Day About Veterans

1422555_10202116325577158_742156603_nYes, I am a Vietnam Veteran. However, I don’t have to be a Veteran to share my personal belief that Veteran’s Day must not be simply another day of celebration. I believe that it should be specifically about inspiring us to celebrate our Veterans every day! In every way possible.

Veterans dedicated and risked their own lives to protect each of us and our families. And to protect our country. Many carry the memories, traumas, health issues and PTSD the remainder of their life.

Should you, and I seriously give less in protecting the well-being of our Veterans? They are yours, mine and everyone’s Veteran. They are family.

You have my permission to share this post exactly as it is presented with the content and image. I do not know who to credit for the incredible image. I stood at the Wall and had the same experience. Even more powerful in person.

Appeasing My Empirical Interests Resulted in Serendipity

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When I was in high school, I spent some of my weekends appeasing my empirical interests by undertaking thought-provoking science experiments. Included in the research; I tied a small lightweight cardboard box filled with scientific instruments for measuring ambient temperature, pressure, humidity, and other atmospheric properties to the bottom of several small balloons filled with helium gas.

Walking out into an empty church parking lot, near my home, I carefully released the balloons and cardboard box. I knew that animals may mistake balloon debris for food, ingesting the material, blocking their stomach or intestines leading to starvation. Therefore, I kept the balloons tethered to a very long line and not floating free. After sufficient time for the instruments to gather the information, I retrieved the balloons and cardboard box by pulling on the line and bringing it back to the ground.

When it was colder I used a PEACOCK brand lighter fuel hand-warmer which used a lighter fluid that reacts with a platinum catalyst to release heat by oxidation reactions. It generated heat for about 12 to 24 hours to keep me warm while launching and retrieving the balloons, especially at night.

One day I remembered reading that in 1962, John Glenn thrust into space on board the Friendship 7, America’s first manned spacecraft to orbit the earth, with a specially modified Minolta Hi-Matic camera. I decided to get more sophisticated by adding a camera that had a self-timer to my experiments.  This way, I could take photographs of the city and countryside from a high altitude.

During several months the increasingly quite larger, now single authentic weather balloons, reached ever greater heights with more complex electronic equipment packages including cameras in a large wooden basket. I was in the process of locating and purchasing a huge weather balloon when I received a phone call from the Command Duty Officer at the Naval Air Station Los Alamitos, later renamed Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base / Los Alamitos Army Airfield.

Always interested in aviation, I thought this call was a to notify the surrounding community about an upcoming airshow provided by the NAS Los Alamitos. The officer invited me to a tour of the base, lunch at the mess hall officers club and a brief meeting with the base commander. Continue reading

Human Brains, Vietnam & Schizophrenia

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Photograph: Tony Latham

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Charles Dickens wrote these opening lines in his novel, Tale of Two Cities.

It could very well have been written for the Vietnam War. Certainly for my 14-month Vietnam War tour of duty.

The war in Vietnam was looming bigger each year. The Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, launched on January 30, 1968 by forces of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam against the forces against the forces of South Vietnam, the United States, and their allies. This was a campaign of surprise attacks against military and civilian commands and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The name of the offensive comes from the Tết holiday, the Vietnamese New Year, when the first major attacks took place.

I was drafted in May 1968. I went through the rigors of basic training at Fort Ord, a United States Army post on Monterey Bay of the Pacific Ocean coast in California and trained on firing ranges with hand grenades, M18 Claymore anti-personnel mines and rifles. The beach was the military firing range and closed to the public for nearly 77 years. I recall that at the rifle range it was so cold and windy and the Army field jacket so inadequate that I envied the drivers in passing vehicles with their heaters blasting.

Completing basic training I was sent to Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas for combat medic and medical laboratory training. After the training in 1969 I was ordered back to Ft. Ord to Silas B. Hayes Army Community Hospital, as my first duty station. I became the non-commissioned officer in charge of one of the primary hospital medical laboratories.

I lived off the post just above Cannery Row. I had read the novel, Cannery Row (1945) written by John Steinbeck and my curious writer’s mind was invigorated as I visited the areas depicted so well in his book and began my own novels and short stories when off duty.

I had wanted to be a novelist since I was a child. My older sister said I was writing short stories at least by age four. Nonetheless, I knew that it was inevitable that I would be sent to Vietnam in the medical field. And whatever the future held for me, I trusted writing would be of significance.

I was kept very busy as we were short staffed since many personnel had been shipped to Vietnam. In a small room in the hospital laboratory there were approximately fifty whole human brains sitting silently, preserved in large specimen jars of formaldehyde. I remembered spending what time I could spare gazing into each of the jars and wondering about the person whose brain now floated in formaldehyde. Continue reading

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

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2015 © Stephen Bruno

I took this quick image in September 2015 of the “Supermoon Lunar Eclipse” turning red during total Lunar eclipse early this morning with a Nikon D4 and Sigma 50-500mm telephoto lens on a tripod. The color is exactly as I photographed the Moon. This was a challenging project given the darkness and photography equipment that I used and that I took this photograph on my deck with street lights around me. I was primarily wanting to show the actual color more than the details of the Moon. 

http://www.stephenbrunophotography.com/

Humanity: Priceless

Many years ago, I was a vegan; I ran 16 miles several times a week along the canals in Phoenix Arizona. This was the healthiest time in my life. In the years since that time, I have experienced many life changes and challenges just like most of you. I find myself moving closer to becoming a vegan again even though I occasionally have other cravings. I now juice frequently, use a pressure cooker to steam vegetables and eat more salads. Sometimes when I have a craving for fast food I use a strategy that seems to be a benefit as well as compassionate.

