New Mexico surge

November 21, 2020

Social distancing at Ft. Union. My walk back to the housing area (rooftops on the left). (Click on photos to enlarge)

It’s been a busy week since I last posted to the blog. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued strict restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases from last Monday until Nov. 30. People are ordered to stay at home except for essential activities. Non-essential businesses have to stop in-person services and essential businesses are to limit their capacity. The state has travel restriction if you enter New Mexico. There has been a mask mandate for anywhere outside your home. In announcing the restrictions, she said, “Make plans for a different kind of Thanksgiving – one without non-household members.”

The numbers are not high by New York standards but the total population is not large so the rate of infection is high for many counties. Fortunately I’m in Mora County, which is 1,934 square miles, population 4,881. They reported 2 cases on Friday.

The Ft. Union park is still open but the visitors center is closed. Brochures are out on a table at the entrance and the trail through the fort is self-guiding. The rangers are good about wearing masks in their offices and around the housing area. It is strange to be isolated out here and seeing occasional news reports.

From what I’ve seen, people seem to be taking this seriously. I went shopping this past Thursday in Las Vegas and the Lowe’s grocery store had many signs at the door an inside instructing shoppers to social distance. They say keep 2 carts apart – roughly six feet. Lots of markings on the floor at the checkout for where to stand and where not to stand. At Semilla Natural Food the precautions were the similar.

For me, it’s pretty low risk at the park. Walking to the visitors center I might see one of the maintenance rangers in his truck drive by. Sometimes there are no visitors in the parking area or park. I did talk in the offices with rangers Mary and BJ yesterday about doing a video interview for their social media as a substitute for the program I usually do as artist-in-residence. And they nicely invited me to the Thanksgiving dinner here in the housing area. If the weather is warm, we’ll eat outside. If it is cold we’ll get our plates and return to our apartments. I just ordered a pie from Pedro’s Bakery in Las Vegas and will report after I pick it up.

The moon has been in a very beautiful crescent phase, getting larger every day this week. I’ve been out every night, sometimes late. I’ve been working on some different ideas about photos and also making some time lapse videos. During these few days, the moon lights up the landscape without washing out the stars. Soon the moon will be too bright, but the last few days have been productive.

Lowe’s signs inside the grocery store.
Beautiful two-day old moon setting. Earthshine can be seen here, a phenomenon observed and described by Leonardo da Vinci. Sunlight reflects off the Earth which then illuminates the night side of the moon (the non-crescent part).
Wagon wheel in the corral lit by the moon.
The International Space Station flies over one of the chimney remnants Friday evening. The 3-minute exposure depicts the station as a streak going through the plane of our galaxy.
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Viva Las Vegas! (NM)

November 13, 2020

The train station, still in use. (Click on photos to enlarge).

Yesterday I drove down to the town of Las Vegas for some shopping. Somehow there is another town called Las Vegas. This one is much smaller than the Nevada version and there aren’t any casinos. It has a nice railroad station and the Castaneda hotel, one of a series of hotels developed by Fred Harvey along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. I took a look at the old central square and there was a big filming production going on. They were filming an episode of a TV show called, “Roswell, New Mexico”. Funny that they came to Las Vegas. I found Semilla Natural Foods for some grocery shopping, which was next to what looked like a pilates/yoga studio.

At the park on Veterans Day, Ranger Greg was dressed in a period U.S. Army uniform from the Civil War era. He thought it appropriate to wear the uniform, which he had done in the past during park events. It was in the 50’s, sunny but cool. Perfect weather, Greg said, for the heavy wool uniform. Greg has amazing knowledge about history of the park, the Native Americans who were part of this region and the Spanish descendants that came up through Mexico (when this was part of Mexico). He also helped run the night sky programs, setting up telescopes and often having groups camp overnight.

The moon has been illuminating the landscape nicely in the early morning hours. The park is very different at night. No big animals, but coyotes that often howl. A bit scary since you don’t know where they are.  

Murals painted on buildings for the TV filming.
Greg in his Civil War period U.S. Army uniform. The rangers greet visitors at an outdoor table.
The Milky Way above a wall lit by the moon.
Remnants of chimneys from the officers houses. Orion and some winter stars are high overhead. On the right is a bright Mars.
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On the high plains: Ft. Union

November 8, 2020

Driving towards the plains on I-25.

I’m here on the high plains of New Mexico as the artist-in-residence at Fort Union National Monument. The park is at 6,775 feet in altitude and the wind is howling across the plain this morning. Ranger B.J. told me soldiers stationed here would call it Fort Windy.

The national monument is the site of an Army fort that existed in three iterations from 1851 to 1891 in the newly acquired New Mexico Territory. The fort was part of American expansion into the southwest and is situated at the intersection of two main branches of the Santa Fe Trail. You can still see wagon wheel ruts carved into the earth along the path of the trail. Ancestral lands of a dozen native American nations were trod on and settled by Hispanos, people of Spanish descent from Mexico, and then the U.S. Army.

