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The Magnificent Seven

March 27, 2013
Rose-bellied Lizard

© jmillerphoto.com – Rose-bellied Lizard

In what seems like a lifetime ago, one of my jobs while going to college was working as an on-air personality (and we are stretching the definition of “personality”) at the radio station in my hometown in California.

Saturday and Sunday nights were my long nights of having to provide programming.  Play some music, talk between every few songs, play some commercials, and make sure the news got played.  Every hour on the hour we had network news we had to pull off of the satellite.  There was no wiggle room with the timing–it played at the top of the hour.  If you were late making the transition from local to satellite programming, you sounded like a fool.

On one wall in the studio we had a series of tape cartridges (or just “carts” as we called them then) with any number of songs that were approved for use.  One section had various instrumental songs that made it easy for us to just fade out of the instrumental music, play the Station ID cart, and then hit the hourly news.  And one of those carts had the theme from the movie “The Magnificent Seven.”  Catchy tune, and I’d use it at least once a weekend.

Great (or maybe not so great) story, Jim.  But what does this have to do with photography?

Fade forward to a couple of months ago and I was building my spreadsheet for places I wanted to visit in 2013 to make images.  I’m a planner.  I need to have some direction as to what I want to do in the future so I can follow that plan.  In this regard I am not very spontaneous.  I need that road map.

And I am a creature of habit.  I love exploring new places, but I also like going back to places where my photographic style matches the lay of the land and the species that are present.  Ultimately one of the goals of photography is to make good images.  You go to a steak house for good steak, and you go to known good locations for photography if you want to lay the foundation for making good images.

As I was looking at last year’s shooting as a guide to what I might want (or not want) to do this year, I noticed that there were seven particular areas where I had the most good images.  They were places that are fairly close to me that I could count on for great image opportunities.  They were (and are) in no particular order:

– Pedernales Falls State Park
– Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory
– South Llano River State Park
– Cook’s Slough Nature Park
– Medina River Natural Area
– Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
– Lost Maples State Natural Area

So as I was making my plans, I realized that these were the ones that needed a visit every month or so.  A couple of them are right down the road from me.  Others are considerable distances, up to almost three hours away.  But each of them, in their own way, is worth the time it takes to get out there and the effort it takes to make it up to five miles into the trails to make some good images.

I could have simply called these my usual suspects.  But the number seven kept coming up, and as the number bounced around in all the extra space where I’m supposed to have a brain, so too did the familiar tones of the Magnificent Seven theme.  And indeed, they are my magnificent seven.

In what you can consider an extension of my old “My Favorite Places” series, I will go through each of these seven areas, share some of my favorite images, and explain what is that makes these seven locations so magnificent.

And maybe by the end of the series of seven blog posts I can finally get that tune out of my head.  Please!  Somebody fade out the music and get to the news 🙂

About the Image:
This shot was from Medina River Natural Area in mid-fall.  I still love the expression and the pose.  Shot with the Standard Gear, off the tripod, no flash, ISO 400, 1/2000th at f/7.1.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 29, 2013 4:23 am

    I enjoyed the narrative and metaphor. I like to plan, too, otherwise I can get distracted and miss the opportunities I had intended to take.

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