Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We Are Bronzed

As a young boy I wanted one thing from my Grandmother above all else.  Not the gene for hereditary baldness.  Not the sixth sense that haunted the women of her family.  Not the inherent craziness that has forever transgressed on my mother’s side.  I wanted her bronzed baby shoe.
From the late 1800’s and extending into the early 1900’s, parents often had the shoes of their babies and infant children bronzed as keepsakes.  In the case of my Grandmother, her parents bronzed the pair of shoes she wore when she first learned to walk.  She had the right shoe.  There was a small hole worn into the sole at the baby toe.  I often took up the shoe and admired it.  I tried to imagine how and where she walked to develop that hole. 
Grandmother left the bronze shoe to me as part of my inheritance.
My grandmother was born in 1902 in Washington State—descendant from a family that came to the New World on one of the Mayflower’s sister ships.  Grandmother strolled along boardwalks twirling a parasol.  She knew Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War Two.   Into her late seventies, she had long hair that reached beyond the small of her back.  She did not learn to drive an automobile until into her fifties.  While in her sixties, following the demise of my immediate family, she and my grandfather took in me and two of my sisters and finished raising us.  I was with them from seventh grade on.  During the last few years of her life, I stopped by Grandmother’s house on my way home from work every weekday afternoon so we could share a cup of coffee and talk about our day and world events.
Today, the bronze shoe resides in a hutch in my dining room.  I still take the shoe into my hands on occasion.  When I close my eyes, I hear my grandmother’s voice.  We are drinking a cup of coffee and chatting again.  We are bronzed.
Below are photos of my Grandmother and her bronzed shoe.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Great Salt Lake

A photograph I snapped of the Great Salt Lake as I flew away from Salt Lake City yesterday afternoon.  The colors have been altered.  I somewhat like the photograph, though it is not pretty in any particular way.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Man Buying Bananas in Salt Lake City

Martha and I stopped by a Smith’s Grocery in Salt Lake City to buy a few items, including a bunch of bananas.  That’s where we saw “the man,” there at the banana display.  He was holding a bunch of bananas aloft and doing unspeakable things to them.  I swear, if those bananas were a person of any sex and the man was doing the same things to them, the man would have been arrested and locked-up for molestation.  I froze in place and watched the man squeezing, poking, sniffing, and, well, no other word for it, caressing the bananas. 
He would not leave them alone.
Martha quickly grabbed her bananas and we whisked away.  But I kept looking back.
The man was still mauling the bananas.
I stopped Martha half-way to the check-out and told her to look back.
The man was now showing the bananas to another man.
As we turned and walked on I had a little better understanding of where some of the over-reaching laws developed by law-makers come from.  Mostly, though, I was worried that the man was going to put the bananas back in the display and leave them there for some innocent housewife to pick up and take home to her family.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Finally, a nice day!  Photos I took at Madeleine Church near downtown Salt Lake City yesterday.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dumb Laws

Every state, including Montana, has some pretty dumb laws on the books.  They are often relics resulting from isolated incidents that spurred over-reaching law makers into action.  Here are few examples from Montana’s statutes:

1.      Pretending to abuse an animal in the presence of a minor is against the law.
2.      It is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck unless a chaperone is present.
3.      It is illegal for unmarried women to go fishing alone.
4.      It is illegal to use speed-dial on the city phone system in Billings
5.      In Helena, it is illegal to annoy passersby on sidewalks with a revolving lawn sprinkler.
6.      The game of folf may not be played at night within the city limits of Helena.
7.      Balls may not be thrown within the city limits of Excelsior Springs.
8.      Worrying squirrels will not be tolerated in Excelsior Springs.

--Mitchell Hegman        Thanks to
Final Note:  I have never heard of Excelsior Springs.  I am wondering if it is a ghost town whose laws now haunt us.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


A man filled with conviction may, with certainty, walk the length and breadth of his belief.  A man willing to embrace differing views will learn to fly above.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The News: Not Important

The news will not become important until cats start reading newspapers and insist on watching the news.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Today, I am posting another of my photographs from Vietnam.  I snapped this photo as the van I was touring in descended the steep and narrow mountain road from Sapa to Ban Ho Village one foggy morning.   The pole the “lineman” clung to was planted on the downhill side of a steep mountain at the edge of the road.  I had no more than three or four seconds to catch the photo as we sped by.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, April 22, 2013

Terms of Communication

Give me a man who talks to walls before you give me a man who is convinced that God is talking to him.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, April 21, 2013

These, the Facts I Learned Yesterday

These are the facts:  A scrap of paper suspended in sink-water can be pretty.  An actress without make-up can be ugly.  Cats will jump smack against the wall if you drop a cooking pot on the floor near them. 
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Safety in Numbers

If there is safety in numbers, what is in the alphabet?
If there is safety in numbers, what number is the safest?

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, April 19, 2013

Solar Array

Pictured today is a photovoltaic array installed in Butte, Montana on April 17, 2013.  This array, when collecting full sunlight, should produce enough power to light about forty 100 watt light bulbs.  I framed the photograph at the pitch angle of the roof to give an understanding of the “feel” experienced by the installers on the roof. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just This Morning, Just Now

The dark chevrons of morning birds drop and vault at the edge of the arroyo near my home.  I catch glimpses of them from the windows of my home as I sit drinking my morning coffee.  I am listening to Seven Mary Three and the Stone Temple Pilots on my stereo.
A year ago, I stopped watching the morning news.  No more of that.
When I was a small child I imagined that I was born a hollow sphere.  Life, I further imagined, was the process of filling the sphere with memories and ideas.
I started with ideas first.  I would become a great Archeologist and travel to Egypt to sweep sands away from history.  I would collect a sample of every stone and insect.   I would invent a way to stop the wind from blowing.  I would wear the same blue jacket from cradle to grave.
Soon, memories began to fill me.  Toy trucks to real ones.  Building this home.  Climbing mountains.  Learning the names of plants.  The certain memories of long-time friends and loved ones vaulting up through me like the birds outside my home.
And the birds outside are just now turning the colors of new flowers as they cross through the fingers of sunrise light reaching into our mountain valley.
Some of the colors are yet to be named.
--Mitchell Hegman


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bay of Descending Dragons

Ha Long Bay (Bay of Descending Dragons) is located along the coast of North Vietnam, not far from Hanoi.  The bay, which adjoins the Gulf of Tonkin, is filled with thousands of limestone islets that emerge from the sea like gatherings of overturned stumps.  Some of the formations in the sea are mostly hollow.
While on a junk boat tour of the bay in 2009, I had an opportunity to explore a cave within one of these islets.   I captured the stark photograph I have posted today from inside the caverns.  Looking up, I saw people crossing a walkway through an opening in the wall of the cave.   I waited until a couple crossed through the light before taking the photograph.  Though a color photograph, the clear lines of darkness and light give the appearance of a black and white photogram.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Star Stuff

Your body is merely a collection of recycled junk from earth.  Common dirt and water.  But the dental work in your mouth—the caps and fillings—those are made of star stuff collected from the heavens.  Gold and platinum.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, April 15, 2013

With Sadness in Her Eyes

The eyes of a rainbow trout are not fetching—they are all black pupils and suffer in the light.
The eyes of a rattlesnake never blink and are therefore without soul.
The eyes of a chameleon are uncoupled and cold as dead volcanoes.
The eyes of all birds are precision-built but wholly reflecting.
The eyes of a woman who has known sadness are the most beautiful.  The sadness allows for access.  The eyes of a woman who has known sadness are like windows with rows of sheer curtains inside.  If you look long enough, you can watch the curtains slowly waver and part until you see, at the last point of light within, the young girl yet capering inside.  And the young girl is always dancing—her long dress swirling and splashing up all around her like sea waves finally come to shore.     
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thomas Jefferson Quote

In celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday (yesterday), I thought I might share one of his more concise quotes:

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” 

--Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, April 13, 2013

When Martha Walks

She walks like a single oak leaf released from the treetop and swaying gently from side to side as it slowly drifts down to find a calm place in the grass.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lake of the Returned Sword

I took this photograph in March of 2009 as I walked to dinner along the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake.  The city of Hanoi, Vietnam shutters and honks all around the lake, but a quiet calm manages to survive along the paths immediately surrounding the water.
The name of the lake, when translated to English, means “Lake of the Returned Sword.”   I did not have a tripod with me while we were at the lake.  To capture this image, I had to place my camera on a low stone retaining wall at the shore and hope for the best.    
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Advice in Addition to “Never Run With Scissors in Your Hand”

-- Never force-feed your pet grizzly bear.
-- Always remove your ice skates before driving.
-- Don’t borrow more money than your spouse can afford to repay.
--Never use a 100 foot bungee cord on a 75 foot jump.
--A wise man does not hire a demolitions expert whose motto is: If a little is good a lot is better!

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1432 (I Love You Too)

In the age of tweeting, texting and instant messaging words don’t matter as much.  Not actual words.  Not words with capital letters.  Not words with both vowels and consonants.  “R u chillin?” now qualifies as a sentence.  1432 translates into “I love you too.”  IDTS means “I don’t think so.”
Slang and abbreviated forms of communication have always been with us.  But the trend to truncate today is widespread and runs deep into the use of language.  The language is often blunt and without beauty.
We are shrinking our vocabulary.  As a whole, we simply don’t use as many words.  As example, the average teen in America (and much of the rest of the world) has experienced a dramatic decline in their overall vocabulary in the last fifty years.  Fifty years ago a teen commanded something in the vicinity of 24,000 words.  Today, the average teen has mastered somewhere near 10,000 words.
Clearly, the languages used for texting and tweeting are of value.   They offer a convenient and concise form of messaging when such is required.  Sometimes you need to communicate quickly.  As John Lennon said: “When you’re drowning you don’t think, I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I’m drowning and come and rescue me.  You just scream.”  But what if we lose both flourish and nuance in our present state on constant expedience?  What if words like tintinnabulation vanish?  Shouldn’t we all use that word at least once in our life when describing the sound of church bells?
Maybe Jarod Kintz put it the best: “Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called.”
--Mitchell Hegman   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reasons for Not Growing a Beard

I don’t grow my beard because, even at this advanced stage of my life, some portions of my face fill-in rather sparsely.   Basically, my attempts at growing a beard make me look as though I am overreaching—like a kid who just started sprouting a few stray whiskers letting his mustache and sideburns fly.  Several women that I know can actually grow a much better beard than me.  But they refuse to grow them because they come out gray.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, April 8, 2013


Curtains in the last light of day and turned sideways.   Colors enhanced.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Opening Doors

Sincerity and good humor will earn you passage through most doors; a big crowbar will work on the rest.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sitting in the Sun

Warmed by mid-morning light, my arms and my face feel new.  And when I close my eyes, I can imagine something miraculous coming from this day.  Maybe the horses will gallop alongside my truck as I pass by their pasture on my drive into town.  Maybe, somewhere, every passenger will emerge alive from the dark and scattered wreckage of a crashed plane.
Under this sun, on this day, anything is possible.
--Mitchell Hegman 
A photo of the sun—through fog—taken from my front yard

