They finally – finally – completed the project that involved the Jewel Lake Loop parking lot, and I can now park close and have full access to the Loop. Very quick family walk with friends this past weekend. Unfocused but appreciated. To wit…

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Point Reyes

26May14

Our favorite place in the world is Point Reyes. A day there can cure almost anything and restore balance to the universe. But first, one must persuade folks to eat and be happy. That takes work.

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Then one might take a hike. Pierce Point, the top of Point Reyes. Start with the ranch, where you had to be pretty tough to endure the wind and cold all year (started 1857).

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And deal with anti-photograph and anti-hiking family.

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And they might get into it eventually, and look for birds or badgers.

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And allow us to hike into beautiful places.

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Elk!

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Smirk at all possible moments.

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Because, you know, this is so ordinary.

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But in fact, there are interesting things.

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And nothing gets by the pink dress. And everyone must stay in their lane.

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I mean really, who would complain.

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Maybe mom at all the complaining.

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Ah, the turnaround point.

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Picture first!

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They made it back. Followed by miles of bumpy roads followed by delicious burgers, including water buffalo burgers and water buffalo gelato (and beer and wine). Life is tough for this new generation.


Front Yard

26May14

The landscaping in our front yard has not done well. A combination of poor plant choices by previous owners, irrigation that seems to have faltered and the drought.

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We had some shrubs/trees taken out that left the yard feeling naked.

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All a work in progress. But thanks to our kids the front yard has some collections.

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The other night I had an opportunity to take my first dusk-time photo walk in Tilden Park in a very long while. I grabbed a quick bite while the light softened and then headed up. 

The frustrating thing is that the major sewer project is still ongoing and I had to park further away from my usual spot and walk down and in.
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I was the only person there and after a coyote pranced by only a few feet away I decided that it might be wise not to linger much longer, cutting short my trip. Not that any coyote would be interested in me, but mountain lions also roam the park and they might. With the construction and few people walking in this area of Tilden I’ve seen an increase in the amount of wildlife. Plenty of birds too.
Over about the past year I have become far more aware of the birdlife around our home, the neighborhood, parks and elsewhere. Their songs have become a companion on any walk and the dusk-time chirps of the Robin are part and parcel with the Tilden photo walk experience for me. One night I was reading to my daughter at bedtime and we heard a Robin singing – my daughter said it was a mother Robin singing a lullaby to her chicks. In fact, my son and I have studied them and it seems that at dusk right before dark the males fly from tree to tree in circular paths as they sing to mark their territory. You can hear the one right nearby and many others not too far off.
This night the Dark-Eyed Juncos were out and definitely not shy.
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Since it is rare that I get to photograph any more I am out of practice. It takes time to sink into a photo walk and it takes continued practice to keep the eyes and the mind in shape. I took a few snaps, but nothing stands out from this set.
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I discovered several new stumps and also visited familiar ones. I find these stumps interesting visually, but I am also intrigued by their presence. Why were the trees cut down randomly here and there and why were the stumps left behind? Part of my interest is that I feel the stumps need companionship, just like any other trees that remain standing tall. I try to give them some respect through portraits.
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Dark Time

15May14

Seems the only time there is for photographs is night time, and only on rare occassions. Might as well take what you can get.

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Sometimes, I wonder if chunks of concrete dream of being rocks. Forced into strict shapes, and then at some point broken free.

The other day I read a post about being original. Show the world something they’ve never seen before. The point was, if you are standing next to a dozen other photographers, you’re probably not showing me anything new.

My own picture taking is not great, but at least hopefully I’m showing you something new, something from my own perspective.

But I do wonder why people take the same picture that’s been taken before or that so many others are taking. It may be that they are simply looking for their own versions or their own beautiful pictures, or perhaps they are just practicing.

But really, I’d rather see what’s unique and interesting to you!


Restarting

03Mar14

Let’s face it – this photography blog has been shuttered. There have been numerous topics and posts that have come to mind, but the fact of the matter is that I have backed off from serious work and serious thought. I have simply been busy; photography is not a full-time proposition for me. I still love it, I’m still obsessed with it, but as for my own work, that will have to wait.

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To restart things off, a few items of note. My son is in a raptor phase and loves to learn about hawks and eagles and owls. Taking advantage of his interest we’ve been to a few events and it has sparked in me a companion interest in raptors and our local songbird population. I am particularly interested in the robins, who seem to be the most populous bird in our hood. I love their songs and equate them with still, peaceful dusk photowalks in Tilden Park. We’ve been observing and studying their behaviors in our backyard. Patterns are beginning to emerge.
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This study has prompted an idea for a project by which I study and document the robin’s landscape, which, naturally, is much more confined than our own own. I am curious about what “landscape” means to the birds. Of course, it probably means food, safety, danger and competition – but those makes their landscape not just more immediate but more vital.
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To learn more about these birds I’ve been reading What The Robin Knows, a book I discovered while researching another book that was recommended by a local raptor expert. I suppose it could be considered a “birding” book (I am not a birder), but it’s really about bird language, meaning how we read their vocalizations and their behaviors. The premise is that by learning their “baseline” language and how they behave and vocalize in exception cases (“cat right there”) we can be more aware of what’s going on in general in the natural world right in our yards.
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I also recently discovered an artist/photographer through an interview on Tilted Arc. I emailed her to ask about prints of her work and she has been generous with her time in providing me with discussion and guidance in thinking and reading about landscape and landscape photography. As is probably obvious, I am very interested in landscape as place and in capturing and documenting various forms of landscape/places. And I am always surprised that there are others out there who seem to find the same kind of thing worthy of focus and study and find the same kinds of “landscapes” interesting.
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But over the past many months I’ve mostly been focused on work and family. Work will be what it will be and family is always busy at this stage of the game. I made a commitment to be more present on family hikes and not so concerned with photography – primarily family snapshots with the random landscape grab here and there.
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Also working against me photographically-speaking, we’ve been having a serious drought in California and the warm sunny days have not inspired me to go out and photograph what should normally be a winter landscape. I’m simply not inspired. Also, they have been doing sewer replacement near my standard Jewel Lake Loop for months, and getting to my normal locations requires an extensive detour; it just adds time to an already constrained time window.
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Beyond that, time is a blur.
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“You spend the first half of your life trying to figure out what you want to be and the second half trying to figure out who you are.”
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I’m beginning to understand that.
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