Like Me on Facebook

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Three Images.

As I sit here pondering the past year... many images come to mind... and isn't that natural since I tend to think in terms of photographs?

The image above is one that for sure sticks out in 2012. "Blue on Botanical" was juried into the Framations "Monochromatic" art show this summer in downtown St. Charles. This fall it sold at Zia Gallery in New Haven, MO. Am I getting rich? No... but that's not the point, the point is people saw this and loved it... and someone now has it hanging in their home. That is the HIGHEST compliment any one can get as an "artist" (I still chuckle at the thought of being called an artist). 

"Hopewell Cross" (above) is another image that remains in my mind from this past year. Not only does it have a personal connection for me because of the location (Big Piney, MO) and memories I have (sweet memories)... it's one that I have gotten positive feedback on. I was able to enlarge it on metallic paper and frame it for one of my aunts, too. It looks stellar on her wall. 

Lastly, there is this image I captured on a backroad near Lesterville, MO This image (in my opinion) typifies Missouri. Autumn in Missouri is my favorite time of the year. Crispness in the air you fight back with a little campfire. Bright colors shapes as leaves literally rain upon you as you walk in the woods or drive down country roads. Nature likes to put on a show for us here in Missouri come October and this year she did not disappoint. While this hasn't been enlarged to a 16X20 canvas (yet!) it has gotten a lot of nice feedback on my facebook page and it's one that I often think of when I close my eyes. Where does the road lead? Ahead. To where? Only time will tell! 

All images are available for order through MK Designs, just contact me for prices on notecards, postcards, framed/unframed prints and/or canvas wall art. 

Check out my website:
or like me on Facebook at MK Designs Photography / Fine Art and Portrait

Please do not copy these images or distrubute them without permission. Thank you. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Best Hiking Weather of the Year!

I love to photograph (obviously) and I love hiking trails (obviously), but hiking in Missouri or Illinois during the summer is brutal. Heat. Bugs. Snakes. Humidity. Weeds that make you itch! That's why NOW is the time to go hit the trails. Colder weather means bundle up and GO.

Each step on a carpet of leaves is a delight to the senses.

Plants take on a new "life" after the summer months fade.

There's still color to be found, even after the thrill of October is gone.

Areas once covered with lush green, are more exposed, and you can see things as they really are.

The green that still lingers is even more obvious to the eye.

And... being outside enjoying the brisk air in the lungs is a true affirmation that it is true... "life is good." 

Taking the time to notice all the little things that make life enjoyable and having all the senses taking part in "life" on the trail, is something that Winter brings to me yearly. It honestly is one of my favorite seasons to hit the trail in Missouri or Illinois. 

All words and images by Michelle of MK Designs Photography. Please "like" my facebook page at MK Designs Photography / Fine Art and Portrait. And, by all means, hit the trail this winter! 

Nov 2012. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

In love with... October.

“There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir, We must rise and follow her; When from every hill of flame, She calls and calls each vagabond by name.”

“There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.

October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It is the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again.

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.

All images by Michelle of MK Designs Photography. Visit my website at and "like" my work on facebook at MK Designs Photography / Fine Art and Portrait.

If you would like to order any image on this blog, they are available for sale. Contact me. Happy October! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall into Fall 2012

Saturday was the first official day of fall, but due to my hectic schedule of "life" - I wasn't able to trek out into the woods for a bit to celebrate the first day of fall until today (Sunday) at Robertsville State Park... and as always... it's those little details that make me love fall so much. 

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."  ~ Albert Camus
"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"  ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."  ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

If you want to check out one of our smallest, but most beautiful state parks, go to

If you want to find out more about my photography visit my website at

And, last but not least, if you'd like to be eligible to win one of these images as an 8X10 Print in my "Fall into Fall 2012" contest, please comment on this blog entry which image is your favorite and why. 

