Summer Walk-about 2017

As many of you know when school ends for the summer we head out onto the road to attend weekend hot air balloon events and between events we camp and explore while living in an R-Pod trailer with our Great Dane, Martok.  This was actually Martok’s first summer with us, we adopted him in late April.

Stats for this year’s trip:
  • ~9500 miles driven
  • 2 countries (US, Canada)
  • 7 states (California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado)
  • 7 National Parks (Glacier, Waterton Lakes, Banff, Jasper, Yellowstone, Tetons and Rocky Mountain)
  • 7 balloon events (High Sierra Balloon Camp, Panguitch, Driggs, Riverton, Casper, Walden and Craig)
  • 1 balloon tether
  • 120 lbs of dog food
  • ≥ 8 boat inspections for invasive species control
  • 1 total eclipse of the sun
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Walkabout 2017

My apologies to all my readers who have voiced complaints about not getting to live vicariously through my posts because I haven’t been posting.  This will get you caught up.

Abstract (fancy name for Reader’s Digest version):

So far the trip has been drive 13 hours to balloon camp in Truckee, balloon, eat, talk about ballooning, eat, talk some more eat some more sleep a little get up early and repeat for 4 days then drive another marathon 12 hours to Panguitch, lose an hour entering MST and balloon for 3 more days including getting my flight review in a racer. (thanks Kent)!

After a short drive to Red Canyon to sleep in the smoke from the Brianhead fire for 1 night then more driving for 2 days to get to Driggs, ID to help get the last minute stuff for that balloon rally and then fly 4 days and tether 1 and 1 candlestick over the 2 day rally.  (Not a typo, the rally was Sat-Sun but we flew Fri.-Mon. and tethered for 2.5 hrs. in the morning and candlesticked in the evening on Tue.) Most of the days after flying were spent sleeping or sitting on the deck with little energy to do more than enjoy the valley.

Two more days of driving to arrive in Kalispell where things did slow down as we visited with friends and Martok got his first power boat ride on Flathead Lake.  Then it was across the border to Canada and Waterton Lakes National Park to meet up with friends from San Diego, go hiking, hide from lots of rain and see lots of bears and deer that walk through the camp.

After Canada was another day and a half driving to Riverton for 1 flight and 2 candlesticks which would have brought us up to present time sitting at Worthen Meadows for a couple days of being mosquito bait and a little rain except I didn’t post this while in Casper like I should have so more has happened.

The Casper rally was too much wind, then almost too much wind and then 1 good day.  Then more driving for almost 3 days to get back up to Banff.  Found a camp after a couple were full, tried to move to Yoho National Park but all the camps there were full so spent we 2 days by Waterfowl Lake in northern Banff then off to 2 days in Jasper and 2 days in Edmonton to visit friends and have some really good ice-cream.

Yes, they let us back in the country and 3 days of driving to get to Craig, CO by way of Yellowstone where we saw absolutely NO wildlife.

First day of Craig was no flying but we tethered the hopper on the field and stinky dog got a bath, more tethering on the second day as well.  Now up to present day and I will back-fill the details and photos with hopefully a bit more (or at least some) regularity in the future.

After pushing the shutter button

do you think “post-processing” is a dirty word?

When a scene moves us to want to push the shutter and capture that moment are we trying to capture simply what our eyes are seeing or what the moment causes us to feel?  The camera sensor can’t express what we are feeling nor can it truly record what we are seeing.  What we see is the interpretation of the visual signals sent to our brain by our eyes, basically our brains are doing the post-processing for us.  We have to do it for the camera.

Whether you plan to share your work by printing it or share it digitally you still want that photograph to express what it was you felt and why you were moved to take the image in the first place.  What comes directly out of the camera just can’t do that.

I posted this image a couple of weeks ago from our road trip to Idaho and Wyoming.

Jackson Lake with a snow storm approaching over the Tetons
Jackson Lake with a snow storm approaching over the Tetons

What I didn’t show was how this image began.  When I took the image I knew I wanted it black and white.  Black and white images allow the textures and shapes to take center stage without being overwhelmed by color and there just wasn’t much color in the scene to begin with.

RAW Jackson Lake
RAW Jackson Lake

My focus was the Tetons and the approaching storm clouds creeping over them so the detail needed to be increased on the mountains and in the sky.  I also created a layer to selectively draw more attention to the mountains.  I chose to add a blue tone to the image to make it feel cooler since it was cold at the time.  Ultimately there were 4 or 5 layers created to fine tune different parts and obviously I did crop the image.  I probably should have paid more attention in the field to the intersecting lines as well as the placement of the horizon and shifted my view upwards.  Diagonals play an important role in compositions, by cropping the bottom I was able to place the diagonal line of the shore in the corner of the image and use it to point to the mountains although they are still too uncomfortably centered.

After doing most of the adjusting I then shared the image with my peers through a live video hangout.  They provided honest positive and negative comments which sent me back to work to bring in more detail into the trees as well as adjusting the ice on the right side to break the horizontal line.  Some people might say that is changing reality but in reality it wasn’t in black and white either.  Be honest, had you noticed before I pointed it out?  Some people suggested I remove the holes in the ice but I don’t find them greatly distracting so I didn’t.

If you have any comments about what I did or how I did it please leave a comment below.  I’m thinking about doing more before/after posts so let me know if that is something any of you are interested in.

Postcards from the Tetons

I posted these on my other social media channels but I wanted to also post them here before the trip became a distant memory.

Jackson Lake with a snow storm approaching over the Tetons
Jackson Lake with a snow storm approaching over the Tetons
A moose trying to take a nap by the roadside near the Gros Ventre
A moose trying to take a nap by the roadside near the Gros Ventre
Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Morning fog starting to clear from a farm in Teton Valley
Morning fog starting to clear from a farm in Teton Valley

Easter Hop

First Annual Easter hopper hop

hoppers, hot air, balloons, cloud hopper

On Sunday morning Temecula became the site of one of the largest gathering of hoppers or basket-less balloons on the west coast.  It all started with a casual inquiry on Facebook one month ago and grew to 8 hoppers and 1 chariot.

Fly-able weather is never a guarantee for any balloon event but no one could complain about it for either Saturday or Sunday.

The volume of all the hoppers is equal to the volume of the large ride balloon behind them.

The most consistent thing about Temecula in the morning is that it isn’t consistent but that played in favor of the balloons on Sunday by switching around and allowing 4 of the 7 balloons which flew to land back at their launch site.

Calendars have already been marked for next year when the event will expand to be 2 days long.