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Lake Mead Recreation Area

April 20, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      
Lake Mead      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


There is nothing quite like having a national park as a front yard.

Here, in a 16:9 aspect ratio photograph, Lake Mead can be seen from a section of Boulder City, Nevada, USA.

The Playground


When Lake Mead was first created, it was the largest reservoir in the United States if one viewed maximum water capacity. The reservoir is located on the Colorado River about 24 mi (38 km) from the Strip southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is 112 miles (180 km) long when the lake is full, has 759 miles (1,221 km) of shoreline, is 532 feet (163 meters) at its greatest depth, with a surface elevation of 1,221.4 feet (372 metres) above sea level, and has 247 square miles (640 km2) of surface.  When Lake Mead is filled to capacity, it contains 28 million acre-feet (35 km3) of water. However, the lake has not reached this capacity since 1983 due to an increasing number of drought-filled years .  At this point, 'tis said the lake could be drained and arid by 2050.    4 Trillion gallons of water has disappeared over the past 14 years.

Lake Mead currently stands at 1106 feet above sea level and is expected to drop 20 addtional feet in 2014.

At the far end of Lake Mead, lies Boulder City, a city in Clark County, Nevada, United States. It is approximately 20 mi (32 km) from the city of Las Vegas. As of the 2010 census, the population of Boulder City was 15,023.

Boulder City was originally built as a "company town."  It was created in 1931 by the Bureau of Reclamation and Six Companies, Inc. as housing for workers who were building Hoover Dam.

Are there downsides?  Of course!  To find a mall or major shopping, it is necessary to drive at least the 20 or so miles to Henderson, NV, and it's hot, hot, hot.

On the flip side, the clean-living environment combined with the stark beauty of the desert is a plus along with many streets containing small shops.  

Another interesting point may be a plus or a minus; it is dependent on your point of view.  Boulder city is one of two towns in Nevada that prohibit gambling.

How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft

February 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds



In the light of recent events involving the blatant stealing of images, it’s time to fight back and place a very obvious © symbol followed by the year in which the image was created, along with your name, or the name of your photography company.  An example might be similar to this:



Here is an example that demonstrates one way to accomplish this task.  And there are other techniques that you might use as well.




These instructions were written for Photoshop CS5™ but should be applicable for most versions of Photoshop.


  1. Select a Horizontal or Vertical-type Mask for your Type.


  1. Add an empty blank layer to your image.

In this example, I’m using Gill Sans Ultra Bold font at 72 points in height


  1. Select your Font Size and Font Style and begin typing.


  1. Click on the blank layer and the information you have typed will appear as “crawling ants.”


  1. Select a Gradient as a new Fill Layer.  The actual gradient selected will only make a slight difference.  I prefer Neutral Density 10.


  1. Now is where the interesting and fun part begins.  Select the Blending Options for this layer and use the following settings:
  • Bevel and Emboss
  • Outer or Inner Bevel
  • Up Direction
  • Depth—At least 100%
  • Size—A Minimum of 5 px

Normal works as a fine blending mode.


  1. Select Gradient-filled layer with text and the layer directly underneath.


  1. Select Layer -> Align Align both Vertical Centers and Horizontal Centers to place your Copyright information smack dab in the center of the image.


Save the file with some type of information to denote that it is a copyright-protected version; e.g., filename_cprt.tif.


Finish processing your image in your normal manner and save as a jpg file before posting.


One advantage of this technique is that the copyright information appears as transparent type and you can see your photograph underneath.  The copyright information is big and bold and hopefully this will discourage would-be thieves.  Since the copyright information is in the center of the photograph, it will be very difficult to simply crop your name.


I found another very similar technique but one in which the copyright information was created as a pattern.  I tried that too but with a twist.  I used a fairly large font, about 40 pt. and after I filled a layer with the Copyright pattern, I blended it using a Bevel and Emboss option at 200% and changed the opacity to 15%.  This makes the copyright notice very unobtrusive.



The well-written tutorial describing creating a Copyright pattern can be found at www.photoshopessentials.com.


Digimarc.com has created software for the person of monitoring your images.  See:  Digimarc for more information.   This software allows you to embed an imperceptible copyright into your original image.  Even when the image is converted to a more compressed jpeg version, part of the watermark remains.  This allows you to track the network location of an image. The Basic version as of this writing costs $49.00/annually for 1000 images.  The progressional version covering 2000 images costs $99.00 per year.


