Category Archives: Exploring Light

The Fire Trees of Dawsonville

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I am not an early morning riser by any stretch of the imagination. I rather despise early mornings. So, when I find something that delights me in the early morning I consider it a bonus. For some reason that I’ve tried to block from my memory, I was up early one winter morning after it had rained the night before. I took the dog with me and we went for a little jaunt down the road in front of our house.

As we headed west, my eyes saw the scene you see in today’s post. I didn’t have my camera with me as I’d not anticipated opening my eyes on the walk if at all possible, but I did open them long enough to see the scene and knew I had to shoot it. I pulled out my cell phone and shot today’s photo. The sun was rising from behind me and it lit up the tops of the trees to the west. It looked almost as if the trees were on fire. Perhaps if you come visit us some time and are crazy enough to get up of a morning, you might see them, too!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, at Poison Spring, Arkansas, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Samuel Maxey captured a Union forage train and slaughtered black troops escorting the expedition.

The Battle of Poison Spring was part of broad Union offensive in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. General Nathaniel Banks had led a Yankee force through Louisiana in March and April, but a defeat in northwestern Louisiana at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8 sent Banks in retreat. Union forces nearby in Arkansas were moving towards Banks’ projected thrust into Texas with the intention of securing southwestern Arkansas for the Federals.

Union General Frederick Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Two days later, he sent Colonel John Williams and 1,100 of his 14,000-man force to gather 5,000 bushels of corn discovered west of Camden. The force arrived to find that Confederate marauders had destroyed half of the store, but the Yankees loaded the rest into some 200 wagons and prepared to return to Camden. On the way back Maxey and 3,600 Confederates intercepted them. Maxey placed General John Marmaduke in charge of the attack that ensued. Williams positioned part of his force, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, between the wagon train and the Confederate lines. The regiment was the first black unit in the army, comprised primarily of ex-slaves.

The determined soldiers of the 1st Kansas stopped the first two Rebel attacks, but they were running low on ammunition. A third assault overwhelmed the Kansans, and the rout was on. Williams gathered the remnants of his force and retreated from the abandoned wagons. More than 300 Yankee troops were killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost just 13 killed and 81 wounded. The Rebels’ treatment of black troops was harsh. No black troops were captured, and those left wounded on the battlefield were brutally killed, scalped, and stripped. The Washington Telegraph, the major Confederate newspaper in Arkansas, justified the atrocity by declaring “We cannot treat Negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of social system for which we contend.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in Texas, cowboy boots are exempt from sales tax, but hiking boots are not.

The Contrast

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In Portland, Oregon lies a cemetery that we visited on our trip there in July. I love to roam old cemeteries and read the epitaphs and see the various art on the tombs.

As we were walking through this particular cemetery, there were numerous graves which had tombstones with pictures on them. Some were of the images of those who lay underneath the grass, embraced in slumber. Others were scenes taken from nature.

When we were almost done walking through the cemetery, my eyes spotted the stone in today’s photo. The lighting was just perfect as it filtered down through the trees, highlighting certain parts of the engraved image just where they should be lit up. I simply had to stop and take some images. It looks great in black and white, too.

Apparently there was a large historical population foreigners who lived in Portland in years gone by and this type of stone seems to be a common style of stones among them in this cemetery. I don’t recall their nationality, and I couldn’t read it, but I could appreciate the beauty of the stones.

The contrast on this stone, the white/black, dark/bright…reminded me of the contrast of life and death itself. And that only made it all the more intriguing.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1984, Ed Gein, a serial killer infamous for skinning human corpses, died of complications from cancer in a Wisconsin prison at age 77. Gein served as the inspiration for writer Robert Bloch’s character Norman Bates in the 1959 novel “Psycho,” which in 1960 was turned into a film starring Anthony Perkins and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Edward Theodore Gein was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on July 27, 1906, to an alcoholic father and domineering mother, who taught her son that women and sex were evil. Gein was raised, along with an older brother, on an isolated farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin. After Gein’s father died in 1940, the future killer’s brother died under mysterious circumstances during a fire in 1944 and his beloved mother passed away from health problems in 1945. Gein remained on the farm by himself.

