Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our first garage sale

Julie and our neighbor Sally decided they would have a multi-family garage sale.  By the time they were done, Loris and another neighbor Julie had joined in. They advertised it well and put signs everywhere.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who came by.  After all, we don't live on the way to anything else.  There is no such thing as "drive by business" where we live.
By the time we were done, Julie and I had sold about $700 worth of stuff and more importantly, got rid of some of the things that had been sitting around gathering dust.  It also prompted me to list about five other things on either eBay or Craigslist.  Cleaning house and making money!

We were lucky with nice weather, although it was getting quite hot near the end.  They decided to run it from 8:00-1:00.  No matter how consistently you say that, people will start showing up at 7:00.  By noon, the traffic stopped almost completely, so we called it quits a little early.

Thanks to Julie and Sally for their hard work.  Thanks to Bill and Loris Benson for the use of their tables.  I'm not sure how you do this without a good set of tables.

Just the same, I will be quite happy if we don't have to do this again for a long while.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Supermoon goes hiding

I figured I had four chances to capture the full moon, or at least almost full: moon rise and moon set on the day of and the day after.  I really like moon set on the day after because the sun is coming up and you catch sun rise and moon set together.

The end result was Clouds - 3, Steve - 1.  One of the pissers of living in the mountains is that you get low clouds that form as the air gets forced up and over the peaks.  Most of the sky can be a gorgeous blue, but sure enough, there is a row of thick clouds that gobble up the sun and moon as they drop down.
This is yesterday's moon dropping behind Park City Mountain Resort's Crescent and King Con lifts.

Oh well, there is a full moon about once a month.  I will try again (and again, and again).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kicking off summer with Savor the Summit

It just keeps getting bigger.  More restaurants.  More people at each one.  This year we took a group of 17 people and dined with Silver, a restaurant about half way up Main Street.  Main Street was closed down and full of tables, serving dinners to about 3,000 people.  What a great way to celebrate the Summer Solstice.
After dinner, the party moved inside where it was warmer.  Although there were dozens of restaurants to chose from for your meal, it turns out Silver happened to be the big place for dancing afterwards.  It was absolutely packed.
The dance floor was hopping and the DJ was excellent.  You can tell we were having a good time.  That's Loris up dancing next to the DJ.
Eventually we left the place to all the 30 year olds.

It was a fun time but its success may make it less interesting for us.  It is getting very expensive and difficult to find a place that can handle our larger groups.

Why use Adobe's Lightroom?

I am a big proponent of Adobe's Lightroom software to import, catalog, edit, and export photos.  I copied this piece from PictureCorrect Photography Tips.  I think the final result is overdone, but it gives you a great before and after contrast.  This really can be done with Lightroom in about 2-3 minutes.

Starting with the “before” image below, Ramelli adjusted his photograph using the following Lightroom workflow:


1.       Open up shadows with the Shadows slider.
2.       Bring down highlights.
3.       Add a gradient filter to sky to lower exposure and add yellow and magenta tints.
4.       Set the white and black points (hold down option key while using the sliders).
5.       Adjust the white balance.
6.       Add vibrance and saturation to make the photo pop.
7.       Re-adjust the gradient filter in the sky for color and exposure.
8.      Add a second gradient filter at the top of the frame to add more blue and create a vignette effect.
9.       Boost the saturation using the color controls.
10.   Crop and level the image to improve the composition.
11.    Use spot healing to remove distractions.
12.    Dodge and burn specific elements with the brush tool.
13.    Use the lens correction options to remove chromatic aberration and enable profile correction.
14.    Add a post-crop vignette.
15.    Use the noise reduction tool to reduce graininess.
16.    Add sharpening and use masking to keep the sky soft.
17.    Adjust clarity.
18.   Adjust the image’s contrast.


This tutorial demonstrates what a difference a few minutes of adjustment in Lightroom can do to enhance a photograph without the use of any other post-processing software.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rowing continues

I continue to get better at rowing, but this morning was a bit of a different adventure.  Three things came together:
  • It was only 36 degrees. You get to wander around in the water getting the shells rigged.  Feels much chillier when those body parts get out of the water.
  • The wind was blowing, making it pretty choppy.  It would throw a canoe around a little bit but these shells aren't nearly as stable as a canoe.
  • Today was my first day out of the training shells and into a racing shell.  The training shells are wider and more stable. I sure was missing that stability as the waves rolled by.

