An Encounter With The Finger of Fate

Sunrise on the Finger of Fate © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so the saying goes.  A picture can also change carefully established plans.  I am a living example.

The plan was a 2nd photo-shoot of the Warbonnet Peak and Monte Veritas region. However, my support team of Chris and Sara Lundy (co-owners of Sawtooth Mountain Guides) viewed Sunset Serenade in the Sawtooths after its posting and pointed out during a planning session that we had never photographed in this remarkable region.  A few weeks earlier, Claire Porter and I captured Devan Jackson’s herd heading out to pasture after a hard day of work. The image; Sunset Serenade in the Sawtooths features the high peaks of the mountain range – including Decker Peak, Finger of Fate, Sevy Peak, The Arrowhead and Mount Cramer. In short, these peaks and others in the line represent a wall of granite that reaches 4,000 vertical feet above the valley floor in less than six miles distance.

After 10 minutes of discussion, we change plans.  We decide to attempt to cover the terrain between two of the highest peaks in the Sawooths; #3 Decker Peak (10,704) and #2 Mt. Cramer (10,716) in four days. The highest peak in the Sawtooths – Thompson Peak (10,751 ft)  has been the subject of a number my climbs and photo-shoots. Summiting Mt. Cramer on this trip will only be possible if we find and navigate a descent from Dave’s Peak down to Profile Lake and back up Mt. Cramer at the end of the photo-shoot.

Hell Roaring Creek is the principle drainage up to the granite blocks we plan to traverse. The first 1.7 miles from the trail-head to Hell Roaring Lake is the only travel for the photo-shoot on a designated trail.  The remainder involves cross-country travel, boulder hopping, and climbing.  Hell Roaring Creek features 10 lakes between the valley floor up to the summit areas.

The Finger of Fate Tour

Waterfalls abound on the route to the Finger of Fate.

Hell Roaring Creek splits at Lake Clarice (8,200 ft). The drainage to the north features The Finger of Fate, Sevy Peak, and Red Bluff Peak (aka Birthday Cake) that also provides a means to climb into the Decker Creek drainage and summit Decker Peak.  The drainage to the south features The Arrowhead,  Sevy Peak, Daves Peak and a wall of spires topping out above 10,000 feet.  Sevy Peak is mentioned in both because it acts as the divider.

Our first efforts are hiking and scrambling up to the Finger of Fate.  The temperature on the trailhead is around 90 degrees.  Travel with heavy packs in these temperatures can prove to be demanding.  The Finger of Fate is among the most challenging rock climbs in the Sawtooths.  It was first summited in 1958 by Louis Stur and Jerry Fuller. All nine known routes are technical in nature and designated as Class 5.8 or above in the Yosemite Measurement Index.  In one word – incomprehensibly difficult to the average person.

Sara Lundy has climbed The Finger of Fate via The Book (II 5.8) which is effectively straight up the spine.  We reach the lake at 8,800 ft. which sits just below The Finger of Fate.  The camp acts as our base for the photo-shoot.  After a swim, and tour of the lake in our Alpaca Raft we climb up to our planned photo point, have dinner, and capture a sunset shot. The Finger of Fate has about 1,000 vertical of prominence.  In short, it is a big building 100 stories tall at almost two miles in the sky with no elevators or glass windows to ascend with the aid of suction cups.

Friday night at the Finger of Fate.

The next day we start out 90 minutes before sunrise for our next photo-shoot.  Our goal is to climb up to the saddle to the north and capture The Finger of Fate at dawn and sunrise. A heavy set of clouds puts us at-risk of capturing a quality image.  Patience and remaining at-the-ready from dawn through sunrise allows us to capture a winner (see photo at top).  Think – hurry up and wait… and wait… and wait.

Jeff Lubeck reaching the summit of Decker Peak. Behind to the South is the granite block skyline including; Red Bluff, Sevy, The Arrowhead, Daves and Mt. Cramer.

Next up is the summit of Decker Peak.  The ascent is a total grinder.  The route is almost all on granite with multiple sections consisting of formations of large loose boulders in Class 3+ terrain.  While all three of us have years of experience operating in this type of setting – it is one of Chris and Sara’s least desirable environments as guides.  Why?  A fall in Class 3+ terrain is often fatal.  A boulder can easily be dislodged by one member falling on another – resulting in a major injury or death.  Note: We have two satellite phones (Chris and Sara) and a GPS Emergency beacon (Jeff).