In November 1957, police found the headless, gutted body of a missing store clerk, Bernice Worden, at Gein’s farmhouse. Upon further investigation, authorities discovered a collection of human skulls along with furniture and clothing, including a suit, made from human body parts and skin. Gein told police he had dug up the graves of recently buried women who reminded him of his mother. Investigators found the remains of 10 women in Gein’s home, but he was ultimately linked to just two murders: Bernice Worden and another local woman, Mary Hogan.

Gein was declared mentally unfit to stand trial and was sent to a state hospital in Wisconsin. His farm attracted crowds of curiosity seekers before it burned down in 1958, most likely in a blaze set by an arsonist. In 1968, Gein was deemed sane enough to stand trial, but a judge ultimately found him guilty by reason of insanity and he spent the rest of his days in a state facility.

In addition to “Psycho,” films including “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Silence of the Lambs” were said to be loosely based on Gein’s crimes.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The most decorated unit ever in U.S. history is the 442nd regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” It consisted of Japanese-American volunteers. Together they won 4,667 major medals, awards, and citations, including 560 Silver Stars (28 of which had oak-leaf clusters), 4,000 Bronze Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and one Medal of Honor, plus 54 other decorations. It also held the distinction of never having a case of desertion.

A Glorious End

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Some days great things happen, and on other days, not-so-great of things happen. But when you have a GOOD day that has a GLORIOUS ending, it’s like icing on the cake. (And who likes cake without icing?  It’s not nearly as good!)

So, I shot today’s photo the same day as the photo from yesterday, but this one was shot earlier than yesterdays’, and I included the reflection of the sky in the lake in this one. It was one of those kind of scenes that just makes you feel warm and excited inside – leaving you wondering if you’ll ever see another sunset like it. Fortunately, we have numerous evenings here like this, so I’m not too worried about it.

I hope you enjoy this and that it helps bring you a bit of peace during this hectic season.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1986, Richard Kuklinski, a suspect in several murders, was arrested by undercover agents at a truck stop off the New Jersey Turnpike, marking the culmination of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ “Operation Iceman.” Kuklinski had sealed his fate when he showed operative Dominick Polifrone how to poison a person with cyanide.

The first murder authorities were able to link Kuklinski to was that of George Mallibrand, whom he shot over a debt in 1980. He then stuffed Mallibrand’s body into a 55-gallon drum in Jersey City. In July 1981, Kuklinski’s partner, Louis Masgay, mysteriously disappeared on the eve of an illegal business transaction, but there was no evidence linking Kuklinski to the incident. When his body turned up in September 1983, authorities determined that Masgay had been shot in the head and kept frozen since the day of the disappearance; his body was then dumped two years later.

In 1982, Kuklinski joined Dan Deppner and Gary Smith in a scam to steal cars. But because he apparently believed Deppner and Smith to be inept crooks, Kuklinski decided to kill them in order to protect himself. In a northern New Jersey hotel, Kuklinski poisoned Smith’s hamburger and then stuffed the dead body under the bed. Despite the fact that other guests had rented the room in the meantime, Smith was not discovered for four days.

In May 1983, a plastic bag containing Dan Deppner’s body was discovered near a tree in northern New Jersey. Because he was believed to have died from cyanide poisoning, police were convinced that Kuklinski was behind the series of murders, and they decided to institute a sting operation. Kuklinski was later taped discussing cyanide’s efficacy as a murder weapon, saying “It’s quiet, it’s not messy, it’s not noisy… You can spray it in someone’s face and they go to sleep.”

At his trial in 1987, Kuklinski argued that Smith and Deppner had not been killed with poison. Indeed, it is difficult to prove murder by cyanide since the poison leaves few traces behind. Nonetheless, the prosecution managed to prove Kuklinski’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He later confessed to killing Louis Masgay.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The most decorated unit ever in U.S. history is the 442nd regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go for Broke.” It consisted of Japanese-American volunteers. Together they won 4,667 major medals, awards, and citations, including 560 Silver Stars (28 of which had oak-leaf clusters), 4,000 Bronze Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and one Medal of Honor, plus 54 other decorations. It also held the distinction of never having a case of desertion.

Burning Sky

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Every once in a while the sunset takes your breath away. We had a night like that not too long ago (maybe 2 weeks). As we went out the door to take the dog on her nightly rounds, the sun was nearly gone and the sky was aflame. It helps that we live by a small lake and the reflection on the lake was also breath-taking, but you won’t see that in today’s photo. (I’ll share some more of those pictures in the next couple of days.)

As the sun and color continued to drain and fade from the sky, the lighting changed rapidly and dramatically. Depending on where you focused and metered the exposure, quite different results were obtained.

I shot quite a few photos and then thought I was done, so I hurried to catch up with my wife and dog. As I did, I took one more glance toward the fading glory and saw what you see in today’s photo. I whipped the lens cover off, composed the shot, and fired. Sometimes the best shots are not contemplated, but come about as pleasant surprises. I guess this just goes to prove that you don’t always have to walk for miles in the pre-dawn darkness to get an image you like. I liked the contrast between the darkening sky and the silhouettes of the trees along the  edge of the lake – but most of all I liked that this image will remind me of that magical sunset for a long time!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, with the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered a massive attack against the western Allies by three German armies.

The German counterattack out of the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the experienced German troops wrought havoc on the American line, creating a triangular “bulge” 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide along the Allied front. Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for several days Hitler’s desperate gamble seemed to be paying off. However, unlike the French in 1940, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even after their lines of communication had been broken, buying time for a three-point counteroffensive led by British General Bernard Montgomery and American generals Omar Bradley and George Patton.

Fighting was particularly fierce at the town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces within the bulge. On December 22, the German commander besieging the town demanded that the Americans surrender or face annihilation. U.S. Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that read simply:

To the German Commander:

Nuts!

From the American Commander

The Americans who delivered the message explained to the perplexed Germans that the one-word reply was translatable as “Go to hell!” Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, but the 101st held on.

On December 23, the skies finally cleared over the battle areas, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy damage on German tanks and transport, which were jammed solidly along the main roads. On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by elements of General Patton’s 3rd Army. A major Allied counteroffensive began at the end of December, and by January 21 the Germans had been pushed back to their original line.

Germany’s last major offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 men, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks. The Allies suffered some 80,000 killed, wounded, or missing in action, with all but 5,000 of these casualties being American. It was the heaviest single battle toll in U.S. history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During its construction, the Great Wall was called “the longest cemetery on earth” because so many people died building it. Reportedly, it cost the lives of more than one million people.

Shooting in the Dark #2

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I typically like photos with lots of color. I love color!  I’m so grateful that I am not color-blind. It is hard for me to imagine not being able to see the turning leaves in Maine in October or November, or to see the color of my grand-children’s eyes.

Sometimes, however, pictures are better in black and white. I shot this, of course, as a color image. But because of some really strange lighting at this spot, it just came out…well, weird!  But when I converted it to monochrome it was a much better photo and all the weirdness caused by the various kinds of light sources that confused the camera’s sensor were largely eliminate.

This is another night shot of the lake that is right across the road from our humble abode. There is something about the contrast between the blackest of blacks and the bright white light of the floodlights at the base of the small trees that line the lake’s edge.  There is mystery afoot…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1989, five-year-old Melissa Brannen disappeared without a trace from a Christmas party in Fairfax, Virginia. The intensive forensic investigation that followed led to the arrest of party guest Caleb Hughes and, in the process, demonstrated how technically advanced crime solving had become.

After interviewing everyone who had been at the party, investigators determined that Hughes had left the party at roughly the same time that Brannen was discovered missing. When detectives visited Hughes’ home at 1 a.m., they found him washing his clothes, shoes, and belt. Although Hughes denied having any contact with the little girl, the detectives began an exhaustive search of his home and car.

To collect hairs and fibers, forensic experts carefully ran tape across all of the surfaces in Hughes’ house and car. Every tiny bit of evidence caught on the tape was cataloged and taken to a scraping room, where they were then examined under a microscope. In addition, Hughes’ clothing was systematically combed for foreign fibers and hairs.

Two of the fibers found in the passenger seat of Hughes’ car matched the rabbit-fur coat that Brannen’s mother had been wearing at the party. Since it was possible that the two fibers had innocently landed there, though, police needed additional evidence. Although Brannen had been wearing a blue sweater when she disappeared and police located more than 50 blue fibers in the car, direct forensic comparisons were impossible to make, since the young girl and her clothing were still missing. However, investigators learned that Melissa’s sweater was part of a Sesame Street outfit made only by JC Penney, and they were able to obtain an identical sample outfit from the manufacturer. A detailed examination proved that the blue fibers in Hughes’ car matched those from the Sesame Street outfit.

Hughes was convicted of abduction with intent to defile on March 8, 1991, but Melissa Brannen was never found.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Gourds were so important to the Haitian people that in 1807, President Henri Christophe (1761-1820) made them the base of national currency and declared all gourds the property of the state. Today, the Haitian currency is called “gourdes.

Shooting In the Dark

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Being in the dark usually has a negative connotation…meaning that one is not tuned in, they they haven’t been informed of some vital piece of information that is important in order to really understand or grasp something. When we are left in the dark, it makes us feel uncomfortable.

I was in the dark last night, but I was that way on purpose. For some time I’d been wanting to shoot some low-light images of the place where we live – the larger of the two lakes at Twin Lakes RV Park. I was so much in the dark last night, mind you, that a lady out walking her dog along the banks of the lake didn’t seem me and nearly walked right into me…but her dog alerted her to the fact that someone else (me!) was there.  I think she was a bit alarmed, but the dog was probably thinking, “What’s wrong with you?  Couldn’t you see him?!!  Even a blind dog could see him!”

Well, anyway, after regaining her composure, she and the dog wandered off into the darkness and I kept shooting.

Across the lake is a weeping willow that is lit with a spotlight, and a series of spotlights that line the causeway that divides the two lakes.  There are two fountains in the lake that are lit up with green lights that shoot up into the fountains. I think it’s peaceful and pretty.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much light there is out there even when we think it is very dark!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1947, despite strong Arab opposition, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine and to create an independent Jewish state.

The modern conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine dates back to the millennia, but rose again in the 1910s, when both groups laid claim to the British-controlled territory. The Jews were Zionists, recent emigrants from Europe and Russia who came to the ancient homeland of the Jews to establish a Jewish national state. The native Palestinian Arabs sought to stem Jewish immigration and set up a secular Palestinian state.

Beginning in 1929, Arabs and Jews openly fought in Palestine, and Britain attempted to limit Jewish immigration as a means of appeasing the Arabs. As a result of the Holocaust in Europe, many Jews illegally entered Palestine during World War II. Radical Jewish groups employed terrorism against British forces in Palestine, which they thought had betrayed the Zionist cause. At the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States took up the Zionist cause. Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which on November 29, 1947, voted to partition Palestine.

The Jews were to possess more than half of Palestine, though they made up less than half of Palestine’s population. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces, but the Jews secured full control of their U.N.-allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory. On May 14, 1948, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed by Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion. The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territories, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, U.N.-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of those conquered areas. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: one of the smallest countries in the world, Luxemburg, is per capita the biggest meat eater. Luxembourgers eat on average about 300 pounds of meat annually per person. The U.S. comes in second with about 276 pounds of meat–mostly beef–per year. Austria is third with about 267 pounds of animal protein per person.

…on the Shade

Double click image to see a larger version.
Double click image to see a larger version.

There was a song long ago that was sung by several groups, but Herman’s Hermits made it a hit, Silhouettes on the Shade, and it went like this:

“Took a walk and passed your house late last night
All the shades were pulled and drawn way down tight
From within, the dim light cast two silhouettes on the shade
Oh what a lovely couple they made

“Put his arms around your waist, held you tight
Kisses I could almost taste in the night
Wondered why I’m not the guy who’s silhouette’s on the shade
I couldn’t hide the tears in my eyes…”

Now, before you get too worried, the rest of the song describes how he was so angry that he pounded on the door, only to find out that he was at the wrong house!  Ah, love wins out in the end!

Silhouettes are a reflection, so to speak, of who we are.  If we are overweight, so is our silhouette.  If we are thin and tall, so is our silhouette.  In fact, I think that silhouettes and shadows are close relatives (maybe cousins?)

I have a growing fascination with silhouettes when it comes to photography.  Today’s photo was taken near the Lone Cypress in Monterey, CA as the sun was in the west.  I was looking toward the sun and got the image in my head of how this might look.  I think I shall do more experimentation with silhouettes, but if you see me talking to either my silhouette or my shadow, please stop me!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the majestic Grand Canyon a national monument.

Though Native Americans lived in the area as early as the 13th century, the first European sighting of the canyon wasn’t until 1540, by members of an expedition headed by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Because of its remote and inaccessible location, several centuries passed before North American settlers really explored the canyon. In 1869, geologist John Wesley Powell led a group of 10 men in the first difficult journey down the rapids of the Colorado River and along the length of the 277-mile gorge in four rowboats.

By the end of the 19th century, the Grand Canyon was attracting thousands of tourists each year. One famous visitor was President Theodore Roosevelt, a New Yorker with a particular affection for the American West. After becoming president in 1901 after the assassination of President William McKinley, Roosevelt made environmental conservation a major part of his presidency. After establishing the National Wildlife Refuge to protect the country’s wildlife, Roosevelt turned his attention to federal regulation of public lands. Though a region could be given national park status–indicating that all private development on that land was illegal–only by an act of Congress, Roosevelt cut down on red tape by beginning a new presidential practice of granting a similar “national monument” designation to some of the West’s greatest treasures.

In January 1908, Roosevelt exercised this right to make more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon area into a national monument. “Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is,” he declared. “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Congress did not officially outlaw private development in the Grand Canyon until 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park Act. Today, more than 5 million people visit the canyon each year. The canyon floor is accessible by foot, mule or boat, and whitewater rafting, hiking and running in the area are especially popular. Many choose to conserve their energies and simply take in the breathtaking view from the canyon’s South Rim–some 7,000 feet above sea level–and marvel at a vista virtually unchanged over millennia.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  During an average day during the Civil War, approximately 600 people were killed. By the end of the war, over 618,000 people had died. This is more Americans than WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.

…in the Canyon

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There are few places that change their color as dramatically as the Grand Canyon throughout the passing hours of the day.  As part of the title for today’s post, I coined the phrase “Sun-seep” to describe the phenomenon.

This HDR photo (shot that way to capture more of the range of light present in the scene) was shot toward the end of the day as the sun was getting low in the west.  The image is looking primarily east/northeast, and the lighting was wonderful for photography (though it could have been better if it hadn’t been a thinly-clouded and hazy day).  This was taken toward the “golden hour” when the angle of the sun’s rays are warmer and slanted across the landscape rather than pointing mostly downward.  The light during mid-day is rather harsh and unforgiving, more white than golden.  That’s why photographers are often early to rise kinds of folks: the golden hour really happens twice each day – once just before/after sunrise and the other just before/after sunset.

I’m ready to go back and shoot some more!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  it was in 2005 that Carl Edward Roland, 41, wanted by police in connection with the murder of his ex-girlfriend Jennifer Gonzalez, spent his third day perched on a crane 18 stories above Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.

Police in Pinellas County, Florida, discovered the badly beaten body of Gonzalez, 36, in a retention pond on May 24. She had been last seen with Roland, for whom police issued an arrest warrant after he did not return to his Clearwater, Florida, home. The next day, Roland showed up at an Atlanta construction site, where he told a worker he had “hurt someone” before taking the crane’s elevator up 18 stories and crawling out onto its horizontal arm.

For the next day three days, area business and traffic was disrupted while authorities attempted to convince Roland to come down. To keep him from falling asleep and off the crane, authorities positioned a bucket underneath him with a loud siren, which Roland eventually disassembled. Finally, after ignoring the authorities’ offers of food and water for more than 56 hours, Roland agreed to accept some water at about 12:30 a.m. on May 28. He edged toward police, who then tasered, tackled and restrained him. He was then wrapped onto a stretcher and lowered down the 350-foot crane. After a visit to a nearby hospital, Roland was taken to the Fulton County Jail to await extradition to Florida.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Yellowstone covers 63 air miles (101 km) north to south and 54 air miles (84 km) east to west and is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  It experiences 1000-3000 earthquakes daily as a large portion of the park is situated above a super-volcano (hence the hot springs, geysers, etc., that all help make the park a tourist attraction.)

Posing

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There are many different modes and styles of photography.  As a general rule, I am a huge fan of candid pictures and I typically don’t like posed photos.  Perhaps that’s because I don’t have a studio with all sorts of great lighting equipment, backdrops, pocket wizards, gels and the like.  And, I’m not about to have the kind of money that lets me get that kind of equipment, either!

So, more often than not, I just shoot candids with natural light.  I do prefer it, but whenever I get a chance to shoot in a professionally lit studio or at a photography conference where there are models with professional lighting, I really enjoy it!

Such was the case with today’s photo, taken at Photoshop World in Atlanta in April.  On the exhibit floor there were two sets that were lit.  This model was in one and I, along with a group of about 30 other photography enthusiasts, were collected around the set to practice!

