Visit Marengo Cave: In Photos From 2015

Click on the Marengo Cave formation to see more photos.

I posted last week after our visit to historic Marengo Cave that I am no cave photographer. That decision on my part hasn’t changed; I plan on keeping my camera above ground from here on out. But I did find a few images that show a landscape that is incredibly different from the one in which we usually live. It’s not for me … but it does have a haunting look (if not beauty) that can catch and hold the eye. And if you are a cave person, I hope these photos encourage you to plan your own visit to this fascinating environment.

Click on the shot at the top of this post to see more photos. Or just click here.

It’s Monday, a week leading up to the glorious encouragement and message of Easter. Spend some time reflecting on the miracle of that day.

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Clay County Road Trip: More Photos

Oil cans
Click on the Standard Oil cans to see more Clay County photos.

Today is a chance to share time with Stu and John Moore of Clay County, two generous and friendly men that we were privileged to spend time with last Saturday. While checking out an old car Curt knew about we were directed just down the road to meet Stu and his son John. They are Standard Oil men, through and through. They have a few beautiful old vehicles that they have fixed up, real beauties. And they were most generous with their time, giving up the lunch they were about to enjoy to give us a tour. It was a really good couple of hours.

John even was kind enough to pose for a portrait, something most people just won’t do anymore. He showed me a pristine Standard Oil globe, the ones that sat on top of the old gas pumps. This one was green, a real rarity. Stu explained that it was designed to sit atop the diesel pumps (the red globes went on the gas pumps). This one was just beautiful, and when I spotted an old rocker nearby … well, all three subjects went together perfectly. John, thank you!

We all shot photos of the cars and the various old items scattered about. It was a most fun afternoon, made better by new friends. It won’t be all that long before we head back to Clay County to drop off some images for the Moores and to check out the old schoolhouse again. I look forward to it.

Click on the Standard Oil cans to see a few more images. Or you always can just click here.

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BPC Road Trip: Marengo Cave Photo

Cave steps
Click on the cave steps to see closer into historic Marengo Cave.

Yesterday members of the Bloomington Photography Club made the journey down to Marengo in Crawford County to shoot historic Marengo Cave. We hadn’t been there in five years, and it was time for a return trip. We had a very nice turnout of 22 members, great considering we had to leave Bloomington in the early afternoon to arrive at 5 PM. It was a day filled with friends … and very challenging shooting conditions.

I had forgotten what it was like to shoot in an environment that was exceedingly difficult to expose properly (think lots of pitch dark with bright, bright artificial light of varying sources and intensities). There wasn’t a lot of color to work with except for a few spots. Composing was difficult given the lack of light in most places, and even though we had two hours with the cave all to ourselves, we had to keep moving. I was reminded quite early on how bad I am at cave photography.

We arrived home late, and I had time to download my card and process exactly one image. It is the one at the top of this post. Click on it to see it larger, or just click here. I’m trying to enjoy it as a good memory; it may end up being my only keeper from the entire shoot. Cave shooting is joining large events and weddings on my list of Things-I-Don’t-Enjoy-Shooting.

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Clay City Roads: Photos From Indiana

Click on the school tower to see more Clay County photos.

I processed a few photos from Saturday’s road trip over to Clay County with good friends from our photo club. Curt did his usual exceptional job of finding things to shoot, and we worked around the sunny conditions to bring home a bit of Indiana that is fast disappearing. I have more to show, including a couple of incredibly friendly and gracious men we met, Stu and John Moore. But they will have to wait a bit as Tuesday’s chores take precedence.

Saturday was a really good day, spent with good friends. Click on the school at the top of the post to see more images. Or you can just click here. And, I added these images to a gallery of road shots already in progress. I think I will limit that gallery to a total of 20 images. As soon as that many are uploaded, the next one chosen will bump an existing one. My hope is that by the end of the year the process will produce a gallery of shots worth seeing. And visiting here in Indiana.

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County Roads: More Miles, More Photos

Brummetts silo
Click on the old silo see more photos from our recent Brown County trip.

Saturday we joined friends from the Bloomington Photo Club for a day trip to nearby Clay County, part of the 2015 County Roads Tour. Our good friend Curt has an uncanny knack for ferreting out old structures in interesting, out-of-the-way places. We had a great time, and we came home with a few fine images. I am working on those shots, even while finishing the photos from last week’s trip to Brown County.

