All posts by PraisePhoto

Great Hiking Trails of the World

One of my pictures was selected for the cover of this recently published coffee table book. It shows Mt. Ngauruhoe which is the major mountain along the Tongariro Crossing on North Island, New Zealand. Mt Ngauruhoe was digitally altered to appear as Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings. I am humbled and honored to have this picture on the cover of a truly fascinating book. It was commissioned by the American Hiking Society, and published by a most excellent company, Rizzoli International Publications. If you enjoy beautiful pictures with excellent descriptions of trails around the world, you can order it from Amazon, or your local bookstore. 

Great Hiking Trails of the World, Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, North Island New Zealand
Great Hiking Trails of the World, Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park, North Island New Zealand

 

The weight of many little acts of kindness

More and more, I am convinced how little our politicians, in this country and in the world, can do for us ordinary people.  We are the ones who spread the good news of love and forgiveness, not merely by words, but by our interactions, our interconnections with our neighbors, whether we know them well or not.

Despite terrifying acts of violence we can still choose our response: to pray, to restore, to heal.

By creating us in His image, God has shown us His deep and abiding love. Together, we can outweigh, and outlast, all that distorts this image.

Stephen Gould captures this idea most eloquently:

“Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the ”ordinary” efforts of a vast majority.
         “We have a duty, almost a holy responsibility, to record and honor the victorious weight of these innumerable little kindnesses, when an unprecedented act of evil so threatens to distort our perception of ordinary human behavior”   Stephen Gould
Eagle Cap Wilderness, Zephaniah 3
Eagle Cap Wilderness, Zephaniah 3

My Best Ever Scout Camping Weekend

Scouts from Troop 514 left early Saturday for their annual rock climbing weekend at Hoffer Lake, above Anthony Lake.  We knew we would encounter skiffs of snow, but little did we realize we would be breaking trail in close to twelve inches.

We enjoyed true winter camping. The boys adjusted for the conditions, working together to pitch their tents, cook their food, gather firewood and stay warm.

Hoffer Lake was lightly frozen. The late afternoon light created marvelous color tones on the lake. When I awoke Sunday morning after a chilly night, I was grateful to be there, amidst this snow cover beauty, rather than simply sitting in my easy chair at home drinking coffee.  Coffee outdoors by the campfire was much better 🙂

Anthony Lake snow
Anthony Lake snow
Troop 514 hiking to Hoffer Lake
Troop 514 hiking to Hoffer Lake
Troop 514 hiking in snow
Troop 514 hiking in snow
Troop 514
Troop 514
BSA Troop 514
BSA Troop 514
Scouts drying socks
Scouts drying socks
A great meal, BSA Troop 514
A great meal, BSA Troop 514
Hoffer Lake sunset
Hoffer Lake sunset
hoffer Lake ice and snow
hoffer Lake ice and snow
Scouts watching sunset
Scouts watching sunset
Hoffer Lake camping, snow camping
Hoffer Lake camping, snow camping

 

 

An Answer to Prayer

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him,  along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons;  Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. Luke 8:1-3

As I read this passage, I am struck at  how “impossible”, by human standards, the spread of Christ’s Good News of the Kingdom of God was. Such an ordinary, insignificant, powerless group of followers, including women who apparently contributed “from their own resources.  Only the Son of God could have brought us this Kingdom and made it endure.

An we also, mere specks in the vast human population, can bring this same good news by how we speak and share and live.

 

Psalm 69, swallowtail, tiger lilies swallowtail
Psalm 69, swallowtail, tiger lilies swallowtail

Everyday is God

“There’s no place to go to find God and no place not to go…Everyday life is where God is most active and where holiness is to be found. As Jesus Christ said, ‘the Kingdom of God is within you.’  Luke 17:21”

Fr Thomas Keating

Eagle Cap Wilderness
Eagle Cap Wilderness

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.
 Let the oceans roar and foam.
    Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 
 
Psalm 46:1-3

Behold

The total eclipse in Eastern Oregon—a once in a life time event. Many people prepared for years to come here, or to other locations which were in the path of the totality.  I spent fifteen months planning how Meg and I and our sons and their wives would view it.  I scouted locations, organized gear and food for six people, developed contingency plans in case of clouds or fire.

As the moon began slowly to erase the sun, we waited in awe and wonder at what was in store for us. The air grew chilly, the light dimmed, a planet shone in the sky, 360 degrees of sunset surrounded us.  Then came a deeply hushed silence followed by joyful shouts as the sun vanished and only its corona shone forth.
I thought about this unique life event during the week and I experienced an epiphany.  Each of us, no matter where in the world we live, will know such a unique event.  Not to be morbid, but to be joyful—we will die, leave our finite, worn out bodies, and be joined with the Lord through Jesus Christ. His love will shine beyond any darkness we have experience, and His gentle, loving light will invite us into His eternal Presence.
Viewing the eclipse, Dooley Mt
Viewing the eclipse, Dooley Mt
Behold

Son Michael’s Eclipse description

Go to Michael’s blog, <powderhunds.com> to see his pictures which include a fun minute long time lapse video

Powderhunds -> Eclipsehunds?

