Thursday, October 30, 2014

Photo Blogging Challenge (October 2014) - Photographer's Choice

So this month, PJ, in his infinite wisdom decided to have the challenge be a photographer's choice.  Now he's gone and done it.  I can post anything I want this month and don't have to worry about whether it's following the them or not.  Or at least I don't have to try and justify whether it's following the theme or not.  Yeah, like I do that anyway.

Usually what happens is I take photos with little regard for the theme (sorry PJ).  Well, I take that back.  I'll usually have the theme in the back of my mind and if something comes to mind, I'll take a photo in that direction, but I've found in the past that when I force myself a certain way into photography, I tend to get stuck.  So in the long run, it's easier to just take photos and see if any fit the theme.  Very rarely do I not get five that fit the theme.

With this month being photographer's choice, I just decided to pick, what I consider, my five best shots.  And so, without a whole lot of extra fanfare, I give you my five shots for this month's theme.

1.  76 trombones
Nope, there weren't 76 trombones in this parade, nor were there 110 cornets either, but this is our town's intermediate school marching band walking down our city streets the last weekend of October during the annual Village Venture Arts and Crafts Faire.  The band usually leads the Halloween parade that opens up the day-long event.  I was standing on the curb and saw the trombones coming and took several shots, hoping to get a good one.  Because of the angle, I actually got a bonus selfie out of the deal as well.

2.  The Skeleton family
At the Village Venture, there are always a lot of people dressed up for Halloween and it's a great spot for people watching.  Anyone who's followed this blog for any length of time knows that I enjoy street photography and an event like this is right up my alley.  I spotted this entire family of skeletons hanging out after the parade and just couldn't resist taking a shot.  I have several other street shots that aren't quite as good as this one, but I may post a couple more on my Flickerstream sometime later on.  This one just worked really well.

3.  Black and White Sunflower
I took this shot in the middle of the month down near the downtown area of Anaheim, just north of Disneyland.  I had met a very good friend for lunch and before and afterwards, we'd walked around the area geocaching.

While walking toward where we were going to eat lunch, we ended up in this city garden.  The entire area is undergoing some urban renewal and this particular garden was nearing peak fall harvest.  My sunflowers tend to blossom out in July, but this one was in full bloom in the middle of October, suggesting that it had been planted later in the year.

It was about a day after I took this shot that I had been challenged on Facebook by another geocaching friend of mine to a five day B&W challenge where I was supposed to post five B&W photos over five successive days.  The nice part of that kind of challenge is I didn't have to take them five days in a row.  This particular shot  ended up being day four or five of my challenge.  

Although I like color, especially when I'm taking flower shots I decided to process this one in black and white.  There was such a riot of color in the shot, the yellow sunflower, the green of the rest of the plant and the plant behind it, the purple flowers on the left hand side and the deep blue of the sky accentuated by the white clouds that I felt the color would actually district from the beauty of the flower.

4.  Butterfly
Another one of my favorite subjects to photograph are butterflies.  I haven't seen a whole lot of butterflies this season, so I haven't been able to post many butterfly shots, so I was rather fortunate when this one started sipping nectar on flowers that I happened to be walking by on my way home from somewhere.

It was also fortunate, because I had my zoom lens on at the time, so it was easier to get this guy in the shot without having to tromp through someone's plants, something that I wouldn't do anyway.  I ended up with a couple dozen shots or so, of which this one ended up being the best of the bunch.

This is a gulf fritilary.  We have plants on which they thrive growing in planter boxes next to a parking structure in the downtown area.  Last summer I'd go down there quite often to get shots, but this year, I never made it down for various reasons.  I don't know whether this one is from that area and was straying a little far from its home base or whether it was just out enjoying the nectar that its neighborhood had to offer, but whatever the reason, it gave me a pretty good shot.

5.  The owl
Last, but certainly not least, is this photo of an owl that I took at the Village Venture.  I posted a couple of shots of this owl and this one was by far and away the best one I took.  Something about the shot just screamed that I needed to process it in black and white.

This particular owl was being displayed as part of an educational program.  The birds are rehabilitated after being found injured by Wild Wings of California, a local organization based in nearby San Dimas.  The particular owl couldn't be released back into the wild because of the damage that had been done.

It had been found lying on the ground.  I didn't hear what caused the initial injury, but while it had been lying on the ground, several ground crawling insects had crawled into its ears and laid eggs.  The hatched larva caused significant damage to its ears that its hearing was very much impaired.  An owl relies on its hearing almost as much as its eyesight and with almost 50% of its hunting prowess impaired, it wouldn't have fared well in the wild, so it has become one of Wild Wings educational pieces.

And there you have it. My five selections for this month's photographer's choice blogging theme.  Please stop by PJ's blog to see what the other bloggers in this challenge posted.  I think you'll enjoy the photography.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Now it's already fall and I really haven't written much about what happened this summer, so you're going to get a retrospect view of different things that happened to me this summer.

This summer was really a whirlwind type of vacation for me for the first time in a long time.  It seemed like I had things happening all the time and just when I was done with one thing, another thing got planned.  Not all the things were pleasant (most medical procedures aren't), but it's safe to say that I passed those with flying colors and am now moving on to rectify the things that were in the grey area, health wise.

Summer, for me, actually started Memorial Day weekend.  I went up to visit my daughter and her fiancé.  My middle son was up in the Bay Area that weekend as well, so we ended up taking in a Giants game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.  We rode the train in, barely making it to the station on time, but the ride worked out well as we had seats.  As we made our way closer to the ballpark, the train kept getting filled with more and more black and orange.  I felt like alien, this Angel fan that I am.

As you can see from the first shot, I didn't do a very good job of raising my daughter to be a local team supporter and so she's become a Giants fan.  Nothing much I can do about that as she's a big girl and can make her own decisions.  I blame it on TV.  Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Now hear me out on this one.  I'm not a fan of watching baseball on TV.  Whenever my daughter has taken me to games at Angel stadium, we always go early.  My daughter says, "It's like a religion to him.  He has to see batting practice or the experience isn't complete."  And that's right.  I like watching batting practice.  I like watching the players warm and and play soft toss.  I like to watch them stretch and loosen up.  It's all part of the game.

TV doesn't offer that.  For the most part, not all, but for the most part, TV presents a duel between the pitcher and the batter.  With TV, you don't get the pleasure of watching the players adjust with different pitches.  You don't get to see the center fielder shade a batter to left center and make subtle adjustments throughout the at bat.  TV doesn't cover baseball well in my opinion.  And so, because of that, I never watched baseball on TV and my daughter has glommed on to the Giants as her team.  Yeah, part of that is her fiancé's fault since he's a die hard Giants fan, but if I'd watched more baseball, she probably would be a better local sports enthusiast.

Now if you're going to talk football with her, she definitely has her passions, or at least she knows which teams to really hate.  Her fiancé has learned that if the Cowboys are playing well, it's just better to turn the TV off, because she really hates the Cowboys, just like her dad.  I couldn't be more proud.

The baseball game that weekend was a lot of fun.  I went to three games this summer, far more than I've gone in the past couple of years combined.  I didn't realize how much I missed the game.  I suspect that in the upcoming years, I shall be returning to different stadiums to enjoy games more than once every couple of years like it's been in the past.