Saturday, November 26, 2011

Life on Alcatraz

My project this year was "Weeds Can Be Beautiful Too!".  You are right ... it was bad, and got shot down by the instructor.  The only other interesting thing on my list was Alcatraz.  This place has fascinated me for years and I love spending time on the island.  So much history .....

To have a good project, the images should tell a story.  This one is about the effects this maximum security prison had on the worst of the worst criminals.  A new prisoner just arriving feels bad to the bone, but as time goes on, his demeanor and confidence diminish until he is a ghost of himself.  Of course, those who know me, know my philosophy ... if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.  Cuz if you do, you totally deserve to be here!!!   Anyway, on with the story ...

The Ship to Hell
About to dock
Main Gate Confidence
Owning the second tier
Cell Block after 5 years
Defeated at 10 years
Desperation at 15 years
A ghost of himself at 20 years
To see the images better, double click on the first one and view them in a larger size.  These images were shot in two trips to the island.   My shoot, my dime, so a third trip was out of the question.  There was me, an assistant, lots of gear and the model.  Unfortunately, they frown on tripods ... someone could trip over it, so all of the ghost images were hand-held 2 second shots with me sitting on the filthy dirty floor and my assistant shooing people around us and away from the direction of my shot.  I would say there were no less than 300 people around us in the block at all times.  For the most part, people were very accommodating.  In fact, they took pictures of us taking pictures and thought we must be doing some "special" ... helped a little by the fact that we said we were shooting a documentary!!!  We had a great time ... of course I want to go back and shoot more, but my model said no way Jose.  Hoping I get a good grade .............

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Hoping everyone is enjoying this holiday with their families.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for your blessings, big and small.  If at all possible, do something for someone less fortunate than you.  Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life on the Ranch

Over the years, I have shown my friends images of life on the ranch when I was a kid.  They have constantly said I should scan these images so they won't be lost.  Since I don't have any children or grandchildren to leave them to, I wasn't very interested.  I have to say though, that I love reading stories of peoples life in the "old" days of the gold rush to the West, and so decided to put some of the images up here along with the "stories of old" (even though I don't view myself as old!!) which I will eventually have made into a book.  I do have one nephew and one grand nephew ... maybe some day he will get a laugh out of seeing his Great Aunt when she was a kid.  All the images are black and white ... my mom had a small Kodak camera.

First up ... I was born!!!  At Miss Friese's Maternity Home in Lake Isabella California, 50 miles east of Bakersfield in the high desert on a cattle ranch.
My first introduction to grass ... yummy!!!  The yard is fenced because the cattle had the run of the place and I guess it kept us corralled.  I did at one point, escape ... and tried to follow my dad to the field (always a tomboy, even as a baby) ... whereupon I got stuck trying to crawl through the gate. Apparently no one heard me cry, and after awhile, I fell asleep.  When it was finally noticed that I was missing, they found me, still stuck in the fence!!!
Local transportation to Kernville where my mother's mother Grace lived and worked.  
Ranch life wasn't exactly easy.  My grandfather came from the Isle of Man with his two sons and bought two ranches in Lake Isabella.  Here he is seeding the fields to grow hay to feed during the months grass was not available.  There were a lot of local Indians who were hired on as extra help, but every time they got paid, they would buy the fire water ... and not show up for days.  When their money ran out, they would return to the ranch.
We also raised turkeys to sell to the local people ... my brother got in trouble big time when he got mad and threw a rock at one ... hit him in the head and literally knocked him dead!!  We had turkey dinner that night.  Here's my brother Dennis.  Every Easter we got to dress up and go to the Methodist Church.  As long as I can remember, I got a new dress for Easter ... my mother would buy the material and make matching outfits for us.  It's where my sewing knowledge comes from.
My mom's sister who lived in Bakersfield, had three children ... our cousins Patty, Mike and Tom ... who came to visit occasionally. This is Patty on the left.  Don't you just love the hair???
There were no trips to the grocery store like nowadays.  In fact, I don't ever remember going to the store when we lived in Lake Isabella.  I do know the nearest store was in Bodfish, as was my babysitter.  We had a milk cow that provided milk and cream, which I churned into butter.  My mom grew vegetables and we basically lived off the land.  I remember having a telephone ... two longs and a short ring meant it was for us.  You had to be careful what you said however, since it was a party line with three other families on it.  This is my mom and dad bringing home dinner!!!  Lots of pheasant to put in the freezer.
Lastly for today, here is where my love of Halloween comes from.  Like most kids, I loved dressing up in all kinds of fun outfits.  This outfit was actually just clothes I had, but my grandmother took an old mop and made the "kilt purse" that hangs around my neck.  I LOVED this and kept it for years until it literally disintegrated.
When I was four years old, the government decided to dam the Kern river, to provide water for Los Angeles I imagine.  Unfortunately, our ranch was at the bottom of the new lake.  They claimed imminent domain and we were forced to move.  Two suitable ranches were found, one in Merced with great corrals and a big scale for weighing cattle ... one in Carson Valley Nevada with a nice house.  My mom wanted the house, my dad the scales ... and so we moved to Merced in 1953-54.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Yosemite Nat'l Park - I Keep Going Back

