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Friday, January 20, 2017

My Life in the Garden of Eden by Robert Glenn Ketchum

My Life in the Garden of Eden
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

As part of paying the bills in my professional career, I photographed a number of significant gardens. I helped create several pretty amazing ones as well. Some of these pictures have been published in various books, but most have never been seen. In this blog, I will show you all my best garden images AND discuss garden design.



Friday, January 20, 2017

My Life in the Garden of Eden, #29:
Garden, #29:  Mature “islands” in a large garden can be quite spectacular. They can also provide interesting textural juxtapositions, because you can have plants that need very regular watering next to ones that thrive in dry habitats. Given the pictures I am posting on this blog of the garden I'm currently constructing, here is the manifestation of those design ideas playing out on a much larger and more mature scale:  this is Lotusland. Starting with the chip path, to its left is an island of things that like it wet; bromeliads of several varieties, including Billbergia. Receding into the distance on the left are other bromeliad islands that create depth in the garden view. This, then, is further accentuated by the spiky, blue cluster (middle frame, left) of very large, blue agave, HOWEVER they are part of a DRY island. The most dramatic island here is clearly surrounding the large oaks. There are bromeliads, and clivia on the ground, and yet Ganna Walska, the founder of Lotusland, also took advantage of the massive oak limbs to grow some gigantic hanging plants. Notable in this shot is the “ball” of staghorn fern, a plant I especially love because it needs no soil base, and feeds out of moisture in the air. You can also see smaller staghorns attached to branches of the trees. Now, garden middle-right, I've saved the most unusual for last. The thin, bluish, grass-like blades that form the island on the right are Puya, and bear the common name, “Sapphire Tower”.  Note the very tall stalk and flower that you are visible rising above the spikes. This is a massive, brilliantly blue cluster of flowers that every flying thing in the garden loves! It's an awesome plant, HOWEVER when I say “spikes,” I meant it! Those leaves are NOT grass blades. They are vicious, thorny-edged, and cactus tough. This plant also grows very large, and spreads out. It's a wonderful addition to any garden, IF YOU HAVE THE ROOM FOR IT. But beware, this one is SO defensive, I declare it another of the “unweedables."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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The Daze of My Life: Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography


Biographies are studies of someone's life based on cumulative research. Good ones may reveal something, but probably barely scratch the surface of what actually went on. The internet is allowing me to do something VERY different. 
~Robeert Glenn Ketchum




Friday, January 20, 2017

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #29:
Daze, #29:  As the 1971 yearbook covers clearly illustrate, although I had graduated from UCLA, I still continued to experiment in the darkroom and play with my images even though I had stopped shooting in the night clubs of LA and had turned my attention to the natural world. Another of my photography instructors at UCLA was Edmund Teske, who did a lot of work with a technique called solarization. Basically, you turned the darkroom light on and off quickly while still processing the print, and a lot of weird things occurred. It was VERY random and NOT repeatable, but when it worked it was a dramatic, graphic effect. Since I was no longer shooting pics of rock stars, this is my good friend and upstreet neighbor, Robert Fishman. He has not died, nor is he decomposing. Social media has not made zombies a phenomenon yet. This is just what solarization does, and Heinecken liked it enough to put it in a national show of emerging photographers that he curated. Eventually I would cease working in this way, but before doing so I produced a few other hand-colored and manipulated images that were important to my evolution, as you will see in future posts.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

