Friday, April 30, 2010

Photographic Studies of the Grand Canyon (via the iPhone)

We are back safe and sound in Cholula Red.

We had a wonderful time, got our business finished lickety split and got to spend a day at the Grand Canyon. I took thousands of pictures, using my Canon 7D, my Panasonic Lumix FZ35 and my iPhone.

It will take days to get them all processed.

Since I took the fewest shots with the iPhone, I'll start there. I haven't posted many of my iPhone pictures lately, but I must say, I continue to be impressed with this little camera. It works well, but what really bumps it up are the thousands of aps you can get that manipulate your pictures and truly turn them into art of another sort.

I decided to use one I haven't played with before called HD Camera. You may remember my other HD pictures were taken using TrueHDR. The difference in the two aps is that TrueHDR requires you to take two photos, one focusing on the lightest part of the picture and the other focusing on the darkest part of the scene. Then the application merges the two, and, especially in high contrast situations, you get impressive results.

But HD Camera is another beast entirely. It automatically processes one photo into High Definition, plus, it takes the standard 3mp of the iPhone camera and somehow magically turns them into 7mp images. It certainly seems like magic to me!

Now, back to the Grand Canyon. I've been there several times, and every time, it's always kind of a shock to realize that that the clarity of the canyon is somewhat compromised. I don't know if it's just the fact that the damn thing is so big, or if it's a weather phenomenon, perhaps creeping pollution or what, but, beautiful as it is, there is always a sort of haze, especially when taking a long view.

So, in my mind, all those pictures I see that are bright and vibrant must have been manipulated, either in the darkroom, or in camera. I don't mind this, but like I say, when I've seen it in person (over the last 50+ years) the haze always comes as a surprise.

With this in mind, I knew I would have some manipulation ahead of me. But you know what? That's what I love to do, so no big deal.

I downloaded all the pictures from the three cameras, and the surprise came when I looked at the iPhone pictures captured using HD Camera. Somehow, the algorithms used in the in-phone processing automatically did away with the haze!

Way cool.

One note before the photos. As always, you can click any scene and see a larger, usually clearer, image. Also, some of these are duplicates, with the original from the iPhone (using HD Camera), then manipulated in Photoshop for different effects.

If I haven't already bored you to tears, here we go with the pictures.


This first shot is SOOC
(straight out of the camera)

a slightly different angle
Don't these remind you
of these old
Kodachrome linen postcards?

Yet another sightly different angle
(sorry, I like them all)

This is the same shot as above
but slightly more detail

Again, the same shot,
slightly softened.
I like this effect a lot.

OK, be prepared,
there are lots of versions of this one.
This is the original SOOC.
I love the hazy light.

But I hated the railing,
so I removed it.

This has some darkening
and color changes.

Changes in light.

This looks like
it might have been taken
years and years ago,
but has now suffered
the ravages of time.

Also a vintage look
but with more detail.

In sepia.


By this time,
I had done so many changes
I don't even remember
what I did to get this effect
But I like it

One final shot
from the iPhone.

I didn't even remember the iPhone
till we were almost out of the park,
but I'm glad I got the shots I did.

I will definitely be using it
more in the future.

What a great trip we had,

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

the Grand Adventure

A few days ago I talked about the business we had to attend to. What I didn't mention was that this involved a bit of driving.

Quite a bit of driving.

About a thousand miles worth . . .

So we decided, since this would be a very quick trip, the best thing to do was to rent a speedy little car that would just eat up the miles in complete comfort.

And that's what we did. We figured the trip would be a three or four day affair. But we got to our destination in just one day and by 10:30 the next morning, our business was concluded!

Now we could have just hotfooted it back to Cholula Red. But since this was a sort of a vacation from the permanent vacation that is our life, we looked around for a bit of excitement.

And guess what popped up? Or would that be sunk down? In any event, we realized that with just a tiny bit of a detour, the humongous hole in the earth known as the Grand Canyon was just a bit out of our way.

So today, we spent the day at the Grand Canyon taking way too many pictures. And as I write this, I'm in a miserable little motel in Tuba City, Arizona, remembering why we travel in our own motor home. . .

But that's another story.

