2012
06.19

Full Force Auroras

I was out at a party with my buddy from Illinois, Matt. I met Matt last year out in the park and we went on some fun adventures together both in the park and in town. His family had just left and it was his last night here so I met him at his friends apartment. I was there for a few hours before I got the text that the auroras were out from my friend/ coworker/ old roommate Mike. I immediately set out to get some nigh shots with my new lens and was amazed at the intensity of the auroras. I had been shooting them for about a half hour when Matt pulled up and got some shots too. He didn’t stick around too long but I was out from 11pm to around 3am bouncing between multiple locations in the southern end of Grand Teton National Park. I have been asked many times if I enhanced the photos at all but all I did was reduce the noise. Here are some of the images I captured.

The first two images are shooting from Gros Ventre Junction north towards the Airport. The next two were shot from behind Black Tail Butte. The last one is shot near the intersection of Antelope Flats Road and Mormon Row.

2012
06.19

Little Corn Island

Its a pretty rainy day here on Little Corn Island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. I woke to a hot room at 4:24 in the morning because the power was out so my fan was off. Chickens were just starting to make some noise and rain was just starting to trickle down. From 4:24 on I didn’t get much sleep because the rain was pounding down on my tin roof of Three Brothers Hotel I was staying at. At 7:07 I finally got out of bed and headed down the the dock to meet Captain Willie, the young captain that was going to take my friend Andrew and I out fishing.

I got to the Corn Islands about a week ago via plane and a small boat trip. I was going to take a bus a boar and another boat but I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and two or three days of travel to save 100 bucks. I booked my flight at 9am that morning from Leon and had to take a series of taxis and busses to make it to the airport by noon. While I was standing in line to check in I saw Hannah and Andrew, two people I met in Granada who were also heading to Little Corn Island. The three of us spent most the week together diving, swimming, hiking around the island and just relaxing. We did a few dives together. One of the dives was 16 miles off shore and most of us were feeling pretty seasick. Hannah by far had the worst of it. I am surprised she didn’t puke because she sure looked like she was going to. Once in the water though things were fine. We saw a huge school of barracuda, sharks, rays, eagle rays, and lots of colorful fish. The is a pretty nice spot to dive. The island is pretty small and there is not a single bar on it that I would consider a party spot. Anywhere on the island can be reached in under thirty minutes. The beaches are beautiful and the people are very friendly. Most people here speak Creole, regular English, and Spanish and are of African decent. Very chill place and one that ranks up there on the list of places I would return to in the future.

Because it was raining and the lightning was right over us this morning we decided to postpone the trip for noon. It’s almost noon and time to head out. Hopefully I do not get seasick.

2012
06.19

First Two Weeks in Nicaragua

I expected a bigger blast of hot, humid air when I stepped out of the airport onto the streets of Managua. I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t create a lasting impression like it had in the past but none the less I was happy to see Mike, who was there to pick Matt and I up. He took us to a host family for two nights in Managua. It was difficult understanding and speaking Spanish until today, two weeks into my trip. Something just clicked and today I had a good conversation with Frank, a young man who is going to the university. I met Frank on top of the bell tower of a church here in Granada. Today, I also had a tour guide explain a few trips to me and he talked for five minutes and I understood almost everything he was saying. It is awesome to be able to know what people are saying and be able to partially respond.

It helps that I spent a week in La Paz de Carazo where my host family never leaves me alone and is always wanting to talk. I learned so much from them over the last week. I had stayed with them in the past but I knew much less Spanish then. This time around I was actually able to talk about politics here in Nicaragua with Johana, my host mom, this morning while she was cooking my breakfast over the fire. I really enjoy spending time with this family because they take me in like one of their own kids. Willian had me help him put a roof on a building, Johanna had me plucking and gutting chickens for lunch, Grandma had me digging holes for plants, and I got to go with Jessica, a 12 year old girl, her aunt and uncle Willian and Johana to cut down about 20 banana trees for out food. To get the bananas we took the horse with a cart on the back across a field to their banana plantation. It was fun cutting the trees down with a machete.

