The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn: Blog en-us (C) Thomas Welborn 2018 (The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Mon, 08 Jan 2018 22:41:00 GMT Mon, 08 Jan 2018 22:41:00 GMT The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn: Blog 120 120 Two Passions Two PassionsTwo PassionsNortheastern Oklahoma is full of streams like this one located in the Middle Arkansas watershed. Limestone and sandstone dominate the mostly Pennsylvanian Era geology. The streams begin as small creeks and springs that move downhill with some eventually forming small streams.

The waters will often contain both brown and rainbow trout that enter these waters via dam overflow from nearby lakes. Some of the finest fly fishing for trout to be found in Oklahoma are located in these small streams.

On this morning I decided to take my fly rod and a box of flies along for no other reason than to get in some practice reading the ripples and pools. There was a great deal of fog down in the valley where this stream is located - ideal conditions to create some moody, atmospheric images. When I made this particular image, the sun was already up but still hidden behind the ridge to the right. The solar glow back-lit the fog, creating a wonderful mood without dominating the scene. Once the sun crested the ridge, the photography was done and I got down to some serious casting. I saw only a few small rainbows as I walked and plied my line along the rocky shoreline. I didn't catch any fish but there will always be another time.

Northeastern Oklahoma is full of streams like this one located in the Middle Arkansas watershed. Limestone and sandstone dominate the mostly Pennsylvanian Era geology. The streams begin as small creeks and springs that move downhill with some eventually forming small streams.

The waters will often contain both brown and rainbow trout that enter these waters via dam overflow from nearby lakes. Some of the finest fly fishing for trout to be found in Oklahoma are located in these small streams.

On this morning I decided to take my fly rod and a box of flies along for no other reason than to get in some practice reading the ripples and pools. There was a great deal of fog down in the valley where this stream is located - ideal conditions to create some moody, atmospheric images. When I made this particular image, the sun was already up but still hidden behind the ridge to the right. The solar glow back-lit the fog, creating a wonderful mood without dominating the scene. Once the sun crested the ridge, the photography was done and I got down to some serious casting. I saw only a few small rainbows as I walked and plied my line along the rocky shoreline. I didn't catch any fish but there will always be another time.

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2016 bluestem lake creek fog foliage holoceneimage limestone mist morning oklahoma sandstone spring thomas welborn waterfalls Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:41:04 GMT
New Blog And Closing Of The Old I am closing this blog due to restrictions on advertising and a lack of some functionality that I would like. Archives of this blog will remain for the forseeable future.

The new blog is titled 'hololight' journal and you will find a link at the top of each page here on the website.

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Sat, 10 Jan 2015 19:34:29 GMT
2015 Calendars Are Here! Just a quick post to share the news that my 2015 calendars are here. There are two versions available this year, "Western Oklahoma Landscapes" and "Relics".

Below is a screenshot of a sample page from 'Relics".


Each calendar contains 12 months with one of my images at the top of the calendar page. The calendar pages themselves are white letters on black (see sample above). Both calendars are printed in Great Britain on high quality gloss photo paper. Each calendar measures 8.5" x 11.0" and are priced at $20.00 US Dollars each. These calendars are available directly from me and the price includes shipping. To order, send me your name and address to and PayPal will send you an invoice. Upon receipt of payment your order will be shipped promptly via USPS Priority Mail. Order now to ensure delivery by the New Year!

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 B&W Oklahoma Relics Western Oklahoma Landscapes calendars landscapes Sun, 14 Dec 2014 17:27:19 GMT
On Location - Lake Overholser Dam Don't forget that all artwork on this site is 20% OFF until the end of December!!! Just use coupon code 'Holiday2014' at checkout.

I have been quite busy lately and not had much time for my own work, but I finally managed to get out yesterday morning. We had some great fog blanketing the city so I headed out to Lake Overholser, one of local reservoirs. This lake is the oldest in the meto area with the dam and lake being completed in 1918. The entire facility is now on the National Registry of Historic Places showcasing some interesting architecture from the last century. The lake itself is only about 14 feet in depth and is now only used to supply the demands of the Summer months but at one time was the city's main source of drinking water. This lake is fed by the North Canadian River and crosses old Route 66 on its north end.

The dam and locks are located at the southern end of the lake where I spent the morning photographing. There are many subjects that make for really cool imagery and I will share a few of them here.


"Locks & Keys"

This is a view of the dam and associated architecture looking northwest. The fog was alternately thick and thin, so the scene was constantly changing. I created both color and B&W versions and although both images have their merits. I like the color version for its dark mood. You can see the spillway below the dam showing how low the water level has been as we are still in a continuing drought in Oklahoma, so the locks have not been opened for some time. The lake itself is down 4 or 5 feet since this time last year.


"Water Mechanics"

Despite the obvious distortion from the 18 mm focal length, I very much liked the leading lines in this as well as the fading lamp posts into the distance. This scene is on top of the dam and shows how the lock system is set up which repeats itself for each lock of the dam.


"Helter Skelter"

I found many of these spider webs built between the spindles of the guard rail fence on top of the dam. As there was a bit of breeze blowing across the lake, I had to make multiple exposures to get one that was sharp. I used f/10 to keep a hint of the landscape in the background.

Hope you enjoyed this little diversion :)

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 B&W Lake Overholser Oklahoma dam history landscapes spider web Sun, 07 Dec 2014 18:18:01 GMT
The Art Of Landscape Photography II


When out looking for landscapes to create, I keep an eye on my immediate surroundings. You never know what you might come across and being prepared mentally for opportunities that present themselves is a fundamental key to creating a well rounded portfolio. Nature has more to offer than grand landscapes for those who carry a sense of 'awareness'.

When I created the image above, I was standing on the edge of the beaver pond down inside the depths of Red Rock Canyon State Park. It was a bright Winter day and I was trying to capture the essence of this area in landscape view when I happened to look down and notice the ice cavities frozen just under the water's surface. I spotted this pleasing formation a few feet out on the surface but knew that the ice was not thick enough to support my weight, so I attached my wide-angle zoom and camera to tripod, set camera to AF and Aperture Priority, set the camera plane to approximate level with the frozen surface, then spread the legs short and wide making the setup high enough to fit within the lens' close focus area. I then slid the whole affair out onto the ice. I could roughly see the framing on the monitor and using my remote trigger, I made a series of exposures while moving the setup around on the ice a little this way and that until I felt I had usuable images.

There have been several variations in color and a few B&W converstions since I first created this image back in 2011 and this version represents my updated skills in post work that I have acquired over the past several years. In this iteration, I have reduced the clarity to -30 in Lightroom 5 and made some intricate color adjustments, as well as dodging and burning some areas to enhance them. Though these colors are not close to the original, they are in keeping with my artistic inclinations.

I believe this image better highlights the shapes, details and textures evident throughout the scene without making it overly detailed as in the preivous version. Tampering with Nature in a non-destructive way has much appeal for me, and by combining the tools of my craft and my personal vision, I create work that I like while always keeping within the boundaries of chaos, yet retaining a healthy dose of reality.

Don't be afraid to experiment with your work. Every once in awhile, go back and create a new version of an old image. Don't be tempted to lean toward the first version. Many of my images have multiple versions and these variations extend the creative possiblities and reach of my artistic intent. Give it a try - you might be surprised and pleased with the end result.


Just a reminder that all artwork on my website is 20% off until December 31, 2014!!!

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2011 Lightroom 5 Red Rock Canyon State Park Thomas Welborn abstract awareness boundaries close-up creative thinking landscapes variations Sun, 16 Nov 2014 17:49:26 GMT
Sunrise With Friends


I recently returned from a weekend spent with Tom Crews, Linda Stokes, Betty A, and Jackie Estes all of whom I met on Google+. We met up at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge located in Southwestern Oklahoma USA. I had met Tom earlier in June when we got together for a few days of shooting in Southern Oklahoma at Turner Falls and the surrounding area. We had a great time on that trip and for this one we were looking forward to meeting our new friends. Linda and Betty had both been in my primary circle on G+ for quite some time. Linda creates some of the most eye catching photographic art that I have ever seen and Betty creates some truly wonderful work for someone who is fairly new to photography. Jackie is a friend of Linda's and an accomplished photographer in her own right specializing in wildlife. And so with this group, Tom and I were looking forward to the weekend and getting to see a diversity of work from such an eclectic group.

I met Tom and Betty on a Friday after doing a real estate shoot for an interior designer in Oklahoma City. After getting my camp set up, we drove to Quanah Parker Lake for the afternoon/evening shoot. Shortly into our hike, we experienced what we all thought might be a dead rattlesnake but soon found that it had just been sunning itself. To our surprise, when the sunlight faded to shadow, the snake came alive making us all step back a few paces! Tom soon disappeared to discover his own compositions while Betty and I went down to the lake's edge for the sunset. Once dark settled in, we drove back to camp to start a fire and cook a meal before a few hours of good conversation and turning in. Sunrise would come early.

We were expecting Linda and Jackie the next morning and did not want to stray too far from camp, so the three of us went back to Quanah for the morning shoot. Linda and Jackie showed up around lunch, and we chatted for a bit while getting some equipment prepped for the evening. Afterwards, Tom and I went for a drive to explore some potential areas for the evening before we decided to head out to Rush Lake for the sunset/evening shoot where everyone seemed to wander off on their own.

At camp that evening, we built another fire and proceeded to have a wonderful evening filled with some great conversation, good food, and a bit of drink to top things off. A most pleasureable evening spent with new friends.

The following morning we went off to Quanah again for the morning shoot and a planned hike that didn't happen because I was running late. Regardless, we had a great morning with 3 of us on one end of the lake and Linda and Jackie at the other. Around lunch time, we all said our goodbyes and headed off to our respective destinations except for Betty who intended to stay out for another week or two before heading home. Though the hoped for Fall foliage was yet to make it's appearance, a great time was had by all and I personally look forward to our next get together.


The image above was made on our second morning together. Though there were no clouds in the sky for sunrise, we were not disappointed with the light show in the pre-dawn hour. For this image, I used a Formatt-HiTech 4 stop ND soft edge grad filter at the angle of the foreground to hold back the sky and the reflection of light on the lake surface. This enabled a longer exposure of 15 seconds to bring out the details in the foreground shadows which is what interested me the most. The red/orange in the grasses was quite real, a typical color for some of the grasses in this area during the Fall and combined with the blue lichens on pink granite, I thought the whole scene would make for a great image.

Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 @ 17 mm. ISO 100 @ f14 @ 15 seconds. Processed entirely in Lightroom 5.

Until next time, may you experience great light and good shooting - TW


(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Betty A Formatt-HiTech ND Google+ Jackie Estes Lightroom 5 Linda Stokes Nikon Oklahoma Quanah Parker Lake Sunrise With Friends Tokina Tom Crews Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge camping friends long exposure Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:33:40 GMT
The Art Of Landscape Photography This post is the first in a series on the aesthetics and art of landscape photography. They will be my own views and opinions, so you may judge for yourself if they hold any merit.


I am sitting atop an outcrop of Wichita Mountains granite. The Sun has set and I am waiting in twilight for a special event. The clouds from the morning's rain have dispersed giving us clear skies for the night to come. After a bit, the 'Belt Of Venus' appears, those sometimes illusive magenta bands of color created by the Earth's shadow opposite the setting Sun. The light is soft and dreamy but not spectacular. I make a few exposures and pack up for the trek back to camp. I have in mind an idea to push the boundaries of my art and turn this scene into a breath taking moment, moving the image into the realm of digital art yet still within the confines of landscape photography. This is where artistic license will come into play, the willingness to push the limits and create work beyond the ordinary.



