Thankful for my health, and having been able to witness tidal pools on Hawaii. Just around the corner, the ocean was rockin’.
I remember the first Earth Day in 1970. At our school, each of the students was given a small tree to plant. We planted ours in the front yard, and it remained a small tree for what seemed an eternity. Although I have not lived in that house for many years now, I can go on Google Earth for a peek and see how much it has grown. Although that is just one simple act, I cannot get a visual progress reminder how my daily efforts to be as green as possible are working.
When I planted that tree, I was still young, and didn’t realize that an environmental movement was needed. I do remember public service ads against littering, and that it wasn’t uncommon to see a bag or a can flying out of the window of the car in front while driving down the highway. I don’t think I began to comprehend the magnitude of mankind’s waste until the first time I heard the expression acid rain. As our numbers grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy planet, especially with consumer products becoming cheaper, and in the minds of many, more disposable.
Somewhere near the top of our environmental problems list would have to be our use of plastics. Once they find their way to major rivers and oceans, they mostly end up in one of 5 garbage patches currently circulating our planet’s oceans. Fortunately, there is an effort underway called The Ocean Cleanup, whose goal is to eliminate these vast floating debris piles. You can go to their website to read more about it, or possibly donate to their cause. This is, of course, just a large band-aid to a large problem. The real solution is to curb our use of plastics and make sure they end up being recycled.
Here in the US, one of the more prominent issues in recent times was the reduction of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If ever there was a case to show that politicians work for special interests, and not the people, this would be it. In the public input phase of this reduction, 99% of the respondents favored keeping the monument as it was. In the redistricting map of the GSENM, they have created three separate national monuments. Inside the former GSENM lies the highest concentration of well-preserved fossils ever discovered. It also contains the richest and most accessible coal deposit in the state of Utah, which is no longer under protected status on the new map. Coal consumption is on the decline in this country, so any coal mined here would most likely be sold to China.
Several lawsuits were filed to block the reduction of the national monuments, and Utah politicians immediately introduced a bill to manage the new property and see to it no further changes could ever be made. Proposed management of the new national monuments would consist of a seven member panel, of which, a majority would be local county officials. One of the members would also be appointed by the President, so a real public voice would be lost there as well. These are still federal lands, not designated as Utah state parks. Yes, our public lands in the hands of local politicians. This is a precedence we cannot establish. You can blame Trump all you want, but this ordeal was promoted and encouraged by Utah politicians. We can all follow suit from the Outdoor Retailers Association, and some of its vendors, who have boycotted the state of Utah for its policies about the environment and how it should be overseen. Although unlikely, a boycott by all potential visitors would send a message to the cronies in Salt Lake City that people coming to see the special lands in the southern part of the state provide a viable and profitable tourism economy. Once this land is tarnished it will remain that way.
On a more positive note, a project I wrote about previously has been killed off. The Grand Canyon Escalade, was voted down by Navajo Nation Council late last year. Efforts by the tribe are underway to designate this area as a sacred site, and prevent any future blemishes on this special region from rearing their ugly heads again. Perhaps a long legacy of Native Americans being offered roses, only to discover that they were just getting the fertilizer, has provided Navajos and other tribes a better insight to what is truly best for them and their land. A special thank you goes out to the Navajo Nation Council and their wisdom for a long-term vision.
On my first full day on the big island of Hawaii this summer, I set out to return to some locations that I had visited my previous time there. I hadn’t checked the weather before I set out, so I was unaware that a tropical storm was a couple hundred miles offshore. The first place I stopped at was too wet to get out for pictures, and I thought the day might be a bust. I was pleasantly surprised to drive a little further, and see drier conditions for another spot with fond memories.
I chose my first location cautiously because the waves were more robust than my last visit. The area I picked didn’t have a single drop of water anywhere under my feet. Nonetheless, I waited about 10 minutes and watched wave activity before unpacking the camera and tripod. That first spot was on a ledge about 15 feet above ocean level, and the bigger waves splashed close to that height, but all towards the left. I spent over half an hour there, getting some great stills and video. Afterwards, I moved to some other areas along this point where the water was calm by comparison.
I thought I was almost done, but returned to the first spot, just slightly further back. The contrast between the close rock formations and the ones slightly further, with occasional light splashes of water, gave me a different perspective. I had my shutter release cable attached and my drive on high speed, because you never know what you might get with water splashing. You can always delete the boring ones.
