Water and stone

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Falling Star


The Big Three

Lone tree, Bryce Canyon

Palm Springs Modernism

I will be exhibiting in Palm Springs this weekend. Please come and join me if you are in the area.

Get more info here.

There is also an art fair next door with some outstanding dealers as well.

Come have a great weekend in the desert!

UB40 - I Would Do For You

Sunshine Daydream

sunshine daydream
Red Canyon, early morn


Cold Utah postcard


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Walk in beauty

It was nice to spend a week outside the ugly cesspool of politics. My recent travel companion is conservative, but fair minded. In any case we didn't dwell too much on politics. I tried to bring up the subject once and he said he didn't really care about such things and I got the message. Which is fine, everybody needs a break these days, no matter your political orientation.

I did get into it with a mormon rancher regarding Bears Ears National Monument and local exploitation of federal lands but we kept it short.

When's the last time anyone's attitude ever really got changed by talking anyway? Never happens these days. Might as well save your breath. We dial in the news that supports our views, hang out with like minded folk, stay in our bubble and pretend indignation when the other guy starts doing what our guy used to do. And vice versa.

I like to go back to what the Jefferson Airplane once so ably sang.

It doesn't mean shit to a tree.

The Navajo blessing way has a saying and concept worth remembering - hozho naasha, or walking in beauty. Not a bad way to go.

Big stretch, Bryce Panorama

All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)

Bryce Overlook, Monochrome

Nature's color box - Valley of Fire, Nevada

Cold morning on the Virgin River

Monday, February 13, 2017


I used some hocus pocus on the top, only reduced clarity on the bottom and turned this Zion view into a nice colored woodblock print or two.

Canyon rim, Bryce Canyon

Bonnie Raitt& John Prine - Angel From Montgomery

Speed Of Sound Of Loneliness - Amos Lee

Southwest Run

I just got back from a quick roadie to Utah with my photographer friend Ken. He drove. We had been there in the summer and thought that we should get some winter shots too. We grabbed a bunch. Thousands. So many that I can't even look at them at present, let alone process them.

Hope that we got some good ones. Weather was spotty. We fought for light all weekend, sometimes roads were shut down and sky was totally socked in. Often actually.

But we stuck to it and persevered and I am looking forward to seeing what I shot as I am sure Ken is.

My trip started at the airport. Leslie graciously drove me. Flew to Vegas, Ken picked me up there.

Booked it to Valley of Fire. Took a hike or two in the deep sand and felt totally out of shape. Everything hurts as it should after being subjected to a prolonged period of brutal neglect.

Spent that night in St. George. Drove to Zion the next day. Hiked the Temple of Sinawava trail and a few more places.

Always wonderful to be at Zion, summer or winter. Look forward to sharing some shots with you.

Afterwards we drove to Bryce Canyon, decided to go for it and get what we could with our Nikons the first afternoon. Good thing as much of the terrain was either closed or completely socked in for the rest of our stay. Shoot first, be safe!

We actually considered going home, the forecast was so bad but decided to see if we could catch a break. And luck and providence did seem to come our way. Or I hope so anyway since I have only looked at a smattering.

The road to the top of the park closed Saturday morning past Inspiration Point, we were glad we got Natural Bridge on Friday. We decided to make our way up to Kodachrome Basin. This is Chimney Rock. Your standard slick rock phallic protuberance.

Roads were really bad out there. Went back to Bryce and it was pretty shut down. Snowed even harder Saturday night. Couple feet deep. We booked it in the early morning.

hard to believe but pretty much straight out of the camera.

Drove to Cameron Trading Post and then the Grand Canyon. What the hell, was better than going back to the boring Interstate 15, now undoubtably clogged with Vegas traffic. Besides Ken hadn't been there since 1961 and he was long overdue.

Canyon was socked in. We waited and hour or two and found some openings. I'll shoot the canyon in any time or weather. It always doles out a gift or two, no matter the condition.

We drove back today. Thanks again to my friend and mentor Ken.  Had a great time and I can't wait to sift through the pictures. I love the southwest! Hope that you enjoy this taste... Click on one and you will be able to view them full size.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Roger that

Going to be radio silence for a few days. Over and out. Catch you on the flip.

Must watch video

Keep the North Dakota blue laws because wives should really be making their husbands breakfast in bed on Sundays.


I had considered buying one of those new Sigma 85mm ƒ1.4 portrait lenses. I thought better of it and found a used Nikkor 85mm ƒ1.8d.

These are older lenses but the build quality and components are better, with less plastic than the new ones.

I used to borrow Ken's and love the bokeh, the fuzziness behind the focal plane. The d uses nine blades in the shutter diaphragm, the g seven and the older model's pictures looks more aesthetically pleasing to my eye. Click on Fred here and you can zoom in on a shot I took with it this morning at coffee.

