RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


18 Comments

Feline Friday – #89 – take your cat hiking

Friday at Bryce

I’m tired of dog owners boasting that one of the benefits of a canine companion over a cat is that you can take the dog hiking. So I am advocating: take your cat hiking!

Several years ago I was on a hiking trip to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, USA. This is the image I created for my Christmas card that year.

The feline is my late, great cat Friday who passed away in 2013. You will note the sign requiring hiking boots, therefore he is wearing them. Also the sign specifies no dogs. Doesn’t say anything about cats!

 

Advertisements


25 Comments

A gift membership to the Huntington Library

The Huntington

A friend very kindly gave me a membership to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, approximately 20 miles (32km) northeast of Culver City and 13 miles (21km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. So as it was such a glorious day on Wednesday in the 70s (21+C) and sunny, I decided to make the trip.

My first stop to take a photo was at a fountain in the California Garden area. Two little girls were playing with the water. One was wearing a bright pink dress and the other was in blue. The reflection of these dresses in the water gave me the colors at the right hand side of the image. I’m sure the mother thought I was trying to capture pictures of her kids so I did my best to make it obvious I was only interested in the fountain. I took several shots but the one I liked the best was out of focus so I decided to play with it in Photoshop and make an abstract image out of it!

The Huntington

The Huntington

Now I have a membership I didn’t feel the need to rush around to every part of the gardens or visit the galleries as I can come back whenever I feel like it! So I just walked around looking for flowers and plants and scenes that struck my fancy.

The Huntington

I set my camera on Aperture Preferred (AV on my Canon) which is now my preferred setting! For a long time I set it to Program as the default and changed the aperture and shutter speed as necessary. But now I believe AV is better.



The Huntington
I know there are “purists” who scoff at anything other than strictly Manual. Good for them! I talked to one professional landscape/street  photographer who told me his dirty secret that 95% of the time he stayed in Program and let the camera do the work. It’s like painting. Anybody can take a brush and make a mess on a canvas. But it takes an artist to make something beautiful.

Walking towards the Desert Garden



The Huntington

Whether you are using a paintbrush or a camera, you still have to have an “eye.” I have a friend who owns all kinds of camera equipment but has no sense of composition. that’s the most important element.



The Huntington
So it doesn’t matter if you are shooting in Manual or Program or Aperture Preferred or with a point & shoot camera or a smart phone. If you capture a good picture, that’s the only thing that matters.



The Huntington
For me, walking around with a camera forces me to see things I probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. Today I was on my own. But I also enjoy going out with a friend because they might spot something I missed and vice versa.



The Huntington
The other issue that comes up is post processing. I happen to enjoy working in Lightroom and Photoshop. You can’t start out with a crappy photo and make it into a masterpiece on the computer. Ain’t gonna happen. But you start out with a well-composed, in focus, reasonably well-lit image and there is a chance you can make that into a masterpiece! I shoot in RAW so all my images have to go through Lightroom (or Camera RAW) anyway.



The Huntington
My favorite part of the grounds is the Desert Garden so I pretty much concentrated on that area. Next time I may avoid it completely! I was attempting to get some closeups and some general views. My favorite lens is my 18-135 zoom. It’s a kit lens and if I ever want to upgrade I am out of luck as there apparently is no stand alone lens in those lengths. But I’ll worry about that when I get there.



The Huntington

I’m hoping I can choose a couple of these to upload to Fine Art America where I have my portfolio. This one above might be a candidate.



The Huntington

The Desert Garden includes more than 5,000 species of desert plants in sixty landscaped beds. I don’t want to be the one to count them.



The Huntington

The weather was unbelievably pleasant. Cool and sunny is my favorite. I remember one visit to the Desert Garden when it had to be 100  degrees F (38C) and I couldn’t get enough water inside me. I’m sure all the cacti and succulents were having a great day!

The Huntington

I’ve never seen so many lizards cross my path. They must have liked the weather too and decided to come out for a stroll. One after the other they were darting out in front of me. No fear of humans.



The Huntington

I took almost 250 pictures this day! Lucky for you I won’t show all of them! But there are 42 in this post.


The Huntington

Unbelievable that it is necessary to post a sign reminding visitors not to carve their names or initials on the bamboo. Aaaargh…. people!

Click on an image below to see slide show of the rest of the photos, if you even made it this far!

See one of my previous posts about The Huntington here.


