life I am highly organized, I’ve been told its a rare trait for an artist. In my personal time I tend to get the most out of more spontaneous things, enjoying experiences as they happen.

I just got home yesterday from a series of wonderful spontaneous experiences. My sister, Karen and went on a train trip followed by a week of zigzagging across the plains and mountains visiting national parks.

Side bar – Karen’s really my sister-in-law, but a few years ago she just started referring to me as her sister – I love that, I have wanted a sister since I was about 3. I used to pretend that I had a sister named PeeWee (our chihuahua), I told friends at school about her and her adventures in our backyard – Karen is much better than my imaginary sister, and she’s quite a bit taller and doesn’t shed.

Our adventure started with a train trip. Karen and I were both devoted to my Grandpa. He was a Union Pacific employee for over 35 years. Karen and I have collected train memorabilia, hunted railroad spikes, and even chased down trains in the desert. Neither of us had been on a long train ride (my only train ride was in Disneyland), so we decided it was time to give it a try. We embarked in Emoryville. Being a train geek, I was excited to so close to trains and tracks at the station.



If you’ve never traveled by train, I highly recommend it. You show up at the station, print a ticket at a kiosk, go to the track and get on your assigned car. No lines, no luggage screening, no TSA agents. Just get on the train. We checked our tickets and walked right onto car 631.


As soon as we stepped onto our car we were greeted by Pete, our sleeper car attendant. He stowed the luggage and settled us in. He insisted on helping us even with small things. Karen is really a “people” person so she set out to learn a bit more about Pete. He wasn’t giving anything up and even squirmed about having his photo taken. This only made us want to know more about him. Karen quizzed other train staff for clues, asked Pete seemingly unrelated questions, and made unreasonable requests – Pete never flinched or gave up anything except that he loved trains and was an expert on the history of the California Zephyr. Here’s a photo of Pete reflected in a window of the door of our sleeper car.


A little about our accommodations – we had a “room-ette”, a car built for 2 that has facing recliners that convert into a lower bunk and a shelf that drops to create the upper. It’s compact but efficient, pretty comfortable for a small space.


Karen wasn’t sure about all the buckles, she assumed her sleeping accommodations were verticals and complained that the seatbelt was not very comfortable.


Once Pete prepared our beds, Karen checked out the top bunk. Once again the utility of the safety features eluded her:)



Seriously, traveling with Karen is a blast. She find humor in the strangest things.

The thing about traveling by train is that there’s lots of room to move around. From the sleeper car you can walk from car to car, passing through the dining car on the way to the lounge. The lounge is spacious with large booths and comfortable recliners scattered throughout. It’s a great spot to take in the scenery and try and take some photos. The scenery is one of the great things about riding on the train, looking out the ample windows is like watching the most amazing nature show. Wildlife, cities, farms, scenery – all passing into view. I almost hated to sleep for fear of missing some of the show.