I’m incredibly thrilled to announce that I have been named an emerging artist for this year’s Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival, which will be held April 19-22, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival is one of the top three juried Fine Arts Festivals in the United States, which uses a five-member panel of art professionals to make their selections. They had 1282 artists apply from around the world. While 223 artists were invited to participate, their emerging artist category is specifically used to help spotlight new and emerging Texas artists. To be included in this group of 20 artists across a range of media including photography, painting, sculpture, and jewelry is a tremendous honor. There’s only a very limited part of a career where an artist can be eligible for this category, and this was in all likelihood the only time I would ever by eligible for this wonderful opportunity that will have long-lasting repercussions for my career. To say that I’m ecstatic, is an understatement.
So please save the following dates: April 19-22, 2018 and come out and support all of the amazingly-talented artists specially selected to this year’s festival. I’ll look forward to you visiting me at Booth #351 (near the intersection of 3rd Street & Main Street).
I’m pleased to announce that out of a multitude of submissions from across the United States, my work, Wide Open Spaces, will be part of the 3rd Annual Conroe Art League National Invitational Show featuring 100 artistic pieces from 95 artists as selected by Juror Peter Andrew, Professor of Art at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Mr. Andrew is a Fulbright Fellow and member of the New York Society of Illustrators. He is also a working artist with the Liquitex Acrylic’s Artist’s Outreach Program. As an accomplished figurative and abstract painter, his work has been featured in over fifty solo shows and two hundred group shows. His paintings have been exhibited at three Presidential Inaugural Galas in Washington, DC. His commissions have included such clients as Amegy Bank, Houston Methodist Hospital and Fort Belvoir US Army Hospital, Virginia. See more about Peter and his art at www.peterandrew.net.
The 3rd Annual Conroe Art League National Invitational Show
Photographs are on exhibition in the gallery through December 31st, and are also featured for sale online. To order online, please visit: http://www.mwcponline.com/tenth-ten-x-ten.html to purchase direct from the gallery who will package and ship straight to your door.
I’m thrilled to number among the 26 international photographers who have had work selected for the Midwest Center for Photography‘s 10th Annual “TEN X TEN Small Works Exhibition”, which focuses on offering affordable fine art photography works that are ten inches by ten inches in dimension.
Recently I got to spend a week in the Hudson River Valley, and while exploring the region I also crossed the Bear Mountain Suspension Bridge, which carries US 6/US 202 across the Hudson River between Rockland/Orange Counties and Westchester/Putnam Counties. At one point in time, specifically in 1924 and part of 1925, it held the record for the longest suspension bridge in the road. The bridge is flanked with a pedestrian walkway as well, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to park and walk across it. Granted, with storm clouds on the horizon, the more I walked out towards the middle the more I was being plastered against the railing by the force of the wind tunneling between the mountains. I didn’t go all the way across, I figured half way in those nerve-wracking conditions was good enough.
While I tend towards nature photography, I do enjoy some more architecturally flavored photography from time to time, playing with light and shadow, geometrics, positive and negative space, and geometric shapes can be rather entertaining for a photographer.
Flipped the negative of this image, then applied a monochromatic filter on my cel phone.
Against the Rails, Bear Mountain Suspension Bridge in New York
Complimentary Angle, Bear Mountain Suspension Bridge in New York
X Marks the Spot, Bear Mountain Suspension Bridge in New York
The 2017 IAA Photography Expedition has now opened, and will run through December 1st at the Jaycee Parks Center for the Arts in Irving, Texas. The show is free and open to the public. I feel honored that one of my pieces (Turn Back Time) was selected to participate in this photography competition juried by Mark Thompson. The exhibition contains 75 pieces in total from 44 different regional photographers.
AWARDS CEREMONY & RECEPTION
Sunday, November 5th
From 2 – 4 pm
At the Jaycee Parks Center for the Arts
1975 Puritan Drive in Irving, Texas
I hope you will join all of us during the Reception and Awards Ceremony for the 2017 Irving Art Association’s Photography Exhibition featuring many talented regional photographers, including not only myself but fellow Grapevine Art Project member Klaus Mayer. The preview gallery for all the selected works can be viewed on the IAA’s official website here.
I’ve got 4 different outlets this month where my photography is on exhibit. One of them now open to the public is at the historic Palace Arts Center in Grapevine where my photograph I took of Beacon Falls in the Hudson River Valley in New York entitled Bridge Over Troubled Waters is on display. It is but one work among many of the other talented works by members from the Grapevine Art Project. The show is free and open to the public.
GAP WINTER WONDERLAND
The show runs from November 1st – December 31st, at the Palace Arts Center located at 301 S. Main Street in Grapevine, Texas and is available to view Monday through Friday from 9am – 5pm, as well as during other special events at the PAC.
For more information about the historic Palace Arts Center please visit here.
Fort Davis is a very small town with a population of 1200 (2010 Census), and has the highest elevation in the entire state for any Texas county-seat at 5,050 feet above sea level. It’s really known for
The National Fort Davis Historic Site, which preserves the best remaining examples of old US ARMY Forts from the Southwestern United States. Fort Davis was established in 1854.
McDonald Observatory, while key scientific discoveries and research occurs at the site, this observatory is one of the few in the world that invites the public to special programs like their Sky Parties.
Davis Mountains State Park
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Garden
While the Dallas / Fort Worth area was skirting with temperatures just shy of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I escaped in the middle of July to the Davis Mountains in the Southwestern corner of the state of Texas, highs were in the low 80s, and overnights low were briskly cold. The Davis Mountains not only offers some of the most picturesque vistas throughout the entire state of Texas, the cooler temperatures had the land lushly green, which wasn’t something I was expecting to see.
The state park has two bird blinds, which are great for bird watchers, photographers, and the curious. This is where I nabbed this great shot of a Pine Siskin. Plus you can get a special pass for access to the park after dark to make use of the scenic overlook to enjoy some Dark Skies for some star gazing without camping over night there. In my case, rain storms came in during the night and rained out my plans for some night photography, but it’s a great resource I plan to use when I next make a try at night photography. The State Park is within line of sight of McDonald Observatory, if you look very carefully at the vista on the top right and bottom right, the tiny white dots on the top of that mountain in the difference is the Observatory.
In less than 15 minutes you leave the Davis Mountains State Park behind and can find yourself on the fringes of the Chihuahuan Desert, and a Nature Center that showcases the flora and fauna of the region’s desert. This is an important corridor for hummingbird migration, and scientists do tag the birds in their attempts to learn more about them.
As a long time resident of the Dallas / Fort Worth area I’ve long been aware of a pair of fluttering orange and black wings that are seen during two key times throughout the year: Spring and Fall. The Monarch Butterfly winters in Mexico, but when temperatures rise in the Spring they begin their northern journey into the United States and the Southern most portions of Canada.
In Autumn, the butterflies migrate south so they can spend the winter in Mexico.
Their Winter nest is so laden with butterflies, it’s as if the trees in lieu of leaves have butterflies instead. Truly it’s a marvel. Scientists estimate that 6 out of every 10 butterflies die from starvation en route due to the loss of native habitat and native wildflowers that produce sustaining nectar. Here’s a short video on how you can help to preserve this annual wonder, plus some amazing photos of the Mexican winter home. Watch it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuMASSrli9A
There’s even a research site trying to tag and track them to more thoroughly map their migration patterns and routes over at MonarchWatch.org. Thanks to them you can get an idea of their Spring and Fall migration maps as seen above.
Despite being a bit daunted by the long drive it was from my home base of Dallas / Fort Worth to reach Fort Davis and it’s neighboring city of Marfa, Texas I had been incredibly excited for my trip to McDonald Observatory, and that part of the country for the rare opportunity to be in true Dark Sky area to try my hand at Astrophotography.
If you’re trying to see the stars whether it’s with your own eyes, a telescope or a camera lens, you’ll have the best visibility in areas that are classified as Dark Sky. We just don’t see the stars anymore except the most brightest (like Polaris) from our cities, because we have too much light pollution surrounding us. The light from our urban environment washes out the most distant light from the heavenly bodies around us. Think of it like how your night vision is ruined when you have lights turned on around you.
So much work goes into the preparation for Astrophotography. First it was time to do some research. Thanks to Wikipedia’s entries having elevation information and GPS coordinates of Latitude and Longitude I then plugged that information into the Stellarium APP on the days of my visit to see when and where the Milkyway would be rising and visible. Luckily for me it was going to be visible at that time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (May through August), and I found the hours where I’d have the best opportunity to shoot the Milky Way each night. Once I had the basic information and reference points in the sky I was able to combine that information with my free Sky Maps APP (which shows the night sky), so I could orient myself with nearby celestial objects the day/night of to get my camera pointing the right way.
If you’ve ever seen the meme:
This is because cameras have in some ways not yet neared the complexity of what our eyes can do. Vision with our eyes and with a camera works under the same base principle in that it requires light to see. Our eyes make complex changes rapidly, a camera lens has to be set up just so. The darker it is the wider the aperture needs to be opened and the longer the shutter speed should be kept open as well to allow the most light to come in. This requires more sophisticated camera equipment that allows you to manually manipulate those settings, and also requires a tripod (otherwise there’s too much camera shake and the images will be blurry). Ideally you also want a lens that can infinity focus as well, and you need to be able to turn off auto-focus and image stabilization.
Because our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet are in constant motion if you leave the shutter speed open too long you begin to get star trails [example follows].
Now I wanted to focus this trip on Milky Way Photography so Star Trails were NOT the desired result. There’s actually a mathematical formula used to calculate how long you can leave a shutter speed open based on the capability of your specific camera before you start experiencing the streaking of a Star Trail (it’s very long exposures that show rotational trails like above). So finding that number in seconds (a little over 17 seconds) I then adjusted my settings to JUST under that so I could maximize the light I took in. Additionally I had to use the Photographer’s Ephemeris to find out when Moon Rise was so I could avoid it. Why? The Moon is detrimental to Milky Way shots because the stronger light of the Moon causes it’s own light pollution drowning out the fainter Milky Way.
Luckily everything was lining up beautifully for my shots from an astronomy stand point. And then, Mother Nature decided to rain on my parade. 3 Nights of potential shooting, and I only got about an hour here and there of sporadic breaks in the cloud coverage across those 3 nights (usually the breaks were NOT conducive to MilkyWay shots at all) where I had a chance to shoot something, and even then there were still wispy hazy clouds that prevented me from getting clear shots, or other people ruining my shots. This is sadly the best shot I got.
As frustrating as my trip was, the experience I took away from the attempt will pay dividends in the future. Thanks to my cousin’s invitation I was at least able to listen to some amazing talks at the annual McDonald Observatory’s Board of Visitors Meeting, by scientists and researchers like Dr. Fritz Benedict’s “The Joy of M Dwarf Binaries and How One in the Hyades Gives Me a Headache” and Dr. Rob Robinson’s “Astronomy Questions that Remain Unanswered.”