Over a year ago I applied through the National Parks Arts Foundation for an artist-in-residence stint at the park. I didn’t know much about the park, but my friend Rush from Albuquerque said it was in an area with lots of history and it is fairly remote so the sky is very dark. I was accepted in March and wasn’t sure until recently if the residency would happen due to the pandemic. Park employees are careful about wearing masks and distancing. There are not very many visitors so I don’t see many people during a day.

Arriving in Albuquerque on Nov. 2, it was nice to see most people wearing masks on the street, and all wearing masks indoors. Like most other states, New Mexico is seeing an increase in Covid cases.

I’m staying in a small studio apartment in the ranger housing area about a half mile from the visitor center. It’s in a complex with an administration and maintenance buildings. The low one-story structures give it the look of a tiny town. I think three other park staff live here.

Seems like it’s hard to social distance from people here because it’s hard to find other people. The road leading into the park dead ends here, so there is little traffic during the day and none at night. It is very quiet here, a nice bit of solitude.

The park consists of the remnants of adobe walled structures that made up the fort. It reminds me of a more modern Chaco Culture, the park in northwest New Mexico that preserves ancient pueblo Indian buildings. I thought the shapes of the walls would lend themselves to interesting foregrounds against the sky.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

My efficiency apartment in the ranger housing.
The park: remnants of adobe walled structures are preserved.
First night out – Lots of stars!
Second night – green airglow recorded by the camera. Only seen in very dark sites, it is light emitted by atoms recombining at night after being photoionized by the sun during the day.
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Sky, Moon, Sun

January 7, 2020

Join us for the opening of Sun, Moon, Sky, an exhibit of night sky landscapes by Stan Honda, on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 presented by Tribeca New Music and nancy manocherian’s the cell. On display will be Stan’s striking images of the night sky, eclipses and the space shuttle.

The reception will feature a musical performance of Sapphire by Preston Stahly, inspired by a dawn astronomical twilight experienced at sea. It will be performed by violinist Jennifer Choi with a video of Stan’s images.

The exhibit runs until Feb. 6, the framed archival prints will be available for purchase. (The Cell is open Tuesday to Friday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm)

Click on image below or check our Facebook event.

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Night sky

May 24, 2019

The guard tower and Milky Way. Bright object to the right is Jupiter. (Click on photo to enlarge)

One goal was to try and do some night sky photos of the structures at Minidoka. Thankfully, the site is far enough outside of Twin Falls that you get a good view of the stars and even the Milky Way. As you can see there is quite a bit of artificial light along the horizon from the outlying towns looking to the southeast (from the guard tower) but the view overhead is nice.

The tower and the fire station were taken on two separate night, both around 1:30 to 2:00 am in the early morning. The Milky Way rises about 1:00 am in early May and I thought that would make a good photo. Nearby lights from farms cast a faint glow on the tower and station. The nights I was there, it was very still though somewhat noisy due to the rush of the water in the irrigation canal which goes right by the guard tower.

While the stillness is similar to being there during the day, it was a different feeling being surrounded by the night sky and stars.

When researching the Idaho area, I saw Craters of the Moon National Monument on the map, close to Twin Falls. It sounds like a perfect place for the night sky landscapes so I took a two-day trip out there. Thanks to Janet from the Friends of Minidoka group, I stayed at her family’s cabin northwest of the park. (Friends of Minidoka co-sponsor a yearly pilgrimage to the site and work closely with the park service to support and help fund projects at the site. If you want to support the Minidoka site, the Friends group is a good one to donate to.)

Craters is a large volcanic lava field with an amazing landscape dotted with cinder cones and quite a bit of plant life. The ‘a’a lava (stony and rough) was familiar to me from my trip to Haleakala in Maui where I learned the two major types of lava, ‘a ‘a and pahoehoe, use Hawaiian terms to describe them.

The two pictures here are limber pines that grow in the park. The shapes of the branches are great and make for striking subjects. An almost first quarter moon lights up the gnarled pines against the starry sky. There was little color in the shots so I made them into black and white.

The fire station. The constellation Cassiopeia is right over the roof in the center
Craters of the Moon: The root of a limber pine lit by the moon with the Big Dipper.
Craters of the Moon: Limber pine branches lit by the moon.
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American Vernacular

May 17, 2019

A mostly tin man, with axe, on Hunt Road, on the way to the Minidoka site.
 (Click on pictures to enlarge)

My photographer friend Ken and I (see his excellent blog, ), along with Ann’s help, are on the lookout for photos of what we call the “American Vernacular”. Mostly scenes where you might say, “Only in America” or “Only in Idaho”. Hard to define but we know it when we see it. When I saw the tin man above, I knew it was the American Vernacular. This is on the road a few miles from the Minidoka site. It was a bit scary, as it is wielding an axe.

As with life everywhere, athletic activity is important to the community. Even more so at Minidoka and the other camps with the lack of a normal life. The park service has built a baseball field near Block 22 where they believe an original field existed. The simple backstop, wood stands and single bench for each team recalls the simple materials that must have been used by the incarcerees. Volunteers built this field in a single day with donated materials.

An interesting book for younger children (or even adults) is called “Baseball Saved Us” about the experiences of a boy in the Minidoka camp. Other books on baseball in the concentration camps are “A Diamond In the Desert” by Kathryn Fitzmaurice and “Nikkei Baseball” by Samuel Regalado.

Food production was difficult during the war and each camp often had large areas set aside for agriculture. The camp administrators were not able to provide the usual foods that the Japanese Americans were used to except for rice. Many of the incarcerees were farmers and they began to grow crops that fed the entire camp. At Minidoka a root cellar was built, with timber poles, to store the harvests. It is partially underground with a roof covered with straw and ground cover. We got permission from the park service to go inside. I wore a hard hat in case anything loose fell on me. Emily, the intern, was posted outside in case anything happened. It was boring for her since nothing did happen.

Sunset over the baseball field.
Early morning sun on home plate.
A panoramic view inside the root cellar. There is an entrance at each end to the far left and far right. Horizontal lines get distorted in the creation of the wide view.
One of the entrances to the root cellar.
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Local color and Block 22

May 13, 2019

Tattos AND aquariums!

Last Saturday I joined Hanako and another park employee, Sam, at a local restaurant called Koto Brewery. Across the street was a really interesting business called Churchman’s Tidepool Room. Their sign says it is a, “Tattoz & Body Piercing * Salt and Freshwater Fish” as in aquariums. Quite a combo. I believe it is related to Churchman’s Jewelry & Idaho Artistry next door.

In the first picture below, you are looking at a single 16×20 feet room carved out of the barracks in Block 22 (the white structure in the “Americanism…” post). If you are a couple or family of three, you would be living in this space. There was a single wood or coal burning stove for heat that was attached to the chimney at right. There was no running water, bathroom or kitchen. Separate barracks buildings in the block housed latrines for women and men and a large mess hall for all meals. Most barracks had six units in the 120 foot long building the largest being 24 x 20 feet for a large family.

 (The diagonal pieces of wood are being used to support the current day barrack and mess hall. At 77-years-old both are not completely structurally sound).

Living unit in the barrack for a small family. (click on images to enlarge)

The mess hall is essentially a double-wide barrack. I’ve never seen one and this is an original building from Minidoka that had been used by a canning business and was moved back to the site. The park service restored the exterior in the same fashion as the fire station. Inside picnic-style tables recreating the original table are on display as well as period-style kitchen ware that matches what is seen in historical photos from the camp. It’s interesting to realize the group meals led to children often eating with their peers and not their families, leading to a breakdown in the family unit.

Purple flowers growing in the field with the mess hall.
Interior of the mess hall with tables.
Period kitchen ware on display. Similar items show up in historical photographs.
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The Minidoka Rangers

May 10, 2019

Minidoka rangers Hanako and Annette.  (click on images to enlarge)

I thought I would introduce the two park service rangers I’ve been working with here at Minidoka, Hanako and Annette. They work out of a small temporary visitor center that used to be the house of the Hermann family who farmed 128 acres where the historical site is now situated. In addition to all their other duties, the rangers give tours of the site, lately to school groups that bring classes to learn about the camp. Hanako has a personal connection to the Japanese American experience—four generations of her family were incarcerated at the Manzanar (Calif.) concentration camp. Emily, an intern that just started, was helpful in photographing the two rangers and later made sure the root cellar didn’t collapse on me as I wandered inside it (a future blog post).

On to the virtual tour. In a town of almost 10,000 people where almost all of the buildings are made of wood, you need a fire station. Minidoka had two, this is Fire Station #1. When the Hermann family received this homestead in 1950, the fire station was still standing and they lived in the structure until their house was built. This is one of two original buildings at Minidoka that are still in their historic location.

It’s essentially a barrack with an enlarged front to accommodate the fire trucks. The park service has nicely restored the exterior to as near original appearance as possible. For this project I decided to work on some panoramic photos to take in the wide expanse of these buildings and the site. The panoramas are composed of a series of vertical shots starting from the left and going to the right, usually about a span of 180 degrees. It’s really compressing onto a flat surface what your eyes naturally do. A result of this is distortion of straight lines, in this case the horizontal ones. This image used seven shots and were “stitched” together in a program called PTGui.

Intern Emily.

Panoramic view from the inside looking towards the big doors of the fire station
A cloud is reflected in a fire station window.
Hanako may not like this as she tidied up the floors for the photos, but I liked the light on the cobwebs.
Fire Station #1.
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“Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart….”

May 7, 2019

A panoramic view of much of the historic site.
(Click on images to enlarge)

As a historic site, Minidoka is doing an amazing job of telling the history of the camp, the daily life under pretty horrible conditions, and showing visitors a small part of what was at the time the 7th largest city in Idaho. In 1979 Minidoka was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in 2001 became the 385th unit of the National Park Service.

The panoramic shot above looks northwest from near the corner of Hunt Road and S 1450 E road and gives you an idea of the terrain at the site. Mostly flat and now mostly agriculture, 600 buildings were crowded onto 946 acres. In the center are a barrack (white structure) and a mess hall in the location of Block 22. All camps were divided into this “block” format, at Minidoka twelve barracks, a mess hall, latrine, showers and a recreation hall made up Block 22.