TinEye is a Reverse Image Search engine.  It was initially developed about years ago (2008).  TineEye was designed to match images rather than text.  There is no charge for personal limited use.  You can check out TinyEye.com for more information.


Here is an excellent resource containing copyright information:



I continue to search and I ran across this article:  How to Protect Images of Your Artwork from Being Stolen Online.  Definitely worth reading.

I don't want to steal the author's thunder so I will only summarize some of the information.  

The bottom line is we can't prevent someone from copying an image with a Print Screen key on a Windows OS machine or by using Grab on a Mac.

We can embed copyright information; we can post a disclaimer telling folks that this is a copyrighted image, but from what I gleaned, the most important thing we can do is reduce the size and resolution of the image.  Yes, the image can be shared but it will look godawful if someone attempts to upsize, print, and sell it.


Personally, I think the most important idea you can walk away with is that whether or not you are a professional photographer or artist, it is important to protect your images from theft.  Yes, it does take an additional step or two to create a pattern or some automated version of creating a layer, but to my way of thinking that's better than discovering that some unscrupulous person has found your photograph and decided that it is his (or her's) to use at will.  That's my thought for the day . . .


Calico Ghost Town

November 18, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


Hardly more than a blip on a radar screen, there's an intriguing sign, that plainly states:

Calico Ghost Town


Worth visiting? I thought so. A tourist trap? Perhaps, to a small degree . . . Would I like to return? An unqualified YES!


How many times had I seen that location sign, situated roughly half way between Los Angeles, California  and Las Vegas, Nevada?


On one recent trip, I was in no hurry and decided to investigate.  It was late afternoon and I turned off the highway, anxious to explore, and determined to figure out when the light would be best to take what I hoped would be interesting photographs. 

I meandered approximately three miles following a few signs and lo', there it was with a sign atop the hill proclaiming to all, Calico, and inviting me to hurry and wander around.


Calico Sign



Long ago, in another century, Calico was a real honest-to-goodness silver mining town. That was back around 1880 or 1881. Then, Calico had over 500 mines, including the famous Silver King mine, and produced over 20 million dollars in silver ore over the 12-year-span of its existence.  

Today Calico is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system and is visited by people from around the country and all over the world. The park, with a few of the original buildings and many others built to look realistic, offers visitors a glimpse into the past as well as the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding desert environment. Along with its  history and attractions, Calico Ghost Town has shops, restaurants and also offers camping and outdoor recreation. 

It was late in the day when I arrived and the admitting ranger allowed me to check out the lighting conditions.  I saw just enough to convince me that I should stay at a local motel and quickly decided to come back again as early as possible the next morning.

(Someday I would like to return and go camping, and explore to my heart's content.)

I returned the following morning, parked the car, gathered up the camera, lens and tripod and prepared to spend as much time exploring as possible.


My first sight was the Calico-Odessa Railway.

California Odessa Railway

Calico and Odessa No. 5


Today the narrow gauge track is considered  to be a heritage railroad. It does operate as a tourist attraction and for a nominal fee, carries visitors about a mile or so back into the hills and past old silver mines. But way back in time, the  train was used to carry the silver ore from the mines. Originally the train was named for the town and mountain range of Calico and the nearby Odessa Canyon. I assumed from the spit and polish on the engine, that park employees stay busy as they keep this park attraction looking its best.


Take a moment or two and walk along with me as I meander through Calico Ghost Town. Quiet the questioning mind and let your imagination come alive. Momentarily forget about commercialism, suspend disbelief, and walk with me into the past.


As we leave the site of the train and wander north up the inclined mesa, we see many buildings, mostly housing Western style boutiques, and some restaurants.


Midst the buildings, notice, there are interesting artifacts, some of which are real, others created to add to the atmosphere of the Old West, such as this wrought iron sculpture glinting in the morning sun. It was created as a caricature of  an old-time silver miner.



Silver Miner


Other, even more fascinating, sights include this old wooden wagon, bedraggled, worn and a real antique. Once drawn by horses, pulling heavy wagon loads of silver ore, as well as supplies, up and down the mesa.  Close your eyes and hear the stomping of the horses' feet, the snorting of the mules or horses straining as they pull the cart, and the creaking of the wooden iron-rimmed wheels rolling over rocks and boulders traveling up those hills, long ago. Today, of course, the use of the wagon is limited to being a decorative artifact of a time long ago.


Antique Old West Wagon


As we climb the hill, check out an old house (a replicate, I'm sure). The grimy window with a fluttering and dilapidated, crumbling curtains catches my eye. (Again, an object to help the mind go back in time.) We do need to rememberthis is a Ghost Town.


Ghost Town! 


Near the top of the hill, we come upon the Bottle House.


Bottle house

Every Which Way but Up


Nothing is known of the origin of this particular Bottle House. It may have been built in Calico or brought in from some other location when the town was being restored. Since the bottles in this image appear to be wine bottles, it is doubtful that it is one of the original buildings.  However, it is a known fact that building materials were in short supply and early mining settlers built their homes with any materials they could get their hands on, including discarded bottles. Since saloons were among the first commercial structures in any mining town, there were plenty of empty liquor bottles on hand.

Maggie's Mine lies but a hop, skip, and jump from the Bottle House.  


Yes, a tourist attraction; however, notice that visitors can to take a self-guided tour part-way into the old mine. The realization that this mine is the only known safe mine that visitors can safely access is rather appealing.  'tis said that the silver did not run out at Calico; the mine closed mostly because the price of silver dropped to the point at which it was no longer profitable to mine for silver ore. And who knows what the future holds?


Maggie Mining Company Maggie Mining Company


Look!  Here's another relic from those days long past. Right near Near the Maggie Mining Company. This, an actual silver-mining ore car, was designed to be pushed on the track leading into the mine, loaded with  silver ore and pushed out to be smelted and transformed into ingots. I wonder if the men manually pushed the cart?



As we walk a little north of the Maggie Mining Company, we can see replicates of miner's homes that were built against the mesa. Frequently the miner's threw together almost anything to give them a refuge from the elementseither the heat of the summer or the cold winds of winter.  In a desert environment there was little wood to be spared, so the miners did the best they could with the materials at hand; primarily using rocks, stones, and home-made cement.


The miner's shacks come in different models.



Miner's Shack #1


This shack was built against a giant boulder and in the next image, it looks as if the shack was blasted out of the mesa and built with even fewer pieces of wood. Notice the roof is all but non-existent, other than a slab of home-made cement, and of course, today, falling into disrepair.


Miner's Shack #2


I can hardly imagine living in such an environment with dirt, debris, bugs and cockroaches, about which I know first-hand. They do migrate to the desert. On the plus side, I'm sure the earth itself provided a form of Old West Air Conditioning.


Calico Ghost Town also has geological formations of interest.

As we look around, the surrounding desert, mountains, and rock formations hold as much fascination as the Ghost Town itself. The town was built on a mesa in the Mojave desert. Much of the terrain has been roped off so we won't break our necks, but we'll see in a bit, there are some fascinating anticlines (rocks which told in an upwards directions; the oldest beds of rock are at the core) and synclines (the folding is in a downward direction; the youngest layer of rocks are at the fold's center or hinge). Additionally many fossils have been found in the Barstow Formation 

Legend holds that the Lost Hogan gold treasury is three feet from the big rock. Now which big rock is anyone's guess.  But this rock just north of Maggie's Mine might be it . . .


Big Rock

Geology Drumlin


The formation reminds me of the huge buckets used in smelting iron ore.


As we head toward the parking lot, we'll see even more fascinating forms.

The first location is intriguing . . .


Broken Syncline


I believe it is an example of a syncline and it appears to be broken at the base. I think the layers of rocks and colors are both intriguing and my inquisitive mind wants to know of this break at the bend was caused by an earthquake. And it might just have been pressure and weight overtime. It is thought that these formations are well over a million years old.  Many of these shale rocks are composed of sandstone which is very soft.  Another thought occurs to me . . . Miners not only mined silver ore at this location; they were also searching for and mining borax, and that too could have caused the disturbance that we see here.


At this next site, we see both synclines (the folding is in a downward direction; the youngest layer of rocks are at the fold's center or hinge) and anticlines (upward bending of the rocks with the oldest rocks at the core or bottom of the bend).  We've talked about that earlier . . . Obviously any faults or earthquakes that have taken place will complicate the issue. The Mojave desert does have a fault and there is slippage at the rate of about 10 millimeters a year. You and I would never notice; however, over time . . .


Bends and Folds


Enough for today. Hopefully we'll all go back in the future for another visit and do some more exploring.



Author and Photographer:

Carol Hyman






Flowers Speak Many Languages

November 13, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds

Flowers are very convenient and are such practical subjects...

