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ZION NATIONAL PARK UTAH This image was made during the fall of 2015 in SW Utah. It was one of three parks that we visited on this tri...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We had quite a surprising experience during this field trip which took place in central Wyoming near Twin Creek. We had two dogs at the time-- Trooper and Sarah, and they both loved to accompany me on my field trips into the desert and mountains.

I had been photographing this rock formation when Sarah (an Australian Healer) became aware of something a short distance away. I did not realize it at the time, but we were heading in the direction of a deer carcass which had been left behind by hunters.

Suddenly, there was a major commotion and Sarah and Trooper were both in hot pursuit of what turned out to be a mountain lion which had been feeding on the remains of the deer. Needless to say, it took me totally by surprise. Now for the big shocker! That lion headed straight for the rock formation to our left, and with Sarah and Trooper in hot pursuit, it quickly climbed the side of that cliff and disappeared over the top.

There were two frustrated dogs left standing with their tongues hanging out, and one guy who was left holding a camera while in total awe at what had just taken place. This was my first of two lion experiences following our move from Virginia to Lander, Wyoming.

A year or so following this experience, my wife and I had witnessed a chase by a lion while sitting in our canoe in the middle of Frye lake during a camping trip into the Wind River high country.

It was a quiet morning and we heard a disturbance in the distance. A large doe was crying out as she was being chased by a mountain lion. We watched part of the chase as the deer and lion disappeared over the top of a nearby hill. Then, much to our surprise, a large buck came up from the rear in hot pursuit of the doe and lion.

I had more than one person tell me that they had lived in Wyoming all their lives and had never seen a lion; let alone have an experience such as we witnessed. And yep, this is how it happened, and I thought it would make a good story. This desert scape just brought back a couple of memorable experiences.

To view a larger image, left click on the photograph above.

Keep going! This blog just left me with a whole mess of empty white space.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Good publicity can become the key to a successful fine art career. But major feature stories do not materialize out of thin air. You must work for them.

I was well into my documentary of the Appalachians, and I had just broken down a major attitude barrier in 1972 that had prevented fine art photographers from entering multi-media art shows when people starting asking me when I was going to publish a book of my photographs.

Heck, the thought of producing a book at this point in my life was a bit overwhelming, but the public persisted in asking that question at every art show and exhibition I entered. My images and stories of the mountain people and old farm scenes continued to draw attention . People would constantly ask me how I managed to capture this or that landscape, or the image of a rustic old mountain man.

In 1973 it happened, and quite by chance. I sent a portfolio to the Washington Post, and I targeted the editor of Panorama with a potential story about my work This was the Sunday section that dealt with special area features.

Prior to this story in the Post, I had actually been working on a book, and I was disgusted to learn that publishers were not interested in this type of "regional" subject matter. While publishers were telling me one thing, the public was saying that they wanted a book. I could detect that I stood a good chance of selling a book if I marketed it myself. As it turned out, this became the story of my life. "Do it myself."

Because I had some experience with publishing, design and layout, I had put together a book titled, Windows to the Blue Ridge. And I had taken my material to a local printer to publish four thousand copies. This project literally took every cent I had and then some, but it was just coming off the press when I sent my story to the Post.

I was living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at the time, and we had a small rural Post Office that serviced the community. I can remember-- it was about the middle of the week when I received a call from our local postal lady, and she asked me if they could make a special delivery right away because they had quite a bit of mail for me. This was somewhat puzzling because I was not expecting anything, but I had not yet seen the previous Sunday edition of the Washington Post.

Bottom line, Hal Willard, had devoted three pages in the Sunday Panorama to my art and my new book. I had told him that I had just finished the publication, and he had worked it into the story, including the price and where to order. This was like winning the local lottery on a grand scale.

I spent the next two weeks stuffing book bags and darn near sold out of the four thousand copies. I immediately put in an order for a second printing of five thousand additional copies with some major upgrades in the paper and binding. In looking back, I figured I sold nearly all of the nine thousand books in less than a year.

At this time, I was working full time for General Electric as an advertising and sales promotion specialist. A short time later, I decided to go it alone as a full-time artist and commercial illustrator, and that lasted for almost nine years before the economy took a turn for the worse. I then joined the public information staff at Radford University. Another new book was in progress and it was titled APPALACHIAN BYWAYS. I had five thousand of those printed, and this time I went with a higher quality stock with full duotone illustrations.

I followed the exact same plan with APPALACHIAN BYWAYS as I did with WINDOWS, and it paid for itself within a month. I still have a few copies of that book, which was printed in 1984, sitting on a shelf, and I proudly tell people that I never paid one thin dime for advertising. Those books kept selling until I took early retirement and moved west.

In 2001, a similar size feature to that which was published by the Washington Post appeared in the Denver Post, and it dominated the Arts & Entertainment Section. The spin off from that was slim because the feature came out just a week prior to 911 and that turned the public heads in another more serious direction. The whole art scene has been a bit shaky ever since. In fact, as I write this, it would appear that the economy is no better off today than it was following the first depression which FDR had to cope with. My father talked about it for the rest his life, and often spoke of how terrible it had been.

Publicity can still be the key to success when it comes to marketing fine art; or anything else for that matter.

Left click on the image above for a larger display.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I can still remember making this image as if it were yesterday. It took place in Highland County, Virginia during the winter of 1972.

I was visiting friends near Monterey, and this area was better known as "Virginia's Little Switzerland." I was packing my gear up to head back over the mountain to the Shenandoah Valley when I spotted the ewe standing in the doorway to the old barn. I can still remember trying to decide whether to run for my camera pack or not, because it was already packed in the vehicle, but I did and the ewe stood fast as I set up my tripod and attached my 2 1/4 roll film camera.

By now a lamb had stepped forward, and I made several exposures before lamb number two stepped to the front of the opening. Several more exposures were made, but the one I liked the best was this one of all three sheep looking in the same direction. There were a couple of "decisive moments" during this session in the Allegheny foothills of northwestern Virginia.

This was one of the most popular editions that I had ever made. Thirty-eight originals were made from this negative. All were numbered and dated. It's a funny thing, every so often, I'll receive a note from someone who has tracked me down on the Internet to ask a specific question about one of my originals they inherited from their parents. That question really strikes home because it reminds me of how long I have been involved with my art.

Questiion number one is usually followed by a second, "How much is it worth?" That question used to bother me because I don't really know. But here is an answer that a rather well-known painter uses.

A product is always worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. Thirty years ago, you could have purchased a great Super Bowl seat for face value on the forty-five yard line about ten rows up for $35.00. That same ticket this year could have been sold for at least five thousand dollars..

I could not give you a more honest answer to your question. And, it has been several years since this quote was made so the price of that seat has likely gone up another notch or two.

To view a larger image, left click on the above illustration.