Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Cooling

Week two of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge got underway on Saturday. This week’s topic is “cooling”. In the middle of summer, cooling could be a tall glass of iced tea at a sidewalk cafe or a 24-ounce beer at an afternoon ballgame. Laya takes us to Switzerland in her challenge with a swim in glacier water on a very hot day. You can view the entire photo challenge post here.

In my home town of Fargo, North Dakota, the cooling comes in the winter where temperatures of -20 degrees F (-29 degrees C) are not uncommon with many consecutive days of 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) or lower for the high. I can’t remember the exact temperature on the day that I took the opening photograph, but I was driving near the Red River as the sun was setting. I pulled into a parking lot located by the river and captured the last few moments of a cold day on the Red River of the North. Continue reading


New York, New York – A Quick Trip to the Strip

Las Vegas, Nevada.

No, we didn’t take a quick trip to the Big Apple! Since we stayed downtown, we didn’t see much of the Las Vegas Strip, the row of casinos and resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard just west and north of McCarren Airport. Back in the day, the first casino built along U.S. Highway 91 was well out of town. In 1931, Al Capone built the Pair-O-Dice nightclub. Gangster families were already reaching out to the mecca of legal gambling. That stretch of highway soon garnered hotels and casinos and would become what is now known as the Las Vegas Strip. We spent most of our  time this trip downtown, but we decided to spend a few hours on the strip just to say we went there.  Continue reading

Cellpic Sunday – 15 July 2018

Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Her name is Dignity. The Native American woman stands some 50-feet (15 m) tall. Sculpted of stainless steel, “Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota,” according to artist Dale Lamphere who used three models of Lakota Native Americans to create the face. If you travel via I-90 through South Dakota, you’ll see Dignity high on a bluff between exits 263 and 265. At her back is the mighty Missouri River, the longest river in North America.

Dignity’s dress is patterned after clothing of the 1850s. She holds a quilt made of stainless steel with 128 blue diamond shapes that glitter with movement in the wind. Lynn and I happened to be heading south to Arizona last winter when we saw her from the Interstate. She was commissioned as a gift to the people of South Dakota in 2014 and construction was completed in 2016. You can read more about this beautiful work of art here.

About the photo: It was a cold day with a biting wind. I didn’t spend a lot of time taking photos considering my lack of appropriate warm weather wear on the mid-November morning. Captured with my Samsung S7 cellphone at f/1.7 1/3000 sec. ISO-50. The rule for Cellpic Sunday is simple. The image must be captured on a mobile device.

John Steiner

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Wonder

The Great Southwestern United States.

This week marks the beginning of a new photo challenge series being hosted weekly on WordPress. Four bloggers stepped up to carry on after the demise of the long-running weekly WordPress Photo Challenge. The challenge started the first week in July with the first theme published on July 7. Patti Moed gave us our first assignment. You can read the details hereContinue reading

Mob Museum – National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement

Las Vegas, Nevada.

A short walk from Fremont Street and a shorter walk from our Main Street Station Hotel is an imposing building that currently houses The Mob Museum. The neoclassical building has a history that began as a U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in 1933. In 1950, Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver came to town. He led a Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce. The Las Vegas Courthouse was the site of one of the hearings held in fourteen cities across the country. There were lots of underworld figures who “testified”, though not surprisingly, most had little to say. Even so, much of the country was to learn about the hidden society of mob bosses and organized crime syndicates.

The Kefauver Hearings brought out the connections that were made between organized crime families and individuals. The second floor of the museum houses the restored courtroom that became the room where the hearings were held. Many of Las Vegas most well-known residents were invited to appear before the committee.

The hearing room features a short video presentation and a narration of the events surrounding the hearing. In 2002, the building became the property of the City of Las Vegas for the princely sum of $1 with the stipulation that it be preserved and used as a cultural center. The mayor who happened to represent mobsters as a defense attorney back in the day, Oscar Goodman, proposed that the building should house a museum that captures the history of the Mob.

The museum isn’t just about organized crime in Las Vegas. The history of racketeering and all variations of criminal activities around the country are featured in the many exhibits. The brick wall in the image above is one of the featured exhibits. On February 14, 1929, Chicago’s Bugsy Moran’s headquarters were raided by several “police officers” who lined up some of the Chicago gangsters along this wall and shot them to death. Those police officers were actually members of Al Capone’s rival gang. The killing of the seven gangsters became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. A large section of the wall where those men died was moved to Las Vegas to be displayed at the Mob Museum.

From all corners of the country, the Mob Museum features the stories of these historic villains. Names like Pretty Boy Floyd and Ma Barker were notorious in the 1930s. Much of the syndicate grew out of the 1920s prohibition era where money was to be made in the sale of illegal spirits. A featured display focuses on illegal booze and those who profited from it.  The walls of the museum are covered with artifacts gathered from around the country.

A note on photography in the museum: The museum and exhibits are darkly lit. I was fortunate to have brought my Sony camera with f/1.8-2.8 lens. Even with the larger lens openings, the camera, which I set to Auto-ISO, put the settings at 1600-3200 or more. If you look closely in the gallery of images by clicking on one to enlarge it, you’ll notice some of the grain and grittiness of noise in the image. Some of the images were softened to reduce the effect of noise. The small size of the Sony camera is great for not being conspicuous in public settings, but the small image sensor size is a factor in a higher level of noise in the image.

One exhibit that we didn’t experience is the Use of Force Training Experience. This extra-cost exhibit provides each guest with a CO2 pistol and duty belt while being given scenarios that demonstrate the speed and complexity of use-of-force decision making. You can find out more about the Mob Museum including visit planning and hours of opening here. I submit for your review, a gallery of images captured at the museum. In most browsers, you can select an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.


John Steiner


Cellpic Sunday – 8 July 2018

Waddell, Arizona.

I have been lax at taking pictures lately due to a heavier than normal workload at my volunteer Civil Air Patrol job. It’s Friday as I’m writing this post, and I want to have it publish automatically on Sunday, a typical scheduled Cellpic Sunday. Looking through my library of cellular phone photos, I discovered I’d taken two images of the same trail, just slightly offset. Using Lightroom, I created a panoramic image of this view of the Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Last March, our hiking club traveled for a couple of miles down the trail and then returned for a total of just over five miles (8.5 km).

We are looking forward to returning to Arizona, but we’ll wait until November when it cools off a bit from their record heat. For all my friends who live in Arizona year around, keep cool! In most browsers, you can click on the image to enlarge it for a closer view.

John Steiner

This Week’s Photo Challenge – Silhouettes

In the interest of full disclosure… since the demise of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, I’ve been following a 52-week challenge. This week’s theme on that challenge is one I won’t attempt to meet. I’m to create a photo that imitates the art of an admired photographer. Those masters are beyond my ability to imitate. Anything I would try would not be something I would wish to share. Continue reading