Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Offroad: Parashant - Savannic Mine

Little did we know that this snowbird riding season the Parashant Grand Canyon area would be the most interesting rides we would take… several times. And we would go again in a heartbeat.

We've seen it on our maps, and we've always intended to "run over to Arizona and see the mines"; but, it's a long way over there from Whitney Pockets, our usual staging area of choice. Just to Tassi Springs, which we wrote about last year, and back takes a very full day. The Savannic Mine - and others - are farther than that.

However… there is only one other ride on "The Butte" which rivals it for sheer grandeur! The ride over through Pierson Gap and down into Cottonwood Wash looks over the "Hell's Kitchen" area and is Magnificent. The ride along the shelf road, past Pigeon Canyon, is truly breathtaking, in more ways than one.

Of course there's the "breathtaking" grandeur of a Kodak-worthy photograph which even Photoshop cannot improve; then, there's the strangling-tightness which slowly creeps into your chest and makes your heart race for anyone even the least vertiginously challenged!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

GEO-tography: Forced Perspective

In our continual quest to make the photographs we take look more like the places we've actually been, I thought we might take a peek at something called "Forced Perspective."

We all (at least those of us who haven't been living under a basket) have seen the technique at work; but, may not recognize the accurate name. Forced perspective is the technique Peter Jackson (I guess we have to call him "Sir Peter Jackson" now) uses to make his Hobbit's look realistically small next to Gandalf.

Basically, it's using your camera's settings to obtain the great depth of field and focus necessary; then, aligning two subjects precisely - one closer to the camera than the other. (huh?) Look, take one subject and put it closer to the camera. Then, align a second object further away from the camera so that it looks like what you want in the view finder. Then do what you need to bring them BOTH crisply into focus at once.

Objects can appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than they actually are, and you don't need to use Photoshop or Gimp to do it. It just takes a little creativity with the placement of the subjects in the shot and the camera angle.

Still don't get it - well a picture is worth a thousand words. Twenty-eight of them to be exact.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pinyon Nuts

As kids, much more so than now, we used to enjoy going "pine cone hunting" in the fall. Not every fall; because, as it turns out, the little fellows are a capricious lot – not un-similar to those Joshua Trees. They don't seed (or bloom) every year – and they pretty much keep their intentions and motivations close to the vest.

Once in awhile you might hear an old timer say out loud: "'S lookin' like it'll be a good yar fer pine nuts!" But just let those trees not produce a crop this year, and that same codger is just as likely as not to give you a disgusted look like: "you must be nuts" when you remind him about telling you that later on if it doesn't happen.

Of course, even though most call them "Pine Nuts," it's only the specific Pinyon Pine which produces the nuts we are talking about. As nutrition goes, they are full of it. No wonder they were the dietary staple of the Paiute tribe as well as most other Native American groups throughout the southwest.

Indigenous peoples ate them both raw and roasted, and they often made Pemmican by mixing ground pinyon nuts with animal fat to make a calorie rich, nourishing and easy to carry "trail mix."   [See other information and photos at: Offroading Home - Resources.]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Offroad: Gold Butte - Jumbo Mine, Historic Baylor

This was the fourth ride for the Kokopelli ATV club in the 2010-11 riding season. It seemed like there were more new faces each time we rode and that everyone was getting side-by-sides. Some who rode single rigs last year were trading them in for "double wide" and bringing their wives along.

And this ride was a great place to be. It finished a previous club ride around the lower Gold Butte-Treasure Hawk Mine area which was cut short, due to some mechanical failures that required a bit of towing – yet one more reason not to go alone out on "The Butte." Especially on such a seldom used trail as this.

Almost directly on the other side of the mountain from the historic town of Gold Butte (east), is the historic town site of Baylor. Now only a dusty wide spot in the trail, people once lived there while working the area's mines in. Who knows, for a vacation they might have gone to the "big city," Gold Butte, of a weekend.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GEO-tography: Infrared

Anyone who has spent any time at all watching television has undoubtedly seen examples of the use of infrared. "Night Scopes" are all the rage, the isles at Home Depot are decked with infrared heaters and many of your home security motion detectors are actually "detecting" infrared.

It's nothing more than a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum of energy with wavelengths just a scosh longer than visible light. Human eyes can't see it but snakes (and Voldemort) can.

However, with a special lens, some cameras can photograph in that spectrum – and what a site it is! All you have to do in order to show up in an Infrared photograph is be warm blooded! (or have some kind of body heat). You put off heat – you show up, it's that simple. And the more you put off, the "whiter" you appear in the picture; the less, the darker.