The Great American Total Solar Eclipse Journey – Day 2

A day closer to the eclipse

It’s a bright sunny morning as we depart from Winslow, AZ. It’s Thursday, August 17, 2017. Were another day closer to the Eclipse on Monday, August 21. Heading east as we travel down I-40, we’re enjoying the scenery but definitely thinking about this coming Monday. Checking weather forecasts on out phones as we drive, we keep seeing that the forecast is for mostly cloudy. Maybe I made a bad choice in choosing Jefferson City? Only time will tell. Until then, we’ve got many things to see.

We arrive in Holbrook, AZ in mid morning. We exit off of I-40 and cruise through town on Old Route 66. Right away, Margaret spots an old sign at the “West End Liquor” store. It’s a great old sign with an arrow. The colors are good to, blue, yellow and a touch of red. Now, will the blue standout enough against the bright blue morning sky?

As we travel further into Holbrook, it seems as if “Jurassic Park” has claimed Holbrook. There are dinosaurs everywhere. Here are a few.

In Gallup, NM we went to a supper Market to get some fruit to snack on as we were driving. We found a sign with not only an arrow, but also the word “arrow” in the sign. We were now in our third state during our trip and we were finding subjects for my projects everywhere. We need to spend at least a day or two in each town to explore all the possible targets. Definitely I will have to plan to make a much slower trip along I-40 (Old Route 66). I can only imagine what the rest of the trip will produce.

In Albuquerque, NM we stopped to gas up the car and had a quick lunch at Subway. It was then back on the road to get to our days destination, Tucumcari, NM. In Tucumcari out motel was the legendary “Blue Swallow Motel”. It is an excellently preserved remnant of Old Route 66. Being old, I knew it wouldn’t be handicapped friendly. They were very friendly and had it so we could park right in front of room. I could get in and out of room using my cane. The motel area was gravel, I couldn’t use my wheelchair to get around. I could wait until dusk shoot the neon at the entrance of the motel.

Earlier in the afternoon we found some interesting old signs in Tucumcari. There was a sign from an old non-existent “Ranch House Cafe”. The sign was still there, but no cafe. While there are many signs to photograph, I’m having problems getting to the right location to photograph them. Many of the signs I’m finding are located in areas with out a hard surface. This makes getting to them very difficult if not impossible with my wheelchair. But, who said life was easy.

Next there was an old sign for a non-existent Shell gas station.

Hiding in some bushes and trees was a sign for the “Paradise Motel”. It must have been a swell motel at one time. It had TV’s and a swimming pool. There is so much great old reminders of days gone by, we could have spent 2 weeks getting here instead of 2 days. I’m also noticing a trend, signs that still exist, but what they are advertising no longer exists. I’m happy for this trend since without it, I wouldn’t have so many old signs to photograph.

I also found an “Arrow Sign”. That’s what I call them. I first saw these when I photographed RAAM in the mid 1980’s. There are a few in Southern California, but as you get further east and south in the US, they are everywhere. There are many different styles. They vary from being in pristine condition to various states of decay. I’ve wanted to travel and just photograph these signs as a project. Here’s a sample.

Tomorrow will be Day 3. We’ve had great weather the first two days and we’re hoping it continues for the eclipse. Checking the weather report each day it still show partly cloudy for eclipse day.

Giant Hunting in the Southern Central Valley – Day 2

After the gas station in Lemon Cove, we headed back down to the valley. In Kingsburg, we had lunch at a nice little restaurant inside an antique mall. After lunch we found the towns water tower that is made to look like a large coffee pot styled to look like it fits with the towns Swedish theme. It was tough finding an angle where the tower wasn’t obscured by the buildings of the town. We headed up to the northern edges of the town to investigate the large raison box at the Sun Made Factory. It was the wrong time of day as the box was totally in the shadow of the building. Not the right time of day for the image.

GiantCoffeePotWaterTower-KingsburgCA-20150212-009

We next headed down to Tulare to investigate their water tower, which is painted to look like a glass of milk. Unlike Kingsburg, this tower had a clear view of it. While the tank isn’t as good looking as the tank in Kingsburg, it is still a good-looking tank.

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Back in Bakersfield, we went to photograph an old 7-Up sign on the 7-Up bottling plant. I was hoping that the sign would be lit that evening, but the sign no longer works. Is still got a good shot of it. We stopped for dinner at a little burger stand near the sign before returning to our motel. It was good to get back to the room and relax for a view hours that evening after such a long day. I also had some time to review the image from the day.

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Day 2 of our Southern Central Valley trip had us leaving our motel at sun up to head back out to the Buttonwillow Steer. When I photographed it in the evening, I just didn’t like the background to the steer. It looked like it would be better if it was photographed in the morning. So out we went. We stopped for a quick breakfast on our way out. Once we arrived at the location, I scouted around taking photos as I went. It did have a better background than the evening. We had photographed all the targets that I had in my itinerary along with a few more.

Giant steer in Buttonwillow, CA

Giant steer in Buttonwillow, CA

We decided to take a longer way home by going through Tehachapi. Before leaving Bakersfield, I had to photograph a giant boot that we had been directed to by a local we had been talking with the day before.

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We probably hadn’t been through Tehachapi in 15 to 20 years. We took the slow route following the BNSF railroad tracks. It was a very relaxing drive through the hills and we found some interesting items along the way. When we arrived Keene I found an old interesting sign for my sign projects.

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We finally arrived in Tehachapi, we ate at a little burger stand with a good view of the tracks. We got to see a couple of trains go through as we were eating. We did a little sight seeing in Tehachapi before heading home. The last 2 days had been very productive as I got to add photos to a couple of projects I’m working on.

Death Valley & Badwater Ultramarathon – 1

This is the first of a few blogs, at least hopefully a few, from the Badwater Ultramarathon that starts in Death Valley tomorrow morning, Monday. It will depend on access to the internet and the amount of time I have during the race. It is pretty remote out here. I have internet access at the Furnace Creek Ranch where I’m spending the night tonight. The is also cell service here but little other service during the 1st 100 miles of the race.

The trip here this morning was routine and took about 5 hours including stopping for gas and a quick meal in Baker, CA. The weather is about like you would expect in DV this time of year. It’s clear with a few clouds that stand out against the blue sky. The temperature was a warm 122˚ F. Not nearly as bad as the 127˚ F. it was a few years past. Here is a photo of the temperature display at the visitor center.photo

Why heat doesn’t seem to bother me with my MS I don’t know. Of course to me, I wonder why it bothers other MS’ers. I’ve quizzed my neurologists, but none can answer the question. I’ve asked them if maybe what I have isn’t MS, but they say I do have MS. But, I wonder how I can be so unaffected by heat while most others MS’ers melt at just the prospect of heat. I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I hope to be able to add a couple of other posts during the race, but we’ll have to see if it works out. Even tonight the access is slow as race staff and 97 competitors and there crews all try to access the internet.

Super Full Moon drives me crazy

Last night, Sunday was the largest full moon of the year.

Supermoon’s occur because the moon’s path around Earth is  elliptical. Distances between the two bodies vary from 225,622 miles at the closest  approach — known as perigee — to 252,088 miles at the most distant point, called apogee. When the full moon happens at perigee, the moon is about 15% larger and 30% brighter than at apogee. Being closer and full, the moon will lead to the highest tides of the year. It is also a ‘solstitial moon’, which means it will be at the southern most in it’s orbit.

While some predict disastrous tides, earthquakes and even humans experiencing lunacy, it will just be a very bright summer evening. Though, right now I’m beginning to lose my mind. I’m taking my camera and heading outside to photograph the moon.SuperFullMoon-(20130622)-006

Nikon D800 w/ 500mm f/4 Nikkor w/2x Converter

Photography with a scooter in Italy.

It’s been almost a month since I posted the blog about y experience of taking a scooter to Europe for our vacation. The post was about the general use of the scooter on our trip as it was my first real use of a scooter. At the end of the post I stated I would be posting again shortly about how the scooter affected my photography. Well, shortly has turned into a longer time as daily life got in the way. Life has finally slowed down a little, so I hope to be posting more and getting caught up. As part of that, here is the post on the scooter and my photography.

Before leaving for Europe, I didn’t get a chance to do photography while using the scooter. The second day in Rome, a group of us were going to go to St. Peter’s square to see what it was like during holy week. This would be my first real use of the scooter and doing some photography at the same time. I immediately noticed what could be a problem. If you look at many photos taken by the general public, you’ll quickly see that they generally take at a particular angle of view. The photo is most often taken from standing height, about 5 ft. to 6 ft. 6 in. for the general public. Once you get serious about photography, you realize that one of the items that make a photo interesting is showing a different Point Of View, POV. In other words, vary the height you take your photos from.

