Checking Out The Sunflowers In My “Flyover State”

One of the nice things about having a Friday off is you get the opportunity to go to a place like Ginter Farms outside of Tonganoxie Kansas to test out some new camera gear.

One of the nice things about having a Friday off is you get the opportunity to go to a place like Grinter Farms outside of Tonganoxie Kansas to test out some new camera gear. 

As far as the eye can see. Well, almost.

Yesterday I took the Olympus Pen-F and the 14-42mm pancake Zoom to Ginter farms with my friend Tim to take some shots of the sunflowers that are open to the public. While the sunflowers were still spectacular, they weren’t nearly as tall as last year due to the weather this season. Late snow followed by an early heat spell and record-breaking rain almost did the crop in this year. 

Fortunately for us, we had 3 to 4-foot tall plants with plenty of blooms, And the crop was just as dense as always. It was the perfect backdrop to test the camera, the new lens, and a couple of trusted lenses I’ve been using for years. 

Each flower was covered with pollinators doing their thing. Shot with the 14-42 Pancake.

The verdict. The camera rocks, the lens is good but not great. I don’t mean the lens is bad, it’s just not as solid as my 12-40 Pro. It’s not as fast, or sharp which is expected since it costs about one-third of the pro lens. With that said though its diminutive size makes it perfect for travel which is why I picked it up in the first place. 

Shot with the 12-40 Pro.

As for the camera, I couldn’t be happier. This tiny body packs in powerhouse performance with the same sensor as the EM1 MKII and the same color engine as well. My only gripe is it’s not weather sealed. (neither is the 14-42mm lens so it really is a minor issue).

Shot with the 12-40 Pro wide open.

If you get a chance to go I highly recommend it. Ginter Farms is just one of the many reasons I tell people Kansas is not a flyover state. Like the Flint Hills, Tall Grass National Preserve, Monument Rocks, Little Jerusalem, Mushroom Rock State Park, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, the Oxford Grist Mill, and so much more it’s a perfect drive-through state. I think the next photo adventure in this flyover state will be at Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area in South East Kansas.

Monument Rocks from an earlier road trip.

Little Jerusalem Chalk Bad Lands

Every year I take an annual trip to Estes Park Colorado with my friends Tim and Bryan. Usually, it’s in May, but we have added a September trip to the mix as well. The point of this road trip is to do some hiking, take photo’s, relax and enjoy, weather permitting. I say that because sometimes Mother Nature decides overcast is all she is going to give us and it doesn’t make for very dramatic images. This year was one of those years. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t try, and actually Tim and Bryan got some pretty decent images in Rocky Mountain National Park. Uninspired by the overcast and not feeling the photo love, I busted out the Moment Macro lens for the iPhone and tried a completely different approach to things with mixed results. The good news is, Kansas showed us the love.

Driving to Estes involves taking I-70 for 9 to 10 hours across the great expanse of Kansas, and while most people think of Kansas as a “fly-over” state, it’s probably because they have never taken the time to venture off the freeway or see the Tallgrass Prairie lush from spring rains. For the last few years, we have broken up the drive by stopping in Oakley and the following morning making an excursion to a couple of landmarks about 30 minutes Southwest of the city and the freeway. Last year it was Monument Rocks. This year we hit the “Little Jerusalem Chalk Bad Lands” which is now a state park and will open to the public in June. I’m glad we did because Mother Nature smiled on us with a brilliant clear spring morning that gave us perfect golden light.

The photos below don’t do the size of this chalk formation justice. The columns rise at least 30 to 40 feet in some areas and Little Jerusalem spreads out over a couple of square miles. We only explored a small section, and I need to go back for some night photography and to get a better feel for how large this place really is. If you have time to make the detour and stop I highly recommend it.

A couple of things to point out. Currently (May 2017) this place is gated and there are No Trespassing signs up. Before June enter at your own risk. If you spend the night in Oakley or arrive at the wrong time of the day, be prepared for an olfactory overload. There are a feed lot and a hog farm right off the main drag and the stink can be pretty overpowering if there is no breeze. It was so bad when we arrived I almost lost my lunch when I got out of the car. The good news is, both Monument rocks and Little Jerusalem are far enough away, you won’t smell it there. You will also want to go in some sort of SUV. The roads to both are dirt and gravel and can be a bit rough. My GTI would have had a hard time negotiating some of them.

All photos were shot in RAW on my Olympus OMD EM-1 with the 12-40mm and processed with Lightroom, Photoshop, and NIK Color FX Pro.

Sunrise Over Kansas

This weekend marked the start of a new film project. This image was taken as the sun rose over Kansas this morning, following a full day of shooting.

The project will take about 12 months to complete, and updates will be posted along the way. Look for a Vimeo teaser in the next week or so, followed by style boards, storyboards, behind the scenes info and other details.


Driving Ms. Beverly.

