Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Catie cargo

Keri called me into the bedroom yesterday. "Where's Catie?" she said?

We were packing for Keri to go to girls camp and for the rest of us to go to Draney Camp '10. Catie decided to stow away with Mom, I guess. She was folded neatly into this none-too-large gym bag.

Speaking of girls camp, Keri left this morning. In fact, she should be arriving at camp before too long here (it's about 12:45PM as I write this). I hope she has some real fun-- relaxing, invigorating, rejuvenating-- all the things I've enjoyed about scout camp. She'll be home on Friday afternoon.

We, on the other hand, will be home on Saturday night. It's just me and 5 kids--- affectionately known as "the hoard." We're finishing up a few chores today, and then we'll pack up and head for Utah tomorrow. Tomorrow night is a reunion of folks from the SLICC (Salt Lake Institute Concern Choir). That's where Keri and I met-- that and Dr. Ragsdale's inorganic chemistry class.

After the reunion it's on to Neola. Then Thursday morning, not too long after the sun lifts its corpuscular head above the Uintahs, we'll be on our way to Whiterocks Canyon and some relaxation and welting. We're hoping for less rain than the forecast officially calls for.

The Twin Falls Draneys are responsible for dinner on Thursday night. I have my plans. I hope they turn out. We did a test run on Sunday. The kitchen version was pretty darn good. Hopefully the camp stove version will be as good.

Speaking of camping food, what is your favorite, easy, inexpensive camp dessert (besides S'mores)? Any good ideas?
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Monday, July 26, 2010

sans scout camp

For the first time in 4 years, I'm not at Scout Camp this week. (sniff) Please join me in a moment of silence. It just seems appropriate. This fellow might be there, however, enjoying his second camp meal by now.

On the other hand, we are in the midst of mad preparations for Draney Camp, which is a week earlier this year. We'll be there on Thursday. Here's hoping for good weather and plenty of paintballs. Hopefully Uncle Kyle will bring his hammock again. It's always a hit.
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Military protocols

As you head south from Denver (or north from Pueblo), you pass through the lush country around Colorado Springs. To the west of the freeway are rolling hills and a beautiful pine forest. If you are paying attention, you'll see an iconic building that represents one of the United States' military academies (universities)-- the Air Force Academy. It's nestled back against the mountains amid other buildings that you would expect to see on a university campus-- dorms, classroom buildings, etc. It's the Cadet Chapel, built in 1963 and used daily on campus.

We caught a glimpse of the campus and this unique building as we made our way to Philment. As we headed home, we ran into heavy traffic at Colorado Springs. Deciding that our time would be just as well spent checking out the Academy as sitting on the freeway with the engine idling, we pulled off and made our way the 5 or so miles to the campus. Because the Academy is a military installation, our vehicle was inspected as we entered. The guard saw nothing to be concerned about, apparently, but she did ask "What's all that under the tarp on the trailer?" I replied, "Sleeping bags, camp chairs, suitcases, etc." I guess our pedestrian appearance and our slightly haggard look must have confirmed that we had just spent a week out of doors, so my answer satisfied her and she waved us through. The Draney family is no threat to national security apparently.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

From the archive

One of the benefits of having most of the summer off is that I have large swaths of time with the kids. Catie and I have been spending some quality time together in the early mornings. She gets up not long after the sun comes up, and I'm often up at that hour for personal time, so we've had some good talks and play. We have our breakfast together, and she tells me which "foofie" (movie) she wants to watch. We read a book together and then she settles in with Monsters, Inc. or something while I study. It's good, quality time.

I found this picture from several years ago of her tiny little feet. I usually don't like flash pictures; I prefer natural ambient lighting for most scenes. In this shot, however, I like the interplay between the flash-illuminated foreground and the light coming through the blinds. Even the reflection in the upper left adds a bit of intrigue, I think.

Even though this picture was actually taken in late fall, for me it represents the summer mornings with my beautiful daughter. (And no, I'm not wrapped around her little finger-- not in the least.)