Todays images are those from last week, from our search for the rumored Field-of-Cars. We stopped whenever something caught our eyes; we tried to capture a feeling for some of the parts of our region that are fast disappearing. I hope you enjoy a few more of these images as much as we enjoyed finding them.

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County Roads Take Me Home … Counties Near Monroe

Brummetts barn
Part of our 2015 Country Roads Tour.

Spring break and spring weather beckoned to us again today. We packed up the cameras and headed out to see what we could see. The sky was cloudy all day … a large softbox with little sun or contrast. But that meant we could shoot all day without worrying about harsh shadows and blown-out colors. We were looking for a rumored stash of old cars over in neighboring Brown County (one we never found). But we drove roads we had traveled before and roads we were unfamiliar with. And we found a few locations that made the day a good one. Our next His Light Workshop with Bill Fortney now has a few new spots for the road show.

I didn’t have time to do much processing yesterday, but I did get to a couple. There is something about those old barns and homes that draws the eye and touches the heart. I have more to do, but here are two to get you started. And to remind me that those backroads hold a lot of shots and a lot of memories.

Click on the old barn at the top of the post to see more. And enjoy the coming weekend, camera in hand.

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Backyard Hoops: One More Road Photo

Click on the basketball goal to see more.

One more photo from Tuesday’s trip through down some of Monroe County’s backroads. As the sun began to set the light changed, giving a glow to the deepening shadows on the great old barn we found. It became time for an Indiana youngster to put up his basketball for the night. Tomorrow’s light will mean another game, another chance at glory.

Click on the barn at the top of the post to join in on the Indiana experience.

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Monroe County Roads 2015

Click on the lunch time scene above to see more photos from our backroads drive.

Yesterday my lovely wife and I set out to drive some of our county’s backroads for a while, feeling the urge to get out with our cameras. It wasn’t as warm or sunny as the day before (it felt as if summer had arrived that day when the temperature hit 74), but it still was a far cry from winter’s blasts. We played hide-and-seek with the sun and clouds as we looked for old barns and other structures that caught the eye. And we enjoyed being together … any keeper images being icing on the cake. It was a good day.

I came home with a few photos that I liked. They are a bit different, a bit eye-catching. They are the little surprises that pop up around a curve or a bend in the road, locations that call out to your camera. I am going to add to this new gallery as the year goes along and we continue casual drives throughout Monroe County. Come along for the ride and get a feel for what some of our more rural places have to offer.

Click on the Ketchum Road residents above to see a few more images. Or you always can just click here.

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Day To Night: Chasing The Light With Jessica Drossin Actions

Drossin effect-2
Bill arriving in Bloomington on a clear and bright day.

Last week I mentioned some fairly low cost actions from Jessica Drossin, ones I used in part to make the spooky insect images featured in that post (click here if you missed that one). I also used them to turn day into night with a simple Brown County photo (here is a link to that one). The Drossin actions and overlays make the task much easier … and more fun. I recommend her products; they work. If you haven’t taken a look at her site yet, use this link to do so today.

Drossin effect-1
And how quickly the weather turned dark and rainy!

Last week I was honored with a visit from my dear friend Bill Fortney. He came through Bloomington on a clear, bright day. The sun was shining and there were some pretty harsh shadows all around. I took a shot of Bill in his car as he drove into town from Brown County, just sort of a snapshot. And I found some time later top lay around a bit, seeing if I could change the look and the mood of the image. That effort was made much easier by using the Jessica Drossin actions from the insect photos.

Drossin effect-3
Grandfather Mountain on a clear day at elevation.

And then I ran across an older image from last year, one made at a His Light workshop on Grandfather Mountain. I liked the photo and how it showed what the wind and weather conditions do to the small trees high up on the mountain. The weather can change rapidly at elevation, and I wondered what this poor little tree might look like in other than sunny conditions. I played around a bit, and voila! A completely different feel and look!

Drossin effect-4
And on a day when I would rather be safely down at the bottom of the mountain.

We sometimes need or just want a certain look for our images. And it’s not always possible to get exactly what we want out in the field … unfortunately. In those instances, it’s Photoshop to the rescue (in my case aided by my Drossin actions). Photoshop is an incredible program, but there is much to be said for not re-inventing the wheel each time we want to do something. I keep an eye out for software that will help me get the look and feel I want from an image, the vision we have when we click that shutter. Let me again recommend the Drossin actions to make that special job a bit easier. She may have just what you have been looking for.

