Earlier this month I attended the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) annual conference in New Orleans…my favorite Southern city! Unfortunately, the weather was a bit uncooperative and rained nearly my entire stay. On Saturday morning I had a two-hour gap between conference sessions and the rain stopped, so I went strolling down Canal Street and eventually into the French Quarter on both Royal and Bourbon Streets. Festivities were cranking up early in the morning, as there were Saint Patrick’s Day and Saint Joseph’s Day parades throughout the neighborhood. Below are a few shots made with my travel camera, a Fujifilm x20 digital rangefinder, complete with the 1960s black and silver retro finish. Last year I had several people in NYC stop me wanting to know if was actually a film camera!
After days and nights of freezing fog and clouds, I finally caught a break for some astro-landscape photography. Once the sun fell behind the horizon, the Milky Way was incredible. Unfortunately, it was directly overhead and I was aiming to the south in order to capture the sun setting in Arbon Valley. In the distance there’s Bradley Mountain to the left and the Deep Creek Mountain range falling in the background.
Photographing at 6,000-feet (1,829 meters) on a clear January night gets cold….8oF (-13C)!!! But, it was a pleasant evening listening to hoot owls and coyotes. In addition to watching airplanes cross the sky, there were satellites and meteorites as well. It’s interesting the different colors appearing from various light sources that our eyes simply do not detect at night (our rods and cones lose their color vision in low light levels). I had to finally give up after four hours, as my equipment, including my 14mm super wide angle lens, was completely covered in frost and ice!
Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the 3rd International Conference of Photography and Theory, which was held in the ancient city of Nicosia (Lefkosia according to the Greeks), Cyprus. Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite shots from the trip, including a very post-modern Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Enjoy!
© 2014 Terry Ownby, All Rights Reserved.
The other day I decided to go fishing on the Portneuf River, about an hour’s drive from home. Got out there before sunrise and encountered a live skunk at my first pull-off point so I decided to go further up the river to another access area. As I pulled on my waders in the dim light of pre-dawn, the silence was broken by the raucous cawing of crows, followed by small flights of ducks and geese with their associated honking. So much for Nature being quiet! Regardless, being alone in the cold river (except for the pre-historic looking Great Blue Heron gliding above the river’s channel) casting dry flies upstream was a powerful moment of solitude to enjoy before the excitement of another semester at the university.
After a steady rain finally let up, the skies began to breakup and just as I climbed up the river’s bank I noticed this lovely rainbow that arched from one side of the mountain to the other. Unfortunately, I only had my Fujifilm X-20 retro range-finder digital camera. No ultra-wide angle lens to capture the entire view.
Eventually I drove up the road a bit and took a gravel road along Pebble Creek, where I was high enough the clouds were at my level. Here I also came across a couple of Jack Rabbits! Frankly I didn’t know they lived this far north. I’ve always encountered them in Texas or the desert southwest. Interesting.
Next, I drove along Toponce Creek, were I saw a dead badger and several wild turkeys. Here I did catch a small lively Brook Trout and promptly released it. When the fishing slowed down, I drove along the Chesterfield area where I kept coming across beehives. I was fascinated by their interesting colors. Several ranchers had these multi-colored boxes stacked in their fields. Finally I had to stop and switch roles from trout fisher to photographer! But once back in the Portneuf River in the afternoon, I landed three nice rainbow trout and released several others. Excellent way to spend the day!
After a number of years without having a “real” vacation, I splurged and took my sweetheart of nearly 30 years to New York City. We definitely did the tourist gig and went to many of the must-see city icons: 9-11 Memorial, Grand Central Station, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and Times Square. Of course we also visited China Town and had lunch in neighboring Little Italy. The MTA Subway provided our transportation, but a looming union strike made it a bit worrisome. By the end of the trip, all was well. Our digs for the week was the Grand Hyatt, which sits between Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. It was great being in the heart of the city!
Since this trip did not include several photo students as in the past, I chose not to carry my large professional camera gear. Instead, I opted for a small, light-weight digital rangefinder-style camera from Fujifilm….it was a silver and black X20. Very 1960s retro look! It took great shots (all those in this blog post) and looked so stylish for my tourist modus operandi.
For those of you who know my food photography, I apologize for not capturing the incredible seafood and lobster paella I had at my favorite Spanish tapas bar in Greenwich Village. I was too excited to dive in to the food to worry about photographs! Sorry!
Recently, after months of planning with colleagues (Dr. Tom Mitchell and Mr. Robert Breshears) from the photography program at the University of Central Missouri, myself and Idaho State University student John Lowry rendezvoused with our counter-parts at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Our primary objective was astro-landscape photography, which involves daytime images of the landscape that transition into night versions with star movement. All total we had seven faculty and students from both institutions.
