Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mount Redoubt - March 31st

Henry pointed this one out to me on his computer . . . amazing to me.

Photographer: Game McGimsey courtesy of the Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey
March 31, 2009 View east of the summit crater Mt. Redoubt covered with deposits from recent eruptions.

To see more images: Alaska Volcano Observatory

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mount Redoubt - more photos

On one level, I wish I could be in Alaska right now. I'd want to be on the opposite side of Cook Inlet so I could get a chance to get some of these amazing lighting shots. In my more "right mind," I know that people who study and photograph volcanoes have inherently dangerous jobs and there have been fatalities over the years. So it is probably just as well that I'm still home in Texas and I can enjoy the photographs of this volcano from the safety of my home. But we've driven that road from Anchorage to Homer . . . I can picture this in my mind's eye . . .

Since watching nature's forces is amazing and very interesting to me, I've been watching the images coming from the Alaska Volcano Observatory regularly this week. There are 17 pages of images so far.

On March 28, Bretwood Higman captured an amazing series of lighting shots in the ash cloud:

Today's images from the Alaska Volcano Observatory Webcame are beautiful as well:

It will be interesting to see how long this eruptive phase lasts.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Alaska's Mount Redoubt - more images

The Alaska Volcano Observatory and the US Geological Survey continue to post new images of the current eruptive phase of Mount Redoubt.

My favorites:

Mount Redoubt's ash cloud Thursday March 26, 2009
Credit: Robert Cole and Peninsula Airways

Lower reach oif Crescent Glacier and view down the ash-covered Crescent River Valley - March 26, 2009 Credit: McGimsey, Game and the Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey

View northeast over the piedmont lobe of the Drift Glacier and down the Drift River valley showing the effects of the flooding caused by Mt. Redoubt's eruptions. March 26, 2009 Credit: McGimsey,Game, Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey

Ash cloud seen in the geostationary MTSAT data, courtesy of National Weather Service, processed by the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From the extreme edge of the view for the satellite which is over the equator in Asia. Image Creator Dehn, Jonathan. Taken March 26, 2009 17:30 UTC

Our planet, earth, is truly amazing. When you get a chance to see these natural processes at work, it is truly humbling. We can only study things like hurricanes and volcanoes. We can't control when they happen, where they happen, how strong they are, or what kind of disruption they cause to their surroundings. Nature is always in a state of change, never static. As Ecclesiastes says:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven . . . a time to tear down and a time to build . . ."

We have natural process that on the surface appear to tear down - wildfire, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes . . . In reality they are just changes. All of these things create change on our earth, but also prepare the way for new and beautiful things. Everything is cyclical . . . It is fascinating to watch nature at work at Mount Redoubt.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mount Redoubt March 26

These images are posted at the Alaska Volcano Observatory Site:

The ash cloud from Mount Redoubt approaching Homer taken by Dennis Anderson on March 26 at 12:39 AKDT

Ashcloud moving over and ashfall occuring at Homestead Lodge 35 miles south of Mount Redoubt on March 26, 2009. Photo taken by James and Sheila Isaak.

Mount Redoubt's Eruption Plume taken from Diamond Ridge near Homer on March 26, 2009 by Dennis Anderson

These last two images were taken this afternoon (March 26) from the Mount Redoubt Hut webcam. You can check this cam regularly during daylight hours to get a view of what is happening now. The camera is battery powered, so there can be outages.

For more information (and the latest information as well) go to the Alaska Volcano Observatory-Mount Redoubt.

The Los Angeles Times also has a good article about todays eruption noting that there has been a mudflow down the Drift River. There were flash flood warnings out for the Drift River because of the rapidly melting ice.

The Internet Newspaper, The Huffington Post, also has an article about today's eruptions.

Mount Redoubt

Mount Redoubt in Alaska has had two explosive episodes today. One threw ash 30,000 feet up.

The second one threw ash 65,000 feet into the atmosphere.

Check the Alaska Volcano Observatory's website for more details.

I'll post links when I get home.

