Terry Ownby photography

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!

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).

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.

Rainbows, Beehives, & Jack Rabbits

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!

Afterwards: The colorful beehive shot was used as a book cover for British poet, John Looker‘s collection titled “The Human Hive”. Here’s a link to a poem he dedicated to photography.