Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall color photo tour

Video Below!

T Mac Photos has teamed up with the folks at Exploring Izard County to offer a fall color photo tour onto both public and private property to photograph some beautiful waterfalls, creeks, general scenery, historic churches, stores and other buildings.
We will be leaving the Blue Bird Cafe (Mount Pleasant, Izard County) around 8 a.m. Oct. 30 and wrap it up around 3 p.m.

In addition to appropriate foot gear (no sandals, heels, flip-flops, etc.) for walking/hiking, participants should also dress in layers and bring rain gear in order to adapt to possible changing weather conditions.
Sorry, but there are no arrangements made for children or pets, this is a photographer's tour.

Small, low slung vehicles may have difficulty on a few rural roads.

Needed equipment....a camera (any type-film or digital) plenty of film/cards, hot batteries. A tripod is optional but can be useful.
Some vehicles will be equipped with AC power outlets and emergency recharging can be done during the tour.
A sack lunch will be required---toilet facilities will be "wild bear", so bring TP and hand sanitizer.
A small fee ($20 per person-$30 per couple) and a sack lunch is required.

Space is limited on this tour. For more information, or to preregister send us a message at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Calico Rock mystery cave

In no particular order, here are some shots of mystery cave at Calico Rock (AR)

Recently made a trip with some friends to a cave in Calico Rock (AR) that is somewhat of a mystery. It seems that no one in town has any knowledge of the cave, how it was formed, how it was used, or any other type history.
It was divided into three rooms by well built sandstone walls and included a clear, deep underground water supply, I suppose cistern would be the best term since the cave was on a high hill overlooking the White River. Land owners request no further information be given regarding its location.
There is speculation it could have been used as a holding area or hide out for slaves, or an ammo dump during the Civil War, however, I feel it is really too damp for ammo storage. There is seeping water dripping from the ceiling in the smaller back room of the cave.

It may possibly have been used as a saloon or even a temporary home for awhile. There are very distinct notches in the sandstone rock walls where boards were placed as shelves.
The cave is cleverly disguised from the public and there are obvious signs of improvements to the cave that have been made over the last hundred years or so.
For more information on this mysterious hole in the ground, visit the folks at Exploring Izard County.
Taking photos inside the cave was easier than I expected. The main opening was large enough that ample light/coupled with my camera flash gave good exposure.
In the remote and darker rooms, the area was small enough that the flash was sufficient. We did however supplement lighting with portable lanterns or flashlights just to be on the safe side.
Some video was shot by the fellas at Exploring Izard County and is posted on their blogspot.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Skirmish at Lunenburg

On January 20, 1864, a detail of 44 men of the Fourth Arkansas Mounted Infantry Volunteers (U.S.) under Capt. T. A. Baxter, the brother of a future Arkansas governor, attacked Col. T. R. Freeman's Confederates, driving them from their camp at Lunenburg.

Four Confederates were seriously wounded and two were captured, along with horses and equipemtn. The Fourth Arkansas lost one man killed in the skirmish.

Most of the men in both forces were residents of Izard County.

On July 10, 2010, a group of Civil War re-enactors from Izard and surrounding counties, as well as central Arkansas, camped ont he grounds of the Lulnenburg Community Center for the weekend and performed two re-enactments of the famous skirmish in a nearby field that may very well look today as it did then, minus the power poles.

The camp included a gambler's tent, shown here, a surgeon's tent, various pieces of equipment accurate to the Civil War time period, including a field mortar, full sized canon, along with accurate clothing a firearms for the era.

It was a great time in spite of the near triple digit heat...there were some wonderful photo ops and my wife Roberta got a shot of a Union Soldier on horse back crossing the battle field that was printed out in sepia tone to imitate the old tin-type photos.

It was enlarged to 81/2 x 11, matted up to 11x14 in a polished dark brown faux leather mat, then framed in barn wood.
It looks awesome and I'll be posting it here for viewing soon, when we get it home from the Independence County Fair where it not only won a blue ribbon, but BEST OF SHOW!

Union cavalry

Rebel camp in Lunenburg field

Professional gambler that followed soldier's camps, like the one below

Recently erected marker of Lunenburg Skirmish, Izard County, Arkansas

Lets see the color of your money soldier

The gambler's tent attracted all kinds
Thanks to those who make re-enactments a living part of history!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lost Valley Cave waterfall

