Autumn Road Trip

Autumn Road Trip

For the last three years during the last week of October I have taken what I now call my annual autumn road trip. My first, three years ago, I stayed within the State of Kansas. Camping 6 days and 5 nights in couple different campgrounds all within 2-3 hours from home. Last year I decided to make it an actual “road trip” and spent 2 days at Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska, two days back in the Flint Hills region of Kansas and then 3 days at Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma. It was a great time camping every night under the stars and exploring new lands each day.

This year I headed to the Ozarks of Southern Missouri and once again I was not disappointed. I arrived at my 6 day 5 night home away from home about 30 minutes before sunset. Alley Springs Campground, approximately 5 miles west of Eminence MO. I wasted no time setting my tent up, building a small fire and enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. Alley Springs Campground is a fairly large campground. There were only two other campers there making us all spread out as far as possible from each other. I had a spot backed up to the woods and had the pleasure of listening to a couple of owl’s hootin’ back and forth each night a couple of hours after dark. Nights were cool dipping down to the high 40’s to low 50’s and the morning were all very misty and foggy. The campground runs next to the Jack Fork’s River which helped with the misty/foggy mornings. For fun here is a google maps link to my exact camping spot. Campsite Alley Springs Campground.

When I decided to make the Ozark areas of Missouri my destination I knew I would need some advice on places to go and what to expect. Being a faithful follower of Tim Ernst and his Journal  I knew where I could get a couple of good books on the area. I ended up purchasing three books. Missouri’s Natural Wonders Guidebook by Don Kurz, Scenic Routes & Byways by Don Kurz, and Arkansas Nature Lover’s Guidebook by Tim Ernst. My main source of information was culled from Missouri’s Natural Wonders Guidebook. All three of these books are fantastic sources of information for the areas they represent. Complete with information and most importantly GPS coordinates for each area. This proved to be very valuable information.

Daily accounts of my stay started the night before and deciding where to go the next day. Then plugging GPS coordinates in to my trusty Garmin and hitting the road. Each day started about an hour before sunrise. Crawl out of the tent and start the coffee! The first two hours of daylight and the last two hours before sunset were my main “serious” photography times. The middle parts of my days were spent checking out new areas for the follow day, or hiking and exploring further in present locations.

Places  I managed to visit were: Klpezig Mill, Rocky Falls, Mill Mountain Natural Area, Prairie Hollow Gorge Natural Area, Virgin Pine Forest, Devil’s Well, Blue Springs, Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area, Lick Log Hollow, Welch Springs, Alley Springs, Stegall Mountain Natural Area, and Johnson’s Shut-Ins. This kept me busy to say the least! Plus I hiked a few hours on the Ozark Trail that ran through a couple of these areas. Each one of these areas are wonderful with unique features of the landscape. It was a trip well worth the time and effort and one that I may very well repeat in the future.

As with my last post on my California trip I have put together a collection of images. This collection will more than likely grow a bit more as I continue to go through the hundreds of photos that were taken.



2017 Kansas Calendar & Print Promotion

2017 Kansas Calendar & Print Promotion

2017 Kansas Calendar

Along with the new 2017 Kansas calendars this year I have added an extra offering that can be purchased along with the calendars. Prints of any month including bonus and cover image can be purchased with any calendar order. A total of 14 images to chose from. You can see them all on the order page.

  • Calendars are $14.95 each.
  • Calendar plus loose unmatted print sized 8×12 inches are $39.95.
  • Calendar plus print matted (white) 12×16 inches are $49.95.
  • 20% discount on all order of 5 or more.
  • Free shipping within the Continental US.

Various combinations of calendars and prints (matted or unmatted) can be made as well. Just email us with what you are wanting and we will let you know what the total cost will be. Please keep in mind these prints are not available at these reduced prices without the purchase of at least one calendar per print order. For example, if you are wanting 5 prints, 3 unmatted and 2 matted this will require the purchase of 5 calendars at the prices mentioned above. As also mentioned you will receive a 20% discount on orders of 5 or more of any combinations.

Prints, whether matted or unmatted are personally printed in house on Red River UltraPro Satin Photo Paper. Prints are museum mounted (removable) matted with white 4 ply conservation quality materials. Personally packaged and shipped along with calendar. Allow up to 3 additional days for orders that include prints.

Since these make wonderful gifts for the holidays we can also help fulfill your gift list. Calendars or calendar and print combinations can be purchased and shipped to any address you would like. We will include a personal note letting your recipient know who the gift of the calendar is from. Just email us your us your gift list letting us know the addresses where calendars are to mailed and how many. We will then email you an invoice that can be paid via paypal or card. We will do the work for you and you can get all the credit! Hey that’s a good deal! Note:Quantity discounts not available for this service.

In addition I am very happy have calendars available in 4 select bookstores in Kansas. These bookstores are:

These are premium wall calendars, 11×17 inches (open), beautifully printed on heavy paper. Calendars include moon phases and US holidays. Calendars are produced in limited quantities and are available only while supplies last.

Sold Out. Look for the 2018 Kansas Calendar first week in November, 2017.

Thank you all for your support!



Desert Time

Desert Time

Before I jump into some travel to a couple of desert regions that I have done over the last few months, I should mention a few things about the present. First of all, this Autumn season. This season has been one of the strangest I can remember. As of this writing we should be seeing mostly bare trees having already shed their colorful foliage. Instead, the color has been almost non-existent and many trees still have green leaves on them and it’s the middle of November! What happened to Autumn? There are spots of colorful foliage, now almost all gone, but in general not much at all and it looks like there isn’t going to be. Strange to say the least.

This post has been long (too long) in coming. I have made a couple trips since my last entry. Both involved a good deal of photography as planned. September 17th my young bride (of 10 years) and I made our way to the Southern California area. This was a trip/vacation that had been planned for the past twelve months. The main purpose was to see my second oldest Son who had moved there a little over a year ago. Once kids become adults and chose to move long distances away it becomes a little scary. Not for them, but for the parent, at least with me it is. As one grows older the hands of father time become much more apparent in the weeks, months, and years. No need to get into that whole life is to short thing. We all play by the same timekeeper. It is much more important what one does with their time rather than simply having more of it.

We spent 7 days and six night in Palm Desert California. The stay was great and weather for the most part cooperated well. This was my first time experiencing a desert environment and I must say I was impressed and delighted.

Being in Palm Springs put me within an hours drive of Joshua Tree National Park. This is a place that one simply can not describe. I now feel privileged to have spent some quality hours there. If you ever get a chance to visiting, just do it. Even if all you can do is experience it for a couple of hours. Of course, you will be sorry you didn’t have more time. When you read about it and hear statements such as; “there is no place like it on Earth”, believe them. It is not just a saying. I actually made 4 separate visits to the park and each one was as great if not greater than the previous.

There is really just one main road that runs the greater length of this 1,234 square mile park. If I remember correctly it is a 50 plus mile drive. That is a lot of land for not many roads. There are other road in the northern section that branch off to a few unique areas and campgrounds. There are even a few back roads in the northern section that put you in more remote areas. I am sure the vast majority of this park remains unexplored. You can see for miles so you get a since of it expansiveness, but I would feel safe in guessing not many if any have just taken off on foot and explored the majority of it. That in itself puts it high on my list of best places. Joshua Tree National Park is a place I would and will recommend to anyone as a top destination to visit.

A few weeks before our trip I asked the question on the forum if anyone had any other recommended places to visit and explore. I got one simple reply. Anza Borrego State Park. JTNP is northeast of Palm Desert and Anza Borrego State Park is Southwest and slightly further in drive time. For the better part of one day we spent time driving and exploring. Our excursion took us to and around The Salton Sea before entering Anza Borrego State Park.

The day was very nice temperature wise, in the mid 70’s which is amazing for this time of year. It was over cast with a slight drizzle falling most of the day. We both didn’t mind this but it did put a hamper on us getting out and exploring and taking pictures. While in The Salton Sea area we had to make a to stop at the somewhat famous community of Bombay. This sets right along the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. What a bizarre and interesting place. It’s like a ghost town that still has people living in it. At one time during our journey around the Salton Sea we were over 200 feet below sea level. I find these experiences fascinating. Pictures or not (which we did get some snapshots) it was well worth the hours of travel. Before we left the area we stopped at a nature center for a short visit with the employees. They informed us that the late Senator Sonny Bono, yes of Sonny and Cher fame was instrumental in the protection of much of this land. A commendable thing indeed.

We made our way from the Salton Sea area and onto Anza Borrego State Park and to the small desert town of Borrego Springs. It turned into a really great day since neither of us had been in this type of landscape before and we found everything fascinating. As a bonus (at least in my opinion) the light drizzle that had been falling most of the day made everything seem more cozy. I felt privileged on my first trip to the desert to have experienced rain. It was awesome!

Anza Borrego State Park is very large expanse as well so my experience touches on a very small slice of the landscape. As we made our way out of Borrego Springs from the lower desert area and into the higher desert region we drove hwy S22 west up the winding road and into areas that I simply had no idea existed, anywhere. We found one of the few places that we could exit hwy S22 right in the heart of this incredible land. Culp Valley primitive campground was like driving into a high desert painting. The light rain/sprinkle amplified the desert colors and contrast. We both set in our rental vehicle with the windows down trying to take it all in. With the light sprinkle going on I did not get out and explore the trails that ran through the area. But I must say, Bobbi, with her small point and shoot camera got some fantastic pictures without even leaving the vehicle. I was both excited to have found this place and bummed that I wasn’t able to spend hours exploring it. But, as life goes, there was always tomorrow. And tomorrow it was. I made plans to return the very next day in hopes of spending time on foot exploring this land.

The weather for my return visit the following morning to Anza Borrego and onto Culp Valley was almost as nice as the day before. For some reason it just didn’t seem as nice as the very first time I seen it. I didn’t have the company of my lovely bride for one thing and I had raised my expectations so high that it was near impossible for anything to live up to them now. But I was not disappointed once I started hiking around the area. No rain or drizzle just nice cloudy skies and mild temperatures. The entire day was great. I never knew the high desert was so beautiful. This was even at the end of Summer, I can only imagine what Spring must be like. Hopefully one day I will find out.

I wanted to do more than just share a picture or two from my time spent in Joshua Tree National Park and Anza Boreego State Park and that is part of the reason for the delay in getting this post here. I came back with over 700 images and am still going through them. Here are a couple dozen that I have found that do a good job in helping to relate my time and experience in this wonderful place on our planet.

In the next post I will be sharing my more recent Autumn road trip to the Ozarks. And yes I have hundreds of images from that to go through as well.

The Alternate World

The Alternate World

When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created. When people see things as good, evil is created. Being and non-being produce each other. Difficult and easy complement each other. Long and short define each other. High and low oppose each other. Fore and aft follow each other.

-Tao Te Ching



©Brad Mangas

Do you live in the present? That is to say, do you only react to the world around you? Or, do you aspire to make the world one in which you want to live in. I have come to realize I no longer live in one world. This may sound strange because to most it may be near impossible to understand. I can safely say, now some 10 years of traveling down this path, I live in two distinct worlds.

Part of me thinks this is just a play on words and I’m making something up for the sake of being different. Part of me believes this idea is not productive in my pursuit of meaningful work. I may even be able to convince myself these two worlds are really the same, it is simply my perception that separates them.  But when I attempt to ask myself about those things I am first confronted with, why? Why would I try to convince myself of anything? Why can I not just accept what is presently my view of things? So, I am not going to change my thought on this and will state once again; I live in two distinct worlds.

What do I mean by that? What are these “two” worlds I live in? This may sound somewhat convoluted simply because there is no straight forward way that comes to mind to explain it. The two worlds, to put as simply as possible are; the one I live in the majority of the time, such as now as I am writing this. As opposed to the one I live in when I need to wash away the dirt and grime from this world. They are both, for all intents and purposes physiological states of my existence.

It’s not like I live in two separate places. Or even experience two separate lives, not at all. But there are very noticeable differences when in one place vs. the other. Is this actually two worlds? Well, maybe only in my mind I will admit. But it is a striking enough difference that I notice it emotionally as well as physically. It has become clear I prefer one over the other. Not just a little but almost completely. I say almost because there are virtues of both. I can not say with certain they balance each other out. But one I definitely prefer over the other. What is perplexing to me is attempting to understand how one is directly responsible for the other. I know this is true. I know I can not have or experience one without the other. It is my Yin Yang. Two halves that come together to form one.

Over the course living we become aware of many important though trivial things. We learn to be careful and cautious of what we ask for. Consume one and neglect the other can and most likely will have negative consequences. Time has shown us there can be many unintended consequences of what at the time seemed like a good idea.

I view this now stated Yin Yang experience as a normal struggle. I also realize I may be in a small minority when it comes to this “two world” theory. I believe that being in this minority may make it even more real, even necessary to me. If everyone felt this way I would see myself as quite ordinary. I like ordinary, but I don’t want to be ordinary. Ordinary is for when I’m setting around late at night relaxing watching a good sci-fi on Netflix, that’s ordinary. When I am out washing the grime of everyday living out of the deepest cracks and crevasses of my mind, this is anything but ordinary. That to me is living.

Another noticeable addition to this state is how much one world effects the other. Or maybe more accurately how one world effects my perception of the other. In trying to think of a comparison I could make the comparison of living in the city to living in the country. Actually I could compare living in New York City to living in Onaga Kansas. Never heard of Onaga Kansas? Exactly. The differences are as striking as night and day.

