Spring Day at Lake Tyler

It was one of those days that make you glad to be a dad. Spring on Lake Tyler with birds singing, dogwoods blooming, and a high of 75°. Our boys, thirteen and eight,  were new to East Texas, and although we had family here, they were missing the friends they’d left behind in Dallas. 

So it was good for all of us, after the chaos of moving, to get out and bask in the beauty of their new home-water. We had caught a few fish, but spent a good part of the afternoon just motoring around the lake, enjoying the weather, commenting on other boats, other fishermen, and admiring the nice homes with boat houses, some big enough to live in, our oldest pointed out hopefully.

By 4:30 they were getting restless, starting to pick at one another, and reminded me that I had promised them dinner at Mickey D’s. A bank of gray clouds had rolled in with a chilly breeze out of the north and we slipped our jackets on. If I had been alone I’d have stayed till pitch-black dark, throwing buzz baits along the shore line and hoping for a monster blow-up, but I knew it would take me a while to get the boat out and battened down, so I headed back toward Hill Creek and the public ramp where we’d launched. I reasoned that leaving now we’d avoid the “dusk rush” as fisherman crowded the ramp, but as we swung around Langley Island I saw two boats already waiting, Darned. I aimed for the island bank across from the ramp so as not to impede boat traffic running up and down the creek and began idling in place. There was an older couple in the boat nearest us and a lady with iron-gray hair in a bun looked back at us and shook her head. Then I saw the hold-up.

The white and yellow cabin cruiser looked to be at least 24-feet long and it was attempting to mount a trailer parked at a 60° angle and blocking both lanes of the ramp. The pilot was doing her best to angle the boat enough to drive onto the trailer, but one of the piers prevented her from getting a straight entry so instead she managed to run the cruiser up onto one of the runners so that the blonde piloting the boat fell back on her butt and began trying to rise. This was made more difficult by a layer of beer cans which we could now see covered the floor of the craft. The girl in the passenger seat began laughing and then gave a “What are ya gonna do?” shrug to the four boats now waiting offshore. The woman driving the old Suburban with the jack-knifed trailer had gotten out and was laughing, too. She put her hands to her mouth and yelled, “We’re drinkersh, not driversh!”. Seen together, all three of these “drinkersh” appeared to have come out of the same mold but a generation apart. I was pretty sure we were looking at a family of buxom, bikini-clad, and obviously inebriated blondes ranging in age from eighteen to fifty-five or so.

Just as the Grandma turned to re-enter and re-position the truck, a flat-bottom with an ancient 20-horse Mercury raced up onshore to the left of the ramp and two young bucks hopped out. The bearded one trotted up and conversed with Grandma, while the other walked the trailer down to the cruiser and climbed in. He managed to back the boat off the runner while his buddy drove the old Suburban up the ramp a hundred feed, straightened the trailer behind the truck and expertly reversed it back into the lake snugged up alongside one of the piers, leaving the second lane open for business. Boat buddy positioned the cruiser and ran it up on the trailer with his first pass, then goosed it till the prow hit the stop roller. By this time there were two more boats behind us in the line and we all began applauding. One buddy bowed and the other raised his fist out the truck window in victory as he eased the cruiser out of the water and up the ramp. The grandma hugged one buddy while the mom and teen daughter in the cruiser hugged the other. All of them waved to the crowd offshore and we waved back. 

My dad instilled in me a tradition of helping damsels in distress and as the boys and I sat eating our burgers I did feel some regret at not having pitched in to aid the cabin cruiser blondes. Later that evening, though, as the boys recounted our Hill Creek ramp adventure and described the scantily-clad blondes in detail, I could tell by the look my wife gave me that I had made the right decision in remaining safely offshore.

Dusk at Broken Heart

I photographed this property over a period of a year, working to capture the home, workshop, covered arena and guest quarters in one shot with a bit of the dramatic. My aerial shots were fine for establishing the layout of the property and buildings, but I wanted a sunset shot to set the scene. I showed up an hour before dark and asked the sellers to turn on all the lights, waited till the lights inside and heavenward were relatively balanced, then my Higher Power granted me the sky and light I’d been looking for. Hallelujah!

