Saturday, December 10

Happy Accident on the Carrizo Plain

When I told a friend that I was heading to Carrizo Plain with a birder, she asked if I made bird photographs. Not me, I said. I am not equipped with the gear or patience to make a practice of capturing birds in pixels.

But every so often, life hands you an opportunity that works. So here is my best bird photo ever (and that probably applies to future endeavors, too).

When we first encountered this red tail hawk (Nan identified it), it was perched on a fence post smack in front of us. It was patient and posed while I grabbed my camera and adjusted the exposure settings.

Oh yeah, shooting through the windshield in autofocus does not work.

Manual focus worked but don't look too close as focus is not my strong suit. Besides the hawk had given up posing for me and returned to the business of scanning the landscape for dinner.

Shortly after that, something spooked the hawk and it took off then settled down just left of the car. Just outside my window! I quickly snapped off a few frames (checking the focus as I went) and magically caught some good ones. Please - click the panel for a better view.
What a happy send-off from the Carrizo Plain.

Thursday, December 8

From The Basin Through The Valleys To The Plain

Up San Marcos Pass to the overlook and this sharp-eyed California grizzly among poppies.

Pause at Bradbury Dam to examine Lake Cachuma. The water level is troubling - so low.

But, on this autumn morning, green promise in the oak landscape.

Down into Los Alamos Valley, we hurried to lunch then sped off across the Santa Ynez Valley.

We drove Tepusquet Road both ways before turning toward Santa Maria Valley.

Does Tepusquet come from the Spanish "tepuzque" (in English "tease").

Tomorrow, Carrizo Plain.

Thursday, September 15

The Winstons and the Moon

On Winston Ridge
Alison and I went out for a walk. We were looking for a bit of weekday conditioning and originally thought about Mt. Baldy but circumstances led us to adjust our aspiration. I had lately been introduced to the charms of Winston Peak and Winston Ridge so we went there instead.

Here are some of my photos from that afternoon hike.

Not on the Backbone Trail but...
We walked out to the Ridge first and dawdled over lunch so that we got the great afternoon into evening light on our walk back.

Hardscape and ephemera

Inspired by Steve Anderson of
backlighting renown

A nice shot of Alison creating a masterpiece in the sunset glow.

Lunar work in progress.
Thanks to the Meanderthals in general and Don Siminski in particular for introducing me to the Winstons. Don encouraged me to hike to the summit as our morning hike wound down. I proceeded with a few others who turned off on a logging road short of the top. What I found was a beautiful boulder-laden summit, fairly broad and so inviting.  I'm looking forward to visiting again in the winter and especially in the spring.

Thursday, September 8

In the Patriarch Grove

Saturday evening was beautiful high in the Patriarch Grove.

Saturday, August 20

First Frames At Home On Cashio Street

When I am being a responsible photographer preparing for an outing or another occasion that will generate a lot of photo files, I charge all my camera batteries, clear my memory and reformat my disks. It feels good to start fresh.

But I find that empty space in a camera is a vacuum. Photos want to rush in so I am compelled to snap the shutter. Here now!
When I am lucky, there is nice light in front of me and a tidy counter or something interesting on the refrigerator door.
The images in this collection are some of those casual, spur of the moment, homely snaps.
In truth, I like to have that comfortable image at the front of my memory, literally a home base.
Home is the spot where, when the new shots run out, I find comfort in the familiar. It's a happy place.

Tuesday, June 7

Compost Composition

That cabbage and peony arrangement from my May 29th post looks good even on the compost pile.

Sunday, May 29


Last weekend, there was an event at my place that called for a table-top shooting studio and flowers. And so all week, I've been able to take advantage of the "May gray" light coming from my north window with flowers in the studio.
This morning I met the arrangement you see at the top and this afternoon, I've been experimenting with various details.

Could it be Rorschachian? What do you see when you look into the peony?

Friday, May 27

My So-called Studio

When Alison and I launched a Camera Committee outing to pay homage to Ray McSavaney by exploring the flower market and creating still life photos with flowers, we had no idea how it would turn out and who would even participate. We just wanted to make it a real opportunity to do good photography. The unforeseen bonus for me was a studio came to life in my living room.  

Ray's flower workshops culminated in a bunch of folks gathered in his studio near a huge north-facing window with backdrop stations that Ray made from PVC pipes. I took the idea of the PVC pipe station and enlarged it but I thought we would be shooting in open shade in my backyard under a pearly May sky and depending on the weather made us nervous. At some point I realized that I have pretty nice light in my living room. It took me more than thirty years to figure that out so I think Ray whispered in my ear. 

All week long, I've been playing in the "studio" you see above. Some results are rolling in. I think they are expressive.

This chaos in Sunflowers reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh

These remind me of a wedding party - right down to the little kids underfoot.

This makes me think of Edward Gorey. Such a curious little flower.

Tuesday, May 3

Went there

After all these years, finally visited Mt Lee and the Hollywood sign.

Thanks to Mary!

Saturday, April 9

Toroweep Point

Here is an image I never expected to find on Toroweep. I hope it gives you a moment of awe as you imagine standing in that alcove. It looks like a place where you might expect to find an ancient dwelling or art that has withstood the ages. At least an echo.

In fact, that arch is only about 5 inches high. The tiny chamber would shelter nothing much larger than a chipmunk.

Hope I fooled you

Saturday, February 20

Two Snaps

The Horsetail "Fire" Fall is a phenomena, an annual event with mixed results and a "happening" In Yosemite National Park. Nature "schedules" it every year for late in February. People show up in El Capitan Meadow or just across the Merced and wait for the late afternoon golden glow. People have been known to backpack up the south wall of the valley to get a fresh perspective.

Driving to Yosemite, everyone hopes that the waterfall will be robust, fed by ample snow pack, and that the western horizon will be clear. If it all goes as calculated visitors get to see a magic trick with the sunlit glowing waterfall backed by the shadowed wall. If not, well come back tomorrow. Or next year.

The event is well-publicized. In a good year, it gets a lot of attention from local, regional and national press and, of course, bloggers galore. That brings out the crowds. In a promising year, it's a party most evenings. Normal people bring a picnic, maybe a bottle of wine and cheese to go with the show. They might bring lawn chairs - at least a blanket. They show up anywhere between 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm and socialize.

Well-advised photographers bring their longest lenses and something to rest them on. Serious photographers bring really big glass and hefty tripods and backup gear. They stake out their favorite locations starting around 1:00 pm. Then they socialize and kibitz.

This year I was, as usual, in the former category and enjoyed lovely walks from shuttle stop 7 to my locations in time to chit-chat and perch in the shadow of  taller, larger, sometimes camouflaged set-ups. (Camo? Yes, I think they look for birds and other wildlife when they are not shooting waterfalls.)

Friday was promising but fizzled as the sun slipped into a cloud bank. Saturday was very good, though. There were cheers and applause amongst the clicks and buzz of shutters. And there were sighs of relief. 

Back at the lodge people will be passing around the camera or maybe a tablet or phone with the bast shots. Then they'll start planning for the next big event and maybe even book a week in Yosemite National Park for next year's firefall. 

Wednesday, February 17

Yosemite Snow, Full Moon and Fiery Horsetail Falls

I am heading to Yosemite on Thursday. Well, on Thursday, I’ll overnight in Fresno or maybe Oakhurst so I can drive into Yosemite Valley on Friday morning fresh and alert. I’ll have two nights in a heated tent cabin in Camp Curry (sadly soon to bear some forgettable name). For Sunday night and any after that, I’ll move to the Upper Pines campground. 
I've been talking about late February in Yosemite for about two years now.  I went last year and got these photos, but there was no snow and little water. Horsetail Falls, the focal point for this outing, was barely a trickle so there was no fiery-falls-at-sunset shot.  This year conditions seem to be ripe.  Michael Frye tells us that now it just depends on the atmosphere - we need clear skies on the western horizon to allow the setting sun to work its magic. The forecast is promising.

Last year we had this sliver of a moon.  This year the full moon occurs on Monday morning, so shooting the moon on Friday and Saturday could offer an alternative to Hosrsetail Falls if the crowds are too much.
I hope to visit this site off the Northside Drive, too. I hope I can find it again! I can do a better job with the composition and it should look completely different in the snow.  It makes me think of Ray McSavaney and his Walking Trees in winter and again in spring

Frankly, I hope I get some great shots early so I can consider whether to linger in the tent or drive home early. A little true winter can go a long way with me. Sometimes I feel like the camping part will be a piece of cake because I am well-prepared (thanks to Steve Anderson and the Meanderthals for the chilly San Gabriel walks and thanks to Vaughn and Allan for the winter camps in Mojave National Preserve), but then I think of the wee-hours bathroom run. Brrrr! I have to remember the reward paid in Yosemite stars!