Thanks for visiting! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Behind the scenes... "Sunset in the glass"

"Your camera takes good pictures" - to which I want to say something like, "Well, that stove makes great meals" - I hate it when people put more emphasis on the "equipment" than the artist...

So, with that said, this artist is sunset obsessed. Catching a sunset in a glass was a goal I'd had for years. Then I finally "got" it. How to make it happen "clicked" in my mind.

Take these ingredients: beautiful sunset, glass (with liquid in it or condensation), a camera YOU can control (in my case the handy Canon Rebel), a good eye for manual focus (do not trust auto focus!), the ability to bracket shots, a steady hand or tripod, and last but not least - FLASH OFF!

I also can't stress enough UNDERSTANDING your camera... This article is so helpful.

And, that little thing called COMPOSITION - The "rule of thirds" is valuable to know too... but that's something I hope to cover later.

Just know the more you learn to control your camera - YOUR TOOL to record light - the happier you'll be with your images... and it doesn't have to be a sunset in a glass, it could be of your child's birthday party or summer camping trip.

All words and images by Michelle of MK Designs.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


"A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves."

It's true, weather can effect our moods and our world. Watching clouds billow and storms form can be both frightening and exciting...

Dark skies over the Sierras in the summer can mean sudden drops in temperature and an onslaught of hail... white clouds building over the bottoms in winter along the Missouri River could mean snow is on the way...

It's all part of life and what we experience, but for a photographer it's a dream. Ansel Adams, one of the best landcape photographers of our time, is noted not just for photographing a mountain, but the weather. He watched weather and knew that it could easily make or break an image due to it's impact on the lighting conditions. Photographer or not, weather is all around us and something we can't get enough of... be it on the local news, our iPhone apps, or our daily conversations.

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  ~John Ruskin

All images and (most) words by MK Designs. Please do not reproduce or copy without permission.  "Like" MK Designs Photography / Fine Art and Portrait on Facebook and visit our website at:
Summer 2012. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wine. (Robller in New Haven, MO)

I've always been in love with this location and their wine... and for sure the folks who run the place. Robert and Lois found the ideal location for their "retirement" (seriously? is a winery really "retirement" - it sounds like a lot more WORK to me! ha!) It sits up on a hill in Franklin County that boasts beautiful views and great light.
The light is so amazing here. Golden hues at sunset to deep blues in the afternoon...
The vines reach for the light... that helps them produce the wine that fills the bottles that in turn fills the glasses...
The wine, the people, the view... and the laid-back family atmosphere keep people coming back for more. 
This place has inspired my photographs for many years and has helped teach me that patience will pay off for a great shot...
Thank you Robller... for more information here's their website:

and for more about my photography "like" MK Designs Photography Fine Art and Portrait on facebook or see my website here:

All photos and words by Michelle of MK Designs. DO NOT COPY/REUSE without permission. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Southern Illinois Bound (Part Three) Last Day

After I packed up camp and had a little yogurt breakfast in Carbondale... I took my camera, hiking shoes, and backpack to do a short trail at Giant City State Park. Just like Garden of the Gods, I was suprised at all the signs warning me of all the "danger" ahead.

The one-mile Giant City Nature Trail instantly warns all who enter it is "rugged" but I clearly didn't let that drive me away, neither did the trail runner who kept going back and forth - weaving in and out of the rock formations. I would have snapped his photo but I was always taken off guard by his speed and agility while running through Giant City! 

But... I did photograph the rock formations... the play of light on them... and even some of the grafitti people have left there over the years. 

It was a great (sweaty!) hike to celebrate the official start of summer in June and an excellent way to end the trip before having making lunch at the park and driving home...

If you want to go hike, photograph, camp or explore Giant City... here's their website:

I know I plan to go back there sometime and spend more time in this park. It's just beautiful!

