Long Term Parking — Next Right

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Being on Twitter is like having a fern. —Steve Martin

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Hopeless

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There are many adjectives available to describe things that have been discarded and are now…in limbo. Besides hopeless, derelict, abandoned, neglected, rundown, eroding and decaying are also good fits for this truck and trailer I came upon recently. And for a photographer, there’s one more—opportunity.

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Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard.
—Paul McCartney

New Mars Rover Revealed

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Due to the budget sequestration (there’s a word to make a bull nervous), NASA’s funding level going forward remains a charged subject. Some are also suggesting that monies spent on outer space be redirected to exploring inner space—namely, in the planet’s oceans.

As the debates continue, we’ve managed to secure the only known photo of the latest design in the lineup of Mars rovers. Unofficially dubbed “Despair,” it will follow the successes of Curiosity and Opportunity and, in a cost-cutting move, reportedly be launched from the back of a tow truck. After landing in an as-yet-to-be-determined location, scientists believe Despair’s mission will finally answer one of humankinds’ most-asked questions: What goes first, the roof or the rubber?

Tomorrow

They parked me here without a word on the day they sold the truck.
I could surrender to bitterness, leaning on a flattened tire, lamenting bad luck,
But there’s no sense in that. Because I remember dusk pouring its deep
Shadows into grand canyons, the loneliness above timberline across steep
Mountains in Montana, the exhilaration of riding a chinook headlong down
The other side, all the way to Nebraska and some fading prairie town.

And I can’t count the weekends I sat beside summer streams, listening
To my children laughing while they fished or tossed stones into glistening
Pools where the trout hid out. In the evenings I owned the Milky Way,
Though I never counted all the stars before the advent of another day.

When I’m up for sale again I’ll be called a “classic” for my age,
Complete with a solid roof and working sink. The faint scent of sage
From a springtime in the desert lingers in my curtains, too.
Where we go tomorrow is entirely up to you.

Finding Warmth On a Cold Day

Although I shot this photo on a brisk collar-up afternoon in central Montana, at the very end of summer in 2009, the cold, remorseless wind and lead-gray sky hinted strongly of autumn. I’d pulled off Highway 12 onto a short gravel road, figuring it to be a good place to stop for a quick stretch, snack and, maybe, a picture.

I liked the bus and the little travel trailer, and would have walked out to inspect them closely EXCEPT for the No Trespassing signs. I doubt anyone was around, but that’s not the point, is it? I never bought into the idea that, because we have a camera, we’re somehow privileged. So, out came the 70-200, set at ~160mm (256mm on a Canon 40D). ISO 200 got the shutter speed to 1/500, wide open at F/4. In between wind gusts I shot several frames, just in case.

Viewed straight out of the camera without any processing the image is gray and flat, the framing obviously centered and static. What did I see here, anyway?

First off, I envisioned this as a panoramic, likely at my favored ratio of 3:1. I couldn’t change my vantage point, so there isn’t much wiggle room above the weathered house, but with a featureless sky that eventually didn’t matter—the foreground grasses were more interesting and deserving of space in the picture.

I also knew I’d run the photo through Photoshop (the best version came through Aperture), to bring out the warmth that was missing on that chilly day. Further tweaking in Topaz Adjust brought me to this result:

I opened up the shadows for visible details inside the bus and trailer doors, cloned out four power lines and an errant fence post—and that was it. The shot has a bit of grit, decent detail, warmth, and yet portrays a sense of abandonment, of time passing by.