Reno River Festival

Last weekend, instead of doing traditional Mother’s Day things, my family and I headed downtown to the Truckee River to watch some kayakers.    The Reno River Festival has been around for 11 years and features world-class kayakers in a variety of competitions on the water.   The event has struggled in the past and the weather here isn’t always predictable but this day was perfect.   The skies were blue, the air was warm and the crowds were just right.

a kayaker making it to his next buoy
a kayaker making it to his next buoy

kfest rfd

kfest wfield yaks

kfest watchers

kfest red yak closekfest fullhelmet turnkfest fullhelmet over

The traditional punishment when a kayaker comes out of his boat ... he must drink a beer from his boot.   Bootie Beer!
The traditional punishment when a kayaker comes out of his boat … he must drink a beer from his boot. Bootie Beer!
a drone is readied for flight
a drone is readied for flight
camera test on the drone
camera test on the drone
Boys looking for crawdads
Boys looking for crawdads
all smiles
all smiles

kfest bluespark wwater

the old Reno arch
the old Reno arch
one of my favorite shots from the day ... I'm a sucker for an accordion
one of my favorite shots from the day … I’m a sucker for an accordion

kayak xing

Mystery Rolls of Film



If you have been reading my 52Rolls adventures, you probably already know that I happened into a big, box of vintage cameras and been having all kinds of fun figuring out which cameras work or what they do.   It has been a big inspiration on getting through a roll of film each week.   It has also increased the price of this little project significantly.   But, it’s all for the love of film, right?

just a portion of my camera loot … I’m a lucky girl

A bigger bonus in the box of cameras was the discovery of FOUR rolls of exposed film that had not been processed.   If you are a film geek like me, this is a Christmas treasure.   Just imagine what wonderful images could possibly be on those rolls of film?   Treasures from the past.

It did not even remotely occur to me that I didn’t know who had taken the photos or that they might be weird/obscene/ruin my perfectly normal relationship with the film developer that I have been sending film to this year.   Not, that is, until AFTER I had sent them off.   A twinge of worry set it at that moment and did not go away until I got the email.   This could end up very awkward.

The Darkroom sends an email when they receive your film and then when it has been processed so you can see it online.   They also send prints or your negatives back to you in the mail.   I love this place.

The email came that two rolls were blank.   I was bummed.   Disappointed.  Then, I waited another day before a new email arrived.

“Your Images Have Been Processed.”

THE OTHER TWO HAD IMAGES!   I was so excited.   It really was Christmas for me.

Thankfully, the photos were perfectly normal and probably boring to most people.   What.A.Relief.

And, since I do actually know the person who knew the people (his family) that the cameras had belonged to, we went on a mission to discover what/who/where/when for the following photos.   Enjoy!

This came off a roll of 120 film in one of the older cameras that I found.   No clue on actual photo date but it is a shot of my friend's great grandparent's dining room.
This came off a roll of 120 film in one of the older cameras that I found. No clue on actual photo date but it is a shot of my friend’s great grandparent’s dining room.
Same roll of 120 film, same house.   We have not yet identified the woman.   I was impressed by the relatively lavish furnishings.
Same roll of 120 film, same house. We have not yet identified the woman. I was impressed by the relatively lavish furnishings.
San Francisco trolley car in the late 1970s, shot on 110 film.
San Francisco trolley car in the late 1970s, shot on 110 film.
San Francisco Court House,  same roll of 110 film.  The fountain area was removed after the 1989 earthquake and is now grass but the rows of trees are still there.
San Francisco Court House, same roll of 110 film. The fountain area was removed after the 1989 earthquake and is now grass but the rows of trees are still there.
Albeit blurry, this is a shot of south Reno from above Windy Hill looking down to Bartley Ranch and the Harrah's Ranch.    Same roll of 110, probably late 70s.
Albeit blurry, this is a shot of south Reno from above Windy Hill looking down to Bartley Ranch and the Harrah’s Ranch. Same roll of 110, probably late 70s.

The following shots are of a 1967 Ford Mustang.    My friend still owns this car and it is his favorite.   I think it tinkled him to discover the photos of the car on the old camera.   Partially, because the camera was his mom’s and … well, you know how that stuff goes.   The best part of this story is that THIS car in THESE photos was how I met my friend in the first place.   He ran into the back of my 1987 Suzuki Samurai with this beautiful Mustang.   I was so mad at him that I was speechless.   The damage was minor, we were in a parking lot at the time.   I was pissed that he had scratched my car but even madder at him that he had scratched it with such a beautiful Mustang.


And, now, the photos have made it a full circle from my friend’s family all the way back to my friendship with him.

I believe there’s a little bit of kismet in these photos, don’t you think?



Butterfly Sculpture

An interesting tidbit about Reno, Nevada, is that there is a nice art thing going on in “The Biggest Little City in the World.”   Do you think of art and culture when you think of Reno?   Hmmmm …

Reno is home to a month long summer celebration of art.   Every July, Artown takes over and there are tons of daily activities from world-renown musicians to hometown heroes with all kinds of creative talents.   Then, August swelters into September and Labor Day weekend is the pinnacle of the Burning Man festival on the playa of the Black Rock Desert not too far from the casino lights of town.

While I was on my photowalk with film a couple of weeks ago for the 52 Rolls project, I found a butterfly, a BIG one.

butterfly wf


What on earth is a big, steel, butterfly thing doing next to the temporary ice rink in downtown Reno?    Well, back to all of that stuff about art and Burning Man.   This sculpture piece by Bryan Tedrick was part of an installation at Burning Man in 2008.    The downtown renovation project brought the sculpture to this location last summer and the website lists it as temporary but I hope it stays.

If you think this looks interesting black and white, you should see some of the other artist’s photographs in color by light of the moon in the desert.   Bryan’s website has several photos but a quick Google search shows how well photographed this sculpture is.    There are a couple of interpretations on what the butterfly and flower-type petals represent but I’ll let you soak it in and decide what you see.

downtown butterfly


butterfly sunflower


The Clock

Throughout my childhood, this wonderful, old clock was always at the main shopping mall in Reno, Nevada, known as Park Lane Mall.   The times have changed and that mall is long gone, now demolished and an empty parking lot.   The clock, however, was saved and recently re-installed in downtown Reno.   As a child, I had no idea how much history this clock held but, now, I know there is a storied past to this timepiece.

the clock

I took this photo as part of my film project with 52 rolls.   This set was all taken with my Nikon FM2.

Back to the clock, there is a nice engraving that was added to the base of the clock that gives a good bit of information:

clock engraving


And, the photo turned into a little bit of a selfie for me, too.   Bonus.

nevadan clock


Downtown Reno isn’t the grandest of locations for such a spectacular clock but there is a renovation/revitalization effort in the area.   I think this is a great place for the clock and a good reminder of the history that has happened in “The Biggest Little City.”   I hope that it is well-taken care of in this spot and that people respect it.

Just look at the inner workings on this clock, they don’t make them like this anymore.

inside the clock



The Sand Mandala

In 1997, I fell in love with the Nikon FM2.   It had been a friend of mine for a while, but I didn’t really love it until I got to know it better.   I took it with me on a month long art project where I watched a Buddhist monk build a sand mandala.

My beautiful picture

This is Losang Samten and he spent every day for a month finely choosing grains of sand to place in perfect order fora Wheel of Life mandala at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada.   It was a special delight to simply sit and watch this master at work.   So, I came back every day or two to get a new photo and watch.    It was a metaphor for learning how to use a fully manual film camera.   The FM2 is a master of Nikon’s building and is both complicated and simple at the same time.   Using film is much more deliberate than the digital cameras we use now.   You have to focus more clearly, understanding the light and shutter speed.   Of course, you could burn through enough film to get that “one” shot.   But, it is much more rewarding to patiently wait for the right moment and get that image.

I was just learning so these photos are not perfect.   I do enjoy them just the same and hope you do, too.

After the mandala was completed, there was a ceremony where the monk swept all of the sand together into an urn and then the sand was returned to the earth.    For this mandala, a large gathering was held, with much pomp and circumstance.  The sands were swept and then a procession led to the Truckee River, a few blocks away, and simply poured into the water.    Sands of time … washed away in an instant.


Scanning 35mm Film

I bought myself a little present.   A 35mm film scanner.   It’s not the fanciest thing or the most expensive but it will do the trick.   And, most importantly, it will bring some of my 35mm projects of the past to the light of day in the digital world.

Here’s a look at it:


It is a DBTech 35mm film slide and negative scanner, 10 mega pixel.   I grabbed it on Amazon for $69.99 and am pretty happy with the results from my first scans.   It is super easy to use and has a digital screen so you can see what you are doing.   Bonus, you don’t have to be hooked up to the computer and you can add memory to it.    No additional software, it’s just a simple camera and save.  Then, you use a UBS to save it to your computer and can edit it however you want.   I like simple.  Two thumbs up for this one!

