Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Captain Rick: Having loved photography my entire life, an awarded Webshots photographer in the early 2000s, I became a Flickr PRO member shortly after its acquisition by Yahoo in 2005.

Flickr grew to become the one of the largest and best quality photo sites on the internet with over 12 billion photos and 100 million dedicated users.

The telecommunications giant Verizon announced that it will spend $4.8 billion to acquire Yahoo’s operating business, including popular online content such as Yahoo, Flickr and Tumblr.

FlickrVerizon

Verizon hopes that by pairing Yahoo with AOL, which Verizon bought in May 2015 for $4.4 billion, that the result will be a digital media unit that could compete with Google and Facebook. Having followed so many of these wild internet company purchases during the past decade or so, I have serious doubts that Verizon will be able to make that happen.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Google exec, was hired in 2012 to turn things around at financially struggling Yahoo. Flickr’s core users were hopeful that it might get the attention it deserved. She allowed Yahoo to loose focus on Flickr, allowing the top site for photographers to slip in quality and innovation. Yahoo was desperately trying to appeal to the Instagram generation, and in doing so started to alienate Flickr’s core users, many of whom were professional photographers. As a Flickr Pro member, I often gave feedback … but it felt like no one was listening. Things would break and it would take eight to 10 months before someone would respond. We were members paying money for a service that wasn’t working. It was insulting to me and other photographers who had been using Flickr so actively for so many years. We were clearly not the target audience any more.

Marissa Mayer generated controversy in 2013 for saying “there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore,” when explaining why Flickr was phasing out its Pro membership at the time. As a Flickr Pro member for a decade, I protested loudly as did millions of other Pro members. She quickly apologized for the statement. Us Flickr Pro members saw it as extreme ignorance on her part. Flickr drew more flack the following year by putting 50 million Creative Commons licensed photos by users up for sale through its new Wall Art service. Although it was within its rights to do based on the licensing, the move left a bad taste in photographers’ mouths, and Flickr pulled the plug on the arrangement the next month.

Amid dwindling share of only 1.3% of a growing $187 billion global digital market, the best she was able to do is put Yahoo up for sale. Mayer will help in the transition, but it is not known if she will remain as a Verizon employee. I think that in view of her high salary and lack-luster performance of Yahoo and neglect of Flickr, it would be in Verizon’s best interest to let her go.

Yahoo, Flickr and Tumblr are set to officially become Verizon properties when the deal closes in early 2017, assuming anticipated government approvals occur.

My fear is that Verizon, being a giant in the mobile phone market, cares little about quality photography and photographers. I think Verizon will sell Flickr or perhaps just let it die as an expense it can write off. As a Flickr Pro member who has invested many hundreds of hours into building and supporting my Flickr Photostream and several high quality photo groups, I am deeply saddened by that thought. On the other hand, it is my hope that Verizon will realize the great photographic jewel that it will possess in Flickr and find a way to breathe new life back into it. If executed with excellence, Flickr will remain the top site for quality among serious photographers … like me.

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Captain Rick : Fish Creek Canyon is one of Arizona’s hidden treasures of scenic beauty. To experience its magnificence one must travel the Apache Trail (AZ 88) east from Mesa, Arizona. The paved road winds its way thru beautiful desert scenery in the Superstition Wilderness area and then past Canyon Lake, presenting one of the world’s most beautiful lake vistas. The trail continues east thru Arizona’s smallest original town of Tortilla Flat, once a place for workers to rest on their journey up the Salt River to build the mighty Roosevelt Dam that holds the massive Roosevelt Lake, a main source of water for over 4 million inhabitants of the Phoenix Valley of the Sun.

From Tortilla Flat, the trail climbs several hundred feet in elevation to a mountain setting that hosts beautiful wild flowers in the spring. Then the pavement ends. A gravel road continues. After a few more miles the beautiful Fish Creek Canyon comes into view around a breathtaking curve. The road descending into the canyon is narrow and treacherous. Vehicles need to tuck tightly against the cliff to allow those coming up the road to pass without falling off of a steep drop-off at the edge of the road that has no guardrail. This road is definitely not capable of handling anything larger than a passenger car or small pickup truck. A couple small pull offs at the bottom of Fish Creek Canyon allow for parking of a few cars. Great views of this magnificent canyon can be seen within a short walking distance.

 

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Click the photo above to view full screen in high definition via Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

The dark stained area running down the rock cliff at left becomes a beautiful, tall, cascading waterfall during and after a heavy rain. It is difficult to catch a glimpse of the waterfall because when it rains the road is closed at Tortilla Flat, due to water flowing over the road. The only access then is to travel the east section of the Apache Trail down from Roosevelt Lake. It is all gravel and a slow trip, however the scenery makes it a very rewarding experience.

Those continuing eastward from Fish Creek Canyon experience a beautiful vista of Apache Lake. The trail then connects with the Salt River. The scenery in the Salt River Gorge between Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake is spectacular. The trip culminates with an incredible view of the 357 foot tall Roosevelt Dam from below. A series of switchbacks quickly gain elevation to the top of the dam exposing a breathtaking, panoramic view of the main portion of Roosevelt Lake. When full the lake is 2 miles wide x 22 long and 349 feet deep.

Fish Creek Canyon is a special hidden treasure of scenic beauty at the halfway mark of the 40 mile long Apache Trail … the most scenic road within a short distance of Phoenix and one of the most scenic in Arizona.

