Head study #2

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jo Jo White R.I.P.

I was never a big Celtics fan but always admired their team greatly.

JoJo White, who died the other day, was a favorite of mine.

White was a perennial all star and his Celtic teams won four championships. He also won a Gold Medal in the 68 Olympics.

Along with Cowens and Havlicek, the team had a lot of moxie and grit.

I was a Knick and Laker fan back then. There were far fewer teams and the talent level was sky high, the competition fierce.

Unseld, Reed, Chamberlain, Lanier, Jabbar, Oscar, it was a glorious time for team basketball.

In the celestial orbit of the vegetables the cauliflower was always the brains of the operation.

Two minute rundown

Squash study

Using nuclear strikes on countries that engage in cyberhacking just doesn't seem like a very good idea to me. Bit disproportionate. What happens after that?

Height of cynical triangulation plays for the GOP to pit CHIP funding against DACA in the current budget showdown. Nasty people. Trump asked for a bipartisan solution. He got one then ran the other way when confronted by conservatives.

The chemical companies are playing the Trump administration like a fiddle. EPA eases path for new chemicals, raising fears of health hazards


People are rightfully outraged at the Turpins, the parents in Perris who kept their 12 children shackled to their beds. It was definitely heinous and they deserve the fires of hell. Can we save some derision for the matching argyle and the bowl haircuts too?

The latest report on international terrorist suspects being well, mostly foreign, is a total farce. Talk about disingenuous conflation. The link was made to make immigrants look bad. Many of the people were criminals specifically extradited to this country. And domestic terrorists were not even considered in the report.

And Jeff Sessions now says that we don't want illiterate immigrants. Good countries don't take them. My grandfather was illiterate. He ended up learning and making something of himself. I imagine many of the average american's forebears were similarly challenged. Many Americans today are illiterate as well. Trump wants to limit migration to hot looking Scandinavian babes. Hmmm.

Speaking of Scandinavians, Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen wasn't sure if Norwegians were mostly white during her grilling yesterday on Capitol Hill. Please. Unless of course, she lied under oath.

Nielsen was Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Prevention, Preparedness, and Response during her tenure in the Bush Administration. Many blame her for what is characterized as a botched response to Katrina, failing to act on several specific warnings.

The other day she admitted that she did not know that 15,000 dreamers have already lost DACA status under the Trump regime.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Exceptionally what?

So now we are parsing the semantical difference between the words shithole and shithouse? Bit duplicitous of those GOP pricks Perdue and Cotton, if you ask me.

I think we can finally put all that talk about American exceptionalism to bed.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, no choir boy himself, came down pretty hard on President Trump today and I can't say I altogether blame him.
'They continue to work using the language of diktat and ultimatum. They do not recognize the reality of a multipolar world'
The man has got a point.

Calling Edward Weston

I am shooting some fruits and vegetables today.

I am putting a few pics in a show next month, knocking some stuff around in my mind.

Will let you know when it gets closer.

I am sure that I will get some Weston smack. Even shot a whole bunch of stuff at ƒ20. This one is pretty wide open. Save yourselves the trouble.

Manuel de Falla - El Amor Brujo

Portsmouth Orchestra featuring Dolores Arriaga

Meine Doppelgänger

Google has an android app out now called Art and Culture. It allows you to take a selfie which matches you up with a portrait in its vast museum archive. I had various matches, with rankings, including a Whistler self portrait, but my highest degree match was to this painting by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida.

Sorolla is a favorite of Leslie and mine, we went to his garden painting expedition at the Alhambra when we were in Granada.

The painting, executed in 1910, was a portrait of the Marquis of Vega-Inclán. Inscribed in spanish upper left is “To Benigno Vega for his Museum in Toledo." The canvas now rests at the El Greco Museum.


Did a little checking on my Marquis and found this:

Which is sort of interesting and coincidental because the Pan Pacific Exposition was in both San Diego and San Francisco in 1915 and it is quite possible, if not probable, that he visited the place of my birth at some point.

Studio shot

Emma Lazarus - recent revisions


Studio shots

My friend Fred Young is a studio and fashion photographer. I had told him that I wanted to learn more about lighting and studio work. I have never really approached portraiture with professional methods and I needed to see how it was done.

Yesterday he invited me over to his studio to watch him work and get a little education. He told me that I was free to take some shots on my own so I did. I was using my Nikon D810 with the nikkor 85mm 1.8 d.

He was very professional and I enjoyed watching the obvious rapport he had with the models, who were all very sweet and charming.

