Trudy E. Bell, M.A.
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Craig B. Waff, Ph.D., 1946-2012
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Telling a story without words
Wildflowers of the southwest
Human costs of fracking
The secret life of insects
Victoria, Australia
Death Valley
Ohio River floodwall murals
NASA's new airborne observatory SOFIA
Bicycling the C&O Canal towpath
Weather and atmospheric optics
Portrait photography
Black and white film photography
Science Education Summit
Science Writer
Photography
Telling a story without words

Bizarre fierce fog and downward-pressing high winds swung trucks and buffeted cars dangerously at Tejon Pass on I-5 in March 2016 at Gorman, California. When I crested the pass, I was astounded at the wedge of fast-moving angry fog pouring down from the hills at left (east) and up to the right (west).

My goal is for each image to tell the story, or a significant aspect of a larger story: I seek to approach all as portraiture, revealing something unique or characteristic. My photographs have been published in Adventure Cyclist, Air & Space, American Archaeology, Sky & Telescope, The Plain Dealer,  the Science@NASA website, and in books and reports. In this album. the sunrise image of some of the mysterious moving rocks in "the Racetrack," a dry lakebed in Death Valley, looked for all the world like the tracks of a giant game of billiards, including how the impact of one rock against another split it into two (see also the dramatic opener image to my story on Death Valley on the front page of the Sunday Travel section of The Plain Dealer (at the bottom of my page of articles here and in the Death Valley gallery below). This gallery includes "circum-axial leaf trails," which I shot from a child's merry-go-round to illustrate why circumpolar star trails reveal the rotation of the earth on its axis, for a spread in my children's book Earth's Journey Through Space (Scientific American/Chelsea House, 2007) - a photo featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day and halfway down the page on Spaceweather.com - the latter including a short explanation how it was made.

All images in all these galleries are copyright Trudy E. Bell. Editors: please contact me for permission to publish, to see more images, or to obtain print-publication quality high-resolution files and details for captions. (Galleries updated April 11, 2016)

Wildflowers of the southwest

Updated April 2016 to include ALL NEW images from 2016 expedition (March 1 - April 7), including this closeup of a blooming and leafed-out ocotillo on Borrego Road in California.  

After four years of record drought, winter 2016 El Nino rains brought welcome moisture to Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Anza-Borrego, Carrizo Plain, Mojave, and elsewhere. Remembering previous wilflower photography expeditions from 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2015, I flew out for 36 days of photography in southern California and Nevada. The album contains just a few tantalizing pictures (of more than 6,000 images taken) of the vistas and closeups of spring miracles from the 2016 expedition in several deserts and one of California's last native grasslands. [Editors: Contact me for high-res files, for other scenes and flowers from the earlier photo shoots, or for a copy of my 4-page summary PDF "Wildflowers (and Weirdness) in the Southwest, 2016," with more images of wildflowers, the noxious Salton Sea, and the pure strangeness of Salvation Mountain at Slab City.]  All images copyright Trudy E. Bell

Human costs of fracking Seeing is believing. The legal setback distance of a deep horizontal hydraulic fracturing well pad in Ohio is 100 feet. In April 2013, I photographed this drilling rig (NOMAC #73) in Carroll County, near Kilgore, drilling one of six wells on a single pad above a farmhouse. Well pads in Ohio are placed on hilltops, often leveling the tops of sacred Indian mounts (such as the Bond well pad did farther south). This photograph (or variants of it I also took from other angles) has been published in 2013 by The Bent and by the Union of Concerned Scientists (as a cover to this 2013 report, and another image I took of it from a different angle was the cover for this 2015 report). Most recently, it was published in the February 15, 2016 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.

This gallery contains images of a flammable oil train passing near apartment complexes in the University Village neighborhood of Chicago and the tar sands cokers of the BP Whiting refinery in Indiana looming over the houses of nearby Marktown - two of three of my images published in this 2015 NPR story. Also included are images I took in the Bakken shale outside of Williston, ND in 2013 and 2015, as well as pipelines being trenched and compressor stations near other homes. Note also the high school team practicing less than a hundred yards away from a Class II injection well for the injection of highly saline brine (fracking wastewater including toxic chemicals and naturally occuring radioactive materials). All images copyright Trudy E. Bell
The secret life of insects This pollen-laden bumblebee heading for flowers was a dumb lucky shot I got on August 26, 2014. Well, luck has been defined as opportunity meeting preparedness, and I was photographing monarch caterpillars and other flowers and insects outside my cottage in Huron, Ohio. What was dumb luck was that I snapped the shutter at the exact moment that the moving bumblebee and the flowers were in focus!

A year earlier, when I stepped outside my cottage in Huron about 10:30 AM on Sept, 29, 2013, I nearly stumbled over a praying mantis devouring a woolly bear caterpillar. I grabbed my Canon DSLR and photographed the feast over the next hour and a half.
Let's hear it for Canon's L-series glass. The first few images were with my 35-70-mm zoom, the rest with my 100-mm portrait/closeup lens. Caution: some of these photos are not for the weak of stomach. All images copyright Trudy E. Bell.
Victoria, Australia October 2011, I was fortunate enough to spend 22 days in Australia with geologist friend Nicki Agron (who had been living in Melbourne 25 years) and Jim Pollock (vice president of the Astronomical Society of Victoria) and their families. The entire trip was spent exploring the state of Victoria in great detail, seeing places U.S. tourists don't usually go: took the Great Ocean Road into the Grampian Mountains, descending into the Central Deborah gold mine (and visiting the reconstructed gold mine town Sovereign Hill), driving up to the Murray River at the border of New South Wales, seeing the Geelong Wool Museum, and photographing many natural wonders. Jim also took me behind the scenes at Museum Victoria where a cadre of volunteers who call themselves "Dad's Army" are ambitiously restoring the great 48-inch Great Melbourne Telescope. The file names tell the story. I can hardly wait to return! All images are copyright Trudy E. Bell.
Death Valley

Updated with a dozen NEW images from my 2011 expedition (March 25-April 4), including this one of the mud hills of Zabriskie Point at sunrise, looking like sleeping forms under blankets.

