Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can You Try "Too Hard" to Get Your Shot?

What does trying too hard really mean?  If you're in a great location surrounded by beauty, does it matter how many tries?

We took a trip back to my home state of Arkansas.  Instead of driving directly back to Michigan, we took a couple of days to driving the long way back.  A hike and a bit of photography was on our agenda. 

Every stop surrounded us with rugged, natural beauty.  The weather conditions served up some challenges but we take what mother nature delivers which begs the question...  

How many tries on average do you take to get the 'one' that you're truly jazzed about?  

As a photographer there are times after a shoot where we have several, even many images that we jump in and start processing as fast as we can. It didn't matter how many images we took, we were in our zone and had a lot to show for it!

Then, there are those days.  You know them well.  

We invest time, use multiple lenses, try many different angles (in some cases in very uncomfortable positions).  We can almost predict what's going to happen when we get home.  Delete, delete, delete and keep a few for the memory.

There are both life and photography lessons in each of these situations.  During my Arkansas travels I experienced excitement from a shoot with waxwings and creative frustration at waterfalls.

Cedar Waxwing by Sheen Watkins

Waxwing Adventure:
The Cedar Waxwings in El Dorado were going nuts for the seasonal berries in this historical Oil Boomtown.  I saw hundreds swarm trees, diving into bushes in a feeding frenzy. 

Waxwings by Sheen Watkins
The down side was that I only had my long lens.

The big scene context shot wasn't going to happen as I needed a shorter lens at that moment.  I'm including one image that illustrates a fragment of the flying flock. Alfred Hitchcock might have renamed his movie from the "Birds" to the "Waxwings" had he witnessed this moment.

In all, I had over 500 images with 10 so far that I'm very pleased with. 

Next year, (lesson learned) I'm also switching to a shorter lens to get a few frenzy shots!  I have plenty of ID and close-up images of waxwings now.

Oh yes, and I was fortunate enough to get berry-bird-poop in my hair in one of the waxwing flyovers. A sign of good luck I suppose.  A hat will also be included.

Falling Short at the Waterfalls:
We drove to Arkansas' first state park, Petit Jean State Park.  A rugged and beautiful natural treasure. 
Almost to Cedar Falls by Sheen Watkins

Our first stop was Cedar Falls.  We were less than 1/10th of a mile away when the skies, thunder and lightning struck in full force.  The common sense safety gene took over and we had to ditch the attempt. 

The following sunny morning, we traversed north to another beautiful waterfall area.

After 2 hours, I wasn't feeling it. 

The spring colors were still hiding. The light was splotchy.  With just a few hours to shoot, I was frustrated in not finding the type of shot I had in my mind.  I had all the needed gear, filters, tripod, lenses - when the lighting is bad, it was time to take my tripod and head home.

I was in effect working and trying too hard, getting frustrated which impacted my creativity.

There could have been a downside but there wasn't.

I was able to hear the rush of the water, the power of the falls and breath in fresh, clean air.  The Richland Creek Wilderness provided springtime sounds for the senses,  along with a few snakes.

Finding Arkansas Gold:
We steered further north to the Eureka Springs area where we discovered Arkansas' own single-lane, "Golden Gate Bridge" in nearby Beaver, Arkansas.  Who knew that Arkansas would have a Golden Gate Bridge that was accurately named color-wise versus the one in San Francisco?

Golden Gate Bridge by Sheen Watkins

Taking a breather from my waterfall plan to explore the area with no expectations refreshed the eye and attitude.

Seeing Red in the Rearview:
As we were leaving Arkansas and heading into Missouri, I noticed the cloud covered sky breaking apart.  Pinks, oranges and reds emerged in my rearview mirror as we were driving 65mph northeast.

Seeing Red in the Rearview by Sheen Watkins
The vibrance was quickly becoming a photographer's dream and I met frustration of another kind.

I didn't know where we were or where to get the shot.

Thankfully, we topped a hill to see a river, a bridge and a reflection. Just what the photography doctor ordered.