Well, after seeing a total eclipse we might have just turned into eclipse chasers (a/k/a umbraphiles). Yes, spending 2’4″ in totality was THAT amazing. Our location was a remote mountain in Oregon south of Baker City. Though remote, we were not nearly alone as it is pretty easy to access the ridge we were on and the mountain top itself has an old naval installation. A steady progression of vehicles rolled past our camp all morning so we were up early to hit our chosen viewing spot. At nearly 6000′ in the dry mountains of eastern Oregon we had a cloudless, 360º view of the horizon.

The ridge was quite windy, though the wind really died down as totality approached, so I set up my tripod very low to the ground. I was using a Canon 100-400mm 4.5/5.6L lens on a Canon 70D body with an 18-stop solar filter. We also set up Sara’s iPhone to record the whole scene with a time lapse app. Finally, both my brother and Dad were taking pictures, too. We figured we had it pretty well covered. Little did we appreciate how fast the actual 2 minutes of totality would fly by.

When the sun was about 90% covered it was noticeably darker and cooler. Despite the warm morning I put on a sweatshirt. As I feared, I was actually more focused on my pictures than the approaching shadow. As the sliver of sun gets smaller and smaller, the final shadow rushed over us at +/- 2700 mph. The effect is very startling. We could hear oohing and ahhing all along the ridge (and from our own group). For a few seconds I was so focused on my camera that I initially forgot to take off the solar filter and just look up! Fortunately I realized, I needed to spend a little time looking around instead of just at the camera LCD screen.

The effect is amazing. The entire horizon glows almost like sunset as the light from the horizon, which is not in complete shadow, filters back to you. The sun itself glows out from behind the moon. We were only able to see a few bright planets, but the sky was remarkably dark – far more twilight than dusk. While nothing silly happened on our ridge, it is understandable why people want to get naked and worship the universe! I suspect we will be pointing the van toward Mexico or Texas on April 8, 2024.

Sara: With no camera responsibilities, I was able to sit back and just enjoy the scene unfold. It was fun to don solar glasses and check on the progress, while hanging out on a warm ridge. As the sky grew darker, the air cooler, and the grasshoppers went still, I lay back to watch the final minutes to totality. There are no words to express the wonderment I saw as I lowered my glasses to reveal the majestic beauty of the eclipse. It was hard to know where to look: the highlighted moon, the 360º sunset, the dark blue sky, or the unique light on the surrounding mountains. As totality passed, I first put the glasses back on, but then realized I should  watch the lightening sky around me instead. The first rays of sun made a spotlight on us that grew outward as the shadow raced off to the east. The air warmed and the grasshoppers welcomed back the sun. I continued to watch the progress of the receding eclipse while Michael took pictures. In hindsight, I wish we had brought a colander or other creative pinhole things to play with the eclipse light during this time. It has been fun to see all the pictures of folks experiencing this amazing phenomenon. The beauty of the natural world is unbelievable and until you see a total solar eclipse, it is too!

The sun and the Son

sun gradually gone
world chills, sunset comes, darkness
yet light still remains

For those of you who have followed my earlier posts this week, you know that Meg and I celebrated our upcoming fiftieth wedding anniversary by inviting our sons and their wives to join us on Dooley Mt in Baker County to camp and watch the solar eclipse. We enjoyed many memorable moments, highlighted, of course, by the total eclipse itself.
Our location gave us one of the longer times of totality in Oregon—2 minutes and 4 seconds. Nonetheless, what seemed like an eternity of build up was over way too soon.
I had expected to be overwhelmed by totality.  Yet, the sudden drop in temperature as totality approached remains an equally vivid memory It reminded me of our deep dependence on the sun’s warmth, and the consequences of its loss.
And I thought as well of our dependence on the Son’s Presence. Without Him, our lives lack focus and assurance and deep peace, comfort, and strength. The sun sustains us physically; the Son sustains us spiritually and emotionally.
And I also realized the deep meaning of light in the darkness.  Even though the moon covered the sun’s disc, the bright corona still remained visible. The sun light, and Son light cannot be overcome!
John 1.5,
John 1.5,
Total eclipse
Total eclipse
total eclipse sun cross
total eclipse sun cross

The Eclipse, part II: Totality

The eclipse was remarkable, resplendent —an experience we will feel deeply, even though words may fail.  Michael was the primary photographer.  He took some excellent pictures, as you can see from the two I took with my iPhone through his view screen.

My deepest memories are how suddenly it became cold as totality approached.  It reminded me of our utter dependency on the sun’s warmth.  Then came the incredible, unique light on the western horizon that I had never seen before– “sunset” came and went in a few seconds.  And finally the sun’s corona, a sight we had never seen and will never see again.  Yet, all remains deeply embedded in our collective, shared memories to feast on, to share with family and with friends.

 

eclipse viewers
viewing the eclipse
Eclipse viewer
Meg

 

 

waiting for the Oregon eclipse
waiting for the Oregon eclipse
sunburst on eclipse glasses
sunburst on eclipse glasses
Eclipse photographer
Michael setting up his camera

 

partial eclipse in viewfinder
partial eclipse in Michael’s viewfinder
Eclipse sunset
Eclipse sunset
eclipse star burst
eclipse star burst
eclipse sunburst
eclipse sunburst
Totality with sun flares
Totality with sun flares