Near the guard tower pictured in the previous blog are the remains of a guard station at the original main entrance that monitored all movements in and out of Minidoka. Next to it is a waiting room for visitors who were allowed to see friends and family restricted to the camp.

From this entrance is a 1.6 mile walking trail with very informative interpretive signs describing the location and daily life in the camp, many with historic photos. At the start of the trail is the reconstructed Honor Roll, which highlights the nearly 1,000 people from Minidoka that served in the U.S. military during WWII and commemorating those that died in the war.

An interesting quote on the Honor Roll is from Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, who a year earlier had signed Executive Order 9066 that lead to the mass incarceration of only Japanese Americans: “Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry….” FDR, Feb 1, 1943

A barrack (left) and mess hall (right) in Block 22. For scale, the barrack is 120 feet long and 20 feet wide.
The guard station and behind it the waiting room at the original main entrance.
The reconstructed Honor Roll.
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Minidoka, Idaho

May 2, 2019

(Click on images to enlarge)

I’m standing in the high desert of southern Idaho twelve miles northeast of Twin Falls. The sun is bright and puffy clouds gather on the eastern horizon. I’m reading a plaque that marks the Minidoka Relocation Center, a concentration camp that incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II. It is one of the most direct and unvarnished views of the incarceration that I’ve seen at many of these camps. Please read the text in the photo above to get an impression of the history and location.

I’m here for two weeks to document the buildings at the Minidoka National Historic Site for the park, which is run by the National Park Service. Chief interpretation ranger Hanako Wakatsuki invited me out to work on this project. I hope to also photograph some of the camp barracks that are scattered around the counties here that have been used as storage or out buildings by homesteading farmers.

The small parking area is described as the camp entrance and from 1942-45 it was the actual entry to Minidoka. Remnants of a reception center and military police building are there, informational plaques, an honor roll of incarcerees that served in the U.S. military during WWII and a recently reconstructed guard tower looming over the entrance.

An interesting quote is included on a panel: “The sentry towers are always silhouetted in the distance. It is not enough that they are not being used—to the residents they stand waiting for the day when they will be used. The eight sentry towers are ever present as a symbol of their confinement….no other single factor has had a serious effect on the residents’ morale as the erection of the guard tower.”—War Relocation Authority, 1943 (The administering government department).

The guard tower was reconstructed in 2014 by students in Boise State University’s Dept. of Construction Management program.
A facsimile of a barbed wire fence was constructed along a canal near the entrance, where a fence would have been during the war.
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More Lei!

April 9, 2019

We both get presented lei at the ‘Iolani School Community Night talk

Ann and I were in Honolulu last week without anytime to post to the blog. Not on vacation, but working as the ‘Iolani School 2019 McDowell-Oda Chair for Communications and Journalism. Christine, an old friend of Ann’s from the AP who has worked in Honolulu for many years, had recommended several journalists to the teacher at ‘Iolani in charge of the chair. The school liked the various subjects I’ve worked to photograph over the years and extended the invitation before I left for Maui. They asked that I speak to the students in various classes such as photography, U.S. History, Race and Social Justice, Advanced Placement History. It was an honor to be chosen and speak at the private high school (Barack Obama went to the other well-known private high school in Oahu, Punahou).

Instead of returning to New York at the end of my Haleakala stay, I took a short flight to Oahu. Ann was able to come April 1 and spend the week. I had a full schedule of classes, 3-4 a day, but it was fun to meet the students and find out what they are learning. Ann was able to see the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Bishop Museum while I was at the school. Of course, I was presented with several lei during my stay by the teachers and have quite a collection. Ann was also given one at the Thursday night Community Night talk I gave.

The only drawback was that I got incredibly ill in the middle of the week. I had been feeling odd since Tuesday afternoon but thought it was minor.  On Wednesday after the classes I really felt bad. Ann thought my forehead felt hot and bought a thermometer. It read 103.3 degrees! So she immediately got me to an urgent care center located in a nearby hotel. By then I was over 104 degrees, the nurse and doctor were surprised. The doctor thought I had the flu by the symptoms but a blood test didn’t show any. They gave me a large amount of Tylenol for the fever and an IV of water. After a few hours I felt better. Originally, I was put on the Tamiflu medicine. Friday morning I called about a lab test that came in. They said I had campylobacter, which you usually get from undercooked meat. So food poisoning. Ugh. I only missed a few of the classes and was able to solder on through the Community Night talk and two Friday classes. Then my stay at ‘Iolani was done. On Cipro now and I do feel much better.

The school, teachers and students were all great. It was a good experience to present the talks for all the classes.

Ann and I managed to get lots of macadamia nuts for gifts, among other things, and find really nice aloha (Hawaiian) shirts. We said Aloha to Hawaii on Saturday and returned home, seeing the sun set and then rise on the same flight.

You know you’re in Hawaii when you see The Teachings of Buddha in with the Bible.
Waikiki sunrise on the day we leave.
A hazy orange sunrise greets us as we approach New York Sunday morning.
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Aloha Haleakala

April 1, 2019

The beautiful lei of real flowers given to me by ranger Honeygirl. Aloha Honeygirl and Haleakala!