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Captain Rick : I have seen lots of firsts along the morning trail on my around-world walking/biking trek, spanning 17,000 miles in 15 years. This morning I was passed by a roadrunner doing about 20 mph. Not a car … a bird running. It is the fastest runner of all flying birds. It was about a foot tall and nearly two feet long. It had a bright orange patch running rearward from its eye and a big feathery headdress. It was a beautiful bird, but I was disappointed that it did not go ‘beep beep’ like in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes I watched as a child.

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I was not expecting to be passed by a roadrunner on my morning exercise walk, so I did not have my camera along. As a Flickr PRO member, I searched Flickr and found a roadrunner that most closely resembled the one that passed me. Click on the image above to view the full photo presented in stunning 4K HD captured by Flickr’s susanloellison.

About the ‘Greater Roadrunner’

The Greater Roadrunner is a long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, prevalent in Arizona and the Southwestern United States and Mexico. Although capable of limited flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 mph (32 km/h). Cases where roadrunners have run as fast as 26 mph (42 km/h) have been reported. This is the fastest running speed clocked for a flying bird.

Greater Roadrunners measure 61 cm (2.00 ft) in length and wingspan. About half of their length is tail feathers. They measure 30 cm (1 foot) tall. They have long legs and a slender, pointed bill. The upper body is mostly brown with black streaks and sometimes pink spots. The neck and upper breast are white or pale brown with dark brown streaks, and the belly is white. A crest of brown feathers sticks up on the head, and a bare patch of orange and blue skin lies behind each eye. Roadrunners have 4 toes on each zygodactyl foot; two face forward, and two face backward.

This bird walks around rapidly, running down prey. It feeds mainly on small animals including insects, spiders (including black widows), tarantulas, scorpions, mice, small birds and especially lizards and small snakes. Venomous serpents, including small rattlesnakes, are readily consumed. It kills prey by holding the victim in its bill and slamming it repeatedly against the ground.

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Captain Rick : The Senna Artemisioides, commonly known as feathery or silver cassia, produces an abundance of beautiful yellow flowers in the spring. Endemic to Australia, it also thrives abundantly in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.
It is a hardy shrub that can withstand temps into 20’s F and loves dry ground with full sun into the 110’s F, making it a perfect match for the Phoenix Arizona area.

Senna artemisioides is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae.  It can grow to 3 meters in height, though I keep mine manicured in the shape of an inverted cone about 5 feet tall, which removes the many long flat green seed pods that grow with the flowers. At Christmas time, it becomes one of the many trees, shrubs and plants to be adorned with thousands of lights at my desert oasis. Below is a photo of my Senna Artemisioides before grooming.

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Click the image above to view the photo in HDTV format in Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

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Captain Rick : Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park, 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) from the Village of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Banff National Park, in the breath-taking Canadian Rockies, is one of the most beautiful and most visited parks in the world. The emerald color of the water comes from rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the glaciers  on the surrounding mountains that overlook the lake.

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Click the image above to view the photo in HDTV format on Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

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Captain Rick: Viewed through a pair of twisted mesquite trees stands a gazebo in a lush, green, grassy neighborhood park in Chandler Arizona. A patch of yellow lantana highlights the foreground. A couple date palms stand tall on each side of the gazebo. The grassy area beyond the gazebo, which is watered daily with sprinklers to keep it green, actually forms the bottom of a flood basin that lies several feet below the level of surrounding land so that it can collect rain runoff from a storm. Parks like this dot neighborhoods across Arizona’s Valley of the Sun (Phoenix metro). This park served its purpose during the record flood of September 2014 that dropped a half-year’s rainfall (about 4”) in just a few hours, causing most of what is visible beyond the gazebo to be under water for several days.

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Captain Rick: Tortilla Flat, Arizona is a cool little old historic town nestled in a secluded desert mountain valley a few miles east of Canyon Lake, along the Apache Trail (Hwy 88), about 50 miles east of Phoenix.

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Click the image above to view the photo in HDTV format on Captain Rick’s Flickr Photostream

Tortilla Flat is an authentic remnant of an old west town, nestled in the midst of the Tonto National Forest, in the Superstition Mountain Range. Tortilla Flat started out as a stagecoach stop in 1904 and neither fire nor flood has been able to take away this historic stop along the Historic Apache Trail.
Mosey on down the boardwalk and visit the Superstition Saloon and Restaurant. Real saddles serve as bar stools where you can enjoy a cold brew or sarsaparilla. The unique wallpaper is made from real dollar bills from visitors all around the world. The Restaurant serves the biggest burgers, hottest chili and the coldest drinks everyday. After you have had time to walk off the great food, stop in the Country Store and enjoy a scoop of their World Famous Prickly Pear Gelato. Visit the Mercantile/Gift Shop full of amazing treasures including Indian Pottery, Jewelry, Unique Tortilla Flat Apparel and many more unique items.
You will notice that "Population 6" is posted on signs around town. It is not a joke. People really do live there and they thank you for visiting their town.

History … Tortilla Flat got its start because of the road construction to Roosevelt Dam in 1904. There was a need for a stagecoach stop for freight haulers on their way to the construction site at Roosevelt Dam and Tortilla Flat served that purpose. Shortly following the construction of the road, Roosevelt Dam became a big tourist attraction. At that point Tortilla Flat was a stage stop for tourists and mail carriers through the 1930s.

Tortilla Flat took its name from a nearby butte shaped like a tortilla.

Forest Service records show Tonto National Forest being established in 1905 as kind of a "package deal" with the Salt River Reclamation Project. The Forest Service was needed to manage the land and protect watershed for the dams because cattle grazing had denuded the land. The freight camp at Tortilla Flat, as well as the other camps along the road to the dam, were, therefore, on U.S. Forest Service land. Folks who decided to make Tortilla Flat their permanent residence kept up the lease on the land in later years whenever it came due.

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