Dante’s Overlook

Death Valley -- Dante's Overlook

On our way back from southern Nevada a couple of weeks ago, I drove through Death Valley. Although the Girl wasn’t welcome most of the places in the park, we were able to get out and walk around the parking lot for Dante’s Overlook. I even managed to snag a couple of decent frames.

The shot was captured with my D300 and a Tokina 28–85mm f/4 coffee cup lens. I probably made the capture at about f/8, which is a good aperture for that lens.

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

Everybody enjoys a good-looking butt. I watched this particular Coot dive and tip for about 15 minutes before I decided it might make a decent capture. The shot was made with a Pentax 400mm f/4.5 Super Takumar and my Sony NEX-5N.



Last Saturday my friend Les invited me to one of the Minden ponds where he believed there might be some “action.” So, the Girl and I headed for Minden early. I wanted a bite and a coffee and wanted to take her to the park to run off her morning energy. Ronald provided a biscuit, a burrito, a coffee, and some oatmeal cookies (hat tip to Wife for the cookies). I refused to sit on the stone park bench, deciding that I’d rather preserve the heat in my butt than sit.

The Girl sniffed around and did her morning routine while I ate. She returned to me several times to check for hand-outs. Of course, she got a couple because she didn’t eat her breakfast before we left. Then we played with a ball for a few minutes and headed for the pond.

Les and I set up near the pond. He brought a blind and some of his odd lenses. I used my NEX for this shoot because it has focus-peaking and a decent live view. It was my first time working from a blind and I learned quite a lot. I came away with a couple of decent frames, but not many.

The waterfowl decided that there would be only a little action Saturday. But I’ll be better prepared next time. And I enjoyed working the blind. The Girl was wonderful, spending most of her time either sleeping next to me in the blind or sunning herself on the pond bank. She had a good time, too, I think.

My Girl

Yes?I think my Girl and I like walkies the best. Well, maybe… We both like our walkies — she lives to run on the trail of “wabbits” and I love the sun, the air, the walking, and watching her.

When the light is good, I make images. I seem to carry the D300 more often than not now. I like the Tamron 80-210/3.8 zoom in my collection. It’s adequately sharp for images that aren’t too critical. It’s a great range of focal lengths. It focuses reasonably close so that macro-like shots are possible. It’s fast enough that the optical viewfinder is bright enough for daylight work. It’s fast enough to get some separation between subject and background as well. So, the Tamron is often on my D300.

The afternoon I made the capture of the Girl was a Tamron-based walkies. She ranged out and back, like she does. Part of the time we play a game called “Come find me!” If I can’t see her, or suspect she can’t see me, I’ll call out “Come find me! Ki, come find me!” and then watch and listen for her.

I usually see her before she sees me. Her “flag” is her tell. If she doesn’t see me, I’ll call again “Come find me!” so she has a chance to get direction with her ears. When she sees me, her ears and tail drop, and she will race in to me, laughing that doggie-laugh of hers. When she nears, she’ll either break off and turn to range out again or will blow past me a full speed, sometimes showering me with sand and gravel. It’s a great game and I think we both like it — a lot.

That afternoon I made the capture was pretty late in the day, probably 1530 or so. I knew the sun was going to drop behind the Carson Range in a few minutes. She had ranged out 20–30 yards and turned to look back at me, probably in response to my call. That’s the expression I see when she tells me “C’mon, you… you’re lagging!” I love it!

Of course, I love my Girl. She rescued me as much as I rescued her. The inter-species relationship fascinates me. Without speech, she tells me many things. Many of them are simple needs — food, water, go out, play, cuddle… However, she can communicate some things that are more complicated. “Take me with you!” is a favorite. Another favorite is “You’re taking me with you, right?” The latter really is a question. Her body language is different for the demand and the request. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

She is my terrible terrier. She is as manipulative as any human female I’ve ever been around. She knows my attachment to her is very strong and she uses it. I am sometimes shunned when I leave her (because I have to). She’ll camp out with Young Son and I get The Look. She’ll sleep on the sofa instead of with me.

Yeah, she works me emotionally very well. I know it. She knows it.

Her intelligence is different than mine. Her skills are physical and perceptive. She solves one-step problems well, but two-step problems are more challenging for her. She is devoted and protective, just like me.

She is my best friend. It doesn’t matter that she’s a different species. She’s still my best friend.



When my in-laws still lived out on the family farm, one of my favorite things to do while visiting was to wander around FiL’s barn, looking for light, texture, and the combination of the two. It was a chance to get out of the house and into a quiet space. The quiet space is something vital to me — always has been; always will be.

I don’t have any notes about the details of the image. I’ll let it be what it is.


filamentaceousAfter a couple of intense weeks of working on this forensic project, I finally got the text and figures completed, the report printed, signed, sealed, and shipped to the client. The package went out about 1530 yesterday afternoon. I was really glad to see it done and I was done too. So, I packed my things and drove home.

