Ten Simple Questions

Dancer Deformed. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Dancer Deformed. Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Try these on for size and see how “deformed” your general knowledge of current political events might be…

  1. ***Obama personally ordered the wiretapping of Trump’s communications in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.   True or False?
  2. The Trump campaign’s connections to Russia is an issue invented by the Democrats to distract.    True or False?
  3. The FBI specifically told Congress that Russia did not interfere in the electoral process.    True or False?
  4. Attendance at Trump’s inauguration in Washington D.C. was much larger than Obama’s in 2009.    True or False?
  5. Some 3 to 5 million non-citizens voted (and voted for Hillary) in the 2016 Presidential election.    True or False?
  6. Trump’s electoral college win in the 2016 election was the biggest margin since Reagan.    True or False?
  7. Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO.  True or False?
  8. Trump was responsible for bringing down the price of the F-35 jet fighter.   True or False?
  9. Terrorists from the countries targeted in President Trump’s two travel ban versions (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) have been responsible for nearly all the terrorism-related deaths in the USA since 9-11.    True or False?
  10. Trumps current approval ratings are at an all-time high compared to the last four Presidents at this point in the term.    True or False?

Now, for the answers…

If you answered all of them “False”, congratulations, you are a well-informed citizen who likely uses credible news sources.

If you answered any of these as “True”, you might reconsider where you get your news. Avoid the temptation to listen only to news outlets, certain radio hosts, conspiracy theories, etc. that confirm what you would like to be true. (This last statement is directed at both lefties and right-winger types.)

[***NOTE: I may get some push back on this one. Apparently there may have been an on-going investigation into ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign in which some Trump campaign officials may have had their conversations recorded. We will have to see how this investigation develops. However, I am taking Trump at his word, which is false: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! 4:35a.m. – 4 Mar 2017.” I take Trump at his word. If this is not what he meant, he needs to learn to use the English language to express his thoughts more exactly.]

Whenever you have the slightest doubt, use the fact-checking websites: Politifact, FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, Open Secrets, and the Washington Post Fact Checker.

Avoid out-of-the-mainstream news sources on either the left or the right–or at least take what they say with a huge block o’ salt and temper your findings with what you see elsewhere. Despite the talk these days of “fake news”, places like the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, Reuters, The Economist, USA Today, yes, even CNN and NPR, will have higher standards for what they are willing to publish than lesser outlets.

For various long lists ranging from left-biased to right-biased media outlets, check out the very good Media Bias/Fact Check site. For an explanation of their methodology for determining media bias, go HERE. It all makes for an interesting read.

The truth might be hard to swallow, pilgrim, but it’s pretty damned important we start agreeing on basic facts in this country.

Changing Colors on Sugarloaf Mountain

It had been too long since I had been up on Sugarloaf Mountain (8,917′), my favorite local golden hour perch.

(My favorite perch? A hearty, “Yep”. Just type “Sugarloaf” into my website SEARCH box to see how many times I have dragged my camera and tripod up there–in all kinds of conditions!)

So, this morning, with the just-past-full Moon setting some 45 minutes or so after sunrise, and a weather service fore-guess that indicated some clouds but not too many, I thought it might be the place to go.

Getting unstuck from the warm bed and into various layers of winter threads was tough, but I was generously rewarded with the following scenes…

 

Approaching sunrise, low fog, and suburban sprawl from Denver on the right to Boulder in the center:

Sugarloaf, #1. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017
Sugarloaf, #1. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017

 

Patterns of purple and pink to the north:

Sugarloaf, #5. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017
Sugarloaf, #5. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017

 

That’s the rounded summit of Mt. Audubon (13,229′) on the left and Longs Peak (14,259′) near the center. The wave clouds indicate high winds aloft, but the low fog contradicts with calm winds below:

Sugarloaf, #7. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017
Sugarloaf, #7. Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017

 

As the Sun lights the snowy Continental Divide on fire, the grand Moon, drops down toward the lenticular clouds behind the two Arapaho Peaks. The taller of the two summits, North Arapaho (13,502′), is under the larger cumulus cloud while South Arapaho (13,397′) is the highest little bump along the ridge to its left. The higher mount on the right is Kiowa Peak (13,276′):

Sugarloaf, #10a. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017
Sugarloaf, #10a. From Sugarloaf Mountain, Colorado, 2017

A Centennial Homage to Duchamps’s “Fountaine”

Urinal at Palmares Shopping Center, Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
Urinal at Palmares Shopping Center, Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

One hundred years ago, a urinal (and, later, a Stieglitz photograph of that same urinal) caused quite a…uh…well…”splash” on the New York art scene.

