Zion, Canyonlands and Arches and National Park

It has been ages since I’ve posted –

It has been ages since I’ve had a vacation and

It has been ages since I’ve actually used a camera.

January 2023.

Yes – I am one of those people that still use a real camera instead of taking pictures with a cell phone. This vacation I brought 3 cameras; GoPro, Fuji X-T1 and a Leica M240. Add chargers, extra lenses (14mm Fuji, 8mm Samyang, and 24mm Leica and 19mm Leica)…it all adds up to a ton of gear. Wait, Leica M240 and Leica 19mm ??. Leica M240 is a rangefinder camera and the 19mm Leica lens is for SLR-type cameras !. Who does that ?.  The Leica 19mm has a Leitax adapter (to Nikon – and compatible with my D700 and D850) and with a Nikon – Leica L/M adapter.  This was supposed to be the final voyage for that Leica lens. It was dropped years ago and bent. No broken glass. Sent to Leica for repair and re-built – sort of.  The ring with the serial number was lost when it was dropped, so Leica gave it a new serial number. A unicorn lens !.  Since then, fungus has developed in the lens showing up as lens flare on the top of photo. My work-around is to hold the camera upside down.  A bit weird – though works !.

 

Zion National Park

So, on this trip I had 3 cameras. Each night the task of copying the images to a computer and then to an external hard drive for backup. In contrast, my travelling partner had her photos on her phone. With WiFi at the hotel her images were backed up to Google. Her posts to social media were quick and easy. Ugh. For me, copying the photos to the computer took ages and them more time to back them up. I also shoot in RAW format and the images are at least 25Mb.  And – with the Leica, it is manual focus too….More delays during the hikes.

All that complaining aside, I really enjoy using the old Leica camera and lenses.  There is something very different with those lenses. My Nikon lenses are crystal clear and sharp, auto focus, and light weight (carbon fibre instead of brass). The Leicas, designed in the 1970’s are…Not. That said, the Leica lenses have a certain character, the pictures have a look that is quite distinctive than modern state of the art lenses, and I like the feel of using them.  Similarly to a woodworker using hand tools instead of power tools, or a gardener using a shovel instead of a power tiller.

All the photos are in Black & White. Why ?. Although the colours are spectacular, the tone and patterns in B&W are more obvious. And, B&W is more old school, back when everyone had manual focus lenses. ;>

Zion National Park

Virgin River, Zion National Park, Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Canyonlands National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

 

Arches National Park

Petroglyphys. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches Nati0nal Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

Delicate Arch. Arches National Park. Leica M240 + Leica -R 19mm

“Study Hard – Or you will be a Mechanic”

In the early 1980’s I was a young kid in high school. I certainly wasn’t at the top of the class, and the kids with lower grades were typically directed by school administration to auto mechanics.  My Dad, as most parents do, was hoping to motivate me to work harder, get higher grades and pursue a career path other than auto mechanics.

He was geophysicist working at the Geological Survey of Canada, and a Adjunct Professor at the Ecole polytechnique in Montreal. My Dad could also fix cars – sort of.  We had several old beaters, a couple of which were destined for the scrap heap by the time we were done with them.  For him – fixing a car was more out of necessity than pleasure. One car had a massive hole in floor at the back seat. My brother and i would sharpen sticks on the pavement while my Dad dove us to school.

My brother is also pretty smart, so there was no need for Dad to give him a “pep talk”. But me – well, I sometimes needed a bit of extra motivation.  I remember my Dad saying “Study Hard – Or you will be a Mechanic” .  Not sure if that particularly motivated me, though i did graduate high school, and went on to get a Bachelors degree and Masters degree. 

And now now i am closer to the tail end of my career, and also a parent trying to motivate my own kids, i find myself more and more drawn to auto mechanics.  It is mostly for pleasure as long as I am able to keep at least one of the fleet in operating condition. Safety in numbers doesn’t always go in my favour…

Most interesting, the vehicles that I am most drawn to now were new back when i was a young kid in high school. !!  Yes – these vehicles are really…really old ;>.  Actually, one is nearly as old as I am, and that is more that half a century old.

 

Taking apart the Tacoma. What better way to learn how the pieces go together.

Taking apart one of my favourites – 1980’s vintage Toyota Land cruiser.

Obviously, I don’t say to my kids….”Study Hard – Or you will be a Mechanic”

My Daughter spinning the lug nuts putting on the winter tires.

 

End of the Road & Yoga Mechanics

For this 1982 Toyota Landcruiser it literally is the end of the road. It has approximately 370,000km on the dial. Is it restorable ?. Probably, but not economical.

Its parts will live on in other vehicles. Conveniently, most of my fleet is also 1982 BJ60 Landcruisers and also the BJ42.

Thus far, two days to get to this partially disassembled state. I’ve never taken an entire vehicle apart. Actually, I do my best to avoid taking things apart – as that usually mans what ever it was is broken, and there is no guarantee that me taking it apart will ever result in a successful re-assemley.

In this case, instead of cutting and hacking the vehicle to pieces, I am trying to be organized. Bags of screws and bolts from each….except I forgot to label the bags (frown).

It is a therapeutic process. Not simply sweet revenge on something mechanical, bashing with with a sledge hammer, smashing al the pieces into smithereens. Instead, it is a thoughtful process, determining the order that parts were assembled, and how there were attached. How is this thing attached, where are the nuts and bolts, which tools do I need, and how do I get my fingers and hands in there to turn the wrench.

Sometimes it is easy. The screws loosen and the piece is easily removed. Overtimes, I just can’t find the darn bolt, or can’t get my hands in position to turn the wrench, of the screw is stripped, or – I just don’t have the right tool. Ok – be like McGiver and figure it out. In case you are too young to know, McGiver was a TV character who could always build a tool using only what was available.

And, then there his the physical effort of reaching in and over, in awkward positions, dropping a bolt an drawing under the truck, back to the tools, back to the engine, get another tool…over an over. It isn’t cardio activity, more like yoga. Stretching, holding poses, and mindfulness. Yoga Mechanics ?

Purists will scoff. Call it what you like-
For me, it is a welcome relief from sitting (“driving a desk”), moving only my index finger all day.

After a couple of hours of Yoga Mechanics my body and mind feel relaxed.

What is your equivalent of Yoga Mechanics ?

 

Covid Illness

A guy and his truck. Trucks are a new thing for me. Yes – I’ve had trucks before but nothing like now. Since Covid, I’ve taken up an interest in trucks, fixing them (or trying to), and collecting them. I call it my Covid illness. The covid pandemic has affected every one differently – for me, it is Toyota 4runners and Landcruisers. More importantly – it is an activity to keep me busy. Yes – it is just a big piece of metal and I’d rather be spending time with friends. But – busy lives and Covid has changed all that.

My piece of Remembrance

Seventy one years after that fateful day it is hard to imagine what happened here.

To my left, there is a large house-size concrete box, it is tipped almost on it’s side.
Behind it is a building with several Canadian flags, and the village of Courseulles-sur-Mer.
In the village, there is a small monument, and a World War 2 vintage Canadian Tank.

Years ago this beach was called called Juno Beach.

I walk across the beach towards the ocean.
The sand is soft, with patterns sculpted by the tides.
I walk quietly over the sand, the silence broken only by the
soft crunching of sea shells under by shoes.

Seventy one years ago, there were many, many more sounds on this beach.
Sounds of gunfire, sounds of explosions, sounds of pain and  the silent sound of death.

On that fateful day seventy one years ago,
Canadian Soldiers disembarked from small thinly armoured ships.

There was no shelter, no place to hide.
The Germans were well prepared and well defended, with large cannons inside the concrete boxes, machine guns, minefields and beach obstacles.

Many of these small ships were blown to pieces by the German guns
that were inside the large concrete boxes.
Other ships were blown to pieces after hitting explosives buried in the sand.
Some ships carried armoured tanks with canons to destroy the german guns.
Many of these tanks were destroyed by the German guns.

For the Canadian Soldiers that arrived on that beach on June 6th, 1944 –
It was Hell.

This is a piece of twisted and rusted metal that I found on the beach.
Was it a piece of one of those small thinly armoured ships that brought the Canadian Soldiers to the beach?, or was it a piece of a destroyed German cannon ?
Without specialized testing of its metallic properties – we will never know.

The jagged edges and bent shape of this small piece of metal are a silent witness of what happened on that fateful day seventy one years ago.

Hundreds of Canadian Soldiers died on this very beach, on fateful day, and hundreds more before the war was over.

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This small piece of rusty jagged metal is my piece of Remembrance of all those Canadian soldiers that came ashore on this very beach and also all the other soldiers, sailors and airmen from from Canada, United Kingdom, US, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland that participated in D-day and liberated Europe.

November 1st, 1989

This isn’t a post about photography. It is a post about life and the loss of Life. My father passed away at midnight on November 1st, 1989 after a year-long battle with cancer. I wrote this poem on the sleepless evening before is funeral.

 

 

Yesterday-during the wake I felt a need to look at the casket.

But what is the use- as now all that remains is an empty shell.

Like some creatures which shed their skin- my father still lives in my memory.

I can picture his face, his smile, his clothes, how he would sit and how he would sleep.

I can also remember the favorite expressions, foods, idiosynchricies and most importantly our happiness and times together.

So as long as I can remember these details- my father is not dead.

Through the passage of time some details will be forgotten, but my father doesn’t die until the last detail is forgotten.

1987-02-B4 1985-08-A17

Slow Down !!!

“It’s a blur”. It is unfortunate isn’t it that we always have something to do, somewhere to be, someone to meet, or something (else) to see. Life is a never ending list of …something. This photo taken on one of my favorite hikes in the Gatineau Park (Quebec) is a sad result of a mind filled with something else; the beauty of the park is simply a blur.
Slow down…appreciate the beauty before you. Even better – STOP and take it all in. Feel the wind on your face, rain in your hair, and the fresh air in your lungs…

 

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Wartime Childhood Experiences – Sharing Stories: Father to son to granddaughter

My father passed away in 1989. Today (June 23, 2015) would have been his 80th birthday. He died of cancer when I was 21.

My father was born in the Netherlands and moved to Dutch East Indies (now known as Indonesia) in 1937 at age 2. In 1938 his brother (my uncle) was born. By late 1941 the threat of invasion loomed, and the family moved from Batavia (now known as Jakarta) to a remote region. In early 1942 there were dogfights between Japanese and Dutch airplanes overhead, and a few weeks later Japanese soldiers arrived at their house to take them away. My father, his younger brother and mother were sent to a prisoner of war camp, while his father, an eye doctor in the Dutch Army, was sent to a military hospital to treat Japanese soldiers.

As a child I always wanted to learn more about life in the prisoner of war camps. To my young mind, the stories my father told gave me the impression he was like a superhero in a comic book, with thrilling an exciting tales of sneaking out of the camp to steal food, being chased by Japanese guards, endlessly outwitting the guards, and more. In reality, it was not a fun time. There were many horrors in the camp. Captives were tortured, starved, beaten, or raped. Although, not always directed at my father and his family, they had to watch. Sickness (malaria, dysentery), due to malnutrition also took its toll on the captives. The stories my father told me, were few and far between, and would always end abruptly. Only years later, did I learn how much sugar coating he actually added to the stories. He (thankfully) did not want to expose his children to the real details.

My father, his brother and his mother returned to the Netherlands in 1946. En route, his brother contracted pneumonia and was close to death. Thankfully, he survived. It was challenging adjusting to a new life in the Netherlands in the years following the war. Even though the language was the same, there were different customs and different views of hardship during the war. The newcomers were not accepted by those that had lived in the Netherlands during the war – believing that they had suffered greatly during the Nazi occupation. Although, this was certainly a difficult time in the Netherlands, living in a Japanese controlled prisoner of war camp was worse. During adulthood, my father hid the emotional pain by pushing it to the back of his brain, whereas his younger brother had a bout with depression and sought medical help.

