Sunday, May 31, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge (May 2015): Spring

Here is is, the end of the month already and P.J.'s monthly challenge is upon us.  This month, the theme is spring.  I will be the first to admit that I didn't use my camera very much this month, nor did I even use the cell phone camera, but I did take enough shots that I think I can come up with five shots that pretty much epitomize springtime.  That being said, here are my entries into this month's challenge.

1.  Fiesta

Every Mother's Day weekend, our church has its annual fiesta.  This fiesta is likely the second or third largest event in the city of Claremont every year, so a lot of people attend and there were good crowds even though there was a large threat of rain in the air most of Friday night when this shot was taken.  For the past couple of years, I've usually set up my camera on a tripod somewhere around here and get some light streak shots.  This year, I walked down to the fiesta, only to turn my camera on and find out I had a dead battery.  I knew it was low, but wasn't aware it was that low and so I was totally unprepared for this circumstance.

However, this year, because I'm now part of the 21st century and I have my own smartphone now, I used the camera in the phone for some shots.  Not quite the same thing, but since I have several shots for the past couple of years with light streaks, this is a little different from my normal shots at this time.  It worked out well, mainly because the sight angles this year for the various rides weren't the greatest in the world and the best angles were right in the middle of high pedestrian traffic, which is not good for a long exposure with a camera on a tripod, so it probably worked out better that I did have a dead battery.  Still, that's just a rookie mistake, one that will not be repeated again.

2.  New hobbies?

For whatever reason, it seems like springtime is the time when new hobbies can be explored, that is unless you have a hobby that involves winter gear.  Most hobbies tend to be warm weather hobbies however and so I've got anew interest, one that might not come to fruition for a couple of years, but there's a large spark of interest here.  

One of many photo projects that I've participated in over the last couple of years is the 100 Strangers project.  I haven't taken a stranger photo in over a year, but when I saw Stephen here piloting a drone over the fiesta, I figured I wanted to know more about the drone, how it worked, etc.  Push came to shove and I walked over and starting talking with him about the drone.  Eventually, Stephen said the magic words, "Would you like to fly it?"

Oh man, that was very cool.  I got to hover, I got it to go straight up over the fiesta and just about the time I was ready to really start watching what the drone was seeing, the app lost contact with it.  Oops.  Fortunately, it didn't just plummet to the ground and Stephen was able to guide it in to a safe landing, but at least I can say that I've now piloted a drone.  Oh, yeah.  I plan on doing that again, sometime I hope in the near future.  Perhaps my children can pool their money together and get their old man a drone for Christmas.  That would be pretty cool.  At least here in California, I wouldn't necessarily have to wait until springtime to try it out.

3.  Walt Disney Family Museum

Springtime usually means the beginning of the traveling season, at least for me.  Early in the season, during my spring break, I went camping in Death Valley, the first time I'd been there in about 20 years.  But I digress, since these photos for this challenge have to be taken in the month of May.

Usually in May, I go visit my older two children over Memorial Day weekend.  This year I traveled up to the Bay Area to visit with my daughter and her fiancĂ©.  My older son drove over from Merced for the weekend and we had a very enjoyable time.  Most of Saturday was spent dealing with little wedding details, mostly finding the right suit for the two dads.  I remember several years ago, when one of my good geocaching friend's daughter got married and he bought a suit for the occasion. If I remember correctly, he hadn't worn a suit in a very long time and probably won't ever after.  My daughter commented that she couldn't really remember ever seeing me in a suit either.  Well, I now own a suit, but once again, I'm digressing a little bit since that story doesn't deal with the photo.

Sunday, we drove up to San Francisco into the Presidio.  Our goal was to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum.  If you are a Disney aficionado, or have next to no knowledge of Walt Disney, you will enjoy yourself at this place.  The entire museum is obviously dedicated to Walt Disney, set up by his daughters and it contains all sorts of memorabilia of the man.  The museum is very interactive and pays attention to all sorts of small details.

At one point we were walking down a hall that had a grand vista view of the Golden Gate Bridge and my daughter commented that she felt that all of a sudden she was in a ride at Disneyland.  Not coincidentally, we turned the corner of the hallway and were in a room that featured everything Disneyland, including a scale model replica of the park.  Having worked at the park for five years in the 80s, this was just fabulous and I could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon, but there were other things to see.

