Friday, August 27, 2010

This Week

Moon Rise at Prairie Creek

I had a fun and interesting Wednesday. I spent the afternoon with a reporter from The Voice of America. He is in Humboldt County to do stories on Betty Chinn and about the local area. I sort of just walked into the situation, and soon became a tour guide for the reporter. His name is Jeff Shu.

The Elephant Tree taken in total darkness at ISO 6400

I took him to the lagoons, and to Prairie Creek State Park to show him the wild Elk and the giant redwoods. I took him to my favorite tree - "The Elephant Tree". He was shooting a video travelogue, and soon had me wired for sound, and was video taping me. I found out immediately that I don't like being the subject. I much prefer being the videographer or photographer.

We stayed out until quite late so that we could catch the moonrise over the giant redwoods. I think he got some nice video, and I will be curious to see if any of it is actually used in a report.

I spoke with Thupten yesterday. As of then he still was unable to access his bank account. I gave him some information that may help him establish his right to access the funds. He does think that once he has money that he will be able to purchase most of what he needs. Right now he is borrowing money to feed his family. For what ever reason the military is no longer supplying food.

I thank everyone who has contributed funds and prayers for Thupten. As soon as we know if Thupten can get to the money we sent we will  then know what we need to send (thank you for your trust in me to do the right thing for them). We all agree that it is best if he can buy items there because of the expense of shipping from here (the second package still has not arrived - I suspect that it went by surface mail instead of air). The really good news is that their spirits were lifted by the package that did make it to them. They received shoes, clothing, jackets and toiletries. All of which made them feel loved and not forgotten.

I will post an update when I hear back from Thupten. The phone system and his access to it are limited at best, so I may not know for awhile.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ladakh Update

Happier Times

We received donations of cash and clothing for Thupten's family. I met with several people today, and we chose some basic clothing for each family member. We were able to get them boots, socks, under garments, pants, shirts, fleece pull overs, and jackets. We also shipped some basic toiletries. The shipping cost to Ladakh via airmail was over $300.00, but we felt it was necessary. Regular parcels take up to three months to get there, but these should make it in ten days. That is if they are even hauling mail to Ladakh. We were gifted with money to pay for the shipping. Thanks to all for your donations, and gifts. You are actualizing the business of "paying it forward". Thanks too to those who told me they want prints.

I try to imagine what my life would be like if some morning I am forced to run outside in the cold evening air with nothing on but bed clothing, and then to watch everything I own disappear. I wonder too what it must feel like to know that your neighbors were missing and likely at the bottom of huge mud flow.

The bigger picture for me is that Thupten and his family are three out of at least 17 million people in Asia who are affected by floods this year. There is a lot of misery to go around.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ladakh Flood

Lamo, Tenzin Angmo, and Thupten in Their Home Before the Flood
I just got off of the phone with Thupten in Ladakh. He and his family are all alive, but bruised and battered. They were awakened at one in the morning by the sound of the flood washing down at them. They ran from the house in just their underwear as it and all their belongings were swept away. They lost everything. They are currently recovering from their bruises and cuts while living in a tent.

Shops Like This are Gone
The two things that they have going for them is that Thupten thinks he will be able to access his bank account (we can deposit money there because we use it to pay for Tenzin Angmo's school expenses), and we can ship items to Lamo's sister at the college in Leh. I will also accept donations. I don't know what is the best way to help them. I don't know how long it will take to get items to them, and I don't know what they will be able to purchase there. That is why I am taking this on two fronts: cash and goods.

I am trying to raise money to send to them, and am now offering any photograph (except for the edition prints at Gallery Chartreuse) for $100.00 matted or $150.00 framed for 12"x18" images in 18"x24" mats. All proceeds will go to either their bank account or for the purchase and shipping of clothing and other essentials. I have about a dozen framed pieces here, and more that are matted. I will make a special album on Face Book with many of  the offerings.

