Rock Climbers

As a retired Jet Pilot it’s hard for people to understand that I’m scared to death of heights!  I have flown single engine, multi-engine, turboprops, jets, hot air balloons, helicopters, and gliders.  Even at 41,000 feet you have no sense of height sitting in the cockpit, but put me on top of even a small building and I’m petrified!

I’ve watched many documentaries of rock climbers ascending El Capitan in Yosemite, Mt. Everest, Denali and other high mountains around the world and sit there spell bound trying to comprehend what this would be like.

ClimberRecently we drove from Phoenix to Tucson to attend a concert.  The next day we drove up Mount Lemon which is over 9,000 feet at the summit.  This is a breathtaking drive as the long winding road and the scenery are astounding!

After a delightful lunch, with outside seating, we headed back down the mountain.  At about the 7,500 foot  level we saw this giant boulder protruding into the sky with a guy repelling down the side.  We missed his ascent to the top, but was able to grab this photo of his descent.

This isn’t Mount Everest but the danger of death still existed.  If something would have happened he would have fallen several thousand feet.

I have to admire people who do this and accept the challenge of risk.  This has to require great physical strength, nerve and stamina!

The Brian Wilson concert was awesome and we were honored to see him in his last concert tour and the Mt. Lemon experience and seeing this climber was certainly a bonus!

What will your next adventure be?  I guarantee mine will be photographing and not climbing!

An Arizona Icon

We moved to Arizona from the “Quad Cities,” an area on the Mississippi river which comprised of cities in Iowa and Illinois and is located about 150 miles West of Chicago.  It was a great place to grow up, located  in mid America, as it was not influenced by the cultures of the East or West coasts.  Life there just seemed more relaxed.

The last 21 years in Arizona have been delightful as we have fallen in love with the splendor and beauty of the this area.  I have been a photographer my whole life, but it became a passion when the digital age arrived, and there’s not a better place to practice this craft than America’s Southwest!

I have taken thousands of photos in many countries and maybe one of the most fascinating places is the “Gold King Mine” in Jerome, Arizona.  It was founded by Don Robertson many years ago who had an obsession with collecting old stuff.  I’ve been there many times and never tire of my visits.

DonI was honored in 2015 to photograph Don as he posed sitting on his saw mill.  Honored, because little did anyone know that he would pass away a few months later.

This man was the definition of a fascinating“character.”  Truly a western icon.  I had never conversed with him on previous occasions, I guess because it was almost like confronting a celebrity.  This time however when I approached him for a photo, he seemed very open to sit and chat which I found very enjoyable.  We talked about the simple life and the art of enjoying what you do.  The conversation made my day and will live in my mind as a very memorable experience!

There are many interesting articles about this man if you google Don Robertson.  You can watch a short video about him and the Gold King Mine here. 

If you live in or visit Arizona this is one of the places I would highly recommend, along with Sedona, the Antelope  Canyons, Horseshoe Bend (both near Page, Az.) and the Grand Canyon!

The Transformation of a Photo

The digital age ushered in a whole new meaning to the world of photography!  Gone are the days of dark rooms and taking your roll of film to the drug store.  In the 1990s digital cameras started very primitively. My first one was a Sony Mavica.  You slid in a three and a half inch floppy disc and it would take about a dozen photos at one third of a megapixel!

We’ve come a long way in a short period of time and today’s DSLRs are capable of shooting thousands of photos at 12, 16, 20, 24, 36, and 50 or more megapixels!  Incredible quality, ease of use, and instant gratification!  The really special thing about serious photographers is the ability to enhance their photos with sophisticated editing software.  Personally I enjoy this part as much as taking the photo!

Here’s an example of taking a ho hum picture and turning it into a handsome photo!  This one was taken a few years ago in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We had chartered a small craft to take us out to photograph beyond the port.  It was cloudy and hazy, but since we were on a cruise ship we had to make the best of it since we would be there only one day.  This was straight out of my Nikon D7000 camera.


As you can see this is not much to look at.  Now I’m going to import it into the ON1RAW Photo Editor and play with some adjustments.  ON1RAW is new on the market and is very similar to Adobe’s Lightroom.  After several enhancements it looked like this.

IMG_2603 copy copy

Not bad, but I’m not satisfied with the sky as the upper left is over exposed.  Over the years I have taken a lot of sky pictures and keep them in a separate folder on my hard drive for occasions like this.  So let’s replace the sky, then add a layer of orange over the water as to show the reflection from the sky, and here’s the final photo.

2603 Edited

This is a far cry from the original and shows what can be done with some editing skill.  Some purists say that this isn’t ethical, that it’s not right to change what you originally shot, and to that I say “hog wash!”  That’s why today’s advanced photographers call themselves “Photo Artists.”  Every photo from any pro has been edited.  The only exception that I can think of would be a wartime photo journalist.

Now comes an even more exciting part of digital photography and that’s the tremendous advancements of cell phones.  Today’s smartphone cameras are capable of beautiful pictures and in some ways are almost equivalent to the “big boy” cameras.

Most people are happy with their photo results as soon as they look at it and post it immediately to social media.  Some of us however realize that it can look even better with a couple of minutes of editing.  Maybe the best phone photo editor on planet Earth is “Snapseed.”  I absolutely love this app!  It’s available for both iPhones, and Androids, and it’s free with no advertising!  Once you spend a little time with this app you’ll be amazed how you can make your pictures “come to life!”