Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whip Man, Tamkaliks Pow Wow

The "Whip Man" takes to the arbor floor during final ceremonies of the Tamkaliks Pow Wow and Friendship Feast of 2009. This celebration, which takes place in the historic Wallowa Valley of Eastern Oregon, is the annual homecoming pow wow hosted by descendants of Chief Joseph's family and Wallowa Band (Niimipu) members of the Nez Perce Tribe. The Tamkaliks Pow Wow, the Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries instrumental involvement in building healthy Salmon populations in Wallowa County, and local land grants and park developments involving the Nez Perce Tribe all represent a long awaited homecoming as well as the dying wish of Chief Joseph for his people to return to their homeland. Until the end of his days Joseph worked and pleaded with the U.S. Government to return his people to their beloved Wallowa (Land Of Winding Waters) beneath the mountains. Now finally, they have come home.

Honored Veterans

The sun drops as the Veteran's Dance begins on opening night of Tamkaliks, 2009. Veterans are an important and respected part of the Native community. Native Americans have the highest percentage of military enrollment per capita out of any ethnic group in The United States. This almost seems ironic, but really when you think about it who better to defend this beautiful land?

Honoring The Veterans

A dancer in his regalia watches the Elder Veterans take to the arbor floor during the Veteran's Dance on opening night of Tamkaliks.

Chicken Dance

A young dancer performs the Chicken Dance on the final night of the Tamkaliks Pow Wow, 2009.

Eagle Chief

Niimipu Eagle Chief Steve Reubens takes to the arbor floor during the Tamkaliks Pow Wow of 2009.

Veteran's Dance

A Nez Perce Elder participates in the Veteran's Dance. Tamkaliks Pow Wow, 2009.

Faces of The Niimipu

Wallowa Band (Niimipu) Nez Perce tribal members dance in their homeland once again.

Among Friends

Nez Perce Eagle Chief Steve Reubens greets a friend during the Tamkaliks Pow Wow and Friendship Feast of 2009. It is a happy homecoming weekend filled with smiles, old friends, good food, and lots of traditional dancing, drumming, and singing.


A young Niimipu dancer stands with Paul Howard, great grandson of General O.O. Howard, the general tasked with evicting Chief Joseph and his people from the beautiful Wallowa Valley of Eastern Oregon. Years ago Paul showed up at the Tamkaliks Homecoming Pow Wow and Friendship Feast with long hair just like this, and asked to have it cut off in a ceremony of atonement for the tragic eviction his ancestor executed. (The cutting of hair is considered a thing of sacrifice and grief in many tribal cultures.) Paul has been returning to Tamkaliks ever since, and his hair is now fully re-grown.

River Traditions

Traditional Nez Perce fisherman Levi Carson uses his net pole to guide him out into the rushing Imnaha River, finding the underwater pathways traveled by Salmon returning to their spawning grounds. The Nez Perce have been fishing this river for thousands of years just like this. The knowledge of how, when, and where they run is passed down from generation to generation.

Levi Fishes

Nez Perce fisherman Levi Carson casts his net into the Imnaha River that flows out of the Wallowa Mountains and into the mighty Snake River. The Nez Perce have fished Salmon from this river for generations upon generations, and have passed down the knowledge of where exactly in the river the Salmon will swim on their way home to their mountain spawning grounds. These nets used to be made from leather as opposed to nylon, otherwise this process is the same as it was a thousand years ago. In present day, the Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries has been instrumental in restoring a healthy Salmon run to the rivers of Eastern Oregon's Wallowa County. Now once again their children are fed with fresh Wallowa Mountain Salmon.

On The Way To Echo Lake

This was on a pack load trail run up towards Echo Lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness this Summer. There were many fallen trees across the trail from last winter, which certainly made for a challenging trail run! (Not too mention that trail is viciously steep in some spots.) The soft light pouring across this lush cascade was enough to make me pause and get lost in the forest for a moment...

