Posts Tagged Spring

A-birding we will go!

I’ve fed birds for a lot of years. It’s fascinating watching them at the feeder. But, of course, there are a lot more birds than come to the feeder, so going out in the field is always a good idea. There’s a lot to see out there.

I hooked up with a group from the Yellowstone Valley Chapter of the Audubon Society for a little jaunt into the field yesterday. Birding, it’s called. Used to be birdwatching, but that was a long time ago and things change. The one thing that doesn’t change in a hobby like this is the fact that the people who do it are full of knowledge and passion about birds. And to make things perfect, they are generous with their knowledge and extremely welcoming to a newbie to their hobby. I really appreciate that.

I knew I didn’t really have the equipment to do a lot of good photography, but took the camera along anyway. Glad I did. We stopped at the home of an artist who lives in the mountains. He invited us to have lunch on his porch and watch the hummingbirds. There were quite a few, of several varieties. The people I was with could tell by looking what they were. I couldn’t. Nick said the birds were only rented, not his. They come in in May and leave in September, but while they are in Montana, he feeds them and welcomes them while they visit. I tried a few images and got a couple that weren’t awful. Here’s one (as always, click to enlarge and see the right colors):

 

Hummer at feeder

Hummer at feeder

 

Nick had a couple Labrador Retrievers, too. I love labs. They’re great dogs and someday if I ever retire, I’ll get one to share the house with me and the cats. I decided the yellow one was a good candidate for a portrait (sorry, I’ve already forgotten her name), and took two or three. Then I found out one of the settings on the camera got inadvertently changed and the image was just awful. Well, the old cliché goes that if you’re handed a lemon, make lemonade. So I did. Here’s the badly-exposed image turned into a high-key black-and-white. Now it’s deliberate, and I like it!

 

Yellow Lab

Yellow Lab

 

All in all, a good day and I expect I’ll have more adventures with the birders!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Two Lips

My daffodils are slowly giving up the ghost. I was pretty smart, though. I planted a row of daffodils and behind them a row of tulips. Seeing as the tulips mature just a little later than the daffodils, I’ll have a good month and a half of pretty flowers, then the nice greenery of their leaves as they absorb sunlight and store up energy for next year in the bulbs. Of course, nobody told me that the daffodils were going to be taller than the tulips, so the Dutch flowers are kind of hidden. Maybe I’ll relocate them for next year. It helps that the bulbs multiply, too. This year I’ve got about twice the flowers I had last year. And this year, the tulips are changing color. I wanted red, but got orange. This year, about 1/4 of them are purple. Nice color. So I cut a couple flowers and brought them in. Here’s what they look like up close and personal. Click the images for a better view and correct color.

Purple Tulip macro

Purple Tulip macro

 

Orange Tulip macro

Orange Tulip macro

With any luck, I’ll have some nice cactus blossoms to share with you later this month. More to follow. Bob

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Sometimes it Rains

I remember parts of a song we used to sing when we floated the Green River a few decades ago:

Sometimes it rains, and 
Sometimes it rains, and
Sometimes it rains…

We also used to say uncomplimentary things about Ma Nature at the time. I won’t repeat them here, but they’re still true.

If you follow the blog, you know I had a few days off a while back and went to the Oregon coast looking for a geological and spiritual feature my friend Rick Sammon told me about: Minor White’s Wall.

It was a sort of pilgrimage, because White was a mystic as well as photographer and wrote some interesting thoughts on photography. Some of his ideas really strike home with me and because of that, I have a lot of respect for Minor. One of my favorite quotes from White regards the obsessive need some photographers have to document everything about making an image. Minor said, “For technical detail, the camera was faithfully used.” That’s enough for me. Besides, my camera records all the data anyway. Back in the olden days, I wrote down f/stop, shutter speed, film type, processing information and sometimes even some ideas about how to print the image (no blogs in those days). I guess I’ve gotten lazy in my old age, and Minor’s statement suited me to a tee.

A couple more quotes from Minor: [The ecstasy in photography is the] “Insight, vision, moments of revelation. During those rare moments something  overtakes the man and he becomes the tool of a greater Force; the servant of, willing or unwilling depending on the degree of awakeness. The photograph, then, is a message more than a mirror, and the man a messenger who happens to be a photographer.”  He added, “I believe, that, like Alice Through the Looking Glass, with the camera one comes so close to the real that one goes beyond it and into the reality of the dream.”

I’ve read a little about psychologist Carl Jung, too. He had the idea that every human being shares common memories. Memories buried so deep that we can’t call them up willingly. They’re buried in our unconscious (note, he doesn’t use the Freudian terminology, “subconscious”). That means we have a shared unconscious or, as Jung named it, the Collective Unconscious. American philosopher John Dewey said that artists (and, yes, photographers are artists) are popular and important because their images remind the viewer of something. That must be something deep, something buried in the unconscious. Something mystical (see, I got back around to Minor!).