Cost? About 20% of the Sigma, $275 on ebay.

Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street

National embarrasment

Imagine if you will, a petulant rich kid who was born on third base and thought that he had hit a triple, spent his whole life bullying people and getting his own way. Secretly he harbored enormous feelings of inadequacy and so had to constantly feed his narcissism. With his extensive family money, he never had a chance to personally fail and so, never became much of anything but a vile douchebag. One day he actually buys the presidency...

John McCain in Hanoi Hospital, fractures to arm and both legs

I can think of no statement more tone deaf and optically stupid, not to mention ignorant, than suggesting that a United States Navy pilot who was shot down and spent 1967 to 1973 getting tortured in a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam, should apologize for calling a poorly conceived raid that ended up getting a Seal killed a failure.

SPICER: It's absolutely a success, and I think anyone who would suggest it's not a success does a disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens...Anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn't fully appreciate how successful that mission was.
REPORTER: Senator John McCain—
SPICER: I understand that, but I think my statement's very clear, Kristen. I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and does a disservice to the life of Chief Owens...Kristen, can I answer the question? I'm answering the question. Please let me finish. The action taken in Yemen was this huge success. American lives will be saved because of it. Future attacks will be prevented. The life of Chief Ryan Owens was done in service to this country and we owe him and his family a great debt for the information that we received during that raid. I think any suggestion otherwise is a disservice to his courageous life and the actions that he just took. Full stop.
INCREDULOUS REPORTER: Is...that your message to Senator John McCain?
SPICER: That's my message to anybody who says that. Anybody. I don't know much clearer I can be.

I have listened to the inarticulate Spicer malign words repeatedly the last few days, the guy is really not so bright. And he recently invented a new attack we never suffered, Atlanta.

Ralph Freso - Getty

Trump is hiring the guy that was on the team stuck this famous sentence in a Bush State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." And he doesn't much care for a certain tribe or two. Probably get along well with this guy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

pale blue eyes

Big money always wins.

Presidente Trump has successfully strong armed the Army Corps of Engineers into granting final easement approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline so that rich private companies can ship their fossil fuels across public and private lands to overseas markets. The Corps is cancelling the further environmental review that they had requested during the last administration. Trump and his fellow Republicans are dead serious about reversing all this clean energy crap and getting back to something that will put more money in their pockets.
In documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, as part of an ongoing federal environmental review of the controversial pipeline, Army officials indicated that they were terminating a plan to prepare an environmental-impact statement on how the pipeline would affect land and water along its 1,170-mile route.
Republican Senator and pipeline proponent John Hoeven of North Dakota issued a statement today, part of which I reprint:
“Today, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it has finished its review of the Dakota Access Pipeline project and intends to grant an easement no earlier than tomorrow afternoon. The easement will enable the company to complete the project. New energy infrastructure, like the Dakota Access Pipeline, is being built with the latest safeguards and technology.
I was wondering about the latest safeguards and technology part. Here is a list of pipeline failures in the current century, from Wikipedia. It's way too long to copy so why don't I just go with the last and current year, should be the super or extra latest technology, right? Not real comforting, if you ask me.


