April 2010 Archives

Around the Neighborhood - Meters and Pipes

A hundred and twenty year old condominium building has suitably aged brick walls (newly tuckpointed, however) and lots of utility meters and pipes. Good for that intriguing photographic realm between reality and abstraction, I think.

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Around the Neighborhood - Local Notable

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A bust of Frank Boyd in Boyd Park, across the street from the building where I live. According to the Saint Paul MN web site, Boyd was "Born in Atchison, Kansas, to a Kentuckian and an African American, Frank Boyd organized the Pullman Porters of St. Paul. In 1926, Boyd became an officer in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Twin Cities Division. Because of his organizing activities, the Pullman Company fired him. He was one of the first two African American electors in the history of the Democratic Party; consequently, in 1944, he attended Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration ceremony as a member of the electoral college. "

Around the Neighborhood - Next Door

Along the side of the building next door, trying to capture a mood.

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Around the Neighborhood - Lines and Textures

Lines, shapes, textures, and colors muted or vivid -- what more could a photographer want?

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Around the Neighborhood - Traffic Cones

For the next few postings, I'll put up photos from around my neighborhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the building where I live.

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(click to enlarge) Amusing license plate

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(click to enlarge) An attempt at geometrical abstraction

Rhyolite - Farewell

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It's been said that the only people who made money from the Gold Rush were the merchants who sold stuff to the miners. The same was probably true in Rhyolite, though the Montgomery Shoshone Mine Company did OK for a couple of years. But eventually even the stores fail and their buildings crumble. This photo is triply laden with symbolism: the ends of the day, the building, and my wonderful trip to Death Valley.

Next: Photos from Minnesota


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Rhyolite - Oddments

Rhyolite, Nevada has all sorts of evocative fragments from the past,

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(click to enlarge) like this rather sinister-looking pickup truck

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(click to enlarge) and this bottle house. According to this web site,
"Around 1905, during the Gold Rush, Tom Kelly built his famous house in Rhyolite, NV with 51,000 beer bottles and adobe. He chose bottles because "it's very difficult to build a house with lumber from a Joshua tree." It took him about a year and a half to build the 3-room, L-shaped building with gingerbread trim. The original cost of the building was $2,500 but most of that money was spent on the wood and fixtures. Some of the bottles were medicine bottles, but most were Busch beer bottle throw-aways from the 50 bars in town. " You can take a video tour of the building here.

Rhyolite - Ghost Sculptures

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(click to enlarge) "The Last Supper" Created in 1984 by Albert Szukalski

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(click to enlarge) "Ghost Rider", also 1984 by Albert Szukalski

These two sculptures are part of the Goldwell Open Air Museum. According to the museum's web site:

"Known for many years in Europe as the sculptor of "ghosts" and a "situation maker," Albert Szukalski came to the Nevada desert in 1984 to create what is perhaps the most unique piece of his career. Originally designed to endure a mere two years, "The Last Supper" sculpture has not only stood the test of time, but has lived on to become the "genesis" piece of the Goldwell Open Air Museum.

"Albert was attracted to the Mojave Desert for many reasons, not the least of which was the Mojave's resemblance to the deserts of the Middle East. To construct a modern day representation of Christ's Last Supper, especially so close to Death Valley (where he originally wanted it sited), is eerily appropriate. Working essentially from Leonardo Da Vinci's fresco of the Last Supper within the desert environment, Szukalski succeeded in blending the two disparate elements into a unified whole. Maintaining the staging of the figures in Leonardo's work and placing it in the American Southwest allowed the artist to meld Western Artistic tradition with the vast landscape of the New World. Albert Szukalski followed up "The Last Supper" with two other pieces at the site, "Ghost Rider" in 1984 and "Desert Flower" in 1989.

"To make the life-size ghost figures, Szukalski wrapped live models in fabric soaked in wet plaster and posed them as in the painting "The Last Supper" by Leonardo Da Vinci. When the plaster set, the model was slipped out, leaving the rigid shroud that surrounded him. With more refining, Szukalski then coated the figures with fiberglass making them impervious to weather."

Rhyolite - Miner with Penguin; Stephen Johnson Workshops

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This strange 2-d sculpture was created in 1994 by Fred Bervoets and is titled "Tribute to Shorty Harris". What's the penguin doing there? Supposedly, the sculptor felt so out of place in Rhyolite that he searched for a symbol of maximum incongruity. Hence, the penguin.

I'd like to put in a plug here for two upcoming workshops offered by Stephen Johnson. Steve was the leader of the Death Valley workshop from which the past month's photos have come. He's a superb teacher and photographer, and the workshop was a great experience. His homepage is here.

On May 1-4, he's offering 4-day hands-on class on Fine Art Digital Printing, "a deep plunge into the art and techniques of producing stunning pigment prints from your photographs". The workshop will be held at his studio in Pacifica, a bit south of San Francisco. More information here.