When we see a moment, stop the car.   Pull over.  Shoot away. 

We work hard for many, shots.  We take advantage of the no-shot situation to savor what is around us. 

When the easy photo moment calls ~ we need to answer!

Happy Shooting!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Finding Your Inner Artist - What You Discover May be Greater than You Imagined

Home Office by Sheen Watkins
What do you remember about the long, two hour meeting you sat through a year ago?  

You know the one. 

There was death by Powerpoint.  There was a lot of multi-syllable corporate speak followed by scurrying to update action items and craft emails.  

Truthfully, we probably don't remember much about that meeting unless something crazy-cool or unique happened (or we took a lot of notes!). 

Lunch with my Co-worker by Sheen Watkins
I bet that you do remember attending your kid's events where you celebrated or wiped away tears afterwards.  

You probably also remember the days where you intentionally took the time to do the physical activities that you love.  You may also readily recall where you spent time engaged in something that spurred your creative mind and spirit.

How did you feel after investing time in you, your family or your personal creative endeavors outside of work?

Before photography, other than having a deep appreciation for birds, color and nature, I never considered myself an artist.  I can't draw, paint, carve, sing (publicly) or effectively do other creative activities that rely on eye-hand/creative coordination. 

Who knew that when I put a camera in my hands for the first time that a creative fire would be ignited?  I surely didn't. 

Coffee Break by Sheen Watkins
Something else also happened as a result of finding my inner artist.  

Higher energy. 

A creative and more human perspective surfaced in other areas of my life - work, people, business, relationships.   

My writing returned. My work and personal life converged differently.  I felt more human, more creative, while being disciplined to grow personally and professionally.  I had more to give.

Some say this is balance.  Since I'm not a psychologist, I can't confirm.  What I do know is that when I found my inner artist, my total life was better.  

Home ~ Work ~  Relationships ~  Energy ~ Karma ~ How I felt about me

With work, family, commitments and hectic schedules, time too easily slips away.  So if you love to cook, doodle, photograph, paint, dance or any other creative element - go for it and ramp it up.  

You (and those around you) won't regret getting to know the total you that evolves. 

Happy Shooting, Sheen
Happy Hour by Sheen Watkins

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Photography & Vacations ~ The Friends & Family Plan

Wormsloe Plantation by Sheen Watkins
It's almost that time.  Vacation!  You've planned, packed, researched and are ready to venture on to your vacation destination.

Camera's, lenses, filters ~ check.

Transportation schedule and documents ~ check.

Clothes, shoes, personal care items ~ check.

Shooting plan ~ check.

Are you sure?  Hold on a minute.  

As a photographer, traveling with friends and family can be rewarding and fun.  But what happens when you - the more serious photographer of the crew - wants to spend quality shooting time at various destinations?  Or you see something that just begs to be photographed?

Iceland, Metal Sculpture of Ship Bones by Sheen Watkins
Your travel companions are thinking, "Why is he/she taking so many photos of that?  We need to hit our next spot or we'll miss the next destination on our plan."

You're thinking, "Why don't they understand that I need at least 20 - 30 shots of this subject!  It's so unique, so interesting and there's so many different ways to capture it?"

Some may take their frustrated thoughts to words and they may not be nice ones at that.  After all, it is both yours and their vacation.

The Human Element by Sheen Watkins

What can you do to make vacations fun for all while including time for your photography?  
  • Communicating and agreeing to a plan in advance.
  • Dedicating a set amount of personal time each day or at each location for photography.
  • Waking up earlier than the crew to go shoot and have a meeting time for you to join the group.
  • Planning to stay an extra day or a few days if possible to go back and shoot those areas that require extra time.
  • Involving your friends and family in the the scene.  Adding the human element provides a different feel.  Plus, if they are involved they become more engaged in the location and moment.  Sometimes the memory of making the photo happen is just as good as the photo itself! 
  • Encouraging them to take photos with their smartphone.  You might convert someone.
  • Creating and sharing a vacation photo book makes a wonderful gift that can be revisited over and over.
  • Having a few pictures with you in them.  You are part of the family and should be included!