10 Comments

Yosemite – part four – my dream come true… SNOW!

yosemite

Sunday night the dark clouds rolled in and made for some dramatic skies.

 

yosemite

Monday morning I opened the drapes and voila… SNOW. Well, not exactly.

yosemiteDuring the night we thought we heard heavy rain beating down. Turned out it was hail.

Yosemite

Walking over to breakfast it was a tad slippery!

yosemite

But it was great to see white stuff on the mountains.

Yosemite

And eventually snow began to fall. This is what I’d been waiting for.

Yosemite

I was actually glad Mother Nature had waited until the last day to present us with snow. I don’t think I would have enjoyed hiking in the snow. I’ve hiked in the snow many times in the past (although not at Yosemite) and now I’m more concerned about slipping and falling.

Yosemite

But it was certainly wonderful to see it dusting the trees and mountains.

Yosemite

I loved the contrast of the greens and browns of the trees against the whites and blues.

Yosemite

Yosemite

Seeing the Yosemite Falls with snow and ice was pretty spectacular.

Yosemite

Yosemite

Yes, we are still in California! This Chevy provided the perfect contrast of colors.

Yosemite

So at last my vision of snow in Yosemite was realized… dreams do come true! Yosemite is splendid under any circumstances. But with snow it is extra special.

Yosemite

I do hope to visit Yosemite again at some point in the future. But now I don’t have to be disappointed if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

 

 

 


11 Comments

Yosemite – part three – a walk to the Majestic

yosemite

Upper Yosemite Falls

On Sunday S and I decided to walk the two miles from Yosemite Valley Lodge over to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly known as the Ahwahnee Hotel).

yosemite 
It was another chilly sunny morning and I was beginning to doubt I would ever experience snow at Yosemite in my lifetime!

yosemite

Although we enjoyed the group hike the day before, we were equally happy to have time on our own, going at our own speed and stopping to take photos.

yosemite

A lot of the trees looked pretty brown and dried up. I wasn’t sure if that was the drought or the time of year.

yosemite
The bare tree branches allowed for some dramatic scenes.

yosemite

A rather ominous sign. Does that mean the rest of the park is full of guns?

yosemite

Like Mona Lisa’s eyes, Yosemite Falls followed us along our route.

yosemite
Our plan was to eat lunch at the hotel bar then take a docent tour of the Majestic Hotel.

yosemite

Two of the light fixtures in the bar, one with bears, the other with pine trees.

yosemite

After lunch we had a wait for the docent tour so I hunkered down for a nap in a very comfy chair in the Writing Room next to a window  with a lovely view.

yosemite

View of the hotel built right up against the mountain.

yosemite yosemiteOur tour guide was very lively and passionate about his subject. He told us he had been climbing El Capitan and Half Dome since he was about four years old with his parents.

yosemite

Although our accommodations at the lodge were very comfortable I wouldn’t mind staying at the Majestic (Ahwahnee) on my next visit! This last photo shows what the original decoration of the walls and ceilings looked like. You can see the areas that have been uncovered under the yellow and brown paint. At one point it was thought to be too busy so it was painted over.

Yosemite


11 Comments

Yosemite – part two – a hike and the Golden Hour

yosemite

Saturday was our first full day at Yosemite National Park. One of our leaders was on crutches and announced she was leading a saunter so S and I decided that was our kind of hike! I walked outside our room in the morning to get the photo above. It was COLD out there!

yosemite

This was the view from our patio. Somebody said this was Cathedral Rocks so I’m going with that!

yosemite

Photographers blocking our view!

We set out on our “saunter” along the Merced River. There was no snow but it was CHILLY! My gloved hands were totally numb and I had difficulty clicking the shutter on my camera.

yosemite

The top of the Yosemite Falls. One of the magnificent features of the park is all the waterfalls.

Half Dome peeking up in the center.

yosemite I honestly didn’t think I had any good photos from this trip. But when I got home and looked at them in Lightroom I realized I had a few. I think there might even be two or three that I can work on to upload to Fine Art America.

yosemite
I enjoy framing a similar view in a different way.

The light coming through the trees was magical and mystical.

yosemite
In the afternoon we visited the Ansel Adams Gallery. What could be finer than viewing masterful photographs by the man himself in the location he shot them in? Ah, life doesn’t get much better!

yosemite

Bridal Falls… think you can figure out where the name came from!

I came back to our room and sat outside in the patio with a little vodka cocktail (well, maybe not so little…). You can see our chairs and table and the beautiful view through our picture window. My friend said when she got back to LA her body had returned but her soul was still in Yosemite. Agreed!

yosemiteIt is so important to spend time in nature and to get out of your usual routine so your brain can fly.

yosemite

yosemite
As evening set in we were fortunate to catch the Golden Hour. The next evening the clouds rolled in and there was no Golden Hour…

yosemite
All day long and all evening long we were fascinated with the plane entrails passing overhead.

So you’ve seen day one and day two. Two more days coming up!


12 Comments

Yosemite – part one – just a taste

yosemite

yosemite

It’s been three years since I visited Yosemite National Park. Last time the temperature was in the mid 70s and everybody was in shorts and tank tops in February. So this time I wanted to see some snow. But the probability wasn’t very high.

yosemite

But I decided I would have a good time regardless. Yosemite contains so much magnificent scenery it’s hard to look in any direction without being overwhelmed.

yosemite

This was another Sierra Club trip sponsored by the West LA Group. We left West Los Angeles around 6:40 Friday morning.

yosemite

My friend SB came along as my roommate. These shots are all as we arrived in the park late afternoon. Yosemite is about 280 miles (450km) from West LA. We made a few pit stops and a picnic stop on the way. It was a gorgeous California day. yosemite

There’s nothing like being on the road in the comfort of a motor coach. I used to love to drive around California in my own car, but no more. I prefer to leave the driving to the professionals!yosemite

 

I’ll be posting more photos later. We had four beautiful days, and yes, including SNOW!

 

 


11 Comments

Lotus Festival at Echo Park

echo park lotus festival

“Park Proud”

Another day, another adventure in Los Angeles!

Yesterday I joined several friends to celebrate the blooming Lotus plants at Echo Park, located approximately two miles from downtown LA. As usual, we all arrived by public transportation from all over the city. For me it was the Expo Line train to the #200 Metro bus up Alvarado to Sunset Blvd.

echo park lotus festival

This was the 37th annual festival. Echo Park Lake was closed for several years for rehabilitation. The festival started again just a few years ago. Every year the festival is hosted by a different country and this year it was the turn of Bangladesh.

You can read my blog post about the history of the park here.

echo park lotus festival

It was a pretty hot day yesterday… and humid… but it was a lovely day by the water. The lotus plants were lush and tall due to all the rain we had in the winter months and now the heat.

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

The dragonflies were enjoying themselves too.

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

echo park lotus festival

One of the highlights of the festival is the dragon boat races.  I’ve been to Echo Park many times to walk and take photos but this was my first time at the festival so I was delighted to finally see a dragon boat race! Click on a photo below for slideshow:

echo park lotus festival

The opening ceremonies were colorful and fun with a traditional Bangladesh puppet lion dance. Click on image below for slideshow:

This certainly worked up an appetite. I was hoping for some Bangladesh food but that didn’t pan out.

echo park lotus festival

But I certainly enjoyed my Korean BBQ squid. I also ordered a watermelon drink, not realizing it came with it’s own pool float! Now if I only had a pool…. but I’ll use it as a coaster.

echo park lotus festival

After lunch we had an enjoyable walk around the lake.

echo park lotus festival

The dragon boat races continued on throughout the day with various teams. It seemed that some teams were taking the race seriously, really out to win. Others were just having fun, which would be my option.

echo park lotus festival

I always enjoy festivals of any kind as they all have their own special flavor, like last month’s Summer Solstice parade in Santa Barbara. And coming up the end of this month is the Gilroy Garlic Festival, my all time favorite… stay tuned for my post about that!

If you’ve never visited Echo Park I certainly recommend the effort to get there… even if you can’t make it to the Lotus Festival…

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


10 Comments

Thundery Sunday at the Huntington Library and Gardens

Huntington Library Gardens

Four of us brave souls called the weather gods’ bluff and despite a forecast for rain, thunder and lightning made the trip out to the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, depending on the route you take, less than 25 miles from Culver City. When I go by myself I take the train and my feet but this day we drove.

Huntington Library Gardens

Since my last visit a couple of years ago they have installed a whole new garden near the entrance. And they have upgraded the dining options, always a good thing!

Huntington Library Gardens

No matter how many times I visit the Huntington, I always leave wanting more, looking forward to the next trip out there.

