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.
Marfa may be a city with only a local population of around 2,000 (according to the 2010 Federal Census), but with dozens of art galleries and a film festival the small town certainly packs quite a punch in the Arts world. But Marfa’s iconoclast status as an art destination is due to Donald Judd’s works, and the fosterage of New York’s Dia Art Foundation to help establish the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas on the remains of an old military base. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:
The Chinati Foundation/La Fundación Chinati is a contemporary art museum based upon the ideas of its founder, Donald Judd. The specific intention of Chinati is to preserve and present to the public permanent large-scale installations by a limited number of artists. The emphasis is on works in which art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked. As Judd wrote in the foundation’s catalogue:
It takes a great deal of time and thought to install work carefully. This should not always be thrown away. Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again. Somewhere a portion of contemporary art has to exist as an example of what the art and its context were meant to be. Somewhere, just as the platinum-iridium meter guarantees the tape measure, a strict measure must exist for the art of this time and place.
I just received the news earlier today that one of my photographic works has been selected in the juried 2017 IAA’s Photography Competition. 75 works from 44 different regional photographers will be in the exhibit that runs October 29th – December 1st at the Jaycee Parks Center for the Arts located at 1975 Puritan Drive in Irving, Texas. The Reception & Awards Ceremony will be Sunday, November 5th, from 2-4pm. Admission is free and open to the public.
The Juror is Mark Thompson, an award-winning photographer, videographer and filmmaker. Mark began his career as a painter before discovering his penchant for digital media, at which point he began making the move from being a full-time painter to full-time professional photographer and videographer. Over the years Mark’s training and experience has touched on a variety of different genres that include everything from commercial & product photography to fine art and even filmmaking. Mark has worked as photographer for such outfits as CBS News, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Deep Ellum Foundation, and the Lyndie Wilkes Advertising Agency (just to name a few), his photography as been shown in art galleries all over North Texas, and he is currently producing his first feature-length documentary film.
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.”
Dallas / Fort Worth residents can hop on over to Irving this month to see my award-winning photography in a traveling exhibit with other artists.
If you missed your chance to check out my Texas Longhorns at the Jaycee Park Center for the Arts in Irving, you’ve got one more chance to see it in person. Some selected pieces from the 2017Irving Art Association‘s National Animal Art Juried Exhibition, including both of my Texas Longhorns, have been invited into the IAA’s Traveling Animal Art Exhibit and will be on display, and freely accessible to the public.
There will be a reception on Saturday, October 7th from 7-11pm for the latest themed show–Cakeballs, Popcorn, Donuts and Beer–at the Central Arts of Bedford located at 2816 Central Drive in Bedford. Not only will I have work exhibiting at the show (a shot from the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark), but many of my prints (featuring a wide variety of subject matter) are also returning to the gallery.
Admission is free, so please come on by to support your local artists. I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet that there’s going to be some free samples from some of the food businesses in the Meadows Shopping Center.
5 hours of set up later, and my booth is ready! I have ready to hang art, prints ranging from 8×10″ to 16×20″, greeting cards, and art in mini-frames up for sale.
Look for the best local artists (including yours truly ^_~) of the Grapevine Art Project in the Foust Event Center (523 S Main St in Grapevine, Texas), exhibiting our wares: photography, paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry & more!
GrapeFest runs from September 14-17, with free admission all day Thursday, and until 5pm Friday. There’s free parking and a courtesy shuttle at the Grapevine Public Library. For more information please visit: https://www.grapevinetexasusa.com/grapefest/
Get a glass of wine, stop by, and enjoy some fantastic art!
The 2017 Irving Art Association‘s National Animal Art Juried Exhibition is now open. This year 101 artists entered 238 pieces of artwork, 65 of which were selected for display by Juror Patsy Lindamood. The show is free and open to the public and runs through September 29, 2017 at the Jaycee Park Center for the Arts in Irving, with a Reception on September 10th from 2-4pm.
Please be sure to swing by and check the show out!
This year over 101 artists entered across various mediums, each artist had the potential to submit multiple works. Only 65 pieces are in the final show, 2 of which I’m thrilled to say are mine–specifically, two images in my Texas Longhorn series.
The Show is Open to the Public:
August 27 – September 29, 2017
Jaycee Park Center for the Arts
1975 Puritan Drive
Irving TX 75061
Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: 1-4pm
Tuesday: 10:30am – 3pm
Awards Ceremony & Reception:
Sunday, September 10, 2017
from 2- 4pm
Jaycee Park Center for the Arts in Irving, Texas.
There is construction in the area, so best to check for the latest directions and road closures before you head out.
Please save the date and plan to come out and support the arts!