Sacred Color: Some In Progress Shots of the Sand Painting Mandala

Here is an in progress gallery of the Sand Painting Mandala created by the Drepung Loseling monks. I am enthralled with the entire process, but I will just let the images speak for themselves. I did learn today that the sand is actually crushed marble. There is still time left to view the process on the top floor of the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The closing ceremony will take place on Saturday, March 28, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

See the beginning of the process in my previous blog post: Sacred Geometry.

A monk refills his Chak-pur with white sand and tests the flow.

A monk refills his Chak-pur with white sand and tests the flow.

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Yes, I know this is not color, but I like how the monochrome brings out the intricacy of the design. The communal nature of the art also moved me.

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A monk traces guidelines for the next image in the yellow sand with a stylus.

A monk traces guidelines for the next image in the yellow sand with a stylus.

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A close-up of the above photo, showing the delicacy of the process.

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Another close-up of the above process. I cannot fathom the patience it takes to do this kind of work!

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A monk demonstrates the process to a young visitor on the community sand painting.

A monk demonstrates the process to a young visitor on the community sand painting.

All images ©2015 Garber Geektography. They are not for sale or commercial use.

Run Away to Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina

A boardwalk over the salt marsh in Edisto Beach State Park. This was on the Scott Creek Trail.

A boardwalk over the salt marsh in Edisto Beach State Park. This was on the Scott Creek Trail.

In early March we took our inaugural camper trip to Edisto Beach, SC. We chose Edisto Beach (pronounced EH-dis-toe) because it was relatively close, the campground was only about half-full and had received good reviews, and the surrounding area seemed to present some interesting opportunities for photography. It was a terrific choice!  I’ll write in more detail about the camper experience in a future blog post, but for now, I’ll focus on reviewing the Edisto Beach State Park campground.  We chose to stay in the Live Oak Campground section as opposed to the beach front campground section because we wanted space and privacy—and I think we’ve been spoiled for future campgrounds!

Looking up from our campsite into the trees covered in moss with a blue sky background.

Looking up from our campsite into the trees covered in moss with a blue sky background.

Our site was lovely and shaded and HUGE! It was almost perfectly level and overlooked the salt marsh, giving us a beautiful view of the sunset each night. The site was surrounded by palm trees and vegetation making it feel like our own private oasis.  And we could still hear the ocean!  We stayed in site 118, but there were several near us that looked nearly as private—117, 122, and 124, especially.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we needed to rely on their bathhouse facilities, and thankfully they were very clean and just a short walk away.  The garbage and recycling were on the way to the bathhouse and the dump station was just a short drive from the campground.  The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful and surrounded by nature.

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A cardinal that I kept stalking on the trails around out campsite.

We took advantage of some of the trails from the campground that took us through the marshes and out to a boardwalk along the river.  We only passed two people on bikes and a number of cardinals, bluejays, and other birds. We explored the salt marshes and the beach and the park via quiet, well-maintained, and serene paths—most of which took us through or near the campground.  There was not a lot of activity or people—just the way we like it.  For a few days, life moved along at a different time, perfect if you are looking for a relaxed, slow-paced time away from it all.  We also explored Botany Bay Plantation and the beach there—just gorgeous.  See Dave’s blog on Botany-Bay for more on that magical, pristine, other-worldly location!

Michelle being spooky in one of the trees at Botany Bay Plantation, SC.

Michelle being spooky in one of the trees at Botany Bay Plantation, SC.

Our eldest Brittany, Marduk taking advantage of some off leash time at the beach. The sign said dogs could not be off leash in peak season: yet another reason to plan trips in the off season!

Our eldest Brittany, Marduk taking advantage of some off leash time at the beach. The sign said dogs could not be off leash in peak season: yet another reason to plan trips in the off season!

I should add the disclaimer that we like the beach best when it is deserted and a little chilly! Edisto Beach, SC is a lovely little area and we appreciated the general lack of commercialization.  Our dogs were able to run off-leash on the beach and had a blast (dogs must be on-leash May-October)! Most of the time we had the place to ourselves, except for the occasional kayaker or sea gull. We even had one night out for seafood at a fun little restaurant called Seacow Eatery—great pie and friendly staff!

Golden Hour at the Big Bay Creek at Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. This was taken on the boardwalk that crosses the salt marsh.

Golden Hour at the Big Bay Creek at Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. This was taken on the boardwalk that crosses the salt marsh. Print Available.

Botany Bay? Botany Bay! … Oh no!

On our first trip in the camper to Edisto Beach, SC, Michelle mentioned going to Botany Bay Plantation. I knew I had heard that name somewhere before, and I kept racking my brain to figure it out. Turns out, that SS Botany Bay is the name of Kahn’s ship in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (and later in Star Trek: Into Darkness). Of course that name came from the original Botany Bay in Australia, which was a penal colony. After discovering the geeky nature of my recollection, I repeatedly quoted this line from Pavel Chekov when he discovers the identity of the mysterious marooned ship.

When Michelle showed me pictures of the old trees on the beach, I couldn’t wait to get there to capture the sunrise. Of course, the weather didn’t cooperate very well … or maybe it did. A dense layer of fog blanketed the sun. This gave a certain mystical and lonely quality to the shots that I had not anticipated, but that I thoroughly enjoyed. The fog was like a giant softbox, giving even lighting over the trees and lightly shrouding the other objects in a distance. This really helped me isolate my subjects and also gave me an interesting canvas in the background to use various processing techniques and textures. I processed all of the following shots with a combination of MacPhun’s Tonality Pro and Karen Hutton‘s and Tanya Wallis’ forthcoming texture pack.

We have several more images from the Botany Bay Plantation shoot on the way, but I am grouping them in different blog posts. The area has so many types of landscapes: bogs, marshes, ponds, streams, dense forest, farmland, and beaches. It really was a great place to practice a variety of landscape and nature shots.

This was one of my telephoto images with the a6000. I used a basic black and white conversion in Tonality Pro and added the Bursty Blur texture from the texture pack.

This was one of my telephoto images with the a6000. I used a basic black and white conversion in Tonality Pro and added the Bursty Blur texture from the texture pack. Print Available.

i had some fun with the wide angle distortion on this one! I liked the effect that the Sandy Cool texture had on it. It seemed to fit the beach theme.

i had some fun with the wide angle distortion on this one! I liked the effect that the Sandy Cool texture had on it. It seemed to fit the beach theme. Print Available.

I went for an authentic Ceti Alpha 5 look to this one, with the reddish goodness. To add texture, I used "Face it - Scratched" from the texture pack.

I went for a Ceti Alpha 5 look to this one, with the reddish goodness. To add texture, I used “Face it – Scratched” from the texture pack. Print Available.

Since I saw the name "Alien Skin Burn" in the texture pack, I've always wanted to use it. It seemed to fit the mood of this photo very well.

Since I saw the name “Alien Skin Burn” in the texture pack, I’ve always wanted to use it. It seemed to fit the mood of this photo well. Print Available.

After the split tone processing in Tonality Pro, I added the "Cold Skin" texture to this photo. It enhanced the blue tones and added a cool vignette.

After the split tone processing in Tonality Pro, I added the “Cold Skin” texture to this photo. It enhanced the blue tones and added a cool vignette. Print Available.

One of my favorite split-tone presets in Tonality Pro is "Blue Morning." Split-toning involves taking a black and white image and adding two different tints to the shadows and the highlights. In this case, the shadows get a blue tint, and the highlights get a golden tint. I decided not to use a texture on this one.

One of my favorite split-tone presets in Tonality Pro is “Blue Morning.” Split-toning involves taking a black and white image and adding two different tints to the shadows and the highlights. In this case, the shadows get a blue tint, and the highlights get a golden tint. I decided not to use a texture on this one because I liked the contrast between the textured ocean and the smooth sky. Print Available.

All images © 2015 Garber Geektography

Garber Geektography Phase 2 (Part 1): Wherever We May Roam

The Tumbler in front of Rogue Shadow at our inaugural campground at Edisto Beach State Park, SC, USA.

The Tumbler in front of Rogue Shadow at our inaugural campground at Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina.

My parents may have Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” but we have Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” (though Michelle prefers this version by Iron Horse). We are now introducing Phase 2 of the Garber Geektography project! One of the things I learned from my time in The Arcanum was my penchant for travel photography. I had a lot of opportunities last year for travel experiences, and while I have a few trips lined up this year, we are mostly sticking a little closer to home.

The galley of the Rogue Shadow. Perfect for the two of us.

The galley of the Rogue Shadow. Perfect for the two of us.

As we were trying to figure out how to incorporate a travel mentality into our lives, Michelle and I downsized to one car–appropriately named The Tumbler because it came in black–in anticipation of buying a camper that would allow us more freedom.

 
A reverse side of the galley and the bed area. We have a queen size bed at home, and the dogs sleep in their own beds. In the full size bed in the camper, they opted to sleep in the bed. Go figure.

The galley and the bed area. We have a queen size bed at home, and the dogs sleep in their own beds. In the full size bed in the camper, they opted to sleep in the bed. Go figure.

We spent the better part of a year researching different camper options and planning. We finally decided to go with a small travel trailer—the bathroom sold it for us! We’ve dubbed it the Rogue Shadow and are going with a Star Wars décor. It is a Starcraft Camper, after all. By the way, Rogue Shadow is the name of Starkiller‘s personal transport. Starkiller, A.K.A. Galen Marek, was Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.  Seriously, you can look it up in Wookiepedia!). We are ready for the adventures before us!

 
We’ll be posting reviews of the locations we explore, as well as updates on our (mis)adventures as camper newbies.  Part 2 of our phase 2 project is coming soon, so stay tuned!

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Our first campsite spoiled us! It was spacious, with trees all around, and a great view of the salt marsh in the Live Oak Campground at the Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina.