Monthly Archives: September 2005

Slide Ranch



Goat Eye, photo by Harold Davis.

I went along with Julian’s second grade class yesterday as a parent driver and volunteer on a field trip to Slide Ranch.

We milked a goat and explored the habitats of chickens, geese, and ducks.

In the organic garden, we ate berries, beans, apples, and lemons. We harvested compost excreted by earth worms, and planted spinach seeds.

Here are some more photos from the trip:

Rooster Fresh Egg
Duck Duck Goose
Sunflower Bone Grove

Mount Diablo Sunrise

The drive between Nicky’s pre-school drop-off and Julian’s second grade drop-off goes along the crest of the coastal range. (In this metropolitan area, the creat of the coastal range also means the Berkeley and Oakland Hills.)

The whole Bay area is part of a great Pacifdic weather system that waters the inland valley, California’s “bread basket”.

This weather system is like a bellows, pushing a giant fog bank out and in. Some days the fog bank hovers out at sea, beyond the Golden Gate, at the edge of the horizon and of sight.

More often, at this time of year, the fog bank rushes in after sunset, and is pushed back out in the morning by the warming sun.

Depending on where in the cycle things are, the ride between pre-school and grade school can be fogged in with no visibility, completely clear, or anywhere in between. I’ve begun to bring my camera on the ride because some of the views are so special.

This one is from the road looking east towards Mount Diablo.

Fisheye-Lens Dog

I’m trying out my new toy, an AF-Fisheye Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8 G ED lens for my D70. This is one of the first pictures with it.

One of our neighbors has this dog on approval from the Milo Foundation. He (the neighbor, not the dog) says they haven’t given the dog a name yet until they decide to keep him. I hope they do, I think he is very cute.

The fisheye lens is kind of cute, too – and will take some getting used to. I’m looking forward to using it in situations where I want to capture an entire wide scene.

Extreme wide angles are problematic on digital SLRs because the capture arrays (sensors) are smaller than on film SLRs. The magnification factor is 1.5 for Nikon and 1.6 for Canon. This is good for telephotos (your 200mm lens becomes a powerful 300mm equivalent on Nikon digital) but bad for wide angles (your nifty 20mm has become a so-so 30mm equivalent).

This fisheye is specially made for Nikon’s digital cameras, and gets around this problem by opticially reducing the image size within the lens before it even hits the camera’s sensors.

I’m having fun playing! More fisheye photos:


Glad to Be a Gladiola



Gladiola, photo by Harold Davis.

I have been photographing gladioluses today.

A gladiola, or gladiolus, is a glad thing. This member of the Iris family is so colorful and always makes me feel glad.

Do flowers have feelings? If so, I suspect that the gladiola feels glad too – even when I’m examining its every petal, crevasse, and mote of pollen with my extension-tubed macro lens rig.

More glads…

Gladiolus Lips More Gladiola Gladness

…and more flowers:


Staged



Staged 1, photo by Harold Davis.

I like looking at houses for sale – open houses – and imagining the past and the future.

This house, around the corner on Thousand Oaks, is rather grand. It had been lived in by a nice old couple for many years. We used to vote in the garage (the garage was tricked out as a polling station).

For the sales process, the house was “staged” – but all the staging in the world can’t distract from the granny wallpaper behind the bed in this picture.

Staged 2

San Francisco Sunset

Last night Gary had us to dinner. It takes a brave man to invite my horde of three boys (ages from one to eight) to dinner – especially as every corner of Gary’s house is crammed with books. We had great fun, and the boys want to know how soon they can go back. So thanks Gary!

Gary’s house in El Cerrito is right across the Bay from San Francisco and the Golden Gate. I dashed out on the deck at sunset to take these pictures with a tripod and the lens stopped down. I didn’t really have a lens long enough for the job with me, so these are crops from the hearts of the originals!

Golden Gate

Oh Cecil, We Hardly Knew Ye!

This is a Cecil Bruner rose from my planting of about five or six years ago.

What turns out is that Cecil Bruners do wonderfully well around here, love the local climate, and are mostly desease resistant.

I didn’t know this when we planted it, but I do now. This climber worked its way up our fence and arched over the sidewalk to the street signs, forming a fragrant and colorful tunnel.