Happy Saturday, everyone. May you have some sweet summer mornings with your loved ones soon.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

My first photography love

Photography as a passion was, for me, first a chemical thing. I started out in 7th or 8th grade with a shiny new Canon AE-1 Program (it belonged to the school) and as many rolls of Tri-X Pan film as I could shoot, develop, and print. I had developer and fixer in my blood for a time, I suspect. It was powerful stuff. (I wonder if I smelled bad. Maybe that's why my social life stunk (accidental pun-- sorry).) Loads of fun, too. Of course, black and white was the only real option for most of us. One school in our district had a color darkroom, but I was never very impressed by the color prints they made. Leave the color to the professional labs. B&W was not only fun, but doable--- really doable.

The advent of digital cameras changed things for most of us, of course. No longer do we need to own darkroom equipment and chemicals (not to mention a DARK room). A few clicks of the mouse, and our pics can be B&W. (I have a friend who not only still does darkroom/chemical B&W work, but also uses a pinhole camera for some of her best work. She did buy a digital camera recently, but she's a hands-on, darkroom junkie at heart, I think.) All of the pics from today's post were shot digitally and then converted. There are many, many ways to convert digital pics from color to B&W. These are all pretty straightforward, however. I own some Photoshop actions that convert them in fun, funky ways, but these are mostly straight conversions.

I post these today as a homage to what I see (and I think I always have seen) as the "coolness" factor of "seeing" in B&W. A "good" B&W shot, for me, has good contrast, a wide range of tones, even gradations (where called for), and a certain sharpness. I don't know what you will think of these, but they represent a range of things that I find both interesting and fun.

What makes a photograph work for you? What appeals to you? What draws you in? How does B&W figure in to the mix?
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scout-O-Rama 2010

This post is WAY out of date from one point of view. The Scout-O-Rama took place in late April. From another point of view, however, it is still very timely. The 100th year of scouting in the US is still underway and a friend of mine recently suggested that I get these photographs "out there" for more people to see. I post these for any scout to use for any bona-fide scouting purpose. Follow the link to see more.


The occasion, as I already noted, was the 100th year Scout-O-Rama in Twin Falls. It was a great success. Lots of folks attended, some good money was raised for Scouting, and Paul Tikalsky, Snake River Council Executive, got all wet.

All in all, a good time was had by all.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Raptor report

1/250sec, f/5.0, ISO: 200, 250mm
Next weekend is Draney Camp. One of the things we always do is have an afternoon of paintball-- the weekend welting. Jacob got a paintball marker for his birthday this year and he's been dying to try it out, so we drove over to the other side of the canyon to some public land that people use for this type of thing. We wandered around a bit looking for a good spot away from other people. When we came to a halt in a little swale, we looked out the window and saw this beautiful bird perched on a rock. I just had time to get the telephoto lens on the camera before it took off and flew away. I was able to get 8 or 10 shots, including the above. Anybody know precisely what kind of bird this is?

We then proceeded to the purpose of our trip-- shooting up the landscape with paintballs (not to worry-- they're biodegradable). Jacob came away even more excited for next week. It'll be fun.
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Patriot dream

One of the avowed missions of the Boys Scouts is to help boys and young men learn character traits such as loyalty and patriotism. To begin to learn these, they should also understand their relationship to their country. Proper reverence for the symbols of our country is key. One of the elements of Philmont was the daily flag ceremony. I'm hoping even our youngest began to get a sense of what the flags we fly mean. I recall watching my mother's reaction to the flying of Old Glory and the playing of the national anthem. I'm sure that it was in observing her love for God and country that I begin to learn and feel my own love for them.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Lost and found

#1 When we put our house on the market a while ago (I'm not going to say how long ago, but suffice it to say that we caused the housing crash by trying to sell our house), we packed up a bunch of stuff and stuck it in the shed so as to make the house look roomier. One of the things we packed up was the majority of our DVD collection. A while back, I dug most of them out (we ARE a movie-watching family, after all), but I didn't find the box with the M*A*S*H DVDs (and a few other movies). I looked a long time for them, but never did run on to them. I started to think that I had left the shed unlocked one night and someone had snagged them. I was kinda sad about it, but life moves on-- you know.

