See Inside the Precious Moments Chapel in Virtual Reality

Visit the Precious Moments Chapel on Google Street View

The Precious Moments Chapel, fondly dubbed “America’s Sistine Chapel” by many, was created by Sam Butcher, the artist, and creator of the Precious Moments religious giftware company. The entire complex features artworks that depict stories from the Bible.

Woohoo! I’m the new Featured Photographer on Sphere!

The Sphere for iOS and Android

Great news today in my in-box from Jamison Ross, the content curator at Sphere, the premiere 360° panorama photography app for mobile devices.

In the email, Ross announced: “We’re celebrating the folks who contribute the most beautiful and engaging content on Sphere and we’ve chosen you to be one of the few photographers we’re featuring.”

Woohoo! This is so amazingly very cool because the Sphere delivers the best possible “remote travel” platform for iOS devices. In fact you can download their free app by going to this link:

On an Android? No worries. It’s also available for free in Google Play:

The Sphere selected to feature my panorama entitled “The Junk Art Sculpture Garden” in Olancha, California (above). Here’s more about it:

Located just off of Highway 395 near Walker Creek is a pop-up public art gallery of metal sculptures and other junk art, including a piece that accepts and offers gifts, and another labeled “Be Kind, Not Right.” The largest piece features a hitch hiking girl with a suitcase. The most colorful sculpture features a plaque with instructions that read: “Give and Take. Put something in give container then retrieve something from take container. You can give without taking, But not the other way around. If you choose to take without giving, the mirror will make you face yourself and the eyes will follow you for ever and ever. Just like in real life.”  Directions: Off of Highway 395 in Olancha. Dirt road on the west side of the highway, just north of Walker Creek Road. Look for the Walker Creek Road sign (yellow and black sign) and then look for the dirt road. Admission: Free.

Many thanks to the Sphere team!

UPDATE: Oops! It appears I’m mistaken about the featured panorama. Sphere is featuring me and my portfolio so when you visit their site you may see other panoramas I’ve taken in addition to the one in this post.

Nightmare Rock in 360° Panorama

Four miles west of Lone Pine, California, nestled in the Alabama Hills along the portal road to Mount Whitney, sits Nightmare Rock. The Alabama Hills are a popular filming location for television and movie productions, especially Westerns set in an archetypical “rugged” environment. Since the early 1920s, scores of movies and television shows have been filmed here, including Tom Mix films, Hopalong Cassidy films, THE GENE AUTRY SHOW, THE LONE RANGER and BONANZA. Classic films include as GUNGA DIN, SPRINGFIELD RIFLE, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, the Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott “RANOWN” westerns, part of HOW THE WEST WAS WON, and JOE KIDD. More recent productions include TREMORS, DJANGO UNCHAINED, IRON MAN and GLADIATOR.

Scotty’s Classic Cars – Arma, Kansas

For 12 years Scotty’s Classic Cars Museum in Arma, Kansas, educated and entertained visitors about the automobile history and its impact on society through the maintenance of exhibitions, publications, collections, records and a library.

Sadly the museum was shuttered in 2011 having sold most of the contents to the Central Texas Museum of Automotive History in Rosanky, Texas.

As of April 2012, eight remaining vehicles are for sale and can be glimpsed in the windows of this panorama.

I truly regret having missed an opportunity to photograph the interior when it was still open however below are some photos from tagged photos on Flickr.

Rose O’Neill’s Bonniebrook Homestead in 360° Panorama

Rose O’Neill and Kewpie dolls

The Ozarks were my destination while traveling along Route 66 in these past few blog posts. Specifically, what I wanted to see was Bonniebrook, the home of Rose O’Neill (1874-1944) an American illustrator, author, artist, poet, sculptor, inventor, suffragette, and creator of the world famous Kewpies.

Due to some heavy road construction en route to Bonniebrook, I arrived considerably later than planned. In fact, when I got there the place was about to close in 30 minutes but Susan Scott, the President of Bonniebrook Historical Society, graciously held the facility open for me and personally gave me a guided tour of the Kewpie Museum and the art gallery.

The museum houses antique Kewpie ephemera including anything you could brand with a Kewpie from dolls to door knockers. The gallery contains nearly sixty original works of art by O’Neill that are a radical departure from the commercial success of her Kewpie line. It’s fantastic! However, due to copyright restrictions no photos were allowed in this part of the facility.

Apolle and Daphne
O’Neill and “Embrace of the Trees”

Afterwards, Susan handed me off to Larry, the groundskeeper and tour guide for the Bonniebrook house.  Both Susan and Larry made my visit so delightful, and I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality!

Because of Susan and Larry’s thoroughness in sharing the life and works of America’s most beloved women artists, my takeaway is that Rose O’Neill was not only a gifted artist but also an archetypal “hippie chick” and a radical free thinker that was way ahead of her time.

Another thing I learned about O’Neill was that she studied sculpture under the tutelage of Auguste Rodin after being awarded the associate of the Société des Beaux-Arts and studying art in Paris in 1906.  The above panorama features a piece is entitled “Embrace of the Trees” that is based on the myth of Apollo and Daphne. It’s worth noting that this sculpture was considered vulgar and distasteful by people of her day.

More panoramas of Bonniebrook including the family cemetery where Rose O’Neill is interred can be seen by clicking through the images below. There’s also a wonderful radio piece about Rose O’Neill from Ozarks Public Radio on KSMU that you can listen to here.


O’Neill Family Cemetery

The Giant Praying Hands of Webb City, Missouri in 360° Panorama

I was still cruising along Route 66 the day I shot this pano on my way to check out the Hornet Spooklight when I came upon the Giant Praying Hands in Webb City, Missouri. Weighing in at about a 100-tons, these hands were cast in concrete by Jack Dawson, who at the time was a 20 year old college student, back in 1972. Due to the lighting conditions, I attempted to pull out the shadows by exposure bracketing (+1/0/-1 EV) the photos and processing them using HDR software. In this case I went with Photomatix because it has a “de-ghosting” feature which means that the moving car on the highway below and  American flag that was waving in the breeze would not render strangely in the final image.  Most of the time I’m not too crazy about HDR photos. The images that are produced using this technique seem too unnatural and sickeningly sweet to my eye but for what I was going for in this shot, I think it works well enough.

Bowling Ball Yard Art – Nowata, OK

It’s nearly sunset on Lollipop Row, a section of Chris Barbee’s Bowling Ball Yard art in Nowata, Oklahoma. Chris, a widower, welcomed us warmly and gave us a tour of all his creations including the Bowling Ball Fence, the Bowling Ball American Flag, the Bowling Ball Rosary, the Bowling Ball Pink Ribbon (commemorated to his wife who passed from breast cancer in 2006), the Bowling Ball Cross, the Bowling Ball House and much, much more. If you’re passing through it’s definitely worth visiting. To view more panoramic photos taken this day click through here.

Coffeyville, Kansas: Where the Dalton Gang Took a Dirt Nap

The Dalton Gang dead
in Coffeyville Ks

It was in Coffeyville, Kansas where the Dalton Gang was gunned down by the well-armed citizens of the town and shot ’em dead on October 5, 1892, after the outlaws were attempting to rob not one but two local banks. 

The town has since erected a self-guided walking tour that culminates with “Death Alley“, the exact spot in which the showdown occurred.

The tour then continues on to where the corpses of the Dalton Gang are immortalized in a true-to-size mural on the sidewalk outside the C.M. Condon and Co. bank. In what can only be described as “black humor” there’s a photo op there in which you can lie atop any of the gangsters and pretend to be dead.

It’s sick, weird and ridiculously funny all at the same time. It reminds me of the line from “Harold and Maude” where Maude goes: “A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life.”

Winganon Cement Mixer Space Capsule in 360° Panorama

On the roadside near East 300 Road and South 4130 Road just off of Highway 169 in Rogers County, Oklahoma, lays what appears to be an old NASA space capsule.

The Facebook page of the Winganon Space Capsule elucidates: “The mixer wrecked when the Winganon bridge was being built in 1959. The cement hardened and the truck was hauled away while the mixer was abandoned due to weight. It has become a local landmark and roadside attraction. Over the years it has been painted many times and the current theme is as a NASA escape pod / nose cone. The current theme was done on 9/25/11 to celebrate the 5th wedding anniversary of a local couple.”

“Spirit Tree” Joplin’s Tornado Landmark in 360° Panorama

The Spirit Tree - Joplin, MO

A year ago a deadly EF-5 tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, Missouri, killing 161 people and damaging or destroying about 7,500 homes and 500 other buildings.

Despite it all, the city is well into a significant recovery mode but there is still work to be done. Along the tornado’s path at the intersection of East 20th Street and the Kansas City Southern Railway tracks, where Dillon’s grocery store used to be, now stands the colorfully painted “Spirit Tree” — a new landmark for the city of Joplin.