Tag: nature

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The Bearded Tree is Gone!

And that’s not the worst of the devastation. Nearly three months ago, I wondered about the fate of the mighty palm after high winds ripped fronds from the trunk. Then, unexpectedly, on the First Day of Spring, under the direction of cute cottages’ new owners, men with chainsaws started clearcutting a lush landscape of shrubs, succulents, and trees around the buildings. The bearded tree is the last to go.

Every nearby neighbor to whom I have spoken about the destruction of the urban jungle is shocked. No one can fathom why the massive deforestation. Late this afternoon, one homeowner, who has lived in University Heights for more than two decades, told me that water can’t be the reason. He and his wife maintain a lovely backyard of flowers, plants, and trees, without wasteful watering.

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The Clearcutted Cottages

This morning, my wife rightly suggested that yesterday’s before photos aren’t enough to show just how brutal was the massacre of palms, shrubs, succulents, trees, and other green growing things before and among one of the neighborhood’s rental properties.

Compare the Featured Image to the one from the previous post. Those buildings and windows were obscured by a lush, well-tended, tropical jungle. My understanding: The pruning, and perhaps reconstruction, is planned to continue all week. That means the bearded tree to the left may also be removed.

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Before the Clearcutters Came

Sometimes changes occur so abruptly and unexpectedly in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, I regret not documenting what was—never anticipating that the thang could be gone. The tree outside our primary windows and palm at Cleveland and Monroe are examples. Today’s loss, on the inappropriately-timed first day of Spring, was catastrophic for some of my neighbors, who were reminded: renters have no say.

Calico Harley resides in a row of cute cottages that, until this afternoon, were almost completely obscured from view because of the variety of succulents and trees growing in front of the property and down the side. The well-tended, and healthy, jungle was lush and lovely. When workers started cutting down a single tree this morning, I complained to my wife about another horticultural butcher job. What I could never imagine is how devastating would be the clearcutting. For today, I refrain from showing what is. Let’s look at what was.

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Nature Shaves the Bearded Tree

Over the past year or so, I regret not having taken photos of trees that were unceremoniously and needlessly cut down. There is a relentless culling that makes no sense when Southern California society obsesses about Climate Change. Aren’t carbon-dioxide-breathers that exhale oxygen good for the health of the planet and everything living on it? Ah, yeah. So why mercilessly hack them to pieces?

Another tree in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights is in peril of being chopped down—but unlike the others maybe for legitimate safety reasons. Few months ago, during heavy rains and winds, some of the dead fronds covering the trunk ripped away about fourth-tenths the distance to the top. Overnight and throughout this brisk Monday, winds raged 48-64 kilometers per hour (30-40 mph) with fairly consistent gusts to 97 kph (60 mph). The few fallen fronds are now many, exposing the trunk. When viewed a half-block or more away, the top portion of the tree leans from the section laid mostly bare.

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The Bee Tree

I am not a photographer and bear no illusions about ever being one. My composition skills are raw, and rarely cooked, and I lack the post-production sense that someone else would use to create art. My camera, the Leica Q2, is professional grade and seemingly beyond my skills. But I handle the all-in-one well enough, and it is satisfying to use—enjoyable and versatile.

I am a storyteller, however, and use photos to mark moments or to illustrate a  narrative. Take as example the Featured Image (warning: 30GB file), which I captured today along Georgia Street between Lincoln and Polk in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 11:36 a.m. PST. The original was portrait, but I cropped square.

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Burtech Blues Break

I stand corrected about the water pipeline work, which seemed to reach its mainstay on Jan. 12, 2018. Two days ago, Burtech contractor crews started to earnestly tear up our street, compelling closed apartment windows that keep out noise and dust and, disappointedly, pleasant weather.

My repast has been longer walks, to parts of the neighborhood where the natural sounds of birds, other wildlife, and breeze rustling palm fronds are soothing ambience. This afternoon, while walking down Meade Ave. towards Texas Street, I passed a lone rose rising defiantly behind cement wall, challenging the urban, human landscape’s listless, lifeless incursion. 

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After the Rain

In nearly 10 years living in San Diego, I have not seen such lush, inviting foliage as visible this Winter—or what I call late Summer (the other two seasons are early Summer and mid Summer). Typical yearly rainfall is 25 cm (9.9 inches). Through yesterday’s massive storm, totals exceeded that amount, or more than 150 percent the annual average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Eh, so much for the Southern California drought.

Forgive my botanical ignorance, regarding the Featured Image, the leaves are from the tree adjacent to the stairs leading down from our apartment. I couldn’t resist a quick shot as my wife and I headed out for an afternoon walk, using Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/80 sec, 35mm. I had set the camera for street shooting beforehand. 

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The Paywall Problem

This week the long-dreaded Washington Post renewal email plunked into my inbox. So ends a glorious year of reading the digital newspaper on PC and tablet. My cheap thrill ride is over: “Your subscription will be renewed for a year on Aug. 26, 2015, at the rate of $149/year. As you’ve requested, payments for your subscription to the Post are automatically charged to your credit card”. I requested nothing. The Post imposed auto-renewal, which I cancelled the next day. My sub now ends on August 26.

Twelve months ago, the Post made an amazing email offer, good for just 24 hours: “Get a Full Year of Unlimited Digital Access FOR AS LOW AS JUST $19!” Wow, what a deal. We splurged and went digital on any device for another ten bucks. Washington Post is worth $29 a year—and it’s a good value for $149, too. But all the paywall news sites want that kind of cash or more from me. I’m willing to pay for good journalism, but my budget can’t accommodate them all. 

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Flickr a Day 82: ‘Portrait of a Snail’

Macro photography can be hugely satisfying and express something about the shooter’s inner self. Yesterday we saw how Kristina Alexanderson stages stormtrooper figurines to create familiar parent-child poses. Mark Seton uses the same camera and lens, Nikon D800 and 105mm prime, to shoot closeups. The two photographers’ styles and subjects couldn’t be more different.

Mark, who joined Flickr in December 2006, generally shoots things, which include landscapes and nature. I flip-flopped between choosing self-titled “Portrait of a Snail” and its companion, both captured on May 1, 2014. He is from Leeds, United Kingdom, but lives in Great Dunmow. I picked this pic because the colors are so vivid that they evoke rain forest more than an English homestead. 

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Flickr a Day 80: ‘Solar Eclipse’

Earth, Moon, and Sun ushered in the Spring Equinox with a real treat yesterday: A solar eclipse—total off the coasts of Greenland and Scotland, cutting a broad partial path across Northern Europe to areas of Asia and Africa. The Guardian’s primer is must-read, for a quick study of the science and explanation about this specific, rare astronomical event.

Today’s selection, showing near-totality as seen from Bodø, Norway, is bit of a compromise. The image doesn’t demonstrate the best work of photographer Trond Kristiansen, whose Northern landscapes are stark but magnificent. There’s an other-worldliness to them. The posted pic’s resolution is lower than typically appears in this series, which is another compromise. 

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Flickr a Day 76: ‘Common Green Lacewing’

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Surely, this isn’t the green photo you expected. But I couldn’t resist this wonderful closeup (e.g., Macro shot) taken with little more than a digital compact—Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, which zooms from 24-840mm. Yikes! Meet the lacewing, one of my favorite insects growing up in Northern Maine.

Martin Cooper, who joined Flickr in February 2013, makes a photographic study of the fungi, fauna, and bugs of Christchurch Park in Ipswich, United Kingdom.  He shot today’s selection on March 12, 2014. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/42.4mm.