#2 In February 2009 I went to Seattle for some training for the accreditation report I was to help write for the college. When I got back, I couldn't find my driver's license. I searched my luggage carefully, called the airline, called the hotel, checked the car-- everything. No luck. Eventually I ponied up the $30 (or whatever) to get a duplicate license.

#3 Last summer, after we got back from Draney Camp, I remember using my Leatherman for some yardwork and little jobs around the house. I put it down in a strange spot, I thought, and I didn't see it again. It seemed to vanish, and no one had a clue about where it went.

#4 Keri and I got iPhones in February. One of the cool things about the earbuds that come with the iPhone is that they come with a combination microphone/remote. (If you're rockin' out to Flock of Seagulls or Planet P and your agent calls you about that spot in a Tide commercial, you won't have to unplug.) Within a week of getting our new phones, my microphone/remote earbuds went AWOL. Now, the story about earbuds in our house is that everyone wants some and no one keeps track of their own, so mine go missing quite often. This time, however, even monetary bribes didn't bring my "special" buds to the surface. Keri very kindly offered to let me use hers-- pretty much on a permanent basis (she's that way about everything-- selfless and considerate).

Since you noted the title of this post, you have no doubt figured out by now where I'm going with all this. It strains credibility, but all four of these items turned up in our house today within a couple of hours. All four! What are the odds?

Mentally, I'm still doing a little dance of joy. The universe is a little tidier tonight with these small mysteries solved. Pretty cool thing, eh?
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High-flying adored

1/200 sec, f/14, ISO 200, 25mm
I'm not quite done posting pics from Philmont, but I thought the new week could use a high-flying start. All our kiddos, but especially the little ones, thought the swingset repairs at Grandma's to be the absolute bees knees (Thanks again, Uncle Kyle). If they could have, they'd have spent every moment with me doing "underdoggies" and pushing them "higher, please, just a little higher."
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

High on a mountaintop

1/30 sec, f/3.8, ISO 280, 24mm

Keri and I hoped for a beautiful sunrise at the end of this early (EARLY) morning hike. The clouds precluded that, but it was a wonderful hike nonetheless. It's called Lover's Leap, and behind us there, the cliff drops off some 200 feet (or more). Keri loves me, to be sure, but she's really holding on to me in well-disguised terror.

We started this hike in the pitch black at 4:30AM. We were on the mountaintop (or at least to Lover's Leap-- the mountain goes much higher) by about 5:10. We hoped the sun would break through, but it never quite did.  It was not a difficult hike-- just hard enough to make it feel like a bit of an accomplishment.

This was Thursday, July 8th, the last full day of Philmont.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

World's Tallest Clown

1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200, 18mm (cropped to about 35mm)

This amazing performer made a surprise appearance at the Philmont Western/Patriotic Days Family Parade. He was a big hit.

Some new friends from Philmont loaned us this costume. They suggested that Catie be the "head" of this clown, but she wasn't in the mood when the time came. Cole was happy to fill in. The fellow who originally wore the costume with one (or perhaps many) of his grandchildren was probably 6-8 inches taller than me. Those pant legs are folded up some 15-18 inches underneath.

Truthfully, we got lots of fun reactions to this costume. EVERYONE wanted to take pictures. Happily, my mug was hidden from view (though I could see out well enough not to fall on someone or take a step into the pond).
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Camp Face

1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, 105mm
Sometimes great pictures just happen. Cam smiled, I raised the camera and shot. No playing with lighting, no coaxing a smile, no editing, no post production... nothing. Just the sweet smile of a creative, kind, courageous boy. A camping face.

