Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What Not: Out West/Goin' With The Flow/We're So Glad

Muscle Girl Sarah checkin' in with us end of last week... 

(Sarah Zagorce Image)
...just off a nine day Colorado River trip thru the Grand Canyon... we're full of envy

That's ok. Spent two fun days this past weekend drift casting streamers on the Yough. September is the official start of fishing season in our mind (usually September thru December). We hadn't touched a "standard" fly rod in a couple of years, preferring instead small creek fishing Tenkara style. Was a bit curious to see if we had lost any of our "big river technique" considering the long layoff. Not a concern. Fished both days pretty much early to mid-afternoon, probably 11am to 2pm. Deep Holes. Open water in a bright sun. 

Pretty sluggish current this spot. Great spot, though, for (real) casting dry flys when things are hatchin'

Saturday hooked four average size browns drifting a #12 Wooley Bugger. Landed four on Sunday as well - three average size browns and one average size smallmouth, all drifting a #12 Muddler Minnow (the only streamer we generally ever use). Was so much fun we're now debatin' how we want to proceed once the temperatures start droppin' (and the copperheads and rattlesnakes have packed out). Alternative bit rough two to three mile hikes along forested tight creeks; trippin' fallen logs, limbs, greenbrier's and such. By and by wading sometimes rugged, lush stream channels with always the frequent line twists and snags. Or leisurely short rivers edge hikes or bit longer MTB rides with a brief jaunt over the river bank to wide open shoreline casting.

Lets think about this... some tunes for thought...

... three total badass pioneers of rock - Bruce/Baker/Clapton: 

Encore (for the times):

We're givin' the film crew sound engineer and co. some credit as well - sounds better than if mixed in the studio - wow

... think we'll stick with the creeks - still like that bit of misery factor. We'll still drop in a day of river casting here and there (if pressed, we can also be on the river within probably 1/2 hour from out the front door)

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Freedom Climbing: A Stop at Whale Rock/Bouldering (Cinema Part 3)

 Annual attempt for a repeat of the short crack/seam on Whale Rock...

hard to pass up on a hot day and a good river level - think around 1.8ft OPG this day. Always good for a few not-so-serious efforts...

approach from up river - Whale Rock and the Three Sisters rock formations...

(Lower image from Internet - NOAA Fisheries)
guess that it does resemble an Orca whale in profile at this angle...

the Yough has to be one of the cleanest rivers anywhere when running clear - you can always infinitely see river bottom from this POV atop the Three Sisters when these conditions.


Posting a third in a series of old film shorts:

Bouldering (1999)
Run Time 24min. (Approx.)

A bit of mundane minutiae: Filmed entirely on 16mm film - Eastman Kodak Color Negative 7245 EXR 50D (as we recall - there's a file folder in the archive cabinet with all the technical and processing details, but we ain't goin' back ta' look). Processed, color corrected/timed and scanned to Beta video tape for studio DNLE editing at WRS Film Labs located in Crafton, PA. They've since closed their doors a few years back*. Don't know how many (dubbing) generations this video print represents - we just grabbed an old off-the-shelf DVD for the MP4 transfer. Definitely a few considering the three-color bleeding. We discovered, too, that DVD discs apparently degrade over time - a few wouldn't function (20+ years age). Originally copied to VHS video tape with later transfer to DVD-disc when that format became available and we had acquired the resources. Filmed entirely MOS. Later studio dubbed the voice over and a few sound effects. It used to be fun goin' out and recording sounds (e.g., throwin' large boulders in the pond) - weren't any on line effects libraries at the time. Music pilfered (for the most part) from Gary Hoey's brilliant soundtrack to Bruce Brown's equally brilliant Endless Summer II theatrical film. YouTube apparently screens uploaded videos concerning copyright issues. They gave us the green light so I guess we're good. Posted for viewing herein only - no malicious intent intended. If it should disappear that's the reason. We sure as heck ain't goin' back and re-editing (although, we'd like to change some of the corny dialog). Either way thanks Mr. Hoey (and Co.)

Old school through and through. No pads back then ('99 and earlier) - carpet squares, old floor mats, an attentive spotter. Pads did arrive on the scene at around this time, though. We probably visited 20+ local SWPA boulder field and one-off sites throughout '97 to early '99 acquiring footage. Strongmen Rob and Matt with muscle girl Sarah as backup attended to the climbing chores. Your loyal scribe stepped in when necessary.

We had to keep the boulder problems to pretty much stuff we had wired (maybe V4 difficulty at the stiffest now'days) not wanting to "blow the budget" on wasted footage of repeated falls. Think that a 50ft film roll gave ya' about 3 minutes of footage. The spring-drive Bolex, Cine-Kodak and a Russian-made K-3 cameras we employed each gave ya' about an average 17 seconds shooting per (spring wind) drive cycle. We had video resources available (gave some consideration to Hi-8 photography), but wanted to stick with film for various reasons.

Strongman Matt was definitely primed at the time - a pretty good climber considering a 6'-3" frame at a body weight of probably around 215lb. He'd put up a few pretty hard un-repeated problems that he wanted to include but we told 'em no for the aforesaid reasons**. Also with consideration, knowing him, that it would be a big fight with 'em to back off if he failed on the first attempt or two and he would insist that we keep "rolling" (he wasn't payin' for film and processing). We eventually returned to three of those problems and he nailed two first try and the third on the third try. Boy was he pissed! He was pretty tall with a long reach, good vertical leap and pretty good at long dynos to small edges (see around 19:25 of the video as example). Toward the end he had wanted an MP4 copy to extract a few clips for Instagram posting, unfortunately time ran out. 

Muscle Girl Sarah in current times on two old "Matt Dyno" routes

Consider this post dedicated to 'em

Final note: There's a fun end sequence of some "river bouldering". We were always out on the water so naturally would have some fun on the boulders and stone piers dotting the Yough gorge. There's a few good one-offs hidden back in the brush and upper slopes flanking the Lower Yough***. We caught a bit of flak for wanting to include that clip as it wasn't considered "real climbing". Those routes were usually climbed barefoot, so we stuck some climbing shoes on 'em to be legit - made sure to get at least one shot of the boots. Now'days "Deep Water Soloing" is just another recent sub-category to the fun of rock climbing - gotta' love progress.

*FYI for a guy or two who had questions regarding Super 8 film processing and video conversion - we came across these guys here, MovieStuff, LLC, who manufacture what appear to be pretty nice and affordable film scanners in every format. 
**Also, nine times out of ten ya' can't tell the difficulty of a climbing move on motion pictures, anyway. We mainly just wanted to showcase the great bouldering around these parts. We're really just landscape photographers, adding people for scale.
***And we'll never tell, now, considering all the recent access issues around here. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Pocket Cruiser

 A few weeks back. In between runnin' laps around the lake, while alternately in between shakin' some pesky gay dude who sprang from the bushes (an occasional annoyance over at the lake we've come to learn. He finally backed off after being asked if he could swim), we were lookin' on with interest watching a guy and gal in the parking lot prepping' a small trailered sailboat for launch. Never saw a sailboat in the lake before.

A bit of skepticism on our part. The lake seems a bit small for a sailboat. Whole time watching we're doing a bit of cypherin'. Think that the lake measures just a bit over 100 acres. Maybe 1/2  mile N-S and 3/4 mile E-W at it's widest. Subtract maybe another 1/10th mile along the eastern shore which is silted up to just under 1ft depth - we've had to line the SUP a distance throughout that area when it's 9 inch fin dragged bottom. Map distance for our usual paddle route is a shoreline loop of around 1.8 mile circumference hugging the shoals. Venturing outside that loop will afford ya' a draft of less than 1ft. We're figurin' they're gonna' need at least 3ft. Winds were fine - maybe 5mph. It could be double that on the water. It can get pretty windy out there. There were several instances that we've really struggled paddling into the wind. Quit paddlin' and you're quickly blown in reverse 5 or 10ft. Cross-current you're ridin' a bongo board. Once saw a gal out there on an inflatable SUP bein' blown around in circles. Couldn't get 100ft off shore. At least a hard board can cut the water and not just bob around on the surface.

Back in the '80's - '90's there used to be a few sailboarders who frequented the lake. Sailboarding used to be a big deal back in those days. Knew one of 'em through work. Talked a few times of meeting 'em over there to give it a try. Never came about. Eventually lost contact with 'em after he moved on to a new job. That eventually all died out. Haven't seen one around since then. 

But, back to the sailboat. Hey, what do we know. Our sailing experience is limited to plastic boats in the bathtub.

(Internet Image - source Greg Pease Photography. Thanks - no harm intended. Nice work)
We were always fascinated with sailing while living in Severna Park, MD, along the shore of the Severn River, in turn just up the road from Annapolis, MD, in turn along the shore of sailing mecca Chesapeake Bay. About every third person in the neighborhood owned a sail or power boat. Never got to go for a cruise, however. Invited a few times but was always busy at some other endeavor come the weekend. One thing that we always noticed about those older hard-core sailing guys was that they were all pretty physically fit - must be a pretty good workout tacking and jibing all weekend.

Anyway, once launched, it was obvious that the skipper knew the lakebed and had probably been there before. That small sailboat added a bit of dimension to the scale of the lake. Is a bit larger lake than it appears. Looked like fun.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

SUP (Cinema Part 2)

 End of the line - a hot but comfortable five miles out...

... a bit of effort with reward...

... big sky water summit of the ridge - a photogenic spot

All down river from there...

... all a few days back - lots of wildlife - flocks of merganser and wood ducks, deer, osprey, squirrel, crows, swifts, water snakes, hawks, turkey vultures, two beaver kits that sat along the river bank barkin' at Zman while photographing them - and somethin' black and unidentified that ran across ahead of the trail on the hike in...


First became aware of Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) during a 2010 trip out to California's Huntington and Malibu beaches...

... watchin' this guy right here from the deck of Huntington Beach pier - he was rippin' on that thing, too. Thought that was pretty interesting - he was the only guy in the surf riding one...

Next day we were up the coast at Malibu's Surfrider Beach - saw a few more boards. Many of the folks were out beyond the breaks paddlin' around in the open ocean - most long distance. Forward thinking as usual - immediately the light bulb went on - "Boy, those things look like they'd be a lot of fun on long flatwater stretches of river or lakes back in PA - and a good workout ta' boot!"

A week later got back to PA and immediately looked in to where ya' purchase and what would be a good board for the river. No inflatable boards back then. The few we found were all soft top/ hard foam boards for paddling ocean waves. A bit sketchy for our intent ("Bet those hard foam boards ding pretty easy") - no big rocks or shallow rocky bottoms (usually) at the coastline shore breaks . One company, Surftech, made a 12'-1" soft top/hard foam board advertised as designed by big wave surfer and at the time the sports premiere practitioner, Laird Hamilton (would like to know what he got paid per board for havin' his name on 'em) and shaped by master craftsman Ron House. Can't beat that duo, we guessed. On top of that, REI peddled the brand and would ship 'em direct to store for pickup. Conveniently, they'd recently opened a store in SWPA. We called the store direct to place an order and spent probably twenty minutes on the phone with a sales person trying to explain what we were talking about. Luckily they had an item number on their website so was eventually able to communicate with the guy. Can't fault him, though. Not one person to whom we had tried to describe the activity had a clue as to what we were talking about ("What the f*k are you doin' now?... a surfboard ya' paddle on the river??!). Got some unusual looks.

As suspected, the foam boards (eventually picked up a second) did ding (dent) a bit easily so we took it easy on 'em, limiting their use to forgiving stretches of river. After a few seasons, and as the activity became more popular, inflatable boards - synthetic elastomer coated tight stitched polyester fabric similar to a rubber raft -  more suitable for river "running" and distance touring became available. That's all we use on the river nowadays - they take a pretty good beating. The foam boards are still the preference for the lake - they're pretty fast.


Again back in 2010 - we visited a usual paddling spot to shoot a bit of photography and video footage to test out a then recent GoPro camera and several camera mounts. The footage wasn't bad so we edited together a short for fun:

SUP (2010)
Run time 7min (approx.)

A couple DSLR images we probably posted previously herein:

Monday, June 6, 2022

Fightin' for the Seabees

Got a call from a good client - "Hey, we're involved with design and constructing a new memorial to the Navy Seabees. Callin' around to a few consultants to see if you guys can help out. One condition - it's all donation work in support of the project. No compensation involved, but as a thank you major contributors will get their name permanently etched on a brick in the memorial wall honoring the former fighting men. Thought about it for a minute. Not a hard decision - and our regional VP and direct supervisor (and overall good guy, Jack) was a former Seabee ta' boot. "You bet, count us in - although, we want the name of our VP, Jack, on the brick". For our contribution we subsequently scheduled a crew, equipment and field engineer for a day for some preliminary site evaluation.

Never mentioned a word about it to Jack. After completion of the project, during his next visit in town took 'em up there for a surprise visit. He got a bit misty, especially when he saw his eponymous memorial brick. Those were fondly remembered and often quoted times for Jack. No tales of daring combat, but some interesting seat-of-your-pants engineering and construction.

A week or two later get a call from the big cheese corporate CEO himself. He lays into me - "How can you be out there doing work for free?!... that office isn't making any money as it is!! (after a big monthly deduction for corporate overhead)... Now we're liable for anything that goes wrong!!!... what the f*k are you thinking??!!... and this is the same guy who was gloating during his address to our group at the last regional managers conference over personally taking a group of clients on a $32K hunting trip to Texas. Let him rage on, the whole time thinkin' "f*k you too - it took guys bein' buried all across the Pacific to get that memorial built - I only had to piss off one a**hole CEO".

"Thanks for the call - nice talkin' to ya' again, Howell." 

He got over it. Was a decent guy actually - got to pay himself big bucks to chew people out. Probably made five successive similar calls immediately after slamming the phone in my ear.

Internet image - Navy Seabee Memorial, North Tonawanda, NY. That's a pretty cool vintage cable-tool bulldozer. Note the metal sculptured Seabee logo right of the photo. Brick wall to the rear. Think those brick pavers may be etched in memoriam as well - may be wrong (been a while)

Honoring all the fighting men and gals this day

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Solo (Cinema Part 1)

 Back in 2004 we had a brilliant idea to publish a few completed film and video productions for internet viewing. Question was, how to go about it? We had a few bucks, creative wherewithal, but was a bit lacking technically with regard to the "cybernetics" involved for such an endeavor. At the time there was no existing on-line video streaming service providers available (the folks over at then unknown YouTube and Vimeo were concurrently hard at work with similar venture, albeit much larger scale, technologically and financially). Depending upon the success of our small start-up, we envisioned an even broader scope, providing outlet for like-minded photographers/filmmakers with a connection to the wild and conservation (other than just a cliff to jump off of or blowing the ass off the last remaining grizzly roaming the range).

We were eventually assisted by a brilliant guy named Jeff Walters who set us up a web site with video streaming capability (powered by Adobe Flash Player and third-party server capacity). The site went on-line in 2005, preceding aforementioned YouTube and Vimeo by a few months (at least that's the first time we were aware of them). Their emergence tossed our business plan out the window, so ever after we've been at it for the usual fun. We managed the site (producing our own content) since then. Nothing that we'd personally call brilliant, but we always received a favorable response. Out favorite comments were from folks who said that they liked to view our stuff while "f*k'n off at work".

Just recently we decided to disband the website. This was mainly in response to Adobe disabling Flash Player support at the end of 2020. We also had since moved on to other endeavors. We hadn't really added any new content since around 2012, and hadn't picked up a motion picture (aka: video) camera since around 2010, concentrating on still photography. The web site had been lingering. The old format video content, while still fun to view, had additionally become aged and definitely not up to current standards. Time to move on. 

