Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Getty Museum #2

Getty Pool - Los Angeles  2012

Getty Art - Los Angeles  2012

In contrast to the outside, the inside galleries used your basic "paintings with labels" approach. Don't know what else they could have done, but somehow a letdown.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Getty Museum #1

Getty, Curving Exterior - Los Angeles  2012

Getty Interior - Los Angeles  2012

Stunning architecture and a desert-like sky. Wow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Hermit Thrush Blogging

Hermit Thrush - Marin County  2012

Hermit Thrush Eye - Marin County  2012

A follow-up to last week's post. This time Mike was trying out the 40-150mm telephoto lens designed for the Olympus M43 system (35mm equiv: 80-300). Mr. Hermit Thrush obliged by hopping onto this rain barrel before he went for the privet berries.

Mike is convinced that his reflection can be seen in the little bird's eye. He's sure of it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

L.A. Sky

Skyline, Clouds - Los Angeles  2012

In an unexpected ironic twist, the air quality in Los Angeles earlier this month was far superior to San Francisco's. So, maybe an anomaly? One can only hope.

Above, a view of Century City and downtown L.A. from the heights of the Getty Center.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

From the Car #2

Flowers Shop - Los Angeles  2012

Opening - Los Angeles  2012

More car shots.

Friday, February 24, 2012

From the Car #1

Bus Stop Cafe - Los Angeles  2012

Carniceria - Los Angeles  2012

One good thing the Canon G12 has is the ability to take a shot completely one-handed (right hand, that is.) On and off switch, zoom lever and shutter button: all accessible using one hand.

So Mike had the camera sitting on the passenger seat to be used during traffic stops, vigilantly keeping an eye on the traffic light and somehow multitasking at the same time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Glendale Neighborhood

Fountain - Glendale  2012

Agaves - Glendale  2012

A nice Southern California-style neighborhood could be found just a few blocks away from the motel.

Though at times Mike found the sheer quantity of people in the L.A. basin just slightly . . . oppressive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Glendale Manhattan Motel - Glendale  2012

Experts Bio - Glendale  2012

For his most recent Southern California trip, Mike opted to rent a motel in Glendale. (Not the one shown above.)

Nice little town, although now much more developed than when Mike used to live in L.A.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

. . . from the archives #67: Keep On Truckin', Berkeley 1970

Keep On Truckin' - Berkeley  1970

So I can't remember exactly what was going on here. Some kind of storefront, housing a . . . political organization? It had to be something political.

(Note: Back then I tried to use black and white film as much as possible, but when I wasn't able to process my own photos I often resorted to Kodachrome slides.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Hermit Thrush Blogging

Hermit Thrush & Privet Tree - Marin County  2012

The Cornell site says that the hermit thrush "forages on the forest floor by rummaging through leaf litter or seizing insects with its bill." However, the modern-day hermit thrushes in Marin County have gotten a new angle on things by doing a kind of hummingibird-like wing flutter and grabbing as many privet berries as they can.

Here's one in the rain . . . eyeballing the berries on the privet tree. Could it be that he's the only one to have discovered this trick? Unlikely.

Earlier photo, also in the rain, here.

Cornell description.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Mulholland Fountain - Los Angeles  2012

William Mulholland - Los Angeles  2012

"Either you bring the water to L.A., or you bring L.A. to the water."

- Chinatown

In his last visit to Los Angeles, Mike stopped by the Mulholland Fountain on Los Feliz Blvd. near Griffith Park.

As we all recall, Mr. Mulholland was a main factor in the growth of the city.  By diverting water from the Owens Valley he insured that L.A. would be able to provide for its grotesque population growth. In fact, driving through Owens Valley today one actually feels somewhat grateful to Mr. Mulholland. If it were not for him, Owens Valley today would most likely be wall-to-wall condominiums.

