Category Archives: Nature

Friday Flower Fiesta (2-27-15)—LLAP

Friday Flower Fiesta

A little something different for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta.

Up until September 2004, my name was Russel Ray Kirk, and I was a fanatic about all things “Star Trek.” In fact, put “Star” in the title—e.g., “Star Wars,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” etc.—and you were assured of having at least one die-hard fan.

Throughout my youth and up until I changed my name to Russel Ray, I was also known by a nickname that was first bestowed on me in late 1966, “Captain Kirk.” I was only 11 but I couldn’t quit talking about Captain Kirk. He fascinated me, as did “Star Trek.” I anticipated each week for the next couple of years, and summers were a real bummer for me.

As I got older, my logic earned me another nickname, “Spock.”

The death of Leonard Nimoy today at age 83 takes me back to Friday, June 4, 1982, when I stood in line to be one of the first to see “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” A few hours later, my thinking about “me” and “us” had changed, all because of something “Spock” said in the movie: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Those words spoke to me about why I pay taxes for schools (I have never had a child in school!), roads, police, fire fighters, libraries, and so much more. Today, “us” extends to the Affordable Care Act—The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Life is about more than just me and my needs or wants.

Today, as Jim was in the hospital recovering from minor surgery, the nurse asked us if we had heard about Leonard Nimoy. We had not, but he didn’t have to say anything else.

I never got to watch “Star Trek” on Thursday nights at 8:30 in September 1966. Way too late for an 11 year old with homework. Fortunately, it was shown in our little farming & ranching community on Friday afternoons at 3:30. School got out at 3:00. You know where I was from 3:30 to 4:30.

Leonard Nimoy’s death is one of the three saddest days in my life (I’m lucky, I know), the other two being the murder of John Lennon and the death of my best friend, Ken Lewis, when he was just 32.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy, but may you live on through Spock for millions of future generations. May they live long and prosper.

In memory of Leonard Nimoy

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (2-20-15)—Orchids are blooming everywhere!

Friday Flower Fiesta

Sunday is National Margarita Day…………

Wait.

This is a Friday Flower Fiesta post……….

Nevermind.

Wait.

Don’t “nevermind.”

Instead, keep in mind that Sunday is National Margarita Day! Margaritas for everyone!

Now on to our Friday Flower Fiesta featuring orchids this week.

Why orchids?

Because if you go to the Botanical Building in Balboa Park right now, it is full of blooming orchids. It’s an orchid orgasm. Wait. Did I just say that?

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the Botanic Building in Balboa Park, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchid

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchid from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Orchids at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (2-13-15)—Happy Friday the 13th!

Friday Flower Fiesta

These are more Photographic Art, significantly photoshopped using Photoshop and various Topaz plug-ins.

Eucalyptus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Eucalyptus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

African tulip tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Alstroemeria flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Roses

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Iceland poppy

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

img_9164 daisy stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Yucca

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The last two are my favorites this week.

For comparison, here are the original pictures of the last two:

Daisies

Yucca

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (2-6-15)—Bromeliads

Friday Flower Fiesta

Spring sprung here in San Diego around January 2.

A sprung spring means that it’s bromeliad season.

The best places to see lots of unusual bromeliads are the San Diego Zoo, which is an internationally recognized arboretum and botanical garden as well as a zoo, and the Botanical Building in Balboa Park.

Here are a selection of bromeliads from both places, although these are pictures from the past that I cataloged today after finding them in my “these-are-really-bad-pictures-but-maybe-some-day-you-can-make-something-out-of-them-in-photoshop” folder.

Bromeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bromeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bromeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bromeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bromeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bomeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bomeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bomeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bomeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bomeliad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The last picture uses the “out of bounds” effect. If you’re interested in learning how to create that effect, see my tutorial from October 22, 2013: Creating the out of bounds effect in Photoshop.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (1-30-15)—Epiphyllums, the orchids of the cactus world

Friday Flower Fiesta

My favorite flowers are those which are quite complex: orchids and epiphyllums. Epiphyllums often are called the orchids of the cactus world. They actually are succulents, which are basically cactus without thorns; while all succulents are cactus, not all cactus are succulents.

Today’s Friday Flower Fiesta features epiphyllums, but these are not just any epiphyllum pictures. These were in my throwaway folder, my “see-if-you-can-make-something-out-of-these-when-you’re-bored” folder. These were pictures that most of my photographer friends would have thrown away, deleted. Me? I keep them and eventually play around with them using various digital editing software and filters: Photoshop, Photo-Paint, PaintShop Pro, Fractalius, Topaz, Perfect Effects, Photomatix…. Some others, too, but those are the main ones I use.

