Happy Earth Day to you, this April 22nd, 2018. I feel like I experience Earth Day every time I visit a national park. On this occasion, I was up with scads of other people at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, watching: the sunrise.
It is. It’s almost the end of 2015 and I, for one, am ready for it to be done with. Except for my boob job in January, it’s been a pretty shitty year I’ll admit.
My 89-year old mother became ill in early February and subsequently died on the 19th, one day prior to my elder sister’s birthday. We can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we were both there to care for Mom at the end of it all. From then on, life and work went to hell in a handbasket. I’d break into tears every time I thought of Mom or thought of (or heard or saw) something that reminded me of Mom, My sister and I constantly second-guessed ourselves concerning Mom (woulda, coulda, shoulda). I found myself working for a horrible boss who made my work life miserable. I was not in the least interested in photography. And my entire life revolved around being Executrix of Mom’s estate.
Poor Mom. She thought she was leaving my sister and me with a nice little nest egg of her savings. As it was, my sister and I spent every single penny of that nest-egg savings getting Mom’s house up to snuff so we could finally put it on the market; fingers crossed that this sale goes through smoothly so we can be done with it. These upgrades included a total re-grade and re-sod of the entire front, back and side yards around the house (including the addition of what they call “French drains” to get the standing water to drain into the ditches around the house thanks to the horrid spring thunderstorms Texas constantly experienced all April and May); installation of more foundation pillars in the hallway; patching and repainting the cracks in the walls caused by the foundation work as well as the house’s normal settling issues here in southeast Texas; re-carpeting the hallway, one bedroom and the large den; getting the electrical issues worked out; installing a new roof to replace the one damaged by a freak April hailstorm; fixing the garage door, removing all of the high-tech hurricane storm shutters; and a number of other smaller issues – all required by the home inspector’s and the structural engineer’s report and the current realtor’s suggestions to make the house more – well – salable. This work has all taken two months shy of a year since Mom’s death. It’s been an albatross around my neck and I can’t thank my sister’s husband enough for all of his help – his 30 years in the construction business has enabled me to keep from going mad and throttling most of the people and businesses within this horrid little Podunk Texas town in which I currently reside. My experience this year has lead me to believe that there is absolutely no business here in this town that is totally trustworthy. At least, not when it comes to dealing with a divorced, middle-aged woman such as myself. Fuck ‘em all, I say.
As you can probably tell by now, this entire experience has given birth to the New Me: Angry White Woman.
I don’t take shit off of anybody anymore and I’m far more vocal about my feelings, opinions and beliefs (this includes my political and non-religious leanings, much to many of my Facebook friends’ annoyance). I have discovered I am also far more willing to stick my neck out at work and push back to the dirty politics I experience on behalf of myself and my friends who either cannot or will not push back themselves (it’s easier for me to do it since I’m close to early retirement and I don’t have a family for whom I must provide – this allows me to follow the courage of my convictions).
It’s taken me 54 years, and I’m absolutely certain Mom’s death was the catalyst to make me realize what is truly important in my life. Hint: it aint work. Work is not my life and never has been – it just pays the bills, pays for my camera equipment and allows me to travel. No, what is really important – to me – is family and people who love me.
I no longer have family here in Texas. They all live out in the Pacific Northwest, and sooner rather than later, that is where I will move. I am making my plans little by little. I don’t want to grow old and spend my remaining days alone in a Texas nursing home, waiting to die, far away from people I love and who love me. Besides that, I’ve never been a huge fan of Texas and am ready for the next adventure further west where the mountains and my family live.
I’m also trying to regain my photo mojo. I’ve done a few small photo projects this year, including:
Using my new 11-24mm, 100mm macro, and 500mm prime lenses at Brazos Bend State Park, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and around my home and my mother’s home;
Spending a wonderful sunrise photo shoot as well as an entire day in the photo pit at the 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow;
Performing my duties as staff photographer for The Merchant Prince and capturing images for his use out at the 2015 Texas Renaissance Festival;
Photographing my newest great niece whom I have never met until last year (for only 20 minutes before getting to the airport) and who is now almost 3 years old;
And photographing my company’s annual gingerbread decorating event.
I haven’t really taken any photo holiday because almost all of my annual vacation days were spent caring for Mom and thereafter taking care of the estate. I did take a short trip to visit my sister and her family in eastern Washington over Labor Day, spent a weekend in Santa Fe NM during the Memorial Day holiday, and visited my sister and her family, again, during Thanksgiving.
My main vacation is coming up and I hope it will be the jump start to much more photography in 2016: I’m going to be spending 10 days in Europe (including Christmas and New Year): 8 days in London and 2 days in Paris. Everything is paid for, I printed out all of my tickets, and I am all packed, including my camera backpack:
I’m not taking my 70-200mm lens because it’s heavy and my backpack is already heavy enough (plus I’m taking two suitcases as well as my laptop bag with travel laptop, mouse, memory card readers, 2 external hard drives – 1 TB each, iPhone, iPad, book, and folder with all of my ticket information for the various venues I will attend). I can only take so much – don’t even ask me what I’ve packed in the suitcases (grin).
