RMW: the blog

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


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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!

 

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The UK – Worthing, Sussex – day two afternoon

 

worthing

Upon returning from Highdown, M and I retreated to our respective hotels to freshen up with the plan to meet up in an hour. Neither of us was interested in dinner as the late lunch at the Highdown Teahouse had filled us up.

When I first arrived at the Chatsworth Hotel the previous afternoon I stepped out on to the little terrace outside my room.

worthing

I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the view of the Stagecoach bus depot next door but the idea wasn’t to spend too much time in the room anyway so it wasn’t a big deal.

I heard cats meowing and thought some strays were living out on the roof. I thought it would be a good idea to report this to the front desk.  I looked around for the cats but couldn’t see any felines.worthing

worthing

Is this a plush nest or what?

Thank goodness I didn’t report the cats.

With my zoom lens I noticed on the roof of the building across the way there were several seagulls nesting.

worthing

Dad is on lookout while Mom sits on the nest

The baby birds were quite vocal. “Meow, dinner! Meow, dinner! Meow! Meow!” I would never have lived that down as the crazy American tourist who can’t tell seagulls from cats…

M and I met up and decided to walk eastward along the Worthing seafront. Worthing sits on The English Channel about 60 miles (96 km) south of London and approximately 160 miles (257 km) from the nearest point in France.

worthing

This had been another lovely day but both of us needed to be up early the next morning. M was returning to his home in Chelmsford and I was headed for Brighton, so we said our goodbyes.

worthing

When I’m in England there are certain things I absolutely have to eat. One of those is Cadbury Flakes. Marks & Spencers sold them in packs of four so what could I do? My plan was to eat one a day… yeah, right. So the pack was my dinner. Oh, yum.

I was rather restless and getting my second wind after eating the chocolate so I wandered on down to the lounge area in the hotel. I was in time for Happy Hour so I decided to be happy. I purchased a glass of Merlot and sat by the open window watching the cars go by and some young men playing football (soccer) in the park across the street…. the Steyne.

worthing

worthingLife doesn’t get much better than this. I was determined to suck up every moment and engrave it in my mind, because as much as I would like to return, I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to visit Worthing again.

worthing

 


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The UK – Worthing, Sussex – day two – Highdown Gardens

highdown gardens

My friend M and I met up on Tuesday morning at the Stagecoach bus stop near my hotel on Marine Parade. The #9 bus dropped us at Northbrook Metropolitan College. It was a short walk along the A259 to the Highdown turnoff and a pleasant trek up the hill to the gardens.

Highdown GardensFrom the Highdown Gardens website:

Highdown Gardens are nestled on the South Downs situated between Ferring and Goring.

These stunningly beautiful chalk gardens on Downland countryside, overlooking the sea, are a tranquil haven for all to enjoy. The gardens are home to The National Plant Collection of the Plant Introductions of Sir Fredrick Stern – a unique collection of plants and trees, with many unusual plants to be discovered all year round.

HIghdown Gardens

Highdown Gardens is one of the hidden gems of the area and home to a unique collection of rare plants and trees. In fact the whole garden has been deemed a National Collection.

The Gardens looks their best in spring and early summer when there is a colorful succession of spring bulbs such as Crocus, Daffodils, Anemones and Snowdrops followed by Paeonies and Bearded Iris.

As we were there the second week in May this was an ideal time to see the gardens at their best.

HIghdown Gardens

The gardens, internationally important because they are home to hundreds of rare and exotic plants and trees uniquely grown on chalk soil, are visited by tens of thousands of people every year.

HIghdown Gardens

Worthing Borough Council owns and maintains the gardens which are free to visitors.

HIghdown Gardens

Sir Frederick Stern created his gardens during a period when many expeditions were going out to China and the Himalayan regions collecting rare and beautiful plants. Many of the original plants from their early collections can still be seen in the Gardens today.

HIghdown Gardens

Sir Frederick received his knighthood in 1956 for Services to Horticulture.

HIghdown Gardens

The 8.5 acres of Gardens were created out of an old chalk pit overlooking the South Downs, where there was little soil and very unfavorable conditions for plant growth.

HIghdown Gardens

I really lucked out and experienced Southern California weather all the time I was in Worthing, except for half a day when it rained. The weather on our visit to Highdown was sunny and warm. Very pleasant for walking around.

HIghdown Gardens

The tadpoles were enjoying a school outing on this beautiful day!

HIghdown Gardens

And this little red fellow came along to say hello.

Click on an image below to enjoy the slideshow!

After such a feast for the senses it was time to fill our tummies so we headed to the Tea Rooms.

HIghdown Gardens

HIghdown Gardens

I chose the Ploughmen’s Lunch and M ordered Welsh Rarebit.

HIghdown Gardens

Such a delightful afternoon. We walked back to the bus stop through the fields.

HIghdown Gardens


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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.


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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.

 

 

 


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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


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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!


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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!

 

 


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White Sands, New Mexico and an unplanned ode to the Sierra Club

 

white sands

Out of the tour bus at White Sands National Monument

I’ve been a member and supporter of the Sierra Club for almost forty years. Politics aside, the Club has been very good to me. Over the years I’ve participated in hundreds of hikes, events, activities and trips. And most importantly, I’ve made many good friends (including a couple of boyfriends and a husband!).

White Sands

A forensic nightmare: the perpetrator walked across the sand so we can identify the pattern on the soles of his shoes…

The Sierra Club has played an important part in my life. I was a hike leader for many years, editor of various newsletters and a volunteer at many fund raising events.

White Sands

The tenacity of plant life

It has also taken me on numerous wonderful trips around the USA and allowed me to discover the great National Parks of this country that I would never have seen on my own.

White Sands

Waves of sand. You can imagine the ocean in the distance but Santa Monica is more than 800 miles (1287 km) away

I’ve been on cruises, hiking trips, camping and just plain sight-seeing. This is an easy way for me to support the Club while having a good time myself.

White Sands

I’ve lived in Los Angeles continually since 1965. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains, but other than hiking the trails of Griffith Park (which are not to be sneered at) I had never really ventured into the Santa Monicas or the San Gabriels or the Verdugos. Around 1980 I discovered the Sierra Club and that all changed. I became addicted to hiking at least twice a week. One weekend my car wouldn’t start and rather than spend the time to get it fixed I convinced my father to loan me his car so I could go on a hike!

White Sands

The sun was already fading and the contrast between light and dark was making it increasingly difficult to capture the landscape

I can’t trust myself to do any heavy duty hiking anymore. My ankles, knees and hips took a beating with all the running I did for several decades. But that is totally okay. I have fabulous memories of trudging around the mountains in awe of the beauty of Southern California. I look up at the mountains now as old friends and we smile knowingly at each other.

White Sands

The purple flowers in the center stand out in this stark landscape

Sometimes I start writing and I get off on a tangent. So I just let it flow. This post was supposed to be all about my Sierra Club trip to southern New Mexico last year. And White Sands National Monument in particular. All the photos you’ve been looking at are from that area. We had a limited amount of time but as I’ve said before, there is always a trade-off when on a motor coach tour. On the one hand you have no responsibility and all the stress is on the shoulders of the leader. On the other hand, you don’t get to decide where to go or how much time to spend at any given location. But I did manage to take one prize-winning photograph at White Sands and that made the whole trip worthwhile for me!!!

White Sands
From the website: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

White Sands

As the sun went down the shadows were getting longer which made some interesting photographs

White Sands

On the photo above I liked the way the tendrils seemed to wave around as if the plant was under water and the shadows added extra interest.

White Sands

Hey, we saw some native wildlife! This beetle was making his own tracks over the imprints left by human visitors.

The original photo

White Sands

Playing a little in Lightroom and Photoshop

Although I love the act of taking a photo and making it the best composition I can, I have to admit the real fun begins for me in the post processing. When I saw this tree I also immediately imagined the possibilities. By itself it’s a perfectly acceptable photograph. But in my opinion the trip through Lightroom and Photoshop makes it magical!

White Sands

This leaf also had a little help from Photoshop with the posterization filter. This is my go-to filter to really make the image pop.

White Sands

Got to love those shadows. Although the light was getting a little difficult, it also added a little drama!

White Sands

White Sands

I had wandered off quite a ways by myself to take photos. I came back to see the group having fun sliding down the dunes. Good for them. My fun is in making art. To each their own, yeah?

Click on an image below for slide show.

Original photo

White Sands

A little fun with Photoshop

By now the shadows were REALLY long. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of my shadow. I didn’t even notice the person standing at the top until I played with the image in Photoshop. Totally serendipitous. This won first prize in the member’s theme at the Culver City Art Group Holiday Show. And I think it also helped me win for best body of work. You never know when you are out shooting what photos are going to turn out best and which ones are going to miss the objective. It really is a hit and miss shooting match!

White Sands

Like all the trips I take, I always think I’ll have the opportunity to return and take more time. But I never do. So I have learned to soak in as much as possible whenever possible.


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Photos I’m showing at the Culver City Art Group Show

The first five photos are in the main show:

Lion at the Los Angeles Zoo

 

Tree at White Sands

 

White Sands Landscape

 

Canoes for rent at Avalon, Catalina Island

 

culver city art show

William Jefferson Clinton Pedestrian Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Entry for the Members’ Theme: Let there be light

White Sands

My self-portrait at White Sands, New Mexico

These will be on view Saturday, November 11 at Playa Vista.