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Showing Off Your Photographs

Digital gives us the opportunity to take hundreds and hundreds of photos for almost no cost at all. This is an amazing turnaround compared to the price of using film cameras that had a processing charge saddled to each roll of film that we shot.

So what are we doing with all of these “free” photos? Are they sitting on the SD memory card or cell phone? I’m sure that my friends and relatives are impressed as I flick through the tiny screen to show them my recent vacation shot – NOT!

Well, to be frank, my fingers are tired of flicking the screen. And my friends and relatives typically avoid asking to see pictures of my travels. So I decided to print – yes you heard it correctly – print some of the photos.


One afternoon I collected a set of my favorite nature shots and sent them to the photofinisher. A few days later received back a short stack of 8″ x 10″s and 8″ x 12″s

Now the issue is how do I present them?

I didn’t really want to arrange them in a conventional album that would sit on the top of a coffee table. No, I longed for a different way to display them.

I decided that I’d show them off by making a small gallery in an unused room. The room is well suited for this purpose with a large, uncluttered wall painted white.


Rather than “hanging” the photos, I decided to make a very miniature shelf system. I bought a few 10-foot lengths of “J-TRIM” used to install vinyl house siding. These strips are lightweight and inexpensive. Use scissors to cut to desired length.

Use a tape measure to mount the J-TRIM level about 54″ above the floor. I used these ribbed plastic anchors (3/16″ size).

Here I’m drilling a hole through the J-TRIM into the drywall.


Next you push the plastic ribbed anchor into the drilled hole.

Then fasten the J-TRIM to the drywall with one of the screws.


By themselves, the prints are too flimsy to stand on the miniature shelf. I purchased these sheets of mat board precut for the 8″x10″s and 8″x12″s.

Using the 3M spray-on adhesive, I mounted the photos onto the mat board.


I found it necessary to use this Scotch “mounting putty” to keep the photos from falling from the miniature shelf.

The putty is pasted between the photo mat board and the wall to keep the top of the photograph from falling.

Here’s another view of the putty which hold the mat board agains the wall.

Here you can see the photo resting in the channel of the miniature shelf.


When all is said and done, I have a small gallery of my latest travel photographs. As you might guess, when you’re tired of looking at this group of photographs, it’s very easy to change them.


 
Material List:

2 pieces of J-Channel – 10′ Vinyl 1/2″ J_Trim @ $2.40 each (Home Depot)
1 pkg – plastic ribbed anchors #4 – 1″ @ $7.99
1 pkg – 8″ x 10″ or 8″ x 12″ mat board 25 sheets @ $12.50
1 can 3M General Purpose 45 spray mount @ $5.00
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 
 
 

The Small Stuff

23rd November 2013

Sometimes it’s the little things that count

I love being outdoors enjoying nature. And I’m an ardent admirer of landscapes and scenery.

When I’m hiking the scented woods, the winding trails, the golden meadows or the salty seashores, my eyes are usually drawn to the big things – the rolling hills, the roaring rivers, the jagged mountains, the immense forests.

But every so often something tiny, delicate or ephemeral catches my attention. I’m not deliberately seeking out the “small stuff” but somehow they make their way to the front of my lens as I attempt to duplicate the emotive feeling that I get from seeing them.



Yellowstone NP

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton NP


Goldfield, AZ

Reno, NV

Mammoth Hot Springs


Rocky Mountain NP

Glacier NP

 
Maybe after looking at a few of these up close photos, you’ll have a better understanding of how transitioning from the big stuff to the little stuff can change your point of view in a hurry.

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 


 

 

 

Another Amazing Feat of Nature

The story goes that hundreds of years ago herds of antelope grazed on the grounds where natural forces carved an assortment of narrow passages through the sandstone to create what native Americans call Tsé bighánílíní or the place where water runs through the rocks.

This sacred Navajo monument is commonly known as Upper Antelope Canyon. This slot canyon is a phenomenal site to experience and photograph.

Since Antelope Canyon is a Navajo Tribal Park, access is is granted only through one of five guide services that operate from nearby Page, Arizona which is also home to the Glen Canyon Dam. I chose to take an extended 2-1/2 hour photographic tour.

I’ll illustrate my visit with photos that show you the scale of the passageways and canyon walls in relation to the size of an average visitor.


This is one of vehicles used by our tour operator. The ride from Page to the canyon entrance takes about twenty minutes.

Notice the vehicle’s sizable off-road tires.

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The canyon entrance is at the end of a long, sandy road, hence the need for off-road, four wheel drive transportation.

The road is actually a wide channel that serves to drain the watershed for a large part of northeastern Arizona.

With five tour operators, there is a steady stream of visitors coming and going.

This is the parking area immediately in front of the entrance. My experience was that each of the tours was well organized.


Judging from the size of the two photographers here, you can gauge the narrowness of the pathways in the slot canyon.

The color of the canyon walls varies greatly. Here the opening at the top of the wall is quite wide so it lets in a lot of bright light.

The pathways are very level making it easy to walk on the hard packed dirt surface.

You can see that the walls jut out randomly along the pathway. As you are walking, you need to take care not to bump your head or appendages.

The coloring is quite different here. The dim lighting accentuates the texturing of the rocks.


The widest part of the canyon is a cathedral-like alcove near the entrance.

Here the canyon opens to about 30 feet wide and the walls are simply splendid.


For anyone interested, I chose the 2-1/2 hour photographic tour from Antelope Canyon Tours. The cost was $80.

Before this visit, Antelope Canyon had been on my list of “must see” places for several years. Now that I’ve experienced this enjoyable place, I am again thoroughly impressed by Mother Nature.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 

 


A Single Photo is Just a Split Second in Time

A few weeks ago I traveled to Yellowstone to view the wildlife and scenery before the cold and snow arrived. Unfortunately, I chose to visit at the same time that our government decided to shutdown the National Parks.

The scene went something like this: As I passed through the north gate at Gardiner, MT at 7:30am on October 1st, the park ranger informed me that Yellowstone would be closing at 8:00am, just about 30 minutes from now. Having just entered the park, I was temporarily elated to think I’d have the entire place to myself.

 

My plan was to drive southward to Norris for some hiking in this amazing geyser basin.

As I approached Nymph Lake, I was awed by a lone bison foraging near a mountainside of steaming fumaroles.

I immediately pulled off the road onto the shoulder and grabbed my camera. Here’s the shot.

But my stop off here didn’t quite end after taking this photo as you’ll soon see.

Bison at the Fumaroles

 


In the above photo, the bison was standing about 150 yards away across the main highway.

As I stood next to my car, the bison slowly troded towards the area in which I was standing. You can see the asphalt in the foreground.

The bison didn’t stop there, he kept coming towards me. I always adhere to the “wildlife ethic” of not approaching animals, but this was the reverse situation.


From the above photograph you can’t tell that there were already six or seven other autos parked on the shoulder.

These visitors had already spotted the bison and were admiring the dramatic view.

Little did we all know that the bison wanted to admire our autos. She strode right over while all of us wisely gave her plenty of room to wander.


She remained just feet from me for several minutes.

So as not to disturb her, I stood very still and captured her portrait. I shot over the hood of my auto to keep some distance between the two of us.


As it turns out, this bison was the mother waiting for her calf. The calf was also across the road, but out of sight. He came hobbling over to mom a few minutes later.

When they were reunited, they walked off along the tree lined path. The calf had a very visible injury to its rear leg.

Here’s hoping that he’ll make it through the winter.


 
After I lost sight of the pair of bisons, I hopped back in the car and continued driving southward. Little did I know that most of the viewing areas and parking in Yellowstone would be barricaded with orange cones including the Norris Geyser Basin due to the government shutdown. There went my hiking plans.

Was I disappointed? Yes, but not depressed. Having stopped at this and several other roadside areas in the park was still exciting and exhilarating both emotionally and visually.

The single photograph “Bison at the Fumaroles” is but a split second during my visit to Yellowstone. Along with the other photos, these five split seconds actually add up to much more than the fifteen actual minutes that I spent near Nymph Lake.

I don’t think I can put a number on the amount of enjoyment this stop off brought me during this visit to one of my favorite places.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

“Easy” Scenery

Sometimes it seems like you have to really work hard to capture the photograph that’s been bouncing around your head for a long, long time.

Then, there are other times when you hardly have to work at all.

For my two selected scenes below, I think that anyone with a camera couldn’t miss capturing great photographs of these two gorgeous places.

Both were taken in the Grand Teton National Park area this past October. The first was taken at the Jackson Lake Overlook and the second at Oxbow Bend.

 


This panorama shows you an overview of the area at the Jackson Lake Overlook. You’re looking at a pretty dry Jackson Lake in the foreground. Ordinarily, it’s covered with water but at this time of the year it’s quite depleted in this part of the lake as water has been released during the Spring and Summer months into the Snake River for irrigation of farms in adjoining Idaho.

Most of the scenic areas in the Tetons are well known to all of the visitors. So when I arrived at the overlook there were already a group of photographers in various stages of picturetaking.

