Alcatraz

I have been to San Francisco 6 or 7 times and never had or took the time to visit Alcatraz.  This trip I had a small window on Monday.  So, I walked down to Pier 33 with fingers crossed hoping I would be able to get on a boat from a stand by line in case somebody didn’t show up.  They were sold out and they quit using the stand by line.  The lady stated they sell out 2 to 3 weeks in advance but that they still have a few tickets for Wednesday afternoon.  What the heck, bought a ticket for the Wednesday 3:50 boat.They start lining people up 30 minutes before they let you board the boats.  They check your ticket three different times before you finally get to board.  One of the other guys I was traveling with did the tour on Sunday and he was telling me all about the plant life and the succulents that grow on Alcatraz.  I always thought San Fran is cold and rainy but there were cactus and succulents everywhere.   Finally time to board and the tours were running three boats that day.  I would guess each boat took 300 people at $38.50 a head every 30 minutes.  That is a lot of money.  Alcatraz is part of the Golden Gate Bridge National Park.It was a little foggy but could still see the Golden Gate Bridge on the ride out. Alcatraz Island started as a lighthouse for the San Francisco Bay.  Then a military outpost, then the famous prison, now a historical national park. One of the guard towers One of the park rangers giving the do’s and don’ts and where to get your audio tour headsets.One of the original cannons from the military fort. Part of the old mission style fort. The buildings are showing their age from the weather and salt air.  It looks like they had started to repaint the cell block and stopped. The walk up the hill was not bad, but is comprised of a set of switch back ramps.  There is a tram for the handicapped and people who could not make the trek.  The tour starts in the cell block building.   The tour starts where the new prisoners would begin, in the showers and then to processing to get their clothes and bedding.   The tour is narrated by four previous correctional officers and inmates.   The incoming inmates were then paraded nude down “Broadway.” The cells were super small.  7 foot by 9 foot by 7foot. If inmates were on good behavior they got time in the yard.  Some of the more famous inmates, include  Al Capone and the Bird Man. Cell block D was for the worst of the worse and also contained the six cells where all light could be shutout.  “The Hole” The prison library, Guns and Keys were never allowed in the cell block.  They were kept on either end of the block called the Gun Gallery.  In 1946 inmates distracted a guard and over powered him, and one inmate climbed the gun gallery to the top and used a homemade bar spreader made in the local machine shop to spread the bars, and over took the guard with keys and a gun.  They held the prison for 3 days.  The photo below in from the explosion of hand grenades that were dropped by the army.  Several inmates and 3 guards died during these 3 days. C/D street There were only 4 visitation booths. Guard uniform, the inmates called them red ties. Great view of San Francisco from the warden house end of the island. The Golden Gate Bridge from the other end of the island.The lighthouse The Administration Building What is left of the Warden’s house.  Only 4 different men served as warden at Alcatraz.I didn’t take any DSLR equipment on this trip . Everything was shot and documented with my new iPhone XS Max.  I am impressed with the portrait settings as used in this selfie.The escape.  Two adjoining cells used spoons from the kitchen to tunnel through the concrete.They have opened up a panel in the wall to show the space in between the cells where the inmates climbed the pipes to get out.Not all tours every day do the “Sounds of the Slammer”.  I was lucky enough to get to be there during this demo.

The prison closed in 1963 due to rising cost.  It was costing more than $500 a day to house 1 inmate.

Several Indian tribes took Alcatraz in 1969 and held it for 19 months to protest how the Indians were treated and and how may treaties had been broken.  You can read more here at The Occupation of Alcatraz.

So my last post before this was almost 1 year ago.  I came close to not renewing my blog this year.  I made a promise to myself I would try to get back to doing more photography and posting more.  So time will tell.

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Life is good and I am blessed.

Kent

Sedona, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend

The last 4 years Sharon and I have been going out to Phoenix to visit her sister and our dear friends the Vandermoon’s around her birthday.  This year I decided I wasn’t going to take my golf clubs and made this trip all about Sharon.  We spent day one hanging out with the Vandermoon’s and took a trip out to Tortilla Flats.  It was a very scenic drive and a nice lunch in a little saloon.  