During the last few days of May, we watched temps at the Badlands soar into the upper 90s, with nights dropping into the 50s. The temperature swings made camping an interesting adventure. Besides typical camp life and cold showers, we made numerous trips throughout the Badland region for making traditional photographs (with a mix of vernacular snapshots) of ubiquitous bison and prairie dogs. One afternoon included a trip to the infamous Wall Drug, where snapshots were made of tourists riding the giant jackalope!
After three days in the Badlands, we broke camp and struck out for the Black Hills, with stops at Keystone and Mount Rushmore. I found Rushmore disturbing with its extensive commercialization and grand architecture…hmm a potential critical theory paper in the making! Nothing like I experienced back in the 1970s and 1960s. Everything changes with time.
The last stop on our photo road trip was Devils Tower, Wyoming. Here I managed to craft an excellent astro-landscape photograph, which transitions from daylight into night with star trails above the Tower. The following day my Missouri compatriots departed to return to the Midwest, while John and I pushed westward. Photo opportunities presented themselves throughout Wyoming, including detailed shooting at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center (Japanese concentration camp) and Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks.
Last month I had the opportunity to slip away from the university for a day and went on a photo road trip with fellow photographer, John Lowry. Our adventure began well before sunrise as we headed out to the Snake River Plain and headed northwest into the Arco Desert. First stop in the bone-chilling weather was Atomic City, a quasi-ghost town not far from the INL (Idaho National Laboratory). This entire region is an interesting mix of ancient basaltic lava flows, atomic wastelands, and current nuclear testing facilities.
My planned experiments for the day centered on the vast landscape to be photographed through my super wide-angle Rokinon 14mm/f2.8 lens. The objective was to use a 1.2 ND filter attached to the backside of the lens, which would reduce my exposures by 4 f-stops. Ultimately, the plan called for windy conditions that would allow for cloud movement during the slow exposures. Alas, the wind didn’t cooperate and the clouds stood still. Bummer. But regardless of Mother Nature’s lack of support in this endeavor, we did have a great time and created a variety of images. Enjoy!
Just a quick post on astro-landscape photography of the Milky Way shot tonight on Christmas Eve. I found this beautiful spot just as I entered Arbon Valley, which is just over the mountain and through the woods from my house. For this shot I was facing east-southeast, towards Old Tom Mountain and that’s the highest snow covered peak in the first photo. I started shooting around 4:45pm just as the sun was setting and continued until 7pm. It wasn’t too bad until about 6:30pm when the temps dropped to 10 degrees F (-12C). The second shot was repositioned to include Scout Mountain, which is north of Old Tom.
Something new was encountered on this photo excursion, the sound of energy! I was setup under a telephone pole. Unfortunately, some of the wires are in the shot. Anyway, all was quiet sitting there in the dark along side the snow-covered road when all of a sudden I heard this deep throbbing sound. It kept getting louder and for awhile I was looking for a plane over head, but nothing showed up. Finally the sound was pronounced and sounded like it was right on top of me, which it actually was. I walked over to the utility pole and it was vibrating with the pulsing of the energy overhead through the wires. Eventually it died down, only to return later during the photo shoot. Shortly after the sound of electricity, coyotes started their singing in the valley below. Very strange and interesting encounter!
Last week my new lens arrived from B&H Photo: a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 super wide-angle. My primary use for this lens will be for astro-landscape photography, star-trails, and traditional landscapes here in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. I’ve been eying this lens for a number of years since my astrophotography mentor, Wilson, started using this sweet lens.
But, our weather here in the Northwest hasn’t been too cooperative, with below zero chill factors and overcast skies filled with snow, so I haven’t ventured into the mountains our out onto the Snake River Plain. Instead, I
stayed indoors and the other day ventured into my colleague’s visual communication experimental letterpress lab. I’ve always been fascinated with metal and wood type and she has some really neat large displays of type in her lab. Here’s a diptych shot under available light with my Nikon D800 with the Rokinon 14mm super wide-angle lens. Enjoy!
This first weekend of November, I ventured back up to the lake near the Chesterfield ghost town for some astrophotography. A storm front was beginning to move in from Seattle, so it was very windy and exceptionally cold. My sweetheart decided to join me on this outing and this was her first exposure to hours of patiently waiting for the stars to come out and images to be captured. What an initiation she endured!
In addition to shooting star trails (in the tradition of my friend and mentor, Wilson Hurst), I also tried photographing the Milky Way. Visibility of the stars to the east side of the lake and straight overhead was remarkably good. Unfortunately, I had not anticipated the glow of city lights to my north, which clearly is visible in my star trail shot. The light pollution came from Idaho Falls, which is about 65 miles (105 km) away.