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Photo: Spokane River is scenic masterpiece

RIVERS — Not to be taken for granted, the Spokane River should inspire all of us to be caretakers of our natural resources.

Thanks to Craig Goodwin, pastor of Millwood Community Presbyterian Church and outdoor photographer, for giving us this visual reminder.

When it comes to media freedom in wilderness, give a damn

PUBLIC LANDS — I was a bit surprised at some comments I received this week after posting news that U.S. Forest Service officials were forging rules requiring “the media” to obtain $1,500 permits in order to make photographs in designated national forest wilderness areas.

A federal spokesperson originally suggested the permits, which could be denied for unspecified reasons, are necessary under public land protections guaranteed by the 1964 Wilderness Act.

A few of you suggested that would be OK.

I suppose those comments were geared to newspapers and TV reporters — like who cares.

But maybe it applies to Miley Cyrus, who reaches more people with one social “media” tweet than all the reporters in Washington state combined.  Maybe it means guidebook writers or mapmakers. Maybe it applies to you.

Unless you flunked American History, the reason for the First Amendment, or don't pay attention to world news about countries that are freedom-poor because they have no freedom of the press, you should at least have a clue.

NO NEWS, YOU LOSE.

Here's the latest on the outrage the Forest Service rules have stirred:

Forest Service says media doesn’t need permit

By PHUONG LE / Associated Press

SEATTLE — Faced with increasing criticism of a proposal that would restrict media filming in wilderness areas, the head of the U.S. Forest Service said late Thursday that the rule is not intended to apply to news-gathering activities.

The rule would apply to commercial filming, like a movie production, but reporters and news organizations would not need to get a permit to shoot video or photographs in the nation’s wilderness areas, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a phone interview Thursday.

“The U.S. Forest Service remains committed to the First Amendment,” he said, adding: “It does not infringe in any way on First Amendment rights. It does not apply to news-gathering activities, and that includes any part of news.”

Forest Service officials had said earlier in the week that news organizations, except in breaking news situations, would be required to obtain a permit and follow a number of criteria if they wanted to film in designated wilderness areas.

At least two public TV stations, in Idaho and Oregon, said they have been asked to obtain a permit before filming their programs in wilderness areas. Press advocates criticized the proposed rules as a violation of the First Amendment, saying it raises concerns about press freedom.

“I understand what he’s saying the intent is, but the language doesn’t not reflect that intent,” Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said Thursday in response to Tidwell’s comments.

“If they’re serious about it, they need to craft unambiguous language that exempts news-gathering if that’s their alleged intent, so there’s no question that someone out on a news story wouldn’t have a ranger or other employee saying ‘You need a permit’,” Osterreicher said.

Osterreicher noted that the proposal clearly refers to permits for still photography, but Tidwell said Thursday that “the intent is not for it to apply to still photography.” When this discrepancy was raised to him, Tidwell said: “This is an example of where we need to clarify.”

Tidwell said the agency wants feedback to help make sure the rules are clear and consistent.

Professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models, actors, props; work in areas where the public is generally not allowed; or cause additional administrative costs, the agency said in a release.

Tidwell acknowledged that fees are applied differently by the agency across the country. He said the goal is to have a consistent approach to permitting commercial filming activities.

Commercial-filming permits currently run anywhere from $30 a day for up to three people to as much as $800 per day for production involving dozens of people.

A separate proposal would charge as much as $1,500 for the bigger film productions involving dozens of people on federal lands.

The plan “is a good faith effort to ensure the fullest protection of America’s wild places” and has been in place for more than four years, Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers said in a statement earlier Thursday.

Tidwell, whose agency manages nearly 190 million acres of public lands in national forests and grasslands, including 439 wilderness areas, said he welcomed feedback from the public at meetings to help craft clearer rules. The comment period has been extended through Dec. 3.

Under the rules, permit applications for commercial filming would be evaluated based on several criteria, including whether it spreads information about the enjoyment or use of wilderness or its ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic or historical values; helps preserve the wilderness character; and doesn’t advertise products or services. Officials also would consider whether other suitable film sites are available outside the wilderness.

One more observation, this one from Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center and dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University:

“It would be hard to defend the constitutionality of this regulation. You simply cannot give government officials the power to decide what gets covered. It’s actually astonishing to me no one in the agency raised the question of whether this might blatantly violate the First Amendment.”

 

National Geographic underwater photographers offer program in Spokane

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — A pair of National Geographic underwater photographers will present a program, Coral Kingdoms & Empires of Ice at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane.  Expect the best.

Explore undersea worlds with photographic legend David Doubilet and his wife and underwater partner, photojournalist Jennifer Hayes. From the coral reefs of Papua New Guinea to the icebergs of Antarctica and the harp seals of Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, they’ll go beyond the published stories to share their behind-the-camera adventures.

The program is the first of a four-part Spokane speaker series running into 2014 featuring award-winning photographers, filmmakers, scientists, and explorers . From the untamed landscape of Antarctica to the surface of Mars, discover what it means to explore the world’s most beautiful places and animals.

Tickets for the Doubilet-Hayes program cost $41.50 through TicketsWest.  Tickets for the entire series can be purchased for $150.

Photo: Northern Lights over Priest Lake

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — It pays to lose yourself watching the stars on a clear summer night.