Miss Shirley's Buckleshiners

My friend Matt Bell playing some of his good ol' timey Jazz tunes at the Terminal Gravity Brew Pub in Enterprise, Oregon, home of the famous TG IPA and some pretty good food as well!

Independence Day at Wallowa Lake

A shot of the annual fireworks over Wallowa Lake with a full Moon on the Fourth of July this year. Hundreds of people gather on the beach to watch, and many more around the lake.

The Sun Arrives

The sun finally rises above Ruby Peak after a long cold night of "survival practice".

Carrying nothing but our day hiking gear, my friend Justin Sullivan and I traversed Ruby Peak in the Wallowa Mountain Range and made a shelter on its South Ridge and spent the night. This kind of camping is fun if the weather is friendly, and good practice for an unplanned or emergency stay in the wilderness.

The Sun Approaches

Rich color seeping over the horizon and into the Eastern sky is often a welcome and awaited event after a cold night in the wilderness.

Not Too Dark On Ruby Peak

Piercing through a dappled veil of clouds, moonlight washes over the mountainside. An occasional moth flutters toward our headlamps, while a cool night breeze carries up the scents and sounds of the darkened woods below.

In The Dark

A fire burns on the mountain, providing warmth and comfort to wanderers in the forest on a dark night. One hesitates to venture out past it's protective glow...

Night Falls On Ruby Peak

A darkened forest falls quiet with the arrival of night...yet soon reborn with the first twinkling of the stars in the clear mountain sky. New life, found in the glimmers and shadows of rocks and limbs, will awaken, roused by the sprawling Milky Way above and the bright Moon beside it...

Night Falls On Ruby Peak II

Night arrives in splendid color on the Western slopes of Ruby Peak.

Night Falls On Ruby Peak III

The Western ridges of the Wallowa Mountain Range stretch toward the setting sun and the distant valley as night settles on the forest.

Heading For Shelter

Heading down towards the treeline to construct a survival shelter and make a stand against the approaching night.

Ruby Peak Survival Exercise

Justin looking off the South Ridge of Ruby Peak during our traverse over it to make a "survival camp" near the treeline at about 8,000 feet elevation.

Sometimes we will go out with only the supplies you would normally take on a short day hike and spend the night in the wilderness for fun, and practice in case the situation ever arises unplanned. Usually supplies consist of a couple bottles of water, some snacks, matches-lighters, assorted warm clothes, 1 folded pocket sized rain parka and 2 folded pocket sized heat reflective emergency "space blankets" (which can both be found anywhere camping gear is sold, and cost a couple dollars), a pack, rubber bands or duct tape, a knife, and of course my camera. These are things I never go hiking without, for any amount of time. They are also things I can make a sufficient enough camp to survive at least one night in almost any kind of conditions. I have had to test these tools unplanned on more than one occasion. (I will say that the planned "practice" exercises interestingly enough usually take place when the weather forecast is good!)

Monday Afternoon

Heavy June clouds dapple the Wallowa Valley with ever changing shadow, filtering afternoon sunlight into grand pools of color and warmth, then drifting over the land to shed their life giving waters on earth and field.

Wallowa Valley Afternoon

Warm light breaks through valley mist that hovers beside the Wallowa Mountains and water laden clouds sail away to share their payload with the landscape.

Clouds On The Valley

Dark clouds roll over The Wallowa Valley of Eastern Oregon, painting the hillsides with their shadows and dampening the warm dirt that eagerly waits between the grasses.

Afternoon Thunderstorm

thunder breaks hot silence of the day
bringing torrential salvation
released from a dark fortress in the sky
that was quietly built
on the weighted shoulders of afternoon

A Delicious Pear

I've never really done still lifes, and this probably isn't much of one. However I was just struck by the shape of this Pear with its single leaf in my kitchen window. (It was quite delicious as well.)

