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Valley of Fire

I’ve heard about Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada for decades. I’ve always wanted to go there, but never seemed to find the time to head that way.

A couple weeks ago, I had to go to two conferences in Las Vegas (yes, had to go is the right term. I really don’t like Vegas for more than about two hours). I decided to go out a day early and visit Valley of Fire. I made the right choice.

I was only able to spend a few hours there, but what I saw confirms for me that I’ll be going back and spending some time there. It’s a beautiful place with so much to see that one day simply isn’t enough. I’ve got some images I’ll share with you over two posts, so check back next Wednesday for more.

There’s an area in Valley of Fire called The Wave. It’s photographed often and for good reason. I hiked into The Wave to check it out and came back with some images I rather like.

 

Here they are:

 

The first is a sort of establishing view. A desert garden with some very interesting geology. (Don’t forget to click on the images to see them full size and with proper color.)

It’s a beautiful area, I think you’ll agree.

The Wave #1

The Wave #1

 

But if you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ll know that I love Black-and-White photos, probably more than I like color, so I converted the above scene:

The Wave Monochrome

The Wave Monochrome

 

I really like this view. For some reason, the lack of color accents the scene far better; to my eye, at least. As long as I was doing B&W, I decided to move up a little and capture the heart of the scene with a little desert garden:

 

The Hear to the Wave

The Heart of the Wave

 

Check back Wednesday to see what else I found at Valley of Fire!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Totem Pole Pano

I’m sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting for a plane that’s four hours late and getting later by the minute. Luckily I brought my laptop along on this trip. Usually, on business trips I bring only my iPad because it checks mail and takes notes just fine.

But this time, there’s a chance of seeing some autumn color in Virginia, so I figured I’d bring the whole shebang along again.

On my birthday, our guide, Harry (the best guide in Monument Valley) took us into the backcountry and we stopped at the totem pole. There’s a sweeping landscape in that area, so I took seven images and stitched them together to give a sense of the open vista.

Here it is (click on the thumbnail to see it full size and color-correct):

 

Totem Pole Pano

Totem Pole Pano

 

More to follow,

Bob

Down in the Valley

We made it to Monument Valley. I think I saw the ghost of John Wayne talking to the ghost of John Ford. At least I figure this is where they’d be if they had their druthers.

Monument Valley is a special place and I’m looking forward to exploring it in more detail tomorrow. But just because we got in late in the afternoon doesn’t mean we couldn’t do some photography. Here are a couple images I took this afternoon and after supper. I kind of like them and hope you do, too. You really need to click on the images. The color in the thumbnail isn’t anywhere near what’s really there.

 

Sunset, Monument Valley

Sunset, Monument Valley

 

Monument Valley starlight

Monument Valley starlight

 

 

More to Follow

Bob

Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day again. I was in Baltimore last week and took a day to visit the Wall to say hello and thanks to old friends and shipmates. I took some photos, but managed not to schedule the post I had intended. Check later today to see the images and learn a little more about my visit. The text here is something I run every year to talk about the day and its significance and to remember my comrades-in-arms. I’ll do a little more tomorrow when I get back to my computer at home. Until then, I feel it is necessary to start the day with some thoughts.

Memorial Day was set aside to remember and honor those who gave everything in defense of this nation. And, I might add, to offer condolences to their families. Whether they were heroes in the midst of battle or victims of cowardly attack by terrorists, the men and women who took one step forward, raised their right hand, put on the uniform and then died while serving should have a day all their own. Whether it’s a case of national guilt at not serving, embarrassment at not knowing what to say to a wounded warrior or a chance for the media to sell more advertising, the focus of Memorial Day is shifting.

The spirit of Memorial Day should really happen every day that we wake up in a country that enjoys freedom, safety and security. But I know it’s inconvenient to offer thanks every day. I wouldn’t mind seeing the focus of the Day shift back to where it was. Honor the fallen every day, but especially on Memorial Day.

Perhaps my biggest fear is that awareness of those who died for this country will be shuffled aside in the quest for corporate profits. After all, it’s much easier to forget the sacrifices made by those who aren’t with us and go shopping.

OK, that’s my rant.

 

Here’s my usual Memorial Day post:

My understanding of what Memorial Day truly is for: remembering and thanking dear friends and shipmates.

Private Irwin J. Harder, U. S. Army, Vietnam

Lt. Joseph G. Greenleaf, VF-114, Vietnam

Lt. Clemie McKinney, VF-114, Vietnam

LCDR. Orland J. Pender, Jr., VF-114, Vietnam

Capt. John R. Pitzen, VF-114, Vietnam

Irwin was a high school friend and football teammate. He was sent to Vietnam in February and died in April. Short tour of duty.

Mr. Greenleaf, Mr. McKinney and Mr. Pender were aircrew members in my squadron. Captain Pitzen was named as our squadron Skipper just as I was leaving to come home.

Mr. Greenleaf and Mr. McKinney were shot down over North Vietnam, and reports were that they weren’t able to escape the aircraft. Other reports, however, indicate that Mr. McKinney was held as a POW and died in captivity.

Captain Pitzen and Mr. Pender were reported missing in action because they never called out “Feet Wet,” that is, clear of North Vietnam and returning to the ship. They were presumed down, but listed as Missing in Action (MIA). Their remains were identified in the late 1990s. I wore an MIA bracelet to remind me of them for years.

Thank you all for your sacrifice.

RIP

 

A shot in the dark

You might remember I tried light painting a while back with a Scotch bottle. It went pretty well, and the Scotch tasted pretty good.

