Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Handcrafted Camera Strap Cover

So, my sister over at Lap Dog Knits gave me a really nice surprise the other day.  It's a camera strap cover, and until I used it, I didn't know what I was missing!  My Canon DSLR standard issue strap is really uncomfortable on the back of my neck, but now I'm in camera strap heaven!  Cool, eh?  I'm thinking Lap Dog Knits might have a new business opportunity!?  Hope your week is going well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rattlesnake Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park (Part 1)

What a great weekend!  My legs are so sore I can't walk without groaning.  I went on a great hike with my son.  I won't share details other than to say this was a very special opportunity for me, and one I will fondly remember.  We hiked an area in Joshua Tree called "Rattlesnake Canyon".  My wife and I had visited this general area a couple months ago (here's the link: Rattlesnake Canyon!) and I made a mental note to come back and actually hike up into the canyon.  Here's a map in case you're interested.  From Highway 62, exit at Indian Cove and drive into the campground.  Follow the road as far east as you can go (approximately 1 1/2 miles).  Generally parking is easy, and there is a picnic area with restrooms at the end of the road.
Be forewarned:  This isn't a hike so much as a scramble over rocks and through the wash.  No real trail to follow, lots of steep, rocky slopes... definitely wouldn't classify it as a beginner hike, but well worth the effort if you are able to scramble over steep rocks!  You actually get into a small area that can be described as a slot canyon, which is a narrow area carved out of solid rock by millions of years of water.  The only slot canyon I've ever seen was at Lake Powell... no idea I had one right in my back yard!  The rock formations are incredible as well.  The canyon goes into the heart of the Wonderland of Rocks, which is one of the most spectacular areas of the park.
Start of Rattlesnake Canyon.  Indian Cove road in the background.
After a short hike in the wash, you quickly reach this "wonderland"
This was a little too steep for my abilities, so I chose a different route!!
Small cave area with water... and nice reflections!

Exiting the cave (again, I chose a different route!)
Beautiful slot canyon.

I managed to follow my son this time!
Yours truly checking out the rockscape

Some people will go to any length for cell phone reception!
Macro shot of pine burl in the sand.

The varnish on this rock has all eroded away except for this "arrow"
that appears to be pointing the way!

Another macro shot... desert thistle.
For some additional great macro shots, check out 
Lisas Chaos / Macro Monday

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trying Out New Gear - Night Photography

My sister over at Lap Dog Knits celebrated a birthday recently and one of her gifts was a tripod.  So wanting to take it for a spin, we dashed off to take some night photos of downtown Fullerton.  Check out her blog for some great shots!

Same photo as above, using a filter in Photoshop called 'glowing edge'.  Groovy, baby!

Night shot inside the courtyard at Villa Del Sol in Fullerton
Looking east... Fullerton rooftops, Harbor Blvd.
Close crop of sign from above photo... not sure where the flare came from!?
Old wooden door opening to Harbor Blvd., with light streaks from cars.
Abstract photo of my photography partner / sister!
There were some spotlights in the area producing these strange light spots in the sky.  Linking to Skywatch Friday.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Elephant Foot Palm with Jewels!

The elephant foot palm is so named because it has a large bulbous base.  It is also known as the Pony Tail Palm (I guess no explanation needed).  I refer to it as the Dr. Seuss palm because to me it looks like something out of Green Eggs and Ham.  Turns out it's not a palm at all, but a member of the Lily family (go figure!).  It is native to the deserts of Mexico.  My wife has one in a pot in the front yard.
Elephant Foot Palm: Beaucarnea recurvata 

So why am I blogging about this?  I was in my office Monday AM after a rare S. CA overnight rain, looking out my window, and noticed that the water drops on the leaves were being lit up by the sun.  I felt compelled to put on the macro lens and take some photos.  I was going to save this post for the next Macro Monday, but I'm so happy with the photos I can't wait that long!!

Droplets look like little jewels the way the morning sun was hitting them.

This is a crop from the photo above.

Looks interesting even in B&W!

Please check out more great wet posts at 
studio waterstone

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Photos From Last Weekend

I usually try to think of a theme or topic for blog posts, but drawing a blank for this post!  The photos I want to share are pretty random, other than they were all taken last weekend in either 29 Palms or Fullerton.  So without further ado...
Old School House in 29 Palms.  There's a nice display and gift shop on site.
Worth a visit if you're in the area!
Old Auto Club sign from the Morongo Valley area
Moon over JT
Church on Utah Trail in 29 Palms
Narcissus flowers
Water drop off Desert Willow leaf 
Backyard rose - used my macro lens and tripod because of low light
Same Rose, different angle and texture.

Happy Macro Monday, and have a great week!!

Check out other great macro shots at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

White Tank, Joshua Tree National Park

Sunday morning my wife and I got up at 5 AM to take the Jeep over to Joshua Tree and get some sunrise photos (pretty good for a non-morning person, eh?).  It rained out in 29 Palms most of Saturday, and Sunday promised to be clear and cold with some great clouds.  I had a 4WD road picked out to explore, but made the executive decision it was too dang cold to drive a vehicle without a top.  Instead, we took the Ford and went over to White Tank campground, grabbed the tripod, and took these shots.  Hope you like them.

Taken a little later in the AM after the sun was up.
Saturday night, after the rain, clouds were moving fast, the moon lit up the clouds, and the stars were coming out... really pretty night.  Happy Skywatch Friday!!

For more great skies from around the world, please 
check out Skywatch Friday

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn Gold: Ginkgo biloba

Here in S. CA we don't get much of a fall...certainly not compared to colder climes.  But the Ginkgo trees on our street turn a bright yellow this time of year before losing their leaves, which provides a nice fall feel.  Also, Ginkgo are really interesting from a botany perspective.  They are described as a 'living fossil' because there are no closely related living  species.  The trees have separate sexes; there are male trees and female trees (seriously!).  The fruit and seeds from female trees are particularly esteemed in Asia.  Seeds are used to make a dish called congee.  Ginkgo nut dishes are served at special occasions such as weddings and the Chinese New Year (as part of a dish called 'Buddha's delight').  Ginkgo is also used for medicinal purposes, such as memory enhancement (although the data is conflicting on this).  Funny story: My neighbor had a female tree in her front yard that would produce fruit every year.  Koreans in our neighborhood would shake the tree, climb the tree, and generally do some crazy things to get at the fruit (making a mess in the process).  My neighbor complained so much that the city dug out the female tree, which was the only one on our entire street, and planted a male!

Ginkgo leaves

Happy Macro Monday, and have a great week!!

Check out other great macro shots at

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Trestles / San Onofre State Beach

I was driving south on the 5 freeway on Monday and had one of those weird urges to pull off the road and walk down to the beach.  Not being one to ignore my urges, I exited at the far south end of San Clemente and took the hike to Trestles.  This is a really interesting area.  It's one of the very last "old California" beaches that you have to hike to and that is totally undeveloped.  It also happens to be one of the best surfing spots in So. CA.  If you follow the news, you know there have been lots of people fighting over what to do with this area, and you see bumper stickers saying "Save Trestles!"  I really hope the surfers win, and that Trestles remains exactly as is.  It's about a 1-mile hike each way, and if you get a chance, I highly recommend you follow your urge and pull off the road and take this hike!

A word about the photos.  These were taken on my iPhone and I used the first image below as the background layer for all of them.  My thinking was that when you hike to Trestles, you feel a little like you've stepped back in time.  I wanted these photos to have that 'old California' look (whatever that is).  My wife said a couple of them looked like old film photos that have been bleached out by the sun... perfect!!
Background layer. I placed my photos
on top of this layer in Photoshop.
The start of the hike.  The ocean is just barely noticeable
on the horizon.  To the left (south) are the San Onofre nuclear
power plants, although they can't be seen from here.
Unidentified weed or thistle along the hike.
Riparian area... Sycamore tree and a creek to the left of the trail.  Cool!
This is my most abstract photo, but one of my favorites.  The hike
 takes you directly under the 5 freeway!  Looking up, the southbound
lanes are on the right; northbound lanes on the left.
Rusty lock on barbed wire fence
Because of the long distance down to the water, you see a lot of
surfers using bikes with their boards attached.
Surf's Up!