Last Friday was my final day of the residency and I said aloha to Haleakala and the rangers. Honeygirl gave me a parting gift of a beautiful lei, this one made of real flowers! It was an amazing month and I still have to sort through the many photos I took. I headed down the mountain to Kaluhui for two days. I extended the stay in Maui for a day because I got an invitation from park superintendent Natalie to come to a diner gathering at her house on Saturday night. Then I head to Ohau for another adventure.

I forgot to write about two night sky photography workshops I did at the park headquarters visitors center on March 23 and 24. The rangers were quite happy to host the workshops, they announced the first one and it quickly sold out- reaching the 20 maximum participants quickly and many on a waiting list. We agreed I could do a second one the next night and that filled up fast. Many of the students were from Maui, they could easily drive up to the park any time and practice. I did a short tutorial on camera controls and settings and we headed up to the summit just before sunset.

After over a week of pristine skies over the summit, the weekend brought very high clouds (higher than the 10,000 ft. summit) which threatened the view of stars. The clouds did produce two spectacular sunsets each evening of the workshops. But as night fell, a hole appeared almost straight overheard both nights, and we got views of Orion and the bright stars around it. Everyone was able to get photos of the stars.

Below, some more night sky photos. From Kipahulu here’s a black & white version of the coconut trees looking south. There was so little color in the photo, it seemed to look best this way.

And from the beginning of March, I shot these ‘botanicals’ in Hosmer Grove, near the apartment and never posted them. You can see the familiar patterns of the Orion constellation and the Big Dipper.

Coconut trees in Kipahulu, the view looking south.  (click to enlarge image).

A pukiawe plant, in the background is the constellation Orion near the top branch, the bright stars Sirius (about in the middle left) and Canopus near the horizon. Canopus is usually thought of as a southern hemisphere star, at low latitudes in North America it can be seen.

A pilo shrub and the northern sky with the Big Dipper standing on its handle, two stars in the ‘dipper’ pointing towards Polaris, the North Star.
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The Road To Hana!

March 28, 2019

Starry night over a coconut tree. (Click on images to enlarge)

Many people have told me and Ann, “If Stan is in Maui, he has to take The Road to Hana!” A return trip to the Kipahulu section of Haleakala was in my plans, so this past Monday I set out. Various rangers and locals told me, “Don’t take the north road (The Road to Hana)! Too many tourists and it’s slow going.” A ranger at Kipahulu suggested taking The Road to Hana when I return, then the quicker, shorter south road going back to the summit area. My friend Ken had taken The Road to Hana with his family on a visit last year, he did say it was scenic but very slow. We decided if I’m here and going to Kipahulu that if I don’t take The Road to Hana, people back home will make fun of me. So three and a half hours later (for 75 miles), I arrive at the Kipahulu bunkhouse. The Road is very curvy and you drive through some amazing dense foliage, gorges and past waterfalls. There is a bamboo forest that is incredible. You don’t get many views of the coast and it is quite slow going. The panoramic views of the ocean and coast from the south road are hard to beat and I took that road back to the summit.

I settled into the bunkhouse and enjoyed the incredible scenery and solitude (a break from the solitude at the summit housing). It was warmer and more humid than my first trip there at the beginning of the month (blog post from March 8). The first night was not so great as rain interrupted the shooting. By the time I got back to the bunkhouse, it was pouring.

On Tuesday I got a roommate. Early in the morning as I was shooting a spider web off the lanai a visiting ranger arrived. Aaron is an electrician and works full-time at Mt. Rainer National Park in Washington. He has come to Kipahulu several times and is here to help with solar arrays and various electrical projects.

When Aaron returned to the bunkhouse after his day’s work, he suggested a walk to the point that we see from the house, I didn’t know you could access it. He said he found it on a previous trip by walking down the road a bit and seeing a small gate with a National Park Service sign on it. The trail is not advertised and is not in any park literature. The walk goes through grasses and through closed in trees and foliage, then opens up on to the point as you walk on crushed lava. Very small green plants grow between the lava making a great contrast. The view is really spectacular, compared to the ‘just spectacular’ view from the house and the other parts of the park. The ocean is on three sides and you can see the top of Haleakala partly shrouded in clouds. We arrived near sunset and it was very pleasant.

Tuesday night was about as clear as it can be for Kipahulu. Starting out pretty clear, my southern-facing time-lapse suddenly had a long dark cloud intruding into it. When that was done, I headed to the view of the ‘Ohe’o Gulch with a couple of waterfalls and several pools of rushing water. The moon rising in the east at 12:35am lit up the gulch as I had thought, between the clouds meandering across the sky. I shot for an hour there, then headed back to the bunkhouse.  

Wednesday morning I headed back on the south road to the apartment in the summit area. The car thermometer reached 78 degrees as I drove through the Kipahulu area along the coast. When I reached the apartment at 7,000 feet, it was 58 degrees.

During the daytime I’m slowly sifting through the images and working on them. Earlier in the month I shot a sequence for a star trail picture over the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. I just put it together and it turned out a bit better than I expected (below).

A spider and its web on the lanai of the Kipahulu bunkhouse after a light rain.  
(Click on images to enlarge)
Plant life between the hardened lava.
Star trails looking south over the DKIST at the observatory.  (From earlier in the month)
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Maui All-Stars and Moon variations

March 23, 2019

Youshikazu Yamauchi points out stars with a green laser for his “Maui All-Stars” star gazing tour. (Click on image to enlarge).

The great thing about being in a national park is that you meet all sorts of visitors who come for all sorts of reasons. Three times I’ve met up with Yoshikazu Yamauchi, who runs a business called “Maui All-Stars”. His card says, “Haleakala Sunset & Stargazing”. I’ve seen Yoshi at the Kalahaku Overlook, my favorite spot and I think his, too. A few weeks ago I saw a telescope set up in the small parking area I usually go to and saw a van of people. I started talking to the driver and found out he is Japanese, but moved to Maui and now leads stargazing tours, mainly for Japanese tourists. I told him what I was doing and he seemed impressed I came all the way from New York and I think told the 8 or 10 visitors about me. (I think he was a little disappointed I didn’t speak Japanese).

A week later I saw him at the same spot, he was setting folding chairs out for everyone. After tending to his guests, he offered me a cup of hot green tea. He gives the tours in Japanese, all while soft, mainly Hawaiian music, plays from the van. I’m familiar with some of the sky, so I could follow a bit of what he was describing to the people. He uses a green laser to point out stars and objects in the sky. I looked through the telescope and binoculars Yoshi had set up and got some nice views of star clusters, a galaxy and the moon. I saw him and his group a third time a day before the full moon as they watched the sunset.

The moon rises and moon sets here are remarkable for many reasons. Usually clear views from the high altitudes and incredible colors in the sky are two. Standing high on a lone mountain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is another. The first two pictures below were taken on the vernal equinox, March 20, 12 hours and 8 minutes apart. Both show an amazing phenomenon of the shadow of the Haleakala mountain being projected to the direction opposite the rising or setting sun onto the hazy atmosphere of our Earth.

The first shot shows the moon setting early Wednesday morning at 6:30 am, tucking in behind the island of Lanai with the Haleakala shadow to the left. This is from the summit area, just below 10,000 feet in elevation, above the cloud layer. The second shot is that evening at 6:38 pm, from the Kalahaku overlook, the full moon just breaking the horizon, rising through the shadow of the mountain and the shadow of the Earth. Hanakauhi, the mist maker, is in the foreground. Fortunately, no mist to be seen. This is really a sight to be experienced.

A third moonrise shot taken minutes after the one above is more abstract and gives you the sense of how vast the environment is here.

March 20, 6:30 am, moon set from summit area. (Click on images to enlarge).

March 20, 6:38 pm, moon rise from Kalahaku Overlook.
March 20, moon rise from Kalahaku Overlook.
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Into the crater, Pt. 2

March 20, 2019

Our galaxy with a silhouetted lava formation. (click on images to enlarge)

Blog reader Lois said it best in a comment to the last post: “… I sense that all of the senses are keenly awakened by what you are experiencing in this unique adventure.” She is so right, this is an environment that fills all the senses all the time. The views, the subtle colors, the plant smells, the rain-like mist or sun and the sounds. The park information says inside the Haleakala crater is one of the quietest places in the world and it truly seems that way. It’s not silence, there is a quiet that lets you know there is an environment out there living and breathing. Often in the evenings I would hear distant sounds, just perceptible, almost a single noise, unsure of what it is. I realized it was the call of hundreds of ‘ua’u birds (“oooo ah oo”) nesting in the crevasses of the volcano walls.

After showing Ranger Honeygirl a selection of the photos I’ve shot, she said Hanakauhi, the mountain in the background of the ‘ahinahina image I posted last time, means “maker of mist” in Hawaiian.  A very descriptive name since clouds and mist seem to emanate directly from the mountain. In the crater I could sit and watch clouds form and dissipate and roll on by from the Holua cabin. It could be perfectly clear and two minutes later almost overcast. The clouds seem to move by as if I was watching a time-lapse film speeded up, though it was happening in real time in front of me.

Thought I would show other images from my time in the crater. The plants are remarkable looking in the light of a quarter moon, which provides all the landscape illumination in these photos.

‘Ahinahina plants (silversword). These plants bloom once in their lifetime, then die. Skeletons of dead plants lie where they were growing
(Click on images to enlarge)

‘Ahinahina lit by the moon.

‘Ili’ahi (sandalwood) tree, endemic (grows only in Haleakala) and rare. An upturned Big Dipper hovers overhead.
‘A’e (fern) growing out of lava formations. The bright stars are from left to right, Alphard (in Hydra), Procyon (Canis Minor) and Betelgeuse (Orion).
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Into the crater and Tom Wolfe

March 16, 2019

Me and my shadow hiking out of the crater.

(Click on images to enlarge)

If you are reading this, I’ve made it out of the crater alive! It was quite an adventure, hiking into and out of the Haleakala volcano going from 7,990 feet in elevation to 6,940 feet to Holua and back again. I stayed at the Holua “Hilton” as the ranger cabin is called. Also at the site is a visitor cabin with 12 bunks that can be reserved and a campground for tents, both with spectacular views of the valley in the crater. As artist-in-residence I was able to reserve nights in the ranger cabin, same as I did in Kipahulu last week.