"Astronomers Catch a Shooting Star for the First Time"

Yahoo News and the Associated Press's article: Astronomers catch a shooting star for the 1st time is an interesting read. Amazing that they were able to find fragments of a small asteroid that burned its way through our atmosphere, but even more important, they learned some things that would be useful if we ever have a larger chunk of asteroid in a collision course with our planet. I am always amazed at the pieces of new information that dedicated scientists share with us.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"50 Inspirational Website Introductions"

I will begin to keep better track of where I find these links so I can give credit where credit is due for pointing me to this site, but this webpage: "50 Inspirational Website Introductions" is worth passing along to those of us who are trying to build businesses - especially creative ones like art and photography. One of the NANPA panels I attended last year talked about creating your slogan, your tagline, your business name: something that sets your work apart and makes people want to know more about what you do.

I will ponder some of these ideas, because I definitely need to come up with something catchy, inspirational, and creative to describe what I do with my photography and with my writing.

Estate Tax

Austin American Statesman's article is a good example of why I am hoping that in the need to raise taxes, the estate tax is not one of the methods used. Estate planners pretty much say that you need to have about 1 1/2 million dollars saved to be able to fund your retirement giving the longer lives Americans have. Many people do plan ahead, work hard, and save to be able to finance not only their active retirement years, but also to be prepared for their declining years and for those medical needs that occur as their lives near the end. The income that produced these savings were taxed all along and often these savings are invested to allow new companies to grow their businesses.

As in the case with this ranch, many families own small family businesses that were built with much hard work. Small businesses pay tax on their income as they grow their businesses. When you start taxing these estates, the remaining family members often end up having to sell or shut down the business to pay estate taxes, effectively removing an income stream forever from the tax rolls.

There is no doubt about it, we will have to raise taxes eventually in order to pay for the spending our government is doing now. But we need to be careful that our tax structure does not discourage people from building businesses or from working hard to better the lives of their families because such a big percentage goes straight to the government.

In my early adulthood I remember when the top tax rate in Sweden was over 50%. While i was not a fan of Bill Clinton, the reason he was able to reduce the national debt during his presidency was that businesses grew and flourished, the stock market went up providing increased revenue from taxes as business paid their income tax and people paid tax on their capital gains.

I'm not against much of the spending that is going on right now, but when we try to figure out how to pay for it, we must find ways that encourage people to build successful businesses - we need to fund our taxes from growth and success - not from taxes that resemble that old fable about killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Texas Forests

On one level it really doesn't surprise me, but KVUE and the Associated Press are reporting Texas is 2nd to Alaska in acres of Forest Land. Most folks outside Texas think of the flat treeless Texas plains or the arid west Texas mountains when they think of Texas. But Texas is a big state and most of east Texas is all forested "piney" woods. That's almost a third or more of the 2nd largest state. Even the Texas Hill Country has forested areas of juniper, oak, and mesquite - short trees, but trees non the less.

USGS Earthquake Notification Service

One of my high school friends asked me via Facebook/Twitter whether I had joined the USGS Earthquake Notification Survey. I think Henry had signed up for it, but I hadn't.

When I looked at the US map of recent earthquakes, when I was checking on the quakes at the Salton Sea, I realized there had been a quake near Trinidad, Colorado. There are extinct volcanoes near Trinidad, plus I've been traveling through Trinidad since I was a kid.

So I went ahead and signed up to get notifications about earthquakes.

Click here: Sign up for the USGS Earthquake Notification Service. if you're interested in getting email or cellphone updates about earthquake activity in the United States.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Earthquakes at the Salton Sea

According to the Los Angeles Times, a cluster of 42 quakes over a 48 hour period began Saturday morning in an area just south of Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. The magnitude ranged from .05 to 3.3 on the Richter Scale.

From the USGS: Salton Sea earthquake map and Earthquake List shows the activity is ongoing with the highest magnitude a 4.7 quake last night.

A Google search showed a couple of links to a similar swarm of quakes in late August and early September 2005: EarthScope and Andrew's Geology Blog

I suspect I'll be watching that USGS map and list for the next several days.