My Husband and me

Summer is almost here with family vacations on the horizon.  

How will you plan your time that creates opportunities for you and keeps group harmony - from a photography perspective?

Happy Shooting!


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Life Changes are Just a Click Away - Always Aim for Your Best Shot!

Golden Moment by Sheen Watkins
When I first picked up the camera, I had no idea that some day it would become part of my DNA.

It wasn't long after the journey began that I anxiously looked forward to the golden day when I could pursue this either "almost" full time or in a much larger capacity.

A little over a month ago, that moment arrived. 

We sold our house in four days with the initial intent of working remotely a lot more.

A couple of days later, I exited the glass doors the last time of where I spent 20+ wonderful years working with many, many amazing folks.

By the time I walked from those glass doors to my car, I was bursting with an optimism that I couldn't put into words.

In retrospect, what I felt on that walk was gratitude.  Thankful for the experiences, the life and people lessons, the friendships and knowing that I had given my best.  I was also grateful that I knew exactly what I wanted to do going forward -  photography!

Eye on the Future by  Sheen Watkins
My first words came when I got in my car and called my hubby.  What came out was simply, "Dave, we're moving to our 'up north', now!"  His response?  "Let's go!"

Within a 30 day window we closed on our house, sold a lot of unneeded 'stuff', packed and moved up north to the place we refer to as a little slice of heaven.

Now my that my photography future is here where will I take it?

In my prior corporate life, I loved coaching, teaching, learning, working and growing professionally.  It was a rush to be all-in  the moment,  to watch others succeed.  With photography, the same principles apply.  Yet with photography - it's about growing in our artistry, shooting what gives us joy and sharing our personal eye with others. 

Facing the Sunrise by Sheen Watkins
I've had Etsy and gallery websites along with using social media sharing (recently Instagram and Facebook) and blogging for a while.  I've written many photography articles for Light Stalking and Loaded Landscapes. Every now and then,  I'd lead small and large workshops locally.

It's so rewarding so see others learn and  experience their creativity.  I also jumped in on workshops led by others and will continue to do so.  I never want to stop learning and growing in this amazing craft called photography.

Now it's time.  Time to get after it.  More time with Dave, our doggies, family and friends.  More hours behind the lens, more hours learning, spending time with other photographers.   And soon....more opportunities to expand the workshop portfolio to experience photography adventures with and for others.

Happy shooting!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

N'Ice Ice Baby

As a 25 year Michigander, I often get the question when traveling "Where are you from?"  I already know their response when I say with a smile "Michigan".  Usually it's one of these:

"Wow, it's cold up there!" 
"Too cold and gray for me in the winter"                          
                                                             "I hear the summers are beautiful, but short."

Who needs a movie when we have more than 50 shades of gray between November and April?  Let's start by saying, yes it's cold in the winter in Michigan.  We have winters that you can sink your teeth in to. 
Blue Ice in Mackinaw City, Michigan by Sheen Watkins
Our ice is nice.  Actually, it's more than nice.  Our ice rivals abstract sculptures.  Our ice is rich with color, texture and depth. 

A trip to Mackinaw City, Michigan during the ice breaking season offered caverns of rich, blue ice formations and blocks.

I grew up in the sunbelt in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.  I happily thrived in the sunshine and heat.  When I moved to Michigan to marry my husband, neither of us realized if or how I would adapt to the cold and gray. 

Icy Slates at Sunrise in Northport, Michigan by Sheen Watkins
What I learned is with that the right gear and initiative, I see how Mother Nature adorns Michigan winters with works of art. 

You just have to go and explore.  

The iced tiles at sunrise in Northport, Michigan on the bay side of Lake Michigan lasted one day.

The evening before it was one big ice plate. 

Anticipating a potential shift from the forecast gale force winds, the alarm was set for oh-dark-thirty. 

