2022 In review, the funnest best what I loved doing the most!

2022 In review "Reflections Envisioned"

Another one in the Books.  I can't believe how fast 2022 flew by.    It was filled with so many interesting photo shoots.  Before the Pandemic, every year I had an end of the year review of the things I created with my camera.  Something I am often explaining to people especially to other photographers is I consider myself less a photographer than an artist.  I think photographers fall into two categories (I know there are many more but for this discussion I want to talk about 2).  Photojournalist and Artist.  Both philosophies of visual story telling are valid and neither should be help higher than the other.  And in truth all photographers do both.  The photojournalist sets out with his camera to relay to the viewer what he saw.  The truth of the event he is photographing.  It's not that there isn't art involved in this.  Actually, there is a great deal of creativity. 

Consider the situation that happened last election.  One candidate held a rally in a gymnasium of a small town school.  Only a hand full of people showed up and in the gym, it looked even smaller in number compared to the big empty space.  One photographer got right in the middle of those 20 people and shot up at the candidate to make it look like he was in front of a huge crowd.  Another photogahapher got as far back and as tall as he could to make that small crowd look even smaller because of all the empty space.  In my humble opinion, even though neither photographer photoshoped their pictures, neither did true photojournalism.  Be it with Photoshop or some other editing software or simply the angle the photo is shot the photographer can radically alter the scene because he chooses a place that portrays his message about the event and not the actual event.  One photographer wanted it to look like there was a lot and did the other wanted the few to look smaller and he did.  Neither portrayed the event truthfully.  The art of Photojournalism to choose the angle that tells the story as it is and not his message

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I don't consider myself a photojournalist in what I create.  My whole goal is to show you what I felt.  If taking a straight photograph that does that well is what I need to do, fine that is what I do.  But if that emotional portrayal needs something else (for me to add a moon to the sky or take color away or sharpen) that is what I do.  Mine is the art of emotional communication.  Some feel that is a betrayal of photography, which confounds me.  To me the art is chosen by the artist.  Like it?  Enjoy it, don't? move on to an artist you like.  I am constantly astounded at both the kindness shown me by strangers and the occasional critique not of my technique but how I morally betrayed what photography is.  Not that it either moves to me to change what I create, that is benefit of old age.  I enjoy the creating far more than the pats on the back.  So when you are looking at these photos, some are heavily modified some are not.  The important thing to me is how they affect you; do they communicate an emotion?  Sometimes I do a good job, sometimes I fail miserable but still like the image.

Venus with shadow it's night.

January Started with the planets aligning.  And I learned a fact about in the planets between the sun and Earth.  Because of their being between the sun and us, we see the shadow of the planet on the planet so in the above photo, Venus is situated on the other side of the sun where we can still see it but the part of the planet that is darkness (think our night) is also visible to us.  So it looks like a phase of the moon.  

  The planets aligned, from right to left Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus!

January only had two photographic sessions.  I had a serious of TIA's which started a lot of health issues for this year and as a result frankly this was the lowest shutter count year since I started doing art again in 2011.  But what it lacked in quantity I think I made up for in quality.  There was something about slowing down that allowed me to focus more intently on what I was doing.  The other shoot in January won't surprise anyone who follows me...  It was the full moon.

There are no photo shoots for February.  Health stuff just slowed me down a lot but I did manage to pull off an Art Exhibit that was the cumulation of 100's of hours of photographing the moon.  It was called the "the Intersection of Art and Science and in it I showed my favorite moon photos.

March I began to adjust to some of the health issues and while I didn't do much shooting, I did manage to some of my favorite sort of Photography: Performance.  B. King Hill wrote and produced with the Lone Star Ballet a wonderful performance of the Alamo.  

 

I didn't know what to think when King asked me to shoot it. I was worried I about my health limitations but frankly I have never been to a ballet before.  And while I love the Play Texas which has dancing, really dance isn't my thing.  But it turns out I was stunned at how wonderful the ballet was and how much I enjoyed it.

 

Storm chasing was great this season and started off in March with a few nice thunder boomers to chase and photograph.

I love the storms, don't get me wrong, the drama, the structure, the power.  I get just as jazzed and excited to photograph a tornado as the next storm chaser.  But equal to the dramatic power of the tornados and mesa cyclones, I love the sunsets I get in storm chases.  I think the juxtaposition of the storm and the beauty is just spellbinding.  This photo in May is an example of such an image.

This tornado season was one for the books.  I saw 9 Tornados and photographed 4.  The kicker is getting lifted off the ground by what I am pretty sure is a one.  I got to tell you, having your feet and body lifted off the ground was actually completely disorienting for me and left me with a bad bad headache (guessing pressure and sinus) and weirdly nauseated.  My feet left the ground and I stared to be pulled away from the truck then as the cyclone passed over, it actually threw me into the side of the truck and then I grabbed for my life and pulled myself in.  The truck was running so I floored it.  The scariest thing was I think the truck was being lifted and pushed as while I was on dry ground, it was like I was on ice, fishtailing.  

Check out this video of the event.  Not the best but for a phone video its not bad:  Tornado south of Paducah, Texas and Crowell, Texas - YouTube

To give you a better indication of what you're a looking at, here is the spin that created the winds that pull my fat 300 lb butt off the ground.  This is a screen shot of the cyclone.

Below is the Tornado, confirmed that I was videoing and photographing (phone in one hand and camera in the other).  That day I photographed 4 separate confirmed tornados and before the season was over, I saw 5 more but was too busy driving to shoot.  

There was a bit of a lesson for me on this chase.  Had I driven about 100 yards further, the shot of this tornado would have been in the middle of wind turbines.  This funnel was at least 800 to 1000 feet tall, so against the 300 ft turbines it gave the images I saw of those photographers who caught it as wonderful scale and those photos are purely amazing.  I consider mine very mediocre compared to those.  But I PHOTOGRAPHED the beasts.  Its so easy to get caught up in the could haves.  Holy smokes, the moment is tattooed on my mind as one of the most thrilling of my life.  When I saw what I could have I started to let the "wish I had done this differently" effect the mood of the memory from thrill to regret.  SCREW that.  Sometimes you have police your thoughts and be your own therapist.

The tornado at Crowell, Texas was really on a road trip to the Ft. Worth Stockyards for an art show and how could I not photograph the Dallas skyline from Reunion Tower?  BTW if you know where to look you can see where Kennedy was killed in this photograph.

Spring Flowers and summer beauty.  Well, some people don't consider rattle snakes beautiful, but I really enjoyed working with this guy.   Editorial note, I cringe every time I see people posing in wildflowers without paying attention.  I can't tell you the number of times I get this guy's cousins as company when I photograph wildflowers.

The moon, constantly I photograph the moon and in June I caught this glory rising.  

Another year photographing TEXAS the Outdoor Musical.    If you have not seen this masterpiece, there is a reason it is one of America's longest running outdoor musicals.  Get your tickets for this year.  

Joe Ed Coffman is not just a personal hero on mine for doing this yearly concert.  He is one of my closest friends.  The day Dan Fogelberg died from prostate cancer; Joe Ed realized a lot of men die needlessly.  Prostate cancer is easy to cure if caught early. But often symptoms don't appear till it is too late and if not to late, the cure is very invasive.  This concert which happens in September pays for any man in the Panhandle to have screenings.  cost is no longer an issue.  And talk about amazing music.  Get more information here FRIENDS OF FOGELBER

One of the things that I am very serious about is my bucket list.  I have a journal dedicated just to ideas and plans to accomplish what I really want to experience out of life The photo below was one of those.  Turns out, the longest train tunnel in the state of Texas is not far from my hometown.  The Clarity Train Tunnel which is no longer on an active track.  So, nature did what nature does, it is reclaiming the tunnel.  Currently in the summer it is the home of over a million Mexican Free Tail bats and those bats emerging is stunning to experience.  Frankly, photographing the event can be a nightmare, especially if the buggers come out latter and the sun is down a bit.  While there is light on this image to my eye, it was nearly pitch black.  Add to the fact these rascals don't just fly, they are nature's fighter jets and come out trucking which means I had to shoot in the absolute hardest conditions for a good photo.  While this image is not perfect, it is one I am proud of.  

Talking about your bucket list.  Here is Walt (89) and his girlfriend Nancy knocking items off their bucket list at the 2022 50th Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Since 2014 my oldest (years known as he always points out) and I traveled to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque.  This was number 50 and was one of the best times of my life.  HOWEVER, I had one of those things happen that every photographer has nightmares over.

I didn't edit while I was gone.  I shot about 10,000 photos, no joke and the best day, was amazing.  The sky was cloudy and filled with all sorts of drama, but the flight conditions were amazing.  Hot Air Balloons against dark drama filled skies, talk about mood!  WOW.  I got back to Amarillo, and I couldn't find that day's card.  And let me tell you, I am sure some of the best photographs of my life were on that card.  The fish was this big (holding my arms out wide as I can) and then the line snapped, and it was gone!  Oh well what I got was fun and more than photos the time was amazing and filled with laughter.

The Dawn patrol rising in the night sky before the sun even hints of its coming.

The balloon fiesta is so much more than just hot Air balloons.

Those two old guys with gray hair and wrinkles were one time 10 and met in gym class and the die was cast for a lifelong friendship.  We still laugh at fart jokes like we did at 10.  

The trees were turning in Taos and Santa Fe.  Oh my gosh can you beat a New Mexico Sky and the gold of Cottonwood or aspens?

Another bucket list got scratched off.  That was chasing the lady!  Coming close to 100 years old and she is still dancing up the hills and mountains of Colorado and New Mexico.  The Cumbres and Toltec Railroad still runs in the summer and is a favorite of mine to photograph.  

Ahhhhh Taos.  It is not just a city; it is a lifestyle and attitude.  I love this place so much!

I swear on the trip to Taos in late October, I was haunted by the spirit of Georgia O'Keefe.  To start with I started reading a book about her by accident.  I didn't even think about the fact that all the places in the book would be places that I would driving through to shoot the train.  I pulled off to shoot this vista over looking the  Rio de Chama and then I found this photo of Georgia...    It was one of those trips that make you go hmmmmmm... read my blog from earlier "Georgia in New Mexico" 

One of those ultra-cool Astro-events happened in December.  See the red orange dot?  That is Mars.  When the moon passes in front of a planet its called an Occultation.  Just after this shot when Mars disappeared, the clouds moved in and I never saw the moon the rest of the night much less Mars on the other side.

 This photo is a contrived image.  The bottom half is the individual shots of Mars moving closer, I was doing a time lapse, but shortly after it disappeared behind the moon, the moon disappeared behind clouds.  The top half I was just playing in photo shop to kind of see what I would have seen had the clouds held off.  Still kind of neat.

The year ended up with music.  I love photographing music, in part, oddly because I am tone Deaf.  I swear I hear though my camera lens. I know it is weird but this guy Jonathan Guidi is one of the most talented cats I know to play.   Below is his buddy Jason Hodges who is another guy I love listening to.  The way the blues look.

And another Christmas and New Year are upon us.  Here is to 2023