On January 2, 3 people were injured, one seriously, one home destroyed, and 50 homes were damaged in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, when a leak gas from a gas main entered a home. Preliminary results indicate that a leak occurred at a weld seam on the gas main. Later, Oklahoma regulators filed a complaint over the failure with Oklahoma Natural Gas. The complaint alleged the utility failed to properly inspect its system following eight previous leak failures in the neighborhood going back to 1983.
On January 9, a 30-inch Atmos Energy gas transmission pipeline exploded and burned in Robertson County, Texas. 4 families nearby were evacuated.
On January 11, butane leaking from a pipeline storage facility, in Conway, Kansas, forced a closure of a nearby highway for a time.
On February 14, a 6-inch crude oil pipeline broke near Rozet, Wyoming, spilling about 1,500 gallons of crude oil into a creek bed.
On February 16, an explosion and fire occurred at a gas plant in Frio County, Texas. 2 employees at the plant were injured.
On February 24, a 10-inch propane pipeline exploded and burned, near Sulphur, Louisiana. There were no injuries. About 208,000 gallons of propane were burned. The cause was from manufacturing defects.
On March 11, about 30,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from a leaking plug on a pipeline, at a tank farm in Sioux City, Iowa.
On March 22, about 4,000 gallons of gasoline spilled from a 6-inch petroleum products pipeline in Harwood, North Dakota.
On April 2, the TransCanada Corporation Keystone Pipeline was observed by a local resident to be leaking, near Freeman, South Dakota. The cause was a crack in a girth weld, and amount of tar sands dilbit spill was about 16,800 gallons.
On April 12, a pipeline at a gas plant in Woodsboro, Texas exploded, killing 2 men, and injured another worker.
On April 17, a 10 petroleum products pipeline failed in Wabash County, Illinois, resulting in a sheen on the Wabash River. About 48,000 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled.
On April 29, a 30-inch Texas Eastern/Spectra Energy pipeline exploded, injuring one man, destroying his home and damaging several others. The incident was reported at 8:17 a.m., near the intersection of Routes 819 and 22 in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Later, Spectra Energy Corp. announced plans to dig up and assess 263 miles of that pipeline, from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Corrosion had been detected at the failed seam 4 years before the rupture.
On May 20, a Shell Oil Company pipeline leaked near Tracy, California, spilling about 21,000 gallons of crude oil.
On June 23, a Crimson Pipeline crude oil line leaked in Ventura County, California. Initial reports said the spill size was from 25,200 gallons to 29,000 gallons, but, later reports estimate 45,000 gallons of crude were spilled.
On July 6, a Plantation Pipeline line was noticed to be leaking in Goochland County, Virginia. The spill did not reach nearby waterways.
On August 12, contractors were working on one of the main lines in Sunoco Pipeline LP's Nederland, Texas terminal when crude oil burst through a plug that was supposed to hold the oil back in the pipeline and ignited. The contractors were knocked off the platform to the ground, suffering injuries from the fall and severe burns. 7 contractors were injured.
On September 5, a pipeline in Bay Long, Louisiana was hit by dredging operations, resulting in a spill of about 5,300 gallons of crude oil into the water.
On September 9, a Colonial Pipeline mainline leak was noticed by workers on another project, in Shelby County, Alabama. At least 252,000 gallons of gasoline leaked from line.
On September 10, a Sunoco pipeline ruptured near Sweetwater, Texas. About 33,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled. The pipeline was just over a year old.
On October 11, two Nicor Gas workers were injured, and two townhouse units destroyed in a massive fire and explosion, caused by a gas leak in Romeoville, Illinois.
On October 17, an 8-inch ammonia pipeline started leaking, near Tekamah, Nebraska. A farmer living nearby went to find the source of the ammonia, and was killed by entering the vapor cloud. About 50 people were evacuated from their homes.
On October 19, a contractor in Portland, Oregon hit a 1-inch gas pipeline during work. Within an hour, there were 2 explosions, injuring 8 people, destroying or damaging several buildings, and started a fire. Contractors claim a utility locate was done before work began.
On October 21, an 8-inch Sunoco pipeline ruptured in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, spilling about 55,000 gallons of gasoline into the Susquehanna River. The river was running high at the time.
On October 24, a pipeline ruptured on the Seaway Pipeline, in Cushing, Oklahoma, spraying the area with crude oil.
On October 31, a Colonial Pipeline mainline exploded and burned in Shelby County, Alabama, after accidentally being hit by a track hoe. One worker died at the scene, and 5 others were hospitalized, with one of those workers dying a month later. The explosion occurred approximately several miles from the 9 September 2016 breach.
On November 29, an Enterprise Products pipeline exploded in Platte County, Missouri, burning an ethane propane mixture. There were no evacuations or injuries.
On December 2, equipment failure in a Denbury Resources source water pipeline led to a leak of approximately 84,000 gallons of source water into Skull Creek, in Bowman County, North Dakota.
On December 5, a 6-inch Belle Fourche pipeline spilled 176,000 gallons of crude oil into Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County, North Dakota.


On January 7, a Colonial Pipeline stubline leaked gasoline into Shoal Creek, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
On January 14, the Ozark Pipeline, an Enbridge division, spilled about 15,330 gallons of light oil at the Lawrence Pump Station, near Halltown, Missouri.
On January 16, a gas pipeline exploded and burned, near Spearman, Texas. There were no injuries.
On January 25, the Magellan pipeline leaked 138,600 gallons (3,300 barrels) of diesel fuel onto private agricultural land in Worth County, Iowa, near Hanlontown.
On January 30, a Texas Department of Transportation crew dug into the 30 inch Seaway Pipeline, near Blue Ridge, Texas, spraying crude oil across road. There were no injuries.
On January 31, a DCP pipeline exploded under a runway, at Panola County Airport-Sharpe Field in Texas. There were no injuries, but the airport will shut that runway down for an extended amount of time.

That is a lot of gas and Texas tea spilling around. I was reading about these sorts of gas and diesel spills. They can never be remediated, short of removing all the contaminated dirt involved. Land is usually toast forever.

RT America has their own top five list of American pipeline spills of last year. Not real reassuring. Not that anyone in our government really gives a shit.

In other news, the House voted Friday to overturn the Obama Administration's methane emission rules.

