Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Photo Blogging Challenge (April 2013): Transportation

A friend of mine who writes several blogs has put out a photo challenge for bloggers, so I thought I might give this one a whirl.  As usual, I forgot about it until the very last moment, but since it's still April, I'm good to go on this one.  The challenge was to take five photos throughout the month centered around a certain theme.  The theme for this month was Transportation.  Here are my five photos.

1.  Space travel
OK.  This one may be cheating since this isn't the actual space shuttle, but it fits the theme and I'm going to use it.  This is the Ellison Onizuka Challenger Memorial in Little Tokyo near downtown Los Angeles.

As President Ronald Reagan spoke in one of his eulogies following the Challenge disaster back in 1986, "The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.  We will never forgert them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."  

I didn't have enough years of teaching experience at the time to apply for the Teacher in Space program.  If offered a chance today, I'd go in a millisecond.

2.  Walking
These people were just cool.  I took several shots of them and in reality, what I should have done was call out to them to get a better shot, or possibly a strangers photo of one or several of them.  Each of them had their own style, from the two tone yellow and red pants, to the two toned hair style of the guy leading the group.  It's hard to see, but each side of his head, left and right, was a different color.

I've come to appreciate walking much more as I've gotten older.  I've never been a runner, but I enjoy hiking and I get out and walk the neighborhood as much as I can to get some exercise.  It's becoming more of a habit for me the older I get, which I view as a good thing (the habit of walking, not the getting older part).

3.  Traffic
Not much transporting going on here, at least on the westbound side of the freeway.  Traffic was pretty much stopped with only cars getting by on the right shoulder of the freeway when I took this shot.

I had been on my way home when I spotted the smoke from what I assumed was a brush fire.  I calculated where the fire was based upon my position and decided to get off one off ramp beyond my usual off ramp.  That was a big mistake because as soon as I got around a curve in the freeway, traffic stopped dead and I realized the fire wasn't up in the hills, but right in the middle of the freeway.  

I was able to get off at the next exit, but it took upwards of 30 minutes to get there and I didn't think I would have gotten a really good shot, but I parked my car, walked over the bridge overlooking the freeway and just about the time I got there, this flare up happened.  It must have been really burning earlier while I saw in traffic.  Had I gotten off at my normal exit, I think I would have gotten more flames, but I'm pretty satisfied with this shot.  

Los Angeles freeways are our life blood.  They get us where we want to go, but when some kind of "cholesterol" clogs those arteries, things tend to break down, as witnessed here.

4.  Scooter
I spotted this scooter parked in front of a garage door in our neighborhood this week.  It represents a cheaper form of motorized transportation, something that can get you around those kinds of jams depicted in the photo above.  I wouldn't take something like this on the freeway though.  It's way too small.

I rode a Honda Supersport back in the summer of 1983.  I took it many places, gave many friends lifts to different things.  It's amazing how many girls just want to ride a motorcycle.  I always carried a second helmet just "in case."  I took that motorcycle to and from my summer job at Disneyland on city streets most days during that summer.  I made the mistake of taking the freeway late one night home instead of city streets.  Riding next to a tall truck, I suddenly realized how vulnerable I was next to it and realized that if the truck came over, even though I was wearing all of the proper safety equipment, I would be hamburger.  I took a break from riding.  A couple of weeks later, my dad got into an accident, destroyed his knee in the process and neither one of us ever rode a motorcycle again.

5.  Bicycle
When I lived closer to work, I used to ride my bicycle.  It was only a mile and a half ride.  I still have that bicycle, but I haven't ridden it in years and I know it needs an overhaul.  I think one of the things I do during my summer break will be to get the bike safety checked, buy a new helmet and get back into riding.

It's funny, that although I enjoy riding my bike, I prefer walking and hiking for the simple reason that it's hard to take photos when you're riding.  Walking, if you see something, you can stop, compose your shot and fire away.  Riding would be a little more cumbersome to take photos, because the camera would be strapped away, so I'd have to stop, get the gear out, compose the shot and hope the shot I wanted was still there.  So in a way, I think I'm trying to talk myself out of riding a bike.

Now that you've read all of this, here's a link to others who have participated in the challenge for this month.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Flashback Friday

I ended up hitting my flashback button at 365 and came up with this self portrait I took of me and our dog Jack at the beginning of summer vacation last year.  I'm not sure why, but I haven't done many self portraits recently and I think I need to do some more of them.  

One thing I like about self portraits is you can get pretty creative when you take them.  You don't have to include your face every time.  I have several where I just show my hands or my chest.  I have many where all you can see is my eye.  

I actually have a self portrait in mind that will actually need to use some of my PhotoShop skills to complete, but I need to do it during daylight hours where there is light.  Inside light will not be enough, but I think I can pull it off.  It should be fun.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4 weeks of growth

About four weeks ago, I wrote about the start of my garden for this year. If you click on the link, you can see the difference in growth of my tomato plant over the past four weeks.

The original photo shows a plant about 6 inches in length growing out of the bottom of the Topsy Turvy.  The plant, 4 weeks later is now about 4 times that length (approximately 2 feet total) and sprouting three blossoms, plus several other blooms that are ready to open up.  If you look closely, you can see the three blossoms on the main trunk of the plant.  

If all goes well, sometime in June, I believe I will be pulling large tomatoes off of this plant and placing rather large slices on my burgers.  Mmmmm.  I can taste them already.

I'm really amazed at how well this plant is growing thus far.  I really had no idea how this would work and it just seemed like a crazy idea, but if those tomatoes actually develop, I'm sold on this.  In fact, I think I'll probably buy another one to double my output of tomatoes.  I'll try to keep you updated as the weeks go by.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blast from the past

Yesterday I received an email from my daughter asking if I could find some old photos of her playing her violin when she was about five or six.  I have to assume that she's planning on using these photos for her student teaching with the first graders in her class.  Today I looked through some old photos and found several that I thought would do very well for her, so I scanned them and sent them off.

In the process of looking through the photos I ran across this one and I had to share it with you.  This was taken during her third camping trip.  The first two, a trip up near Lake Arrowhead and another one at Joshua Tree National Monument were over night camping trips.  I wanted her to enjoy the experience in the hopes that we could take longer ones.

This trip lasted 5 days I believe.  We camped at Lodgepole campground, walked amongst the Giant Sequoias, drove down to Cedar Glen in Kings Canyon National Park and hiked up to the top of Moro Rock.  I love the look on her face in this shot as she appears to be quite pleased with herself.  She should be since she accomplished this at the age of five years old.  Now she's grown up and her students are just about the age she was when she made that first dizzying hike.  Maybe sometime in the future, she'll be able to camp with me again.  That would be fun.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Flashback Friday

With Friday here, another week of school is in the books.  As the school year winds down, I found it kind of interesting that my flashback for this week took me back to the beginning of the school year. 

I was sitting down at lunch on a very hot day back in August and a couple of my former students came in with a paper bag.   They'd caught a preying mantis and wanted to know if I wanted it so I could take some pictures of it.  I had to admit, that's pretty good loyalty, coming from 8th graders, when they capture cool looking bugs just to give to their computer teacher so he can photograph it.

As I noted on the original page, the reason why I went with black and white on this image is there was so much green, the insect just blended in.  By converting it to an infrared processing, it helped bring the mantis out and made it stand out on the background.  Either way, these guys had my back that day and made my photo of the day pretty easy back on August 29th.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It goes in waves

Yesterday, I ended up taking two different stranger's portraits.  A month ago, I speculated that a change of scenery and travel was all that I'd really need to break out of a little slump I'd been in as far as taking good stranger's photos.  I figured that once I got up to San Francisco, I'd be able to get a lot of strangers shots.  Well, yes and no.

Doing this project, I realize that you have to pick your moments.  A lot of time, I'm on the move and it doesn't always work really well to just stop, turn around and then approach someone you just saw to take their photo.  I've actually found that it's easier if I've already engaged them in a little conversation before asking them for a photo.  Some people work differently, but for me that seems to work the best.

Saturday, I was walking around the village area in Claremont looking for some interesting people of which to take photos.  I wasn't actually looking for a stranger shot, but more for some street photography and I ended up getting a fairly decent shot.  One of the groups I belong to on Flicker is a weekly challenge group.  The Sunday of each week, a weekly theme is posted and you're supposed to go out and take a photo for that theme.

I've been doing very well each week with the theme for the week.  I just ended up waiting until the last minute to get a street shot for this week.  But the real story is while I was taking that shot, Mike and Kenneth passed me by and then engaged me in a conversation that led to me being part of Mike's senior thesis and both Mike and Kenneth being part of my stranger project.  

Mike, who is pictured at top, was working on his college senior thesis.  He wants to be a Foursquare minister after getting out of college and so some of the questions were rather intriguing.  I gave him my insight on what I believed and he was satisfied with my answers and then I turned the table and asked him to be part of my project as well.  Mike was a little hesitant, but Kenneth was very enthusiastic (probably because he's a photographer as well), and his enthusiasm swept Mike into the project.

We ended up talking with each other for about 15 to 20 minutes and afterward I had two stranger photos to go along with a stranger photo that I'd gotten up in San Francisco.  Earlier, I'd been worried that I might not get another stranger shot and I've gotten three in the past 9 days or so.  The key is perhaps to not go looking for them as they will come to you.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Flashback Friday

A little hot chocolate never hurt anyone, or so they say right?  This photo was taken during the Christmas season over a year ago in December 2011.  

I remember wanting to try something like this and my daughter had hung lights around the windows in the kitchen and I noticed a nice reflection of the light against the window pane.

Now, it was just finding the right kind of coffee mug.  We have several different Christmas mugs, but I liked this one the best of the ones we had at the time, so I placed this mug on the edge of the kitchen table and focused on the mug.  The depth of field was shallow enough to blur the lights and give me this interesting shot of what I then called Lucky Charm marshmallows falling into the hot chocolate.

When I pulled this one up using the Flashback link at 365, I wasn't sure if I wanted to use it or not, but my wife was standing behind me and said she remembered when I did this one and really liked it and who's to argue at that point?  I know my daughter really likes this shot too, so I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sharpshooters - Week 145

It's been a month since I've posted about the Sharpshooters International Photography Club, so I thought I'd share again this week.  As always, I'm in awe of the photographic talent in this group.  We keep adding new members and the quality seems to improve each week as we post our weekly thread.

This week, 41 photographers representing, 6 continents, have posted an amazing assortment of photos bringing us closer together as a group.  I've worked my way through half the thread and as soon as I've posted this, I'll be heading back to view the rest of the photos and comment on them.

My photo, posted here, is from last week's road trip I took to the bay area in Northern California.  You may end up seeing more of that trip in the weeks ahead, but for now, I was very pleased with this image of Coit Tower taken on the stairs walking up Telegraph Hill.  I ended up taking several images, including a set of bracketed shots (same subject, but different exposures).  The bracketed shots I combined into this one shot.  My 17 year old son helped pick out the image for this week and he said, "It's probably the best photo you've ever taken Dad."  That's pretty high praise in my estimation.

Being in a group like this makes me want to travel more.  I've seen some shots of places in the last couple of that really make me want to go there.  Please check out this week's thread, #145.  Like us and please share the thread with your friends.