Thursday, June 30, 2016

Studio risk.

  A single wasp appeared inside the screen door of my little studio a few months ago building a paper nest.  She just had one little bit of a hex for the longest, and just hung there doing nothing for days during the cool weather.  I wondered how this process worked and instead of smashing her, just let it run.  Did she eat?  Did she rest?  Would help show up?  She was there a couple of months, adding slowly to the construction.  Sometimes she would be gone for a whole day and night.  Finally, she laid and egg and sealed off a tube.  It hatched and there were two.  They both went to work.  Three, four, now six.  This started in late April and now here it is on the cusp of July.

  Red wasps.  All related.  I don't know if the original is still in the group, though I assume so.  A nest just outside the door was on the same track and schedule, but a bird or a bat took it before hatching started.

  I've taken care, propping the screen door back and ducking inside.  When it was just her, the cool weather and the repetition of experience,( I think), got her used to a little activity.  With two, the sting risk doubled.  With six, it becomes more likely and bends toward the inevitable.  They seem to excite each other, so that if one flips its wings into a ready-to-launch "V" and turns my direction it seems that others follow.  One of them actually buzzed wings yesterday, though it didn't launch.  I'm just 30 inches away.

  Though I like the risk of this, the thought of it, the danger of going into your studio, what art-making might cost, et...this can't go on.  The stakes are being raised daily.  Long ago I watched wasps attack my uncle RB at his boathouse, dipping and diving in repeatedly to get a quick grip, sting and then let go.  He was whacking them out of the air, but a couple got through.  They don't lose the stinger like a bee- they can repeat.  I sorted through my prop table and found the right glassware to put over the nest, cut it off from the door jam with a thin piece of cardboard and collect them for the Blackfork Bestiary.  Should have done it last night.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Couple things I didn't mention on the trip.  First- I had bought a 600mm Fuji T lens just for the canyon.  Pretty early I broke it out to shoot at Point Imperial.  Since it's big it was in it's own wrap with no place in the bag.  I hand-carried it out to the overlook with an armful of other stuff and dropped it, killing it coffin-nail dead.  Aperture blades all over inside.  I wrapped it up and never gave it another thought.  It's in a box I haven't opened.  Maybe Havel Camera can resurrect.

  Second- I had a darkcloth slither away from me crossing a parking lot early one morning at the Lodge.  It was only missing for about 90 seconds before I doubled back.  Had the Z6 bag over a shoulder and the tripod with 5X7 over the other with the cloth for a pad.  It got away.  I hustled back just in time to see a white van driving out the far end of the parking.  It never showed up in lost and found.  I wonder what they thought it was.  For some reason I had packed my old darkcloth, vintage 1975.  Used it the rest of the way but the black side has gotten so rotten that it rips at a touch.  Never had two darkcloths on any trip ever in 45 years.

  Black side was made of an old blackout curtain that hung at Sam Houston State U to give cover to an old linotype machine.  They junked the machine and the curtain went as well.  We cut it into about 20 dark cloths and passed them out.  Nancy Michaelewicz could sew and put a white side on it, along with several others.  Lotta service out of that thing.  The one I lost was a much lighter and newer one from some surplused-out view cameras that the school auctioned last year.

  First film processing today.  Just cleaning out 8X10 kinetic still life film before I start on the 5X7 from the Canyon.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

  Back from the canyon.  1192 miles one way.  We pretty much just followed our standard route back.  East Texas looks lush and exotic.  One of the nice effects of the AIR is to get away from your normal working mode....and then come back to it to see how it looks to you.

Mule Girls.  

Sausage out of the pancakes I had for breakfast at the lodge.  We didn't have a candle, so this is a little field-expedient.

Last shot of the Transept.

Katie chilling at the cabin.

We got lost coming across Arizona, at least according to the Garmin.  It went nutty crossing the Hopi Reservation.  Of course.  I drove right between Oraibi and Second Mesa.  There is an incredible view to the south of a desolate horizon line.  Obviously a place of great significance.  We popped out at old familiar Ganado and dropped in to see the staff for a minute.  The archive actually had a box of prints I had left for the Canyon de Chelly staff to consider.  Nice to recover those.

  New and better place to eat on the other side of the state at Santa Rosa:  The Comet II.  Unbelievable food.  We always ate at Josephs.  Never again.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Separating Art from Scenery.

  Spectacular here in every direction....but that doesn't make it art.  Mostly had blue-sky days except for yesterday when a series of thunderstorms rolled behind the park.  Got a full days work in, but mostly looking, not shooting.  When I reloaded film holders at 2:00AM I was surprised how many sheets I had in the boxes.

  First deer mouse in the trap last night.  Was picked up by a Raven off Raven Rock almost immediately.

Nailing this in morning light.

Katie sunning on the lodge veranda after Huevos Rancheros.

Leaning tree.

From Cape Royal.

Point Imperial.

Wandering while waiting on light to roll over at Point Imperial trail.  Finally found a deer bone....but just one.  Coyote pup must have carried it a long way.

  Checking out with handler today but not leaving until Tuesday morning.  They used to give us three weeks, cut it to two.  Two weeks became 13 days....and they don't want you to arrive until after 3 on the first day and expect you to leave by lunch on the last day.  It's really 11 working days.  Just enough time to start to settle in, meet people and know your way around.  Not much internet.  Someone just mentioned a free laundry one cabin over instead of driving down the road to the campsite laundry.  Since artists don't talk to each other, it's hard to get any institutional knowledge piled up.
  Rumor is this is the last AIR class.  The problem seems to be staffing, but mostly selection of the artists.  The NPS wants that to be a group decision with many fingers in the pie but very hard to arrange and then actually work through.  Can be 200 applications.  They take 5 on the North.  So the whole program is going to be shut down.  There isn't even an archive for the North Rim.  I did three lectures, one more than they require plus a ton of interaction every time I set up the camera.  Met a lot of wonderful folks.

Time running down.

Katie at the Lodge.

Chips bought at 487 feet, driven to 8000 feet.

Transept work

On the drive to Point Sublime.

Charging Blue Grouse on the Widfoss Trail.

Supai Tunnel.
Working late light

Cliff Rose.

Modern Anasazi.

Hiking out of Cliff Springs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Picking around with an eye toward separating art and scenery.  There's a hell of a lot of scenery in this beautiful place.

Near Uncle Jim's Cave.

 Sundown at Point Imperial.

  Another lecture tonight, plus a staff party over at administration.  Always want to show the flag at those invites.
  Canyon water makes pretty good coffee.

Monday, June 6, 2016


  At home and on the road: many issues.  Friends en-route with car problems.  Motel reservation juggling.  Home AC craters.  Folks checking in from South Rim.  10,000 demons.  Warm here.  Got first photo lecture past and went to Star Party to look through telescopes.  Saturn.  Maybe Mars tonight.  (It got stiffed last night. Everyone looking at galaxies.)  I'd just as soon look local.

  Morning run up the canyon to Point Imperial.  Shadows here and there.

In front of fire areas now sprouting with Aspen.

  Bright Angel Point has three bars of Verizon blowing over from South Rim.  Enough to resolve A/C problems at home....all on warranty.  Friends underway again.  Demons momentarily retreat. 

  Bright Angel Point trail, only 1/3 mile long rivals Yosemite Mist Trail and CDCs White House Ruin Trail as the greatest short hikes in America.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

More routine.

Determined not to "press."  Shooting in the heat and haze a bit.  These are iPhone proofs.  Along the Cape Royal drive.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Settling into routine.

  Up at 4:45.  Out to shoot off Bright Angel Point.  Back to cabin to make coffee. Shot an interior, (just what I am avoiding), of Uncle Jim's cave with light bouncing around inside.  Added a couple of rock faces.

  Working the people-on-trails project and got an unbelievable photo with Hasselblad yesterday.  Going to keep picking at that.

  Rumor that this may be the last AIR class at North Rim.  South Rim already shut down.  They don't have budget or a full time employee to keep it up, is the talk.

  Got shirt and hat.  Doing a little driving today around to see a couple of the points and capes.  First lecture tonight.  Park is full of photographers.  Most of the work I see is screaming for a polarizer, just to take the glare off grass, for goodness sake.   It's a hard sell though, to folks who already know everything they need to know.

  Reading Man Ray bio a bit every night.  He's fun.

Iphone test inside Uncle Jim's cave.  Got an interesting shot out of there.

Rockface- cleaned up the edges.  Gotta really nail where these images start and stop.

#2.  Both with 450mm Nikon in front of 5X7 on FP4.

Trying out the volunteer shirt.  Was hoping for a badge and a gun.

Afternoon light in Bright Angel Canyon.  Shot it more high key.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Done with work in 20 minutes.

Best light seems to be just before the sun breaks over the horizon or just after it's gone.  Working from 5:10 to 5:30 AM...then it's time to go make coffee for Katie.  Worked shooting people on trails yesterday with Hasselblad.  Have a little stack of film holder to reload.

Photographic perch just below the lodge.

This morning after the light was gone.

9:45 light in the canyon yesterday.

My taped-together field-expedient bedside table.  Glad to have it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cabin 42 on the North Rim.

  Rolled in after a LONG desert run yesterday.  1300 miles to get over here.  Nice enough cabin.  We we-arranged some furniture, I made a black-out for the bathroom window so I can handle film and I taped together the wreck of a wooden chair for a bedside table.

  Walked the Transept trail to Bright Angel point this morning blocking shots and getting here.  8000 feet.  Different that strolling around at Tyler's 487 foot elevation.

Hanging with the tourists...a group of Chinese speaking kids turned out to be....from Dallas.

Delicate mid-day tones over Bright Angel canyon.

Life, the Universe and Everything.

Monument Valley.

About to drop down to desert level between Page and Lee's Ferry.

View from the porch at North Rim Lodge.

Stopped at Santurio de Chimayo for a few prayers.

Katie at O'Keefe's.

O'Keefe garden.