I worked most of the morning. About 1100h, it seemed time to stop and get out for a walk. I had a couple of errands to run, so The Girl and I headed south, picked up camper parts at the RV center, then stopped by the bank to deposit a couple of checks that came in the mail. Because we were on the south side of town, I decided to hike an old favorite trail out in the Jacks Valley Wildlife Management Area.
The Girl got plenty excited as we approached the staging area. This is also the route to some of her peeps and I think she was expecting us to go visit. Nonetheless, she was happy when I parked the rig at the staging area and got her out.
The trail is clearly marked All Dogs Must Be On Leash. I do not know what wildlife is being protected by this order, but we saw none as we hiked. She was off lead, but close the entire walk. She knows when I want her close in and will obey when I tell her.
The area burned a few years ago and is still in recovery. There is not much vegetation yet, but for the sandburrs that plague The Girl’s feet. It was still a good day to be out, with a mix of sun and clouds and not too much wind.
We hiked the steep initial hill (got me really puffing), and then the long gradual climb along the utility road towards Jacks Valley Road. That is a good climb as it is not steep but steady for about a half mile. At the top, we turned the corner and headed back down past the school and across an unnamed drainage to climb another hill to the water tanks and cell tower. This equipment is located near where I used to live and I walked past it so many times with Ki. We loved to hike this area.
I paused at the top to make this image. I really liked the interplay of clouds and sky and thought it might make a nice image. I think I was right.
The trip back to the rig was uneventful, except that a trail runner come up behind me abruptly and scared the crap outta me. It was a good hour and a half hike and I was ready to be home.
We got out late Wednesday because of work and the cold. It seems very cold for so early in the season. I was about to get us out, and then decided that lunch was in order first.
So I made a toasted cheese sandwich with a slice of sourdough bread and some Havarti I bought just for that purpose. I warmed a can of Progresso Ministroni soup while the cast iron heated to toast the sandwich.
I started cooking with cast iron a few years ago. My small skillet is developing an excellent seasoning. I always cook with a little oil or butter as a lubricant and most of the time all I have to do for cleanup is wipe out any residue. The larger skillet is where I cook bacon and it is also developing a good seasoning. But, I digress…
The skillet heated, I dropped the sandwich into the skillet and listening to the slight sizzle that indicates I got my heat right. I stirred the soup while the bread toasted (with a little butter for lubrication and flavor). I tipped the sandwich up with the butter knife, and set it back down — not quite ready to turn. I gave the soup another stir and it was just about ready. Another check of the sandwich and I turned it, noting the lovely sizzle when the freshly buttered bread hit the surface.
I enjoyed my soup and sandwich. I think Havarti is an excellent cheese for a toasted cheese sandwich. Ministroni is one of my favorite soups as well.
I gave The Girl the last bite, gathered up our things, and we headed out about 1330h. It was still pretty cool, about 40ºF, with the sun shining wanly through high clouds. At least there was some sun.
The Girl danced and chirped on the way out. The staging area at the gate was a mess of vehicles parked at random angles — a pet peeve of mine (why can’t people park reasonably without lines?) — so we drove to the upper staging area and I backed in.
I grabbed my camera kit, made a quick check, and call The Girl out. We walked our regular route, just in a different order. This gave me a little different perspective on our path. It being a little later in the day also meant the light was a little warmer.
We gathered ourselves back into the 4Runner and headed home. The Girl was ready for another drink and a nap. I was ready to work a bit more and call it a day. I love my walks and I love walking with The Girl. We always play a little on the trail and we always train a little as well.
I liked the contrast of hayfield and sky in the captured frame. When I looked at it on the computer, I decided that the contrast was weak, so I opened it up a bit and exported the image. The colors are SOOC.
I seem to be learning something constantly. Some might call me a scanner because I have a difficult time focusing on just one thing. I have been this way as long as I can remember.
In thinking about processing my images, I decided to update my copy of the Nik Software Collection so that it will run on my new MBP. In particular, I am interested in the black and white capabilities of the Nik software as that is where I really like to work.
One might ask why I am interested in post processing to produce more filmic (film-like) images from my digital cameras. It would be a fair question. I am an amateur photographer. I do not need the almost clinical images produced by modern cameras with exceptional lenses because I do not have a client who is expecting those kinds of images. Photography is one of my ways of reaching into the arts. Although there is something about striving for the ultimate in sharpness and extreme detail, that does not appeal to me most of the time. I want to look at and make images that speak to the heart and less to the analytical mind.
