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Journey to Ancient Cyprus

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the 3rd International Conference of Photography and Theory, which was held in the ancient city of Nicosia (Lefkosia according to the Greeks), Cyprus. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite shots from the trip, including a very post-modern Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Enjoy!

© 2014 Terry Ownby, All Rights Reserved.

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NYC Encounters From a Tourist Perspective

After a number of years without having a “real” vacation, I splurged and took my sweetheart of nearly 30 years to New York City. We definitely did the tourist gig and went to many of the must-see city icons: 9-11 Memorial, Grand Central Station, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and Times Square. Of course we also visited China Town and had lunch in neighboring Little Italy. The MTA Subway provided our transportation, but a looming union strike made it a bit worrisome. By the end of the trip, all was well. Our digs for the week was the Grand Hyatt, which sits between Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. It was great being in the heart of the city!

Since this trip did not include several photo students as in the past, I chose not to carry my large professional camera gear. Instead, I opted for a small, light-weight digital rangefinder-style camera from Fujifilm….it was a silver and black X20. Very 1960s retro look! It took great shots (all those in this blog post) and looked so stylish for my tourist modus operandi.

For those of you who know my food photography, I apologize for not capturing the incredible seafood and lobster paella I had at my favorite Spanish tapas bar in Greenwich Village. I was too excited to dive in to the food to worry about photographs! Sorry!

Road Tripping in the Arco Desert, Moon Craters and Atomic Venues

Last month I had the opportunity to slip away from the university for a day and went on a photo road trip with fellow photographer, John Lowry. Our adventure began well before sunrise as we headed out to the Snake River Plain and headed northwest into the Arco Desert. First stop in the bone-chilling weather was Atomic City, a quasi-ghost town not far from the INL (Idaho National Laboratory). This entire region is an interesting mix of ancient basaltic lava flows, atomic wastelands, and current nuclear testing facilities.

My planned experiments for the day centered on the vast landscape to be photographed through my super wide-angle Rokinon 14mm/f2.8 lens. The objective was to use a 1.2 ND filter attached to the backside of the lens, which would reduce my exposures by 4 f-stops. Ultimately, the plan called for windy conditions that would allow for cloud movement during the slow exposures. Alas, the wind didn’t cooperate and the clouds stood still. Bummer. But regardless of Mother Nature’s lack of support in this endeavor, we did have a great time and created a variety of images. Enjoy!

Light Orbs at Poague Wildlife Conservation Area

So this past Friday three die-hard photographers ventured out for a freezing night of photographing light orb phenomena at the Poague Wildlife Conservation Area, near Clinton, MO.  Although the temps dropped to 33oF (0.5oC), we had nearly a full moon to conduct our research into live performance art as captured with still-digital imaging technology. Wilson brought along several new light emitting devices, such as LED multi-colored light wands that changed colors and pulsated like strobes. Robert gave a great performance spinning burning steel wool, although during my performance the lanyard broke, sending a fiery trail off into the pond’s shoreline. Fortunately there were no uncontrolled fires!

Of course being this far removed from civilization, we were paid a visit by some local-yokels in their rattrap, exhaust leaking van, while they were spotlighting deer and other game in the woods. I think they were rather surprised to find a bunch of “old” guys in their haunt with tripod-mounted cameras and other paraphernalia. As they whispered to us (I suppose as to not frighten their illegal quarry) about our doings in their neck-of-the-woods, we simply replied that stars where our photographic subject. Once satisfied, they left and we resumed our light painting performance!

Despite the cold evening, the howling coyotes, and the curious kinfolk, we managed to stay warm throughout the performance and some of us enjoyed some ice-cold Guinness stout and Blue Moon winter spiced ale!

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

Independence in Black and White

Earlier this summer I went on a photo shooting trip to Independence, Missouri with Dr. Tom Mitchell’s editorial photo class. Every time I visit the town square, I feel as though I’m in time warp back to the 1950s. And, it always feels like Black and White! Here’s a few B&Ws from that outing that visually express the nostalgia I feel for that locale.

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

© 2012 Terry Ownby

West Kansas Geology and Astronomical Events

This past week I made my annual photo trek to Kansas with Wilson Hurst and had interesting adventures. Typically, we roam around the Flint Hills and photograph on the prairie, but this summer we decided to explore new terrain further west…as in almost to the Colorado border! Being out on the west side of the state was like being in a completely alien environment when compared to the calming prairie. The western side of the state is raw and harsh. High temperatures, gale-force winds, and limited visibility from blowing sand marked our three-day sojourn.

Home base was Oakley, where we stayed at a local motel run by a pleasant Indian family, complete with their Hindu alter on the check-in desk. Although, I had tried to get us a room at the Annie Oakley Motel, but unfortunately it was booked solid for a family reunion. But, our base of operations worked fine after Wilson figured out I didn’t know how to properly run our air conditioner!

Landmarks photographed during this expedition included Castle Rock Badlands, which is about 30 miles south of Quinter and only accessible by gravel roads. Our favorite place where we shot star-trails two nights in a row was the well-known Monument Rocks, or the Pyramids, as the locals call them. At a distance Monument Rocks gives the impression of Stonehenge, except magnified. The exposed gypsum columns rise 70 feet (21 meters) in the air, making them rather impressive! During the long hours of photographing star-trails, we saw several meteorites, satellites, and a US Air Force KC-10 refueling a C-17 cargo jet. The moonless nights provided an inky backdrop for the stars, which were incredibly bright and the skies remarkably clear, considering the violent winds that would not abate.

Below are a few shots from that trip. Enjoy!

Star trails looking north at Monument Rocks in western Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Camera setup for shooting startrails at Monument Rocks, about 25 miles south of Oakley, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Yucca and sage brush dot the landscape near Castle Rocks in west Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Panorama of Castle Rock Badlands, located south of Quinter, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Monument Rocks at sunset. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Entrance to Larry Farmer’s Prairie Dog Town, Oakley, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Queen size beds at the Annie Oakley Motel located in Oakley, Kansas. © 2012 Terry Ownby.

Mammy’s Head’n to Texas!

Images from my Incongruity series keep reaping acclaim and exhibitions! A shot from last summer’s road trip to New Orleans garnered an exhibit venue down in Johnson City, Texas. The photograph, Mammy’s Cupboard was shot down in Natchez, MS, and will go on display later this month at the A. Smith Gallery. The national competition, called “Domicile”, was a juried show. I also found out the image will be used on their promo cards, which are to hit the postal mail soon.

© 2009 Terry Ownby

NOLA Road Trip ’09

Road trips have always been a big part of my life. By the time I was five years old (in the late 1950s) I had traveled the famous Route 66 numerous times with my parents (between Missouri, New Mexico, and on out to California). I’ve loved being on the road ever since. So, after more than a month of nothing but writing papers in response to my doctoral content prelim exams and completing an on-line research course, I decided to give myself a solo vacation to New Orleans to visit one of my sons and his family (read grandkids here!).

Pretty much I can’t stand driving on the interstate highways as they’re so blah, generic, or “pedestrian.” Instead, I’ll take backroads whenever the opportunity arises, which it did on this trip. I used the interstate system to get me into Mississippi, just south of Memphis, and then off the beaten path I went! Once I made my way over to Vicksburg, I drove U.S. Highway 61 along Ol’ Man River until I reached NOLA. There’s so much history along that corridor of the Mississippi River Valley, one could spend days photographing and sight-seeing the antebellum plantations and Civil War battlefields.

Photographically speaking, I captured some interesting shots, I think. After having a lunch of gumbo on my first day in New Orleans at my favorite local joint, Liuzza’s, I made my way over to City Park. The Live Oaks there are incredible with their branches touching the ground and suckering off new trees. Other photo ops included another muffler man (the King) and Mammy’s Cupboard (near Natchez, MS) for my Incongruity series; cool looking Cyprus trees in the Jean Laffite Bayou; a new balcony series from the French Quarter; and incredible views of the 275-year old Live Oak “alley” at Oak Alley Plantation.

Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation, © 2009 Terry Ownby


Mammy

Mammy’s Cupboard, © 2009 Terry Ownby

Fort Scott, Kansas…Another Road Trip!

Ft. Scott Army Post, Officer's Quarters The old army fort in eastern Kansas was called Fort Scott and was originally constructed in 1842. There were no walls built around this pioneer army post since three sides consisted of natural, steep bluffs, with the southern side opened to the expanse of the tall grass prairie. This old army post was the last destination for Wilson and I on our short road trip last week through SW Missouri and SE Kansas. Eleven years after its founding, the Army abandoned the fort in 1853 and its buildings became the center of a new frontier town, bearing the old fort’s namesake: Fort Scott, Kansas. This would later become the hometown for renowned African American photographer, Gordon Parks.

This is a great small town photo destination. The main street area, which joins the old fort structure, has great 1800s architecture, which has been nicely restored. Lots of interesting antique stores and boutique shops occupy the storefronts. Also, as with any of my road trips, I found a really cool diner from 1946 that is still in operation, complete with its nifty neon signage…Nu Grille Cafe. My photo compadre enjoyed a really big cheeseburger and I sampled the Frito chili pie, for about five bucks. Cheap but good! After chowing down supper at the greasy spoon, we headed back to UCM, which is maybe a couple of hours drive…I really lose track of time on the road, but it was dark! But lack of light never stops Wilson from creating images! As you can see posted below, he pushes the envelop of image making with any amount of electromagnetic radiation he can find. In this case, minimal ambient light from the dusky sunset and the truck dashlights!

Nu Grille Cafe, Fort Scott, KansasDetail of late 1800s building in downtown Ft. Scott, KS

© 2009 Terry Ownby

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© 2009 Wilson Hurst

Big Brutus!

My search for incongruities continues. I started photographing odd and large culturally significant objects about five years ago and doubt if I’ll ever grow tired of this quest. Two years ago I went to a technology convention at Pittsburg State University in southeast Kansas. One of my traveling companions, Wilson, had discovered the existence of Big Brutus and had suggested that we photograph it for my series. We weren’t sure where it was located and time at the convention prevented us from tracking it down. However, this past weekend, he and I had the opportunity to travel to Joplin, MO, to drop off our images that had been accepted for inclusion at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts‘ annual national photo competition.

On our return trip, we decided to drift over the stateline and explore southeast Kansas. As we were heading north, we suddenly spotted a small sign telling passersby that Big Brutus was just 13 miles off the beaten path. Well, with no timeline or agenda, your intrepid wanderers were off on a new adventure! We did indeed find the brute, but only after stumbling onto another magnificant photo op at a local train club having their meeting. They had refurbished train depots, all kinds of trains, including passenger cars and some really cool cabooses. Anyway, on to brutus. Big Brutus is a monster! The world’s second largest electric coal shovel, it towers 16 stories (160 feet) with a boom that is 150 feet long. The bucket on this behemoth has a capacity of 150 tons (enough to fill three railroad cars). Needless to say, Big Brutus is BIG! Additionally, the non-profit organization running the Big Brutus operation had a really BIG fee to go inside the fence for a closer look. Needless to say, we weren’t going to partake in their highway robbery, so we pulled out our BIG lenses and shot from the parking lot!!!

bigbrutussm

© 2009 Terry Ownby