Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sonoma Countryside

Hali and I were driving to a Diners Club dinner at Restaurant P30 outside of Sebastopol when we stopped to browse at a (horse) tack store. The oaks and clouds seen above were right across the street.

We got to the restaurant a bit early so I had a chance to check out the nearby mailboxes and apple trees. And, we had a great meal!

Photos: Oaks & Clouds—Sonoma County, 2010; Mailboxes—Sonoma County, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


On my way up to Santa Rosa to have lunch with Marilyn I stopped off in Petaluma for some pix.

Photos: Dairymen's—Sonoma County, 2010; Pacific—Sonoma County, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Horse Blogging

a) Tuffy with his lead line draped over him, contentedly grazing away. Munch munch, chew chew.

b) Chula posing in the early morning light. Tuffy seen many times before, Chula here.

Photos: Tuffy Grazing—Marin County, 2010; Chula—Marin County, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

. . . from the archives #59: Dogwood—Yosemite, 1995

Another milestone in the unending quest for dogwood pix. I'm thinking that this stand of dogwood is not entirely natural; I found it right next to the Ahwanee Hotel. We've seen dogwood before, oh yes we have:

Dogwood 1986

Elusive Dogwood

Dogwood 1991

Photo: Dogwood—Yosemite, 1995

Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Fluff & Fold

Nice, but check out the all-time fluff & fold winner.

Photo: Fluff & Fold—Marin County, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Unblogged L.A. Pix

Some unblogged pix from my last L.A. visit. Yes, the hedge photo is overexposed. No, I didn't mean to overexpose it. Yes, I am blog-publishing it anyway.

Photos: Hedge—Los Angeles, 2010; Self-Portrait (Melrose Avenue)—Los Angeles, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alcatraz (Obligatory)

Obligatory Alcatraz prison shots. It was a nice day, too nice to get that oppressive gloomy look.

Photos: Main Building (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010; Cells (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Foragers' Dinner #2

Linda brought over a shiitake log (in basket, above). The foraged items were put into a salad and also combined with mushrooms, pasta, garlic and butter. Then, dinner with some very nice sauvignon blanc. Yum!

Photos: Mushroom Basket—Marin County, 2010; Pasta with Foraged Items—Marin County, 2010; Salad Tossing—Marin County, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Foragers' Dinner #1

We had a unique dinner last weekend consisting of (mostly, somewhat) items picked in the wild by Hali and Linda, then prepared by Hali, Linda and Barbara, then enthusiastically eaten by them and me.

Foraged items included miner's lettuce, wild onions, dandelion greens and plantain (an herb). Also used: cheese, pasta and mushrooms.

Photo: Miner's Lettuce & Buckeye Leaves—Marin County, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Dog Blogging

Taken in San Francisco using the Olympus C-8080. Great day for a romp!

Photo: Dog & Mt. Tam—San Francisco, 2006

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Visiting Alcatraz (Photographers)

If you are going for photography, the best thing to do is to take the first ferry over. Once you've arrived start slowly making your way up the winding main street to the top and then over to the west side. They offer various interpretive programs, of course, but to take pix without crowds in them get the photography in first. I was somewhat surprised at the amount of people that showed up in early March.

I probably shouldn't have been surprised, though.

Official Alcatraz site: Alcatraz NPS

Photo: Alcatraz Fire Department (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vernal Equinox

. . . tulips from Trader Joe's.

Photo: Tulips—Marin County, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Alcatraz Gardens #2

Again: taken in color, looked at, then converted to black and white. Big problem with trying to retain detail in the flowers . . . on the verge of being "blown-out."

Photos: Lilies #1 (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010; Lilies #2 (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alcatraz: The Two Towers

Someday I must talk about my exquisite black and white conversion theory.

Photos: Guard Tower (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010; Water Tower (Alcatraz)—San Francisco, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alcatraz Gardens #1

Hali & I visited Alcatraz Island this month. (Alcatraz is the sort of place that locals never seem to get around to. Finally we made it!)

