Tag: nature photography

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They Come to Eat

On the second—and last—day visiting Dad, he asked my sister to take out scraps for the birds. She put them beside the building just below the big windows looking out onto the backyard. She calls the room, where his little dogs like to sun, the Solarium.

During the course of the afternoon, I observed birds and several red squirrels come by for grab-and-go snacks. The glass was clean enough that I could shoot through the window, using Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The Featured Image sets the mood for the set. Look sharp for the red squirrel. Vitals: f/3.4, ISO 32, 1/900 sec, (synthetic) 230mm (digital and optical zoom); 1:58 p.m. EST, Feb. 18, 2024.

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That’s Not a Lot of Snow

My hometown of Caribou, Maine averages about 279 cm (110 inches) of snow per season, which typically spans from mid-November to late April. But October isn’t too early or May too late for a dusting or meaningful accumulation. Depending on your measure of cold and snow, winter is as long as six months.

But 2023-24 is anything but typical. Snowfall is significantly below normal. According to outdoor enthusiast site Snoflo: “Snowpack levels across the state are currently 35 percent of normal. The deepest snowpack in Maine was last observed at Caribou Wfo [Weather Forecast office] with a snowpack depth of 7 inches [17.8 cm], about 35 percent of normal when compared to it’s 20 inches [51 cm] average depth for this time of year”.

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Tree Sign

While walking along Madison, just into North Park, my wife pointed out what looked like a branch placed atop a street-sweeping sign, today. She thought kids, then changed her mind on further investigation. A tree had grown up the metal post and come out on the back side.

This was a resilient, living thing—and another example of how conducive is San Diego’s year-round summer climate and fertile soil to growing seemingly anything at any time.

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A Rosey Outlook

Torrential rains fall this evening across San Diego County. Officials warn of flooding that will rival or exceed last month’s storm surge. When I checked the forecast before bed, last night, showers would start around 3 a.m. and increase throughout the day.

But the low pressure area either slowed or stalled, allowing my wife and I to walk about 4.2 km (2.6 miles) roundtrip to The Hub in Hillcrest for on-sale tuna fish at Ralph’s supermarket. Light drizzle started minutes after we returned to our apartment. Lucky.

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Suspended Spider

I love spiders. What can I say? No one can ever accuse me of killing one, unless by accident—and my rescues of nearly drowned or crushed spiders is legendary in the arachnid community. These eight-leggers know who is their human friend.

So I am surprised to discover the Featured Image, languishing unpublished. Yeah, yeah, the awards-givers won’t be banging on my door, holding trophies immortalizing this shot. But, hey, the thing looks suspended in air, and the photo is excellent smartphone showcase of past capabilities:;10 years ago (almost)—Oct. 11, 2014, using iPhone 6.

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Rain Day!

Storm showers pelted San Diego on this mid-month Monday. My unofficial estimate here in University Heights is 7.6 cm (3 inches). Elsewhere, according to the National Weather Service through 3 p.m. PST: Point Loma, 11.04 cm (4.49 inches); Airport, 8.36 cm (3.29 inches); Fashion Valley, 7.32 cm (2.88 inches); Montgomery Field, 6.6 cm (2.58 inches).

In the Mountain View neighborhood, Interstate I-15 flooded out at 32nd Street. TV news footage showed city crews wadding through waste-deep water, trying to free up drains and release the unexpected river crossing the highway. Similarly, rising waters closed businesses along the main thoroughfare through Mission Beach.

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Seriously Spiked

Nothing about the Featured Image really works. Depth of field is too shallow. Overall quality is too noisy. Composition is cluttered. Light and shadows contrast too much.

But busyness also shows off Southern California climate and diversity: The funny spiked thing, maple leaves, palm trees, sunny skies and wide street—on Dec. 17, 2023. The photo also reminds that even a premiere full-frame camera, Leica Q2, will produce a shot someone might presume comes from a smartphone’s small sensor.

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Is the Bird in Hand Better?

Earlier today, Galaxy S24 Ultra launched. Unfortunately, rumors were right. Samsung replaced the 10x optical zoom with 5x; the previous reach remains available, synthetically: artificial intelligence plus 115mm (film equivalent) optical lens and software.

That 230mm (film equivalent) telephoto set apart the two previous Ultras—S22 and S23—from Apple and Google flagships. But the f/4.9 aperture really limited low-light shots at 10x. I hoped for something much better. I am not jumping jacks with excitement over S24 Ultra’s f/3.4 at 5x, particularly when iPhone 15 Pro Max and Pixel 8 Pro are f/2.8.

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The Vine Wall

Several properties in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights are undergoing or have undergone major renovations lasting years. Some started before or during  SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns. Post-pandemic, construction delays, increased building costs, and lingering supply shortages could explain why these projects take so long.

Today, I stopped to gawk at a magnificently striking overgrown wall that had previously gone unnoticed. The main house and front lawn area have been a noisy construction zone for so long that I either walked by briskly or on the other side of the street. What an overlooked visual treat! Neither the Featured Image, nor the companion photo, adequately capture the scene.

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Bird Breakfast

As my wife and I walked along Panorama Drive in San Diego neighborhood University Heights, she pointed out mourning doves gathered to feed. I stopped, pulled out Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and captured the Featured Image. Vitals: f/4.9, ISO 50, 1/640 sec, 230mm (film equivalent); 9:27 a.m. PST, today.

The shot demonstrates some of the benefits and limitations of the smartphone’s 10x-optical zoom lens. Having such capability and reach in a device carried in the pocket is amazingly convenient. That said, image quality is nothing close to what a real camera produces. So, please, no pixel-peeping. You will be disappointed.

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Autumn comes to Endless Summer

San Diego’s relatively dry autumn—eh, late Summer—will give way to rain, perhaps heavy, over the next few days leading into Christmas. That’s the forecast; we shall see if this time it’s accurate.

Quite likely, downpour with wind could easily strip the leaves from the tree in the Featured Image. Even in Southern California, some seasonal change can be seen among the great, green growing things. Cacti, palms, and succulents may dominate the landscape, and in seemingly unchanging fashion year-round, but they do not stand alone.

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Hey, Cottontail

On the way to Smart & Final, today, my wife and I detoured to the renovated and reopened Lafayette. The Christmas decorations had always been so festive and inviting. What would the new owners do to celebrate the season? We wondered.

Answer: Absolutely nothing. No lights. No tree. No wreathes. Instead, we beheld the Hotel’s new interior design, which decor is meant to be retro-something but really is garish gay. I know men whose flamboyant clothing would make them fit in nicely with the furniture. Say, any of you guys need a job as a living mannequin?