All I will say is that I heard this one coming. Instinct told me to keep holding the shutter. This is not a telephoto shot, but actually a bit of a wide angle lens. Somewhere under all that airborne water is the spot I had been standing earlier.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. In the first week of the month, there is a theme, with this theme being up in the air. To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.
As is probably obvious by now, I have a fascination with the desert. The plants, features, textures and moods always provide reasons to explore further. Although I have experienced serenity in the desert, I’m not sure I have images that convey that mood – especially to those who have never truly explored those same places.
I think there are many who would agree that oceans are a great place to find serenity, especially on a remote beach at sunrise. I find that sunrises, in general, tend to be more peaceful and calming than sunsets. Perhaps because they signal the start of a new day, often witnessed alone. Almost everyone I know thinks this is not a good time to be awake yet. That’s OK. More serenity for me to enjoy.
I can find calm settings just about anywhere in nature, but I think forested mountains would have to be second on my list, right after oceans. Having a lake or a small stream is certainly an added element of calming.
I spend a fair amount of time in airplanes. By allowing myself to get distracted looking out the windows, I find this can become very calming, especially when flying over seemingly infinite cloud cover.
Also making my list would have to be any moment when witnessing a rainbow. This one happened to be from an airplane. Ahhhhhhh!
- Feature photo: Early morning on a black sand beach in Hawaii
- 2nd: Same beach and morning as above
- 3rd: Sunrise from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- 4th: Small lake in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah
- 5th: Infinite rolling hills from the Black Hills, South Dakota
- 6th: Minimal cloud cover over the Gulf of Mexico
- 7th: Sea of clouds somewhere over Texas
- 8th: Rainbow upon approach to Sacramento, California
As I developed as a photographer, it was evident that I was becoming more of a morning person. Part of this was due to the fact that I was living in the desert, and hiking and just being outdoors were limited to mornings on many summer days. When I say morning, I really mean from an hour before sunrise to about an hour after sunrise. That’s when the light can be truly amazing.
As I started travelling to the National Parks and other highly popular areas, I really appreciated the diminished (and sometimes lack of) crowds first thing in the morning. I can understand being on vacation and wanting to sleep in, just not if you’re a photographer.
That brings me to my photos for this week’s challenge. I was on vacation in Hawaii with quite a few family members. We had been to this spot the day before, and I just looked at everything and knew I had to come back for a sunrise. Upon returning to our rooms, I said, “I’m going back there first thing in the morning, who wants to join me?” As I expected the answer was pretty much silence.
I arrived at the parking area just before sunrise and took a couple shots before hitting the trail. It was a fairly short trail which descended a couple hundred feet to the beach. It was a very relaxing, almost meditative, morning on a beautiful black sand beach. About an hour later another person came down the trail, and by that time I was ready to head back.
I generally don’t like to wake to an alarm clock, but for occasions like this, I am glad to make exceptions.
Last week I was in Florida again, and I had some time to try to capture images of the ocean. In many parts of the world, there are rock formations in the water or dramatic cliff backdrops, which offer more options for composition. The lack of any terrain made for more challenge, and the texture of the water became my primary focus.
In the top image, I converted it to b&w, and was mildly pleased with the result, but then decided to return the sky back to color in a new layer. I did make some minor cooling filter adjustments to the layer. I was about to remove the ship because I didn’t feel it was close enough to add to the scene, but then decided to leave it for its sense of scale.
I am often intrigued by other photographer’s shots of powerful waves crashing explosively into rocky shorelines, but I never knew there could also be interesting detail in a one foot high wave breaking onto a sandy beach. I’ve spent a lot of time using slow film in low light situations where blurred water results were common by default. A fast lens/high shutter speed combination allowed for detailed captures, and is something I will look for more often in future photo shoots.
There was a significant amount of human activity, as one would expect. One morning, this paraboarder was getting his workout, making several passes along the beach in front of me. As I took one sequence of shots, a plane was taking off from the airport behind him. Around the same time, a tractor was making a clean sweep of the beach. The ocean is always busy churning out its natural waste, which doesn’t make for postcard beaches!
In the end, the shots I liked the most occurred where there was texture on the wet sand or in the rolling water. One thing that doesn’t show up in the photos is the abundant humidity. The sea breeze made it enjoyable, but anywhere away from that was not pleasant. I’m very glad to be back in the desert now.