Monthly Archives: May 2016

… tails


I was going to caption this email “Heads to Tails”, but thought that might be a little corny (when was the last time you heard that phrase?) so just left it with “… tails”. On an outing with One over the weekend, we were both sitting in the shade marveling at the incredible display this crow put on as he ate this lizard. He picked it up on one of the golf course sprinkler heads (good source of water for critters) and repeatedly threw it up in the air and then when for it and each time he landed with it a little less lizard was left to be flung up in the air again. In this image we were down to the last of the tail and it disappeared when this duo hit the ground again … well, not quite a duo anymore.

My Coopers Hawks are gone, my songbirds are gone, only a few doves dare dart through the area and the Quail keep pretty well hidden as the neighborhood has been taken over by the Mob … about a dozen Crows have moved in and taken over the territory. When One and I venture outdoors we are dive bombed by several Crows. Initially we witnessed a lot of aerial combat between hawks and Crows with the later winning out … like what self-respecting critter would want to put up with continual attacks. So a few sparrows, finches and an occasional tweety bird. On the bright side I am getting a fantastic opportunity to photograph these beautiful albeit noxious creatures. Black along with white subjects are the most difficult subjects to shoot because of the lack of contrast and detail; lighting has to be just right, so this is fun.

I replaced the oil pressure sensor on Marias’s Rotax engine this afternoon, test ran the engine and am delighted that everything is now green. Flying in the morning so this is going out early. Not sure where I will be going and probably won’t make my mind up until I takeoff in the morning … north somewhere for sure.

Many evenings I wish I could send out several photos including tonight, but when I do that a lot of emails are bounced so this coming weekend I am going to add a page to the personal website to add photos with brief captions. Check the sites out: and also . Traffic is increasing and averaging over 20,000 hits per month now.

Time to wrap the day … hope your celebration of the day included a few moments remembering those who died keeping us safe and free. When you make the decision to serve this country in the military you accept among other things that you may be engaged in battle to protect this most exceptional country and part of the contract is that you may pay with your life … in our history more than a million of our finest have paid the ultimate price. It seems that the fights were more clearly defined in past conflicts than now, but the loss of life to serve our country is no less real. Take a look at this site: thank the Vets you know and those you can never know because they died so you can enjoy the hotdogs and beans like I did today … in a free country.

Enjoy this day … smile and relish life … keep breathing



I bring but this one common thought, my life has wrought;

That from the dregs of drear despair, still everywhere

There is a joy I yet may sip – Tis comradeship

With all mankind, the high and low

I know.

Max Ehrmann

Cape Solitude

Cape Solitude

Saturday morning, I woke early and was in the air by 7A and on my way to begin re-shooting the Grand Canyon with my Canon 5DsR 50MP camera. For this flight I used the 24-70 F2.8 lens as the goal was to get large airscapes as opposed to close in shots of different features. One of my favorite places at the canyon is the Confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River. When there has been no water flow in the Little Colorado at the Cameron measuring station for several days the mineral rich water from Blue Springs has a chance to coat the river bottom and the water itself takes on a turquoise color. The flow from Blue Springs on this day was 218 cubic feet per second and the Colorado was running a beautiful deep green and 19,500 cubic feet per second. The Little Colorado drains the White Mountains, flows north and west through the high desert and when it has a water flow it picks up a lot of dust and silt which makes the water very muddy and Grand Falls which is about 40 or 50 miles east of here is essentially a mud falls, very chocolatey color and it over powers the water from the springs and the water in this image would appear a very nice chocolate color … I like this better.

The point overlooking the Confluence on the left is Cape Solitude and is accessible via trail from Desert View off picture on the left and is a 20+ hour 30-mile hike. I can imagine how beautiful it would be to sit on that point and look down and out. The point to the right of the confluence above center right side is where there have been plans to build a resort and tramway down to the river at the confluence; currently that project has been stopped, but not dead. The confluence is where the Grand Canyon begins and Marble Canyon ends … if they do go ahead with the project called Escalade (Google it) I would suggest having huge neon signs on either side of the river welcoming people to the Grand Canyon compliments of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola – they could have a bidding war to see who gets the most prominent placement.

