Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LAX "Space Age" Landmark

Just returned from a business trip tonight, and got into LAX about 8 PM.  I was parked on the 4th floor (rooftop) of lot 1, and had a great view of what is now called Encounter Restaurant, so I snapped this shot with my iPhone.  This structure has been here for years, and I can only guess that it was built to have a "space age" look back in the day.
Does it remind you of something from 
the Jetsons??

Monday, February 27, 2012

After the Rain...

Hope your week is getting off to a good start.  We got a little rain in S. CA today. As the storm clouds started to break and the sun came out, we were treated to a beautiful rainbow!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Family Reunion in the Desert

We enjoyed a near perfect weekend out near Joshua Tree this weekend... temps in the mid-70's, light breeze, and blue skies! The best part is my wife and I were joined by my mom, sister, my cousin and his wife, and my aunt for a mini-reunion. I say "near" perfect because my other cousin and his wife weren't able to join us this year, so we really missed seeing them. But there's always next year, right? (or sooner??).
My wife, mom, and aunt enjoying a desert sunset!
My cousin and his wife, Geology Tour Road,
Joshua Tree
My sister and aunt, hiking along Geology Tour Road.
Desert blooms in a wash behind the house...
linking to Macro Monday
Pondering a black hole... a mine opening along
Geology Tour Road
Tailgate lunch (provided by Lap Dog Knits... thanks!!!) along
Geology Tour Road in Joshua Tree
Exploring an abandoned desert homestead cabin.
Night shot... looking west towards the village of Joshua Tree
Night sky last night (2/25/12)... I think that's Venus next to
the moon, and Jupiter at the very top of the photo.
F8, 50 sec. exposure, iso 400, 25mm focal length.  Hope 
your weekend was a good one!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scanning Old Negatives & Slides

I've made a discovery and feel like perhaps I'm the last to know... is it common knowledge that you can buy photo scanners (relatively inexpensively) that will scan 35mm film negatives (B&W and color) and even 35mm slides? It's very cool, especially if you're like our family and have boxes and binders full of 35mm film negatives and positives. So I purchased an Epson V500 Photo Scanner from Amazon and I'm very pleased. It gives you lots of options with regard to image quality, and the end result is great. And in today's digital world, you can take your scanned image and touch it up in PS and make it look even better than the original!
One of my favorites... left to right, my Mom, Grandmother and Grandfather out for a drive in their Buick Roadmaster (1949?). What a beauty, and look at all that chrome!! Scanned from a B&W negative.

Another fun photo... scanned from a print I've had in my office for about 15 years... that's my wife, son, daughter, and pet dinosaur out at Cabazon (notice dino's nice smile for the photo and "hand" on my wife's shoulder; and my daughter is missing some front teeth... fun times!).  
The next two photos are from 35mm Kodachrome slides. I used to shoot a lot of Kodachrome, and I have a bunch of binders full of slides in my office. At one point I was going to throw them away because I didn't know what else to do with them. Thank goodness I didn't!

Both of these photos were taken years ago from my Sister-in-law's deck overlooking Kona. So beautiful... almost makes me want to go out and start shooting film again!!
Have a great weekend. Linking to 
Skywatch Friday. Heading out to the 
desert this weekend for a family reunion...
hope to have some good desert shots to post.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Photo Painting

I really enjoy learning from my fellow bloggers. Here's a great example. Barb over at My Magical Adventures With My Camera mentioned a photo contest sponsored by Save Our Deserts. The challenge is to photograph the beauty of Black Lava Butte in Pipes Canyon where they are threatening to build wind turbines. So my wife and I drove out there last weekend, and that's when we stumbled upon the geoglyphs (see post below... thanks, Barb!). A comment left on my post by Victoria from A Photography Addict's Showcase made me curious to check out her blog. She had just posted the steps used to process a great photo, including use of an iPhone app called "AutoPainter" (thanks, Victoria!). So, a long-winded explanation about how other bloggers inspired me to go to new places and try new things... and hoping to pass it along!

Step 1:  Download the AutoPanter app, and chose the photo you want to turn into a painting. My photo choices are two great homestead cabins we ran across last weekend in Pipes Canyon (if you follow my blog, you know I have a "thing" for desert homestead cabins). These two are classics... one pink and one green.

Step 2: Run the app on the photo, and see what you get! You have 4 treatments to chose from, and the app's fun to watch. It shows some of the individual paint strokes!

Bonus shot:  I Used AutoPainter on a B&W image I shot. 
Step 3 (optional): Import the "painted" image into your processing software of choice to adjust clarity, color, etc. For example, on the B&W image above, I used PS to add just a touch of pink to the cabin and a touch of green to the joshua tree.

Pretty amazing for a 99 cent app, don't you think?? Check out A Photography Addict's Showcase for a more detailed description and some great photography!

Linking to Weekly Top Shot. Click on 
the link to check out some great shots!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Huge Geoglyphs in Yucca Valley, CA!

My wife and I were driving the Jeep along Old Woman Springs Road (aka Hwy 247) just north of Yucca Valley last weekend and a dirt road heading up the side of the hill caught our eye. We did a u-turn and went back to explore. I did not see any street markers or signs noting anything of significance in the area, but when we got off the road, there was a placard reading "Rhythm of Life and Atlatl at Black Mesa". Very mysterious, so without reading the sign carefully, off we went in the Jeep up what turned out to be a very steep, difficult road (more on that later). Turns out there are two huge stone designs called "geoglyphs" at the top of the hill. The largest of the two is called "Rhythm of Life". It's 200 feet long and made of 460 tons of stone!! It was made by Australian artist Andrew Rogers, and these are the only two geoglyphs in the US by this artist. There are similar geoglyphs in 11 other countries (Israel, Chile, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, Australia, Iceland, China, India, Turkey, Slovakia and Nepal). So it turns out we literally stumbled across something quiet monumental, and perhaps famous. It's really facinating... to read more, please check out or Here are some late afternoon photos... the clouds moved in just in time for some very dramatic desert skies!
Stones making up the "Rhythm of Life" geoglyph in foreground.
My wife standing near the top of the "Atlatl" geoglyph. 
Lone Joshua Tree at the bottom of the hill, near placard.
What an incredible location, and how lucky were we to stumble across this place? It's difficult to see the entire geoglyph from ground level. Here's what the Rhythm of Life geoglyph in Yucca Valley looks like from the air:

The second geoglyph is called "Atlatl", and the design is derived from an ancient petroglyph in a granite boulder at Coyote Hole near the village of Joshua Tree. Here's what it looks like from the air:
Photo credit:

Oh, I almost forgot... back to the white knuckle Jeep ride up the side of the hill. We got back down to the placard and read it more carefully: "Do Not Go Beyond The Parking Area With A Car!"... "Wear a hat and rugged footwear, carry plenty of water, and use sunscreen before hiking up the rough path to the site. The path is steep and should be hiked with care, watching out for loose rocks". So, two lessons learned here...
[1] Read the signs FIRST, then proceed!
[2] Jeep trails are always steeper than they appear!
What an awesome adventure!  Linking to Skywatch Friday. Please click the link to visit great skies from all over the world!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Three Little Finches...

These little guys were outside of my office window yesterday.  I shot this through both glass and screen, so it gives it a soft-focus look.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mural Moday: SOCO District Fullerton

Downtown Fullerton in S. CA has been redone, refurbished, and updated to the point where it's somewhat of a destination in it's own right... including some great restaurants and bars. Fortunately, the city has managed to keep much of the "old" Fullerton feel. The "SOCO" district refers to SOuth of COmmonwealth, and there's a wonderful mural along one of the back alleys.

The mural is quite long, so something of a photographic challenge. I took a series of three photos and stitched them together in Photoshop, and I'm happy with the result. I like the fact that the center portion of the mural includes an orange grove and kids seated around a basket of oranges. After all, Fullerton is in Orange County, and this entire area used to be covered with orange groves before the real estate boom that started in the late '50s.

Linking to Mural Monday at Oakland Daily Photo.  Check it out to see some great murals from around the world!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mohave Yucca Sky!

I took these last time we went out to 29 Palms.  We have Mohave Yuccas on our property, and I like the way the sharp spiny leaves look like their holding up the clouds!  Happy Sky Watch Friday and have a great weekend.  We're hoping to get out to the desert this weekend for more Sky Watch shots!

Photo taken at sunset just outside our garage door... I never get tired of this view!~

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What's in a Name??

Democrat/republican? Teenager? Majority/minority? Baby boomer/Gen X/Gen Y? Married/single? Straight/gay? We all go through life with names and labels, most of which have never had too much meaning to me. But the other day my wife came into my office, set an envelope on my desk in front of me, and didn't say a word... she only laughed as she left the room. Here's the envelope:
I did a double-take... "Senior Citizen Offer"? Me?? Well, I'm 58 years old, but in my minds eye, I sure don't feel like a senior citizen. To my knowledge, this is the first time I've received something in the mail addressed to me as a "senior citizen".  What's the definition of a senior citizen, anyway? Sixty-five? Seventy? I must say, my initial reaction was a distinct feeling of being irritated; perhaps a little angry. A little bit of a feeling like someone called me a bad name. So names and labels haven't meant much to me, but this one is a major adjustment and is going to take some time getting used to! Or may be the trick is to not adjust... don't think of myself as a senior citizen; stay young at heart and all that stuff. Thankfully I have someone to share the journey with, bumpy though the road may be at times!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Macro Monday: Old Printer's Blocks

I guess it wasn't that many years ago that printed materials were all made using printing presses, led type and printing blocks. Showing my age here, but I can remember in Junior High School having my choice of signing up for Wood Shop, Metal Shop, or Graphic Arts. I opted for Graphic Arts and learned a little about setting type and printing presses. Very cool!
We have almost 20 of these blocks that my wife bought years ago at a garage sale. They are all similar (though not identical) in size at about 2"x2". They appear to be made out of a hardwood base with an etched metal (copper?) print face. The metal face is nailed to the wood block beneath it. I love the detail in these old blocks. I tried to research them but couldn't find much. I'm guessing these date back to the '40s, and they all appear to be advertisements for an electrical motor repair company. They represent a photographic challenge: To capture the beautiful detail, and because they are made as a mirror image so they print correctly, I need to flip them around so you could read them. Hope you like them!

Linking over to Macro Monday. Please click the link 
to see great macro photos.  Have a great week!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Seal Beach Pier (Final Installment!)

So just finishing up the post from last Sunday. It was a very warm winter day and we took a drive down to Seal Beach pier with the ultimate goal of some Ruby-burgers, but also to take some photos along the way. It's so incredible when you combine a pier, the Pacific Ocean, and a sunset... how can you possibly go wrong?!
Waiting for the green flash!
End of the pier, fisherman, and Catalina Island.  Oil platform on the left.
Looking back towards the town of Seal Beach from the end of the pier.
Capturing that perfect moment!
This house (too big for a house... probably condos or something) was like a jewel glowing in the setting sun!
Our ultimate reward... burgers on the way!
I'm linking to Skywatch Friday.  Please go check it out for some 
awesome skies from all over the world!