Of course, I scanned one of my most favorite sets of film.   I will do a full blog post about these images but wanted to focus on just the scanner for today.    And, why I think it is important to save your film to digital.

I love the “vintage” look  and I’m all about filters that do that trick on Instagram.   So, seeing this pictures is fun.   But, there are scratches and fading that happen over time.    So, get to preserving people!   It doesn’t take long.   These photos were taken in 1997.

Starting the mandala work

I took the photos with my Nikon FM2.   All manual, no fancy nothing.   I love that camera.    My skills have changed since 1997 but I still love this set.   It was a great experience at the museum to watch this monk build a sand mandala and it was a great experience learning that camera.   The focus isn’t perfect and there were some challenges for lighting in the museum but I think the scanning came out pretty good.   Stay tuned for another post with the rest of the pictures and more information about the sand mandala process.

3/4 sand mandala

closer to palace

Do you have any old film that you need to get scanned?

Where There’s Smoke …

Where there’s smoke, there is no kayaking.    Ugh.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a huge fire roaring on the edge of Yosemite in California aptly named The Rim Fire.   Normally, a fire more than 100 miles away wouldn’t be that big of a deal.   This is no ordinary fire.   Currently, it has burned more than 250 square miles and all of that smoke is landing on Northern Nevada.   It is so gross that there are major health advisories to stay indoors and, seriously, it is hard to breath.   We are talking worse than Beijing air quality here, people!

So, that means I did not go kayaking last weekend and I will probably not go this weekend.   And, ultimately, that is killing my summer goal of making it around Lake Tahoe via kayak.   The weather and the water are cold.   That’s not good for kayaking, either.   Well, not when you don’t really have cold weather gear.   My kayak buddy isn’t that into cold weather kayaking either.   This is turning into a big bummer.

Let me show you how bad the smoke is.  This is a comparison from my backyard:


And, here’s the sunrise:


And, for good measure, here is a shot taken by someone on a flight to Los Angeles.   Those NASA people can even see the fire from the International Space Station:


Another one from the local newspaper, this is just how smoke-gross it is in downtown Reno.  Photo by Marilyn Newton,


Bowers Mansion



Just south of Reno, there is a county park with some fantastic history.   Bower’s Mansion hails from the heyday of mining on the Comstock and the riches of the wild west.   The property has changed ownership several times and still struggles to survive but it remains, as beautiful as ever.

Throughout the month of June, the park as put on a Friday night “Programs on the Porch” series and I have gone with my family.   Everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair and picnic dinner to enjoy free shows with everything from cowboy poetry to tales of the Donner Party.

This park is one of those magic places that reminds everyone of their childhood, no matter where you grew up or what parks you visited.   There is a public swimming pool here fed from a natural hot spring.   The grounds are beautiful, the trees majestic.   If you have ever lived within a 100 miles of the park, you probably have more than one memory of a family picnic or school field trip to visit.    There is even an old cemetery up the hill that you can hike to and the tour of the mansion by park rangers have inspired many campfire tales.

Here are a few of my Instagram photos from my family’s evenings at the park:



The cowboy in this photo is Richard Elloyan.   Fantastic performer — we bought a couple of CDs that night.

I love the fountain in front of the mansion.   The view over to the rest of the valley never disappoints.



I took quite a few photos inside the mansion but this one is my favorite.   Legend is that the mistress of the mansion was a fortune teller … I wonder what her crystal ball shows for us in this shot?


I have a thing for old chandeliers and light fixtures.   The light on this one was just right to get all of the red.   That’s not a filter.   The ceiling reflected red.   Cool–creepy.


For more information on the history of the mansion and the park, please visit

Mountain Trails

One of the best things about Nevada is that there are tons of mountain trails into the vast open spaces.    This is a glimpse of one of the trails from my house into the woods.   I love the ATV tracks in the dirt.   It is interesting how much the desert changes when you get to the mountains–by far, the best part of having an ATV is being able to get to these places.

z quad trail closer tracks

Sometimes, it is a lot of work to get out to the middle of nowhere but the reward is always an incredible view.   This is Mount Rose from way back in the Virginia Range between Virginia City and Fernley.    Way out in the boondocks.

z mt rose full

Freshly Shorn Sheep

The weather pretended to be spring-like here for a few days and I am getting a touch of the fever for warmer days.

There is a ranch in Washoe Valley between Reno and Carson City, Nevada, that has little lambs and their mommies in the fields every spring.   These photos are from last spring, but I am already looking forward to seeing them again this year.

Slide Mountain


sleepy little lamb