Looking straight ahead and beyond the confluence is the North Rim and above that the South Rim; I was at 11,000’ when I took this so although the North Rim is about a thousand feet higher than the South Rim you can see over it. The Lodge on the South Rim is in about 20% from the left edge of the image. Elevation of the rivers at this point is about 2,700” MSL, the rim about 6,500’MSL putting me more than a mile and a half above the water.

I sent this image to my friend Andrea for use in an upcoming Philosophy in the Public Interest Salon … along with the image I posed the question, that if mankind were as advanced as we are now during the time the Grand Canyon was being formed, would we have intervened to stop this incredible scarring of the landscape via massive erosion? Would we have turned it over to the US Army Corp of Engineers to find a way to prevent this huge alteration of the surface to try and maintain the status quo, or would we have had the foresight to allow nature to take its course as happened? Things change on this little planet and we have little to do with it. Is it wise to try and maintain the status quo in … ?

When I took off yesterday morning the canyons looked very reminiscent of the photos I took of the Slide Fire in 2014. The USFS and the various groups involved in the four forest restoration project are using fire to thin the forests and as the argument goes, that is the natural way it was prior to the decision to suppress all fire … the problem is that when this was occurring there was no significant human population in the area and now there are hundreds of thousands of people in the area and many are adversely affected by the smoke. So what to do? Those who want to burn have control and the EPA is largely ineffective in protecting humans. Perhaps studies will be done such as they did in Washington to determine the impact on us … then there will be a balancing … which outcome is more important … it could be used as a way to manage population levels too. :+)

I had planned to get up at 4A (less than an hour and a half from now) to get in the air by 5:30A and go shoot the glassy waters of Lake Powell in early morning hours … ain’t going to happen. Maybe a later morning flight to shoot the eastern areas of the Flagstaff Volcanic Field … maybe Coal Canyon too. Oh well, maybe I just need to skip sleep one night :+)

Have a beautiful day … give thanks for being here now … we can enjoy each moment and each person we meet in life … and smile



And lastly give sweet sleep

Closed sight, no fright

That fears will o’er me creep;

And now a last goodnight.

Max Ehrmann

Passing by

Passing by

… going about our daily business I wonder how many people we pass by in the same manner as this Great Blue Heron who was looking for a better fishing spot than he had just left. No saying hi as he passed with a rather grim face … the mallard seems to cock his head with a little attitude and in split seconds the encounter is over and both creatures go on with life … so at least proffer a smile to those you pass today.

Into the weekend have a beautiful one, be safe and remember those who gave it all for this incredible country … no more hotdogs and family gatherings for them, but perhaps the briefest remembrance, a smile knowing that their death and sacrifice enabled you to be here in a free country today. Respect those who continue to serve and daily remain willing to give it all for us.

Back Monday morning



O Passer-by, O passer-by!

Have you good words of me

Upon your lips as I draw nigh

To you each day?

If so, I ask

That you’d them say,

For soon I’m gone and cannot hear,

So speak the kindly word

I beg, and smile while I’m yet near …


Max Ehrmann


Quietly returning

Quietly returning

… it’s always a sweet day when you have final glide back to the field and arrive with lots of extra altitude …above the cowling on the right is Big Park and the Village of Oak Creek trailing up and to the left Jacks Canyon and Pine Valley and just above the cowling on the right is Verde Valley School. Cathedral Rock is left of center and Red Rock Crossing just to the left and a little below that. The populated area to the left is the Chapel area and below the feathered prop is part of the Loop Area. Left edge center is the airport up on the mesa. My heading is pretty much to the E and maybe a few degrees to the N of E.

