Friday, October 31, 2014
The scenery was fantastic, but the crowds were equal to rush hour in a large city. In the DC area, it would be referred to as grid-lock. Zion was the worst because of the narrow roads and tunnels which were built for traveling during the nineteen twenties. But we managed to see a few of the sights, but finding an empty pull-off was next to impossible unless you went in early in the morning; like about sunup. It's easy to get stuck in an endless line of traffic going through that park during most of the more popular hours for photography. Ten to three were the worst, we were told.
They use buses to shuttle people in and out of the lower areas, and Pat took that option and enjoyed the trip in and out. I stayed back in the campground that day because I don't do well with large crowds. I did, however, manage to capture enough photographs to make the trip worthwhile. And the overall experience was positive despite the mass of humanity. I would just never go back unless it was during the cold winter months. The cold months is the time to photograph Zion.
Bryce was a bit more accommodating. The Park Service had room to build a nice easy-to-travel highway through the park, and the overlooks were spacious and plentiful. The campground was maybe 20% occupied in October, and it was huge. Camping among the ponderosa pines was quite pleasant. These are beautiful trees.
I don't think I've ever seen so many people with cameras in all my life. Still, you actually had room to set up a tripod, although a time or two, I had to wait for the crowds to move a bit. We both left this park with many lovely images, including the one shown above.
I had one real nice couple walk over to me and ask if I would "take" their picture showing the background of Bryce. I'm not used to this, but I joked about it a bit; like asking if this was the button I was to push. I am not used to using these little pocket-size cameras, but considering their size, they make excellent high quality images. Totally unlike the old days.
After leaving Bryce, and having spent two days in the park, we headed east on a scenic byway, and this is when things really opened up. The crowds were slim and far between, and that gave us a chance to really get close to Mother Nature. This was actually the best part of the trip, and we visited sites off the beaten trail and enjoyed the many small villages along the way. And yes, there were canyons and cliffs most everywhere you looked. In fact, we enjoyed this last section of the trip so much that we are already talking about going back in the spring and picking up where we left off, and then working our way back through the southeastern part of the state.
The next image that will show up on my blog is of an erosional feature made in Devil's Garden. We made it a point to stop at the various Visitor's Centers along the way, and that was a big help in locating interesting locations to visit.
To view a larger image of the above, left click on the image with your mouse.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I did not realize that I had also captured a large bird which appears in the upper center of the sky. It appears to be a common turkey vulture.
To view a larger image, click on the image above.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Once a year we head for Dubois, WY so that my wife can attend the Susan K. Black art conference. It is a week-long event with an attendance of about 175 artists from around the country. The instructors are among some of the countries best known, but I come to enjoy our camping out in a lovely nearby campground along the Wind River. For us, it has become an annual event.
The subject matter varies from high plains desert to scenic mountain vistas along the Wind River Range to the Grand Tetons on the western side of the range. This is a simple composition with a nice patch of sage brush in the foreground.
This particular image is one which I have been watching from the campground for several years, but have been unable to capture it because of bad weather or bad timing. This morning I took a chance and headed across the river to a spot that gave me the best visual advantage. Frankly, I did not have a good alternative site but this worked out just fine.
It is a simple landscape in terms of composition, but it has been one of my favorite views of the painted rocks for some time. Enjoy!
To view a larger image, click on the landscape.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
This landmark was built in 1898 and has served the community of Ophir for well for over a century.
I struck up a conversation with the lady who was presently substituting for the regular Postmistress. She had been laid off recently and this elderly lady had just recently taken over as a fill in. Talk about a communicator; this gal was the sort of person you could sit down and yack with for hours on end.
I asked one question about the Postal Service and got a twenty-five minute dissertation on the subject. The first thing she pointed out was that the Pony Express was not in business to make money. Their objective was to deliver the mail and do so as quickly as possible. She said the present system is in much better shape than most people realize, and she was not supposed to dwell on that subject. I just kept my ears open and listened.
I was talking to someone who knew the system backward and forward and she took it very seriously. She was visibly upset because the regular postmistress had been laid off, so there was obviously something very important going on within the system. I did not probe any further because she was already becoming emotional and had to excuse herself because she was becoming tearful. I would have loved to have been able to photograph her, but that simply wasn’t in the cards. At least not today.
This incident reminded me of how my Appalachian project started off over forty years ago. I just happened to stop by an old grist mill back in Virginia, and met the original owner and ended up writing a story about The Passing of the Old Country Water Mill.
Click on image to enlarge
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Last month we took a two week trip to Taos, NM and as we drove through a rather uninviting section of northern New Mexico, I made the comment that on the way home I would like to point my camera at one of these junkyards and record this countryside for posterity. Junkyards used to be a common sight back east when I was a teen, and this was the first real junkyard I had seen in decades. In fact, we had been spotting one after another after we crossed the Colorado border into New Mexico. This was not the sort of landscape that would give a traveler a very good impression of this state.
Several days later, as I was photographing some historical sights, I decided to drive back out to this area and make my photograph of a real junkyard.
I had our two dogs with me and they were anxious to take a good run, but I decided to make my image stop first, so I pulled off the highway and gathered up my tripod and camera and as I was setting it up, a rather large menacing figure emerged from one of the vehicles and started to approach the gate through the fence. I had this happen once before back in Virginia many years ago as I was photographing a lovely view of a cornfield covered by a light snow. I was threatened by the owner who came charging out of his drive and blocked me in with his car where I had pulled off the highway. It was like, "here we go again."
This was obviously not a friendly visit, but I waited until this filthy dirty man walked through the gate and I said howdy. His first comment was, that "I was trespassing on his property." I replied in a friendly voice that I was not on his property, but I was, instead, standing on highway property. Public property, and there was no law against making photographs from the highway. So the question and answer session began. "Why are you photographing this side of he road instead of the other side?" he asked. Because I have already photographed the other side I replied. Next, it was, "why are you taking these pictures." I replied that I was making a documentary of back country roads in New Mexico. "For who" he replied. For me, I replied. And I have done this many times before. By now Danny and Bella were barking with their heads hanging out the truck window, and they were not happy about what they were seeing.
By now this fellow had said about all he was going to say and asked that I leave. He turned and walked away toward whichever vehicle he was living in, and I quickly made several exposures and got back in the truck and headed back to Taos. I was later told by someone in the campground where we were staying that that was a pretty rough place to stop and that I should be very careful. Yes, I thought, another close call, but I managed to get the image I wanted. I did ask the man if he would like to be included in the image I wanted to take and I got an unpleasant look in return.
I still have the image I made back in Virginia of the lovely corn shocks in the snow. He threatened to take me to court if I used the photograph, and I can still remember telling him that I would look forward to chatting with the judge. End of conversation. He was one of my neighbors at the time and died several years later. This was during the mid seventies.
Bottom line! Always be prepared for the unexpected. And having two rather large and active dogs in the truck gave me some additional comfort, because it was obvious that they did not like what they saw, and the windows were far enough down that they could have easily jumped out.
Left click on the image to enlarge the photograph.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
This image was made along one of the many back roads of western Virginia. I was working with the landscape when the cat suddenly jumped out of the bushes on the right and started to run across the highway. I made a chirping sound as the cat crossed the road and it quickly stopped to see where the chirp was coming from. This was the decisive moment, and I was ready to make the exposure. The cat disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. This image was exposed on Ektachrome 64, 2 1/4 roll film. It was a popular commercial film used back in the 1960's and seventies.
This is another example of what is often referred to as the "Decisive Moment". Being in the right spot at the right time and knowing when to press the shutter button.
For a larger view, click on the above image.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
This image was made while visiting one of the first Amish and Mennonite relief sales which was held near Waynesboro, VA. during the fall of 1972.I still vividly remember making this image and it was totally spontaneous. Some photographers might refer to it as a "grab shot." Of course we all know that it is not a shot, but a photograph. I detest the word shot. It makes me think of guns, not a camera. Ditto for "take." We used to make photographs, but it's funny how some of these meaningless words become common language.
Anyhow, these two young boys just glanced up at me and I made the exposure. I have always liked this one, and it was one of my first images in the Amish/Mennonite portfolio.
To view a larger image, click on the image above.