Ansel Adams. Photo by Cedric Wright; courtesy Colby Library, Sierra Club.
Talk about a gold mine. A California man recently discovered he possessed a treasure trove of Ansel Adams negatives that an art appraiser valued at more than $200 million, according to CNN. The negatives were believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 darkroom fire. But 10 years ago, they were purchased by Rick Norsigian of Fresno at a garage sale for $45. Experts and historians seem to corroborate his claim. However, there are those who doubt the authenticity, including Adams's own grandson.
"Mr. Norsigian has been claiming these negatives were made by Ansel Adams for many years," he said. "I am unaware of anyone knowledgeable agreeing with him."Whether the negatives are authentic or not, such arguments reflect the photographer's lasting legacy. After first visiting Yosemite as a teenager, he became intimately involved with the Sierra Club for much of his life. Read more about him by clicking here.
About eight times a year, the Ansel Adams Gallery hears from people wondering if an image in their possession could be a long-lost piece of Adams' artwork, said Dustin Nelson, staff photographer at the Yosemite National Park gallery.
"Now and again we receive phone calls from people who say, 'I found a print in a yard sale for $10 — that kind of thing," Nelson said.
Not far from Los Angeles lie the San Gabriel Mountains, an oasis for the 18 million people who inhabit the sprawling metropolis. The Angeles National Forest is a welcome escape for city dwellers to hike, swim, fish, and camp.
But, not everything is beautiful up there; proximity to L.A. comes at a price. The most accessible trails are flush with trash, and the trees and rocks are covered with graffiti.
The following photo, by hiker and fisherman Darrell Kunitomi, provides just one example of the vandalism that's rampant. Check out this slideshow of his photos to see the damage along a one-mile stretch of the San Gabriel River's East Fork.Photo courtesy Darrell Kunitomi
If you like insects, if you like photography, you'll be fascinated by these photos.
(Thanks for the tip, Drain.)
__________________________________________________The success of our photo contest depends on participation by the Trails community, whether you enter an image or comment on your favorite shots submitted by others. Plus, group members are the first to get updates about the contest. Help us keep it lively! Click here and join the group, and then check out our slideshow and previous winners here. See you next month!
This shot from a couple of weeks ago, though, may be my favorite. Usually, I see pods of brown pelicans flying in formation in the Golden Gate. Lately, they've been less numerous -- they seem to have followed the sea lions who decamped from Pier 39 in search of better fishing grounds. But on this day, I did see a brown pelican perching on the fishing pier at Fort Baker, not far from the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. I zoomed in as much as I could with my point-and-shoot and slowly approached while taking pictures. When the pelican abandoned his perch and took off, I held down the shutter button for multiple exposures -- not really sure whether the bird was even still in frame.
When I got home, the one shot where the pelican was mostly in frame was had a terrible exposure, but with a little tweaking I was able to adjust it until I had this image. I desaturated the image to highlight the contrast in the bird's feathers. What really struck me was how long and powerful the wing looked when captured like this.
This is why I try to have at least a small camera with me whenever I head out on a hike, ride, or ramble.
Whether it’s the fern-strewn trail leading into the woods from your backyard or a spectacular vista you enjoyed during that trip to Zion you saved up for, share a photo of a place you love. Head over to the Trails Monthly Photo Contest group, join the group (if you haven’t already), and submit your one best image for a chance to win this month's prize.
And what a great prize it is: a pair of $250 gift certificates -- one for you and one to share -- from Altrec.com, the online gear and clothing shop. Choose what you want from their extensive selection of everything you need to have fun and be safe in the great outdoors. Camera daypack? Three-season tent? Snow boots? You decide!
You have until next Friday, February 12 to enter, and until February 19 to vote for your favorites by leaving positive comments on them.
Our top winners in the January photo contest here on Trails -- with the theme of "light" -- are Grand Prize winner Claudia Kuhn for "Sunset and Storm," and People's Choice winner Bill Chapman for "Buttermilk Sunrise."
High praise also goes out to this month's other eight finalists: "Lone Bristlecone" by Chris Whitney; "Early Morning Light" by Dennis Shekinah; "Buffalo Creek, Selman Ranch, Oklahoma" by Justin Morris; a coastal image by Douglas Dietiker; "Sunrise Haleakala by Yvonne Baur; "Burning Rock" by Greg Tucker; "Sunrise on the Farm" by GonzoJohn; and "Shadow River" by Steve Kiene.
Claudia is a hardworking special educator in Woodstock, New York, who loves to spend time outdoors whenever she can. She took the winning photo during a break from a photography workshop in Yellowstone last summer, when she and a friend drove to Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming.... (more)
I just stumbled on this amazing video and thought I'd share it with you (see below) for a little mid-week birding tickle. It's from the BBC show "Animal Camera," and features spectacular footage shot from two tiny cameras mounted on the back of a Golden Eagle in Scotland. It zips through forests and soars over mountainous terrain. Hold your stomach!
