Thursday, April 26, 2018

Trumpeter Swans Nesting

I haven’t been able to get out much lately, so this is my first post in a long time.  I went with Bruce Grayum to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge and saw quite a bit of wildlife, including a few trumpeter swans.  They are the world’s largest waterfowl, and were very rare here just a few years ago.  Now there are several nesting pairs in the refuge, and they can be seen in several places in the valley.

There was one pair preparing to nest on an island in the biggest pond along the auto tour route.  We could see the female dragging reeds into a pile for the nest.

Soon she left the nest and swam out to the male, then both took off and flew close to where we were watching.  Because of there size, trumpeter swans need a long runway for takeoff.

The two swam together, often bobbing their heads, which is flirtatious behavior in the swan world.

They were beautiful to watch swimming together and I hope we will be able to see baby swans soon.

Thank you for viewing these photos.  Please do not use them for any reason without my permission.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Catalina Federal Honor Camp

Over the years I have visited four of the World War II Japanese Internment camps and learned about the shameful imprisonment of people just because they were of Japanese descent.  The four camps I have been to are Manzanar, California; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Minidoka, Idaho; and Topaz, Utah.  I previously posted photos of Minidoka and Topaz on this blog.  Here is the story of another site where people from those camps were sent if they were “troublemakers”.

I just returned from visiting my son and his wife, Brian and Laura, in Tucson, Arizona and while there visited the remnants of a prison camp.  The Catalina Federal Honor Camp housed over 8000 prisoners between 1933 and the early 1950’s.  They were there to build the Catalina Highway up Mt. Lemmon, and among the prisoners were 46 Japanese draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and Gordon Hirabayashi, who defied the government relocation and turned himself in to the FBI.  He was convicted of a curfew violation and sentenced to 90 days in prison after fighting the charge all the way to the Supreme Court.

The prison was an honor camp without walls.  Painted white stones and strong warnings were all that kept the prisoners there.  Even so, the Japanese prisoners were transferred from internment camps in leg irons by armed guards.  Mr. Hirabayashi was the exception.  He hitchhiked to the camp.

The draft resisters were pardoned in 1947, and Gordon Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned in 1987 when it was discovered that evidence in his favor had been withheld.  He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2012.  After the war, the camp was used as a labor camp for juvenile offenders, then a youth rehabilitation center.  After it closed in 1973 the buildings were destroyed, and the site turned into a campground.  It is now the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site in honor of its most famous prisoner. 

I am grateful to an old friend, Merry Lewis, for taking Linda and me to this historic site.  In a sense, this is a ghost town with nothing but walls and concrete slabs left where there used to be barracks, a mess hall, employee cottages, a baseball field, and many other buildings.

Left, Linda
Right, Merry

 Photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Museum of Clean Gallery

The Museum of Clean is a quirky, fun, family oriented museum in Pocatello, Idaho.  They have such diverse displays as antique pre-electric vacuum cleaners, the world's first motorized vacuum cleaner (which was horse-drawn), a chimney sweep exhibit, and a replica of Noah’s Ark in a state-of-the-art 74,000 square foot building.  They also have an art gallery which includes a rotating display by local artists.

Don Aslett is the founder of the museum.  He has written 40 books and completed over 6000 seminars, workshops, and TV filmings all about “clean.”  I spoke to him when I visited the museum a few months ago, and he said he would like to have Linda and me exhibit there.  I had forgotten all about it, when one day I got a phone call inviting us to hang our photos in November 2017.

So, Linda and I hung 24 photos in the art gallery at the museum for the month of November.  A few are shown here.  I would like to thank Don Aslett for the opportunity, and Museum director Brad Kisling for all his help getting us set up.  He could not have been friendlier or more helpful.  Just about everyone should enjoy a visit to this very unusual museum.

As usual, our photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without our permission.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Monarch Mine, Nevada

After leaving Sprucemont, Nevada (see the previous post), we continued up Spruce Mountain about two more miles.  The road got much rougher, although it was not nearly as difficult as we expected.  I did use four-wheel drive, and in one or two places low range, and was glad I recently added skid plates to my truck.

Our first view of the mine area included a few houses along a side road.  The area is very steep, with houses on different levels of the hillside.

Most of the buildings are frame houses, but there is one cabin made from massive logs that probably dates back to the earliest days of the mine, around 1899.

This is a true ghost town.  Many buildings are totally collapsed, and those that are still standing have a lot of damage.  Some look like they were nice at one time, but now the wallpaper is peeling and the ceilings coming down.  But, their positions high on the mountains had great views from the windows.

There is a huge crumbling ore bin right in the middle of the residences, and a mine shaft nearby, so miners didn’t have to go far to work.  The gigantic timbers were held together with massive nuts, bolts, and square washers.  Now many are gone, and others are beautifully rusty.

The Monarch Mine was a big producer of lead during World War I.  According to the USGS website, 

"About $200,000 worth up to 1902; 21,000 tons ore worth $475,000 from 1919 to 1921; more production through 1952. Total production was over $1,000,000 worth, including some zinc and copper."

