Blast from North Dakota’s stereoscopic past

It all started when I started going through a box of old toys and things that my mom dropped off at the house.  Most of it was old stuff that was in disrepair or otherwise unusable (such as an old Commodore 64 that I can emulate on my PC), and ended up being discarded.  The two items above, however, caught my eye.  Both eyes, actually.

One of them had a disc in it (they were called “reels”), but I didn’t find any other reels.  One of my favorites as a little kid was one about dinosaurs, and I’d sure love to find that one again for old time’s sake.  But I started thinking about this vintage technology and couldn’t help but wonder…are there any North Dakota-related View-Master reels?

It didn’t take long on eBay before I discovered a set of reels from 1956, and of course I had to have them.

 

This arrived shortly after I fervently clicked Buy It Now – a new, unopened 1956 set of three View-Master slides portraying North Dakota tourist attractions!

 

The pack contained three reels, an insert describing the the photos portrayed, and a couple of order forms for other Sawyer products.  Sawyer invented the View-Master, and is no longer in business.  The company’s View-Master division has traded hands a few times.

 

These are the three reels in their protective sleeves.  Even though the paper package has never been opened, the film slides in the reels have a slight bubbling to them.  I’m guessing they’re some sort of acetate film medium that does this sort of thing after sixty years.

 

The reels are in pretty good shape, although they do have some dust and that sort of thing.  Parts of the reels are slightly bubbled as if they have pimples, and there was some powder in the sleeves, but otherwise they’re totally fine.

Naturally we threw them into a film scanner, although it took some rigging.  Want to see some of my favorites?

 

Here’s the capitol building, long before the Judicial Wing was constructed (or probably even conceived).  I like the water tower on the east side.  Who knew there were trees on the mall, my favorite frisbee spot?

 

Here’s an entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I may try to find this monument and take a current photo.  A friend of mine recently did that with the tree at the nearby entrance to the campground west of Medora, a tree which appeared in a family photo from his childhood.

 

Here’s a dam photo.  I was just up at the tail race with my kids a week or so ago, and the water was nowhere near this high.  I just looked at the photos from that day and I guess it was closer than I thought, but this is still a high level.  Remember, the dam was only officially completed in the early 1950s and didn’t begin its work as a hydroelectric power plant until 1956 or even 1960, depending on which source you consult.

 

Back to the capitol.  The Pioneer Family monument no longer has the fence around it, and the marble posts are long gone.  I have a postcard of this somewhere as well.  Again, I love the water tower.

 

It wouldn’t be North Dakota without a farming photo or two.  The harvesting equipment of today is significantly larger, and of course there’s the GPS and air conditioning.

 

Here’s another example of things being bigger now: lignite coal mining equipment.  The draglines I’ve done video and photo work on north of here weigh in at up to thirteen million pounds (13,000,000)!  The coal haulers have a 160 ton or greater capacity, too.

 

Here’s the front of the insert.   Click on the photo for a full size (ie, legible) version.

 

And, of course, the back.  Click for the readable size image.

 

And, because I can’t change who I am, I spotted a typo.  I think maybe someone had Fargo on the brain when they wrote the section about “Tiago”.  Hey, at least they didn’t call us South Dakota!

 

I may post some additional images from these reels down the road, we’ll see.  We only scanned one of each image, it might be interesting to take a crack at scanning both.  What am I talking about?  Well, the View-Master is stereoscopic, meaning that the creators of these reels took photos with two cameras spaced slightly apart.  For each image you see, there’s a left one and a right one.  So you get 3D depth perception as you do in real life.  It’s wonderful.  But I currently lack the ambition to scan both perspectives of each of these images and don’t really have a plan for how I’d combine them into a 3D-viewable digital image anyway.

Certainly some of you have enjoyed View-Master reels?  Feel nostalgic yet?

Mangled

This windmill caught my attention while I was out roaming recently, and – unlike many of the windmills I encounter – it was actually near the road so I could quickly get a nice photo of it.  It seems these things are vanishing at a quickening pace; even ol’ standbys are falling to the ravages of time and North Dakota weather.

 

This one actually sits in a yard along with an old farmstead.  There are cattle on the land, which is probably why the lawn appears to be mowed.  It’s sad to see another casualty of time here, but fascinating nonetheless.

Reflections at church

This was my destination last Friday as I meandered through the countryside, one of two destinations I’d planned to visit after taking off work a little early.  My wife teased me, saying that I would be home much later than the “just a couple of hours” that I estimated.  She was right…I got into position and, seeing the sky to the west developing in a way that was sure to provide a colorful splash at sunset, I couldn’t resist.  I put out my camping chair, got my gear ready, and waited.  I was not disappointed.  I even got the right angle to catch the sunset reflecting off the windows!

 

As for the other angle, you can see that it was a great sunset all around.  I was going for the color in the east rather than the blazing sunset in the west, but they both have their appeal.  I couldn’t help but try to catch the sun through the steeple.

 

As far as that “just a couple of hours” thing – well, this image says it all.  I’m thankful to have a gracious and patient wife.  Being married to me should make her eligible for some sort of lifetime achievement award!

One for the road – okay, two

seeding_46669I got some GOOD photos on Friday, taking off work a little early and going roaming in the countryside. More on those later. But on my way home, having thankfully programmed an escape route into my GPS, I came upon these guys and had to stop and grab a quick shot of one of the operators.

 

seeding_46682I’m not a fan of wind turbines, either as a heavily subsidized energy source or as the nemeses of the landscape photographer…but in this case, I thought they added a little je ne sais quoi to the shot.  I snapped a few and then proceeded to I-94 to jet home.

And the sound of air horns was heard by all

touch-a-truck_46115-7Last weekend Main Street in Mandan was home to Touch a Truck, put on by the Mandan Progress Association.  If you were coming into Mandan from the east and didn’t know what the heck the DOT sign flashing “TOUCH TRUCKS AHEAD” meant, your confusion probably only lasted a moment until you saw all the crane booms up ahead.

 

touch-a-truck_45992-4There were all kinds of trucks and various other equipment, with the cranes being the most prominent.  There were road striping trucks, sanitation trucks, bucket trucks, the works.

 

touch-a-truck_45759Of course, one doesn’t have to be a piece of heavy equipment or possess hydraulics with super powers to be an awesome truck.  The Bookmobile was there, too.  And it looked like it was getting a lot of attention from the kids.

 

_MG_45749See the giant crane?  Well, each of the four hydraulic cylinders holding it in the air is fed by a trio of the tiny little metal elbows you can see me pointing at on the left.  Crazy.

 

touch-a-truck_46049My favorite thing about the cranes, how they hoist Old Glory.  The colors were on display and waving in the breeze.

 

touch-a-truck_45971-3Tractors and other big equipment was present as well.  They may not have air horns like some of the other trucks, but they have plenty of stuff to climb on and buttons to push.

 

touch-a-truck_45980-2  Then there were the mini excavators, which were a hit.  I think there was a line to see them at one point.

 

touch-a-truck_45968-70This is only a drill. There, I did it.  You can’t stop me.  My kids don’t think I’m funny either.

 

touch-a-truck_45997Balloon animals were available, or in the case of my kids balloon swords.  Guess how long those lasted before popping in battle.  En garde!

 

_MG_45784Another attraction that amounts to playing in the box the toy came in:  These sections of conduit were a hit with the kids, who climbed in and promptly insisted their parents roll them around on the grass.  Yes, I did it too…rolling, not climbing inside.

 

touch-a-truck_46069-71These guys are heroes every time I place an order with B&H or Amazon.com.  Note the flag in the background.

 

touch-a-truck_46075-7I never get tired of shots like this.  The weather was perfect, the skies cleared enough to give me a sunburn by the end of the day, and the breeze kept everything comfortable and the flags waving.

 

touch-a-truck_45818-20One time my kids saw me running camera for a monster truck show, getting closeups of giant trucks doing wheelies and burnouts.  The next day my wife took them to watch me on a rooftop, shooting video and stills of a helicopter doing touch-n-go’s on a helipad.  When I was tucking them in, I asked if they thought their Daddy had a pretty cool job.  “Yeah,” was the reply, “But did you know that Uncle [my brother-in-law] is a mailman?”  He’d subbed in our neighborhood and let them walk his route with him for a bit, totally stealing my thunder.

 

touch-a-truck_45947-9It’s a small crane, but the kids got to operate it…lifting and moving a small load using the tethered controller.

 

touch-a-truck_45824-6This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Boom town”, doesn’t it?  I just made that up right now as I’m typing.  Seriously.

 

touch-a-truck_45959-61I bet I could set off these scales nowadays…I need to bike more and shovel less food into my head.  But when I keep coming up with things like blueberry ice cream float recipes, that isn’t very easy.  Actually, these scales did weigh my kids, so they don’t just work for heavy things.

 

touch-a-truck_45863-5This was a fantastic event, with lots of fun for kids and big kids.  I sure hope they do this again next year!  I may bring ear plugs next time, though, because they let the kids tug the air horns in the trucks.  It was a wonderful cacophony, don’t get me wrong, but they get pretty loud!

 

Global War On Terror Remembrance Wall

gwot_wall_46136-8The Global War On Terror Wall of Remembrance made its way to Bismarck last weekend, and I was able to take my kids there and give it some context.  One side features terrorist attacks on our country going back over thirty years as well as important points in history along the way.  The other side features names of those who lost their lives due to terrorism or the war against terrorism.

 

gwot_wall_46150-2I thought ND National Guard Adjutant General Al Dohrmann put it best when he said tht every name on this wall was the most important person in the world to someone.  I sat in front of this wall with my kids and did my best to impress that upon them.

 

gwot_wall_pano_0087Click on the image for a MUCH larger version

After a long day at the Touch the Trucks event, and hungry as heck, my kids did a great job of patiently listening to me trying to give context to this traveling monument.  On the way to get our Pizza Burgers Flyin’ Style at Big Boy they asked me about how I remember the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and it was good to share my memories of the day.  I hope they don’t have a similar experience in their lifetimes, although I’m not too sure what the odds are on that.

Find out more about this traveling monument here.

2017 North Dakota Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony

leo_memorial_45669I didn’t actually spend much time photographing the ceremony, but I did attend it this year.  Due to wind and threat of rain, the event was moved to the capitol’s Memorial Hall instead of outside at the monument on the east side of the J-Wing.

I did shoot some video of the rifle volley:

 
The video is in HD if you click through to watch it on YouTube.

This is a somber event, and one that I hope will get a lot more attention now that the community has gone through a major event with law enforcement and pro-LE sentiment seem to be at an all time high. Our community honors our heroes.

One of the rare times when I like that “Painterly” effect

honor_guard_45698-700_painted-(crop)(Click on the image for a larger version)

This weekend I’ll post a couple things from the peace officers’ memorial ceremony on Wednesday, but there’s no time to do so today.  I did want to share this photo, though, because it is one of the few photos I’ve taken that lends itself to a particular effect.

I love HDR (High Dynamic Range” photography, especially with drone footage.  I’m no master, but I hope to improve.  I love the way I can grab details from the lightest and darkest parts of the photo and blend them all together into a “hyper-realistic” final product, and if done with the proper restraint it can be breathtaking while still not entirely artificial looking. Sadly, so many examples of HDR imagery (especially when it first took off) are overblown, oversaturated, pasty conglomerations that reduce the technique to an eyesore.

Not this one.  I wanted a “painted” effect for the Peace Officers’ Association honor guard, and it worked.  I had the right lighting, I had the right subjects (they stood STILL), and it all came together.  I’d love your feedback on this effect.  I’ll post a couple of photos and a video sometime in the near future.

I used to take a lot more of these

capitol_sunset_45401-3This is the sunset from last Saturday night.  I was on my way home from a men’s prayer meeting and noticed the sunset as I passed the capitol building, so I whipped around for a quick photo.  By “quick” I mean I took 98 of them and ended up choosing the fourth one.

Check out the “Sunsets” category if you like this one, there are plenty more.  Or the “Sunrises” category.  Or the “Skies and Stars” category…they’re all good.