Goddess sure is patient with me. Which is a good thing, otherwise I would really be in trouble.
Take this day, for example. We loaded up the car, then spent the next eight hours and 300 miles chasing clouds, views and photographs.
We were just over 30 minutes from home when I passed the entrance to the campground that gave this view. We had never stopped there before and I could already see the clouds over the tree tops. It’s a narrow road with very limited sight distance, so it took another half mile or so before I could turn around safely.
When I do maneuvers like this without saying a word, which is typical, Goddess knows I have an image in mind.
There were a few people on the lake side hoping to catch fish. A few gentlemen approached and asked if I saw the sunset the night before.
I had, but Goddess and I were walking home. It was glorious.
And I didn’t have a camera.
Needless to say, they let me know how much I had missed it at this specific spot.
Seeing the clearing in the distant west gave me an idea for a hopeful sunset shot from a different vantage.
And it is a good thing that Goddess is patient, since we didn’t get back to the house for another two hours.
Apparently my post on Friday, American History, was my 700th post here.
And a few weeks ago, on July 12, 2014, it was the eighth anniversary of my first post of putting words and pictures here.
Here’s the very first picture that I posted here, a detail of a monk’s office table in a Buddhist Temple in Tokyo. The visit was arranged by some very good friends of ours whose uncle was the head monk at the temple. Before taking over the temple from his father, he was a professional fashion photographer.
A great host that provided an opportunity filled with experiences that we still talk about.
Some of you have been reading these posts from the very beginning, others are newly arrived.
Thank you to all of you for the comments, the encouragement and the support.
Very interesting weather here over the past few days. For this time of year, clouds are a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they help block the sunlight, helping cool down the area. Oftentimes they bring rain, which we sorely need. Sometimes they bring lightning, which this dry land really doesn’t need, although it does serve to help clean out the forests.
This was one of those weeks. Storms, lightning and fires.
On Monday, Goddess and I decided to head out east to look around one of the recently extinguished fires, knowing that new storms would be headed into the area. It was an area we had never visited, so it was a bit of an adventure. Lots of landscapes, lots of cloudscapes, plenty of rain and some lightning. For just an afternoon of getting out to take pictures, we managed to put 300 miles on the car.
On Tuesday, I decided that I should stay a bit closer to home. All indicators pointed towards a much more active day of thunderstorms, so I did what any reasonable person should not do and headed to one of the nearby open peaks. I had not climbed up to that vantage point before and was pleasantly surprised to have a great view of all of the action over the mountains and valley. I could even see the storms as they hit our town and house. Goddess texted me updates while I watched the storms sweep the valley.
This shot was looking west towards Mount Ashland, our local ski mountain. The sky was already quite moody, with the latest thunderstorm that passed over the peak just off frame right, moving northeast away from the mountain and towards our house.
From the second I noticed how the clouds were stacking over the mountain, I had intended for this to be a black & white shot. But as I processed the image, tweaking the contrasts just a bit to bring out the drama that I saw, I realized that the colors that were there really added to the mood, much more than the black & white that I envisioned and tried during processing.
I even consulted with my editor. Goddess agreed that the color version was much stronger.
I can’t wait to see it in print.
A moment later I changed lenses and turned to my right, training the view on the leading edge of the storm that had just cleared off Mount Ashland. It was really starting to rock and roll out over the Rogue Valley.
The tall white building at the base of the hill lower middle is the Ashland Springs Hotel, the tallest building in our little town. As the crow flies, our house is just about a mile from there.
In an earlier storm, Goddess reported hail at the house, which persisted and cause a fair bit of damage at local farms. By the end of Wednesday, the lightning had sparked 30 small fires, which have stayed small thanks to the copious rain that accompanied the storms.
Now it’s nice and cool, almost autumn like.
Just about perfect.
After a week of temperatures above 100°F (38°C), albeit with low humidity (which is lovely) and a couple of weeks before that out east where the temperatures weren’t quite as high, but the humidity made it much worse, we decided it was time for a respite.
So we headed to the coast, which is just a few hours away.
It was a great call, even if it was for one night.
