Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...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 of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Dark Horse Region

The Dark Horse Region
A View into the center of the Milky Way

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What I see

Discovering a new way to observe the beauty that surrounds us can be an amazing revelation. Learning how to capture it photographically can be a challenge. Sharing it with others is the reward. This past summer I rediscovered the night sky and spent a great deal of time and energy learning how to not only observe it, but to capture it. It was a challenge that evolved into something much more than an exercise in technique or skill. It became a revelation of seeing.

I've often written about how photography is mostly about seeing light. But it is more than that really. It's about understanding what it is you see. There was a time I saw mechanically meaning I recognized the intrinsic value of what I was photographing, but failed to see beyond the superficial and cliche. Seeing photographically means to see through the superficial to find the solution.

More than likely last summer the efforts I placed on photographing the night sky may have seemed a bit over the top to most of my photography friends. A few of them gave it a try and then went on to other things that interested them more...and rightly so for them. Recently, I began to wonder why I was so captivated by that exercise. Night after night I would stand in some open field staring up at the night sky and painstakingly adjusting the homemade tracking devise I used to follow the stars across the field of view. Then later, after downloading the images and searching through the better ones I would spend time bringing out the best of what they were. Most of those images no one other than myself saw them, but that was okay. Because I wasn't taking them for someone else. I was taking them for myself.

You see what I saw was not just a night sky filled with stars and subtle colors of glowing dust along with nebula's filled with radiant gases. I saw a part of myself. In order to bring out the subtle nature of those glowing nebula's and radiant gases,  a long exposure was required along with patient and attentive tracking. When it all fell into place and that one moving image out of dozens materialized, well, a sense of satisfaction filled my heart.

As a result I began to understand how that experience revealed a great deal about life. Everyone has subtle light in their lives that requires a long personal exposure along with careful and attentive tracking to see. With the right amount of effort and understanding, the light in their lives regardless of how faint, will over time begin to glow with it own unique radiance. When I smile as an image of the night sky begins to form, I am smiling because what I see is so much more than stars floating in the sky . . I see lives beginning to shine.


Friday, February 14, 2014


There is a Moment of Light at dawn whose glow is far too brief…Whose age of radiance hovers in silence, yet whose adornment is ageless.

There is a Moment in Time when one should walk amongst the reflections and perceive with the Heart what Nature gives so freely.
Light has many qualities, few finer than when it interacts with nature. 


Light abruptly comes and goes. Clouds separate and golden beams race across the rolling hill of Kentucky. There is a moment of brilliant reflection…then it is gone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Selected Excerpts...

Recently I spent some time browsing through the collection of blog posts that have accumlated since 2010. I did not realize just how many there were. As I skimmed over some of them, certain quotes stood apart and seemed to define what the essense of this Blog is all about...I'd like to share some of them from across the past four years.


The diversity of nature may surprise us if we stop and observe closely enough. Photography presents us with opportunities to witness more closely subtle events that we more often than not simply overlook. Things we take for granted take on a new life when viewed from the perspective of a photographers eye. (Take a Closer Look - Dec 2010)

That one defining moment may never happen...but I'll continue to search for it and even though I'd rather be good than lucky...maybe a little luck will come my way and I'll stumble onto a magical moment of light and actually have my camera in hand. (That One Defining Moment - Dec 2010)

Never again would a sunrise simply be a sunrise. It would be a unique moment of time and place forever bound and tested against that morning...forever etched as a defining principle of what a relationship with God is all about. Few images can stir the soul like witnessing God's creative hand as it unfolds across his natural palette. Every morning...every new a unique creation there for the taking...there for all to share. It;s just a matter being still long enough to not just view it...but to experience it. (When Nature Wins - Dec 2010)

I've heard it said that an artist begins with a blank canvas and adds the elements required to create his vision. A photographer on the other hand, begins with a full canvas, and must remove those elements that interfere with the vision he has...(Imagine the Extraordinary - April 2011)

Photographs capture a single moment in time…being there at those remarkable times to experience a new day from its first moments of life generates a prolonged feeling that lingers well past the actual event. Every similar outing provides for a new experience…a new understanding of what is important. Being able to capture a few moments afield photographically…well, it’s sort of like catching a bass while and rewarding, yet, that’s not the main reason why I traveled that’s simply the bonus for having done so. (For Having Done So - More To Photography Than Taking Picutres - Sept 2011)

Experiences such as those generate unspoken words that attach themselves to our young minds as we grow older...words that echo across time attached to is those words that still encourage me...words that carry with them reminders of how those years provided a True Tempering in my youth that only now is becoming evident.  (True Temper - Oct 2011)

That day would have been just another ordinary day in the lives of two rather ordinary 13 year old boys…had we not had the run in with those mean cows and the evil intimidation of all those snakes. As it turned out…well, seems we’re still talking about it forty seven years later, so we must have enjoyed the day…at least part of it…anyway. (At Least Part of It...Anyway - Jan 2012)

Creating an image with impact involves blending composition with light…and using light to generate mood…using mood to influence purpose…using purpose to dictate timing…using timing to generate drama…and using drama to tell the story. (Creating Images With Impact - May 2012)

There are country sounds, feelings, and aromas that only summer can generate…farmers working their fields, hay being cut, and that warm breeze that makes the trees shake with life...and experiencing its warm embrace while sitting under a shade…I love sitting on the front porch listening to and feeling the spray from a summer rain shower…oh those summer rain showers that fill the air with their moisture laden aroma. It’s a great time of year for photographers as well. (Visual Sounds of Summer - July 2012)

No camera could have captured nature’s poetry spoken that morning...but, the images, sounds, and power of those visual verses that were performed then, have stood the test of time…for all other mornings have been tested against that single poetic example. (Poetry of Morning Light - Oct 2012)

Moments of the Heart are what I call them - moments of time and place blended in such a way as to carve new meaning into a faded identity. (Moments of the Heart - Sept 2013)

Echoes through the hills are made only from living forward, yet there will come a time when those harbingers from the past catch up to us, to reveal new meaningful purpose to why those adventures were important. By living forward each day, new meaningful echoes will follow you into your future.  (Echo's Through the Hills - Nov 2013)