Interesting that this occurred so close to the Mount Redoubt eruption in Alaska.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jay Maisel's Guest Blog

Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider Blog with guest writer t on Jay Maisel's pos is worth reading on so many levels. Taking time to go slow and savor your surroundings is important not only for the photographer, but also as we walk through life. There are many things that will inspire you both as a photographer and as a person.

The Rattlesnake Dance

Saturday morning my computer decided that it did not want to work. The earliest we could schedule a Genius Bar appointment was on Sunday afternoon. I was pretty bummed, because I have a major project due at the end of the week. To be honest, my computer IS my brain in so many ways, it was daunting to think I would probably not get it back until Wednesday or Thursday, making that entry to the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year difficult to say the least.

So . . . Henry got me out of the house and we headed for the Hill Country to check out the early season wildflowers. One one stretch of dirt road in between Llano, Johnson City, and Fredericksburg, he stopped and backed up. I knew he'd seen something I had not so I said, "What did you see?" His answer: "Mating rattlesnakes!"

Being bummed when we left, I did NOT bring my camera gear - BIG MISTAKE! This would have been a sequence of photos worthy for any wildlife photgraphy competition - good lighting, intriguing interaction . . . close enough that I think the 100-400 would have gotten great shots from the safety of the car.

The snakes were on Henry's side, so he pulled out his Iphone. I have used Genuine Fractals to blow them up a little at least to be able to share them on my blog.

In all the years of driving the backroads, every now and then you see a natural wonder that you know you're unlikely to see again. One year it was a very new fawn . . . this year these rattlesnakes . . .

I came home to the web to read more about rattlesnake behavior after watching this amazing courtship. Apparently in the spring as they are coming out from their winter slumbers, rattlesnakes spend hours twisting, curling, intertwining. Later the female gives birth to live babies which are then left to fend for themselves.

Part of the viper family, they are extremely poisonous, but they have their place in the natural world. These were far from human habitation, so they are not a threat to anyone but the small mice and rodents and bird's nests.

I'm glad we got to watch their courtship . . . and, yes, I'm glad we were in our car rather than out walking.

Alaska's Mount Redoubt Finally Erupts

My husband and I have been followin Mount Redoubt for the last several months. There was a window when I was getting updates every two hours. It released one explosive burst about a week ago, but had gotten very quiet. I had guessed that all those tremors and earthquakes and the burst had relieved the stresses. The alert code had gone back to Yellow . . .

This two month chart shows how the activity level had gotten high in February and then tapered off. Then it was very quiet the first two weeks in March, but look on the far right. WOW Such strong activity, so suddenly, and now the big eruption the volcanologists were waiting for:

This is the chart from the last seven days. Note that after the spikes on the right, there is no more data. It sure looks like that the monitoring equipment has been damaged or destroyed by the eruption.

Here is the link to: Alaska Volcano Observatory - Mount Redoubt Click here to follow their Twitter.

From Yahoo News and the Associated Press, Alaska's Mount Redoubt Erupts 5 times.

While air traffic to and from Anchorage has been halted, it looks like the ashfall is going to be worse west of Anchorage than in Anchorage proper. It will be interesting to see how long this eruptive phase lasts.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts

I decided to use Stumble tonight to see if I could find something interesting. It took me to AncientX.com with an article about "The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts." Grooved spheres in Precambrian rock (2.8 billion years old), complex gears dating back to 80 BC which weren't rediscovered until 1575, a 500,000 geode with a porcelain object with a metal shaft similar to a sparkplug . . .

Intriguing . . .

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Real Books - Will they be around for the next generations?

The Seattle Tech Report's Andrea James' blog: All reading will be digital one day, C reports that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon books will be on Nightline tonight. Amazon has come out with a new electronic reading device, Kindle. I don't think I've seen an actual Kindle live, but I suspect that more and more books will come out in electronic format. And I suspect that sometime in the future that perhaps books as we know them will be the exception rather than the rule.

My daughter has already read her first book on her I-phone. Henry's books are already available on every electronic device you can think of.

But I find myself mourning the loss of something that has been part of my life forever. My earliest memories are of children's books with colorful illustrations. I have memories of sitting with a child in my lap reading my favorite and their favorite picture books to them. While I know that both Kindle and the I-phone are portable, I suspect we won't take them with us into the bathtub for a long soak reading. Real books have gotten expensive in printing, marketing, warehousing, and selling in brick and mortar stores. However, I still like to go to a local bookstore and browse - you can't quite do that the same way online.

But the state of book selling is pretty dire right now when you realize that the leading seller of books is Walmart. Titles will not stay on the shelf long at a Walmart like they do in a full time book store. You may not be able to see all of an author's previous work ready to buy at a store whose major purpose in life is not selling books. Many of my most favorite authors are popular with others as well and I can generally find most if not all of their work on the shelves at my local Barnes & Noble. Right now I only go to Amazon for books whose titles or authors I'm already familiar with.

Another issue with real books that is unresolved has to do with new laws regarding lead and children's products. I don't think lead is part of the process of producing children's books. However, because of problems with children's toys that were painted with lead paint, all children's products must be tested and certified lead free. What does that do to generations of children's books in libraries?

Yes, real books are under attack right now, but I'm hoping that somehow they survive. Real books have sensory appeal - beautiful covers, sometimes beautiful photos or art inside, touch, smell, etc. Somehow, I don't think electronic books are going to be as satisfying to all our senses as a real book. If enough others feel the same way, then perhaps real books will survive this latest economic downturn.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Religion in America

"More Americans Say They Have No Religion," a Yahoo News Article was a sad read for me this morning. As a Christian. I believe that humans have a spiritual element that is an important part of human life. When we neglect the spiritual, we are diminished. For me, it is part of wanting to be the best human being that I am capable of being. Whereas I know I fall very short of being all that I dream, I have confidence that God through Christ guides my destiny, using even my mistakes to make me stronger and a better person.

I have to wonder if somehow we as Christians are failing in some way to show God's love to all people. I don't think we can badger people into becoming believers. I think we have to build our own relationship with the Father first. Then I think that His light will shine from our hearts.

I also believe that because we live in a technical world, we have lost some of our connection with the natural world around us. Agricultural societies know that they are dependent upon things outside themselves - weather, rain, hail, heat . . . All these things outside their control determine whether their crop or their livestock will flourish. In the technological world, we get caught up in thinking it is our own hard work (and yes, hard work IS important for success) that gets us ahead. We think we are the master of our destiny, we carry the illusion that we can plan and chart our destiny. But life has a unique way of humbling even the strongest of us. Even people who eat right, work out regularly, manage their stress,etc become ill with life threatening diseases. We are now facing some of the worst economic times in my life. People who have worked and saved all their lives are seeing their retirement funds wither as stock prices fall and home prices plummet. People with seemingly secure, important jobs are discovering that life is constantly changing, that job security can be an illusion as businesses fail or downsize.

I hope that this report on the state of religion in America is only a short term glimpse - not a long term trend. But as a Christian, I want my voice to be one of encouragement and faith and love as our nation and our world goes through this current economic turmoil. God is love . . . as Christians our voices must reflect that love to those around us - one person at a time. As Christians we need to pray asking for God to touch and open the hearts of those who no longer seek Him or for those who have never met Him.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Colorado's Winter Aspens

One thing a photographer is taught to do is to visualize the photos they want to take before they go on location. For my winter trip, I had several ideas visualized. One of them was a forest of aspen trunks nestled into deep snow. I never really found the scene I was looking for for that winter aspen image. But I did find and photograph aspens in snow. My versions of winter aspens are a little different:

I did find this grove of young aspens and I was intrigued by the patterns of the tree trunks with their shadow lines criss-crossing the photo.

But I think I like this version of the same scene better:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Our first full day in Colorado brought a winter snowstorm. We drove up from Durango toward Silverton and Ouray. I continued trying to play with different types of landscapes with the in camera motion.

I continue to be amazed at the different effects that show up.

Would you say watercolor????