For more information on my photography find me on facebook as always, or my website:

All words and images by Michelle of MK Designs. 2012. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Southern Illinois Bound (Part Two)

After getting completely soaked (by sweat!) at Jackson Falls, it was time to go even more "east" in the Shawnee National Forest to "Garden of the Gods" - upon arrival I was impressed that a sign said that the 1/4 trail would take about 45 minutes. Once I was on it, I understood why...
High cliffs with amazing rock formations await and while there are a few times the hike gets a little tricky - it's so easy to spend some of that estimated 45 minutes absorbed in the scenery...

Much like Elephant Rocks in Southern Missouri, there are many areas with carvings of names from many, many years ago...

The views of the expanse of forest land in the Shawnee is just impressive. It's a great feeling to know we still have these places protected from developers...

And, beyond this being just an amazing rock formation - quick photographic tip - I didn't use a fancy filter here, I just put my sunglasses over the camera lens. The sunglasses have a polarizer and an amber tint to them that I enjoy in photographs!

After leaving that area of the Shawnee, it was back West to my campsite and this is what awaited me when I arrived... the peacefulness of the Shawnee National Forest. This would be my last night (the heat drove me off quicker than I'd hoped) there this time... but not until I spent the next day exploring Giant City State Park nestled in the Shawnee near Carbondale... which will be in the next blog entry!

All Photographs and words by Michelle of MK Designs. See my site here:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Southern Illinois Bound (Part One)

After years of hearing from a woman I work with about Giant City State Park in Southern Illinois, this spring I had another co-worker mention an area called Jackson Falls...near Giant City. That only meant one thing: I had to check it out. This June I decided to do a little scouting report of Southern Illinois and being a huge fan of camping... that's how I went about it.

I love getting in the car, tossing in my tent - air matress - sleeping bag - and prepacked camping tub of supplies. 
I arrived in Southern Illinois just after sunset and was able to set up to sleep under the stars in the Johnson Creek Recreation Area. It was a great campground in the Shawnee National Forest and I had the place to myself that night. Just wonderful!

I was so lucky to find my way around the area fairly well by doing a little prep work in advance. I went to the website Shawnee National Forest and clicked on "contact us" - the office sent me information and maps in the mail. SO HELPFUL to have a hard copy of maps on hand and not just rely on an iPhone on an adventure like this... 

Once I woke up from a nice slumber under the stars, I got my map in hand, and knew it was time to find Jackson Falls - which was a bit of a drive from my campsite, but that's okay... it's all part of the adventure! 
There wasn't enough water flowing for the falls to run, but the bit that was there made for some beautiful photographs.
Hiking is fun, even when it's the first official day of summer and VERY unseasonably hot for June. I like looking carefully for the little details I am often missing out on when life gets busy... like this red leaf.
...and a beautiful black-eyed Susan reaching for the sun.

Speaking of that sun.... it was a hot one that day... notice how I kinda "glisten" here! :)

But... you can't let a little sun keep you from enjoying somewhere as beautiful at the Shawnee National Forest at Jackson Falls. 

I loved the cliffs. This place is very popular for rock climbers.

I stayed on the rim and hiked around it for a while... loved how this tree grew - higher and higher reaching for the sky - until it met the rim and grew into the rock.

However, there did come a point I knew I needed to call it quits here for the day and move on east for Garden of the Gods (which will be in the next blog entry) because my time in Southern Illinois was limited on this little "scouting report" trip. :)

Photos and words by Michelle of MK Designs Photography Click here to see my Photography Website

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Missouri Home

Nothing like a long road trip covering nine states and two time zones to make me long for My Missouri Home. Where spring-fed rivers flow and green lush hills roll...

Where the dogwoods bloom in the spring...

Where life seems a little more simple and we hang on to the past...

Where winding roads lead to small towns that have retained their charm... leaving us with a taste for life at a slower pace...

This is My Missouri Home and even though my feet may get the itch to leave and see other sights, I always land back in the state I love.

REMEMBER: Any image you like and would want to order on canvas, or print (paper luster or metallic) contact MK Designs and it can be yours!