Cheap Thrills

Rainbow in a storn on Wilbur West Road near Pine Bluff Arkansas.

Rainbow on Wilbur West Road, southeast of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. A friend called me and told me where it was. Fortunately I was mobile when I got the call. I rolled up to the location squeezed. off one burst of seven or so exposures, and poof — the rainbow  was history. Got lucky on this one — for a little time and gasoline. Cheap tickets for the good seats.

Flying in the face of popular, even legendary opinion, the best things in life (in my humble opinion), are not necessarily free. Realists will agree that anything of value has a price tag. Fortunately f0r many experiences, the quality far outweighs the pittance put forth to put ones self  in the belly of opportunity.

Observing Mother Nature at work with her dramatic skies, sforzando storms, and calamitous clouds comes at or near the top of that cheap thrill list for me.


Click on the storm to see more weather pix.

Speaking of cheap thrills, there are even more to see on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com.

Go there to get a glimpse of a dramatic storm shot, golden crops in the field and a morning sun blasting its rays through dramatic clouds. We’ll wait here while you take the trip.

As I was leaving  the all-toof-brief encounter with the rainbow, the late  afternoon sun peeked around the clouds as the storm hit my driver’s side window with a bucket of high velocity rain drops. Opening the window guaranteed a good Nikon soaking which puts the guts of the camera at great risk. Fortunately, with a freshly washed window, I was able to get the shot below, a free-will gift and offering from my Good Friend Above.

Rainwater on truck window

This is the way to see a storm —  safely surrounded by a full-sized pickup truck whose radio is spitting ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man,” into the cab.

The last of August, 2013, vestiges of Hurricane Isaac were rumbling through our neighborhood. Fortunately Isaac was a mere shadow of his former self when he made his visit. I did a bid of radar tracking and figured the cloud formations over Saracen Lake here in Pine Bluff would be worth a look-see. I was right. Isaac was leaving town and headed north. He made an ordinary fishing pier look special, another cheap thrill.

Fishing pier in storm on Lake Saracen in Pine Bluff Arkansas

Hurricane Isaac’s tailings make a nice setting for the fishing pier on Saracen Lake in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Other than a bit of wind and a few boomers, the hurricane’s visit was a non-event. I suppose by the time the Old Boy dropped in on us, he was a mere tropical depression.

birds on street light arm

These birds have an apparent pecking order and always look just about the same, day in and day out.

Though lacking in drama, the pecking order of these birds who consistently occupy the arm of this street light at South Hazel Street and I-530 here in Pine Bluff do provide some comic relief when one harkens back to the “Talk-a-little, peck-a-little” song from the 1962 hit movie, The Music Man.

Aerial photography is not a cheap thrill, but grabbing a few personal shots on the way home after the money shots are “in the can” is. This is a view of a mostly industrial and recreational area in my home town, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The water you see is the former channel of the Arkansas River which was diverted through an artificial channel north of this scene. The result is a slack water harbor and a fine recreational area.

Lake Langofer Pine Bluff

To the far left is the Pine Bluff – Jefferson County Regional Park. To far right is the Pine Bluff Harbor Industrial District. Fishing is great in these waters. Angler Rick Clunn won the 1984 Bass Masters Classic with a fish caught in the waters to the far middle left of this picture.

With Mother Nature, most of the time, the good seats are also the cheap seats. Even if you don’t venture out, there is plenty to see. All is costs is a look. Take a gander the next chance you get.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.


Two tigers, two sunsets

tiger at little rock zoo

Thank goodness for long lenses. You can look the tiger in the eye and successfully retain life and limb regardless of how the tiger sizes you up

This week we are looking at critters and scenes from our film archives.  All of these pictures are scanned from 35mm transparencies, AKA slides. We started this adventure on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com with a Jaguar, an African Crowned Crane and a gorilla mother and child. Click here to go there and see the critters.

This particular tiger was a resident of the Little Rock Zoo. I say “was” because this shot is from ’94 archives. Tigers in captivity make shooting easy. They develop a routine for sauntering around their enclosure, so you know pretty well where they are going to be and when they will arrive.  In one case, I put the camera on a tripod, focused on a blade of Johnson grass in the enlosure which the tiger always passed and then concentrated in starting the motor drive when he came even with the grass. Worked like a charm.

tiger at little rock zoon

Same tiger, a bit farther back. Look at the markings over the eyes. They are the same, but are different on every tiger. The tiger is wet, having just taken a dip in the handy pool in the tiger enclosure. Unlike most cats, tigers dig dipping.

The picture below shows Lake Pine Bluff which has since been renamed Saracen Lake (Google still calls it Lake Pine Bluff).  Even though no two sunsets are every exactly the same, the probability of this sunset view and the one below repeating are even more remote since a structure has been built on the west side of the fishing pier. That is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a good thing. The structure is Saracen Landing, a first class over-the-water public pavilion. The shot below was my first serious shot of a sunset on this lake, I have since shot dozens, some recently. This is one of the best locations on the planet for great sunsets, free for the looking.

sunset over lake

I chased these clouds for about 30 miles and finally wound up at what was then called Lake Pine Bluff. This was my first serious shot of a sunset on this lake, I have since shot dozens, some recently. This is one of the best locations on the planet for great sunsets.

As a part of downtown Pine Bluff, the lake is a popular fishing spot and a great place to take a lunch if you happen to work down town.

lake sunset

Turns out, money can't buy one of the best parts of my home town, to wit: a sunset at Saracen Lake. Almost every time I go to the lake to shoot a sunset, I run into people who are witnessing the phenomenon for the first time. "I never knew ... " are normally the first thing out of their wondering mouths. A great place to fish at sunset. If your catching luck is down, the scenery will help you forget it.

Isn’t amazing what we find in our own back yards. The first requirement is you have to go look. My I be presumptuous and suggest that you do just that.


See all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures plus a couple of surprises in our weekly high resolution gallery. Click here to go there. Takes just a couple of minutes and well worth the click.

Thanks for dropping by!

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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