The photo that I've decided to show here doesn't have anything to do with Disneyland, but with the early pioneering that Disney did with sound cartoons.  This shot shows 348 frame enlargements form the film Steamboat Willie, the first talking cartoon, and the first that featured Mickey Mouse.  The 348 shots represents less than 15 seconds of animation time of the film.  And these were all hand drawn at the time as well, no computers to help them out.  Talk about labor intensive work.  It's no wonder that a feature length film, such as Peter Pan, was only released once every three years or so.

4. Street photography

As most of you know, I enjoy taking street shots of total strangers.  Outside of the Disney Museum, the green between some of the buildings was hosting a massive street fair.  Food booths surrounded all sides of the green and all of us took advantage of the massive amounts of good food.  If any of us went hungry, that was our own fault. 

Springtime in San Francisco is dicey at best.  There's always a good chance that Carl can show up at anytime.  Who's Carl?  Believe it or not, Carl is the fog that shows up in San Francisco.  He even has his own Twitter account.  The day we were at the Presidio, Carl was still off shore, but was threatening to come in at any time.  Still, people came to the street fair prepared for the weather and most everyone was enjoying each other's company, which is why I find this shot so amusing.  All sorts of things are happening all around and this guy was totally absorbed in his phone, probably checking his email or something similar.  Maybe he was checking out the latest tweet from Carl.

5.  Kanka

While we were eating lunch on the green, my daughter told me to turn around and look at this massive Great Dane that was walking around with his owner on the other side of the green.  This dog was the size of a small pony.  After we'd finished eating and they had found a place to park themselves, I walked over and asked if I could take some photos of the dog.  After getting permission, I took several shots before the dog got bored and didn't want to have anything more to do with me.  This shot turned out the best of the bunch. He has a better expression in another shot, but I cut off his ear with some poor composition, so I'm going with this one.

His owner said the dog's name was Kanka, which apparently means best friend in Turkish.  Nothing better than going for a walk with your best friend on a beautiful spring weekend up in the Presidio.

Well, there you have it.  Five shots of spring.  Please stop by P.J.'s post to see his offerings on the theme.  There's also links at the bottom of that page where you can view other blogger's springtime offerings as well.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An open letter

This is an open letter to the young man who almost caused my life and his own to change forever, neither for the better.

Dear young man,

If I were you, I'd be thanking my lucky stars that the older man in the van that you encountered this morning while riding your bike has decent peripheral vision.  Maybe you have already.  Hopefully that will change the way you chose to ride your bicycle so irresponsibly this morning.

First, you weren't wearing a helmet.  Had we hit, you would have been sent flying over your handlebars, probably over the hood of my car and then onto the pavement on the other side of my van.  At best, you'd come out with some bumps and bruises, but you could have gotten some serious brain damage or possibly some broken bones out of the deal.  I went over the handlebars of my bicycle when I was in 8th grade.  I got a concussion and a broken left arm out of the deal.  It could have been much worse, but probably not nearly as bad as if you'd hit me.  I only hit another bicycle.

You, on the other hand, could very easily have hit me.  I say hit me, because I would not have been at fault if you had.  For you see, when someone comes up to an intersection intending to make a right hand turn, they look left first, because that's where the traffic is coming from.  Usually drivers will look right once they start to make their turn into traffic.  That's where you came into the situation.

Yeah, you were in the bike lane, but you were traveling down the street the wrong way in the bike lane.  You were traveling south in a northbound bike lane.  That's just asking for trouble and you almost got a lot of it if I hadn't seen you a split second before I really hit the gas and accelerated.  Had I not seen you out of the corner of my eye, you could have easily been hamburger meat.

Now, I doubt that you'll ever see this and I actually wished my window had been rolled down so I could have yelled a couple of choice words at you as you rode away.  Maybe those words would have helped drive home the message.  I hope you got the crap scared out of you.  I hope you start to wear you helmet, but if you don't, at least ride on the correct side of the road.  If you don't, the next driver might not be as quick as I was.

As I stated at the top, both of our lives could have changed a lot this morning.  Fortunately, they didn't, but perhaps that little scare will change you a little bit.