I must confess that until my brother and sister-in-law built a cabin in the mountains around Jasper, Arkansas, I was not a fan of the Ozarks. Compared to the peaks, valleys, and vistas of the West, the Ozark mountains, I thought, just did not measure up. I have changed that view over the last several years, and this past weekend, finally put that old vision to rest for good.
Bob and I spent several glorious days shooting in the National Forest areas around Jasper, Ponca, and the Buffalo River. He was the expert guide and I the lumbering photographer with equipment packed into a backpack along with water and granola bars. The hikes were a test; the views inspiring. Even back in the woods with clouds and drizzle on Friday, the remote waterfalls took us to the source of something that tested my vision and my skills. I tried mightily to do justice to the nature before me. The next several months of work will bear witness to my success or failure. On Saturday, the sun was brilliant, the colors bold, and our legs a bit more wobbly than the day before. Truth be told, I was not sure about our hike to Hawksbill Crag, an iconic bit of Arkansas rock that is probably the most photographed piece of landscape in the state. Did I really want to shoot such a recognizable piece of real estate? I am glad I did. Whether my photos reflect it, Hawksbill must be experienced, and the hike with Bob was one of those experiences we will talk about for years. We had hiked in at dawn with one other car parked along the road. By the time we got back, there were 17 cars scattered around the trail head.
Arkansas is no Dogpatch, USA. In fact, a shooter would be hard-pressed to find a better place to shoot. As Ansel Adams used to say, that's just a Place with a capital P.