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At Beebower Productions, we really love two things: Christmas and our Photo of the Month Subscribers. This year we wanted to do something nice for you to say thanks for your support, so we put our heads together and came up with the Beebower Productions 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway! Read more →

Gift-Certificates | Beebower Productions

Gift Certificates!

Looking for the perfect gift for someone special, but you aren’t sure what to buy?  No problem!  We’ve got you covered with Beebower Productions’ Gift Certificates.  Simply choose the dollar amount of $25, $50, $75 or $100.  Once you’ve paid for the certificate, you’ll receive an email containing the gift certificate and online code.  Print it, wrap it up with a flourish and give it to the recipient.  Ordering merchandise with a gift certificate is as simple.  Choose any item from our online store.  Add that item to the shopping cart and choose “View Cart”.  Then enter the unique code on the gift certificate into the “Coupon Code” box and hit “Apply Coupon”.  The gift certificate will be deducted from the cart total and the ordering process continues as normal. Read more →

Midnight-Masterpiece | Beebower Productions

Midnight Masterpiece

  Dad collects parts.  He’s always shooting pieces that he can use later to create composite images.  Things like storm clouds or rock formations catch his eye.   So he shoots them knowing that he’ll be adding something to the “part” later that will really make it sing. “Midnight Masterpiece” started out as a part.  Dad’s always challenging himself to learn new techniques.  A couple of years ago, he took his first photograph of the Milky Way one very dark, clear night at Davis Mountains State Park in West Texas.  Star lovers flock to West Texas. McDonald Observatory houses one of the largest telescopes in the world.  Scientists and astrophotography enthusiasts love the Davis Mountains because of the absence of light pollution.  So Dad made a beeline from Dallas to the park where he drove to the top of Skyline Drive and waited for the celestial show to begin. Dad’s... Read more →

High-Country-Fly-Fishing | Beebower Productions

High Country Fly Fishing

The $1,250.00 radio made a loud plopping noise as it splashed into the lake.  It slowly dropped three feet down in icy water before hitting the bottom of the chilly lake.  Everyone froze.  The main line of communication between Dad and his model just sank. They needed that radio.  Someone needed to fish that thing out of the lake.  The model drew the short straw.  Surprisingly, despite the polar bear plunge, the radio worked perfectly.  That proved Dad’s motto:  it paid to get the best. Dad’s idea for a serene fly-fishing shot started off with a splash.  But his due diligence the day before saved the shoot.   Dad’s location scouting led him to this high country lake that sat at about 11,000 feet elevation.  It was perfect:  scenic, stocked with trout and the sun hit it just right at sunrise.  He even worked out everyone’s position so the next... Read more →

10-Fall-Color-Tips | Beebower Productions

10 Fall Color Tips

  Every year fall’s rich color palate creates a stampede of photographers looking for “the” shot. Over the years Dad and I learned a few lessons that helped us track down amazing fall displays.  Save yourself some time and use these tips to create a memorable fall photo shoot. Location, location, location!  As with any photo, location really makes a difference.  Parts of the country stand out as fall color hot spots.   Well before fall rolls around, we do a lot of research before we even think of picking up the camera.  First we study the potential locales, both well-known spots and off-the-beaten path. California’s Sierra Nevadas, Colorado’s San Juans, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and the entire state of Vermont, to name a few, offer wonderful autumn hues.  Our research includes photography-specific information such as key spots to photograph, permit applications, sun positions, weather patterns and hiking guides.  We also... Read more →

Serengeti-of-the-Sea | Beebower Productions

Serengeti of the Sea

Everyone held his or her breath as the giant creature surfaced within arms reach.  The whale’s enormous size dwarfed our boat.  That caused a few of us to imagine how easily this whole trip could go sideways. But we forgot all about the danger when the whale suddenly exhaled through its blowhole.  A fine, stenchy mist hit us.  We’d just experienced whale breath up close and personal! As suddenly as it had appeared, the whale gracefully slipped below the water, glided under the boat and emerged on the other side.   Crisis averted. That humpback whale encounter started my obsession with the wildlife of Monterey Bay in California.  The crew at Sanctuary Cruises in Moss Landing fed my wildlife addiction. I took my first trip with the Sanctuary crew during a cold, windy spring day.  I hoped to see a whale.  But I soon discovered humpback whales were just the... Read more →

Tracking True Grit Part 2 | Beebower Productions

Tracking True Grit Part 2

  As soon as we turned off the highway, our jaws hit the floor.  Last Dollar Road outside of Ridgway, Colorado brought the Old West to life with a dramatic flourish.  The San Juan Mountains loomed over top of ranches that dotted the valley. Elk, badgers, black-billed magpies, deer and coyotes moseyed through the meadow as we meandered down the winding dirt road.  Groves of aspens framed the entire scene.  Our mission: track down some of the most famous locations from the original 1969 John Wayne movie “True Grit”.  Our first stop on this pre-sunrise trip was Mattie Ross’ family ranch.  The ranch sat on private land, but it was easily accessible without trespassing.  We wanted warm morning light hitting the decaying buildings, thus we left our hotel in the wee hours of the morning to reach the ranch in time. Why go to so much trouble to photograph an... Read more →

Tracking True Grit Part 1

Like U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, we raced up the mountain with anticipation and determination burning in our gut.  But our prize wasn’t a low-down dirty outlaw, rather the most famous scenery from the beloved 1969 Western “True Grit”. When I discovered that most of the legendary John Wayne movie had been filmed around Ridgway, Colorado, I knew tracking down the movie locations was a no-brainer.  Dad grew up watching a steady diet of Westerns.  From TV shows like Gunsmoke and Rawhide to movies like “High Plains Drifter” and “The Magnificent Seven”, he eagerly soaked up stories of the vast, untamed American frontier and the folks who lived there. An art festival brought us to Ridgway, but I quickly informed Dad of our post-festival activities.  The Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce printed a brochure called “Ridgway’s Western Movie Heritage” that revealed all we needed to know.  Hollywood loved filming in and... Read more →