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Two Free Copies Of Lexar Image Rescue 5: A Giveaway From Me

Lexar IR
Send me an email for a chance to win a copy of Lexar Image Rescue 5.

I have two copies of Lexar Image Rescue 5 (recovery software for your memory cards) to give away this week. They are brand new, legitimate codes that each are worth $40 retail. I will award them to two readers who email me between now and Thursday, March 19, at midnight (EST). I will announce the winners this Friday and send out the codes via email the same day.

The back story is that I purchased two new Lexar cards last week (there was a really nice sale from Adorama, and I wanted a couple of bigger cards for shooting on vacation this year). The cards came complete with a free offer of Image Rescue 5 (Lexar’s latest version) for each. Since I already have that particular piece of software downloaded on my computer, these two were going to be wasted. Now, I own them; I have every right to transfer ownership to another photographer. And you have every right to be the recipient of this giveaway (no cheating going on). The software is one you hope you never will need – but will be very happy to own if you ever do. It retails for $39.99 on the Lexar site, but the offer is free with the purchase of any professional card. All you do is go to the Lexar site, download the free trial software, and then enter your personal code whenever asked. A link to the download site is here.

To enter, just send me an email at prior to this Thursday at midnight (EST). Tell me why you would like to have a copy of the software for yourself. Friday I will choose two entries and send out the codes to the winners. It’s just a small way to say thank you being a loyal reader and to make good use of a nice gift from Lexar.

This promises to be a fine week. IU is on spring break, and Bloomington will be quieter and less crowded. The weather is warmer, and the outdoors beckons. Spend it with your camera in hand.

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Bill Fortney And Hinkle’s Hamburgers … It Was A Very Good Day


It was a great burger … made even better by a great friend.

My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney is off on an epic road trip (you need to follow his blog the next three weeks for daily updates). His car is loaded up, and he is headed across legendary Route 66 to capture images that are all-to-rapidly disappearing from our American scene. It was my pleasure and great fortune that he was able to stop for a short visit yesterday in Bloomington, one that included lunch at Hinkle’s Hamburgers. Hinkle’s is a local treasure, a Mom and Pop hamburger joint that has been around since 1930 (and I don’t say Mom and Pop in any sort of disparaging manner). I don’t get to Hinkle’s often, but every trip there is a most satisfying one (I can only eat so many double cheeseburgers, fries and vanilla shakes anymore. And then there are the deep-fried pickle spears ….). It was a reminder that I gotta get back there more often.

I have to admit, lunch was made even better by sharing it with Bill. I have a short list of people I admire most. And almost all of them are relationships from our church and His Light (the two go together perfectly). Bill is a very special man; he is incredibly talented, yet humble and gracious-to-a-fault. He is generous and thoughtful, always putting others ahead of his own desires. He is a model to emulate and a man to follow. It has been my extreme pleasure to be able to call him friend.

Pardon the missing bites, please. Hinkle’s is that good.

And I was tickled that Hinkle’s is going on the list of Bill’s Best Cheeseburgers, an honor many vie for but few obtain. It helped, I know, that the steel grill the burgers are cooked on probably hasn’t been scrubbed since about 1960 or so. All the meat is hand-ground fresh at the store each day; the shakes are hand-dipped. And the breaded pickles aren’t chips; they are spears. I came home smelling like a burger joint (not an unpleasant smell by any means), and I came home most satisfied. If you ever come for a visit you have to look me up. It will give me another excuse to go to Hinkle’s again, and it will give you another restaurant to put in your book of places-that-must-be-seen.

Thank you, Bill, for making a Thursday a great day. And thank you, Hinkle’s, for allowing me to show off a little bit of Bloomington to a dear friend.

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Mad As Heck And Not Gonna Take It Any More: AT&T And Apple

Blake web
Please … don’t make us mad!

I don’t like just re-posting information from other websites (unless it is likely that few of us would find it otherwise). But I ran across this great article yesterday over on The Luminous Landscape that deserves to be passed around a few more times. It features Apple and AT&T and Roberts Camera up in Indianapolis (a fine place to do business). It sums up the maddening experiences all of us have experienced as consumers at least sometimes in our lives. It is a call to action to stop doing business with anyone who doesn’t value us for just being us. And it is a reminder to us as individuals not to ever act toward others the way the writer was treated in this timely post. In other words, it is worth reading (or re-reading).