We do have the best of times (pictures to follow).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


As regular readers know, we're currently in Albuquerque, taking care of business.

I just wanted to say I may not be posting for a few days because when we get into this "get it all done as quick as we can" mode, it seems like there isn't a lot to talk about that anyone would be interested in.

Then again, who knows? Maybe something stupendous will drop in our laps that I'll just have to share. Stranger things have happened.

I will say I can certainly be thankful that this is only for a few days, as opposed to the time when we had to get up and run around like crazy people every day!

I'll keep in touch, but maybe not for a few days.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just a Note

We've arrived in Albuquerque and are all set up at Hidden Valley, just a short trip from the outskirts of the city.

What I wanted to share is this thought that came to me.

Here we are, in a completely new environment. All of a sudden, we're in the hills, with a ton of green surrounding us. It's raining and pretty foggy, something we rarely saw in Socorro. Lovely but completely different.

Oh gosh, let me correct that, it's snowing here in Tijeras!

But that aside, what I wanted to talk about is what a wonderful thing it is to be able to move my home.

Here I am. In my own comfortable chair, at my desk, with my kitchen right behind me. My own bed is waiting for later tonight, cozy, warm and familiar.

Yet I'm in a whole new town, with a stunning new vista in front of me.

But still, I'm home.

And you know what?

There's No Place Like Home.

I love my life,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kitcheny Stuff

Today, we're packing up, getting ready to move to Albuquerque for a week or so.

This usually involves a clean up of the rig, so I decided to clean the refrigerator. What an adventure! I found a ton of stuff we got rid of and decided to make a "refrigerator dinner".

That's where you make dinner out of whatever you find in the fridge.

For me, tonight that was meatloaf, but we have no bread! Well, we'll just have to see how this turns out.

I started with hamburger. Speaking of hamburger, what kind do you buy? Lately, I've been searching for deals on steaks, roasts, whatever cuts we like. Here in Socorro, we found petite sirloins for just $1.99 a pound, what a deal! Then I simply asked the butcher to grind It up for me, and I end up with a nice low fat hamburger for just under $2.00 a pound. Pretty cool, huh?

Anyhow, back to the meatloaf. I mixed my ground sirloin, five spicy Italian sausages (skinned), a bit of ham (diced), three eggs, a handful of Parmesan cheese (Kraft in a can, left over, not my favorite, but better to put it in the meatloaf than throw it away). Then I added a bit of shredded cheddar, some onions, some garlic and assorted other spices.

Hmmm, I'm wondering if this will hold together without some bread? Only time will tell. I also found a jar of roasted red peppers and I've minced those up and added those to the mix.

Wow, this is going to be one big meatloaf!

When I had it all mixed, there was too much to fit in my pan. Since I only had a couple of cups left, I put it in one of my incredible little silicone prep bowls. I bought two sets of these a couple of years ago, and even though they were quite expensive, we use them all the time and feel they were well worth the money. We have a set of three two cup bowls and another set of three one cup bowls. These are a lot heavier than most of the silicone cookware you see, and they are shaped to perfectly fit in your hand. We use them for cereal, soup, yogurt, everything. Not only are they perfect for eating, they're also just the thing for baking. I make small cakes in them, sometimes I bake bread, and tonight I used one for a small two cup meatloaf!

Back to the meatloaf.

Everything was looking good, then I remembered I usually put some kind of sauce on my meatloaf. I mixed up a small can of tomato sauce, finished up the last of my tomato paste (again a left over from the fridge. Have you ever tried tomato paste in a tube? A great invention), put in a good hit of garlic powder and finished it up with a healthy hit of balsamic vinegar. A quick taste and it went onto the meatloaf.

And you know what?

The meatloaf, sauce and all came out great!

And tomorrow we'll be in the big city.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring, Bunnies and Bugs

We had a soft and gentle rain last night. When I woke up, it was still a bit overcast, but quickly turned into a beautiful day.

We spend a good amount of time
looking out our windows,
and this morning
this is what we saw.

Not a great picture I know,
but I was pretty excited
to actually get a shot of bunnies
while they were frolicking.

Here's another shot,
again, not great
but remember
I was shooting through a
less than sparking windshield.