Pretty heady stuff, and awfully deep. What I take from all that is that photography is more than just tripping the shutter and uploading the image. Much more. Minor gives us a hint when he tells us that when we photographers look at a subject, we should look until we see what else it is. That ‘what else’ is what makes a great photograph. I don’t mean dressing a cat up in an Abe Lincoln hat and posing him in a big chair in a memorial. I mean that there’s a lot more in nature than appears on the surface. And it’s the photographer’s duty so find that ‘what else.’ And to be able to show it.

So I traveled through the rain to do homage to Minor. Finally found Minor White’s Wall and in a brief respite between the storms, I found some features that were worthy of capturing. Are they the ‘what else?’ I’ll let you decide.

Click on the images to see the true colors and proper lighting (there’s something mystical about the way you have to take a second look, I suppose).

See if you can see the “What else?”.

 

Eroded Sandstone, Minor White Wall

Eroded Sandstone, Minor White Wall

 

Erosion Pattern 2, Minor White Wall

Erosion Pattern 2, Minor White Wall

 

Sandstone inclusion, Minor White Wall

Sandstone inclusion, Minor White Wall

 

I originally titled these with the “what else,” but then decided not to guide you to a conclusion. After all, it’s in our collective unconscious, so you should be able to see what they are.

More to follow,

Bob

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Moseying up the trail

Man, it’s taking forever to get off this beach. I finally started back up the trail. Along the way some plants started calling to me. The first ones I saw said, “Macro, Black-and-White.”

I agreed. Soon I found a whole group of the plants (no, I don’t know what they are. Definitely not Indian Paintbrush, though) and started working with my closeup lens.

Ma Nature, being the kind of entity she is, tried her best to assist with rain and wind. That always makes macro photography a challenge, but I persevered, and I think I’m glad I did. It may well be that the man who walked by and found me shading the plant with my fleece jacket thought I was nuts. But I figure it was worth it.

As always, click on the images to see them full size and with the proper color. Which, here, is no color.

Plant, Shore Acres State Park

Plant, Shore Acres State Park

 

A little way up the trail, one with berries showed up.

Plant with berries

Plant with berries

 

No, I didn’t taste the berries. I’m smart enough to avoid that.

Getting close to Minor White’s Wall.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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Toeing the line

OK, lame title. Acknowledged.

Our local photo club has a contest this month called “Leading Lines.” I saw some lines on Simpson Beach at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon and decided to record them. I was moving off the beach because it was starting to rain, but the first set of lines caught my attention and I had to record the lead. It looked a lot to me like a dinosaur was just surfacing from under the sand, but being soaked may have had an effect on my judgment. Still, I like what I saw.

Leading Lines:

Leading Line

Leading Line

 

And lines that leas somewhere, I’m sure:

Lines

Lines

I’m still going to tell you about Minor White’s Wall, so stay with me.

More to follow,

Bob

 

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Soggy Weekend

I had to go to Portland, Oregon last week for our annual conference. From Monday through Wednesday, we hosted 160 people who wanted to know more about Telehealth. Being in Oregon, I figured I might want to go to the coast. I’ve heard it’s quite spectacular out there and Rick Sammon told me about a place called Minor White Wall. Well, I’m a fan of Rick’s and of Minor White, so I decided to take a couple of our rare vacation days to see what I could see.

I forgot to reckon with Ma Nature, though. From the time I left the conference hotel and headed for Coos Bay, it rained. It rained until I got on the plane Sunday morning. Fortunately, there were a couple breaks in the downpour and I found myself at Shore Acres State Park. I asked some of the volunteers if they knew where Minor White Wall was. They hadn’t heard of it. I got some input that it was near the abandoned tennis courts, and they had heard of them, but weren’t sure where they were.

Not being one to hedge my bets too much, I decided to go to Simpson Beach, down a trail in the park. There were some interesting rock formations there and, of course, water. It wasn’t raining at the time, but the waves came in relentlessly. I decided to make the best of the situation and capture a few pixels. I got a pretty good feel for the ocean, among other things. I even learned the temperature of the sea water when a “sleeper” wave came in. Sleepers are higher than the average waves and sneak up on you. This one filled my waterproof hiking boot. And, true to its promise, the boot didn’t allow the cold water to go out. Between the sleeper soaking and kneeling in wet sand to get a few shots, I ended up kinda soggy.

Ma Nature then brought on the rain again, and I headed to the car. But I did get to see what the ocean can do in that part of the country.

Here’s what I saw:

The waves are pretty good sized in places and when they hit the rock formations that don’t have the sense to move inshore, they make some spectacular splashes.

Crashing Wave

Crashing Wave

 

Then, when the waves roll onshore, they have to go back out. I slowed down the shutter and got this:

Wave outrush

Wave outrush

Did I ever find Minor White Wall? Yes. It was below the abandoned tennis courts.

But that’s a subject for another day.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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Why do they Call it Capitol Reef?

Because to the non-geologists who first came here (OK, the European-descended non-archeologists, the Fremont People were here long before), the domes of Navajo Sandstone looked like the domes of state capitol buildings and the sheer cliff left by the upthrust millions of years ago looked like a reef in the ocean. What else to call it but “Capitol Reef”?

Here’s a view of the domes and reef. See if you agree.

Domes and Reef

Domes and Reef

There are other features that decided not to erode with the rest of the area surrounding it. One noticeable one is Chimney Rock (probably so named because it looked to the first Europeans to enter the area like a, well, chimney made of rock) (OK, no evidence of imagination there, but what do you expect?). Here’s what it looks like from the highway as you walk back to the car after hiking a slot canyon:

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Short Post today, I’m in Washington, DC, and I don’t want to miss one exciting word of the speeches. And if you think it’s bad posting from a trip that was over a week ago, I’ve still got some Monument Valley shots to share with you!

More to follow,

Bob

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Well, since the rapture didn’t happen

I decided to go out and get some evidence that Spring has sprang. I was going to walk along the Laramie River Green Belt, a trail along the outskirts of town that can be pretty pleasant, but it didn’t happen. When I got there I found that someone in the City decided I was too stupid to avoid flash floods or rapidly rising water, so they closed the trail. Just another example of people in authority being overprotective. Yes, we’ve got a lot of water to come, the snow pack is almost 3x what it usually is (if the people who write the stories are accurate with their math. They say it’s 187% higher than normal. That means, in real math, that it’s almost three times as deep as usual). (God, I love parentheses.)

Anyway, it’s been pretty cool in the high country (cool enough to snow) so, while the water is up to the stream banks, I didn’t feel much of a threat for the trail that runs above the river. But, being a law-abiding citizen, I moved on. The University of Wyoming campus has a pretty decent landscaping program, so I went there looking for flowers that would stand still in 24-mph winds with gusts over 30. Found some, too.

I’ve always loved daffodils. They’re bright, cheery, interestingly shaped and a sure sign that Winter is going to give us our usual 3-month hiatus from blizzards. I like to brag that I’ve been snowed on every month while living in Wyoming except August. I’ve seen snow in May (my graduation day had over a foot of snow), June (18 inches on June 6th a couple years ago) and have been snowed on at the 4th of July rodeo. September is a transitional month and snow often falls then. Actually, last August Tom and I were hiking in the high country and got pelted with white stuff, but I think that was ice pellets, not snow, so I’ve got to try again this year.

Anyway, here are some of the daffodils UW staff and students get to admire every day.

 

Daffodil UW Campus

Daffodil UW Campus

I really prefer the all-yellow versions of the narcissus, like the one above. The others are pretty, to be sure, but I guess you could say I’m a traditionalist.

Here are some of the multi-colored variety:

Three Daffodils, UW Campus

Three Daffodils, UW Campus

Well, that’s it for Spring. It will undoubtedly snow tonight.

 

More to follow.

Bob

 

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My, how time flies!

Seems like it’s been a little while since I posted. And it has. Wow! things just conspire to eat your time. That’s especially true when you get stuck in a cigar tube and fly across country. I had to go to Tampa, FL for a series of meetings earlier this month, run to Denver a couple times and attend a memorial service for a dear friend, and, well, to quote Willie Nelson, “Ain’t it funny how time slips away?”

These photos are from a workshop we did in, you guessed it, Capitol Reef National Park. It was another one of those workshops where we goofed off with old friends, told stories on each other, sipped a few beers and made a lot of photographs. I started working on them just after I returned home, then got distracted with other stuff. So here they are.

So much of what I was seeing on that trip was in black-and-white, a medium that I love and try to get right. See what you think:

 

We avoided too much adventure on this trip. To get to the Bentonite Hills, we had to ford the Fremont River. The nice thing about rivers in the West is that they are often what Easterners would call ‘creeks.’ But we do have photographic evidence that there are times when driving across the river isn’t a great idea. This time the flooding was over, so it went well.

Bentonite

Bentonite

In the early spring, there’s little greenery in the desert. This dead weed will undoubtedly be replaced by a lush, green one (at least for a few weeks) and the contrast will be lost. There’s an old photographic adage that you should never walk past a potential image thinking that you’ll get it later. Later never happens. The light is never the same, the scene is subtly different and (this is especially true of me) you’ll forget where the dern thing was anyway.

Boulder and Weed

Boulder and Weed

And then there’s always the large wall detail. This one has so much going for it that I just gawked a while, took out the camera and saw a black-and-white image. It’s not quite a grand landscape, but it’s not intimate landscape, either. Just call it wall detail with juniper trees.

Alcove and Wall Detail

Alcove and Wall Detail

Yes, of course there’s color. Tune in Wednesday for proof of that.

 

Mor to follow.

Bob

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I can’t help myself!

Well, we were in Bluff and wondering what we’d do when we heard that a storm was moving into Capitol Reef. Capitol Reef in the snow is stunning. Well, it’s stunning any time, of course, but with snow: wow!

Unfortunately all we got was cold wind. But even that’s OK, because the storm clouds were moving in and out and that means I had to go back to the place I’m trying to make a good photograph of: Factory Butte. While Nick and I stood out in the wind and shivered, the clouds moved in and out. 150 exposures gave me a lot to work with.

I previsualized black-and-white images on the way and I think they might have worked out to some extent. Here they are:

Factory Butte and clouds

Factory Butte and clouds

Factory Butte and Clouds 2

Factory Butte and Clouds 2

More to follow.

Bob

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