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Fast Forward Four Years

26 May

Four Years. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve added any photos to this site. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been shooting — just not uploading. So  here are my favorite shots from a vacation my wife and I took in Arizona and Utah two weeks ago. Our stops included  Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon and Sedona. We flew to Phoenix, rented a car, and drove a roughly 1200 mile “circle” back to the Phoenix airport.

You can click each image to see a larger version of the photo.

The first stop was Petrified Forest National Park  which was much better than I expected. What look like logs lying in the desert are the petrified remains of tropical trees except that the wood cells have been replaced by minerals. To see this log lying there, you expect it to be a redwood tree.

Petrified red log

As you drive thru the Petrified Forest from south to north, you come to the Painted Desert. At this overlook, I saw a woman walking her little dog along a trail.

walking the dog in the painted desert

Canyon de Chelly is an important and sacred site to the Navajo. One of the most famous features, Spider Rock, was the home of the Spider Grandmother who their tradition says taught their people how to weave. The spire is more than 700 feet tall.

Canyon de Chelly Spider Rock

We hired a Navajo guide, T.J., to take us into the canyon. He has a deep spiritual connection to the place. His grandparents lived in the canyon and his family still owns and farms a plot of land deep inside of it. He helped us gain an understanding of the spiritual connection the place has for his people. The canyon is famous for its cliff dwellings.

Canyon de Chelly ruins 1

If you look to the right of the lower structure, about half way up to the structures on the ledge, you will see two large petroglyphs etched into the cliff wall. Here’s a telephoto shot of those:

Canyon de Chelly ruins petroglyphs

The one at the top is a spirit or a person, perhaps climbing the wall. The lower one, a bird, makes me think of a roadrunner.

From Canyon de Chelly, we drove to Monument Valley.  It’s as spectacular as it seems in those classic John Ford westerns. This spot gives you an idea. There happened to be a yucca plant growing there. I included it in the photo because of the spiritual connection of that  plant to the Navajo. The roots can be made into a soap that is used in personal cleansing ceremonies. It also makes a good foreground element. Note the woman standing on the point. She and her guide were the only other people at that spot besides us and our guide.

Monument Valley with Yucca Plant

Our guide took us from here into the back country that you can only get to with a certified Navajo guide. Most of the time, because of getting an early start, we were the only ones at the various stops. He was great, stopping whenever I asked to get out for a photo. I saw this bush growing at the top of a small sand dune. Notice the dark clouds. A storm was moving in.

MOnument Vally Bush on the Dune

One of the stops was a large dome/semi cave called the “big hogan.” Our guide, Felix, suggested we lie back against the sloping walls and close our eyes while he played a traditional Navajo melody on his wood flute. It was spiritual and magical.

Felix playing the flute

One of the “structures” in Monument Valley is called the “three sisters.”  I was able to get a back country view with these desert daisies in the foreground. From this angle, I saw the letter W and thought of it as three brothers.

MOnument Valley desert dasies

Our hotel room had a beautiful view of some of the signature monuments in the Valley. At night, during a brief gap in the cloud cover, I took this time exposure from the balcony. The orange glow in the background is from the town of Bluff, Utah, about 45 air miles away.

Monument Valley by starlight

This is my favorite image from Monument Valley. I shot it from inside the “trading post” souvenir shop. Lined up on the window sill were spirit dancer dolls. This shot, to me, symbolizes the spiritual feeling and the effect Monument Valley had on me.

Monument & spirit dancers

From there, it was on to the Grand Canyon, south rim. On the first evening, we were at an overlook about an hour before sunset. A woman had climbed down to a rock point and I realized she was there to take a selfie on her phone.

Canyon point selfie

Of course, I shouldn’t talk. I wasn’t averse to taking a sort of selfie myself. This one was a little less risky, but Jan was still nervous.

Grand Canyon Dangling Feet

It’s hard to resist landscape photos at the Grand Canyon. I’ve been participating in an online photo community called 52 Frames. There is a different subject/theme challenge each week and the images have to be shot the week of the challenge. The theme for the week we were traveling was architecture. This is the image I submitted and here is what I wrote for the context of the theme:

The Desert View Watchtower at the Grand Canyon is impressive because of the architect’s sensitivity to place. Mary Colter modeled it after ancient Puebloan watchtowers found in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. She even included what looks like rubble and broken walls in the construction to give it the feel of an ancient ruin. Inside, it may be packed with visitors, but when viewing it at the Canyon’s edge, it fits.

Desert View Tower

We were at the Grand Canyon for two nights. Our last night there, I captured this scene just before sunset.

Grand Canyon A few minutes before sunset


Sunday Morning 7:00 a.m. on My Street

10 Apr

This is India Street in Little Italy – where we live. This is what it looked like this morning at 7:10 a.m. as an estimated 2,000 bike riders waited to start a race. You can see the starting line near the top of the image. The view is from the fourth floor of our building.

The second shot, looking straight down, is riders at the back of the pack working their way up to the starting line several minutes after the leaders took off. I deliberately shot at a slow shutter speed to create the motion blur.

A Morning at the Zoo

13 Feb

I went to my second photo Meetup this week – Thursday morning at the San Diego Zoo. We entered when the zoo opened at 9:00 and stayed until about 1:30 p.m.There were about 15 of us.

This is a resting rhinoceros.

This young elephant had been playing with water from a pond. I happened to be in the right place when he decided to take a big gulp directly from the pipe that was spraying the water into that pond.    

As I was about to leave, I stopped at the flamingo pond near the entrance.

I just happened to see this one flamingo in the one shaft of light in an otherwise shaded area. This was my last shot of the day.  

Old Cars and Trucks and Trains

30 Jan

On Saturday, 1/29/11, I went to a photo “Meetup” with a group from the Pacific Photographic Society. It was a day of shooting at the Motor Transport Museum and the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum – both in Campo. It’s a small town in east San Diego County in the foothills near the Mexican border. It was a great day with a group of very talented and friendly people.

The first batch of photos are from the Motor Transport Museum and are displayed with their permission. Wandering the grounds, among so many rusted wrecks, I couldn’t help thinking about a continuum between Museums at one end and junk yards at the other.

This is a hood ornament from an old pick-up truck.

There were these gigantic gears lying on the ground. When I say gigantic, I think they were more than four feet in diameter.  Perhaps part of a transmission from …?

This latch was holding the engine cover on an old truck.

The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum is, in my mind, definitely more on the museum portion of that continuum. The next group were shot there. They have their share of rusting and decaying hulks. But they also have railcars and engines that have been partially or fully restored.

This last is my favorite from the shoot. While I was there, walking around and inside these old and antique railcars, it felt at times as if I was wandering among the spirits of a bygone era.

December in Silicon Valley

7 Jan

One of the highlights of December for us was visiting our daughter’s family in Sunnyvale. We were there at what may have been the end of the autumn leaves colors. It’s later than other parts of the country and it’s something we don’t see in Downtown San Diego.

The first shot is of a bench in the park at the Children’s Museum in San Jose.

Park Bench with Autumn Leaves

Later the same afternoon, while our grandson was napping, I went for a walk in our daughter’s neighborhood. This tree is near her house. Those few leaves really were still green.

It's not easy being green.

Leaves that had fallen onto the rocks between the sidewalk and the street.

These trees were a block away.

I saw these on the way back to her house.

Brushing the sky

November 2010

4 Jan

I’m playing catch-up and posting photos taken in November.


Along the San Diego waterfront there is a walkway and park that honors America’s veterans, especially from the Navy. In a Veteran’s Day observance, a veterans group placed markers commemorating American forces killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were placed in the grass area near where the aircraft carrier Midway Museum is anchored. While crosses predominate, there were also crescents, stars of David and others without a clear religious symbol. I noticed a young man with a haircut that suggested he might be a Marine as he contemplated a marker that also had the photo of a Marine who gave his life in those wars.


On Tuesdays, on a rotating basis, the museums at Balboa Park have free admission for San Diegans. Following are some pictures I took at the park on Nov. 16.

The first is a woman I saw sitting near paintings on display in the  Spanish Village Art Center. (See also my post of July 13 for related pictures). I was taken by her gray hat and hair against the color of her shirt and the red bench.

This photo was taken from inside the Art Museum looking out a back window along the corridor leading to the restrooms. The window overlooks part of the park. It had a light filtering shade. I shot through the shade because I liked the sort of impressionist painting effect it had on the scene outside.


The next two shots were definitely influenced by being in the art museum. These are lily pads in the pond in front of the Botanical Building. Both photos are of the same group of lily pads, but from different angles. I played with the images a little in Photoshop to get a suggestion (to me) of a Monet painting.



Inside the Botanical Building looking out – I liked the spider webs between the turned posts that make a grill instead of a wall.


After I left the Botanical Building, I took this shot because I was taken by the contrast between the elderly couple slowly walking and the young couple enjoying the park in a different way.


Coming up in the next post, December photos.


Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010

7 Oct

The Nature of Coffee Shops.

First, let me say I’m not a Starbuck’s customer. I don’t have anything against the chain or its imitators/competitors. It’s just that I’m not a real coffee drinker. It’s rare that I have coffee beyond two cups with breakfast.

There are several coffee shops in our neighborhood. When I passed this one today, I saw what symbolized to me what they seem to have have become – stations to web surf and maybe do some work. I never did see this guy’s face, just his hands enclosing his coffee cup while working at his laptop.

The Net Result

I’ve also included in this post pictures I took during the upload break. I’ll be adding some of those over the next several posts. Today’s “catch-up” photos were taken late in the afternoon on Aug. 7 when Jan and I walked along a dock at Tuna Harbor where commercial fishing boats tie up. I was attracted to three different perspectives on fishing nets.

The first photo is of nets that have been neglected for so long that weeds are growing out of them even though they’re covered, mostly, with a plastic tarp.

The second shot is just the opposite – and on the other side of the dock – a fishing boat on which the nets are rolled up and ready for the next deployment.

In between, we saw a commercial fisherman and his wife who were working, even as sunset was nearing, on repairing their fishing nets. I had their permission to take their picture.