Yellowstone National Park had its birthday this week. The first National Park in the world. A place that is uniquely beautiful. As unique as the idea that the landscape belongs to the people of this nation and the world…..preserved for countless future generations to experience and enjoy.
Inland Fog in South Florida is a rarity. I and count two days last winter. Quite a change from living on the Puget Sound in Seattle where a marine layer for fog was quite common. Needless to say I jumped up and rushed out to shoot the Photographic Bonanza. As the sun rose high enough in the sky to break through the clouds the sky because alive with texture and just enough ground fog was left to give that atmospheric feeling. Seconds before the sky was a nondescript grey haze. Truly a wondrous “Daybreak”
Horses on the Range in Florida head for shelter as a storm builds.
From Canyonlands National Park. Island in the Sky District. The First of my new Limited Series. A selection of Master Prints that will be available in runs of 25.
Sometimes images wait in my archive to have life breathed into them. I had known at the moment of capture that this would be the image of the day…..an good indicator that it will get immediate attention. Life might have other plans, I was on my cross country trip from Seattle to West Palm Beach and soon after my Mother went in for surgery to repair her broken vertebrae. I took over caring for the horses here on the ranch, the heat and work can be exhausting, leaving little time for creating images. So there it sat until yesterday, around noon, when I needed an image of my truck with storm clouds over head…….it made me think back to the day, watching the clouds first build over the La Sal mountains. The storm seemed to grow….to radiate from the peaks….making an improbable journey West against the wind….against the jet stream……until it was over head, some 100 miles as the crow flies. In times like these there is often a bit of inner debate. What’s the light going to do, is the storm going to break……how long before I can get to shelter. If nothing else I’m a good judge of weather. It’s an obsession. One that comes from spending countless days backpacking, with nothing but stretched nylon as a shelter. This day I was lucky, I had my truck within a close proximity. This enabled me to wait until the very moment the storm broke, so I could make this image, and then sprint for the safety of good Detroit Steel.
I made this image while TAing for National Geographic Photographer Raymond Geyman with Special Guest Lewis Kemper. True Masters in the field of Photography. Raymond’s workshop was part of Fotofusion 2012 an annual week long photo festival run by The Palm Beach Photographic Centre.
These Pines are amazing trees. New comers to the area, as compared with the ancient Cypress, the Pine root system has adapted to the extreme wet/dry conditions of Everglades. Even being able to endure the regions hurricanes.
One of my favorite places on Earth. Imagine the smell of a baking blueberry pie for miles.
Stay Late it’s a simple tip and one I’ve taken to heart from Photographer Galen Rowell. After everyone packed up and gone, fight that urge to get a hot meal and or a cold beer. Bring a flash light and some snacks and watch nature unfold.
Interior Secretary Stewart Udall who served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson pushed for the Canyonlands to become a National Park and on September 12th 1964 President Johnson gave the Canyonlands National Park status. It was the first park in almost a decade. In 1971 President Nixon expanded the park to its current size of 527 square miles.
The Canyonlands Half Dome is adjacent to the Willow Flat Camp Ground in the Island of the Sky District.
Recently the Movie 127 hours with James Franco depicts how climber Aron Ralston became trapped in Blue John Canyon, part of President Nixon’s Horseshoe Canyon District expansion, and had to amputate his hand.
President Ford despite the urging of the Forest Service preserved the Alpine Lakes of Washington State on July 12, 1976. Having thought to have said “anywhere so beautiful should be preserved.”
Little did I know that this spectacular and calm sunset would usher in one of the wildest nights I’ve ever experienced. The reason why I now car camp with a Mountaineering tent is this: The day had been windy not uncommon in Canyon Country, first clue….I came back from an afternoon hike to find my test acting like a kite. It had blown away and somebody had hunted it down and roped it to the bumper of my truck. Everybody pretty much hunkered down no stoves or fires could be lit….until just after sunset. The wind stopped it became eerily still. It was one of the most amazing displays of light I have ever witnessed. It would change from gold to a red and blue just incredible. Because it was a late dinner everyone pretty much left their camps out and just went to bed. I threw my stuff in the truck and crashed hard. At some point the wind hit like a hurricane. I spent the night howling at the wind, daring it to blow faster. I learned quickly that i had to stay at the edge of the tent. If I didn’t the wind would get under the tent and lift me in the air. It was like a roller coaster for most of the night. My poor little dome tent held but the fiberglass poles were shredded. They would buckle and slap me in the head painfully. As soon as day broke everyone bailed. I figured it would be a good time to get a few hours sleep before heading over the Rockies to Denver. It’s a long drive and if the weather is bad you want to be firing on all cylinders, not sleep deprived as I was. When I did get up it was devastation. The debris field from the camp ground was amazing. Everyone’s stuff had blown away or was torn away. I spent a few hours helping to clean up. The wind was so strong that it sent something into my passenger side window and shattered it. It was going to be a cold drive, at least I’d be awake! Anything in the campground that was a structure was gone, bathrooms had no roofing, the large solar panels shattered. I saw more than 1 Tractor Trailer blown over on the Freeway. Now that’s a powerful storm. I was really happy my little Kelty tent stayed together. But I would never assume that car camping meant anything less that proper gear.
I arrived to the Badlands late in the day. Usually I like to secure a camping spot, set up and the scout, by early afternoon. Today I was running way off schedule. I had been driving into the wind all across I-90. If I had it bad in my Truck the motorcyclists had it much worse. They were actually leaning to one side as the rode.
I hit a rest area and saw a 20 year old kid head in hands. He approached and asked if I had a cell phone. He was in the service, and in a spot of trouble. His truck was broken down and he was a day late for deployment. You really don’t want to miss that. This kid was in a real bind. I handed over my cell and it took him a half hour to track down AAA and someone in his command.
We talked as we waited for the Tow Truck. Being on the road is like that. Hours of isolation punctuated by conversations with complete strangers. Maybe its the road. I don’t know but you tend to open up to people a little more. He was a good kid earnest and had stayed a little longer than he should have with his girlfriend. If he drove straight through he’d still make it to the base in time to ship out for Iraq. Only his borrowed truck didn’t stand up to continuous drive. This could open him up to a whole host disciplinary action, from demotion to transfer, but what the kid really cared about is that his buddies would go off to war and he wouldn’t be at there.
That’s a stand up guy, more worried about letting his buddies down than the fact that his ass was in a sling. The sun was dropping, when the tow truck showed. We were in the middle of no where. I thanked him for his service and wished him good luck in catching up to his unit….and was off.
I sped to the park hoping to still make sunset. I just got into the park when I saw this scene. The Badlands seemed to glow from the heat of the day. I knew this was my shot. Pulled over got on top of my truck with my tripod and made the panoramic.
The Badlands seemed to go on forever.
Everglades Grassy Waters Preserve Restoration Area. West Palm Beach. Florida.
I was lucky enough to be invited into the Restoration Area of the Grassy Waters Preserve last week by a veteran preserve photographer.
The Restoration Area is closed to the public so this was a rare opportunity. Having photographed there over the last 5 or 6 years he knew many little details, things a wildlife photographer would be interested in. Game trails, natural food sources (swamp apples) and which plants when rubbed on the skin act as mosquito repellent (this I knew you quickly file oh this plant repels insects under good to know in the Everglades) .
We had a great conversation ranging from butterflies mating and dragons flies cannibalistic tenancies to the merits of Photoshop. He showed me where a alligator had rushed him….after uttering the words “oh don’t worry that gator will run.” Seems she was chasing him away from her nest.
I was interested in the landscape. The area had been restored on one side of the access road, pictured above. A beautiful forest of native trees. The other side left alone was a jungle of invasive plants that threatened to choke the native species out. I was able to get this one shot before we hustled back to the trucks. The man made good time he is I’m guessing 30 years my senior and I bike daily.
The impending thunderstorm made driving back to the ranch near impossible. Lightning struck within 100 feet 3 times. Sounded like a shotgun going off. I was grateful for the wide stance and new tires on my Truck. Most people pulled off the road. Driving in Florida can be like that. I’m glad the drought has broken. But out Everglades are very thirsty.
Image: Puget Sound from Carkeek Park. Seattle Washington.
World Oceans Day was recognized officially by the UN in 2008. Every other breath you take is provided by the Ocean. Less than 1% of the Ocean is protected. The last year has seen some major man made environmental disasters. Let’s hope that World Oceans Day June 8th 2012 finds our seas fairing a little better. The Ocean’s of our world are so beautiful and amazing….teeming with life. It’s up to us.
On May 26th 1864 President Lincoln created the Montana Territory. Part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Montana was home to many tribes including The Cheyenne, The Blackfoot, The Shoshone, The Arapaho, and The Sioux. During the Lewis and Clark expedition they noted a particularly difficult journey through the Bitterroot Mountains. With little to hunt, difficult terrain, and cold snowy conditions the Corps of Discovery met their severest test here. US settlement of the Territory begins in earnest in the 1850′s as gold is discovered. The Sioux would call this “The yellow metal that is all around but good for nothing and makes the white men go crazy.”
In 1872 Yellowstone National Park was created, where this photograph was made. A grizzly bear has just walked through the landscape following the trail you can just make out on the left. The bear made no sound left no tracks and moved very quickly. I was surprised at his stealth for being such a large animal. There are about 800 Grizzly Bears in Montana.
Yellowstone is chiefly in Wyoming but it’s Western and Northern entrances are in Montana and also shared by Idaho.
Grassy Waters Preserve 2011 Photo Contest Grand Prize Winner: Shane Srogi
I would like to thank the Mayor of West Palm Beach Jeri Muoio. Pat Painter Manager of West Palm Beach’s Watershed Management Division. Sam Dorfman Grassy Waters Preserve Program Coordinator. Pat and Sam came to talk at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre and the way they spoke about the Preserve inspired me to turn my lens toward it.
In addition I would like to thank Fatima NeJame Executive Director of the Palm Beach Photographic Centre and Steve Scherer Liaison to the Center.
Sam Dorfman did the lion’s share of work for the contest. And it would not happen every year without his efforts. Steve Scherer as Infocus group leader shouldered much of the work on the Photographic Centre’s end of things.
I would also like to thank the Judges and Show Printer for their involvement. Masters all. Raymond Gehman, Steven Nestler, and Steve Spring.
I am extremely honored to have made the Grand Prize winning photograph for the 2011 Contest. The Contest has been held for 10 years by the Grassy Waters Preserve. The Preserve is aptly described as the American Amazon and I urge everyone to go an enjoy this unique part of the Everglades ecosystem. This is the first year that it was held in conjunction with the Palm Beach Photographic Centre. I would like to thank all of my fellow photographers at the Photographic Centre who participated. The City of West Palm Beach is a true supporter of the photographic arts and the Centre is a world class facility.
Master Photographer Ralph Gibson has a show currently in the museum and I’m proud to have an image hang during his show. He was the first photographer I wrote a paper on in college so I am well acquainted with his work.
What was most inspiring about the event was the youth category getting kids involved in photography and the environment is critically important.
I think the power of the still image is stronger than ever. The power to tell a story. It’s not just in a monthly magazine (although there is a place for that). It’s on your desk. It’s in the palm of your hand. It’s the democratization of photography. Do you have something to say. Pick of a camera and say it. At it’s heart the still image is about a story and if anything people want to hear more stories not less.
There is always someone who will look at a place and see $$$. A forest, a mountain, a river or species as pure profit. Hopefully the people that see the beauty of a Yellowstone or a Yosemite will put more weight on the scale than the profiteer. Your local park, the one you bring your family to for a Sunday picnic, there is someone who wants to see that as a condo development.
I just finished reading Bill Keller’s interview with Joao Silvia and Greg Marinovich at the NY Times blog LENS http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/05/the-inner-lives-of-wartime-photographers/ . They wrestle with photojournalism and the power of the still image. I agree with Chase Jarvis’s blog http://blog.chasejarvis.com/blog/2011/05/osama-bin-laden-debate-illustrates-the-power-of-an-image/#comment-36804 the power of a singular image is not in doubt.
April 2nd 1513 Ponce De Leon discovers Florida for the Spanish. Legend has it that he was looking for the rumored Fountain of Youth. Gold being a more likely a reason as it was the driving force of the day. The sliver of truth in the Fountain legend could very well be Vitamin D. Florida’s true gold it’s number of sunny days. As Ponce De Leon’s ships reached the beaches he claimed the lands for Spain and christened it “La Florida” after the Spanish Easter season Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers). An apt name because Florida has no shortage of flowering plants. The expedition was separated when they encountered the Gulf Stream which proved too strong for their smallest ship. The powerful currents of the Gulf Stream would become the naval super highway for ships returning to Europe. Ponce De Leon’s exploration lasted 8 months and he would sail as far west as Tampa Bay or perhaps Pensacola. The Spanish would seed Florida with horses, cattle and pigs. The descendants of these animals “Crackers” have adapted to the climate and exist in Florida today. Ponce De Leon would meet his end at the tip of a poison arrow in 1521. He led a group of 200 bent on colonizing the Gulf Coast of Florida which the Calusa people resisted. The Manchineel tree, the poison’s source, carries the Spanish name “Manzanilla de La Muerte” (Little apple of Death).
When I see this picture. I feel thunder and cold water in a fine spray. This is a hidden treasure. A waterfall on the Rapid River with no trail to take you there. I’ve been to the start of this river. The first trickle of water off the melting snows high on the crest of the Cascades. A bit of a hard slog and you know you are in bear-county as the trees show claw marks but finding this waterfall is worth the bush whack. The river running fast and cold hits a slab of granite about the size of a football field. There is a huge boulder in of the slab. When the water hits it part of the river takes a 90 degree turn down this shoot. To find this work your way up the bank of the Rapid and listen for the thunder.
When I moved to Seattle I started work with conservation organizations right away. Clean water is something we all need and in Western Washington it’s visually measurable. You can see the rivers. You can see the snow pack in the mountains. You know if it’s going to be a drought year. The organization I partnered with formed from river runners. Through their sport they knew the river intimately and knew they needed protection. They sent me all over Washington State to photograph rivers in trouble. You want to learn the land talk to the people that know the water. Clean water is the most basic of needs.