Inspired Stone

First Snow
November 5, 2011, 10:43 pm
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The first snows of the year have fallen. During the first storm, the snow only pushed down as far as the Flatirons, so I hopped my bike and ran up the hill just in time stand under a new layer falling.

The real snow came last week and left a 10 inch carpet of white over town. Tree limbs fell under the weight. I crashed my bike on the way to work. I saw someone out on cross-country skis in the open space across the street. It looks and feels and smells like the mountains! Now I need to think about getting some skis to take advantage of the frozen element. And figure out which rocks dry out the fastest so I can get back to climbing.


December 14, 2009, 4:26 am
Filed under: Climbing, Photo | Tags: , ,

California is blessed with a variety and quality of rock climbing unknown in most other states. Although Davis lacks anything climbable except artificial walls, excellent climbing lies one hour up highway 50 above the tiny town of Kyburz. Jutting out of a ridge north of the American River is a fine grained granite crag known as Sugarloaf. I don’t know if this is an official geographic name, but it is very possible that it’s a name invented by climbers. Climbers are creative namers. A look at modern climbing guidebooks might convince some that climbers are perverted and on drugs, but usually a climb’s name is decided on only because it sounds interesting. Sugarloaf is home to the climbs Scheister, Blue Velvet, Fat Merchant’s Crack, and The Man Who Fell to Earth. Some names even indicate something about the climb. The photo below is of one of my favorite routes at Sugarloaf-its name is The Fracture.

Here is a climber nearing the top of Scheister:

And the same climber about halfway up an excellent route named Hyperspace:

On my last visit to Sugarloaf one week ago, I was finally able to climb a route named Bolee Gold, which I had been yearning to do for some time. And it was just in time, by 4 PM the snow was flying. That is when I stopped, looked around and really enjoyed the austere beauty of the place. The surrounding area has still not fully recovered from a wildfire many years ago, so the gray walls and gray trees blended with the blowing snow into an amazing scene.

Tumbleweed: Andy Goldsworthy tribute
November 25, 2009, 4:17 am
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I might be crazy, but there is something very attractive about a tumbleweed. They first grabbed my attention when I saw a tractor clearing a dirt field near our house. I’m not sure what the goal was, as the only thing in the dirt field were some tumbleweeds. It appeared as though the tractor was practicing with giant balls of string.

I quickly forgot about the nearly perfect spherical shape of the tumbleweed, but as I biked to work a couple days later, there was the most perfect specimen right next to the road. I had to take a picture of it.

The image I was imaging was a studio shot, with a dark background, something that really emphasized the tumbleweed. Where it was next the road wouldn’t work, but dealing with a six foot diameter weed isn’t easy. Nicole and I carried it home and the best option I could come up with was to shoot it in the backyard in the dark.

The lighting turned out a little weird, but okay for the first attempt. As I walked around it, trying to find the best angle, I was reminded of Andy Goldsworthy, an artist known for really beautiful sculpture constructed of natural materials.

Desolation, Late Fall
November 3, 2009, 5:52 am
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The fall is an amazing time in the mountains. The light is perpetually soft. Everything is cold, dry and crisp. I’m only a little melancholy about the coming snow which will cover much of the climbable rock and make travel at the heights difficult for those like me that don’t ski worth a darn. If it were always fall…that would be about right.

To soak it up, rather than just think about it, my wife Nicole and I ventured into Desolation Wilderness and got back to the car just as the sun went down and the full moon came up.






Rock Still-Lifes
October 26, 2009, 2:27 am
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I take my best photos when I am doing only that, taking photos. Only when I am slowly wandering, looking, and visualizing do I really get my creative energy going. And when it happens, it is really fun and the results are exciting. Yet I still find it difficult to head into the outdoors and not be driven towards climbing or hiking or skiing-in which case my camera becomes the secondary tool and the resulting photos are uninspired.

While visiting my mom on the north coast of California I decided to take a walk to the beach and just-take some photos. I can’t remember if I had some specific shots in mind, but one thing led to another and I was arranging stones along the bluff and taking pictures like mad. What I ended up with were some still-life rock photos in the vein of Andy Goldsworthy, but simpler and not as awesome. I liked the photos and the experience enough to go back some time later and continue where I left off.






On A Walkabout
August 24, 2009, 1:01 am
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Yesterday, I went on a walkabout.  Sometimes it just feels good to get out in the mountains or desert with no definite objectives except to experience the area.  Hike around, on-trail and off.  Take some photos.  Climb a boulder or rock or peak.   On this occasion, I was joined by my eager, four-legged partner Lance to explore the area north of Echo Lake, near Lake Tahoe.  At the end of the day, I had scoped an obscure rock wall, taken some rock photos, drank 2 L of water, gotten dusty legs and made Lance’s paws sore.




Photos of Rocks
August 5, 2009, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Photo | Tags: , ,

This series of photos started years ago, but it was only in the past two years that I identified it as a “series” and started consciously developing it.  Developing it just means that while I am out taking photos, I allow my attention to be drawn to all the intricate textures and simple shapes in the rocks of our landscape.  The meadow-mountain-sunrise photo is still nice, but I find endless possibility in the rocks laying around.  I have continued with this series for several reasons:

1.  I like taking pictures and I am often in the company of rocks.

2.  Maybe it is the scientist in me, but my mind often imagines a series or a sequence of variations on a theme.  My childhood collections (rocks, feathers, bottle-caps, baseball cards, etc.) show that this started early.

3.  Even when rock is not the subject, I am often looking for simple arrangements of shape and texture.

So, here are a couple from when I started.  I will post some more soon.

rock folds