Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Clyde with his 6x10 view camera

In 1996, when Ron Wisner was still building large
format cameras, I asked him to build me a 6x10
back that would adapt to his 4x5 view camera. He
accomplished the request, and then found that others
liked that proportion too, so he build a few more.
There aren't many out there...if you own one it would
be great to hear from you.

I love the proportion of 6x10 and also the fact that
the camera would be much lighter to carry. My
8x10 Deardorf, without lens, weighs 16 pounds.
The 6x10 Wisner, without lens, weighs 7 1/2 pounds.
Plus, I can carry it in my backpack open with my
wide-angle 120mm Nikor already on it. This means
my set up time is reduced considerably.

Because I mostly use wide-angle lenses I had to
take a couple of inches off the back standard of
the 4x5 Wisner before the camera would work for me.

My first photographic use of the camera was in 1997
when I was Artist in Resident at Rocky Mountain
National Park. I was excited about the images...
except for one thing. The film holders leaked.
(Thank heavens I had taken more than one camera
with me on that trip!) When I inquired as to when
the film holders could be corrected, I found
out the company who made the holders
was no longer creating them.

So, for the past 14 years the camera has sat on my
shelf patiently waiting for me, until I me Richard
Ritter who builds and repairs large format
cameras - - in Vermont. Richard
told me about Alan Brubaker who builds large
format mat camera equipment including film
holders - - in California.

Last week I received the film holders. It felt
like Christmas! I am, once again,
excited about using my "new"
6x10 view camera! The film holders are
beautiful...a piece of art.

I will be leaving for California in a few days for
my 50th High School Reunion, the opening
at the Annenberg Space for Photography, and
a couple of weeks in Yosemite. Taking the
6x10. Will let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Labor Day Swamp Walks 2010

Another wonderful Labor Day weekend holiday
in the swamp! We enjoyed the company of
everyone who came to experience the nature
of Florida in a way that is only possible in a
swamp walk.
Can't wait for the winter walk
when we can share this special place
with you all again!

Clyde signing books

Niki gave demonstrations on how to
hand-paint a black and white photograph
using oil paint, Q-tips and cotton balls.

Clyde signing books and note cards
for some young admirers

Jackie putting color coded bracelet
onto customers arm. The bracelet
lets him know which walk he is
going to go on.

Swamp walk guide, Johnnie, explaining
the ecosystem of South Florida before
going out into the swamp.

We'd like to thank Kayla and Cody
for taking all of the swamp walk
photos and also for helping the guides
with the swamp walks. Good Work!

Into the muck

Into the swamp

The watery path

Cody holding up a bunch of bladder wort
Most folks are amazed that we have no
mosquitoes in the depth of summer and this
plant is one of the reasons.
Bladder Wort eats mosquito larvae.

Swamp guide, Mike Owen, explaining
the periphyton and it's importance to
the environment of South Florida. It is
like a sponge. When our environment
dries down the periphyton holds water
so that tadpoles, fish eggs, etc can still
survive. It also cleans the water.

Everyone checking out the periphyton

taking a photo of the periphyton

cypress knee

Swamp guide, Rick Cruz, with group

Rick explaining the bladder wort
plant and how it eats mosquito larvae

The peace, beauty and primeval feeling
of the swamp in summer is one of our
favorite memories.

For those of you who aren't quite ready
to head out into the swamp, we have a
short dry path behind our gallery that
is a pleasure to walk.

Gallery path

Gallery path

During the summer months our gallery
path is green and lush with growth.

It was a wonderful holiday. Sharing it
with so many great folks makes it even
better! Looking forward to our winter
swamp walk!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kissimmee River Basin - The Northern Everglades: Williamson Cattle Ranch

Frank "Sonny" Williamson Jr. showing
Elam a map of the ranch

The restoration of the Kissimmee River
Basin would not be the success it is without
the cooperation of the ranchers who once
grazed their cattle on what is now flood plain.

Many ranchers have helped in the effort led by
the vision of Mr. Sonny Williamson.
Clyde and Elam Stoltzfus are embarking on
another exciting journey with a film
on the Kissimmee River Basin: the
Northern Everglades.

We are excited, once again, to be a part
of educating the people of Florida
about their state, tis beautiful environment
and the wonderful success of the
Kissimmee Basin restoration project.

To keep track of the progress of this film
check out:


More than a half a century ago, Frank Williamson, Sr.
founded the Williamson Cattle Company. Today
the business is still a family operation. Frank
"Sonny" Williamson Jr and his son, Frank
"Wes" Williamson III, run the 9,000 acre
ranch and citrus operation in Okeechobee while
Wes' son, John Williamson, runs another part
of the cattle operation and a catfish farm in west
central Alabama.

The cattle have access to more than 9,000 acres
but only 6000 of those acres are grazable. Most
are hammocks, pine forests, and swamps that have
been left in their natural state to assure the
aesthetic value of the property and promote an
abundance of wildlife. With deer, turkey and
otters viewable in their natural settings, the
decision to retain their habitat was an easy one.
"When you can ride through a place and love
looking at the animals and the woodlands, that's
a kind of pay day too," Sonny said.

Balancing a successful agricultural operation with
Florida's environmental concerns is a
challenge the Williamson have met head on.
"We are a family-owned corporation, and we have
a direction here," Wes said. "We feel we have a
responsibility to the owners of the Williamson
Cattle Company before us and the owners of the
company after us."

Frank Williamson Sr.
"You can make money and go on a vacation to
a beautiful place, or you can keep the beauty
where you are and enjoy it all the time."

Heading down the road while
enjoying great stories from

Howard checking out the
image in the camera

Sonny getting under the dark cloth
to see into the camera

Elam, Howard Jones Jr.,
Sonny Williamson Jr.,
and Clyde

Howard Jones is Sonny's step-brother
and has written a wonderful book
about his years on the ranch, "The
Green Jeep". I didn't want to see the
book end...made me feel closer to the
earth, animals and humanity. A good read.

Watching Elam film

Elam filming

Discussing where to go next. The
ranch is so big and beautiful that
it is hard to choose which
direction to go.

The field was filled with all kinds
of wonderful plants and flowers.
I could have spent a lot longer
on my hands and knees photographing
the beauty of small things!

Family camp house

Discussing the Battle of Okeechobee
while standing on the site of the
last camp before the military
went into battle.

This area of the property is known for
being the last camp of the military
before the Battle of Okeechobee on
Christmas Day. This battle was one of
the major battles of the Second Seminole
War and the largest battle fought east of the

The military followed the Seminoles to
this area, then camped for the night.
(The Seminoles were leading them
into a trap) When the military woke
up, the troops followed the trail into
a swamp where the grass stood five feet
high. The mud and water were three feet deep.
Horses were of no use, so Taylor moved
his men into the swamp. They were totally
surrounded by Seminoles, causing tremendous
damage, the volunteers broke and ran.
Taylor directed the men to keep fighting. In the end
26 soldiers died, and 112 were wounded. 11 Seminoles
died and 14 wounded. No Seminoles were captured.

There is a re-enactment of the Battle of
Okeechobee every year in Feb. Check out
the Chamber of Commerce in Okeechobee
for more information.

Military camped here before the battle

Heading back to the office

What a marvelous gift to live a life where
all you see around you is a beautiful
environment and it is yours. I am thankful
that folks like the Williamson's
understand the deep connection the
earth has for us all and work to make
a positive environmental difference
in their ranch management.

It was a pleasure to spend a morning seeing
some of the ranch...hope time permits us
to return to capture more of that beauty
on film.