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June 2015

Two years ago on this day

Last week, the smoke from the Lake Fire, over 300 miles away, was drifting through the air here.  A reminder that brave men and women will be putting their lives on the line again this summer to protect our forests and the lives and property of nearby residents.  On June 30, 2013, nineteen firefighters perished in a matter of minutes as emergency protective gear was deployed, yet was insufficient to save them from the flames that had changed direction.  They were all from the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Arizona.  Drought statistics are indicating this has the potential for a long fire season.  Let’s see if we can make it through without any similar stories.

My tribute photo was taken at sunset from Granite Mountain.

WPC: Muse, as in Valley Of Fire

Valley Of Fire Skylight-Steve Bruno

The idea of finding just one place that finds me continually returning to photograph had me contemplating for some time.  Another spot with extensive imagery in my files was going to claim the ‘muse’ title until I happened to glance over at my equipment.  Wait a minute.  There’s nothing to mull over here.  I bought a special tripod to photograph this spot and I still refer to it as my Valley Of Fire tripod.  End of internal discussion.

Not too long ago, I thought I was through with my photographic efforts at Valley Of Fire.  I felt as though I had great images of all the unique features I had come across, and had left little or no room for improvement on those.  Recently, however, I have returned to cover new subjects as well as old subjects in a new light.  The enthusiasm hasn’t waned, and I know I still have much ground to cover in this fascinating land.  The strongest lure here, for me anyway, is the vast number of arches.  They’re not grand scale, skyline-sweeping shapes like those found near Moab, Utah.  Instead, these are delicate carvings into the soft and fragile sandstone of the region, which usually require getting into awkward, cramped spaces to photograph.  Thus the tripod.  Small, lightweight, with multiple leg position locks, and all the while durable enough to have been used with my 4×5 film camera that outweighs it at least 4-to-1.

The photograph above was one of my early finds.  During my recent trip, I found myself in this same spot under soft-light overcast conditions, which allowed for capturing the details of the sandstone a little better.  Although I like both versions, I find it hard to beat those clouds!  The next photo, a little more recent, was one of those I found along a favorite route.  I have never finished this route because I keep finding something interesting along the way.

Valley Of Fire Window Thru Window-Steve Bruno

The bottom photo was from my last trip to Valley Of Fire.  I had been here once before, under overcast skies.  Although the shapes were intriguing, I knew there was more to be gotten from this location with a little bit of sun.  I don’t think I need to return to this one…..but I might.

Valley Of Fire Double Arch-Steve Bruno

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Muse.”

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Three

In response to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge-Three or the number 3

I have a trio of images for this challenge.  The featured photo is called the Three Sisters, which are three detached pinnacles at the end of a mesa in Monument Valley, Arizona.

The next shot is of three elk resting in a meadow near the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.  I did manipulate this one a bit in Photoshop to emphasize the elk.

Three Elk-Rocky Mountain Park-Steve Bruno

For the third image, I take you to sunset on the Atlantic Ocean at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  This would be called “Three Palms”.

Three Palms-Fort Lauderdale-Steve Bruno

Historical Photographs, Part II

Pinnacle Peak-Steve Bruno

My photography teacher said repeatedly, “If you see something that sparks your interest, take the photos now.  It may not be there or look the same when you come back!”  He lived in the desert in Carefree, Arizona, and I knew he was referring to Pinnacle Peak (above) on more than one occasion.  At the time, developers were rearranging the map at an unprecedented pace on the perimeter of the metropolitan Phoenix area.  The location of this photograph is either someone’s backyard or a golf course now.

It’s not just development that alters our world.  Glacier covered lands don’t look the same as they did a decade ago.  Weather can wreak havoc in a matter of minutes.  Unforeseen disasters can happen at any moment.  In today’s digital era, my teacher’s words don’t seem as relevant as they once were.  You will never again hear someone say, “Hmmm, I don’t want to take that one.  I’ve only got 8 shots left on this roll of film, and I don’t want to waste them.”   Perhaps his message should be updated to “Keep an extra memory card in your bag at all times for those moments when you come across something special” 🙂

WPC: Roy G. Biv and his nighttime rainbow

Seattle Flowerpot

Seattle provides interesting subject matter, and I always find myself venturing the streets, sometimes into the evening.  On one of my trips to the Jet City, I came across this oversized flowerpot.  The lighting on the building across the street completed the spectrum for my rainbow in the dark.

It seemed too easy to post a rainbow shot for this challenge, but if you must see one of my favorite rainbows, check out my previous addition to my blog, Calgary, Revisited.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “ROY G. BIV.”

Calgary visit

Calgary-Steve Bruno- Passport

Last week I was in Calgary, Alberta for the second time in about a year.  I’ve added my journey to my blog as a page, which you can find here. It seems strange to me that I need my passport to go to Canada if I’m flying, but the passport card will suffice if I drive.

Daily Post Writing Prompt: A dog named Bob

This is a true story.  In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Dog Named Bob.”

One day about ten years ago, my wife pulled into the driveway after work.  As she got out of her vehicle, she noticed a dog sitting in the lawn across the street.  The dog got up as if to say, “Oh, you’re home, finally!”  As she proceeded towards the front door, the dog was coming closer, and by the time she got to the door, the dog was right there with her.  Upon opening the door, my wife had to block the dog from coming inside. Instead of taking the hint, the dog just sat there, figuring we were going to let it in at some point.

We had never seen this dog before.  It was a large dog, but seemed very friendly.  Our best guess after looking on the internet was that he was a Bernese Mountain Dog.  Similar in appearance to a Saint Bernard, but not quite as big.  He must have known that we had fostered dogs before and knew this was the house to show up at.  We sometimes referred to our house as the Underground Railway for abused dogs. The sun had already set when my wife came home, but now the sky was darker than a bluejay, yet not quite black.  The dog remained seated at the front door, patiently waiting his turn to come in.  Now, the animal control truck arrived across the street and over one house, the one with the mailboxes in front of it.

A couple months earlier, there had been an older stray wandering the neighborhood.  The stray would only come to our house and theirs, as they would put food out for it.  Even though we had never taken the dog in, we had talked to several people and found someone interested in the dog.  The next time it showed up, we were going to bring it in.  We weren’t fast enough.  The next time it showed up, the people across the street and over one house had a plate of food out for it.  They had called animal control, and were holding the dog so the dog catcher could put its noose on the dog.  That dog was old and probably spent its last days at the pound. We weren’t going to let that happen again.

I went out the back door and around to the side gate.  I opened it quietly and walked to the front.  “Pssst, come here!”  I whispered, beckoning our visitor to the back yard.  He came along quietly, as if to say, “I knew you guys were going to take me in!”  I kept him in the backyard, away from our dogs.  I thought it might be hungry, so I grabbed a plastic bowl and put some dry food in it.  After a while I went back outside to check on our guest dog.  The food bowl I had put out for him was gone.  I don’t mean empty, I mean the entire bowl was gone.  I turned on the backyard floodlight to check on this disappearance.  Apparently, this dog didn’t like eating on the patio, and had moved his dish under the tree about thirty feet away.  Not a morsel was spilled.  We had three dogs already, and had taken in several fosters and knew that dogs had their individual personalities, but this was something new.  It was getting late, and this dog was going to have to come inside for the night, which meant he’d have to meet the other three.

This dog had been an alpha where he came from, and the tension between him and our male dog, Rufus, wasn’t going to make fostering this dog an easy task.  Rufus was a mixed breed, but mostly pit bull.  Whatever he was mixed with made him taller and with a slimmer ribcage than most pits.  Also a foster that my wife couldn’t let go, he had special training wherever he came from.  He would jump the 6 foot cinder block wall in our backyard and walk it like a cat when we weren’t home.  Rufus wasn’t just an alpha male, he was the alpha male of the neighborhood.  With that in mind, our guest dog was going to have to stay in the kitchen most of the time.  It had a fixed baby-gate, and we added a second one above it to keep Rufus on one side or the other.

We had a rule about not naming animals that weren’t going to be staying with us.  I felt stupid calling this thing “dog” all the time, so I broke the rule on this occasion.  It was obvious to me that he should be called Bob, from the movie What About Bob.  If you haven’t seen the movie, mental patient (Bill Murray) shows up at his psychiatrist’s (Richard Dreyfuss) vacation home as though he should be fully welcomed.

We had Bob checked out at the vet the next day to see if he was chipped.  Nothing.  He was ours to find a home for, so we took some pictures, sent out some emails, printed a few flyers, and waited to see who was interested.  A week went by, then two.  During that time we discovered Bob was possibly as smart as Rufus.  One day, we were in the house but had forgotten to put up the second baby-gate.  We heard what sounded like a ferocious battle taking place in the kitchen.  As we ran in there, we were expecting blood and fur everywhere.  They had knocked over the water bowl, so the floor was wet.  Both dogs were lying on the ground as though it was syrup, not water, they had spilled.  They were three feet from each other, snarling, as if to say, “If I could get up, I would so kick your ass right now!”

Finally after three weeks, we had someone coming over to check out Bob.  It was a family, and they had two boys, no older than eight.  They seemed pleased with Bob, and were talking along the lines of taking him home with them.  Other than tensions with Rufus, this was one very well behaved dog.  Like I said before, he was a smart dog, and he knew we were trying to find another home for him.  Bob didn’t approve of the people we had brought over, so he looked at us, then looked at the family, then lifted his leg and peed on our sofa.

Needless to say, within five minutes that family had changed their tune about wanting to take Bob and were out the door.  It was almost a week later until we had someone else interested in Bob.  We were beginning to think that he was ours forever after the peeing incident, but this woman had heard the story, and was still interested in Bob.  When she came over, her and Bob immediately hit it off.  She wasn’t there more than five minutes before she took him home.  Several months later, we heard from a mutual friend that this woman was out on a walk with Bob.  When another dog tried to attack, Bob had no problems defending her and scaring off the other dog.  She was extremely grateful for Bob.  We had found the right home for him.

WPC: Off-Season in a place called Sunflower

While driving between Phoenix and Payson, Arizona a number of years back, I came across this roadside sign.  “Opening Soon” was a relatively loose term here.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.”

WPC: Vivid – Genesis Live

Genesis in concert

The most vivid thing I recall seeing is stage lighting.  I dug into the vault for this one, this is the group Genesis performing.  That’s a young Phil Collins in the spotlight.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Vivid.”

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