I create my work to satisfy my own aesthetics and my own vision of landscape art. To me, the viewer other than myself is secondary and does not influence how I practice or present my craft. I am not ever tempted to follow the pack and create work that looks similar to others who practice this genre of photography. I have always strived to be unique within this group by not sacrificing my own sensibilities and emotional requirements. I create to please myself first and foremost.

Granted there is an element of pleasure involved when others also appreciate my art but it is not a requirement for me to continue creating. In some undefined way, artists are a bit selfish when it comes to their work. There is a possessive element involved that inhibits us from 'wanting' to share on the one hand, but on the other hand there resides the dominant secret desire within to be praised for our efforts. This I believe explains the phenomenal rise of social media and its ever increasing popularity. The simple desire to be recognized for one's worth and to share this worth with the viewer/reader.

There is another element though which is of paramount importance to me, and this is the single driving force behind what motivates me to sacrifice hours of sleep, endure long hikes and drives, and even longer evenings. That force is the simple act of being in Nature. This alone is what drives my passion, my art, and the desire to share with you.

There are times I am at a loss for words when it comes to telling others about my craft, my vision, or my art. It is an intangible that I cannot seem to ellucidate; to put into words what I felt at that moment in time, what element in the scene influenced my decision to compose the scene as I did, or whether or not there was a spiritual component involved beyond a simple description of my surroundings and what my physical senses told me. These are some of the topics I will attempt to discuss in future posts with this series though I may not always be successful in my attempts to do so.



And so I share these two images of landscapes that I consider examples of my art, though they are both at the extreme edge of my vision. The intensity of the colors alone should give you an idea of how I felt when I created them. The emotional context was obviously quite different for each of them and that is why I have shared two distinct color palettes. Each has it's own merits and each tells a different story both visually and emotionally. Each conveys a little of who I am as a photographic artist.

Until next time . . . TW

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 Oklahoma art discussion holoceneimage landscapes philosophy photography Sun, 14 Sep 2014 01:27:26 GMT
Scenes From The Road IV With this post I am sharing more work from my recent visit to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Southwestern Oklahoma. This time I am going to show you some extracted scenes. These are those smaller vignettes that are sometimes incorporated into larger landscapes but are often overlooked as scenes in themselves.



This image is of lichen covered gabbro rock and some of the wild grasses found in the refuge. Gabbro is a dark gray to black granitic rock that is found primarily in the central part of the refuge. The closer you get to the perimeter of the park, the less you see of it. The landscape then becomes dominated by the pink and orange granites with a little rhyolite thrown occasionally. The refuge also showcases a large variety of wild grasses, plants, lichens on rock, and flowers. Many of these plants are seasonal with some dormant in the summer and others thriving.

On this morning the rains had finally come to an end for the time being, so I went for a walk through the camp area looking for what I had in mind, a small scene that would showcase the contrast between soft and hard. This is what I found.

Nikon D700 w/Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 @17 mm. ISO 100 @ f/l @ 1/15 second. Processed in Lightroom 5 and Topaz Detail 3.



Another morning on Quanah Parker Lake and I have my twilight and sunrise images completed. The light is still quite nice and I wander around looking for something of interest. I walked up onto a granite overlook that is roughly 15 feet or so above the lakes edge. I immediately see this scene in my mind and begin composing, getting my plane of focus correct, and making a few exposures. I like the dividing line of the rocks against the lake giving the scene depth, but the wildflowers add that perfect touch to give the image some scale and perspective. The scene incorporates most of the common themes and elements found within the refuge.

Nikon D700 w/Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 SD @ 17 mm. ISO 100 @ f/11 @ 1/25 second. Processed in Lightroom 5 and Topaz Detail 3.


Hope you enjoyed both of these images as much as I enjoyed creating them. Until next time . . .

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Lightroom 5 Nikon Oklahoma Tokina Topaz Detail 3 Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge extracted gabbro granite holoceneimage lake landscapes wildflowers wildgrasses Sun, 31 Aug 2014 21:30:00 GMT
Doing Your Homework I'm going to take a break from the road series and talk about some of the behind the scenes preparations I do to help me achieve my intended goal of returning home with photographs that have meaning to myself and to my viewers.



There has been much written about the photographer who happens to be in the right place at the right time, who shows us an image with fantastic scenery and incredible light. We are momentarily wowed by the image and secretly wish that we had been there instead. Some might say luck played a role in these images and to some degree this might be true. In reality, the truth is that for many of these images the photographer was well prepared beforehand. Being able to take advantage of any situation that may arise, be it the weather conditions or limited time at a location is of prime importance.

This means putting yourself in the right conditions from the start. Weather is one of the most important considerations when planning a trip, and it can be the deciding factor on whether to go, or more importantly, when to go. Keep in mind that stormy weather adds drama to images, and if you are willing to put up with adverse conditions and are properly prepared, you may bring home dynamic images that show a place with dramatic light. Pre-planning when and where you want to be brings home the bacon so to speak. However, ideal conditions do not always a photograph make. If you are thoroughly prepared or intimately familiar with a landscape, then you are way ahead of the curve making it possible to take whatever conditions you encounter and make them work for you. The more you visit a place the more intimate you become with its landscape and in the end, the resulting images you bring home will reflect this intimacy.

So knowing the typical weather conditions, a bit of the regional geology, some natural history of the area, and a sprinkling of local history will pay off in big dividends when it comes to your photography. Most of this knowledge, if not all, can be found on the internet. Being old school, I tend to favor libraries where I can go and peruse available maps, documents and books, but I still use the internet extensively. Along with a few apps for my phone that I use in the field, including The Photographer's Ephemeris, Radar Scope, Luan, and Star Walk, all of these sources are the foundations that lie behind my images.

Maps are probably one of the most useful information sources you can find. Printed maps are my favorites as they can help you get a sense of a place because of the detailed information they contain and the scale they provide (I sometimes have a half dozen laying about on the floor and coffee table). Maps have the ability to show you specialized information such as the geology or even the watershed of an area. Topographic maps, or topos as they are commonly called, provide elevation data and can show you backroads, farmsteads, rail lines, river crossings, and other info too numerous to mention here. Take a look at one and you will see what I mean.

The information available on the net is staggering beyond belief. You could easily learn everything you need to know from this resource. If you are leaving the country and going overseas this resource will be even more valuable. I always use the net to do preliminary surveys of new areas where one link leads to another and so on. Many times it takes me to a site where I can order (sometimes for free or for free download) printed materials such as documents, books, and maps.

Finally, my last resource is making phone calls to get current info. Books, maps, and websites often do not get updated on a regular basis. This is when phone calls can help you avoid driving hundreds of miles only to discover a place closed due to any number of reasons. Information garnered from calls may also help you start a rapport with someone who is knowledgeable about an area. This person might be able to give you tips on where the wildlife might be spending most of their time, or info on scenic spots that are not common knowledge, or info not listed in brochures and other sources, or places known only to locals.

Advance information can be particularly helpful when you are visiting an area for the first time. Stopping at a ranger station, visitor center, or even the local chamber of commerce can really pay off for first time visits. Unless the light is fabulous beyond belief, most of us seldom come away with images that are of the same caliber as those we produce in familiar locations, so a little bit of knowledge can go a long way towards helping you tip the odds in your. There is nothing like driving back from a place knowing that your memory cards are full of great images because you did your homework.

Non Photo Gear & Other Essentials

Another aspect of behind the scenes is logistical preparations for an outing whether it be for a day or two or much longer. Knowing what to take with you is vital to having a successful trip. Early in my career I found I was always leaving something behind that I needed. I have on more than one occasion walked out the door and gotten 100 miles down the road only to realize I have forgotten all of my maps! I finally made a couple of checklists to ensure I have everything and then some. The first is a list I call 'Expedition' which includes camping gear, automotive needs, emergency kit, research materials, electronics, and clothing. The second list is titled 'Photo'. I run down this list and check it against the contents of my photo pack and other bags/containers that I carry. I have found these lists to be a major benefit over the years and though I have pretty much memorized them, I still use them because I update the contents occasionally. A good deal of what I take along I may never use, but it is there if I need it.


I hope some of this might help the newer photographers just getting into this field and maybe some of the seasoned one's as well. I will leave you with another image made on a foggy morning from my recent trip.



"Fisherman's Paradise"


(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) checklists images information internet libraries maps preparation research Sun, 24 Aug 2014 23:12:32 GMT
Scenes From The Road III One of my favorite times of the day in the Wichita's is late afternoon into early evening before the Sun sets. The light late on a Summer day illuminates the landscape and turns it into warm golden hues and vibrant greens that is almost magical. The various shapes of the granite boulders and rocks look like a childs playground and the multitude of greens and yellows of the wild grasses and foliage add contrast like few other places in Oklahoma. Throw in the color of blue from the sky and a lake and you have a marvelous combination.


Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 SD Aspherical @ 17 mm @ f/11 @ 1/80 second @ ISO 400. Processed in Lightroom 5 and Topaz Detail 3.


Oklahoma displays some of the most fantastic clouds in the sky. I suppose that much of this is due to the prevailing weather patterns and some due to the wide open spaces that give the appearance of what we call the 'Big Sky'. I spend a good deal of time reading weather reports (not the typical run of the mill forecasts but the 'Discussions' that go in depth into what the predictions forecast) in an effort to make decisions on whether or not to go out or not. Being a landscape photographer I mostly check wind patterns and velocities but also what the predictions say about trends over the course of days. What I intend to photograph is dependent on these forecasts. One thing that is constant is the presence of high thin cirrus clouds that usually take the shape of wispy tendrals that seem to swirl around in a play of chaos and abandon as if they are children spinning dizzily in an endless dance of fun.


Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 SD Aspherical @ 17 mm @ f/11 @ 1/200 sec @ ISO 500. Processed in Lightroom 5 & Topaz Detail 3.


I will leave you this time with an abstract image of a dark rock called Gabbro. I made 21 photos of this scene as the wind whipped the long thin leaves of wild grass back and forth across the face of the rock. Gabbro is formed at extreme depths in the crust but is never errupted onto the surface though it is kin to Basalt which does errupt (Hawaiian vocanoes). It is made up of dense slowly cooled large coarse crystals of plagioclase and other mafic minerals (See this link: ). Most of the gabbro exposed in the Wichita's is covered in various colors of lichen and is heavily eroded. Until next time . . . TW


Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 @ 28 mm @ f/9 @ 1/3 sec @ ISO 100. Processed in Lightroom 5 & Topaz B&W Effects 2.



(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 B&W Lightroom 5 Oklahoma Summer Tokina Topaz B&W Effects 2 Topaz Detail 3 Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge abstract holoceneimage landscapes Mon, 18 Aug 2014 01:07:54 GMT
Scenes From The Road II During the Great Depression of the 1930's, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corp to help keep many of the men who were jobless employed. One group of these men were charged with building needed structures at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge located in southwestern Oklahoma.

After years of wandering this area I have explored some of these structures which include the former Ranger Headquarters, an outlying ranger station, the lake dams, and other structures evident throughtout the refuge. One of these is the Jed Johnson Observation Tower. I have been told that at one time the tower was used as a fire lookout then latter became a 'viewing' tower to give visitors an overlook of the lake and surrounding landscape. The tower, like most of the CCC structures, is constructed of rounded granite cobblestones which today is considered a lost art in building technique. However, almost all of the structures built in this style are still standing or at least their walls remain. The tower was closed in the early 1990's due to structural issues but I can remember seeing it with its roof intact in 1992. Sadly this part of the tower is gone now and the windows and doors have been sealed against trespass. It is still a prominent landmark at Jed Johnson Lake and though the hike to it is considered moderately difficult due to the elevation change and uneven terrain, it is worth the time and effort to visit this historic structure.


