Category Archives: Nature

Friday Flower Fiesta (7-18-14)—Live and learn

Friday Flower Fiesta

In creating my Photographic Art, I use the highest resolution pictures I have.

Many years ago when I first started blogging, I never thought I would need pictures bigger than 800 pixels on the longest side.

I had my Canon DSLR camera set to save the picture as a JPG file, and then when I got home I resized all the pictures to 800 pixels on the longest side.

Sadly, I have some great pictures which I can’t use for Photographic Art.

Following are ten of them in all their unframed, un-Photographic Art glory.

Ah, well, as my wise old grandmother used to say: “Live and learn.”

#1
Friday Flower Fiesta

#2
Friday Flower Fiesta

#3
Friday Flower Fiesta

#4
Friday Flower Fiesta

#5
Friday Flower Fiesta

#6
Friday Flower Fiesta

#7
Friday Flower Fiesta

#8
Friday Flower Fiesta

#9
Friday Flower Fiesta

#10
Friday Flower Fiesta

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (7-11-14)—Leftovers

Friday Flower Fiesta

I got so busy with work that I almost forgot that this was Friday!

The theme for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta is “Flowers that haven’t made it into a Friday Flower Fiesta yet,” i.e., the leftovers.

#1
Water lily

#2
Bird of paradise

#3
Day lily

#4
Crepe myrtle

#5
California tree poppy

#6
Unknown tree

#7
Proteacae species

#8
Unknown flowers

#9
Unknown flowers

#10
Unknown flowers

All pictures, minus the framing, will soon be available for purchase in my Flower Gallery at Fine Art America. You can buy matted & framed prints, metallic prints, acrylic prints, greeting cards, cell phone cases, posters, and more!

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

 This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (7-10-14)

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

My wise old grandmother subscribed to Saturday Evening Post when I was growing up. I always looked forward to getting it because the front cover often was artwork by Norman Rockwell. I freely admit that Norman Rockwell has an influence on my Photographic Art, and I think this would do Rockwell proud:

Starving artist in San Diego's Balboa Park

I love how the children are being children while the starving artist does his thing.

SNIPPET #2

The water lilies in the Lily Pond in front of the Botanical Building in Balboa Park are recovering from the $100,000 worth of damage wrought by a Facebook-advertised party in late 2012. Unfortunately, the criminals still have not been caught. Here’s what one looked like a couple of days ago:

Water liles in the Lily Pond in San Diego's Balboa Park

SNIPPET #3

The Museum of Natural History in Balboa Park has this piece of art on the exterior of the building:

Artwork at the Museum of Natural History in San Diego's Balboa Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #4

Although the crepe myrtles are taking over the landscapes, there are still a few areas where the jacarandas are hanging on.

Jacaranda

SNIPPET #5

Pelicans are my favorite bird that I’ve actually seen out in their native habitat. This is a pink-backed pelican, but it is a resident of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since this is not their native habitat.

Pink-backed pelican at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

SNIPPET #6

Lantanas are one of the prettiest bushes in the San Diego area. They love it when it’s hot and dry.

Lantana

SNIPPET #7

The following picture is a white-breasted cormorant. It lives with the pink-backed pelican in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. I really like this picture because of the gold on the back and wings.

White-breasted cormorant at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

SNIPPET #8

The following is Photographic Art of a wild iris, a common plant here in San Diego that blooms year-round.

Wild iris

SNIPPET #9

I think I like the reflection of this Great Egret better than the Great Egret itself!

Great Egret

SNIPPET #10

I was testing the photographic capabilities of Facebook a couple of days ago to see how it treated huge, monster, gigantic, really really big pictures. Sadly, Facebook downsizes it to a useless low-resolution picture, which is kind of good if you don’t want people stealing your pictures.

Following is the picture that I used for my test. It is a photomerge of 16 pictures encompassing about 270° in the view, so it’s a panorama that cannot be captured with a birdseye or fisheye lens since they only capture about 180°. Click on the picture for a gigantic version with readable text.

270° panorama of San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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It’s cute and adorable

Picture of the Moment

It’s no secret that most people put seagulls into categories such as “common bird,” “pesky bird,” “irritating bird,” “noisy bird,” and “go away bird.” Maybe others that I’m not familiar with.

