Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Desert in full living color
Desert Heather aka Mexican Heather
Mexican Bird of Paradise
Desert Primrose
And there you go some color from out of my Ma's front yard. All desert native landscaping which is totally appropriate and water friendly for a water starved city like Las Vegas.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Adios for a bit pals. Its road trip time and doubtful that I will be able to do much blogging here or on as I will be RV'ing with my folks. I don't know what sort of connections I'll be able to get between here, South Dakota and Yellowstone. Its a lot of sparse country so posts will be rare if not totally nonexistant.
Been a very busy week here hence the lack of photos posted. Lisa and Rachel, my friends who happen to own the Paint n Play Gallery and Artist Studio have sold a few of my pieces so it was a mad crunch to get new put together (I do my own matting and framing is that insanity or what) new pieces and deliver them before I leave. Got it done, even got my luggage packed so all I need is some rest then toss it all into the car for the drive to Las Vegas to catch up with my folks.
You all have a great July 4th Holiday. Stay safe, have fun and will post more when I get back after July 9th. Whew...I need this break from the daily grind!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Some English Roses

The first three are "Royal Wedding" and the last two are "Pat Austin"

Antique Roses have their charm....

Somewhere in the mid-60's the American Rose Society came up with the bright idea to break down the categories of roses. This was largely due to the huge increase in rose popularity and the exploding varieties of hybrid teas that were hitting the market.

I do like a lot of the old rose or antique rose varieties because of their incredible fragrance. In this group is a climber "Zepherin Drouhin" that was developed in 1867 or 1868 depending on the resource you look at. Mine has grown as tall as 20 feet tall before getting ripped to shreds when a strong Santa Ana comes along in the fall. This rose has been cut back to a few 3 foot tall canes 3 times in 10 years.

So there you go 3 frames of the climber "Zepherin Drouhin".

Rose and Apples are Related

Yup...they are related and if you don't dead head or otherwise prune them the spent blossom will continue to morph into a "rose hip". My Grandmother swore that the jelly she made with them was good for arthritis and other ills. I have read they are high in Vitamin C so who knows. I just know it tasted like apple jelly and was quite tasty.

The rose is an unidentified hybrid tea I spotted on my morning walk today. The hip is from an old wild rose, rugosa variant "hansa" that blooms once and then I let the hips grow. I don't do anything with them, just let them be. In the fall birds feed on them. If by chance we get a cold snap and they go soft and mushy and ferment a bit I watch a bunch of drunken birds feast and fly loop-dee-loops into the nearest tree to sleep it off.

Shot them both while they were still in "open shade" which is shade with clear skies above. This gives for very soft shadows and a slight bluish tinge. The latter you can easily correct out and colors are back in sync and appear natural.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just a little rose

Not just any rose but "The Alexandra Rose" from David Austin that I got through the Regan Nursery up in No Cal. Very simple, softly scented single rose that looks like a wild rose except it repeat blooms. Starts deep coppery apricot with deep pink edges and finishes to very soft near white with light pink edge. Awesome when it goes into bloom all at once.

Its been busy around here today...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

DESG* You're slacking off....

*DESG is the Duarte East Side Gang and that band of arists had been doing some really amazing work under the trestles of the pedestrian path between Duarte and the San Gabriel River Trail in Irwindale. Don't know what happened but all their art has been pretty much tagged over and erased into oblivion. Of course the constant over painting is nothing new which is why urban art in the wild is so transient. Those boys need to get busy and entertain me again.

Interesting, but a trend I've seen more in the inner portions of LA has appeared up here. That's stencil art and here it says "monkee love". Don't know what it means and not sure I'm curious enough to google it.

HDR works really well here in bringing in all the detail under the trestle and still not blow out to oblivian the highlights from the light sand in the burning sun. Shot with the trust EOS20d, Raw bracketed +/- 2 stops with the trusty 20-35mm wide angle, HDR and tonemapped in Photomatix then run through the Virtual Photographer in CS2. you go urban art in the wild along the dried up San Gabriel River

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pointillists for piece

Back to the impressionists track again. I've been thinking about that whole group again and wound up going back to the old autochromes when I looked at a link that brought a view to my blog here in the first place. Before I forget, Happy 100th Birthday on the marketing of Autochromes!