This will likely lead me to shoot some film. I have the Pentax 645NII out of the hutch and am building a kit for it. It is a big, heavy camera that shoots 120 film. But, this is a topic for another entry.
Yesterday seemed like a good day to take the Sony A7Sii out for a walk. I mounted the Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar on the M42 converter and checked that the camera was setup for a 50mm lens1. (The camera has in-body image stabilization.) That done, I collected The Girl and we went out to walk.
Given it was after noon, the temperature was much warmer than this morning (about 40ºF) and the sun was shining. The Girl was very excited to get outdoors. She wriggled and chirped as we drove out to Silver Saddle Ranch. As we walked, I made some images. The different camera and very different lens challenged me a little, which is a good thing.
The Girl teased me quite a lot. Sometimes ranging out and sometimes staying close. I felt the tension melt away as I walked and I laughed at The Girl quite a bit as well.
On the return leg of the hike, I realized that having finished up another chunk of work took a big load off my shoulders. The tension melted away and I started playing grab-ass with The Girl, who jumped and twirled away, laughing her doggy-laugh. She looked over her shoulder, grinning that big, goofy pitbull grin, then spun around to run back in for another round. She grabbed a stick and teased me with it.
Her energy was dissipated as we neared the rig. I patted her while we drove home, and then gave her a couple of her small cookies. She was snoozing under my work table as I finished up the day. As I wrote this, it was time to feed her (she is asking) and time for me to get a shower and think about some supper.
I downloaded my images and picked this one to play with. I call it Points and it was shot raw with the Sony A7Sii, and then post processed with Nik Silver Efex 6 to make the black and white conversion.
I am learning some new tools. Life is good. I am grateful.
1I noticed the battery was at about 50% state of charge. I should have tossed a second battery in the bag. I ran out as I stopped to make my last few images.
A couple of weekends ago I decided it was time to not work all weekend. On Saturday morning, The Girl and I headed out, not knowing where I might end up. We walked for an hour out at Silver Saddle Ranch, then headed east on US 50. I was on the phone with my buddy Dick and indicated that I needed to get out and do something away from the house.
At first, I thought I would drive down to Yerington and activate the wildlife management area north of town. But, as I turned south on US 95, I decided that either Buckland Station or Ft. Churchill were both closer and needed to be activated.
Buckland Station won the coin toss. I parked the rig and looked for a place to deploy a wire. Seeing none, I retrieved the drive-on mast mount and the 10m SOTAbeams mast from the rig and set them up. I also retrieved the Elecraft KX3 and a small battery from the rig.
I used the Sagebrush Antenna deployed to near vertical with the distal end affixed to the top of the mast. The opposite end went to a cobrahead adapter and direct to the radio. I threw the counterpoise on the ground around the rig.
I sat down at my folding table with my back to the sun (it was chilly), started a log on my iPhone (HAMRS), and listened on 20m near the QRP watering hole of 14.060MHz. With nothing heard, I called QRL? (“Is the frequency in use?”) a couple of times, then hit the message button to transmit “CQ CQ POTA DE AG7TX AG7TX POTA K” a couple of times, then paused to listen for a caller.
While the radio was sending my general call, I spotted myself on the POTA network. After a few minutes, the calls began to come in. I worked each station as I could and even managed a few DX (foreign country) contacts. The most memorable being an OH1 station located in Finland.
I worked the bands for an hour or so and made my quota for an activation. I was cold, so The Girl and I headed home after a brief pit stop.
I woke Sunday morning again not wanting to spend the day working. So I puttered a bit over my morning coffee and then decided to get The Girl out to walk and do another POTA activation.
I grabbed a snack because my blood sugar has been falling unexpectedly, some water, and a battery for the radio. We loaded up into the rig and headed west to Spooner Summit. I pulled off onto the forest road and parked the rig at the staging area where I like to work.
The Girl and I then headed out to walk before I set up a radio. Again, I talked to my buddy in Montana as I walked. But I kept my eyes open for critters as I have seen a big coyote who is not afraid of humans several times.
She was ready to rest when we returned to the rig, so I gave her some water and put her in the 4Runner. She settled right down for a nap in the sun.
I retrieved the new line-throwing kit from the 4Runner, stretched out the line, and affixed the throw weight. After four or five throws, I was unable to hit my target branch. Instead of fumbling more, I retrieved the drive-on mast mount and the 10m mast from the rig and setup a wire antenna. I again used the Elecraft KX3 barefoot (10-15w of power) and set up my table and chair.