When I went up to La Jolla recently to see Hillary Clinton, I spent some time walking around taking pictures. It’s a beautiful area, as you can see here:

La Jolla Cove panorama, La Jolla, California

Sunset at La Jolla Cove, 10-17-12, La Jolla, California

Sunset at La Jolla Cove, 10-17-12, La Jolla, California

I came across a seagull which obviously was on a nest:

Seagull on a nest

I didn’t want to disturb it but I was hoping that it would stand up and let me see the egg since I have never seen a seagull egg.

I found a large rock to sit on, about four feet from it, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat…. all the while encouraging it to stand up and take a break so I could see the egg.

After what seemed like forever, it obliged.

Seagull egg

Several other gulls came over while it was standing….

not sure what that was about….

but it left the egg in my care and went to chase the other gulls off.

Seagull egg

After a couple of minutes, it came back, thanked me for taking care of its egg, and went back to work.

Seagull on a nest

I left by a different route from which I had come in, and saw a result of all the hard work those seagulls do:

Seagull chick

Aren’t they cute? Do you see the second chick sitting in the foreground?

They look like the spots from the eggs rubbed off on them.

Moral of this post: Take time to enjoy all that is around you, even the common stuff, because sometimes it’s so cute and adorable.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Featuring the Rock Ants Lonely Hearts Club Band

Did you know?

Remember when I went out to those fabulous gardens called Bird Song? Here’s the post: Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance

Remember the rock ants? Looked like this:

Bird Song rock ants

Bird Song rock ants

Remember the other garden sculptures? Like this lizard and scorpion:

Bird Song lizard

Bird Song scorpion

All made with rocks!

Well, when I was at the San Diego County Fair, which ended this past Sunday,

(the online attendance counter has been removed, but I took a screen shot of it before they removed it! 1,457,130 people attended, making it the second highest attended Fair ever!)

I was traipsing through the many gardens when I caught sight of this:

Rock Ants

I hurried over to see if Rock Ants were what I thought they might be. Indeed they were! They have rock scorpions, rock lizards, rock peacocks, rock ants, rock cats, and more!

Here is the Rock Ants Lonely Hearts Club Band playing, I’m sure, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles since we were at The Fab Fair honoring The Fab Four’s 50th anniversary of their first visit to the United States:

 The Rock Ant Band

Here’s a rock cat:

Rock Cat

If you want some interesting and unique ornaments for your garden—or anywhere else!—consider rock art by Rock Ants! Tell them Russel Ray sent you their way. Maybe they’ll give me a free Rock Band if enough people buy from them via me! Hint, hint.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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SNIPPETS (7-5-14)—Bigger is better

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

Home, home on the range….

The range looks different in different states, sometimes even different in different areas of the same state. Here is a range from the central valley in California:

The range

SNIPPET #2

I was exploring a deconstruction site a few weeks ago when I found five windows that were the only windows left intact in the building that was being demolished. Following is what was on those five windows, with the glare removed from the pictures. I’m willing to bet that someone is going to save the windows.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SNIPPET #3

Happy Fourth of July weekend to everyone!

Eagle and United States flag

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #4

The Magellanic penguins at SeaWorld San Diego are a joy to watch. This one was well camouflaged in the midst of the rocks and was playing peek-a-boo with the crowd:

Magellanic penguin at SeaWorld San Diego

SNIPPET #5

As you exit the Arctic penguin exhibit at SeaWorld, this is what you see:

Penguin flight

SNIPPET #6

It is hard to get good view of the mansions in Rancho Santa Fe because they are walled compounds behind gates. When I go out there on Saturday mornings to teach chess to four children, I always go early with an intent to explore the roads. I found a road leading up up up and got a fairly decent picture of the 11,700-square-foot mansion where I teach chess:

Here I come!

Since that is a fairly decent picture (take my word for it), you now understand the problems inherent in getting really good pictures of these mansions in one of the richest areas of the United States.

