Saturday, May 30, 2015


When we are young, many things inspire and influence the directions that our lives will take. Some stay with us into adulthood, others not. For me, astronomy and science fiction were my main influences growing up. They were not just forms of escapism; they were a future that held promise. The high road to the stars was a dream that could become a reality, or so I believed.

By the time I was in my early teens, I knew that I wanted to become an astronomer. I read books on the history of the science and was amazed by the discoveries that Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Cassini, Herschel, and many others too numerous to mention had made. Though their instruments were primitive in comparison to what even beginning amateurs have available today, it was only through their perserverance, curiousity, and dogged pursuit of knowledge that made their discoveries possible. The possibility that what was taught in their day might be wrong was an added incentive.

At the same time, I was reading books on the then current state of the science and had purchased my first telescope from a Sears & Roebuck catalog. It wasn't much as telescopes go, but it was good enough to get me started. I spent hours out at night looking at the heavens, learning the constellations and star names, staring at craters on the Moon, and watching the four 'Galilean' moons of Jupiter change their positions. It was a wonderful time in my life.

During these heady days, I had begun reading science fiction as well. I devoured novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. Then, in 1968, a singular event occurred that would re-affirm my desire to become an astronomer. I went to see the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. An event that would stay with me to this day. Years would pass, a bigger and much better telescope would come along, but I stayed the course into and out of high school.

Entering college, I began my studies in earnest. The hours were long and the mathematics were intense. It was not long though before the dream took a turn. The science was becoming increasingly complicated, and new technologies had changed it from an observational science to one of using instruments that one did not look through. These new instruments captured objects in non-visual wavelengths of light in order to ascertain chemical compositions and gather data about red and blue shift velocities among other things. Radio telescopes were being used to 'see' for much of this work. I was beginning to realize it was not the science that I loved but rather the 'beauty' of the heavens.  I had also begun to think of myself as something of an 'artist' because of my increasing interest in performing music. In hindsight, I suspect that this had a great deal to do with my new views on the science.

Due to my expanding involvement with music, I changed my major to music and philosophy, but after a year I dropped out of school to pursue music full time. During the next 15 years, I would read many sci-fi novels while on the road. I continued keeping up with the NASA space probes to other planets and imagined what it would be like to witness a sunrise on Mars. I became interested in the geology of these worlds and how their surfaces compared with our own Earth. Little did I know then that this would later become a driving influence in my photography.

Today, I feel as if I have come full circle in some ways. I can still sit for hours at night staring at the heavens, remembering the names of the stars and mapping out the constellations, or watching a meteor shower, and geology still influences much of my photography. And on occasion, a little science fiction sneaks in and I am inspired to create something otherworldly. And so I ask you, my readers to . . .

Imagine a world with a red sun. Terraformed by humanity, water now flows. Hydraulics are built to conserve and sustain this water of life. Though this new world is on its way to becoming a blue one in the centuries to come, for now, molecules in the atmosphere of this world are refracted by the light of the red sun, imparting a pink color to the sky and the dark waters. Imagination can be a powerful thing.


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Thursday, May 28, 2015


'They say that patience is a virtue, but when the mosquitoes are feeding, patience becomes a masochistic endeavor.'

The rains have the ground saturated with standing pools of water. My front yard looks like a marshland. The land surrounding the lake is no different. Prime real estate for breeding mosquitoes. Despite spraying myself down with repellent, they are finding the weak spots in my armor. I am trying to ignore and avoid them by walking around while I watch the unfolding drama. The past few nights, we have had some incredible storm light, and I am hoping for more, so I will put up with my attackers.

The clouds seem to be at odds with themselves as they are moving in many different directions. Though these storms are not particularly intense, the motions imply a malevolent violence. The movement is fascinating to watch. Small patches of blue dot the sky and then are quickly covered. Openings of hope. A clearing to the west tells me we may have some color after the sun goes down. I do not have long to wait.

Within minutes of the Sun's last rays, the colors come and begin to intensify. The colors become fabulous! I am fortunate to have witnessed this event - living in the moment. It will not last long. I make an exposure every half minute or so as the show unfolds, then just as quickly watch the colors fade and resolve into the muted blues and grays of the coming night.

There are times when I stop and think about how I came to practice this thing I love to do. I think of how fortunate I am to not be sitting at home in front of a television, wasting the precious comodity of time. We are all given such a short span of days in which to live our lives and what we do with those days is important. More so when we move into the later years of life. Tempus Fugit. And so I give thanks for each day that I am given the chance to once more practice my art and my craft.

The mosquitoes have renewed their attack with vigor. It's time to go - before they carry me away :)

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Friday, May 22, 2015


I am standing knee deep in rushing water. The water is running hard and I can feel the vibrations through my tripod. The light breeze has turned into a different animal altogether, now blowing hard. Weather is moving in and I need to finish before it gets here. Not a good idea to be standing in water with a metal tripod when there is lightning in the air. It begins to rain, telling me I need to go. Before I get to the car it has turned into a downpour.

This is the last image I made this morning after several hours of standing in running water. I was at a small group of travertine falls located less than an hour from my home. At this time last year, the falls were nearly dry with just a trickle of water coursing along the streambed. The heavy rains we have received during the last two weeks has all of southern Oklahoma in flood stage. Many streams, rivers, and lakes are far above 'normal'. Though the rains are welcomed, I suspect it will not be enough to pull us out of the continued drought. Time will tell I suppose.

It has been a productive morning and there will be more images to come.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015


'The young warrior has been waiting for some time now. He has witnessed the brightening in the sky as he waits. He stands as the moment is near. The Sun rises, and he raises his arms skyward to honor the return of the Giver of Light. The warrior chants quietly in this moment of beauty. The day has begun and he feels the renewal in his soul. It is a good day to be alive.'

As I was watching this sunrise unfold, I was thinking of those who had come before me to witness the rising of the Sun, and like myself, felt renewal in the moment. Just as my imaginary young warrior above.

Our lives today have become so complicated, and I often wonder whether or not we would be better off without all of the distractions designed to keep us informed and in touch. The simple act of watching the Sun rise might be more than just a passing event taken for granted, but one in which we might feel a bit of reverence and give thanks for what we have.

Technology removes most of us from this simplicity. Tethered to our devices as if surgically attached, we wander aimlessly through our lives as if we had tunnel vision, only seeing what is directly in front, all the while missing everything else that is around us.

Fifteen years ago, we did not have digital cameras, cell phones, internet, satellite TV, and the list goes on. I remember having to wait 24 hours to pick up the slides of film that contained the work from my latest adventure. After viewing them with a loupe on my light table and selecting the best, I would have them printed at my local lab the following day. Today, I can download the images into my computer, process, then print them within hours. Convenient? Yes. A good thing? Maybe. 

I will be the first to admit that these capabilitites have made my life work simpler and more efficient. On the other hand, the free time that I should have earned from this time saving I now spend marketing my work and myself on the internet. I am carrying on text conversations with friends from around the world, talking to clients on the phone, all while I am working at selling my soul to put bread on the table and keep a roof over my head. There are days when I want to run away from it all. It is at this point that I remember what I do for a living and how fortunate I am to be able to get away from it all, if only for a short while, from constantly being barraged by the media and life's other demands. I am truly fortunate.

However, there still remains an issue that has been nagging at me. I am afraid that I have lost faith in the direction that technology is taking us. In our headlong rush to develope the next 'new great thing' or convienence device to make our lives easier, we feign ignorance of and push aside possible consequences down the road. Surely not all of it can be good. I wish we would stop and take a moment to wonder whether or not we should.

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Saturday, May 16, 2015


I have been reading quite a bit lately on a variety of subjects. One book that has kept me enthralled is "It's What I Do" by veteran conflict photographer and photo-journalist Lynsey Addario.

While many of us sit in the background making pretty pictures, this woman photographer has been on the front lines of war, poverty, women's rights issues, and famine. As she will tell you, she is not fearless. There are times when she is crying while making her photographs. She has nearly lost her life multiple times while trying to show us what goes on in the real world beyond our daily lives. Along the way, she delves into her personal life, revealing how she copes with the duality in her life. 

But it is the images she shares that are the heart of this book. The images are horrific for the most part, as they should be, because that is what war and its' associated 'cause and effects' are about - horror. Lynsey shows us the deepest, darkest heart of humanity in her work and after seeing her images, I for one will never forget.

I highly recommend this book for the lessons it teaches about humanity, and for the reminder that we all play a part in our world, whether we do it on the front lines or in the background, averting our eyes from the tragic side of humanity. We must be shown what we sometimes refuse to see and this book does just that.


The photograph above is the intellectual property of Lynsey Addario. It is used here as an example of what is in the book and in no way do I derive any profit from its' use. 

Clicking on the link under her photo will take you to the book on Amazon from whom I also derive no profit - Thomas

Friday, May 15, 2015


Life has a funny way of throwing twists and turns into our lives. You just never know what is around the next bend in the road. We don't realize how much it can all change in an instant - until it does.

The end of March, I was preparing to begin moving my life to a small town in southern Oklahoma. I had tired of the rat race of the Oklahoma City 'Metropolis'. Too much tension; too many stressed out people. Too many of the things that are no longer acceptable to my way of thinking. You could almost feel it in the air. Well, at least I could.

The day was overcast, lending a mood of anxious anticipation. I was thinking to myself that this move was going to be a positive event in my life. A few seconds later, I was sitting in the middle of an intersection with the Jeep's airbag in my lap. It all happened so fast - literally in the blink of an eye! I seemed to be okay at first take, and after much forcing managed to get the door open and step out. I was standing up. I went over to the other car and found a young girl sitting with the door open. I asked her if she was okay. She nodded her head but did not speak. Shock.

There is a Fire Station at this intersection and they came over after hearing the collision. They tended to her while I waited for the police to arrive. Needless to say, I was grateful for their appearance. I called a friend of mine and asked her if she could come and pick me up. I was rattled and needed to see a friendly face.

Life. It happens when you least expect it. A turn of events changes the big picture in a moment. Ramifications of the event lead to uncertainty; new and different interpretations of the future unfold out of necessity.

It is during these times that I see the best in humanity come out. People you were unsure of suddenly appear and lend a hand where needed. Your true friends are there as well, in spirit and in person. There is no need to mention their names or thank them publicy. They know who they are and I am grateful for their kindness and friendship.

With the help of a rental car and a little help from my friends, I managed to get a good deal of my belongings moved to my new home. I am working on getting settled in here. I have already met several of my new neighbors and they are pretty cool, if not a bit odd. The lady at the 'tiny' liquor store (my living room is bigger) is a hoot! Lovely sense of humor. People - gotta love them warts and all.

I love how quiet it is here, especially at night. Every once in awhile, a car will go by my house. So unlike the 'big town'. Everyone is friendly even though you are a stanger. They don't judge you on first look. Also, there is a pace to life here. You find none of the need for 'instant gratification' which you encounter in the big city. People take their time here.

And so, I am on another adventure. New prospects loom on the horizon and I am pleased so far. Though this is the third move in less than a year, and that is enough for any sane man or woman, it feels right. I think I will stay for a bit.

Before I go, I wish to share an image that I made on top of the Arbuckle Mountains not very far from my new home. The day was misting rain making everything wet. I love shooting in these conditions. An explosion of wildflowers everywhere were heralding the arrival of Spring. And so it begins. 

Until next time, I wish you all safe journeys.


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