The onset of smoky conditions adds to the difficulty.  From our perspective smoke from fires is not uncommon and part of the deal.  Because of the Wild Horse (May) and Mountain Goat photo-shoot’s (June) I am recently conditioned to my heavy camera bag configuration and operating at 10,000 feet or above.

The north end of the Sawtooths from summit of Decker Peak. In the immediate foreground is The Elephants Perch, and Grand Mogul (far right). Behind them are the 10,000 ft + members; Mt. Heyburn, Braxon Peak, Mt. Iowa, Horstmann Peak, Baron Peak, Mt. Limbert Peak, Mt. Carter, Mickey’s Spire, Thompson Peak and Williams Peak. Heyburn, Braxon, Iowa, Horstmann, and Baron remain on my to-do list.

Upon reaching the summit of Decker the smoke is pervasive.  However, the views are superlative.  After taking time to photograph all 360 degrees of the region we depart. On the route down we often take a sketchy route established by goats instead of boulder hopping.  Descending on boulders is eminently more difficult than heading up.  Luckily the dirt in the goat route has enough moisture content to greatly improve the ease of descent.  If the moisture level is too low – it’s over to the boulders.

To gain a break from the heat we stop at, and swim in the lake at 9600 feet.  After a superb lunch of Salami, Swiss Cheese, Triscut, and apple we return to camp – arriving at 1PM.  The Base Camp Decker round-trip occurs faster than planned. This provides time for a swim, a trip around the lake in the raft, and a brief nap.  This kind if free time is exceptionally rare for us.

The lake at 9,600 ft is ready for all swimmers!

During the afternoon Chris, Sara, and I discuss the photo-shoot to-date and the next two days. We all agree that too many unknowns and possible bad downsides exist to think that summitting Mt. Cramer on this trip is a smart idea.  The reasoning:

#1. None of us have traveled in the south basin in the summer.  If the terrain is the same as the north side and we are also moving camp all of us could become too exhausted to complete the section in a reasonable time before having to descend to Profile Lake.

#2. The descent from the top of the Sawtooth Peaks ridge-line (i.e., 10,100 – 10,400 ft) down to Profile Lake (9,600 ft.) could be remarkably demanding on its own (60+ degrees at a few points). The difficulty is more pronounced given the weight and bulkiness of our packs.

Aqua Lake in the afternoon at 8,700 ft.

Based on our decision, we have for the first time ever (as a team) a full afternoon and evening of free time.  We decide to explore the area without the complications of heavy packs and camera equipment.  It is fun – but the feeling is a bit weird.

The night does not provide one of rest for me.  For some reason my air-mattress fails; leaving me to a night of sleeping on a hard surface.  We rise at 4:30 AM. SMOKE, SMOKE, SMOKE is in the air.  The three of us (wearing attractive looking head-lamps) sit up and discuss the implications.  Sara points out that “the basic rule is the three of us treat these efforts as adventures that happen to be photo-shoots, and adventure wins the day.”  I ask for the rule-book to establish a determination.  Chris points out that I am the designated rule-book carrier for this trip.  Neither the rule-book or my sixth grade book report on The Life of  The Mosquito At Elevation can be found.

So up we go into the smoke… climbing up and over the towers and ridge-lines above the Finger of Fate.  As we move up through the big granite slabs the wind picks up ever so slightly to pushing to the north.  The implication?  after about 15-20 minutes the smoke departs from our immediate area and adds to the color of a spectacular sunrise across the valley in the White Cloud Mountain Range.

Dawn at the Finger of Fate.

Sunrise on the Top of the Deck

We work our way up to the top of the deck through chimney like granite.  The sun through this period of time moves from early dawn through sunrise.  At sunrise we have 360 degree views from the top.

The Birthday Cake All Lit Up.

The Top of the Deck heading south is completely different that the terrain heading north to Decker Peak.  It contains huge terraces of granite interlaced with native grass, flowers, gently flowing creeks and brooks with ponds of water.

The greenbelt on the way to The Arrowhead.

The way to the Arrowhead.

Early morning haze in the White Clouds, Smokys, Boulders and Pioneers as seen from the Top of the of the Deck in the Sawtooths.

 

While meandering around on the Top of the Deck.  I established it would make for a great golf course with only Par 5’s and 3’s.

Sara, Chris and I went up to the area where we had originally intended to descend to Profile Lake and then up to the summit of Mt. Cramer.  We quickly reaffirmed our decision was correct.  The route were steep, narrow and full of lose rocks and boulders.  Looking at my maps also confirmed each of the two possible routes had significant portions where the pitch was over 60 degrees.

Our updated plan for this last day is a 9 mile and 4,000 vertical descent to the Sawtooth Valley.  Luckily we had time for a swim in the lake at base camp before packing up.  A nice surprise presented itself at the trail-head.  Sara had placed some adult beverages in Hell Roaring Creek.  I consumed one while taking a bath in the creek.

The Life of the Workers at a Horse Ranch

Sunset Serenade in the Sawtooths by Jeffrey H. Lubeck © MESH Art LLC and Claire Porter Photography – courtesy MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

The 2nd phase of equine photography for MESH Art in 2018 involved photographing horses before and after their workday at the Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch (IRMR) in Stanley, Idaho.  Last winter Kyle and I reached out to Devan Booker at Pioneer Outfitters who runs the guide operations for IRMR to establish if a photo-shoot was in the realm of a possibility.  The answer was yes.  This spring MESH Art Gallery’s Equine Fine Art Photographer Claire Porter and I established some dates for possible photo-shoots.

A complicating issue is that from June 1st through Labor Day Devan (and his horses) have little if any free time.  IRMR is a popular place for people to escape. With help from Devan and his assistant Jenna, Claire and I decided we would photograph the horses before and after their workday.  IRMR and Pioneer Outfitters is about as good as it gets with this type of offering. It is a 900 acre ranch that has its operational aspects (e.g., stables, corrals, staff living quarters across the road and on the Salmon River.

Claire and I spent time at the corral talking with Devan and Jenna about the horses and learning what they do in the off hours. We walked the property to establish possible view corridors and sun location. Each day around sunset the horses are released into large open spaces from two different corrals.  One group heads north and the other south.  Both open spaces have the Salmon River running through the property with a spectacular view of the Sawtooth Mountains.  The available land, water, and fresh grasses for the horses is substantial.  At sunrise the horses return (on their own or with guidance from Jenna) to the corrals. Claire who has a supreme knowledge, affinity, and connection with horses said to me “expect the unexpected and no matter how well we plan – the opposite is likely to occur.”  Truer words have not been spoken! The approximately 50 horses exhibited a variety of behaviors.

As with the Wild Mustang photo-shoot Claire situated herself to be among the horses and I would be situated such that I could capture group and moving shots with the Salmon River and the Sawtooths in the background.

Morning Commute in the Sawtooths by Jeffrey H. Lubeck. © MESH Art LLC and Claire Porter Photography – courtesy of MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

While the photo-shoot required effort late and early in the day, the location was only about 10-12 minutes from our cabin.  So Claire, Linda, and I could have meals and a semblance of normalcy while not shooting.

Jeff”s Worthless Trivia

Decker Peak (10,740) is the big peak in the center of things.  It is the third highest peak in the Sawtooth Range.  Decker can be summited via the south ridge (Class 3).  This route also offers three cool little lakes as you pass 9,000 feet on your way to the summit.  To Decker’s south are Red Bluff (10,280), Sevy Peak (10,480), Finger of Fate (9,760), The Arrowhead (10,250), Dave’s (10,579) and Mt. Cramer (10,704).  Mt. Cramer is the 2nd highest peak in the Sawtooth’s and can be summited via the east (Class 3).  The peaks mentioned in between provide some of the most demanding technical climbing ascents in the region.

My next photo-shoot will be conducted in the peaks of the Mountains displayed above.  Starting on Friday July 27th, I along with my long-time teammates Chris and Sarah Lundy (owners of Sawtooth Mountain Guides) will attempt to climb Decker and Cramer and traverse the ridge-lines and peaks in between the two all in a few days time.  We hope to get Finger of Fate photographed at dawn and sunset on the same day.

Photographing a fast moving object in low and highly variable light can be a challenge. Seeing I shoot with settings configured manually at all times obtaining an in focus image in usable light requires a great deal of fortune.  On this shoot I had both Nikon and PHASE ONE gear by my side.  Kyle’s special MESH Photopack bag proved to be a difference maker again. Any and all I wanted or needed was at-the-ready.

Ideally I am capturing landscapes in well orchestrated conditions and lighting.  While travel to this kind of photo location often involves multiple days and a highly demanding ascent with heavy gear on my back, I usually arrive hours before the shoot and have time for preparation and establishing the desired composition. The implication is I can be picky and demanding (tripod, ISO 50, 1/250th – 1/320th second, and at F2 to F11).

As for photo-shoots of horses… bye-bye landscape methodology.  Except for focus, manual configuration remains in place for me.  However, the camera gear and my ability to manipulate it are put to the test.  The Sunset Serenade shot was captured by the PHASE ONE (think heavy gear), ISO 1600, 1/2000th of a second and at F2.8.

 

Mothers and Their Babies

Tell me a Bedtime Story © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy of MESH Galley – all rights reserved.

Baby Mountain Goats begin to travel with their Mother and siblings just a few days after birth.  They are desiring of breast milk while the family members seek food and shelter in remote areas all the while the baby is subject to great danger.

As part of this year’s photo-shoot of Mountain Goats with Nappy Neaman,  I learned about the greatest threat to newborn Mountain Goats; Eagles.  Yes, Eagles.  I learned this fact from Nappy after asking him why are the Golden Eagles constantly circling above the canyon’s.  Spend more than 30 seconds thinking about it and a predator towards the top of the food chain seeking these tiny animals makes total sense.  Nappy explained that if the baby strays too far away from mom, an eagle will swoop down, collect the baby goat, carry it up high, drop it to the canyon floor below and begin its feast.  Ugh!

In a drainage Nappy calls Black Rocks we sight three different female goats with newborns and in two cases additional yearlings.  It is an interesting mix to watch interact.  Having arguably the nation’s top expert at my side for the play-by-play call and color commentary makes the experience about as good as it gets.  The feeling is similar to going to a live baseball game, sitting in field-box seats, and having Vin Scully next to you in person.

Nappy: “Here we go Jeff… mom on the move to the right on grayish red rock shelf with the baby two strides behind looking for its next milking…”

Vin: “Great to be at the goat sighting in the company of Nappy and Jeff … brought to you by Lean Farmer John Meats.  Interestingly enough… as rock falls below mom low and away… the canyon straddles two types of geological formations.  First and to the west is a collection of Eocene granite, pink granite, syenite, rhyolite dikes, and rhyolitic shallow intrusive rock.  Second, and slightly to the east begins what makes up the Boulder Mountains… Eocene granite, pink granite, syenite, rhyolite dikes, and rhyolitic shallow intrusive rock.”

These photo-shoots have been demanding on a host of fronts.  The hiking and rock scrambling at high elevation with a heavy pack is always a challenge.  Another challenge is trying to be close enough to observe but not interfere with the animals.  This approach requires us to sit on one side of a canyon looking for Mountain Goats on the other side.  The implication is I am constantly re-evaluating what camera and lenses I want available to me during a shoot.  For one portion it the the PhaseOne IQ and XF with prime lenses from 35-240MM.  For others it is a Nikon D810 with a 70-200 Zoom, 600MM, 800MM and 1000MM lens.  The photo’s on this post were shot with the Nikon and the big long lenses.  Therefore we had to identify and then photograph the animals from 2,000 to 4,000 feet away.  Add in dramatic shifts in the light from low and flat to bursting bright with animals constantly moving and you got yourself a tricky photo-shoot.

 

Follow Me Little One. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

 

What’s Up Honey? – © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

 

I’ll Just Stand Here Under You. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

Searching for Mountain Goats in the Rocky Outpost of the Idaho Wilderness

Sitting on the Ledge as the Sun Goes Down. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

It’s my perch and I’ll sit if I want to. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

 

Friend and fellow adventurer Nappy Neaman and I have long discussed conducting a photo-shoot of the Mountain Goats in our region. Mountain Goats are an extraordinary animal that thrives in an environment that is extremely demanding – the high peaks of the ranges surrounding our home.

The photo-shoot is to be a full on multi-day multi-week effort including the period of time when the animals are taking care of their newborns.  This means early June.  Over the past few weeks and the remainder of June Nappy, Crist Cook, and I will venture into domain of the Mountain Goat.  Our goal is to present our experience with a personal narrative at the July 6th, 2018 Gallery Walk at the MESH Gallery at Heritage Hall.

Nappy moved to the Wood River Valley in 1978 as an outdoor enthusiast after a 10-year run in the ski industry (Head, World Pro Skiing and U.S. Ski Team).  He knew nothing about Mountain Goats. However, Nappy’s fascination began.  Today, the exceptionally inquisitive and outgoing Neaman is virtually unchallenged in man’s understanding of the Mountain Goat, its history and how it lives.  Nappy is also superb guide and back-country specialist, who is completely at home in the crags and rock towers.  Coupled with a layer of impish looks and smiles covering a warm heart, Nappy is a great collaborator for a photo-shoot.  For example, in the midst of a Class 3 rock scramble Nappy looks over to me and says “I belong here.”