EVENING of July 28, 2014 - It is still hot and I am sweating profusely after the long hike to this place. I find a spot of shade on the East side of this structure, remove my pack and drink half a quart of water. After a few minutes of rest, I get up and wander around the tower looking at the architectural and construction details of this iconic landmark. I see no signs of the masonry cracking between the cobblestones which is a true testament to the skills of the CCC workers who built this place over 85 years ago. The windows have been mortared over and the metal door sealed against intruders.

The light begins to warm a bit, so I begin wandering around with camera and wide angle lens in search of compositions. I make a few handheld preliminary images for reference after going downslope from the tower. I have settled on a few possibles and take a break to have a snack and some water while I wait for the light. I don't have long to wait, so I get in position for the first composition and begin working. I climb back up to the top of the ridge and set up for my final composition. This image is one that puts me on the trail for the hike back and I like the perspective looking up at the structure. I make a few exposures, adjust my composition, and load up. Unfortunately, the rangers close the access gate to this site at sunset, so I have to be back by then and the hike takes 30 minutes. I have another image in mind down by the lake I want to make right at sunset, so I end up leaving earlier than I would have liked. With several images on the card, I am extremely satisfied with what I have created on this evening.   


Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 SD Aspherical @ 17 mm @ f/11 @ 1/80 second @ ISO 400. Processed in Lightroom 5, Topaz Black & White Effects 2, and Topaz Detail 3.

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Black & White Lightroom 5 Nikon Oklahoma Tokina Topaz Black & White Effects 2 Topaz Detail 3 holoceneimage Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:08:12 GMT
Scenes From The Road As many of you know, I spent the month of July on the road in Southern Oklahoma. I made thousands of images that I will spend time going through for some time to come. Traveling with no set destination and no time constaints is one of the most enjoyable pursuits a landscape photographer can do. Deadlines and schedules get thrown out the window and you are allowed the luxury of relaxing and taking your time with the creative side of the business. But all good things come to an end and eventually you have to get back to making a living.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the images created during this extensive trip and sharing some stories of places and things I have seen. On with the show.



WICHITA MOUNTAINS WILDLIFE REFUGE - I am at Quanah Parker Lake which is one of eleven lakes located within the refuge. Named after the great Native American Commanche chief who never lost a battle the lake is one of the most scenic in the mountains. I am on the south end of the lake a bit west of the boat ramp where fishermen launch their craft. Power boats are not allowed on any of the refuge lakes so only oar powered and trolling motors are allowed keeping noise to a minimum. This lends a certain tranquility to all of the lakes that make them ideal locations for photographers as well.

On this morning I am sharing the lake with a few fishermen. We nod at each other as I pass in my search of a composition. Spoken words are not needed as we are all here for the same thing - the common bond of just being in Nature while all others are still in their beds or sleeping bags. I wander along the edge of the lake and find a granite outcrop that is above the lake and looking down into the lake. I see a dead cedar angled into the water and don't remember seeing this in previous visits but that does not mean it has not always been there. When there are several miles of shoreline to explore it is easy to miss something. With camera in hand I begin searching out the framing and once I find what I envision I set to work. It is a few minutes past sunrise but the Sun is still behind Mount Scott and will not show his face for another 15 minutes. I begin making exposures and after a handful of frames I am content with the results and begin wandering in search of the next image that will add to this body of work. The day is still young and there is much that remains to be seen.

TRANQUILITY - Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 17-35/4 SD Aspherical @ 17 mm @ f/11 @ 1/6 second. Single exposure processed in Lightroom 5 and Topaz Detail 3.

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 Commanche chief Lightroom 5 Native American Nikon Oklahoma Quanah Parker Lake Summer Tokina Topaz Detail 3 Tranquility Wichita Mountains boats fishermen holoceneimage lake Sun, 10 Aug 2014 02:17:52 GMT
Musings On The Craft III - Composing With A Wide Angle Lens I frequently see photographers posting on social media using the latest and greatest camera gear when it is obvious from their photos that they need help with their craft and vision in order to learn how to properly take advanage of this equipment. Top dollar professional grade cameras and lenses do not a photographer make. On the other end of the spectrum, I see photographers using consumer grade gear and taking stunningly marvelous photographs. What this obviously tells me is that it is not the equipment but the photographer's vision that makes the image.

What makes a good or great photographer is learning to see. Knowing which elements to leave in and which to leave out are the end all of a good photograph. There are several ways an aspiring photographer can learn this art of composition. With the next few posts I am going to share a bit of my wisdom that I hope will help some of you get a better grasp on composing your images.

First, take a look at photographs of photographers that you admire. In particular, pay attention to the elements they include in an image. If possible look at the exif data they might include such as which lens and what focal length they have chosen, as well as the exposure information. If you have a lens with similar characteristics then you can apply this info to aid in your own work. With the following example I will share how I assessed which elements to include in a particular composition.

Composing With A Wide Angle Lens

"3 Stones"

The 3 stones in the foreground are what attracted me to this scene from the start. I wanted them to be the central theme of the image but I also wanted the wall and the trees in the background. As I looked at the entire scene, I realized I also wanted the sticks and other bits of detritus in the foreground to give the image a sense of scale. The world famous landscape/wildlife photographer Art Wolfe once said to fill the corners in a composition. What he meant was don't leave a vacant space in your corners because this 'emptiness' will detract from the harmony of the final envisioned scene. This is particularly true for close up wide angle compositions.

Choosing a wide angle zoom lens was the obvious choice if I wanted to incorporate all of the elements I envisioned, so in this case I chose my 12-24/4 DX format wide zoom lens which is equivalent to an 18-36 in FX format. For this composition, I placed the 3 stones just above the bottom of the frame using a 12 mm focal length. Due to the distortion characteristics of wide angle lenses, my camera was positioned just above and behind the bottom end of the sticks and approximately 18 inches off of the ground. I could have backed up some and used a longer focal length but would have lost the tops of the trees in the scene. The positioning and focal length I chose allowed me to keep the stones in the bottom third of the frame and allowed me to tilt the lens up enough to incorporate the trees in the background. I now had the composition I wanted but how to keep everything in focus from front to back. I set my f-stop at f/18 to alleviate a bit of the inherent diffraction and yet maximize depth of field.