As many folks know, the one place that ranks really high on my list of places to hang out, hike and take photos, is in the Boxley Valley area near Ponca in Newton County (Arkansas).
I've been going there for 10 years or so and still haven't hiked most of the trails, and the scenery changes almost weekly, and certainly in each major season.
Whether hiking up the side of a mountain, along a the lip of a cliff trail, or along the banks of the Buffalo National River, there's always something new.
A while back I had the opportunity to explore Lost Valley Cave near the campground and along the creek by the same name.
For years the mouth of the cave was as far as I got. But then, I made it a mission.
I met up with four adventurous ladies piling out of their Jeep as I was gathering my gear, we struck up a conversation about the cave and when they learned it was my first trip inside, I was invited to tag along with them. It wasn't their first time.
The short hike up Lost Valley Creek (.9 mile) is rated easy-moderate, there are some steep rocks in a few places and some switchbacks that raise your heart rate and test the knee joints.
In the summer the trail is busy, and the cave is a popular spot to cool off with a breeze blowing off an inside water fall that drops some 30 feet before winding its way to the cave mouth to form yet another waterfall. Two more smaller falls are located along the creek before it dumps into the Buffalo River.
The large rock entrance to the cave is worn smooth by thousands of feet each year, and stays slick with the mist from the water fall.
Once you maneuver past this hazard, the floor becomes somewhat better, but the walls narrow down to just a few feet in width, narrow enough to sometimes challenge even my skinny frame.
In a place or two, jagged rocks stick out from the sides of the walls and require twisting, squirming, and ducking (all at the same time) to get through. If you meet someone in these areas, somebody has to back up! Then will come an area where people can pass side by side.
Before reaching the waterfall chamber, the air cools just a bit more and the sound of water falling echoes along the narrow tunnels.
It's a sound that makes you more eager than ever to see what lies ahead.
To explore the cave you should first have proper footwear. Water sandals with good support straps are great, old tennis shoes, or hiking boots work too. DO NOT wear flip-flops, slip on sandals, or your high heels!
Also be prepared to get dirty, possibly downright wet and nasty, depending on how high the water level is inside the cave. After a heavy rain there are some spots you might have to wade water nearly a foot deep. And remember those areas I mentioned where you have to squat and squeeze to get through? Well, you may end up with a wet booty after a rain.
We saw one lady in nice white tennis shoes, white capris, and a pretty yellow top headed into the cave and wished we had time to hang around and see what she looked like afterwards.
A light is a necessity. What seemed to work well for myself and my escort of ladies, were LED lights that fit on a cap or on a headband. The light can be tilted so that it pretty much shines wherever you look.
What you DON'T NEED is a lot of the stuff I carried along in a large fanny pack with suspenders. I didn't need the large 6-volt lantern, the tripod one of my guides so kindly lugged for me, and the pair of sandals I thought might be needed instead of my mesh hiking shoes. I'm always tryng to think of everything I MIGHT need, and then try to carry it with me. It's a weakness, what can I say?
As is often the case, at the end of the cave is a large room with a pretty level floor of solid stone with the waterfall at the back of the room.
In most cases photography in poorly lit rooms in a house is a real challenge, I was surprised to discover that in a cave a simple camera flash is fairly effective since there is no outside light to interfere with the camera's light sensor.
The LED lights, along with lights the other dozen or so people inside the roodm had, was more than ample for a fw decent photos.
The tripod wasn't necessary, but I did use it because we all wanted our picture taken together, so I just shot with the timer and ran like a mad man to get into the shot. Got it the second try. We could have had someone else take our photo, but nice strangers aren't always good photographers, you never know how it will turn out.
So, If you want to do a pretty easy hike along a beautiful creek with waterfalls, a shelter cave, tumbled boulders the size of a small house, and a cave waterfall, then Lost Valley Cave is your place.
The cave is just a few miles south of Ponca, which is about 30 miles south of Harrison on Highway 43. Just go to Yahoo maps for directions.
And how about lodging? There's primitive camping along the creek leading to the cave, lots of rocky lumps, limited number of campsites and primitive toilets.
Back up the road at Ponca is the Lost Valley Canoe and Lodging camp ground. Lots of shaded, grassy campsites that are always well mowed and there's even a bath house with hot showers, outside kitchen sink, and a clothes dryer.
Across the street at the office is a general store with everything needed for a weekend or a week's stay. Camping gear, groceries, gas, ice, and other supplies.
They are also the premier float outfitters for the upper reaches of the Buffalo River with canoes, kayaks and rafts for rent, and they offer overnight floats too.
If roughing it isn't your style, there are cabins available with full facilities, including an outdoors hot tub on a private deck.
You can reach them at 870-861-5522.
Check out their new
Tell them I sent you, and look around, you might even see my ole Jeep parked on the side of the road or at a trail head somewhere, especially if there's a waterfall nearby.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Devil's Den State Park

PHOTO OPS AT DEVIL'S DEN INCLUDE, bluff view from Yellow Rock, one of many wildflowers along trails, tree stump destoyed by bear looking for grubs and bugs, and waterfall along DD Trail.

Spring in the Boston Mountain Plateau of the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas is a great time of the year to hit the hiking trail with your camera.
More specifically, the trails of Devil's Den State Park located just south of Fayetteville.

Created in the 1930's as part of the federal Civilian Conservation Corps, Devil's Den was one of the first state parks in Ark. and the many hand-built cabins, bridges, and trails offer outstanding photo ops. An example is the hand-built stone dam across Lee Creek, featured as our main blog photo.

Of the many trails available at DD, the two I enjoyed the most are (in order of popularity) Devil's Den Trail and the Yellow Rock Trail.

The DD Trail offers a three-stage water fall that can be magnificent after a heavy spring rain and at the least "pretty" at other times.

