Friday, December 27, 2013

Santa's Lap

I thought about calling this post "Holiday Torture" but then decided that's too extreme. Certainly not my intent to torture my granddaughter when we took her over to sit on Santa's lap a few days ago. I was, however, having a sense of deja vu as I recalled doing this with my own daughter 20 years ago when she was about a year old, and remembering how she screamed as we tried to sit her on Santa's lap. We were advised to "back her in", meaning have her face the parent, so as to avoid seeing the scary man she was being handed to. But just like 20 years ago, this technique didn't work and my granddaughter had a brief but very robust cry as my camera went click-click-click! I used Photoshop to merge these four photos together.
This got me thinking about digging through our old holiday photos to compare my daughter's and granddaughter's photos. Below on the right is a scan of my kids on Santa's lap in 1993. My daughter was about a year old, and on the left (20 years later practically to the day) is a shot of my granddaughter at about the same age. See the resemblance?!
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season and new year!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Backyard Swing

We had another of those wonderful S CA sunsets last night. I wasn't able to leave the house, so just grabbed my camera and wide angle lens and started taking some pics around the house. Here's one from up on the hill in my backyard overlooking the neighbor's pool.
My attention was drawn away from sky-shots when I noticed my daughter pushing my granddaughter in our backyard swing.
This photo makes me laugh every time I look at it! I hadn't adjusted the ISO setting for the low-light, so ended up with a long exposure (1/5 second). My heart sank when I heard how long the shutter was open, figuring the photo would be a blurry mess. But the blur works in my favor to show motion, and my granddaughter's face is relatively clear, so it turned out to be one of my favorites!
Under the jacaranda tree... my daughter pushing my granddaughter. Check out that patch of sky!!
Another shot that makes me smile!! Looks like little Lilly is going to launch herself into the stratosphere!! I was laying on the ground shooting straight up for this shot. Hang on tight!!
I used Topaz Simplify to make the background of this photo look like it does, and then used Photoshop to add detail back into my granddaughters face and body. Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click the link to check out great skies from around the world! Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fullerton Street Lamp

Out on a walk recently with my Granddaughter and my dog and the sky really picked up some beautiful colors as the sun set. I didn't have my "real" camera with me, and just thankful that cell phone cameras work so well! Would have totally missed this shot otherwise. I like the antique-looking street lamps the city has installed in a number of areas.
Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Summit House Sunset

Summit House Restaurant in Fullerton, CA, is at what I think is probably the highest elevation in the city. There's a hiking trail that starts out from the west end of the property (Panorama Trail) and it's a great place to go for a Skywatch shot!
The restaurant is decked out for the holidays!
My wife, dog, and grandchild are just blurs in this 20-second exposure!
A close-up shot of one of the fountains... you can just make out some city lights in the background.
The photo above is Panorama Trail, which takes you up to some excellent look-out points. I could tell it was going to be a great sunset!
Our reward for hiking to the top of the hill... a beautiful sunset with hikers stopping to admire it!
My wife and I with our granddaughter and chihuahua. A long exposure shot, so things are a little blurry, but I like the sky behind us!

Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click the link to check out great skies from around the world!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lilly's First Visit

We took my Granddaughter out to Joshua Tree National Park last weekend for her first visit. Although only 14 months old, she loved it! Thankfully, she seems to enjoy anything having to do with the outdoors, regardless of weather conditions. She's a real trouper!
It rained all day Friday. Rain in the desert is something to be celebrated! Before going into the Park, my wife put Lilly in the stroller for a ride. Everyone was ready to go except the chihuahua... can you see her tugging on the leash in the photo above? She didn't like the idea at all, but once underway, she seemed to enjoy it.
Still not technically in the Park, but very close to the north border, I put the stroller in 4WD and took Lilly out for a walk. The sky was impressive... if there is a Skywatch Friday post this week, I will link to it! (there may not be due to the Thanksgiving holiday).
Above I am introducing Lilly to a desert homestead cabin. She seemed less than impressed, but hoping she will be as fascinated as I as she grows older!

It was a great day for photography, and it has been a while since I was able to get out and take some photos. The fog was drifting in and out of the area followed by brief glimpses of blue sky, so every photo is a little different. I used Photoshop to add a little texture to most of these photos, which helped bring out the sky.

Wishing you a great Thanksgiving holiday and Happy Hanukkah!  Click on Skywatch Friday to check out interesting skies from around the world!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hoop Dreams

We've had some really incredible skies here in S CA recently. Just happened to catch this one while on a walk at the local elementary school across from my house (taken on my iPhone).
Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I was trying to think of creative ways to combine two areas of photography I enjoy... pics of my granddaughter and Skywatch Friday photos. Impossible, you say? With a little help from Photoshop, I used a recent photo I took of my granddaughter, added a beautiful moon shot from my last Skywatch Friday post, and added a long exposure shot of the Milky Way I took a couple months ago. Shake gently and presto!  Hope you like it.
Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Moon Set / Moon Rise

My ability to find time for photography has been greatly diminished. That's OK, other priorities in my life right now. Since I don't have much time for photography, posts may be a little sporadic for a while. Anyway, we were out in the desert a couple weeks ago during the big full moon. I happened to step out of the house around 7 AM and noticed a huge moon slowly dropping to the horizon.
10/19/13 @ 7:25 AM. Taken in 29 Palms to the northwest.  F11, 1/200 sec, ISO 125, 400mm focal length.
The moon was scheduled to rise about 12 hours later, so we drove out to Wonder Valley to find a secluded area for a moon shot. We found this old outhouse, lit it up with the car headlights, and waited for the moon to rise!
10/19/13 @ 7:10 PM.  F11, 4 sec exposure, ISO 400.
Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Patio Slabs in the Desert

The work continues on our desert cabin project. This weekend was a bit of a nail-biter because my worker (Charles) has been sick and was hospitalized for a few days. He hasn't been answering phone calls or e-mails, but he did text me that he thought he would be OK by Saturday. I scheduled the cement truck for 10 AM Saturday morning (4 1/2 yards of cement) and crossed my fingers that Charles was feeling better and would show up. Thankfully, he IS feeling better (at least a little... he still looked like a strong wind would blow him over and was visibly stiff and in pain) and he did show up. I had a shovel or trowel in my hand most of the day, so thanks to my wife for taking most of these pics!!
The cement truck dwarfs our little homestead cabin, which you can hardly see! The hills in the background are part of Joshua Tree National Park.

The cement comes down the chute from the truck. Charles is using a bull float rented from Home Depot to smooth out the cement. This slab in the front is 16' by 8'. There are two smaller slabs in the back to be poured.
Trying to get the truck in close enough for the slabs behind the house was a real challenge!  Had to take out part of the creosote bush and get within inches of the cabin, but all worked out.
You can see from the photo above that the chute barely reached the second slab, so a lot of heavy lifting was needed to shovel and rake the cement to fill in the slab.
But the hard work paid off and the slabs in the back came out great!
For the final step, Charles is mixing iron sulfate with water to color the cement a nice coffee/rust color. Very rustic looking, and fits well with a desert cabin. If you look behind Charles, you can see the view from the front porch.
Charles is using a broom to apply the iron sulfate stain to the concrete.
Later in the day, my wife noticed a tarantula walking across the road. He's a beauty, wouldn't you agree? A great end to a fun, productive day!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Skull on the Dry Lake

We were heading over to the dry lake north of Highway 62 in Joshua Tree around sunset. I really like these lonely desert roads (so does my Jeep!).
The Coyote Dry Lake Bed is surrounded by desert scrub and cactus. It's got the big open vistas that people like so much in the desert. Makes for some good photography, too!
I'd like to say that we discovered this old steer skull while bouncing across the lake bed in the Jeep...
But the truth is we had it in the Jeep and were taking it to the dry lake for a "photo shoot".
Pretty cool, don't you think? I like the sky colors at sunset over the dry lake, so linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from all over the world!!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

8-Track Flashback

Those of us of a certain age have fond memories of 8-tracks. For those too young to recall, 8-tracks were clunky plastic things, about 4" wide, 5 1/2" long, and about 1" thick that contained a full length album. They used magnetic tape and you just plugged them in to an 8-track tape player. If memory servers, they were popular in the late '60s and throughout the '70s.  They were replaced by cassette players, which were replaced by CD players, which have been replaced by MP3 players. It's almost hard to believe with all the current technology, but prior to 8-tracks, your only listening option was the radio. If you didn't like the song (or commercial), try a different station! Sounds primitive, doesn't it??
So 8-tracks were a huge breakthrough. For the first time, you could play all the songs off your favorite album while cruisin' down the road. Every kid in high school with a car had to have one! So as my wife and I were checking out a rummage sale the other day, I noticed this cool 8-track tape holder, complete with a collection of tapes. For $2, I couldn't pass it up!
The tapes in the holder include Thee Dog Night ("Golden Bisquits"), Boston, Jim Croce, Bread ("The Best of Bread") and the classic "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye. A pretty good collection from the '70s!! I tried photographing what was left of the artwork on the 8-tracks... faded and cracked, but with a vintage feel!