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My wife, Margaret, son, Shawn, his wife, Cara, our 2 granddaughter, Annika & Giuliana, and their 2 nephews, Giuseppe and Luca, in St. Peter’s Square.

Being in the scooter, you tend to shoot you photos from the seat you’re seated in. At first you see this as a new POV as you’re not used to shooting from this height. But I realized after a time, that I wasn’t varying my POV. I would need to get off the scooter to vary my point of view, Standing for a higher POV, kneeling for a lower. Having to do this, adds another layer of inertia. Inertia, what does inertia have to do with photography? Maybe I should provide a definition of Inertia.

Inertia, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

As photographers, we’ve all experienced Inertia. Who hasn’t been traveling down a highway and seen a scene waiting to be photographed. But, instead of stopping the car and returning to that spot, we just continued on our journey. We then justify our not stopping by thinking it’ll be there tomorrow, the light could be better or we need to get where we are going or any of a dozen other good reasons. This was inertia, we were moving and it was just too much work stopping. It also works the other way, it’s going to be a great sunset, but there are any number of reasons to stay home rather than go out. We’ve all experienced “some form of this at least once.”

When you’re on foot, it’s easy to stop or turn around to take a photo. It’s also fairly easy to kneel down or sit down to change your POV. When you are on a scooter, you’re usually there because your legs aren’t fully functional, there is quite a bit of inertia to over come. It’s easy to just sit rather than get off the scooter to explore a better POV. I found that it was just to easy to just sit and take the photo. It’s something that I have to make sure I don’t fall into in the future.

While there are definitely drawbacks to the scooter, it is also a big positive. I can now cover much more distances than I could without it. When we were in San Quirico d’Orcia in Tuscany, it was great having the scooter to be able to get up and down the streets. I noticed that all the doors into the residences were different, but there were also similarities. I could drive up and down the street photographing the doors, though it was easy to just stay on the scooter. I’ll insert a few of the doorway photos for you to see.

I can definitely say that using the scooter provided me with an easy of mobility that I haven’t enjoyed for sometime. In fact, it was probably easier and faster for me to get around than a normal walker. I just have to overcome my own inertia and get of the scooter so that I have more of a choice of the POV I want. What I wouldn’t give to be able to walk, but having the scooter gives me back some of the mobility I’ve been missing.

Here are a few photos of the door in San Quirico d’Orcia. I photographed a couple of streets with doors and have about 40-50 different doors.

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Welcome to my blog and my first posting.

I will be talking mostly about photography, but I will also talk about how my having Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has affected my photography. My MS limits my movement. Distances that used to seem close now seem to be a mile away. My legs get tired and pained after I’ve been on them for a short time. I also don’t have the energy and stamina that I had in the past, often an afternoon nap is the way I get through the day.

Photography is definitely much more difficult now that it was just 10 years earlier. Some of my friends, both with and without MS, wonder why I still want to photograph my world and share it with others. Why I just don’t take it easy and not stress my body and have the pain. Sure, it would be less stressful to  “take it easy”. But, I find the pain of not taking photographs to be worse than the pain of photographing. It’s what I love to do.

From the early 80’s until the year 2000 I was a sports shooter for magazines. But my MS had progressed to the point where I was unable to get around events to do what I considered an acceptable job. That’s when I scaled back my photography to only a few events of friends in the world of sports. As I’ve done less sport’s photography, I’ve replaced it with personal work. In the last year I’ve decided to take the leap into Fine Art Photography.

It has been a very pleasant journey into this new endeavor. Since sports photography is journalism, you were very limited in what you could display. You where there to convey what happened to your viewer in a way that most accurately reflect the scene. You could change your Point Of View (POV), the way you cropped, but you weren’t there to provide your vision of the event. I loved to that and having that taken away was very difficult for me.

I was a little apprehensive when I started moving into the world of fine art. I quickly discovered that I was now free to produce images that would project what I was seeing in my minds eye. There would be no limitations on what I could do. If I saw the clouds in the sky a green, I would now be able to use my skills to present that image to the viewer. As the saying goes, “The sky’s the limit.” My imagination has become super charged and I’m very excited to start this new journey.

I plan to share my knowledge of Photography, Camera, Lightroom, Photoshop and all the rest related to photography. I also want to share tips about how to not let anything handicap your photography. Please, join me as I document my world as a Fine Art Photographer who just happens to have MS.

20 million Years BC.

20 million Years BC.