Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Working on the website and a photo of The Prids

The Prids
Black Water Bar. Portland, Oregon. November 18, 2016
Copyright © 2017 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved
Just spent hours reorganizing the Concerts page on my website, and now am torn between editing more photos, yard work, or a nap...

Unfortunately, my favorite choice is in third place.

It's time to get moving ahead in life. No time for naps!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tin or Copper? Why Your Camera Does Not Matter!

Sun on Camera
One Day On Earth: 12.12.12 Folsom, California.
December 12, 2012. 4:27 PM
© A. F. Litt, 2012

In a photography group, someone was wondering about gear for an upcoming shoot:
Every time I get a great meal in a great restaurant I demand to know what brand of pots they use, what brand of knives, what brand or type of sharpener they use to sharpen those knives, because I can't enjoy my meal until I know that it has been made with the absolutely best, newest stuff on the market.
And I've been fooled! I, a few times, liked a dinner and then found out they were a small, new restaurant who used sub-par cookware!
Oh, that was humiliating! Tin, not copper! Tin! I felt like, not even an amateur, worse! I felt like a pretender for enjoying those meals. I should have known better!
But it was on them, not me, and boy, I told everyone I knew never to eat there after I got fooled into liking those places' food like that!
And boy howdy, did people know that I knew my stuff after that and I am pretty sure no one ever took those so called chefs, fake chefs, seriously ever again.
Seriously... Gear is nothing but a gatekeeper used by the insecure to keep their egos protected.
If you can't shoot great with the low end, you can't shoot great with the high end.
Get the best you can comfortably get on your budget and shoot your soul out! It will be fantastic!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bears Ears National Monument: Video & Links Collection

Campsite on Deer Flats Road
Bears Ears National Monument, Utah. May 13, 2016
Originally posted on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aflitt
Well, nothing to pull me out of my seven month long dormant posting period like an executive order that may lead to the removal of national monument status from some of my favorite places in the United States...

I was sort of hoping to move on from just posting about National Parks and Monuments, but not this year, it looks like!  Of course, I needed to start with Bears Ears National Monument.

Two days later, tons of research, and still no photo or video editing, I realized that I have way too much material to put up in one post on Bears Ears, so I'll be splitting it into several posts.  And I'll be following up after these with posts on some of the other monuments on the short list for de-designation.

Way down at the bottom of this post, below all the videos, is a long list of links on the area.  As for the videos themselves?  I picked a bunch...  Too many, probably!  But I wanted to cover a lot of ground...  These serve as an introduction to the monument and the issues around its creation.  I've focused on both sides of the issues, mostly from the viewpoint of area locals rather than politicians in Salt Lake City and Washington D, C.

Watching through all of these today (and yes, I did make it through almost all of them, and will get through the rest by the morning), I learned that the issue is a little more complex than I first realized, and I am very sympathetic to the concerns and fears of the locals, but I am still, overall, in favor of monument status for Bears Ears.

Yes, it is large, but there are a ton of places worthy of protection within it.  Spectacular landscapes and countless archaeological sites from a culture we still barely understand.  I recognize a lot of the local concerns, but the agencies that were running these lands before the proclamation will still be running these lands in the future, and a lot of the folks I saw interviewed seem to think the BLM and Forest Service are doing a fine job.  I wonder how much of their opposition stems from long held anti-Washington and anti-Obama sentiment as much as it does anything else.

And ranching will continue, as I know it does in Grand Staircase-Escalante...  Maybe with a bit more regulation, but let's face it, ranching on public lands is a real issue that needs to be addressed in the west, and the issues with grazing are deeper and more complex than whether the land has monument status or not.

Finally, this place isn't going to turn into a circus like Arches, at least not for a very long time.  It's one of the reasons I've fallen in love with these monuments and parks that are not run by the National Park Service.  I wrote a lot about that last fall in my first post on Grand Staircase-Escalante.

On the other hand, if Bears Ears loses its monument status, it will still be the same place, run pretty the well, from what I could see when I was there a year ago, before the proclamation was signed.  The BLM and USFS will do a fine job with the land, either way.

So how much will it matter, long run, if it is a monument or not?  Really, it comes down to the management plans taking into account the needs of the locals, no matter what happens.

Through these debates, I hope people actually take the time to learn about these lands and that the issues can be discussed on their actual merits; that if there is to be a debate, that it is a real debate, not just partisan wailing and fear-mongering, or just trying to undo what the Democrat presidents did out of nothing but partisan spite.

Now, on to what is really important, my photo!  This was taken at a dispersed campsite on the ridge east of Natural Bridges National Monument, just west of the actual Bears Ears themselves.
Click on Map to Enlarge

Video (by Others)...

The videos as a playlist...

Bears Ears National Monument

Below are the same videos posted individually...

Some cool photos of Cedar Mesa and the Slickhorn Perfect Kiva:

Many of the arguments against the monument made in the following video are countered by the proclamation document itself. Native uses, including gathering and ceremonial use, are not restricted by the monument. No one is going to freeze.

The title cards in the next video get a little snarky, but the exchanges between Senator Lee and Secretary Jewell are interesting...


The Wilderness Society:

Deseret News: BLM, Forest Service plotting next steps for Bears Ears

Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition:

Friends of Cedar Mesa:

Salt Lake Tribune: Jewell defends Bears Ears monument process

Utah’s Bears Ears monument is a rock star for night skies – and mineral resources

Presidential Proclamation -- Establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument:
Government Flickr Page that Used to Show Wilderness Now Only Shows Oil Drilling

What You Need to Know About Trump’s National Monument Rethink

Donate to The Wilderness Society: Stop President Trump from making a monumental mistake

LA Times: Here are the national monuments being reviewed under Trump's order

USA Today: 24 national monuments threatened by Trump's executive order

Trump is targeting all or part of monuments that make up 100,000 acres or more, and were created by presidential proclamation since 1996. The White House released a list of 24 of them on Wednesday. They are:
► Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, proclaimed by President Clinton in 1996. (1.7 million acres).
► Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (1 million acres).
► Giant Sequoia National Monument in California, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (327,769 acres).
► Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (279,568 acres).
► Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (194,450 acres).
► Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (175,160 acres).
► Ironwood Forest National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (128,917 acres).
► Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (486,149 acres).
► Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (377,346 acres).
► Carrizo Plain National Monument in California, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (204,107 acres).
► Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and expanded by President Barack Obama in 2016, (89.6 million acres).
► Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 (60.9 million acres).
► Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 and enlarged by Obama in 2014. (55.6 million acres).
► Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 (8.6 million acres).
► Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, proclaimed by Obama in 2013. (242,555 acres).
► Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, proclaimed by Obama in 2014 (496,330 acres).
► Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada, proclaimed by Obama in 2015 (703,585 acres).
► Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2015 (330,780 acres).
► Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (3.1 million acres).
► Mojave Trails National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (1.6 million acres).
► Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (1.4 million acres).
► Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (296,937 acres).
► Sand to Snow National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (154,000 acres).
One other national monument meets the 100,000-acre threshold but was not included on the White House list:
► The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2014 (346,177 acres).
Unlike the other monuments, which are managed by the Interior Department, San Gabriel is managed by the Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said she could not rule out action on San Gabriel. The Department of Agriculture did not respond to an inquiry about the status of the monument.

The executive order also allows for a review of sites smaller than 100,000 acres “where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recreating the HCRH Project Update: 2016 is almost over, but the project is still alive...

Originally posted on the Recreating the HCRH Blog... Much of this applies to the A. F. Litt projects in progress, as well, unfortunately...

A photo posted by A. F. Litt (@aflitt) on

Life is messy and strange, and this year has been more messy and strange than most...  

As most people who follow this project have probably noticed, things have been on hold for about a year now.  This project is a labor of love, done in my free time, funded out of my own pocket, and, this year, I could make very little progress.  Clearly, the documentary will not be completed this year, and even the shorts and website have been on hold.  I did film several of the Centennial events, but outside of this, other than sharing relevant posts on Facebook, I was not able to accomplish much this year.

This is a bit more of a personal post than I usually make with this project.  However, I know some folks have some questions, and I do want to assure everyone interested in the history of the highway that I am far from being done with this endeavor.  I am not quitting or giving up.  

I still look forward to completing the film, to fleshing out the history on the website, and to documenting the completion of the state trail, but these goals are pushed back a bit due to the complexities of life…  2016 has been a difficult year filled with major changes in my life.  

So, where do we go from here?  

Over the next few months, I do hope to start releasing some new “web series” shorts and to flesh out the website a bit more.  I’ve got a lot of research and photos waiting go up online.  And there are still some places out on the upper and lower highways that beg for further exploration.  I hope to complete most of that work in early 2017.

After that, I hope to return to work on the documentary.  I’ve not spoken much about this, but the origin of this whole project started with the desire to create a short film exploring the original route of the highway.  Of course, over the years, it has grown into much more.  But the film still is the heart of the project to me.  And I’ve learned so much about the craft of film since this started, and I am so grateful that I’ve had the time to grow in that craft before releasing much video that I’d regret later...

Which also touches on another goal with this film; I truly want this to be a project based in microbudget, Filmmaking 2.0 principals.  Sure, with a ton of money and crew, this film could be made quickly.  And I am sure it would look great and hopefully it would be worth watching.  But when I started this, I decided that I wanted to make this film in a different way, to show what can be accomplished in the medium with non-existent budgets and “prosumer” level gear.  

There have been times when I have been tempted to move back towards a more traditional model on this project, but then I remember what my artistic goals for this film are.  This is not saying that I shun collaboration or help, in fact anyone who wants to help with this is more than welcome, but there is no money to be paid, it’s volunteer work on a labor of love.  So far, I haven’t found many others with the film skills required and a passion for the old highway who’s willing to jump in.  Of course, I haven’t looked that hard, either. The time I've spent on this project so far has mostly been out shooting and exploring, or researching and website building.

Staying true to these goals, though, means that making this film is a very slow process.  A lot, more than a lot, of filming has been done.  Many interviews still need to be done.  And, eventually, in late 2017 or 2018, it all will be done.

Thank you so much to everyone who follows the Facebook page, to everyone who has offered all sorts of help since this all got started back in 2013, and to everyone who comes along in the future.  Things have been a bit slow recently, but will be picking up again eventually, and I hope we can all have a great time together as we see how everything comes together in the end, both for the state trail and for this documentary project.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Whiskeytown–Shasta–Trinity National Recreation Area: McCloud River Arm, Shasta Lake

McCloud River Arm, Shasta Lake (2010)
Whiskeytown–Shasta–Trinity National Recreation Area.  California. December 7, 2010
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day (#2) by A. F. Litt: October 28, 2016

Just a quick post as I create, what for now, at least, will be a placeholder gallery on the website.  The Whiskeytown Unit of the NRA is managed by the National Park Service, while the Shasta and Trinity Units are managed by the Forest Service.  But the NRA was all created at the same time in 1965 and appear as the Whiskeytown–Shasta–Trinity National Recreation Area on the NPS' system map...

I'd get into more detail, but family life calls.  Hopefully I can find some more photos, but just digging this one out revealed some startling repairs that need to be made in my Lightroom catalog, and I'll need to repair that first before I get into editing any more of these older photos. 

Unfortunately, if I do find more photos, they'll probably be taken from this same rest area on northbound I-5.  I really haven't explored the area much at all.

Mt. Shuksan at Dawn

Mt. Shuksan at Dawn
Artist Point. Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest.  Washington.  October 11, 2016
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: October 28, 2016

There are myth-places. They exist, each in their own way. Some of them are overlaid on the world; others exist beneath the world as it is, like an underpainting.
There are mountains. They are the rocky places you will reach before you come to the cliffs that border the end of the world, and there are caves in those mountains, deep caves that were inhabited long before the first men walked the earth.
They are inhabited still.

                           Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

It's been too long since I've posted.  I'll write more about the locations in this photo soon.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument: Sleeping Ute Mountain from Lowry Pueblo

Sleeping Ute Mountain from Lowry Pueblo
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  Colorado.  May 8, 2016
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 23, 2016

"There are stories that are true, in which each individual's tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others' pain and loss.  If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us.  We cannot allow it to."  - Neil Gaiman, American Gods

No words tonight.  Only this.




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vermillion Cliffs

Vermillion Cliffs
Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness / Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.  Arizona.  March 25, 2016
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 14, 2016 

I stuck a number one on yesterday's post, but wrote too much and did not have time to post any additional photos.  Today, I know I only have time for one.  

This is shot from just off Highway 89A between Marble Canyon and township of Vermillion Cliffs, so it is not necessarily in the national monument itself, and may actually show only the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness that rings the monument, but does show the cliffs.  From where this is shot, the cliffs rise some 3,000 feet to the Paria Plateau above.  

Up there on the plateau, there are some spectacular sights, from what I understand.  A few years back National Geographic published an article on this monument, and the photos were amazing.  It is worth tracking down.

It's hard to get a sense of scale in these photos.  This is one of the more dramatic steps of the Grand Staircase.

Vermillion Cliffs and U. S. 89A
Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness / Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.  Arizona.  March 25, 2016  
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Interpretive Sign - Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016.

Paria Canyon Interpretive Sign
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 
Map at Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 





Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A Grand Stair Step

A Grand Stair Step
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016.
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day (#1) by A. F. Litt: September 13, 2016 

I've been interested in these national "parks" that are not administered by the National Park Service (NPS) since I was a kid.  When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980 and was designated a national monument in 1982, I was very excited that Washington state was gaining a new national "park." However, when I realized that it was going to be managed by the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), I was disappointed.  