On a related topic, I was intrigued by this blog post from Cornell University about how new scientific information came to light when cameras were mounted on the back of a Black-browed Albatross.
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Birding Phil started birding in Cape May, N.J. and Central Park in New York City more than 10 years ago. Since then, his birding adventures (with his wife, Mimi Calter) have included trips to Alaska, Belize, and mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, along with a bunch of other hotspots in the continental U.S., including Florida, Texas, and Arizona). Phil was included in Chris Santella's book "Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die: Birding Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations," in which Phil talked about Pt. Reyes, CA. Birdwatchers -- head on over and join the Birdwatchers group on Trails.
The terminator region of the moon shows the most graphic relief.
Photo credit: Thomas Pate
The images in his latest book , The National Parks: Our American Landscape, were mostly made off the beaten track in places accessible only if you're backpacking -- his favorite way to explore a place.
"I like hitting the trail, going deep into the woods far from the typical places people see," he says. "That’s the way a great majority of the (national parks) book was photographed. My goal is that in sharing these places in the book, it inspires people to go out there."
Read my full interview with Ian Shive in our Know How section. If you're used to packing a camera when you hit the great outdoors, he might just change the way you look at things.
When we launched the January contest, we figured the theme of "Light" would bring in some interesting entries. Well it's even more impressive than we expected.
If you want to enter the contest, you have until noon on Friday, January 15, to do so. This month's prize is a Nikon camera.
If you're not a photographer or don't want to enter the contest, you can still get in on the fun by voting for the photos you like best. Just join the group, and then as you peruse the pictures, leave a positive comment on those you like best. It's fun -- and it makes your fellow community members feel great when they get a nice comment on their photo.
Join the group here. And tell your friends!
This month -- as the seasons change and we start thinking about winter -- we’re looking for images that fit the theme "Cold" in our Trails photo contest. Once again, we’ve kept the theme open so that you can use your creativity when selecting your submission. Remember, though, that this is a nature photo contest. We want to see photos taken on the trail, on the river or lake, and all the other places you experience the natural world.
This month's prize is a cool package of eco-friendly backpacking and camping gear.
Last week the Sierra Club, in conjunction with the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), hosted a congressional reception in the Senate to present awards to two of our champions. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) have taken leadership roles in addressing the ecological negative impacts of expansive and fiscally wasteful border walls. The event also served to celebrate the culmination of a two-week photo exhibit of the borderlands and the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The reception was a huge success and gave the environmental community and its coalition partners in the faith and human rights communities the chance to honor Dicks and Kerry and applaud them for their tireless efforts to advocate for a more responsible border policy that respects communities, wildlife, and the borderlands' unique natural resources.
Senator John Kerry (left) and Sierra Club Director of the Lands Protection Athan Manuel (right)
The reception capped off a two-week display of an amazing collection of photographs by the ILCP. The photos, partially commissioned by the Sierra Club, were taken during an expedition last January across the entire border region, from Brownsville, TX to San Diego, CA. The photographers spent three weeks traversing the borderlands and documenting the ecological and cultural values of the region as well as the devastation that the construction of the wall has left in its wake. The stunning canvas prints that resulted from that trip have been on display in the Senate for the past two weeks to show our federal legislators a beautiful and wrenching portrait of the true effects of this irresponsible border policy.
Photo courtesy of the International League of Conservation Photographers
This article originally published on Lay of the Land.
Here's what you need to know. You might also want to read the more-detailed Contest Rules.November theme: Orange
Once you've joined the group, you'll see the option on the left to "add a picture" to the group gallery -- that's how photographers submit their entries. Be sure to give your photo a title and caption!
Here's how the judging works:
-- Members of the Trails Monthly Photo Contest group will vote by leaving a positive comment (or even "I vote for this photo") on the best photos based on this criteria: 10% conformity to theme, 40% originality, and 50% artistic quality.
-- Voting ends on November 20 at noon. The photo with the most positive comments is the People's Choice Winner (though there is no prize for that distinction).
-- The top five vote-getters will go on to our panel of judges -- comprised of Sierra magazine and Sierra Club website designers, who will pick a Grand Prize Winner based on the criteria.
The winners will be announced on Trails on November 24.
What are you waiting for?! Join the group and enter your best shots. Then let your friends know that they, too, can join the group and submit their own photos or vote for other entries.
Questions? Leave a comment on this blog post.
-- Tioga Jenny
Image of the Witch Head Nebula, Credit: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni
One of my favorite nebulas in the Universe is the Witch Head Nebula, or IC 2118. The nebula looks strikingly like a Halloween hag seen in profile, and it rises late on the evening of October 31, a wonderful treat on a night known for its tricks.