Using hyper-focal distance allowed me to calculate the best point of focus on the lens. Using the distance from the stones at 1.5 feet and the approximate distance to the trees at roughly 40 feet, I set my lens' focus at approximately 5 feet using the distance scale on my lens barrel. With the practice of using hyper-focal distance, this is the half-way point between the front and back elements and ensures that most elements in the scene will be sharp front to back. So now my foreground is in sharp focus and the trees in the background are as well. However, if you look closely at the trees farthest away, you will see that they are not quite in focus. This is the trade off that one deals with when wanting everything to be in focus. If I had tweaked my focus a tiny bit I might have been able to get everything completely focused but my primary concern was to have the stones and other foreground details in focus. I was willing to sacrifice a bit of sharpness in the very background to retain sharpness in the foreground.

You can try these techniques on your own. Set your camera on your tripod and focus on an object in the close foreground. Vary the focus a bit either way making notes about which image is which. Examining them in your software will show you which image best represents what you are trying to achieve and your notes will help you to make future decisions. After some practice, you will learn what works best with your particular lens in real life situations.

I hope this short tutorial helps some of you out there when using wide angle lenses.

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 3 Stones DX FX composition elements hyper-focal distance landscapes techniques tutorial Sat, 05 Jul 2014 04:20:57 GMT
New Adventures And A New Product A New Adventure -

For the past 5 years I have been working a day job, but now I am finally making the move to running my photography business full time once again. I am branching out from my landscape work and have added real estate photography to my portfolio. This addition has necessitated that I move from this small town to the big city once again, a change that I have not been looking forward to but sometimes we do what we must.

As a result of this change, I hope to be able to devote more of my time to the landscape work and get to do a bit of traveling that has been a restriction over the past few years due to the day job obligations. For the next six months I will be putting much of my energy into making the real estate photography venture a success, so there will be a balancing act involved in keeping both going. At the end of the day, I am looking forward to this new challenge!


And now here's an image from my recent trip down to the Arbuckle Mountains with fellow Google+ photographer Tom Crews. This image is of the Price Falls Waterwheel which used to pump water by gravity feed to the Falls Creek Baptist Church Camp back in the early 1900's. The first time I came down here in the late 1990's the wheel was still functioning, but sadly that is no longer true as can be seen by it's condition in the photograph. Processed in Lightroom 5 and Topaz Black & White Effects 2.



A New Product -

For some time now, I have been using a new product that I think will interest many of you. We all know how easy it is to scratch the preview monitor on the backs of our digital cameras. Well, I have found an inexpensive solution. A thin plastic film made by a company based in the United Kingdom, Expert Shield has entered the market with a product that works. Over the past 5 years, I have used products offered by several other companies and none have lived up to their claims. Expert Shield is different in many ways but the one selling point that is more important than any other claim is that the product is guaranteed for the life of the camera it is used on. That's right - Lifetime Guarantee! If you scratch it or scuff it - send it back and they will replace it for Free.

Installing the shield is a piece of cake. Just follow the instructions that come with your shield and I guarantee success. It took me less than 15 minutes to install both shields on my Nikon D700 - one for the view screen on back and one for the exposure monitor on top of the camera. I can't even tell that they are on there! After using this product for the last several months I am pleased to recommend them to my fellow photographers. Not only do they make these screens for cameras including DSLRs, Mirrorless, and Point And Shoots, they make them for phones, tablets, and a myriad of other devices. The best part of all is that these shields are so inexpensive that you would be crazy not to get them for your gear. Screens for my D700 run just over $12.00 with the current exchange rate plus a nominal shipping charge to the USA. Delivery takes a few weeks but what doesn't when buying from overseas. Believe me when I say that it is worth the wait!

And now for a few product photos:
















Inside the package you will find a clear glasine envelope containing both shields and a lens cloth. I wetted my cloth with Isopropyl alcohol to clean my screens, then used Dust OFF to ensure there were no specks of dust remaining. There are two blue tabs on each shield. One allows you to peel back the adhesive side and the other is a convienent tab to hold the shield without touching it while you align the shield to your screen. This part is a bit tricky. The shield is actually a tiny (and I mean tiny) bit smaller than your screen so care must be made when positioning the shield. Work in a very well lit area for this installation. Place your camera body cover on and lay your camera face down on a towel or similar cloth. Align the screen at one corner of the screen and attach to your monitor. I then used another lens cloth to smooth the shield into place. You can remove the shield if you don't quite get it lined up correctly, but I don't imagine you can do this too many times before the adhesive will not function properly. That's it!

You can find Expert Shield at

***And now for a bit of DISCLOSURE. Expert Shield provided me with this kit for free in exchange for my possibly writing a review. I received no other monies or compensation from them for this review. I fully endorse and recommend this product of my own freewill.***

Until next time, I wish you all good shooting and good light - TGW

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Arbuckle Mountains B&W D700 Expert Shield Google+ Lightroom 5 Nikon Oklahoma Price Falls Tom Crews TopazBlack & White Effects 2 Waterwheel landscapes product review screen protector Tue, 01 Jul 2014 19:57:53 GMT
Southern Oklahoma With Tom Crews Just a quick post to let everyone know what I have been up to lately. I just returned from a 3 day outing with Tom Crews of Sherman, Texas. We had a great time photographing waterfalls in the Turner Falls area of the Arbuckle Mountains. Locations included Price Falls, Veterans Lake at Chickasaw National Recreation Area, and of course Turner Falls with its gorgeous scenery.

There will be more to come from this trip but here is a taste of what we experienced.

