June 30th, 2016
Price falls is on Falls Creek in southern Oklahoma. It is the largest of a series of cascades on the creek. This photograph is one of my favorites but it was also one that was challenging and required some planning to make.
The falls is in a shaded glen which makes photography very challenging because of the extremes of light and shade on most days. I had photographed this location a few times before but was unhappy with the results and knew I needed the soft light of an overcast day for best results. So I waited for a cloudy day during the peak time for autumn color. When it arrived, I headed out while anxiously watching during the hour and a half drive as the cloud cover began to weaken. But the cloud cover held up as I hoped and I was able to make several good images. I hope you enjoy this one.
July 13th, 2015
Rather than take the reader's time with self-important rambling, I want to use these blogs to introduce my photographs.
This first photograph is a very early one for me. It is a rare, for me, 35mm photograph because, back in the "film days", I usually used 6x7 or 4x5. It is my first published photograph and has appeared in several publications.
The image was made from the top of Mt. Scott in southern Oklahoma. Mt. Scott is in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge near Lawton. This is a rugged area inhabited by buffalo (I know it's supposed to be "bison" but I just can't bring myself to use that term), elk, turkey, wild longhorn cattle, mountain boomers ("collared lizard sounds so dull), deer, and rattlesnakes among other species, Here the animals run free and the people are warned to be alert for them.
The Wichita Mountains were revered by the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache. Geronimo and Quannah Parker are buried nearby. The land here is mixed grass prairie that has never been plowed dotted by low granite mountains that are really spectacular. It's the beginning of the American Southwest. This is area is one of Oklahoma's jewels and one of her best kept secrets.
The photograph was made at the end of a long, hot summer day of hiking in the refuge. I had a brand new 200mm lens for my Pentax MX and when I saw the sun begin to set I thought it would be ideal for the new lens. So I set my tripod up on a high rock and waited for the sun to move between the two trees. But what I imagined did not happen. As I waited, the sun began to disappear behind some clouds. I had to make the exposure earlier than I intended and shortly afterwards the sun was gone and never made it into the planned position. Some have criticized the image because the tree branch protrudes into the sun or because the sun is partially obscured by the clouds. A painter could make it "perfect" but, to me, those are the unscripted parts that make a photograph special.
Take time to view the image (http://myrsphoto.artistwebsites.com/featured/2-tree-and-sun-from-mt-scott-richard-smith.html) and my others. And, if you're in the area, visit Oklahoma. It's much more than you expect.
July 13th, 2015
Lone Peak Mountain is in northwest Oklahoma’s “Glass Mountain State Park”. These red bluffs look like something right of a Zane Grey novel. This is indeed the Old West.
“Glass Mountain State Park” is an interesting name. Locals pronounce it “Gloss” but it’s usually spelled “Glass”. There are some colorful stories about the name. One tale is that, when the area was first settled, a traveler from England called the area the “Glass Mountains” because of the sparkling selenite crystals in the mountains. But his British pronunciation of “glass” confused residents who began calling them the “Gloss” mountains and the pronunciation stuck.
The park is right off of US Highway 412 west of Enid, OK. US 412 crosses the northern part of the state. The entire highway is a worthwhile drive with several significant areas along the route. Loan Peak Mountain and Cathedral Mountain are two of the major peaks but a local resident told me about “Dead Indian Mountain”. I don’t know if it’s the official name and I couldn’t find it until I drove into the setting sun. Sure enough, there on the south side of the highway, was the shape of a body laid out on the top of a bluff silhouetted against the sunset.
This photograph was made with a Pentax 6×7 on Fujichrome Velvia color slide film while on assignment for Oklahoma Today Magazine.
April 11th, 2015
“Polychrome Pass in Clouds”. This primeval scene always brings to mind the first verses of Genesis. I can imagine it just after creation. It just looks timeless.
Polychrome pass is in Denali National Park. After a long bus ride (the only way to get there) over a narrow gravel road this scene opened in front of me. The clouds obscuring the mountains and the flattened perspective of a long lens give a very abstract quality to the image. Denali Park is like no other place. The distances here are vast (that valley is several miles across) and the treeless tundra emphasizes the vastness of the place. The river in the foreground is called a braided river because little streams within it wind around each other. In the spring, it runs full with snow-melt but in the summer, only the little streams remain. The colors in the hills give the place it’s name and behind those hills lurks the Big One – Denali.
I was fortunate to come of age while living in Alaska and, 40 years later, the return trip was special. When I lived there, Alaska was isolated and remote. Now it is modern and yet still the Alaska I knew. It’s one of the world’s best places to see.
April 10th, 2015
Pioneering color photographer Eliot Porter quoted Thoreau for the title of his 1962 monograph, In Wildness is the Preservation of the World. This image reminded me of Porter’s work so I referred to his book in the title.
I have often tried to capture in a photograph the wild tangle of natural order. I think this photograph does that. Look past the tangle of branches, leaves, and undergrowth to see the order of nature. Not the neatness we humans look for but the order from chaos that is natural order. This photograph was made about a week after the peak of fall color in Beaver’s Bend State Park in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma. I was near Lost Creek, a small creek that connects to the Mountain Fork river on both ends. Beaver’s Bend is a part of the Ouchita National Forest. It’s an area of mountains, forests, and extraordinary natural beauty.
August 9th, 2013
This round barn is well known to Oklahomans. It is on old Route 66 in Arcadia, a small town not far from Oklahoma City. The photograph was made in 1987 and was used on the cover of Oklahoma Today magazine in April of 1988. In the summer of 1988, the barn collapsed. As can be seen from the roofline in the photograph, it was about to fall at the time the image was made.
What caught my attention at the time was the contrast between the wildflowers and lush greenery and the old barn. The barn was nearly 100 years old at the time and had been a center of community events in Arcadia in the early 1900s. At the time of the photograph, it was unused but still a Route 66 icon. After it collapsed, the community got together and rebuilt the barn. It is now a center of community activity again.