So here you go, crappy photos made into Photographic Art stamps. The 12¢ is my favorite.

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Epiphyllum

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Out & About—Manzanita Trail in San Diego’s Pacific Ranch Highlands

Out & About

Saying that something is located in San Diego can be misleading since San Diego stretches from the Mexico border to the Safari Park, a distance of about 70 miles north to south and a total area of about 372 square miles.

The other day I was teaching chess at Solana Ranch Elementary, about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego yet still in the city of San Diego. I got there later than usual so I had to park a few billion miles away from the school and walk.

That walk, however, allowed me to find the Manzanita Trail. After class, still with 90 minutes of daylight left, I went to explore. Here is some of what I found on my short one-mile hike:

Manzanita Trail in Pacific Highlands Ranch in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manzanita Trail in Pacific Highlands Ranch in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manzanita Trail in Pacific Highlands Ranch in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I had a specific goal because I kept seeing a cool building from a distance. That cool building was not a building at all. Instead, it was an underpass, possibly ranking as the coolest hiking path under a road that I’ve ever seen. You take the high road and I’ll take the low road….

Manzanita Trail in Pacific Highlands Ranch in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manzanita Trail in Pacific Highlands Ranch in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manzanita Trail in Pacific Highlands Ranch in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosManzanita Trail was created by the subdivision’s HOA. I found it on Google Maps, and it seems to go on forever. I suspect that in some areas it has a name change, the complete trail being a consortium of smaller trails like Manzanita.

Manzanita Trail

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Out & About—San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Encinitas, California

Out & About

I remember the first time I heard the word Lagoon. Such a funny-sounding word. I was 7 or 8, living in Brigham City, Utah, at the time, and we were going to Lagoon, which was an amusement park in Farmington, 44 miles south of Brigham City and 17 miles north of Salt Lake City.

A couple of weeks ago, grade schools started up again after the end-of-year break, which meant that after-school enrichment programs would be starting up, too. I teach chess in five grade school enrichment programs.

One of the schools that I will be teaching at this term is a new school for me. Whenever I have a new school, I get there early to find parking, check out the neighborhood, get through the school’s security protocols, and find my room. This time, I got there way too early. I think many people were still on end-of-year vacation, so freeway traffic was very light.

As I was driving around the neighborhood looking for photography subjects, I found a little cul-de-sac with lots of brush, trees, and a little trail. Ah, trails. I just can’t resist trails. I parked the car, grabbed my camera, and went for a little hike.

I had not gone too far when I saw a couple of signs:

San Elijo Lagoon in San Diego, California

San Elijo Lagoon in San Diego, CaliforniaPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I saw several rattlesnakes and one mountain lion:

Twin-spotted Rattlesnake

Mountain lion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sadly, the rattlesnakes and mountain lion that I saw were at the San Diego Zoo the next day. That’s why I love the Zoo and SeaWorld—I get to see wildlife that I would never see otherwise.

I didn’t hike very far because I could see that the trails seemed to go on and on and on. (Hmmmm. Maybe the Energizer Bunny is out there somewhere.) I couldn’t get lost in the menagerie and not make it back to school on time to teach chess to that wildlife known as “rugrats.”

I did come upon a lonely bench, which turned out to be very photogenic:

Lonely bench

Lonely bench

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I got home, I used Google Maps to determine that I was on the outer edges of San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve is one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands in San Diego County, comprising 915 acres. There are six plant communities within the Reserve: coastal strand, salt marsh, freshwater marsh, riparian scrub, coastal sage scrub, and mixed chaparral. The diversity of wildlife is enormous: more than 300 species of plants, at least 23 species of fish, 26 mammal species, 20 reptiles and amphibians, more than 80 invertebrates, and 300 bird species.

San Elijo Lagoon is part of the Escondido Creek Watershed, comprising about 54,000 acres, stretching from the foothills to the coastline. It includes the last remnants of an imperiled coastal scrub habitat connecting the northern and southern parts of a globally important ecological region. The coastal scrub habitat is vital to the persistence of some of Southern California’s most endangered species, many of which occur nowhere else on Earth.

All of which means that, of course, I shall be making a more extensive visit sometime soon.

img_9301 stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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