Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Die Robot's "Armed Forces" Video is Done!

I'll update this with links when it is officially released!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Skinny Puppy, 2014

Skinny Puppy, Eye v. Spy Tour, 2014
Roseland. Portland, Oregon. December 17, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

No time to write today, so here's a concert photo!  This has bounced around a bit, but I don't think it's ever been put out as my Photo of the Day before...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Antique Auto Tour on the Columbia River Highway

Rowena Crest, Historic Columbia River Highway (2014)
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.  Oregon.  July 15, 2014.
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

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

Today is the Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway's annual Antique Auto Tour. Since it is the centennial of the HCRH this year, instead of traveling back and forth from the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAAM) to Rowena Crest, they will be driving from Troutdale to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center today, with a lunch stop at Marine Park in Cascade Locks.

This photo, from the 2014 tour, is not new to the world.  It's been bouncing around for a couple years, but this is the first time it's been featured as a Photo of the Day.

(Yes... If you get to the end, you'll notice that the film has been delayed a bit, and the web shorts have been paused for a bit...)


Friends of the HCRH: 2016 Antique Car Tour

Friday, July 22, 2016

Glen Canyon: Hite Overlook Panorama

Hite Overlook Panorama
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  Utah.  May 14, 2016.
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: July 22, 2016

I'll write more, and post more photos, about Glen Canyon, Hite, Bullfrog, and the Colorado River later.  There's a lot of topics to explore here...  However, today is not a day for long and detailed posts.  It's time to get back to video editing...  

But know, there is supposed to be a lake where the river is.  Note the large, high and dry, boat launch at Hite...  It almost looks like an air strip sitting up under the cliff towards the right side of the photo!  Reservoir levels have been up and down, year to year, for a very long time...  mostly down, and down by a lot.  There is a whole lot to to explore regarding this topic, and I'll be posting on it extensively soon enough.

It's been a fun few days getting into all of these posts and working through these photos. The first half of this year was much more focused on shooting, both stills and video, and very little editing happened in both departments.  While I hope not to be chained to my desk full-time for the rest of 2016, the second half of this year will probably be more tilted towards the editing (and writing) than shooting.

I have YEARS worth of stills to work through, a ton of video editing from the first half of the year piling up, and the whole Recreating the Historic Columbia River Highway documentary project to re-boot...  Many projects have been delayed the last six months due to family issues and health issues, and it is time to start getting caught up.

As for the Photo of the Day, for the rest of 2016, I'll probably focus mostly on the National Park Service shots, mixing it up here and there with some Columbia River Highway material and the occasional concert shot.  This is primarily to help commemorate this year's centennials of both the National Park Service and the Columbia River Highway, but it also helps me focus and sort through the thousands and thousands of photos sitting idle on my hard drives, collecting so many layers of digital dust.

From time to time, probably as a break between big video editing projects, I will take a day or two to do what I did this week, spend the whole day working on multiple Photo of the "Day" posts in an attempt to slowly get caught up, and I hope to keep posting at least once a day, most days of the week.

There are some great shots waiting to get out into the world, and many interesting posts to write.  While I feel a lot of the photos that went out this week are very nice, they are nothing compared to what will be coming out over the next few months (I hope!).  This week was dedicated more towards filling in gaps with some parks, monuments, historic sites, etc. that were not on the website yet.  Moving ahead, the focus will shift more towards finding the best photos hiding out on my hard drives and sharing them with everyone who cares to look at them.

That is all for now.  There are chores to be done, DVDs to burn, and concert videos to be edited... 


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Natural Bridges National Monument: Sipapu Bridge

Sipapu Bridge
Natural Bridges National Monument.  Utah.  May 13, 2016
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: Day of Several Photos - July 21, 2016

Let's get this out of the way quickly...  Arches are dry; natural bridges are over water.  That's the main difference.  Because of this, the erosional processes that lead to their creation are a little different.  Generally, natural bridges form where creeks and rivers erode through the walls of incised meanders (think of the Goosenecks in the San Juan River...  in fact, bridges may eventually form there!), while arches are usual formed by erosion from wind, rain, and freeze/thaw cycles.  This is why bridges are usually in canyons and arches are usually up high on cliffs and fins.  Of course, this is the most basic geologic explanation possible, there are whole books on this stuff, but it should suffice.

Under Sipapu Bridge (Panorama)
Natural Bridges National Monument.  Utah.  May 13, 2016 
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved
At Natural Bridges National Monument, you must hike the canyons!  Period.  No excuses.  The views are fine from the scenic Bridge View Drive, and worth checking out, but to really understand the scale of these things one must climb down to them, stand under them, sit in their shade on a hot day...  Of course, if you only have time for the drive, it's still worth a visit, but know that it is just not the same.

Unfortunately, I broke a huge rule of hiking when I climbed down into the canyons at Sipapu.  I accidently left my map behind and wandered down the wrong canyon at Kachina Bridge.  The trails in the canyons are vague at times, and a vague trail led down White Canyon when the actual trail climbed up into Armstrong Canyon where Owachomo Bridge is located.  I was lucky that the vague trail turned into no trail pretty quickly and the rough terrain around the creek grew so difficult (not impassable, by any means, but tough enough to suggest to me that I was off trail) that I finally figured it out and turned around.

The detour, though, burned too much time and energy, so I climbed out of the canyon at Kachina and took the overland trail back to the Sipapu Trailhead.  I shall return, sooner than later, I hope, to finish the hike.

Oh, and a "pro tip."  Park where you want to end your hike and then take the overland trail to the trailhead where you want to descend.  The trail is nice enough, pretty enough, but, well, its boring compared to the canyon, and it sucks hiking it when you are hot and tired and done.  I suspect the rangers tell people to do this at the Visitor Center, but I failed to talk to them about this hike before I dove in...  Another oops.

As for the bridge...  This is the biggest in the park, the second biggest natural bridge in the U.S. (after Rainbow Bridge), and the fifth largest arch in the U.S.  It was originally reported (1908) to have a span of 268 feet and a height of 167 feet, which would have made it the seventh largest natural arch in the world, but revised measurements (2007) put the span at approximately 225 feet and a height of approximately 144 feet.  Rankings of size are disputed, but The Natural Arch and Bridge Society currently ranks Sipapu as the 13th largest arch in the world (based on span), and, by my count off of their list, the seventh largest natural bridge in the world.  

Wikipedia points out, "Since the closure of the trail leading under Landscape Arch due to safety concerns, and the voluntary prohibition placed on passing under Rainbow Bridge in deference to (often debated) Navajo and Hopi spiritual beliefs, Sipapu is now the longest natural arch in the world to have an active trail beneath it that visitors may pass under, affording spectacular views of the underside of the arch."  This is not entirely correct based on updated measurements of several arches and bridges in China, but you would have to travel to China or Chad to walk under a larger one.

The name Sipapu comes from the Hopi word for the opening between worlds that the people emerged from in many Indian creation myths.  It was first named President in 1883 and Augusta in 1904.  The Sipapu name "was given by William Douglas, who led a government survey party to the bridges in 1908, mapping the exact boundaries of the new national monument." (NPS)

NPS - Natural Bridges National Monument

Smith River National Recreation Area

Middle Fork of the Smith River
Smith River National Recreation Area. California. August 25, 2012.
Copyright © 2013 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

I think both of these photos have been up as Photo of the Day back during the early days of that on-going project, so I am not posting them as Photos of the day for today...

Just a couple of quick notes on this National Recreation Area.  It was designated by Congress in 1990 and is managed by the United States Forest Service (Six Rivers National Forest).  We camped there between the Oregon Caves and the Redwoods in 2012, but did very little exploring in the Recreation Area itself.

Wikipedia says that this "area is considered one of the best fishing regions in the U.S."

Natural Lighting
Grassy Flat Campground.  Smith River National Recreation Area.  California.  August 25, 2012.
Copyright © 2013 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


USFS - Smith River National Recreation Area


L. A. Times - A California Time Capsule : Pristine Version of State Awaits in Smith River Recreation Area (1991)

Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve: Cave Entrance

Oregon Caves: Entrance
Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve.  Oregon.  August 24, 2012
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: Day of Several Photos - July 21, 2016

In 2012, Oregon Caves was still just a monument.  The preserve was created in 2014, adding some 4,000 acres surrounding the monument to the area administered by the National Park Service, and the River Styx, the segment of Cave Creek that flows underground through the cave, was added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Styx is the only underground river in Wild and Scenic system.

The cave was discovered in 1874, and attempts were made to develop the site as a commercial tourist enterprise. These efforts failed, largely due to the remoteness of the location and the lack of roads to the cave itself, though there was quite a bit of damage done to the cave in the process.  The monument was created in 1909 by President William Howard Taft, and was originally administered by the Forest Service.  President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order 6616, signed on June 10, 1933, put all of the existing national monuments under the administration of the National Park Service.

This is a solutional cave in marble, not limestone, with around 15,000 feet of passages.  Eight other, smaller caves have been discovered within the monument, but only the main cave is open to the public (guided tours only, of course).  It is one of three out of 3,900-plus cave locations in the National Park Service system that is marble.  The other two are located in Kings Canyon National Park (Crystal Cave, etc.) and Great Basin National Park (Lehman Caves).

This was my second visit to the cave, the first since I was a kid.  We were on a week and a half camping trip around Oregon (with a dip down to the Redwoods in California), seeing if everyone had the endurance for longer trips across the country like the one we made in 2014.  It went well, for the most part, though we stayed within a day's drive from home just in case things turned black on us.  At Oregon Caves, late in the trip, we were all getting a bit weary, and the car almost headed home.  Luckily, we stuck it out and had a chance to run down to the Redwoods for a night or two before heading home.

Oregon Caves: Plaques at Cave Entrance
Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve.  Oregon.  August 24, 2012
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


NPS - Oregon Caves National Monument


NPS - Preserve Management Plan / Wild and Scenic River Study / Environmental Assessment (.pdf)

NPS - 2016 Centennial

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

Bones At Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Nebraska.  August 10, 2014
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: Day of Several Photos - July 21, 2016

Day three of my focus on stills and blog posts this week, then back to video editing tomorrow.  Rather than getting bogged down for hours on longer posts about individual parks, today I plan on focusing more on single photos and trying to post as much as I can...

Of course, that being said, I am starting the day by breaking this "rule" and throwing up everything I have for Agate Fossil Beds, a small National Monument in western Nebraska, far away from anything and everything...  However, since it is a small park that mostly focuses on the Visitor Center / Museum, I only have a handful of shots to begin with, so I'll close this park out for now.

This was a very cool spot.  While the landscape is not as spectacular as what is found at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument here in Oregon, which could probably qualify for National Monument status even without the fossils, the mixed grass prairie is very pleasant.  But the attraction here is really the bones.

There are no dinosaurs here.  This is a Cenozoic Era (65 million years BP to present) bed featuring large mammals from the Miocene Epoch (23 million years BP to 5 million years BP).  The fossils date to around 19 - 20 million years BP when two small, shallow ponds attracted a large number of animals during a long drought.  Many of these critters would die there.  These ponds have become, through the magic of various geologic processes, the Carnegie and University Hill fossil beds.

Also preserved within the monument are a number of "Devil's Corkscrews" - Daemonelix. These are the dens of the Palaeocastor, an extinct genus of beaver.  The origin of these strange formations was a mystery for quite some time and were first thought to be the fossils of some sort of vegetation or sponge.  Finally, the fossilized remains of  of a beaver were found inside of one of the structures, solving the mystery.

"Devil's corkscrews," Miocene-age burrows of Palaeocastor, discovered in the late 19th century
Circa late 19th or early 20th century.
Posted to flikr / Wikimedia Commons by James St. JohnCC Attribution 2.0 Generic

As I've written so much over the last few days, we just didn't have enough time... Unfortunately, we did not have the time to hike out the Daemonelix Trail to see these formations or to hike up the Fossil Hills Trail to see the fossil beds.

The monument was once part of James H. Cook's Agate Springs Ranch, which still exists across Highway 29.  The fossils were first discovered in the 1890s and Cook was soon hosting teams of researchers from many institutions, including the Carnegie Museum, Yale University, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Cook also maintained great relationships with the local Indians and had a lifelong friendship with Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota.  Over the years he collected many Native American gifts and artifacts, which have become the Cook Collection of Indian Artifacts, on display in the monument's Visitor Center.

According to Wikipedia, "The national monument was authorized on June 5, 1965, but was not established until June 14, 1997. The Harold J. Cook Homestead (Bone Cabin Complex) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977."

The bone cabin was the Cooks' original residence and used, after 1914, a   It has been restored to its 1910 condition.

The Bone Cabin, used during twenty-five years of fossil excavations at the Agate Fossil Beds
Harold J. Cook Homestead Cabin, more commonly known as Bone Cabin, located on south side of Niobrara River at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.
Photo by Ammodramus, CC0 ; Taken on August 16, 2012

Agate Fossil Beds is one of a series of "sister" national parks and monuments that focus on Cenozoic Era fossils, or have large beds of Cenozoic fossils.  These sister parks are Hagerman Fossil Beds NM in Idaho, Fossil Butte NM in Wyoming, Badlands NP in South Dakota, Florissant Fossil Beds NM in Colorado, and John Day Fossil Beds NM.  In fact, one of the rangers was excited to hear that were were from Oregon because of the John Day Fossil Beds monument and asked if we had spent any time there.  Of course we have!

Flowers at the Daemonelix Trailhead
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Nebraska.  August 10, 2014
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

The Bone Cabin (Cook Homestead) At Agate Fossil Beds
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Nebraska.  August 10, 2014
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Where the Fossils Hide, University and Carnegie Hills...
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Nebraska.  August 10, 2014
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Large Mammal Skeletons On Display
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.  Nebraska.  August 10, 2014
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grand Teton National Park: Afternoon At Jenny Lake

Afternoon At Jenny Lake
Grand Teton National Park.  Wyoming.  August 3, 2014.
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: Day of Several Photos - July 20, 2016

I was going to write about how afternoons are the worst at this park for photography, but I covered that in my first post on the Tetons.  It's late and I don't have much thought left in me today.  I wanted to get through many more photos than I did, at least, spread out around more parks, but I got everything I have out for Scotts Bluff National Monument and Chimney Rock National Historic Site.

My focus on National Parks this summer is largely inspired by this being the centennial of the National Park Service.  If I had the chance to plan ahead a bit more, my spring trip through the southwest might have turned into an across the country expedition to photograph as many parks as I could have...  Something like what the guys at are doing, though I'd include as many of the monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, etc. as I could, too.  In fact, while the big name national parks have their reputations for a reason, they also have the crowds and are well known already...  My heart is drawn more towards the lesser know places, the quieter spaces...  

Speaking of the 59 in 59 guys, we pretty much crossed paths in Utah this spring.  I even thought about trying to contact them to meet up, but that trip was more about isolation and self-exploration.  And even being on the road for nearly a month, I still barely had the time to visit everywhere I wanted to visit and to shoot and film everything I wanted to capture.

That trip, this spring, was a lot different than this family vacation in 2014.  That trip was dedicated to photography.  While I took a lot of photos on the 2014 trip, it was all on the fly as we tried to see as much as we could in the time we had available.  Because of that, at times, my photos were rushed, and the timing was not always optimal for the subjects I was wanting to shoot.  While I think a lot of the shots I've been posting this week were nice, many of the locations don't have the "wow" shots that I would like to have captured if I had a little more time, and a little more attention to pay to the work.  
However, visiting the sorts of spectacular places that we were visiting that summer, in many of the locations, the scenery provided as long as I didn't mess up the camera on my end.  I joke from time to time that, in places like Grand Teton National Park, photography is easy.  You can pretty much just randomly point the camera over your shoulder and walk away with a spectacular photograph.

In this shot, I am not absolutely sure which mountains are pictured...  Cascade Canyon is the main canyon on the right, and I believe that is Hanging Canyon in the center between the peaks...  So, I think this is all part of Mt. St. John, with Storm Point and Symmetry Spire being the two peaks, from left to right, rising between Cascade Canyon and Hanging Canyon.  However, I am not certain.  I should have taken a photo of a peak finder at the overlook, a practice I have since adopted.

According to Wikipedia, the lake is 423 feet deep, 1,191 acres, and "is named after a Shoshone Indian woman who married an Englishman, Richard 'Beaver Dick' Leigh," She and her six children died of Smallpox in 1876.


NPS - Centennial

NPS - Grand Teton National Park