Saturday, September 11, 2021

The 20th Anniversary of September 11, 2001

If you are in the United States you are probably encountering something today in regards to the attacks on the World Trade Center twenty years ago. I know everyone is doing it, but I wanted to reflect a little to pay tribute to those who lives were lost in the tragedy, but also to the first responders and to the men and women in the military that served and continue to do so. I feel I do not do it enough, but nothing I have done on here could be done without those who have served in the military. By God's grace, I am a human who was born in this country at this time period. Had I been born in other places on planet or at a different time period my life would be very different. I probably would not have the type of free leisure time for blogs, pictures, and videos. 

About an hour ago I was able to watch a short motorcade that was delivering twenty-three tons of wreckage to be displayed at the Nixon Presidential Library:

It is hard to believe it was twenty years ago. Where has the time gone? Like most people around during that time I remember exactly what I was doing when I saw the news. It was kind of pathetic, but I had worked a really long day before on September 10th, 2001. I was exhausted. I did not have to be up as early the next day so I slept in an extra hour or so. I then lazily got online and saw the news. I remember just watching the news most of the day and talking to family. My martial arts instructor called letting me know classes would be cancelled that night. There was a lot of fear that, even being on the west coast, that the areas I live near could be attacked.

Life is a lot different now. In some ways I feel much safer than back then, but at the same time the recent issues with leaving Afghanistan make me worried of another potential attack. Those in charge have A LOT to answer for on that. I am reminded of a famous line Bane delivered to Batman in The Dark Knight Rises: "Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you." I do think it is important that we remain vigilant against people who hate western views of freedom and democracy.

Friday, June 18, 2021

June Lake on June 1st (The Silmaril Series)

In a blog entry a few months ago I uploaded a picture of June Lake I took in the fall. I wanted a picture of that area during the fall season. I mentioned the issue there, and in another picture off the June Lake Loop, is during the fall season the sun is a lot lower in the southern direction as it moves east to west during the day. So, you are either not getting enough sunlight or you are taking pictures into the sunlight. 

I had the opportunity to go back to this area at the beginning of June. I thought I might as well do another drone shot here:

Obviously, there was a lot more light to work with in this picture. I was there roughly the same time of the day as the shot from October.

In a different direction, let me state a few things personally and how the next few months will probably go. From where I am at, it appears that we are getting near the end of lockdowns and issues with Covid. From the beginning I have been massively skeptical of what we are being told about this pandemic. It is kind of the way I feel about global warming. I do accept these things actually exist, but the stats, faulty projections, and responses to them are what put me into skeptical mode. I do not think we will find out the full story of this pandemic for a few years. 

In any case, it does appear things are opening up again and there will be more to do. In the short term, I want to visit as many places locally as possible. Some of the things I want to do are not things that will necessarily show up on the blog, but some will. This is just for my own sanity due to the last two years of my life.  However, in the long term I want to visit a few places out of state that I am currently researching.

So I will probably not have much for the next few months on here. That is pretty typical of how I have been in the past during the summer. Usually I am out somewhere working on some project to show on here during the fall/winter/spring anyways. I do have some completed projects from last year that I have postponed as well. 

Hopefully, you, your family and friends, can get out wherever you are at and start enjoying the real world again. It really is not healthy to be stuck indoors looking at videos screens all day. Turn off the cell phones, tablets, and computers! Get out there again!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Boba Fett Fighting in the Arena (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

 (GPS:  N34° 16.615 W118° 38.220)

Alright! The final blog entry in this series. I am finishing this one up in the same area we were at last time, but you get to see more of the directions this time. Here is a screen capture of Boba fighting in one direction:

My picture shows the big rock in the background that is slightly out of focus above to focus on Boba:

Another screen capture to compare with this time focusing on the big rock:

Now looking towards the other side:

My picture:

The above picture is a bit off if you compare them. This is the price I paid of just using my memory and not having actual pictures with me. To get this one right I would have to move to my left and it would line up better. 

The other issue I had was I was fighting the sun and wind a lot here. I had to really battle a lot of the elements here to get this right for pictures and video. I knew not everything would be exact, but good enough to show the areas and how they filmed her.

That wraps this one up. Let me give you a few tidbits about this:

1)I was actually tipped off on this one by a friend that knew I did a lot of work at Iverson Ranch and Corriganville in the past. At the time I was basically told something big would be going down at the park here, but we had no idea it would be related to Star Wars or The Mandalorian. In any case, he knew I would keep my mouth shut. 

2)I saw this episode the morning it came out. Okay! This was it. There will be hiking and filming locations for this! Let's do this! However, I knew from my times at Iverson Ranch and Corriganville it probably was not the best time to visit in December/January due to sunlight and wind issues. So, I waited a few months.