Down there, the temperature never got above 60°F (16°C) and the persistent fog and low clouds meant that we didn’t see the sun. It really was a nice change.
And I got to spend time with my feet in the ocean.
That is very good for this soul.
For a few hours in the afternoon on the first day, when this image was captured, I may or may not have had a Blondie song from 1980 playing in my head. Just something to keep the mind flowing as I kept finding scenes that made me smile.
But that smile might have been from the cool water rushing around my legs and the sand between my toes.
I do enjoy this angle whenever I’m in a situation where an official or honor guard is in place.
Tomb of the Unknown, Arlington National Cemetery.
Compare to this one, taken a few years ago at the Horse Guard Headquarters in London, England:
As images go, I have a preference.
Which is yours?
It’s not too often that I talk about companies or products here. I have talked about some cycling, running and triathlon related products over the years, especially once I’m confident that it’s something that I like.
This is one of those times.
Actually, a moment to rave about some phenomenal customer support from one of the companies.
The company is Light & Motion, creators of personal lighting systems for pretty much any activity you want to engage in, on ground, in the air or in the water.
I bought a set of Stella 300 Dual headlights back in autumn of 2009. I needed them for my bicycle commute to/from work in Germany. If you’ve lived in Germany, the winters are cold and dark. Very dark. Especially if you spend a large amount of time riding through the forest, hoping to dodge any deer or boar that want to cross the trail.
They treated me extremely well through 3.5 brutal German winters, including two in a row that the German weather service declared “the worst in 40 years”, followed by “the worst in 41 years”.
Days like this:
Except when I was commuting, it was pitch black except for what the Stella would illuminate. Which on a snowy ride like this, pretty much everything was illuminated for a good 30-40 yards ahead.
Like I said, brilliant riding.
Here in Oregon, I don’t need them for daily commutes, instead breaking them out on occasion, like every Monday to get home from the bike polo game. A couple of months ago I realized they were not working as they had, or should. So I contacted Light & Motion.
A bit of talking back and forth and they suggested that I send it in for a look. Which I did.
They arrived back at my front door today, an almost completely brand new set.
Looking at the work order, it mentions that they replaced the cable (that runs between the battery and the lights) as well as changed out the lights. In other words, they rebuilt a new set, which is great since they no longer make this model.
So the lights are almost five years old and completely rebuilt.
They covered it under warranty work!
The quote that they gave me prior to the work was extremely reasonable, coming in at around 1/10 the cost of buying a new light kit. I was pleased with that, knowing that their standard warranty length is two years. But three years after that point, they still covered it.
Amazing service that was completely unexpected. Unexpected, but greatly appreciated.
Broadcasting their excellence to the world is the least I can do.
So if you’re in the market for headlamps or headlights or dive lights, buy from Light & Motion.
I know any lights I buy in the future will be from them.
As I alluded to in the last post about being somewhat near the Smoky Mountains, Goddess and I spent the better part of the last two weeks in the sweltering heat and humidity of Virginia and Washington, D.C.
It really isn’t the heat, it really is the humidity.
Which is a large part of why we live out on this side of the country.
It was a great visit, full of family and friends. Plus, Goddess had never been to D.C., so we did a bit of sightseeing too.
This is my favorite angle to view the Lincoln Memorial. Long-time readers might remember this night shot from January 2011, which was a similar view, but closer.
We’re back home now. It’s till hot, pushing close to 100°F (38°C), but at only 15% humidity, it’s quit bearable.
Even in these temperatures, we were able to get in quite a few rousing games of bike polo this evening.
Something I wouldn’t even dream of doing in the humidity out east.
No, not those Smoky Mountains.
Although by the time you are reading this, we aren’t too far from them. We just won’t have a chance to visit.
But first, THANK YOU to all that participated in my summer sale! By now all of the prints have shipped and are on their way. If you’re in the US and haven’t received them by mid-week next week (say 16 July), please let me know so I can track them down.
While the last few images have reached back some 2, 4 and 10 years, this is just a few weeks old.
Nothing like a rainy day in the mountains to make it seem like another planet.