Archive for category You should see this

A mysterious lack of mystery

Last post I talked about the desert and how I came to believe it is my soul’s home. There are several reasons for that feeling, I suppose, and I’ll list a couple here.

First the desert has no mystery. It’s nothing more than rocks and sand and scrubby plants that can barely survive the harsh climate. Juniper trees that are hundreds of years old form beautiful shapes that testify to their struggle for life. Cactus protect their internally-held water with spines that will make you wish you’d never touched them. There are poisonous critters throughout the area: scorpions, rattlesnakes and all-terrain vehicles. The desert will kill you as readily as it will tolerate you, so you’d better come prepared for the worst if you visit the desert.

Second, the desert has great mysteries. I’ll share a few examples today.

Long ago—estimates suggest 1,000+ years—there were thriving civilizations in the desert. I say civilizations, plural, because archaeological evidence suggests that there were actually several different periods of occupation over the centuries.

The first European-descended settlers in the area named them “Anasazi,” a term they picked up from Navajos. The disappearance of the Anasazi became a great mystery and was ballyhooed around the region in an attempt to lure tourists in to spend their dollars. Problem is, Anasazi is an insult to the people who lived here way back then. According to interpretations of the term that I’ve seen it means “Enemies of Our Ancestors.” Not a very nice name for the ancient ones.

Craig Childs, in his book House of Rain, explores several sites and reports conversations with archaeologists who, he says, reports that the “Anasazi” were actually Pueblo people who were nomadic and ranged from the Cedar Mesa areas of Utah all the way into Mexico, finally staying in New Mexico after the European invasion. A guide at Navajo National Monument, a place with great examples of Ancestral Pueblo dwellings told the story of Monument staff bringing some Pueblo elders to the site of the Betatakin ruin in the Monument. The elders read some of the rock art and pointed out where the springs were, where the kivas were and accurately described some of the features of the ruin without having ever been there. A pretty good indication that they know who the inhabitants were.

Another sign the mysterious inhabitants of the area left behind was rock art. I just love petroglyphs and pictographs that are found in the area. They are truly mysterious. Sure, there are representations of desert bighorn sheep and elk or deer, clearly an indication of the source of food in the area, but there are other far more indecipherable figures. What looks like people, or maybe space aliens, footprints that may indicate a clan association or what to look out for, plants and possible crops and wondrous birds. Maybe. It’s impossible to tell. Few today really know what they’re all about and they aren’t telling because it’s none of our business. So we look at the art and speculate and wonder and enjoy the mystery.

Here are a few examples of some fine rock art (As usual, click on the images to see them full-size).

 

 

There are several panels in Capitol Reef National Park. One is labeled and easily accessed. The art seems to come from the ancients named the Fremont People.

 

Fremont Petroglyphs, Capitol Reef National Park

Fremont Petroglyphs, Capitol Reef National Park

 

As you approach the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, you go by a fascinating Utah State Historical Monument, Newspaper Rock. The site was so named because of the incredible display of rock art. Here is a look at the whole panel:

 

Newspaper Rock State Hitorical Monument, Utah

Newspaper Rock State Hitorical Monument, Utah

 

And here are some detail shots:

 

Newsapaper Rock State Historical Monument, Utah, Detail 1

Newsapaper Rock State Historical Monument, Utah, Detail 1

 

 

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, Utah, Detail 2

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, Utah, Detail 2

 

I’ll share more rock art captures as time goes on. There are so many examples, all so mysterious. It’s a great treat to stumble across an ancient drawing, especially one that hasn’t been trashed by some more recent arrival. Some of the finest panels have bullet holes from high-powered rifles marring the art. But the art has outlasted the defilers. Good.

 

More to follow.

Bob

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DC at night

Some might claim that Washington, DC, is in a permanent state of night following the last month’s odd goings on, but this is a little different.

I attended a conference in DC in November and my friend Phil came down for a couple days of sightseeing and photography after the conference.

When I go to DC I always go to The Wall and pay my respects to a few friends and shipmates. After that I wander The Mall and then head back to the hotel. Phil wanted to do some night photography and that sounded like a good idea. Since this is a big city, we weren’t about to see many stars, so that left the monuments and the surprising crowd around them, even in the dark. I had a little Platypod, a small metal plate that serves as a tripod substitute if I’m too lazy to carry the real thing. From that I got a couple interesting images. With a tripod I might have had a few different angles, but what I got worked pretty well.

There was a young man on a bicycle with multicolored lights at the ends of the spokes, so, of course, a longish exposure might just capture some interesting motion. I suppose if I had kept the shutter open even longer, the streak of color would have been wider, but this is not too bad (click on the images for a better view):

 

Lights on the spokes

Lights on the spokes

 

I just read an article that reported on a survey done of political science professors in having them rate the Presidents of the United States based on several different factors. Of course, the top two were Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. It makes sense, therefore, that they have monuments built to them on the Mall and that they are well-lit and well-visited at night. Here they are:

 

Lincoln Memorial:

 

Lincoln Memorial at night

Lincoln Memorial at night

 

Washington Monument:

 

Washington Monument at night

Washington Monument at night

 

Yes, our Nation’s Capitol is quite a treat even at night.

More to follow

Bob

 

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Can he make a comeback?

Wow, has it been that long? I’ve been thinking that it’s been too long since I posted to my blog, but the reality is shocking. Since the last post was a couple years ago following a trip to the Oregon Coast, I figured a good re-start would be to post an image of a Lighthouse from the Maine Coast. You know, coast-to-coast vacation or some such thing.

In addition, I thought I had let my domain lapse, but apparently I misread a communication from my host about that. In fact, I just got another renewal notice from them after a very long time, so I figured, ‘what the heck’ I may as well see if I can get back at this.

A lot has happened since that Oregon trip and I’ve got a lot more miles on me, but as I contemplate retirement in the next year, maybe blogging will be my way of assuring that I stay active.

We’ll see.

Anyway, here’s my take on an image that you’ve undoubtedly seen by other photographers before. It’s the Bass Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park. My friend Gary and I and about 100 other people (some were nice, some were jerks) stopped by for a sunset look at the lighthouse and the bay. Not bad, even for a cliché shot. (click on the image for a full-screen view)

 

Bass Head Lighthouse

Bass Head Lighthouse, Acadia National Park, sunset

 

More to follow?

Bob

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Memorial Day

Last year I visited The Wall in Washington, DC. I go every year to visit old friends and lost shipmates. This is my usual Memorial Day post, in which I recognize that the day is to honor those who gave everything for our country, not to buy new furniture or celebrate spring. The sales are flying thick and fast, the misunderstanding of what Memorial Day really is runs rampant. So many people treat this day like Veterans Day, and that’s not quite right. Yes, I appreciate the well wishes for having served, but the right day for formal observance is November 11, not today.

 

Anyway, raving about some misunderstandings and crass commercialism isn’t what this day is about either. It’s about remembering and saying thank you to our lost comrades and their families.

 

My personal remembrance commemorates five individuals I knew who gave everything for the United States:

Corporal 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.

 

Here are some images I took last time I was at the wall: Click on the images to see them full size and in proper color.

 

The Wall

The Wall

 

The Soldiers looking for them are below.

Three Soldiers at the Wall

Three Soldiers at the Wall

 

RIP, Gentlemen

 

 

More to follow.

Bob

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Where I live Redux

I’ve been kind of behind the times with my posts and I apologize for that. I thought today I should share with you a little more about where I live.

I went up to Beartooth Pass on the Montana-Wyoming border this morning. I used to live in Wyoming and love the state and live in Montana now, so it makes sense to shoot along the border.

A bonus was I got to walk in some fresh snow. Those of you who know me well know I hate summer, love autumn and winter, and really enjoy spring. Today made me feel like Autumn couldn’t be far off.

Here are a couple images from today. They’re actually the same image, just processed differently. They’re seven-shot panoramas, which means I took seven photos and then let Photoshop merge them into one huge file. I quite like the color one, but can’t pass up an opportunity to convert them to black-and-white whenever I think the image will work that way. You can look and decide (click on the thumbnails to see them in their full glory).

 

Beartooth Pass Panorama (The files are really big, so it might take a while to download when you click on them).

 

Beartooth pano in color

Beartooth pano in color

 

Beartooth pano B&W

Beartooth pano B&W

 

Shot some more that I’ll try to get uploaded this week.

More to follow,

Bob

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Airshow 2

Back at it the second day. Again, the weather was almost uncooperative, but things held off until the show was over. I was a little concerned because there was a rather large area of mammatus clouds. I’ve been told that they are indicators of pretty rough air and potential severe weather. Fortunately, they passed over before the action started.

Saturday’s show saw the Blue Angels short one plane, so the traditional diamond formation was replaced with what they called the mini-delta. Sunday, all six planes were ready to go and the diamond formation was back. I’ve got to say that the Blue Angels Diamond formation is the tightest, finest, most thrilling formation to watch. They fly about a foot-and-a-half from wing tip to canopy and make a knife edge pass by the field to show how close they are. Then they show similar close quarters with an echelon formation. One of the Blues’ maneuvers is to do a roll in the echelon formation. When I was stationed at Miramar Naval Air Station, their announcer said they did that maneuver because the Air Force said it was impossible. No inter-service rivalry there.

Here are a couple shots from Day 2 (click the thumbnails):

 

The Diamond

 

The Diamond

The Diamond

 

And the Echelon:

Angels Echelon

Angels Echelon

 

That’s my Blue Angels fix for a while. Until, of course, they appear close to home again!

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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Airshow 1

Sometimes I amaze myself. I do the oddest things. I’ve been a fan of the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron for years. I served in the Navy air wing and so got to see the Angels fly several times while on active duty. They’ve always thrilled me. After the Navy I didn’t see the Blues for a while. Hard to catch them in Fort Bridger, Wyoming, after all. Somehow I came across the Blue Angels’ Facebook page and started following them. A couple Mondays back I noticed they were going to perform in St. George, Utah. I thought that would be a nice place to go see them and mentioned it to a couple of my colleagues. They encouraged me to go. After chasing air fare deals and hotel reservations, I decided to take a flyer and see the flyers. Flew into Las Vegas and stayed in Mesquite, about 30 miles from the St. George airport.

And then there were two days of great flying. The weather was challenging both days and actually grounded a couple of the demonstrations on Saturday, but the Blues flew both days. Oh, boy, did they fly!

Here are some shots I got. I’ll do a couple today and then a couple more Wednesday. (Click on the thumbnails.)

 

Of course, you can’t start an airshow without the National Anthem and you can’t play the National Anthem without the flag. Here, a woman from the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team delivers the colors.

 

Presenting the Colors

Presenting the Colors

 

The Blue Angels are flying FA-18 Super Hornet jets these days. The planes perform well faster than lighting and slower than molasses. Here’s an example of slow flight:

Dirty Delta

Dirty Delta

 

One of the thrills of the show is watching the solo pilots fly directly at each other, doing rolls and other maneuvers at 400 mph. Here’s one on a high-speed run.

Solo Angel

Solo Angel

 

The Blues do a number of signature moves, but probably the most well-known is the Blue Angels’ Fleur de Lis.

Angels Fleur de Lis

Angels Fleur de Lis

 

And that was just the first day! Check back Wednesday for more.

More to follow,

Bob

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Independence Plus One

I missed posting fireworks last year because, being new to Billings, I didn’t know where to go. Turns out I need to put a lawn chair in my back yard and set the camera next to it.

Here’s what I saw from home (click on the images to see them full size and with proper color):

 

Fireworks1

Fireworks1

 

Fireworks 2

Fireworks 2

 

Fireworks 3

Fireworks 3

 

Fireworks 4

Fireworks 4

 

That’s all for now.

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Oxygenating metal

On this trip I made several new friends. One is named Rusty. So I can’t really say these are from Rusty cars. I’ll just say there are some interesting things that happen when steel oxidizes.

You can see shapes, themes, ideas, images that look like roadmaps or portraits. Here are a few nice oxidation shots I found in the treasure trove we stopped at:

The first one looked to me like a fried egg on a green plate. Maybe I was just hungry (click to see full size and proper color).

 

egg

egg

 

Then I saw what looked like a pair of eyes looking back at me. OK, that’s fair. I stare at the car, the car stares at me:

 

eyes

eyes

 

And some of the oxidation patterns looked a lot like a map. This one reminded me of the maps we used to use when running rivers: it shows the islands and shoreline in detail.

 

River map

River map

 

Kind of fun to look at these abstracts and try to figure out what they remind me of.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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One person’s treasure is…

We stopped at the junk yard. Rick told us not to call it a junk yard, the owner might be offended if we referred to his treasures as junk.

We found cars. Lots of cars. Lots of old cars. It was kind of mind boggling. Between shooting the nameplates of long-discontinued vehicles, logos that are no longer used and flat tires, I started to see the detail in the metal and paint. So many painted, repainted and over painted spots. Lots to look at and lots to photograph.

I like abstract fotos of nature, so decided that this would be the way to approach the cars. Looking for color anomalies and rusted-out portions of fenders and frames, I came up with several that I think are interesting. Today I’ll show you some interesting paint schemes. Next Wednesday will show some oxidization patterns. Be sure the check back in.

I’m not sure how or why some of the paint jobs happened. But in the first one, it’s obvious. Used to be that in Utah we had to put the gross vehicle weight on the side of the truck, even if it was a Datsun pickup like I had. Most of us got decals and put them on, but some just used a paintbrush. (click on the images to enlarge and see the color correctly.)

U

U

 

And some people were never happy with the color of their vehicle, but this seems to have been owned either by a patriot or by someone who kind of liked red, but wanted to experiment.

Red Car

Red Car

 

I’d like to go back to the junkyard treasure trove and start all over again with a new set of eyes. There might be a lot more interesting paint jobs available.

More to follow,

Bob

 

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