A good day today … winds still up, but they should be quieting down today and I’m planning an early morning flight up to the Grand Canyon and perhaps Lake Powell on Friday. The Little Colorado River has a zero water flow at Cameron and Blue Springs is dumping the usual 220 cubic feet per second into the river bed about 10 miles or so up from the Confluence so the water should be a beautiful turquoise color. I’m starting to carry two cameras with me … learned a long time ago that anything over 200mm lenses are a waste … thinking of taking the 100mm macro lens on the 6D along as it is a nice light weight full frame combo that will reach down the mile and a half into the canyon from the minimum altitude I can fly up there; the 24-70 on the 5DsR for the broader airscapes. The detail I am getting with the 5DsR in aerial work is nothing short of amazing. Think I may drop down low over Coal Canyon on the way back and try shooting it too. Anyhow that is the plan for Friday … tomorrow morning it is down to Phoenix to pick up a friend at the airport and a pleasant day somewhat unplanned. I like those kind of days.

Espresso in four hours … Yes! An incentive to keep breathing … Jogi is planning on getting into roasting too and she says that the Colombian Mercedes ML coffee I sent her is much better than her favorite coffee from Zumbach’s Gourmet Coffee in New Canaan … talk to Jon Burman at Burman Coffee … 608.831.9247 or log on to their website at:  Not sure, but think I have been roasting my own for about seven years now … always fresh roast premium coffee unlike what you buy in the stores or the mostly over roasted coffee in boutique stores.

Smile … this is the moment and day you are living … what a totally cool thing that is!!!



Sleep sweetly now that the gates of the crimson night are closed,

and leave tomorrow’s struggle for tomorrow;

The earth is peaceful, only the stars and still moon are abroad, and they wage no war.


Max Ehrmann

If in time


… a beautiful piano composition written and performed by my cousin Eric Spicard, check his “my space” page out at: .

I used it as the background music for a new slideshow that I have uploaded to my personal website at: . Mostly some exceptional aerial shots with a few ground based scenic shots. Think you will enjoy it and the terrific music that goes along with it. Part of the revamping of the websites and besides I had to put a short vid together for the meeting of the ISO 100 group at our home tonight so this kinda took care of two needs. Would appreciate your feedback after you view the video … thanks!

A really busy and fun day and much accomplished … including some R&R visiting with friends. Today is going to be filled too so this is one of those short ones. The photo tonight is one of my favorite cloud shots over the Sedona area.

Have a beautiful day and share the love of life that is within you … smiles work every time.




And in this journey over a thousand hills and valleys called life, he is wisest who

is patient where the way is hard, has faith when he does not understand, and carries

into the dark places the light of a cheerful heart.


Max Ehrmann


One into light

… it works and sometimes it doesn’t … I’ll let you decide on this one. On the walk home last night looking down the 12th fairway there was a beautiful glow and the setting sun was back lighting a lot of pollen that was in the air and it gave a soft and dreamy effect looking down the empty fairways … and I knew that One would enjoy an exuberant dash into the soft light, so here she is at full speed in pursuit of who knows what.  I tried galaxies and oceans, but in the end the straight shot with the addition of One worked the best.

It was a good day and finished seven photo projects. If you see any photo you would like a larger print of let me know as I drop ship to your home or business and you will have the print within ten days. Check out the archives and see if there is one or ten in there that you must have … it/they will be yours in whatever size and or media you wish. there is about 1200 images in the archives at present and more being added every week. If you download any of these photos that is fine, but they are for personal not commercial use only. You can post them on Facebook or wherever, just make sure that photo credit is given. For use on commercial websites or in print media please contact me for license to use.