Saddlehorn-Pueblo | Beebower Productions

Saddlehorn Pueblo

  The picture on the wall caught my attention immediately.  Of all the places we could visit at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, I knew this spot shot to the top of our list.  The rock looked just like a monster-sized horn on a cowboy’s saddle.  I’d never seen anything like it!  The rock sheltered Native American ruins under its ledge.   Bonus.  Major bonus. Dad and I continued our photographic exploration of Colorado after wrapping up an art festival in Ridgway.  Two days of exploring the Canyon of the Ancients, a relatively new park founded in June of 2000, awaited us.  First, though, we stopped at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores. Canyon of the Ancients contains 176,000 acres of high desert and more than 6,000 Native American sites.  These include cliff dwellings, kivas, dams, entire villages and rock art.  Visiting the park allowed us to hunt for... Read more →

Ship Rocked in New Mexico

  It soars 1,700’ above the vast desert floor.  Folks report seeing it on a clear day from 50 miles away.  Over the years it captured the imagination of Native Americans as well as settlers and explorers.  Today Ship Rock garners the interest of the Navajo people as well as geologists, tourists and photographers like Dad and me.  During our wanderings across the Southwest, we hoped to catch a dramatic sunset photo of this iconic rock found in San Juan County, New Mexico. We easily found Ship Rock, after an hour’s drive from our base in Farmington.  I knew explorers christened the formation “Ship Rock” in the 1870s because they thought it looked very much like a clipper ship.  Starring at the rock from our spot along the highway, we could kind of see the clipper ship.  The longer we stared at it, the more our imaginations created other possibilities,... Read more →

Deserted Valley

  The absolute silence struck me as I stepped out of the van.  Looking around I saw nothing but desert.  And more desert.  The desert even swallowed up the Native American ruins Dad and I sought.  Dad and I drove, literally, to the middle of nowhere. After a busy art festival in Ridgeway, Colorado we were really ready to have fun shooting pictures.  We eagerly set off on our desert adventure.    A stiff breeze and a distant rumble of thunder were the only things to break the silence.  A summer monsoon storm threatened to cut short our exploration of Hovenweep National Monument in Utah.   Little Ruin Canyon  We took the Little Ruin Canyon trail, a 1.5-mile hike around and through the ruins of an ancient village.   The stifling 100-plus degree heat ensured we didn’t dawdle.    The remains of Hovenweep’s Square Tower Group rose up out of the desert floor, soaring along the edge of Little Ruin Canyon.  Some buildings even perched on top of large boulders.  The builders’ skills impressed us. Ancestral Puebloans created most of the structures about 1200 A.D. ... Read more →

Burning Down The House

We’d heard rumors of Native American ruins with a roof that breathed fire. We even found jaw-dropping pictures of the place.  The name “House on Fire” certainly seemed to fit.  But we had burning questions: Did the rocks above these ruins really look like a ball of flames? Or did someone just play with fire in Photoshop? Dad and I traveled about 1,000 miles to find out for ourselves. House on Fire rests in Mule Canyon about 25 miles from Blanding, Utah on the Cedar Mesa. To reach it we navigated rutted dirt roads, scrambled down a dry riverbed, hiked about a mile and scaled a small canyon wall to a rock ledge.  We made new German friends and discovered GPS units really do work on the first try. It was an adventure all right.  We felt like Ben Gates and his cohorts racing to uncover a National Treasure.  Our... Read more →

Roper at Sunset | Beebower Productions

Roper At Sunset

  Like Indiana Jones, the lure of adventure gnawed at Dad. Big Bend National Park’s desolate, rough terrain dotted with cacti, stunning mountain peaks and a peaceful winding river persuaded him to hightail it south. Dad had seen some spectacular photographs of the park in a book and wasted no time. The next thing we knew, Mom, Dad and I were racing southwest to Big Bend for some exploration. We weren’t disappointed, especially Dad. Big Bend National Park’s sweeping vistas and meandering river gave him plenty of Western and landscape photos over the next 20 years. In fact, one of Dad’s earliest adventures produced the image “Roper at Sunset”. Dad envisioned a silhouetted, roping cowboy against the backdrop of a gorgeous, layered mountain sunset. Roping is an everyday event on ranches across America. Most of the time it looks mundane because of a cluttered, boring or distracting background. Dad wanted... Read more →

Arrested Decay | Beebower Productions

Arrested Decay

  It put the “wild” in the Wild West.  It rivaled infamous towns like Tombstone, Deadwood and Dodge City.  It even inspired the phrase “Badman from Bodie” thanks to its lawless reputation. During its heyday from the 1870s to the 1880s Bodie, California had 31 murders, no less than 60 saloons, many houses of ill repute and lots of gold to fuel the insanity. One three-year-old little girl supposedly prayed “Good-bye, God; we are going to Bodie in the morning” when she found out her family was moving from San Jose to the infamous gold rush town. The town’s newspaper editor didn’t miss a beat revising the girl’s prayer.  He replied, “We would like to make a slight correction to the punctuation of the above.  It should read, ‘GOOD.  By God we are going to Bodie in the morning.’  “ Arrested Decay I went to Bodie just like that little... Read more →

