Sunday, June 30, 2013

Today's walk report: 063013

Earlier PM walk since temps weren't so high but the humidity was pretty awful. Geez, sorry for writing about the weather so much lately but it really is a factor in how everything goes down this time of year and once again today it was pretty significant. This will sum it up quickly though... At 1:20 PM it was 105º with a relative humidity of 19%. By 4:00 PM it was 87º but the humidity was up to 40% by 6:10 it was still 85º but the humidity was up to 48% and I had already walked close to 1 km. Yuck, is the word.

On to the garden...

Little bunny in the sunny.

If you read this blog yesterday I mentioned that I was expecting these cactus to bloom soon. In fact I was certain that was going to be the focus of my picture taking on my walk today. Not only were they not open but I noticed a few had shriveled into withered black deadness and fallen to the ground. At that point I was looking for something else to do...

Agave attenuata flower (I think)

I took a couple pictures of dead flowers yesterday and thought maybe I'd try that as a theme, then Colin came running up.

I guess I met Colin on one of my walks first time a little over a year ago. He runs with his dogs and then runs for real. If you've ever run with a dog then you know what I'm referring to.

Colin never stops moving but we often chat. Well Colin points out the now infamous non-blooming cactus and tells me that it would make a fantastic time-lapse and that the flowers open AT NIGHT. He has the same cactus in his backyard. And here I just recently watched Disney's, Wings of Life which had a whole segment on bats pollinating certain cactus at night and it didn't even cross my mind. So, change of plans. I decide to walk home, do dinner, feed my spoiled cat, etc. and drive back early evening with tripod, a couple lenses and some make-shift lighting. I'd really like to find an easy small portable lighting solution for night photos but I haven't yet. I was using single or multiple LEDs flashlights to get focus and either shoot with those or on board flash or both. It's pretty sorry lighting but I try.

This was 5 images focus stacked, hand held using just a flashlight.

Same deal with 4 stacked images...

I can't say I'm happy with anything I got. I have to think about this some more. I had put the whole night thing on hold basically because I wasn't happy with the first experiments. It was nice to see these cactus open up though, that experience was fine. Thanks to Colin.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Today's walk report: 062913


We hit 107º today, I went out walking after 7 PM and at 95.5º--it sucked.

To top things off with the Tour de France starting today I was up at 2:30 AM after finally dozing off sometime past midnight. I napped some with 100 km left in the race and I napped a little more after thinking I needed to be productive, clean house and go out and at least check up on the yard--make sure plants weren't bursting in flames. That was a big mistake. I got carried away with ripping out a bunch of woody alyssum and kept going after that. I was drained. Right now I'm struggling again to get some pictures up and then haul myself to bed. It's 11:30 PM and I'm setting an alarm for stage 2 of the TdF at 2:20 AM. Yikes!

I had this feeling I wasn't going to get anything interesting on camera and quickly responded to this guy turning onto the 1st block of my walk. I've seen him before, always on weekends. It appears he likes to do an early evening spin from time to time. It looks like fun, but at 6' 5" I'm pretty sure I wouldn't fit.

Another sort of after thought capture, these are the grasses planted at the entrance to the campus. I was almost subconsciously taking pictures I think just to get something and get through the walk. This mark is about 1.2 km into the walk. That's usually where I kick into full gear and transcend issues if I have them but the weather was just kicking my ass.

I don't recall seeing these yesterday and there's a lot of them. My guess is they will bloom in a day and be dying the next. Stay turned tomorrow.

 En masse.

Remember the Century agave with the really tall stalk which that mockingbird is always on top of? Somebody cut the stalk down. Presumably this was to gather the bulbils (the offspring) but when they took down the Octopus agave stalks a year ago they left them on the ground so new plants could start in the same approximate location. This stalk went bye-bye.

 Octopus agave stalks May, 2012.

The bulbils from those stalks about 10 weeks later...

 Some bottlebrush (Callistemon) I've probably posted before.

 Creepy "furry" cactus thing.

Dying can be pretty too. Dying is a popular activity in the garden right now.

Tiny Water Gum (Tristaniopsis laurina) flowers. 

Another flashlight lit 3 image focus stack whilst also juggling 4 bowling pins and reciting the alphabet backwards. I WAS going to bring a few rubber bands to see about rigging the flashlight to my left hand but I forgot. Next time. Pink Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa.)

Kinda of an "eh" sunset.

Must sleep. Thanks for joining in on my walk. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Today's walk report: 062813

Hot and miserable...

It was 96º and just about 7 PM when I left. By the time I was in the garden, slowing down to look for photo ops, I was soaked with perspiration. You can probably smell me from there. At 2:30 AM, this morning, that's 4 hours away I need to have gotten at least a couple hours sleep in because that's when I'm getting up for the start of the Tour de France. I'm watching that on an iPad, just as I did last year.

So... trying to get some images up quickly so I can get out of here. I'm sure some babble is forthcoming but for now just pictures. Okay, there's a little babble.

 Hand held 7 image focus stack using a flashlight for illumination.

Boxelder bug on milkweed.

Hot dog on a stick.

Flashlight so I could focus and get the camera to flash. When I first saw him/her I thought it was dead. Guess the heat was too much. It couldn't have cared less about me being there.

This is from one of the two rather miserable agapanthus stalks I got in front of the house out of many plants put in early spring.

Straw flower, batch #2.

Gold Star Esperanza (Tecoma stans)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today's walk report: 062713

Waiting on the temperature to go down to something reasonable will also effect my doing entries here with any sort of substance and enthusiasm anyway. It's 9:20 PM I've been home for 23 minutes. I need to eat, feed my cat, shower and relax a little so it's a good thing I don't have anything to report.

