Friday, November 28, 2008

Upper Elevations

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Bear Valley Springs encompasses approximately 25,000 acres of land ranging in elevation from 4,118 feet to 6,934 feet. We are at that lower elevation, down on the valley floor in an area that was once one of the hay fields when the Fickert family ranched here.

I have spent most of this week exploring the ridges that surround us and seeing how the mountain folks live. The extreme elevation in our community is Bear Mountain and I won’t be hiking to that peak, but I have been on the roads along the ridges where the elevation is, 5,000 feet and above. All I know is that from some of those spots where I found a place to pull off the road, Bear Valley Road looks very tiny down there on the valley floor. And there aren’t many of those opportunities to park. In far too many places, the winding, twisting two lane roads have spots two feet wide, or less, before the 1000 feet (give or take) drop off. Even though there was very little traffic up there, I missed some tempting vantage points. I wasn't gutsy enough to stop on the road and risk surprising someone coming around a curve.

Thanks to my explorations, I have my bearings—you can’t imagine what an accomplishment that is for me. Unfortunately, in addition to being numerically illiterate, I am geographically challenged. Lucky for me, the roads in Bear Valley Springs are laid out in such a way that even I can’t get lost. And now, that I have a better sense of my area—and even have some favorite spots marked on my map, I may spend a little more time checking out the higher elevations. That is if I can keep my vertigo in check. After the first two days of driving around—pulling off at rural mailboxes and wider spots in roads to poke around out on the edge of the ridges, I snuggled under the covers a tired, but happy photographer only to have trouble sleeping. Just as I would begin to drift off, I would slip and go over the edge of a bluff. Not fun and not the least bit relaxing. On the other hand, maybe I will trade off between exploring the valley floor and poking around up there in the clouds.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I want to wish everyone a beautiful and peaceful day of giving thanks for all our many blessings. In my opinion, this is one of the most significant observances of the year. I am always so embarrassed and ashamed if I can’t find a long list of things to be grateful for at least at this time of year. Doug Stockdale has a lovely post today on finding contentment. While you are visiting his site, linger a while and you will find a treasure trove of hot tips on publishing, plus a link to his latest book at Blurb and some wonderful photography. Doug is generous with the details of his book-making journey and shares a wealth of information. Now, see, there's something else to be grateful for.

Enjoy tomorrow, but don't eat too much pie. We don't want you stuck with giving thanks for antacids

Sunday, November 23, 2008


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My therapy yesterday included another session of combining camera movement with slow shutter speed. The more I explore this form of play, the more satisfying it is. While I have worked hard to more effectively control shutter speed for sharper images and to improve my compositions, now I am drawn more and more to these impressionistic images. I know it isn’t a surprising chain of events, but it is peculiar in a way and it amuses me.

During the part of the shoot when I took this photograph, I was enjoying the landscape with its layers, and wondering where time goes in such a hurry. The hours and days get away from me so quickly. Some days, I feel as though I were riding the rapids. While I try to hold on and stay upright, my raft continues to gather speed. The scenery along the bank is not much more than a blur. Meanwhile, I paddle like mad—just hoping that the waterfall isn’t around the next bend.

It’s all upside down. With age, time should slow down along with our bodies.