That link in itself was interesting as it is part of a group of traditional photographers group called Analog Photography Users Group or Apug. I cruised through them and saw some really interesting stuff. This group is dedicated to all things silver which they call "analog". A few of them are finding ways to make those autochrome films for use now but haven't been able to find the right combo of ingredients. Sigh.....

Anyway what struck me odd is that so much of the autochromes that exist belong to the French Army archives...they used it to document WWI so they have been well prepreserved. The images I found link hopping are interesting, very different images of war, romanticized by the look of the autochrome film. Click Ministry or WWI Color to see the archives.

So here I am looking at my HDR stuff from the weekend and the light went off once again. I loved the look of autochromes, color shifts withstanding, and always marveled how much they reminded me of the work of the pointillists of that period in the early 1900's. Always funny how art and technology wind out getting melded and influence each other. Using some HDR image made it possible to even keep shadow and highlights full of info for a more complete image. Anyway...down that road I went.

Enjoy "Santa Monica Pier" and "Alone in a Crowd" done in an impressionists style using modern tools to imitate a photographic process some 100 years old! Oh yeah, the pun...pointillists give you pieces of color, bombs blow it into pieces and artists usually rally for peace.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Happy HDR of course

If the trusty counter is correct I've blither blathered here for the 100th time with this post. As it grows it makes sense I use one of my newer explorations, HDR to celebrate.

No news that I am more than a little enamored and curious about HDR as a tool to help a photographer. Whether it be realistic images or so far off into the surreal and impressionistic there is a lot it can do.

This morning I spent quite a bit of time working on some seascapes I shot in HDR while at Santa Monica Pier yesterday. I am frustrated as when there are super bright hot spots from the sun bouncing off the water at low angles the program wants to black it out with a darker portion form another frame. I suspect since the ocean is moving and the 3 frames are just microseconds apart this movement is tossing off the program in extreme contrast areas. How to work with it is my next task. Right now it looks like a lot of flotsam in the bay, and though Santa Monica Bay isn't the cleanest body of water out there, it certainly is better than my pics so far showed. I suspect that this will be an area where the surreal advantages outweigh the real. We shall see.

The ghosting part as objects move around in the frame during the sequence is fun. Adds to the tension and illusion of energy when there is ghosted movement. HDR is funny as it ghosts fainter in the direction of travel so it starts to look like a predictor of movement rather than the usual showing where its gone. Fun to work with. HDR of the roller coaster. Enjoy and now its back to work here....

Its all about dynamic tension...

Composition is all about contrasts in color, light/dark and line to produce tension and dynamics to stimulate your brain. A bunch of carnival rides gives you lines, repeating lines and arcs as well as some bold color. The latter done on purpose to get your attention and keep you excited and stimulated. Great psychology on the designers part, even more fun as a photographer to meander through and shoot the scene from the totality of it all down to the minute' of details. Enjoy these few tidbits shot at the Santa Monica Pier over the weekend.
Its fun to just shoot

Things get pretty good when all you have to do is wander around a pier, camera in tow and just enjoy the scenery. Here's just a little sampling of the stuff seen in the arcades on the Santa Monica Pier. I just love the overly saturated color and texture of these prizes. Even how they display them is entertaining at times...all nicely hung stopping just short of being drawn and quartered...sheesh!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Shrek was here...

Just a little amuse bouche for the eyeballs. Spent the day at Santa Monica Pier just shooting and enjoying an absolutely perfect So Cali June day with no June Gloom...IE Sunny and 72. Does life get better than this? A little Shrek doing the Kilroy routine that just cracked me up in the arcades is your little treaty for the evening.

Anyway...I got all the images sorted into basic categories and will be posting more once I work up a few during the course of the next day or so....

Friday, June 08, 2007

Just a quick stroll through the garden....

