Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spring Dance Recital

Bei in full costume for this spring's dance performance.
(click images for larger view)

It's the end of May, which means that a large number of parents in Laramie, and probably throughout the U.S., have made it through another season of end-of-year performances and ceremonies.  For us this year, the list included the all-school choir sing (1 hour), an orchestra concert (1 hour), an elementary school awards ceremony (1 hour and 45 minutes!), and the annual Laramie Dance Center performance (3 hours).  I've posted about the dance program before, and of all of Bei's activities, it's the one she loves the most, having danced since she was tiny.  

The best part of the dance performance for me is watching the littlest kids, in their extravagant costumes, attempting to follow their teacher's instructions, which are communicated either from the wings, where the dancer's attention is clearly focused throughout the dance, or by teachers on the stage with the dancers, who labor to herd the (mostly) girls in the general direction called for by the choreography.  

Here are a few photos from this year's performance.

Photo geek info:  It's dark in the A&S Auditorium and the dancers are moving around, so I shot at ISO 3200 this year from about 1/80 - 1/125 sec. from f5.6 - f8, depending on the dance.  You can either shoot at high ISO and try to stop the motion/minimize the blur, or give into it and shoot at slow shutter speeds for motion blur. 

Motion blur.

Very small dancers trying to mimic their teacher.


The challenge of trying to watch two teachers and dance at the same time.

More motion blur.

A baseball dance.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's cookin'?

An old gas stove in an abandoned farmhouse near the road to Albin, in Eastern Wyoming.  May 2012.
(click images to enlarge)

No time for a proper blog today, so I'll just post a few photos taken yesterday in Eastern Wyoming.  Ed Sherline and I left town at 3:15 a.m. to get to some old houses by sunrise.  Thanks to Peet's Coffee, I was able to see through my viewfinder.

Truck, Hawk Springs, Wyoming.  Unintended motion blur, but I kind of like it.

Hawk Springs Motor Company.

Bronco Drilling.  Hawk Springs, Wyoming.

Paint detail, dump truck.  Hawk Springs, Wyoming.

Church.  Hawk Springs.

Abandoned farm near road to Albin, Wyoming.

International Harvester.  Near road to Albin, Wyoming.

Door in abandoned farm near road to Albin.

Clothesline near road to Albin.

Grain elevator.  Burns, Wyoming.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wind Turbine Blades

A wind turbine blade against the Laramie sky.  May 20, 2012.  
(Click images to view larger)

Wind is a fact of life in Wyoming, and especially here in Southeastern Wyoming, where it blows a lot of the time.  According to the USGS, there were 777 known wind turbine locations in Wyoming in August, 2009, and that number has undoubtedly grown considerably since then.  A graph on Wikipedia and copied below ranks Wyoming as the number one state in terms of per capita wind power capacity.  Wind farms seem to be sprouting like weeds across Wyoming basins, and it's hard to know whether to support them (this is renewable, carbon-free, energy production, after all) or to lament their impact on wide open spaces, not to mention wildlife.  

Yesterday, while on my way to pick Bei up at a friends house south of town, I encountered a trainload of wind turbine blades, waiting on the tracks to pass through Laramie on their way north, so I stopped and photographed the sight, which was impressive.  

Per capita wind power capacity from Wikipedia.

For some reason this view reminds me of the malevolent sand worms from Frank Herbert's Dune.

Interesting that there are teeth near the tips.  According to researchers in the Netherlands, these saw teeth make the blades much quieter as they spin in the wind.

Turbine blades stacked up on flatbed train cars.  

The turbine blade train heads into Laramie.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Canyoneering: Neon Canyon

Lower Neon Canyon (below technical section)
(Click images for larger view)

I’m just back from my spring (May) canyoneering trip.  Canyoneering, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is descending canyons that require technical skills and creative solutions for overcoming obstacles, which can include swims through cold water, squeezes through narrow slots, climbs out of water-scoured holes, chimneying or stemming over impassible sections, rappelling (sometimes from sand anchors), standing on your friends, pulling your friends up by their arms, crawling, avoiding snakes, etc.   It’s a lot more fun than it sounds.

On this trip, we (a great group of old friends who now live all over the Western U.S.) headed to the Escalante River, in Southern Utah, and focused on several canyons there – Egypt III, Neon, and Davis.  Others in the group stayed longer than I and added Raven and Headless Hen to the list, and a subgroup also descended Ringtail Canyon.  Most of these are straightforward (not hard core).  We had hoped to do the more difficult Choprock Canyon, but there was a threat of storms (= flash floods) on the day we were going to drop in, so we bravely ran away, leaving it for another trip. 

The highlight of the trip for me was Neon Canyon, which empties into the Escalante River from the north, just downstream of Fence Canyon.  It’s not very difficult technically and culminates in a rappel though a huge hole in the ceiling of a spectacular alcove called the Golden Cathedral into a (now) shallow pool (link to a longish video of the canyon descent made by another group).  We approached the canyon from our camp at the mouth of Fence Canyon, by climbing onto Choprock Bench, into which Neon is cut, and then made our way to the Cathedral exit through slots, a couple of “keeper” potholes, and a small amount of chest-deep water. 

I’ll post photos of other parts of the trip in subsequent entries. 

Larry Scritchfield crossing the Escalante River near the mouth of Fence Canyon upstream from Neon.  Multiple river crossing are required for many approaches, but the Escalante was shallow and refreshing in May.

Larry in the upper reaches of Neon, where we dropped in to begin the technical section.

Jane Addis, in the upper reaches of Neon.

Squeezing through a narrow section.

Jane serving as an anchor for Larry while he climbs the rope out of a keeper pothole.  Jane stood on my shoulders to climb out, then I climbed the rope and waded through chest-deep water to take this photo while Larry escaped.

Larry and Jane gazing up at the holes in the ceiling of the Golden Cathedral.  At the end of the technical section of the canyon you rappel through the hole closest to the back wall into the shallow pool. During flood, water shoots out of this hole.

Greenery in lower Neon, below the technical section.  The canyon is lush and beautiful.

Jim Akers looking at petroglyphs (and more modern grafitti) between the mouth of Neon and our camp at the mouth of Fence Canyon.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Random Wyoming Landscapes

Lower Falls, Yellowstone River.
(Click images to view large)

I sent a few photographs to the Wyoming Outdoor Council this week for possible inclusion in their 2013 calendar.  All of these were taken in Wyoming in 2011.  

I'll be away for the next week (canyoneering in the Escalante!).  I'll post about the trip when I return.

Fence, Laramie Basin, Wyoming

Skull Rim, Red Desert, Wyoming.

Lupines, Happy Jack, Wyoming

Skull Rim, Red Desert, Wyoming.

Below Skull Rim, Red Desert, Wyoming

Fence, Adobe Town, Red Desert, Wyoming

Fall, Happy Jack Highway, Wyoming.

Fall, Vedauwoo Road, Wyoming.

Storm, Laramie Basin, Wyoming.