The 80s Playlist

Today’s photo safari featured a playlist I spent quite a bit of time putting together. Called simply 80s, it’s a collection of some of my favorite songs from my youth, or, what radio might have sounded like in 1990, when simply everything could be played and not just song selections limited to certain eras of the decade.

Hence, 1989’s “Fire Woman” by The Cult, alongside David Lee Roth’s “California Girls” from 1985. That’s a pretty head-snapping dichotomy – Diamond Dave’s crazed insouciance alongside The Cult’s head-banging hard rock – but that’s the way I like it.

Other songs on my 80s playlist (which made for a very entertaining safari):

Walk This Way (Run DMC & Aerosmith); New Year’s Day (U2, indispensable); Like a Prayer (Madonna); Careless Whisper (Wham!); The Heart of Rock and Roll (Huey Lewis & The News); A Different Corner (George Michael, a great vocalist, plus dead); Girls Girls Girls (Motley Crue); Welcome to the Jungle (GNR); Smooth Operator (Sade – yes!); Wanted Dead Or Alive (Bon Jovi); Cherish (Madonna): Billie Jean and Bad by Michael Jackson; Modern Woman (Billy Joel); The Lady in Red (Chris De Burgh); Just a Gigolo (DLR), and, of course, Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey).

Thirty years ago, this would have been known as a “mix tape.” No more.


January Safari

After a shocking drop-off in 2017, today I found the will power to get out of the house and go on a photo safari, today with several objectives in mind.

First off, it was a cool, cloudy afternoon, with occasional unobtrusive rain showers – perfect for photos (when it wasn’t actually raining). I didn’t have to worry about sun, glare, shadows, etc., but dialed in the appropriate settings for my camera(s) and let her rip. Though I didn’t get quite everything I wanted (never do), I was fairly satisfied.

My subjects were along US 82 West, in the communities of Stamps and Lewisville, two woodsy and rather sparsely-populated counties in south Arkansas. Though economically depressed, they offer some interesting photographic opportunities in the way of “old stuff” – a few old derelict cars, some old metal buildings, a gas station that fell into disrepair in roughly about 1985. I also got some shots in a public fishing area that’s as creepily “Southern” as it gets – a bayou filled with twisty trees and, today, iced-over swamp water. I angled for a particular view that I’ve always wanted to get, but as I’ve learned over the years, the shot that I want just isn’t going to happen – too remote, too watery, and quite possibly filled with snakes. Anyway, results are below.


I photographed the underside of the bridge on US 82. There is a view of a bayou nearby I’ve always wanted to snap, but have never physically been able to approach it. For that, I probably need a jon boat or something (or a Fred boat). Maybe someday.


Ice is visible along the shoreline in this cold photo of a bayou in Stamps, AR. A desolate, creepy place that nonetheless attracts quite a few fishermen.


Another view of the bayou, taken from the boat ramp. That’s ice in the middle distance. The trees are hauntingly beautiful.


Tree limbs against a blank winter sky.


This burnt-out, derelict car was on the side of the highway in Stamps. The ruined paint makes a hallucinatory swirl of colors never intended by the manufacturer!


I was inspired to shoot through the (non-existent) rear windshield of the old car, using my 85mm portrait lens, which is capable of stunning images, no matter the subject.


This row of ancient gas pumps is located along US 82 in Lewisville, which is quite possibly the saddest little town I’ve ever seen. There’s something almost romantic about the post-apocalyptic condition of these pumps. I sometimes marvel at the disrepair that people allow their machinery to slip into – why can’t these pumps still be used? Was business really that bad?


The face of this disused pump tells the whole story. Really, did no one have enough money to even support a simple fucking gas station?


I spotted this abandoned building in “downtown” Lewisville. At one time, this was a thriving community, built on railroad and oil commerce, now ravaged by indifference, abandonment and an utter paucity of economic development. But at least there was oil here at one time. I guess.





The cold earth slept below;
Above the cold sky shone …

It’s cold enough to freeze the pond on the SAU campus this week. I haven’t seen a body of water of any size frozen over since French Lake in the Wichita Mountains. This scene is not nearly as impressive – by a wide margin! – but it does demonstrate how low the temps have gotten. The pond is now solid enough to walk on – well, rest your foot on.

Aside from this photo (made with my wide-angle Nikkor lens) there is very little going on today worth documenting. Classes start next week, when most folks will start returning to campus. I’ll likely be stuck here through Friday without very much to do, but that is fine by me. My office is nice and cozy, I have plenty of reading, and I’ll be getting out on a daily basis looking for fun/interesting things to photo.

Lights of 2018

2017 was not the best of times, for all sorts of reasons, best not gone into in this format. I’m looking forward to a better year in 2018, and I know that much of my success in the coming 12 months is up to me.

To kick off this new blog, I braved 20-degree 9 p.m. temperatures for a few views of Christmas lights on display (for one last night!) at Southern Arkansas University. We’re having ourselves a brilliant Supermoon tonight, so it turned out to be the perfect opportunity.




Tech notes: I shot these using the Nikkor f/1.8 85mm prime lens, with the aperture wide and ISO set to 6400. The 85 has proven to be very reliable in low-light/nighttime situations, perhaps even more so than my go-to glass, the f/1.8 35mm. I did add some action filters in Photoshop.


img_6771[1]Dan Marsh is an award-winning journalist with 25 years’ experience in the newspaper business. Starting in 1989 as a reporter for the Hope Star daily newspaper in Hope, Arkansas, he went on to work for more than a dozen papers in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. A graduate of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, he and his wife, Christa, live in Magnolia, Arkansas, where he works in Marketing at Southern Arkansas University. Christa has three children and he has a grown daughter, Jodi, as well as two grandchildren.