Abraham Lincoln in Bud
Cluster of Royal Wedding English Roses
But closer on a Royal Wedding blossom as it unfolds
Very close look into Royal Wedding
A camera in the garden is a good way to avoid having to work or do anything constructive in the garden. Its an excuse to just enjoy.
Abraham Lincoln is a hybrid tea I bought when I first started growing roses. Its a nice very deep red variety dating back to 1964. That means its old enough that it still smells like a rose...
The "Royal Wedding" falls into the category of an "English Rose" but actually was developed here in So Cal over in Thousand Oaks by a breeder by the name of Keith Zachary and available through Weeks Roses several years ago. It starts out on the apricot side of pink as it begins to unfold and fades to pale pink at the end of its cycle. It is extremely fragrant and has very large fully cupped blossoms. Outstanding left on the bush or cut and put in a vase. The latter option perfumes the house for days.
English Roses are really the rubenesque variety in my gardens. Big, bold, vivacious, bosomy about as good as it gets in the rose world for me. Walking through the garden when they are all in full flush is like walking through a brothel on bath night...and smells about as good!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Look...ornaments everywhere and it ain't Christmas! Yesterday I met an old friend and we went off to lunch in the Silver Lake area, Tropical Cafe was the name of the place. Cuban deli and highly recommend their classic Cuban Sandwich. Very good. Very Cheap...and no lines like you find at Porto's in Glendale.

I got invited to blog on the site a couple of weeks ago. Invited because I was commenting on stuff and in short terrorizing a few judging by the reactions. But I did it to be the devil's advocate and make people think a bit. The cool thing is that I have met some cool new people in the deal. People cross our paths for a reason and its always good to let them in and see what develops.

One of the bloggers has tagged me in a meme game. Its sorta like the chain letter emails 'cept you just post on your own and wait for them to tag you back. The rules...

So -- the tagging/meme -- Here are the rules:
1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2: People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3: At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4: Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Since I got tagged by Julia...she can now see I responded. I don't have 8 fellow bloggers in my chain yet so I guess there's a few lucky souls out there.

My 8:
1. I have lived in LA longer than anywhere else my entire life...22 years and counting.
2. I believe art should match your soul not your sofa.
3. My first drunk was with my best friends and the Parish priest on our 8th grade retreat.
4. Psychopharmacology has its purpose...just in small doses over short periods of time. Gimme a reset button in the form of a Benzodiazepine and all is well with the world in short order.
5. I love the Dr. Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell.
6. I own most of what Hunter S Thompson has written...I reread "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" often to remember to question the writers baggage and politics in general. (Maybe this is where I got the wild hair to support the whole states rights, Sage Brush Rebellion in the 80's)
7. I have no problem stirring the pot and watching it boil. Thats why blogs were a godsend for my id and ego.
8. I have no credit cards...I can't be trusted with the damn things.

So there you go my random 8. Now which of the group will shock you is the bigger question.

To the've been tagged
Julia at who tagged me first
Rutz at
Will at
Coop at

So there you go...follow them, follow me but get a laugh or pause to think of your own random stuff. Now if there was just a way to include my flickr buds in this....

Talk to you all again soon, 'puter is back after a quick detour back to the shop for a new sound card so its time to get busy again...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rattlesnakes sure put a damper on things...
I took a run up to the West Fork of the San Gabriel River and Canyon late this morning just for a break from the gray skies of the LA Basin socked in again with June Gloom. Very nice day for a hike and to enjoy the warm sun up in the mountains. The downside is that every rattlesnake and its young'ns had the same thought. It is just no fun walking around when all you see is those critters, or worse hear them but don't see them. Ended my visit short as I was not dressed appropriately for meandering around snake country.
I did however have enough time before discovering those critters to get out a bit and enjoy the sounds of the river rushing over rocks and the winds whistling up the canyon.
HDR can go so many ways. Real or Surreal. Today I used it to fill in the shadows with detail normally lost when shooting realistic landscapes. Short version is I shot all today with the Canon EF Ultrasonic 20-35MM, mostly at max wide angle for the all encompassing view and distortion in angle to get as much of the scene as possible. I used Aperture mode for the metering, f16 and the camera took care of the 3 images +/- 2 stops to get me the Raw files needed. After running through Photomatix, CS2 and Virtual Photographer I dumbed them down and resized to fit here.
Enjoy 3 views of the West Fork of the San Gabriel River Canyon.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I hate sodium vapor lights...
Those blasted super bright, overly orange lights are the curse of night photography, unless of course you are going for that clockwork orange nuclear afterglow. Aside from the light pollution issues, its just not natural. No matter how you try you just can't get it colors shifted back as it is completely lacking in the blue end of the spectrum. Argh...mix it in with the unearthly glow of a fluorescent bulb, which lacks much in the red end of the spectrum,and there is no hope of balancing for a natural appearance to your lighting.

