RMW: the blog

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


Countdown: my favorite dozen 2018 photos and a bonus

life is a canvas

San Gabriel Mountains from my roof deck in Culver City.

As if I don’t have enough to do, I decided to set myself the task of coming up with my twelve favorite photos for the year… one for each month. Some months I had fifty favorites and some months I wouldn’t have picked one for my top twelve… nevertheless I had to stick to my rule of one from each month. This exercise was a great lesson for me as I realized some months in 2018 I didn’t get out and about enough with my camera and I really struggled to find a photo. I need to be more consistent.

The above photo was taken from my roof deck on Christmas Day and is my New Year’s card to you all. One of my favorite quotes just happened to be floating around in the sky! Note the airplane just left of top center.

So here we go.



Sunrise with resident crows from my roof deck, Culver City, California


Yosemite Upper Falls framed by tree branch. Yosemite National Park, California


Huntington Library

Desert Garden at Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Los Angeles County, California


Freddie and Frankie

A little out of focus but this photo really shows their true personalities. Frankie looking disdainful and obviously planning the next mischievous caper while Freddie is wide-eyed and innocent, ready to be splat in the middle of Frankie’s next big idea!


worthing seafront

Worthing Seafront, Sussex, England. The last place my parents and I lived before they decided to emigrate to the US.


butterfly pavilion

Butterfly Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum


deck sunset

Sunset from my deck looking out on to downtown Culver City and Sony Studios


canadian rockies

Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canadian Rockies


william s hart

The William S. Hart Park and Museum, Newhall, California. Detail of wall



Los Angeles Flower mart

Succulents at Los Angeles Flower Mart, downtown


City Hall Christmas Eve

An early Christmas present to the people of LA as the tree at Grand Park mirrors Los Angeles City Hall.


View from Baldwin Overlook

View of downtown Los Angeles and snow on the mountains from the highest point in Culver City, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (a California State Park).

I haven’t been on WordPress very much lately. I haven’t given up but I made a big decision and it’s going to be taking up a lot of my time. I probably won’t be posting much here but I will make the effort to go look at your posts to keep up with what you are doing. In the meantime, you can join me on my personal page on Facebook (Roslyn M Wilkins in Culver City). If you send me a friend request and I recognize who you are, I will respond. Or join me on my photo page by clicking on the Roslyn’s Photoart image in the right hand column.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019!



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.


Thirsty afternoon in the Desert Garden at the Huntington Library

huntington-library-090414-018-C-850pxI see it’s been a month since I posted on my blog. A lot of things happened and I could write about 30 posts! But for now I’ll keep it down to this one!huntington library cactus garden

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Los Angeles has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to museums, galleries, gardens, parks, etc. And I feel fortunate that I could spend the rest of my life going out every day and visiting these places and still not be done. But because of other responsibilities and priorities I don’t get out and around enough and I am always missing exhibitions and events that I really want to see.

huntington library cactus garden

This fruit looks just like grapes but the sign warns that it is poisonous.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (next door to Pasadena) is a place I could visit once a week and still find something new. Once a month they have a free day. But you have to be on the phone or email the nanosecond they open up the reservation lines in order to get a ticket. Ticketing opens at 9:00 am the first day of the previous month. By 9:02 am they are sold out! I was lucky enough to score a pass for September 4.

huntington library cactus garden

Getting there from Culver City without a car is quite a trek. But you know I love public transportation so I left my beautiful car at home and set out for a long and twisted journey by train. My ticket was good for a morning entrance anytime before noon. Sometimes in the mornings time gets away from me, and my goodness, it surely did this morning. I knew I had a two and a half hour trip ahead of me and I left the house at 9:30!huntington library cactus garden

A twenty-minute fast walk got me from my front door to the Culver City station platform. Then a change from the Expo Line to the Red Line. Then from the Red Line to the Gold Line. Normally I enjoy all the “training” but this day I was in a sweat because time was ticking by. Not to mention it was a very warm, humid day. We won’t go into that…

huntington library cactus garden

I arrived at my destination, Allen Station in Pasadena, at 11:20. I knew it was a 30 minute walk to the Huntington gate, then probably another ten minutes through the parking lot to the entrance. Huff puff, huff puff. If somebody had thrown a bucket of ice on me at that point I would have been grateful!

huntington library cactus garden

I did see a bus go by but it turned a few blocks ahead of me so it wouldn’t have helped much. I like to walk. I just don’t like it when I have no time to spare.

huntington library cactus garden

I arrived at the entrance minutes before my ticket supposedly expired. I handed it over and the guy didn’t even look at it… gaaah, I could have sauntered in there at 2:00pm and nobody would have cared. Oh well, I know I got there on time and that’s all that counts!

huntington library cactus garden

The park closes at 4:30 so even though I wasn’t there as early as I would have liked (I intended to be there by 10:30) I had several hours to saunter around taking photos. I knew I wasn’t going to hit any of the galleries this time… that will be another blog post. I primarily wanted to take some shots of the Desert Garden as that is my favorite area.

huntington library cactus garden

huntington library desert garden

I don’t know exactly what the temperature was on this day. San Marino, tucked up against the mountains and far, far away from the ocean, can get pretty much beyond my tolerance for heat… which is why I live in a more temperate climate. For instance, today the temperature is soaring to 97 F (36 C) degrees in San Marino and only 85 F (29 C) in Culver City. Anything above 80 F (26 C) degrees makes my blood boil.

huntington library cactus garden

huntington library desert garden

Whatever the temperature was it was certainly perfect for the cacti and other desert plants. I had to take a couple of photos then dive for the nearest patch of shade. I didn’t have water with me but there were drinking fountains in strategic locations which saved me from turning into bacon.

huntington library cactus garden

huntington library desert garden

As you can see, I love taking shots of winding paths and there are plenty in the Desert Garden. It’s easy to get lost!

huntington library cactus garden

The Desert Garden covers ten acres. It began 100 years ago with plants from local nurseries, private residences, public parks, and from collection trips to the Southwest and Mexican deserts. Today it has grown to over 5,000 species.

huntington library desert garden

huntington library desert garden

In our severe Southern California drought, this is the kind of garden we should all have…. dig up your lawns and plant a desert garden!

huntington library desert garden

Desert plants aren’t exactly roses bushes or geraniums in their flowering patterns so when you do see a little splash of color it is that much more exciting.

huntington library desert garden

I think I probably enjoy cactus as I was brought up in England and didn’t see one growing in the wild until I was a teenager. In all their various shapes and configurations, desert plants never cease to fascinate me. If we do find life on Mars my guess is they will be growing cacti in their front yards!

huntington library desert garden

I would have loved to linger longer in the Desert Garden but the heat was really getting to me. The water in the drinking fountains I encountered was warm and I needed deep shade.

huntington library desert garden

So although this bench was tempting for a little rest I decided my best option was to find an area with water… like the lily ponds.

huntington library desert garden

Fortunately the ponds were just a few yards away so I reluctantly said farewell to my prickly friends and headed over there.

huntington library desert garden

I’ll sort through the photos from the rest of my day at the Huntington and be back with some cooler images on another post.

huntington library cactus garden

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the Desert Garden!

huntington library desert garden

huntington library desert garden





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