Cellpic Sunday – 5 April 2020

Buckeye, Arizona.

It’s spring in the Arizona desert. At The Founders Course in the Verrado development of Buckeye, golfers are busy throughout the three cooler months. Those who are avid golfers find themselves in the heat of summer out on the course in the early morning when the lows are in the mid- to high-80s. Part of the course is adjacent to the Verrado Trail System. As we walked by on a recent hike, the brittlebush plants were in full bloom with their beautiful daisy-like flowers. On the tee, a foursome was just getting ready to take their shots as I took mine with my cellphone. Continue reading

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Distance

This week, Tina Schell considers the current global “social distancing” that’s going on and focuses her challenge post on distance. She writes, “Please share with us the creative ways you’ve found to address your need to connect while keeping your distance. Have you found interesting and productive ways to pass the time?” You can read her entire challenge post here.

In Arizona, we are practicing social distancing and we are staying home except for groceries. I am still a hike leader here, but our season ends on April 9. Even on the trail our hiking group is maintaining a single file line with adequate spacing between the hikers. Our group “selfie” was always a “get close” image. Now the hike leader stops the line and takes a group photo with everyone standing in their places, appropriately spaced. Our hikes end for the season on April 9 and we head home to Fargo a few days later.

Continue reading

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor – Plan a Day or More

Baltimore, Maryland.

Note: As this is being written, it’s mid-March (St. Patrick’s Day, to be exact.) Travel is in short supply and not recommended until we get past this COVID-19 pandemic. There is no doubt that the travel plans of spring vacationers have been upset. That’s probably the least of our worries right now. My wife, Lynn, and I have cut our travel plans for the time being, and we’ve even decided to stay in Arizona a bit longer before heading back to our home in Fargo. Stay safe and follow the guidelines from the CDC.

In 2019, my last Civil Air Patrol National Conference as North Dakota Wing Commander found me in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore. Downtown Baltimore is much like any major city downtown with skyscrapers and business offices. The city, however, has a connection to the Atlantic Ocean via the Patapsco River. The river, 39 miles (63 km) in length, is born in central Maryland and flows through Baltimore into Chesapeake Bay. That pathway to the Atlantic brought international trade to the area. Since the early days, shipbuilding was a major industry in the harbor. Continue reading

Dronie Sunday – 29 March 2020

Buckeye, Arizona.

OK, so I took a break from my drone photography this winter. It’s been a busy season for me between Civil Air Patrol activities, nearby travel destinations, and even a Caribbean cruise (just before CoronaVirus, fortunately.) Part of my issue revolved around how to get to a photogenic place in the desert where I could set up the drone. The carrying case I had been using for the Mavic Air is a repurposed video projector bag that once belonged to a long-since broken projector. It wouldn’t be the best way to schlep the drone and accessories on a hike.

Awhile back I was unpacking from our cruise and I came across a small backpack that I’d purchased to carry water and accessories on our cruise ship excursions. Sure enough, the entire drone kit and all accessories, except the safety vest and collapsible landing pad fit nicely into the backpack. A couple of Saturdays ago, Lynn and I set out to find a suitable place to test the process. We picked the Petroglyph Trail near the Buckeye community of Verrado. We found a relatively level and open area just off the trail and I set up the system. Total distance on the hike from the trailhead to the shooting location and back was 2.2 miles (3.5 km).

You can see the empty blue backpack on the rock near where I am standing. The dark gray cases carry the drone, batteries, controller, and the other bits and pieces of a hobby that truly is the antithesis of “point and shoot.” My job is to fly the drone, compose images and set exposure using the controller screen and take the photos. Lynn’s job is to watch the drone as I maneuver to ensure that I don’t inadvertently fly into something that I can’t see on my screen. Since the drone can fly in any direction, I often “can’t see where I am going” as I maneuver the drone to capture the best composition.

About the photo: The Mavic Air has a fixed aperture of f/2.8. That is a sensitive lens so on bright days, shutter speeds of 1/4000 or faster are common. This image was captured at 1/2500 sec., ISO-100. After downloading from the drone’s micro-USB card, I cataloged it in Lightroom, made a few basic edits there, and then exported it to Luminar 4 for final processing.

I think I can find a way to temporarily attach the landing pad to the back of the pack so I won’t have to carry it in my hand on the next hike. Some drone pilots might scoff at the use of the pad, but in the loose desert soil, that prop wash from the drone’s four blades would stir up a lot of dust that could easily settle on the lens and “cloud up” the images before I even start.

John

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A River Runs Through It.

This week, Amy asks us to fill our challenge response with rivers. She uses quotes from “A River Runs Through It” to amplify her own images. Amy writes, “Ann-Christine, Patti, Tina, and I look forward to seeing your photos of rivers running down mountains, through valleys, along plains where you are or you have traveled, and we also love to read your stories.” You can read her entire challenge post here. Continue reading

But I Digress – Luminar 4 is My Latest Photo Tool Acquisition

Buckeye, Arizona.

Yes, this is a travel and photography blog. Most Tuesdays I focus on Travel Tuesday posts. As COVID-19 has disrupted travel of all types, it seems that Travel Tuesday is a bit, shall we say, “out of place?”. Still I’ve got a backlog of travel posts to share, and someday, hopefully soon, the pandemic will be behind us and vacation travel will return to relatively normal. This week, it seems like a good time to talk photography, specifically processing those digital photos. After all, I call this site a Travel and Photography Blog. In fact, I expect photography posts will span several Tuesdays, but I won’t throw them at you all at once. I’ll plan to spread this report over the next month or two so Tuesdays remain mostly focused on Travel. Continue reading

Cellpic Sunday – 22 March 2020

Buckeye, Arizona.

With my retirement as North Dakota Wing Commander, I give up access to a business phone provided by Civil Air Patrol (CAP). When I took that job four years ago, my personal phone was a Samsung S6. Other than occasional use, most of the time, it was shut off and all calls were sent to my CAP cell phone so I wouldn’t have to carry two phones around. Continue reading