Mike had a group he took here to La Paz and I helped shovel cow manure for a day to be used for biogas stoves and fertilizer. I also went with them to see a natural healer and wine maker. Two bottles cost me 35 cords each, about a dollar fifty. It is a great desert wine made from all local products with the main flavor being hibiscus. It was interesting to watch him preform a examination on three of my friends, and prescribe herbal remedy. He would touch a part of the patients body and touch both forefingers to thumbs to create a link similar to a metal chain. He would pull them apart and if the link would break, something was wrong with the part of the body he touched. Then he would say different plants that could cure the problem and when the finger link would break, that was the medicine he prescribed. Then to determine the quantity the person should take he would say different numbers and when the link broke, that’s the amount the person needs to take. There was a lot of laughing going on and one woman who was told she had to take a pepper extract for five days because she had a problem with her ovaries said that she didn’t believe but looked a little worried after the diagnosis.

It has been a great trip this far and I am sad to leave La Paz but it’s exciting to be traveling solo again. Off to Granada in the morning with two weeks to go in my trip.

2012
06.19

Driving at Night

There is nothing I hate more about road trips than driving at night. It’s not just that more drunks are out, deer are out committing suicide and my typical battle with drowsiness. There are other reasons too like High Beams, missed sights, low visibility, and difficulty finding a place to sleep for the night.

I hate it when people do not dim their brights and refuse to do so after I flash them. It is a little nerve racking when you see deer along the road every few miles throughout Wyoming, South Dakota and Wisconsin. It is difficult to see deer if one were to pop up in between me and the other car, both shining lights at one another. Also it’s pretty easy to overdrive your lights when the speed limit is 75mph. I typically let a big semi pass and then follow close behind it. It is difficult for me to not go the speed limit or speed, especially when using a GPS. It drives me crazy to see the ETA get later and later.

Also when driving at night you do not see the sights. There are a lot of neat statues, land features, and sites along the way that you miss under the cover of darkness. Also when it is dark it’s not as easy to find a place to sleep. Sometimes if you are not careful you will wake up at the end of someones long driveway, on private property, or be forced to sleep in a less than ideal place.

Still the biggest thing I worry about are running into deer, bear, elk and especially moose. Moose are massive and they are dark colored and their eyes do not reflect, at least not that I have noticed. I’ve almost hit a few. On Village road that leads into Grand Teton National Park six moose were killed this winter along a two mile stretch from people going way too fast. It is frustrating because moose populations are already dwindling with the increasing grizzly and wolf populations. Soon there will not be a moose to see in Jackson Hole. That will be a sad day. If you come to Grand Teton National Park make sure you do not speed for our wildlife’s sake.

2012
06.19

Posting Catchup – Ski Season Winding Down

This is a post I wrote about two months ago but I haven’t been motivated lately to put anything up. My excuse was I was behind in the photos I wanted to include in the posts because I had so many. Now I am putting it up without photos for now.

Pull leaver, push seat forward. Roll black Osprey Backpack between craves of front and rear seat. Fold yellow Thermarest NeoAir mattress over Osprey Backpack. Lay out sleeping bag. Enter through side door butt first. Remove shoes. Get into cannon ball position bringing in feet. Reach out, grab shoes and smack on rear tire removing soils before brining them into the car for the night…

It sure doesn’t feel like its been six months since I last slept in my car. Everything still seems natural from the over one-hundred days I slept in my car last summer. There were other options for the night but I was really looking forward to spending the night in my car. That sounds strange but there is a reason for everything.

Today I woke up at the normal time, 7:00, planning to call in sick for work. I told my boss I had the shits. Who questions that? This is the first time I have ever called in sick without being deathly ill but, it was necessary. Last week I told my boss that I needed Thursday off to move. Since I was working five days a week and all the other photographers who normally only work four days were getting bumped down to three, I didn’t think he would have a problem dropping me down to four since he was in the middle of making the schedule anyways. Apparently he didn’t like that idea so I was forced to call in sick. There was a little tension the day before and I told him that he could give me the day off or I was going to call in sick. I had to sort all my stuff to go to three different locations. There is the stuff I am keeping in my storage unit, the stuff that goes back to and will stay in Wisconsin and the stuff that is going to Nicaragua for a month with me. Its not like I just could throw it in a bin and store it. It would be bad if something got into the wrong pile and I didn’t have it when I needed it. Especially because it all is going to be thousands of miles apart. On top of packing I had to clean my apartment which wound up taking till about 3:30 when all was said and done.

As soon as I hit the main highway after finishing the move, an unbelievable happiness came over me. It is a phenomenal feeling that I normally get when I realize I have complete freedom to go wherever I want, sleep wherever I want, do whatever I want and not know where I am going to wind up that night. There is a sense of adventure. Adventure of the unknown. The spots I normally sleep are all still burred in snow so I had to try a new spot by Slide Lake. On the way there the clouds were looking good so I found a spot to photograph sunset. It was still a hour away but I didn’t have anything else to do so I waited. I would never have got to see it had I had a place in town or even if I had a place out here. Doubt I would’ve gone outside to photograph it. But tonight, under these amazing circumstances, I did. It was incredible. Normally a sunsets best light only lasts for about a minute. Tonight it lasted over fifteen. I am forced to stay outdoors shooting until poor lighting forces me to stop. Besides 7 is too early to call in a night when sleeping in a car.

 

2012
04.12

Flight Over the Tetons

Earlier this year my buddy Jim was talking about going on a flight to get areal video of where the bears were. I told him that I would pay half to go with because I wanted to get some areal photos of the Tetons. Jim’s brother wanted Jim to get some areal photos or video of a ice face he was planning on climbing next winter with a group. Jim’s brother paid for the whole thing and Jim took me up with him. It was an old Cessna that smelled like a auto repair shop. We hopped in and Mike, the pilot, fired up the engine and we were off in a flash. We had blue skies, calm winds overhead and we were thinking it would be a great day for a flight. We had to go about 40 miles east up the Gros Ventre wilderness to The Wind River Range where the ice climb is on a mountain called Square Top. It was a pretty flight until it wasn’t.

It started to snow just as we approached the mountain. When Jim opened the window to get video I could not breathe for a few seconds after being blasted by the cold, snowy air. It was like when you walk outside on a brisk winter morning and the wind steals your breath for a few seconds. It was a cold, cold blast. I caught my breath and started snapping shots. Jim got his video and I took some photos through the window and a few while holding my camera out the window. It was too cramped to look through the viewfinder so most didn’t turn out so well.

I would like to go on some more flights but next time either take the doors off the plane or sit up front. The back seat is less than ideal for photographing. It was fun seeing the area from the air that I have tens of thousands of miles driving around but my photos did not turn out the best. I cannot wait till it warms up and I can do it again!

 

2012
04.06

Homeless Oppertunities

Pull leaver, push seat forward. Roll black Osprey Backpack between craves of front and rear seat. Fold yellow Thermarest NeoAir mattress over Osprey Backpack. Lay out sleeping bag. Enter through side door butt first. Remove shoes. Get into cannon ball position bringing in feet. Reach out, grab shoes and smack on rear tire removing soils before brining them into the car for the night…

It sure doesn’t feel like its been six months since I last slept in my car. Everything still seems natural from the over one-hundred days I slept in my car last summer. There were other options for the night but I was really looking forward to spending the night in my car. That sounds strange but there is a reason for everything.

Today I woke up at the normal time, 7:00, planning to call in sick for work. I told my boss I had the shits. Who questions that? This is the first time I have ever called in sick without being deathly ill but, it was necessary. Last week I told my boss that I needed Thursday off to move. Since I was working five days a week and all the other photographers who normally only work four days were getting bumped down to three, I didn’t think he would have a problem dropping me down to four since he was in the middle of making the schedule anyways. Apparently he didn’t like that idea so I was forced to call in sick. There was a little tension the day before and I told him that he could give me the day off or I was going to call in sick. I had to sort all my stuff to go to three different locations. There is the stuff I am keeping in my storage unit, the stuff that goes back to and will stay in Wisconsin and the stuff that is going to Nicaragua for a month with me. Its not like I just could throw it in a bin and store it. It would be bad if something got into the wrong pile and I didn’t have it when I needed it. Especially because it all is going to be thousands of miles apart. On top of packing I had to clean my apartment which wound up taking till about 3:30 when all was said and done.

As soon as I hit the main highway after finishing the move, an unbelievable happiness came over me. It is a phenomenal feeling that I normally get when I realize I have complete freedom to go wherever I want, sleep wherever I want, do whatever I want and not know where I am going to wind up that night. There is a sense of adventure. Adventure of the unknown. The spots I normally sleep are all still burred in snow so I had to try a new spot by Slide Lake. On the way there the clouds were looking good so I found a spot to photograph sunset. It was still a hour away but I didn’t have anything else to do so I waited. I would never have got to see it had I had a place in town or even if I had a place out here. Doubt I would’ve gone outside to photograph it. But tonight, under these amazing circumstances, I did. It was incredible. Normally a sunsets best light only lasts for about a minute. Tonight it lasted over fifteen. I am forced to stay outdoors shooting until poor lighting forces me to stop. Besides 7 is too early to call in a night when sleeping in a car. Many more photo opportunities present themselves when I am homeless simply because I put myself in more positions to capture them. Living out of the car is a great way to force yourself to focus on photography. I love it!

 

2012
04.02

1280×1024 | 1600×900 | 1600×1200 | 1920×1080

2012
03.18

Central America Reunion!

Probably the best part about having seasonal jobs is the vacation time between seasons. There are not too many jobs out there where you get four months vacation a year. Starting April 7th I will have off for two months until mid June when I return to the Tetons to be a wildlife safari guide. Two months sounds like it is going to be a pretty long vacation but it sure doesn’t seem like it’s going to be all that long. When thinking about all that I want to accomplish in those two months I will have to cut some things out for lack of time.

As of right now I am going to visit family and friends in Wisconsin for two weeks. Then fly out to Nicaragua for a month where I might try and get over to Cuba before it is legal for Americans to go there… As far as you all know, I am not going there. It would be unfortunate to have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines or go to jail for 7 years. I tried doing some research on how to get there but it is pretty much impossible to set it up from the US because it is blocked by the government. I will have to figure things out once I get there. Cuba is just so alluring because it is illegal and once the borders are opened to US citizens it will be quickly Americanized. Another plan I had was go to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica for a week and do some hiking, camping and photography. It is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. Great place for wildlife photography and landscapes along the Pacific cost. While I am in Nicaragua I will be spending some time in Esteli again and hopefully Managua and La Paz. I haven’t talked to my buddy Mike about it yet but hopefully it works out.

My buddy John bought a one way ticket to Nicaragua a few weeks back so it will be fun hanging out with him. I think we are going to try and get to the Corn Islands off the Caribbean cost and maybe rent a beach house for a week if it works out. Whatever the case, I just cannot wait to get down there and de-thaw after this winter. I am ready for summer and the warm weather it brings.

2012
03.12

Back with the Hawks

Today was the first day volunteering at the Teton Raptor Center. As most of you know, I really like birds. I worked for a raptor breeder in Iowa last summer and plan on getting my falconry license eventually. It is difficult though with all the moving around I do. Fortunately I will be here in Jackson for quite a while and there is a raptor rehabilitation center a few miles away that I will now be volunteering with. Mostly the duties will be feeding the birds but there will also be opportunities to do presentation and educational talks which I am pretty interested in. Now working with the breeder you would think I would have plenty of experience handling hawks but that is not the case. It was breeding season and the birds were to be left alone. Here, at Teton Raptor Center, I will be able to handle the birds a lot because this place wants us to weigh the birds daily to keep their weight at a healthy level. Today I got to handle a Great Horned Owl and a Red Tailed Hawk. Both pretty cool animals. It didn’t take long to weigh and feed all the animals since there is only about 8 or so including a bald and golden eagle.

I didn’t really have anything else to do today so I had them teach me how to tie the falconers knot and clean the chambers (hawk room). One of them is working on putting together a skeleton of a Osprey so I helped her remove flesh off the bones for a while. It is a pretty tedious project she has going. It will be fun for people to see when she is done.

It should be a good experience volunteering out there. It will be great learning more about hawks so that some day I can get my own for hunting. My plan here is to rack up a bunch of hours so I can handle the eagles. That will be awesome.