All together, that made it a day where focus and balance were quite important.  Definitely not a good day to turn the boat over and go for a swim.  I am slowly getting more and more of my effort into boat motion and speed.  It is starting to feel closer to real rowing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A tip to reduce spam

Ever want to take advantage of some offer on the Internet but they want to send you a confirmation email first?  You hate to give them your address because you can count on some follow-up spam and who knows how many people they will sell you address to.  My answer:

Just go to Guerrilla Mail.  When you get to this page, you are assigned a completely random email address that you can copy to the clipboard and paste into whatever page is asking you for an address.  When they send you your confirmation email, it will pop up on the Guerrilla Mail page. Read it.  Click on links.  Whatever you have to do.

Works like a charm and you never have to worry about the spam that will invariably be sent to that temporary address.

I suggest everyone bookmark the Guerrilla Mail web site!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cambria to Carmel to home, a farewell

It was tough to leave a house where this is the view out your master bedroom window, and the big views were from the living room and kitchen!
Gas prices in California are high and we were staying in a resort town.  Wow!  That's over a dollar a gallon higher than Park City and we pay too much.  Thankfully, we had a rental Camry which was very roomy but still sipped gas.  We were getting over 30 mpg.
One evening we drove the 30 miles to San Luis Obispo to look around and then dine with friends from Park City (part timers) Paul and Kristen.  We ate at Novo SLO, which is a wonderful restaurant.

I snapped a quick shot in Bubblegum Alley. This artistic landmark is about 100 feet long and it is completely full of stuck on gum, end-to-end and top-to-bottom.  Interesting, but disgusting.
We drove on up the coast to spend one night in Carmel before heading to the San Jose airport.  The shoreline between Big Sur and Carmel has to be one of the prettiest in the world.   Big waves, steep cliffs, blue-green water, black rocks and interesting trees all come together.

The Cyprus trees have all sorts of interesting shapes.  It amazes me that anything lives so long in such cold, salty mist.
I love all the little coves with their sandy beaches.
But among all the pretty beaches, this one may be the most impressive.  We stopped in Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park for a quick hike.  In addition to the normal scenery, we had these huge flowers blooming just below the trail.  I wish we were allowed to get down to the beach.
What you can't see in the photo above is the waterfall that is cascading down onto the beach. I would guess it is about 75 feet high and they say it flows all year.
A great trip. I think the only thing we would definitely do differently is to come in October or November instead of June.  The heavy fog that rolled in every day can happy at any time, but apparently peaks during the "June Gloom".   As you can see from all the trip's pictures, we had enough sunshine to see everything we wanted.

Now we settle in for the incredible Park City summer.  No more planned travel for a few months.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cambria - a day of animals

Today was a day of wildlife surprises.  We decided to go for a long walk through the Fiscallini Preserve, through the Cambria neighborhoods, and then to Main Street for some Linn's Olallieberry pie.  The pie was worth the 7.5 miles walk and hopefully the walk countered the calories in the pie, or at least some of them.
I had all my camera gear and was hoping to see some wildlife in the preserve.  There wasn't much, Just the same seals that we saw the other day and I would have to climb down some cliffs to get good shots of them.  Julie did see a four foot snake slowly inching across the path.  Not the surprise animal we would prefer to run across but he was completely uninterested in us. A passerby thought he was a gopher snake.
I put the camera back in my pack and we started into the neighborhoods, at which point we saw wildlife everywhere.

A word of warning, the last photo (after the heron) is pretty gross.  You may chose to skip it, or at least not dwell on it.  I included it because I thought it was interesting and unique.

This neighborhood is full of deer.  I guess they prefer the taste of people's yard plantings to the dry grasses and pine trees of the preserve.  Mom and her two little ones started very close to us but I had lazily decided to put my camera away. Live and learn.
Across the street and up the hill were two young bucks, both sporting their nice soft, fuzzy antlers. We ran across more deer as we kept walking and all seemed familiar enough with people so that they just casually walked away from us.
As we peaked the hill and headed into different terrain, we saw a half dozen Acorn Woodpeckers.  I believe this is a life bird for me but I have lost track.  The picture was taken from a long ways off and cropped a lot, but I didn't want to spend time chasing them for a close-up.  Just enough to identify them later.
We went out to dinner last night and finished up in time to get back to the house to see what was looking like a pretty poor sunset.  Foggy with no clouds to catch the sunlight makes for a very dull view.  Still, I grabbed the camera and walked across the street to see if I could get a decent shot.

Almost immediately, I saw this Great Blue Heron on the bluff right above the ocean.  He was dead still, probably hunting bugs or small rodents in the grass.  I very, very slowly crept towards him, taking pictures as I went.  When I took this shot, I was standing about 12 feet from him.  He was still absolutely frozen.  I began to believe that someone had placed an incredibly lifelike statue out there to screw with people like me. Then he turned his head.
I watched him for a while and saw him catch something, but I couldn't tell what. Too bad the light was so low that his sudden motion was impossible for me to freeze.  Herons can stand like statues but they strike like lightening when they are ready.
I took one last heron silhouette to capture my only sunset picture of the evening.
Now the gory photo, so stop here if you want to.

This was actually a surprise we discovered the morning before on Moonstone Beach.  A dead seal had washed up with the high tide.  It was interesting that its body was intact (but only for another day or so) but its head was down to the bare skull.  The good news is that it washed away with the next high tide.  If it sat in the sun much longer, it would have been an unbelievably disgusting mess.
We ended up seeing a lot of wildlife, just not what or where we expected. That's what makes it and adventure!

This morning we leave Cambria and head up the coast for a quick night in Carmel, then back to Park City.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cambria - a collection of waves

Perhaps I am just easily amused, but I love the blue-green water, the bright white foam, and the dark black rock.  I could just sit and watch the waves crash into the rocks and ease onto the shore.

This is a handful of wave photos, most of which were done with fairly long exposures, between .5 and 4 seconds.  The last one is the notable exception.  Nothing spectacular, just pretty.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cambria - Part 4

Another day, some more photos.  It's tough not to in such a gorgeous place.  The fog cleared out a bit early so Julie and I headed into the Fiscallini Ranch Preserve.  It is a big permanent open space in the heart of Cambria.  For residential development, it would be worth a fortune.  It is a mix of rocky beaches, ocean bluffs, grasslands, and heavy pine forest.
A lot of the pines had a dainty moss growing on the branches.  It was beautiful when back lit by the sun.
There was a group of seals (not the huge elephant seals from earlier in the week) hanging out on some rocks.  Bad news though.  The tide was coming in quickly and they were just about to get washed away.  So much for nap time.
Just above the bluffs, a yellow wildflower was blooming everywhere.  Each flower wasn't that pretty but when you carpeted a hillside with them, it made a statement.
I thought I had seen every kind of trailside bench, from basic logs to something that looks like it should be in a French palace's garden.  This?  Not quite sure what they were thinking when they built this.
We went back to Morro Bay for dinner.  We left early so Julie could hit a pair of stores she liked and I could try to photograph the sea otters and birds before dinner, and hopefully a gorgeous sunset afterwards.  Are you kidding me?  How in the world do you go from brilliant sunshine to pea soup in fifteen miles down the coast?
I found a pair of sea otters dining, but they were far away and the light was still flat from the fog.
I did have a little better luck with the birds when the occasional smidgen of sunlight would pop through.
The egrets and herons have taken over a row of trees in the Morro Bay harbor area as their nesting grounds.  Walking or parking under those trees will almost certainly have bad results.
There is a lot of activity around the nests.  If I had a full sunny day, I think I could grab some spectacular shots.
The hardest to see, but the cutest, are all the babies hanging out in the depths of the trees.  They are getting quite large and must be about ready to leave.
I liked this photo because you can see through the egret's wings.  There are two of them fighting about 60 feet up in a tree.
This poor little egret (same one as above) was getting crowded out by a pushy heron.  He seems none too happy about the whole thing but the heron just wanted a buddy to hang out with.
Sunset in Morro Bay was clearly going to be a bust so after a wonderful seafood dinner, we drove back "home" to Cambria.  We were just in time to walk across the street and grab a few sunset shots.
Another splendid day!
This morning the fog is thicker than any day so far and it shows no signs of relenting.  Bummer.  Time to go for a run.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cambria, Part 3

Yesterday brought some clear skies (finally) and I went out to do some sunset photography with my beautiful tripod-totting assistant.  She's better looking and more useful than Jasper as an assistant, but less willing to sit in the car for hours at a time while I shoot something.
I always like watching the people who get off from work and head down for some surfing in the last hours of light.  It seems more peaceful than during the day.
While waiting for the skies to get more interesting, I tried to find interesting shots with the water and the sunlight.  This rock was right at the surf line and every wave did its best to pound the rock into submission.
The next few shots are all looking at waves up the coast.  I liked how the sun was backlighting through the tops of the waves.

Finally the sun went down but without clouds in the sky, the show is brief and a little "flat".  Still beats 99.9% of what you see.
We walked back to the house and I started to take my pictures off the camera and look to see what I had.  Then I glanced out the window and noticed the color of the twilight and the bonus of the setting moon and Venus. I ran out and grabbed a few last shots.  This one became my favorite of the day.