My back pack might have weighed 35 pounds; carrying all my stuff (clothes, food, supplies) plus the camera equipment really added up. I didn’t need a tent or cooking utensils so that was a savings. From the Halemau’u trailhead to the cabin is 3.7 miles, which is about all I could think I could do. From the trailhead it is very steep, narrow and almost all rocky. Tuesday morning was part sun, part cloud that made the rocks wet and the mist seemed like rain.

Inside the crater is like a big valley, much greener than the summit area, but similar to the high deserts of the southwest. The environment is fascinating, part covered with lava flows from the past, hardened into dark rocks that can be quite sharp. Plant life grows between the cracks forming an interesting contrast.

The cabin is rustic, with 4 bunks, a counter/sink area for cooking and some storage bins. That’s about it. The water collected is non-potable but there is a large water filter that works by gravity on the counter. A two-burner propane stove heats water quickly. There are lots of pots, pans and utensils. I ate meals there, taking things like instant oats and camp meals that you only have to add boiling water to make.

The Holua Hilton, at the base of the crater rim.

The quiet is amazing, though the sounds of the ‘ua’u birds break that silence especially in the evening (“oooo ah oo” is the sound). Thousands of them must be calling, you hear them faintly in the distance. The inside of the crater is described as one of the quietest places on Earth.

After scouting out locations and subjects during the day, I spent two night photographing the ‘ahinahina plant, or silversword. It is silver in color to ward off the strong rays of the sun and looks quite alien day or night. It is one of the many plants endemic to Hawaii, Haleakala in particular. It is distantly related to the sunflower, which must have come here millennia ago.

The Milky Way was a sight at 3:00am, lying horizontal to the horizon and was worth waking up early. The third night I concentrated on the lava flows and plants, a first quarter moon was high lighting up the landscape.

Fortunately, Friday morning was clear and warm for the hike out. My pack was only a bit lighter, I ate almost all of the food but had to pack out the trash. It seemed like I was ascending straight up the side of the crater, though since I adjusted the straps on the pack, I was able to walk better and my pace was good. I ran into Tom Wolfe who was headed down the trail. Actually, a former New Yorker about 50 years old with a name he said is “hard to forget”. I was pretty exhausted when I reached the parking lot but glad I made it out.

A ‘ahinahina plant glowing under a nearly first quarter moon and Hanakauhi mountain in the distance.

(Click on images to enlarge)
Lava formation with a tipped Big Dipper above and Polaris, the North Star, to the left.
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Squished moon, above the clouds

March 11, 2019

Mahalo for all the comments! I forgot to mention, if you click on the photos you get a bigger version with more detail.

Up until today it’s been very windy at the summit area. Often a big cloud will come in from the east and suddenly it’s like you’re in a fog. Water comes horizontally with the wind and while it’s not really raining, the effect is the same. That and high clouds have cut down on the star photos the last few days. But the moon set on Saturday was amazing in that as it approached the horizon, atmospheric distortion caused the orb to be ‘squished’ in appearance. The crescent lit directly by the sun is almost ‘touching’ the cloud, the Earthshine on the unlit portion glows orange, like an orange sunrise or sunset.

“Squished” moon setting between lava rocks,

Yesterday’s sunset was pretty remarkable from the summit. I’m hoping to limit the sunsets/sunrises to one each to not bore you with the dazzling sky. As I’m walking from the parking lot I see a row of people on an overlook and decided that was an interesting photo. The sun is just creeping below the big cloud layer at the top and you can see the clouds below the summit that the light is reflecting off of. Most of the time driving up or down the mountain, you are above clouds, like in an airplane.

Tanya Ortega from the National Parks Arts Foundation got in touch with astronomers from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, the group that runs the Haleakala Observatories at the summit. They put me in touch with Rob, a man who works at the observatories and would be my contact. I wanted to try to get some close-up photos of the telescope domes from angles that aren’t reached by the public viewpoints in the park. Rob showed me around the site last week and arranged for me to get access at night, which I’m very appreciative of. Couple of the big telescopes in the photos are the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the latest in state-of-the-art solar ground-based observatories and PanSTARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) which searches for Near Earth Objects that may collide with us.

Tuesday morning I’m hiking into the volcano to the Holua ranger cabin, just under 4 miles, for a 3-day stay. Pretty challenging for me as I’ll be carrying about a 30-pound pack (maybe more) with clothes, food and cameras. Going in isn’t the hard part, coming out (up to the crater rim) will be tough. Aloha, see you in a few days.

Sunset from the summit.
The Milky Way rises over PanSTARRS and the Daniels K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) in the pre-dawn hours.
Orion and stars over DKIST.
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Kipahulu and Shrimp Truck

March 8, 2019

View from the bunkhouse on a sunny Thursday morning.

