Monday, June 29, 2015


A quiet evening on Helltown Lake and another of Oklahoma's lovely sunsets. A recently erected drilling platform and rig provided a focal point and contrast for this event.

Continuing with my ongoing series Communion, which documents our energy needs versus our inability to change to other possible resources, I have been photographing oil field equipment with sunrise or sunset prominent in the scene as a reminder that the Sun offers us a constant renewable source of energy versus the problems that the oil and automobile industries continue to promote.

Our energy needs continue to outpace our ability to generate the resources required, and though we are supposedly in a glutted market right now when it comes to stockpiles of oil, both crude and refined, we continue to drill. After asking around a bit, I found that this particular rig is in search of oil, not natural gas. Which begs the question 'why?' Are we keeping oil field workers employed, rather than retraining them in solar and wind, or are we just continuing down the path of old habits and lining the pockets of those who cannot see past their greed?

Don't get me wrong. I grew up in the business with my Father a petroleum geologist. It provided a substantial living for us and I would be negligent and hypocritical if I did not acknowledge this fact. However, like many of us today, I have a love/hate relationship with fossil fuels. I enjoy the ability to drive wherever I wish to pursue my art and my work, but at what cost?

As you are all aware, at least those of you who follow my work and my writings, I believe that we are the primary cause for the current problem of the warming climate. The answers to our problems are available, if only those with deep pockets would be willing to invest more in energy 'solutions' and to be blunt about it, their own futures. A day will come when the oil is such a valuable commodity just for needed lubricants that there will be no choice but for us all to change. The longer we wait, the harder the transition will be for all.

I will get off of my soapbox now. I wish I was a billionaire, for if I was I would be spending my money in research to improve the future, not just continuing the status quo. Until next time . . .

You can see this image and more at

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


The year is 1909. The dedication for a new bridge in southern Oklahoma in the town of Sulphur is underway. The bridge is built of local materials in the 'Gothic Revival' style currently popular and crosses Travertine Creek in what was then called Platt National Park.  The new bridge has been christened the 'Lincoln Bridge' in honor of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln. Though he has been dead for over four decades, people in this country have a tendency to name things after dead presidents and are always looking for a way to do so. And so, on the centennial of Lincoln's birth (1809), he gets a small stone edifice named after him in an out of the way part of the country that has only recently become a state in the Union. Ten years before, this was in Indian Country and was the home of the Chickasaw Nation.

Though history tells us that the land was deeded to the government by the Chickasaw Nation, a few legal residents and quite a few enterprising squatters had already moved in and built the small settlement of Sulphur. All of this excitement was due to the presence of 'natural mineral springs'. Folks used to believe that these waters were medicinal and beneficial to one's health, regardless of what ailed you. And so they came by the tens of thousands. It was not long before the Chickasaws realized that the place would be trampled to dust if something was not done. And so, they offered it to the government with the caveat that it be preserved as a part of the emerging national park system. The government accepted and today this bridge rests within the 'Platt Historic District' inside of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

When the bridge was first built, it crossed a creek that had a few scraggly trees along its shoreline. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, the Civilian Conservation Corp planted hundreds of trees throughout this area and built inviting facilities for those who came to this place. Most of these structures are still standing today, such as the one that now sits atop Buffalo Springs (yunush kulli) as seen below.

There will be more images to come of this place, so stay tuned to new installments. You can follow on Google+ or sign up for email notices on the right hand side of this post. 

To read more on the history of this place click on this link:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


One of the great things about the digital age of photography is the ability to easily manipulate images in computer software.

During the days of film, image manipulation took place in a darkroom working under 'red' safe lights to protect the film and papers. The chemicals used to process the film were sometimes quite pungent and the room often became quite warm during the work. Negatives or positives (slides) were then placed in an enlarging machine and exposed using light onto photographic papers. This is where any manipulation took place with burning and dodging (lightening and darkening) areas of the image to bring out the desired end result. The print was then placed in several more chemicals to bring out the exposed image. A great deal of work often requiring hours of work for a single image.

In today's world, the manipulation of images has become something of a controversy. Purists claim that it is wrong and the arguments are many. What these detractors put forth is nothing new. Each time we make a technological advance in some area there is always someone who has to disparage the new. It is human nature to resist change. It is enough to note that Ansel Adams and others of the film era manipulated their prints heavily in the darkroom, which in my opinion negates the naysayers of digital manipulation.

I myself waited several years before I switched from film to digital. My reasons early on were quality in nature, but once I was shown that the new generations of digital cameras could equal the best slide films, I could see the future. The benefits were many, such as not being limited to 36 exposures on a roll of film, the ability to change ISO in camera, and the most important factor being the photographer's ability to control the process from start to finish without the need for chemicals or sending one's film to a lab to have it processed.

As with any new endeavor, there was a lengthy learning curve with the software used to bring the images to light. I have been using Adobe Lightroom since version 2.0 to process the bulk of my work with occasional use of Adobe Photoshop when specialized tools are needed and I now have a comfort level with this suite of software. Most of my images take less than an hour to bring to their final iteration. This ability to process quickly is based on a preconceived look that I have in mind when I made the image in the field and my knowledge of the software's capabilities.

Occasionally, an image offers the potential to be processed in different ways. The image you see here is an example. The first is the third version and the next one is the second with the previous two being shared via social media and on my website over the past two years. There is also a fourth version created specifically for a client who wanted something different, unique, and one of a kind.

I am not partial to any one of these different versions (though I no longer share the first version due to banding in the sky that I have yet been able to eliminate) and each has its' own life and merits. 

This ability to manipulate an image to his or her own artistic sensibility is where the potential to create our own vision comes into its own. This also brings to light the concept that there is no one way to edit and/or process an image. This has given the maxim 'Create to please yourself - not to please others' even more meaning in today's digital world. For me personally, digital has expanded my horizons from an artistic standpoint and given my work a unique quality unlike others who are practicing the genre of landscape photography.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and take away from it something of value.

You can see this image and more at

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