Overnight, the winds picked up and the waves and conditions turned plates into formations that looked like slate tiles.  The sunrise brought a  color convergence of warm and cool.  24 hours later, they were gone.

Look for the less ventured view. 

Iced Cactus, Frankfort, Michigan by Sheen Watkins
On land, ice lasts a little bit longer in a given state. 

One of our most famous lighthouses, Point Betsie gets a lot of paparazzi with her stoic stance in the face of Michigan winters. 

I initially went to shoot the iconic beauty. 

Instead, a hike around the lighthouse uncovered a field of glistening iced 'cactus'. 

Don't let the gray get in the way!

For the many days that we don't see the sun, ice still  floats through the elements.

Frazil Ice by Sheen Watkins

Frazil ice, is a collection of soft, needle shaped ice crystals that form when the mist and water cool quickly.  From afar, the water looked like a film was on the surface.  A closer look revealed iced pancakes floating and shifting in the wavy waters.
Ice blocks by  Sheen Watkins

Note:  When photographing icy conditions, always use caution. 

Ice is slippery, sharp, can be thin in unexpected places. 

Take a partner.

Wear warm clothes.

Have the right foot gear (spikes are good!) and be careful. 

Carry your gear in a backpack when hiking.  If you fall with your gear you may be more worried about protecting your camera than you. 

No shot is worth putting yourself in danger.

Venturing out in the lower part of Northern Michigan in winter is definitely worth donning layers of clothing in winter. 

Oh yes, our summers are lovely too.

Happy shooting!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

"Photographer" Does that Title Define You or Me?

It's normal to describe ourselves using titles.   Maybe, potentially, we use titles because, describing what we do is easier than sharing who we are.

You may be a wife, a mother,  a husband, a father, a manager, a teacher, an executive, a clerk, an artist or a doctor.  Pick one, or add one to the list.

For years, I've been in corporate America and enjoy it immensely today.  I work for an organization with a legacy reputation built on ethics, quality and integrity. Their values reflect mine, and I hope that mine in turn reflects theirs.  But while working for that company is a big part of me, my title doesn't completely define or describe who I am.

Lake Michigan Sunset by Sheen Watkins
Our passions,  how we look at life, how we handle the good, the great, the fun, the hard, the sad and the horrific show who we are.

With each experience, our 'who we really are' continues to evolve.

Photography was just something I had always wanted to try.  I had no idea that once a camera was in my hands that my eyes and dreams would change so dramatically.

Photography has been an epiphany, a passion and a way of connecting and sharing nature with the world, or realistically, those who are interested.

Initially photography was taking images of nature, with birds being front and center.  Each day that I have a camera in my hands, I feel a deeper connection with who I am and what I believe:

Time and experiences in nature and travel are not a given but a gift.  I am grateful for the privilege to combine nature gift's with the art of photography.

A favorite subject, the Snowy Owl by Sheen Watkins

I believe that nature's gifts should be cherished, shared and protected for future generations.  To grow as an artist and photographer,  is a continuous and joyous journey.  My photography time consists of being in the field is both exploring nature followed by post processing to share my personal eye with others. 

It isn't a one-shot moment and then moving on to the next subject. 

Each image that makes it to the light of day is a result of many photographs of the same subject taken from different angles using different settings.  Trial and error is a constant.  Then it's finding the 'one' image to process and bring to life on a computer screen or print.

Abstract of Forest or the Trees by Sheen Watkins
The other side of photography is not as easy or fun.  There's an element of guilt and self-centeredness. 

Photography is costly.

True, the gear expensive.   It's the investment of time in the field, time in thought, time in learning that can take it's toll on family and those close who don't share the same interest.

Time in the field is time away from family.  Many photographers have more than one job to support their livelihoods. 

Time immersed in learning is time distracted from those that are close and want to be with you.

Fall Monarch with Artistic Edits by Sheen Watkins
Finding the balance between the love of being in the field, the solo time of creating versus spending time with those that are your heart and soul is hard.

