Wilderness photography permits for $1500?!?

Woke up this morning to two references on my Twitter timeline to the proposed wilderness permitting procedure, one from a friend in Australia (Hi, Jim!), and one from a noted photograper and executive of Borrow Lenses (Hi, Jim!). 

They cited two separate websites, with rather different spins.  One seemed to think it was for “media” access, the other seemed to think it would be for freelance photographers.  

Way back in 2010 when I first began working on a photo project about the Bristlecone pines, I ran across the regulation in question:  It’s been in effect since then, and so this is not a new regulation; it’s a plan to make it permanent.  It’s due to expire this year.  At the time, I was understandably disconcerted about a fee of $1500 to do “still or commercial film photography”, and so I spoke with the regional director, a man by the name of John Louth.  He said it didn’t apply to me, that it was aimed at film companies.  It was a way to offset the cost of insuring that huge crews with trucks and equipment and ignorant people don’t impact the area and resources they’d be using.  

As for the “media”, the regulation makes no mention of them at all.  I think that may have come about because NPR wanted to film people planting trees on national forest land, and the local director wanted to charge them the full $1500 fee. 

In any case, the language is rather vague and obviously open to interpretation.  It really should be narrowed down to for-profit news organizations and film companies;  I’m looking at you, Fox and Disney.  

Here’s part of what the permitting process tries to ensure, taken directly from the actual regulation: 

“A special use permit may be issued(when required by sections 45.1a and45.2a) to authorize the use of NationalForest System lands for still photography or commercial filming when the proposed activity:

1. Meets the screening criteria in 36CFR 251.54(e);

2. Would not cause unacceptableresource damage;

3. Would not unreasonably disrupt the public’s use and enjoyment of the site where the activity would occur;

4. Would not pose a public health and safety risk; and

5. Meets the following additional criteria, if the proposed activity, other than noncommercial still photography (36 CFR 251.51), would be in a congressionally designated wilderness area:

a. Has a primary objective of dissemination of information about theuse and enjoyment of wilderness or its ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value (16 U.S.C. 1131(a) and(b));

b. Would preserve the wilderness character of the area proposed for use, for example, would leave it untrammeled, natural, and undeveloped and would preserve opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation (16 U.S.C. 1131(a));

c. Is wilderness-dependent, forexample, a location within a wilderness area is identified for the proposed activity and there are no suitable locations outside of a wilderness area(16 U.S.C. 1133(d)(6));

d. Would not involve use of a motor vehicle, motorboat, or motorized equipment, including landing of aircraft, unless authorized by the enabling legislation for the wilderness area (36 CFR 261.18(a) and (c));

e. Would not involve the use of mechanical transport, such as a hangglider or bicycle, unless authorized by the enabling legislation for the wilderness area (36 CFR 261.18(b));

f. Would not violate any applicable order (36 CFR 261.57); and

g. Would not advertise any product orservice (16 U.S.C. 1133(c)).” 

Frankly, ensuring all of the above seems like a steal for $1500, don’t you? Especially when you read #5 very carefully!  

Never the less, it really does need to be more specific; Using an iPhone to video fast moving clouds over the Bristlecones for use on my blog should not cost $1500.  Nor should Public Radio/ Public Broadcasting have to pay it; They’re non-profit.  

So here’s a link to a page with the regulation and they are taking public comments.  (Big green button on the upper right of the page!) 

New Toys: Nik Collection

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Mono Lake Tufa, iPhone 5C, Lightroom 5, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, Nik Dfine2 (collection)

In the hopes that I’d be the first in Yosemite National Park to do so, I installed Mac OS X Yosemite (beta) on my Mac Pro.  Still don’t know if I am or not, but for the most part it’s been pretty good. There was a problem with Java Runtime environment, I’d periodically get pop dialog boxes asking me to install it, I would, and I’d still get the popup 15 minutes later, but that’s been resolved since a newer version of Java Runtime came out yesterday. 

But the one thing that really irked me was that my legally-paid-for-and-registered copy of Silver Efex Pro didn’t work any more.  It had a nag screen saying the trial period had expired (No sh*t! That’s why I bought a license!) and to provide the registration key.  I did a bit of hunting, and low and behold, it wouldn’t accept the key.  

I contacted Nik customer support, and got a response this morning.  Due to the fact that I’m a loyal customer, they sent me a link to the full suite of plug-in apps. 

Whoa. I just tried Silver Efex out, and it works just as I remembered it.  Then over to Dfine 2, and was pleased with the results.  

Asking for a friend…

…(no I’m not. It’s just prurient  enough to catch your eye!)

My dear old ViewSonic VG191b 19” LED monitor’s death-rattle is getting too loud to ignore.  Considering I bought it in 2001, it’s served me well.  Now I’m planning its memorial service, yes even before it has breathed its last. 

So, photog friends, I’m in the market for a new one, and am taking offers of advice and gently used monitors.  

From what research I’ve done, it seems that matte finish is better because you don’t have to deal with oversaturated colors or reflection/glare.  Since I am not a gamer, refresh rate really doesn’t matter, but I need accurate greyscale and none of this silly cranked-up contrast nonsense.  It HAS to be easy to calibrate, too.  

Suggestions?  

State of Edie

No photo today; This is just a post on what’s happening with me, and why it’s been so quiet here at the Little Red Tent this summer.  

With a new job here in Yosemite, and a new way of photography to learn, it’s been pretty difficult to get new photos up on the blog.  Add to that a huge rush to put aside enough money for a house in Missouri, there’s not been enough to fund travel expenses, either. 

I’ve been learning the fine details of medium format film photography since October of last year; it began with an informal apprenticeship with Mr. Alan Ross, who set me on my way with lessons in how to use a light meter, proper exposure, and how to develop film.  We did touch on how to print, but I think that will have to wait until I really get more experience under my belt to really learn my way around a dark room. 

My new job is shuttle dispatcher; I’m the one who makes sure that my shuttle drivers get their lunch breaks and down time. I love it.  Learning the bus schedules is my first priority, and how to shift people and buses is a challenge.  It’s also a significant bump in pay, enough so that I can actually save up for a house. 

For the last few years I’ve been spending my winters with some friends in Missouri; Denise and Rick are old friends from my Navy days. Last year one of their neighbors approached me and asked if I’d be interested in buying his summer cabin down the road.  It’s a chalet, with a wrap-around porch and a view of the lake, next to the boat ramp. Of course I jumped on it.  The Missouri Ozarks are lovely, a gentle rolling karst landscape.  There’s redbuds and dogwood, oaks and pines, and deer and turkeys and wild pigs and mountain lions and black bears.  Much like the foothills of the Sierra, come to think of it, but way more trees! 

The season is winding down here in Yosemite, the crowds have thinned.  I’m not sure when I’ll be laid off, but I should be back in Missouri by early October.  Then on to Rhode Island for my son’s wedding to a remarkable woman I will be proud to call my daughter in law.  Then the closing on my house in December.  This will be the third time I’ve owned a house, but the first time by myself. I’m looking forward to having a bathroom across the hall instead of outside my trailer, being able to sip coffee with my friend Denise on the porch, and someday having a garden and a cat. 

Once I get settled, I’ll begin posting scans of my negatives.  In the mean time, be kind to each other. 

Moving Rocks Mystery solved!

Thanks to @klarajk on Twitter for the heads’ up on this video;  Also, I wonder *how* these guys were able to “create a pond” on the Playa.  Can’t imagine water trucks navigating that infamously treacherous road.  Edited: Oops.  I thought the narrater said “Norris created…” Nope.  “Rain and snow created…”.  Derp.  

El Portal Fire

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There really is no reason for me to provide yet more depressing news about the fire just outside the gates of Yosemite.  There’s lots and lots of websites that will provide the information you’re seeking.  What isn’t being said is the cause of the fire— and while I’ve heard rumors, I know nothing concrete and so I’ll hold my tongue.  While it is smokey here in Yosemite Valley, I suspect most of it is from the Dark Hole Fire, on the Yosemite Creek drainage.  Every morning smoke can be seen pouring over the waterfall outside my trailer.  There is very little water now, barely a trickle.  

Fires in Yosemite have become old hat to me.  It seems just about every year there’s another month of smoke and ash.  I’ve almost become blasé.  

I shot this image on my Mamiya RB67 Pro S on Ilford Delta 400 film.  I developed the negative and then scanned it on my Epson Perfection V700 scanner, and processed it using Lightroom.  I just wish I could have gotten a shot of the DC-10 that rose up from behind the ridge and scared the crap out of me!  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll go out to El Portal and get some more shots of aircraft and personnel.  

Give back to the park!

Did you know that there’s a drop-in volunteer program in Yosemite?  If you’re going to be in the park for a few days, consider spending a morning doing some volunteer work.  From the NPS Yosemite website: 

 

“Drop-In Volunteer Program” Provides Hands-on Experience Working in Park

Yosemite National Park is seeking help from the interested people to assist in preserving, restoring, and enjoying Yosemite Valley. Experienced work leaders will guide each day’s group and explore some of the park’s most precious resources in Yosemite Valley. No experience is required and all ages and abilities are welcome to participate in the program.

Every Wednesday morning, now through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, volunteers are invited to meet park staff in front of the Valley Visitor Center at 9:00 a.m. The program lasts from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers should be prepared wearing long pants, closed-toe shoes, long sleeves, snacks, water, and sunscreen. Gloves, tools, safety gear, and extra water will be provided.

There is no pre-registration required for individuals, but groups of 10 or more are encouraged to call in advance to reserve their spot. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Upon registration, volunteers will be asked to fill out a Volunteer Service Agreement.

This is the 9th year of Yosemite’s drop-in volunteer program. Current volunteer projects include removing invasive plant species from meadows and surrounding areas, collecting seeds for rehabilitation projects, and planting seedlings to support sensitive plant communities like the California Black Oak trees (Quercus Kelloggi) in historic locations. This program provides visitors and local residents with the opportunity to work on important projects that protect park habitat, improve park appearance, and enhance the overall visitor experience.

Volunteers wishing to participate in this drop-in volunteer program should visit http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hapy.htm or call the Yosemite Volunteer Office at (209) 379-1850.