Sorry for no posts the last two days. There is no data network on the road in the desert southwest.

Last Friday morning I got up at a quarter to 4 so I could catch a plane to Tucson Arizona. The purpose of the trip, was to move my 82 year old mother back to Kansas City, after my quite delusional older brother Mark decided to kick her out of the house. That is a post unto itself, that I am not going to go into at this time. I’m still just a wee bit angry about the whole situation and his ill treatment of our mom. What I am posting about today is the experience of driving about 1300 miles in a day and half across the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

The trip for the most part was rather uneventful. The roads were good. We encountered no bad weather. Traffic was typical I guess, but with gas hovering around 3.50 a gallon and diesel around 3.90 I couldn’t figure out how so many people could afford to haul these giant fifth wheel trailers from Arizona to places like MIchigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. Seriously, I would say that 1 out of every 10 vehicles on the road was a huge diesel truck pulling a monster sized trailer at 10 under the speed limit. All of them heading north, going home for the summer, after spending the winter at a trailer park in the desert southwest. It really was mind blowing. These people are for the most part modern nomads, living 6 to 8 months out of the year in a camper because they hat the cold of winter. It was absolutely crazy.

The other thing I thought was nuts were the number of people cruising at what must have been 100 miles per hour. I had my cars cruise control set at 77, and I was being passed like I was standing still. The only time I didn’t see it was outside Albuquerque, and that was because the highway patrol had probably 20 cops busting people for 10 miles on each side of the city.

The point here is, obviously people don’t give a damn about the cost of gas, and the environment. If they did, they’d slow down, and or buy a second home in the desert southwest. I would think the cost of the fifth wheel trailer, plus the cost of the gas, is equal to, or greater than the cost of a second home. If you had a second home, you could dues it as base camp for weekend get-away or day trips to points of interest. And if you drove at a reasonable speed, like the speed limit you would save enough on gas to pay for part of your trip.

One last thing. All the cellular networks need to update their maps to be just a bit more accurate. While they all boost coverage across large swaths of the country, they need to be perfectly clear… you might make a phone call, but you are not going to use all the features of your new smart phone. I had no data network at all on most of the trip. Most of the time I was on a degraded Edge network. And for a few hundred miles, my cell signal dropped in and out as the geography changed. This meant my GPS app on the iPhone was spotty, Photo’s and blog posts could not be uploaded, and email couldn’t be checked with any level of efficiency. Thankfully there were truck stops with free WiFi, and in New Mexico, two of the rest stops had it, but for the most part it was an Edge network dead zone.

I’m glad I’m back.

The Instigram 365 Project. 03/12/2011.

I should have posted this yesterday but I was at the Big 12 Basketball Championships watching KU spank Texas. Sorry Texas fans, I’m a Jayhawk through and through.

This image has nothing to do with basketball. This is my dog Cosmo, resting his head on my lap after I finished power raking, fertilizing, and over-seeding the yard yesterday. We adopted Cosmo almost 6 years ago from a foster dog home in Columbia Missouri. When we saw him come trotting out of the house we knew he was coming home with us. We didn’t even have to think about it.

By the way, Cosmo is also a Jayhawk so I guess this image has a little bit to do with Basketball.

Heritage Helmets. Cafe Racer Helmets from the UK.

In the state of Kansas you aren’t required by law to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. (I think that the state of Kansas should make it mandatory that all motorcycle owners sign the organ donor line on the back of their licenses.)  I know we are talking about a state that in the last decade has chosen to not believe in evolution, is home to that idiot Fred Phelps, and has now discontinued funding for the arts. Thank god I am almost in Missouri.

OK enough of that, the reason I mentioned the helmet thing is because if you are on a motorcycle or a scooter you should put a helmet on your head. If you are fashion conscious and need something that will make you look all retro cool, you might want to try Heritage Helmets from the UK. The Lambretta helmet is Retro styled, with cool graphics, and affordable. The helmets are emblazoned with the Lambretta logo, and as former Lambretta owner, I have to say Heritage has done a great job with the styling on these.

The helmets are a Cafe Racer style shell featuring a classic open-faced design, from the early seventies. They are painted, lacquered and finished in Italy with work being done by Giancarlo Daneo (Project’s owner and designer), to create Heritage’s initial range.

The helmets meet European Road Safety Standards ECE 22/05 and are made to the highest standard. They are manufactured by Project srl, who have been designing, developing and creating  motorcycle helmets for over forty years.

Heritage Helmets feature a shell made from a composite ABS with the inside lined with polystyrene, with a calibrate density for extra protection, safety and comfort. The linings are interchangeable, washable and are covered with a microfiber eco leather finish, which is breathable and absorbent. The buckle/safety chinstrap has a micrometric regulator for easy fitting, and a quick release fastener. Each helmet comes individually boxed and bagged, with an optional detachable peak and a booklet giving advice on safety, maintenance and storage.