A wind had come up, maybe gusting to 10–15mph, but variable direction. It was kinda-sorta from the south, but was curling around to the point I could not get shelter.
So I put on my heavier hoodie, put my back to the wind (and the sun), and worked the radio. The higher bands have been good lately, so I started on 10m and worked my way down.
Again, it took an hour or hour-and-a-half to make my activation quota and work the bands dry. The sun was falling lower in the sky and I was cold, so I quit.
It did not take long to put away the station and get The Girl out for a last bit. She looked for critters and peed until I called her in and we got into the rig.
It was another good day and a good day for me to get outdoors. The Girl loved it, too.
I learned a few more things.
I need practice with the throwing kit. I suspect there is something of an art to using a throw weight and line to hit a particular target.
I need some kind of shelter for cool-weather activations. I looked at a fishing hut last year, but did not buy one. A small fishing hut that folds up would make a good operating shelter. I could deploy a heater (I have one) and place a mat for The Girl.
My principal reservation about a hut is the lack of windows. I like being outside because (in part) I like the sun and the light. I do not want my activation shelter to cut those things off.
I need the means to heat water and make coffee, tea, soup, or a hot meal. I have used the Trangia burner in another stove I have in my inventory. But it is not as handy as I want. Hence, I am working on an upgraded kit and some of the results are posted on this weblog.
The iPhone works for spotting myself and for logging, But I think a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and pencil should be in my field kit. I am thinking again of reducing my dependence on technology, although it is good to be able to spot myself for SOTA/POTA activations.
HAMRS is well suited to logging POTA activations. It has features that display other activators and make it easy to log their information for park-to-park chasing.
I am not sure I ever documented my post-processing of POTA logs. Most of my activations are multiple parks, at least two. I have a couple of favorite places that are three or four park activations. That means the post-processing of my log requires some editing so that chasers get credit of more than one park. I also get credit for activating multiple parks.
The new field cooking kit is coming along. I will have the ability to make a hot drink or food in the field. This is a critical safety issue as hypothermia is real and it does not have to be very cold for it to strike. Hot food and drink are part of combating environmental dangers effectively.
I am really enjoying Morse Code. I still operate phone part of the time. But the ability to deploy a small radio kit and make contacts thousands of miles away with a few watts means everything is smaller, lighter, and simpler than a more powerful radio kit.
That is all I can think of. It was a good couple of days in the field. Life is good.
Yeah, I probably used this image once already. Bear with me.
I am awake a little early this morning. A dream woke me; now it is gone. I started my morning regimen and decided to get in another repetition with my field coffee kit. So I set up the Firebox Nano 2.0 Titanium, Trangia alcohol burner, heating cup, coffee filter, and my new double-walled Snow Peak titanium mug. I lit the stove with a ferro-chromium fire starting rod and a Morakniv Garburg field knife.
I then stepped back and took a couple of photographs. Although there are some things about the camera in the iPhone I do not like (lack of depth-of-field control, primarily), it will make images in almost dark conditions. That makes it fun when there is a light source in the field, such as the blue flame from an alcohol burner.
But I digress — the kit went together smoothly this morning. The additional reps with the little stove are good as I my setup is improving. The burner lit readily with a few strikes from the ferro-rod, while the burner bloomed, I readied the cup and coffee in my grinder.
Two cups of water took about four or five minutes to boil. That is not bad. There is plenty of fuel in the burner to prepare two more cups. I also have a small fuel bottle that will refuel the burner a half-dozen times, or more.
I ground my coffee using the Aergrind I have in the house. I have another to put in the camper and will pull the Porlex ceramic grinder for the field when I do. I also reheated the mug with a little hot water. But there is not much thermal mass in the mug.
When the water boiled, I started the pour-over and then turned to extinguish the burner while the pour-over set. I then completed the pour-over and proceeded with my morning regimen.
The little coffee filter works fine. I use a fairly fine grind for my brew and I do not have a lot of sediment in the mug.
I have a dyneema bag on the way to hold my kit. I will carry this in the field a few times and use it to make coffee (or tea) for a few more reps. The little kit will work. I am pleased.
N.B. I offer a hat time to Thomas Witherspoon for some insight into his field coffee kit that was my model. In fact, he has done a good job of describing the contents of his pack(s) that is informative to those building radio field kits for SOTA/POTA.
My Haley Strategic Flatpack Plus arrived yesterday. I bought (yet another) small tactical pack because I want to carry a few things in the field with me and a small camera bag. I want a pack that can carry the necessaries and a small QRP radio kit (if desired). I want to be able to carry a small camera bag cross body1 under the pack.
After the ham radio exam session yesterday, I came home and retrieved the pack from the parcel box. Well, that is, after getting The Girl out for a walk. It really is a small pack with an expanded capacity of about 700 cubic inches. (Flat is is closer to 100–200 cubic inches.) It has two compartments, a bladder pouch, and a small flat pouch. The latter is good for a small tarp or a flat paper map, folded (or both, I suppose).
Aside: I am a Volunteer Examiner for the American Relay Radio League. That means I am certified to proctor an amateur radio license examination and the FCC will accept the result.
I bought two of the clear top pouches, a large and a small. The inside of the pack is lined with a loop field, which means appropriately fitted pouches will affix to both the back of the pack and the inside of the large compartment top. One of these pouches will contain a set of clean clothes — shirt, undies, and socks. I will have a change of clothes. The second pouch (the small one) will catch something; I have not figured that out yet.
There is plenty of room for my small cook kit (the stove is above) so I can heat water for coffee/tea or to hydrated freeze-dried food for a hot meal. I have a small bottle to carry alcohol fuel for the Trangia burner. I will work on some of the remaining components today, but am thinking that a small medical kit (more than a boo-boo kit) to supplement my EDC pouch (cargo pocket), a small fire kit (to create warmth or cook), a small radio kit (one of my QRP rigs, plus battery and wire antenna), and cordage to put up a shelter (the tarp) will round it out. I can carry a water bottle(s) or put a small bladder in the bladder pouch.
Last night (early this morning), I was awake so I used the stove to heat water for tea. I then decided to use it again this morning to heat water for my coffee. The little burner works fine, but might need a wind screen for the field. I have a small bag to carry makings for coffee and tea. I could add a packet or two of soup mix without adding much weight.
Today I will determine whether (or not) I can carry a small Domke camera bag cross body under the pack straps and still have access to the camera. My camera will be either the Fujifilm X100V or the X-E4 (and a spare lens or two). The cameras are really small, so the bags are small, too.
This might actually work, be reasonably light, and provide routine and light emergency capability in the field when I am hiking with Sera or playing a little radio on a remote summit or a park. I am looking forward to getting in to the field today, even if the weather is quite a bit colder than it has been.
Also, the last of the camper parts are on the way. I hope to have it repaired in a week or two and plan to get out and do some camping before the end of the year.
Sera is snoozing under my worktable. It is a welcome sound. Life is good.
1I carry camera bags and cameras (on straps) cross body because I absolutely cannot stand to have anything hanging around my neck.
The week was busy with work and recovery from being in the field so long. Yes, I am still recovering from that. My other work is so far behind that I am only beginning to catch up. But I should be caught up in a couple more weeks.
The Girl and I were walking Thursday about noon. We had a little rain and that softened the sand burrs that plague her on the trails at Silver Saddle Ranch. So she is enjoying the walks more.
Her toe is healing, although she still messes with it too much. I might decide to call her Sera of the three toes when I am feeling a bit ornery. She does not care1. We are also taking a little longer path that adds a quarter mile to our walk. Both of us need the exercise.
I also like to cross the ditch at one of the irrigation structures and walk along the ditch to Mexican Dam. If I time it right, or the weather is less appealing, there is little traffic on the Mexican Ditch Trail and we can get more than three miles in. Plus I get to shoot the Dam.
It was a good hike and a good day. Life is good.
1I often call her Sera Sue because I like the alliteration and rhythm.
I am working on the hydrology for one of my projects. The weather is cooler and more windy, so I do not want to get out as early.
Once I made some progress on project work and the markets, The Girl and I headed out to walk Silver Saddle Ranch. The weather today was cooler than yesterday, but also less rainy. Still, I could see rain to the north in Washoe Valley and behind Mt. Scott. A curl of rain clouds pulled south to the east of Mt. Scott, but did not seem threatening.
The Girl continues to worsen the condition of her toe with the missing nail. If I am distracted for just a moment, I will catch her licking. So, she slept in the cone-of-shame last night, wore it all morning, walked without it (but limping), and is now wearing the cone. She will get to sleep in it again tonight, although I might remove it when we sit on the sofa to relax and snuggle.