Huntington Library Gardens

We pretty much managed to avoid the rain until the very end. As we were sitting in the restaurant for lunch, the heavens opened up and provided us with some great thunder and lightning entertainment. When lunch was over, so was the rain. It’s all in the timing.Huntington Library Gardens

One of the cool temporary exhibits is the Orbit Pavilion… a sound experience that allows you to listen to the movement of NASA’s earth science satellites as they pass across the sky above you.

Huntington Library Gardens

This structure captures the sounds as you stand inside.

I wonder, as we are listening to them, are they listening to us?

Huntington Library Gardens

When I came up on this scene I wondered what all the baby bunnies were doing hanging out on the lawn with the geese. New glasses, Roslyn! These are goslings under the care of two napping grownups… yes, I imagine looking after all these cute little guys would be quite exhausting.

As you know from posts about my previous visits, I’ve taken gazillions of photos at the Gardens. I just enjoy wandering around shooting whatever takes my fancy. So here are a gazillion more random photos:

One last stop at the Conservatory and as we emerged, the rain started up. We took cover hoping the storm would pass but it was relentless.

Huntington Library Gardens

We gave up and made a run for the parking lot. We got soaked but at least we didn’t have to take the bus… we could be soggy all the way home in the comfort of our car!

Visit my other posts about the Huntington Library and Gardens:

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/in-hot-water-at-the-huntington-library/

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/thirsty-afternoon-in-the-desert-garden-at-the-huntington-library/

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/reflections-in-a-pond-and-art-gallery/

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


10 Comments

Roses get their close-ups

roses

I was visiting the Natural History Museum nature gardens last week to take a few photos with my macro lens. I’ve had the lens for a while but I don’t use it very often. So I decided to force myself to take photos with only that lens. Although I was enjoying doing that my attention was drawn to the rainbow of colors next door at the Exposition Park Rose Garden.

rose garden

Probably because of the heavy rains we have experienced after years of drought, the roses are apparently blooming early. The garden was a gorgeous sight to behold.

rose garden

The best estimate I can find is there are 200,000 bushes and over 200 varieties of roses in the 7-acre garden.

rose garden

The Rose Garden is next door to the Natural History Museum, in front of the California Science Center and across the Expo Line railway tracks from the University of Southern California.

rose garden

And it’s a short Expo Line trip from Culver City. Walk across the tracks from the station and you are there!

rose garden

It was such a beautiful April day in LA and I was grateful to be alive!

rose garden

Please click on an image below for slide show.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


14 Comments

…it’s all happening at the zoo….

los angeles zoo

This meerkat would not cooperate and turn around for his portrait. But he does have a pretty back side!

My friend KL recently became a member of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. When she mentioned it, I realized I have not visited the LA Zoo since the mid 1980s. As I was overdue for a visit we set a date to meet.

los angeles zoo

The first time I ever remember seeing a real live flamingo was when I lived in Florida as a teenager. I still have a hard time believing they are “real.”

I have mixed feelings about zoos in general. Animals being held captive, etc. (But they at least they don’t live the wretched lives of food animals.) Some species would become extinct if not for zoos and some can no longer live in the wild. So, I decided to put all that aside and enjoy the day.

los angeles zoo

This turtle seemed to be using his wings to fly through the water.

I tried to work out a way of getting to Griffith Park, where the zoo is located, by public transportation. But as the parking is “free” in an ample sized parking lot, I didn’t try very hard. Besides, Cinnamon Girl has to get out of the garage and go for a spin once in a while.

los angeles zoo

The detail on this Silverback Mountain Gorilla sculpture made it look almost lifelike.

Early on a Saturday morning, the 15-mile trip on surface streets took me about 45 minutes. I avoid taking the freeways whenever possible as I prefer to drive through neighborhoods rather than drive past them, seeing nothing but other cars speeding by at 70 mph.

los angeles zoo

I felt really sorry for this red tailed hawk. I often see these magnificent birds enjoying thermals way way up above my deck. I don’t know this guy’s story so maybe he was injured and can no longer fly (and that is why he is at the zoo) or he was born into captivity and doesn’t know any better.

Going home in the late afternoon the trip took me over two hours but I was in no hurry so I just went with the flow. I was amused to see some impatient drivers attempting to cut in and out of lanes but staying in one lane and waiting for traffic to move, I soon caught up with them.

los angeles zoo

I understand the LA Zoo is hoping for some baby zebras sooner than later. But this one just wanted to hang out.