SNIPPET #7

Just outside the entrance to the San Diego Zoo is the Balboa Park Railroad. It’s a garden railroad that offers rides, and the area where the railroad goes has garden sculptures of zoo animals:

Garden sculpture at the Balboa Park Railroad

Garden sculpture at the Balboa Park Railroad

The tower you see in the first picture is the California Tower, one of San Diego’s most recognizable buildings. Read more about the California Tower in my blog post here: San Diego Historical Landmarks — #1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3

SNIPPET #8

My wise old grandmother used to sit at the dining room table taking her pictures and cutting out parts she didn’t want, cutting them into interesting shapes, and placing the results very carefully in her photo albums and scrapbooks. She was the one who taught me that “what comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

The following is Photographic Art of one the San Diego Zoo’s ambassadors, this one a turtle. The turtle was all grungy looking and the picture was all washed out due to where the sun was when I took the picture. Most people would have deleted it. Not me! Thank you oh great and wise old grandmother!

Turtle

SNIPPET #9

Someone more famous than me once said, “Bigger is better.” Obviously this leaf was paying attention:

Big leaf

SNIPPET #10

SNIPPET #9 was taken in the Botanical Building in Balboa Park, the nation’s largest municipal cultural park. I had gone to see the leftover orchids from an orchid show, as had this guy:

Taking a picture

I always feel guilty when I’m taking a picture with my big Canon 550D and someone else is taking a picture with their little smarty pants phone.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Friday Flower Fiesta (7-4-14)—From the San Diego County Fair

Friday Flower Fiesta

I spent yesterday at the San Diego County Fair, North America’s seventh largest fair by 2013 attendance.

Many decades ago I used to go to the Texas State Fair, the Houston Lifestock Show & Rodeo, and the San Antonio Lifestock Show & Exhibition to ride the rides.

Now I just go to see the beautiful gardens, bonsai, and flowers.

The theme for this year’s fair is “The Fab Fair,” celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles arrival in America in 1964. Here are some flowers from the 2014 San Diego County Fair:

#1
Orchid from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#2
Orchid from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#3
Begonia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#4
Orchid from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#5
Irises from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#6
Dahlia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#7
Dahlia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#8
Dahlia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#9
Dahlia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#10
Dahlia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#11
Dahlia from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#12
Rose from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

#13
Roses from the 2014 San Diego County Fair

All pictures, minus the framing, will be available for purchase in my Flower Gallery at Fine Art America once Julian gets back from Texas. You can buy matted & framed prints, metallic prints, acrylic prints, greeting cards, cell phone cases, posters, and more!

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m Zoey the Cool Cat,
and I approve this post.
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego County Fair or bust!

Out & About

It’s San Diego County Fair or bust!

Since the last day is Sunday, July 6, today is my last opportunity to make it to the San Diego County Fair.

This year’s fair is celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles coming to America in 1964 with its theme “The Fab Fair,” so it’s definitely a year that I didn’t want to inadvertently miss.

If they are playing Beatles music throughout the Fair, I might break out in song & dance!

The San Diego County Fair is North America’s seventh largest fair based on 2013 attendance:

  1. Texas State Fair, Dallas—2,598,215
  2. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo—2,506,238
  3. Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul—1,731,162
  4. San Antonio Livestock Show & Exhibition—1,665,747
  5. Eastern States Exhibition, Springfield, Massachusetts—1,481,917
  6. Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona—1,438,514
  7. San Diego County Fair—1,425,200
  8. Orange County Fair, Costa Mesa, California—1,374,579
  9. Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto—1,360,000
  10. Arizona State Fair, Phoenix—1,178,515

I have been to #1 four times, #2 nineteen times, #4 six times, and #7 seven times. Sad that in 21 years in San Diego, I’ve only been 7 times. It’s not like it’s expensive ($14 for adults), but ever since Amtrak and the Coaster did away with their Fair stop, I haven’t been going. Driving is a hassle and parking, well, after trying to park and then trying to leave at the end of the day….

Polly wants a margarita

My favorite part of the Fair are the flower and gardening shows, and, of course, being a native Texan, the livestock shows.