On May 15-17, he's offering a 3-day workshop at Point Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco. Details here. When I lived in northern California, I went to Point Reyes several times and can testify to its extraordinary beauty and unique character.

Rhyolite, Nevada

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Rhyolite is a ghost town (still with a few sparks of life) just over the Nevada border from Death Valley. It's a picturesque place, as we'll see in the next few posts. The town's web site is here. It tells us "It was the third largest city in Nevada by 1908. And the population reached approximately 8,000 in the city! With a total of 10,000 in the Bullfrog Mining District, this included several small towns in the area and even part of Death Valley, California."

Death Valley - Farewell

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One last photo of the strange and beautiful Death Valley.

Death Valley - Two Views

Two photos from the same spot, one a little more zoomed than the other. Similar but different.

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Death Valley - Roadside Patterns

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Death Valley - Roadside Scenes

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A subtle treasury of patterns, tones and textures.

Death Valley - Roadside Details

Death Valley has lots of famous, named places. It also has lots of other places -- some of them just by the roadside -- that don't have names but are just as picturesque. For the next few days I'll be posting shots from some of those roadside places.

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Death Valley - Titus Canyon

According to Wikipedia, "Titus Canyon is a narrow gorge in the Grapevine Mountains near the eastern boundary of Death Valley National Park. It features megabreccia and other rock formations, petroglyphs, and wildlife of various kinds, including bighorn sheep. Along the road to the canyon stands Leadfield, a ghost town dating to the 1920s." Titus Canyon is one of Death Valley's spectacular sites, but it was closed (not an infrequent occurrence) due to recent flash floods. We were only able to photograph around the exit. Go here to see some of what we missed.

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Death Valley - More Mosaic Canyon Patterns

Two final photos of the fantastic layering and fracturing of rock in Mosaic Canyon.

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Death Valley - Mosaic Canyon Patterns

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Everywhere one looks there are fascinating patterns. There's a nice appreciation of Mosaic Canyon in Desert USA .

Death Valley - Mosaic Canyon

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Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley is one of the most amazing jumbles of different kinds of rocks that you'll ever see. According to the National Park Service,

"Mosaic Canyon was named for a rock formation known as the "Mosaic Breccia." Breccia is the Italian word meaning "fragments". This formation is composed of angular fragments of many different kinds of parent rock, and it can be seen on the floor of the canyon just south of the parking area. The most common rock formation in the canyon is the Noonday Dolomite. This limestone is rich in magnesium and formed 750 to 900 million years ago when the area was part of the Pacific Ocean. This sedimentary material was later buried to great depths by younger materials and was subjected to pressures and temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, much of the limestone was altered, or metamorphosed, into marble. Subsequent uplift and erosion have since re-exposed these metamorphic rocks."

Death Valley - Sand and Rock

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Striking patterns never end at Death Valley, but these are the last two photos from the sand dunes.

Death Valley - Sand Patterns

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Death Valley - Sensuous Curves

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Death Valley - Sand Dune Forms

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(click to enlarge) Sometimes the Death Valley sand dunes look like the Sahara...

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(click to enlarge) ... sometimes like another world entirely. In either case, it's a strange environment.

Death Valley - Sand Dune Patterns

The Death Valley sand dunes are not just massive hills of sand. They're also intricate patterns at your feet.

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(click to enlarge) Sand ripples in the early morning sun

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(click to enlarge) Patterns in dried mud

Death Valley - Sand Dunes

Death Valley has several areas of sand dunes; these are at Mesquite Flats. They're quite tall and are great photographic subjects, particularly as the early morning light outlines their forms and textures.

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We got to the dunes well before sunrise, when the moon was still bright in the sky.

Death Valley - Badwater Sunset: Red

After the sun had gone down further, the sunset turned to the most vivid red I've ever seen. The reflections in the salt added to the intensity.

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Death Valley - Badwater Sunset: Orange

As the sun went down, an unusual orange sunset appeared.

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Death Valley - Badwater

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From The American Southwest:

"The low, salty pool at Badwater, just beside the main park road is probably the best known and most visited place in Death Valley. The actual lowest point (-282 feet) is located several miles from the road and is not easily accessible - in fact its position varies, but a sign in front of the pool proclaims it too to have an elevation of -282 feet, and it is here that everyone comes to take photographs."

Death Valley - Colors and Portrait at Artist's Palette

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(click to enlarge) A last look at the remarkable colors of Artiist's Palette.

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(click to enlarge) Our workshop leader, Stephen Johnson, in a characteristic visually alert moment.

Death Valley - Artist's Palette (3)

Two more views of the strange and striking beauty of Artist's Palette in Death Valley.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2010 is the previous archive.

May 2010 is the next archive.

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