3)I wanted to be really positive about this one. I hope it came across that way. I think the writers, directors, cast, and crew did a great job here. I know a bunch of the online fan base can be rather toxic, but that is nothing new to any franchise out there. I have seen that with the fans and the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien in this past year. As the new Amazon series comes out I suspect that will get worse. With that said, I have found that I just like to stick with the things I like and not really worry about the fan base. After all when I watch a movie or read a book it is just me watching or reading. No one can take that enjoyment away. There is very little I can do with decisions companies make other than not give them my time or money if they do something I do not like.

4)There are some things I wanted to keep as mysteries for this one. The video was supposed to be an April Fools' joke connected with the blog. Yet, I wanted the video to be a bit subtle, and not "HEY EVERYONE! Look at my Star Wars video!" While I do not pay attention to everything Star Wars out there like I would have as a kid, I do see a lot click bait for views types of videos out there.

5)The director had the right idea about what he did with the Boba Fett character. I was one of those kids in the late 70's that sent away five proof of purchase seals from the figures (with postage) to get this new toy figure that would be in the new movie in 1980. I remember it took many months to get my Boba Fett toy figure, but when I did I thought it was the coolest thing! Then the character had a small key role in that movie and the next one, but we never got to see him in all his glory. So, here we are forty years later, and no matter what happens in the future the kid in me appreciates this episode.

6)Finally, an inside joke with the video. The labrador retriever seen on the pillow case during the end of the video was the family dog, "Jango". I loved that dog, but really we should have called him, "Jar Jar Binks".

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Bitchute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Arena (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

  (GPS:  N34° 16.615 W118° 38.220)

In this blog we continue where I left off in the place I nicknamed the arena or amphitheater because it is an open area with rocks around it. Kind of like you could watch all the action by standing or sitting on the nearby rocks. Keep in mind these are my made up nicknames and nothing official. It just makes it easier to describe than saying, "That area." We continue with Fennec fighting off stormtroopers:

My picture:
All the above rocks can be seen a different angles during this part of the episode. However, something is not quite right with this next screenshot:

My picture:

This is the big picture that gives you an idea of the arena. You should be able to mentally zoom in with the screenshot to match up the pictures. The rock they are huddling next to is obviously another rock prop brought in. That rock does not really exist here. The same thing happens in the next screenshot:

That rock Boba was standing on just behind him here is another prop that was brought in. Compare to the right half of the following picture:

Fortunately, we have enough real rocks around to enjoy this area. Next time I will wrap this one up with some pictures of what they did with Boba Fett and a few tidbits of my experiences here.

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Bitchute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Focusing on Fennec (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

 (GPS:  N34° 16.615 W118° 38.220)

Today I am going to be focusing on the Fennec Shand character which I assume is played both by a stunt double and actress Ming-Na Wen here. From the last blog entry on the Stormtrooper Hillside Assault/Boba Fett's Golf Course location we head back up the trail about ten to fifteen minutes right before the initial confrontation area I started these blogs with. The rest of what I am going to show will be just above and behind the confrontation area.

This is part of the big stunt of the episode. Here we have Fennec running down a big rock formation as the stormtroopers are trying to blast her. 

The picture above is the rock formation. The screenshot portion is focusing on the very stop of the rock formation. So you have to mentally zoom in here to match up the rocks. An interesting thing I should point out here is right behind me is a place it looks like one can sit down at. I did not do it, but the rock is cut out enough to look like a throne or chair you could sit down on.
This screenshot shows the same rocks, but from a higher different angle. This screenshot also shows where I will be spending most of rest of this series down on the other side of the picture.

I had just been standing on those rocks. You should be able to match up the rocks here. The difference is that when they were filming the camera they used would have been much higher.

Moving over to the other side of these rocks we get to where the major action ends in the episode. I nicknamed this area, the arena or amphitheater, because it is an open area surrounded by rocks. This is where the GPS coordinates are at. Here is Fennec's jumping backwards shot:

My picture:

Not exact, but you should be able to match up a bunch of the rocks. I think I was standing on the rock they had her jump back on.

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Bitchute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)

Friday, April 09, 2021

Boba Fett's Golf Course (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

 (GPS:  N34° 16.350 W118° 38.170)
The above GPS coordinates are right next to the bush I refer to in the last blog. From there I just looked south-east. It is the same area that the stormtroopers assault the hillside. This open area I like to refer to as "Boba Fett's Golf Course".
My picture gives more of the area:

You should see that hanging rock again. It shows up quite a bit in this episode along with the other rocks. They had unarmored Boba Fett (actor Temuera Morrison) doing a lot of fighting here. I show in the video another look if you pan the camera left here.

