2018—Old Window

Peaceful Valley Ranch in Theodore Roosevelt National Park was one of the first dude ranches in the country.  Guided horseback rides were a popular activity there from 1918 to 2014.  Several of the original buildings remain and are on the National Registry of Historic Places.  This is a detail shot of the side of one of the buildings there.

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2018—Small Horns

We came to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to photograph Big-horned Sheep.   We found much more in the park than we ever imagined but, until the last day, we didn’t encounter any Big-horned sheep.  On the last day, we came across a flock of about 28 sheep just outside the entrance to the Northern part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The flock consisted or young males, females, and young lambs like this one.  No rams with magnificent horns were evident.  I don’t know if this cute lamb is male or female.  If it is a male, it will eventually grow long, curling horns.

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2018—The Badlands

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota is where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands.   There is something mystifying and otherworldly about much of the topography of this area.  I’d never seen anything like the unusual geologic formations that define much of the area.  The textures, shapes, and colors throughout the park create unforgettable vistas.  Theodore Roosevelt, lived in this region for a time and said about it:

The Bad Lands grade all the way from those that are almost rolling
in character to those that are so fantastically broken in form and
so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth.

—Theodore Roosevelt

Here is one such formation that caught my attention.

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2018—Prairie Buddha

The Black-tailed Prairie Dogs of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the western part of North Dakota are bulking up as the weather gets colder and fall descends on the park.  The Prairie Dogs in the park waddled instead of walking because they were so chubby. As winter approaches, they turn into fat little creatures and they look especially Buddha-like when setting on their haunches, munching on an early evening snack of leaves and grass.

I shot this from through the vehicle’s window using my Nikon D5 and 300mm f/4 PF lens.

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2018—So What’s the Rush?

It was bound to happen.  I’ve been traveling so much recently, about twelve to fifteen photography trips a year, that the odds were against me—losing my checked luggage at the start of a trip, that is.  Monday morning it happened. I watched the baggage carousel as every bag but mine from the Denver flight to Bismarck, ND, appeared at the top of the conveyor belt and tipped onto the carousel. I flew first class from Sacramento so my bag was clearly marked with an orange priority tag and should have been one of the first bags put onto the carousel.  But, my bag went missing for 36 hours.   The airport is so small that United Airlines doesn’t have a dedicated baggage claim representative.  The ticket agents had to navigate unfamiliar territory as they struggled to figure out the intricacies of locating a missing bag and delivering it to an unhappy passenger as quickly as possible.

It’s been a frustrating couple of days, worrying about my luggage which contained two tripods, a ball head and a gimbal head, binoculars, camera chargers and cords, and my camera cleaning kit as well a five days of clothing for a climate turning cold.  Because of mild temperatures in Sacramento when I left Monday morning,  my warm jacket was packed along with the hats and gloves I needed for our days long adventure in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.   The only saving grace for me was that at the last minute to save space for more camera gear in my checked luggage, I decided to wear my hiking boots on the airplane.

On the way from the airport, Moose picked up the other two photographers joining our group, Emerson and Richard, but before we left for our hour drive to our base of operations in Dickinson, ND, we stopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods so I could shop.  I had to find a new jacket for the evening and the next day.  I also bought warm gloves, a knit cap, boot socks, a top for layering, and a Clearance ticketed T-shirt for sleeping.    I gathered up tooth paste and tooth brush, contact lens solutions, a hair brush, and other items on the way.

The good news is that I had most of my camera gear so I could still take photographs.  Missing a tripod was not the end of the world for a day or so.  But after many telephone conversations with United baggage representatives based outside of the US (!) the outcome did not appear promising.  As the hours dragged on and my luggage didn’t arrive Monday night, I really began to worry.  I was not receiving the promised text updates at prescribed intervals, the “find my suitcase” website which the airlines use to track and coordinate missing bags, almost gleefully announced that the area I was in wasn’t served by them. I listened to the same single message for a 24 hour period on the luggage hot line that always started with “Hello, Carol, It’s nice to have you back again!” then continue with “your luggage has been located and is enroute to the airport.  It will be delivered to the address on file (my hotel) as soon as possible.”  “As soon as possible” never seemed to arrive.  And, each resource to which United pointed me offered conflicting information.

Finally, after a lengthy conversation with a United luggage claim representative midday Tuesday, I learned that my luggage had arrived in Bismarck from Denver on Monday afternoon, had been returned to Denver that evening, then flown to Dickinson on late Tuesday afternoon.  This makes no sense to me.  They could have driven the bag to me but instead, it crisscrossed the country.   My luggage now has more miles accumulated that I have.  Emerson was in the hotel lobby when the United delivery person with my luggage came in with the bag about 10:30 PM Tuesday.  Emerson brought the bag up to my room.  I had to chuckle when I noticed the RUSH tag, now crumpled and worn from so much handling. And, I wondered how a 36 hour multiple cross county trek by my luggage could be construed as rushing to return the luggage to me.  Alls well that ends well, though.  My luggage is here,  nothing was missing or damaged, and tomorrow I can wear clean clothes again.

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2018—Still Mr. Wonderful

Last year when I visited Madera Canyon, seeing and photographing the Magnificent Hummingbird was one of the highlights of my visit there.  We called him Mr. Wonderful because he was so different from the other hummingbirds in size, coloring, and decibel level—the hum of his wings was unmistakable and incredibly loud.   This species is a year-round resident of Mexico and Southern Arizona is its Northernmost breeding ground. This year, I got only a few shots of Mr. Wonderful as he proved very elusive to me.  We also learned that the name of the Magnificent Hummingbird species was changed to Rivoli’s Hummingbird in 2017.  The bird was known as the Magnificent Hummingbird from the 1980’s to 2017.  I can’t find what it was called prior to the 1980s  but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Rivoli’s Hummingbird was named in honor of the Duke of Rivoli, an early 19th Century amateur ornithologist. Anna’s Hummingbird was named after his wife, Anna, the Duchess of Rivoli.  And, to me, he’s still Mr. Wonderful.

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2018—Photo ID

Photo IDs are nothing new.  During World War I, stevedores on the docks in San Francisco had them.  100 years ago, on February 1, 1918, the US  Customs Service issued my grandfather this photo ID.  The paper is yellowed, creased, and worn but the type remains clear and, remarkably, the small, glossy sepia photograph remains firmly glued and affixed with a metal brad.

My paternal grandfather was a foreman stevedore for the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. in San Francisco.  I love that the permit is still so legible and that the  photograph remains so clear despite the document’s age and its frequent folding and unfolding during the time he used it in WWI.   He was 41 in this photograph.  The photograph makes it obvious to me where my father got his nose!


2018—Red Junglefowl

In Kauai’i, chickens are everywhere.  Except that they’re not called chickens.  They’re called Red Junglefowl.  This rooster wandered by while we were at the Kalalau Lookout at an elevation of 4000 feet above the Na Pali coastline this past June.  I had my 600mm lens on my camera and he strutted too close for me to get his entire body in the frame.

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2018—Inherited Traits

My revived interest in genealogy has me rummaging through old boxes of family photographs. I came across today’s photograph in the middle of a sheaf of family documents. I’d never seen it before. It made me wonder, as I occasionally do, whether I take more after my mother or my father.  There are, of course, those horrifying moments when I look in the mirror and my mother is staring back at me.  But, I know most who knew her would agree that my mother was incredibly talented.  She could do anything she put her mind to, and do it well.  I am grateful that it is from her example that I am not afraid to try new things.  It never occurs to me that I won’t succeed at what I try.

My mother was our family photographer although my father sometimes manned the camera with less than optimal results.  He was famous for cutting off the tops or bottoms of things.  Our visit some 50+ years ago to Yellowstone National Park is commemorated by two shots of Old Faithful that Dad took with a Polaroid.  Fortunately for Dad, the spewing geyser lasted long enough for him to get a second shot of the bottom of the geyser when the first Polaroid shot he developed showed only the top half.  Twenty or so years before the Old Faithful incident, Dad took this photograph of my mother holding the Kodak Brownie that I remember from my childhood.  In this shot, he managed to cut off the top of her head and all of her feet.  My guess is that in photography at least, I take after my mother.