Here are some pictures from past Fairs:

Dahlia at the 2012 San Diego County Fair

Piglets at the San Diego County Fair

Aliens at the San Diego County Fair

Aliens at the San Diego County Fair

Aliens at the San Diego County Fair

Aliens at the San Diego County Fair

Pigs at the San Diego County Fair

Mountain Lake Chess Club at the San Diego County Fair

Little did I know that after seeing the Mountain Lake Chess Camp at the Fair last year, I would be teaching chess for them just a couple of months later at after-school enrichment programs for K-6 schools.

Here’s my BFF chess set:

Succulent chess set at the San Diego County Fair

Julian, if you see my BFF chess set, leave a comment. There might be a monetary bonus in it for you!

Robert Fremont's Unique Island Style Decor at the 2013 San Diego County Fair

Robert Fremont's Unique Island Style Decor at the 2013 San Diego County Fair

Turkey at the 2013 San Diego County Fair

Floral arrangement at the 2013 San Diego County Fair

Rose show at the 2013 San Diego County Fair

Rose show at the 2013 San Diego County Fair

2013 San Diego County Fair

Amtrak at the San Diego County Fair

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 12

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 11

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Continuing on our west to east travel on El Prado, after the Timken Museum of Art is the most photographed building in San Diego, the Botanical Building:

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

It is worthwhile to visit the Botanical Building anytime you are in Balboa Park because, along with the resident plants, there are seasonal displays created by many of the plant societies throughout San Diego County. The most recent display comprises leftover orchids from the latest show of the San Diego Orchid Society.

Orchid Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos of La Mesa California

Orchid Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos of La Mesa California

I could tolerate a few leftover orchids in my gardens!

The Botanical Building and the Lily Pond (aka the Reflecting Pool) were built for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1916. The building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. Plantings include more than 2,100 permanent plants comprising mostly cycads, ferns, orchids, palms, and similar tropical plants. The meat-eating-plants bog is one of the best.

Pitcher Plants

The Lily Pond was severely damaged in late 2012 when someone promoted via Facebook a midnight party at the pond. The party turned into a drunken brawl, destroying all of the lilies and damaging the pond and its infrastructure to the tune of about $100,000. Sadly, the perpetrators have not been caught.

 Water Lily

Water Lily

Water lily

Just outside the two entrances to the Botanical Building are two tall, scraggly bushes. The flowers are beautiful:

Flower of the California milkweed

The bushes are Crown Plants (Calotropis gigantea), a member of the milkweed family, which means that throughout the year you can find monarch caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies.

Monarch caterpillars, September 2011, San Diego

Chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Not surprisingly, adults tend to walk right on by the scraggly bushes. Children, however, are quick to spot the butterflies and caterpillars. If only children didn’t have to grow up to be adults………..

The Lily Pond also is home to fish (mostly koi), the occasional turtle, and birds.

Koi

Sadly, many of the fish and turtles are unwanted “pets” that owners didn’t want anymore, so they dump them in the Lily Pond. The birds, however, come and go, and quite often you can find some Mandarin Ducks hanging out.

Mandarin duck

Admission to the Botanical Building is free. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but is closed on Thursdays and holidays. Closing on holidays is somewhat strange because Balboa Park gets extremely crowded on holidays since it’s a regional attraction and destination.

Lotus

Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park

For more about the monarchs of Balboa Park, see my post Monarch—Caterpillar to butterfly (WARNING: graphic content).

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Desert bighorn sheep

Picture of the Moment

It is so much fun to take blasé pictures and try to make Photographic Art out of them. After all, my wise old grandmother said, as she sat at the dining room table cutting pictures apart and pasting them in her scrapbooks and photo albums, “What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”

Here are two blasé pictures of desert bighorn sheep that were washed out and really horrible pictures, but they make pretty darn good Photographic Art.

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep

These desert bighorn sheep are in a remote location in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s not an easy walk to where they are, so I suspect not too many people actually see these beautiful sheep.

The desert bighorn sheep is indigenous to the southwestern United States and the northern areas of Mexico. Interestingly, the total population of desert bighorn sheep is only about 20,000 yet their conservation status is listed as “least concern.” That I don’t understand.

They are superb climbers, using their climbing ability to escape mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats, their main predators.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
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Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray