The most useful software I use...

I think of Evernote as a digital kitchen drawer. You can capture and store anything, audio clips, web pages, pictures, notes, etc… and Evernote will automatically synch so your info is available on all your devices. You can forward e-mails, add attachments and files, or make checklists. Anything you store becomes searchable both by content, or by tagging with keywords. Items are stored in individual notes, and can be organized into notebooks. I use it all the time to save webpages and articles I want to read or reference later. Another of my favorite uses is to take meeting notes into Evernote. You can record the meeting and type in your own notes and thoughts, and be able to find it all later. There are tons of ways to use this powerful program, visit their excellent website for tips, ideas, and examples. Evernote is free, but for $5 monthly or $45 yearly you can move to the Premium version, which gives you more features, notably more storage, offline notebooks, and the ability to search within saved PDF’s.

Wandering along the Route 66 Mother Road

This is among the last visible remnants of the famed Stoney Dell Resort on Route 66 in the Missouri Ozarks. Visited by Mae West, the resort included a 100 foot swimming pool, tennis courts, dancing, boating, fishing, dining hall, restaurant, service statin, bus stop and guest cabins. Reportedly it was so busy the Highway Patrol was often called in to direct traffic. 

Mother Nature is a fickle mistress

For nearly two weeks now, I've been hoping to add to my sunset project. Each day, the clouds have been magnificent all day long, magnificently white against improbably blue Ozark says. Then, about three hours before the sun starts to fade, the clouds start to dissipate, and by prime shooting time, they are gone. Finally, the streak was broken with this image. 

random tip - how to always keep an owners manual handy

Check the website and download digital copies of the owners/users manuals for all your technical gear. Store these files on your smartphone, or on your personal cloud-based website. This gives you emergency access so you can look up how to use an obscure function, or if you need to look up customer service contact info.

 

random tip - emergency stash

Everybody knows you should keep a spare $20, $50, or even $100 bill tucked away in a back pocket of your wallet for emergencies. Problems where do you keep it where you won't see it and be tempted to spend it, or when you're like me and use a money clip. The solution is to go to a local drugstore or on Amazon and pick up a small aluminum keychain pill holder. I bought a set of 6 on Amazon for $7. They measure 1 7/16" X 33/64", and use an o-ring, claiming to be watertight. Take your emergency cash, keep folding it in half until i fits in the holder. Now anytime I'm out, I've got an emergency stash, hopefully enough to get me out of whatever jam I managed to get into.                                                                                                                                          

ozark vista

Capturing scenic vistas in the Ozark countryside can be harder than you think. It's not just finding high ground to stand on, it's finding high ground to stand on where you're  not surrounded by 100 trees. 

random Tip - Photoshop shortcut

When your working in Photoshop, you're often zoomed in very close and need to move the viewing area around. Some go to the toolbar and select the "Hand" tool, those extra savvy folks hit the "H" key (h for hand) to switch to that tool. The Jedi Photoshop use holds down the spacebar. This turns turns whatever tool you're using temporarily into the hand tool. As soon as you let up, the tool reverts back to what it was. This makes working on detailed areas with the brush tool so much faster and smoother. 

random Tip - Protect yourself and your gear

Go to your local sporting goods or discount store and buy a handful of cheap rain ponchos. My local store sells them for 88 cents each. Toss a couple in your main camera bag, (one for you, one to drape over your camera) Put another one in the glovebox of your car, and every other camera bag, or box of gear you have. Sometimes I tape them to the inside of the box lid to keep them out of the way, yet easy to find. 

random Tip - Cheap camera cases you can hide in plain sight

The back to school items are hitting the shelves already, so it's a great time to pick up some gear cases. The insulated sandwich packs/lunch carriers make great cases for your camera of electronic gear. The insulation serves as padding, and if you leave it on the backseat of your car, it doesn't scream out "steal me", instead it says, "I'm to poor to buy lunch, so I had to bring a bologna sandwich from home, so I don't have anything expensive here"  When I had a Jeep Wrangler, I kept my camera in a Strawberry Shortcake lunch bag for several years until the zipper broke. Bonus point: if you’re a guy you will become secure in you manhood very fast. 

Tractors and Life Lessons

Old Massey Ferguson Tractor

Massey Ferguson tractor

I made this photograph a while back, but never had gotten around to applying the aging effects I was envisioning until now. This was one of the first tractors I learned to drive, and one that taught me a valuable lesson. I was not very old, hence not very strong,  the first time I soloed on this machine. Combined with the fact the tractor lacked power steering, it was probably no more than a matter of minutes before I drove it into the barbed wire fence ringing our hayfield. This was the day I learned a two valuable lessons. Number one, I could run faster scared than my dad could pissed. Number two, his anger could last longer than I could run by about two days. To this day, I don't like this type of tractor, but sometimes they do make a nice picture.

Cattle in the Fiery Sky

Deep in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas, I found an area where the ranchers were doing their annual prairie burn, removing the dead grass. Knowing that once the smoke got into the atmosphere it would produce some wild colors, I followed the southwest winds for about 12 miles and set up for the sunset shot. Lucky for me some lonely cows wandered over to investigate and became my models for the evening. 

random Tip - More Handy Stuff

All kinds of liquid based thing are now being sold in "pen" and "moist towelette" form. This packaging is small and rugged, making it easy to carry in your gear bags. Some of the most helpful I've seen include stain remover, suntan lotion, machine oil, insect repellent, and hand sanitizer. I'm sure there are more. It's often the little things that can save the day, so go out and grab several of these and add them to your camera cases, messenger bags, or glovebox. 

The most important thing to carry

I was asked today what was the most important accessory to have as a professional photographer. They were expecting an answer like external flash, or tripod. My answer - a lens cloth. No particular brand, or even size. I have a random collection that I keep stashed all around. In the armrest of my jeep, every camera bag, laptop bag, inside the zippered pocket of my camera strap, and pretty much anywhere else I might find nearby when using a camera. Most of the time I have a small one tucked into my pocket, and I hate carrying a lot of things in my pocket. 

This is my hands down pick for the one item you should always have with. you. Is there any such thing as a lens that is too clean? They are small and cheap, so you have no excuse not to have one handy.