We timed our visit to coincide with a guided hike through the various gardens that had been planted over the years by staff and prisoners. Extremely interesting.

Photos: Lilies & Bay—San Francisco, 2010; Terraces (Alcatraz Island)—San Francisco, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Hawk Blogging

Shown in reverse order. This fellow and I had a fine stand-off as I was walking to the beach: he absolutely wanted to stay on that sign . . . kept glaring at me until I actually got quite close.

Then, on the way back to my car, I saw him perched on a nearby Bishop Pine, light coming in at an angle from the rising sun: he took off just as I raised my camera for some pix.

Photos: Hawk & Bishop Pine—Point Reyes, 2010; Hawk & Sign—Point Reyes, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Golden Gate Bridge: Winter, 2010

Two shots of the bridge taken this winter. The top one from the ferry in January, the next from Alcatraz Island in March.

Photos: Golden Gate Bridge—San Franciso, 2010; Golden Gate Bridge—San Franciso, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This Means You

Found in Point Reyes Station.

Photo: No Barking—Marin County, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Winter Fog #5: Point Reyes

It had been clear down at the ocean, but up here on the ridge trail heading towards Sky Camp the fog was back with a vengence.

Photos: Tree & Fog—Point Reyes, 2010; Lichen & Fog—Point Reyes, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Point Reyes Morning

Scenes from Limantour Beach. As usual, Mike was the only person there (early winter morning.)

Photos: Surf—Point Reyes, 2010; Beach—Point Reyes, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This is a pond at the San Geronimo Valley Golf Club. It's just off the road and adjacent to the fish ladder.

Photos: Trees, Clouds & Pond—Marin County, 2010; Ducks & Pond—Marin County, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nikon Redux: D90 Pros and Cons

Warning: camera gearhead talk.

My first Nikon purchase occurred in 1964: I bought a Nikon F SLR at the Okinawa PX for a little over $100.00. When it got stolen in the late 70’s I replaced it with an Olympus OM-1: by that time Nikon prices had severely escalated.

The next Nikon purchase was my last film camera, the F-100 SLR, replacing a series of Minolta autofocus 35mm SLRs.

In the digital era, I went with a succession of Olympus cameras, starting with a point-and-shoot, then progressing to various models, the last being an E-620 DSLR. However, I was always paying significant attention to the latest Nikon models as they were being brought out. So it was with great interest that I read the reviews of the Nikon D90 upon its release. (It got great reviews.)

As I’ve explained, I was gradually growing disenchanted with the E-620. And so, when a unexpectedly generous Christmas gift from Marge arrived, the wheels started spinning. I first got the standard package from Costco: D90 body plus two lenses (18-105mm standard zoom and 70-300mm telephoto zoom.) But after using the camera for two weeks I decided that, although I really liked the camera itself, the lens combo didn’t really work for me. (I’m really not into switching lenses back and forth, to be honest.) So: the kit was returned to Costco, and an order then placed with B&H: a D90 body plus the (newish) 16-85mm zoom lens. This is what I am using now. (Of course, a D90 replacement is due fairly shortly from Nikon.)

So, in no particular order, some first impressions (cons first).


—Sensor aspect ratio: Using the Olympus DSLRs and the Canon G9 I’ve been used to a 4:3 aspect ratio. However, Nikon uses a 3:2 aspect ratio, the same as was used in 35mm photography. The Olympus cameras took "squarish" photos, the Nikon takes more "widescreen-looking" photos. Some photos need an elongated space, but it’s turning out that I’m doing a lot of cropping of the Nikon images to bring them back to a 4:3 ratio.

—No "My Mode" or "Custom Reset Setting." I just couldn’t find this feature. After going back and forth perusing the Nikon D90 manual, and Thom Hogan’s guide with no success I finally posted a query on the dpreview D90 forum. One of the forum members responded that:

Mike, you aren't missing anything—it's not there. Nikon reserve that functionality for the D300 & up. And on those pro cameras, they give you huge amounts of control over it - separate banks of shooting settings and banks of custom settings. So you can pre-program settings for common scenes and for multiple photographers sharing the same camera.

So, not the worst thing in the world, but still . . . if my two small Olympus cameras can have this feature, you would think that Nikon could offer it as well. By the way, the D300 mentioned above is much heavier. Which brings me to

—weight: Well, it could be worse. Much worse. As it is, the combined weight of camera plus lens is only a few ounces heavier than my E-510 / 12-60 lens combo. But it is rather heavy! Not something I’d want to take backpacking. Eventually I’ll have to look into one of Nikon’s low weight plastic zooms.

—Mode dial with "scenes." Like "landscape," or "portrait." Very hokey.


—Ergonomics: Nice hand grip. Also, power switch much easier to access than on the Olympus models.

—High ISO Capability: The D90 can take low-light photos that would have been impossible using any of my Olympus cameras.

—Auto ISO feature: You can set a personalized range of ISO values together with the slowest shutter speed you can hand-hold: the camera automatically adjusts the ISO up or down depending on the available light. Very handy.

—Viewfinder: Very large and bright. I must say, though, that the (much smaller) Olympus viewfinders never really bothered me.

—Image Quality: Hard to measure, but appears to be excellent.

—Lens: I opted to spend some more money and get the 16-85mm lens (35mm equivalent would be 24-135mm.) Will possibly require a separate blog post.

We will see. As you might note (photo above) I am not utilizing the wonderful Nikon yellow-letter strap. Also, I have switched-out the Nikon lens cap for a generic one (the Nikon lens cap wasn’t really working for me.)


D90 reviews: Here & here.
E-620 discussion.
Aspect ratio discussion.

Blog post showing an 4:3 photo (top) taken with an Olympus camera, and a 3:2 Nikon photo (bottom): Oak (Glen Drive).
My Mode thread at dpreview.
High ISO shots: Church Interior & Votive Candles shot at ISO 1600.

Photo: Nikon D90—Marin County, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Egret Blogging

Egret in the fog—San Geronimo Golf Course.

Photo: Egret—Marin County, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Santa Barbara Mission #3

All right, all right . . . this is the last of the Sunday Santa Barbara Mission pix. I think.

Photos: Mission Exterior—Santa Barbara, 2010; Statues—Santa Barbara, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Web Site

OK, so now the wonderful web site is officially up. It can be viewed at

I've added a link on the right.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Still going for the perfect Point Lobos pebble shot. Not there yet. Some day I hope to have a large pebble pix to match my big leaves pix.

Photo: Pebbles—Point Lobos, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Winter Fog #4: Fence, Hill

Just off the golf course parking lot.

Photos: Fence & Fog—Marin County, 2010; Hill & Fog—Marin County, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Watching Old Faithful

An interesting second take on Old Faithful taken at the same time as yesterday's photograph. The amusing subtext here is that there is only one person actually watching Old Faithful directly . . . Marge, on the right. Both Mike, on the left, and Bill, taking this photo, are interposing a camera between themselves and reality.

Photo: Watching Old Faithful—Yellowstone, 1987 (Bill Mundy)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

. . . from the archives #58: Old Faithful—Yellowstone, 1987

Taken on the same trip as the Custer Battlefield photo. We were entering Yellowstone in May; the roads had just opened. Although this eruption was lightly attended we could see the mute evidence of colossal parking lots bearing witness to the coming hordes of August.

I'm sure I had Adams' Old Faithful photos in mind when I took this. Probably used a yellow filter on my twin-lens reflex.

Photo: Old Faithful—Yellowstone, 1987

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Fox Blogging

Young fox. It was sitting on a rock up the street (in back of a chain-link fence) waiting for its mother to come back. And, doing a very good job of ostentatiously ignoring any onlookers!

Photo: Fox—Marin County, 2006