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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Six Weeks Later: Miller Island Fire

Almost six weeks ago, fire danced across 513 acres of the eastern end of Miller Island.

If you compose a picture carefully enough, you can make it look like a surreal image of destruction. But mostly, the biggest difference on the island is that there are more ashes blowing around and it smells like your clothes after you sit in front of a campfire for a weekend.

East end of Miller Island as it appeared in May of 2009

East end of Miller Island as it appeared 08-24-13

The fire's path of destruction seems kind of random at first, but then you begin to notice geography and elevation and the gorge's trademark gusting winds, and some things begin to make sense... patterns become recognizable.

It isn't always clear why some things are spared.

Deer retrace their trails into the singed earth. The sound of brittle grass crunching heralds the approach of bounding deer long before they become visible.

The bark on tree trunks is burnt, but not all the way through, and the lower leaves are singed brown...but perhaps the trees will survive.

Green things are already migrating into the blackened areas of earth.

I lichen how the singed edges provide a bold black outline.

As I secure the kayak to the truck rack and prepare for the journey home, I notice that someone has lit the clouds on fire.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Revisiting Images from Loring Site 15

Back in May of 2011, I shared some of the details of my search for Loring site 15.

By Loring site I mean one of the rock art sites documented in J. Malcolm and Louise Loring's two volume monograph called Pictographs and Petroglyphs of the Oregon Country. 

In that post, I noted that, "Many of the paintings seem worse for wear when compared to the Loring drawings…to the degree that my identifications are not always certain."

Since that trip, D. Russel Micnhimer, of Oregon Rock Art (, has introduced me to a specialized bit of software called DStretch by Jon Harman ( As Micnhimer said to me in a Facebook message, "It's the closest thing I know of to absolute magic; (it) will make the invisible appear."

So what follows is a series of my pictures from Loring site 15 that I've enhanced with Jon Harman's DStretch plugin for the graphics program ImageJ ( I hadn't posted them previously because I couldn't really see anything. In each case, the original picture is presented with its enhanced version for comparison purposes.

Seriously? I thought there might be a ray-arc here,
but a trio of little crew-cut guys was kind of unexpected.

Mr. Harman's vast experience with documenting rock art has allowed him to find optimal settings for an algorithmic procedure called decorrelation stretch. And I have to admit I'm pretty impressed with the detail Dstretch can pull out of ordinary digital images.

Wouldn't have seen the figure to the left without DStretch.

Well, I wasn't sure what it was before...
...but now I'm sure I don't know what it is.

A bomb landing on someone's head?

O.K., I'm going to stop guessing because it only displays my ignorance.

Tammy Baker

The Narrative Image NAVIGATION AID

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