I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Urban poetry

Eerie shapes and shadows in what is actually a very ordinary elevator by the High Line.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

These bands of color look like semiprecious stones -- the same veining, the same patterns -- but they're actually clouds. New Horizons took this closeup of Jupiter in 2007 before continuing on its way to Pluto.

Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins U. APL, SWRI

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

A raven in a parking lot in Jackson. Their chatter was a constant soundtrack in town.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Endless windows, endless balconies: modern generic city.

In this case, Manhattan.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Urban poetry

These are just steps in front of an office building -- 1 Bligh Street in Sydney -- but I love the curves and the way the metal studs zigzag off into a lightning bolt.

The Bligh in Bligh Street is actually Captain William Bligh of Bounty fame, who was later governor of New South Wales. His efforts to clean up corruption in the rum trade led to his being deposed by his officers -- again -- and forced to flee to Tasmania and then back to Britain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

This is known as the Running Chicken Nebula, in the southern constellation Centaurus.

Okay, a chicken? Really? I see a bulldog face -- or maybe a hippo -- but no poultry. Maybe it's more obvious where the name came from in a less detailed image. The photographer, Andrew Campbell, took an 11-hour exposure from a backyard near Melbourne to capture this shot. I can't even imagine the equipment required to track an astronomical object across the sky for 11 hours when I sometimes can't manage to get a clear shot of a perfectly stationary building, so kudos to Mr. Campbell.

Image Credit and Copyright: Andrew Campbell

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday bird blogging

Here's something sweetly ordinary: a robin, in the creek behind my lodge in Jackson.

Most birds, like most humans, love to splash around in the water. They don't usually do it in the middle of the afternoon, but it was unusually hot in Jackson Hole and if the creek had been a little deeper I might have joined the robin.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday reflections

Windows by the Javits Center.

Yesterday began with our first Active Shooter drill at work, because that's the country we live in now, and ended with an exquisite old school French dinner of mushroom souffle and floating island at La Grenouille, a belated birthday celebration with the lovely Jayne.

So this photo seems appropriate -- a little ominous, a little dreamy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Urban poetry

No, not that kind of park.

This sign, appearing to point at the single tree, made me laugh, and I had fun styling the picture to make it look far darker and grittier than it actually was.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Astronomy Tuesday

This photo of the night side of Pluto was taken by New Horizons last July. I love the way you can see its atmosphere as a cloudy haze in the oh so faint sunlight.

Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research Institute

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Textures 2

A field of dandelions, trampled by human and animal into leaf and stem and a few sad wisps of flower.


I have to admit that, in general, I loathe “Western.” Cowhide rugs, knotty pine walls, antlers used for anything other than stabbing an opponent while firmly attached to the head of the original owner, all make me cringe.

In Jackson they clearly have a steady supply of antlers, and they stack them up and shape them into ornamental archways at the downtown park, at restaurants, and at hotels. It's definitely better than turning them into chandeliers or centerpieces. I can't say I liked the look, but viewed close up, I did love the shapes and textures of them.

Sunday bird blogging

Make way for goslings.

Even serious bird lovers find it hard to get enthusiastic about Canada geese. They're invasive, they cause enormous damage -- including plane crashes -- and they're mean.

But every Canada goose in Jackson -- and there were a lot of them -- was accompanied by adorable little fuzzballs like these, making it impossible not to love them. At least temporarily.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Chapel of the Transfiguration

...which doesn't mean I won't post them anyway. It was such a beautiful spot, but the harsh light and deep shadows meant that every shot was simultaneously under- and over-exposed, and software can only fix so much.


More old barns in the park.

The land for Grand Teton was assembled piecemeal, largely due to the efforts of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who visited Jackson Hole in the 1920's and fell in love with it. A small national park, including just the mountains and adjoining lakes had already been created, and Rockefeller began buying up private land with the intention of donating it to the park service.