At the time, I'd been to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and, of course, some of the local NPS run places and thought, rather naively, that the NPS was just far superior at managing recreational areas than the USFS.  I was swayed by such things as evening campfire programs and flush toilets, which were rare in the USFS campgrounds I'd experienced to this point.  To be fair to my young self, modern vault toilets were not around back then, so no running water meant a very stinky old school outhouse.

Mt. St. Helens was the first modern monument managed by the Forest Service, and later on, even as an adult, I felt disappointed when I first went to the recently established Newberry National Volcanic Monument (est. 1990) to discover it, too, was managed by the Forest Service. What? No new NPS parks? Is the Park Service at capacity?

Over the years, though, I've come to appreciate how these monuments are managed. There are some things that the Park Service does very well, but there are other things that the Forest Service and, now, the BLM are doing well, too. What I am finding as I travel to more and more of these non-NPS managed monuments, etc. is that these other agencies may actually balance recreational needs with conservationist land use better than the NPS. This is not truly an evidence based statement, merely a feeling I have when visiting these places; they still feel wild, not managed into some sort of eco-tourism Disneyland.

Please do not think that I am saying that I dislike the National Park Service, not at all.  The love of what they do is why so much of my website is devoted to these places, and the challenges they face with the system's most popular parks are, quite frankly, purely insane.  I just also appreciate these other agencies and the way they manage their lands.  And they do a great job when dealing with, a pretty significant, if usually different, set of challenges, as well.

I include these monuments and sites with the NPS managed parks in the National Parks section of my website because they are national monuments, historic sites, and recreation areas regardless of which agency manages them. Their titles tell the truth, not the managing agency. These places have earned their titles and are worthy of the same protections as the NPS managed locations. In fact, one of my favorite parks and monuments in Utah turned out to be the one pictured above, Grand Staircase-Escalante, which, after its establishment in 1996, became the first monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  

Grand Staircase-Escalante is also the largest U. S. national monument.  It contains three main regions, the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante.  This photo was taken in the Grand Staircase area at the southern edge of the monument in March, but later, during the longer trip in May, I spent a couple days in the mind blowing Canyons of the Escalante area.  On my first day in the Escalante area, I'd spent some time in the main area of Capitol Reef National Park, and as I wrote yesterday, I may have been suffering from a bit of burnout on all of the slickrock formations I'd been blissfully inundated with for pretty much the entire trip.   

However, my first evening in this monument, later in the same day that I'd felt burnout at Capitol Reef, a sunset run out of Boulder on the Burr Trail pretty much cured my malaise.  Wow.  And the relative solitude of the region, after dealing with the showcase parks (especially Arches), was incredibly appreciated.

Escalante, however, was a different trip and those photos will be coming out later...

On this day in March, we were originally planning on spending the night near the Grand Canyon and most of the next day suffering the hordes of misplaced city folk swarming the south rim.  However, we discovered Zion the day before.  We couldn't just bounce through that quickly and spent most of the day in that park.  Because of that delay, we were on a late afternoon hell-run to camp at Lee's Ferry while charging down U. S. 89 through the southern reaches of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

No hiking or exploring happened this day, after departing Zion, at least.  Just a quick drive.  Even the two little visitor centers were closed by the time we passed through.  A problem with spring travel, when everything closes early because it is "off-season" but the days are growing long enough to keep you on the road for hours after all the interesting doors are locked for the day. 

Unfortunately, from the highway, there is not much to see.  Yes, there are some nice cliffs, like the one above, but even this is nothing compared to the massive Vermillion Cliffs to the south, and since the visitor centers were all closed, we knew little about what was hiding off the highway to our north and, especially in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, to our south.

If we did, we might have skipped our 3/4 day side trip to count coup at the Grand Canyon the next day and spent some more time in this area, enjoying the relative solitude of spectacular sights not shared with literally thousands of other travelers, but we did not know what the area had to offer at the time.

This may be the biggest blessing and curse of these non-NPS managed monuments.  An exchange of solitude for a lack of publicity...   Everyone in the world pretty much knows about the Grand Canyon, few, even in the U. S., know about these spectacular monuments.  But when you learn, and when you go, the lack of disruptive, distracting crowds is definitely an added part of the attraction these places hold for me.

On a side note, I just noticed that this year is the 20th Anniversary of the monument. Free events will be taking place on September 18 at the GSENM visitor centers in Big Water, Kanab, Cannonville, and Escalante, Utah.

Interpretive Sign - Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016.

Paria Canyon Interpretive Sign
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 

Map at Paria Station (Detail)
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 

Map at Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 





Newberry National Volcanic Monument: