Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Texas Sidecar Open House

There are two winter photos I could no longer ignore...

In Rancho de Taos, a snow covered Holy family...



...and,  aspen shadows falling across waves of snow...   caught my attention.


Okay, no more snow photos until next winter.


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In March the Texas Sidecar Company held an Open House at their new facility in Donie, Texas. Mid part of the State.
Rode the Warthog up, spent the night and rode back home the next day, 250 miles round trip.
 March is nice weather for riding in Texas even if a few showers find you.

Near Donie is the Limestone Power Plant, built across the road from a large open pit coal mine.  Unfortunately the lignite coal in Texas is the high sulfur type so they have to bring low sulfur coal in from a northern state on railroad cars.  

Once someone figures out how to transport coal in pipelines, the railroads will suffer financially.



Arriving at the rally site, set up the sidecamper then walked around, admiring the various rigs there.




Met Rex Cummingham who has been on the road pulling a small camping trailer with a motorcycle for three years now. Rex explained he is raising funds for the Diabetes Association. Rex's son was killed in a solo car accident after blacking out from a diabetic episode. Rex offered to drive his son to work that day but his son claimed he felt fine. nContact LoneStarRider.com for more details.



Inside the new and larger TSC shop, there are sidecar rigs in various stages of completion. And more motorcycles waiting to fitted with a sidecar. Business is very good for sidecar builders this year. 



Out in the yard, various sidecar rigs rode in for the open house. Harleys...



Goldwings...



a modern Wing and an older Sportster. 
Sidecarists don't care what brand you ride, as long as you ride three wheels. 
But don't mention trikes.




Though not a sidecar rig, a local gentleman RODE his 1926 British Royal Enfield motorcycle to the gathering. Today the Royal Enfield motorcycles are all produced in India. 

Was very cool listening to him explain the procedure he has to go through to start the bike. I could not remember all the steps so will not try to relate them...
 there were some words to the effect of tickling the fuel...



And what is a sidecar rally without someone having to wrench on their bike. A flat tire was the reason Eric had to break out his tool kit to attend to his Ural rig.



Come night fall, the ole sidecamper looked awfully inviting. Warm sleeping bag and soft pillow. 

Sleeping outside in the cool night air, Texas stars, coyotes singing in the distance, 
what more could a man ask for...


Ride safe y'all

CCjon



















Thursday, February 18, 2021

Cold Snow, Cold Photos

Wednesday morning temperatures were in the single digits... like 5 degrees when I went out. It had snowed all night so I knew everything would look different. 
Drove up to 9400 ft elevation to see the vistas

Rather than more details, the snow covered most everything. Places I had driven to a day earlier were now beyond the reach of my all-wheel drive truck. Being alone, and no other vehicles up here, decided not to risk getting stuck in this remote back country with freezing temperatures. So I stuck to roads that were...  semi-plowed. 



Had to make my own details in the snow.  By trudging across an open field...
(Was wearing my thirty-five year old Alaska insulated snow boots. Hope the seams hold).




 ... to capture the back side image 
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel.




Drove down to Rancho de Taos to the San Francisco de Asis Church, 
but the snow was falling harder there.

Was careful to protect the camera lens from wet flakes.



And for the color shot of the day, 
mule deer were out foraging for grass under the snow.  You can see the snow on their muzzles where they had rooted deep for food.



That wraps up another day in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Have not decided exactly when we'll return to Texas. So much depends on how fast everything returns to normal there after the infamous power outages and now limited water supplies.

Stay awake and healthy my friends,

CCjon



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Fresh New Mexico Snow Brings Fresh Images

During a fresh blowing snow front, captured a few more photos in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. Practicing and learning how to control the exposure and focus when it's single digit temperatures with a hard blowing wind. Blowing so hard my tripod toppled over several times. In order to work the camera dials glove free, kept a pocket warmer in the jacket so I could jam my bare right hand in to thaw the fingers between shots. 

Wind whipped dry snow created a mystical effect,
at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel in Angel Fire.



By wandering across the snow covered fields,
 discovered a new view of the chapel.
Am liking this angle.



Below looks like dust on the lens, but 
its the camera capturing the swirling snow as the wind whipped it around the buildings.



Off to a different location, 
have taken dozens and dozens photos of this old cowboy line cabin. Some close up, 
others from a distance trying to capture its abandoned character. 

A line cabin was where the cowboys could take refuge from a storm or nightfall when working the remote sections of a cattle ranch. Back before the valley was developed with a ski resort. 



As the sun was setting, experimented with several different techniques with snow and shadows.
Am not yet satisfied with the results. More work to be done, settings to try.
Since there is no one perfect way of doing anything, its the journey of discovery that satisfies and entices.




Revisited the rusty barbed wire gate. Blowing snow was accumulating 
along the fence that stretches across Moreno Valley. 



Finally for a color shot, 
seeing the white snow on this ristra of chili peppers inspired me to capture this image... 

Fire and Ice



That wraps up another day of photography. The forecast is for more snow tonight, so hopefully I can still get out in the morning and see what we can find interesting to shoot.

Stay safe and healthy my friends, 
hot cocoa by a roaring fire sounds perfect right now.

CCjon

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Waiting for Snow

Been sitting here in Northern New Mexico waiting for a good deep snowfall so I can take some photos. The locals tell me, "Oh, you should have been here a couple of weeks ago". 

It is cold with snow patches on the ground, but none of that soft drifting sea of white I was hoping to see. Here is what I have captured so far...


First up, a plowed country lane, deep shadows, edited for that 1950's era look of a Kodak Brownie camera.



Then tried a complex yet simple composition of a leafless aspen grove. All trees vertical save one. Would not want to attempt a crossword puzzle of this image.  




Driving higher, found a quiet meadow of unbroken snow field with long afternoon shadows. Tried for that frozen, frigid yet pristine look. 



Yes, am experimenting more with black & white photography.  But this image needed that late afternoon color to make it pop.



The next morning, waiting for the coffee to brew, looked out and saw the sun peeking thru a hole in the clouds, highlighting a distant mountain ridge.



Going for a minimalist look, edited out the surrounding dirt and weeds, keeping the soft shadow and the golden grass against the white grainy snow. 



That's what I have been up to these last few weeks in the mountains while we build up our COVID resistance with the help of two vaccine shots. 

See you on down the road. Stay safe, healthy, mask up.

CCjon


Friday, January 1, 2021

2020 Photo Wrap Up

2020 has been a year of strange, challenging and most unusual events. Here to wrap up the year in pictures are several photos taken, diverse, unrelated yet... there we were.

Like the doorways in an abandoned Texas ranch house,  
we entered 2020 not knowing what lie in wait.

Fayetteville Ranch House, Texas 2020



Innocently we proceeded into the year...

Jefferson Boardwalk, Texas 2020



The Houston Marathon kicked off the spring season of camera clicking.

Under the Bridge, Houston 2020



Then came the Houston Rodeo in March, which was suddenly cancelled mid-show. No one knew quite what to make of the Wuhan Flu, as was then called. Now why some protested saying that word was racist to the Chinese yet had no problem referring to the Spanish Flu go 1918... ?
 are some cultures protected, privileged or is it all BS PC Word Policing? 

Braids - Rodeo Cowgirl, Houston, 2020



Curtis's Last Rodeo, Houston 2020




Next up took a photography safari to Iceland to capture the sights... 
Can one say safari though not going to Africa?

iPhone photo from inside the bus of distant mountains, Iceland  2020



Inside the ice cave looking out,  wondering how our guide got up there...

Climbing the Ice, Iceland 2020




The summer found us spending more time in New Mexico, trying different photo techniques, hiding from the virus and healing from dental surgery. 

Brilliant New Mexican Clouds with Rainbow, New Mexico 2020



Experimented and learned a lot with night sky photography. 
In this shot captured two planets, the milky way and Taos lights. 

Celestial Events,  New Mexico 2020



During the day, was spent looking for scenic spots with streams and rivers 
to practice slow shutter speed shots of running water.

Red River, New Mexico 2020


Fall made itself known by the changing aspen colors and falling leaves. 

High Meadow, New Mexico 2020



Back in Texas, several Fall visits were made to Caddo Lake in northeast Texas. 

Boathouse, Caddo Lake 2020



The bald cypress tree leaves turn red before dropping. 
These red colors only last for about a week, maybe ten days. 

Fall Bayou Colors, Caddo Lake 2020



The Snowy Great Egret at home in the bayou. 

Spanish Moss, Caddo Lake 2020


Finally winter came and we retired to staying indoors more, avoiding large groups, parties and family. Everyone says at our age and with our ailments we are more susceptible to catching the virus. 
Which could be serious. so we avoided... whatever.

First Snow, New Mexico 2020


Truth be told, actually this photo was taken in August, but when converted to black & white, 
it changed to a snow scene. The camera eye sees all and easily deceives. 

Hope your year 2020 was interesting and a learning experience, in spite of the virus scare.  We'll keep learning new techniques, seeking new sights, improve our skills and hopefully venture out more in 2021. 

More sidecar riding is being planned. 

Happy New Years to you and yours

CCjon







Friday, November 27, 2020

CADDO LAKE COLORS

After the sidecar rally at Caddo Lake in October, returned in November with a small group of photographers to capture the infamous red leaves of the bald cypress trees.  The red leaves only last for a couple of weeks each year. Timing to be here during the peak is a roll of the dice.  
Photographers come from all over the world to capture the colors. There were several tour boats going out the weekend we were there, on which no english was being spoken 

The worms had stripped most the leaves off the cypress trees near the mainland, so we went out into the lake where there are islands of cypress that the worms could not reach. Guide called that "Social Distancing". 

When I say island, the cypress survive best in 3-5 feet of standing water, not on dry land or in very deep water.

Here is a late afternoon shot of the trees glowing. What was amazing is how the color went from a dull red to a glowing red just by changing your position. 


Even as the sun dropped lower in the sky, the famous colors remained strong.



Tried a similar shot but in black and white to compare the difference.



Sunset on Caddo Lake found us heading back to the dock. 
We will go back out again in the morning, leaving at 5:30 am with a cup of hot coffee in hand.


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Small point of imformation - Caddo Lake, which Texas shares with Louisiana, is the only natural lake in Texas. All of the other Texas lakes and bodies of water are manmade. It is north of Marshall, TX and Shreveport, LA. near one of the oldest settlements in Texas, Jefferson.  During the 1800's. Jefferson was the second largest water port in Texas, after Galveston. It sits 300 miles north of the Gulf Of Mexico on the Caddo River.

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By sunrise the guide and I are back out on the lake, in position for some great photos. 
The day looks promising in the predawn light.




Suddenly a thick fog bank rolls in from the south. The sun never made it above the horizon before being obscured.  
That does not stop one from trying to get interesting photos.

Foggy Red Cypress



Of course there are fishing birds around the lake, here one is skimming the surface looking for an opening and a meal. What looks like green ground you could walk on is actually an invasive Brazilian water plant called Salvinia. It floats on top of the water choking everything, other plants, boat motors, etc.  The first cold snap will kill it, only to return next year. 



Capturing that feeling of dripping Spanish Moss is more difficult than I thought it would be. 
Then this showboating character arrived to complete the photo.
Am not into bird photography but wanted to recreate the mood of a damp foggy morning on the bayou. What better subject than a great white egret.



Spotted an old shack back up a small bayou, Yes, it's occupied.  Hmmm... did not approach someone's fishing camp, or home.



The lack of sound in the bayou deafens the mind. 
Almost disturbing not be submerged in constant noise.

The fog was not quite so bad in the bayou leading back to the dock. 
Even the colors were starting to show again. 


A little disappointed in not having
 a brilliant sun to work with, but the fog presented new challenges for a different effect. One has to roll with the situation and find the best in whatever comes your way.

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By mid-day the fog had dissipated, which by then I was off the lake and out riding. Stopped to take a photo of a tree farm after harvesting. This is a paper tree farm. 

Could never understand why some people get so upset at the harvesting of trees but don't think twice about the harvesting of corn. Both strip their growing fields bare. Both are cultivated and grown for harvesting. The only difference is the length of the growth cycle. 


It's not like they are not going to replant the trees. They did here. 
These are still young trees. Trees engineered for paper use will grow very fast.



Off in the brush spotted movement, there looking back at me was a young doe.



Returning to  Jefferson, TX , stretched the legs with a walk along the river, following the elevated boardwalk thru the woods.



That wraps up the weekend at Caddo Lake and Jefferson. 

Ride safe my friends, mask up.

CCjon