SILK ROAD - Embroideries of Robert Glenn Ketchum

Silk Road - Embroideries of Robert Glenn Ketchum

The city of Suzhou, China, produced China's most beautiful silk and silk embroidery practiced by generational families for 3,000 years. My purpose in going to China starting in the mid-1980's was to turn my photographs into textiles, and this is my story. ~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Silk Road - Embroideries #209
SILK ROAD #209:  This is the 3rd panel (moving left-to-right) of “YK DELTA FROM 1500.” Remember, this embroidery is comprised of two photographs, each of which has been divided. In the order of the ACTUAL flight, this panel is 1/2 of my 1st shot. The 2nd shot was taken several moments later and the plane had moved a good deal. Although the middle “seam: between panels 2 and 3 may appear to be relatively contiguous, it is not. Panel #3 features something VERY different from what I showed you in the detail of panel #2, the last post. In that post, the vegetated area of the swamp reveals an astoundingly complex use of the numerous warp threads and complicated shuttle system to create the look of the various plants. In this 3rd panel, although the brown, “fuzzy” section just below the middle of this frame, appears to be an extension of that same swamp detailed in the previous post, it is not. In fact, this section actually seems to have surface texture like an embroidery might. I used the term “fuzzy” because if you compare this “surface" to other areas in the weaving, it is clearly quite different. In panel #3, the vegetated swamp seen in panel #2, HAS COMPLETELY DRIED UP, and all that is left visible is the brushy, leafless debris that remains. In the photograph, this dried up part of the delta, looked very different from other parts of the collective image, and Zhang wanted to capitalize on that obvious difference, so she revived an historical weaving technique to create the effect you see. Next week we will have a closer look, and you will be amazed at what has been done to achieve what you see.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd #Embroidery @WesCFA @RSSDesigns
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WEEKLY POST: Adventuring on the Yakutat Forelands: Bowing before St. Elias by Robert Glenn Ketchum

Adventuring on the Yakutat Forelands - Bowing before St. Elias
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

The Yakutat Forelands are where the Tongass rainforest and the Chugach forest to the north meet. It is also home to many large glaciers, a stunning coastline, the huge Alsek-Tatshenshini river, and Icy Bay, which sits at the foot of Mount St. Elias, the greatest vertical rise from sea level in the world. There is a lot of powerful energy out here.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Adventuring on the Yakutat Forelands - Bowing before St. Elias, #2:
The Yakutat Forelands, #2:  Yakutat is a small community of less than 700 people, but interestingly in the vast scale of Alaska, it is one of the largest counties in the US. The city sits at the mouth of Yakutat Bay, a relatively protected harbor, surrounded by Forelands and at the foot of the massive coastal range. At the deepest point of the bay, it connects to Russell Fjord and the Hubbard Glacier, America’s largest tidewater glacier. As the Forelands spread north of Yakutat, you truly enter a world of Alaskan superlatives: the first encounter is the spreading braids of the massive Alsek-Tatshenshini River flowing out of Canada to the Pacific; then comes the Malaspina, the largest piedmont glacier IN THE WORLD. Now in significant retreat, the Malaspina was 1,500-square-miles in size at one point, and THIS is an amazing thing to fly above; just past that (and visible here) is Icy Bay, another large bay like Yakutat, but created quite recently by epic glacial retreat (it is now 30-miles deep); and lastly, Icy Bay brings you directly to the foot of Mount St. Elias, at 18,008ft, the second tallest summit in North America, AND the greatest vertical rise from sea level in the world. The massif of St. Elias also defines the western boundary of Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and Preserve which includes the Malaspina and Hubbard glaciers. Wrangell-St. Elias is not only our largest national park, it is the largest designated wilderness as well. All of this is VERY accessible because, although small, the Yakutat airport is serviced by major daily flights, AND in keeping with the Alaskan “welcome,” as your plane begins to land, you will notice one of the large hangar roofs painted in bold letters: “FOOD, BOOZE, BEDS."
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Weekly Post:, ARCTIC: At the Cutting Edge of Climate Change

ARCTIC:  At the Cutting Edge of Climate Change
by Robert Glenn Ketchum



In 1993, I began traveling to the Arctic. I have been across The Northwest Passage by yacht; to the North Pole twice; to little-visited Russian islands; and aboard research vessels in Greenland, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Baffin Island, taking the opportunity to visit Iqualuit, the capital of Nunavut, the recently created Inuit nation and territories.