Lawmakers voted 221-191 to roll back the Interior Department rule that had clamped down on oil companies that burn off natural gas during drilling operations on public lands. Three Democrats voted in favor of repealing the rule, which was finalized in November, while 11 Republicans opposed repeal.

All you have to do is roll your window down next time you are near Midland, Texas and take a whiff and you will get a real good idea about how much these people love and value their planet.

Colorado Oil and Gas Toxic Release Tracker - 2015
New Mexico Toxic Release Tracker - 2014
Wyoming Gas Oil and Toxic Release Tracker - 2015

4900 spills in Colorado since 2000

Monday, February 6, 2017


Now that is terrible... risque, even for me. Got this letter  from a Trump supporting friend - Pretty disgusting cartoon Robert! Would not like it even if Obama was on the bottom. Not in good taste! And I thought, Obama wasn't in office a week and I started getting pics of him as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose or eating watermelon and bananas on the white house lawn and that never bothered these people a bit. Interesting story on Steve Bannon and the Vatican today. Not content to play Rasputin here, he is fomenting resurrection against the pope for firing the head of the Knights of Malta and advocating leniency for those who advocate for condom use. Like some medieval Borgia or Richelieu. I like the midwest congressman who are proposing a new law that wives need to serve their husbands breakfast in bed on Sundays. If the first two weeks are any indication, we are heading for an insurrection in this country, Getting Nixonian. I predict it will happen when Paul Ryan manages to kill Medicare and Social Security with his paltry block grants to the states. The sky is going to cave in. They'll be clubbing seniors in the streets. Trump thinks the media is under reporting terrorism, almost think he is wishing for an incident to take some heat off, like LBJ did bombing his own USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. Show the world that we are as bad as the Russians, once and for all. So Trump wants to stick it to California, the largest economic engine in the entire country, and a state that gives more than it gets back from a federal standpoint?
Great, perhaps the citizens stop paying taxes. Taxation without representation and all that. Right before we secede.

Who's Gonna Build That Wall

Mary Black - The Dimming of the Day

Bad apple

I'm down one social media forum. I deleted my account at DPReview or tried to anyway. They want you or some corporeal form of yourself to live forever in cyberland.

I like what Jerry Garcia was saying once in some interview, let it all turn into dust when I'm gone. Poof. I've asked twice. We will see what happens.

I believe that I have always had a chip on my shoulder about authority. Never liked anybody telling me what to do. Joe died last month, the guy that once owned Mira Mesa House of Ice.

Nice guy. He said I was a real bastard when I was a kid. Used to shake his ladder when he was cleaning my dad's windows. I sure don't remember that but I guess it was possible.

Buzz tripped a bishop once at midnight mass. I brought magic brownies to one of my mom's unitarian church meetings when I was sixteen.

They seemed to be having a real nice time, literally rolling down the aisles but we got a stern letter some weeks later that my visage would no longer be a welcome sight in their sanctuary. I was young, sorry. I guess I am sort of a rebel.

Jorel Kal-el, insidious illegal alien

Anyway for the second time in recent memory, some political photo that I posted, this one from the Women's March, was censored. When I asked the moderator about the exact lines of demarcation and free expression, not to mention speech lay, I received no answer. So goodbye DPReview, owned by Amazon. I will visit a site that believes in freedom of nonviolent and non offensive political speech. They evidently didn't like the uncle sam graphic. Big deal, I did. And I don't think I am particularly radical either. Most people just won't say shit.

Those kinds of forums are filled with both great photographers and neurotic gearheads that like to argue incessantly about how many kodaks fit on the head of a pin.


I am getting a collection of some of my favorite shots together. You can find the link in the left column. Some of my old friends. Have been getting a lot of positive feedbacks from people I admire lately which I appreciate.

I have crampons and gaiters ready, leaving in a few days for zero degree Utah. Will see what we see and get what we get.

I find the current political scene almost comical. We're just watching a bad movie folks, keep the line moving, please. Rally is, I refuse to get upset my the incredible stupidity we are witnessing on a daily basis, Sean Spicer today castigating SNL for ridiculing his cartoon like boss.

Enough already, there will be a fall season, right after the 2018 elections. Chill. I am not going to get into a snicket every day. I have enough conservative friends no longer speaking to me. If something is super stupid or enraging or apt to one day annihilate the species, I might pipe up, not that it will do any good. I warned you humans.


After making fun of it for years I have found a utility for twitter. Some very smart people are using it.  I have ben creating some nice graphics and it would be nice if people saw them. Follow me at Robert Sommers @azurbird.

I would like to thank those of you who have written nice things about my brother. I am going to post them, with his approval, if you don't mind, or anonymously.

Let's have a wonderful life in spite of the assholes, whoever they may be.

© Robert Sommers 2017