The trips into the back-country take us to highly secret spots with names such as The Rock Garden, The Secret Garden, The Deck, and Black Rock Promontory . Some trips involve eight hours of hiking, scrambling, sitting, scouting, and waiting for Mountain Goats to present themselves and include 2,300 – 2,750 vertical gain at high elevation.  Others are a 10 minute walk from the trail-head.  Yes, as close as 10 minutes on a trail 99.99% of the hikers are completely unaware they are in a Prime Mountain Goat viewing area.

For some trips I bring an enhanced version (v2) of the Kyle Lubeck signature MESH Art Photography bag.  This bag has three layers with heavy-duty protective encasement for my 4 by 5 camera (Phase XF), digital back (Phase IQ3 100), six lens (Schneider Blue Ring 35mm, 55mm, 80mm, 110mm, 150mm and 240mm), mono-pod, tri-pod, mini-studio and food and water.  The first time Nappy looks at my bag, picks it up, shakes his head and provides an official measurement; “sixty pounds plus.” For others I bring the v1 bag as Crist takes some of my equipment so we can move quickly to and from multiple vantage points.  On others we only bring one camera (Nikon D810) and two lens’ (Nikkor) – a 70-200MM Zoom and 600MM monster tele-photo or the 1000MM Gigantor tele-photo..

While sitting in some of these locations Nappy says to me “I think I have taken less than four people to this spot.”  Nappy and I map out and hike/scramble/climb to areas neither of us have previously attempted to reach.

A successful back-country photo-shoot and a trip for a first-person sighting of Mountain Goats in the wilderness via Fair Means require similar characteristics; passion, stamina, focus, tenacity, patience, trial and error, and blind luck.  On this front Nappy and I are brothers from different mothers.

One of the principles of these type of endeavors is to always be on the lookout and be willing to stop and take in what is being presented before you.  Can I say always again?

Non-verbal queues are a critical component of a successful search for a viewing of Mountain Goats expedition.

Another aspect of the photo-shoot begins as well.  Nappy is focused on finding Mountain Goats – particularly ones’s with their babies.  I on the other hand am focused on capturing images that will reveal the back-story leading up to the winning shot.  So I stop, and capture images of flowers, bones of animals and a guy on a mission (i.e., Nappy).  There is an implicit non-verbal agreement among the collaborators; one finds goats and the other gets all the shots important to one specific goal and the overall story.  By our 3rd trip I have back-story photos and Nappy has trained me and Crist on how to find Mountain Goats.  Now all of us are using Nappy’s techniques to find Mountain Goats in the cracks and crevices of the high mountains.

The Master Survey’s The Rock Garden. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

Throughout every trip, Nappy repeatedly sets up his scope and looks for signs or a sighting. Nappy and Crist are great to have as teammates.  With each new trip we get better, and better with our ability to work together.

We will continue for the next week or two looking for Mountain Goats in the wild.  Hopefully you can joins at the July 6th, 2018 Gallery Walk at the MESH Gallery at Heritage Hall.

Who Are You Looking at?. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

Basking in the Afternoon Sun. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

Big Tree, Big Crags, Big Towers in the Rock Garden. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

 

Mom Watches Over Her Yearling. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

Catching Full Air. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

 

Charging Hard. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

Watching Over The Family. © Jeffrey H. Lubeck Courtesy MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wild Horses of Idaho – Mustangs of the East Fork and Challis Basin

Broadview by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC. – all rights reserved.

Scout Team by Claire Porter of Porter Lubeck © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

A combination of planning, collaboration, hard work, and luck produced a wonderful Fine Art Photography exhibit called The Wild Horses of Idaho – Mustangs of the East Fork and Challis Basin which premiered at the MESH Gallery at Heritage Hall in Ketchum, Idaho on Saturday night (May 26th, 2018).

After eight months of planning and reconnaissance by MESH Art, Claire Porter and Jeff Lubeck conducted a multi-day photo-shoot in the Mountains of Idaho.  In less than a one-weeks time the photographic artworks were created, printed, framed, and placed in the gallery for display.  The exhibit includes a back-story narrative, maps, and behind the scenes photos.  The exhibit will be on display through June 17th, 2018.

The Mustang is a free-roaming horse of the American West.  It is a decedent of horses brought to America by the Spanish.  Technically the Mustang is considered a feral horse given its domesticated linage.

See my Post Wild Horse Reconnaissance for more background on the Challis Herd and logistics of the photo-shoot.

Its About Trust by Claire Porter of Porter Lubeck. © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

Claire and I learned on the first day of the photo-shoot that in our excitement at 3 to 5 miles distance; big rock boulders that look like horses are big rock boulders, free roaming cattle that look like horses are free roaming cattle, and speeding Chevy Pickup trucks travelling in the back-country that look like horses are speeding Chevy Pickup trucks travelling in the back-country.  With the aid of binoculars we also learn that what looks like a herd of Mustangs is a herd of Mustangs.

The Mustangs we identified were feeding in the upper reaches of the Challis Basin.  The reach them we traveled off road in back-country on unimproved 4 wheel drive trails for 3-4 miles and 1-2 miles on foot.

The Mustang herd encountered is comprised of 74 horses – 68 adults and 6 foles.

Claire is an experienced horse person and superb equine Fine Art Photographer.  I am neither.  For this adventure my best decision is to shut up, follow instructions, and learn.

Claire predicted there would be a scout team of Mustangs who’s job is singular; check us out to ensure we are no threat to the herd.  Sure enough the scout team would greet us each day.  On the 2nd day of the photo-shoot Claire sat amongst the herd for an extended period.  The scout team moved in, surrounded Claire, and circled her three times. The scout team at one-point was less than 40 feet from Claire.

Day one of the photo-shoot brought warm temperatures to the mountains for May.  The 75+ degree for was enjoyable and the horses seemed very active. I learned first-hand that horse-play by horses is rougher than its human siblings equivalent.  The male stallions were nothing short of aggressive in their courting of eligible females

Each day of the photo-shoot brought sunny weather with isolated thunderstorms.  Some of the weather-fronts dumped heavy, heavy rain for short periods of time.  The weather conditions made for interesting skies, and a variety of light conditions.

Some to Watch Over Us by Claire Porter of Porter Lubeck. © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

Passing Through by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck. © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

 

Feeding in the Basin by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck. © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all right reserved.

 

The Talent by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck. © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

  Storm Be Arriving by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck © Copyright Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC.

 

One Step Ahead by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck. © Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

 

Jeff Needs a Picture of a Flower on All Shoots!

 

Let The Circling [sic., around the interloper photographer] Begin! by Jeffrey H. Lubeck of Porter Lubeck. © Claire Porter Photography and MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

Wild Horses of Idaho – Mustangs of the East Fork and Challis Basin © Exhibit at the MESH Gallery at Heritage Hall ®.

A Brilliant Exposition of American Life: The Rider

 

The Rider by Chloe Zhao tells the story of the hard-scrabble life of rodeo riders on a South Dakota reservation. The Rider is honest feeling to its core, and is presented in a simple yet elegant fashion.

The main character of The Rider is a recently injured rodeo rider named Brady Jandreau (played by Brady Blackburn). Brady must come to terms with the fact that what he feels he was born to do – riding – is now a life threatening event.  Brady has the support and love of his family and friends.  However, given economics and other hard realities of life, Brady will reach his decision on his own terms.

I knew little to nothing about The Rider going into the viewing. Similar to Winter’s Bone (2010) it is hard to discern if the The Rider is a documentary or fictional piece of work. It’s script is fictional injected with the truism’s of life and actual factual situations.  The Actor’s in the film are related or know each other in real life.  Zhao blends all of these aspects with terrific effect.

 

Covering the Great Basin to Meet Some New Family Members

There are new members in the Lubeck family.  Sage and Willow have endeavored to join up with Shae dog, Merry [Christmas] dog, Valentine dog, Kyle, Linda, and yours truly.

I decided pick up our Border Collie girls by traveling the Great Basin to the Los Angeles area (Chino) and back.  It took me 52+ hours to complete the 1,606 mile round-trip.

As is well documented I have made this trip many times.

We purchased the puppies from Nancy Olds owner of Larks Croft Border Collies.  Nani is an engaging person, and at 80 years-young – she has experienced much in life.  Nani has bred and raised National Champion Jump horses in addition to Champion Border Collies.  She and her (late) husband raised four children and has lived in the same house in Chino since the mid 1960’s.  Larks Croft Border Collies are a staple in the Ralph Lauren print ads.  Nani was born in Honolulu, HI and at the age of 3 1/2 was living next to Hickam Air Field and the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard when the Japanese attacked on December 7th, 1941.  Nancy remembers the burning sky, holding her mom’s hand during the attack, and hiding under her crib.