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ARCTIC:  At the Cutting Edge of Climate Change, #23:
ARCTIC, #23:  Looking behind our boat in the direction of the continental shoreline, there was still little visibility because even though the arcus cloud had rolled past us, the weather above it was ongoing. The sky was slowly opening but squalls continued to blow by. As the storm progressed, it began to clear and some very confusing light displays occurred. At the horizon in this image, it may appear that there is a black line mirage, but the “black line” separation is being caused by a glow of reflection coming off the ocean surface, directly beneath an opening in the clouds that is letting sunlight through. These “golden spots” would open and close around us for many minutes as the storm continued to pass and lift off, and I DO mean lift off! As the last of these rain curtains passed, much like in a theater, the “curtain” went up. Behind it was a stunning reveal.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE TONGASS: Stop the Cut, There are Salmon in the Trees by Robert Glenn Ketchum

THE TONGASS:  Stop the Cut, There are Salmon in the Trees
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

In 1985, I began a 2-year commission to explore the Tongass rainforest, the largest forest in the United States Forest Service (USFS) system AND the largest temperate rainforest in the world. It was a unique, old-growth environment under siege from industrial logging. The resulting investigative book I published helped to pass the Tongass Timber Reform Bill, protect 1,000,000 acres of old-growth, and create 11 new wilderness areas. This is the story of how that was achieved.




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE TONGASS:  Stop the Cut, There are Salmon in the Trees, #21:
THE TONGASS, #21:  About the time we were to return to the skiff that would ferry us back to “Observer,” it began to rain hard. Once again we had to wade relatively deep water to get to the boat and most of us got wet to some degree or another. The wind chill of the skiff added to our collective chilling, so I must say I was SO GRATEFUL to see the warmly lighted decks of our “home” awaiting our return. Hot showers, terrific food, and a warm, dry bed were guaranteed for a night out “not fit for man nor beast.” Clearly I was not yet ready to be camping in these conditions! Our plan was to remain at anchor in this protected cove for the rest of the night, and then we would depart early for a morning cruise to a spectacular fjord wilderness area just to our south called Tracy Arm. Although not part of my Tongass commission because Tracy Arm was already protected by Wilderness designation, this first encounter would leave an indelible impression on me of this remarkable place, and over 25yrs. I would return many times, once to due a 10-day kayak camping trip, the story of which you might enjoy as previously published in this blog.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2016, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, January 16, 2017

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get by Robert Glenn Ketchum

by Robert Glenn Ketchum


Growing up my parents had a home near Sun Valley, Idaho. It was there that I learned to ski. Over many years I befriended members of the Decker Flat Climbing and Frisbee Club, with whom I had both life, and art-forming outdoor experiences. I had my camera, and these are my adventures.  Enjoy!!  ~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Monday, January 16, 2017

The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get - Sun Valley and the DFC&FC, #37:
THE HIGHER YOU GET, THE HIGHER YOU GET, #37:  Another of the images that I printed and that sold well at the time, this reflection in Redfish Creek deals with the landscape as an abstraction, but as is apparent, it is not really dealing with the landscape of the Sawtooths in any descriptive way. There was some part of my own emerging vision that wanted to be able to see and understand the greater landscape, while still rendering it abstractly, a technique and way-of-seeing that I found in the best of Eliot Porter’s images, especially those from the New England woods and the slot canyons of Utah. I began to consider the words of my former instructor, Robert Heinecken, that I might want to use a larger camera to photograph the landscape, and indeed, Eliot shot with a 4x5 view camera. This kind of thinking would eventually have me commuting between Sun Valley and Santa Barbara so I could attend the Brooks Institute of Photography. For the moment, however, it was summer, it was hot, I had the weekend off from teaching the Photography Workshop program for the Sun Valley Creative Arts Center and my DFC&FC friends, Gordon Williams and Chris Puchner were going camping in the Sawtooths to climb the Finger-of-Fate. They thought I might come along and take some pictures. While I had been camping, I had not yet backpacked, so it was off to The Elephant’s Perch for some new gear.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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STONED IMMACULATE: A Trip in the Desert by Robert Glenn Ketchum

STONED IMMACULATE:  A Trip in the Desert
by Robert Glenn Ketchum

As a young photographer, two places I “discovered” by chance greatly influenced both my photographic vision and my personal relationship with the greater planet. A previous blog, LIMEKILN, is the story of the first location. THIS is the second location which I discovered because my car broke down. As Jim Morrison/The Doors wrote, “Out here we is stoned Immaculate!"