No model releases are required; objections are rarely raised when a flower is the subject of a photograph.  The only consideration that was ever brought to my attention occurred when I posted a portrait of a Desert Globe Mallow plant.  I had been driving in the Nevada desert and saw a fascinating red flower.  I parked and knelt beside the highway to take a photograph of what I later learned was a Desert Globe Mallow plant.  The comment made (after the fact) was, "I couldn't do that!  I would have been afraid."

I also find it fascinating that all cultures and peoples assign symbolic meanings to flowers.  How frequently do we hear folks ask, "But what does it mean?"

In addition, flowers come in many shapes and colors and sometimes they even change their color as they become of age.  A case in point is the Lantana plant.


Lemony Lantanas

The genus Lantana includes about t 150 species of flowering plants and shrubs.  They are classified n the Verbena family.

The flower clusters, called umbels, are a mix of red, orange, yellow, blue and white florets. What I find most fascinating is that the flowers change color as they mature, resulting in inflorescenses that are two- or three-colored.


Lemony Lantanas

Lemony Lantanas


The above specimen was quite youthful and had been cultivated at the Cactus garden maintained by the Ethel M. Chocolate factory, located out the outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Lantanas are found in multiple places, expected and otherwise, ranging from along the road side to arboretums and conservatories.  Flowers can be found in farmer's markets, grocery stores, and even in a crack in the sidewalk.


Another flower that comes in different colors is the Stargazer Lily.

The color of the Stargazer determines its meaning.  White, which I've never seen symbolizes purity, innocence, and simplicity.

Pink, on the other hand mean romance, devotion, wealth, and prosperity.  Now that's for me ...


Stargazer Lilium

Pink Stargazer Lilium


I love the texture, the fragrance, and the way the grains of pollen land on the blossoms.  It's both delicate and bold and is a symbol of perfection.

The Stargazer Lily is a fairly recent hybrid and was developed in 1978 by Leslie Woodruff who crossed the Asiactic lily with the Oriental lily.  Since the flower buds open towards the sky, Woodruff named the hybrid, "Stargazer."  The name itself sends a message of high hopes, optimism, and limitless possibilities.

The flower is easily grown from bulbs.  Now, one thing to be aware of is the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) reports the plant is toxic to cats.  So beware of this plant if you are a cat lover and owner.


The Show-off

The Bearded Iris comes in many colors and can be found in a variety of locations.  I have the sense it is somewhat of an outdated flower.  I can remember that one Grandmother planted them on the front banks of her property.  Then, they were not among my favorite flowers.  Flags, Grandma, called them ...

I inherited a variety of flags at the last property I owned.  And along about the end of April or the beginning of May, they added a variety of colors to my backyard.

I carefully clipped and dragged into my studio (then the kitchen counter with a wonderful window facing North) this wonderful showoff.


Bearded Iris

The Show-off


These Bearded Irises are known by a variety of names--Iris Beard, Iris Fall, Iris Standard; sometimes they are even called, Flags.  They are available in a variety of rainbow colors.  Many are sweetly fragrant.  Allegedly they are deer and rabbit resistant; certainly worth some experimentation.  Once planted, they will re-bloom and dependent on the weather, they may have two blooming seasons, one in the Spring; the other in the Fall.  Back in southern Utah our summers were hot and the Iris plants I owned did not bloom in the late summer/early fall.  Another plus factor for your landscaping is that the flowers come in different sizes, ranging in height from 8 inches to about 3 feet.

The best is that the Bearded Iris requires minimum care and they are great for cut flowers to decorate your home.

Tons of information can be found on the 'net.  And, the more I write, the more I think about some pots and growing some.  

Hm-m-m ...  the bud of an idea.

Does the Iris flower have a meaning?  Sure, Iris, the Greek Goodness is the Messenger of Love and her flower is considered to be the symbol of communication and messages.  In the language of flowers, Iris symbolizes elegance and power.  Additionally, the meaning depends upon the color of the flower.

In the above example, the color white means purity;  purple conveys wisdom, and yellow means passion.  Take your pick.


The Narcissus plant is commonly called a Daffodil; very hardy and mostly Spring-blooming.  Their native range includes Europe, North Africa and West Asia—their center of distribution is in the Western Mediterranean.The number of species varies from 26 to 60, depending on what authority you consult.

 Different species and several hybrids are commonly used in gardens and landscaping.  Their names include Narcissus, Daffodil, and Jonquil.

