Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Photo Blogging Challenge (September 2013): Outdoors

When I saw this challenge show up at the beginning of the month, I really didn't give it much thought.  I haven't participated in a couple of months of the blogger's challenge and I actually feel quite badly about that.  I made a commitment to the group that I would participate and I feel like I've dropped the ball, so here's my five entries for this month's challenge of Outdoors.

1.  Veteran's Memorial

I found this Veteran's Memorial maintained by the city of Burbank on Labor Day while out geocaching.  Once again, this silly game takes me to a very memorable spot.  In fact, four of the five shots taken for this month's theme were taken while I was out geocaching, either by myself or with a friend.

Memorials were set in stone around this eternal flame obelisk for the various wars in which the United States has participated.  Plaques honoring Bob Hope, as well as the different branches of service were there, including the Coast Guard.

My friend and I were on a mission on Labor Day to find at least 10 multi-caches in one day as part of a geocaching challenge that's been set up in my area.  The challenge is to find at least 10 of a particular type of cache in a day.  However, there are seven different types of caches (icons) you have to find before you can claim the challenge cache.  I already have a day with at least 10 Unknown finds and also another day with at least 10 traditional finds, so this day was dedicated to Multi-cache finds.  Believe me when I say it's harder than it appears.  We had 17 multi-cache finds that we attempted and we got exactly 10 that day and spent most of the day doing it.

2.  Fire fighting 101

Usually, when people think about forest fires, or brush fires, they think disaster.  In most cases they're correct, but only because we have had about a century and a half of fire suppression that has resulted in areas that are supposed to be open, now densely foliated and ripe for huge fires like we've seen burn across the western United States over the past couple of years.  Only in recent decades have we learned the benefits that smaller fires have on the ecology of any region.  Giant Sequoias have those burn marks on their bark for a reason.

Several weeks ago, a small fire started about 2 miles west of my house in the Claremont  College's Robert J. Bernard Field Station.  Local fire fighters, including this water dropping plane, one other just like it and several helicopters quickly were able to get the fire under control and the fire only burned 17 acres of the 86 acres of what is mostly coastal sage scrub, a plant ecosystem that is becoming increasingly rare due to suburban expansion in Los Angeles County.  The Claremont Colleges are excited about observing how the area regenerates itself over the coming months and years.

3.  Zen

Another geocaching trip yielded this shot of a large cement Buddha.  I had been out geocaching in the local area and I found myself close to this virtual cache called Bronze Carriages.  The answers I needed took me inside the Hsi Lai Buddhist temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the area.  

Once I got the needed information for the geocache, I wandered around the gardens.  They are immaculate and very calming to the soul.  There were several signs as I entered the temple forbidding photography, so I honored the request and kept my camera shuttered.  This photo was taken outside the grounds in the parking lot where photography is allowed.  It's really too bad they don't allow photography as I think the place would be a Mecca for some photographers.  Still, it was nice just to enjoy the scenery without having to worry about "getting the shot."

I decided to process this in monotone because I think it brought out more of the texture of the figure than did color.  I was able to up the contrast quite a bit which really helped accent it.  The only think different I would do with this shot would be to PhotoShop out the chain in the lower part of the photo.

4.  Lemon Creek Egret

On the same day as I visited the Buddhist temple, I also found myself in a small park hunting for a geocache.  As I walked along the trail next to this small creek, I spotted this four foot tall egret wading in the waters.  I think it was casually waiting for small fish to swim by.  I missed several attempts it made, but got several nice shots, including this one just after water had dripped off its bill and created splash rings in the water.

My wife and I visited Yellowstone National Park on our honeymoon and something a ranger said at one of their ranger talks has always stuck with me.  He said, "If you cause an animal to move, you're too close."  That's good advice to heed, especially in that neck of the woods since getting too close to a bison, elk, moose, or grizzly bear could be fatal.

This encounter didn't endanger my health at all, but I got to experience that proximity rule.  The egret was perfectly happy to be wading along with me on the bank at a certain distance.  But at some point, I crossed that invisible barrier and the egret then quickly moved away from me to get me out of its proximity circle.  We were almost playing a little game of cat and mouse as I was trying to see how close I could get before it would move.  Invariably, it always seemed to be the same distance before it would move away.  I guess what this really tells me is I need a longer lens for these kinds of shots.  I can get closer with the lens yet still let the animal enjoy its solitude.

5.  Spruce Needles

Finally, here's a shot I don't normally take.  This past weekend, I went out hiking in the Deukmejian Wilderness Park with a caching buddy of mine.  This would be the first hike I'd been on since May because of the heat buildup from summer.  It's not fun to hike in extreme temperatures, so the fall, winter, and spring are really good times out here to enjoy good hikes.

Neither of us had been to this park before, so it was going to be a new experience for both of us.  The city of Glendale, CA has developed several trails in this park and placed benches in strategic spots long the trail for hikers to relax.  We enjoyed a 2.75 mile loop, found 7 caches in the park and had a great time.

But back to the photo.  As I noted above, I don't normally take photos of tree branches or needles.  However, there was something about the needles the light in the background that look intriguing so I fired off several shots, getting this one that I really liked.  I guess I just need to retrain myself to look at the smaller things and not concentrate on the pretty flowers all of the time.  There's beauty all around us, even if it's not pink or yellow and blooming.

Well, there you go.  My five photos for September's challenge of Outdoors.  Please stop by P.J.'s blog page to view other like minded individuals and their interpretations of Outdoors.

18 comments:

  1. That's a great variety of pictures. I think the egret is my favourite. Well done.

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    1. Thank you very much. Of the ones posted, it's probably in my top three. It was fun playing the game of cat and mouse with it so I could get a decent shot of it. I've seen other egrets that seemed to have a small proximity circle. It's always interesting to see how each animal is different like that.

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  2. I really enjoyed your post. Not sure I completely understand geocaching, but am happy you do! My favorite shots are the egret and the pine needles.

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    1. Thanks Lisa. The best way I can describe geocaching is that it's a big Easter Egg hunt.

      People will hide things, take the coordinates for them, post them on the geocaching site. You then download the coordinates into your GPS and go out and find them.

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  3. Man, Paul, I love your photos. You always have an array of awesome stuff. And to mix it all in with geocaching ... 10 multis in one day? Kudos. I love a good multi, but we don't have enough around me to pull that off.

    The plane shot is awesome. Love the Buddha. We need to figure out how to pull off a West Coast/East Coast caching/photo meetup sometime. :)

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    1. Thank you very much. We have enough multi-caches around here, that there could be several opportunities. My friend just picked this one area to work on and it worked well for the day. Some of the others for that challenge are a little different. In all likelihood, I'll probably have to travel to Las Vegas to grab 10 virtuals in one day as I've pretty much cleaned out my area and the ones that are left are too far apart. Wherigos, I think, will be the toughest, although there's a huge concentration of them in the Bay Area.

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  4. De plane de plane and Zen were the ones that caught my eye ~

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  5. My, we have a lot of geocachers in this challenge. :) Lovely shots, and fascinating stories to go with them. That Buddha is great.

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    1. I knew of a few, but I was unaware you were also a geocacher. It's a fun, healthy hobby in which to be involved.

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  6. As much as I love birds, I'm drawn to the colorful firefighting plane. Really nice set of photos for the challenge.

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    1. Thank you. That's one of those shots where timing is everything. It just happened to fly right over the house a couple of times.

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  7. Glad you kept your commitment to yourself to take part again this month. I really enjoyed all your geocaching stories that accompanied most of them. I hear you about multi-caches...except for events, where-I-go and webcam caches, I think that's the category where we have the lowest number of finds. They tend to be very time-consuming and there's always a pretty good chance that at least one waypoint is missing so you can't finish anyway!

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    1. I have to agree that multi-caches are more time consuming. I think it's more of a mindset that if you're going to go out looking for them, you just realize that you're not going to get good numbers that day. The nice thing, at least with what I've found is, that most multi-caches tend to be of higher quality than your standard, LPC type of hide. Many of the multi-caches I've found tend to find themselves on my top 5% bookmarked list.

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  8. Very interesting photos, but I'm actually drawn the the last one. It's just lovely.

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  9. You are a true artist. These are simply amazing shots!!!

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