Category Archives: Photos

Wildflower Superbloom in Anza-Borrego (Photos)

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers

The kiddo had a day off from school in mid-March, so I took a vacation day and we all drove out to the desert to see the spring wildflowers. After the endless suburbia of Los Angeles, northern Orange County, and Corona, we drove past hills green from the winter rains, then into the similarly-endless suburbs of Temecula. It’s been years since I took Highway 79 south, and the city has grown a lot, but after a few miles the strip malls and housing developments disappeared, the road shrank to two lanes, and we drove through green hills with oaks, bushes, and the occasional patches of poppies, mustard and lupins. Fences, dirt roads and gates indicated ranches and wineries. Continue reading

AAAAAA! 😱

Artist Nathan Sawaya recreates Edvard Munch’s The Scream in LEGO, on exhibit in The Art of the Brick.

Perhaps it’s a cliche, but I’ve rather liked The Scream since I first saw a print of it somewhere. (Well, one version of it, anyway, as the artist created four of them.) Maybe it was in an art book, maybe it was a poster. Maybe it was one of a zillion pop culture references to it. (Heck, it’s got its own emoji now.) I associate it with college, but I also associate it with the crowd I hung out with in high school, so it’s hard to say.

And of course growing up in the 1980s means I have a lot of fond memories of playing with LEGO.

I got to see the full exhibit at the Fleet Science Center last week. (It’s there through the end of January). The first two rooms are mostly recreations of famous paintings and sculptures — Starry Night, the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and so on — and the rest are original works. Some are realistic, while others are outright surreal. Almost all of them are done using standard rectangular LEGO bricks and tiles.

Sadly, the 6YO was not impressed by the subject matter, the creativity, or the craftsmanship (he was much more interested in building in the play area afterward), and tried to leave several times before we got through the whole exhibit. Then we got to the the dinosaur skeleton. That one he liked, as well as the crowd walking along a street that, when viewed from the right angle, lines up with the markings on the wall to form the image of an eye.

Spectrum at the top of the Sky

The colored wisp of cloud is too high in the sky to be a rainbow or a circumhorizon arc, and the spectrum is too ordered to be an iridescent cloud. I looked up ice halos that might produce this effect near vertical just before sunset. It turns out a circumzenithal arc is a perfect match: a rainbow arc near the zenith, brightest when the sun is very low. I’d never seen one before – it’s always cool to spot a new kind of sun halo.

Spotted November 12 at the Irvine Spectrum shopping center. It was around 90°F during the day at ground level, but of course it can be a lot colder in the upper atmosphere.

Saturation increased to show the colors more clearly.

Moon Moon: Phone vs. Camera Revisted

Flowers with moon and jupiter

I spotted this view of the moon and Jupiter bordered by flowers while at the Orange County Fair last week. While I love the look of the shot, it’s terribly grainy and full of compression artifacts. My phone isn’t great at things like zoom or low light conditions. I’ve been using it as my main camera for the past year, since it’s great in bright daylight, and my old camera is riddled with dust I can’t get rid of. But this, plus plans for a vacation where I knew I’d really want a working zoom, combined to be the last straw.

Major criteria:

  • Serious optical zoom
  • Low light
  • Long exposure
  • Wi-Fi would be nice, but not critical

I checked out a bunch of cameras and settled on a Canon PowerShot SX710 with 30x(!) optical zoom. They’ve automated a lot of the mode settings the older models used to have, but there are still a few specific modes you can use and you can still take photos with manual settings. And yes, you can transfer photos over Wi-Fi, to a device, a computer, or a cloud service.

One of the first things I did after charging the battery was go outside to see how it handled night shooting. Then I looked up and saw the moon.

Moon

So far, so good!

Amusingly, this happened the last time I bought a camera too.

Tree Blood

Bleeding tree stump

I’ve described sap as “tree blood” before, but this seems a little too apt.

There are a bunch of tipuana trees mixed in with the jacarandas and palms around the area where I work. (One fewer now.) They look a lot like jacarandas with yellow flowers instead of purple, though the leaves are a little bit wider and the bark is just a bit different. (They make just as big a mess, too.) Tipuanas look close enough that I actually mistook them for jacarandas until I saw them flowering — which, oddly enough, I haven’t seen any of them do yet this year.

And now I know that they have blood-red sap.