Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Rainy Day Editing

Experiencing rainy days this week so after doing the household chores, 
focused some energy on editing indoor photos. 

The more I use and experiment with Luminar for my photo editing the more I like it. 

Listening to the rain, sitting back with a book, a bowl of sorbet and a Texas drink.

A gap in the rain clouds allowed afternoon sunlight to stream in, highlighting
 the collection of Native American images

By evening the rain clouds have moved east, allowing us to sit around the fire pit 
enjoying a soft cool breeze and a Cuba Libre.

Each of these photos took a different approach in editing to get the right mood and feel. 
In all, a learning process.

Ride safe and mask up.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Mexico Rainbow

After returning to northern New Mexico to escape the Texas heat and growing COVID-19 infections, we have experienced a most unusual summer. 

While raining most days starting about noon, the mornings are for outings. When I get a chance, I slip out and snap a few photos, try some new techniques... after the rains move in, sit at the laptop, work on new editing techniques or cook up a new dish.

Played with a new fisheye lens here... looking west across the sage brush of Moreno Valley.

Using the fisheye lens, zoomed in to eliminate the black border.  Note the curvature of the horizon, still an interesting shot of clouds. Those far distant peaks are in Colorado.

Looking north across Black Lake at Wheeler Peak with a regular lens.
Black Lake is at the southern end of Moreno Valley in northern New Mexico. 
The lake is on private grazing land so one cannot actually go there. 

The bands of light and shadow across the valley floor contrasting with the evergreen trees, ridges and distant peaks attracted my attention. The rumbling clouds were icing on the cake.

Now looking west at a sunset peeking out from under the rain clouds, 
still near Black Lake.

Ventured out to take more flowing water shots using the iPhone and a Slow Shutter app. This smooths out the water for a more silky appearance. Is critical that you use a tripod so everything but the water comes out crisp and sharp. It helps that there is no wind too.

Am not sure when or if I'll ever use the slow shutter technique in competitive image work, 
 but wanted to experiment with it, practice a bit and learn.  

Below, I applied other editing steps to the slow shutter shot to sharpen the rocks and mute the colors. 
Makes you want to reach out and pick up a rock?

Sunday morning I walked downtown to Angel Fire's weekly Farmers Market.
This was the only produce vendor there. The other vendors were two bakery booths, one chicken/ duck egg farmer and two herbal scent ladies. Slim pickings... 
Bought a half dozen duck eggs, a peach scone and six gingerbread cookies.

Every one here wears their face mask and practices social distancing.

The produce vendor fires up his roaster with a fresh batch of the Hatch Green Chiles. Hatch is a small town in New Mexico famous for their green chiles. The harvest season is in full bloom.

This roaster looks like a cement mixer with mesh sides and a gas burner underneath.

As they roast, the chile skins soften, turning black, yellow and brown. The roasting process loosens the skin from the flavorful meat, making them easier to peel. This batch is not quite done yet.

That afternoon a thunderstorm moved into the valley. As it moved over us a rainbow appeared, dropping out of the rain clouds. 

I grew up hearing how you could find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My South American wife grew up learning that a rainbow was a colorful ribbon mother nature uses to tie back her hair after washing it. Interesting how different cultures have different folklore.

Then a sight we have never experienced before, sunlight streamed in over the lower storm clouds, illuminating this cloud, creating an unworldly brilliant view.  

The valley floor is still in shadow from the rain clouds overhead while the mountain peaks are in sunlight. Note the rainbow is still evident on the left.

Every day here we see something new, learn something new, gather new experiences. Life is good.

Stay safe my friends, stay healthy, mask up and wash your hands.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Flowing Water Photos

It rained hard last night so the Red River near Questa was flowing higher and fast today. Here is the result of todays photography work with flowing water. 

Moved a mile downstream, climbed down a steep river bank to get this shot.

Went to another location, but by accident, took a double exposure.  Hmmm...
From that accident, created this moody 1800's looking 
mountain image with a watercolor painting feel.

An accidental double clicking produced a more interesting image than the straight photo.

Everyday we learn something new when we keep experimenting, 
be open to the unknown, pushing ourselves.
If given lemons, make lemonade!

Most of all, never stop learning and growing.

Ride safe and maskerize...?


p.s. Last night the normal sunset was not much to look at, 
but in the north were wonderful lights dancing around in the clouds.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Southern Rockies in June

June found me spending some time in the southern Rockies in northern New Mexico, working on a photography project, learning new techniques and exploring a few new roads.

Love the peaceful aspen meadows in the afternoon light.

The elk come out to eat at dusk after sleeping all day. She looks pregnant and this is calfing season. Soon, Mama, soon...

Rode down to Mora to revisit a rancher I met a few years ago, Don Patricio.
This is what a New Mexican native picket fence looks like

Stopped to talk with this roadside barber. He was combing one of his top donkeys. Suggested I not park downwind as he only does this "de-thatching" of their heavy winter coat on VERY windy days.  The field mice must love getting all this free donkey hair for their nesting material.

These are much larger donkeys than what I saw in Mexico. He said these were mammoth donkeys and would outlive him, even though they were already 20+ years old. Even had to designate who was to inherit them in their wills. 

Near Mora, road construction stopped everybody in the hot sun. Lucky me, got the last piece of shade to wait in. 

The next day rode thru Red River on way to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
Looking at down Main street Red River, a tourist destination summer and winter.

Doesn't look like much, as the gorge ahead drops off into a significant site. This is where the Red River flows from the tallest mountain in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, to join the cold Rio Grande river rolling down from the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. 

In the deepest and widest spot of the 1,885 mile long Rio Grande gorge is La Junta (Spanish for the joining). Red River on the left and the Rio Grande on the right meet at the tip of what looks like a green rocky tail of a dragon.

Being a Monday and with the corona shutdown, not many people out here. All camping sites were closed.  The only security ranger on duty said he was as lonely as the Maytag repairman.

Remember the New Mexican picket fence above? This home owner ran out of native pickets but managed to round up enough discarded abandoned skies to complete his fence. Hmmm, not many pairs of ski there either.

A few days later, tackled Route 17 between Chama, NM and Antonito, CO, with two mountains passes of over 10,000 ft elevation in between. This loop has several great riding sections: Chama to Antonito, Rt 64 Tierra Amarilla to Tres Piedras, and Taos to Eagle Nest to Questa, but not the shorter Rt 522 from Taos to Questa.

Again stopped by road construction, traffic is reduced to one way only following the pilot car.

At Manga Pass, a mule deer photo bombed the shot. 

Cumbres Pass gives name to the Cumbres-Toltec Railroad that still runs today for tourists between Chama and Antonito with their antique coal powered (don't tell the evironmentalists) steam engines.

Stopped to click a photo of this hard working cowboy. 
Be it cattle or sheep, the cowboy's life is hard and lonely.

Toward dusk, the nighttime critters come out. Better to slow down and watch the road edges. If one deer crosses the road in front of you, cover the brakes and expect others to follow.

In case you thought this was a sidecar vacation, have also been working on several photography projects, learning new techniques.

For example, using slow shutter speed to capture moving water. The water is looking okay, but the leaves were fluttering in the wind so they also came out blurred, not okay. 

This shot is a little better. Lots of mountain streams around here with fast moving water 
to practice with.

Don Patricio, the high plains rancher in Mora, let me practice taking street portrait shots using the iPhone camera.

A different look

That's all for now.  Am here for another week, so more riding and practicing of photo techniques.

Ride safe and sanitize my friends.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Color vs B&W

Am self-teaching this week, watching various instructional photo editing videos, 
then experimenting on which approach makes for a stronger image: 
Color    or    Black & White. 

Tell me what you think.

First image, Peruvian Pan Flute street musician

Flipped the image and reworked in B&W

Is interesting to note the viewer's points of focus shift from what they see in the color image to something different in the B&W image.

Image #2
Houston marathoner, Mile 23, Floating on Air.

The bright shoes contrast with the dull grey walls of the underpass. 
A person commented on the dark stripe/wall, it appears she is running into...

B&W image. the dark wall is removed along with the bright shoes. Now the focus is more on the runner and not the shoes.

Image #3

Solar Voyager is a B&W image previously displayed here, but not the original color print.

Stripped of color, the sky and background recede, the focus shifts 
to the various shades of grey standing figures.

Image #4
Sk├│gafoss in Iceland

Lost the original color shot, but here is the finished B&W landscape image. There are three photographers standing close to the base of falls which gives you some idea 
of the fall's scale.

Not standing too close as the mist was freezing cold, quickly spotting the camera's lens. 
The fall's mist and spray created the spidery web of ice on the black rocks.

Working in B&W has its own set of challenges. Some original images easily convert to B&W, actually improving their impact for the viewer. Yet other color images do not convert well,
even with a lot of editing. 

Deciding which approach to use is the photographer's / artist's choice and challenge.

Will continue my studies here in New Mexico for another week before returning to Texas.

In case you think I have no time for play, I did bring the BMW sidecar rig with me. 

Ride safe, and sanitize


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hauling the Warthog

This month's assignment: 
Get creative with a photograph of art,  resulted with this image... 

First comment was....

The reply was ......


Enough of fun and games, let's get back to the serious business to hauling the Warthog. Not that it will spend much time on a trailer, but when the need arises, I will need something wider to haul the Warthog than my current trailer. 

The Warthog is, well not to offend anybody, but SKINNY is never a word to be heard in describing 
the big W.

The search to find a trailer wide enough to haul W took me far and wide. So as not to add unnecessary weight and load to the Honda Ridgeline truck I drive, decided an aluminum trailer would be ideal. Aluma trailers make a 78 inch wide model, while Bear Track has an 82 inch model. 

During a phone call to the manufacturer of BT trailers, was told they will not sell direct to the public. Learned most of their dealers are in the upper mid-west as the manufacturing facility is in Minnesota. 
Then the coronavirus pandemic set in. the search was grounded. 

After several attempts a month or so later, a very nice lady provided me with the names of dealers who had recently ordered the model of trailer I was looking for, the BT82120S. Eighty-two is the width, 120 is the length, making it a ten foot long aluminum single axle trailer. 

One was sent to South Dakota and the other was sold to an Iowa dealer but shipped to Florida... hmmmm. My sister lives in Florida, maybe make a combo trip. 

A phone call to Zypherhills Florida had me talking with Cindy and Todd, the owners of Florida Trailer Solutions. Yes, they still had that trailer on their lot, but Florida was currently shut down with the pandemic. However they agreed to hold it for me until travel restriction were lifted. 

With all the retirees there, Florida was hit hard with the virus. For me to get to Florida, I would have to drive across Louisiana. A state that was hit even harder than Florida. Both Texas and Florida were closely checking every vehicle coming in that had been in Louisiana. 

Checking the map and distances, if I gassed up at the last stop in Texas, I could drive across Louisiana without stopping until I reached Mississippi. 

By the third week in May, businesses in Zypherhills were normalizing, so decided to make the run of  2500 miles. Three days to drive there and back.

After reassuring them I had not stopped nor slept in Louisiana, New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania in the last month, the Florida Highway Patrol kindly allowed me to enter their state. 

Todd and Cindy of Florida Trailer Solutions were super nice and attentive, making sure everything on the trailer worked as it should and was connected properly before allowing me to exit their lot. Can highly recommend Florida Trailer Solutions in Zypherhills.

Forty-five miles south of Zypherhills lies my sister's home. Spent very nice but a brief time with Sis and her husband, walked their dog Jake, told a few jokes and slept in a comfy bed.  Though during the night Jake tried to hide my socks.

Once back in Texas, a test loading of the Warthog. Looks pretty good, easy peasy, right?

Well looking at it from the rear, the story changes. While the trailer bed is wide enough, clearing the trailer fenders is a challenge. Modifications will be needed.

To me, one of the selling features of the Bear Track trailer was the fenders are bolted on, not welded. 
On the sidecar wheel (smaller circle on the right in the above photo and seen below), clearance is tight. But if I use longer bolts, I can insert four 1/2 inch plastic spacers to move the fender out enough that it will not rub on the sidecar fender.

Clearing the trailer fender on the bike side is a different story. The left pannier is up high enough to clear the fender.  But the left engine guard and the left foot peg will not allow loading with the fender in place. Moving it out a half an inch will not work on this side.

In the next photo you can see left foot peg sticks out too far.  The peg does fold up... some but not enough to clear the fender. Note: I had removed the fender completely to load the bike then set the fender back on the trailer to get a better idea of the clearances. 

A coupe of possible solutions were kicked around. 

1). remove the fender completely when hauling the Warthog. 
See the three holes in the fender (arrows) those are for the trailer license plate. If I leave the left fender at home when hauling the Warthog, there will be no license attached.

2). Hinge the fender to swing out of the way when loading the rig. The fender has a wheel well panel on the tailer side (that can be seen in the above photo) that will only allow it to pivot out a couple of inches. Not enough to load big W.

3). Mount the fender on sliding rails hung from the under side of the trailer. Pull pins, slide the fender straight out to load. But that inside wheel well panel doesn't allow it to slide out more than a few inches. Not enough to clear the foot peg. 

Removing the foot peg to load is more complicated than unbolting the fender plus the engine guard would still hit the fender

4). The final solution and the one I decided to go with, rather than involve complicated fabrication to swing or slide the fender, simply unbolt the fender, set it aside, load big W, then reinstall the fender.  Four bolts and we're done. I don't anticipate hauling big W that many times that this will be a major issue. Carrying my other rig will not be a problem with this trailer.

Problem solved.


Wish my other May issue was as easy to solve, but the doctors here at Houston Dental Esthetics think they can fix the teeth situation, by replacing all the uppers. After breaking off two upper teeth in the first six months of 2020, at the age of 75, my teeth are getting brittle. Instead of long distance riding this summer, we'll be short distance dreaming of long distance riding while the mouth heals from a late June surgery.  Road vibrations are not good for strong healing.

Maybe by late summer we'll be up for a long ride. Doubt if there will be much wrenching or riding for several months. In the meantime, will focus on the photography while recuperating. 

Parting shot...  just when I thought the Warthog was the ugliest three wheeled rig, saw this photo on the internet. Now that is one ugly three wheel motorcycle contraption... and needs to be towed.

As the country re-opens... y'all ride safe and far.  

Wash your hands and don't cough on each other.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

More Photos from Iceland

Here are a few of the photos from the interior of Iceland,  well, not the interior interior, 
but away from the capital city Reykjavik. 

Cold, damp fog rolls in, as this photographer waits on the cold beach for that right moment to capture
 the fog shrouded "three elves" in the distance. 

Next day is bright and sunny.  
As clouds receded, exposing the peaks, captured this view of Rangárping Eystra.

Experimented with a panorama shot to capture all of the ice flow. 
Iceland's landscape is vast, frigid, empty...
 yet full of highlites, contrast and points of interest. You can be standing in dark shade while distant peaks are lite up in blinding sunshine. 

We explored an ice cave. Clamp on steel spikes on the boots to keep from slipping and 
a hard hat to protect your head when you do slip.

Down in the caves, captured Jean Pierre from France looking for a way up.

Thousands of pieces of ice wash ashore, slowly melting into the black sand, gives name to this spot... 
Diamond Beach.

Photographers from around the world trek here just to capture a shot of the morning sun's ray reflecting thru ice surrounded by sea foam.  
Often risking life and equipment to capture that perfect image.  

Me? I capture images of photographers working the sun, ice and cold. 

They will brave the coldest ice choked stream, looking for a better angle, wanting that perfect shot.

In pre-dawn light, climb high on a slippery ice slope...

Only to stare into the blinding sun... all to capture an award winning image.

Come night fall, we were all hoping for a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.

On the final night in Iceland, the clouds cleared just long enough. 
Giving us a short opportunity to grab this...
 a 20 second exposure... twenty seconds is forever for a photograph. 

Iceland was a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit some fantastic photogenic locations.

Thanks for following along. 
Ride safe, stay safe, be healthy.