The Witch Head Nebula lies next to Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation Orion. Bluish Rigel marks the bottom right corner of the constellation and is sometimes described as Orion’s left knee. The gas and dust of the Witch Head Nebula is reflecting the light from the blue supergiant star, which is off the image to the right. In larger images of this scene, the “eye” of the witch appears to be looking at Rigel.
The nebula itself is quite enormous, more than two degrees across, or four times the size of a full moon. The star that appears near the ear of the witch is 65-Psi Eridani, shining at magnitude 4.8. Even though the Witch Head is identified as being close to Orion, technically it lies across the border in the constellation Eridanus the River. The Witch Head Nebula is approximately 1,000 light-years from Earth.
This year on Halloween, another interesting astronomical sight lies in the east late at night. The reddish dot that marks Mars can be found at the center of the Beehive Cluster for this evening only. It will make a hauntingly beautiful target for astrophotographers, who are sure to capture an image to die for as the God of War enters a hive full of swarming bees.
Don’t forget you’ll have an extra hour to stargaze on Halloween night because November 1 marks the end of Daylight Saving Time.
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Kelly Kizer Whitt loves clean, clear, and dark skies. Kelly studied English and Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for Astronomy magazine. She is currently the Feature Writer for Astronomy and Space at Suite101.com. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Astronomommy
If you've posted photos of fall colors recently, comment on this blog and provide a link so we can all check them out, whether they're in the gallery, part of a trail description, or in the photo gallery on your profile.
Thirty-one years ago, 18-year-old Daryn Dodge and three friends, all fresh out of high school, climbed Clouds Rest and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park—losing much of their food and a night's sleep to hungry bears in the process.
Little did he know what those two youthful ascents would lead to: On July 25 this year, Dodge, now 49 and a family man, became the 67th Sierra Club member to summit all 248 peaks on the Sierra Peaks Section list when he reached the summit of Cirque Peak, near Mt. Whitney. Below, Dodge nears the summit of Disappointment Peak in the eastern Sierra.
"I guess I'm sort of a goal-oriented person," says Dodge, an EPA toxicologist in Sacramento and a former competitive long-distance cyclist. Before that sport took a toll on his knees, he was regularly a top finisher in doublecentury (200-mile) races in Northern California, and he completed four Paris-Brest-Paris "brevets," covering 745 miles in 90 hours or less.
Dodge says he enjoyed short hikes with his dad when he was growing up in the Bay Area, but what really opened his eyes was a high school trip with the Yosemite Institute. "That was the beginning of everything," he says, "when I took a weeklong trip to Yosemite with other high school kids in 1977. After that I was hooked."
Dodge became a committed peak-bagger the following year with his ascents of Clouds Rest and Half Dome. "During the summers I'd try to get out every other weekend for 3-4 days, which was usually enough time to climb several peaks," he says. "I discovered the Sierra Peaks Section online in 1994, and it really fit in with what I wanted to do."
The Peaks Section was created in 1955 by the Sierra Club's Angeles Chapter, with the goal of focusing—some might say re-focusing—on mountaineering in the range that gave the organization its name. At first, even members of the group didn't think anyone would climb all 248 summits-until Sierra Club member Andy Smatko completed the list in 1964.
Any additions to the list must be approved by the Peak Section's membership. Dodge notes that many mountaineers who complete the list aren't members, but he says the group was very helpful in pursuit of his goal. "I acquired climbing skills as I progressed, and members taught me to use a rope so I could climb the more difficult peaks. It's also a great way to meet other climbers with similar interests. Traditionally you pick an easy peak for your last hike so friends can go with you—there were 22 of us on the hike up Cirque Peak."
Among the highlights for Dodge was the ascent of Devil's Crag #1 in Kings Canyon National Park. "It's considered the most difficult and dangerous peak on the list," he says. "Two Sierra Club members have died trying to climb it. It's a thousand-foot-long knife-edged ridge, and you have to make sure every rock and hand-hold is solid. If something pulls out, you fall 2,000 feet."
Dodge appreciates the fact that so many of the peaks on the list are protected in national parks. "National park protection really keeps the backcountry in pristine condition," he says. "It looks pretty much the way it did before Europeans showed up. I often find flakes of obsidian left by the Indians."
One of the best things about climbing the Sierra Peaks list, Dodge says, was simply getting to ramble through the Sierra. "It drove home to me how special these mountains are," he says, "and you don't have to be a peak-bagger to appreciate them. My advice to anyone is don't just drive through the mountains—get out of the car and camp. There are so many places where it's easy to spend the night out."
And what does Dodge see as his next goal? After a pause, his answer neither disappoints nor surprises: "I'm thinking maybe I'll climb all these peaks again."