Of course I took a billion photos but a lot of the exhibits are behind protective metal fences or glass so it was quite difficult to get a clear shot. And some inhabitants insisted on showing us their backsides or were hiding partially behind trees… okay, we get the message. So, sad to say, most of my photos are pretty much useless. I’m sure if I practiced taking photos under these conditions over a period of time I would figure out how to do it… but not on this day

los angeles zoo

I arrived at the zoo twenty minutes before opening time. I was surprised to see long lines of visitors ahead of me. I don’t know why I was surprised as anywhere you go in LA there are herds of people, especially at the weekends. My friend assured me that if I came back during the week it would be more comfortable people-wise.

los angeles zoo

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to see so many people, and families, enjoying outdoor activities. And learning about animals. Certainly beats sitting in front of the TV or game console. But in terms of trying to take the perfect photo, it is hard when there are so many heads and shoulders in the way. At least the animals seemed oblivious to all the attention for the most part.

los angeles zoo

However, this guy seemed to revel in the attention, gladly posing for his portrait. He looks suspiciously like the sculpture we saw earlier!

los angeles zoo

Pronghorn Antelope?

I am as good at identifying different species of animals as I am at identifying trees and plants… which is not at all. I believe this may be a pronghorn antelope… I know the zoo has a program for rearing pronghorns, but not sure if this is one of them… sorry for my ignorance.

los angeles zoo

Not totally stupid, I certainly know these guys and girls are kangaroos… er, I mean giraffes. They were craning their necks looking very intently at something going on behind the trees so they would not look our way. Pretty soon we saw what all the excitement was about. The keepers came out with some munchies in the way of branches and leaves. Yummy.

los angeles zoo

I so wanted to get some good photos of the lions. Welllll, didn’t quite happen. Very disappointing as this is a scene I see all the time at home… cats snoring.

los angeles zoo

Kikuyu Colobus Monkey

No napping for this playful fellow. He and his compadres were all having a great time swinging and swaying among the hammocks and tree branches provided.

los angeles zoo

Capra falconeri heptneri

I would not want to meet this handsome gentleman in a dark alley! But he did seem very proud of his family as he was strutting around. According to the LA Zoo website, those horns serve a purpose as the gnarliest male winds up with the affections of the appreciative females. To each their own.

los angeles zoo

A least this tiger was cooperating even if the lions weren’t. So I got my feline photo of the day after all. I’m not sure if he was catching flies or coughing up a furball. This posture reminds me of Frankie in the kitchen before breakfast reminding me that he hasn’t been fed yet. Domesticated cats have remained very close to their wild ancestors.

los angeles zoo

A very sweet scene. The photo was take through glass so I couldn’t get too much detail and the original image showed nothing but a black blob. The second tail belongs to the baby that she was grooming.

los angeles zoo

When we arrived at the elephant enclosure there seemed to be a lot of activity. On closer inspection we saw it was two keepers cleaning and preparing the area. No elephants in sight. It was rather humorous as instead of watching zoo specimens, people were lined up at the fence watching the humans go about their jobs… just another species of animal in their natural habitat as zoo keepers!

los angeles zoo

We waited half an hour for the pachyderms to come out but it was good to rest for a while. Seeing them up close it isn’t hard to understand that they are the world’s largest living land mammal.

In the top photo, the elephant is sticking his trunk through a hole in the wall to feed on chopped veggies, sight unseen. The tire next to him is filled with grass and buried carrots that he has to hunt for.

In the second photo you see an orange ball to the lower right. The elephant has to roll the ball around until the carrot treasures fall out of the small holes one by one. This way the animals have to work to find food instead of having it handed to them on a plate! Sounds like a good idea for the kids, no?

los angeles zoo

Hope I am not mis-identifying this cutie as a Tapir.

Last, but certainly not least, what I believe to be a Tapir had quite a large area to wander around in (given his small size) but he was certainly getting his exercise running around looking here, there and everywhere as if in search of something.

It would be nice to talk to the animals and find out how they feel about living in captivity. I’m sure some of them don’t mind as they are safe from predators and don’t have to worry about finding dinner. But I am sure they lose something too.

My apologies to all the other beautiful creatures who did not make it into this post for no rhyme or reason. But all in all it was a lovely day. And now I have been to the zoo after all these decades, I think I want to return on my own… and on a weekday… with the idea of spending the time to capture some better images rather than merely snapshots. Practice makes perfect indeed.

Sorry to be so predictable (well, not sorry really) but to put a song in your heart for the day here is Simon and Garfunkle singing “At the Zoo.”

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!