There is so much to learn about photography that I am certain I’ll never exhaust the subject matter.  I hope you enjoy photography.  It seems with digital cameras and cameras on our smart phones that more and more people are capturing great shots all the time.  And that’s cool!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1780, the colonial forces suffered their worst battle loss of the Revolutionary War.  After a siege that began on April 2, 1780, an the unconditional surrender was accepted by of Major General Benjamin Lincoln to British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton and his army of 10,000 at Charleston, South Carolina.

With the victory, the British captured more than 3,000 Patriots and a great quantity of munitions and equipment, losing only 250 killed and wounded in the process. Confident of British control in the South, Lieutenant General Clinton sailed north to New York after the victory, having learned of an impending French expedition to the British-occupied northern state. He left General Charles Cornwallis in command of 8,300 British forces in the South.

South Carolina was a deeply divided state, and the British presence let loose the full violence of a civil war upon the population. First, the British used Loyalists to pacify the Patriot population; the Patriots returned the violence in kind. The guerrilla warfare strategies employed by Patriots Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter and Nathanael Greene throughout the Carolina campaign of 1780-81 eventually chased the far more numerous British force into Virginia, where they eventually surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

Having suffered the humiliation of surrendering to the British at Charleston, Major General Lincoln was able to turn the tables and accept Cornwallis’ ceremonial surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown on October 20.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Holes drilled as deep as 5 miles into the Earth’s reveal that the rock temperature increases about 37 degrees Fahrenheit per 320 feet. Even on the deepest sea floor, rock remains slightly above freezing.

Echoes

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Have you ever thought about echoes and reflections? Echoes are reflection of sound from off a solid object, like the side of a building or a mountain cliff.  Every child delights in echoes and tries fervently to produce them whenever they can.

Reflections are very similar, except rather than being sound waves bouncing off objects, they are light waves bouncing off a surface that is reflective.  As I was thinking about this, I thought that perhaps it would be fair to say that echoes and reflections are the same thing, or at least not that very different.

When I shot today’s picture of a swing on the far side of the lake, I liked it because of the reflection in the water and intrigued by the early morning lighting that made part of the tree very dark and the upper part brighter.  I like reflections. But then, as I kid, I liked echoes, too!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1991, after six weeks of intensive bombing against Iraq and its armed forces, U.S.-led coalition forces launch a ground invasion of Kuwait and Iraq.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, its tiny oil-rich neighbor, and within hours had occupied most strategic positions in the country. One week later, Operation Shield, the American defense of Saudi Arabia, began as U.S. forces massed in the Persian Gulf. Three months later, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq if it failed to withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991.

At 4:30 p.m. EST on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm, a massive U.S.-led offensive against Iraq, began as the first fighter aircraft were launched from Saudi Arabia and off U.S. and British aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. All evening, aircraft from the U.S.-led military coalition pounded targets in and around Baghdad as the world watched the events transpire in television footage transmitted live via satellite from Baghdad and elsewhere.

Operation Desert Storm was conducted by an international coalition under the command of U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf and featured forces from 32 nations, including Britain, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. During the next six weeks, the allied force engaged in a massive air war against Iraq’s military and civil infrastructure, encountering little effective resistance from the Iraqi air force. Iraqi ground forces were also helpless during this stage of the war, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s only significant retaliatory measure was the launching of SCUD missile attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saddam hoped that the missile attacks would provoke Israel, and thus other Arab nations, to enter the conflict; however, at the request of the US, Israel remained out of the war.

On February 24, a massive coalition ground offensive began, and Iraq’s outdated and poorly supplied armed forces were rapidly overwhelmed. By the end of the day, the Iraqi army had effectively folded, 10,000 of its troops were held as prisoners, and a U.S. air base had been established deep inside Iraq. After less than four days, Kuwait was liberated, and a majority of Iraq’s armed forces had either been destroyed or had surrendered or retreated to Iraq. On February 28, U.S. President George Bush declared a cease-fire, and Iraq pledged to honor future coalition and U.N. peace terms. One hundred and twenty-five American soldiers were killed in the Persian Gulf War, with another 21 regarded as missing in action.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  In Kansas, when two trains meet at a crossing, “both shall come to full stop and neither shall start up again until the other has gone.”  (Galen: What can I say about this?  It’s KANSAS!)