Lori Carey Photography

Friday, May 15, 2015

R.I.P. B.B. King

BB King at the Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, California on May 21, 2006

Rest in Peace, B.B. King and thank you for all of your wonderful music!

I had the pleasure of photographing and watching B.B. King perform at the Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, California back in 2006. It was a few months before his 80th birthday and he was celebrating by going on tour, with Lucille of course! He was an amazing performer. I'm a huge blues fan and I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to see the legend perform live.

Blues legend B.B. King performing at the 2006 Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, CA

There are more photos from that performance in the 2006 Doheny Blues gallery on my website.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Exploring California's Mining History in the El Paso Mountains

Jeep on trail in El Paso Mountains, Mojave Desert, California

We camped with some friends at Dove Springs in January and couldn't pass up the chance to hit the beautifully scenic El Paso Mountains. This wilderness area in the Mojave Desert is located at the far southeastern end of the Sierra Nevada Range and has a wealth of mining history. Several old mines, cabins and mining camps can be found. Seeing the Burro Schmidt Tunnel and learning the story behind it alone is enough to justify the trip (I've visited the tunnel many times just because it's so cool!). We tried to convince our friends, who all had Jeeps of their own, to join us on the trail, but they weren't motivated.

You can read about it, and they can see what they missed, by reading my latest article on DrivingLine - Exploring El Paso Mountains: Mojave Off-Road Trail Review
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to integrate my work on other sites with own website and blog. I realized that I've been so focused on getting photos and stories to clients that I've hardly even bothered to upload photos to my own site for far too long, let alone keep my blog updated. Kind of makes it looks like I haven't been doing anything, when the truth is the exact opposite. I've been trying to keep the list of my published articles updated on a regular basis, but if I don't tell anyone that the page has been updated, you don't know to look. So I hope you'll click through and read the story on DrivingLine and leave me a comment either here or there!

Some of my Milky Way photos were done at the Holly Cleanser Mine mentioned in the article. The mine is a very cool place to visit after dark and it was a lot of fun to play around with lighting the old mining equipment to create an alien-looking landscape.

I previously wrote about three other trails in the El Paso Mountains many years ago here on my own blog - Last Chance Canyon, Sheep Springs and Nightmare Gulch. Nightmare Gulch has since been closed on a temporary permanent basis, so I feel fortunate that I was able to visit this area while it was still open. We had hoped it would re-open some day, but it doesn't appear that it will happen any time soon.

Have you done any of the trails in the El Paso Mountains? Which one is your favorite? Any good ones that I have't hit yet?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hazards of the Job

If you follow my other social media accounts you probably know that I was just a few feet away from Mel Wade III, owner of Off Road Evolution and EVO Mfg, when he rolled his #4451 EVO1 Jeep JK during the qualify round at the 2015 Ultra4 King of the Hammers race in February. He miraculously landed on four tires and got the vehicle back under control to finish the run. I knew that I was close enough that I had to be in footage somewhere, and here it is. Watch closely at the end for the blonde in the hideous neon green vest! My husband decided that he needs to increase my life insurance after seeing this video.

There's a very good reason event organizers make media sign those liability forms! When a vehicle is moving that fast, one little misstep can cause it to fly through the air and you are not going to win that battle. Even photographing slow rock crawling can be dangerous, especially if you don't know what you're doing. It's important to understand where a vehicle might run into a problem and to know which direction a vehicle will roll/fall/flop/slide on a obstacle so you don't put yourself in harm's way, while still trying to get the best angle and light. I've been photographing off road long enough that I believe I have a very good understanding of what and where the problems can be, and how the vehicle will move if it finds trouble, but I still remember Kevin Sacalas of Big Ugly Racing doing cartwheels across the course in 2014 and how I had been shooting in that very location earlier in the day. This is also why I prefer to use my Canon 7D for shooting off road; the crop sensor allows me to keep a reasonably safe distance while using my Canon 70-200mm lens. A full frame sensor would require me to carry a much bigger and heavier lens, which would reduce my mobility.

Mel is a personal friend so my first thought as it happened was to pray that he would be okay. As I watched his vehicle fly up in the air and do a barrel roll, crashing into boulders as it bounced and rolled down the hill, my mind went back and forth between worrying about his safety, worrying about getting the shot, and worrying about when I needed to move to a safer spot. As you see in the video, the vehicle didn't just roll to the bottom and stay there, it kept moving. After seeing this video a couple people mentioned to me how casually I appear to stroll away. Make no mistake, I was watching every move that EVO1 made as it rolled down the hill, I could see the exact second that Mel had it back under control, and I could envision the arc the rig would take as he circled back around to complete his run.

Mel Wade III in EVO1 midair doing a barrel roll during the Qualifying round at the 2015 Ultra4 King of the Hammers, Johnson Valley, California

There were a few gaps in my sequence because I had to remove the camera from my face to mentally calculate speed and distance of the vehicle, but I got some great shots. One of airborne shots is going to be used in the new EVO Manufacturing catalog.

Dave Cole yelled at me when I moved back to the same spot for the next vehicle, "You just almost got *#&*@ killed, why the *#&*@ would you go right back to the same spot?!!". I told him I figured what were the odds it would happen again? I guess I gave him a good scare, and he made all media move back another 20 feet for the rest of the Qualifying round.

When I caught up with EVO1 at the recent Tierra del Sol Desert Safari, I loved seeing the badass stitches holding it together!

Mel Wade's EVO1 stitches

Monday, February 16, 2015

Randy Slawson wins King of the Hammers

Randy Slawson takes the checkered flag for his second King of the Hammers win, Johnson Valley, California February 6, 2015

Randy Slawson taking the checkered flag to win the King of the Hammers off road race on 6 February 2015 in Johnson Valley, CA. Known as the toughest off race in the world, only 17 of the 132 drivers finished the 215 mile race before the 10pm cutoff this year. This was Slawson's second win; he was also crowned King in 2013 and is now one of three two-time winners.

On a personal note - the sun was sinking low when we heard that the leaders were just a few miles out from the finish line. We had that gorgeous golden light and I was picturing a beautiful backlit rooster as Randy came around that final bend to the finish. As we all stood shoulder to shoulder waiting to see if it would be Randy or Erik Miller to cross the line first, the sun slipped behind the mountains. Light fades fast in those first 15 minutes or so after the sun sets and there was only one (very) small light over the finish line, so I was checking my settings every 30 seconds...I'm losing shutter speed, open the aperture, too slow again, raise the ISO, oh no too slow again, raise the ISO a bit more, car coming in to the pit, test shutter speed, then I realized that the rigs have their lights on now...that's going to affect my exposure! ...still loosing light fast, keep that shutter speed up, still thinking about those lights coming right at me...I was just about to give up hope of getting a sharp shot at a respectable ISO when in comes Randy flying to the finish. When 2nd place Erik Miller crossed the line a few minutes later, it was hopeless. Low light action photography is nerve wracking!

More from King of the Hammers coming soon...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Triangle Intaglios

Triangles intaglio site in the Mojave desert

Intaglios are one of the best kept secrets of the southwestern desert. They are geoglyphs created by ancient people by removing the dark stones from the desert pavement to reveal the lighter colored surface below. Sometimes the glyphs are further accentuated by piling the stones around the edges. Intaglios can be found in countries all over the world, but almost all of the intaglios in the United States are located in the desert region along the lower Colorado River. Most of the intaglios are very large and can only be recognized when seen from a plane flying over them, which explains why no one noticed them until Army Air Corps pilot George A. Palmer discovered the Blythe Intaglios in 1931. The Blythe Intaglios consists of several of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and geometric figures, the largest at 170 feet long. A total of six glyphs were found in the Blythe region, and many believe that they tell the story of creation. Jay von Werlhof was one of the principal researchers of the intaglios and of the few who actually discussed the intaglios with the local Native American tribes. He determined that the intaglios are located along a Trail of Dreams, the path a boy would follow during his spiritual Visionquest to become a man. The intaglios are at the locations of important mythical events, and many of the sites have associated rituals.

The art is almost impossible to date and estimates range from 200 to 8000 years old. The Mojave say that the glyphs have been there "forever". Interestingly enough, while it might seem to be common sense to most of us to consult local tribes about art that was created by their ancestors, it has been said that for many years the scientific community ignored Native Americans for much of the 20th century, stating that ethnography was irrelevant to its study. (Jay von Wherlof's Trail of Dreams, Whitely, PCAS Quarterly 50)

Other than as a curiosity, not much attention was given to the intaglios for several decades until National Geographic did an article on the Blythe Intaglios in the 1950s. It wasn't until the 1980s that scientists began to pay serious attention and started to locate and document other geoglyphs along the lower Colorado. Eventually over 300 intaglios were located in the American Southwest and neighboring Mexico, and my research indicates that there may be 600 or more currently documented. The Blythe Intaglios are the best known, the locations of most of the others are kept secret within the scientific community. The Triangles are one of the few whose location is published. I still wasn't able to find any additional information about them other than what is said in the Mojave Road Guide - that they were created by an ancient people who we know nothing about. I was hoping to find some suggested interpretations of what they might signify, but have had absolutely no luck.

Triangle intaglio above Manix Wash, Mojave desert

Not much has been done in the way of preservation of the intaglios. The head of one of the giant human-like figures near Blythe was destroyed when General Patton was conducting tank training. A nearby spiral or coiled snake was almost obliterated by off road drivers who did not realize they were driving over ancient sacred artwork. The Blythe intaglios were eventually fenced to prevent further damage and vandalism. Nearby another set of geoglyphs was damaged when a road was widened for a solar project, and local tribes are now getting involved fighting to preserve this rarest form of rock art by organizing to file complaints and lawsuits. At least five geoglyphs and cultural resources are within the project boundaries of the solar project at Blythe, and a total of 19 are located on the land immediately surrounding the project site. Other areas of the desert where intaglios are located are being targeted for large scale solar projects and there seems to be very little outside interest for preserving this ancient art, undoubtedly much of that is because the general public isn't even aware of their existance. High Country News has a fantastic article about the fight to preserve the intaglios.

Triangle intaglios above Manix Wash, Mojave desert

A very small number of the identified intaglio locations have been fenced, according to my research it is approximately only a dozen. The Triangle Intaglios seen here are protected by a post barricade to prevent vehicles from driving over them. Archaeologists are concerned that fencing will create awareness of the location of the remaining hundreds of glyphs. But since most people would not recognize a large intaglio from the ground, people may inadvertently cause damage by driving or walking over them without realizing they are there. It's a Catch-22.

The Triangles intaglio site in the Mojave desert

The Triangle Intaglios are easy to recognize from the ground. Located high on top of a mesa, most are only a foot or two across. From up here it's easy to see why this was considered a sacred place.

Triangle intaglio above Manix Wash, Mojave desert

There are a few located outside the barrier and I assume these are not original, but created by modern day people in attempt to replicate the intaglios.

Probably fake geoglyph at the Triangles intaglio site in Manix Wash, Mojave Desert

Likewise with this intaglio in the shape of an arrow, which is behind the barricade. Since there are no other arrows in this location, I assume that someone vandalized one of the triangles to create the shape of an arrow.

Triangle intaglios above Manix Wash in the Mojave Desert.

Since this type of art is so difficult to date, even for the experts, it can be very frustrating when I find something in a remote location and can't be sure if it is an archaeological site or something created by modern man. One time when exploring a remote location I came across what I believed was some type of ceremonial circle intaglio edged with rocks. It was in the right location, located on a raised point of land overlooking a spectacular desert landscape. It certainly felt like a sacred location to me. But I noticed evidence that someone had recently camped nearby, and it was impossible for a layman with no formal training to tell if this was a sacred site or just a large circle of rocks created by people who had camped here recently. Attempting to research the location on the internet proved futile. I've read countless scientific white papers on California's rock art but have yet to find anything specific to that location.

The plight of the intaglios gives me mixed feelings about the need to keep their locations a secret. While I've seen way too much destruction and vandalism at significant locations across the desert, especially in recent years with the easy access to information on the internet and people's desire to share, if people don't know about such places they won't be aware of how special they are and why they deserve to be protected. Surely something so sacred to our ancestors deserves to at least be protected from destruction by large-scale solar projects.

Have you come across any intaglios in your travels? I'd love to hear about it!

I visited the Triangle Intaglios on a recent adventure along the historic Mojave Road, a 130+ mile trail through the remote Mojave Desert. If you missed it, you can read my three-part series on DrivingLine -

Part 1 - Holiday on the Trails: The Historic Mojave Road
Part II - The Historic Mojave Road: Soda Lake to Marl Springs
Part III - The Historic Mojave Road: Marl Springs to Goffs