Red Neck Art


I’ve been working on categorizing my photo library; some of which goes back to the sixties. Family related images, I want to keep. More modern stuff from the early years of digital imaging looks terrible by high definition standards.

I have always been interested in photography, and have a few amateur shots that are quality shots for an amateur. Perhaps a professional might find critical details to be substandard.

When the bug hit me again, I had to have a new camera, and once I had the new camera in hand, I had to learn how to use it. This explains the two-hundred, or so, shots of a yellow tulip.  After about fifty or so of the same imaged repeated over and over again, I was ready to scream, and started doing block deletes. If it was a yellow tulip it was deleted.

Then I thought to post this one image, and explain why there were two-hundred images of a yellow tulip.


Excruciatingly boring technical details follow; skip if you are not interested in photography.

First, proper exposure. In the days of film, post processing in the dark room could save a poorly exposed negative. In fact, then, as now, post production often takes a nice picture and makes it extraordinary. In the modern digital age, correcting exposure is a simple mouse click on a symbol (if only you can remember which one).

Second, proper exposure is determined by shutter speed and aperture. Depth of field (focus) is determined by focal length and aperture. A long lens (300mm) gives a very nice degree of magnification, and a wide-open aperture gives a very shallow depth of field where only a small part of the image is in focus.

(See the bird)


Stopping down the lens, to something like F8-F11 gives greater depth of field; more of the image is in focus, and it corrects for any focusing error by the photographer. My eyesight is getting bad, and getting focus right takes special effort. Even with auto focus camera and lens, the camera might not focus on what you want. I’ve had to reject images where the camera focused on a branch in the foreground, not the wild creature in the back ground that was the intended center of interest in the image. Also, you can’t see the LCD display in bright sunlight, so you don’t know you have a bad shot until you get inside.

Closing the aperture down means slowing the shutter speed; go too far and you get fuzzy images because of ‘camera shake.’  You need a tripod, and not a cheap one. I have seen ‘camera shake’ with the camera on a tripod and the 300mm lens. You need the higher shutter speed, and the open aperture, and you have to check the auto focus.

Now you begin to see the long list of things that can go wrong: exposure, shutter speed, aperture, focus, composition. Lighting is a whole ‘nuther topic. Professionals write books just on lighting.

So just get an average, mid-range, point and shoot and don’t worry about the technical details. Sure, you can do that. Concentrate on composition, and being ready for snap shots. Watch your background, and move around. Get to know your tools, and practice. Lots of practice, like two-hundred shots of a yellow tulip.

Thunderstorm moving in. Power could go out at any moment.




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I had forgotten this


Home made bread, deli counter corned beef and cheese, canned sauerkraut, store bought pickles, in one of those cheap Walmart panini sandwich presses. I had trouble, one day, removing the metal plates. Somehow the locking mechanism jammed, and trying to unjam the mechanism, broke the plastic shell. The whole thing went into the trash, and I forgot all about it. The sandwich wasn’t as good as it looked.

Looking at the picture makes me want to try it again.



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Stormy Weather


Storm front moving in. Rain to the west with cold air behind it. Temperatures will be twenty-five degrees cooler tomorrow.

I have a story idea that has stalled. It was intended to be a Romeo and Juliet story. Two alien creatures fall in love, two families, politics. The set up was easy, but writing about the families and politics is hard work, and I’m a lazy person.

Two other story ideas have also bogged down. One, a computer wizard hears voices in his head. The other, a guy wakes up in bed with an alien and can’t remember how it happened, but he is now married to the alien. It’s a riff on a Jack Lemon movie, “How to Murder Your Wife” where he wakes up in bed with a strange woman who speaks only Italian. She was friends of the bride; Jack Lemon’s character was friends of the groom. They both drink too much and get one of those quickie Las Vegas marriages. It was a good movie.

 I made the alien creature a bear like creature that uses computers to communicate, and that idea just doesn’t work. I thought the contrast between a human and an alien would make the story interesting. Instead, it makes it unbelievable.

I’m not much of an author. My stories write themselves. I’m just a stenographer. They usually start with a character and a situation, and life happens.

My photos are simple things I see around me. Light, is an amazing thing, especially in the fall, and winter. I’ve been documenting some of my brush clearing work. When I first moved into this residence, the forest grew right up to the house, mere feet away. Several trees loomed over the place, and trees grow old and fall down; close enough that they were a fire hazard. They were big enough to do great damage to the building when they fall if they fell onto the building, so I had a neighbor come in and cut them down. He took out enough saleable logs to make some money and split it with me. I was more than happy. Then I spent the next year clearing the underbrush. I don’t like an unmanaged woodlot. There are diseases and insect pests that cause damage. It was a surprise to learn just how difficult it is to grow healthy trees. Foresters put their entire working life into growing one generation of quality trees. I’m trying to grow some white pine, and have a series of images showing their growth. I’m not sure how many people are interested in watching trees grow. I’m also not sure how many people want to see a series of images of an old man clearing brush with hand tools. I’ve been working on it a long time and didn’t think to document the work, so I don’t have much from the very early days. It started seventeen years ago.

There is some surprising new economic activity going on. A new shopping mall in the city, a forested property just up the road was logged off. Logging is big business up here.

Thanksgiving dinner

This guy, or a relative, strolled across the yard yesterday afternoon. I didn’t see him soon enough to get the camera out. This picture is from one of the first years I lived here. The neighbor lady was feeding them for a time. I think she stopped doing that and turkeys have been rare except for the new guy yesterday. He is living in the neighborhood; saw him last summer. He doesn’t like it when I’m outside. He’s pretty wary, and knows how to hide. He knows about sight lines, and how to disappear into the brush. Hiding inside the brush, you can still see anything out in the open because there are holes you can peek through. Out in the open, looking at the brush, you can’t see anything hiding, all you see are the bushes.

I’m pretty sure I spooked a deer yesterday. There was a lot of splashing in the water behind the house when I went out to clear brush. If it was little bambi from down thread, he is grown up now. I spooked him once late at night and heard him run off. Then he ‘barked’, and I’m not kidding. It was a sound I have never heard before, but it was similar to a bark, a warning to other deer to watch out.





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Rock Removal



Another metaphor

Tired of mowing around yet another obstruction, the mind says, “That rock has to go.” It becomes a matter of will; grim determination to remove an obstacle. It starts with a simple test; is it possible to get underneath an edge. Then it becomes ‘Is it possible to gain a bit of purchase,’ and then ‘can it be moved.’ Once you have determined that the rock can be moved, then it becomes a matter of will. It can be moved, it will be moved.  

You dig out around the rock, looking for an edge. You get a lever under the edge, and a fulcrum under the lever and you move the rock an inch. You put blocking under the rock and reposition the lever and fulcrum. The results are now known. It will be moved, however long it takes. Inch by inch, the rock will be raised up out of the hole. Once out of the hole, the movement, by inches, continues. Raise up one edge, until vertical, push past the vertical, the rock rolls over and moves a foot. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

Take another case; the stone can not be moved. Well then, it must be reduced in size; cracked, broken into pieces, and the pieces moved.

In my Wolf Hunter books, when I write about ‘pounding rocks,’ this is part of what I’m talking about. “Dry stone,” the Wikipedia calls it, and they use examples from England and Scotland. Machu Picchu was what I had in mind; fitted stone, hammered into a matching surface, one stone to another, fitted so closely that no mortar is needed. No tools, just stones, human muscle, and determination.


Copyright by Skandia Recluse 2017. Photo by Skandia Recluse


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This is Flagstaff, Arizona as seen from the Petrified Forest National Park.


Arizona is an interesting state with many places to visit. Many of Zane Grey’s novels are set in Arizona. 

This was taken twenty years ago, and I would be surprised if this scene has changed any, but I am certain that many of the other places I visited have changed and in some cases changed drastically.

Words are blocking right now; don’t want to come out. Thoughts in my head are quick and chaotic flashes of places and incidents from memory. Thoughts my internal censor doesn’t want to let out.



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My Favorite Tree


There is something about this tree that catches my eye; the shape, the symmetry, something.  The light changes, hour by hour. The weather changes day by day, the seasons change. I have several dozen images already, and capture more when I see something new.


It isn’t just the one tree, of course. It is a community of trees, and as appealing as the scene is visually, it is also a war zone as every growing thing in this image competes for sunlight, water, and nutrients. Roots crowd other roots, branches reach out to shade other branches. It is a deceptively peaceful view, yet there is a sense of order, as if there are rules, and the rules are being respected.

If you walk among these trees, you quickly notice the fallen soldiers who succumbed to disease or insect pest. Perhaps weakened by the intense competition. Perhaps bad luck in the random location of the seed that fell to the ground and germinated where it did.

Random chance affects us all, every living thing. We don’t get to choose our parents. Some are good, others are not. We don’t get to vote on our genes, or where we live. Animals that have mobility do have some choice, and recent animal studies have shown that many individual animals travel great distances in search of territory they can claim as their own. Claiming a territory often means taking it away from another and then defending it.

There was a news photo of a large cat – mountain lion, cougar, puma; label the creature as you wish; resting on the front porch of a human dwelling with the humans inside looking out the window. I love the big cats, but I recognize the threat they pose. California joggers are at risk of attack by the big cats who see the joggers as food. Bears are wary of humans and avoid contact unless they become conditioned to specific human behavior. Yet bears will investigate anything and everything that seems to be edible. Polar bears will hunt humans, but they seem to know that humans are dangerous prey. It’s odd that bears rarely eat humans. Perhaps they don’t like the way we taste. Tigers do eat humans, and man-eaters are hunted down and killed. We humans don’t like being another creature’s food source.

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Chaco Canyon, New Mexico



There are two roads into the ruins of Chaco Canyon, one good road, one bad. Of course, I took the bad road; 60 miles of bad road. Bouncing and rattling along in my old motor home, over rough roads, and fifty miles from any services should something break down. I have done that more than a couple of times now, going into some remote area, ill prepared, unskilled, and tempting fate should something go wrong.

Experts who make a career out of study of these sites can tell us some amazing things. Such as certain buildings orientated in a certain way, so that sunlight on a certain day of the year, and only that day, will illuminated a certain niche in the back wall where one presumes a mystical religious icon resides.

One thing the experts can’t tell us is what happened to the people who lived there, or why they left, or where they went, or who they were. Experts categorize these old sites by the way they made their clay pots, by the shape of their spear points (Clovis Points), or other characteristics. Often unique, sometimes traded over a wide range, a dominate culture, dominate in military terms, supported by a large population with a strong economic base would cover a wide area.

What artifacts will we leave behind when invaders over run our civilization, or we die out? Empires rise because of the ambition of leaders, and the ambitions of the population, and when leaders become feckless and corrupt, or the people degenerate, or become divided into competing factions, well, there you go.

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