Monthly Archives: June 2005

Fun with Phlowrs and Photoshop

Julian put these buds from our garden on the mirror I use for a lot of my table-top work, and said, “Dad, take a picture of these and put them in your blog!”

Who am I to resist? Particularly when complying means procrastinating on “real” work – in this case the somewhat unpleasant chore of author review of my forthcoming Digital Photography Digital Field Guide to be published by John Wiley.

But taking the photographs in the set, camera mode set to macro, didn’t take up enough time. Next I had to “make” the photo right in Photoshop.

Digital photography and Photoshop go together, well, like a couple in a good marriage. They are perfect life partners, and it’s faintly silly to me to expect to take a picture with a digital camera and then not do at least the basics in Photoshop.

In this case, more than basics were needed. The mirror background showed some reflected details that distracted from the flowers. So I used the Magic Wand tool to isolate the background areas, and cut them into a fill layer. I applied a solid (gray) fill to the cut layer, and then recompressed it back to the image. Next, I did the routine stuff:

  • Healing brush and Clone Stamp to fix imperfections
  • Unsharpen Mask at about 200% to sharpen things up
  • Adjust levels, using auto levels (in this case adjusting auto levels destroyed some of the transulence of the colors, so I undid it)
  • Adjust contrast, using auto contrast levels
  • Adjust colors, using auto color levels

I’ve heard that Photoshop Elements lets you do most of what you need without the expense of the “real” Photoshop, but I guess I don’t believe it after playing with the Elements puppy for a bit. If you are serious about digital photography, you might as well realize that Photoshop is a very welcome and fun part of your life!

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Wild Orchid, Tilden Park

Tilden Park is a great and extensive wild area very near me. It is about 1/2 a mile up to the top of the hill and to the park entrance (right by Nicky’s pre-school).

The park is part of the California State Park system. Although bisected by high-tension power wires, and with wonderful attractions such as a narrow gauge steam railroad, animal farm, and merry-go-round, it is really, truly pretty wild. Wildlife includes the occassional mountain lion, eagle, and rattlesnake.

The park has miles and miles of trails and views of San Francisco Bay to the west, Mt Diabolo to the south and east, and Napa and the Straits of Carquinez to the north. It includes the entire Wildcat Basin, Wildcat Peak, Lake Anza, a botanical garden featuring California native plants, and an extensive nature preserve.

Mid-June is a little late in the year for wild flowers in the park. Mostly, everything turns a golden brown – and will keep getting crisper until the autumn rains. But even when everything is dry, one can still find treasures – witness the photo of the wild orchid hidden in dry grass that I found along the Meadows Canyon Trail this afternoon.

Here are a few more images from my set today taken along the Meadows Canyon Train in Tilden Park:

Wild Orchid, Tilden Park Dragon Fly
Wild Orchid, Tilden Park
Posted in Flowers, Hiking, Photography, Tilden Park

View from Inspiration Point Trail

This is a view from the Inspiration Point Trail looking down into the Valley and at Bridal Veil Falls. (Here’s another photo in this series and more about the Inspiration Point Trail.)

I like the way the tree appears to be the center of interest of this image until you look closely and see the water fall. If you look even more closely, you can see Halfdome, mountains, and clouds hidden behind the tree.

If you are planning a visit to Yosemite, you might want to check out the Yosemite Blog for information about logistics and attractions.

Posted in Hiking, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

The Carousel in Tilden Park

Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round

Nicky and I went first to the steam trains and then to the carousel in Tilden Park today.

We both had a lot of fun.

It’s great to be able to spend time one on one with the kids, and as the middle boy Nicky sometimes seems to get a little less attention than his younger or older brother.

Nicky on the Tilden Park Carousel

He rode the merry-go-round at least five times, many of them in the rotating saucer. The double rotation made me dizzy after just one ride.

This carousel in Tilden Park near us is an elegant and wonderful thing for kids of all ages!

Posted in Bemusements, Kids, Photography, Tilden Park

Nevada Falls and Striations in the Rock

I took this photo from the Muir Trail around the bend from Nevada Falls when I was there last month at a time of very high water. Water was pouring over everything. I like the way the falling water looks against the striations in the rock.

Posted in Landscape, Patterns, Photography, Yosemite


Lily, photo by Harold Davis.

This lily in our garden, a new bud. It was low down, in shadow. I saw it when I came out to photograph the rain on spider webs. I used a tripod, and a long exposure, with the camera stopped down to f/22.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Raindrops on a Spider Web

When Phyllis brought Julian home from school, chaos broke out as usual when the kids get home. Mathew was wailing. But Julian insisted I come outside and have a look at the raindrops on a spider’s web. I’m glad Julian did. He said, “Take a picture, Daddy!” – and I did. The drops of rain look to me like jewels, or stars in the sky.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography

The Vision Thing

I took this photo close to sunset from near the top of Mt. Vision on the Point Reyes peninsula the other day. Depending on your computer, you may have to look closely to really see it. I like the sense of landscape and bays unfolding in the distant light.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes

White Fence, White Waves

This fence is outside the residence for park rangers near the Point Reyes light house.

Posted in Landscape, Patterns, Photography, Point Reyes, San Francisco Area

Land’s End

A windy day on Point Reyes – this great bare peninsula jutting out into the naked windswept ocean. Julian in the windThis view is near the end of Point Reyes from the Chimney Rock Trail.

Here’s Julian, my hiking companion on Sunday, who was almost swept off the trail in the wind.

You can see the wind in this picture of the Gulf of Farallon with the breakers roaring into North Beach:

North Beach, Pt Reyes

Point Reyes is amazing land, at once desolate, barren, lonely, rich, and wonderful. It is true wilderness, and the uttermost West in this continent. How fine that it is so near metropolitan San Francisco, and about an hour drive from our home in Berkeley. Across the Richmond bridge, up Highway 101 to Lucas Valley Road (yes, that Lucas!), past the little town of Nicasio, and the more touristic Point Reyes Station, around Tomales Bay and one is there.

Julian and I explored Chimney Rock Trail, listened to the sea lions, visited the light house (the stairs were closed because of the high winds), and built an intricate castle on Drake’s Beach (sheltered by the bluffs). What a fine day!

More Point Reyes photos:

Posted in Hiking, Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes, San Francisco Area

Thistle Flower

Julian and I found this thistle flower with the shape of a star while we were hiking on the Quarry Trail in nearby Tilden Park.

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Tilden Park

The Naked Moth

This moth flew into our bathroom last night around 10PM. The moth was naked. So was I. But I had to photograph him (he had landed on the bathroom mirror).

So I got out the Canon Powershot and put it on a tripod. These LCD digital cameras are really better for quick photo macros than the SLRs anyhow. Here’s a picture of me taking the picture:

Self Moth

The bathroom seemed awfully quiet with just me and the moth. Maybe that’s because I had photographed Julian earlier as a ghost. Thanks to the miracle of bounce flash, his motion is partially captured. A neat effect:

Julian as Ghost

Posted in Bemusements, Kids, Photography

View of Nevada Falls from the Muir Trail

“What! does a stream rush out of a mountain free and pure, to roll through fair pastures, to feed and throw out bright tributaries, and to end in a village gutter?” — William Makepiece Thackeray from The History of Henry Esmond

Posted in Hiking, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite