During my recent Missouri Ozark workshop I took the group to a lesser known shut-in along the Ozark Trail between Rocky Falls and Klepzig Mill. It was not a long hike, about a half mile off the main road, crossing a couple light marshy areas through some pines and scattered hardwoods. Soon we had to ascend a rather rocky path, not difficult, but still requiring mindful placement of feet due to wet rock surfaces resulting from rain the night before. It was early morning. In fact it was necessary to delay the start of our hike slightly so as to avoid the need for headlamps. There was no wind and the previous nights rain dampened not only the ground but any sounds in the forest, all now still and quite except for the sound of Little Rocky Creek as we came closer to our destination.
At the top of our ascent we came upon a small clearing exposing access the these small shut-ins. The morning fog and subtle light offered some fantastic shooting conditions. Only having an hour at this site we had to quickly engage our creative processes to come away with memorable images. The mode, colors of the ryolite boulders, the morning fog, early light, and subtle budding fall colors helped reward our efforts.
In just a week I will be heading back to the Missouri Ozarks in preparation for my Spring Ozark Workshop. For some years I have been conducting both Spring an Fall workshops in the Shannon County area along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, a part of the National Park System. The area is replete with streams, shut-ins, old mills, natural springs and other features that make this area a photographer’s candy store.
The redbuds are already in spring bloom and a patchwork of blooming dogwoods will soon paint the hills of the Ozarks. As I begin my 4 hour drive next week to reach one of my favorite shooting locations I will contemplate my planned shooting schedule. I typically don’t like to set a hard shoot schedule ahead of time
because I prefer to take a couple of days to recon the area for stream conditions and researching new areas of interest. While after photographing this area for a number of years, I still seem to find hidden gems. Even the familiar places always seem to offer up subtle changes, or maybe one just begins to see in a broader sense.
Everyone loves the mills you can find in the area. Alley Mill and Spring are one of the most photographed sites in Missouri, and for good reason. The mill, part of the National Park Service and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, was recently reconditioned. The mill, while not a functioning mill, does have some of the original milling equipment still inside where the NPS now has a small gift shop and info center about the mill’s history.
Another attraction in the area are the natural springs. One, about 15 minutes north of Eminence, MO, is Round Spring. While not a huge spring at 55 feet deep, it does pump out 26 million gallons per day. Another impressive spring is Blue Spring. Now Blue Spring is deep enough at 300 feet to submerge the Statue of Liberty, all expect for a few feet. And it is the 6th largest spring in Missouri with a discharge of 90 million gallons per day. Seeing pictures of these springs people will often ask if they are really “that blue”. Yes, they are.
Another feature of the are I always try to include is a visit with the wild horses of Shannon County. For several years I could never catch these beautiful animals and began to refer to them as the “phantom horses of Shannon County”. But have been more fortunate in last few years. Workshop participants always love this treat and the opportunity to photography them.
No doubt it will be another wonderful Spring in the Ozarks.
If you are interested in attending one of these great workshops in the future, please visit my workshop page. Fall will be here before you know it. Fall in the Ozarks is spectacular.