Fred knew exactly what he wanted and was able to communicate his vision clearly. It was a lot of fun watching him work and also trying my own hand.

I asked him if we could shoot some darker, more dramatic stuff and I am happy with the shots we were able to ultimately capture.

The girl near the bottom of the page with the purple hair is also a makeup artist who specializes in prosthetic effects like you see in the movies.

A delight as they all were, to a girl. My focus is off a little on this particular shot. I can see I have a lot to learn. Hope that I get invited back!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I'll take care of you

Senators Perdue and Cotton go full Sergeant Schultz

We heard nothing!

Chitlins con carne

you pick.

Marmot smelling the flowers

I must be jonesing for a trip to the Tetons!

This shot is straight out of Wind in the Willows or a turn of the century children's book, wouldn't be surprised if the marmot turned around and invited me to tea.

After looking at his pocket watch, of course.


We never learn.

Pretty little cooper's hawk near the mailbox this morning.

Remember a few weeks ago, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said that there would be no drilling or mining in Bears Ears National Monument, that the media was lying.

He must have meant the new Bears Ears.

Read this article in the New York Times, Uranium Miners Pushed Hard for a Comeback. They Got Their Wish.
The Trump administration is set to shrink Bears Ears by 85 percent next month, potentially opening more than a million acres to mining, drilling and other industrial activity. But even as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared last month that “there is no mine within Bears Ears,” there were more than 300 uranium mining claims inside the monument, according to data from Utah’s Bureau of Land Management office that was reviewed by The New York Times.
The vast majority of those claims fall neatly outside the new boundaries of Bears Ears set by the administration. And an examination of local B.L.M. records, including those not yet entered into the agency’s land and mineral use authorizations database, shows that about a third of the claims are linked to Energy Fuels, a Canadian uranium producer. Energy Fuels also owns the Grand Canyon mine, where groundwater has already flooded the main shaft.
The Navajo have been decimated by uranium mining, it has been a toxic disaster on the reservation, both to their environment and physical beings.

Here's a good article in an old Los Angeles Times, if you can get behind the paywall. I touched on it here at the Blast a few years ago, this article has another good link.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dreaming of big sky and vapors

I've reprocessed some of my old shots from Yellowstone and the Tetons today. Sort of like visiting old friends. Make sure that you click on one and see them full size.

Mammoth Springs

Snake River Overlook

black bear cub

red fox
Large male grizzly, Big Thumb Creek

Moose on the Gros Ventre

I Am the Black Gold of the Sun


I had intended to dance around the whole "Trump shithole" kerfuffle but I simply can't.

Every week we Americans ask ourselves if the national bar can be possibly dropped any lower and every week we get some delicious new surprise like this and plummet even farther into the abyss.

What I found most interesting was the initial feedback from the talking heads that the President's derogatory comments regarding Haiti and Africa would only help him with his base. Ann Coulter sounded very aroused, thought he was trying to woo her back to the fold.

Interestingly, African immigrants are better educated than Americans. Over 40% have bachelor's degrees. The number of Americans with bachelor's degrees is closer to 30%. Republican strategist and consultant Frank Luntz tweeted: “43% of immigrants from (shithole) African countries have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 33% of the overall American population. Nigerian-Americans, for instance, have a median household income well above the American average.”

I got on The Hill, Townhall, National Review, all my normal go to's for taking the conservative pulse, and after reading the comments sections, I believe that the prognosticators were absolutely correct. A sampling:

These of course are the tamer comments, many of them were so obscene and racist that they are unprintable. But you get the idea. The base eats this stuff up like sloppy joes served at a cross burning. The GOP is quickly becoming the party of racism and hate. He is loving the way this resonates with the base. Look for him to double down on the nasty invective when he sees the big spike in his ratings.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Prometheus Birds

There is a new study published in the Journal of Ethnobiology that is worth delving into. Unfortunately it is behind a pay wall but richer souls than me paid the ticket for a look and I will break it down for you based on what little I know.