Click here to read this article over on The Luminous Landscape. And take a vow not to do business with those who take us for granted and don’t value us as customers and partners. Stand up, photographers! Say, “I can be mad as heck (under the right circumstances), and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Give me the service I deserve, or give me death! (Well, at least give me a different company to do business with). United we stand … divided we stand somewhere else! A good business relationship saved is a business relationship earned. Time and photographers wait for no business. Ask not for whom the shutter clicks, it clicks for thee! OK, you get the idea here ….

It’s a good article that makes sense for us as photographers, for us as people. Thank you, Luminous Landscape.

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Special Effects For Those Spooky Images: Jessica Drossin


Shed night-1
Click on the Brown County shed to see what Jessica’s effects and some imagination can do.

I was asked several times yesterday and then last night at a photo club meeting how the spooky insect photos came about. First, of course, you kind of have to let your imagination go a bit off center. Then you go through your files and find what you have on hand to mix together for that final image you have in mind (the vision thing). Then you add in the finishing touches, files I didn’t possess and didn’t think I was going to any time soon. Enter a very talented photographer and texture/Photoshop actions developer, Jessica Drossin.

I read about her when I was checking out the work of another photographer I really admire. Taking a close look at some of the text and keywords accompanying his images, I ran across Jessica and her website (click here to do so yourself). One of her offerings is a set of spider web overlays; yeah, I know … who has spider webs for sale? Then I found all kinds of neat items in the store that I haven’t seen anywhere else – and certainly not of the quality that Jessica has come up with. It’s a playground of sorts for those of us who collect little bits of textures and effects and different stuff that just might come in handy some day … cause, hey, ya never know.

Shed night-2

The second version, which you really should see larger.

What I found was that Jessica’s products are pretty affordable (depending on what you are in the market for). They are of high quality. They are easy-to-use. They are fun. They work. With a bit of experimentation and some imagination you can produce some images that stand out from the crowd. I recommend her site and her work highly. If you are interested in playing around a bit on that special occasion, give her a chance. You may be very glad that you did.

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Attack Of The Giant Man-Eating Praying Mantis: Spooky Insect Photos

Tarantula spooky (1 of 1)

Click on the tarantula in her lair … if you dare!

I had a chance to play a bit with some recent insect images while waiting for the winter weather to (hopefully) finally leave our region. I went with sort of a spooky, more sinister look than previously … something suited to the rather threatening posture of my tarantula and praying mantis. They may be more suited to Halloween than early spring, but they were fun nonetheless.

Click on the tarantula in her lair to see what nighttime may bring to your own backyard. Or you always can just click here.

Welcome to another Monday!

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Meet John Keatley … Compliments Of Zack Arias

I check in with Zack Arias pretty regularly. He is a darned fine photographer and a rather interesting human being. I like seeing what he is up to, get his take on whatever is going on around him (even when I don’t agree with that take on things). He also is a very fine teacher; I have his video primer on lighting that is outstanding (I received it as part of a photo package advertised last year at some ridiculously low price). So, when I checked in yesterday I found this promo for a new video, one featuring photographer John Keatley.

Now, I had never heard of John Keatley, which isn’t surprising given the sheer numbers of very good photographers in the world today. But Zack has a good eye for talent and quality (hey, he has gone almost exclusively Fuji, you know!), and he posted a trailer for the video. What I saw was intriguing. Here, let me show you what I mean:

I was interested enough (and leery of spending $50 for a training video about a guy I hadn’t heard of) that I looked up Keatley’s own website. This is a very talented person. I spent a lot of time looking at his images and reading his blog. There was plenty there to admire and a whole lot to wonder about in terms of creativity and motivation. Here, use this link to the Keatley website to see for yourself. There’s not a lot of teaching or technical information on the site, but it is instructive (usually) to spend time with some work of others, works you admire. And I definitely admire what John Keatley is up to.

Spend some time with John on his site and see what you think. Consider if $50 (sale price for this week only) is worth the asking price? Let me know your impressions; I would be most interested in what you think. And spend some time with Zack while you are at it. He is a most interesting guy, and you can find him by using this handy link.

Oh, and my recent post on Bloomington’s last snowman of the season? Forget about it! More snow overnight and through this morning. Spring, wherefore art thou?

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