In the middle of the week I traveled to Kipahulu, the area of the park that is on the ocean. It is an entirely different ecosystem as you can imagine. It is at the base of the Haleakala mountain and is tropical. Most of the day I got there it sprinkled or rained hard. It’s much warmer in Kipahulu than at the summit area so it was nice to wear shorts. I stayed in the ranger “bunkhouse” basically a large one-room house with a large deck on three sides. Inside is a small kitchen area with refrigerator and propane stove. Two beds were set up and two cots were available. I was alone so I picked one of the beds. The bunkhouse is on the edge of a cliff so the view down to the water is spectacular. You hear the waves crashing on the shore day and night. Except when the rain pours down, then you hear that pretty loud on the metal roof of the house. There is an outdoor shower with the spectacular view and two ‘vault’ toilets a few feet away.

With the solid cloud layer, it didn’t look like there would be much stargazing that night. But when they say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes” they weren’t kidding. After dinner I looked out a window and saw a few stars. I ran out with my camera to see the sky fairly clear overhead. You could see stars winking out as the clouds moved around. Soon fewer stars were seen and the window overhead closed. But Thursday morning was bright and sunny!

The staff are great, I got so speak with some at the entrance station and the visitor center. Many are Maui-born and live nearby the park. Later in the month I return for two days so I’m looking forward to that.

I drove to Kahului the next day before heading back to the summit area. Ann found out about “shrimp trucks” by searching for Maui food and insisted I try one. 808 Plates Maui was in the parking lot of the Home Depot and served Hawaiian “plates”. Basically, a lunch plate with entrée and two sides. I got the garlic shrimp, which is sautéed and put over rice, your sides are salad and a scoop of rice. Really, really good. Good thing I listened to Ann.

Fortified, I did some grocery shopping at a nearby organic store and returned to the apartment up on the mountain.

Bunkhouse by day. Outdoor shower is the small thing on the right.
Bunkhouse by night under wispy clouds.
808 Plates Maui shrimp (and more) truck.
The garlic shrimp.
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House of the Sun

March 5, 2019

Sun halo at the summit.

Haleakala means “House of the Sun” from a tale of the demigod Maui who lassoed the sun and got it to go slower across the sky. While at the summit of the mountain yesterday, I looked up to see a giant halo surrounding the sun, as it made its slow journey across the sky. High clouds in the atmosphere that contain ice crystals cause the light to be refracted and reflected to form a circle. This can happen with a bright moon also. I like the small figure walking towards the summit building.

In addition to the lei, Ranger Honeygirl gave me a bag of books about all aspects of the park. So, I have lots of homework to do. It’s great to learn the history and culture of the park. This will also help with knowing the names of the plants I photograph.

On to the night sky. The first couple of days have been spectacular at night, hard to beat the views. I’ve been scouting and checking out different overlooks, all seem very good. Saturday night I went to the Kalahaku Overlook at 9,324 feet which several rangers said was their favorite. I wanted to photograph the zodiacal light, a phenomenon of sunlight reflecting off dust particles along the plane of our solar system, and from our perspective, along the constellations of the zodiac. In February and March it appears in the west after sunset from dark locations. Looking west from Kalahaku down below was most of Maui, all lit up. Despite that, the pyramid shaped zodiacal light shone very brightly and you could see stars almost to the horizon. In the photo, clouds well below the summit reflect the city and town lights.

After a few hours of sleep, I went back up the mountain to Kalahaku and looked east this time to see the Milky Way rising around 3:00 am Sunday morning. It was quite bright to the eye and showed up incredibly well in photos. A beautiful orange crescent moon rose 5:00am, trailing three planets and the bright star Antares in Scorpius. It was truly a sight against the backdrop of our galaxy. I’ll include an annotated version to point out the various objects.

My homework.
Zodiacal light over Maui (pyramid of light at left).
View east from Kalahaku, just after 5 am.
Annotated version.
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Haleakala National Park

March 3, 2019

Hello all, I have the honor to serve as the 2019 artist-in-residence at Haleakala National Park in Maui. Haleakala is an incredible park, ranging from sea level to 10,000 feet in altitude at the summit of the dormant volcano. I’ll be here for the month of March, for an entire lunar cycle. I arrived just before noon on March 1 and Interpretive Ranger “Honeygirl” Duman placed a beautiful green and black lei around my neck, welcoming me to the park. She made this lei and explained the diamond pattern represents each generation passing down their knowledge to the next one. She chose the colors- green for the national park and black for the night sky photos I’ll be taking! What a great gift and so carefully thought out. Honeygirl mentioned “mana’o”, the sharing of ideas or thoughts that the diamond pattern also represents. I’m settled into a small cabin in the staff housing area near the main visitor center at 7,000 feet. Wanting to acclimatize to the altitude I didn’t want to go far the first night. I walked down the road to the campground near us to shoot the stars. The sky is quite stunning, I’m not sure I’ve gotten so many stars in a photo. Should be a fun month!

And thanks to Tanya Ortega from the National Parks Arts Foundation for persevering for over a year to make this happen. Through a false start last year and government shutdown this year everything finally came together.

The lei given to me by ranger Honeygirl Duman.
The cabin the park assigned me. Very comfortable.
First night out. Hmm, more stars than in NY!
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