I apologize for not publishing more blog posts. I know one is supposed to do that to keep readership and to keep one’s writing skills in tip-top shape. I’ll get back into the groove, I promise. I’ll have free WiFi in my London and Paris hotels, so I know I’ll be editing photos and writing about my experiences, uploading to both my Facebook photography page as well as my Twitter account. I may even publish a post while there. For now, stay tuned to forthcoming imagery from my 2015 trip, as well as the trips I have planned for 2016. I plan on making up for lost time.
I was going through photography withdrawal, having not taken a picture of anything since my return from my Maine trip . It’s been 3-4 months since I last visited the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in my part of southeast Texas, so I thought that would be a worthwhile thing to do over the weekend (now that the government shutdown is over and the refuge is open again).
So I got up Saturday morning (Oct 26) at 5:11AM and was out the door by about 5:45AM. I arrived at the entrance gate, parked my car, and waited in the dark. The sign says the gate opens at “dawn’” and closes at “dusk” (whatever hours constitute dawn and dusk times is anybody’s guess).
At 7AM, I heard the rumbling of the gate as it automatically opened up. So now know – 7AM is dawn.
As I sat there, watching the distant horizon turn from indigo to a deep pink-orange while deep blue clouds drifted past, I kept thinking jeez – I’m missing some good photo ops. Luckily the gate opened up with time for me to get to the spot I wanted.
Once I got there, though, I was a little unimpressed. Nonetheless, I affixed the polarizer to my lens because I wanted to saturate the colors. I also used a graduated ND filter because the area below the horizon was naturally darker than the area above the horizon. Aperture was set at either f7.1 or (in those instances when I wanted to try and achieve a sunburst) f22. ISO was 160 to 250 and I played around with the shutter speed, anywhere from 1/30 to 1 second (I shoot in Manual mode).
I took a few shots (the ones above) then proceeded to take the camera off the tripod.
I happened to look back toward the horizon to see the clouds lined with a brilliant golden-yellow and sunrays reaching past the cloud blockade.
Camera went back on tripod.
Not a bad way to start a Saturday morning.
Here’s a link to the video I uploaded to YouTube of my morning visit to the refuge. I mention in my video commentary that it’s winter. It’s still fall, but here in southeast Texas, the two seasons are interchangeable. And while you may not see much birdlife, you can hear it in the background, along with the crickets and the wind.
I had only 2 full days (plus a half day and a morning) within Arches National Park, Utah, but during those days, one of my favorite spots was a place near the park entrance called the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint. I’d stop there each day going into and out of the park. It’s the perfect place for sunrise images.
It’s also the perfect place to get an amazing overview of the La Sal Mountains, The Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, Tower of Babel, The Organ, and some amazing views far beyond of such formations as Balanced Rock.
From this viewpoint, you can see interesting things like the hot air balloon that rose above the rocks each morning I was there.
This viewpoint is also a lovely place to stop and say good-bye to the park until the next time you visit it.
I’ve booked my airfaire for a February 2013 trip back to Moab and Arches NP. If anybody thinks they might be out there during that time, give me a shout; it would be fun to meet you and enjoy some photographic quality time together.
I think I am pretty good with the written word, but sometimes, words fail me. Especially when it comes to expressing sympathy and condolences. Don’t know why that is, except that I feel sometimes anything I say would sound trite, clichéd, or fake.
I’m still trying to get my head around the Aurora, Colorado shooting of July 20, 2012. It’s beyond my comprehension why somebody would want to do something like that to other people. I don’t get it.
Because I don’t have the right words for something like this, I thought I would express my sympathy to the people of Aurora, Colorado in the best way I can, and that’s to post a photographic homage.
I’ve chosen to post some Colorado sunrise images because – to me – that represents the beauty of a new day, a fresh start and sunlight shining to illuminate the darkness of the night.
My thoughts and sympathies are with you, Aurora.
Most photographers come to Brazos Bend State Park in Texas for the wildlife. I do that too, but I also come to this place for the landscape photo ops. On this particular morning, I left home at a little before 7AM to arrive at 40-Acre Lake by 7:30; just in time for some nice morning light. This is the observation/fishing pier. Fishing is free here, but no boating or swimming is allowed (note the sign regarding alligators, of which I saw several).
I was going to post this photo on one of the Montana- or GNP-related Facebook pages out there, only to discover, to my chagrin, that these pages not only do not allow for visitor uploads, but some of them are basically just place markers directing visitors to go to the actual website. Ok, that’s fine. I want people to visit my website (and maybe purchase something). And I don’t allow for visitor uploads on *my* Facebook page either (probably because the page says Rebecca Latson Photography – a rather specific page). Nonetheless, I have a bit of a beef with those public pages that *are* simply used as place markers and don’t have any interesting stuff or postings on them. It’s a bit of a turnoff. If you are going to have a Facebook page, then for heaven’s sake, post stuff to it! That way, if people really *are* interested in seeing more of your stuff (like your photo galleries on your website), then they will go visit that website. And, they will “Like” your page, showing visitors that your page actually has some merit to it.
Ok, I’m off my soap box. I admit to being a bit cheesed off about not being able to upload my photo to one or more of those specific pages. *Maybe* it hurt my inflated ego just a little bit, since I am proud of my work and want to advertise my photographic talents (in the hope of snagging some bizness). Nonetheless, I think what I wrote above is still true.
What do *you* think?