I will order as healthy and natural a hamburger as I can find and place the bag on the passenger seat of my vehicle. For a number of reasons, this seems to satisfy my craving. I then look for individuals or families who I believe could use a meal. Unfortunately, I do not need to look far to find someone holding up a sign or sitting near a fast food restaurant.

I will drive up to these people, get out of my car and connect with them in conversation. I ask them if I may share the meal that I purchased. If they inquire, I will explain why I am offering them the meal. I chat with them a little longer and then drive away. I feel that I have accomplished keeping to my preferred diet while serving others a meal that they certainly can use. Continue reading

Continuing Photography Adventures

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Great Horned Owl 2015 © Stephen Bruno

This is a wonderful time of year for amateur and professional photographers to photograph wildlife and nature. During my numerous walks and hikes along the many Northern Arizona trails and sometimes, bushwhacking, I observed much wildlife. Some of these are in plain sight and most of them require practiced observation. Sometimes, simply being present allows one to see wildlife. Frequently, I watch people who walk under around and nearby interesting wildlife. They do this without even noticing what was there. When it seems appropriate, I point out the wildlife.

Some of my knowledge and skills in wildlife photography is the result of watching predators searching and tracking prey. This combined with my naturalist curiosity and knowledge has led to many fascinating experiences and wonderful photography opportunities.

In the future, I will write a question and answer article about photographing wildlife and then, posting it on this blog. This will include questions posed to me over the years. Other questions are what I learned are essential for photographing wildlife.

I am taking names again for those of you, who want to learn how to find, track and photograph wildlife in Northern Arizona. The Field Wildlife Photography Workshop, based on my many professional years’ experience as a wildlife photographer, is on Saturday, March 28, 2015. It is $45 cash for about 4-5 hours not counting travel time. We can car pool if not in Prescott. The last time I recently took a couple of people out (not a workshop), we found and photographed a Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, and American Coots within the first hour. Please send me an e-mail to stephenbruno@yahoo.com. You can call 928 458-5737.

This week, I will be visiting Bearizona again to take more wildlife photography. I am looking forward to taking some creative and dramatic photographs of the wildlife. It is always wonderful when I can connect with and photograph their essence. I will upload the images on my photography website listed below and post a link on my Stephen Bruno Photography Facebook page.  Like and follow this Facebook page to receive notifications of future posts. Additionally, during the next few months, I will be photographing wildlife at the local Northern Arizona lakes, rivers and creeks. In the near future, I plan photography at the Grand Canyon. Most of these photography adventures I will do on my own and some, I open to others.

http://www.stephenbrunophotography.com/

Book Review: Arizona Highways Photography Guide

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I understand that creating a great photograph requires the process of numerous elements happening with synchronicity. I recently read this revised “Arizona Highways Photography Guide.” As a primarily wildlife and nature photographer, I agree with the information this book presents on how to take great photographs. Recognized internationally for their exceptional photography, the Arizona Highways Magazine highlights wonderful photographs in each issue. Currently, one of my photographs of an Osprey in-flight is accepted in the Arizona Highways Magazine’s 2014-2015 7th Annual Arizona Highways Photo Contest. Here is a link to the photograph.

I have taught many people, in my photography workshops and classes, how to use their camera to create powerful photographs. In this paperback book, there is quality information about digital and film photography and the essential elements necessary to prepare your camera for the best possible photographs. It also covers filters, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, tripods, exposure, lighting action shots, artistic dimensions, packing your camera bag and more.

Several chapters cover different types of photography including landscape, close-up, depth of field, wildlife, architecture, and travel. You learn the difference between taking a snapshot and creating a photograph. Developing the highest quality photography requires practice. Many hours of practice applying different skills and approaches. This book offers you diverse exercises to improve your skills and encourage them to become second nature.

I have lived in many different states and have purchased similar books created by photographers who are familiar with the best places to take photographs. These have saved a lot of time scouting new locations and offering their expertise in the time of day, settings and other important information. Perhaps the most significant part of this book, tailored for people who live in Arizona or plan to visit; the book describes a number of terrific locations to photograph. These include the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Navajoland, Red Rock Country of Sedona, Mountain Country and the Sonoran Desert.

Whether you are an amateur or professional photographer you will find effective tips and recommendations for when and where to photograph. There is additional information about settings. I have photographed wildlife, architecture, and nature in many of the locations presented in this book. You will find concise and informative content that will make you a better photographer. Many of the recommendations are what I have found to be true by trial and error on my own photography adventures. You do not need to be Arizona resident or even visit the state to find the concepts and tips of value to apply wherever you are.

I have read numerous books on different aspects of photography for many years. Some are very complex books covering in-depth concepts. Others offer a focus in specific areas. I am completing my own book focusing on wildlife photography based on my many years sharing time in nature with a variety of wildlife. I find the “Arizona Highways Photography Guide” to be a general approach to photography with an emphasis on Arizona locations. Whether you are amateur, intermediate or professional photographer this book will offer you guidance in becoming a better photographer.