Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center

Photo Exhibit – Arkansas River Valley Nature Center


For the month of November I will be having an exhibit at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith.

The exhibit will consist of 12 Gallery Wrap Giclee prints on canvas in varying sizes up 3′ x 5′.

Giclée commonly pronounced “zhee-clay,” is an invented name for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing. The word “giclée”, from the French language word “gicleur” meaning “nozzle”, was created by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working in the field, to represent any inkjet based digital print used as fine art. The intent of that name was to distinguish commonly known industrial “Iris proofs” from the type of fine art prints artists were producing on those same types of printers. The name was originally applied to fine art prints created on Iris printers in a process invented in the early 1990s but has since come to mean any high quality ink-jet print.
The earliest prints to be called “Giclée” were created in the early 1990s on the Iris Graphics models 3024, 3047, 4012 or “Realist” color drum continuous Hertz inkjet printers
Current state of the art

Beside continued development of Iris prints, in the past few years, the word “giclée”, as a fine art term, has come to be associated with prints using fade resistant “archival” inks and the printers that use them. These printers use the CMYK color process but may have multiple cartridges for variations of each color that increases the apparent resolution and color gamut and allows smoother gradient transitions.

Why Canvas?

Canvas prints last a really long time, typical dye based inks will fade in only  a matter of months, while the archival pigment inks will offer up to 200 years depending on material used and proper storage.

Images printed on conventional paper pale in comparison to canvas prints, which have an heirloom quality.  Canvas prints become a fine piece of art, not just a snapshot.

Gallery wrap provide a print that is ready to hang and display without the need for matting and framing.  Canvas prints look more like original paintings but with the rich colors tonal depth and detail of a photograph, giving the best of both worlds.

The exhibit will run thru the month of November.

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Mud Pit Racing – Poteau Oklahoma


Little boys like to play in the mud with their trucks, and big boys love to play in the mud with their trucks.

Mud pit racing, mud racing, mud running or simply muddin” is a form of off road racing in which the goal is to drive a vehicle through a pit of mud of a set length. Winners are determined by the distance traveled through the pit or, if several vehicles are able to travel the entire length, the time taken to traverse the pit.

This mud race was a part of the Poteau Balloon Fest held on Halloween weekend and sponsored by Team AIS Motorsports.









Hot Air Balloon Glow – Poteau Balloon Festival



The annual Poteau OK Balloon Festival was held on Halloween, and I attended to shoot the spectacle.  The photos here were taken during what is called a “balloon glow”.  A hot air balloon glow is when the balloons are set up and inflated at night or dusk, and the pilots light the inside of the balloon with the propane burner used to create the hot air that causes the balloons to fly.  The flames from the burner cause the colorful balloon envelopes to glow in the dark.  The balloons due not actually take off, so the pilots can only run the burner for a short time and then let it cool down to keep from lifting off.  The events now known as “balloon glows” were invented in Albuquerque in 1979, when local pilots inflated balloons on Christmas Eve night as a “thank you” to local residents.

Correction:  I received the following coment from Frank Capps.

“Not that it matters very much, but the Balloon Glow was “invented” by Dr. Bill Bussey in Longview, Texas at the Great Texas Balloon Race over 30 years ago.  It was done at the Longview Mall.  The mall still is a major contributor to the event and still sponsors the Balloon Glow. Albuquerque did not start their own Glow until the mid-80’s. I participated in the first Glow at the Balloon Fiesta.”

Thanks for the correct information.













Guide to Photographing Elk in Arkansas


When you think of photographing elk, you normally think Colorado or many of the other western mountain states.  The truth is that some of the best opportunity for great elk photography is in Arkansas.  The Arkansas herd numbers over 500 at this time and over 200 have been legally hunted in the state.  The best location for elk photos is in Boxley Valley Near the Buffalo National River, and this guide will deal with this area.

The University of Arkansas has published an excellent brochure which will give a great deal of information on the history and reintroduction of elk into Arkansas, as well as biological information about the elk.      Elk: Arkansas’ Largest Wild Mammal


The elk in Arkansas are wild and as such will go where they wish, they can jump most any fence and climb up and down very steep terrain.  Since their reintroduction into the state they have been spotted in many counties throughout northwest Arkansas.  Within  this wide spread area most of the elk are found in Newton and Searcy counties.  If you want to be sure and have the best chance of finding elk, then we narrow this down to Boxley Valley where they are easy to find and photograph.


Also be sure to visit the Ponca Elk Education Center on highway 43 a quarter mile north of highway 74 intersection.

google map

View Larger  Interactive Google Map

To find the elk in Boxley Valley you can just drive along highway 21 and highway 43 keeping a watch in the fields.  Be sure to drive slow and watch out for elk and others watching the wildlife.

For current information on the elk and where they have been sited I recommend visiting the Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery by Michael Dougherty.


Click on map to enlarge

(Map used by permission from Michael  Dougherty Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery)

When To Shoot

Now that you know where to look for the elk, you also need to know when to look.  Your best chances of seeing elk are in the early morning (from the time it’s to dark to see them) until about an hour after sunrise. then again in the evening from about an hour before sunset till dark.  Elk do not like direct sunlight, so the longer it stays dark (cloudy and overcast) the longer the elk may stay in the pastures before escaping into the woods for the day.  Also the colder it is the longer the elk will stay out of the woods.

The Rut

There is one big exception to the above, that is what is called the “Rut” or mating season.  During this time, September and October, all rules are off.  You may be able to see the elk at anytime of the day and they are more concerned with the mating rituals than with people taking there photos.  This is the best time for elk photography.



Now that we know when is the best time to shoot I should point out that this is also the worst time to shoot.  The time in the morning that the elk are easiest to find and most active is the same time that the valley is likely to be filled with fog.  A little fog can be great for mood and impact in your photos, but a little goes a long way, and Boxley valley often has a lot.  Many days by the time the fog clears out so do the elk.

When shooting in the fog there are some things that you can do to improve your photos:

  • Do not use a flash, it will only light the fog and give you an almost total white picture with no elk.
  • Do not use autofocus, the fog will reflect back and can make your camera continually try to focus on the fog.
  • You will need to add some exposure to compensate for the lightness of the fog (same as with snow).
  • Make levels adjustments in your photo editing software after shooting to bring back detail.
  • Use a tripod, the fog cuts the amount of light and causes longer exposure times.
  • Be sure that you have a lens cloth to wipe the moisture off your lens.

Boxley Valley Elk 1

Boxley Valley Elk 3

Current Weather


To photograph elk you will need to have a Long Lens, the longer the better, for best results this should be a 400 mm or more.  This does not mean that you can not get great shots with a shorter lens, but for optimal results you need optimal equipment.  As we discussed earlier most of our shooting will be in low light levels, which means we need not only a long lens, but a fast long lens (this is why the pros will spend 6 to 10 thousand dollars on a lens).  It is often said, and I totally agree, that the equipment does not make the photographer, but in some cases it can be the difference between getting the shot or not, and this could be one of those cases.

Using a digital camera with a higher resolution, (more megapixels) will give you the ability to crop your photo (in effect zooming in) and still maintain a quality print at normal print sizes.  As a general rule the larger the sensor,  and the newer the camera, the lower the digital noise will be and the higher the ISO that you can get acceptable photos shooting in low light.

One of the most essential pieces of equipment will be a good sturdy tripod.  Shooting with a long lens in low light will cause long exposure times and handholding will not work (besides it gets real heavy quick).  I prefer to use a ball head tripod so that I can quickly move the camera any direction without adjusting multiple knobs and levers.

Be sure to have extra memory cards and batteries,  you will be surprised how quickly you can fill a card and batteries die faster with long exposures and cold temperatures.


When taking a portrait of a person the most important part of the photo is the eyes, these must be in focus.  The same holds true for wildlife photography, the eyes must be in focus.  Many of the other factors from people photos translate to wildlife photography, don’t be content just to get a photo of an elk, work to get a portrait of the elk.  This is where we must have a long lens, it is both dangerous and illegal to get to close to the elk, a long lens lets us get up close and personal without getting up close.

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An alternative to the portrait is Environmental shot, in this case we use a shorter lens and show the environment that the elk is in.  In the Buffalo National River area this be can be some spectacular scenery and makes for great photos.  When shooting this type of photo pay close attention to the background and watch for unnatural distractions and frame your photo as you would for a great landscape.


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Try to capture some action, at first you will be trilled just to get a clear in focus shot of an elk, but work toward getting a good action shot of the elk running, jumping a fence, engaged in sparring or a bullfight, or other exciting action situation.

Running Elk





Elk are wild animals, these elk have been exposed to people along the highway for their entire life and are much less spooky when you drive up, stop, and get out of your vehicle.  Make no mistake they are not tame, mature bulls weigh 600 to 800 pounds and have horns that can kill and can be dangerous and unpredictable.

Do not cross the fences (much of the land is private property) or attempt to chase the elk.

When stopping to photograph the elk be sure to pull completely off the road, this is a major highway (any paved road is a major highway in this neck of the woods) and has a lot of truck traffic, so do not block the road.  Oh yeah the sheriffs dept will ticket you.

Watch out for traffic before stepping into the road, chances are they are looking for elk not people (who should know better than to walk out in front of a moving vehicle).

Fall Canoe Trip on the Buffalo National River



This week I had the opportunity to make a canoe trip on the Buffalo National river with my son Matt.  This is an extremely rare possibility this time of year, normally in October you can step across the river at most points, only finding major water in the deep pools.  The fall foliage was not quite at it’s peak, but still spectacular.  We launched at Steel Creek and floated to Kyles Landing, I feel the most scenic section of the river.  We hiked up to Hemmed in Hollow, a 200′ waterfall (the tallest between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains and found the water to be flowing good.




















I will post images I have captured, primarily in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but also from my travels.  I will also post articles about photography , photographic tips,  articles on using Adobe Lightroom and other random photo related information.

 I will be posting an ongoing project I call "Photographic Destinations".  In this I will give details on where, what, when and how to photograph various destinations both locally and from my travels.  Click on the "Photographic Destinations" under Categories and they will be sorted by location.


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