My husband wanted me to experiement with the road signs, both the hairpin turn warnings and avalanche warning signs.
This sign is next to one of the newer mines just north of Silverton. I loved the abstract, charcoal look that showed up here.

I like this one because of the way the zoom action draws your eye to the center trunks. But if I use my imaginations, something is lurking here:

The other effect that sometimes shows up in the images are a natural texture. I am eager to print this one on canvas.

These images are available for viewing in larger versions and for purchase at Mary Ann's View Nature Photography website.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A New Look at New Mexico

I presented my in camera motion blur photos at the Albuquerque NANPA Summit as part of the Member Photo Show, the Member Print Show, and as part of my portfolio. The images were well received, so as we headed north to find winter, I looked for more opportunities.

We went up a stream bed where the interesting shaped trunks of the old cottonwood trees drew my attention.

I tried it on the colorful mesas as we drove by:

I found tree trunks at the base of a mesa with some remaing snow nearby:

and more, interesting trees:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Winter Day at the west end of Rocky Mountain National Park -

The western side of Rocky Mountain National Park is the "wet" side of the park receiving the moisture from Pacific weather fronts. In the winter, it is blanketed with snow. Each time we've visited in the winter, we have been lucky to come during a snow storm. We stay in Grand Lake which is right near the west entrance. We learned the first time that it is really special to be up before dawn and on the road making the first tracks in the unbroken snow.

Trail Ridge Road is closed during the winter so as we reach the turnaround, we can see our tracks.

Each winter we've seen moose near the road. This year we only saw them the first day. Moose are amazing in the snow because they literally wade right through it with snow up to their knees. This time we found a family, a bull moose who had just recently lost his antlers, a female and a yearling calf. We stopped to enjoy them as well as get a few photos. We were thrilled to see two of them lay down, nestled in the snow and forest.

The second morning we came up on a fox laying on the pile of snow from the snowplow's work. Lighting was not great, but foxes are SO photogenic! We saw from his tracks near the road that he had come from higher up, following the roadway. We only saw him that one day as well, but saw fox tracks again on one of the other days.

We saw gray squirrels that scampered quickly away when they saw and heard us coming. We saw snowshoe hare tracks, but never the hares. With the camouflaged white coats, they blend in so well that you can only see them when they move. I've seen them in their summer coats, but never in the winter.

We spent several days driving up and down the roads on the west side. Each day provided different opportunities for winter photography.

We have grown to like Grand Lake as well. In the winter, it is a snowmobilers heaven. While you can't ride your snowmobile in the national park, there are many trails set up to provide riders unique places to ride. The streets are often snow covered and one of the first signs that you see is that snowmobiles MUST follow all traffic laws. Yes, snowmobiles are loud, but for those of us who have physical issues that make snowshoeing more challenging, a snowmobile allows a unique experience in a winter wonderland. I hope to get to rent a snowmobile in Grand Lake some day and explore some of those trails.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

First day home

First days home after a trip are always a little challenging. So many little things that need to be done - going through stacks of mail, unloading the car, and trying to get a handle on the home routines. Today was a little different as one of my good friends was having major surgery today. One of her other friends (who loves and cares about Jeanette as much as I do) called off and on to see what if anything I had heard. While I can't say I was worrying exactly, as the hours dragged by with no word, it did make me a little nervous. Fortunately, she is now out of surgery and it seems as though while it was a difficult surgery, apparently the doctor is pleased with the results. Now, I'll be praying for a swift recovery.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


We've spent the last week in Colorado, God has blessed us with the fresh snow I needed for my winter photos. We've been up early and out late, so I'm going to wait until I get home to start posting blogs with photos.

Today is our last day in Colorado and I'm heading out to the sister National Wildlife Refuges - Alamosa and Monte Vista. I was told that the sandhills cranes are leaving Bosque del Apache for their northward migration. I know that these two refuges are one of their stops. At this time of year they should be dancing as part of their courtship ritual. If I'm lucky this will be the first time I've pulled out my 300-800mm lens this trip.

I've been doing more 'twittering" this trip, so if you're interested in more frequent updates, then follow me on Twitter