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.
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.
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
Another view from the lodge
View from the Syringa Lodge overlooking Salmon, Idaho
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!
Ed Ritterbush photographing bison at Yellowstone National Park.
Left to Right: Terry Ownby, Tom Mitchell, Robert Breshears in Gardiner, Montana.
Robert Breshears, photo faculty at University of Central Missouri, photographing the Morning Glory Pool, located at the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.
John (L) from ISU, talks with photography instructor, Robert, from University of Central Missouri, at the Old Faithful geyser complex.
Left to right: Missy, Kyler, Judy, Rebekah, Fallon, John.
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.
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.
L to R: Judy, Natalie, Missy, Rebekah, Fallon.
Lower Schawbacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park
Judy videotaping ISU photo students shooting at location Ansel Adams made famous in 1942.
Jason Churba photographing Sheepeaters Cliff in Yellowstone National Park.
This past weekend I managed to combine two of my favorite activities: fly fishing and photography. However, I must admit, even though there’s photos in this post, I did spend most of my time with a fly rod in my hand! For this trip I was with my university’s fly fishing club (FFISU). Only six of us went on the trip, but it turned out to be a perfect size group. We ventured into the southeast Oregon high-desert and set-up camp in the canyon below the Owyhee River dam. Sunshine and 85 degree (F) temps all three days. I think everyone in the group caught at least one brown trout!
Yours truly with a nice brown trout! Photo by Nick Holmer.
After seeing many of Darren Clark‘s images from the northern reaches of southeast Idaho, I felt the need to visit the area and do some of my own shooting. I made it to the Camas National Wildlife Refuge just as the sun was rising over the Grand Tetons. What a view! Afterwards, I wondered north to Dubois, had some coffee at the gas station, then headed northeast into the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station. After several miles of high desert, I neared the mountains near Kilgore and was hoping to loop over to Spencer but discovered there was no winter maintenance on the back roads. Long trip back! Eventually worked my way north into southern Montana where I had lunch. On the trip back, I cut through the lava fields heading over towards Rexburg, where the Heny’s Fork of the Snake River was very tempting….good thing I left the fly fishing gear at home!
Yesterday Wilson and I traveled up to Grand Teton National Park for some interesting photography. Along the way we encountered mysterious rising steam off the Snake River in Idaho’s Swan Valley, before heading up over the Teton Pass. Once we dropped into the Jackson Hole area, the clouds completely filled the valley. At first we thought it might be a wasted trip, but we pressed on and went further north to Jackson Lake. Once at the lake, the cloud cover began breaking and resulted with an impressive layer suspended between the lake surface and the mountain peaks. Afterwards, we returned to the town of Jackson and had lunch at Cafe Genvieve, an eclectic little eatery just of the square. It’s been a busy week of photographing the region with my Missouri colleague!
After 75 years of severe erosion since Ansel Adams made his famous “The Tetons – Snake River (1942)” photograph, the majestic mountains have been leveled to nothing but a slight butte above the river. It’s amazing how quickly the landscape changes under these harsh Western conditions.
Looking across Willow Flats at Jackson Lake with Mount Moran (R) and Storm Point (L) peaking through cloud inversion.
75 years after Adams’ famous shot from this vantage point, erosion has taken its devastating effect on the famous Grand Teton mountains in western Wyoming.
Finally, I had some time to get away from the photo history book I’m writing and got out to make some environmental landscape shots. Jackson, Wyoming is only about 2.5 hours away, so I drove up before sunrise to explore possible shooting areas for when my friend and prior university colleague, Wilson Hurst, arrives next week. The forecast was for partly cloudy skies, but unfortunately, it was crystal clear….which also meant it was cold! Right after the sun broke between the Teton peaks, the temps dropped to about -3F (-19C). One visually exciting result was the concentrated hoarfrost on all the trees and steaming rivers.
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!