Upper Buffalo River
Along the River . . .
The Buffalo River is a visual feast. It combines gin clear water with limestone bluffs, large river rock, spectacular juxtapositions of aquamarine, shades of gray rock, old wood, and exposed roots . . .
River Rock and Reflections #52531
As is often the case, when a photographer seeks a particular image, he is presented with a totally different opportunity. In this case I was getting into position to try to photograph a river otter. While sitting and waiting I shot pictures of the surrounding river area. This rock formation, above the river pool, was a pretty compelling subject. The astonishing clarity of the Buffalo National River water coupled with the angle of the light, created a beautiful scene with both translucence and reflections. The river otter never showed up, but this picture was not a bad consolation prize. It is one of my favorites because it captures the water colors so well.
Late Fall Color Reflections at Kyles Landing #58014
This is late fall color and an unexpected composition. The location is just down river from the Kyles Landing campground on the BNR. The Buffalo River pools up during the dry seasons, and these still waters offer a perfect setting for reflection shots. This fall color shot was at sunrise and it is light transmitted through the leaves rather than reflected off them. The image was also captured by combining three exposures in an advanced technique called high dynamic range photography, often termed HDR. The combined exposures create more color depth than what is available in single exposure pictures. The resulting images are luminous, and I believe HDRs better show the emotions we feel when we witness nature's splendor.
Sunrise at Big Bluff #57697
Big Bluff is about a half mile downstream from Steel Creek on the Old River Trail. The bluff is just huge and more visually compelling than its better known neighbor, Roark Bluff, but it is a good hike to get the shot. This shot was taken at sunrise off the downstream edge of big bluff at sunrise. It is a reflection shot of the illuminating fall color with the backdrop of the bluff. This reflecting pool is typical of the buffalo in the dry season. The rocks and old snags offer an interesting contrast to the smooth surface of the pool. This shot is also an HDR. The method allows me to open up shadows as well as capture highlights that otherwise might be lost. The human eye works by assembling collages of different glances to assemble images. HDR is much closer to the way our eyes work than more conventional photography.
Sweetgum at Roark Bluff #54355
This is one of my best photos for 2008. It is an HDR of a foggy morning scene along the Buffalo River. Roark Bluff is the main bluff at the Steel Creek Campground. It is a very popular photography destination. A friend of mine and I were scraping around the river looking for fall color shots and this one presented itself. It was a moody, foggy morning that added a lot of emotion and mystery to the composition. HDR methods allowed me to open up the shadows and set the trunk of the tree quite dark. In many ways, this photo reminds me of the compositional styles I have seen in Chinese paintings. They typically have strong trunk lines, moody atmospherics, delicate silhouettes, and water. The claret toward salmon color of the sweetgum, counter-pointed with the river rock and its reflection, completes the composition. I also like the complexity of the soft backdrop, inviting the eye to linger.
Late Fall Sunrise at Kyles Landing #58011
This is another one of my best photos for 2008. It is an HDR of a morning scene along the Buffalo River downriver from Kyles Landing. The softly backlit fall foliage contrasts with the solidity and mass of the rock. Soft foliage is contrasts with the rocky river bank and the bluff face in the background. This is an interesting study in reflected light, contrasting elements of soft and hard, and color and monochrome. This would be more minimalist in its nature, and like most such compositions, perhaps easier to understand. The area around Kyles Landing is one of the very best places for a photographer to prospect. It is arguably the hub of the Ponca Wilderness area and a great base camp for hiking many of the best attractions in the upper Buffalo River area.
Sweetgums on Buffalo River at Steel Creek #53827
This is the Buffalo River at the far east end of Steel Creek. This fall 2008 a series of sweetgum trees bordered a narrow stretch of the river. One of the amazing things about sweetgums is that there is no predicting what color they will turn in fall. In fact, I have seen sweetgums with every different color they might turn, on the same tree, and very different colors on the same limb. This is not to complain, an Arkansas fall without sweetgums would be mighty plain.
The focus of this picture are those sweet gums, and they display the entire range of typical sweetgum color with the exception of the dark claret. The light makes this picture, it was cutting across the bluff just tipping the edges of the trees in mid-morning. It was one of those fall days with clouds blowing around and good lighting was not easy to get. I recall scrambling with my camera and tripod to catch this unusual lighting. The result was a memorable pictures from the fall color season in 2008. It has an unusually long tonal scale, and dramatic lighting, in contrast to more typical fall color pictures.