Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great men die in the Fall

Bob Epperson’s life ended today.

I took a long walk by the river this morning when I heard the news. Yellow leaves glistened in sunshine through fog at the tips of tall flowing trees above me. I began to grieve. I remembered the last 13 years of life since I met Bob, and I thought about the timing of things.

The river decided to speak a bit—or the trees; I’m not sure.

Great men are connected to the land, I thought. Like trees, they dig deep into the soil of their home. They root themselves in the community of their beloved families. They cherish their wives.

Great men go down shining with color.

Great men know winter is not the end. Without fear they shed the year’s growth in a glorious display, brighter than a rainbow, and settle down to rest. They don’t fret the cold that will soon grip them.

Great men know spring will come. New life is certain.

Great men have faith in Jesus.

Each year of their lives builds upon the next. Annually, the tree-rings of memories compile, one after the other. They bare the stories of each compounding year in their countenance. They shine with joy.

You must sit with these men for a while to get far enough into the trunk to hear the early stories. But they’re all there. They wouldn’t be the men they are without them. They live as naturally as a tree grows. They live from the fullness of their collection of experiences.

I heard about Bob and Gloria Epperson when I was 12 years old. The men at Thompson Photo Products spoke of them each time I dropped off my film or picked up my 4x6 prints of the Tennessee River near my home. At the encouragement of Charles Garvey, a pro photographer and Troop 6 scouting dad, I hunted them down at a local camera club meeting. The rest is a long history of smiles.

Bob was always celebrating he and Gloria’s decades of adventures—his big bear stories, big canyon stories, trophy horse stories, and Alaskan hunting stories. He was always living from the present acknowledgment of the overwhelming blessings all around him. You always felt this when you were with Bob. His life was a quiet but steady encouragement for me to live the same way.

Bob was always in awe of nature’s miracles. Whether in the far corners of our country’s national parks, or his gorgeous backyard above the Tennessee River, he photographed the wild scenery painted out before him. He noticed these sights were miracles. Every single one of them. This is rare today.

This spring, racket-ball sized hail fell from the sky. Some hailstones were spiked with razor-sharp barbs. Bob and Gloria’s windows were shattered. Their roof was torn up. Even their birdhouses were demolished. I think this actually bothered Bob more than the damage to his own house.

Bob collected the hailstones and stored them in his freezer in a silver pot. They filled his open hand, jittering back and forth. He insisted they were even bigger—that they’d dehydrated a bit. Our eyes were wide together with awe. We’d never seen anything like it in all our lives.

The day after Nora and I got engaged, we drove over the river to see Bob and Gloria. We hugged and celebrated a bit, then sat with them to hear stories of their early romance. We could’ve stayed for hours more.

It is with sadness and celebration today that I remember the one wild life of my dear friend and first mentor in the art of nature photography. I remember with steadfast hope that our friend’s journey has only just begun. That heaven is no longer a place beyond the mountains, but a living reality for a living Bob Epperson.

Great men die in the fall.

Bob Epperson was a great man.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wildlife Photographer of the Year - Awards Ceremony

Some highlights from last night's awards ceremony in London at the Natural History Museum. 1) Nora and I view the skeleton of Bruce Chatwin's (author of "In Patagonia") famed Melodon. This giant prehistoric cave-dwelling sloth is the mascot of our beloved city Puerto Natales in southern Chile.
2) A huge congratulations is due to Daniel Beltra for his winning image, "Still Life in Oil." It's sure to be an icon for the environmental impact and true price of oil.
3) Being among the world's most gifted wildlife photographers--a group of professionals who roll in the mud and stalk animals for a living--and wearing suits.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Color Report - Great Smoky Mountains

October 13, 2011 - Peak color from approx 3,500-5,000 ft.
Rainy conditions today provided wonderful windows into the ridges and valleys of America's oldest mountains. Nothing can show off Appalachia's autumn color like a clearing storm.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Panning the Horizon - handheld!

