A Letter from Senator Harry Reid

A Letter from Senator Harry Reid

“Harnessing the Wind” Construction

The construction portfolio of “Harnessing the Wind” consists of 21 – 6 1/2” x 10” color digital photographs, printed on 8 1/2” x 11” Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 301 gsm smooth paper on an Epson 7890 printer using Epson’s Ultrachrome K3 inkset. I made five behind the scenes visits to document the construction of two utility grade commercial wind energy projects in the United States. The photographs were created between 2012 and 2014, printed by myself in Eureka, Nevada in November of 2015.

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A large hole is excavated for the base of the wind turbine. Since this wind farm was built on Bureau of Land Management land, BLM archeologist contractors oversee the excavation watching for archeological artifacts. The painted diagram on the first layer of concrete is a template for the rebar. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Rebar is put into place. A crane moves the rebar for the workers to assemble. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Once the rebar is put into place, workers build the concrete forms. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Workers pour concrete over the rebar contained by the forms. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Ground wires are placed over the finished concrete base. It is now ready for backfilling with earth. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Once the backfilling is complete, cranes built on site erect the tower. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A painter prepares the surface on a tower section prior to assembly. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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Tower sections are assembled by site built cranes. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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A nacelle is lifted off the truck trailer and prepped for lift. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A worker atop the tower awaits the arrival of the nacelle. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Two workers place a lift strap around a blade in preparation for assembly to the hub. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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The blade is lifted by crane for assembly to the hub. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Workers maneuver the blade for proper alignment to the hub. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Workers hook up the blade assembly to the crane. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A site built crane begins to lift the blade and hub assembly to the nacelle. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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Hub and blade assembly lift. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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The crane positions the blade and hub assembly for attachment to the nacelle. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A worker attaches the blade and hub assembly. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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An electrical substation is built on site to connect to the power grid. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Power transmission lines carry power from the wind farm to the electrical grid. Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind, California.

Here is a link to the “Harnessing the Wind” portfolio.

Special thanks to NV Energy, Pattern Energy and Mortenson Construction for their generous contributions that helped to make this portfolio possible!

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“Harnessing the Wind”

I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the Archive Collections of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art!

01_080812432Spring Valley, Nevada

My portfolio “Harnessing the Wind” consists of 21 – 14” x 21” color digital photographs, printed on 17” x 22” Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 301 gsm smooth paper on an Epson 7890 printer using Epson’s Ultrachrome K3 inkset. I made 15 in depth visits to three utility grade commercial wind energy projects in the United States. The photographs were created between 2012 and 2014, printed by myself in Eureka, Nevada in November of 2015.

02_080812436Spring Valley, Nevada

I was contacted by a San Francisco advertising agency in 2011 to document construction of Nevada’s first utility grade wind farm, and was excited to work on an assignment incorporating a gorgeous landscape with an industrial scale renewable energy project.

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Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind is situated on 7,680 acres of BLM administered land, thirty miles east of Ely, Nevada in White Pine County near US-50. Spring Valley Wind consists of 66 2.3 megawatt Siemens wind turbine generators. The 152 megawatt facility started selling electricity to NV Energy in August of 2012.

12/17/2012 Spring Valley Wind ParkSpring Valley, Nevada

After negotiations, planning meetings and scheduling, I finally had the opportunity to explore the Spring Valley construction site in October of 2011. I located the lay down yard covered with pick up trucks, heavy equipment and temporary office trailers and checked in with the staff of Mortenson Construction. Site specific safety training and personal safety equipment are a prerequisite prior to entering the construction site. We were escorted by a safety officer for a tour of the site while working out the best way to accomplish an extensive shot list.

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We scouted locations the day before for early light and arrived the next day about an hour before sunrise. Provided we followed strict safety rules, stay out of active construction zones and wore our safety gear, we were free to roam the site making photographs of the largely unfinished wind farm. Shortly after sunrise, crews began arriving for their daily safety briefing. We met our safety officer, who escorted us to the individual construction sites. He introduced us to each site’s foreman, who in turn would go over site specific safety concerns and then had us sign in.

121912 Spring Valley Wind ParkSpring Valley, Nevada

My wife, Trish, who is also my producer and assistant, would set me up with equipment for the particular scene. Sometimes, she would need to stay back while I went into the active construction site with the safety officer watching my back enabling me to get close to the action without getting hurt or impeding construction. At sites that were less hectic or dangerous, she’d assist by holding a radio controlled strobe or fill card to help with lighting.

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Because Spring Valley is located on BLM public lands, excavation was done with archeologists observing for artifacts. The BLM also required the areas around the turbines to be restored to its natural state upon completion to have as little impact as possible on the fragile desert ecosystem. At this early point in construction, other than the grid of access roads, most of the landscape was undisturbed. I documented workers using heavy equipment excavating, setting rebar and then pouring concrete foundations. After those tasks, more earthwork was done to back fill the foundations.

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We returned to Spring Valley in April of 2012 to photograph a much more evolved construction site. Although far from it, the site looked largely complete. This time, we photographed tower erections and 174’ blades being connected to the hub. The lift involves picking up a complete rotor assembly, lifting it to the top of the 262’ tower with a giant site-built crane while workers inside connect the two pieces.