This day was quite overcast which added a dramatic feel to the Tetons.

I didn’t have to do any hiking, climbing or setting up here. I walked ahead about 100 feet towards the edge of the lake (dried at this point) and calmly admired the majestic view, waited a few minutes for the clouds to position themselves in front of the distant peaks and clicked.

No muss, no fuss to get this photo. I’m sure that these other visitors had as easy a time as I did capturing this scene.

The Teton Range Looking South

 


 

This panorama shows you the view at Oxbow Bend. Here the Snake River makes an abrupt turn creating a pretty water foreground view with the Tetons in the distant background.

Yes, this too is a popular place. It’s one of the busiest places in the park and on this day there were dozens of visitors with loads of photographic equipment just itching to get their keepers.

These photographers are standing along the shoulder of the highway that runs though the park.

For this photograph, I walked about 25 yards down from the highway to a place closer to the level of the river. But that was about all the work that I had to do here.

On this Fall day, the sun was shining over the river and brilliant trees making everything sparkle. The thick, billowy clouds were perfectly positioned behind the Tetons. All I had to do was click-click. The scene was “picture perfect” – perfect for anyone to record the beauty.

Mt Moran from Oxbow Bend, Fall 2013

 


 
It’s not always necessary to hike five miles uphill in 100-degree heat to capture that iconic gallery wrap. There are plenty of places that lend themselves to “easy” scenery. And easy doesn’t have to mean a “me too” photograph, a little patience and variation can help you set your photos apart.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

The Rest of The Story

I’ve been wanting to visit the iconic Horseshoe Bend for many years and I finally had my chance a few weeks ago.

As its name suggests, the Colorado River makes an abrupt 270 turn in the shape of a horseshoe. It’s located downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell near the city of Page, AZ. Drive 5 miles south on US89 from Page and you’ll see a gravel parking lot. From there a half mile hike on a moderately sloped dirt trail brings you to the overlook.

I arrived late in the day and found quite a few onlookers and photographers awaiting the sunset.

 

The overlook is about 50 yards across and provides a wonderfully wide view of the river – both upstream and downstream. The Colorado sits below the jagged cliffs about 1000 feet down.

These spectators are standing pretty close to the edge of the cliff. And while I love the scenic surroundings, I am not a big fan of steep cliffs so I made it a point to stay behind this couple.

There’s plenty of room to accommodate dozens of visitors without feeling crowded.

As you can see these photographers had lots of space in which to set up their equipment while waiting for the sun to go down.

From this vantage point, the cliff on which they are standing looks safe…….

However, in this next photograph I’ve stepped away from the edge so that you can see the rock platform on which they were positioned.

These people are a lot more brave than me. I couldn’t bring myself to stand next to them. I wasn’t about to stand just inches from the cliff’s edge that drops down by a thousand feet. No, not this photographer.


So how did I get this unobstructed view of Horseshoe Bend?

As Paul Harvey would say here’s “the Rest of the Story”.

My shooting position was immediately to the left of the four photographers with tripods. To take this photograph, I laid on my stomach and carefully crawled to the edge of the cliff. My camera was safely hanging from my neck by its strap.

Since I had a very wide angle lens (15mm), I first took a deep breath to get some courage, leaned over the edge, calmly composed the scene in the viewfinder and finally snapped about three shots.


 
So there you have it. By itself, this Horseshoe Bend photograph certainly doesn’t tell the story behind it. To inject a slight bit of humor here, let me say that I’m not afraid of heights, only of falling from them. I wasn’t going to leave the overlook until I had my shot. A little dirt on my clothes is the price that I had to pay to get it.

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

PhotoPlus Expo – ZipShot

12th November 2013

Tamrac’s very compact tripod

For photographers who like to travel light, Tamrac has introduced the ZipShot.

 

This is a very small and lightweight tripod.

Weighing less than a pound and only 15″ long when folded, it’s easy to carry.

Alana, the rep for Tamrac is showing me how the compact ZipShot easily unfolds for setup.

If you’ve set up a camping tent that uses fiberglass shock-cords, then you’ll understand how the ZipShot works.

It has aluminum legs that stand 44″ above the ground and has a heavy duty ball head.

Alana told me that the ZipShot can be used with equipment weighing up to 3 pounds so it won’t be useful for long, heavy telephoto lenses.

She also showed me the Quick-Release accessory kit for the ZipShot.

Place the base to the ZipShot’s ball head and you can quickly attach/detach your camera to the tripod.

Price of the ZipShot (TR406) is about $59. The Quick-Release kit (A120) sells for $20.

 

 
For more information about Tamrac’s ultra-light tripod see ZipShot

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

National Park Shutdown

20th October 2013

Just Slightly Disappointed

My plan was to photograph scenery and wildlife in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I aimed the car towards the west, drove the 1900 miles to Jackson Hole and arrived on Sunday. I would spend a day in the Tetons and the evening in West Yellowstone, MT., explore the Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs on Monday, get some rest in Gardiner, MT. and then drive a short distance to Norris Geyser Basin to marvel at its thermal features on Tuesday. Of course neither I nor the hundreds of other visitors had an inkling that the parks would be closed.

On Tuesday (October 1, 2013) morning at 7:30am, I left Gardiner and passed through the grand arch on my way to the north entrance of Yellowstone. The ranger at the gate informed me that all entrances would be closing at 8:00am due to the government shutdown.

I thought, how lucky I am: “Since I’ve made it into the park, I’m going to be able to hike through the geyser basin at Norris.” I’d soon find out otherwise.


As a drove past the all of the turnoffs – Mammoth Terraces, Midway Geyser Basin, Biscuit Basin, West Thumb – I found orange cones barricading the entrance ways. Apparently, the park service anticipated the shutdown before the 8 o’clock gate closing and were already set to abide by the orders from Washington, DC.

While I was disappointed that I would not be able to visit Norris, I realized that all was not lost. There were plenty of places along the Grand Loop Road at which to stop to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.


There’s plenty of wildlife in Yellowstone and as far as I can tell none are aware that the park is closed so they’re out doing their own thing.

As I was driving in the northern part of the park just north of Obsidian Cliff, I saw this bison grazing in the field against the snow-covered mountains.

This was a lone bison, but during my short stay, I saw more bison in the park than any other species.


Continuing down the road a few miles, I pulled over at Roaring Mountain. It’s adjacent to the highway so anyone passing by can stop to admire the view.

The huge hillside is packed with dozens of fumaroles spewing steam and water into the air. It’s an amazing site.


My next stop was at Nymph Lake which is also adjacent to the highway.

Here I spotted another bison that was warming himself by the thermals and offered a picturesque view.

Although the bison was about 150 yards distant, one of my cameras had a long telephoto lens and was able to produce this capture.


Then I turned around to see another nice view.

This is Nymph Lake which also has thermals surrounding it. You can see how the trees towards the middle have been stripped of their needles and the trunk and branches absorbed the minerals from the hot springs.


Driving to just past the Midway Geyser Basin I pulled aside the highway again.

This is the Firehole River. Do you know how the river gets its name?

Here you can see the hot waters from the uphill geysers flowing over the rocks and feeding the river. The rocks gain their color from the various bacteria that inhabit these hot waters.


My next stop was at Old Faithful. I’ve been here many times but never have I seen as empty a parking area as today – fewer than 50 cars. Inside the Inn only the gift and coffee shops remained opened serving just a few visitors. Back outside I found a sign announcing the closing of the Old Faithful viewing boardwalk. The visitors ignored the sign and Old Faithful erupted as usual.

I walked around the boardwalk and snapped a few photos including this one of the Blue Star Spring.


Having lost hope that most of my favorite stop off areas were closed, I thought it was time to depart.

I continued on the highway towards the south entrance. When I reached the Lewis Falls area, I again stopped to admire the calm yet colorful foliage along the Lewis River.


As I exited Yellowstone at the south entrance, I stopped to take a souvenir photo of my shortened trip to my two favorite national parks.

I actually have a second photo that shows a closed Grand Teton National Park.


Before heading home, I made one final stop at another of my favorite places. Oxbow Bend is just outside the Grand Teton park boundary.

Here the Snake River makes an abrupt turn in a large flat that exposes the gorgeous Teton Range.

I’m thankful that this location was not barricaded.

Unfortunately, I saw buses of visitors that were unable to enter the park. I’m sure they are very disappointed by the shutdown. Although my visit was cut short, I still had a few days to enjoy my two favorite national parks and take back a few memorable photographs.

On the other hand, there were hundreds of thousands of government workers who were furloughed. And then there were the employees of the private enterprises that rely on park visitors – hotels, restaurants, gift shops, gas stations, more. Compared to these others, I suffered only minor inconvenience. I hope this doesn’t happen again to any of us.

Please feel free to leave your comments or observations.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

Photography While On Vacation

21st September 2013

I’ve visited many of our National Parks over the years. I have had Glacier National Park in my sites for at least the last ten. This year as I planned our month long vacation, I made it a point to include Glacier on the itinerary.

This vacation was a family affair with my wife Kris, her sister Karen and two of our grandchildren. Yes, I would like this to have been a photographic journey. But when traveling with these familial others, my photographic endeavors are reined in. Of course I used the camera along the way, but most of the photographs that I took aren’t ones that will wind up in the Stay Focused Gallery.

Instead, most of my photos were taken to record the family fun activities. Here’s a few of these outtakes:


The first day we started early and stopped at a hiking trail leading to a waterfall. The trail wasn’t difficult but it was slightly rocky. Unfortunately, my wife’s sister encountered some of these rocks and twisted her ankle. Luckily, a fast moving stream fed by snowmelt was nearby to help ease the pain.

My wife felt compelled to join her sister by removing her shoes to enjoy the cool water. After our hike, we climbed back into the car and followed the park’s “Going-To-The-Sun Road” to the summit at Logan Pass.


At the summit we spotted a stealth marten bringing home some dinner. And there was other wildlife as well. The mountain goat on the right was foraging after descending from higher snow-covered levels on the nearby mountains.



Although it’s July, there’s still abundant snow at the 6,600 feet elevation. One of our granddaughters then proved to us that the snow packs well during the summer.

My Keepers

Yes, I was able to squeeze in a couple of photographs that I consider “keepers”. Both were shot in between my duties as a husband and grandfather.


I spotted this daucus corota (wild carrot) in a clearing along a hiking trail. On the right you can seetThe picturesque stream of water that was close to the road near the park’s “Triple Arches”.

The mountain goat was making his way down the snowy slopes. I think he’s going to remove his ragged coat and go shopping for a new one for the upcoming winter.


 
I try to keep photography in perspective. Yes, photography important to me, but the other family members aren’t along to watch me take photographs – they’re along to have a great vacation. I acknowledge and acede to their wishes. Once again I’ve returned from another vacation and the family is still happy!
 
 

Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 



 
 
 

First Helicopter Ride

29th May 2013

Aerial Photography the Easy Way

For forty years I’ve traveled extensively for work, mostly by plane. For some, traveling is an exciting part of the job but for others it represents an unpleasant necessity.

For me, the “good” part is that I’ve accumulated enough frequent flyer miles to reach the 1 Million Mile Club. This means for the rest of my life I can travel on United with certain pleasantries. The “bad” part is that to achieve this milestone, I’ve spent way more than a full work-year(2000+ hours) on their aircraft – not counting the time at various airports. But since my occupation was related to flying, all of this traveling affords me a way to keep in contact with the aviation industry. Along with the miles, I’ve accumulated a sizable collection of aerial photographs. As a window seat passenger, I’ve enjoyed viewing and capturing some magnificent sites passing by at a one mile every six seconds clip.

Lately, I’ve scaled back on business trips. However, While vacationing in Hawaii last week, I couldn’t resist the chance to view the lava flows from the amazing Kilauea Volcano by air. With all the time I’ve spent in aircraft, you’d think that this would be just another routine trip. But this being my first flight by chopper, I was quite excited.

Our helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350 seats six plus the pilot. This aircraft has a generous amount of windows thereby offering a very good view out the surrounding.

We were happy to learn that our pilot was quite experienced. Before migrating to the Big Island, she flew Grand Canyon tours from Las Vegas for several years.


The flight begins at the Hilo airport on the east side of the Big Island (Hawaii). We pass over stands of macadamia trees. Macadamias are the main export of the Hawaiian islands.

It’s a 12 minute flight from Hilo to the volcanic coast. A few minutes before, we pass over a dreary, smokey, grey landscape. These are a few of the notable features of Kilauea Volcano.


Upon reaching the coast, our pilot maneuvers the helicopter so we can have an off-shore view of the volcanic activity.

The smoke is the result of 2200-degree lava emptying into the ocean. Since 1983, the lava flow has added about 500 acres of new land to the island.


We’re told that the lava solidifies very soon after it reaches the water.

The red areas of this photograph are the hot lava pouring into the Pacific.


These two hot spots are lava tubes which have poked their way through the caldera to the surface.

These are spent (expended) lava tubes which have crusted over.


Of course it’s possible to photograph the same sites from a small private aircraft. But shooting from a helicopter is certainly a superior way of accomplishing the same. With a skilled pilot such as ours, we were able to easily maneuver to locations that would require multiple passes with a private plane. And unlike a helicopter which is able to hover, an aircraft introduces 80 knots or more of shake to the photos. I’m happy to have taken the tour and capturing an unforgettable set of travel photographs.
 
 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 
 

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