This was the second-to-last day of Philmont. Cam had made some friends who really understood him. He had been able to roam around to his heart's content, and he had done some hard things (a couple of longish (for him) hikes). He has every reason to look content. It was a good, good camp.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The game room... aka "the garage"

1/30 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200, 35mm
While at Philmont, we lived in the "South Tent City." In the midst of that city is a building with four overhead doors (two each on opposite sides). It's the supply room and gathering place for the residents. It was a darn fun place to play Connect Four, chess, checkers, Phase 10, and various other games. There was nearly always hot cocoa and hot cider (the nights do get a bit chilly), and someone looking for a game. Our boys spent a good deal of time there. I got my behind kicked a few times at chess. I should have paid attention when Dad tried to teach me some strategies.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Phase Three

1/80 sec, f/5.3, ISO 200, 62mm
The third thing we did on our 15-day vacation was spend 5 1/2 days at the Philmont Scout Ranch. The ranch is the largest youth ranch in the world--- some 137,000 + acres. It was a gift from Waite Phillips, an businessman and philanthropist who, along with his wife, determined, after they became wealthy, to give away half of their income every year. The Phillips' gifts to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), including the ranch land and a commercial building in Oklahoma (the income from which got the ranch off the ground as a scouting destination), made it possible for some 900,000 scouts (and counting) to enjoy high adventure and challenge themselves in the great New Mexico outdoors.

We were at Philmont for the annual LDS conference. The LDS Church has had a long and useful relationship with the BSA. The Church was BSA's first chartered partner in 1913, just 3 years after scouting was organized in the United States. The Church partners with the BSA to build boys and instill values and character. The purposes of scouting align very well with the purposes of the Church's "Young Men's" organization. The training we received at Philmont will hopefully help strengthen the Church's efforts to raise strong, value-driven youth in Twin Falls, and make the local council stronger as well. It was a wonderful week of scouting and church training.

Above is our family flag--made especially for the Philmont conference. Any guesses as to its significance?
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Phase Two - Part Two

1/200 sec, f/16, ISO 200, 35mm
L to R: Jacob, Joshua, Caitlin, Bob, Keri, Colton, Cameron. Dad, of course, is behind the camera.
Here's the crew on the day we visited the downtown Denver aquarium. I was a little leery of spending $15 a head to get in, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience. Lots of different kinds of exhibits, the kids really enjoyed themselves, and we were indoors--- out of the sun. This, of course, is still Phase Two of the trip. Phase Three soon.

We're in Denver again, at the moment. We're going to Dad's ward for church this morning (take a look at the Gospel Doctrine lessons this fine fellow prepares ahead of time for his ward) and then we'll hit the trail for Neola. 
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Saturday, July 10, 2010


1/30 sec, f/3.5, ISO 2500, 18mm
Yesterday's picture was of Phase One of our vacation-- my mom's place in Utah. We tested out the swings and hiked around the place. Josh and I took a nice walk up to the old house (an abandoned cabin circa... I dunno... 1930) and took a bunch of pictures.

Phase Two was one to Denver (Lakewood, really) to spend a day plus with Keri's Dad. We went to the aquarium downtown and then Jake, Keri, and I went to a Rockies game. Because it was 4th of July weekend, they had fireworks. Our view was a little obstructed, but it was an awesome show nonetheless. At the end, the crowd began to chant "USA... USA... USA..." BTW, the Rockies beat San Francisco.

More soon about Phase Three.
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Friday, July 9, 2010

High Summer

1/800 sec, f/3.5, ISO 800, 18mm
We've just ended a week at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. (This picture isn't from there. More on the scout ranch in another post.) This picture is of Josh and Cam at my mom's place in Neola, Utah. My excellent brother, Kyle, repaired the swing set and all our kids had a grand time testing it out.

We've had a wonderful family vacation (and we're not done yet). I've taken almost 800 pictures. I'll post a few of the better ones over the next week or so. We've spent some restful, enriching, and much-needed family time together.

So... welcome me back to the land of blogging. ;-)
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