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2018—I’m Swedish Again!

Actually, I’m only half Swedish;  well, I’m really only 45% Swedish, a quarter Irish and the rest English and Norwegian.  That is, as of yesterday.  Prior to that, it appeared I wasn’t Swedish at all and only a tiny fraction of me was even Scandinavian.  This, after a lifetime of believing I was half Swedish.

On a whim a few years ago, I sent a DNA sample to Ancestry.com.  I did this to determine the heritage of my paternal grandmother who was adopted as a young girl by a family with a German name but we suspected she was English.  I already knew for a fact that my paternal Great Grandparents emigrated from Ireland in the mid 19th century (I have the original naturalization papers) and my maternal grandparents came from Sweden through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s (I have ship manifests).  My DNA results confirmed the Irish part of me and the suspected English part of me but I was shocked to see that there were few Scandinavian markers and no Swedish markers.  Growing up in a family with two grandparents who spoke with strong Swedish accents, a grandmother who read a Swedish language newspaper, and a mother who spoke Swedish as a child before she spoke English, it was a deep puzzlement.  The DNA markers said that along with my Irish and English heritage, I was Finnish and Russian and Western European, and even a tiny bit Asian but the Scandinavian markers were an iffy 3%.

This fact has nagged at me for the past four years.  It’s very odd to suddenly find that you’re not what you thought you were.  I thought about my long-deceased grandparents and wish I’d asked them about their lives in Sweden.  I  remembered the Smörgåsbords my mother served on special occasions where I turned my nose up at pickled herring but devoured the Swedish meatballs.   I  tried to figure out how my grandparents’ families got to southern Sweden where they toiled as farmers and herdswomen.  How did their bloodline stay so un-Swedish?  It was a fact that both grandparents had dark brown hair, not the light blond that is the stereotype of Swedes.   Maybe my ancestors did come from elsewhere.  But, on my grandmother’s side, we discovered that for centuries the women in her family were herdswomen who tended cattle in the mountains in the Dalarna Region far from their homes during the summers.  They made butter and cheese and used wooden utensils passed down for generations to do this.  In fact, one of my most prized family possessions is a wooden bowl that my grandmother brought with her when she immigrated from Sweden through Ellis Island.  It is carved from the burl of some kind of tree and as long as I can remember, it has always been called The Bowl.  It has been in the family for centuries, the dates 1733 and 1734 carved in its bottom along with letters and symbols.  This was common among the herdswomen to identify their property.  It is passed down through the female side of the family.  You can read more about this in a post  I wrote about it 7 years ago.

My four year dilemma came to an abrupt end Friday afternoon.  My dear friend, fellow photo blogger, former college roommate, and genealogy enthusiast Melinda sent me an urgent text telling me that Ancestry.com had updated its DNA test results to reflect tens of thousands more markers.  For some, that could mean a change in the original DNA test results.  And, in my case, a huge change.  I’m half Swedish again!

To commemorate the return to my Scandinavian heritage, I photographed The Bowl using my 8-15 fisheye lens at 8mm.  That seemed to me to be the perfect way to photograph a round object.

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2018—Bee Best

This bee was being its best collecting pollen from  one of the chive flowers that has begun to develop seed pods.  His proboscis is plunged deeply into one of the remaining flowers and his cache of pollen is visible on his rear leg.

I took this image with my Nikon D5 and Nikkor 300mm f/4 PF lens with the 1.7X teleconverter attached.  I’m trying get a better understanding of focus limitations using my 1.7 and 2.0 teleconverters in anticipation of getting my new Nikon 500mm f/5.6mm PF lens that is rumored to be released any day now.  I’m considering using  these teleconverters with the new lens because I’ll be giving up 100mm by not using my 600mm lens.  However, the lens is much smaller and lighter than my 600mm lens, and not much bigger than my 300mm f/4 PF.  Plus, I’ll be able to use a lighter tripod with it making the entire rig, which I use primarily for wildlife photography, considerably lighter and easier to carry.  While the 1.4X teleconverter that I use all the time with both my 300mm and 600mm lenses allows the use of all of the camera’s autofocus options, the 1.7 and 2.0 teleconverters have limitations.  Today, I was able to use Dynamic Area AF fairly effectively while Group, and horizontal and vertical line group modes didn’t readily grab focus.

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2018—Lost and Found

I’ve been reviewing images from many of my photography trips over the past couple of years and I found this image of a male Broad-billed Hummingbird that I seem to have overlooked.  I had finished it in ACR but it never got into my blog.  Perhaps at the time I felt like I had too many Broad-billed hummers appearing close together in blog posts.  Now that a couple of months have passed, and it’s been a while since a Broad-billed Hummingbird appeared, here it is.  What was lost is now found.

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In this day and age when most people are transfixed by the screens on their smart phones, whether they’re walking or driving or sitting, and looking anywhere but up, it was surprising to look up and see an old fashioned analog advertisement wafting through the skies in Zephyrhills, FL recently.  A bright red airplane was towing a huge banner.  The banner was impossible to read until the plane finally made a sweeping turn and I could read the “YOU” but nothing else.  It wasn’t until I downloaded the images that I could read it.  Apparently “YOU” is a new television series that debuts this week on the Lifetime network.  I guess advertising banners towed by planes are effective in some areas and when there are large gatherings of people outside.  I can only assume that this airplane took off from one of the hangars at the Zephyhills Municiapal Airport where we were.  Otherwise, there didn’t seem to be much of an audience for this ad.

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2018—The Only Thing in Bloom

It’s nearing the end of summer and the heat has sapped my garden.  Not much is blooming right now.  Except, that is, for my garlic chives.  Unlike regular chives which have a purple blossom, the flowers of garlic chives are white.

I used my Nikon D850 and my Nikkor 105mm Micro lens for this shot.  I finished it with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4.





2018—Cleaning Rosie’s Rivets

We’ve all  heard about Rosie the Riveter, the World War II icon who represented the female defense plant and shipyard workers who stepped in to fill the void when the men left for the battle front.  These amazing women showed that they were every bit as capable as men in building airplanes. tanks, and ships.

During my recent visit to Florida to work on the Normandy Bound Project I got to see firsthand the craftsmanship exhibited by those dedicated women.  One of my assigned tasks was to scrub the underbelly of the C47 in preparation for repainting.  I was able to admire the rivets punched into the metal fuselage of the C47 more than 75 years ago.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Rosie the Riveter while I scrubbed.  A few Rosies are still alive today.  They are in their 90’s now but some are still vibrant and sassy as this 2017 American Veterans’ Center interview with Mae Kreier, a Rosie who worked at an aircraft plant in Seattle, shows.  Mae  was instrumental in creating a day of national recognition for all the Rosies, which now takes place on March 21st.

Here is a view of some of the rivets on the underbelly of the plane, along with a few nuts and bolts.   I used my 8-15mm lens which was not really the correct lens to use for this shot because of the distortion.  I decreased some of the distortion in Adobe Camera Raw and used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for effect.

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Moose Peterson is working on a documentary for the Normandy Bound Project so he took lots of photographs during the few days we were there.  He took this shot of me as I cleaned some of Rosie’s rivets.


Photograph Courtesy of Moose Peterson 


2018—Not Your Father’s Quonset Hut

My 8-15mm Fisheye lens continues to amaze and amuse me.  I love the unexpected abstract views that result from placing the lens close to the subject and pointing upwards.  This is a view of the side of an ordinary quonset hut which serves as one of the hangars at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport in Zephyhills, FL where I recently volunteered on the Normandy Bound Project.  The corrugated ridges are all the same but in this fisheye view, they are distorted.  It looks like a building but not a quonset hut type of building.  It seems very futuristic to me.  It makes me think of the old Flash Gordon movie serial from the 1930’s and 40’s that I first saw when it aired on television in the early 1950’s.  I almost expect Ming the Merciless to peek around the corner and a rocket ship to fly overhead.


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