Though we may prefer the Yang over the Yin we must always be aware how effecting one will have consequences on the other. Create the world you want to live in. Do not neglect the world around you but make it a vital part of the whole. Escape to those places you long for. Make them important even if they last for just moments. Build upon each to nourish the other.

As we have heard many times, there are two sides to every story. So it goes to reason there must be two sides to every life.



Marching On

Marching On

Been a while since my last post so I better get things rolling again. Over the years I have been somewhat sporadic on my posts here. One of the no no’s when it comes to having a blog. Hard to keep people interested when they don’t know when new post’s will be added. As much as I would love to be able to set definite timelines on new post’s and all other things new I am just not able to. Time marches on whether I maintain deadlines or not. So in all honesty I must not commit to something I may not be able to commit to.

With that being said, I have no reason to believe there will be any less personal observations, stories, or new happenings continued to be added here. And as I have said many times in the past I will truly attempt to put more effort into this blog. Truth be known I really love having a blog though it may be hard to tell at times. I see this little corner of the internet world much more than “just” a blog. I had to stop and look up blog, I don’t think I had ever done that. According to Wiki it’s simply a place where information is published on the web. Yeah, guess that sums it up. But it has always seemed much more than that to me. Kind of like a notebook is much more that “just” a notebook once it becomes your diary. It takes on a complete personality all it’s own.

Over the last 6 weeks or so I have, as I regular do, made it out into nature on regular occasions. If you have read my previous posts and subsequent interview that it links to you would have read a few statements about what I do and the feeling of new or at minimum a differing approach I have felt over the last many months. This difference is not just a want or need to create something new, but a sense that what I create must mean something. As opposed to just being a photograph of something. It is almost impossible for me to put what I mean or am feeling into words. All I know is when I explore the lands and places that have deep meaning to me and have for many many years I find myself doing much more thinking and much less photography. This initially has been a source of frustration, but I am slowly becoming less frustrated and much more inquisitive as to what it is I am searching for. I am beginning to realize it is a mistake to sit idle and think I will know it when I see it. I now believe I must create what I feel  and that it is somehow trapped inside longing to be released. This releasing of thoughts and experiences must happen or it may never be able to manifest itself.

This may be something so subtle it would hard for others to notice. It is not about others taking notice but entirely about a personal reflection that I notice. Time will tell when, what, or how this takes place. Try as I might I will continue to march on.

One of the things that I have done that is part of this incremental progress has been to complete a new work area in my home. I spent a weekend rearranging almost half of my downstairs area to now have a large easy to work in place. The funny thing is, now that I have a large dedicated area I’m not sure where to begin!

Here are some thoughts I have on what and how I plan on producing:

I will continue to create the highest quality prints on fine art papers. Instead of the traditional mounting, matting, and framing behind glass my thoughts are to first, after the printing is complete, mount the completed prints to a firm substrate. Such as thick archival mount board, gator board or something similar, even wood is an option. Then apply a protective coating to the print. This will replace the need for glass or acrylic. The only real purpose of placing a print behind glass is for protection. Plus, in the case of transporting or shipping glass becomes a real problem. I am not a big fan of prints behind glass so I will need to provide an alternative to glass, such as a sprayed or rolled on protective coating. This will require something such as a spray booth or at minimum a completely dust free and well ventilated environment. I’m still working on that part of my work area.

Once these steps are complete my plan is to frame these now mounted and protected prints in a float frame which will eliminate the need for a mat, or possibly a more traditional frame using linen frame liners instead of traditional matting. The float frame idea appeals more to me. The issue then is how to frame these is such a way that the print appears to be floating withing the frame. Custom mounting methods will need to be created on my part to accomplish this.

There are a few of my many ideas that I will be spending time on in the coming months. I have lots of experimenting to do. Many trials and many errors are in my future for sure. I am looking forward to all of them.

I hope to take some pictures of my attempts to accomplish this as I proceed and hopefully share them here as I go.

On a final note, Prints Of The Month have been updated and brought up to date. ( I really slacked off the last few months I know). The gallery site has continued to have new work added on a regular basis. And if you follow me on social media, mostly at my facebook page you will have been seeing regular posts there.

If you haven’t already I would very much appreciate if you would sign up for the newsletter (I would love to see this list continue to grow) or follow me on social media. You will find links to these on the home page in sidebar. Okay, there are my selfish plugs for now.


Grazing Grace

Grazing Grace – Late day light streaming down onto The Kansas Flint Hills as the cattle enjoy their peaceful grazing time. ©Brad Mangas

This image is one of out “Exclusive Offers” this month. Check it out here.