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New Hope, PA 18938
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Monthly Archives: August 2009
We’re in the homestretch and what better way to wrap up a road trip than in a car graveyard…but not just any graveyard, the inimitable Carhenge in western Nebraska. Based on the slightly older, all rock Stonehenge on the plains of south England, this wonderful sculpture came to be as a memorial for a family member during a farm family reunion in Nebraska.
I originally wanted to lightpaint this at twilight with a million candlepower flashlight I brought with me. Somehow, though, when Peggy and I finally got here, our cheapo giant flashlight had totally lost its charge from the day before. What to do? The twilight was fading, and I had only one other light with me, a little ole SB 900. To read how we worked with the little light that could, plus a look at some black and white infrared panos of the site, hit the jump. Continue reading
Catching an occasional break, weather and luck-wise, in South Dakota. The morning was totally socked in with fog when we arrived at Mt. Rushmore. Caught the movie, looked outside and saw it clearing. Before the fog decided to resettle, I raced around and shot the bejesus out of the famous 60-foot-high heads in color and B&W from a number of angles.
I had just ascertained from a ranger that there is only one week in September when they go up to do maintenance on the faces. I always wanted to get one of those “scale reference” pix of a little guy hanging by his harness on a big nose or ear.
Oddly, that same ranger neglected to let me know that a couple of his colleagues were going up that morning (not to hang from the face, but for a quick look at a monitor on top of the heads).
I just caught the sight of the little ranger on the big head as we were leaving, and managed to knock off a few frames before they disappeared. The place was crawling with Sturgis-bound bikers, and before I left, I made friends with Jeff and tried a different scale perspective to get the noble biker in a presidential pose.
Jeff was into it, and obliged. I have to say that it’s a kinder, gentler breed of bikers here than I encountered 30 years ago when I was a newspaper shooter. Then, I did a picture story on a gang of outlaw bikers, (I think it was a chapter of the Pagans, but I don’t remember for sure) with a clubhouse in lower Jersey City (in a dive neighborhood that is now filled with the multimillion dollar brownstones of financial district yuppies).
I was doing a portrait of the leader Tony with his shotgun, standing in front of a very politically incorrect flag in the meeting room of the building, when the clubhouse facade was raked with automatic weapon fire in a drive-by, and we all hit the floor. Needless to say, the portrait session was over and the gang and I scarpered out of there before the police came to investigate.
Just one of the many reasons I got out of news photography while the getting was good and I was still in one piece!
Moving southeast, we’re encountering two things: better weather, and lots of motorcycles. And all those do-ragged, bulging biceped, middle aged outlaws can mean only one of two things: we’ve stumbled onto a huge convention of Hulk Hogan impersonators, or we’re in the throes of famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally!
We were told to avoid the Devils Tower National Monument today because it was Ham and Jam day in Hulett, when all the bikers converge on Hulett, right next to the distinctive monument, and more or less jam the place up. Well, there were thousands of them, but there was plenty of room to drive and hike around the monolith made famous in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
But these bikers are friendly and so-far, well behaved traveling companions, and I didn’t want to miss today’s spectacular cloudage around the Tower. I’ve been shooting black and white infrared almost exclusively so far. Despite the lyrics of “Kodachrome,” on this trip at least, everything seems to look better in black and white (sorry, Paul Simon!). And I need some North American B&W scenics for my 2010 calendar.
I’ll be resuming some more instructional type posts as soon as I get home, so don’t let all this black and white belly-aching about the weather and such get you down!
If you wanted to create a purgatory for photographers, try this.
First take some of the most magnificent scenery in the country and plop it down into a park and call it, say, Glacier National Park. Then let a photographer drive in one evening and get a shot or two of that beauty just before the sun goes down, totally whetting his or her appetite for the next two days of blissful image making.
Then, overnight, create a high pressure temperature inversion and add smoke from several surrounding forest fires so said park is blanketed in gray smoggy air that makes a bad air day in Beijing look like a walk in the park.
Welcome, dear reader, to My Own Private Idaho, er, I mean Montana, of course. I get a teaser look at all this magnificence, and then bang! I’m lost in a gray haze that goes from dawn to dusk for the next two days.
It can really take the heart out of an East Coast shooter who hardly ever gets out this way. This weather is even defeating the haze penetration capabilities of my B&W infrared rig.
Of course, Peggy recommends just relaxing, enjoying nature, and being in the moment. Oh sure, that’s easy for a bodhisattva to say, but it’s cold comfort for us less-evolved, camera-carrying, sentient beings. Our idea of being in the moment is capturing it on the chip.
And yet, I’m trying; chanting mightily as we do the hikes, partially for enlightenment, but mostly for the bears, because it would really suck to get nailed by a bear and have no good pictures in the camera to leave behind!
On to Wyoming and the Dakotas….hoping for a break from the weather gods….or total enlightenment. I’ll take either one at this point!