Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Photo Blogging Challenge (Sept. 2014): Black and White

This month's challenge by P.J. was to post 5 photographs in black and white.  Originally, I was going to post something to the effect that I didn't have five B&W shots, but then I started looking through some of the shots I took this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised that I have enough to cover this month's challenge with ease.  And so, without further ado, I submit my shots for the B&W photo challenge.

1.  Grow Old with Me
I've done several of these shots in the past, but this one was actually a re-do of one of the originals I posted for this series earlier in the year.  In each shot, I wanted to emphasize my wife's wedding ring and I didn't do that very well in the first shot, so when she sat down at the piano a couple of nights ago, I had my opportunity to get the shot right.  It's still not quite perfect as I would have liked to have seen the ring straight up on her finger, but I'll take this for now.

2.  Man's Best Friend
This is Jack, our dog.  He's been featured on this blog before and will probably be featured again from time to time.  I started to Instagram earlier this year, but it's really so much easier to do with an iPhone as opposed to an iPad.  Watching football, with your dog at your side or in your lap is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I just love the contented look on his face as I scratched him under his neck.  I'm sure your dog is probably similar in that if you stop, you'll immediately know that you're not supposed to stop yet, because the paw will come out and scratch the closest body part to you and you know the dog is thinking, "Oh c'mon now.  That wasn't enough scratches.  Keep going there food guy."

3.  The Windmill
For those of you who are long term readers, you'll know that I enjoy going out geocaching.  The best way I've been able to describe geocaching is it's an Easter Egg hunt for adults.  People will go out and hide something, get the geographic coordinates for what they hid using their GPS unit and then return and posted them on the geocaching website.  Once they coordinates and cache get posted, then anyone with a GPS unit or smartphone can go out and look for the cache.  Trust me, it's way more difficult using a smartphone.

This windmill is located in San Dimas, one city to the west of where I live.  It's located behind a small little residential park and there's some fruit trees tucked back in there with a couple of trails.  I noticed on a sign there was going to be a pumpkin patch back there starting next month as well.

This photo represents why I got into geocaching in the first place.  I like to hike, but I've never been very familiar with the hiking trails in the local foothills.  When I first stumbled upon geocaching, the nearest geocache was approximately 7 miles away from our house and a half mile hike from the parking lot.  It was located in the Claremont Wilderness Park.  I had no idea that park even existed.  Now, many of my hides are in the Claremont Wilderness Park.

For me, at least, geocaching has allowed me to discover my own back yard.  I've found so many trails that I never would have known were there, were it not for geocaching.  The hobby has kept me reasonably fit, but I still need work in that area.  The last couple of times I've really been up in the foothills was on the mountain bike, so I'm starting to incorporate biking into my geocaching outings as well.  If you haven't already tried it, I would suggest checking it out.  It's a lot better than sitting on your butt all weekend watching sports.  Well, sometimes it is.

4.  The bicyclist
I live in a college town.  The Claremont Colleges (five separate universities, plus a graduate school) are located about a half mile away from where I live and provide ample opportunities for photography, whether it be architecture, statuary, people shots, or combinations of them.

This particular day, I was shooting a variety of things, walking around the campuses.  I started out at the Harvey Mudd campus at a spot that I've photographed many times before.  There is an old fountain tucked away down in a small plaza.  It has some rather large koi swimming around in it and the area always provides some great color shots.

It's rather obvious that I was looking for some kind of angle to get an interesting view of the architecture of these two buildings.  I love the building to the right totally surrounded by a reflecting pool that is only inches deep.  I'd taken several shots and I could hear a bicyclist coming up so I waited until he came into the frame.  I think that little added piece of the guy in the shot made all the difference with this one.

5.  Three college guys
After getting the shot of the bicyclist, I ended up almost in the middle of a conversation involving these three guys.  They were talking to a fourth one about a paper that was due at the end of the week.  When the one guy left, the other three started walking to the east, presumably back to their dorm rooms to either work on their papers, or to watch some football on TV.  My bet is actually on the latter, based upon the laughter I heard from them as they trailed away from me.

I only had a couple of seconds to compose the shot before they'd be too far away.  As it was, this one had to be cropped because I didn't have my telephoto lens on my camera and was relying on my 50mm fixed lens when I took the shot.  I still think it's an interesting shot.  Were I to do it over again, I think I would have approached them to see if I could have gotten a 100 Strangers shot. I haven't taken one of those since early January of this year.

Well, there you have it.  My installment of P.J.'s monthly photo challenge.  Stop by and see some other blogger's interpretations of the same B&W theme.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Some things change

When I first started this blog, I called it A Photo a day.  I even knew that I wouldn't be posting a photo a day, but I had high aspirations.  I started out well, then slacked off.  Then called myself on it, and wrote some more.  Then I slacked off again.

As I wrote in a comment on another blog I read, I thought I'd write more when I had more free time, like on my vacations.  That's definitely not the case as I seem to have realized that I'm doing so much on my vacations that I don't have time to sit in front of the computer for a long stretch and write about what I've done.  

So I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm going to write about stuff after the fact.  I don't do "Stream of Consciousness" very well, as I tend to ramble on and on as my thoughts move her to there.  But I think this might work better.  

Two or three times per week, I'll sit down and write about something.  Tonight I'll write a little bit about the start of summer vacation.  It's so hot here that it still feels like summer, although we know that it's summer's last gasp before our fall rolls in sometime next week.

As I posted back in July at the last photo contest on P.J.'s blog that I participated in, I ended up camping with a friend of mine along the east side of the Sierra Nevada and in Yosemite National Park at the beginning of June.  He hiked the John Muir trail this summer and I helped get him to his starting spot.  We ended up camping near Devils Postpile, on the east edge of Yosemite and then in Tuolumne Meadows for two nights.

He'd originally asked me to go with him, but I knew I wasn't in shape for a trek like that, but I volunteered to take him to his starting destination.  We left his truck at Whitney Portal where he would be hiking out and then drove north through Owens Valley.  After I dropped him off, I ended up spending a very lovely day walking around in Yosemite Valley, something I've never done before, at least by myself.  

I ended up taking some very nice photos, some of which haven't seen the light of day yet, but the intention is to post some of them over the course of the next couple of weeks.  On the trip, I also decided that I would grow my beard back.  I had a beard in my early forties, but haven't had one for about 15 years or so.  I just decided to see what it would look like.  I've received some nice compliments and I'm probably going to keep it for awhile, mainly because I hate to shave.  Trimming a beard, I don't mind, but I just hate shaving in general.

The top photo was taken on the top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite.  The beard was about four days worth of growth, so it's basically a before shot and the bottom shot was taken about a month ago, with the beard fully in.  One of my students asked me whether I was going to go all "Duck Dynasty" with my beard and I definitely don't want to do that.  But I like this change, so trimming it occasionally won't bother me.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Common Courtesy

One of the things I've noticed is that common courtesy seems to be waning everywhere.  Where once people looked out to make sure that they weren't inconveniencing anyone, now it seems that most people have a "me first" attitude toward everything.

I ended up buying a new mountain bike from my friend yesterday and took it out on a paved trail just to see how it handled on regular street paths.  The path I chose this morning is crowded in the morning.  I get that.  But I was going up hill so I wasn't traveling very fast  so it's relatively easy to avoid getting in the way of a bicyclist.  I'm constantly calling out "on your left" to alert people that I'm approaching that I'm coming up and intend to pass them on their left.  Most people move over slightly and that's fine as they really don't have to as there's always space to pass easily.

This morning I came up on two groups of people.  It was apparent they were talking about something, perhaps the dog one of them had because the other bent down to pet the dog.  The problem was, they'd seen me coming up the path.  I had slowed down because they weren't moving out of the way and that's when the one woman bent down to pet the dog in the middle of the path.  Are you freakin' kidding me?  Yep, they forced me off the path because they refused to move out of the way so I could pass them.

That's my rant of the day.  And just so you know, I do know there is a lot of common courtesy out there as well.  Just this past April, several teachers and I took a group of kids (7th and 8th graders) into Los Angeles on the Metrolink.  At lunch time, the group that I sat with all pulled their phones out and put them in the middle of the table, intending to have a lunch without social media.  We had a very good conversation, because no one was immersed in their phone.  It was a welcome breath of fresh air and proved to me that there is still hope for our species.  Now, hopefully, this small gesture can replicate itself.

And I know I've said this before, but I intend to write more frequently.  For whatever reason, the first months of the school year seem to suck up all of my time.  And just to let you know.  All this biking has led to me shedding almost 12 pounds so far since the beginning of July when I started biking.