Another day underway and it will be filled with more work on photos and hand polishing some large wood/opal specimens … also starting to facet again and have some very special stones I am going to be working on. Photos will be coming on these projects and yes I sell them too :+)

Time to wrap it, only got three hours last night before the irresistible thought of espresso got me up at a little after 6A. Currently using a Colombian Mercedes ML Ricapi bean from and I blend a medium roast with a very dark roast in order to get the maximum available flavors and overtones. In the darker roast you drive out many of the light oils that produce great flavor in the coffee and by blending the lighter roast with the dark you capture it all. Contact Jon or Gary Burman and they will be happy to guide you into the wonderful world of roasting your own coffee. It is also very cost effective. Starbucks, Peets or whatever will cost you on average $12.00 or more per pound. The finest Columbian coffees like what I am currently roasting run about $6.00 per pound and the roaster is about $150.00. If you go through a pound a week it does not take long to be ahead of the game … not only that, you will have the freshest and best tasting coffee you have ever had. Also I like Hawaiian coffees’, Ethiopian and more. Gary started this company when he got laid off from an IT job in the early 2000’s and they have built a wonderful family business. Check it out. They also sell some terrific tea too … I stick with coffee!

Have a wonderful day … four hours to espresso … yay!



I sat with the stars on the hill of life

And looked at the world below.

I ran with the winds where winds begin

And followed them where they blow

Max Ehrmann

Lit up

leaf lit

Sunday afternoon I walked up to Eric & Jo’s for a visit and to sit in their wonderful backyard shooting birds … beautiful ones and dozens of species … got some really nice ones, but the leaves on a few plants caught my eye as they were being backlit by the setting sun. Looks like they have lived a good life, perhaps a few tough times and a little ragged around the edges … think we all feel that way sometimes and yet the beauty is what we focus on … mostly.

It is late/early so this is going to be short. Have a terrific day as you start the week … smile and along with all other life forms, celebrate the life that you have and smile … life is good.

Cheers … espresso in four hours :+)



The green of all the fields is mine, the stars, the night, the wind at play,

A peaceful heart, while quietly

I go my way

Max Ehrmann

Looking back in time

looking back

Of mountains and men … volcanic fields and fighter pilots … eruptions and Bad Angel.

I had a beautiful flight today and decided to shoot aligned images of various volcanic peaks of the San Francisco Volcanic Field on the Coconino Plateau. I took this shot from about 11,000’msl E of Kendrick peak (10,418’ msl) looking towards the WSW. From the right foreground is Kendrick Peak, Sitgreaves Mountain (9388’ msl) and Bill Williams Mountain (9,264’ msl). Bill Williams is one of the oldest at about 2,8 million years since last eruption, Sitgreaves Mtn at about 1.9 million years and Kendrick Peak about 1.4 million years old, so in this photo you are looking back from about 1.4 million years to 2.8 million years ago. All in all there are about 600 volcanic cones on the plateau.

I spent a couple of hours up there shooting, starting from, WSW of Bill Williams and then up to the SF Peaks. A fun day and the air was rocking so soaring was excellent too with max lift at about 8oo’ per minute.

A friend sent me a link to the most fascinating story of a fighter pilot in WWII that I have ever read. The story of Louis Edward Curdes, one of the most diverse fighter pilots of the war, flying P-38’s in the European Theater and P-51’s in the Pacific Theater. He received two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He is one of only three fighter pilots to have shot down enemy aircraft of all three members of the Axis of Evil, Germany, Italy and Japan … and the only one credited with shooting down a USA transport aircraft and he received his second Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down the USAAF C-47 which coincidently was carrying his girlfriend on board. They later married. So on his P-51 nick named BAD ANGEL his kills represented by the national flags included 7 German Aircraft, 1 Italian, 1 Japanese and 1 American.

It is a fantastic read (not long) and you can read it at:

Like how many people can shoot down the plane carrying their girlfriend, be decorated for doing so and then marry her. He was born in 1919, retired from the USAF a Lt. Col. In 1963 and passed from this life in 1995.

