#WinterSouth: Anticipating Death

I’m staying in Lone Pine, California tonight. Getting up at the crack of dawn and heading into Death Valley tomorrow morning for a few days of camping and shooting. It looks like the weather will be cooperating. I’m also hoping to find a nice spot to finally shoot a video for my Kickstarter campaign: http://kck.st/1eEDQxl
Earlier today, I managed to get a decent shot on my phone from the Mono Lake vista point on US 395:

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Notice anything? There’s hardly any snow anywhere!!! Not a good sign.

Direct Measurement of Graphing Interactions

On Thursday, October 31, at AECT 2013 in Anaheim, I’ll be conducting a “round table” discussion/presentation about a manuscript I’ve written: “Direct Measurement of Learners’ Graphing Interactions for Automated Formative Assessment in a Digital Tablet Environment.” It’s a conceptualization of a digital graphing platform that can persist across informal and formal learning environments.

Here’s the abstract for the manuscript:

This methodological paper explores theoretical and practical foundations for the development of measurement instruments embedded in a tablet-based  interactive digital graphing platform for use in unobtrusive automated formative assessment of learners’ performance when plotting and/or visualizing data as all or part of a learning task.  Practical matters of data plotting and manipulation as formative performance assessment are addressed.  Exemplary tasks are provided as a basis for further examination and discussion of identified practical matters.  Modeling learners’ growth in graphing ability over time is explored in the context of experimental research of cognitive factors of graphing interactions.

I’ve also made the manuscript available as a whitepaper here on my website: ErlandsonBE_Direct-Measurement-Graphing-Interactions.  Please feel free to read it and give me any constructive feedback you may have.  Questions also welcomed!  Let’s start a discussion…

Rain Girl

As I was a walking home from the fitness studio late this morning, the rain was picking up again.  There are several large puddles on the rather crooked sidewalk between the studio and my house.  As I rounded the corner, over the din of the raindrops I heard this repetitive high pitched squeal, coupled with the occasional splash.

Into view comes a small girl, probably between the ages of three and five, covered from head to toe in a raincoat and galoshes.  She’s several paces ahead of the rest of her family.  She’s yelling (singing, really) over and over again, “I don’t want to get wet, I don’t want to get wet, I don’t want to get wet!” as she gallops from puddle to puddle.  Finally, she notices me coming from the other direction and stops dead in her tracks.  Rain dripping through the soaked dark brown locks protruding from either side of the hood of her jacket, she makes eye contact. I flash her a quick smile to let her know I’m harmless, and then she cracks one of the most devious shit-eating-grins I’ve ever seen on a kid that age (even trumping my nephew Bennett!).

And then it was right back to puddle splashing and singing her refrain.

My faith in humanity got bumped up a notch today.  Thanks, kiddo.  Go in peace and never, ever stop splashing.

Turk’s Cap Lilies on 21

Last night, my dad and mom told me about a patch of Turk’s Cap Lilies along US Highway 21 between Glade Valley and Sparta.  Dad asked me to take some time today to go and shoot them if I could.  I did.  Despite the neck deep thicket of thistles, thorns, and nettles…it was totally worth it.  I only got a few really good shots, but, these flowers continue to pique my interest.
Check out the full set here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjAGGwes
img_5943 by beerland
img_5943, a photo by beerland on Flickr.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bulb photography on the rim at Bryce Canyon National Park
Bulb photography on the rim at Bryce Canyon National Park

I spent two nights at Bryce Canyon as well.  The first night, I walked a few steps from my campsite to the rim of the canyon to play around with some night shooting, including the moon rise and, later a series of bulb shots.  The 7D has a great bulb setting, and coupled with my tripod (of course) and a nice remote triggering system, I think my first endeavor with bulb shooting on the 7D was a success!  I almost fell in the canyon, but I didn’t, so, all’s well that ends well. 🙂

Twisted tree on the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
Twisted tree on the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

The following morning I headed out on the Fairyland Loop trail (approximately 8 miles) and took my camera along with me, including my filter wallet.  I started out with the rose UV filter while the sun was still low, but after a while I switched to the circular polarizer.  After stopping for lunch, I came across this wicked shot of a twisted, burnt tree set against the red rocks, practically grabbing the sun (I think the lens flare is a nice touch!).  This is, without a doubt the best shot I got in the canyon, and it’s probably the best shot I’ve taken so far on this road trip.  In fact, given time, it might find its way on to my top ten of all time!  If it does, who knows how long it might stay there?

Great Basin National Park

Apparently, Great Basin is one of the least visited National Parks in the United States, averaging about 85,000 visitors per year.  I camped at Wheeler Peak campground for two nights so that I could see as much of the park as possible, including a tour of Lehman Caves, a hike up to Rock Glacier, and reaching the summit of Wheeler Peak (13,063 ft) — in an apparently quick time of 1 hour, 55 minutes!

No tripods or flashes were allowed on the cave tour (for completely understandable reasons), so I did the best I could with an ISO of 6400 and the image stabilizer on my 18-135mm lens.  Considering these constraints, I think the cave pictures came out quite well!

I can now say that I’ve seen and touched trees one hundred times my own age – many of these Bristlecone pine trees are estimated to be between 3000 and 3200 years old!  There was actually a fairly nice interpretive loop trail set up through the pine grove on the way up to Rock Glacier — very informative, and a rather emotional experience.

As I stood on Rock Glacier beneath the towering spires of Wheeler Peak, the magnitude of the rocks was overpowering.  I did my best to capture the power of these rocks with the lens I had on my 7D (in this case the same 18-135mm).  I decided not to haul a tripod (or any of my camera bag, really) up the hill with me.

The next morning I topped Wheeler Peak, and after an afternoon nap, I decided to see if I could get any good sunset pics.  Coincidentally, this was also the night of the full moon.  I drove slowly down the 12-mile stretch of road connecting Wheeler Peak camp (at 9800 ft) to the Lehman Caves visitor center, looking for best spots to capture the sunset.  I settled on a view of the range you see here, and I think it works pretty well.  As I was snapping shots (yes, with a tripod this time!) I happened to turn around, and my jaw hit the ground.  The huge full moon you see here was just peeking above the other mountains.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I quickly broke down my gear and raced back up to another overlook with a better eastern view.  I whipped out my 100-300mm lens and (if I remember correctly) threw on a polarizer — I don’t have any ND filters for that lens (note to self…).

All in all, a successful couple of days shooting!  Check out the entire set on flickr.