Our passions require sacrifices of ourselves and patience from those we hold most dear.

Every day, photographers share and display images and imagery that entices the eye and some may even stir the soul of a viewer. 

There is a ton of hard and diligent work.  The carrying of heavy equipment.  The unpredictability of the subject.  Dealing with nature's elements.  Studying post processing tools and techniques.

Behind each image is an artist, sharing their eye, their connection with that brief second of time. 

So if someone says that 'she's a nature photographer,'  I'm very comfortable being defined by that title.

Happy Shooting!


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Wildlife Photographers - Giving Our Profession a Good or Bad Name?

Cedar Waxwing by Sheen Watkins
Every day in the field is a gift, and not one to be taken lightly.  Birds, animals and our outdoor spaces are fragile.  It is up to us to help survival in our co-existence with mother nature.  

As a nature photographer, I see many photographers show respect for nature, for other photographers and hikers.  

I've also seen photographers exhibit behaviors that are 'not-so-nice'.  

What was most surprising is that some of these 'not-so-nice' photographers were not being intentionally careless or rude.  They were just  caught up in the moment getting the shot.  

Here's a few awareness reminders for all of us to help keep nature and our photography flourishing.

Awareness of Distance:  Safety first for you and them - avoid putting yourself and wildlife in danger.  They need their space and so do you.  When you get too close, you may frighten or stress the bird/animal.   They could leave their nest, the area for good.  Or, on the flip side an animal may feel threatened and feel the need to protect their space.   They waste energy instead of nesting and feeding their young. 

The two fox kits below were part of a family of 8 kits.  Several photographers, including me, had the privilege of watching them frolic, play and learn.  We all maintained a safe and respectful distance across the pond.  A photographer who had a shorter lens, made his way to the other side of the pond which was way too close to the kits.  Mama Fox was not happy.  By the next morning, the DNR reported that the fox had indeed moved the family.  

Two Fox Kits by Sheen Watkins using a Nikon 500mm

The Right Equipment:   Telephotos provide an up close image capture at a safer distance for them and for you.  Today's lenses offer diversity in quality and cost.  Plus there's the used option or the ability to rent lenses.  

Rules of the Road (or area):  If you're in nature parks, wilderness areas, take the time to review the rules of the area.  Stay on marked trails, boardwalks and mapped areas.  Be a protector of our fragile habitat and ecosystem.  Bogs, preserved areas are delicate and footprints last a very long time. 

Never, ever, ever, ever bait animals:  This is the one thing that makes me nuts.  There are no winners here.  When an animal is baited, you put them at risk.  Baiting IS different than feeding chickadees, cardinals, woodpeckers at a feeder.   With baiting, they are pulled away from their routine, their hunt and even their location.   

There isn't one photograph that is worth putting any animal or human in danger.

Lead by example:  Even when no one is around.  We are a only a guest, a visitor on this planet.  Treat nature with care.   

Savannah Sparrow by Sheen Watkins
Awareness of Other Photographers:  When other photographers are shooting a subject, respect that they were there first.  Don't be 'that photographer' that rushed in to join the shooting only to scare the subject away.  

Cool Heads Prevail:  Many of us have come across photographers who give 'photographers' a bad name in how they treat others and nature.  When it is evident they don't care, there's probably nothing you can do to change their perspective.  Instead of engaging in negative banter, there's the power of reporting them to the local area, photographing their license plate or them when not looking.

With all of our websites, social media outlets, blogs, books, many folks enjoy seeing the moments in nature we get to experience first hand in the field.  We do live a pretty amazing life!

Happy Shooting!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Gear Bag List - 2 Years Later

Photo by David Watkins,
A couple of years ago this month I provided a list of my camera gear in response to many emails and inquiries.  Today, it is still one of the top questions I still receive.

As my photography continues to evolve and expand, so does the gear in the bag.

Camera gear is an important decision and not one we take lightly.

Before I dive into my revised list (products with links take you to Amazon) - a few considerations:
  1. I am still a believer that the best camera and lens for the task is the one in your hand.  You are the one that creates and composes the images. 
  2. Time in the field will make you a better photographer - not the equipment. Sure, there is equipment that is better equipped for various situations.  You probably won't get the desired  'fill the frame" image of a bird when it is 25 feet away with a 50mm.  
  3. Buy the best you can afford.  As a continuation to #2 - the glass won't make you a better photographer.  I've bought and sold lenses (they hold their value well) when I could afford to upgrade my equipment to faster and sharper lenses.  
Savannah Sparrow by Sheen Watkins

Camera & Lens Brands
I continue to use Nikon cameras and lenses.   Their glass is terrific and I find the cameras to be solid. I would add that Canon, Sony and other brands are high quality and get the job done.  I have also added third party lenses as well as sold lenses that I no longer use.

The camera brand is important, but it's the lens selection based on your photography goals that should heavily influence your decision

Camera Bodies
For birds and wildlife, Nikon's 500D is my camera body of choice as of today.  The cropped sensor format, image quality and speed  is ideal for photographing birds and wildlife.   For landscapes, macro, portraits and street photography, I still use my well-worn, time in the field tested Nikon's 810. The bigger sensor renders beautiful details, colors and tones.

For information on cropped versus full framed sensors, check out my Light Stalking article: Cropped vs. Full Frame Sensor
Winter Beach by by Sheen Watkins
Nikon Lenses - zooms - general purpose and great for travel:
14-24mm 2.8 extra wide angle
24-70mm 2.8 mid range zoom
70-200mm 2.8 telephoto
When do I use zoom lenses? Travel photography, when I'm photographing multiple subject types, when I don't know what I'm going to shoot and want flexibility along with landscapes and wildlife.

Nikon Macro (Nikon refers to them as Micro) - macro lens for flowers, bees, close-up, 1:1.
105mm 2.8

Nikon Telephoto- 500mm FL ED f/4 - telephoto for birds, wildlife
Protective cover for lens (as seen in the photo above) by Lenscoat.
Teleconverters:  Nikon 1.4 III

Nikon Lenses - primes - lightweight, fast and sharp
28mm 1.8
50mm 1.8
85mm 1.8

When do I use primes?  Walk around photography, out on the town with friends, photographing my pets, nature walks where I have limited time, when I want to act like I have a point & shoot.

My favorite little prime?   There's a reason it's a nifty fifty.  A great price performer and just about every time I take this little guy out I have a creative blast.

I don't pull my primes out as much as I should.  The primary reason is that I travel to a lot of my shoots and need to minimize packing and maximize versatility.  When I'm local, I love to bring out my primes.  Light, fast and fun. 

Peach Delight with the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm by Sheen Watkins

Art Lens: Lensbaby Velvet 56mm - a departure from my sharp, all about the details photography.  Lensbaby's tagline is see in a new way.  For those wanting smooth, creamy blur and that unique edge, this company has a series of art lenses to choose from.

Schneider Optics B+W:  Circular Polarizer, Neutral Density Filters
Lee Filter System: 150 Extra Wide Filter System for the Nikon 14-24mm and the filter adapter ring for the 24-70.  Circular Polarizer, Medium Grad Filter and a 6 stop neutral density

Tripod: Manfrotto mt190cxpro4 Carbon Fiber Tripod
Tripod Head:  Really Right Stuff BH-40-LR (available through Really Right Stuff) and and their PG-02-Pano-Gimbal-Head.
Remote Shutter Release: Promaster

Camera bags:
Tamrac Anvil.  This is a big beast that holds a lot of gear and laptop.  When fully loaded, you'll get a workout as the weight adds up.  I use this bag when traveling on large planes or on a road trip. This is  partnered with one of the following for travel as this bag is too large for me to hike with.
Lowepro   They do a great job with lean.  I typically pack my 810, 14-24mm, 24-70, 70-200 and the needed filters in this streamlined bag.
Tenba's Vector Daypack.  This weighs two pounds, holds a 15" laptop and it's completely customizable inside.  Great for day trips and hiking.  I have two so that when I travel on small planes one goes under the seat and the Lowepro goes in the overhead.
Think Tank - for hikes, travel, a muti-short lens bag or camera with a 70-200 attached.  This holster is a pretty cool hipster.