By spring 2008, an unusual 3.5 inches of rain had fallen since the previous July--about double Death Valley's usual rainfall. Thus, in late March, I flew out west and spent five marvelous days camping and exploring, photographing the bizarre sliding stones of The Racetrack playa (dry lakebed), wildflowers, ghost town ruins, and other stunning wonders. Four of these photographs were published in my front-page feature of the Sunday Travel section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on March 7, 2010 (story at  http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2010/03/post_20.html ).

In 2011, I returned to camp and photograph geology and wildflowers, also capturing a portrait of a coyote that ventured to within 10 feet of me (acting very dog-like) and an intimate image of two flies locked in passionate embrace atop wildflower buds.

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell

Ohio River floodwall murals

Some 7,000 feet of floodwalls on both sides of the Ohio River in four states have been transformed into vivid windows into a scene beyond or back in time, thanks to the talents of cadres of artists. Three-quarters of the murals painted by just one man, Louisiana muralist Robert Dafford, who paints historical scenes with such three-dimensional freshness that you feel you can step right into the action. Since 2007, I have photographed all the murals in 13 cities in five states; a dozen of the images have been published in Ohio magazine "Concrete Canvases" (story at http://www.ohiomagazine.com/Main/Articles/Concrete_Canvases_4141.aspx ) and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (story at  http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2010/10/ohio_river_floodwall_murals_pi.html ).

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell

NASA's new airborne observatory SOFIA NASA's new Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is just now (2011) beginning its full-up science research missions. In March 2010, on assignment from Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine, I visited SOFIA at NASA Dryden, both in Palmdale (where I was able to walk around inside the then-still-unfinished aircraft) and on Edward Air Force Base (where I captured this image of the mission controllers during a test flight - SOFIA itself is on the largest monitor). One article "Major Surgery" on the aeronautical engineering backstory of heavily modifying a 747SP to airlift a 106-inch telescope was published in Air & Space/Smithsonian and another article on how the 106-inch telescope was designed - including shedding 80+ percent of its mass - to be carried at 41,000+ feet appeared in The Bent.

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell
Bicycling the C&O Canal towpath The dramatic Paw Paw tunnel - more than half a mile long of dripping darkness excavated straight through a mountain a century and a half ago - is one of the memorable features of the 185-mile C&O Canal towpath from Cumberland, Maryland, to Washiington, D.C. Some of these photographs were published as part of my front-page feature in the Sunday Travel section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on July 25, 2010 (HTML version of the story is at  http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2010/07/biking_along_the_co_canal_is_a.html ).

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell
Weather and atmospheric optics Since the 1990s, my motto has been: whenever the sun and any type of clouds are in the sky at the same time, LOOK UP! Surprisingly often, you may see some amazing phenomenon - fog bows, sun dogs, the parhelic circle, crepuscular rays, the circumzenithal arc, the circumhorizontal arc, and much else. I now take a camera literally everywhere and keep a weather eye alert. This photograph of dramatic crepuscular rays extending from horizon past the zenith was taken in July 2000 from Winona, Minnesota; raging forest fires in Arizona and Montana had filled the stratosphere with fine dust, which acted as a rear projection screen to produce dramatic spectacles like this. I also got very interested in dramatic weather events after lightning struck my house in 2003, resulting in a 2004 cover feature "Struck by Lightning" for The Bent on the physics and frequency of lightning strikes (sometimes greatness is thrust upon you!)

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell - check back from time to time for more images as weather happens!
Portrait photography

New in May 2011, including this image I call "a young Joan Baez," which is actually a color digital image converted to black and white.

On request, I have begun to do some commissioned portrait photography. In this album are half a dozen of Tina and David, who requested that I take their engagement photographs in November 2010, choosing for their setting the dramatic Gothic stone Squire's Castle in the Metroparks east of Cleveland, and dressing in tuxedo and long dress for the occasion. Some images are tender, others humorous, as fitting their bantering relationship.

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell

Black and white film photography In fall 2010, thanks to the support of a National Association of Science Writers career development grant, I was able to take a superb class in black-and-white film photography (yes, chemicals in trays) taught by Chris Holley-Starling. The entire semester was directed toward creating a portfolio of about 15 mounted prints, using fully manual mechanical film cameras (I used a Canon FTd that had belonged to my late father) with a 50mm fixed lens, and Tri-X film shot at ISO 200 to capture many of the advantages of Ansel Adams's zone system. Students also were to study the work of a b/w photographer of choice and produce an image in that style. I chose to study the work of noted Time/LIFE and Scientific American science photographer Fritz Goro; this image, in the style of Goro, shows the anatomy of a 19thC bicycle candle lantern.

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell
Science Education Summit

In October 2010, three nonprofit organizations co-sponsored an all-day Science Education Summit to introduce some 400 science teachers to Ohio's new state standards for K-12 science education. I was contracted to attend the summit and write the report; I also ended up being the official photographer, and designing the layout for the 24-page report. Because the biggest change to Ohio's state science standards will be getting teachers to use empirical inquiry rather than lecture, the summit's afternoon breakout sessions gave teachers a chance to experience the method. Thus, in addition to the expected photographs of panel discussions, I wanted the images in the report also to convey the engagement of the teachers. The report, published January 2011, is online at  http://www.smartconsortium.org/user-files/SMART%20summit%20report%20fnl%20ebk%201-18-11.pdf .

All images copyright Trudy E. Bell

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