The Girl and I walked late and it was nearly dark, overcast, and the bit of wind made it feel cold, even if it wasn’t all that cold. I get a lot of the sun, both external and internal heat. The heat of our star’s energy on my body feels good, particularly on cool morning walks in the public lands not far from the house. I often wear a dark cover on these winter days and soak up that energy.

But the warm light also warms my soul. There is something about sunshine, particularly during the winter months, that makes me feel better. It’s not just the heat energy; there is something spiritual about walking on the sun. Perhaps it’s that the lower sky angle of the sun and the passing of its energy through more of the atmosphere decreases the color temperature of that light. Sting’s Lithium Sunset comes to mind and that song sometimes plays in my head as I take in the physical/spiritual energy.

When the clouds come, and I’m thankful we don’t have too many cloudy days in a row here, my mood fades. It’s the same thing that happens to me in the evening when the sun sets. With the darkening evening my spirits fall in concert.

There’s a dangerous time for me when the sun sets. The black dog takes a few steps toward me, grinning with expectation. I have an opportunity to reject that approach and push him back to his place over in the corner of the room. I’m successful more often than not these days. But sometimes he comes and sits by my side, bringing his dark power to flow over me. Those are not good nights when his demon voices come to whisper their dark secrets.

Fortunately, the coming of a new day and the Sun’s warm energy dissipates the darkness. I’m thankful that God gives me many sunny days here. Cold I can stand, even if I don’t like it. The dark, though, is my challenge.

Manzanar Overlook

Overlook of Owens Valley and Manzanar

On our way home from southern Nevada a couple of weeks ago, we spent an hour or so at the Manzanar National Park. It was a place I remembered, but had forgotten until I read Ansel Adams’ autobiography. It was a place I wanted to see for myself.

The Girl and I wandered the park for awhile, fighting the increasing wind (increasingly colder wind). The Manzanar Cemetery is an interesting place as well. A last remains of a few souls still reside there. A pet cemetery is nearby as well. Origami birds adorn several locations around the cemetery.

We drove a trail a bit northwest from Manzanar to track down the last geocaches of the day. My last capture is this overview of Owens Valley and Manzanar shot with my Moto X. I was standing near the location Adams used many decades ago to record a part of his vision of the location.

I’ll go back with my film cameras, perhaps this spring or maybe in the fall. I could spend a day in the area, making images early and late and studying and reflecting during the day.

Keeler Cemetery

Keeler CemeteryOn our way back from southern Nevada, the Girl and I made a few stops to find a geocache or two. I also wanted to visit a few places on my way home.

One of the geocaches is located near the almost-ghost-town Keeler, California. Keeler is in Owens Valley along what used to be the shore of Owens Lake. There was a time when this almost-ghost-town was a bustling place. That time is long gone, along with most of Owens Lake.

The cemetery contains the remains of local residents, I presume. There isn’t much to indicate who is buried there and many of the grave sites are in poor repair. It’s a shame, but it was definitely worth the stop.

I’m looking forward to returning to Owens Valley sometime. Perhaps a trip in the fall would be good. I could spend nearly a day at Manzanar, which is nearby. I could also enjoy exploring the history of Owens Valley, finding a few geocaches, and making a few images.

Another Thing

This afternoon I realized another thing I miss about Wife. My work has been fairly stressful the last few weeks. The forensic project I’m working on is quite a challenge. A lot depends on my ability to figure out what happened.

Wife and I shared a term about stressful situations. We would call it “spinning up.” Both of us did it over our joint life. We learned to be a buffer for each other, providing a calming influence instead of adding fuel to the fire.

I realized, late this afternoon while walking the Girl, that I miss that. It was something Wife helped me with, when I have to deal with a difficult problem or a stressful situation. She provided a buffer to calm me, tell me it will be OK, and allow me to vent.

I don’t have that anymore. I miss it.

Manzanar Cemetery

Manzanar Obelisk and SkyTwo weeks ago I was preparing for some field work in southern Nevada. I’m working on a forensic case and needed to walk the site. I was also working up a case of bronchitis, starting with a cold and getting progressively worse.

Sickness and fieldwork are not a good combination. I have more experience with them together than I’d like.

But, given that I’d be going down that way for work, I decided to enjoy the trip and make a couple of stops on my way down and my way back. However, because of the bronchitis, I had to delay my departure to see a doctor. So, the stops on the trip down were scrubbed.

On my way home that Saturday, although I didn’t feel very well and was terribly cranky (just ask the Girl), I drove through Death Valley (didn’t get out much, though, because dogs are definitely not welcome) and then into Owens Valley. In reading Ansel Adams’ autobiography, I was reminded of Manzanar and wanted to stop to see the place.

The Girl and I did a little geocaching along the way home as well. She loves to get out and explore. So do I.

Manzanar is a fascinating place that deserves to be remembered. I intend to return and spend a few more hours there, preferably in the spring when it’s a bit greener.

This image of the cemetery obelisk and the wave cloud are one of my favorites. The capture was made with the Nikon D300 and a Tokina 28–85/3.5 zoom, most likely at 28mm and about f/8.