"The last fling of winter is over... the earth, the soil itself, has a dreaming quality about it. It is warm now to the touch; it has come alive; it hides secrets that in a moment, in a little while, it will tell."
~Donald Culross Peattie
For the next five days or so, there will be some chilly weather systems moving through the Bay Area that will bring some fog, moderate rain and fairly cool temperatures, but it won't be harsh because basically, winter has already moved on. The snow last week on Mount Hamilton was short lived, but amazingly beautiful all the same, and it is more than likely the last time we will see it dusting the Diablo range this year. There will likely be a bit of a snow fall in the Sierra, but schedules being what they are, I am not sure I can make it up there to do any photography. That makes me a little sad, because our trip to Mt. Hamilton gave me a wonderful chance to experiment with lighting that I don't get to experiment with often. I loved how one moment the sun would create a halo affect around trees or branches and blossoms, but the wind around a corner and the whole scene would suddenly appear to have a blue cast on it. For an amateur such as myself, it was a lot of fun to work with!
Still, I have very few complaints about the situation with the weather. I plan to grab the cameras and head into Tilden Park for some late afternoon photography. Tilden never lets me down! There are plenty of opportunities to work with lighting and shadows. I am especially fond of the area around Little Farm and Lake Anza. Lots of birds and different kinds of trees, and if there is time, the Botanic Garden always provides some of the parks loveliest pathways and small trails. The best way to approach a day in Tilden is to plan not to plan! LOL. Just grab the cameras and let the scenes unfold without expectations. And when you finish in the park, there are usually some stunning sunsets to see! Grizzly Peak Boulevard is one of my favorite places to photograph the sun setting behind the Golden Gate. I never get tired of watching it!
Here are the remaining photos from the series I did last week in Walnut Creek and Cull Canyon Lake...
First Comes Autumn
And Now Spring
"Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be the only one of his instruments, not the composer."
~ Geoffrey Charlesworth
Proof Winter Was Here...
"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
It will be time to feed and nurture the rose garden soon. The roses need some vitamins and a good solid dusting of cinnamon to begin the season. I am looking forward to seeing all those beautiful rose faces again! My cat Hendrix loves to eat rose petals like potato chips! LOL. He is a silly cat! He even cries for them when he sees me near them, so I always pick one or two for him. Fortunately they are one of the plants that is non-toxic to cats. No lilies for this girl! I only give him a couple petals at a time, and I only work with organic gardening products that I mostly make myself. I have to, my boy loves the roses almost as much as I do! :)
Winter was just cold enough this year to inflict a small amount of damage to the rose garden, but it's okay, thankfully, the roses are a lot smarter than I am, and they know what to do! Spring is an expert at renewing life... I will trust the season, and some TLC from me, to help the garden along. By the time summer arrives, the garden will be in all it's glory, and I can rest a bit. I chose roses that have a strong, spicy, clove scent, and some with a bit of a peach/citrus scent. It all blends together nicely, and on hot summer evenings, it makes me very happy to sit in the garden and watch the sun set!
I can't think of anything more beautiful, or magical, than to find a tree in the last days of winter, still holding onto the crimson kiss of autumn. The trees that surround Cull Canyon Lake are amazing! I would have expected by now to see only stick figures in the park, but instead the trees are still filled with the beauty of an autumn smile. It's like last year's autumn refuses to stop smiling! And it's emotion is catching, because I can't stop smiling either!
Is there anything more beautiful than the sight of a lovely tree filled with all the colors of delicious, sensuous autumn, standing beside a different tree alive with the soft, sweet blossoms of spring? It's the best of all possible worlds in the same moment of life! It's times like this that I am most thankful for my life on earth, and for the invention of the camera! I find magic in autumn leaves... and being able to bring my lunch to the park, and spend a little time in a second autumn, is nothing short of a wish granted! I have saved these moments, for later in the year, when everything seems unduly difficult and harsh, I can look back on last year's invincible autumn smile and things won't seem so difficult, in fact, it will remind me that anything is possible!
"Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year."
It's time to close another month. This February was a mild one in the Bay Area, a fact that leaves me a little sad, and yet grateful for all the opportunities it provided. I enjoy cold February days. One of my favorite things about the winter months is how good a bowl of Campbell's Vegetable soup tastes after I have been outside, working with my camera, on a chilly day! However, the upside to having fewer truly cold winter days, came the opportunity to get outside and do a lot of late winter themed photography!
We had one blast of a cold, snowy storm come through the Bay Area, and it allowed for a leisurely trip up to the top of Mount Hamilton, in Santa Clara county, where snow had blanketed the mountain around Lick Observatory. The snow was so soft, and watching it melt in the trees made everything look like it was covered in tiny diamonds!
The sunsets in February were stunning, and the first of the spring flowers have arrived, much to my delight! All in all I have no complaints! Indeed, I have a lot to be thankful for this past month! The snow. The sun. The cool breezes. The flowers. The warm winter sun. The halos in the clouds. It's all good!
"For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment, but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life... the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value."
"Artificial intellegence is no match for natural stupidity."
Okay, speaking frankly, I have an asshole neighbor. Every time a meteor hits earth, I have to wonder to myself... Why couldn't it have just hit my asshole neighbor. LOL. Nah... not really... but you know... I kinda do. LOL. You see, he has the best doggie in the world, and I am not being sarcastic here, the dog really is wonderful. He's silly, and energetic, and he loves to play, and he loves his daddy so much, that when his daddy leaves the house, the dog barks and barks and barks, and barks, and barks. The barking is bad enough, but what hurts is to have to hear that poor dog throw himself at the fence in an attempt to get out and go find the human he loves most in the world. My neighbor is being abusive, not just to me, but to a dog that loves him more than anything.
The dog barking stresses me out. The dog whelping in pain hurts my feelings.
Alan loves me, and so while there is nothing we can do to change the situation, he is being supportive in other ways. Last week he went out and bought me a brand new laptop computer. It's not some big deal uber-laptop, its pretty basic, but it is exactly what I wanted. My new computer is a Toshiba Satellite C855D-S5106. It isn't too heavy, so it doesn't hurt my shoulder to take it on the go, and it really suits me nicely. Alan got if for me so I could take all my cameras and the new laptop to... oh say... Starbucks... and do something a little creative to ease my nerves. I am a lucky girl, my husband spoils me rotten! So, you can imagine Alan's disappointment when I decided I might need to send it back! Why would I want to send back such an awesome gift?
Simply put.. Windows 8 is... TERRIBLE!
Why does Microsoft do it? Why do they release such dumb products sometimes? Why do they tend to release products that don't quite have all the bugs worked out? Why do they tell us their latest and greatest OS is the best thing since VISTA when clearly any Microsoft OS since VISTA pretty much has to be! VISTA was a huge mistake on their part. And absolutely worthless OS! It is the butt end of almost any joke related to Microsoft! A few years back we purchased an awesome desktop which came with the VISTA operating system, and it was rumored to be the answer to all my computing needs and then some!! I am pretty sure you can figure out how well that turned out! Exactly one year to the date of purchase, it stopped working. But not before damaging the inner workings of my computer effectively ending it's life way before it's time.
Along came Windows 7 and we purchased a brand new desktop, and it did wonderfully. Windows 7 was the the OS that should have been released previously... NOT VISTA! But I don't dwell on it, Windows 7 was the perfect OS and all was forgiven. Windows 8 isn't quite as incompetent and Windows VISTA but it's not the answer to any computing needs I have, and it is mostly a lie that it is touted as easier to use! It's straight up a LIE! My advice is.... if you are going to need a new computer in the next year or so, go get it now if you can! The store Alan got mine at, Best Buy, had no more computers on the shelf with Windows7, and even if they did, it's not always possible to downgrade to the lower OS even if you could!
I have decided to keep the laptop. And the Windows 8. I am slowly making my way around and it's getting easier to navigate, and once I removed all the programs Microsoft wants me to sign up for, the speed was a lot better also. Keep in mind, before you can do much of anything, Microsoft insists that you open and maintain a new Microsoft account. And there is some difficulty in setting up email accounts, but I downloaded AOL and now I simply log on through AOL or Firefox and I am good to go. I am not going to give up, I don't mind learning the new OS, but it would be refreshing if Microsoft would stop releasing bullshit programs. Windows 7 is a solid product, and it was easy to navigate and do whatever you need to do.
As for Windows 8... So far I am not impressed!
As for the neighbor... He can go to HELL and may his job there be to help his fellow castoffs learn the VISTA operating system! FOR ALL OF ETERNITY!
"Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can."
Is a blurry photograph an artistic misstep? Is the moment you had just been trying to capture, forever lost in some unfocused haze? 10 years ago I would have said YES! It is gone, and there is no use crying over spilled flash bulbs! Tee Hee! Remember flash bulbs? Anyway, what I have learned during that decade is that while there are most certainly rules about 3rds and making sure you put some thought into the conditions you will be shooting in, but probably the most important rule is to always... always... always have your camera with you! My goodness, I have learned a lot about that! I have missed some amazing opportunities, and I have my memories to remind me about those missed opportunities, and how much it hurts to know I let all those moments get away! I am older, and wiser now, so needless to say, I have at least one camera on me every time I leave the house!
The camera I have with me most often is my small red Kodak, which is a 16 megapixel, with a 5x optical zoom. I just upgraded my cellphone, but I still carry my little HTC Aria with me, as it had a decent camera on it, and I can't bring myself to pack it away! As good as that cell phone camera is, my new HTC VIVID is magnificent! But those are just the little pocket cameras, I also have a Konica Minolta, and a Fuji Finepix which has 14 megapixals and an 18x optical zoom. They are all excellent cameras, but the Fuji does give me trouble from time to time with the focus. It has a great zoom, but it's not always as clear as I would like. It produces a lot of noise, but under the right lighting conditions, it can't be beat!
Last week, I had my trusty Kodak with me, because there was a storm coming through the Bay Area, and I knew that if I got the chance to capture some of the light play going on with the gorgeous colors in the clouds in the late afternoon, I could count on my Kodak! Well, the light began to fade fast, but I just had to try and get just a glimpse of the sky. As hard as I tried, I couldn't quite accomplish a photo that was crystal clear. But I liked the pictures anyway, so I decided to put my photo editing tools to work, and applied different textures to the photo, finally deciding to go with the "flower" texture option. I liked the end result. Take a look at the side by side, and tell me what you think!
So tell me, which one do you think is more pleasing to the eye? Original, or textured? Or maybe you hate both! How do you feel about less than perfect photos, do you always delete blurry images, or do you try to save the photo through editing? Tell me everything!
"For a moment as least, be a smile on someone else's face."
~Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches The Sun
I am having so much fun with this little impromptu project I am calling, "A Face In The Crowd." I don't go looking for faces, because you and I both know that if I did try to search them out, Murphy's Law would be right there to create a little havoc by making everything go all wrong. So, while I am not actively seeking out the faces I find, I am very aware there could be a new opportunity just around the corner. It's fun! And it stretches my creative muscle, without giving me a cramp! LOL. Anyway, expect more faces as the year moves on. Or perhaps this is my last one. You never know about these things!
"He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom."
"We want to thank all of you for watching us congratulate ourselves tonight."
Oh yes... Its Oscar time! When it comes to awards shows, I am not really a big fan, although I do tend to watch the Emmy Awards because my dear and brilliant friend Dan is a two time Emmy winning composer for television, and he tends to get nominated from time to time, and I watch the Oscars because, well, I simply put, I love movies and I appreciate what all goes into making that magic come alive. Not just the glitzy stuff, but the technical stuff as well. I was an extra in two movies, so I know what a long day on the set looks like, and feels like. I was merely a spectator last summer when Woody Allen was filming his upcoming movie, Blue Jasmine, and I got a look at what it takes to be a sound and lighting technician on a movie. A lot of hard work goes into the whole process, from the people you see, and the people you don't see. Of the three movie sets I have been to, not one of them was run the same way. I think that was what I found most striking about the whole thing. One TV and sometimes in movies, you always hear the same general words...
QUIET ON THE SET! THIS IS A TAKE. ROLL 'UM. SPEED. ACTION!
I didn't hear that word combination on any movie set I have personally been to. Last summer, the sound and camera technicians who were standing across the street from where the filming was being done, moved us aside if they had to, and yelled to each other, "Quiet.. Roll!" To us they said, "Okay folks, it will be 5 minutes, quiet please. ROLL." The technicians working that day were polite and cordial and perfect gentlemen! I imagine it isn't always easy to put up with the public, especially when the movie was being filmed on an open set, on an actual street corner in San Francisco. The locals passersby and fan clusters alike were able to come and go as they pleased, which made it all even more impressive to me. I could go on and on about last summer, but you know, I love the magic, and I appreciate what goes into making it all come alive! So yes, I will be watching the Oscars later, and here are my predictions for the ones taking Oscar home...
(Winners In Red)
Best Picture: Argo
Best Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis ( Lincoln)
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro (Silver Lingings Playbook) Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field (Lincoln) Anne Hathaway (Le Miserables)
Best Animated Feature Film: Brave
Best Cinematography: Skyfall Life Of Pi
Best Costume Design: Les Miserables Anna Karenina
Best Documentary Feature: 5 Broken Cameras Searching For Sugarman
Best Documentary Short Subject: Redemption
Best Film Editing: Life of Pi Argo
Best Foreign Language Film: A Royal Affair Armour
Best Make-up and Hairstyling: Les Miserables
Best Original Score: Lincoln Life Of Pi
Best Original Score: Everybody Needs A Friend (Ted) Skyfall
Best Adapted Screenplay: Life of Pi Argo
Best Original Screenplay: Flight Django Unchained
Alright... we will see how close I am tonight. Now, let me share with you my outfit for the Oscars...
My Dress: Monica Lhuillier
My Shoes By Prada
My Purse: By Valaria
Pearl and Diamond Choker:
Pearl and Diamond Earrings:
There I am all set! LOL. Oh my, if only! But in a perfect world, that's what I would be wearing! Perhaps one day there will be a category at the Oscars for uncredited extras! LOL. Until then I will continue to do as I do each year, get comfy in my Tweedy Bird slippers, put on my best blue robe slave in the kitchen preparing myself a plate of high end hors d'oeuvres... in this case... Bagel Bites...kick back and enjoy the show! :)
Okay, those are my picks as of 3:30 AM 2/24/12 I will come back and edit this post to reflect the actual winners!