Here is a wiki commons image of that iconic piece of white porcelain signed, in jest, by one “R. Mutt”:

Marcel Duchamp's "Fountaine". Photo by Alfred Stieglitz, 1917
Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountaine”. Photo by Alfred Stieglitz, 1917

 

Duchamp’s “Fountain” was rejected by the Society of Independent Artists (SIA) for their 1917 open exhibition even though the artist had paid the required entry fee. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

What was Marcel Duchamp really up to with this stunt? Well, apparently, it was both a practical joke and a challenge to conventional notions about the nature of art. It certainly prompted a lot of discourse–and burst blood vessels–among the highfalutin museum and gallery elite of the time. (With noses in the air and eyes averted, the SIA board euphemistically referred to the porcelain piss pail as a “bathroom appliance” in order to keep the scandal to a minimum.)

For more background on this incident, see Martin Gayford’s 2008 article in The Telegraph, Duchamp’s Fountain: The practical joke that launched an artistic revolution.

These days, even if you made photographs of actual human turds floating about in toilets I doubt you would raise many eyebrows–at least in New York (in Iowa, maybe).

After all, it would be pretty hard to outdo Immersion (Piss Christ) by Andres Serrano, no? (Dang, and that was 30 years ago now! Just looked it up.)

White Rocks/Teller Farms Open Space (A Photo Walk)

You never know what you are going to find on these photo walks. 

I was pessimistic as Dana Bove and I set out on this short trail just outside of Boulder, Colorado. But, eventually I managed to start “seeing” a few nice images–largely thanks to the handful of unusual lenticular clouds that came and went throughout the evening.

Examples…

Here, in an early attempt, I am playing with some compositional elements as best I can:

White Rocks, #6. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #6. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

Looking for patterns in the cottonwoods, I came across a collection of nicely rhyming arches:

White Rocks, #8. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #8. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

The two marshmallows were lovely, but the contrail in the lower left really helped make this one work even better than expected:

White Rocks, #10. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #10. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

 

Finally, my favorite image in which three passing birds happened to come along at just the right time. Post-processing it with a high-key effect really helped make the high fliers stand out:

White Rocks, #11a. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017
White Rocks, #11a. Near Boulder, Colorado, 2017

2017’s Month of Photography is Here!

Altar to the Gods. Denver, Colorado, 2015
Altar to the Gods. Denver, Colorado, 2015

 

There is plenty to see and do this month around the Denver-Boulder metroplex and, indeed, all across the country.

Exhibits, lectures, art walks, artist discussions and chats, workshops…you name it. And you’ll find just about any genre of the photographic and digital arts that might tickle your fancy tastes.

For specific event information in our local area along the Front Range, go to: Denver’s Month of Photography 2017 website.

An Aerial Sunset On Aconcagua

Aconcagua Sunset, #3. Between Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile, 2017
Aconcagua Sunset, #3. Between Mendoza, Argentina and Santiago, Chile, 2017

 

If you ever fly from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile, do this:

Ask for a window seat on the right side of the plane, near the very front or near the tail (so the wing doesn’t block the view).

Then, hope for the best.

Our plane was a full three hours late in taking off out of Mendoza, but that seemed to work out perfectly for the evening light. The huge thunderstorms were dissipating and the last rays of the sun were kissing the upper slopes of the “Giant of the South” as we cruised by just a few thousand feet higher than its 22,841′ (6,961m) summit.

NOTE: Shooting through a thick airplane window, though, doesn’t yield the best picture quality–especially if you are after a large print. For some tips on shooting through airliner plexiglas, see my post, “Aconcagua and Shooting Through Airplane Windows“, dated April 16, 2014.

American Ire

IRE. Near Mendoza, Argentina, 2017
IRE. Near Mendoza, Argentina, 2017

 

Ire: anger, rage, fury, wrath, hot temper, outrage, spleen, crossness.

 

This pretty much describes the current state of much of the electorate these days.

And rightly so, as we are now witnessing an unprecedented assault on American democracy from within.

Hopefully, our institutions–and the people at large–are up to the challenge.

I am very cautiously optimistic.