The day I did that, I knew my next try would be with tulips. For some reason, I figured that tulips would look nice with light sprayed on them.

Naturally, Ma Nature had a different plan and brought my daffodils out first. OK, Ma, I’ll work with them.

The challenge with doing light painting in a house that’s not set up as a darkroom is that you have to wait until after the sun goes down, seal all the windows so street lights don’t encroach on your scene and then stumble around in the dark trying not to step on the cats or tip the table with the flowers on it over.

I kind of like what I see here, especially since daffodils are my favorite flowers. When my tulips bloom, I’ll give them a try, too.

Click the images to see full size and with the proper color.

 

Daffodils, Light Painting closeup

Daffodils, Light Painting closeup

 

Three Daffodils, Light Painting

Three Daffodils, Light Painting

 

More to follow,

Bob

 

Daffodowndillies

I think it was Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings who referred to my favorite flower that way. You might know them better as daffodils.

I love daffodils for a couple reasons. One is that I can remember their name. Another is that they’re definitely tough little harbingers of spring. These started to come up several weeks ago and got snowed on three or four times in the interim.

I decided it would be good to look at them a couple different ways, so got out the camera and clipped a few flowers. The first batch, which I’ll share with you today are simply close-up or macro shots. It’s interesting that with something that’s so light to begin with, it’s hard to keep from overexposing them, even with a fairly thoughtful approach. Seems like if I reduce exposure, I have to boost it in processing, which makes the flowers too bright again. I think I finally came across a way to present them closer to what I see, though.

Here are a couple close looks at the ‘daffodowndillies.’ Wednesday, I’ll show you what they look like when they’re light painted.

As always, click on the images to see them full size and with the proper colors.

Daffodil Macro-1

Daffodil Macro-1

 

 

Daffodil Macro-2

Daffodil Macro-2

 

Pretty little fellows, I think.

More to follow,

Bob

 

A whale of a tale

Last week, when I was stuck in Hawai’i for meetings, I decided to make the best of things and go to Maui for a whale watching cruise. This is supposed to be the most active time for whales down there, and I figured as long as I was in the neighborhood, why not?

Turns out it was a good idea. We saw quite a few (by my reckoning), some far away, some close. I got a few fotos of what I take to be typical whale behavior and thought I’d share them here.

As always, click on the thumbnail to enlarge and see the right colors:

A whale of a tale:

WhaleTail

WhaleTail

 

Then, someone shouted “Breach!” I swung around and saw this:

Breach 1

Breach 1

 

Man, what a splash when he hit the water!

More to follow.

Bob

 

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Maui Flowies

OK, pushing the rhyming a little bit.

Flowers and living plants always attract my attention. I suppose it’s fair to say that in Hawai’i there are a lot of lowers. From the purple and white leis we all received when we went to our meeting to the flowers growing wild around the islands, there are a lot of colorful blossoms.

I found these  on Maui. And, of course, I couldn’t resist making the colorful succulents un-colorful.

As always, click on the images to see them full size and in the right colors.

You know my standard for naming flowers. Here are a couple of LWFs I found alongside the road. I think the guy who almost ran over me got a little miffed that I was standing on the bridge making this image. Oops!

Maui LWFs

Maui LWFs

 

And, of course, there are hibiscus all over the place:

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

 

The succulents were monochrome anyway, different shades of green. I like this idea better:

Maui Succulents

Maui Succulents

 

And, of course, stand by for some whale photos. I’m in the process of editing from the 550+ images I made the other day and will be fiddling with them in Lightroom, a product I think I’m starting to like.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

More Maui Color

I mentioned my deep understanding of botany was pretty shallow. Here’s more proof. There are two kinds of wildflower I can name: One of them is Indian Paintbrush, the other isn’t. I found some flowers here on Maui. I am pretty sure they’re not hibiscus because I have a foto of what I think is a hibiscus in the camera, waiting to be uploaded.

Here they are, maybe you can recognize them:

I think this is a plumeria (not to be pronounced like galleria, I’ve been told).

Plumeria

Plumeria

 

When in doubt, I choose the name that best suits the flower. In this case, they’re Maui LPFs (Little Purple Flowers):

Maui LPFs

Maui LPFs

 

As always, click on the images to see what they really look like. On my screen they look awful in thumbnail size.

More to follow,

Aloha,

Bob

Hawai’i, the land of color

OK, you probably know me well enough by now. I’m still trying to make a good black-and-white photo. Here are a couple examples of recent attempts. Of course, I’ll have to print them to decide how they really look, but at least I’m willing to show them for now.

I’m just on a break between wandering around Lahaina and going o a whale cruise, so have a little time to share some work.

BTW, I know most of you realize I hate cruises. Last one I was on they kept landing airplanes on the roof. I kind of hope this will be different. The bartender I just talked to said the whales are really active this year, so maybe I’ll bring some good fotos back. Keep an eye on the  blog.

In the meant time: (as always, click to enlarge)

 

In this tropical heat, I suppose trees grow year ’round, so they have to shed leaves year ’round, too. (That’s just a guess. You probably know how much I know about botany, which is how to spell the word.) I found this on the ground at an arboretum.

Fallen Leaf

Fallen Leaf

 

While I was walking through the arboretum, something caught my eye. It looked like a piece of spider web hanging way up out of the way. Then as I shifted my position a little, I saw what may well be the biggest spider web I’ve ever seen, with a spider in the middle. I think I’m glad I didn’t keep going and walk into it. A little Photoshop fiddling makes the web stand out pretty well.

spider web

spider web

 

The Maui adventure continues.

More to follow, aloha!

 

Bob