landscape

Last Night Outing of the Year with ISU Photo Students

Saturday night I went out with five current ISU students and one alum for some astro-landscape photography. For this trip, we went south of Pocatello down to Hawkins Reservoir. Absolutely clear skies, good temps, and low winds (after the sun went down), coupled with some great meteorites made for the start of a pleasant evening. Of course, I brought my camp stove and we had home-made chili and on of the students brought some great cornbread. Great feast!

However, stuff happens, and around 11pm three rather drunk young men nearly drove their pick-up truck into the lake right next to us! After getting the truck out of the water (boat landing), they proceeded to bring all their fishing gear, loud voices, and high explosive fireworks out on the end of the dock that was about 50′ from us. Suddenly, one of the fellows lit the fireworks, which shot about 100′ straight above us and exploded with a boom that shook the entire valley. Needless to say, the campers across the way were not happy! After a long exchange of loud, vociferous profanities, we packed up and left for home. In the composite star-trail shot below, you can see their truck headlights coming towards us on the highway, followed by the firework explosion in the upper right corner of the shot.

 

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New Year’s Eve Day-trip

This past New Year’s Eve, I had the pleasure of doing a photo day-trip with Dr. Charles (Chuck) Peterson, our resident herpetologist here at Idaho State University. The day was clear and cold as we started along the east face of the Portneuf Range. When we stopped to photograph the steam coming off the Portneuf River, the temps where hovering around 4F or about -16C. We worked our way over to Soda Springs to see the geyser, but just missed it. Lots of ice though! Eventually, we ended up in western Wyoming and stopped in Afton for lunch at Heggs Grill & Steakhouse. I was really looking forward to a fat, juicy burger, but to our surprise, our waitress told us during the winter they only served “breakfast” all day! Odd. Chuck had pancakes bigger than his head and I continued my quest to find the best biscuits and gravy!  Reminds me when I lived in Wisconsin and the first time I tried to order iced tea during the winter I was told it was “out of season”.  Strange customs. Anyway, we continued our photo excursion by continuing south, crossing over Salt River Pass and then swinging back west into Idaho. An excellent day out shooting with a fellow photographer!

International Dark Sky Park

In November, I went out to Craters of the Moon National Monument with several of my photo students. The monument has been designated an International Dark Sky Park and the night we were there was on a new moon. That was one of the “darkest” experiences I have ever had, with the exception being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when I was in the Navy.

Atomic Road Trip

The first week of October I drove to southern New Mexico to research and photograph tourists’ activities related to the birth of the atomic era. Specifically, twice a year in April and October, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) opens the Trinity Site to the public for a one-day visit. Trinity Site is ground zero for the Manhattan Project’s first atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945. Less than a month later atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Trinity Site is located near the Jornada del Muerto desert (Journey of the Dead Man) and in the Tularosa Basin, just northwest of Alamogordo.

Having lived part of my childhood in the mountains east of Alamogordo, I felt it important to visit WSRM to try to better understand where my father worked during the late 1950s. After visiting the WSRM Museum and Missile Park, I did gain some insights into his life and work. For example, I did not realize WSRM was originally established near the end of WWII, in part, for reverse engineering the Nazi V-2 rocket with Germany’s top rocket scientist, Dr. Wehner von Braun. My father’s work overlapped with von Bruan’s for the next decade as my father worked on the Mercury and Gemini manned space programs.

Needless to say, it was an interesting and tiring 5-day road trip, which included three out of four nights camping (two nights were in Mesa Verda National Park).

Travels in Sicily, Italy

Last month after attending a conference in Sweden, we flew south to Sicily to celebrate 30 years of marriage. Sicily feels like you are stepping back in time, yet there certainly is modernization all about. Especially wind and solar farms. While there we visited four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Valley of the Temples near Agrigento, the Greek Theatre and Roman Ampitheatre in the Latomie area of Syracuse, the Roman Villa del Casale (famous tile mosaics) near Piazza Armerina, and Mount Etna (great winery and vineyard at Gambino‘s). We also visited Taormina just a few days before the G7 global conference. As a retired military member, we tapped some of our benefits and stayed in very nice lodging at NATO Village, which is part of Sigonella Naval Air Station. Below are a few samples of some of the historical places visited. More images to come on the food and flora of the area!

Super Moon in Idaho

Last night I had the opportunity to take some of my photo students out to a sagebrush field at the top of campus to photograph the moonrise. It was a Super Moon and very stunning! It was neat to see it come up in the notch of Camelback Mountain, which is to the east of campus. The moving clouds made for additional interesting effects in the sky.

Yellowstone Conference

So I’m currently attending the Yellowstone Studies Center Consortium annual conference in West Yellowstone, Montana. Perfect time of year with fall colors, snow, and mild temps! Here’s a few shots from the trip.

Lewiston and Montana Trip

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the LCSC Center for Arts & History in Lewiston, Idaho. I was an invited lecturer to kick off their three-month exhibition on photographic history of their region. The exhibition is titled: Stories We See—Early Photography of the Valley.  My research has examined Idaho’s first lady photographer, Mrs. Amelia Strang, who had her commercial studio in Lewiston during the mid-1860s. She is a centerpiece in my upcoming book on women photographers of the Pacific Northwest during the 19th century.

The trip took me through the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana, along the Lochsa River, which I did fish on the morning of my return. Next, I ventured down the Bitterroot Valley into Idaho and followed the Salmon River and spent the night at the Syringa Lodge in Salmon. To finish out the trip, I continued south to Challis and then through the Big Lost River Valley to MacKay and then home. Lots of great autumn colors, dramatic clouds, and snow along the mountain peaks.

Went Up the Mountain

Yesterday, I ventured up the tallest mountain immediately next to Pocatello: Kinport Peak. At just over 7,200 feet elevation, Kinport sits southwest from the city and provides an incredible view of town and also of the Snake River Plain. All of the American Falls Reservoir can clearly be viewed from that height. The purpose of risking a rough 4×4  trail with my truck (and yes, there were some “Depends” moments!) was to scout some new locations for doing some future astro-landscape photography. If I were to do some shooting up there, I might need to spend the night because that “road” back down would certainly be a nightmare in the dark! Regardless, I had a peaceful afternoon up there with no one else around. Had lunch on the tailgate of my truck while enjoying a wilderness view to the south. Colors were intense, with the Rocky Mountain Maples in deep orange-red and aspens in bright gold. The fragrance of autumn was abundant along the flat top ridge as I traveled over to Wild Mountain (some maps identify it as Wild Horse Mountain), which is where I live on its lower slopes.