Monday, January 16, 2017

Stoned Immaculate, #11:
Immaculate, #11:  My elevated view point was a wildly striped pinnacle of reds and yellows, and most of the landscape seemed dominated by those colors until I began to dial in the subtleties around me. The ledges I had ascended had deep slot washes on two sides, and one was so narrow it had already passed into shade. Here the glare off of the brilliant sandstone surrounding me abates and in the flat even light of the wash, a whole new assortment of colors becomes visible. The more I study the amazing strew of boulders, the more I begin to realize the blue and purple shades are all around me, but in the sunlight they are “overwhelmed” by the warmer tones. As a young photographer, I did not know it at the time but this place in the desert, and my recent attention to the work of Eliot Porter with whom I had begun communicating, would teach me to see and understand color in a unique way that would come to define my career 45yrs. later. Another thing I began to realize was that not only were the swirls and bands of color disorienting, but combined with the verticality and unusual ledge formations, having any sense of visual space was easily confused. In some of these shots I have had to look at the lettering in the film-edge to determine up, down, or sideways.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2017, @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd: http://www.LittleBearProd.com
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Monday, January 9, 2017

NRDC: Pebble Mine 2016 Year in Review: Salmon First, Pebble Never

Pebble Mine 2016 in Review:  'Salmon First, Pebble Never' by Joel Reynolds

2016 closed for the Pebble Mine like so many years before it — with no progress: no permit, no application, and no new financial partner. As it did in 2015, the last remaining company in the once-formidable Pebble Partnership - the small Canadian mining exploration company Northern Dynasty Minerals - continued frantically to tread water for dear life, suing EPA, lobbying Congress, threatening the U.S. State Department, and searching each quarter for more money to cover its legal fees. Prospects for actual mining activity remained non-existent as opposition deepened in Alaska and broadened to the international stage.

Despite short-term profit-taking on the ups and downs of the financial markets (including a surge in the wake of Donald Trump’s election), the Pebble prospect’s owner remains a bad long-term investment. Summed up last week by the Motley Fool’s stock analysts, “regardless of the reason for this latest move higher in Northern Dynasty Minerals, your best bet is going to be keep far, far away.”