Since then we've had a few folks inquire as to the availability of MP4 or DVD-format copies of certain videos. That's not a problem as we have all the content stored (DVD-format) on a DVD disc printer hard drive. To simplify, we used some recent free time to convert the videos from DVD to MP4-format for upload to computer hard drive. We subsequently opened a YouTube account for uploading for private viewing access. We'll occasionally link to one herein. 

In tribute to Strongman Matt, our inaugural upload is Solo (2004):

Solo (2004)
Run Time: 33min (approx.)
(Note: There's a bit long leader - video starts about 20 seconds in)

Sorry - no drops over 100ft waterfalls (although there is a drop over 2ft 'Killer Falls' therein). We remember when an "extreme" maneuver was to surf a Class III rapid while spinning your paddle over your head. Gotta' love progress. It's still some fun viewing the scenic lower Yough River and rapids below Ohiopyle SP.

We recall that filming occurred over three days spread over a week in July. We only had the single week available, so we had to take what we got. We had a few later short pick-up days for some needed B-Roll content. Water level ranged between 2.8ft to 3.2ft OPG* - Class III. We had hoped for water level between 4ft to 6ft - Class IV (best for open boating the lower Yough, our opinion), but that didn't happen. First day we had forgotten our primary light carbon-nylon paddles, having to resort to our plastic back up paddles we always carried. We had to keep using them the rest of the shoot for continuity sake. 

The subject was never to highlight the prowess of the individual, rather, the solitary wilderness experience. Lots of fun as we were on the river no later than 5am each day to beat the eventual commercial rafting flotillas. That worked out well other than day two when the guided fleet caught up to us shortly past 'Swimmers Rapid'. It was a bit of a chore positioning framing to exclude six crew rafts and guide paddled kayaks that would pop out of nowhere. We did get some unexpected and interesting footage of river hero Jeff Snyder stand-up paddling his inflatable kayak through 'Bottle of Wine' rapid, years before inflatable SUP's were even considered.

A bit more information can be found in this previous post - Lower Yough River (click to view)

*OPG - Ohiopyle Gauge

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Two Wrongs

Johnny Utah: “Yea - I got my Knee folded back about 90ยบ the wrong way.” 

Bodhi: “That’s why you never went pro?”

Johnny Utah: “Two years of surgery - missed my window. Went to law school instead.”

Bodhi: “Law school? You’re a Lawyer?! Well, life’s not over yet man, you’re surfin’.”

                                                                                                    - 'Point Break (1991)

 "Knowledge is conventionally considered to be of two kinds: subjective and objective, knowing what and knowing how, having and being. The 'what' type is objective knowledge that you can acquire and have. It's the analytical knowledge of science, of facts that can be measured, calculated and tested, and so is almost the only knowledge taught in schools... The other kind of knowledge is "how", knowledge of being, of body, mind and soul that you can only discover for and in yourself."

                                                                                      - 'The Tao' (Mark Forstater - 2001)

Creating an authoritarian "coalition" to promote and encourage throngs of migrant city folks to overuse and disrupt long established traditional climbing areas, many natural rattlesnake habitat, makes about as much sense to us as establishing an authoritarian government entity "to protect wildlife and their natural habitats" that subsequently installs a 24/7/365 hissing, vibrating gas well directly enclosed by natural rattlesnake habitat. Not long thereafter, and to present, there is not a snake to be seen. And that was probably the largest concentration of rattlers we've encountered here within our beloved ridge tops. Climbed there for over twenty years - would occasionally step over rattlers. They didn't bother us - we didn't bother them.

Bodhi: They only live to get radical, they don't have any real understanding of the sea, so they'll never get the spiritual side of it."

SWPA Yellow Phase Timber Rattler

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather , he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else... From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands"

                                                                                                                    - St. Paul the Apostle

Our sermon for today