Spent Saturday day 2 driving up to Sedona.  Beautiful drive and mountains around Sedona.  I could have spent several days hiking and exploring there, but we were on a quest to find unique Christmas gifts.  Spent five hours exploring almost every shop and had a nice wood fired pizza for a late lunch.  Headed up to Page Arizona for the night.

Sunday was my big day.  A photography tour to Antelope Canyon, which has been on my bucket list.  The tour guides take 4X4 trucks with the people in the back on benches.  Once we pulled in and started off road I understood why the truck.  They sand was deep in places and he would lock it into 4 wheel drive and just root through it. About a 20 minute ride from the tour operator to the canyon.  At first I thought Sharon was just being a good sport.  But about 10 minutes into the tour she was getting incredible shots with her iPhone.  The first 30 minutes in the canyon was super nice as we had the canyon to just us 5 photographers and Sharon.  Then the madness came and 250 to 300 people flooded in.  I messed up a couple camera settings about half way through and got frustrated.  

When we got to the other end of the canyon we went outside to regroup and let the crowds clear out.  One of the other Canon shooters had taken a night tour the night before and showed me the beauty of “Live View”.  I reset all of my settings and we headed back in with Live View and we shot the canyon rooms from the other angle. All in all, I am super happy with my results, but a little bummed.  The light beams only happen during the summer.   All the more reason to be going back in June to capture the light beams and also do the night tour while the Milkyway is over the canyon.  

We returned back to town a quick lunch and shedding a couple layers and we were off to find and document Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend is a hike up about a 100 foot climb, then across a plateau.  Then a gentle slope down to the canyon’s rim.  After the first climb and Sharon’s looking the decent over, she almost decided to stay on a bench while I went on, due to her hip and knee.  After seeing an older couple I am guessing mid eighties to ninety, she declared what the heck.  Didn’t come this far to regret not going.

Once down at the rim, I quickly realized I was scared of heights.  There were kids just jumping across cracks and standing on one foot on the edge.  Made me sick to my stomach.  If figured if Sharon could mustard up the strength to hike back up I must over come this feeling to get the shot at all cost.  I started about 8 to 10 feet back and did the military style belly crawl out to the rim.  Once I got there my hands were shaking so bad I had to brace the camera on the rock to keep it from shaking and messing up the shot.  After taking a test photo I realized I wasn’t dead center and had a rock outcropping in the way.  Crawled back and moved over 30 feet and repeated the belly crawl once again.  Sharon was laughing so far I could hear her.  I am glad she was there with my phone to call 911, but instead she documented the crawl.So I over came my fear to get the money shot.  I hope after that build up my humble offering isn’t a let down.I felt amazing to be back in the field with a camera in my hand,  We both truly enjoyed this trip!

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Life is good and I am blessed.

Kent

 

 

Week 28 of 2017 52 Week Project

Week 28: Female hummingbird with two babies in nestA good friend and co-worker came to work very excited to inform me he had a hummingbird nest in his yard,  He found it while mowing and the mom was not happy with him mowing under her tree.  He kept me informed every day the babies hatched this week.  So I grabbed my gear and headed to his house.  Pretty easy to get decent photos of the babies in the nest but the mom would not come into the nest with me in the yard,  I ended up having to shoot this while sitting in my car at over 60 feet away. Thus this is a SUPER heavy crop.  I would guess over 80%.  I am always amazed at just how good my Canon gear is.  

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Life is good and I am blessed.

Kent

Week 27 of 2017 52 Week Project

Week 27: Hummingbirds in my Backyard

I really thought this week would be fireworks, but was just too lazy to get out the tripod and do them right.  I am struggling to finish this 52 week project.  So that I don’t get lazy and reuse other photos from this week, here is the rest of this week’s hummers.

I have another lead on a hummingbird nest with two eggs!

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Life is good and I am blessed.

Kent

Week 26 of 2017 52 Week Project

Week 26: Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird

Finally caught up with a male hummingbird.  It is a Black-chinned.  Shot pretty late in the evening and crazy high ISO 12,800.  The noise reduction filter killed the details.  Wing blur at 1/4000th.

I’m on vacation this week so hopefully I can catch a full frame wall hang of a Ruby-Throated Male, or at least some fireworks.

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Life is good and I am blessed.

Kent