LivingDedGrrl™: Blog en-us All photos Copyright (C)JAM Vaughan (LivingDedGrrl™). Do no use without permission. Do not remove watermark. (LivingDedGrrl™) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:54:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:54:00 GMT LivingDedGrrl™: Blog 68 120 Teetering On The Brink....  

At first glance, these may look like Norwegian Fjord Horses, but they are not. These are Mongolia's precious Przewalski's (pronounced Zhe-VAL-ski) Horses, and they are an endangered species. Only about 1500 exist today.

While American Mustangs and Ozzie Brumbies horses are descended from escaped domesticated animals who have adapted to life in the wild, Przewalski's Horses have never been domesticated, nor were their ancestors descended from the domesticated horse. Przewalski's Horse represents its very own species, Equua ferus, and it remains the only truly wild horse left in the world.

First discovered in the 1400's by a Mongol Khan prisoner of war, in 1966, the last specimen was seen in the wild. However, in 1945, when their numbers had dropped to less than 300, 13 specimens were captured and became part of a comprehensive, collaborative breeding program. Thanks to these conservation efforts, there are now 1,500 specimens in the wild, and, as of 2008, the Przewalski's Horse has actually been officially elevated on the IUCN Red List from "Extinct in the Wild" to "Endangered".

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) conservation extinction horses nature przewalski wild Sun, 27 Sep 2015 00:24:53 GMT
One Giant Leap for Spaceman Kind

Congratulations to Joe Hess from Mr Speed on his endorsement from SIT Strings! #awesomesauce(Press photo by...

Posted by LivingDedGrrl on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Congratulations to Joe Hess of Mr Speed! Awesome photo by Yours Truly for press and endorsement. Thank you!!

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) endorsement music press press kit sponsorship Wed, 19 Aug 2015 23:14:14 GMT
One Turtle At A Time

So many people have opinions about this 'n' that, but most people will never do anything about them. A few will throw a check in the mail or a few pennies in a pot around the holidays, but even less will actually give of themselves to the causes they feel so strongly about. Two years ago, I woke up. I decided that I was going to DO something literal to save the planet instead of Liking, Sharing, and Commenting on Facebook posts.

When I first started college, I was a Marine Biology major with a minor in Animal Behavior. I spent three years in school wanting to study ocean life. I had taken an interest in Microbiology, and I had taken several courses to get me on my way to working with the government studying the oceans. I had a particular interest in Red Tides. I was chugging along at a fairly good clip through my studies. I even got my SCUBA certification. Then, as it has a nasty habit of happened. And it kept happening. One turn after another took me further and further away from galloping the globe poking at aquatic microbes. Eventually, I got married, had my daughter, and graduated with an Associates in Applied Business in Paralegal and became the owner of a small music business, Vaughan's Rockshop Ltd.

After 10 years, life happened again. I was now divorced and living in the Sonoran Desert. Don't ask how a Marine Biologist at heart ends up in the desert, but it was here that I ended up back on a beach where I originally wanted to be. A few years prior, I had friended a few eco-pirates who had served with Sea Shepherd. In the winter of 2014, one of such "infamous" friends, Pete Bethune, posted an ad on his timeline that Earthrace had an opportunity to send volunteers to Costa Rica to work with Pretoma saving sea turtles. Now having the freedom to set out on such adventures, I sent him a private message immediately, and ever since I've been spending a few weeks a year on the beaches of Costa Rica saving sea turtles. An old friend who knew me "back in the day" when my vanity plates said "Fish Doc" once said, "Well, it looks like you're back where you started." I took a 10 year detour, but here I am, saving the world one turtle at a time.

Unlike many coastal tourist areas where turtles may nest, Caletas Beach is a secluded beach that is part of the Caletas-Ario National Wildlife Refuge. Each work site has a biologist and two research assistants on staff. Volunteers come from all over the world through conservation organizations. We work nights patrolling beaches for nesting turtles. Nesting turtles are tagged and their statistics recorded. The tag information is then shared with other turtle biologists around the world. Recovered turtle eggs are brought back to the hatchery we have built for them, which protects them from poacher and depredation. Volunteers watch over the eggs until they hatch, then they are released back into the ocean after a bit more information is collected on the hatchlings.

In the morning, the nests that hatched during the night are exhumed. Scientists compare notes on data that was recorded when the eggs were placed in the hatchery. The eggs are counted going in, and the hatchlings are counted as they are coming out. It is not uncommon for the numbers to not match. Hatched nests are exhumed, and unhatched eggs are recovered. The eggs are then opened by the scientists, and the various stages of development in are recorded. Last year, we learned through experiment, that nests dug in shaded areas have a higher success rate than eggs buried in sun. Not only do more eggs hatch, but we also learned that there are fewer deformities in the shaded-hatchlings. All sea turtles are endangered. Only 1 in 1,000 will survive long enough to return to the beach of its birth. Every little bit helps. When the oceans die, we die.

The photo above was taken during an exhumation. Even though this turtle is alive, it was unable to hatch naturally from its egg. When the egg was opened, we discovered that this particular specimen was an albino (and most likely the reason for its difficulty, as albinism in turtles is a severe liability and the presence of albinism also suggests the failure of development and impairment of other life systems).

Pura Vida mañana!

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) Thu, 23 Jul 2015 00:08:46 GMT
Riding The Storm Out - The S.S. Selma Riding The Storm Out - The S.S. SelmaRiding The Storm Out - The S.S. SelmaThe SS Selma, a World War I reinforced concrete tanker scuttled decades ago off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The SS Selma rests in a significant site in Galveston Bay, the bay near the marine battleground for part of the Civil War's Battle of Galveston in 1863. Read the full story HERE

The SS Selma, a World War I reinforced concrete tanker scuttled decades ago off the coast of Galveston, Texas, and visible above the water line, is no longer just a local curiosity. Since 1992, besides recognition with a Texas Historical Commission's Official Texas Historical Marker, she has been designated as a State Archeological Landmark by the Texas Antiquities Committee, as the Official Flagship of the Texas "Army", and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, the SS Selma rests in a significant site in Galveston Bay, the bay near the "marine battleground" for part of the Civil War's Battle of Galveston in 1863.

The Selma, a 7500 ton reinforced concrete tanker built in Mobile, Alabama, was launched on June 28, 1919. She was one of several concrete ships conceived and designed during World War 1. Construction was not completed until the war ended. She had a length 420 ft., a beam of 54 ft. and a draft with full cargo of 26 ft.. Her loaded displacement was 13,000 tons. This vessel marked the first use of shale aggregate expanded in rotary kilns for lightweight structural concrete. Steel was in short supply because of the war efforts and concrete was then proposed as a viable alternative material for use in ship building. Feasibility studies by marine engineers indicated that a reinforced concrete ship would be practical if the concrete had a compression strength of 5000 psi and weighted no more than 110 lb\ft. As a matter of fact, the Selma's average compression strength at 28 days was 5591 psi and the average modulus of elasticity was 3,306,000 psi, well beyond all expectations. The hull of reinforced expanded shale lightweight concrete was 5" thick at the bottom, tapering to 4" on the sides. It required 2600 yds. of concrete reinforced with 1500 tons of smooth reinforcing bars. Expanded shale aggregate was supplied in two graduations, fine and coarse. Diatomaceous earth was also used in the concrete. To obtain proper placement of concrete in the thin hull and throughout the heavy mats of reinforcing steel the concrete mixture was quite fluid. Internal vibration was also used to improve consolidation. 

The Selma served several ports in the Gulf of Mexico quite successfully. Unfortunately she ran aground on the South jetty at Tampico, Mexico on May 11, 1920, creating a sizable crack about 60 ft. long in her hull. She was towed into Galveston for repairs. Although the damage was repairable, the dry-dock crew lacked the knowledge and had no experience repairing a hull of such material. With no guarantee of proper restoration, the U.S. Government's Emergency Fleet Corporation decided not to gamble. A channel 1,500 ft. long and 25 ft. deep was dug to a point just off Galveston near Pelican Island's eastern shoreline. After being stripped of all valuable equipment, on March 9, 1922 she was towed out to her final berth and laid to rest. This left the hull partly submerged, although awash when seas were rough.

In the 90 years of its rest, it has served as a hiding place for explosives as well as confiscated bootleg liquor during the Prohibition Era, and a home for a hermit during the 1960's.

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) galveston selma shipwreck Wed, 08 Jul 2015 18:45:16 GMT
How Rich We Are...

I was actually with one of the bands I shoot for on tour in Gallup, NM back in 2014. Gallup is a small settlement in the heart of Native American Indian country, and famous Mother Road, Historic Route 66, is the main drag through town. The band was playing at a convention hall in town. We had arrived a day early to load in. During that time, the convention hall was also hosting a local Emergency Services seminar. As is customary in even white cultures, seminars and conventions often conclude with a reception or party. Being near the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock, AZ, the attendees were mostly Native American Indian themselves, and as such their after-party was a powwow. As the focus of the Emergency Services seminar was Child Safety, local leaders decided to hold and intertribal children's powwow. Having grown up in the Midwest and being a newcomer to the Southwest, I had never seen anything like this. I kept trying to sneak a peek through the hall doors to catch a glimpse. Finally, one of the ladies present asked me if I would like to come in...and she pointed at my camera slung over my shoulder (which I am never without) and even encouraged me to take pictures.

What followed was one of the most emotional moments of my life. Powwows are very real and they are still very much a part of the modern Native American Indian culture, just as they have been for centuries. There were two drum circles on either side of the room, and in the center, children marched and danced in their Native costumes. I still don't know what, exactly, the meanings of everything was, and I was too choked to ask questions, so I decided to just take in the moment for what it was and what it was worth, and in that moment I realized how very blessed and proud I am to call these people my Neighbors.

This is one of my all-time favorite photos that I've ever taken. It's not technically perfect, but it captures the spirit of the moment that I experienced that night, and to this day it brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it because in it I see how truly rich we are.

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) Tue, 23 Jun 2015 01:36:30 GMT
Happy World Sea Turtle Day! Olive Ridley ArribadaThis is an Olive Ridley sea turtle leaving her nest on Playa Corozalito, Costa Rica Every year I go to Costa Rica as a volunteer with EarthRace Conservation Organization. I live on an isolated beach with no running water or indoor plumbing, and no heat or electricity, save for a single rooftop solar panel. I volunteer at a real biological research station that patrols the Nicoya Peninsula during sea turtle nesting season. All sea turtles are endangered. Because of heavy poaching and depredation, only 1 in 1000 sea turtles will survive long enough to return to the beach of their birth to lay their own nests. Even if they do, sea turtle nests are depredated almost as quickly as they are laid...if the poachers don't get there first.

My work consists of patrolling the beaches at night looking for nesting turtles. With the help of field biologists, while the turtles are nesting, we gather scientific information about the turtle, count the eggs, put them in a backpack, and then take them back to a base camp where we have a nursery set up. We place the eggs in man-made nests within a fenced and guarded area and wait for them to hatch. Once the eggs have hatched, we count the baby turtles and escort them to the sea side and release them. By doing this, we save thousands of eggs from being eaten. For every 1000 hatchlings we save, the species has a chance for survival.

This photograph was taken during a special event that I was asked to participate in. The nearby beach of Corozalito was experiencing an arribada, which is a group nesting phenomenon. This "arrival" occurs in only three places in the world, and I was very fortunate to not only witness the event, but to participate in the scientific research that went on there. Thousands of turtles came up on this one-mile stretch of beach to lay their nests all at once. It was impossible to collect the eggs, and many of them were eaten by the local wildlife; however, predators are a natural part of every ecosystem. Olive Ridley sea turtles are the only marine turtle species to exhibit this type of behavior, and scientists believe that it is done unconsciously as a means of species survival. Nearly 5000 turtles nested on the beach this night.

The photograph is one I took with my cell phone early in the morning the day after my patrol. It is an Olive Ridley making its way back to the ocean after laying a nest on the beach.

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) Tue, 16 Jun 2015 20:30:00 GMT
And The Color Of The Dress Is.......

Some serious chizz right here...

Ambient light effects the appearance of your photos. That is another reason why film was developed in darkrooms. It's called "exposure", and it doesn't end after the shutter closes. Today, with the invention of Photoshop, we don't have to live like Gollums in dark caves exposing film all day. We sit at our desks, in our cheerful offices (or kitchens... Same same) drink our coffee, and click away at our photos. What we don't realize is that the light around you tricks your eyes, resulting in over/under exposed photos,  wash outs, and harsh/poorly balanced colors. Ambient light also changes as the day goes on. It changes from room to room, hour by hour. Even having the TV on changes the temperature of the room *cough cough*.... And your resulting photo.  At least the #oldskool photocave was consistent. 

This little thing I have makes sure that every photo is edited EXACTLY as it is...photocave style. It monitors the LCD light from my laptop display AND the light from the room around me simultaneously. It sits on my monitor and takes a reading every hour. If the light changes, it prompts me to recalibrate my monitor. All of this is to make sure that what I see on my screen... Colors, definition, shadows, EXACTLY what the picture *really* looks like when it's being processed. ..and more importantly, what it will look like when it is printed for the customer.

Here's an example of what this little doohickey does.

So.......what color is it REALLY? Thanks to my profiler, I know the answer.....but I won't tell ;)

]]> (LivingDedGrrl™) Sun, 14 Jun 2015 07:30:00 GMT