Month: May 2006

Lilies in The Rose Garden

Lilies in The Rose GardenThe Huntington Rose Garden, Pasadena, California.

The Huntington Rose Garden is one of the largest and oldest collections of rare rose varieties in the world and I found the roses, while fragrant, uninteresting. There were photographers everywhere and maybe that’s why I just wasn’t interested. I did, however, find some lilies on a walkway beside the rose garden that looked good so set up and took a shot of them. The roses look great to me in the milky bokeh blur behind the lilies.

Succulent Stem with and without Leaves

Succulent Stem with LeavesThe Huntington Desert Garden, Pasadena, California.

This succulent had wonderful leaves that looked like a cross between regular tree leaves and palm fronds because as the plant grew taller the bottom ones broke off. I wonder if palm trees and succulents share a common ancestor? And, I wonder where these plants originally developed. Mrs. Huntington brought them here from all over the world and now each of these plants shares a common environment that is possibly unlike their “birth” environment. Makes me think.

Succulent Stem with no LeavesThis succulent stem was part of a larger plant, some of the stems having leaves and some of them with the leaves broken off, like palm trees growing up and showing stubs where fronds once were. I wonder if palm trees and succulents share a common ancestor?

The Huntington Desert Garden

Succulent Leaves Close UpPasadena, California. The Huntington Desert Garden (informally known as the “cactus garden”), is one of the largest and oldest collections of cacti and succulents in the world. This place is the garden equivalent of the bar scene in Star Wars.

There is so much interesting visual detail in each plant that just picking a spot, any spot, and zooming in produced wonderful colors, textures, and patterns. This is my tribute to Bret and Edward Weston.

Punk CactiThe red spikes on these cacti reminded me of punk hairdos and there’s something about the in-your-face piece of hair like that that is very “cactus-like.”

Spiked SucculentSucculent leaves with small spikes on them bring to mind a question on evolution: why did these leaves develop spikes and others not? Were there some animals around who needed a bit of behavioral feedback to keep them away?

Mother of All Hens?This plant was like a very large mother hen, maybe the grandmother hen. Many of these succulents and cacti have the same red/pink accents on the edges of their leaves. The accent color is wonderful and it brings to mind the idea that things we like in painterly visual styles may be because those colors and proportions are found in the natural world. Why do these colors go together? Why did this plant evolve these colors?

Killer ThornsThis plant illustrates the old saying “the best defense is a good offense.”

Eruption of ColorThe light just happened to be hitting the center of this plant which is where the new growth is. The new growth is lighter green with an occassional purple edge and as the leaves get older, they turn completely purple. This plant seemed to be ever so slowly erputing from its center.

President Vicente Fox and his wife Marta

President Vicente Fox and his wife MartaYesterday we heard that the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa invited Vicente Fox and his wife Marta to a party at the Getty (Fox is the President of Mexico). We told the Mayor it was my mother’s birthday and that we did not want to be disturbed but they took over part of the Getty anyway (joke).

As we approached the Getty by car there were people demonstrating along Sepulveda Boulevard (on both sides of the immigration issue). Hours before President Fox and his entourage arrived there were secret service people everywhere scouring the place. The press was everywhere as well and for those of you who drool at the site of big Canon glass at news events like Congressional hearings, that glass was everywhere at the Getty, running around with monopods to get “the shot” for the paper the next day, and we’re talking dozens of journalists running around with that big glass.

I decided to not compete (although I did have my 300mm f/4 L) and slapped on the 135mm f/2 L at the very last minute as Fox walked up the ramp with his wife and a gaggle of secret service people.

We were extremely close and I have to say this: President Vicente Fox is a handsome, strong, and presidential man. He and his wife Marta are the real thing and I felt shivers as I stood watching them.

President Vicente Fox and his wife MartaPresident Fox looked disappointed when I told him that we did not have room at the table for his group at my mother’s 91st birthday party.

President Vicente Fox and his wife MartaI told President Fox that he could send my mother a gift of fine, Mexican tequila in leu of attending the party. He thought that was a winning idea.

President Vicente Fox and an admirerPresident Fox asks if something can be done so he and his group can attend my mother’s 91st birthday party but not even he can pull strings at the Getty Restaurant.

UCLA Squirrel

UCLA Squirrel I was wandering around UCLA taking pictures of flowers and there was a ruckus in the pine tree next to where I was set up. Two squirrels were having a territorial dispute, or, a lover’s quarrel and were racing around the tree, making a lot of noise and dropping tree detritus on my head. As soon as I pointed my lens at them one squirrel ran off and this one froze as if he knew I’d put him on the internet and make him famous.

I felt the digg effect

A few days ago I flew to California and as usual, I took some pictures out the plane window. I like taking these pictures as anyone who’s followed this weblog will attest to and some of them turn out pretty well: the subject matter is interesting and the photograph, even though taken through a plane window, is technically acceptable.

After arriving in LA I lazily took a look at the images I’d gotten on the trip out and some of them looked pretty good so I did a bit of work on them, thought about and wrote captions, and uploaded to flickr and then blogged them here from there. I have another photo site which I’ll announce here shortly and I upload only my best images there. A few from this set made it to that site as well, which means I thought I had some interesting images.

Note that most of my captions are descriptions of both the image and my feelings about the content of the image. I try to make the captions interesting and put some time into writing them.

Over the course of yesterday the new images got some nice comments on flickr from many of the people who usually comment on my work and from a few new ones and I felt good about the images, knowing I had some good stuff and I was looking forward to getting home and doing some printing.

Land's End

Later in the day I noticed that this image: Land’s End was getting quite a bit of traffic and I had no idea why. I noticed the word “dugg” in the comment string and even though I’d gotten the digg.com RSS feed for a while (I grew tired of it) I didn’t put two and two together. Well, it seems that someone “dugg” the photo: Incredible Photo: “Land’s End”, put a post on digg.com about it, but not only that, he interpreted my caption as making an environmental statement about erosion (I was not). I don’t blame him for this, he didn’t know me or my writing style but anyone who does knows that I use visual metaphors and in fact the image does make it look like the less developed (un-farmed) land is eroding away. Or, one could look at the image and say that farmland is taking over. Who knows.

Digg is a very popular social bookmarking site that has unique tools that allow users to vote or “digg” a particular bookmark. They can also comment on the bookmark and the digg comment string for this post while not as long as some, goes off on an environmental crusade tangent because of the context in which this fellow dugg my image.

The important thing is that my little backwater flickr stream got churned (hopefully not eroded) over the course of the next few hours. That image alone got 10,000 views in the first hour, another 10,000 in the next hour and when I went to bed last night it had close to 30,000 views. This morning it has over 40,000 and on digg.com the post was dugg over 1100 times. Last night the churn affected my ability to use flickr; my space was bogged down in it. This is really something because yahoo/flickr uses some serious iron to run this photographic community.

I feel like a guy who was displaying his photographs on a card table who got overrun by a mob. My flickr mailbox is exploding, my other images have also now been churned by this crowd and the erosion story, while I did my best last night to put a stop to it keeps on going. People have now blogged the image and the caption all over the world and it’s being discussed in threads off of flickr.

All of this brings to mind Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point and a great article he wrote prior to it in The New Yorker: Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg. This image tipped although I’d be interested to know if it would have tipped had I not written a caption that used the word “erosion” in it. Gotta watch those words, they can be loaded. Or, learn to use more loaded words.