"Bridal Veil Falls"

Next time I will review the Expert Shield products I mentioned in my last post. It will be worth the wait and will be up in a few days. Until then, good shooting and good light to all - TGW

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 Arbuckle Mountains Bridal Veil Falls Chickasaw National Recreation Area Expert Shield Oklahoma Price Falls Spring Turner Falls Veterans Lake holoceneimage landscapes Sun, 15 Jun 2014 16:33:02 GMT
When You're In It - Embrace The Moment Sometimes you just have to stick it out. Maybe it's your tongue, or maybe it's a situation that you have gotten yourself into. Regardless, toughing it out to the end can be painful, rewarding, or somewhere in between. When it comes to photography, it is usually a moment of incredible light or maybe it's an event that have you waited a long time to experience.

I was out chasing some not very powerful storms last weekend, but that was just an excuse to drive around looking for old barns and farm implements that might be worth stopping to take a look at. The storms had been building since around lunch time and I thought that if I could find something that would make suitable foreground interest then the storm clouds would just be icing on the cake. Maybe even experience a dramatic moment. One never knows until you get out there.

I had just about given up hope when I passed this old homestead. I thought that this might work but kept driving. I went on another few miles when a gentle rain started to come down. By the look of the dark and moody clouds above me I realized that the barn I had passed might be the best - so I turned around.

I pulled up into the old dirt drive and got out with a wide angle zoom attached. I began wandering around looking for compositions. As I did so, I moved closer and closer to the barn itself and the truck with trailer parked next to it. The rain was starting to get a bit more serious and the wind was beginning to pick up, so I began to make one exposure after another while changing compositions after each two exposures. Suddenly, the whole sky lit up to the right of the barn and changed the entire light of the scene. The clouds above me were illuminated in dramatic contrasts - dark on the left and sunlit on the right. I furiously made exposures as the wind pelted my face and gear with rain. I had to continually wipe the front of my lens between exposures. As the rain began to come down in huge drops, I ran for the Jeep - laughing the whole way and arrived just before the deluge really hit. I was pretty well soaked by this time. I dried off my gear and took a look at the display. The last few exposures showed me some of the most gorgeous light I had seen in quite some time. I was elated! I knew the long drive back would be worth every minute. I had been treated to a rare moment in time by Mother Nature herself, and I had been rewarded beyond my imagining.

And so without further ado, the image I call "Storm Light" - the end result of an afternoon well spent.

"Storm Light"


Next time I am going to talk about and review a new product that may be of interest to you all. It is inexpensive and I think many of you will want to invest in this simple yet excellent idea. Until then, I wish you all good light - TGW


(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 Oklahoma Spring clouds evening holoceneimage landscape storm light weather wide angle zoom Sun, 01 Jun 2014 23:45:20 GMT
The Virtues Of Patience And Observation When I am in the field working, I always take the time to just sit and observe my surroundings. Quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to creating meaningful art. Taking the time to think an image through to the composition that I have in my mind is important in more ways than one. A great deal of time will be saved in post work if I ensure that all of the elements I wish to show you are in place and taking care before making the image will bring about a greater personal satisfaction that what I have created will be what I envisioned.

A recent blog post by Guy Tal drove this point home. He had taken a group of workshop participants to an isolated canyon that was little visited and had no 'iconic' scenes within. He asked his participants to first walk around in search of a composition without their cameras in hand. After someone found what they wanted to photograph, he would ask them to take him to the scene they envisioned and explain to him what they saw and hoped to achieve with their final vision. In this way they learned to see without the aid of looking through the viewfinder.

Working in this fashion encourages one to really see and in the end to hone your craft and set you on a path to creating more meaningful art. Using the camera to find your composition limits you to what the camera shows you and tends to make you work too quickly and 'grab' the shot that first comes into 'view', not what your mind has the potential to show you. Once you see the image in your mind, you can then break out the camera and get to work. It will teach you perspective and will also aid you in making lens choices before you even look through the viewfinder.

The image here is an example of this type of thinking through a scene before looking through the camera. I had been walking along a section of sandstone wall looking up and down in search of a composition. What first drew my eye to the wall was the color of the lichen and the vibrant contrast of the creeper ivy against the red sandstone. The ivy was being 'highlighted' by the afternoon light occasionally and I wanted to show this if possible. I also wanted to show the contrast between the lichen, the sandstone, and the creepers so this would affect my final composition. How best to represent what I was seeing in my mind?

When I first approached the wall, I was thinking of a tight shot with a short telephoto, but after spending a bit more time really looking at the scene I envisioned, I realized that a wide angle lens looking up at an angle of roughly 30 or 40 degrees would better render what my mind was seeing. The telephoto would have compressed the scene whereas the wide angle would spread the scene allowing me to add other elements that I envisioned. Now I will say that part of this decision was based on the fact that I would not have a clear path to the scene with the tele due to intervening branches within the working distance available. The wide angle allowed me to work closer to the subjects without this concern.

Shadows And LightShadows And LightVirginia creepers and lichen on sandstone.

"Shadow And Light"

In the end taking the time to observe the scene and a bit of patience before actually making the image allowed me to create an image that I was extremely pleased to share. The final image represented how I see and envision my art.

I highly recommend reading the Journals of Guy Tal and looking at his portfolio if you want to delve deeper into the art of landscape photography. You can find them by clicking on his name in the post above or at


I wish everyone a great Memorial Day weekend. If you personally know a 'veteran' of the wars we have fought to retain the freedoms we enjoy  - Thank Them for Their Service

- TW

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Guy Tal art lenses observation patience visualization Sat, 24 May 2014 14:04:07 GMT
"Bands of Venus" Displayed At Soho Arthouse, NYC - May 20 & 21, 2014

"Bands Of Venus"

This image is currently on display at the Soho Arthouse in NYC for the launch of on May 20 and 21, 2014. Crated is a new website where one can display and sell one's art over the net. The site is simple to use and your work looks great in their layout. Check them out when you get a chance!

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) 2014 Crated Oklahoma Soho Arthouse display landscapes launch pond reflection twilight website Wed, 21 May 2014 19:20:10 GMT
Musings On The Craft II  

Despite my recent absence from 'social media', I have been creating some new work. I find it to be the best therapy in times of tribulation. Recent personal events have turned my world upside down a bit, so rather than dwelling on these events I go out with my gear and get to work.

Photography is one of the few passions I have experienced that I truly draw immense satisfaction from when life throws the book at you. Working through getting a composition just right, then through the technical details, allows me to focus on the moment. Everything else seems to fall by the wayside. Photography has a serious calming effect on my mind and soul.

"Spring In The Canyon II"

Spring time in Red Rock Canyon State Park here in Oklahoma is always a joy to photograph. The green of ivys and creepers, as well as all of the trees and other foliage is almost electric. The green contrasting against the red-orange sandstone of the canyon walls makes for some vibrant images that really grabs a viewers attention.

I had worked this spot many times in the past under many different lighting conditions but had seldom been satisfied with the results. On this occasion, I had my back to a tree and the tripod positioned on the rock in the foreground and another one to the side to create this composition. Finally I have an image that I'm very pleased to share with you


I know that most of you have driven by a particular scene or place that makes you always think "I need to stop and photograph this some day", but you don't. Sometimes the light is wrong or you just don't 'see' it in your mind yet. Then that day comes along when you look and suddenly your brain says 'now is the time'. Here is one of those times.


This stockade is made up of what appears to be every conceivable size and heighth of board and post. In other words, the rancher used what he just had laying around. I find it to be a very creative use of such materials and had always thought that it looked really cool.

We had just finished with a rainstorm as I was passing by. In my mind, I thought this scene would look great converted to B&W. And so you see the intended result.


I will close this post with a few thoughts about the art of photography. Art should be subjective, not objective. It should reveal an emotional response to those that view it and it should make them want to know more. They should want to be there! If an image does not accomplish these feelings, then the image is just a pretty picture. As Ansel Adams once said, "If you can't remember a photograph after viewing it, if you can't visualize the image in your mind, then it has no enduring value". Art should sooth the soul, no matter your station in life and should stay with you forever - TW

(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) B&W Oklahoma Red Rock Canyon State Park Thomas Welborn art color craft holoceneimage landscapes life photography tribulation Sun, 18 May 2014 21:51:09 GMT
It's Been COLD ! We have been in the deep freeze for over a week now with random layers of snow added on occasion. Not much in the way of snow, an inch or two here and there, but the temperature has remained below freezing up until the last day or so. This weather, and some available time have allowed me to make some new photographs under these conditions. Most of this new work has been in Red Rock Canyon SP. I have either not had the time in the past when it did snow, or we received very little in the way of this precipitation.

And so, without further ado, here is one of the new work.

"The Dead Of Winter"

For the third time now, I have had the opportunity of photographing this place in another season. I had been hoping for some snow, and after a week of sub-freezing temps, there was enough snow and ice on the pond to create a dramatic image.

Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro SD 17-35/4 FX ASPH @ 26 mm. ISO 200 @ f22 @ 1/4 second. Processed entirely in Lightroom 5.

I wanted the image to retain the coldness of the day. We had fog for the better part of 2 days, so it was key that I didn't give the image too much of a bluish tint. A fine bit of tuning brought the sky into place by lowering the White Balance from the 'as shot' 5360 to 5050. Then, I adjusted the Tint to -7 which removed a slight magenta tint in the sky. From here, it was pretty straight forward to add a bit of Clarity (+15), and quite a bit of Vibrance (+55) to bring out the green a bit in the evergreens and cedars. I then began adjusting the colors to bring out the red in the sandstone. In Hue, I added Red (+31), then I reduced Orange (-16) and Yellow (-36) to keep the sandstone from looking too garishly vibrant. In Saturation, I added some Red (+18), then added some Orange (+63) back into the image. I know this contradicts what I did with Orange in the Hue section, but I have found that this works best under overcast conditions. I have played with various combinations in this area, moving both the Hue and Saturation sliders back and forth in both directions. The above mentioned trick seems to represent the color best, in my opinion. The last touch was in the Luminence panel, where I increased the Orange (+40) to make the sandstone glow a bit. A final bit of sharpening was done before export to both the website and Google+.

"Hidden Splendor"

I had been eyeing this group of saplings for weeks. Each time I drove by them, I said to myself "There's a photograph here". The last day of November saw me down in the canyon in the early morning. Once again, I drove past these "trees". After creating a few other pieces, I was on my way back out and saw the golden color on the wall and the contrast created by the trees in front. I stopped and made a photograph.

Nikon D700 / Tokina AT-X Pro 80-200/2.8 SD MkIII @ 145 mm. ISO @ f22 @ 1/ second. Processed entirely in Lightroom 5.

There was so much chaos with all of the little branches and saplings that I really wasn't sure the image would work. I had originally made the image with the White Balance set in camera @ 4550 because I didn't want the trees to be too warm looking. This would have caused extra work in processing and the end result may have ended up in the trash. In LR, I lowered the WB to 4050 which really flattened the whole image. I set the Tint to (0), then reduced the Highlights (-52) to take the sheen off of the tree branches. This left me with the image still looking flat but there was now a slight bit of contrast between the trees and background. I then increased the Contrast (+25) and added some Clarity (+15), then Vibrance (+62). I now had an image that looked close to what I wanted but felt that it needed more detail in the background wall. To accomplish this was a juggling act. First, I added some Saturation via Red (+25), some Orange (+32), then reduced the Yellow (-51) to get rid of an unwanted brightness in this color, and finally reduced the Blue (-45) to remove a slight tint in the trees. I moved on to the Luminence panel where I increased the Orange (+18), reduced the Yellow (-41) to further reduce an unusual cast to the sandstone, then reduced the Green to remove the somewhat saturated leaves visible in the image. A final bit of output sharpening and I was done.

The weird thing about this image is how brilliantly lit the wall was, while the trees were still in shadow. All in all, I am happy with the end result and hope that you like it too.


(The Photographic Art of Thomas Welborn) Lightroom 5 Nikon Tokina Winter ice pond sandstone snow trees Mon, 10 Feb 2014 02:57:34 GMT