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).
Professor Kavanagh conducting video interviews for her documentary project “Atomic Tourist: Trinity” at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, October 7, 2017.
Members of Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) protesting outside Trinity Site during open house on October 7, 2017.
While out on a field trip with my photo class, I came across some more colorful beehives in Caribou County, Idaho. On the way back, we encountered a young bull moose in the road. He eventually wondered into the adjacent field and I snapped a quick shot through the window.
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!
The staircase of St. Mary in Caltagirone, SI, Italy, lined with potted flowers to create floral design when viewed from the bottom looking up. Each riser of staircase is lined with handmade ceramic tiles made in the city. This city is known for its ceramics.
View from Temple of Hera (Juno).
Temple of Hera at Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, SI, Italy.
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.
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.
Raven on the beach at Yellowstone Lake, YNP.
Not bad considering I was driving (slowing) and shot through the driver’s window of my vehicle with my little tourist camera (Fujifilm x20).
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.
Lower Salmon River
Salmon River, Idaho
Another view from the lodge
Lower Salmon River
View from the Syringa Lodge overlooking Salmon, Idaho
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.
Last week I had the opportunity to take some ISU (Idaho State University) photo and video students to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for a photography roadtrip. And, by design, two of my close friends (Robert Breshears and Tom Mitchell) from the photography department at the University of Central Missouri, were there at the same time with several of their students. It was a great rendezvous of kindred photographic spirits! Our combined students had an opportunity to exchange ideas, photograph together, and for some, enjoy bison and elk burgers in Gardiner, Montana at “The Corral“. For our group, we stayed at the Yellowstone Studies Center, which is part of the West Yellowstone Economic Council and is located in West Yellowstone, Montana. This is a great resource for universities when they bring students to Yellowstone National Park for their research and creative activities. Here’s some shots from our week at YNP and GTP!
Left to Right: Terry Ownby, Tom Mitchell, Robert Breshears in Gardiner, Montana.
L to R: Judy, Natalie, Missy, Rebekah, Fallon.
Judy videotaping ISU photo students shooting at location Ansel Adams made famous in 1942.
Robert Breshears, photo faculty at University of Central Missouri, photographing the Morning Glory Pool, located at the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.
Jason Churba photographing Sheepeaters Cliff in Yellowstone National Park.
Back Row (L to R): Terry, Ed, John, Jason, Judy. Front Row (L to R): Rebekah, Fallon, Missy, Kyler, Natalie.
Judy Morris (r) ISU video faculty, reviews images with Robert Breshears (c) from UCM photo faculty. ISU students Fallon, Rebekah, and John take a break from hiking.
Ed Ritterbush photographing bison at Yellowstone National Park.
Lower Schawbacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park
Left to right: Missy, Kyler, Judy, Rebekah, Fallon, John.
John (L) from ISU, talks with photography instructor, Robert, from University of Central Missouri, at the Old Faithful geyser complex.
Cory Marr (r) from the University of Central Missouri, discusses using film in the digital age with ISU and other UCM students. Left to right: Nathan, Kyler, Natalie, Rebekah, and Cory.
This past week I was able to spend several days at the Idaho State University Anthropology Department’s archeology field school over in west-central Idaho. Archeology site director, Dr. Andy Speer and his students were very accommodating in letting me poke around shooting stills and videos, along with capturing sound bites. Hopefully a nice documentary will come out of all this and will help future summer archeology field schools.
The field school/archeology dig site was in the Sweet Ola Valley on a private 1700 acre ranch located in the Boise National Forest. What an incredible view! The area is rich in history and more documentaries are there if I just had the time to keep digging!
The first night there, I couldn’t work on my astro-landscape work due to thunderstorms that kept rolling up the valley. Night two was crystal clear but I was too exhausted to stay up! The following night started off favorable, but then clouds kept scudding right though my field of view, but I at least captured one interesting image.
Here’s a few still photos from the documentary project. Enjoy!
Dr. Andy Speer (L) examines artifacts extracted from pit by Miranda (R).
Dr. Andy Speer directs Daniel to prep artifact of photo documentation while Mark (r) observes process.