Friday, December 28, 2012

Foucault Pendulum

When I was a child we would visit the Griffith Observatory from time to time.  I was always fascinated by the Foucault Pendulum
 I still am.  I am not alone, it is a magnet for most who enter the observatory.
As the pendulum moves back and forth, the earth is turning beneath it.  About every 8 minutes the earth has rotated enough that a pin on the bottom of the pendulum knocks over another of the tiles at the left.
The shiny ball of the pendulum reflects the newly restored Hugo Ballin Murals in the dome of the rotunda.

Find more reflections at Weekend Reflections, hosted for us by James. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We Are Still Here!

We took a quick trip to LA for an early Christmas with our son, Eric and his family.
Looking for a way to spend the day that we all could enjoy, we headed for Griffith Observatory.
It was a relatively clear day (for Los Angeles) with a view of downtown
and to the west, Century City and the Pacific Ocean.
 We hadn't thought much about the date when choosing where to spend the day but it was the Winter Solstice, believed by some to be the day the world would end according to the Mayan Calendar.  As it happens, the director of the observatory is Dr. Ed Krupp (on the right) whose specialty is Archaeoastronomy.  Not surprisingly, they made a big deal of the event.

Visitors were invited to watch the sunset on the patio where a line in the concrete would line up with the sun at sunset on the Winter Solstice.  This created several challenges for the photographer. 
The first was location.  With so many people it was difficult to find a spot where one could get a view straight down the line. 

 The second problem was exposure.  A little Photoshop Elements magic helped with that.
 I finally found the perfect spot, not surprisingly it was already occupied but I was able to shoot over the shoulder of the gentleman already in position.  When the sun had set and everyone began to drift away I found that I had been shooting over the shoulder of Dr. Krupp.  I imagine he had the spot picked out well in advance!

Find more views of the sky at SkyWatch, Friday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I'd been looking for an opportunity to try a Zipline and I found one on our trip to Hawaii.  My son Mark and Daughter-in-law Mimi were game to go with me.

The Zipline operated in an area of native forest and macadamia nut orchards.  We were encouraged to pick up macadamia nuts as we walked under the trees.

We took off from platforms, some we had to climb up to, others were almost at ground level at the edge of canyon.
At one point we walked across a narrow suspension bridge rather than zipping across.

With harness and two straps hooking us to a slide and cable, we were ready for our adventure.
Ladies first!
Then the gentlemen
On the gentle Zips, the guides would some times have to reach out or climb out to pull in participants if they didn't have enough momentum to make it all the way to the next platform.  On other lines they used a block on a rope to stop you as you can see above.

I tried the video on my little Coolpix, not the best venue for learning a new skill as the action was pretty fast.  When I tried to take pictures while zipping I was unable to keep from spinning and if you watch the video you'll see I was out of control.  I would like to get another opportunity in the future and see if I can learn to control my flight.
  Linked to Outdoor Wednesday

Michael on the Fair Wind II

While in Hawaii we all went on a snorkeling cruise, even Michael!
We were impressed with the crew of the Fair Wind II.  They were committed to helping every who wanted to, to get in the water.
 Our grandson, Michael loves the water but he has multiple disabilities the greatest of which is a sever cognitive limitation.
With flotation belt and inner tube, with parents holding on, he went into the bay.  He does not understand if we try to explain what will happen but he does understand that he can trust his parents to keep him safe.
Once he got used to this new experience he seemed to enjoy himself.
His parents are always delighted when they can find a new experience he can enjoy.
I was glad I had my new little waterproof camera to capture these images.

Find more watery sights at Water World Wednesday, hosted for us by Kim.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thanksgiving in Hawaii

We tried something different for Thanksgiving this year.  We rented a house on the Big Island of Hawaii for Jules & me plus our two sons, grandson and daughter-in-law.  There was something for everyone.
We ate, maybe too much.
Watched the ocean
The three younger adults tried their hand at "Snuba"
Even Michael got into the water (more on this later)

Mark, Mimi and I experienced the ziplines up in Kohala.

The birdwatching was good in the yard of the house we rented.

Jules and I stayed with Michael while the other three drove around the island.  Mark shared his pictures of that trip with me.

They stopped at Akaka Fall.

And experienced the volcano's glow after sunset

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's yacht "Octopus" was moored in the bay while we were there.  It is the second largest privately owned yacht, though not quite as big as the Celebrity Century next too it.  It even has a heliport. 
Travel with a severely disabled person such as Michael is difficult but renting a house proved to be a good solution.  The plane trip from California was a challenge but one his parents were willing to accept.  We all got to be together and each had an opportunity to enjoy the island by trading off on the care giving.