We’re into the weekend, enjoy your family and friends … smile a lot and keep breathing … back Monday morning


The green of all the fields is mine, the stars, the night, the wind at play,

A peaceful heart, while quietly

I go my way

Max Ehrmann

Just needed

BE 5

… the right music to start writing tonight and after going through some of my old favorites like “Acoustic” by Everything But The Girl and a few other groups like them, I ended up with an old album of Rod McKuen … and then the right photo appeared and time to combine and wrap the day. This Bald Eagle gave me about ten minutes of fun shooting a couple of months ago … patience pays off.

Another rainy day, no flying, but fun visits with friends and a start on catching up on emails … under 200 now so there is hope. More work on the presentation for Keep Sedona Beautiful, made a few cuts on opals that will be inset in black jade and the next step is to get a perfect round to fit in the holes I core drilled. There are more uses for a faceting machine than faceting stones and this is one of them … dop the stone, put it into the collet and set the angle to 90 degrees and free rotate on the flat lap until you have a perfect round and then take it down to the proper size which will be about 5.9mm for a 6.0mm hole. So now you know :+)

A wrap for the night as weather is looking pretty good for the morning and hoping for low clouds with lots of blue holes in the morning and get on top and shoot through the holes again. If it works, another aerial will go out tomorrow night, but shots of the natural aviators are fun too. Have a beautiful day and smile … first shots of espresso in about four hours … smiling!

Cheers … keep breathing and your day will be beautiful … you might even smile at such a simple gift …


So each one to his wish, and as for me,

I sit tonight and wait

To find the answers to my soul in me,

And in the beauty of the sky and sea.


Max Ehrmann



… joy, happiness, and new adventures! The day begins for me when I open my eyes and discover that I am still here and breathing … what a fabulous start to the day and then anticipation of the first shots of espresso … thoughts of the people I know I will be seeing and the tasks I have waiting for me … a smile and warmth spreads throughout my being and then perhaps a little more rest; the competing interests of extending sleep time to maybe four and a half hours or hustle out to the kitchen for a five shot load in the first cup of espresso … sometimes the thought of the espresso lingers and a little more rest beckons, for the espresso will still be there.

Put June 8th on your calendar.  I will be giving a presentation to Keep Sedona Beautiful as part of their “Preserving the Wonder Speaker Presentations”. Place KSB building 360 Brewer Rd, Sedona, Wednesday June 8th at 5:30PM. Title of my presentation is “Perspectives: Sedona and Northern Arizona through the Eyes and Lens of Ted Grussing”. There will be a forty-minute video presentation with the music of Anthony Mazzella sweeping you through the grandeur of Sedona and Northern Arizona from the air and ground. Following will be about 20 minutes of Q and A. KSB is one of the great organizations in our area and deserves your support. Check them out at:  Hope to see you there.

The shot tonight is a recent photo of Cathedral Rock and one of my favorite subjects in the Sedona area. I think I have shot it from almost every altitude and angle possible and each produces a unique view … always love the flow of the shadows late in the day. This view is from the WSW shooting ENE.

About the time I was leaving to go flying this morning a large dark cloud came overhead and began hurling lightning bolts … the storms spread over the area and lingered throughout the day. One liked it because she got more out time. My photography is now on display in the Sedona Airport Terminal on a large screen television in the lobby area. If you have not been up there in a while you need to see the neat things that Amanda our new manager is doing. Next Monday my images will be on another flat screen television in the reception are of the City Council chambers … kinda cool! If you have a business and would like to do a setup like this, contact me and we can get it done. The obvious advantage is that in the course of a day hundreds of photos can be displayed rather than just have one on the wall. It is cost effective, so give me a call.

Time for a wrap … have a beautiful day … smile and you will discover the joy of being alive … trending, warm fuzzies.




…I yield myself to the thousand enchantments of sky and field and wood,

and play again like a child on the soft green of the earth.

And as the God of the universe has made thee to bloom in tenderness,

so also may my heart be made to bloom again.


Max Ehrmann