Ben Sollee at Home

Ben Sollee at Home

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Heli-rappel proficiency

On my last day on the McGuire Fire I had an opportunity to watch the Boise Helitack practice their rappelling at the helibase.  The crew most practice every two weeks so they are proficient.  I grabbed my cameras and took a few photos of the exercise; the following photos were taken with my Leica iiia with Kodak 400 TX B&W film.

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People watching at Dragon*Con

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Start of June

Some photos from the start of June from me, it’s been awhile since I really grabbed the camera and made some photos.  Here are my photos from a trip down to Jacksonville, most of the photos were taken along US 23 on my return to Atlanta.  It’s always good to travel and take some photos.

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Working the Limpia Creek Canyon on the Livermore Complex

Here are a few photos from my recent fire assignment in west Texas.  I am way behind on catching up on my photos so forgive me.  Anyhow here are a few photos of the hotshot crews working on the fire in the Limpia Creek Canyon section of the fire (Division Foxtrot). 

More photos to come soon.

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Georgia Marathon on my street.

Every year the Georgia Marathon goes right by my house, it looks too crowded for my taste and I already have my one marathon planned in November.  I say one because I think after one I will just go back to running distance for fun.  I enjoy running but I am too competitive so I think it’s best if I just run for fun.  I picked up my old Nikon and took some photos of the run up the hill here.  The neighborhood really comes out for this race which was as interesting to watch as the runners faces as they headed up the hill here. 

I took some photos with my Holga, so look for some photos when I get them developed.  Now get out there and run!

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Last photo from my trusty companion.

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I took this photo on my last night in Las Vegas in January.  It’s the last photo I have from my trusty sidekick the Nikon D700 that I have owned for over two and a half years.  We have traveled together most all the time; the chances were very good that my camera was with me.  You miss so many photo opportunities if you don’t have your camera with you whenever possible.  Even if I was just walking down to the grocery store I would bring it along.  I had shot over 20,000 photos with this camera since I purchased it in August 2009. 

Where did my camera go?  Did I break it or sell it?  Well the sad reality is that someone stole it from me, actually it was three people who took it from me.  As I was walking home from the neighborhood bar on Thursday January 26th I was mugged.  I had never thought of myself as an easy target for muggers, I am a relatively big dude.  What I never really thought about was the fact that a gun really neutralizes your size advantage pretty quickly. 

As I made a corner along the street I was walking I noticed someone walking on the opposite sidewalk keeping pace with me.  This stuck out as odd for two reasons, I walk this street all the time and I can count on one hand how many times people walk on that opposite sidewalk, secondly this person was much shorter than me and was hustling to keep up with me.  I looked over at him and pointed at him, letting him know I saw him which I do often to let people know they aren’t getting a jump on me.  At that moment as I turned my attention back to walking forward and picking up my pace the male across the street yelled “now, let’s do this”.  I heard someone start running at me from behind; I turned on the person running at me from behind and prepared to fight them.  The man running at me was lighter than me but about my height.   I swung at him, if my memory serves I hit him at least once, he was more interested in grappling and grabbed my jacket.  The smaller male hustled over and pulled out a pistol and cocked it and said “you don’t want to do that.”  Realizing that I really didn’t have much option I handed over my phone and wallet quickly.  I didn’t want to give them my camera, and I don’t think they knew I had a camera, it was under my jacket and it wasn’t obvious, but they started reaching in my pockets of my jacket and quickly realized I had something bulky in the jacket.  They made me open the jacket and pulled my camera off my neck.  Then they were sure I was hiding more things so they started reaching in all my pockets, I wouldn’t let them take my keys even though they tried to reach in that pocket twice.   All of a sudden the third male, the lookout, shouted that it was time to leave and they ran off with my jacket, phone, camera and wallet.

For a second I just fell to my knees stunned.  The adrenaline and the anger were over powering.  After a second I got up and went to the closest house and knocked on the door hoping to get someone to call the police for me.  No one came to the door but they did come to the window and looked out at me, it was only eleven on a Thursday evening, but they were obviously not sure if it was safe to open the door.  I went back to the street to look for other houses with lights on to see if they would call the police, within less than a minute after my mugging two bikers showed up on the street,  each coming from either direction.  I quickly explained what happened and asked if they could call 911.  One of the bikers had just seen the muggers run down the next block and described where they went to the other biker so that biker could go see where they went while he went to the local video store to use their phone.  The bicyclists took off their separate directions while I waited for the cops to come.  Within the next minute a silver grand prix came down the street in an obvious hurry, but they made a wrong turn and went down a dead end street right down the street from me.  They quickly turned around and sped by me, I figured this might be the guys that just robbed me so I looked at the license plate and committed the first 4 digits to my memory.  Shortly after the car passed a neighbor across the street came out and told me he called the cops and he had seen the mugging.  Shortly after that the bicyclist that had went to see where the muggers went came back and told us that he was pretty sure it was that car that the muggers were in.  We waited for the cops and gave them all the information we could, no word on them finding any of the burglars and I am not really holding out much hope.

I didn’t think this would shake me that much, but it has.  I am so cautious now when I walk and any noise behind me when I am walking startles me.  It may take some time to get over that trauma, but I won’t let the muggers win, I am still going to walk in my neighborhood I will just be more cautious now.

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