The Narcissus has become associated with many meanings.  It is commonly perceived in the West as a symbol of vanity.  In the East, however, it is associated with wealth and good fortune.   The Narcissus also is a national flower symbolizing the new year or Newroz in the Kurdish culture.  In addition, in China, it has become the symbol of the Chinese New Year.  In classical Persian literature, the flower is the symbol of beautiful eyes.  The Daffodil is the national flower of Wales.  In some countries, the yellow variation is associated with Easter.  The German for Daffodil is  Osterglocke, meaning "Easter bell."

When I lived in Utah, tiny Jonquils were the first flower to appear very early in the Spring.

In the backyard, I had a larger variety which was thoroughly spent by mid-May.  One fine Spring day I was attracted to this dried-out flower.  I thought the tissue paper-thin petals and even the strands of spider web to be most attractive.



There is Beauty In Death


When I finished processing this image I discovered a very appropriate poem created by Robin Orozco, that I thought I would share with you.

In death there is beauty 
Though it may be hard to see 
During times of sorrow 
Make it difficult to believe 
The beauty is there 
Beyond the tears you have cried 
Death is not the end 
Just a temporary goodbye 
Grief has many stages 
Everyone must find 
A way to work through them 
Solace comes with time 
Loved ones suffering is gone 
While yours has just begun 
The pain and loss you feel 
Cannot easily be undone 
But, in death you can find beauty 
If you choose to believe 
That each soul has a purpose 
When done it is set free 
Their journey is not over 
Cherished memories remain 
Keep them close to your heart 
Until you meet again 
© Robin Orozco 2011 


Want to live a long and Happy Life?

In the Japanese culture, it is believed that placing a single petal from a Chrysanthemum will enhance your chances of living that extended exhilarating life.





Points to Ponder ...

October 28, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


It's a very sad world in which we live ...


40 years ago my now ex-husband and I talked about creating a mountain-top safe haven.

25 years ago, a former friend wanted to create his own kingdom and be KING.


Today, in my opinion those thoughts are no longer light topics of conversation.

Today, people SCAN, they don't READ for complex thought, 

It appears that most folks want constant adoration---ME, ME, ME.

Taking  RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE'S OWN ACTIONS has become a WATCH word but not an ACTION word!


Cottonwood tree

The Whisper of Leaves

I wish I could snap my fingers and replicate the above Cottonwood tree growing to the North of my home.  I would surround my entire residence with such trees.


Would that protect me from the world as I view it.  Perhaps—for a while ...


The fear of being attacked (coming from many other countries) has permeated American soil.

And I'm more than ready to find a Walden Mountain, on which to hide.

My 2-cents for the day.



Signs and Contests

October 26, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


Photography Contests galore—one or more each day.


Yesterday I stumbled across a very different contest ...

Store Hour Signs – Unique Photo Contest


All of the rules are contained in the above link.  The contest does end on December 12, 2012.  Do enter.


I grabbed my camera yesterday and went searching.  So far this is what I've come up with:  (may the best woman win)


Mexican Restaurant


Mexican Restaurant -- CLOSED

Mexican Restaurant


The location of the above photo, as well as other photos, is Mesquite, Nevada, USA--a small town that lies about 80 miles or so NE of Las Vegas.  The sign of business hours was posted on the outside of the store and it was fortified by the "CLOSED" sign propped at an angle in the window.  I decided to jazz it up with an overlay of the colors of the Mexican flag.  Of course, the folks running the contest may object.  Who knows.???



Evidently the best woman did win, at least the first week's contest.  I was it.  Ten bucks is far better than a poke in the eye, as 'tis said ...


The next sign I found was on a bar/grill/casino off in a corner near Wal-Mart.  I was intrigued with the sign(s) and mostly the reflections on the glass windows and door.


A Study in Neon

A Study in Neon


Dotty's Tavern.  Not quite a casino, not is it a restaurant, or a bar; however, it's open 24 hours and evidently a neighborhood hangout for locals.


Just before I decided it was Coffee Time, I found another intriguing spot.


Guitars & Guns

Guitars & Guns


I found myself wondering why in the world they needed the protection of the diagonal bars on the doors, and then I figured even in a small town, guns might be a temptation for some folks traveling through or even some of the locals.  


I was intrigued by what might lie behind the door and even tho' my shooting is limited to a camera and I've never entertained the idea of playing a musical instrument, I'll go back to visit.


Now, I have no idea what the sponsors of the contest are looking for; nor do I have an idea of the purpose of the contest, but ah, well.


Most signs are fairly straight forward ...




They come directly from the local hardware store, ready to hang in a business store window.  No muss, no fuss. No folderol.  The sign loudly proclaims, "We're open, c'mon in ...."


