2017 Great American Eclipse

As fate would have it, I happen to live [just about] on the 2017 Great American Eclipse line of totality.  For the last couple of months I decided to learn how to photograph the event from some of my favorite photographers. Mainly PhotoRec TV and The Northrops.

Myself and my fellow photo-enthusiast friend Chris decided to drive about 45 minutes south to a little town called Decatur where we had the most possible time in totality (about 2 and a half minutes). The first spot we went to was a TVA Dam called Watts Bar. We decided to move because the steam from nearby cooling towers was pouring in to the deep blue sky directly in front of where the sun would be during the eclipse. Not good.

At this point we made the decision to hop back in the car and drive randomly. We headed about 7 miles further south and saw a dirt road off to the right, down towards the Tennessee River. When we got to the end, we found the perfect spot, and were greeted by an enthusiastic couple from Atlanta. He (being something of a science nerd) had set up binoculars and a piece of foam core and was able to project the whole thing. It also projected on to my daughter’s hand quite nicely.

When the time came, we were ready. It’s not an exaggeration to say that an event like this not only takes your breath away, but becomes a life permanent memory in an instant. Night time in the middle of the day was brief, magical, and life-changing. Please enjoy my gallery.

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Animals & Mountains? Winner winner chicken dinner!

Recently I was fortunate enough to win a contest with photorec.tv and McKay Photography Academy. What did I win? A trip to Montana and Wyoming!

After arriving in Bozeman, first on the agenda was to drive up in to the Wilds of Montana to visit Animals of Montana. We photographed a Tiger, a Bear, some Fox, Wolf and Coyote pups, a Lynx, and my personal favorite, a Black Panther named Bagheera (every bit as cracky as his “Jungle Book” namesake).

Then, we drove through Yellowstone National park, stopping at iconic sights such as Old Faithful and the Mud Pools until we arrived at the jaw-dropping Grand Tetons. I have always wanted to see these mountains and I got goosebumps at first glimpse!

Thankfully, two days of awakening before sunrise yielded some great photographic results. We then returned to Bozeman for a much-needed night’s sleep before flying home.

I will cherish my photographs, memories, and new friends! Thank you so much especially to David and Ally McKay from McKay Photography Academy and to the terrific Toby Gleston of Photorec.tv (one of my RM’s).

 

A fun new tool for my mountain biking hobby.

My nephew Sam left his job at the prestigious automaker [Jaguar] to join a small startup in London called Beeline. All I can say about making such a seemingly risky move is that he must have really believed in the idea.

Developed as a navigation tool for urban cyclists in London, the super-simple device displays an arrow pointing to the direction of your destination. Think of it as a compass where the user gets to define what is ‘north’. This is especially useful in London because the maze of medieval streets and alleys don’t follow a grid and don’t always conform favorably to turn-by-turn GPS solutions.

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Once I learned about the product I was immediately elated. No, I don’t live in a big city and drive to work every day in my car so what on earth would I do with one of these? Well it just so happens there is another place where traditional GPS isn’t helpful, and I’ve been lost there – more times than I care to admit! That place is the spiderweb of single-track mountain bike trails all over east Tennessee!

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An arrow? a beautiful fluid, fantastic, liquid-crystal arrow? Pointing to where I parked my car at the trailhead? Simple! Perfect! Yes! Just what I needed! I have been out with it twice now and it has taken the anxiety out of my ride. No more staring at google maps seeing a dot in the middle of nowhere. No more maps trying to figure out where I am on it. Just an arrow pointing me back once I’ve had enough.

There is one caveat though – and it is right in the product’s name. I’ve found the arrow can point out into the lake or across a ravine (literally a beeline to your destination), making it tricky to figure out which way to go. The way around the problem is to set weigh-points when you stop for a break and a drink of water. Kind of like dropping breadcrumbs you can navigate from one to the next to get back. If you love to mountain bike,  get yourself a beeline!

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

After spending years living near the Great Smoky Mountains it has become one of my favorite spots in the world. One of the oldest mountain ranges on earth, they continue to move and inspire me more and more with every visit.

From the charming old valley of Cades Cove with its 18th century homes and churches, to the towering peaks of Mount LeConte and Clingmans dome. A stop on the appalachian trail, the park boasts some of the best hiking and backpacking in the eastern United States.

The Smokies are home to more varieties of flora and fauna that anywhere else in the country and the mountains boast some of the nation’s only surviving old-growth forests. I hope you will plan a visit soon – in the meantime, check out my gallery here.

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The fun side of being an in-house creative

Being a corporate in-house Graphic Designer and Photographer can often throw some unexpected fun your way.

Yesterday, I was asked to take photos for the Halloween costume contest. So much color, so much personality, so much laughter. I welcome a distraction like this to allow me to recharge and express my creativity with something different – if only for a couple of hours.

These are but a fraction of the awesome employees who participated, but I would like to thank everyone involved for making it such a great day.

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The Smoky Mountain Air Show

After years of absence, Knoxville finally saw the return of an airshow. With great anticipation I bought a nice new lens and practiced for months beforehand on fast moving objects like birds and passing cars.

When the big day arrived, we fought the massive crowds to find a spot for adequate viewing. I had a great time panning the deep blue sky for the aerobatics and military jets as they roared past at great speed framed by the glorious Smoky Mountains.

At the end of the day I offloaded my memory card on to my Macbook Pro with great anticipation. The results did not disappoint. All my hard work and practice payed off and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

As an added piece of sentiment, we learned that days after this show, Blue Angles Pilot, Capt. Jeff Kuss lost control of his aircraft and lost his life. He holds a special place in my heart.

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Capt. Jeff Kuss can be seen in this photo – far left, No. 6.