Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out in a hammock...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Kentucky Skies

Kentucky Skies

Friday, September 12, 2014

For What It's Worth

Shortly after 9/11 back in 2001, like many others I was emotionally torn and many ways angered by what had happened. I just read a well written post by a friend of mine that reminded anyone who might have also read it about the cost of that day. A few days after those tragic events on 9/11 I wrote the following article as a letter to the editor before the days of Facebook. I had all but forgotten about it until I read my friends post. Even though I no longer actively post to this blog, I will make an exception and re-post this letter in honor of those who have fallen protecting our country.


I am not easily angered nor am I quick to spew condemnation. I am not easily saddened nor am I a pillar of strength. I rarely stand face to face in arguements preferring to allow each their own view. Yet, the events of this past week have challenged all of these emotions almost to the point of breaking. For what it's worth, and with a heavy heart, this is what I think.

What is Freedom worth? We have seen our flag, the symbol of our country, Old Glory, droop to half mast in recent years far more times than we should. We have seen her burned and spat on in hatred. We have seen the good nature of the American people along with their generosity stabbed in the back often by the very people we were trying to help. We have wept over fallen comrades and witnessed our people dragged through the streets with cheering mobs mocking who we are. Yet, we remain restrained, and often forgiving.

What is Freedom worth? Generations past have defended this country at terrible cost against enemies who threatened our way of life. Inspiring moments of patriotism helped to write our history and the countless stories of courage have proven to be a common element. We have faced fear and uncertainty. We have also risen to stand tall amongst the ashes that were heaped upon us by sinister elements. We have grown stronger through adversity and our leaders have shown courage through the years. Yet, freedom has never been easy to attain, nor easy to secure.

What is Freedom worth? There are cowards in this world claiming through the name of God their right to murder innocent people to further their cause, then when the truth about their activities is revealed, they slither away to hide behind the innocent. God surely must shutter at this perversion of his name.  There are people who have hated for so long, they no longer understand what love means, and there are idiologies that promote such things to a blinded following. I have heard it spoken about how America needs to understand who those people are and the plight they have endured for so many years. I believe the problem is not so much that we do not understand them, but they fail to understand what America stands for. Most of their problems are of their own making because of their ideologies, but they chose to blame us because they lack the courage to look with a critical eye upon themselves. They fear who we are because our freedoms have given us so much and their way of life has suppressed them for so long they are unable to comprehend what true freedom is or what it means to us. They are quick to ride the sentiment wave blown into motion by fanatical characters who too often lead them toward a path of destruction.

What is Freedom worth? I am too old now to reenlist in our armed services although I did serve many years ago. Even so, the patriotic fervor that has stirred inside of me this week has caused me to wish I were once again a young man. I no longer have the physical strength, endurance, or recuperative powers I once had, but I do have a sound mind and the ability to think and reason. What I can best do now is to stand with my country and the young men and women of this generation who must defend her. I can encourage them through words and deeds and by showing personal courage here at home to stand with determination and confidence to see this thing through.

What is Freedom worth? I feel I have been wrong over the years when I too often failed to give credit to our younger generation. I see now the strength of their values as they rise to stand against an enemy whose desire is to destroy us. From what I have seen, they will once again do what we as a nation have always done, and do it with courage. I am so proud of them.

So, what is Freedom worth? I shutter to think more what it would cost should we ever lose it for freedom is priceless and our nation is once again discovering just how precious it is to our national heritage. We face today a most sinister adversary who may be able to inflict grievous harm upon our nation. Yet because of this, we stand on the verge of defining who we are as a nation in the 21st century. We are a people united again for a common cause, one of justice and understanding, courage and steadfastness. Greatness is never artificially created, it is a product of the character of a nation under God. We are connected by a timeline extending across generations who have overcome great odds. Our moment in that timeline is now, our moment of greatness is now.

For what its worth, I love this Land and pray God will continue in spite of our failings to shed His grace on us. God bless America.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Your Best Lenses are Your Eyes – Your Best Filter is Your Imagination

Well...I've come to a milestone and made a decision. After much thought and the better part of five years and 230 posts, this will be my last Blog Post on Beyond The Campfire. It's been quite a challenge and a wonderful journey one I have both appreciated and have been encouraged by the response and feedback. I hope the few words I've shared about photography and about getting outdoors...beyond the campfire...has encouraged and challenged you the readers and followers. Thanx for all the support. It's been fun, but time to move on. I will from time to time provide a post on the Nightscapes portion of the Blog, but for now, I close the book on Beyond the Campfire and leave you with this one final post.


My worst habit is I tend to photograph the same subject matter all the time. Not sure how many images I have snapped of that old downed tree with the snarled overhanging branches being reflected on the surface of the pond behind my house. For some reason I keep taking that same old shot over and over. I suppose thinking that one day I will actually come up with a shot of some merit using that subject. So far it hasn’t happened. Sometimes we get tunnel vision and only see what is obvious when more often than not, what is not obvious provides the greatest potential for a great photograph. What happens is that we rely too much on mechanical devices to do the work for us and fail to use our greatest assets; our eyes and our imaginations.

Your eyes are your best lens. It is thru these lenses you build the composition. Learning how to see photographically is the key. Your best filter is your imagination because employing that aspect of the photographic process is what opens your mind to all the possibilities. It is being able to see beauty amongst the ordinary and then developing the technical skills to capture it, that separates the great photographer from the average one.
Using your eyes means to see beyond what is simply visible and using your imagination resolves 

being able to recognize how different light and a changing atmosphere will affect the scene. What is most important is being willing to be there when those times exist. Two favorite examples of mine are the first two images included with this post. Both were taken at the same location, a place I found several years ago in the middle of an ordinary day in the middle of the summer. On that ordinary summer day, the ordinary nature of this little valley would have been easy to overlook. But, as I gazed across the valley from my high vantage point I recognized the potential of the place. Arching behind the tree line along the bluff flowed Barren River. I knew Kentucky was a great place for foggy mornings. I also knew that in a few months when cooler weather arrived that fog could potentially provide a wonderful photo op.
Using my eyes, seeing what wasn’t there…yet…I was able to visualize something extraordinary evolving from this ordinary location. It took several pre-dawn attempts to catch the right moment, but when it happened, I was there. The moment would not have happened had I not used my most valuable lens; being able to see past the ordinary.
The last image is one I took a good number of years ago using slide transparency film. It was almost by accident how everything lined up, but what I saw visually was not what I created photographically. That came from looking beyond the ordinary, beyond what was visible, to see what was possible. It became one of the most iconic images I have ever taken and have never duplicated.
With this being the last post, I want to leave you with one final word of encouragement. The world is full of amazing opportunities, so do not settle for the simple, the ordinary. Seek out the extraordinary and use your imagination to create your own amazing images.
Thanx for following...