No matter how many times I have been to Yosemite National Park, I can't keep from returning.  It just doesn't matter how often you have taken that particular shot, it's different every time.  This time of year, as the thermometer starts to drop, lots of photographers head out to find great fall color.  Sometimes the colors are incredible ... and sometimes not.  This was a NOT time.  It has been cold enough for some trees to turn, but with the windy days, all the leaves have already hit the ground.  The rest of the trees are still very green, and with the snow storm that just hit this morning, they won't be able to show their stuff this year.
As the sun starts to drop in the sky, the photographers take up their spots on the bank.  We were too late ... so we moved on to Pohono Bridge.
This shot is where Hwy 140 meets Hwy 120 which goes over Tioga Pass.  This spot had all of the fall color.  There were a few other small trees, all right along the road.  Seems the flood a few years ago wiped out all the color producing trees that were near the river in the valley.
Pine needles were falling in the wind like rain (I'm still picking stuff out of my hair!!) resulting in lots of litter in the water.  I know ... it's trash ... but it's kind of pretty trash!!!
One shot of Half Dome ... you've seen this before.  I'm planning a winter snow trip so should have better images of Half Dome covered in snow.
Lastly, in the Half Dome meadow, there were thousands of seed pods that had just broken open.  Millions of seeds along with lots of fluffy cotton to fly them to their new destination ... and cause us sneezing from hay fever!
Nature can be soooo beautiful.  I'm glad I am able to capture such a tiny part of it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cooper and Cupcakes!!

Definitely not made to go together, my little dog Cooper and cupcakes have been the items of the last few days.  Cooper is a little terror.  Doesn't matter how cute and innocent he looks, inside resides the little guy with red horns, egging him on to destruction.  His favorite pastime is to lift the rug (or pillow or pile of crocheting), push his ball underneath ... then bark until you come and get it OUT from under the pile!!  After 35 times, he's still loving the "game" while I'm totally fed up!!!!!
Notice the dirty feet ... this from running roughshod all over the horse corral in the mud!!!  What fun!!!
Here's a shot of his ball ... or rather what's left of it.  Unfortunately they don't last long ... not that he cares because soon this will have all the green fuzz chewed off, and he'll be left with a few pieces of rubber which he will continue to play with until I throw them in the trash.
Stuffed toys do not fare much better ... this is (was) a mouse, now minus the nose, two eyes, two arms, one leg and all the stuffing!!
What can I do ... just take a look at that face again!!!

So since my friend has been ill and I am joining the camera club tonight, I'm baking cupcakes for her turn at snacks.  Every month you submit your best photos (or not) that a guest judge will evaluate.  Most points at the end of the year wins something ... I'm not sure what.  It does sound like a good way to get exposure and critique of your work, as well as ideas for shoots.  Think my cupcakes will win???
Marshmallow creme, Coffee and Chocolate!!!  
Thursday is an all day trip to Yosemite for fall color and reflective waters.  After that, senior pictures .... and I've completed my school project "Alcatraz".  Will post those images soon!!!