Other signs require the owner fill in a field or two before posting.


 Dollar Tree


For those of you who are not familiar with Dollar Tree, the items are very inexpensive.  No item costs more than one single dollar.  I suspect the Store Hours sign falls into the same category.


Banking with no frills, for business or personal banking.


The sign like others is totally straight forward.  Sweet!  Simple!  Hours plainly stated.  Absolutely no pretending whether or not the business is open.



Bank of Nevada


And then there are the ubiquitous McDonald's stores and this one has an alluring sign ...


In our town, there's are casinos, nine golf courses, and little else; Mc Donald's has two locations, one on the northern end of town and the other on the southern end and on the other side of the freeway to boot.  Well separated, but both with wi-fi access; the one on the south has Ducks as a fascinating find; the location on the north has a delectable and delicious sign, almost as fascinating as the ducks and geese.


Breakfast after Midnight


Mighty tempting.


And, best of all, another winner!



Clouds and More Clouds

October 18, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


More than you ever wanted to know about the clouds

that live anywhere from ground level to the higher reaches of our atmosphere ...

Clouds are classified according to their height above the ground and their appearance or texture.

Recalling the roots of words and definitions used to classify the most common types of clouds will help us to recognize and identify the mantle above our heads as we gaze toward the heavens.

  • Cirro means a curl of hair, high
  • Strato simply stands for layer
  • The word Cumulo denotes a heap
  • The Spanish word Alto has many meanings; one of which is, “high” and is used to refer to the altitude of the cloud.
  • Finally, we’ll encounter Nimbo, which refers to rain.

First, let’s look at high overhead clouds.  There are three types:

High Overhead Clouds

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus clouds are wispy, feathery, and composed entirely of ice crystals. They often are the first sign of an approaching warm front or upper-level jet streak.

Cirrostratus Clouds

Cirrostratus clouds form more of a widespread, veil-like layer; very similar to what stratus clouds do in low levels.  These are the clouds responsible for the familiar ring or halo we see around the moon or sun.

Cirrocumulus Clouds

Finally, cirrocumulus clouds are layered clouds interspersed with small lumps. Sometimes these clouds are lined up in rows just like streets marching across the sky.

Sometimes as we glance overhead, the sky appears to be perfectly blue with little hint of clouds, or at best, it may appear just a little hazy ...

Transmission Lines

Lake Mead Transmission Lines

Lake Mead Transmission  Lines I


This above photograph was taken first thing in the morning and at first blush, the sky appeared to be bland but through some minor processing, I was able to bring out the dynamic range in the photo that I didn't really notice with the naked eye, and lo' both Cirrus and Cirrostratus clouds are present.


Lake Mead Transmission Lines II


Mid-level clouds

The bases of clouds living in the middle level of the troposphere (the lowest level of the atmosphere) are given the prefix "alto-"; they appear between 6,500 and 20,000 feet. Depending on the altitude, time of year, and vertical temperature, these clouds may be composed of liquid water droplets, ice crystals, or a combination of the two, (including supercooled droplets below freezing.

The two main type of mid-level clouds are altostratus and altocumulus.

Altostratus clouds

Altostratus clouds are "strato" type clouds that possess a flat and uniform type texture in the mid levels. They frequently indicate the approach of a warm front and may thicken and lower and produce rain or snow.  Altostratus clouds themselves do not produce significant precipitation at the surface, but if there is a thick deck or layer, we may receive sprinkles or light showers.

Altocumulus clouds

Altocumulus clouds exhibit "cumulo" type characteristics in mid levels, i large heap-like, unstable piles clouds with convective elements.  There are vertical zones and temperatures within the heap of clouds.


Low-level clouds

Low-level clouds derive their names "strato-" or "cumulo-"-- depending on their characteristics. Low clouds occur below 6500 feet, and normally consist of liquid water droplets or even supercooled droplets, except during cold winter storms when ice crystals (and snow) comprise much of the clouds.

The two main types of low clouds include stratus, which develop horizontally, and cumulus, which develop vertically.

Stratus clouds

Stratus clouds are uniform and flat, producing a gray layer of cloud cover which may be precipitation-free or may cause periods of light precipitation or drizzle.

Cumulus clouds

In contrast, Cumulus clouds are more cellular or individual, in nature.  They have flat bottoms, rounded tops, and grow vertically.   

Stratocumulus clouds are hybrids of layered stratus and cellular cumulus clouds.  Stratocumulus can be thought of as a layer of cloud clumps with thick and thin areas. These clouds appear frequently in the atmosphere, either ahead of or behind a frontal system.

The Wicked Witch of the West

The Wicked Witch of the West


Above we have an example of two types of clouds..  High in the background are mid-level Altostratus clouds and in the foreground is an example of a developing very low-level Altocumulous cloud.

Nimbostratus clouds are generally thick, dense stratus or stratocumulus clouds producing steady rain or snow.

And here is a good example of Nimbostratus clouds that had produced almost two inches of rain here in the desert lands of Nevada.

Aftermath of the Storm

Aftermath of the Storm


A Cumulus cloud that exhibits significant vertical development (but is not yet a thunderstorm) is called Cumulus Congestus or Towering Cumulus. If there is enough atmospheric instability, moisture, and lift present, then strong updrafts can develop and produce in the cumulus cloud leading to a mature, deep Cumulonimbus cloud that produces thunderstorm activity heavy rain.  Cloud electrification occurs within Cumulonimbus clouds due to many collisions between charged water droplets called graupel (ice-water mix) and ice crystal particles; the result is lightning and thunder.


Grauple is a fascinating substance--not snow, not rain, not water; rather a frozen ice-water mixture.  I've seen these frozen pellets only three times--once in Utah and twice in Colorado.




To be continued ...



Survival: Anytime (3. Continuation)

October 14, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Wading birds

October 01, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


Wading Birds

Great White Egret

While birds have always been of interest, I’ve never become an Avian specialist.  My knowledge comes from research in books and on the Internet.  I’ve thought long and hard about how to classify birds and I’ve finally settled on the classification system used by Sibley in his bird guides.

Kicking off the Avian series with Wading Birds and specifically the Great White Egret.

The bird is known by many names—Great White Egret, Common Egret, Great White Heron.  This egret is widely distributed across the world and is a dazzling sight in many North American wetlands.

When it comes to identifying these birds, look for their large size, magnificent wingspan, and very long neck.  These features, combined with a long yellow bill and black legs make the bird unique among herons and egrets.

The wingspan that is quite impressive, can measure from 52 to 67 inches.  That’s wider than I am tall!

When hunting, they either stand immobile or slowly wade through wetlands to capture fish with a deadly jab of their yellow bill.


Great White Egret

Beady-eyed Bess


The pristinely white Great Egret becomes even more elaborately dressed during the breeding season. A patch of skin on its face turns neon green, and long plumes grow from its back. These plumes are called “aigrettes,” and were nearly the bane of their existence in the late nineteenth century, when such adornments were prized for ladies’ hats.


Out of the Shadows


Consequently feather hunters hounded and killed the Great Egrets nearly to extinction.

This slaughter sparked Audubon members to campaign for environmental protections and bird preservation, at the state, national and international levels.

The egret population has recovered over the past century and for quite some time the Great White Egret has been a symbol of the National Audubon Society.  Additionally, the Great Egret is depicted on the reverse side of a 5-Brazilian reais banknote.

Regardless of where you live (especially if you are near water), keep your eyes open.  You may be fortunately enough to spy this bird.

According to Robert Lake-Thom in Spirits of the Earth, “This bird is the peacemaker and fisherman. He brings peace, stability, harmony, and good-luck. He is graceful, tactful, and direct. The feathers from these birds are used in healing ceremonies to take away negative energy and anger, and to bring peace and harmony to a situation.”



Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret ranging from 20-27" (51-69 cm.) in height is much smaller than the Great White Egret.  This delicate, small and active white heron has a slender black bill, black legs and yellow feet.


Snowy Egret Snowy Egret


During breeding season which begins in late winter—February or March, note the long lacy plumes on the head, neck, and back.

This bird hangs out in marshes, wetlands, swamps, and mud flats and ranges here in the US, from Oregon and California east to New England.  They winter, with regularity in California, Arizona, and Virginia south to the West Indies and throughout South America, only rarely venturing to western Europe.  The first bird sighted in Britain wintered in Scotland from 2001–2002.

They can be seen frequently in shallow water, sprinting rapidly, as they chase schools of minnows and shrimp.

According to the National Audubon Society, it is thought that the members from a pair of Snowy Egrets cannot recognize each other; even at the nest.  There is evidence that each mate performs an elaborate greeting ceremony.  This is also true of other pairs of wading birds.  Curing the ceremony, the plumes on the head are raised and the incoming bird bows to the mate sitting on the nest.  As human beings, we have similar greeting ceremonies ...

Similar to the Great White Egret, the beautiful snowy plumes were at one point in great demand by market hunters to serve as decorations for women's hats.  They are protected in the USA under the Migratory Bird Act.


To be continued ...

Survival: Anytime (2. Continuation)

September 25, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Calico Ghost Town      Clouds and More Clouds      Flowers Speak Many Languages      How to Avoid Unwanted Image Theft      Points to Ponder      Survival—Page One      Survival—Page Two       Survival—Page Three     Signs and Contests      Wading Birds


This series continues to deal with everyday people who are treading on thin ice and doing this best to survive during difficult times.  Many Young people have opted to return home; others share apartments.  Many folks have opted to take on menial jobs in spite of having obtained advanced educational degrees.  I think this first photograph says it all...


AnythingTo Survive!


Back to a car wash and yet another Wiper.  The sex of the subject and the story both change.


Anything—To Survive


In this image, taken at a car wash in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Kyra who is bright, ambitious, and a strong young woman is the subject. She appears willing to do the most medial job in order to earn a living. Kyra is also a Wiper at a local car wash. She is quick to smile and equally prone to frown as she focuses on her assigned tasks. It was my pleasure to watch this young woman as she scurried from one job to the next; she was easily the most enthusiastic worker at the car washing facility. She literally danced with glee when she received a tip from a customer.  Too bad I didn't capture that scene!


As Patient as Job


When I was 19, I spent the summer working as the Arts and Crafts Instruction at a family and young adult camp.  I was young, impressionable, and I had both fun and lots of prestige.  All of the staff was invited to come back during Labor Day weekend just to kick back and relax.  When I arrived, Camp Director greeted me and asked me to volunteer to work over the weekend with the cheerful words that I would be paid.  I turned down dish washing but I was "volunteered" to work as a waitress.  In one fell swoop, I lost my "professional" position and quickly learned that waiting on tables had far less status than teaching campers how to make lanyards or carve leather. It was not for me but I did learn to respect folks who made a living by serving food and waiting on tables. I also remember I was strongly motivated to return to college and finish my Bachelor's degree.


As Patient as Job


The Iron Skillet is a popular truck stop and restaurant in North Las Vegas, Nevada, quite near the Speedway. This particular afternoon, one waitress was serving all of the afternoon stragglers who were deciding between breakfast, lunch, dinner, or perhaps just a cup of coffee and a glass of ice-cold water....

This waitress, obviously world weary and probably on her feet since the crack of dawn, definitely deserves high marks as a member of the working class who is surviving our present economy.  And most likely she has spent a lifetime earning her living in this fashion.  My hat goes off to Mary.


Sixteen Tons

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.

Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go ...

I owe my soul to the company store.


Sixteen Tons


Long ago, I spent one dusty afternoon driving around areas of construction in Las Vegas.  I finally spied a hot, dusty lot filled with giant rocks, boulders, and heavy equipment.  I was new to the business of shooting people and felt very self-conscious; however, be that as it may, I couldn't resist grabbing a candid shot of this heavy equipment operator climbing into the cab of his vehicle.  He and his coworker were covered with dust and sweat  and I'm sure they were none to pleased to be the target of an invasive photographer.


S-T-O-P !!!


No matter where we drive, it appears that the roads are under construction.  Stop and Wait.  That's the name of the game.  Especially in the summer time when folks are traveling and the days are long and hot.


S-T-O-P !!!


I know that I would not want to work for the Department of Transportation in any state in any location.  I have a thought that some driver just might take his road rage out on me.

This image of the UDOT worker was taken one August when I was at the head of the long line of traffic.  Zion National Park has tunnels and policies regarding large vehicles going through the tunnels.  Permits may be required and rangers at either end of the tunnel may be stopping traffic so that over sized vehicles can proceed safely.  This particular summer, a Department of Transportation worker was holding up BOTH traffic and STOP sign in Zion National Park. All I could think as I stole the shot was, "What would a holiday outing be without waiting?"


Trimmed to Perfection


We take for granted those folks who work for Lawn Service companies.  They mow, trim, water, rake, and generally take excellent care of lawns, leaving neatly trimmed greenery for us to admire.


Trimmed to Perfection


Back in June before it got too darned hot, I did some meandering around Mesquite to see if I could find some interesting sights.  I stopped at one of the local hotels to shoot the Canadian Geese and instead found Juan.  With a few passing pedestrians and a handful of ducks and a couple of geese for an audience, Juan trimmed the grass surrounding the water pond to absolute perfection.


To be continued ...   Next Page


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