Tenzin's Grandmother and Tenzin at Thiksey

Friday, August 6, 2010

Print Sale for Ladakh Releif

Here are examples of some of the prints that I will custom print in an effort to raise funds for Thupten's family. I am offering these at an image size of 12.5" x 18.5" mounted and matted at 18" x 24" for $100.00 each plus shipping.

Matho Gompa
Thousand Stupas B&W

Thousand Stupas

Nubra Valley

I do have more to offer for this purpose. Please contact me for more information.


Tenzin Angmo

I found out this morning that there was severe flooding in Ladakh. You may know that I visited Ladakh two years ago. I stayed with Thupten Sopa and his family in Cholomsar near Leh, the main city in Ladakh.

Tom and Thupten at Stakna Gompa
View from their roof
Tenzin's School on the Indus River is probably flooded.

I ask for your prayers for the people of Ladakh. They are one of the last strongholds of Tibetan Buddhism, and the town of Cholomsar is a primary refugee area for people from Tibet.

I was unable to contact anyone in Ladakh, and don't know of my friend's situation. I do know that his home does not have a water-proof roof, and is right next to a "dry" wash. When I was there Thupten told me that "it never rains in Ladakh". Well it did while I was there, and it did so yesterday with a vengeance.

I am pledging the proceeds from sales of my series "Ladakh Meditation" toward relief for the Sopa family. Please contact me directly or through Gallery Chartreuse if you feel compelled to own a print. I am open to more creative pricing on these prints.

Please feel free to contact me at You can see examples of the works at or at

Jullay, Tom

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Tao of Smoochie Skin


In yesterday's blog entry I posted that I rephotographed "Smoochie Skin" (a small shop on Ninth Street just off of the plaza in Arcata). I first photographed it April 7th of this year. That was the first time that I ever knew of its existence. I was drawn to its small size, and pleasant colors in the early morning light of that Spring morning.

Yesterday while photographing on Ninth Street, I noticed that the sign was gone and that the shop was empty, and likely closed for good. That got me wondering. Who were the players involved, and for how long did Smoochie Skin exist?

I did a search for it on the Internet, but came away empty-handed. That helped to increase my curiosity about this little shop. I don't really know why I am interested in this story. I doubt that I would ever have gone into the store unless I was searching for something to buy for a present, and then I would have had to have known that the store ever existed.

This is an example of why I like the project that I am working on - documenting the store fronts of our small city. I am sure that most of us will live long and fulfilled lives without having ever known what happened to Smoochie Skin. I think that this story could represent some of our lives. Some of us make a big splash, and others just come and go.

Anyhow, I am grateful for this opportunity to learn, and to digest the lesson that Smoochie Skin has for me - once I find out what that lesson is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Arcata Project

I hit the streets of Arcata again this morning to continue photographing the early morning city scenes. It was overcast, drippy, and dark. The light sources were the street and store lights, and a small, but ever increasing amount of ambient sky light. This mix of lighting created a unique pallet of color that I think typifies the Arcata mornings.

I started with longer shots, but it did not take me long to go in closer on some of the subjects. I am quite pleased with this shot. It makes me think of the Laurie Anderson song "The Day The Devil Comes To Get You".

I made it over to G Street, and to the Arcata Theater. I did some portrait shots of the theater before going in closer. I worked with the composition of the doors, but did not realize that there was more to be extracted from the scene until I got home to edit the photographs. I found a crop that I love, and I will go back soon to retake the tighter shots, but for now here it is.

This is another reason why I love the new camera. This shot is a very small part of the original shot (about 1/3). I still believe in getting the full frame for edition printing, but this would do in a pinch.

On Ninth Street I revisited "Smoochie Skin". I see that the building is now vacant, and I assume that Smoochie Skin is history (I do hope the people involved are doing well). I took some shots of the Arcata Fire Station and some more business on the south side of the plaza.

It was a quiet morning on the plaza today. A semi truck making deliveries to Brio, some travelers taking the Amtrak Bus out of town, a few parked cars, and not much else - just some old guy with his camera and tripod trying to be creative.