Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hilltop Park, Signal Hill, California

This is a perfect location for skywatching! To the south and west, Long Beach, the Harbor, and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

And to the north (on a clear day like this particular day) you can even get a clear view of downtown Los Angeles.

But don't forget the people around you! It's super-easy to get wrapped up concentrating on the sky, the clouds, the sun, what lens to use, etc., and you aren't paying any attention to the people around you (other than trying to make sure they don't block your shot). Yet you might be missing out on the best shots!!

Back up a bit, pay attention to the people around you enjoying the sunset, use the beautiful sky as your backdrop, and you just might find that these turn out to be your favorite shots of the evening!!

Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies for around the world!  Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Old Postcard

I really like this old postcard titled "Smoke Trees and Desert Road Near 29 Palms, California". Yes, this looks like a lot of the desert roads out in my neck of the woods in 29 Palms.
I don't know exactly where this road is, but on the back of the postcard, it says "We started out on road like this to Key's View. It got rougher, and the ruts were deeper as we went farther." No signature, no stamp... the postcard was never sent. I wonder if they ever made it to Keys View, or if they gave up, turned around, and went home? Or perhaps got stuck is some deep sand and had to get pulled out?
Unfortunately, the postcard is not dated. But it really got me wondering about the roads in Joshua Tree National Park (back then a National Monument) and when they were paved. I contacted David Denslow, Lead Park Ranger, Joshua Tree National Park. He did some quick research for me and found out the road to Keys View was given a hardened surface in 1954, but wasn't officially "paved" until 1984. That would mean this postcard was pre-1954. It's hard to imagine what driving through the Park was like pre-1954 on these sandy, rutted roads. What an adventure and a challenge it would have been. And back then, it would have been a very remote area! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Last Light of the Day

I took these photos from the Huntington Beach pier a few weeks ago, just as the sun was setting. I had a minute or two of this golden light, then it was gone!
F/10, 1/200sec., ISO 200, 200mm

F/6.3, 1/160sec., ISO 200, 200mm
Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Vintage 1950's Water Tanks

So this is a continuation from my last post (Weekend Project). As it turns out, we've finished building a really nice, solid wood platform for the 1950's water tanks on my property. However, how the heck are we going to get the heavy metal tanks up on the platform!!?? Turns out there's a local guy with a "crane truck" that does this sort of thing all the time.
My friend Charles is putting the final 2x6s on top of the platform. You can see part of the rust-colored metal tank on the left, and the silver tank in front of the platform. We had some great desert skies to keep us company!

Photo credit G.B.
Here's a shot of one of the tanks being lifted by the crane. The tank had been sitting for years on an old pallet, and the wood was stuck to the bottom of the tank. I grabbed a shovel and started knocking the wood off. Only later did it cross my mind... the only thing holding this tank up in the air is a short piece of 2x6 on the inside of the tank. If it were to break or slip...

Photo credit G.B.
I have a rope tied to the plumbing at the base of the tank so I can orient it correctly.

Photo credit G.B.
I needed to disconnect the rope and get ready for tank #2!

Photo credit G.B.
A little to the left!!...

Photo credit G.B.
Ta Daaa!!! The finished project! Or nearly finished... need to find a way to attach the tanks to the platform. We get some very high winds, and I don't want to take any chances!

Photo credit G.B.
A b&w shot of the twin tanks. This is probably how things looked back in 1950. Actually, more likely that there was a single tank on a platform of some kind (the rusty one is the older tank). As it aged, it probably leaked so they got a newer one, and never got rid of the old one. Anyway, I'm happy with how the project turned out. Twin tanks will be a landmark in our little desert neighborhood!! "Tanks" to my wife, who let me pursue this crazy project and took the photos.

Linking with Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world! Thanks for stopping by, and have a Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend Project

My wife and I bought a little homestead cabin on 5 acres out near Joshua Tree about a year ago. Talk about a fixer-upper! We try to get out and work on it every other weekend. It's a slowly progressing project, mainly because we have too many other projects! But it's finally starting to feel nearly finished (although this type of project is never truly finished). It may look familiar, as I've posted on it once or twice in the past.
No exaggeration when I said a real fixer, right? It might have made more sense to knock it down, but these little homestead cabins are near and dear to our heart and we really wanted to preserve the integrity of the original cabin. Out behind the cabin are two old water tanks (before city water, the cabin owners hauled in their own water or had it delivered and stored it in tanks). The tanks were generally put up on a platform of some sort to take advantage of gravity to provide the necessary water pressure.
So my project for the last few weeks was to build a platform to hold these two old tanks and give the property that vintage, 1950's look!
Here's a better shot of one of the tanks and an old trailer that was left on the property (my next project!!).
How can so much junk possibly come out of one little cabin??
I hired Charles to do the heavy stuff... I provided the "grunt" labor!
Starting to take shape...
Finishing touches! OK, so Charles, how do we get the tanks up on the platform?? He tells me not to worry so much, he can put them on their side, attach a rope or strap, and pull them up with his truck. He's done it before... piece of cake!

Fast forward a few days. I get a call from Charles: "These tanks are way too heavy. You're gonna need a crane or something!". What!!? That's just great. Stay tuned for my next post: "How to get water tanks up on an 8' platform". You won't want to miss it!!

I will say the little homestead cabin came out great! It now has plumbing (the original did not) and is very functional. I added a porch front and back and can sit out and enjoy the spectacular desert sunsets!
PS: Thanks to Theresa and others for the advice on what to do about Blogger messing with my photos. By turning off "Auto Enhance", it appears my problem is solved!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Huntington Beach Pier a Night

I had a dinner meeting in Huntington Beach last month, so a nice opportunity to toss camera bag and tripod in the car and take a few photos after dinner. The above shot was taken from the parking lot just after sunset.
View north from the pier. The lifeguard towers are not staffed during the winter.

Another view looking north from up atop the pier.

A 1.3 second exposure, so the people walking look a little "ghostly" (ISO 400, f/16).

And the view under the pier.  Thirty-second exposure to blur the water (ISO 400, f/9).
Up on top, and looking north again...

And looking south. The lights follow Pacific Coast Highway.

Side note:  Does anyone notice that when they upload their photos on Blogger it changes the exposure? All my images are much light than the originals. The shot under the pier is dark and moody, but washed out here on Blogger. Very frustrating.

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