Learn more about the Sierra Peaks Section.
Top three photos by Steve Eckert; last photo by Scott Sullivan.
I'm on vacation this coming week through Labor Day and, because I can't decide which mountains I'd like to hike this time, I bought a last-minute ticket for Burning Man.
While I'm off being a Burner for a week, I want Trails fans to keep the home fires burning -- and I want a lot of friends to greet me when I get back from the desert.
To that end, I've cooked up a little challenge. The Trails member who gets the most friends to register on Trails and send me a friend request by midnight on Sept. 8 (Labor Day) will receive their choice of a brand new Primus ETA Power Stove or Therm-a-Rest Woman's Trail Lite mattress (sorry, I only have a woman's). AND their friends who sign up and friend me will get a Sierra Club daypack (at least until I run of daypacks, but I have a couple of dozen brand new ones).
Not only that -- but the first person who gets at least one friend to register and then friend me will get a nifty backpacking chair. And that first new friend will get a daypack, too!
Here's how it goes:
Invite your friends to become members of the Trails community. Go to your Dashboard (you can get to it in the green Trails banner at the top of each page when you're logged in), and on the left you'll see "Invite Friends." Click on that and you can then click on a link that lets you choose email addresses from your address book.
Send the following message (customize it, if you like) to your friends:
I'm having fun finding cool trails to hike in the new Sierra Club Trails community. I think you'll enjoy it, too. If you sign up before Labor Day, you'll put me in the running for some cool outdoor gear -- and if I win, you could receive a free Sierra Club daypack.
Please register here (it's quick and easy!)
and then, while you're logged in, visit Tioga Jenny's profile
and click on the "Connect as a Friend" link in the Interact box at the upper left. In the message box, be sure to mention my name and email address.
[your name and email address]
After a few days, send a reminder to your friends!
I'll miss Trails while I'm gone, but I hope to return to lots of happy friend requests! My Trails friend Zheem promises to answer any questions on this post.
Even with spring migration winding down and the slower summer season upon us, breeding and nesting season is still in full swing in most parts of the country, with active nests and fledging birds much in evidence.
My wife works at the library at Stanford University, and the pair of Common Ravens that (poetically enough) nests each year on the façade of the main Green Library has raised their chicks, and the young have already fledged. Here at Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco, there has been a pair of Rock Pigeons thinking about setting up shop in the light well of the building, right outside my office. Last year, it was Mourning Doves who were flying around out there with nesting material.
In a similar vein, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is holding a contest, as part of its urban birding initiatives, to find what they’re calling “Funky Nests in Funky Places” so be sure to check it out. You might be inspired to look for or find a “funky” nest of your own.
Outside of the cities, now is a great time in California to come across California Quail chicks in their family broods (with one unlucky parent assigned the task of standing on a fencepost, looking out for hawks). It can also be a good time to keep an eye out for nesting birds like Piping Plovers (those are Piping Plover chicks in this photo) and Least Terns (both of which are endangered species) if your summer vacation takes you to an Atlantic coast beach. And you never know when you might spot a fledgling owl, like this juvenile Great Horned Owl recently seen on a morning bird walk in Cape May, NJ.
Have you come across any interesting nests or young birds in
your backyard or on a recent hike? Be sure to tell us about them, and post
photos in our new Birdwatching group on Sierra Club trails.
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In bird conservation news, Chuck Hagner in his Birder’s World blog reminds us that the new 2009-2010 federal Duck Stamp goes on sale this Friday, June 26, this year featuring a pair of Long-tailed Ducks. Purchasing Duck Stamps is a great way to show your support for our National Wildlife Refuge system. As Chuck notes, they’re “an effective tool for wetland conservation, perhaps the best one you can find anywhere.” In fact, the recent report “The State of the Birds” (which had an otherwise bleak outlook for our birds) reported positive news for wetland birds, attributing that progress in part to the more than $700 million for wetlands conservation provided by sales of Duck Stamps.
Plus, the Duck Stamp is good for admission at all National
Wildlife Refuges for the year. At only $15.00, it’s a great bargain for you,
and a good deal for the birds who make their homes in the Refuges or use them
on their migration routes.
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Later this week, our panel of judges (Sierra Club website designers and Sierra magazine art department staffers) will narrow the field to the 20 top photos. Beginning next Tuesday we'll let the community vote for the best one.
The winning photo will be announced on the Sierra Club's home page, the Sierra Club Trails home page, in our Insider and Daily Ray of Hope e-newsletters, and in the September/October issue of Sierra. We'll also add it to the slide show on our National Parks website.
Even if you don't take photos yourself, you'll want to head over to the National Parks group and check out the entries in the Group Gallery.
Stay tuned for details about voting next week!