Random Photos and Thoughts. Adventures in life as a Amateur Photographer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chia 'Pet' and other Blooms.

Thanks To Deborah and Wendy for the help in identifying the Bush Poppy in my last blog.

DSC_4128, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

Flower identification can sometimes be difficult You can only carry so much gear and the Pinnacles National Monument is a not collecting area.

So all we can do is take pictures and drawings. Well, I never been able to draw very well. (it may have something to do with being left handed. Or maybe I have never applied myself to develop the skill). Anyway, I did see several neat and small flowers along the trail.

These guys were about mid-way up the slope (1200feet) and in the full sun. After a quick and careful scan of a couple books, I figured out is the bloom of Chia [Salvia Columbaria]

Another Neat Flower I found was these delicate looking things.

May guess is this is a Foothill Saxifrage [Saxifraga californica]

Another wildflower that was in abundance Was this woody looking plant.

This is the Nightshade Plant[Solanum umbelliferum]

It is farily well scattered throughout the park. The masses of purple blooms are very eye catching.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pinnacles National Monument and Good Cameras

DSC_4115, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

Well everyone, I promised an update from the outing. this is one of the fine wildflowers found this weekend at Pinnacles National Monument 35 miles south of Hollister, California,

This was a great get away, just barely a 90 mile drive from home. the park is located in the coastal range of California.

This image is a case of getting closer. This small flower is about 3/8 of an inch across. Most all the wildflowers were next to the trail and in abundance. This High Peaks trail was good hike. The trail is rated Strenuous and one should be able to at least walk 4-8 miles in inclined territory.

There are several different Trails and all of them have their own sights to see. This time of the year of the year the grass is green and everything is growing. In a few months everything will be dry and the temperatures will soar from a mid-sixties to mid seventies to 100+ degrees. Even with the cooler temperatures the need to carry water on all trails is a requirement.

This is a friendly park with lots to different hikers on the trails.

One of the people we met on the trail, mentioned the nice camera were we using.

I replied, they are great cameras. Great, because they were the ones we were using.

You see, I have the opinion that any camera can be a great camera. The skill in getting a good picture is determined by the skill of the person using the camera, and how hard the person is willing to work to develop the skill to know what will make a great shot. The fact it is it takes the willingness to use the camera which will in time and with hard work allow you to know when you are at the right place to get the good shot. A camera that is sitting in a closet, will never be a good camera because it is not being used.

Even worse the person who owns the unused camera will never have chance to develop the skill to use the camera. Taking pictures is easy. Taking good pictures is a skill which needs to be developed over time.

So folks grab your camera and use them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Choices? Choices! Photo Opportunities!

The Weekend Cometh! (and Options Abound)

This is when I start to make plans for the weekend. This is often difficult because I work six days a week. I normally only get one day off a week, and after 38 years on the job I have worked my way up to getting that one day off on Sunday.

So What do I do on Sunday? The two choices which are running tied for 1st place is either Pinnacles National Monument [ http://www.nps.gov/pinn/ ] or Yosemite National Park [http://www.nps.gov/yose/]. There is a close second or third choice (if you are counting) in the running and that's Point Lobos State Reserve [http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/].

All three sites are well discussed on several sites and blogs. The real choices may end up fully dependent on the weather conditions the chances of me getting one of those "Personal Days Off" which I receive in lieu of paid holidays.

All three sites are interesting. My own leanings are to go to the Pinnacles, especially if I can get one of those "personal days". The truth is my wife will also get a vote and she will certainly want to go someplace. My real assignment is to make the outing something special. (for both of us.)

The current plan is to leave as early in the afternoon Saturday as I can get away from work. The Plan is to have the car is packed and tank filled. All the camera batteries are charged, tripods loaded.

The ice chest with water should be all set to go, sandwiches and pasta salad will be picked up as we leave, and the snakes foods like apples, string cheese, granola bars and crackers easy to pack. Already I have double checked the 1st aid kit.

This sort of Stuff is easy because we have discovered the easy way to be packed to go is never fully unpack and put away all stuff.

Anyway, my next blog entry should be a report on the outing with pictures.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Path to be Explored?

The Path to be Explored?

DSC_3914, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

I hope this is a somewhat timely point to make. During a recent Camera Club meeting a question was asked towards the end of the meeting:

"Where do you decide to take photos? "

I would be willing to bet, questions like this get asked at nearly every camera shop, and club meeting.

Well, the best answer I could come up with is go somewhere and take your camera. When you get to where ever you are going, get out of your car and start taking pictures. (really don't be afraid to stop in route and explore)

If the "Wide Angle lens can't find anything interesting, then take a stab using your telephoto lens.

What if you still don't see anything interesting?

That's a real possibility. It has happened to me. Nothing caught my eye.

Try a close up lens.

Get down. Change the level you are viewing the scene

Get close. Try out a close up lens

Look for weed blooms, insects, or just the texture of the ground and rocks.

The path is just an opportunity. It is up to you to explore the path.

Sometimes you have to stop and just wait. The wildlife will often return. Sometimes the wildlife is hard to see.


This image is an example of something I drive by everyday, and only considered making an image on second thought.

I actually bought my wife an used Cannon XT and this was a chance to get her used to taking photos.

The whole idea was to get her to take the pictures without worrying a lot of fuss. She managed to get a great shot of the one of these birds landing. I never did.

The entire idea is to get up and go somewhere. Take your camera and shoot.
Or even stay in and set up flowers in a vase or pot, and shoot the picture.

The only way to learn to take a good photograph is to start taking photographs.

Learn by experience.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Poppies and Colors

DSC_3738, originally uploaded by jestrbob.

Well This is the easy part. A late season cold front started through yesterday afternoon, as I was getting off of work. The front brought cold winds and rain for much of the afternoon. The weather today is still gusty winds and scattered showers. The Gusts are 20-30mph. Not really conducive to taken pictures of wildflowers or wildlife.

So I spent yesterday evening looking at some more of those Knights Ferry shots. I found this one hiding among the hundreds of shots I took. of various clusters of poppies. While this is typical of many the shot it sort of jumped at me a bit more than the rest. The Cluster is compact and most of the blooms are open and there isn't too many seedpods formed yet.

One of the thing I tend to forget is that California Poppies are Orange and too much orange in a in an image won't make a pretty image.

As shown in this photo, the Blue/Purple Lupines are over powered by the orange from the out of focus poppies in the background. So folks watch those background colors even if the are out of focus.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


One of the things which fascinate me has always been wildlife.

DSC_3456 (3), originally uploaded by jestrbob.

Hummingbirds are something which I have loved to watch. While I was scouting out the Knight's Ferry Area, I happened across this shrub with the brightest red flowers. Instantly I was surrounded by these busy fliers.

I caught this one as it was busy feeding. 1/400th a second and I almost got a full stop of the wings.

I've had some fun!

Last Spring I bought a Decent digital Camera.
After 36 years, I retired my Nikon F2S2 (pending repair?). I After Viewing the options, I selected a Nikon D60.

This Blog will be hopefully a commentary on my experiences and travels. Both past and future adventures.

My Most Recent outing was the March 14th, 2009. It was a short 45 minute Drive east when We spotted our 1st photo op. West of Oakdale, California on Rodden Road, sits on top of a hill a castle.

This was a very fantasy looking image and of the several shots I took I picked his one as the best of the batch.

From there we Continued up the road eastward bypassing, the community of Oakdale, and continuing to the small town of Knight's Ferry. The Downtown District is a few buildings from the late 1800's. There is a General Store, Post Office, Hotel, Deli and Saloon. The highlight of this area is the many Riverside Parks.

Stanislaus River Parks

When we got to Covered Bridge Park, it was early afternoon. We found the hillside almost covered in freshly opened wildflower.



I also like to shoot close up photos.

The breeze was very light, So I tried to make a shot and while I had several that turned out sharp and clear, The one I liked the best just the opposite :

I have about 10 photos more to add to my Flickr pages when I get a chance to edit the images a little bit better.