Some highlights:
  • In January, following a year and a half investigation conducted at Northern Dynasty ‘s request, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Inspector General announced its findings exonerating EPA of any misconduct, collusion, or improper process and rejecting Northern Dynasty’s claims of unfairness. According to the IG’s report, “[b]ased on available information, we found no evidence of bias in how the EPA conducted its assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed, or that the EPA predetermined the assessment outcome.” The Pebble Partnership promptly condemned the investigation that it had previously demanded.
  • Also in January, Northern Dynasty repackaged its allegations of unfairness and sent them to the U.S. State Department, threatening a claim for damages under the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) Chapter 11. In a 42-page letter, the company alleged that EPA’s “decision” on the Pebble Mine “was taken in a grossly abusive, arbitrary and deliberately opaque manner, in breach of standards of due process and good administrative procedure, in violation of U.S. law, and in breach of Northern Dynasty’s legitimate expectation . . . .” In May, NRDC personally delivered to the State Department a detailed response to Northern Dynasty’s self-serving, groundless claim of entitlement to a taxpayer bail-out. No NAFTA claim has been submitted to date by the company.
  • In March, in its own Consolidated Financial Statements (as well as Deloitte LLP’s audit and the company’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the year ending December 31, 2015), Northern Dynasty publicly acknowledged its depleted financial condition. The company conceded that there is now “material uncertainty that casts substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” Despite this, according to the company’ first quarter financial disclosure report, the company also committed to a series of multi-million dollar bonuses for its lawyers and Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier contingent on turning the company’s legal position around.
  • Also in March, The Pebble Partnership issued a new (but significantly reduced in number) round of third-party subpoenas, continuing its fishing expedition for any basis in fact to support its lawsuit against EPA under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“FACA”). But in late November - a year after the initial round of such subpoenas had been quashed — the federal court in Alaska once again thwarted Pebble’s continuing efforts to harass opponents, granting a motion to quash the subpoena issued to former Bristol Bay United Director Shoren Brown and University of Washington professor Tom Quinn. According to the court, these subpoenas “are extremely broad and are not focused on the real issues in this case” and “would impose an undue burden . . . .” None of the remaining subpoenas is expected to survive legal challenge.
  • During the spring and summer, project opponents took the Pebble battle to the international arena through a motion condemning the project — introduced at, and ultimately approved virtually unanimously by, the World Conservation Congress in September. Hosted every four years by the world’s largest network of conservation experts, the 1,300 member International Union for the Conservation of Nature (or “IUCN”) brings together thousands of scientists and other environmental professionals from over 170 countries, including members from 89 states, 129 government agencies, and over 1,000 domestic and international non-governmental organizations. This is the first formal international condemnation of the Pebble Mine project.
  • In November, more than two decades of Republican dominance in the Alaska State House of Representatives ended with the election of a new majority coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans. Longtime Pebble Mine opponent Bryce Edgmon from Dillingham has been tapped to become the first Native Speaker of the House, joining Alaska Governor Bill Walker in a growing wave of opposition to the Pebble project among the state’s political leadership.
  • In late December, Alaska state resource managers for the first time delayed a decision on renewal of the land use permit for the Pebble site, granting instead only a 90-day extension during which the agency will be reviewing an unprecedented number of public comments and considering additional operational conditions. This latest setback for the project follows the release in November of a report by the Center for Science in Public Participation. Commissioned by United Tribes of Bristol Bay, the report found, among other problems, that some holes weren’t properly plugged, drill cuttings were leaching acid, tundra mat had been allowed to deteriorate, groundwater seeping up from holes has been contaminated with heavy metals (including potentially toxic levels of copper), and numerous steel pipes used to stabilize boreholes were sticking up from the ground. In all, 71 of the 107 sites inspected by the Center “were not fully reclaimed” based on observations of dead vegetation, flowing water, and open and abandoned drill casings.
  • Finally, on the eve of 2017, The Pebble Partnership and EPA filed a joint request for a three-month stay of Pebble’s FACA lawsuit against the agency. The request was premised on the parties’ decision to focus exclusively on settlement discussions that, although under way for months, had thus far been unsuccessful. In January, the federal court granted the request for a stay.
As 2016 ended, and as the Trump Administration prepares to take over at the federal level, there is intense speculation by Northern Dynasty (aka The Pebble Partnership) about what this portends for (1) the ongoing EPA review, including the Proposed Determination under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, and (2) their continuing efforts to find a new financial partner. In its latest financial report, Northern Dynasty Minerals admits that “[a]dditional financing will be required in order to progress any material expenditures at the Pebble Project,” and further that if it is unable to secure financing to “generate sufficient cash flow to meet obligations as they come due,” Northern Dynasty may “consider reducing or curtailing its operations.”

While time will tell, what remains certain is the unrelenting opposition from the broad-based coalition that has dogged this project for over a decade. Most important is the deep and abiding unpopularity of the project among Alaskans themselves. The regional opposition to Pebble is near-unanimous, with over 80% opposition in the region (including from shareholders of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, the region’s largest developer). The state-wide opposition isn’t far behind - estimated consistently at over 60% based on polling and at 65% based on the state-wide adoption of the Bristol Bay Forever initiative in 2014.

For Northern Dynasty — and for any potential partner - the hard truth is that the Pebble Mine is going nowhere. Recall that this is the project abandoned by all of Northern Dynasty’s former mining partners, including Mitsubishi Corporation (in 2011), Anglo American (in 2013), and Rio Tinto (in 2014), three of the largest mining companies in the world. Northern Dynasty remains a lonely voice of desperation, searching for vindication of its investors’ mindless pursuit of profit at the expense of everyone else — and, most particularly, at the expense of the people and communities of Bristol Bay.

The Pebble Mine is and always will be a completely unacceptable project, unjustified by the science, inconsistent with the law, and at odds with common sense. NRDC is committed to doing whatever is required to ensure the mine’s definitive defeat.

Salmon first, Pebble never. Take action now.