Saturday Morning

One morning last May after working all night, I decided to drive up the Alder Slope road near my home to try and get a sunrise photograph over the Wallowa Valley. Driving fast up the gravel road towards the foothills of the Wallowa Mountains, I was having a hard time finding a scene that I felt would capture the "glory" of a Wallowa Valley sunrise in the Spring. One of those typical nature photography moments where the light is changing fast, and you can feel the "shot" slipping away as you search for content and composition that captures the essence of the moment. I just wasn't finding it. Scanning my rearview mirror as I raced up the road chased by the fading color of the morning light, I was struck by the abstract beauty of the dew dripping down my window against the morning sun. Realizing that perhaps my expectation of a "glorious" mountain sunrise was limiting my vision, I stopped the car and focused my camera a little closer than I had originally planned. Another lesson learned in my ongoing journey with light and photography. I don't want to "pre-visualize" things to the point that it limits my vision and I miss the shot altogether.

Aspen Sunset

The sun slips below the Aspen lined horizon in a meadow near my home in the Wallowa Valley of Eastern Oregon last Spring (2009).

Aspen and Spring Fields

I always stare at this stand of Aspens when I drive past them, drawn in by the texture, color, and depth of the trees and meadow... Finally I stopped and took a couple photographs one Spring evening as the days' light drifted off behind the Western horizon.

Senior Portrait

Senior Portrait

Heading Home

My friend Justin Sullivan heading back to the trailhead after a snow camping trip in The Eagle Cap Wilderness last March (2009). About a foot of powder dumped on our camp the night before.

Cold Morning

My Great Pyrenees/Akbash dog Kira looking in the tent after a cold night snow camping in The Eagle Cap Wilderness last March. She makes a great camp guard, even in 4 feet of snow!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Window 14

Sometimes just staring out my window can fill me with inspiration and passion for the outdoor world. I have felt at times like the walls of my house are blocking me in some way or another. In a metaphorical sense, having to do with perceived "failures" in life, or unhappiness with a present situation. Or just in a physical sense, in that when I am not out exploring and photographing the wild outdoors and embracing my passion for being there and a part of it, I am thinking about the next time I will be, or remembering fondly past experiences. So occasionally, (ok frequently), I'll just stare out my window and daydream of wilderness adventures and travel, and making plans for future time spent in nature or on the road...

One day I realized that I didn't need to feel trapped by those walls. My passion, and my memory and imagination, freed me. That love for all things wild and beautiful lives inside of me. I realized that the beauty of the natural world extends past the wilderness boundary and comes home with us in our hearts. So gazing out my window, it was all there. Vibrant and alive right there with me at home. I decided to challenge myself to see past those walls and find that wild beauty wherever I was. I am starting with this photo series, which will go on indefinitely I think. It may end up being a lifetime project.

This is sort of an artistic challenge to myself to see if I can create a series of unique images that are all taken through a window in my living room. I want to learn to see something mundane like the same window I look out every day, differently every time I look at it. Now that would be cool! I'm not saying that I will be able to do it, but it will be fun trying! Hopefully in working towards that I can grow as a photographer, embrace further my passion for the wild outdoors, and learn to not be hindered by the walls put before me in life.

My Window 13

My Window 12

My Window 11

My Window 10

My Window 9

My Window 8

My Window 7

My Window 6

My Window 5

My Window 4

My Window 3

My Window 2

My Window

This is sort of an artistic challenge to myself to see if I can create a series of unique images that are all taken through a window in my living room. I want to learn to see something mundane like the same window I look out every day, differently every time I look at it. Now that would be cool! I'm not saying that I will be able to do it, but it should be fun trying!

Wallowa Lake

Walking along the shore of Wallowa Lake last January I was taken with the abstract shapes and lines in the pressure cracked ice. The Lake had a good freeze last year. It doesn't always freeze completely over now. In years past it was annually, and I have heard tales of log trucks driving across it back in the Seventies.