Mountain-Lion-and-Dogs | Beebower Productions

Mountain Lion and Dogs

Dad knew his taxidermist would be able to find a stuffed mountain lion for him.  He’d just have to convince the fellow to let him “rent” the stuff cat. As it turns out, the taxidermist had just been given a mountain lion.  He and Dad agreed on a $500 rental fee.  Dad created a giant plywood transport box and the cat was ready for the big photo adventure. Dad knew exactly where he wanted to shoot the photo—at Vermejo Park Ranch’s Castle Rock in New Mexico.  In the early 1990s Dad spent a lot of time photographing at Vermejo, a sprawling ranch that spanned the borders of New Mexico and Colorado.  He was very familiar with the best photo spots on the ranch. But he needed a little help finding the hunting dogs.  One of his connections at the ranch knew just the fellow.  He had a pack of trained... Read more →

Uncovering Bryce’s Secrets

It’s the kind of place National Geographic photographers drool over.  Amazing shots jump out everywhere just waiting to be captured on camera.  From Thor’s Hammer to the Tower Bridge to row after row of stoic rock statues, Bryce Canyon National Park makes a photographer’s dreams come true. Dad had seen those Nat Geo photos taken by the drooling photographers.  He’d studied them and knew he needed to get to the park a.s.a.p.  And, so, with his Toyota Prius loaded to the gills with camping and camera gear, he and my mother hightailed it to southwestern Utah. Wandering with a Mission Dad set off in exploring mode since this was his first visit to the park. Like Indiana Jones searching for an ancient treasure, Dad meandered through several trails looking for stellar photographs.  He saw plenty of possibilities.  Some of the shots needed better light, but some were just right. Dad... Read more →

Creative Secret Sauce Part 1 | Beebower Productions

Creative Secret Sauce Part 2

Last week we revealed that Dad’s creative process involves watching lots of Westerns, studying old paintings and doodling on copious amounts of paper.  This week we’ll reveal more of Dad’s secret sauce of creativity. But first to recap:  Dad starts by sketching the kernel of an idea he gleaned from the said Westerns, paintings and movies.  Once the idea is fleshed out, he contacts the experts for a second opinion on the plan.  Sometimes the experts are cowboys, ranchers or trail cooks.  Other times the experts are taxidermists and fishermen. Pulling the Pieces Together At this point, Dad has the idea, he’s talked with experts and developed a plan on how to shoot the photo.  Now he brings everything together by assembling the parts. Dad asks himself a lot of questions at this point.  Does he have the right camera gear for the shoot?  Who are the people he can... Read more →

Creative Secret Sauce Part 1

Every artist has one: a creative process that takes a kernel of an idea to a finished photograph.  Dad’s creative process involves watching lots of Westerns, studying old paintings and doodling on copious amounts of paper. While his wildlife photography doesn’t follow this process because, well, the animals are wild, all of his other images started out as a tiny idea that mushroomed into a full photography expedition. Stealing from the Greats Dad often is asked where he comes up with the ideas for his photos.  Does he have a secret sauce for creativity?  Yeah.  He steals them from other great artists. Renowned artist Pablo Picasso said, “Bad artists copy.  Great artists steal.” The difference between copying and stealing in Picasso’s definition is pretty simple.  Stealing, according to Picasso, is allowing someone else’s work to inspire you to create something unique rather than just copying another artist’s work.    Dad... Read more →

The Eyes Have It | Beebower Productions

The Eyes Have It

When we meet someone new, we lock on to their eyes like a heat seeking missiles.  Why? The eyes can tell you lot about someone.  Eyes can convey moods, telegraph intentions and even give us insight to the soul.  This is true with people as well as animals.  For wildlife photographers, eyes play an important part in our compositions.  Eyes can bring a photograph to life.  “When an animal looks at you, there are all kinds of emotions that come from the eyes.  They tell you the animal is at ease or if you’ve scared the bejebbers out of it.  The eyes are the portals to what’s inside.  The eyes tell it all, “ Dad says. Dad’s photograph “Old Mescal Bronc” is a perfect example of the eyes conveying everything you need to know.  The horse in this photograph was just plain crazy. As soon as the cowboy slid into... Read more →

Start Your Engines

The noise level rivaled the Indy 500.  Chaotic quacks, riotous wings flapping and sudden splashes erupted around the pond as groups of ducks traveled back and forth over the water. Pintail ducks revved their engines and launched from the water, the wind whistling through their feathers as they screamed around the imaginary racetrack in the sky. A group of mallards flew back from a mission, their energy gone.  They plopped down unceremoniously and loudly on the water. From his spot hunkered down in the brush along the pond, Dad shot frame after frame of ducks as they zoomed past him.  Even without camouflage clothing, the plants hid him so well, the birds never knew he was there.  The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch was the perfect place for a high-speed bird photo shoot. A Dream Come True That really long name describes an oasis for humans and animals alike.  In... Read more →

Top 10 Hairiest Photo Shoots Part 2

After repeatedly getting the question, “What’s the craziest or most dangerous thing you’ve done to get a photograph?”, we shared five of Dad’s hairiest photo shoots.  This week we’ll count down the remaining five to find out Dad’s most precarious shoot ever.  #5 Horse Stampede    Dad found himself buried underground in a steel water tank waiting for a herd of about 50 horses to stampede over the top of him.  His idea was to capture a unique angle from below the horses.  He knew this would be challenging to pull off safely.  He turned to his friend Red Wolverton, who knew lots about movie magic and even more about horses.  The plan revolved around a steel tank with slits cut in the sides for cameras.  The tank would be buried inside Red’s corral with Dad and his crew inside.  The slits would allow Dad to be at eye-level with... Read more →

Top 10 Hairiest Photo Shoots Part 1

People often ask, “What’s the craziest or most dangerous thing you’ve done to get a photograph?”  There have been quite a few wild and precarious situations Dad’s found himself in over 35 years of being a professional photographer.  We’ve narrowed it down to the top ten stories involving our intrepid photographer.  We’ll share five stories this week and the other five in part two.  The rest of the stories, well, we had to protect the innocent so those are going into the vault. #10   Duck Hunt Folks love how serene and peaceful this photo appears.  Looks can be deceiving.  The shoot, however, started off well.  Dad had found the perfect spot on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. The lake wasn’t deep, but it had a thick layer of mud on the bottom.  In order to pull off this shot, Dad needed a stable shooting platform, not a bobbing boat.   ... Read more →

Capturing the Moment

If you’ve ever seen one you’d know it.  It’s the kind of picture that makes you stop and say, “Wow! Look at that!!”  It’s a photograph that draws you in, makes you linger, and causes you to wonder about the story unfolding before you.  The photographer has captured “The Moment”.  That is a storytelling image. I’ll admit, when I was in photojournalism school my professors made a big deal about capturing “The Moment”.  It sounded rather vague and esoteric.  But almost 20 years later, I get it.  You can have a fantastically composed and lit image, but without the sense of “moment” the photo can fall flat.  There’s no curiosity on the part of viewers.  Nothing compels them to keep looking at the photo or even thinking about it later in the day.  A successful visual storyteller draws viewers in and doesn’t let them go. Let’s look at an example. ... Read more →

Desert Oasis | Beebower Productions

Desert Oasis

The predawn cold seeped into our bones despite three layers of clothing.  As Dad, my husband and I walked to our shooting locations in the dark, the ponds were eerily quiet.  The soft hoot of an owl broke the stillness just as we began setting up our gear.  Then complete silence again.  As the sun began to kiss the mountains, we could finally see the ponds before us.  Thousands of elegant sandhill cranes were packed close together standing stock still in the shallow water. Suddenly a solo trumpeting call reached across the water to us.  Within seconds a quartet answered back with loud, rolling bugles.  Then one bird was air borne.  Rapidly thousands of sandhill cranes began calling and flying out in the crisp morning air.  The controlled chaos of flapping wings and rolling bugle calls were deafening.  Within a few moments the once packed ponds were empty.  Stray feathers... Read more →

Catch a Wave

The Beach Boys had it right.  “Catch a wave, and you’re sitting on top of the world.”  We don’t surf, but that’s how many photographers feel when they successfully capture the power of ferocious waves wreaking havoc along the coast.  Dad and I spent most of our Christmas vacation scouring the shores of Big Sur for epic waves.  If you’ve ever been in the midst of a Pacific storm as it hits the coast, some unbelievable things happen with the waves.  We challenged ourselves to creatively capture the monstrous, energy-filled waves pounding rocks and then dissolving into foamy white water.  Between the king tides and the winter storms we hit the jackpot.  So what’s the secret to catching great wave photos?  It comes down to two simple things: location and timing.  You’ve got to know where and when to find the waves.  And there’s no way around it.  You have... Read more →

High Country Elk Hunt | Beebower Productions

High Country Elk Hunt

Things weren’t going well.  Dad and his team were searching for a spectacular mountain backdrop for an elk-hunting photo.  Besides the normal time constraints on a photo shoot, a giant winter storm was pressing down on Siskiyou County, California. Semis were sliding off icy roads, wet snow was falling and one team member lost his wallet full of a large sum of money as the team scouted locations.  Things just kept getting worse.  Route 5 near the border of California and Oregon shut down one hour after Dad’s crew found a good spot for the photo.  The team holed up at a hotel and waited for the calm after the storm.  The next day things were looking up.  Dad retrieved the art director from the airport.  The roads reopened.  The snow stopped falling.  The shoot was definitely on—with one little hitch. Dad thought Mt. Shasta, a 14,162-foot volcanic peak in... Read more →

Baby, It's Cold Outside | Beebower Productions

Baby It’s Cold Outside

He couldn’t ignore a triple dog dare.  But you knew what was coming next.  One lick and Flick was stuck to that flagpole.  Stuuucck.  Stuck!  The whaling and crying was epic.  That classic scene from “A Christmas Story” sums up the trouble with shooting in freezing weather.  Moisture.  While you probably won’t be stuck to your camera (unless you decide to lick a metal part), shooting in freezing temperatures can be tricky thanks to moisture.  One of Dad’s most popular landscape photos “Canadian Mountain Wilderness” took him to the far frozen parts of Canada and Colorado.  To capture the images that would be merged into one photo required dangling above a partially frozen river and braving temperature around -15 degrees.  (You can read the full story here  .)   Moisture abounded in the forms of snow, splashing river water, ice and sleet.  When Dad and I venture into such chilly, wet... Read more →

In Diguise Part 2 | Beebower Productions

In Disguise Part 2

I know you’re here just to see Dad in his snicker-inducing ghillie suit I told you about last week.  Yep.  He really does look like a cross between Sasquatch, the Swamp Thing and a fuzzy, wuzzy bear all rolled into one.  You’ll need to keep reading all about Dad’s other wildlife camouflage set-ups before you get to see that photo.    The suit’s coming soon, but first Dad had to learn that just because you use camouflage doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. Dad took the lessons he learned with the camo kayak and floating duck blind from last week and decided to try his hand at shooting hawk photos.  He thought a pop-up camouflage tent would provide all the covering he needed to catch ospreys in flight. Dad knew that like the wily great blue heron, all hawks have amazing eyesight and are very cagey about humans.  He needed a... Read more →

In Disguise Part 1

He kind of looked like a cross between the Sasquatch, the Swamp Thing and a fuzzy, wuzzy bear all rolled into one.  The first time I saw Dad wearing his ghillie suit, I burst out laughing.  Really.  It’s not something you want to put on until you’re alone in the woods.  While it looks bizarre, camouflage like a ghillie suite really does work in wildlife photography.  And photographers don’t have to wait until Halloween to dress up in a costume.   Cleverly blending into the forest, grasslands or lake lets photographers get close enough to fill the frame with wildlife.  If you’ve ever tried to get a good look at bird in a tree, you know that most birds will fly away as soon as you make eye contact, move slightly or make any noise.  While standing 25 feet from the tree might be fine for a birder, the photographer... Read more →

Madera Canyon Magic

If you want stunning hummingbird photos head to the magical Madera Canyon in Southeastern Arizona.  At any given time, 15 different types of feisty little hummingbirds pass through this mountain oasis. These little birds have their own magic act.  Their speed makes them appear and disappear as fast as Harry Houdini.  They can fly forward, backward, side-to-side, straight up and even hover.  They are fascinating little creatures. Our first trip to Madera sprang from Dad’s quest to perfect the art of hummingbird photography.  Dad didn’t just want a picture of a hummingbird, he wanted to see every colorful feather and stop the wing action.  But the birds’ amazing flight speed, agility and small size made them hard to photograph.  In order to fine-tune his shooting, Dad needed lots of willing hummingbird models.  Madera had them by the hundreds.  Over the next couple of years we would repeatedly visit the canyon.... Read more →

Creating the Weather | Beebower Productions

Creating the Weather

We’ve got a saying in Texas.  If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.  It’ll change.  Dad’s taken that saying to a whole new level.  If the weather doesn’t match what he needs in a photo, Dad creates his own weather.  It’s a bright and sunny day, but he needs a dust storm.  No problem.  It’s another bright and sunny day, but Dad needs blinding rain.  No problem.  An early morning sunrise would look better with some fog.  No problem.  He’s got it covered. Photographers often have a short time to get a photo.  A hard deadline, financial considerations, model availability or a photo permit with specific date restrictions often create pressure to get the photo quickly.  That’s when photographers begin to wonder how they can create the weather. “Mother Nature never does what you want her to do when you want her to do it,” Dad said.  “Even... Read more →

Remaking Marlboro | Beebower Productions

Remaking Marlboro

Growing up, everyone knew him.  He was synonymous with cool. The Marlboro Man brought the rugged, tough American cowboy to life for folks across the country.  And he sold an awful lot of cigarettes. In 1955 the Philip Morris Company was looking to rebrand their cigarettes to appeal to a wider audience, namely men as opposed to its previous marketing just for women.  The Leo Burnett agency in Chicago had a great idea for an ad campaign, the American cowboy. Sales skyrocketed in the first year of the advertisements.  Eventually the Marlboro Man morphed into Marlboro Country, a series of photographs showing cowboys on the range moving cattle, galloping through streams, roping and riding.  Like the Marlboro Man, Marlboro Country spurred tremendous sales so much so that the ad campaign would last for decades. For commercial photographers, landing the Marlboro account meant very good things:  generous and steady income, a... Read more →

Extending Your Lens

If only.  If only I had a 800mm lens.  If only I could get a little closer. Who hasn’t uttered an “if only” while trying to take wildlife photos?  Photography can be frustrating when you don’t have the right equipment and your subject bolts at the drop of a hat. We have a solution for you.  Purchase an extender (also called a teleconverter).  This piece of equipment fits between your camera and your lens, increasing the focal length of your lens.  So, for example, if you have a 400mm lens and you use a 1.4x extender, you’ll shoot as if you had a 560mm lens.  Dad used just such a set up to capture his image of a whooping crane taking off.  He was shooting from a boat and the captain got Dad as close to the bird as possible.  But it wasn’t close enough. Dad’s shot would have been... Read more →

Snow Geese Symphony | Beebower Productions

Snow Geese Symphony

Their take-off sounds like a discordant 80’s rock band on steroids, but once airborne the geese morph into a symphony, each swoop, dip and honk coordinating with their fellow geese. Mozart would be in awe of the Snow Geese Symphony. Each November Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge along the shores of Lake Texoma looks like a snow globe with thousands of migrating snow geese and ducks that mow down fields of grain planted just for them. Free entry and a photographer-friendly atmosphere make Hagerman the perfect place to learn the finer points of photographing wildlife. The refuge sits on the border of Texas and Oklahoma. Since 1946 the park has provided marshes, creeks, lake front property and grain-loaded farmland for birds as well as resident wildlife like coyotes and armadillos. It’s especially important for the birds because the 12,000-acre sanctuary is smack dab in the middle of the Central Flyway, a... Read more →

Big Bend Adventures | Beebower Productions

Big Bend Adventures

Like Indiana Jones, the lure of adventure gnawed at Dad.  Big Bend National Park’s desolate, rough terrain dotted with cacti, stunning mountain peaks and a peaceful winding river lured him out of Dallas.  Dad had seen some spectacular photographs of the park in a book and wasted no time. The next thing we knew, Mom, Dad and I had hightailed it southwest to Big Bend for some exploration. We weren’t disappointed, especially Dad.  Big Bend National Park’s sweeping vistas and meandering river gave him plenty of Western and landscape photos over the next 20 years.  Big Bend sits on the border of Texas and Mexico in far southwest Texas.  It really is in the middle of nowhere.  The park stretches for 801,163 acres that appear devoid of any type of life.  But a closer look reveals a Chihuahuan Desert teaming with plants, animals and insects, some of which you want... Read more →

Why Shooting Regularly Matters | Beebower Productions

Why Shooting Regularly Matters

It was without a doubt the most embarrassing moment of my short life.  I finished a photo assignment and realized there was no film in the camera.  As I sat in the car and contemplated my options, I broke into a cold sweat.  What kind of photographer forgets to put film in the camera? I’d just started my college summer internship at a newspaper.  I knew I had no choice but to drive back to the lady’s house, admit my mistake and beg for a “do-over”.  I was so worried about the whole situation; I ignored the woman’s directions about approaching the house.  I was supposed to stay in the car and honk so she could retrieve her giant German shepherd from the yard.  He was a giant, over 100 pounds of protective dog. In my shock and horror over my atrocious error, I skidded into the driveway, flew out... Read more →

1-2 Punch | Beebower Productions

Pack a One-Two Punch

Shooting Wildlife When you’re shooting wildlife, you need all the help you can get.  You’re dealing with a moving subject that’s leery of humans, creatively composing your shot in your head and making sure all of the technical stuff like f-stop is right.  In addition to all of that, you need to pump some light into your subject to open up the dark areas around the face.  That means using a flash. Most often when you’re shooting wildlife, you’re using a long lens between 300mm-600mm.  The light from your average flash isn’t going to travel that distance on it’s own.  As a result your picture often lacks any fill flash at all.  That can turn a potentially great shot into a terrible shot.  But the Visual Echoes Better Beamer Flash Extender pared with Canon’s Speedlite 580EX II packs a whopping one-two punch in getting light on your subject no matter... Read more →

A Blue Ribbon Day | Beebower Productions

A Blue Ribbon Day

The morning started off with a bang.  Square, an on-the-go payment system we use at art festivals, wasn’t working.  The folks had just an hour before customers would show up at the 43rd Annual Ruidoso Art Festival in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  Stress.  Major stress. After rushing out to buy a new Square part at a local store, the folks were in for a nice surprise when they returned to their booth.  Dad had won first place in the photography category with his picture “The Great Horse Chase”. We’re new to the art festival scene.  In fact the Ruidoso festival was just our third show.  So the blue ribbon was a wonderful affirmation of Dad’s photography in this new venue.  “It was quite a surprise,” he said.  “You know you’ve got good stuff, but will the jury recognize it?  There were eight other really great photographers at the festival.  You never... Read more →

Virtual Photo Scouting | Beebower Productions

Virtual Photo Scouting

The Valdez oil spill made a challenging situation even more so.  The year—1989.  Dad had landed the Red Man Chewing Tobacco ad campaign.  He needed to find the perfect lake for his photo and to make the advertising director a happy camper.  Dad’s research led him to Alaska and a red float plane.  He jetted off to “The Last Frontier” in search of picturesque lakes, tools and props for his photo. Upon arrival, Dad discovered the oil spill made acquiring some of that necessary equipment difficult.  He not only needed a great location, his scouting trip also provided the opportunity to lock in the float plane, pilot and tools like a hale pump that would be used to create a rain storm.  Unfortunately all of the pumps were being used to clean up Prince William Sound.  Dad spent a lot more time and money tracking down the pump he’d use... Read more →

Working for a Living | Beebower Productions

Working for a Living…On Vacation

I found myself in the most miserable place on earth and it was my Dad’s fault.  Gnats swarmed so fiercely I took refuge under a canopy of towels.  That made a very hot summer day in a desolate stretch of Utah even hotter. And the dust.  Dust crept under the towels, into my sleeping bag and clung to every inch of my clothing.  And it was all my Dad’s fault. When I was a child we spent almost every summer camping out West while Dad scouted photo locations.  He called it a vacation.  But my “What I did on my Summer Vacation” paper at school never sounded remotely like my friends who went to the beach or the Big Apple on their summer vacations.  My paper recounted camping with mountain lions, dealing with gnats and hiking trails in 100 degree heat. I sort of blamed my Mom for some of... Read more →

Chasing Dollars 2

Chasing Dollars

So you want to be a professional photographer.  It’s expensive, right?  You buy high-priced gear like cameras and lenses. You purchase a computer and photo processing software.  You find  a studio or workshop plus some advertising.  And you might want to throw in a few photo classes and some insurance.   That all adds up really quickly. But I bet you’ve never considered the cost of actually taking a photo.   We’re giving you a peek behind the scenes this week and sharing what Dad actually paid to create some of his favorite photos. Producing these images is more than just snapping a photo.  Dad choreographs these photo events like a ballet.  They require photo assistants, wranglers, land permit fees, modeling fees, props, expensive camera gear and travel expenses. Big Budget Shoot We’ll start with the South Rim Horse Chase.   During the peak of Dad’s Western shooting in the... Read more →

8 Steps to Better Photos

8 Steps to Better Photos

Growing up I was surrounded by photography.  From Frito Lay chip shoots to old West horse stampedes, my Dad and Uncle Gordon lived, slept and ate photography.  I loved looking at their work.   I’d study Dad’s pictures like Mountain Lion & Dogs and wonder how he got a mountain lion and dogs to cooperate for a photo.  (I later learned it was a stuffed mountain lion, but those dogs sure thought it was alive.) As much as the subjects of his images fascinated me I quickly realized photography, from my child-sized eyes, looked really complicated: lighting and f-stops and technical junk everywhere.  I didn’t really like technical junk.  It gave me headaches.  No, I decided, journalism might be more my style. It wasn’t until my high school years that I suddenly got shoved into photography.  I was working as a freelance writer at a local weekly newspaper.  The staff... Read more →

Capture to Canvas

From Capture to Canvas | Our Top 3 Post-Production Tools

  Every artist draws from a pool of tools that help him excel at his chosen craft.  In addition to his favorite camera gear, Dad has three post-production tools that he can’t live without.  While times have changed drastically since he started using these about 20 years ago, they are still Dad’s “go-to” tools. Photoshop Adobe Photoshop first hit the markets in the early 1990s.  At the time, Dad was shooting film and paying a retoucher to correct any problems in his photos.  (See my earlier blog post about Photoshop here)   His advertising clients were happy, but Dad saw the writing on the wall.  He knew he needed to learn how to use Photoshop A.S.A.P.   The photo industry was changing quickly. After exhausting my short supply of Photoshop knowledge Dad signed up for an actual Photoshop class where he learned more than the basics of retouching.   Photoshop did... Read more →

Are We There Yet Part 3 | Beebower Productions

Are We There Yet? (Part 3)

You’re probably wondering if this trip is ever going to end.  Dad’s epic photo adventure through Northern California, Oregon and Washington state lasted six weeks.  Up and down the mountains, to the coast and over the river the little Mouse House (the folks’ Casita) rolled.  Today we’ll explore Oregon and Washington’s treasures before heading home to Texas.  (Yes, Jimmy we’re almost there!) The Umpqua River Lighthouse stands on a bluff near the Umpqua River on Winchester Bay in Oregon.    It’s surrounded by a caretaker’s house, other buildings and a black fence.  It’s really not all that picturesque, but it has an interesting history. The first lighthouse was built on the sandy banks of the river in 1857.  Apparently no one realized the river flooded during gales and when heavy storms hit the mountains.  The foundation gradually wore away until the whole thing collapsed in 1864 while the workers were... Read more →

Are we There Yet? | Beebower Productions

Are We There Yet? (Part2)

After two successful weeks of exploring California’s Central Coast, Dad continued on his epic, really, really long photo quest through California.  Mom and Dad crammed a lot of sightseeing into this half of their trip.  As a result, they only stayed a few days at each stop.   The “Mouse House” (the folks’ Casita) left Monterey and rolled east toward Sequoia National Park.  My Mom had a few moments of vertigo as they wound their way up and down the precarious mountain roads.  She may have even asked “Are we there yet?” because she really wanted to be on a nice flat piece of road at the bottom of the valley. They finally arrived at Sequoia. There Dad found giants, actually a whole grove of goliaths.  The giant sequoia tree (Sequoiadendron gigantean) grows in one place on earth, the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California between 5,000’... Read more →

Nesting Brandt's Cormorants

Are We There Yet? (Part 1)

The fabled Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California was proving to be illusive.  Dad and I had repeatedly cruised up and down Highway 1 looking for Sycamore Canyon Road and the little bakery my massage therapist had assured me would be near the turn-off.  No canyon road and no bakery.  No beach.  No Keyhole Arch.  No photography nirvana. We returned home and scoured our resources looking for GPS coordinates, something we should have done from the start.   But who would have imagined such a famous spot would be so hard to find? In April, my parents loaded up the Mouse House (my nickname for their very small Casita) and headed west from Dallas, Texas.  They drove really far west to Monterey, CA.  They spent two weeks with me exploring the coast before heading off for the second half of their really, really, really long road trip through California, Oregon... Read more →

Extreme Shooting | Beebower Productions

Extreme Shooting

As he used a sheath knife to slowly and painfully claw his way back up the embankment above the cliff, Dad reconsidered the wisdom of riding at the back of the pack. No one saw the packhorse directly in front of him back up causing his horse to side step, lose its footing and roll down the embankment toward the cliff. No one saw Dad, who managed to get off the horse before it rolled, slide down the same embankment toward the cliff. No one saw Dad ripping the hemlock tree right out of the ground as he tried to stop his pell-mell rush down to certain death. And no one saw the bigger tree Dad crashed into that brought everything to a sudden and painful stand still. Nope. No one saw any of that. All they knew was that Hugh was there and then he wasn’t. And the kicker–somehow... Read more →

Photographer's Guide to Color Blindness | Beebower Productions

The Photographer’s Guide to Color Blindness

Dad made it 16 years before he realized he was colorblind.  He might never have known had he not tried to enlist as a mechanic in the Air Force right after high school graduation.   He passed a battery of mechanical tests with flying colors, but failed the visual test.  He couldn’t distinguish between the colors red and green when they appeared together.  Separately he knew each color, but when they appeared together he couldn’t say for sure which one was red and which one was green.  They both appeared grayish with splotches of red and green here and there.    Apparently the Air Force thought this could be a major problem when working with airplane wires.  They rejected Dad. What Is Color Blindness? Color blindness affects about 8% of males and roughly .4% of females.  According to the University of Arizona’s Department of Ophthalmology website, the human eye is... Read more →

When Did Photoshop Become a Dirty Word | Beebower Productions

When Did Photoshop Become a Dirty Word?

Last fall Dad and I traveled to our first art festivals to sell his photos.  We met lots of great folks in the process.  But without fail at each festival we were shocked by how many people asked Dad if he used Photoshop to create his images.  The tone of their voices gave away their thoughts.  Photoshop was bad.  It made you less of a photographer.  That led us to ponder, “When did Photoshop become a dirty word?” For those not familiar with Adobe Photoshop, it’s a top-notch image editing software program that professional photographers use to do everything from processing a digital image to enhancing color to merging two images.  Photoshop is chock full of wonderful tools that replace and expand what we used to do in the darkroom. Back in the dark ages there was a limit to what you could correct in the darkroom.  You could darken... Read more →

Big Bass Blunder | Beebower Productions

Big Bass Blunder

We rarely talk about that day.  It’s too awkward.  It was the day I sent my husband on a low-key photo shoot with my Dad.  I blissfully thought it would be a great chance for them to bond since we hadn’t been married that long.  I never dreamed Dad would go into, well, “work mode” while Jonathan was with him.  I had not prepared Jonathan for “work mode.” Dad needed a background for his giant, jumping bass photo (more about the bass later).  His scouting expeditions led him to Lake Ray Roberts north of Denton, Texas.  He also needed some muscle to get the canoe to the exact spot on the lake in time to catch the best light.  Enter Jonathan.   Jonathan and I stopped at my parents’ house during one of our many Army moves.  When Dad asked if we wanted to tag along on the photo shoot,... Read more →

CrestedCrested Caracara Landing

A Steal of a Deal

For most professional photographers, equipment can make or break you, literally.  Cameras and lenses aren’t cheap.  When you’re shooting wildlife you really need those long lenses in the 400mm-800mm range that start at $10,000 minimum.  Yet, photography doesn’t make you rich.  But to make any money you need those long lenses.  It’s like a dog chasing its tail.  Round and round you go.  And then you find yourself in debt. Every once in a while you find a superb gear work-around.  Dad just tested his new Canon EF 400mm/f5.6L USM lens while shooting at the Martin Refuge in south Texas.  He raved about this lens.  Best of all his photos prove his gigantic claims.  And I, for one, can’t wait to shoot with it during his upcoming visit. Let’s start with a mini photo lesson.  We’ll try to keep this short and sweet so your eyes don’t glaze over.  ... Read more →

Breakfast on the Run | Beebower Productions

Breakfast On The Run | Wildlife Photography

Rounding Up Wildlife Photography If you build it, they will come.   With that thought, professional wildlife photography blinds began popping up at John and Audrey Martin’s ranch in South Texas.  Soon a watering hole made an appearance.  Then photographers, like my Dad, traveled great distances to capture the treasures of Martin Refuge with their cameras. You might be surprised to learn that my Dad wasn’t visiting the ranch to shoot cowboy images since that’s one of his passions.  Rather he was after the marvelous array of birds and mammals that live on the land. The Martins bought their land near Edinburg, Texas with the idea of conservation.  In 2003 John opened the ranch for wildlife photography.  He believed the income from the visiting photographers would not only allow ranchers to kept afloat financially (ranching’s a tough business), it would create a desire among the public to preserve the land... Read more →

Growing Up Beebower | Beebower Productions

Growing Up Beebower

  When you grow up in your family’s photo studio there are a couple of inevitabilities: You will end up in a photo. You will get into trouble. And you will learn to appreciate your family. During my childhood my toys were backdrops, strobe lights and 2x4s left over from building a studio set. I was surrounded by cameras and two very intense photographers my Dad, Hugh Beebower, and my Uncle, Gordon Beebower. They started off in the 1970s as struggling photographers in Dallas, Texas looking to make it in the commercial advertising industry. My first memory of Beebower Brothers Photography was a small apartment they’d converted to a photo studio. The best thing about the place was the candy vending machine that dispensed Zero bars as frequently as I could convince my Dad to buy one. The modeling gigs started pretty early for me. I was about four years... Read more →

Longhorn Roundup

Longhorn Roundup

  Hugh could “see” racing longhorns being chased by cowboys much like a painter envisions his finished piece of art before he ever picks up a paintbrush. Hugh knew he could create this piece of old West art using real photos and blending techniques in Adobe Photoshop. Hugh shot this dramatic scene in pieces, employing a bit of movie magic to capture amazing action. He needed real cowboys who could round up the longhorns, but the scenery behind the corral was a bit boring.  Before shooting, Hugh and crew built 16-foot tall screens around the corral and painted them blue. Then he brought the cowboy and cattle into the corral for the action sequence with the blue screen background. “Blue screen”, the 16-foot tall panels, is something used every day in movies.  It allows the photographer to cut out the actor from an ordinary view and drop him into a... Read more →

Cowboy Cookbook

Cowboy Cooking

  Q&A with Hugh Beebower about Legends of a Range Cook Hugh Beebower delivers Cowboy Cooking at its finest in his new book, Legends of a Range Cook, a Journey into “Old West” Cooking.  Hugh conceived, designed and self published the book.  His friend, Red Wolverton, narrates with his real cowboy and chuckwagon experiences.  Hugh’s full color old West photos range from panoramic landscapes to mouthwatering chuckwagon entrees. While traveling in Arizona, Hugh took time out to answer a few questions about the book. Q:  Why did you want to do a book on chuckwagon cooking? A:  When you go to those old Western movies like I did when I was a kid and you watch TV programs like Rawhide, there was always a chuckwagon and some cowboy cooking in it.  I’d think, “Wow.  That’s kind of cool.”  Those shows let you see a lot of Old West things.  Cooking... Read more →

Hummingbirds | Beebower Productions

Hummingbirds

How did Hugh get all of those colorful little hummingbirds to show up for their photo sessions? He set up an irresistible banquet. Attracting hummingbirds is pretty simple.  They need four things:  nectar, protein, water and shelter.  Luckily for Hugh his daughter Denise, at one point, lived in southeastern Arizona, the hummingbird capital of America.  She also happened to be a gardener with a yard full of flowers for hummingbirds and plenty of hummingbird feeders.  The flowers contain the nectar hummingbirds love.  They also attract bugs the birds can use for food. Denise had a nice shallow pool of water with a mister attached that created the perfect spot for drinks and baths.  Trees and bushes throughout the garden provided perching spots for the territorial little hummers.  As a result Denise had 13 different types of hummingbirds in her garden throughout the year. All Hugh had to do was pick... Read more →

Stampede | Beebower Productions

Stampede

Surviving a horse stampede takes a bit of skill, especially when the horses are running at you. Hugh could picture this stampede photo in his mind, but he needed a bit of help to pull off a real life photo. His friend Red Wolverton who owns the Wolverton Mountain Movie Ranch near Tucson, Arizona knew just what to do to keep Hugh and the horses safe during the photo shoot.   Red, using a backhoe attached to a tractor, dug a giant hole in his corral and sunk a modified steel water tank into the ground.  He filled in the area with the remaining dirt, making the area safe for running horses.  The tank had a door and a special six-inch camera slit cut a third of the way around the water tank to accommodate wide angle shooting. On the day of the shoot, Hugh and two assistants got situated in... Read more →