But all is not lost when you are going for the surreal. When you have multiple sources each with their own color base it takes some experimenting but you can work with overall color filtration and emphasize one or the other. At least its not an insurmountable hurdle if you are running down that path. It would however be nice if the cities could decide to use one type of light source consistently to make life a bit easier. With the surreal and impressionistic being one of my favorite paths to hurdle down you can tell which way I went this morning.

These images were shot with the EOS20d, shot Raw in AV mode f8, EV neutral and +/- 2 stops. The RAW files were combined with the Photomatix Pro, then tonemapped converted to 8 bit for the final filtering and run through Virtual Photographer. many steps but still immensely easier than the old dip and dunk days and hours spent dialing in a tidge more cyan, blue or whatever.

Enjoy "Tromp L'oeil Plane" and "Shamrock Gassed" the end result of my late evening meanderings in Monrovia yesterday.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

HDR and Dusk are kinda magic....

Since I did my first series of HDR images at Dusk I've been more than a little intrigued by how it can go either very impressionistic and surreal to very literal. Tonight I broke down and went down to an old Gas Station dating back to Monrovia's Route 66 Days. The station has been there since Monrovia had an airfield in the 1920's. It is a bit of history that remains and I figured this might be a good time to document it and experiment with the HDR.

In a bit of a flight of fancy I shot this wanting to blend in the real and surreal. For you techy kinds I shot it RAW, Average metering with an f8 Average value and ISO 400. The trusty 38-200 lense was used at a focal length of 50mm with shutter speeds of 3.2, 8 and 13 seconds. I used Photomatix Tonemapping for the HDR generation. I then finished it up with CS2 and the Virtual Photographer plug-in after it was converted down to 8bit jpeg. Then....I took that monster file and print down to 72 bit in a final size to fit better here which means a lot of subtle detail is lost...but blah blah get the idea.

Enjoy "Shamrock Gas" with the promise of more from tonights shoot to follow.

Tonemapping = a good way!

Recently while cruising the FlickrHDR I stumbled across an interesting subgroup "Flickr Tone Mapped". This interesting group tonemaps images but not from HDR files, rather from their single exposure files. It got my attention and I decided to see what I could do with it.

Working from single exposure RAW (CR2 in Canon speak) files I used the Photomatix Tonemapping plug-in instead of Photoshop's as it give me more control and better results. From there I was able to micromanage many variables much like I did back in the dip and dunk days in the dark room. End result is that micromanaging your image in the PC rivals some of the stuff you could do with silver based imaging. Not the same breadth of detail you see in HDR but very controlled traditional imagery

Both of these were images were shot with the EOS20d, aperture value "f8" with the 28-200MM USM lense with evaluative metering in the RAW mode. Final images were dumbed down to 8bit, resized for here in jpeg format. Yes, detail is lost in the process but you get a good idea of the final image.

For you gardeners out there the purple rose is "Route 66" shrub rose developed by Weeks Roses that I got simply because it is a deep purple, unusual for roses. The pinky rose is a David Austin English Rose "Mary Rose" which I have had for years and keep trimmed way back. It fades from deep pink to light pink as the bloom progresses from bud to spent.

Summer Flowers Arrived a bit early this year....

The Agapanthus bloomed about 3 weeks early this year, don't know why but they did. Even the trusty Sweet Alyssum is going strong.

The last sign of summer is the Trumpet Horn vine hiding the back fence with its buds that look like a lipstick pushed all the way out is getting ready to bloom. That means butterflies and bees will be taking over the bush as soon as they discover them.

Today was our first bright morning in a while, put aside the yard work and just wandered around the gardens enjoying all the color and stuff.

Hope your day has started out as well as mine!