You can find more views of our wonderful world at Our World, Tuesday; hosted for us by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia and Sandy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Ocean View Sunset

We spent a week on the Big Island of Hawaii with our two sons, grandson and daughter-in-law.  Most of the sunsets were hazy, if we could see any sun at all.  Our last evening, though, we went out at dusk on a snorkel cruise to view the manta rays.  It was a great experience and gave us our best sunset.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Walk Through Sun City Lincoln Hills

Often, I don't feel like carrying my DSLR when we go for a walk, so I miss a lot of interesting shots.  I decided it was time for a point-and-shoot.
I found a nice little Powershot at Costco, not too expensive, just right I thought.
But then I saw a waterproof Nikon Coolpix.  Twice as expensive but it also had a built in GPS.
No viewfinder, though, and I do find it hard to frame a good image with the LCD, especially in sunlight.
And it even takes video!

I had visions of taking pictures beside a raging waterfall, while snorkeling and  while kayaking, so I bought it and you can see the results above.  I am amazed at the quality of that little camera.  I'll keep my Canon 50D, though.
Now all I have to do is find some waterfalls, snorkeling and kayaking.


This is what the wold looks like through the lens of my new camera, check out other views of our world at

Cleaning the Sensor

So what, you are asking, does cleaning the sensor have to do with macro images?  Well, I have been Photoshopping out a nasty artifact in my images for several months.  I finally got up the nerve to clean the the sensor, (actually, it is a filter over the sensor that gets cleaned).  A picture of a grey sky showed me that the artifact was gone, but had I damaged the sensor?

To check, I pulled out my macro lens which is also my best lens and took a shot of some moss growing with one of Hubby's bonsais.

I think there was no harm done, other than to my nerves!

The Canon 50D is supposed to be self cleaning but somehow the dust still gets in.

More macro images can be found at Macro Monday, hosted for us by Lisa

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's Turkey Time

I've been lax in my blogging, too preoccupied with the upcoming Holidays.  But this recent sighting was just too appropriate for the season to let slide by.
  Does this bird look nervous?
Actually, they seem remarkably nonchalant as they move out into the sun after hunting acorns under the oaks.  A few months ago it was easy to tell the hens from the chicks, now they are all about the same size.

See more critters at Camera Critters, hosted for us by Misty Dawn.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Territorial Dispute

After the recent storm, I went walking with my wide angle zoom lens on the camera.  A nice lens for cloud filled skies but not the best for birds.
While sitting at the edge of a pond I noticed a dispute had arisen between two Snowy Egrets.
One evidently had claimed the pond as its own, private hunting preserve and was determined to chase off the intruder.
 They raced around the pond,
 sometimes as graceful as an areal ballet,
other times more like a dog fight.
finally one gave up and flew off alone.
I wonder when I observe this, what happens to the birds that don't find an unoccupied area to hunt?

The egrets weren't the only hunters out there, I also saw this immature Cooper's Hawk.

It too took to the air.

Find more images of birds by going to Wild Bird, Wednesday, hosted for us by Stewart at Paying Ready Attention

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Mist Trail

One of the highlights of the hiking season for me is the hike to the top of Nevada Falls in Yosemite via the mist trail.  When we did this two years ago Hubby had a lot of trouble.  People would stop him and ask "are you OK?"  He made it up and down but we decided that would be the last time he would undertake such a demanding hike.  We thought it was his age, he was 75.  We were wrong.
Jules now                                                                                 Jules two years ago

It wasn't his age, it was his weight.  Now, 35 pounds lighter he was ready to try again.
Off we went.  The trail starts out pretty easy, paved with a nice wall to keep one from falling off the edge.  It is a bit steep, even at this point and can be very hot in summer months.

At the first bridge there is a nice view of Vernal Fall.

Then the trail heads up, up some steep steps carved out of the granite.

There can be a bit of a traffic jam.

Finally the trail goes along the cliff  and then up to the top of Vernal Fall.

The reward for making it this far is lunch where Silver Apron flows into Emerald Pool.
After lunch we hit the trail again and cross the Merced River for the second time.

Then it is up more granite steps, some with a view of Nevada Fall.  This is where other hikers became concerned about Hubby's well being on our previous hike.  No problem this time.  Sure, it was strenuous and we felt it, 1,900 feet is a lot of up.

Once at the top we always find it was well worth the effort.

This backpacker even found himself an easy chair!  It looks like he brought along an e-book as well.  All the comforts of home.

Now we cross back to the other side of the Merced.  We didn't want to take the steep Mist Trail back down.  The John Muir trail is gentler but not as interesting.

We look back at Liberty Cap on our way down.  Just one of the many granite domes for which Yosemite is so famous.

A few late autumn flowers still grace a weeping wall along the trail.

And we look back frequently, not wanting to miss the spectacular views of Nevada Fall.

Will we make this hike again next year?  We hope so but the day may come when age will be the factor that keeps us on the valley floor.

You will find more views of our wonderful world at Our World, Tuesday.  Hosted for us by Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sandy and Sylvia.