Camera gear is an investment in you.  Take the time to read articles, customer reviews on the retailer's site (the good and the bad) and look at images produced by other photographers using gear you're considering.

Happy Shooting!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Eating "Michigan's" Fire for Breakfast

Fire in the Sky - Omena, Michigan by Sheen Watkins
Over the course of time, I've experienced many of Michigan's finest sights from behind the lens.  My idea of a good breakfast?  A fiery, Michigan sunrise!

I've taken thousands of images trying to reflect the diversity that's commonly known as "Pure Michigan."

With a vivid, intense sunrise glistening over our Great Lakes, it's an easy and energizing way to start the day.

If rising and shining is a bit of a challenge, get a jump start with a rich cup of coffee from Coffee Beanery, one of Michigan's finest businesses operating since 1976.  Or it may be the habitat friendly Birds and Beans Coffee or a cup of hot tea with a squeeze of citrus.

Norhport's Harbor by Sheen Watkins

From late fall to mid spring, Michigan is infamous for our grey, chilly winters.

For those who live (and photograph) here, we also know that gray is just a temporary state.   All you need is an early wake up call to go outside.  There...our breakfast may be served sunny-side up with a little fire mixed in. 

North of Omena on M22 by Sheen Watkins
There are those mornings where the sky's rosy red consumes land and water.   Skies go from twilight, shades of rich rose only to layer Grand Traverse Bay with glistening orange.

If red's not your taste, just wait a few minutes.  The red shifts to tints of oranges and yellows, adding a hint of warmth to the morning's chill.

A Door to Sunrise by Sheen Watkins
When the sun crests the horizon, don't rush the moment.  Just wait.

With a little local knowledge, you can find many interesting little unique treasures for the sun to peak through.

Some of my favorite spots?

Just head up Michigan's M22 on the east side of the Leelanau Peninsula.  Quaint towns of Sutton's Bay and Omena rest on the Grand Traverse Bay's shoreline. Then the veer up onto 201 along Northport's harbor and North Shore drive.

Along the way, savor the moment and let the sun rise to greet you.

Happy Shooting!
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Finding Scenic, Hidden Treasures ~ "Go Greyhound"

Historic Greyhound Depot by Sheen Watkins
A road frequently traveled may host a few surprises.  Sometimes, you just have to look for the unexpected intentionally.

It's easy to get caught up in reaching your destination quickly, that we may miss some amazing sites along the way.

My family still resides in the same town and house I grew up in.  After many 16-hour road trips from Michigan to Arkansas, I decided to explore the small town we use as a regular stop-over. 

Arriving before sunset, I  "googled" Blytheville, Arkansas just to see what was there.  I was thrilled with the results.

The small town of Blytheville, Arkansas hosts a historic and fully restored Greyhound Bus Station that was built in 1937.   What a beautiful little gem.

Back in the day, this was the way to travel.

Go Greyhound by Sheen Watkins
The station, with a small cafe type setting displayed true to the era decor Moderne Art appointments. All that was missing was a few Bing Crosby tunes.

Inside the station - Sheen Watkins
Within the state of Arkansas and for transportation historians, it is well-known.  From an artistic standpoint, it's modern styling, color and faded neon, it was a fortunate find.

While shooting the exterior, a couple stopped by and asked if I was interested to see the inside.  They had a key, access to the building and loved sharing how the town had restored a colorful piece of history.

For those making the venture up or down I-55 in northeast Arkansas, it's definitely worth a stop.

If you plan on stopping by, bring your widest angle lens (I had my Nikon 14-24mm extra wide) and also a tripod.  The tripod is a must if you want to take a few night shots.

Happy shooting!