This month I am in the Netherlands. I want to know how his years in prisoner of war camps affected him, how it changed his life, and how his experience was passed on to his children. Without a doubt, my father’s war-time experience, either intentional or by behavior or habits has been passed on to me, and my brother and sister. I know that some of these prisoner of war camp related habits affect me in my day-to-day life, and I know that some of these habits are unintentionally being passed on to my own children. Most likely, when my children are grown up and have their own families, some of the very same habits and behaviors will be passed on their children.

For myself, now at almost the same age that my father was when he died and my children are now the same age as my father was during those years in the prisoner of war camps – I desperately want to learn more about him, his experiences, and how his life was shaped by those horrible years in the camps.

A week ago, I went to visit my uncle, at his invitation to talk – to talk about things I had previously been told not to ask about. It was not easy for either of us – for him to dig deep in to his memories of those years in prisoner of war camps and to re-live and tell those stories, some of which he had never told anyone before. It was also hard for me to listen to someone who had been there and had lived those experiences – the very same experiences that my father carried silently for all those years.

Today, June 23 would have been his 80th birthday. After that long conversation with his brother, a few more pieces of the puzzle are now in place, and, if my father were alive today, I would truly know my own superhero.

The Canadian beach at Juno (Courseulles-sur-Mer)

The Canadian beach at Juno (Courseulles-sur-Mer)

 

It seems like any sandy beach; peaceful and calm. Even the sand dunes and the nearby village – it could be anywhere.

This beach and the beaches along 80km of coastline are the beaches of D-day – June 6th, 1944, the day when Allied Forces attacked Nazi controlled Fortress Europe and began the Liberation of France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Now, there isn’t much to see; all the guns have been removed, the barbed wire, land mines, and beach obstacles have been cleared, the villages re-built – it all seems to normal, so quiet, so peaceful.

On that day, June 6th, 1944 – there was no peace here. At dawn the barrage began, with navy ships firing at the beach, and airplanes dropping bombs on German positions.

Off shore from the beaches in Normandy, soldiers loaded into small landing craft to take them to the beaches. They were soaked, seasick and no doubt scared. Many drowned under the weight of their heavy gear after their boats were hit by German artillery, and machine gun bullets, or their boats impaled on the posts in the shallow water. Those that did make it to the beach had to run up the beach at low tide with no protection from the bullets to attack the German machine gun and artillery positions.

Some beaches were ‘relatively’ easy and re-captured (‘liberated’ with few casualties), where as other beaches were heavily defended or required climbing up a steep cliff and many casualties. The Canadians landed at Juno Beach. Within a few hours they had control of the beach and the inland towns. On those early hours of June 6th, 1944 – 359 Canadians lost their lives, and over 700 wounded.

A few weeks ago , I was here with my children (age 9 and 12). A
pilgrimage of sort, for those that were here on that historic day, for those that lost a family member that day, and for those like my family that have no direct connection to the battle – other than it was Canadian soldiers that arrived at this beach, and Canadian soldiers that liberated the Netherlands in May 1945 (and liberated my grandparents and their 10 year old daughter whom was later to be my mother). It is Possible – some of the very same soldiers that survived the attach on this beach on June 6th 1944 also liberated the Netherlands in May 1945 !.

It is impossible to image what was going through the minds of the young Canadian soldiers as they risked their lives on this beach 71 years ago. Today, those that are living, and those that are not, would certainly appreciate what they see – flags, monuments and streets named in their Honor. The Liberated people of France and the Netherlands have not forgotten the dedication and sacrifice of those Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen that fought and died so that others can live free.

They still say “Merci” or “Dankjewel”, and I do too.

National Geographic Daily Dozen for April 24, 2015

One of my favorite photos, chosen by National Geographic editors.

Enjoying the sunrise a thousand feet up.

During a hot air balloon ride in Cappadoccia (Turkey) with my family, the kids were on the sunny side of the balloon. With my camera strap wrapped around my wrist, I leaned over the side of the basket and composed this photo.
Enjoying the sunrise a thousand feet up.

Enjoying the sunrise a thousand feet up.