With a bit of spring fever,
I took a walk.
The clouds were so pretty,
I decided to share a photo
of our spot here at the Bosque.

Buds are bursting everywhere.

A closer shot,
I'm still playing with the camera.

Even though these appear dead
they speak to me of Spring.

As do these.

One more sky shot
(can you tell I love the clouds?)

And I loved this shot of this bug.
Click on it to enlarge
and you'll see some incredible detail.
I am really pleased
with the drops
on the bottom of his wings.

And that's what I saw on my walk!

Friday, April 16, 2010

No Pelicans Today . . .

Having heard that the pelicans have come back to the Bosque, we went searching today, but to no avail.

That said,
the Bosque,
as always,

I so love seeing the egrets.
For years, I've loved the paintings
from the 1930s
of these majestic birds.
These memories
always make me want
to play with their pictures.

I like the "western" look.

The clouds today were outstanding
white and shining
making for wonderful reflections
in the clear ponds of the Bosque.

And look at the way the sky
merges from pearly white
to the this gorgeous blue.
(click to enlarge and see all the detail)

Perhaps the pelicans
will show themselves tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Change of Plans (again . . .)

Once again our plans have changed.

Originally, we thought we'd be leaving tomorrow. Then we took a look at the calendar, and realized we're a bit ahead of schedule, so we've decided to wait another week before heading north.

One reason we've decided to stay is that we've heard that pelicans have moved in to the Bosque, so hopefully, we'll have some pictures soon.

Isn't it wonderful when plans are loose and fluid?

I love it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Slight Case of Spring

Just a few pictures today.

Spring is finally here in Socorro, but I don't have any flower pictures! What can I say? I guess my head was just somewhere else.

We got up early to go to a book sale at the local University. Since it was early, I was not quite awake and left my Canon at home. Fortunately I had my old Panasonic with me, so I was able to take a couple of shots.

I'm getting into macro shooting these days. In case you don't know, macro is extreme close up photography. It also relates to aperture and depth of field.

We were walking around the lovely campus (well worth a look if you're ever in the area), and spotted this birds nest.

I can't seem
to pass a birds nest
without taking a picture,
so here's one for today.

The trees are full of these little acorn caps.
I think they're just a
wonder of nature.

They come in all kinds of colors.
I particularly liked the red ones.

That's it for today
Hope you're having a great weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Day in the Desert (and More Photo School)

We spent the day out in the desert.

I remember when I thought of the desert as nothing but boring tan and brown. Endless miles of blah.

Not any more though, I've fallen in love.

We like to look at a map and find the tiniest town we can, then jump in the car and go look for it. We usually find that nary a trace of the town remains, but we're rarely disappointed.

The subtlety of the desert in spring continues to fascinate. The colors don't jump out at you, but they're there if you just slow down and take a look.

Since I've been into photography, that's something I appreciate. We always slow down to look now, cameras in hand, and oh what we find.

Since I'm using this blog as a sort of photography journal, bear with me, lots of pictures. As always, you can click any image for a larger version.

We started off by crossing the Rio Grand

These trees are all along the river.
They stretch for miles.

Then we got far out into the desert.

I love the way these trees
silhouette against the skies.

Doesn't this guy look like a
little walking alien?
We are in New Mexico after all . . .

With the new camera,
I'm trying to learn about aperture.
The higher the number
the smaller the aperture
(go figure)
and the more of the image
in focus.

The lower the number
the larger the aperture.
This means less of the image is in focus
and more of the background
is blurred.
This is called Depth of Field.

The shadows are as interesting
as the foliage.

I think it looks just as good
in sepia.

We got so far out in the desert
we began seeing these signs.
You can bet we stayed
right on the road.

I don't know what this is supposed
to be guarding.

A close up of the post above
(and another test of aperture).
I'm learning,
slowly . . .

Another test
of focus and aperture.

I call these walking plants.
They're all over the New Mexico desert.

I even like the dead plants.
They're not really dead,
just waiting to bloom again.
Sometimes this is how I feel.

I'm really enjoying
playing with close ups.

I like them nice and sharp.

Driving along,
we saw this nest.

So once again,
I had to play with aperture
and depth of field.

And I couldn't finish this post
without one more cow shot.

As always