Sunset Over South Tyler

2018-09-17, Sunset Over South Tyler & Flint

We get some killer sunsets from time-to-time and I put the Phantom 4 Pro up 300 feet to get this panorama of South Tyler and Flint. The “river” you see is actually fog flowing down the creek bottom (Shackelford and Mud Creeks). On the skyline at right are the Faulkner Park lights. Below is a single frame with more detail.

Fog Over Old Lake

Fog is the ultimate diffuser, and on those days when it hangs on I like to make some snaps, particularly over water. This is Old Lake, the first in a chain of three in our neighborhood.

~ Shot 10 Feb 2018 with the Light L16: ISO 100, Exposure 1/100 s, Focal Length 85mm

The Greatest Generation Is Passing

Recently I was going through some old RAW files in my “To Be Processed” folder and ran across this shot from five years ago when our son Lucas interviewed Capt Arnold Nass for a school project. I sat in and photographed the captain as he described flying his B-24 over the beach at Normandy on D Day. He said he could have hit the German machine-gun emplacements on the cliff, but his assignment was to blow the rail lines inland to halt Nazi reinforcements. He went on to serve as a flight instructor and then had a career in oil & gas. He passed in 2013 at 93 years. We’re losing some great Americans.

Captain Arnold Nass


Children are so open, with such mercurial expressions, that sometimes it’s better to just shoot video. You won’t hang it on the wall, of course. With the iPhone, there’s another option, and that’s actually holding the shutter button down to capture a series of photos.

That’s what I did recently when I visited our grandson, Jack, at his daycare during recess. We were sitting under a huge bull pine and I was teaching him how to use pine needles as mini-helicopters when he began to exclaim about the size of the tree we were sitting under. This whole sequence took less than five seconds, and you can see how his facial expressions changed.

Semi-Spontaneous Portraits

Brooke & Jody McClosky

For the past few years, my walk-around camera has been a Fuji XT1. It is mirrorless, so lighter and more compact than my Canon 5D’s. It isn’t fast, though, and I use it mainly for scenics and posed photos. It’s not good at capturing our dog or our grandson in motion, but when I see something interesting along the road, I hit the shoulder and pull it out. Or, when I am in a closing with a real estate client, I like to grab a shot for Facebook. Last Friday, I went to Jacksonville to close with two people I like a lot…a young couple I’d helped find their first home. Now, with two little girls, they are moving home to Rusk and selling their home in Bullard. We closed in the old formal dining room of the John Wesley Love home, now an office for East Texas Title. So I posed them in front of the big bay window overlooking the old orchard that had made the Love’s wealthy (he was known as “The Peach King”) and again in front of the massive chandelier.

Vegetable Study

Andrea had just made turkey chowder, a family favorite using a Greenberg smoked bird, and I was cleaning the kitchen when I noticed this interesting geometric pattern formed by the celery stalk she had discarded. I experimented with various backgrounds, then brought this into editing software and experimented first with color and then black-and-white versions, which I wound up taking to finish.

Event Photography: Fall Festival

I’ve never pretended to be an event photographer. I know some very good ones, some who have created profitable businesses chronicling conventions, sales meetings, wedding receptions, rodeos, etc. However, a couple of times a year our neighborhood puts on events and I show up with my camera to get some snapshots. I can handle the more static stuff…adults visiting and food prep, but kids moving fast present big challenges. I’ve shot this event a half-dozen times before and so have some general idea of how to approach it, but in retrospect I missed a lot. Ah well, there’s always the Spring Picnic next year.

The Camera Most Often Carried

How often have you seen something you felt worthy of a picture but, darn it, you didn’t have your camera. If you haven’t, then you’re an unusual person.

For those who carry a smart phone, you might be surprised by the level of imagery coming out of these ubiquitous devices. My wife, Andrea, like to stalk flowers in our garden with her iPhone and post them on her Facebook page. Kent Barker, a wonderful photographer who has posted some of his abstract iPhone images on his Facebook page, recently posted a link to Emil Pakarklis’s video on iPhone photography tips. It’s over-long (almost 28 minutes), but I watched it and learned some things I didn’t know. Last night I received a follow-up, the winners of his most recent iPhone Photo Academy contest winners. I really had no idea an iPhone could deliver images like these.

Shot and edited with iPhone. Photo by Elina Mitsova

Shot and edited with iPhone. Photo by Elina Mitsova.