I carried the Fuji X100V with me again today. Last night I read a bit on Ritchie Roesch’s website, Fuji X Weekly about those film simulations he recommends. He has a list of seven because most of the recent Fujifilm cameras have seven custom slots. I am already using several of his recommendations, but I have some empty slots to fill and will add his recommendations. Then I will use them.
Today I used Reggie’s Portra 400 simulation, which is intended to produce results similar to the Kodak Portra 400 film stock. One of the things Reggie did was to set Auto White Balance instead of using the Daylight balance of the regular Portra simulation. This adds a little to the flexibility of the simulation. There are other details as well, but I consider them relatively minor.
I came home with a couple of decent images. That is, images that I like. I make images for me — that is, I am the only one who needs to like them. If others like them, that is good. I appreciate the acknowledgement.
Alex (The Photographic Eye) recently did a video on the subtle impact of social media on the photographs we produce. This resonated because I left Instagram a couple of months ago (again) because I was tired of doomscrolling through things I did not want to see to find those that I do. On my IG account, I sometimes posted photographs I knew would gather more “likes” partly as an experiment. It is a nice dopamine hit to see that my work is appreciated.
What Alex made me think about is the who and why of my photography. It is good for me to do something creative and that is why I do it. The photographs are for me, because there was something about the subject that attracted my eye (and my mind).
So, what I share here and also on FB are images that somehow spoke to me and caused me to pause, find a composition, and make the capture (usually several). I do not always like the end result, but I usually learn something in the process.
OK, so I do indulge a little and share a lot of Doggo images. Those are for fun (and I do love the subject) and for my dog-loving friends.
So, I like this capture of Mt. Scott and the weather over Carson City. The fall colors are mostly gone, with just a few hangers-on. We’ll soon start to see snow and some gray days and certainly cooler temperatures. But I still love the high desert and I am good so long as the sun is shining.
We got a late start on walkies today. I had two meetings in the morning. Plus the wind was blowing hard and it was spitting rain from the clouds that could not quite make it over the hill.
Nonetheless, we got out before noon and walked a bit. The Girl is still suffering from her sore toe and I thought we might have to curtail the walk. But she gave no indication that she was ready to quit early. Plus, the rain had settled the sand so it was not as hard on her feet. It also seems to have softened the sand burrs that are plaguing her this year.
We had periods of clouds and sun, buffeting winds, and spitting rain on the walk. A runner came up behind us with a dog and Sera ran to interact. She can be such a bitch sometimes and she bullied a little. I walked over and grabbed her by the collar. There was no harm done and the other handler was nonplussed, to my relief.
As we turned back toward the parked rig, I noticed a rainbow form and dissipate several times in front of Mt. Scott. I found the indigo particularly striking when the sun illuminated the rain and wondered if I could make a capture.
Finally, as we left the staging area in the rig, the conditions were right and I used my iPhone to make the capture. The image is just as I made it with no post processing.
For the last number of weeks, my daily walks have mostly been on the job site in El Dorado National Forest. By the end of the day, I was pretty much done and getting in a half-hour walk for The Girl was about all I had left in me. I sometimes carried a camera, but the creative juice just was not there.
Now that I am recovering from that slog, I have time and energy to play a little radio, work a little in my house, and do something with a camera. I am also walking an hour or so for both The Girl and I. We love those times together.
Today was a treat for a couple of reasons. First was the image above. An irrigation structure on the Mexican Ditch often returns flow to the Carson River at this location. The flow crosses the road and I love the sound and sight that it makes. With the colder temperatures of the last few nights, the cottonwoods are dropping their leaves as the color leaves them. The sight this morning made me pause for a couple of captures. I like this one.
On the way back to the rig, I was keeping an eye out for other walkers/dogs and heard a whistle behind me. For a moment I thought of the Mockingjay whistle from The Hunger Games movies. That caused me to pause and I looked behind us.
Sera came to attention. When Timber and Lisa started calling her I said “Go! See you peeps!”
She blasted off, of course and I heard Lisa call “Watch your knees!” as she blew in to greet them. Sera was all wiggles and soft looks as she interacted with some of her favorite people.
I walked back to greet them and retrieve The Girl and we walked back to my rig. We paused to visit for a few minutes. I so enjoy them and it was good to spend a few minutes catching up.
The capture was made with my Fujifilm X100V and its lovely 23mm f/2 lens. The capture was made at f/8 using the Portra-400 film simulation. I am running a light diffusion filter on the camera, which provides a more filmic look.