I don't own an 8-track player, but it's been well worth the two bucks for the stroll down memory lane and the photo opp! Hope you enjoyed it, and leave a comment if you had a favorite 8-track tape!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Sad Situation

This is the entrance to Indian Cove, a beautiful area within Joshua Tree National Park. It's prime tourist season out here, and I feel sorry for those visitors that have traveled long distances and can't get into the park because our government can't get its act together. A sad situation indeed.
Here's a photo taken inside Indian Cove about a year ago... great rock climbing, camping and hiking. Let's hope they open for business soon!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wonder Valley Abstracts

Wonder Valley is an area east of 29 Palms in the CA desert that is about as close as you can get to the middle of nowhere! It's dotted with little homestead cabins, many of which started out as getaway dreams of families living in S. CA and wanting to own a little piece of the desert to call their own. Back in the day, they could get the land for free if they build a modest cabin on their 5 acres. Many (most?) probably didn't realize the time, energy, money, and gritty determination needed to build and maintain a small cabin in a remote piece of desert. Thus the reason so many of these cabins were long ago abandoned. I've posted on other cabins, and I still find the area to be really beautiful in a desolate and stark sort of way.
Here's another one... been photographed a lot and very recognizable because of "Lazy One" on the water tank (no city water in this part of the desert... haul in your own, or try your luck with a well).
Linking with 
Pixel Dust Photo Art  and Skywatch Friday. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

End of an Era?

Hard to believe I started this blog three years ago this month. Time really does fly! My first post was Oct. 19, 2010, and it was titled Spare Parts ProjectI thought it would be fun to document how to build an electric guitar, step by step, using various spare parts I had accumulated over the years. That guitar was finished long ago, and the blog has since morphed into a photo blog. And music, in general, will be taking less of my time going forward. Which brings me to the title of my post...
The band I'm a founding member of and have been playing in for 19 years (hard for me to believe it's been that long) has decided to call it quits. We're all starting to feel a little too old to haul around huge amounts of gear and play rock 'n roll in a 7-piece band.  I know Mick and the boys are doing it in their 70's, but hey, they're making the big bucks and they have roadies!
Left to right:  Bruce on keyboard, me on guitar, Randy on vocals, Tod on drums, Jon on bass, Dan on guitar.  Missing from the photo is Brad on percussion.
None of us ever joined this band for the money, that's for sure, but last Saturday illustrates a typical "gig". We played at the VFW Hall in Lomita, CA. We were asked to play 4 sets of music (each set is 10 - 12 songs, one hour long). Set up of the gear takes about 2 hours, and the same for the tear-down. We need a couple trucks to haul the gear (our percussion player has a large heavy-duty trailer he pulls behind an SUV). Adding up the time, it was easily an 8 hour day. Not to mention all the pre-gig practices to get the songs polished up and presentable. Our pay for the night? $65 each. Truly a labor of love. But I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything! Playing in a band to a lively audience out on the dance floor is an experience not too many of us get to experience, and one not to be missed! And getting together with my band-mates every Tuesday night will definitely be missed.
Well, I guess I'll just stay close to the phone and wait for the call announcing our Scoop Deville Band reunion and world tour! In the mean time, I'll have more time for my photography!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Milky Way

Needed to drive out to the desert last night so I could have some work done on our desert homestead cabin project. There's a local kid out here (Shane) who is a real wizard with a Bobcat... amazing what he can do! I needed to meet with early Thursday. When we got out to the desert Wednesday night we had beautiful clear skies and the Milky Way was quite visible. One of my friends on Flickr told me the secret of photographing the Milky Way is to set your alarm for 3:30 AM when the night skies are at their clearest. I took this at about 9:30 PM... way to tired to get up at 3:30! I think it turned out fine.
ISO 1250, f/2.8, 16mm, 30 second exposure.

Here's Shane and his Bobcat hard at work fixing up my dirt driveway. That's the little desert cabin we're fixing up on the right. Still got a ways to go, but it's coming along. I keep reminding myself that there's no hurry and to enjoy the process! It really has been a lot of fun.
Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world. Thanks for stopping by!!