Exposures: 1/2 sec @ f/16

Friday, September 30, 2011

Balance: Earth, land, and sky

Where do stormy clouds meet mountains, mountains meet lakes, and waters meet beach?... Alaskan wilderness. Notice the lines in this image. There is a line of movement along the edge of the darkest storm cloud. There is a similar line on the furthest reaches of the water where it meets the beach. These mirrored movements provide balance in the image and allow the viewers eye to move within the scene for awhile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alaska Brown Bear - Free Wallpaper for your desktop!

Enjoy this free gift. Click on the image below, then right click and select "save image as" to your desktop. Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Alaska Brown Bears - Get down!

Tired of your typical images? Get down as low to the ground as possible for a new perspective. If you're on one of my tours, I'll be there to help you get up again : )

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Alaska Brown Bears - The Crew!

Allan, Josh, Teresina, Milton, and Paul

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Heading home from ALASKA.
Amazing encounters to share!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Speaking in London: Wild Photos Conference 2011

Pretty honored to speak alongside the most elite group of Wildlife Photographers in the world! Click on the image for a list of the speakers. I'm on Saturday, Oct 23rd.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How do I photograph fireworks?

Scout it out before dark!

Pick your vantage point purposefully. Think of your foreground.

- Local buildings or landmarks. Sunsphere! (call a Knoxvillean, and they will explain).
- Try silhouettes of people (Be careful here. Slow shutter speeds means blurry people. Well, unless they're glued to a lawn chair. Likely on the 4th of July actually. God bless America!)
- Reflective surfaces such as water, car hoods, glass, etc.
- Be careful about wind direction (choose cross wind or up wind but NOT downwind or the smoke will be a problem)

Keep it Steady!

Use a tripod and remote/mirror lock-up if you can

Shoot Manually!

Set camera to "M"

Start with
- ISO 100
- Aperture = f/11
- Shutter Speed = Bulb (leave it open approx 4 seconds to start)

Check your results and adjust accordingly.
- Look at your histogram and check for "blinkies
- Use white balance to suit local lighting if including a lit foreground element.
- Daylight white balance may work best for fireworks-only shots
- Don’t use flash unless you intend to light a subject very close to the camera.
- Manual focus set to infinity

- Choose your focal length for composition – wide for strong foreground, telephoto for close up detail of the bursts.


If there isn’t wind, your first shots will be the best (smoke builds and detracts from later shots). If there is, position yourself upwind where the smoke will blow away from your vantage point.

If the sky still has sunset color, adjust your exposure accordingly (meter off the sky, time your shutter releases carefully).

Take tons of pictures. It's digital. Folks, here's some simple math... Digital = FREE!

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your friends and family!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Alaska Adventure Photo Tour is FULL!

We're all aboard for a great adventure to Katmai National Park this September. It's really going to be an adventure to remember for Josh, Allan, Milton, and Teresina. Here are some images of what we'll see where we camp, where we fly, and where we encounter the Griz!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Photo Tip: Show Depth in the Landscape

In Fitz Roy last month, I placed my camera on this colorful lichen-covered rock and set my aperture to f/22. Aperture, also referred to as f-stop, controls how much of your scene will be in focus from near to far. This setting of f/22 allows nearly everything in the landscape to come into focus. Try setting your camera up this way in the Av mode (Canon) or A mode (Nikon) and shooting landscapes while having one prominent foreground element close to the camera.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Photo Class at 4 Market Square - Success!

Some feedback...

"Genuine, enthusiastic, casual, personal... LOVED IT!" ~ K-Kin
"Loved your enthusiasm and your hands-on approach when we were outside taking pictures!" ~ Cindy
"I really appreciate the way you share your extensive knowledge in a very understandable way!" ~ Claire.

Well, I suppose I'm batting a thousand on exclamation points so far. Thanks for a great class Beth, Susie, Carolyn, Cindy, K-Kin, Claire, Angie, Tammy, Denise, Katie, and Saimah.