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The old idiom of “salt of the earth” is used present-day to describe a person or persons of great kindness, reliability or honesty. Kyle is truly the salt of the earth. We were at a social event when he mentioned to me that he was preparing to propose to his girlfriend, Lauren, at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I felt this was a perfect opportunity to truly capture a moment. Photographers talk about “capturing moments” all the time, but those moments are rarely as monumental as a proposal…. in a public place, no less! So the first thing Kyle and I did was take a lunch break to go scout the park, and make our plans.

Kyle scouting the location
Kyle scouting the location

On the agreed upon afternoon, I bought a ticket to the Botanical Garden, and got into position. I might have taken a few pictures along the way, as I got to my destination.

My ticket to Missouri Botanical Garden that day
My ticket to Missouri Botanical Garden that day

Some flowers along the way
Some flowers along the way

A wilted leaf
A wilted leaf

When they appeared on the bridge, I got all giddy, and realized that my Sigma 50-500 zoom lens does not produce high quality images at the long end. Which means that I had to bring it down to about 400MM for a better image. It worked out better than expected.

Kyle on one knee
Kyle on one knee

Lauren overwhelmed
Lauren overwhelmed

Accepted!
Proposal accepted

After the proposal, it was easy to do an engagement session. They were totally enamoured with each other. I’m not entirely sure they realized I was there taking pictures at that point.

Kyle & Lauren
Kyle & Lauren

Lauren & Kyle

Kyle & Lauren

Kyle & Lauren

Kyle & Lauren

Lauren & Kyle

Lauren & Kyle

Lauren & Kyle

Kyle & Lauren

Kyle & Lauren

Lauren & Kyle

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I had a great honor that can be bestowed on a wedding photographer. A local couple (who happen to be good friends) asked me to shoot their location wedding on the tropical island of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. I have seen a handful of weddings in my time, but this was one of the most elegant I have seen. Not because they rented the greatest grand hall for their reception, but because the location was simply perfect for them. They rented Villa Rapture for the week, and let me stay in one of the rooms there. Here are some highlights from their big day.

 

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Onondaga Cave, Missouri

Oh my gosh, a new post!

Time to get back into my blog and update both of my followers.

In early September, I took my family to Onondaga Cave and found out first-hand why Missouri is unofficially referred to as the “Cave State.” Onondaga is a really great place. It was nearly impossible to capture all the beauty inside that hole in the earth with the short tour provided. It is my understanding that they do occasionally do “photo tours” where they leave on all the lighting, and let photographers roam around for a few hours.

Onondaga Cave

Lilly Pad Room, Onondaga Cave, Missouri

Lilly Pad Room 2, Onondaga Cave, Missouri

Mill Mountain Shut-Ins

After a successful morning seeing Greer Spring, we headed north to see Mill Mountain Shut-Ins. The water was really low when we were there, so nothing was really flowing hard, but you can see that this area is probably a very neat place to visit after a hard rain. The trail to get there is a difficult hike if you don’t have a substantial 4×4 vehicle, which can take you about half way in to the foot trail.

To get to Mill Mountain:
From Eminence travel east on Highway 106 for about 7.5 miles. Turn right (south) on to Highway H and travel for 4 miles to the intersection with Highway NN. Go left (east) onto Highway NN and travel for almost 3 miles. Right before crossing Rocky Creek turn right (south) to the gravel road and pull-off. Park here and look for Ozark Trail signs. The Ozark Trail hiking trail crosses Rocky Creek here and heads north toward the natural area. It is a half-mile hike heading north on the Ozark Trail from the Rocky Creek Highway NN bridge to the natural area. Bring a map and compass for exploration.

All images taken with a Canon 5D MKii

Mill Mountain - Fall Reflections

Taken with Sigma 70-200 lens

Mill Mountain - Mill Mountain Low Cascades

Taken with Canon 24mm TS-E lens

Mill Mountain - Heart Rock Reflection

Taken with Sigma 70-200mm lens

Mill Mountain - Mill Mountain Upper Cascades

Taken with Sigma 70-200mm lens

Mill Mountain - Wraparound

Taken with Sigma 70-200mm lens

Greer Spring

There was no rain or cloud cover in sight, and I was desperate for some nature photography. We spent the night at the Greer Spring campground, and woke up early the next morning (about 5am) to beat the sunrise and shoot Greer. Greer Spring is one of the most forceful springs in the Missouri Ozarks, with an impressive boil coming from it.

The trail head is located 18 miles south of Winona and 7 miles north of Alton on Missouri Highway 19 about 1.5 miles south of the Highway 19 bridge that crosses the Eleven Point River and just north of the tiny town of Greer. A gravel parking area on the west side of Highway 19 provides parking for the trail. Visitors to the spring are common despite a mile long hike with several switchbacks down into the valley. The walk down is pleasant, but the walk back up to the parking area is a bit more strenuous.

Greer Spring

The force of 354 cubic feet per second of water makes for a forceful current, and the largest natural spring in Missouri. Taken with Canon 5D MKii and Canon 24mm TS-E lens

Greer Spring

Taken with Canon 5D MKii and Nikkon 55mm AI Micro lens

Greer Spring

Taken with Canon 5D MKii and Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens

Greer Spring

Water rushes around this moss covered rock at Greer Spring. Taken with Canon 5D MKii and Nikkon 55mm Micro AI lens

After spending a day driving around the area, its clear to me that I need to spend several weekends there camping. The area is just filled with beautiful landscapes and stuff, and all the highlights of the area are very accessible.

This is Blue Springs. its one of Missouri’s largest natural springs. Its about a 20 minute drive to the trailhead from Eminence. The water gets that sky blue color from its depth and the mineral deposits in the rocks that make up this area. The trail is only .4 miles, so this is a nice place to visit with kids. It is a fairly popular spot.

Just a few minutes up the road is Rocky Falls. Its a spring-fed waterfall, so it flows year-round. There were a ton of people swimming in the hole that the falls go into, and kids climbing all over the falls, so getting a few good shots here was challenging.

All photographs taken with a 5D MKII

Eminence, MO

Taken with Canon 24mm TS-E lens, two shots stitched together.

Blue Springs Runoff

Taken with Canon 17-40 F/4L lens

Rocky Falls

Taken with an Olympus 35mm Shift lens, 3 shots stitched together.