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Returning in August 2012 we photographed the grand opening for Pattern Energy which was preempted by stormy weather. It was spectacular weather for me though, so I was busy until it was too dark to shoot creating many of the images found in this portfolio.

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Our last photo shoot at Spring Valley Wind was to document the entire wind farm in the winter. The snow finally flew in December and we spent a couple of beautiful, but very cold, (-18˚C / 0˚F) days photographing.

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The success at Spring Valley Wind led to an invitation to photograph Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind facility located on 12,500 acres of BLM land, northwest of Ocotillo, California in Imperial County. This site consists of 112 – 2.3 megawatt Siemens turbines. The 265 megawatt facility started selling electricity in July of 2013.

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On our first trip to Ocotillo, we arrived at the mostly completed wind farm in mid June. Ocotillo is just 12 miles from the US Mexico border and it was very hot. For our three-day photo shoot the lowest temperate was 28˚C (83˚F) and the high was 46˚C (114˚F).

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This photo shoot was very different from Spring Valley. My shot list was primarily to create beautiful landscape images of the facility and to make it look like it was functioning when it was not.

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I was also charged with documenting this facility’s unique feature, the “Bird Tower”, an observation tower staffed by an ornithologist to watch for avian activity. The ornithologist has the ability to shut down the entire facility to reduce bird mortality. The facility was also stocked with equipment to respond to any wild animal event. I spent three days photographing Ocotillo Wind. We returned one last time to document the grand opening event and to photograph the fully functioning power generating facility.

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The next invitation from Pattern was to the Panhandle of Texas for a three day photo shoot in June of 2014.

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Panhandle Wind is divided into two wind farms with both facilities located north of Panhandle, Texas in Carson County. Pan 1 is located on 52 privately held parcels of land with long-term lease agreements consisting of 118 – 1.85 megawatt General Electric turbines generating 218 megawatts. It began commercial operation in July of 2014. Pan 2 is located immediately west of Pan 1 on 40 privately held parcels of land with long-term lease agreements consisting of 79 – 2.3 megawatt Siemens turbines generating 182 megawatts. It started commercial operation in November of 2014.

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The Panhandle of Texas is so flat you can make out the curvature of the earth. I thought the location was going to be a challenge since all the other wind farms I’d previously documented were surrounded by dramatic geologic formations. Turns out, the flat landscape didn’t make the location any less interesting to photograph.

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Pan 1 was finished and producing power and Pan 2 was well into its construction phase. I was charged with a long shot list of specific construction images to be completed plus a few landscape shots of Pan 1 since it was finished, and any images I could get of Pan 2 that made it look like it was up and running.

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We returned to Panhandle, Texas in November of 2014 for a one-day photo shoot to document the grand opening event and create beauty images of the now fully functioning Pan 2. For several weeks prior to the grand opening the weather had been dull, gray and raining and it wasn’t looking promising for photographing anything outside.

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We had luck on our side though. Other than it was 10 degrees and windy, we had blue sky and sun. The turbines looked fantastic and were operating at peak capacity. I came prepared for any weather and donned my arctic parka and took to the wind farm once again to document it from before sun up to after sun down.

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Here is a link to the “Construction” portfolio.

Special thanks to NV Energy, Pattern Energy and Mortenson Construction for their generous contributions that helped to make this portfolio possible!

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Digital Disaster

Earlier this year cleaning up in the studio, I accidentally knocked a 3TB hard drive off my desk and it crashed to the floor ceasing to function. When I plugged it back in, it briefly made a grinding/buzzing noise then nothing… It does not show up on the desktop, nor does it show up in disk utilities, making disk recovery impossible. This hard drive contained every single image ever shot with both Canon 5D MkII digital cameras spanning a five year period. Fortunately, I also back up to DVD and jobs get backed up twice, once as delivered, usually full sized tiff’s and as unedited dng files. The problem here is that when I started to back up from the DVD’s to a new hard drive most of the DVD’s wouldn’t play. I installed a second optical drive into my MacPro. Now most of the DVD’s do play, but not all of them (insert expletive here)! Also, I had not backed up to DVD for several months. So, every image created between August and January is gone forever (except jobs), along with those random DVD’s that still will not play (insert very loud expletive here)! I ordered several new internal and external hard drives for the MacPro and one more portable hard drive for the MacBook Pro so, this way I can create multiple back ups while on the road as well and even more back ups once I return to the studio.

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Storm chasing near Eureka, Nevada May 17th, 2015.

All this digital turmoil has made me rethink how I feel about and deal with digital photography. Don’t get me wrong, I like digital as much as I like analog photography. I think of the two as tools, not a preference, not unlike a painter would chose a different paint brush to create a different look. I pick up a different camera to create the effect I’m after. Many of my photographer friends would throw a major wobbler about now, shouting and screaming to defend how much better digital or analog is from the other. I think you’re all very funny! Over the last decade I have been shooting most of my personal color work with digital. All of my black & white has been on film. But lately, for my personal color work I have been returning to film and my Hasselblad. I don’t think it is as much about whether or not it’s digital or analog, but rather how much I really like designing within the square format over a rectangle.

