Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday Series 52: Week 2

Theme:  'MAIL'

I like this entry at A Rural Journal (who hosts the Sunday Series 52 photo challenge) -  It asks the question:  Will kids in the not-too-distant future look at a mailbox and ask 'what the heck is that'?  With USPS being billions of dollars in the red, and people having seemingly little need for traditional mail anymore, it's a reasonable question to ask.  You could make a long list of obsolete items (or items heading toward obsolescence), including typewriters, watches, classified adds in newspapers, newspapers themselves, maps, phone books, phone booths... you get the idea (feel free to add to this list!).  So I thought about my week 2 photo assignment, and here's what I settled on.

The thrill of in-person mail delivery... if it goes away, it will be missed, and a little piece of who we are as a society is in danger of going away with it.

Stamps... I'm not a collector, but find myself occasionally hanging on to commemorative stamps that I like.  Here are a few examples I found in my top desk drawer.  I had the privilege of seeing Sonny Terry live once... a treat I will never forget!

Sadly, while 'on assignment', I learned that the main post office in my city will be closing in about a month. It's has beautiful old Spanish architecture, with a large rounded doorway, high ceilings, and red tile roof.  However, my favorite thing is a mural on one of the interior walls that you can enjoy while you wait in line.  It shows life in old Orange County, CA, with young people picking oranges in a grove.  I've lived here long enough to remember all the miles and miles of orange groves.  Good luck finding any now!
Safe Deposit Boxes... what will we use when these are gone?

Wonder what will become of the building the post office is in after it closes?  And this wonderful old mural??


Friday, August 26, 2011

Skywatch Friday!

Rear view mailboxes - CA desert, 29 Palms, CA

for more beautiful skies from around the world!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Time to Kill

My first attempt to post using my phone!  It would be cool to post on the go, without a computer. Traveled to Oakland out of Orange County yesterday, and at LAX right now with an hour to spare before my Tucson flight, so thought I would try out this new iPhone (only had it a couple weeks). I use it mainly to check my work e-mail, but it definitely has some fringe benefits (including some great photo apps)!

Update:  Well, back from Tucson.  Posting from the iPhone didn't work because it doesn't give me the option to upload pics from the phone... the only options are 'computer' and 'web', so I need to get the pics from my phone to my computer.  Oh well, it was a good idea.  Here are some iPhone pics from yesterday and today.  They were all taken using the Hisptamatic app on my iPhone, which is designed to make the photos look like they were taken on a cheap, plastic Instamatic camera (light leaks and all!).
Always a good feeling after you've made it to the airport, get through
security, get you seat, and get that first cup of coffee!

Seat 7 A... Saddleback mountains down below.

The big flag at Orange County airport.  You can't see it, but there is a big
statue of John Wayne in front of the flag that the photographer is capturing!

LAX, Terminal 1:  Camacho's has the best breakfast burritos I've every tasted!

Flight was delayed by 15 minutes... here it is pulling into the gate.

Waiting to depart from Tucson... afternoon storm coming in.

Great clouds flying out of Tucson today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fun Night Photos

Five minute exposure... tripod (guess that's obvious!); remote shutter release; iso on 200.  Guess that's it.  My wife took the photo while I grabbed the flashlight and shined it on the Jeep's windshield (5-10 seconds on each side) to get this effect.  This photo was taken toward's the east, with Copper Mountain College and the town of Joshua Tree being the dominant lights.

The photo below was a 10 minute exposure, facing south towards Joshua Tree National Park.  Not sure I'm totally pleased with the photo, as it has kind of a blurry look to it.  But kind of cool that you can see the movement of the stars over the long exposure... the dots become lines!  The wispy looking cloud is the tail end of the Milky Way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Series 52: Week 1

I'm trying out a photo challenge.  Never done this before, so let's see how it works out and if I can stick with it.  Here's the challenge:  Post a series of at least three different photos of the same subject each week.  The photos must be related to a prompt provided at (this weeks prompt is red).

I didn't have to go to far for my red photos.  We have a bottle brush tree in the front yard that is in bloom, and I thought it might make an interesting photo.
To improve the original photo, I cropped it and added a texture (below).  The texture softens the background and just makes the overall photo more interesting.
I tried photographing at a different angle (front) to try to get the red brushes highlighted.
Finally, let's add a texture. This one is a silvery texture with lots of lines that gives the photo an interesting finish.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Denver to Cheyenne

I had to attend a meeting in Cheyenne, Wyoming, last week.  I've never been before, and was told the easiest way to get there is to fly into Denver, rent a car, and drive about 2 hrs north to Cheyenne.  So that's what I did, but I intentionally got into Denver early (around noon) so I would have plenty of time to take photos along the way, and explore some of the back roads, before meeting colleagues for dinner.  It was a fun drive, lots of farm country and dirt roads, and very different from my urban existence in S. CA.  Oh, and I took a ton of pictures!!  Here are a few of my favorites...
Wild sunflowers everywhere along the roadsides.
Huge field of sunflowers... unfortunately, oriented facing away from me,
and there was no what to get to the other end of the field!

There were grasshoppers EVERYWHERE! This guy hitched a ride on my
windshield for quite a while!
I spent a lot of time (and took a lot of pics) at this old abandoned
farmhouse... really interesting area.

This caught my eye because of the missing
pieces of diagonal glass.

Pierce, Colorado

Nunn, Colorado

A community graveyard outside of Nunn, Colorado.

Had to climb over a barbwire fence for this shot
and the one below!

Really interesting old cabin remnants on the high plains just outside of Wyoming... Wow, if these wall could talk!

Beautiful horses and sunset... they came right up to me for a pet as I was taking their pictures.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Old Postcards from the Attic

Well, I've made something of a breakthrough in my journey to become a better photographer.  I see so many photos I admire on Flickr, and I frequently see people refer to "textures"... using textures in their digital processing to enhance the photo in one way or another.  I've been trying to teach myself Photoshop (I'm using a book + anything I can glean from the internet), but couldn't figure out textures until just this last week.

It's very cool... there are a ton of free textures on Flickr and various blogs (check out Skeletalmess at  and Shadowhouse Creations at
A big thankyou to both of these sites... the postcard textures used here are from the Shadowhouse Creations blogspot.

OK, get to the point... a texture is basically a photo of anything... stucco, cement, old paper, blank post cards, whatever, that you blend with your original photo.  It changes your original photo in really interesting ways.  I think I might like to do a series of old postcards of desert homestead cabins... I certainly have a lot photos to use, and I like the old-timey look!

Anyway, here are my first few creations using textures. Stay tuned, more to come!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

1959 Morris Minor

My sister over at
ran across this little car with a 'for sale' sign on it today.  She immediately had visions of she and her husband tooling around in it on the weekends.  She even named it ('Blue Belle', if memory serves, although I might be off on that).
I must admit, a really cute car.  Her enthusiasm started to infect me.  Two-tone, with dark blue fenders on a light blue body... very classy! This photo doesn't do it justice!  Before long, I could see in my minds eye my sister and her husband riding around in Blue Belle on the weekends! Heck, I might even want to borrow it and take my wife out for a spin!  And then reality started to set in...

This thing is a real fixer!  Lots of body rust, holes in the floorboard, no rear window, all the rubber seals on the windows and doors were rotten, etc, etc, etc.
Well, it's fun to consider the possibilities, but I think reality started to hit us all about the same time.  Anyway, probably no Blue Belle in our future, but fun meeting the owners and taking these pics!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Skywatch Friday!

Prickly Skies in 29 Palms, CA (Part II!)

for more beautiful skies from around the world!