"A fictionalized version of the story was used as the basis for the 1974 Roman Polanski film Chinatown. The character of Hollis I. Mulwray appears to be drawn from Mulholland." (Wikipedia)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Olympus E-PL1: Results Matter

Olympus E-PL1 & Nikon D90 - Marin County  2012

Recently there’s been a whole range of options for photographers interested in smaller, lower-weight cameras; I’ve been wanting to try one of them for some time now.

I noticed some time in late December that Costco was selling the Olympus E-PL1 as part of a package deal: body, kit zoom lens and a basic telephoto zoom for a very reasonable price. But that was last year and I wasn't interested . . . then. But when the Costco item showed up again just recently, I went ahead and ordered it.

Now I know that this is an "obsolete" camera: there have been two upgrades since it was introduced. But as I said, I've been wanting to try one of the newer "mirrorless" cameras and this looked like a good opportunity to test drive a “micro four-thirds” (Olympus/Panasonic sensor size description) sample.

I've often thought that the approach that Olympus and Pansonic are taking with these types of cameras is the correct one, that is, a semi-large, reasonably sized sensor with a small body and a small lens. This contrasts with Sony's efforts which pair a tiny body with a relatively large lens. I just don't like the looks of it (I had ergonomic problems with an earlier Sony design, the R1.) Nikon has also introduced cameras in this category that, while the basic concept looks promising, the models shown so far are too rudimentary and simplistic.

Shown above is a photo taken with the Canon G12 contrasting, for amusement’s sake, the new Olympus and my Nikon D90. The Nikon is by far the more capable camera, of course, but it’ll be interesting to see what kind of results I get with the E-PL1. Results matter.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Amaryllis 1 - Marin County  2012

Amaryllis 2 - Marin County  2012

Must remember . . . two l's.

Successfully started by Hali from a nursery-purchased bulb.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Branches & Nest - Marin County  2012

Bay Leaves & Oak - Marin County  2012
Test shots using the Olympus m43 EPL-1.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Loma Alta Hike: Fence

Fence & Sky - Marin County  2012

Fence - Marin County  2012

Marin Open Space workers have constructed a new trail in the hinterlands of the Loma Alta Open Space area. For Mike, the greatest attraction along the trail is this curvilinear fence . . .  previously seen in a Canon G9 shot.

Dissatisfied with that photo, Mike brought along the (much heavier) Nikon D90 for this hike.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Loma Alta Hike: Mt. Tamalpais & Summit

Cloud, Mt. Tamalpais - Marin County  2012

Loma Alta Summit - Marin County  2012

The day started out quite hazy, but an approaching storm front gradually began to push the stagnant air aside.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Asian Falcated Duck Blogging (January Birding)

Birders - Sacramento Valley  2012

Telephoto Lens - Sacramento Valley  2012

On our way back to Marin we stopped at the Colusa Wildlife Refuge in order to check out the furor surrounding the appearance of an extremely rare Asian Falcated Duck.

"Of the vast places to land, all the wetlands, refuges, rice fields, sinks, ponds, rivers sloughs and bypasses in Alaska, Canada and the western United States, the odds of such a rare bird landing on an island in a refuge 60 yards from a viewing deck, and then staying there for more than a month, are practically like seeing Bigfoot."

-Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle

Alas, the elusive duck remained elusive for us: he was there all right, but hidden away for the moment behind some reeds. Plenty of birders though! (The fellow with the telephoto lens seen above had taken some photos of the bird that he showed to Barbara.)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Loma Alta Road, 1982 & 2012

Loma Alta Road - Marin County  1982

Loma Alta Road - Marin County  2012

Top: Photo taken on a hike up to the top of Loma Alta in 1982.

Film grain.

Bottom: Photo taken on a hike up to the top of Loma Alta thirty years later in 2012. (But not the same road.)

Digital smoothness, taken with a Nikon D90. It's possible that the earlier shot was taken with a Nikon as well.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hay Truck & Blackberry Leaves

Hay Truck - Marin County  2012

Blackberry Leaves - Marin County  2012

Top: Delivering hay to the horses in the late afternoon.

Bottom: Stray sunlight hitting some blackberry leaves for exactly the right contrast.

Both taken with an Olympus Micro Four-Thirds camera (E-PL1). There will have to be a future blog post about this.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Logan Shadow, Yellow Truck

Logan Shadow - Marin County  2012

Yellow Truck & House - Marin County  2012

Nice use of the "shadow" theme on the horse trailer.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Apples, Bicycle & Tub

Apples - Marin County  2012

Bicycle & Tub - Marin County  2012

Mike has been experimenting using JPEGs instead of RAW files. There will have to be a blog post in the future concerning this issue.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

January Birding: Marshes

Marshes, Self-Portrait - Sacramento Valley  2012

Once back at the Grey Lodge parking lot, the birders set off under a bright blue sky upon the hiking trail curving through the marshes.

Very cold . . . (that is to say, cold for California.) In the low 30's, with a mean little breeze blowing.

In spite of his handwarmers, Mike's right hand fingers were starting to go numb.

Hm . . . OK, operate the D90's on and off switch with the thumb. And, you don't really need to feel the shutter button per se, just know where it is.

After finishing the hike and leaving Grey Lodge Mike cranked the heater up in the car and slowly thawed out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

January Birding: Primo Viewing Spot

Geese - Sacramento Valley  2012

Here it was: a break in the reeds opening up to an unparalleled view of innumerable birds taking off, landing, and hanging-out.

Making a lot of noise, as well. It's interesting that yesterday's and today's shots are the only ones in the birding sequence that actually show birds.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Hawk Blogging (January Birding)

Hawk - Sacramento Valley  2012

Hawk in tree, sunrise, Grey Lodge.

I could be wrong, but it seems that there's some posterization going on in the sky area. Hm.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

January Birding: Sunrise

Sunrise - Sacramento Valley  2012

The birders gathered in the chilly pre-dawn darkness at the local Gridley Starbucks (!) for coffee and a bite to eat.

Then, off to Grey Lodge and a view of the just-emerging sun as it crept over the reeds.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

January Birding: Sunset 2

Sunset, Water - Sacramento Valley  2012

Sunset, Trees - Sacramento Valley  2012

We took a quick drive on the loop road just as it started to get progressively darker, taking pix from the car.

Afterwards, the drive back to Gridley and a nice meal at Casa Lupe, although Mike was still stuffed from his lunch.

All he could manage was some guacamole and a margarita.

Friday, February 3, 2012

January Birding: Sunset 1

Setting Sun - Sacramento Valley  2012

Sunset, Reflections - Sacramento Valley  2012

Some clouds appeared just as the sun was going down in order to provide the appropriate dramatic backdrop. Mike used his Nikon D90 whenever possible, with the Canon G12 used for shooting from the car. Alas, Mike's lens options don't include enough reach on the telephoto side to really do any serious bird photography, so he concentrated on the landscape. (Same as in 2008.)

And the iPhone used when sitting at the Putah Creek Cafe.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

January Birding: Grey Lodge

Reeds & Water - Sacramento Valley  2012

Grey Lodge is a state wildlife refuge near Gridley, well-known for birding and hunting opportunities. We managed to make our way there just as the sun was starting to reach the horizon. The parking lot looked out upon a tranquil scene of reeds, water and the distant Sutter Buttes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January Birding: Motel

Motel - Gridley  2012

Dr. Parrott Billboard - Gridley  2012

We left Winters later than we had expected and drove directly to our motel in Gridley.

Whoa . . . it looked . . . just a little bit . . . ominous. As we arrived a chill breeze was blowing through the empty parking lot. A slightly sinister billboard for Dr. Parrott loomed overhead.

Actually, it turned out to be OK. The room next to ours housed a group of hunters and their labrador retrievers.

And, it was located fairly close to the railroad main line, a big plus for Mike.