This photo gives some idea of how steep the mountain is, and how houses were built on plots leveled out of the hillside.  We enjoyed exploring the townsite, but didn’t stay long because snow flurries started, and we were a long way from pavement.  The Spruce Mountain mining area was well worth the visit.

I hope you enjoy the photos, but please respect the copyrights and do not use them for any purpose without permission.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sprucemont, Nevada

We were on our annual fall camping trip with plans to explore ghost towns in Montana.  Then the weather went bad and we decided to migrate south.  We spent a day in Wells, Nevada and searched for ghost towns in the Spruce Mountain mining district.

We were looking for Sprucemont, about 10 miles from the nearest paved road, and got into a maze of dirt roads on Spruce Mountain.  When the roads got worse we decided to turn around and look for another route, and I spotted the remains of this log cabin high on a nearby ridge.  It is an unusual double cabin, which makes me think it could have been part of a string of businesses along the town’s main street.  The other side of the cabin has collapsed, and most of the dirt roof is gone.

We looked uphill and saw other structures.  These were much newer frame buildings, which had all been vandalized, and a few had totally collapsed.  The weather was heavily overcast with a storm moving in, so the light wasn’t very good, but then the clouds broke, and I got a decent photo of this old house.

Sprucemont began about 1870 when several mines were started on Spruce Mountain.  By 1887 there were five saloons here, but just a year later, mines were closing and Sprucemont was nearly deserted.  In 1899 the Monarch Mining Company was started, and Sprucemont came to life, but was again nearly deserted by 1913.  In the 1930’s a third period of mining started, and continued through about 1952.  By 1961 the district had ceased all production.  This helps explain the different building styles we see at Sprucemont.  The big log cabin likely dates from the first or second era, and the frame buildings from the third.

The people who lived in Sprucemont had a million-dollar view of the East Humboldt range. The cloud shadows crossing the valley seemed to emphasize the immense space of the valley at the base of Spruce Mountain.

From here we continued up the mountain to find the Monarch Mine.  I will try to post that adventure in a few days.

Please remember, these photos are copyrighted.  I will allow them to be used for charitable purposes, but charge reasonable fees for personal use.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

St Charles Canyon, Idaho

This has been a strange year for fall color.  It seems that wherever I went I was too early, or too late, or the color just never got very good.  The one exception was St Charles Canyon, just a few miles from home.  I went there on a cold, stormy day with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson who were visiting from California.

The mountain maples were incredible.  They had an amazing variety of colors ranging from yellow to red.  Most of the aspens hadn’t changed yet, so there was some green in the mix as well.

Blue Pond Spring is one of the most beautiful spots in St Charles Canyon, but moose have been known to chase people away from here.  On this rainy day, I had the pond to myself and enjoyed the willow reflections.

Some of the maples were yellow, making nice substitutes for the still green aspens.  They made a beautiful background for the white bark of this aspen.

The green aspen leaves contrasted with the brilliant maples, especially the red ones.

Raindrops looked great on incredibly red mountain maple leaves.

As we left the canyon we stopped to photograph one last scene where a line of maples climbed the canyon wall to the top.  I think the wet stormy weather had a lot to do with the amazing color, and St Charles Canyon was the best we saw this year.

Please respect copyright laws, and do not use my photos without permission.  I will give permission to use photos for educational and charitable purposes, but charge a small fee for personal use.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Bear Lake County Fair - After Dark

The Bear Lake County Fair in Montpelier, Idaho is always a wonderful event.  There are rodeos, entertainment, food booths, animals, rides, craft displays, and of course a big photography display.  But after dark the fair really comes to life, and the lights are a great opportunity for photographers.

Carnival photos are best just after sunset so there is a little light and color in the sky.  This Ferris wheel changes color, and if you change shutter speeds you can get anything from colorful spokes of light to a blurred circle in infinite variations.  This one was ½ second exposure.

This is the same Ferris wheel from the other side, with carnival game prizes in the corner.  This one was taken after the sky got totally dark, and the shutter speed was 1.3 seconds, resulting in an entirely different pattern.  To reduce camera shake, a tripod is a necessity and a remote shutter release or self timer also helps.  If your camera has image stabilization, turn it off while using the tripod.

This photo of entertainers Dave Anderson and Thatch Elmer was taken on the outdoor stage.  The lights were bright enough to take the photo without a tripod, but in order to pick up details in the light and shadow, three photos were bracketed two stops over and under normal, and combined in the computer using Photomatix Essentials.  The software did an amazing job removing blur caused by people moving.

This food booth photo on the midway was taken with a 2.5 second exposure.  It is fun to use these long exposures to blur moving people.  Everyone becomes anonymous using longer exposures.

Longer exposures can also be used to make abstract images.  This giant swing was exposed for 0.8 seconds, but as the dangling swings were being lowered I increased the exposure to 2.5 seconds to create the abstract image.

So, look for bright colors, movement, and lights to get unusual photos at the county fair.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission, and usually a small fee.