Some of the private land that ended up being surrounded by parkland was taken by eminent domain; the families were allowed lifetime interests and so some of it is still ranch -- even the Jackson Hole airport is actually inside the park.

The buildings above adjoin the Chapel of the Transfiguration, a small church with a picture window behind the altar, ensuring that no one will actually be capable of paying much attention to the services. Unfortunately the light was all wrong by the time we got there, and none of my pictures of the actual chapel came out that well.

Still no Ansel Adams

...but I like the way this scene -- this is the Moulton barn, one of the relics of the homesteading days still standing in the park -- looks in black and white.

Okay, I'm no Ansel Adams

One of his best-known photographs, Tetons and Snake River, was taken from this overlook in 1942.

Of course he had more dramatic lighting and a lot more clouds. Also, he was Ansel Adams.

The Park Service helpfully provided this sign, which not only gives you some idea how much your own pictures will fall short before you even take them, but also demonstrates why you couldn't take a similar photo even if you had the same camera and the same talent: the bottom of the Snake River bend is no longer visible from here. The trees are taller now, and Adams also cheated by standing on a platform on top of a wagon to see over them.

Chaos holding back chaos

A beaver dam on the Snake River at Schwabacher's Landing.

More reflections

The reflections are so perfect and detailed that you don't even realize at first that's what they are or that there's actually a river there.

Saturday reflections

I'm back home -- after a long, but fortunately quite boring journey where I spent a lot of time sitting around airports and never came close to missing a flight -- and the blog is back in Grand Teton, where Schwabacher's Landing provided some magnificent reflections.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wetlands, sans mist

Morning mist

There is a protected wetlands across the road from my lodge, and Sunday morning while I was waiting for the safari van I took a couple of quick pictures of the mist over the fields. I planned to get more pictures when I had time, but it's been clear and mist-free every morning since then and I'm going home today.

Another place I'll have to come back to.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The last picture show

(Reposted with a better picture)

Mini fauna

On a very different scale, here's a baby ground squirrel peering through the grass.

More scenery, because why not

I've already lost track of everywhere we went, but I think the picture on the left is Catholic Bay. The picture on the right is near the Oxbow (worth clicking to enlarge).

Monday, June 6, 2016

A little closer

I took this with a long lens, and it's not that detailed, but at least you can see the pronghorn in this shot.

I knew pronghorns weren't technically antelopes -- those are Old World animals -- but didn't know that their closest relatives are actually giraffes. Those faces are a little giraffe-y.


Here's a herd of pronghorns, dwarfed by their habitat. We did see most of the larger animals from a distance, including one female elk who was clearly about to give birth in a field, but we also saw lots of pronghorns running across the road, unfortunately too fast to be caught on camera.

It's all about the mountains

The park is full of wildlife -- we saw bison, pronghorn antelope and elk, in addition to many many birds and smaller animals. The Snake River winds through the park, and there are lakes (this is Jenny Lake) and fields of sagebrush and wildflowers.

But you can't stop staring at the mountains. The Tetons are babies, geologically speaking, and none of their sharp edges have been worn down yet. This is what makes them so dramatic; there are no foothills, just flat grassland abruptly giving way to sheer, vertical rock, still draped in last year's snow.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Grand Teton National Park

It will take me several days -- at least -- to go through all the pictures I took on today's wildlife safari through this magnificent park. Why haven't I ever been here before? I'm still drunk with the beauty of the place.

Here's an appetizer: a bison grazing on dandelions, with a mountain backdrop.

Bonus bird blogging

A western meadowlark having breakfast in Grand Teton National Park today.

Sunday bird blogging

A Brewer's blackbird behind the lodge. There are dozens of them hanging out by the creek, and perching on unoccupied deck chairs.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

In which I almost don't make my flight

I've had my share of travel mishaps and misfortunes -- cancelled flights, misrouted luggage, being removed from the airport by ambulance for emergency surgery. Usually it's out of my control, but not always; I'm always managing to lose some critical piece of camera equipment, or somehow I pack eight t-shirts and one pair of jeans for a one week trip.

Today I screwed up big time. And if not for this gentleman -- who will certainly receive my nomination for a Nobel Prize when they start awarding them to cab drivers -- I would not be sitting in Wyoming right now.

I can blame a little of it on United, but not much. My flight was originally scheduled for a civilized 10:30 am departure, but was pushed back to 7:45 am, meaning that I had to be downstairs for the shuttle at 5 am. I had everything packed, and all my clothes laid out, so that I didn't have to do much besides roll out of bed and carry my suitcase downstairs. I am not at my best at 4:30 am, so I wanted to minimize the amount of thinking required.

Everything went smoothly to start with -- I was at the airport by 6 am. I got my boarding pass, I was ready to go through security, and I reached into my bag for my wallet to get my drivers license, and it wasn't there. I didn't panic at first; there was so much crap in that bag, laptop and chargers and phones and makeup and my baggie of liquids, that it was hard to find anything. I sat down and took everything out. No wallet. And then I remembered taking it out of the bag this morning to make a last minute credit card switch. I couldn't possibly have just left it sitting there on the kitchen counter. I couldn't have! Spoiler alert: I did.

It was 6:15. I had 90 minutes until my flight left, and it's a good 45 minute drive between my apartment and Newark airport -- if there's no traffic on the turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel isn't backed up, maybe you can do it in 30 minutes.

But this Nobel laureate of cab drivers did it in just over 45 minutes round trip. I was lucky that it was early on a Saturday morning, but he just flew, all the while making me laugh telling me stories about customers he'd driven around for missing wallets and forgotten passports and reassuring me that I was going to make my flight.

Which I did -- just. The terminal was at the far end of the airport and I scurried up just as they were closing the doors. Then the gate agent informed me that the flight was full and I would have to check my carryon. I explained that I couldn't, that I had cameras and lenses in the bag, and he basically said I could get on the plane but the bag could not unless I checked it. So I had to repack right there at the entrance to the jetway, while the agent kept telling me to hurry up and that's when I lost it.

I'm not good at packing, despite lots of practice. It turns out I'm really not good at packing under pressure in public. I was sitting on the floor in the airport, digging through my socks and jeans frantically looking for the lenses I'd so carefully packed the night before and trying to fit them into my pockets.

I will draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene, as it involved both tears and profanity. I  made it to Jackson, and so did my camera, and none of us are much the worse for wear.

I'm goin' to Jackson, I'm gonna mess around...

That song was almost certainly not about Jackson, Wyoming, which on the basis of a few hours acquaintance is sadly lacking in Bright Lights, Big City attractions, but if you change “mess around” to “chill out and do as little as possible,” it still works as a theme song for this trip.

This creek runs through the grounds of the lodge where I'm staying, and after an unnecessarily dramatic start to my day -- more on that later -- I'm just grateful that I actually made it.

In the spirit of chilling out and just being happy to be here, I will refrain from comment on this bronze moose wading in the same creek. Hey, this is apparently just how we roll in Wyoming. (We passed an entire museum dedicated to statues of wildlife on the way in from the airport.) Even if life-size statues of animals are almost always creepy and have no business being in an otherwise attractive body of water!

Deep breath. I made it. I'm here.


I'm traveling today, on my way to Jackson Hole for five days, and won't have much time to post pictures before Monday.

In the meantime, here's a picture that's about as far as you can get from pictures of blue skies and pretty mountains -- a walkway between buildings in Sydney's business district and the unmistakable silhouette of a man making a Very Important Call. (I was going to call this the typical pose of modern times, but really that's no longer true. How often do you see people actually talking on their phones? Mostly people are just staring blankly at the screen, scrolling through messages, songs, alerts.)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Urban poetry

A row of wheeled rubbish bins on the sidewalk on a summery morning in Manhattan.

There's something very satisfying about similar objects lined up in a row -- bicycles, chairs, rubbish bins -- even if they're not particularly lovely on their own.

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