Friday, April 5, 2013

Nuclear Arms Don’t Kill People, People Pushing Buttons Do

For a very long time so-called “gun advocates” in America adopted the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”  That phrase was pointed at the idea that banning firearms was silly and ineffective because the availability of firearms was not the problem—the problem was with people. Make that, a few undeserving criminal people.
Defining those people?  Well, we never quite got that far.
And controlling access to firearms in your own home—that is a personal matter, correct? 
I got to thinking about that phrase, “guns don’t kill people,” in light of the renewed action by some to initiate “gun control” following a spate of mass murders committed with assault weapons.  What if we, as a nation adopted that phrase more broadly?
We shall go with this: “Nuclear arms don’t kill people, people pushing buttons do.”
By default, every nation should then have the right to nuclear arms.  If things get a little messy with that, we can sort out the details later. Everyone has the right to self-defense.  This is a particularly interesting thought given the present negotiations over nuclear capability with Iran and the wobbling threats from Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
Should forms of control be placed ahead of the right to nuclear arms?  Is this an infringement of rights?  Do rights of self-defense exist only in America?
Background checks anyone?
And my new favorite bumper-sticker: “Guns don’t kill people.  People with mustaches kill people.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, April 4, 2013


While brushing my teeth yesterday morning, I thought about a day, many years ago, when I had to apologize to my wife.  I could not recall details of what happened—the exact infraction requiring me to apologize.  But I recalled my apology: “Honey,” I said, “I was only doing what you told me to do instead of what you meant.”
We both ended up laughing like crazy.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

City Killers are Small

The “city killers” are small.  They are not big and easily seen, like a tiger in the jungle.  They are more like bullets.   And that is why they are killers.  We do not detect them until they are hurtling at us with no way for us to avoid calamity. 
On February 15, 2013 a city killer exploded over Russia.  That one, the Chelyabinsk meteor, was the most well-documented meteor event in history.   The Chelyabinsk meteor was also—by far—the largest such event since the 1908 meteor explosion over Tunguska, Russia, which knocked down something near 80 million trees in a remote forest.   A plethora of video recordings emerged immediately following the Chelyabinsk event.  And, frankly, that meteor scared the hell out of everyone, including scientists at NASA and a host of others standing at the small end of telescopes watching the firmament.
Those in the know have been anxiously watching another class of asteroids called “world enders.”  The city killers frighten these observers.
Collaborating from various places around the world, astrophysicists have located and tracked something like 95 percent of the world ender asteroids flung all around us.  The world enders are more than a half-mile in size and large enough to be found at a distance.  Once found, they are monitored.  A world ender could, at a minimum, lead to mass extinction.  Some credit a world ender with the mass extinction of dinosaurs.   But the smaller asteroids—those less than a half-mile-wide (the city killers)—are unnamed and untracked.
The city killer that entered the atmosphere on February 15, 2013 was estimated at about 50 feet wide (about the size of a bus) and weighed about 10,000 tons.  It streaked into our atmosphere at 40,000 miles-per-hour before exploding in the air 10 to 15 miles above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.  The explosion was estimated to be 20-30 times more powerful than that of the atomic bombs detonated aver Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Windows were blasted out of many buildings in the area near the blast.  At least one building experienced a partial collapse.   About 1,500 people were injured by flying objects propelled by the shock wave following the blast.     
Interestingly, the same day that the Chelyabinsk asteroid (turned meteor by entering the atmosphere) exploded over Russia, a much larger city killer passed us by in a near-miss.  That Asteroid, travelling at about half the speed of the one that entered our atmosphere (but still faster than a bullet) was about half the size of a football field and weighed about 130,000 tons.  The asteroid crossed between Earth and the orbital shell where our satellites are placed in the space above us.  The asteroid zipped past Earth 5000 miles closer to us than our own satellites.  That asteroid, by the way, was a chance discovery made by amateur astronomers.
Maybe we could nudge one of the world enders off-track at a distance with a nuclear warhead launched from our planet and thus live to drink another glass of Scotch.   But the city killers are small and difficult to detect.  Some of us might want to keep some Scotch close at hand in the event of a bright flash of light in the sky.    
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Frost from the Darkness

I captured the photograph I have posted today a couple of months ago along the roadside near my house.  Before posting, I radically altered the midtones and slightly adjusted the contrast.  I wanted the grass to seem as if emerging from darkness.  I also like the strong patterns created by the arched stems.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, April 1, 2013

They Sing

Sometimes, my life is so quiet, I can hear my crystal wineglasses sing for just an instant when they are struck by the rush of air as I open my cupboard.
--Mitchell Hegman