The Rosetta Stone: Unexpected Archaeology and Childhood Artifact as Artistic Metaphor

Artist: Joe Reifer, Sixth Grade History
Title: The Rosetta Stone
Created: 1982, Los Angeles
Medium: Plywood, clay, acrylic paint, typewriter correction fluid
Associated Work: History paper on the Rosetta Stone (missing)

Stored in Los Angeles from 1982-2008. Loaned multiple times to local students between 1989-2006. According to the curator, this artifact never received a grade of less than an A. The Rosetta Stone was professionally boxed and moved to Arizona in 2009. Moved in the same archival container to the Palm Springs area in 2016. Excavated and photographed by the artist on October 23, 2016, and subsequently destroyed.

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In Memory of Steve Harper: An hour at Steve's Rock, Olmsted Point, Yosemite

Steve’s Rock, Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park, 1981

Steve’s Rock, Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park, 1981

The reason I have been honored by my students naming this magnificent boulder "Steve's Rock" is because they knew how many times I photographed it, and how many times near the end of the exposure of eighteen or more minutes, an airplane would fly across the sky making a strange white line across the whole image, totally ruining the composition - and I would have to start all over again! Overhead is a major flight path towards some airport.
 
This HUGE boulder is sitting just above Tioga Pass at 8,500' Elevation overlooking Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley. It was stranded along with the great boulders around Olmsted Point during the Ice Age. -- Steve Harper

 

In memory of Steve Harper, Olmsted Point, Yosemite, 2016 -- by Joe Reifer

In memory of Steve Harper, Olmsted Point, Yosemite, 2016 -- by Joe Reifer

To honor the memory of night photography teacher Steve Harper, I drove to Yosemite for the full moon this month. As I headed up Highway 395 to 120, a huge glowing orb was rising above Mono Lake. I parked at Olmsted Point, and took in the view down the valley to Half Dome. Then I hiked up the hill to take some pictures.

I didn't end up shooting Steve's rock until late into the night. I imagined how his famous image from 1981 looked. I remembered that the camera was at a low angle with the rock on the horizon line and positioned between the trees. I crawled around in front of the rock with my camera, and it felt like a photographer's version of a Buddhist prostration.

I wanted to bring my own sense of composition to the photo, because that's what great teachers like Steve inspire you to do. After some experimenting, I ended up with the camera closer to eye height, and opened the shutter. I laid down on the ground for a while to look at the stars, and listened to Can's Ege Bamyasi.

An hour later, my late night meditation on Steve's rock completed, I drove back down the hill to Lee Vining to get some sleep.

 

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The Signal Room: 360 Panoramas of an Underground Art Space on Yerba Buena Island

A 360 panorama of The Signal Room on San Francisco's Yerba Buena Island

A 360 panorama of The Signal Room on San Francisco's Yerba Buena Island

Back in February I heard that a group of artists was throwing underground events in The Signal Room -- an old naval signal tower on top of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Island. A friend knew the way in, and we spent an evening watching the sunset and taking photos. I've never met Eugene Ashton-Gonzalez, who was the ringleader behind these efforts. I really appreciate the magical transformation of this unique space with amazing views. Being able to turn around and see both spans of the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, and the Golden Gate off in the distance was fantastic.

I shot some 360 panoramas to remember how the place looked. The San Francisco Chronicle did a short documentary video on the space that's worth watching. There are no longer events taking place at The Signal Room. The tower now has security, and is slated for demolition this summer.

Update: The Signal Room was knocked down in early July.

Technical Details: Each of the 3 panoramas is composed of 6 shots around and 1 shot down using a Nikon D750 with a Samyang 12mm fisheye lens on a Nodal Ninja R1 panoramic head. A 5 shot bracket was taken at each camera position. The resulting images were processed in Lightroom, blended in Photomatix Pro, stitched in PTGui Pro, and output using krpano. Enjoy the panoramas!

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The Racers Line: FR-S and BRZ in Almost Every Color

A 360 panorama of The Racers Line featuring almost all of the colors of the FR-S and BRZ.

A 360 panorama of The Racers Line featuring almost all of the colors of the FR-S and BRZ.

The Racers Line is an performance auto parts and installation shop in Concord, California. Owned and operated by top notch mechanic Neal Wiebmer, The Racers Line specializes in the FR-S/BRZ/GT-86 platform, but also works on other performance cars including BMW, Porsche, and Lotus.

Neal has put in a lot of track days in a Scion FR-S, and really knows the FT-86 platform inside and out. Whether you're looking to add more power with a Jackson Racing or Edelbrock supercharger, or want to get your suspension dialed in for an HPDE session, Neal is the man.

The best part about having work done at The Racers Line is that you can make an appointment and hang out while the work gets done on your car. I always learn something, and leave with new ideas for future upgrades.

Neal wanted some new photos for The Racers Line website, Facebook, and Instagram. He asked a group of customers with different colored FR-S and BRZ to show up, and I took some photos. Thanks to Neal for herding the 86s, and to Paul for the great behind the scenes photos.

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Mendocino Trip and July 4th Parade

During a weekend trip up the coast, I gave my new Fuji X70 a workout by shooting the Mendocino July 4th parade. We also stopped at Fort Ross, scoped out a funky bar in Elk, hiked along the coast and in the woods, got a great tip about a Bart Prince house, went to a health food store in an old church, had dinner at the Ravens, and tried some amazing beers in Fort Bragg.

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Night Photography: Nevada's Drive-Through Electronic Bombing Range

In a remote area of the Nevada desert is a Navy training range. Scattered amongst the remaining ruins of former ranches are tanks, trucks, cars and other simulated radar targets. Unlike the other closed training ranges in Nevada, this area is open to the public. No live bombs are dropped here during training, it's 100% electronic target practice. Driving down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere under a full moon and coming across a series of tanks in a field is a surreal experience. So is shooting all night and then using a tank as a windbreak at our campsite. Finding all of the vehicles and ruins in this area has been a fun night photography treasure hunt. After many hours looking at satellite views and two multiple day trips to the area, there's still a lot to explore.

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Night photography: Post-apocalyptic fake villages built for military training

The full moon was bright enough to drive the Jeep down a dirt road with the lights out. It didn't matter, because there was nobody around for miles and miles. 

In a remote section of the Nevada desert, we found a series of simulated small villages for military training. Built in clusters, some of the structures featured courtyards with difficult access points and sight lines. One series of buildings had fake brick repairs, burn marks, and patched concrete. A simulated gas station featured pumps with printed gauges.

The metal containers and gates were creaking and banging in the wind. Moonlit clouds streaked by in an endless multi-layered Rorschach test. Perhaps we were near the pinnacle of paralleling the post-apocalyptic.

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