Photo Story: Wyoming's Iconic Moulton Barn

This image of Moulton Barn in Jackson, Wyoming was taken 10 years ago next month, during a two week trip that took my wife and me in a rented car (a Ford Taurus… yuck!) from Salt Lake City to my brother’s home in Spokane, WA via the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

My brother's Nikon D40 plus 18-55 kit zoom.

"Moulton Barn"
Mormon Row, Jackson, WY
Nikon D40 with 18-55mm kit zoom @ 38mm
1/40sec, F13, ISO 220

The barn image was taken on my third day with my first dSLR.  Actually, it wasn’t even mine.  My brother (in Spokane) had just purchased a Nikon D40 with it’s 18-55 kit lens.  He’d been eyeing Nikon dSLRs and was waiting until a model was available for under $1,000.  That seems like a lot of money for this 6mp interchangeable lens camera and kit lens, but it is so easy for us to forget just how expensive those early dSLRs were.

I actually had no interest in having a photographic trip.  That’s hard for me to believe now, but I had planned only to take my little 3mp Panasonic point and shoot to document the trip. I had no interest (or so I thought) in lugging around anything larger and heavier.

So, I told my brother this and the next thing I knew a UPS truck dropped off at our house his brand new camera with a note to “use the hell out of it” and to return it to him when we arrived in Spokane.

Camera Set up.

I remember reading the manual on the plane.  The first day, as we drove from SLC to Jackson, Wyoming, I shot in the auto mode.  As I recall there was a green icon of some sort on the mode dial for the no-brainer mode.  Or was it a red heart?  Anyway, that was good for one day.  On the second day I switched to P mode, but since I knew nothing about EV compensation or white balance or ISO adjustments, it didn’t seem to me that P mode provided anything different than the Auto mode.  On the third day (when I took this picture) I switched to Aperture Priority (though I have no idea in the world why I chose F13 instead of, say, F5.6).  Aperture Priority is what I was used to, from 30 years before with a Nikon EL film camera.  

I do wish I had learned about white balance, ISO, EV compensation and RAW during the trip. All my images were shot as jpegs.  

This image is actually on a wall in my office as an 18” print.  It looks great, though because my eyes and my standards have changed over these 10 years, I do seem to be more and more bothered by the color blotches I see in the sky in the 18” print.  On the other hand, from a normal viewing distance, it isn’t noticeable.


Photo Story: Getting a Speeding Ticket in Yosemite Valley

This photo, taken by me in 1977 in California's Yosemite Valley, makes me laugh every time I see it.  Sometimes, it's really all about the title, isn't it?

I really don't remember what was going on here. I was not the driver of the car but merely walking down the street ...but to be honest, the mounted park ranger was giving out a parking ticket, not a speeding ticket.  Nonetheless,  I couldn't resist my chosen title as there's just something laughable about a ranger on horseback versus a Datsun 240Z sports car.

"Getting a Speeding Ticket"
Nikon EL film camera
50mm F1.4 prime lens
Scanned from Kodachrome 64 slide film
Exposure: I have no idea!


1959 Series 62 Convertible Cadillac 390 V8 Automatic

It was Cadillac day at Larz Anderson transportation museum recently, and I found myself gravitated rather quickly to this 1959 Cadillac convertible.  It's a real beauty.  

Wish I'd been able to look under the hood, at that 390 cubic inch 325 horse power engine. And those tail fins... wow! Check them out in a couple of the photos further below.


Photo Story: Wild Mountain Goat on Hurricane Ridge, 1976, Olympic National Park

Let's hear it for Kodachrome 64 and my old Nikon EL with it's 58 mm Nikkor F1.4 lens!  This is one of my dozen or so favorites from the 1970's.  For those that don't know this, Kodachrome was slide film with an ASA (ISO) of 64.  It came in rolls of 24 and 36.  Here the slide has been scanned to a 10mp file and then downsized to 750 pixels wide for blog posting.  I recently made a 24" print for my younger son, and it is plenty sharp.

"Mountain Goat"
Hurricane Ridge, Olympus National Park, 1976

Nikon EL film camera, Nikkor 58mm F1.4 lens
Shutter speed unknown, F stop unknown
ASA 64 (Kodachrome 64)

This image was taken on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park in July, 1976.  That was more than 40 years ago!

Mountain goats are not indigenous to the area. They were introduced in 1920, eighteen years before the area became a national park. I'm not sure how many were living in the park when I took this picture in 1976.  However, I have read that in 1983 there were approximately 1,100.

I love wild animals but it seems that the Park system is trying to figure out what to do with these animals, as it is reported that they are overgrazing the delicate alpine vegetation and soil.

Incidentally, seen in the distance, beyond the snoozing mountain goat, is Puget sound and Vancouver Island, Canada.


Photo Story: Tons of Maple Tree Helicopters

Our property is surrounded by maple trees.  One of the beautiful things that happens in the spring is that the maples sprout large quantities of little “helicopters”, as we called them as kids. In reality these are seed pods, and they appear before the new maple leaves arrive.

Beautiful colors eventually turn to brown:

Beginning with rich colors of green, pink, red and yellow, the helicopters eventually dry out and loose their color, instead turning to a dried-out tan or brown color.  At that point they loose their touch with the stems to which they’d been attached, and drop to the ground in a twirling motion.  This action is why they are often called helicopters or whirligigs. Where they drop will depend on the wind, as it is often high winds that “set them free”.

"A Squadron of Maple Whirligigs"
Olympus EM-1 with 12-100mm F4 zoom @ 54mm (108mm-equiv)
1/100sec, F4, ISO 200
Processed with Lightroom and Perfectly Clear

A reason for concern:

Of particular concern, however, is the number of helicopters produced.  This particular tree is so dense with seed pods. It’s a “bumper crop”.  But that may not be a good thing. We’ve had drought conditions the last few years and I have learned from an arborist that producing a bumper crop of seeds is often a tree’s way of continuing the species during times of stress, and before the tree dies off.