My biggest joy today despite being in a house that was 90º F by 3 PM (I turned the a/c on at 3 PM) was listening to music. Resurrecting the old family stereo is one of the best things I've done for myself since returning home almost two years ago. I've unfortunately exhausted the limited resources of the local rock and classic rock radio stations. Why can't we hear other songs by the same artists they play over and over, year after year? It's the same old playlist we've heard, for the most part, for over 30 years. I moved on to the classical station but found some stagnation there and also... I don't care about some minor composer I never heard of enough to hear about what they had for dinner 250 years ago. In lieu of spending money on a multi-disk CD player and to augment album sides, I went simple and added an iPod to the system and that adds Internet radio, Pandora, etc. to the mix. This an iPod Touch, second generation, which I don't really care for now that I don't have a gym to go to.

The fan you'll understand if you've ever dealt with a tube amplifier of any kind. I'm trying to add some longevity to the power stage of the receiver up above the fan. I won't be able to find those tubes again and the replacement tubes are expensive and require tweaking.

That's a lot more than I planned to say. Tomorrow's a camera day. Tune in, I'll try to at least make up for the mundane banter with some nice images.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today's walk report: 062613

This is so hot...

As summer settles in my walk time becomes more and more dependent on outside temperature than hour of the day. I prefer to walk when the thermometer reads 85º F (29.4º C) or less. I would much rather walk in a torrential downpour than in 100º + weather. I live in the San Fernando Valley (you know like, Encino, the Galleria, it's so bitchen) and it gets really hot here. I'm actually a few miles north west of Encino--but we pretty much share the same heat. It's not like Phoenix, Arizona hot but it can be pretty miserable. Triple digits will be common. 115º+ is not unheard of.

The only really positive thing I can say about this kind of weather and how it effects my walks is, waiting for cooler climes gets me out at the right time to catch some nice sunsets. Temps can stay way up there well into October and as we progress into fall the setting sun is often quite spectacular.

Today I walked out the door about 7:15 PM or 89.6º F. I turned the A/C on before I left and really appreciated it when I got home. Sunset today was no more than an orange glow behind the Santa Susana Mountains so no pics but I thought I'd post some from last year instead.

This is kind of random, I'm really just hoping to get this done rather quickly tonight.

That's a peregrine falcon in the tree there.  That's a rare bird in these parts.

Usually it's a pair of crows in this location. Trust me, the other one was nearby. I would see these same two crows everyday at sunset.

See? Would I lie to you?

Sometimes I'm already heading home. I often have 2nd thoughts about not having waited out the sunset from up on the hill but then I had special responsibilities at home which took precedence last year. Tonight I had a vivid recollection of my mother passing away the last km of my walk--almost a tunnel vision movie playing out in front of me. I'm coming up on 4 months since she left, some of the memory could fade a bit faster if it would. This is very close to where I was when that happened today.

 If the sunset is lighting up the sky in a big way I often shoot the other direction for shots I call, the other side of sunset (in other words, east.)

Panorama shot silhouetting the Santa Susana Mountains.

The Warner Center, Woodland Hills, CA.

Many times there have been wonderful sunsets and I don't have the best choice of lenses. This shot 70mm and was a 16:9 crop from 3:2.

That "texture" you see in the clouds remains consistent across multiple image over the course of about 15 minutes. I have to assume it was winds, or perhaps some crazy virga effect. I saw it too so it wasn't my camera. This shot was taken 100613.

 Want a closer look? Here you go...

Now let's look north, 8 minutes later...

A week earlier... I wonder what the bird on the barbed wire is thinking. I see a lot of animals watching the sunset and just have to believe there's something going on. Some magic.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Today's walk report: 062413

10% chance of rain tonight.

Or so they say. If there's any weather condition I really look forward to it's rain. Whatever the outcome, cloudy skies today made for a productive day in the yard. Temps were in the low 70s.

As far as the walk went it was a typically fast Monday boogie, same 8.79 km as usual.

I did pause for a picture of this menacing looking beast of an insect. This large black wasp, which just happens to be called, Large Black Wasp (Chalybion californicum), has this intimidating sort of nervous looking twitching behavior which made my hovering the camera 8" above the thing challenging. It took off right after this shot. I went the other direction.

Here's a little video I did in March of 2011 of a snail in the rain. Yes, it's as exciting as it sounds. The music is a piano exercise by Béla Bartók.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Today's walk report: 062313

Back to normal... whatever that is.

For the 1st time in a week I was back to my routine journey, 8.79 km, same old, same old. Sunday walks are always nice, quiet, peaceful and because of that I typically take extra time to stop, reflect and often take more photos than on other days. This all occurring once I get to the garden which is at the 1.85 km mark.

Before I got there...


Oh look, already in the garden. How 'bout that. I was listening to a MP3 version of this show, I ripped it from the DVD I bought and it's so entertaining that time simply slips by.

I thought the spines looked amazing in the sunlight but I think you had to be there. The debris is mostly withered yellow flowers from the palo verde trees above. All their flowers are gone now. I always look forward to when the palo verde are in full bloom. There's a shot from May 3rd, here.

My egret friend was hanging out again today. The pond is full of crawdads (also called crayfish or crawfish) and lots of small mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), I think the egret enjoys both of these.

 Alyogyne huegelii, White Swan.

Eucalyptus iforgetwhatthefuckitis.

Looks like the ants and I get a second round of strawflowers.

Molecular buckwheat.

Sunset, almost home.