2018—Starburst at Desert View, v.2

My camera buddy Bruce made some suggestions about finishing the photograph I posted yesterday of a starburst at Desert View in the Grand Canyon.  He pointed out that the blue triangle of sky in the upper right corner was distracting and that by straightening the tower a little, the problem would go away.  It did and I also took the time to eradicate some lens flare caused by pointing the camera directly at the sun.  Here’s the new and improved version.

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2018— Starburst At Desert View

There is an interesting stone structure at Desert View in the eastern edge of the south rim of the Grand Canyon, a watchtower designed and built by architect Mary Colter in 1932 in the style of Ancestral Puebloan towers.  Visitors can climb the circular staircase inside the structure for stunning views of the canyon. In this view, the setting sun is visible as a starburst through a window of an adjoining crumbling structure, the watchtower on the right.

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2018—Stars Of Hope

I am still in shock after seeing the devastation caused by the October fires in Santa Rosa.  And what I saw was almost five months later, after cleanup was well underway.   The cruel, capricious path of the fire driven by hurricane force winds was unfathomable.  In some places a building burned to the ground and those around it still stood, barely singed. Some of the neighborhoods I saw were completely destroyed.   Despite the annihilation of entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, signs of hope and reassurance were everywhere.  Clean-up is progressing with most lots in the areas we saw cleared and scraped of debris and toxins.   Spring grasses cover charred fields.  In a couple of instances, rebuilding has actually begun.

Everywhere we looked, hanging from charred trees and shrubs and affixed to rusted fences, we saw small wooden stars painted with words of encouragement.  One of Honora’s friends who lost her home to the fire had stopped by to sift through the ashes when a stranger approached to hang a Star of Hope on what was left of her fire-ravaged property.  The small gesture of kindness and caring drove her to tears and gave her hope that the nightmare would eventually end.  The stars, painted by survivors of other tragedies, began to appear in the area in December.  Read more about the Stars of Hope here.

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2018—Melted Ladders

The searing heat from the Tubbs Fire melted more than glass.  These aluminum ladders just a short distance away from the melted street lamp (yesterday’s post) in Santa Rosa’s Fountain Grove neighborhood, warped and bent in the bed of what is left of this now rusted pickup truck.

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2018—Glass Transition

Saturday, my friend Honora took me for a drive through the neighborhoods where just five months ago, devastating wildfires raged out of control for days in my home town of Santa Rosa, California.   It was mind boggling to witness block after block of charred vacant lots.  Most of the lots have been cleared of debris and what is left are lines of yellow caution tape, the burned ghosts of trees, and walkways to nowhere.  While we drove through the ravaged Fountain Grove area where the Tubbs Fire first exploded and residents had mere minutes to evacuate, we saw this street light, clear evidence of the deadly force of those fires.  The street light remained upright but its glass globe had begun to melt from the incredible heat.  Glass transition is the term when glass changes from its hard and  brittle “glassy” state into a viscous or rubbery state as the temperature is increased.  That temperature is about 1000°. As the fire burned and raced away on its deadly course, the globe cooled and  froze into this disfigured state, like the scars of a burn victim.

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2018—Stratus Clouds

The day we visited Lipan Point for sunset in the Grand Canyon, there was little character in the sky.  As the sun set, some stratus clouds became evident and while they didn’t make for a truly spectacular sunset, they helped make a dull sky more interesting and the bright red helped define the stratus layers.


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2018—Steve the Movie Star

The other day I was reviewing my CFBP photographs (California Foundation for Birds of Prey) because I’m preparing their latest newsletter.  Tony Suffredini is an animal trainer and rehabber for CFBP and will be at this year’s open house with some of his charges.  Last year, along with a Saker Falcon, a Golden Eagle, and a Raven, Tony showed off Steve, an Old World White-backed Vulture in his care.  Steve is a rather imposing creature to say the least.   The familiar Turkey Vultures weigh half as much as one of these Old World vultures and has a slightly smaller wing span of about 6 feet whereas the White-backed Vulture has a 7 foot wingspan.

Steve’s existence is quite remarkable.  These African vultures are endangered.  He hatched in Southern California after two 30 year old captive White-backed Vultures mated unexpectedly and laid an egg on the bare floor in their enclosure.  The egg was found after it had been exposed for a couple of days and there was little hope that it was viable but they incubated it, candled  it (yes, a heart beat) and 58 days later, Steve hatched.  Steve,  now 3 years old, is part of Tony’s family and since Tony trains birds and animals for the movies, Steve is a movie star.




2018—Spring Drops

I couldn’t resist photographing my favorite spring flower, freesia, after a rain storm.  But, I didn’t take the photographs outside but indoors in my north facing window seat with black matte board as a backdrop.  I decided that converting the image to black and white made a much more dramatic photograph.

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2018—Eagle Eyes

I’m in the process of editing the newsletter for the California Foundation for Birds of Prey.  For an article I’m writing about the CFBP’s upcoming annual open house, I came across this closeup of a young Golden Eagle being rehabbed by the CFBP’s Tony Suffredini and which made its first untethered free flight at last year’s event.  It is likely that this bird will be able to be released back to the wild this year.  It has the remnants of quail flesh and feathers on its beak.



2018—Green, Green

It’s St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m a quarter Irish.  My Great Grandfather immigrated from Ireland in the mid 1800’s.  Bobo was hatched in Bakersfield, CA and her ancestry is probably Central or South American but she proudly sports the green of Ireland.


2018—And All That Jasmine

Monday, as I waited for Homer the Hummer to appear, I photographed the jasmine that cascades over the little table on the patio.  A couple of days before, Homer actually hesitated at one of the jasmine flowers as he flew past to the feeder.  Although there aren’t many flowers in bloom now, the jasmine was only the slightest deterrent despite their heady fragrance.   And, he was too fast for me to photograph him at the feeder on this day.

I was lucky to photograph anything actually.   I came home from the Grand Canyon with a scratched cornea, the result of very dry air and wearing contact lenses too long.  The condition drove me to the eye doctor Monday morning so now I’m on antibiotic eye drops and saline ointment in the hopes that the abrasion will heal quickly and my vision will clear.  It’s a good thing my camera has Auto focus!

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2018—Point Of View

There are lots of points along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to view its splendor.  Last week we visited Hopi Point, Yaki Point, Moran Point, and Lipan Point.   We spent 2 and a half hours  at Lipon Point on Wednesday afternoon and I spent most of that time NOT taking photographs.   There were clouds but for the most part, they were more of an overcast than an interesting view.  I learned a lesson in restraint and that it is better not to take photographs when there is nothing to photograph.  Even at the Grand Canyon, the view can be dull and uninteresting.   When the clouds started to develop some character, I did take a few photographs.  This is one of the very few I took that I thought was appealing.

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2018—Atmospheric Depth

I’ve always loved photographs of mountain ranges with row after row of silhouetted ridges and hills, the closer the ridge, the darker it is.  With distance, each gets lighter the further away it is.  Thursday evening at Desert View, the eastern most edge of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the haze created this phenomenon looking north across the canyon.  I’ve never known  the term for it and Moose told me it is called Atmospheric Depth.

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