Below is my photo essay.

The Great Basin near the Pony Express crossing on US 93.

Starting the drop down to I-15 and Las Vegas.

Poppet (mom – far left) and her four pups. Willow 2nd from right and Sage 3rd from right.

Sage on her first patrol around the house.

Willow conducting her first review on the grounds around the house.

I Wish For Year in Provence or At Least Another Two Weeks

I cannot believe I am about to say this on record… I am desiring of a return trip France. To be specific, I want to return to La Mandarine in the village of Bonnieux located in the Luberon district of the Provence region of France.  More later on why I am surprised about by being on the record.  Let’s get back to Provence.

La Mandarine is the five acre Lavender ensconced farmhouse estate owned by Wood River Valley locals Lyman and Debra Drake.  Lyman and Debra are warm and inviting people who do a good thing for their community.  They donate use of La Mandarine to local charities for auction. Estate sounds pretentious and La Mandarine is the opposite.  Like the Drake’s the place is inviting, warm and simple.  Lyman is an Art Dealer by trade and La Mandarine is filled with wonderful artifacts – but they are complementary to the setting not overwhelming.

In the 21st Century can there still be quaint mountain-top villages in the south of France with area residents working the land a good distance away from freeway’s, Big Box stores and Discount Outlet’s for Disney Character merchandise.  Yes – Bonnieux. And then there is the village on the other side of the valley – Lacoste!  What a history for this village as well, for which I have another complete set of images and it is only 3 miles from the Drake home.

Seeing there are multitudes of travel guide narratives available, I will offer a pictorial essay to support my reasoning.

Bonnieux at Sunset © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy of the MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The village as the sun sets as seen from La Mandarine.

 

Bonnieux at Dawn © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy of the MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The village as the sun begins its day as seen from La Mandarine.

 

Ready For Visitors © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy of the MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The porch of the Drake’s home. It faces the village of Bonnieux (see images above). It is drenched in the warm morning sun and offers a cool respite in the afternoon. The view is as good as it gets!

 

Afternoon at the Farmhouse © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – courtesy of the MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The afternoon sun on Hydrangea Bush next to the outdoor eating area of the Drake home. To the left (not in the image) is the wonderful swimming pool.

The Path to Heaven © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – courtesy of the MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The route to the church at the top of the Village of Bonnieux.

 

Are We Going to Have a Problem? – © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy of the MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. A resident feline seems to be questioning my intentions.

 

 

Stairs from the Heavens © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy The MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The cat monitored this image being captured.

 

Christ on the Cross in Bonnieux © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy of The MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. Statue of Christ on the Cross in Bonnieux. On the facia in Latin: in-manus-tuas-domine-commendo. Translated to english: into your hands I entrust my spirit.
St. Luke 23:46; one of the Seven Last Words of Christ

Nice Place! What Are The Homeowners Association Dues and CCR’s ? © Copyright Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy The MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

 

Glacier Water of Lake St. Croix © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy The MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. A drive to the east offers some natural wonders.

The French Grand Canyon © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy The MESH Gallery – all rights reserved.

Flamingos on the Rhone © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – Courtesy The MESH Gallery – all rights reserved. The Mediterranean Sea, Rhone River Delta and wild horses and pink flamingo’s of the Camargue are sixty miles to the south.

Wild Horse Reconnaissance

Later this month MESH Gallery’s very own equine photographer Claire Porter will capture images of horses throughout the region – from purebred to wild. I love horses but have no idea how to shoot them photographically.  Luckily for MESH, Claire is exceptional and exclusive to our gallery for the mountain west.

Over the fall and winter period we (Kyle and Jeff) worked through possible photo-shoots Claire could perform in 2018. With the assistance of Ed Cannady – another exceptional photographer and member of the MESH Gallery – locations and time schedules have been put in place.

My role for the photo-shoot of horses in the wild was to check out the locations identified.  This task was to start in the first week of May.  On Thursday and Sunday (accompanied by my buddy Doug) I took my first foray’s into the wild horse country abutting the East Fork of the Salmon River on the west and Lost River Range on the east.  It is named the Challis Herd Management Area.

The Challis Herd Management Area (HMA) is 154,000 acres of land controlled under the auspices of the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The role of the BLM in this region is to protect the land including the 185-200 wild horses living on it.  Since 2010, the non-profit organization Wild Love Preserve has participated with the BLM in protecting this HMA and five others located in Idaho.

The Challis Herd is believed to be made up of horses and burros descending from those brought to the region when livestock was first introduced in the 1800’s.  It is suggested the animals either escaped or were let go by their owners.  The Challis Herd is considered to be different in that genetic testing demonstrates they are materially larger and stronger than any other herd in the U.S.

The Challis HMA is about 50 miles north of Ketchum\Sun Valley as the crow flies.  However, given the multiple mountain ranges and river systems in between the drive time to the Challis HMA from the Wood River Valley takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. Luckily the route via Highway 75 to the East Fork of the Salmon River Road is exceptional and worth the effort on its own.

The Spar Canyon acts as the spine of the Challis HMA.  The Spar Canyon is mix of environments; narrow, broad, rocky, craggy, steep, flat, grassy and full of sage brush and dry springs.  The Spar Canyon Road is fairly gentle and well maintained from the East Fork of the Salmon River to U.S. Highway 93 south of Challis.  A normal sedan can navigate the route.  However,  the trails and jeep roads shooting off Spar Canyon Road are demanding and off-road rigs are required for exploration of any length.

I brought some basic gear for the reconnaissance to document what I uncovered.  And… yes, I ran into wild horses each day.

 

 

Beating The Odds: The Greatest Showman

Since its heyday in 1940’s through early 1960’s the movie musical has fought an upstream and mostly losing battle to possess relevance with the viewing public.  The Greatest Showman bucks the odds in the box-office but not with the majority of film critics.  If I am forced to choose? While no Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, or West Side Story, I will side with the viewing public and box-office results when judging The Greatest Showman.

At its heart, The Greatest Showman is a family friendly version of the P.T. Barnum story told in a 21st Century narrative using positive and bright optics that focus on celebrating diversity and people of all kinds. So the Bearded Lady (played by Broadway star Keala Settle) can and will belt out a powerful song.

The Greatest Showman benefits from its male leads Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Wolverine, Prisoners) and Zack Efron (Neighbors, The Paper Boy, Dirty Grandpa) being performers with true Triple-Threat skills (Sing, Dance, Act) and credits.

The screenplay for the Greatest Showman is solid mixing of traditional film and popular television.  Oscar winning Bill Condon (Dream Girls, Chicago) and Emmy Winning Jennie Bicks (Sex and the City) are the films’ authors.  The lyrics to the 11 songs are from the Oscar Winning team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (LaLa Land).  The Greatest Showman is the Feature Film Directorial debut for Michael Gracey.

The Greatest Showman does not benefit from its female leads possessing Triple-Threat skills.  While the performances from Michelle Williams, Zendaya, and Rebecca Ferguson are good, none are equals or superiors to their male-counterparts when a singing-dancing-acting number is presented.  For example, the Swedish beauty Ferguson (White Queen, Mission Impossible, The Girl on the Train) has a heart-melting presence on screen.  Ferguson does not dance and her singing is lip-synced by Loren Allred.  It should be noted that Allred’s vocals practically steal the show in the The Greatest Showman.  The Singer Zendaya can sing and dance but her acting is ridged and therefore must be the reason her screen-time and interaction with Zefron is limited.  Williams can do only a serviceable job at dancing, a good job at singing and is a terrific actor.

While fun and enjoyable to watch The Greatest Showman is not intended to be a true or accurate portrayal of the life of PT Barnum.  While many aspects are generally representative of Barnum, few if any aspects presented in the film would pass any serious scrutiny if historical accuracy is desired.  For example, the Lind story-line in real life did not include romantic overtones and it was Lind who drove a hard-bargain contract and exercised its cancellation clause.  The launching of the Circus did not occur until Barnum was in his 60’s.

What is missing for me in The Greatest Showman is not a true flaw, weakness, or production error.  It is one of style and choice.  The movie musicals judged to be the best of all time provided aspects their late 20th and early 21st cousins to not care to offer.  First and foremost is the singing and dancing.  In the movie musicals of the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s the singing and dancing felt as if it was live and performed in single take (which of course is not true).  The song and dance routines between the leads was the focus of the film. The movies of this period were musicals that happened to be on film.  Today’s versions are films that happen to include some music and dance.