What I also didn’t know was that this flowering tunnel bothered some people (although others loved it). There were anonymous complaints to the city (c’mon people, why don’t you just talk to us, we are neighbors)!

Once I realized that it upset people, of course it had to come down. A big job. The Cecil Bruner will flower in our garden, but it won’t overhang the path, and it won’t bother people. (And it will grow back!)

I like my garden somewhat wild looking, and I think that offends a suburban mentality – even here in Berkeley. If we lived in the country far away from neighbors, of course we could plant anyway we liked, but here one has to respect the feelings of others.

All this said, in some ways I like the garden better without the massive Cecil Bruner dominating one side. It is lighter and airier.

This is a photo of a small bud from the cuttings. Taken with my 105mm Nikkor macro and a 30mm Kenko extension tube, 4 seconds exposure time, and stopped down to f/51.


Clouds @ Sunset

Yesterday as we were finishing dinner I looked up and saw a really neat cloud pattern. I grabbed my camera and headed for the roof.

The thing that really makes this photo interesting to me is the contrast between the blue and white cloud pattern in the background and the foreground fog cloud (which is catching the sunset coloration).

Mount Diablo

I drove to Inspiration Point in Tilden Park this morning after dropping Nicky off at pre-school. Here’s a photo from Inspiration Point of Mount Diablo with a trace remaining of fog…

A Fire Burns within Each Flower

This succulent flower had a glorious red color when I got up close to it. Triumphant!

It seems that my way close macros always have a great deal of artifacts. I clean them up in Photoshop with the Clone Stamp Tool.

I’ve been seeing if this is any easier using a Wacom tablet and wand rather than my mouse for input. So far, the Wacom takes some learning, at least for me – but I’ll keep at it, and report.

In the meantime, here’s to the flowers and fires within us all!

Leaf Map



Leaf Map, photo by Harold Davis.

I took Nicky and Julian out yesterday evening for a walk before bed. It’s always fun to be out with them because they see things I might not. Julian usually points things out, or gathers them, like this leaf, and says, “Daddy, photograph this please!” Often, I am happy to comply.

This leaf from a Japanese maple is one of the few overt signs of autumn we are likely to see around here. Usually, autumn is a great time of year in the Bay area – almost more summer than summer itself.

This is the first of a number of photos I took of the leaf. I think it works better than the ones that are closer up. But if you look at the details of the leaf, it does look like a map (at least to Julian and me) – which is why I call it “Leaf Map!”

Heart of an Artichoke

This is an extreme close-up of an artichoke flower. The artichoke plant grows in our vegitable garden, and is a perennial. There is hope next year for eating artichokes, not just photographing their flowers.

I used my macro lens on the D70 along with 6X worth of extension tubes to get this close.

For some reason, extreme macros always seem to have artifacts that need cleaning up. Besides get ridding of these stray pixels, I did the normal RAW processing stuff: adjusting levels and sharpening.

I wanted to keep the effect natural, but I also wanted to add some punch to it, so I added a small amount of vignetting to the edges, and a slight lens flare to the area that was already bright.


Caught in the Act

Imagine my surprise when I went to put out a bag of trash finding this cute guy in our can!

We didn’t quite know what to do with him, so we called Berkeley animal control – in the phone book, it is very politically correctly listed as Animal Care Services. They sent someone out right away, who turned our trash can over and let the raccoon out (well, I could have done that, too!).

Turns out that raccoons are another species we coexist with, like deer, dust mites, spiders, rats, and so on.

Isn’t this one a cutie? He kind of reminds me of the boys!


Heart of a Flower

More in the “how close can you go” series in my garden.

This photo was taken with my Nikon D70 SLR with a 105mm macor lens and a 6X set of Kenko extension tubes. Obviously, I can go pretty close with high resolution – although there’s a very narrow plane of what can be captured this way.

Interestingly, a much less expensive setup of a non-SLR digital camera – like my Canon Powershot (or comparable) – produces really good macro shots with much less trouble than an SLR. So don’t despair of macro photography if you don’t have fancy equipment! (But do experiment with the effects of stopping the camera down as far as it will go to maximiuze depth of field.)

Orange Zinnia

This is one of the series of close macros I shot in my garden with my macro lens and 6X combined extension tubes. The flower is actually surprisingly small!