Bat caves, huge crevices, fallen boulders as large as houses and weird rock formations, along with enough wildflowers to make a full bouquet, make this trail the favorite with many visitors. This relatively easy and short trail, suitable for most family members, starts right behind the visitor's center.

From atop massive cliffs riddled with crevices and caves, the Yellow Rock Trail offers some incredible overlooks showing Lee Creek carving its through the valley. In order to preserve the wildness of the area, these cliffs don't have warning signs or safety rails, so watch your step and keep an eye on your kids.

Proper footwear, a water bottle and a snack are recommended for this trail, I DON'T recommend pets on this trail. And by all means DO NOT FORGET THE CAMERA!
This is a slightly longer and tougher hike, but the photo ops are countless. The switchback trail seems to offer something new at every turn.

Unless you are just a hard core hiker that likes to walk up hill a lot, I DON'T recommend the Overlook Trail. Just get in your car and drive to the lookout point if you must, but you will only look down into a heavily wooded valley. The CCC style pavilion is cool and a good place to relax, but not worth nearly the nearly 5 mile hike in my opinion.

There are other longer, tougher trails that should only be attempted by experienced cross-country, over night camper-hikers.

Lee Creek that runs through the heart of the park abounds with photo ops as well. From the stone dam to the small stone cabin along a remote stretch of the creek, to the old mill dam and homestead ruins. There are some excellent areas for family fishing or paddle boat rides.

The park offers a modern swimming pool, restaurant, store ( these are seasonal), laundry and quaint stone cabins with modern facilities, including satellite TV, modern full kitchen, some even with spa tubs!

After leaving Interstate 540, the closest gas station is in Winslow 12 miles away. And the closest digital camera batteries are some 30 miles away in Fayeteville!

If you're looking for new territory to explore, Devil's Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas should be on your agenda.
You can check out the park through the website

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CHEAP light box for viewing negatives/slides

Tired of trying to hold those 35 mm film negatives/slides up to a light bulb or in front of the window to find what you want? Then you need to get a negative light box.
I know, they can cost hundreds of dollars and it isn't worth it for the amateur photographer.

Well, how about 10 bucks?

Look in the lighting department of most department stores for a small portable under the counter fluorescent light. They are usually about 14-16 inches long, will sit flat on a desk top, or if you wish, can be mounted on a wall next to your desk for quick use.

Depending on your eyesight, a small magnifying glass might be useful.

WATCH FOR an upcoming blog on copying negatives and slides as digital images.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adventure photos

With the coming of each season, and the trip down every road, we can find photo ops in some of the most common places, as well as off the beaten path and even into remote wilderness.
These are some of those places depicted by photos taken by myself and wife Roberta over the years....hope you enjoy and perhaps become inspired.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Winter photo tips

Here are a few winter photo tips everyone should know.
Remember, when you are cold and not functioning at your best, the same applies to your camera gear.
* Protect yourself by dressing in layers and using chemical heat packs to keep hands, feet, or body warm.
* Protect your camera with a padded camera bag with one of these chemical packs inside to keep your battery warm and functioning. Or, if your coat is big enough, you can keep the camera zipped inside and use body heat in the same manner.
* To avoid condensation build up on the inside of your camera when you go from a cold climate to the indoors, either place the camera in a cool spot just inside a door for an hour and then move to a slightly warmer spot inside to let it warm up gradually, OR, place it in a large Zip Lock type bag BEFORE taking it inside.
This allows the condensation to build up on the inside of the bag and NOT in your camera.
You can go ahead and remove your card and process your photos while the camera is warming up.
* When shooting under damp conditions, mist, rain, snow, etc., protect your camera with a plastic camera glove (available from camera shops or online at Porter's Camera Store
These sleeves have a draw string in the end of a long tube that snugs down around the end of the lens and then opens up to fit the camera.
At the back end of the sleeve is a cutout for clear viewing through your camera's eyepiece. However, with auto focus cameras this isn't a real issue, just look through the plastic to make sure you have the subject framed like you want it and shoot.
NOTE.... A plastic grocery bag with a hole cut in the end and fastened around the lens with a rubber band will also work in a pinch.
* Use a small umbrella to shade the lens from sun flares or getting false light readings when your subject is in the shade and your camera in the sun...also valuable in keeping rain or snow off the camera and lens when no other protection from the weather is available......there are umbrellas that can be attached to tripods that leave the hands free...otherwise it takes a little practice to handle all the gear at once....or you can take a helper along to hold it.
* If shooting snow photos, check your camera for a "snow" setting that will give you white snow, not gray.
For more info regarding this problem, go to the New York Institute of Photography web-site
*******If you shoot a film camera, when you submit your film for development ask for one "step" of blue to be eliminated. This will help eliminate a bluish/gray cast to trees, old wood and shadows.

When show hits, be prepared to get out into your neighborhood on foot to get those great shots of children building snowmen, snowball fights, snow shrouded shrubs, birds around feeders (especially Cardinals), etc.
LOOK for those unusual shots and have fun!