There were some moments of this part of the episode I tried to find. I took a lot of pictures and videos wandering around all the rocks in the area. Those ended up being elusive to me. Someone will probably come along and find those spots eventually. I kind of wondered if some CGI or other rock props were used because that would have thrown me off.

Finally, I did show that wide screen shot in the video that I knew I had the right idea, but did not quite get it right. I say I could have gone higher or maybe it was an Aerial shot. My opinion now from looking at my footage and pictures is that it was an Aerial shot. I do not think you can climb higher there to get them to line up. I did want to fly my drone here, but the wind was really bad. I do not know if I will get back there anytime soon, but if the conditions are right I would try that. 

Next time we go back to an open spot very close to the confrontation location. 

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Bitchute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)

Thursday, April 08, 2021

The Stormtrooper Hillside Assault (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

 (GPS:  N34° 16.350 W118° 38.170)

This location takes about ten to fifteen minutes from the trailhead. It is really the first open area that flattens out after a short climb on the trail. A good portion of the stormtrooper action takes place here. In the video I start here standing next to a bush. GPS coordinates get you to that bush. 

 In the episode they have two stormtrooper transports land near the Razor Crest. These are obviously CGI, but the landscape is real. In the following picture you can see the bush in the middle of the picture that the GPS coordinates are set next to:

 If you take a minute or two you should be able to line up the rocks in the screenshot with my photo to see where the spacecraft were supposed to be. You can see the trail on the upper left side. In the video I say something like, "the upper left hand corner." I meant, the upper left side of the ground portion. During the hiking portion of the video I stood over there and panned around.

In the above picture, if I head down below and turn to my left I would get close to where this stormtrooper was with the launcher.

 Close enough for our purposes:

 If I turn to my left from this point we see where the stormtroopers were going up the hillside:

I mention in the video that the hanging rock was my key for this one. The one that is "hanging" on the other rocks on the right side of the picture.
This is why I could get away with not taking pictures with me on this trip. There were certain key rocks I had in my memory. That rock has a unique look to me. Once I found that rock I knew what pictures and video needed to be taken to line everything up. 

In the next blog entry I will just move backwards from the above to show you what I nicknamed, "Boba Fett's Golf Course".

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Bitchute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Fennec Rock (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

This the conclusion of the confrontation area. Here we go:

In the episode we find out that Fennec was up above while the Mandalorian and Boba Fett confront each other. She is ready to snipe baby Grogu if things do not work out.

This is the easy one. Like you would naturally expect from watching the episode, just looking up from where we were in the last blog entry you get this interesting rock formation. It turns out this was the key for me finding this area.

What I did to prepare for this hike was take a bunch of screenshots from the episode and study them. However, I did not take any of them with me. I wanted to be able to enjoy the hike and the areas without constantly referring to a video screen. In the old days, I might print out pictures to take with me, but these days you can take your cell phone with you. I did not do that for this hike. From experience and using my own techniques I kind of know what to expect in looking for movie locations. 

I say in the video something like, "I burned the images into my head." I just studied the images enough that I kind of knew what I was looking for. There was a certain unique look to this rock. I actually passed by it, and then looked back. It was right off the trail! I saw the above rock formation, and I knew I had the right area.

The downside of not having pictures with me was that I could not get exact precise match ups between screenshot and my pictures. I was not too worried about that for this project. I pointed out the adjustments I would need to make from the summit a few blogs back to match up with the episode. There are a few pictures coming up that I will mention some adjustments that I would make if I were to go back. 

I am going to take a day or two off from this. When I come back I will be showing the Stormtrooper Hillside Assault Location that is about a ten to fifteen minute hike back down from this area. See you down the trail...

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Bitchute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)

Monday, April 05, 2021

The Confrontation (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

 (GPS:  N34° 16.665 W118° 38.245)

 In the video there is some "sleight of hand" where I actually show you the two key spots to let you know you are in the right area of where they filmed. It is during the hiking portion of the video. IMO, you do not really need GPS coordinates to find where they filmed, but I listed the one above to the confrontation area anyways. This is the easiest location to find. This blog entry and the next one will show you why; the video does it as well.

 So, here is the Mandalorian hiding behind a huge rock! I took A LOT of pictures of all these areas, but the following is similar to the one I showed in the last blog entry. It is a much bigger shot of the area compared to the screenshot above.

Note: I am actually standing right next to where Boba Fett was looking down on the Mandalorian. Keep that in the back of your mind for now because I will come back to this.

If you look closely you should see some rocks in the background match up with the rocks behind the Mandalorian. There is even a unique looking rock that is lying on the ground like cement you can walk over. There are a few of those, but we are focusing on the one behind the Mandalorian.

However, there appears to be two rocks missing! Yeah, when I watched the episode I was almost certain the one he hides behind was some sort of prop (or, as I say in the video "set piece") they brought in. Keep in mind over the years of hunting rock formations in the Alabama Hills, the Simi Valley area, and other areas movies have been made I have had to obsess over the smallest details of locations to find them. So, my own intuition from my experiences is that the rock did not really fit in here. I am talking in "the real world" sense, I am not saying they did a bad job of adding that for the episode here on a fictional planet. I thought how they used the rock prop was cool. I wish it were there because it would be a really cool photo opportunity of standing behind it. Still, we have enough here anyways so I was happy to get this shot.

The picture above is pretty close to where the unarmored Boba Fett (aka actor Temuera Morrison) was standing looking toward the Mandalorian. Let's look at the Mandalorian's perspective toward Boba now:

 My picture:

This is good enough. Btw, one of the issues I had to think about in this area is the time of morning I was here. I was also here during the end of February about a year after they filmed here. The sun does not get high enough during this time of the day. Part of the hilly cliff above on my left from this perspective blocks the rising sun. Keep in mind they filmed this scene with a lot of shadow too because of the time of year they filmed here. I did want to keep that mostly shadow look rather than have the area partly shadow and partly open to the sun. Now if I went during the summer at this time in the morning or later in the day I suspect the sun would be completely lighting up the area. Since I am trying to show you where a movie location is I was okaying with emulating the shadow on the area. If I were trying to give you a more artistic picture, then I would want a fully lit up area so I would probably wait until later in the day, or wait until the summer.

You will notice Boba is standing by the rock that looks split in two or "two split rocks" (as I say in the video). Those rocks are definitely real. Remember above when I said to keep that perspective in the back of your mind. That was where I was standing for my first picture above. I do it in the video as well.

 Skipping ahead:

I will show where Fennec (actress Ming-Na Wen in this picture) was above in the next blog. For now, notice they came forward. I am going to add another picture. Please note that both my pictures work for both screen shots. I am just giving a few different perspectives shots so you see different parts of the area.

I point this out in the video, but the one thing that really makes this easy is if you are on the trail you walk right by it! Boba Fett is standing right by it! In the above pictures you can see the trail going by on the right side of the picture. 

In the next blog I will show you the rock Fennec was on and why it was the key to letting me know I had found the area.

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube version)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (BitChute version)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee version)

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Hiking on Planet Tython (Hunting the Mandalorian Series)

Happy Easter! 

 This is the continuation of my previous blog entry where I was on the summit of Rocky Peak in Simi Valley, CA. A weird thing happened as I was at the summit. After enjoying the views I saw a little creature on the summit rock:

 It was baby Grogu from The Mandalorian! I then looked south, and mysteriously this image of the spacecraft Slave I came to my mind:

I realized I was actually on planet Tython
Alright, enough of my April Fools' foolishness. This blog entry starts my Hunting the Mandalorian Series of blogs I will be doing over the next week or so. I will be showing some of where they filmed the episode, "The Tragedy" from the second season of The Mandalorian. Normally, The Mandalorian is done with lots of CGI, but this episode was done on location with some CGI enhancements. Keep in mind there will be some spoilers if you have not seen the episode.

Rocky Peak ends up being the fictional equivalent of where the seeing stone was for baby Grogu in that episode. Now in the episode the seeing stone area is done with CGI from what I can tell. Stating the obvious, there is no literal seeing stone like that on the top of Rocky Peak. Yet, the foundational setup shots and surroundings are Rocky Peak and the park.

As for the above screen capture of the episode and my picture, it is not perfectly lined up, but you should be able to see what is going on here. To get it right I think I would have to go down from the summit, move a little to my right, etc. It is pretty close just from the summit though. Take a minute or two and try to match up the features. Some are not obvious, others might not match up due to some possible computer work they did, but it is interesting what the alien planet Tython looks like compared to Simi Valley. I was amazed they did a shot like this for the show.

I will spend more on the following location in the next blog entry, but I will start it here. In the show the Mandalorian heads down from the summit after he sees Slave I come in:

My shot:
You will notice some of the rocks are missing. Those rocks were props that were brought in. The temple pillars seen in the background are obviously CGI. You can get to that area, but it is not Rocky Peak. Rocky Peak cannot be seen from here and is much further on the trail.

Special note on how I am doing this series: Normally, I do all the blog entries first over a few days and then upload the video last. This time I am doing the video first and then the blogs after. It is going to take me about a week to do this. The pattern I have set for myself over the past fifteen years is to never do more than one blog entry per day. At the same time I have a lot of pictures to compare for this one, and I do not want to upload too many pictures per blog entry. So have some patience on this one. The video pretty much covers everything I will be blogging about, but I will probably add some more information as I get to each picture.

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Youtube)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (BitChute)

The Silence of Rocky Peak (Odysee)