Category Archives: nature

Writing in Rock

Jim Byous

 

Petroglyph looking north

This basalt boulder hangs above Willow Creek and is marked with dozens of pertoglyphs near Susanville, California on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Petroglyphs of Susanville, California

The volcanic boulders are rough and scratch my hands as I climb the jumbled tangle of basalt talus to the top of the bluff.  Dave Marson, a life-long friend, steps up the slope mountain-goat style bounding ahead of me.  He is familiar with this destination where petroglyphs that marked the sight for thousands of years.  Hanging above Willow Creek, the Belfast Petroglyphs are in a protected area that is sacred to the descendants of the Maidu, Paiute, Pit River and Washoe Tribes who live on the Susanville Indian Rancheria.  They still use the site to fish, hunt, and to gather food and medicine.

Algae and Lichen

Brightly colored algae and lichen patches streak down the sides of the upper rock crags.

As we climb higher we see stone-pecked symbols; star maps, circles, snakes, and other undecipherable patterns pecked and scratched into the the boulders.  Did I say, “Snakes?”  This writing in rock was here long before Captain Charles Merrill, a former sea captain, came to develop the land in 1864.

Petroglyphs, star maps, moon and owl.

On this boulder star maps can be seen along with a crescent moon and an owl-shaped glyph.

His dreams of creating a thriving city was futile and premature.  The land still lies empty showing few remnants of the settlement’s roads and streets designed to hold 21,000 people.  The name Belfast was to commemorate Merrill’s home of Belfast, Maine.  Here he planted three thousand poplar trees to dot the flat, desert plane.

Grinding Rock

A grinding depression on top of a basalt slab.

On top of the bluff the talus rubble turns into a boulder-strewn flat where generations of original inhabitants camped.  Dave points out the grinding holes that dot the stones.  Some are many inches deep confirming their use over the years.  An anthropology major in college, he decided to forego the profession for a home and a life in the mountains.  His knowledge of the Native American tribes and sites in the area will rival most professors in the university system.

I stop to look around.  From here the view is excellent.   With the creek and canyon on two sides it is a perfect spot for watching the valley.   It would be hard for an enemy to sneak up and surprise the occupants.  Below along Willow Creek game trails follow the course of the waterway making the towering rocks a perfect hideout for hunting game.

It is springtime and beautiful.  Later in the year the area will turn brown like other California and Nevada desert planes.  But today color is abundant, green grass, purple Collinisa, blue Lupine and golden California Poppies.

The sun is dropping, white clouds dot the cyan sky.  The breeze is cool and refreshing.  But, it’s time to go.  This historic spot is a pleasant place.  A peaceful place.  We pick our way back down toward the car through the rocks.  I notice the snake glyphs as we pass.  Maybe we should be a little less peaceful and a little more vigilant… but still, pleasantly vigilant.  – JB

1 1 1 snake petro BYO_8369

A snake glyph stained red by algae.

1 1 1 Snake gliphs BYO_8406

Snake glyphs.

1 1 1 snake effigy petroglyph BYO_8392

Star maps above a snake glyph.

1 1 1 petroglyph 99 BYO_8366

And still another red snake glyph.

1 1 1 Marston copy bb

As we left, the sun began to set behind the Sierra Nevada to the east.

1 1 1 Colinsia BYO_8436

Collinsia and other wild flowers grow among the boulders.

1 1 1 coil petroglyph b BYO_8386

A weathered spiral glyph above Willow Creek.

1 1 1 four directions BYO_8373

The Four Directions symbol is universal among Native American symbolism.

How to get to Belfast, CA Petroglyphs

pet loc

Other places to visit in the Susanville area:

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Historical Museum

Eagle Lake Recreational Area

Susanville Ranch Park

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Tuesday, then occasional photos/photo tips on Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

© J.D. Byous 2018, All rights reserved.

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Filed under History, nature, petroglyphs, photography, Science, travel, Travel Photography, Uncategorized

Relax and wait for the photo to cook – Tybee Island

It was a great morning, predawn with a chance to relax and wait for the photo to cook.  At least that’s what it feels like – baking an image.  Use the recipe .  Wait for the clock.  I had been planning this shot for weeks.  Tybee Island, Georgia’s North Beach is the perfect place; tranquil, cool, quiet, and a great jetty for creating wispy, foggy waves in long-exposure images.  Over the exposure the waves “stack” and create the illusion of fog, ice, or in some cases, glass.  The sea looks as if a fog machine has pumped its haze across the surface leaving stationary items like rocks, poles, sharp.  Everything is peaceful as I push the shutter button.  Small waves split as they reached the rocks. The occasional large swell crashes into the granite quay sending salt-water sheets into the air… but only a few inches or feet.  The calming scent of salt and sea water drifts by.

Pelican and Shrimp Boat at Sunrise

The Beckster’s Pelican and Shrimp Boat at Sunrise photo. I’m jealous, still.

The ocean is relatively calm on this edge of the Atlantic. Seabirds fly over.  Some land and peck the sand searching for a sea-washed breakfast morsel.  Others fly on toward Hilton Head Island across the sound.  A pelican roosts on a marker pole several-dozen yards out in the water.  At low tide the wooden perch stands high and dry.  At all times of the tide it welcomes winged visitors, usually pelicans and maybe this same bird.  It’s worth a photograph, but The Beckster beat me to the best one several years earlier.  She, Kate and Tare, our granddaughters, play in the sand a few yards away.  She gets shots when I’m not looking.  She did back then too.

While shooting a small wedding at sunrise I noticed she was missing.  She had spotted the photo unrelated to the bride and groom, ditched us and went for it.  I’ve been jealous ever since that time.  The sun had lifted from the edge of a cloud bank just above the water and was directly behind the bird.  In the distance a shrimp boat headed to deeper water, in just the right compositional place.  It’s a great shot and I give her the best compliment that any photographer can give another, “I wish I had taken that one.”  Leaving the wedding, however?  She can get away with it.  She’s The Beckster.

 

Jetty and Pelican Before Sunrise

The test shot of the jetty and pelican before sunrise. 60 second exposure at f11. I like it so I kept it.

This morning the old bird sits in the same spot, in the same position.  But that’s not why I’m here.  I’m here for long exposures and I haven’t made one in years… thirty-five years.  Back then I had a Toyo 4×5″ view camera that I carried to the bottom of a canyon to capture the North Fork of the Tuolumne River near Twain Harte, California.

Jim taking photos by Bec

A photo of me by The Beckster as I shoot the pre-dawn test images. She’s sneaky, but then, she’s The Beckster.

Long black and white exposures were not a problem in the shadow of the surrounding mountains.  The extended shutter opening captured the flowing stream as if it were ribbons of glass.  One second, two, three, four, I counted off the time.  Around four shots and I’m finished.  Sheet film isn’t cheap.  It wasn’t then either.  Afterward I developed and printed my favorite image and painstakingly oil tinted two.  One went to my Uncle Roy in Savannah.  It was a Christmas present.  The other I kept.  Over the years mine was destroyed while in storage.  Then later, sadly, my friend and uncle died.  The photo stayed with aunt Dot, his wife, until her death.  Now I have it back.  I cherish the copy and the memories that it represents.

Tuolumne River, 1982

This is the image I made in 1982. It took a bit more effort and I love it. But, boy, do I love digital!

Those cameras take more thought and preparation.  But today I still go down the checklist.  Tripod?  Check.  Filters?  Check.  Correct lenses?  Check.  Oh, yeah.  Camera?  Check.  Now, find the exposure and wait for the sun.  I have the filters that cut light, ND16 and ND8 stacked in front of the lens.  Boy, I love digital.  Good black and white images can’t be beaten.  But I do love the ease of computer aided photography.

Jetty And Pelican with Sun

The jetty and pelican as the sun breaks above the horizon, the color version.

I compose the image.  What’s the exposure?  It’s time.  The sun should be coming up, but I need a test.  I take one shot.  It’s overexposed so I stop the lens down to a smaller aperture to cut down the light.  Snap again.  One-minute exposure at f11.  Got it.

The first one is perfect.  All of the images made are perfect.  Did I say I love digital?

Not bad for thirty-five years in  long-exposure hibernation.

Now the dilemma.  Which one… and…  color or black and white?

Leave a note below or email me and tell me your think.

– Jim

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Tuesday, then occasional photos/photo tips on Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

© J.D. Byous 2018, All rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under nature, photography, travel, Travel Photography, Uncategorized

Flowers are to enjoy.  So do it!

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Wild blackberry

Wild blackberry

by Jim Byous

Wildflowers as well as garden flowers have always been an interest to me, looking for them and at them and studying them, intellectually.  In my younger years I spent endless hours checking floral features off as i poured over a book on plant taxonomy.  Wind poppies that grow around Mount Diablo near San Francisco are among my favorite that I have photographed…  Icelandic poppies from a home garden too.   They create a mood that you don’t have to analyze or evaluate.

You can go on about the environmental benefits or agricultural problems or taxonomic history or medicinal value… The thing about flowers is that you don’t have to say much.  Flowers are to enjoy; to simply look at.  Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy life… just stop and smell the rhododendron.  So, do it!

Jacobina

This is called Jacobina or Brazilian Plum, justica carnia. Thanks to Sharon Harrison for the help finding the name.

My son in law, Greg McCormick, loves to garden.  Some of these images are from his yard as well as a field nearby.  The others are from the garden of our cousin, Larry Harley.  When we retired we packed everything in to storage and moved into a small garden apartment on his property.  Fortunately he too loves to garden, a talent and ability which neither The Beckster nor I have been able to cultivated.

Here are a few images to enjoy.

Greg’s Garden

Larry’s Garden

If you like travel, history… and images like these, we will feature flowers from our travel locations as we go.  Hope you enjoy them. – Jim and Becky.

Begonia

Begonia

Here is what we use capture images for our site.

Camera: Panasonic Gh4 and G7.  Nikon D7000.

Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH as well as 14-140mm I.O.S. kit lens, both hand-held. Nikon 18-105mm DX VR lens.

Light: Open shade or cloud diffused natural light

Processing: Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

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Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

© All content copyright J Byous Company 2018 all rights reserved

 

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Filed under Flowers, nature, photography, Uncategorized