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Lower Columbia River, Washington

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Tahoe, California

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Ibex Dunes, California

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Immigrant Road, Nevada

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Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Photographic Expeditions

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Hot spring hopping in North America’s Great Basin Desert.

Recently I began a blog about our photographic expeditions across North America’s West Coast.

Click HERE for the link to my new blog.

Reno Visual ArtBlast

Both Trish and I have work in the city of Reno’s Visual ArtBlast.

“Ice Fence”

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“Queen of the Night III”

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Our works as well as several other very talented artists will be showcasing their art at McKinley Arts Center.

Show dates are August 18th – September 7th.

Artists Reception Friday September 5th.

Don’t forget we will be part of McKinely Arts Center’s Visual ArtBlast Art Sale Saturday & Sunday September 6th &7th at:

McKinely Arts Center

925 Riverside Dr, Reno, NV 89503

Spring Valley Wind Farm

Back in June of 2011 I was contacted by an advertising agency in San Francisco to document, start to finish the construction process of Nevada’s first commercial wind farm. The Spring Valley Wind Farm is located 26 miles east of Ely, Nevada along US-50.  It’s situated in spectacular country surrounded by majestic mountain ranges. After the wind farm was completed I was asked to create beauty shots of the project, including some with snow. Here are the results…

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12/17/2012 Spring Valley Wind Park

12/17/2012 Spring Valley Wind Park

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121912 Spring Valley Wind Park

121912 Spring Valley Wind Park

Nevada State Parks and a Jackpot Grant

I am a proud recipient of a Nevada Arts Council’s Jackpot Grant. With the Jackpot Grant seed money we started a project of documenting every State Park and Wildlife Management Area in Nevada, this project will take years to complete photographing every park and WMA in every season. On our first trip last fall we traveled along Nevada’s eastern border. We stayed a couple of days at Cathedral Gorge State Park (along with other Nevada State Parks in the area), we had fabulous weather and hiked every trail in the park with camera in hand. Since purchasing a Canon 5D MkII I have found that Canon’s zoom lenses are not that great.  I have sold them and have been collecting prime lenses to replace the zooms. For the shots of Cathedral Gorge State Park I used a Canon 35mm f=1.4L and a Canon 100mm f=2.8L macro lenses. Both of these lenses have outstanding resolution, corner to corner sharpness, and unlike the zooms lenses have absolutely no chromatic aberrations.

Here is a very small sampling of what I shot at Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Click images to see them larger.

Then, just before the New Year we drove south from our home in Eureka, Nevada to Valley of Fire State Park about an hour east of Las Vegas. We camped three nights at Valley of Fire State Park. We didn’t run out of anything to do and would have liked to have spent more time.  Unfortunately, the weather turned on us and we decided to head home before we had acomplished all of the hiking and exploring we wanted to do, so we will return again soon.

Atlatl Rock Campground at night.

Atlatl Rock.

Rock outcropping near campground.

Seven Sisters.

Hike along Rainbow Vista.

Silica Domes trailhead.

Arch Rock Campground.

Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) wandering through Arch Rock Campground.

Ruby Mountains

Earlier this month Trish and I drove from Eureka, Nevada (where we live) to the Ruby Mountains. We drove the back way there, traversing County Road 101 north through Diamond Valley, going over Railroad Pass as the sun came up, then continuing north through Huntington Valley to Jiggs where the dirt road gave way to asphalt. We continued through Spring Creek and drove to the end of the road in Lamoille Canyon deep in the Ruby Mountains. With fall in the air, the weather was perfect for hiking. Packing some food, plenty of water, a storm jacket, and some camera equipment into my backpack we took off hiking with lakes as our destination. We had hiked in Lamoille Canyon before but never with the alpine lakes as our destination.

One of the Dollar Lakes.

Another one of the Dollar Lakes.

The scenery was nothing short of spectacular! We made it to Lamoille Lake, and wanted to continue over Liberty Pass and on to Liberty Lake, but we were hiking with our 14 year old Red Siberian Husky “Ruby” and we felt we didn’t want to push her too far. We all had a great time, especially Ruby, she slept for two days as soon as we got home. We plan on returning again, and again, the photographic possibilities are endless.

This was my first time out with a new Canon 5D MkII, I had just sold one of my old Canon 5D’s and a 70-200 f=2.8 IS zoom lens that I rarely ever used. The new 5D MkII may look like the old 5D but the similarities stop there, they are completely different cameras, a great improvement over the old one. I was using my favorite lens the Canon 35mm f=1.4, I hauled along Canon’s new 100mm f=2.8 Macro lens but never used it (just adding ballast to my pack I guess). The Ruby Mountains were a great place to test out the new camera body, figuring out how the new functions work was fairly easy. I now know that the other 5D I have needs to go away and pick up another 5D MkII as a back up camera, as I will never pick up the old 5D ever again.