In the photo above, Craig Goodwin, pastor of Millwood Community Presbyterian Church, sits by the still-glowing embers of a fire some other Priest Lake visitors to Hill's Resort had enjoyed.  But they left at a reasonable hour early Wednesday morning.

Goodwin, who's become entranced with photographing the Milky Way this summer, stayed around past 2 a.m. …. and the Northern Lights were his payoff.

Photographer captures star show over Priest Lake

SKYWATCHING — The Milky Way and the northern lights were putting on a light show over Priest Lake, Idaho, Friday night for Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin.

This is why some people don't sleep after dark. Says Goodwin:

I was surprised to find so few shots of iconic Priest Lake under the stars so I went up last night to see if I could find a good location. I also wanted to try out star pictures on a lake.

The stars were stunning the sky was more colorful than I expected. I'm not sure what the green and purple are. Perhaps aurora borealis. They ebbed and flowed while I was out, with the pink in the lower left disappearing quickly.

I know it looks like I just cranked the saturation but this is pretty close to what came out of the camera at f2.8, 3200 ISO, and 30 seconds exposure.

See this photo bigger and in higher resolution.

See forecasts for auroa borealis activity.

Advanced photo technology frames Mount Everest in shocking detail

MOUNTAINS — After seeing this stunning display of photo technology, I'll never be able to squat in the woods without wondering if somebody's taking my picture from a perch a mile away. 

Click the link below and zoom in, for example, on the amazing detail of the sprawling Mount Everest Base Camp.

 2B-pixel photo lets you explore Mount Everest online

Exploring the pinnacles and crevices of Mount Everest is now possible without ever climbing it, thanks to a 2 billion pixel photograph that filmmaker and climate-change activist David Breashears released online. He took 400 images of the world's highest mountain in the spring, combining them to create a panorama that lets viewers zoom in on everything from a camper washing his face at the base to the mountain's icefall. “I find things I've never noticed before, especially on how climate change is affecting the mountain,” said Breashears, whose GlacierWorks site shows how climate change is affecting the Himalayas. The Guardian (London)

Year of photos capture Pacific NW in minutes

OUTDOORS — This video of time-lapse photography captures the soothing essense of Pacific Northwest scenery in just a few minutes.

But a Portland photographer devoted a year and exposed 260,000 frames to produce it.

The big lake has a Superior sunrise

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — One of my best college friends lives in Duluth, Minn., on the shore of Lake Superior. 

His back yard is a premium spot for outdoor scenics ranging from ice formations in the minus 30 degree winters to this moody, wonderful sunrise shot last week.

This morning was one of the more spectacular skies I've seen in awhile.  What you can't see is the lightning storm to the north of me over the city.  I was seeing it a an angle so i had wonderful views of an incredible electric storm, with this gorgeous sunrise in front of me.  The photo does not do it justice.

— Scott Wolff

Pro offers free outdoor photography clinic

OUTDOOR IMAGING — Professional landscape photographer Tim Cooper will present a free program on capturing outdoor scenes on camera Monday, March 14, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Spokane REI store.

Cooper, a Rocky Mountain School of Photography instructor,  will explain how he captures dramatic photographs during the Magic Light hours of early morning and late evening.  He'll detail the qualities of light, definitions of the several twilights that surround sunrise and sunset, present a demonstration of filters to help capture this tricky light along with tricks and compositional tips.

The session is free, but participants must pre-register to reserve a seat.

Idaho photographer gets farther afield

OUTDOOR IMAGES — Although her business is called Idaho Scenic Images, Linda Lantzy of Coeur d'Alene isn't tethered to the state.

I pointed out recently that her list of Top 12 Photos of 2010 included a shot of the North Cascades, which are tempting even to an Idaho photographer. I refered to her shots as “the best of 2010,” and she takes exception.”
 
“I must point out though, that I have never called myself or my work 'the Best of anything,' ” she said. “I am concerned how others will view such a statement if they think it came from me, the photographer. 
 
“Idaho Scenic Images is my legal business name here in the state of Idaho. I do, however, travel and photograph throughout the Pacific Northwest, something that unfortunately seems to confuse many.”
 
That said, there's no confusion about her photos. They're very nice, regardless of what state they're from.

Palouse Falls has look of lace in bitter cold

OUTDOOR SIGHTS — Penny Lapsley of Moses Lake didn't let last weekend's bitter cold keep her from a sight-seeing tour to Palouse Falls State Park. 

Indeed, the icy conditions were the attraction, as you can see from her photo of the falls flanked by ice — a scene fair-weather visitors never enjoy.

Runners, photogs top grizzly targets

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Runners are gaining ground on wildlife photographers as the most likely people to be mauled by a grizzly bear in the Northern Rockies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s grizzly bear recovery coordinator says long-distance trail runners are approaching photographers as the backcountry group most likely to be badly hurt in an animal encounter.

Chris Servheen told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Thursday that running in grizzly country at dawn and dusk is risky, but he is not interested in proposing regulations to restrict the sport.

The Missoulian reports that committee members expressed concern about structured races in bear territory, in particular the growing interest in competitive ultra-marathons that send runners 100 miles along mountain trails. Members cited blog posts from several runners who recounted their disorientation and punch-drunk condition as they headed into nightfall.

The committee is composed of federal officials and representatives of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Alberta and British Columbia.