Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is said to be a "mini Bryce Canyon". I couldn't fathom how something so large could be called "mini" anything! Here are a few links if you'd like to learn more about the area. The first link is the  National Parks Service and this one is from Utah dot com and here is the link to wikipedia if you'd like to check out  wikipedia  
We took a short walk around the rim around 2 miles out and another 2 back. It was an easy walk, but I did find myself a bit light headed from being over 10,000 feet, we were at 10,300 here. I think that 10,000 feet may be my personal altitude trigger because I wasn't dizzy walking around Bryce. I'd get winded and have to catch my breath quicker than I am used to, but I wasn't dizzy walking in Bryce. Here at Cedar Breaks the area was empty. There were only a couple other cars in the parking lot at the visitor center. The weather was perfect and the skies were a beautiful compliment to the amazing landscape. There was a sign next to the first sign post I'll share here that said, "Exposed cliff edges watch your children". Uh yep, that is good advice. Better watch YOUR step too!

This is a nine frame vertical panoramic of part of the amphitheater at Cedar Breaks

The horizontal panoramas don't work real well on this blog so I encourage you to click on over to my gallery and look at the panoramas there. Here is the link:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kolob Canyons Utah

Over Labor Day weekend we took a trip to Utah. Our destination was Bryce Canyon National Park. On our way to Bryce we stopped at a couple of places along the way. I will begin my blog posts with those places we stopped at briefly. This is just a "quick and dirty" post to get you warmed of for things to come. Kolob Canyons is a park of Zion National Park. It appeared to be the much less traveled section of Zion. You can read a bit about the area by clicking this highlighted link and you can learn a bit about how to drive there here The mountains have rich color and the vegetation was plush. There are many hiking trails. The trail we walked was empty except for one couple we passed. Much different than the more popular main area of Zion that always has people in it, just varying amounts at different times. Without further ado, lets get on to the photos of this area. You can't see it from the entrance to Kolob Canyons but within a very brief drive you'll turn a corner and see these majestic peaks around you. From hwy 15 you'd never know these are such a short distance away.

Of course I have many more photos of this area in a gallery you may view at this link: Kolob Canyons

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Inaja Forest Fire Monument

Thelma and I took a ride up the local mountains to drop Ace off for his week of camp at Camp Marston. There were thunder clouds in the sky and thunder in our ears when we dropped the boy off. But we had a patch of blue sky following us throughout the whole trip. We stopped on the way back home at a monument established by the San Diego Men's Honor Camp for the firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Inaja Forest Fire on November 25, 1956.

The memorial plaque for the Firefighters of Inaja Forest Fire November 25, 1956

You can see the BBQ and picnic tables at the bottom of this photo.

They say it is a loop trail, but I couldn't follow it. I can see in this terrain how folks get lost! I chose to back track my trail.

Almost to the top. Actually the top is a big granite rock on the other side of this hill.

I've loved Manzanita since I went to 6th grade camp at Camp Marston and was given a piece to sand and polish.

The trail provided some great views below.

We had a dry winter this year. I am sure this hole for collecting rainwater is often times deeper

At the top and backside of the mountain here is a gem of a find. A simple metal tube to look through at the distant mountain tops.

The arrow lined up with the name of the peak you'd view through the tube. I think this is WAY COOL!

A view down the backside of the mountain toward San Diego.

A bush growing out of the rocks at the top. Typical Southern California growth.

A view down the other side of the mountain toward the famous Dudley's Bakery. Of course we stopped and got some goods to bring home.

I had a great time and even though it is a very short hike, I am already looking forward to doing it again. The town of Wynola is up the road a bit and I'd like to wander around there so it's a good excuse for a day trip. I've uploaded a few more photos of Camp Marston and dropping Ace off to camp along with a few more of the hike we took here. You can find them here:  Local Mountains

Sunday, May 27, 2012


John and Marilyn put up an owl box in their backyard a few years ago. This year they had an owl couple inhabit the house and raise a successful parliament. Yes, a group of owls is called a parliament, wisdom or study. A baby owl is an owlet. Cute name for a baby owl, almost as cute as they are when they are young. I only got to see John and Marilyn's owlets when they were already fledging. Last week I was at John's birthday party but was having so much fun I neglected to set my camera up and pre-focus on the owl box to enable me to shoot after dark. I was unable to get my camera to focus even with the focus assist light as I was some distance away. I did get lucky and got this one shot last week.

There was such a show on TOP of the house this night that I knew I wanted to go back and try again when I had the time to properly set up for the shoot before sunset. I knew the owlets were very close to fledging completely so I had John keep a look out to see if they were still around before I made the haul up to their place last night to try again. John confirmed they were still there. Last night as I waited for them to come out of the doorway, they surprised me and flew in from a surrounding tree to perch on top of the house! They weren't even in the house any more. The mom and dad owl are trying to convince the owlets to move away from the box and go off on their own but the owlets need more convincing. They associate the box with being fed and like that situation better than hunting for their own food apparently. 

There are three owlets all together. An owl couple usually has between two and three so this is a successful brood. I hunted forever to find what to call a litter of owls, John calls them a clutch but I couldn't find any reference anywhere to indicate there was a name for them. The above shot shows two of the owlets. I left the red-eye on these because when you light them up with a flash, you can see all the way back to their retinas. If you visit the gallery I put up you'll be able to decide for yourself if you like the red-eye reduced shots better or not. I couldn't decide which is why I have them both ways in the gallery.

This is the third owlet coming in. In the gallery you'll see it coming in for a landing, this is the shot after that one. It was so tempting to try and readjust the camera for composition. I had pre-focused on the doorway figuring enough DOF (depth of field) for the owls to be in focus on top of the house. BUT they never came out of the door, they flew in to the edge of the house so these are large crops. I knew better than to try and change my focus and composition after dark as I was unsuccessful last week trying so I decided a crop was better than nothing!

All three in place.

They were really making a lot of noise. Lots of hissing sounds, which is what they do to call each other. I think they were begging mom and dad for food. Mom and dad were having nothing of it. They knew they had to teach their owlets that they were not going to be fed at the box anymore and they were on their own. If you look close at the shot right above you can see their mouths open!

I probably won't get back up to John and Marilyn's until after this parliament of owls is gone. But next time they have owls in the box with owlets, I'll bring my 500mm lens along with another camera body and get serious about setting up a couple different scenarios so I may be able to make larger prints. These are ok for onscreen viewing, but printing large wouldn't be good. Still, a very fun time was had by me and Sterling. What a great experience! Here is the link to more photos: John and Marilyn's Owls

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Santa Rosa Plateau

On Mother's Day my oldest son took me out to Santa Rosa Plateau for a hike. We started off early and the coastal eddy was colliding with the inland air warmed by the rising sun. As we came over the top of the hills on the trail the valley had a pocket of fog tickling the landscape.

The fog cleared and it warmed up quickly into a beautiful Southern California day.

I was treated to many of my favorite things on this hike. It was really the most perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day for me. I love nature and walking trails.

This tarantula was very much in a hurry. It scurried out right in front of us and ran across the trail. I was lucky to get a couple shots of it before it scampered off into the grass along the other side of the trail.

The first time I visited Santa Rosa Plateau was with a couple of friends who are bird photographers. It is a great place to view a lot of different types of birds. I was treated to grabbing photos of a White-tailed Kite, Turkey Vulture, Red-winged Blackbird, Acorn Woodpeckers, a Western Meadowlark and a raptor I was able to get a photo of but not able to identify. The Acorn Woodpeckers were very busy packing a palm tree with acorns the way they are so fond of doing.

I put a small gallery together of things that caught my eye on the hike. We hiked about six and a half miles, so it was a short hike. It was quite rewarding and one of the very best Mother's Day treats! I'd love to make it a tradition and next time I'd like ALL my boys to go along! Here are the links to more photos and the slide show . I hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

San Diego Botanical Garden

The San Diego Digital SLR group met at the San Diego Botanical Garden for April's group shoot. It was a cold and windy day that turned wet for a while. This group doesn't let a little wind and rain dampen our spirits though! We had a great time and made the best of it, enjoying great people and camaraderie in the process. The lily pond with frogs and turtles is a fun place in the gardens to visit and it was my first stop. 

I particularly like when I can capture the reflection of a lily in the water. Even if it is just a partial reflection like the shot below.

Of course there were many many different types of flowers in the botanical garden. I thought of my friend Bonnie when I saw this Calla Lily and I had to stop for a photo of it.

Plenty of different colors in the garden.

Of course with all of the colorful flowers, there were birds of all types. The hummingbirds in particular are frequent visitors in the garden.

I am getting kind of carried away with the number of photos I'm posting in this entry so instead of getting too too carried away, I'll leave you with a link to a few more images from the day here and of course my favorite way to view the images are in a slide show

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More Fun in Anza-Borrego

More Fun Four Wheeling in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

I had another opportunity to explore the desert with and some of our mutual friends. We always have a good time. I was treated to seeing new places I'd never been and I always love that! I like that we stop at the turn out on the way down into the desert. This time I zoomed in to a small property at the base of the hill.

There are some folks that think that the desert is bland and boring...all the same and not much of anything. I don't see the desert that way at all. I am amazed at the different formations of sand, rock and terrain. Often in our travels in the desert we are treated to views of very different geology almost layered on top of each other. 

Getting in the narrow areas with the four wheel drives is always fun and exciting too. Now, just think of what happens when we get to a spot we can travel no further on this narrow trail. Yep, it can get a bit tight to turn around. At least there was only three vehicles on this trip, but it still proved to be a bit of a challenge.

Here is a shot of my friend Robert in his jeep. You can see his wheels flexing every which way on the bumps. Keep in mind, I am using a wide angle lens here, so it looks like there is more room around the vehicle than there really is. Hey, where is his co-pilot Rae? She's next to me shooting too. :-)

We were treated to beautiful skies as you can see in this next photo.

Boys and their toys....

They are a very generous bunch of guys and they share. Here is my take.

Here is the tight spot we came to in our travels. We had to turn around as we couldn't travel further. Actually I think we had already traveled further than most on this leg of trail. There was a bit of burning transmission etc. before we were facing in the direction we needed to be. 

In one of my first posts on this blog I shared some photos of the metal sculptures of Anza-Borrego by artist Richardo A. Breceda. You can read more about Richardo and his sculptures here This next photo is one of his latest additions to Anza. There is a scorpion it is fighting, but you'll just have to visit the gallery I put up to see the scorpion.

The link to the gallery of photos from this outing in the desert are here 

We also had an opportunity to witness a migration of Swainson's Hawks. It was one of the most amazing things I'd ever seen. Hundreds of hawks were soaring high on the air currents over the desert and slowly descended to some trees in a field behind where a group of birders had gathered to witness the scene. The group that caught our attention on the side of the road was called the Borrego Hawk Watch. They had counters working on a count of the migrating hawks and the count was close to 300. I have no idea how they manage to do a count of birds like this, but I know they do and they are experienced at being accurate too. I didn't have a good long lens with me so the photos I took just don't do the event justice but I can tell you it was quite an experience to witness. It is something that I feel very fortunate to have witnessed and I will never forget it.