Raptors are using fire as a tool to hunt food in a way that no one thought they were capable of.
Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia
Mark Bonta, Robert Gosford, Dick Eussen, Nathan Ferguson, Erana Loveless, and Maxwell Witwer
Journal of Ethnobiology Dec 2017 : Vol. 37, Issue 4 Special Section: Birds II, pg(s) 700- 718https://doi.org/10.2993/0278-0771-37.4.700
We document Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and non-Indigenous observations of intentional fire-spreading by the fire-foraging raptors Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) in tropical Australian savannas. Observers report both solo and cooperative attempts, often successful, to spread wildfires intentionally via single-occasion or repeated transport of burning sticks in talons or beaks. This behavior, often represented in sacred ceremonies, is widely known to local people in the Northern Territory, where we carried out ethno-ornithological research from 2011 to 2017; it was also reported to us from Western Australia and Queensland. Though Aboriginal rangers and others who deal with bushfires take into account the risks posed by raptors that cause controlled burns to jump across firebreaks, official skepticism about the reality of avian fire-spreading hampers effective planning for landscape management and restoration. Via ethno-ornithological workshops and controlled field experiments with land managers, our collaborative research aims to situate fire-spreading as an important factor in fire management and fire ecology. In a broader sense, better understanding of avian fire-spreading, both in Australia and, potentially, elsewhere, can contribute to theories about the evolution of tropical savannas and the origins of human fire use.
 It appears that the aborigines were exactly right. Certain species of kite and falcon steal fire and use it to flush out prey. Here was my first sort of cumbersome look at the matter, Is this bird an arsonist? from National Geographic. That led me to a 2011 blog that was really good, Crikey.
“I have seen a hawk pick up a smouldering stick in its claws and drop it in a fresh patch of dry grass half a mile away, then wait with its mates for the mad exodus of scorched and frightened rodents and reptiles. When that area was burnt out the process was repeated elsewhere. We call these fires Jarulan“
And another good link here at Live Science. It is interesting that the birds are sometimes accompanied by crows. Corvids are supposedly the smartest birds and I often see them in the same trees as the raptors I photograph. I always wondered if the relationship was symbiotic. They were supposed to be the only birds that used tools. Which species discovered the trick, and if they shared, who taught who?

And I found this thought provoking gem:
...I found a reference to a belief, I think it was in New Guinea (would have to check my notes) that humans learned how to use fire from watching kites. 

Was fire a gift from the gods or from the birds? Prometheus gave man fire and Zeus sent an eagle to eat his liver away every day. Raptors have apparently been inextricably linked to fire in many myths.

I look forward into doing some research and hopefully finding out much more about this thought provoking subject.

Bob Gosford 

Blues in the morning

Tech talk.

I just had today's project by an insurance company canceled so I am sort of freewheeling through space. It is still raining, I still have a cold and I am still digesting this morning's bad news.

Vlad called to tell me that yesterday's blog was so depressing that he had to start searching for a shot of a bird or two. So here goes.

This shot is strictly illustrative.

It was taken at 8:35 in the morning, under dark skies. ƒ4, iso 3200, 2500th's of a second. Nikon D810, Nikkor 400mm ƒ2.8E  f (for flourite, the high tech front lens element).

I grabbed the camera with the huge lens from the back seat and just snapped. Manual exposure settings with Auto iso.

It is not terrible, sort of has a Japanese aesthetic period thing going for it compositionally.

Barely sharp enough to post but it gets its point across adequately considering it was shot in near darkness.

The point is that if I was using the Sigma 150-600mm C, which I basically can't shoot under ƒ7.1 under any condition at full reach, there would have been no shot at all.

I know, I missed a hawk shot with the other combo in similar light this very morning.

The behemoth (and quite expensive) nikkor 400mm 2.8E fl gives me a chance to grab something in adverse weather and light, to get something salvageable. Would have been better at ƒ2.8 or 3.5 and with a lower shutter speed but these pesky birds move and I honestly didn't check, I think I just grabbed the heavy beast and shot with the previous day's settings.

I am glad I have this lens. There are times when no other lens in the world can touch it. Here's another shot taken with the other rig, Vlad, the Nikon D7200. I dig the natural highlight on the top of the bill. Hope this will make you feel better.

Lou Reed

William Dailey

I got terrible news today. Nicole Panter wrote me that her loving partner Bill Dailey was killed last month in Los Angeles in a tragic accident.

He was crossing the street on December 15th, just blocks from their home when he was struck. I do not know the exact details.

William Dailey was an extremely nice and wonderful man. A renowned antiquarian book dealer, he was a longtime fixture in Los Angeles.  Quiet and circumspect, Bill had a genuine love and affinity for the southwest and the California desert. Leslie and I greatly enjoyed the time we spent at his small hotel in Desert Hot Springs, the Hacienda, a project that he took such a delight in restoring.

Bill was square and honest and incredibly knowledgable on many subjects, and he freely shared this knowledge with me and others. I am sure that he will be sadly missed by all of those lucky enough to be in his orbit. It probably goes without saying, but he was taken from the world far too soon.