Rainbow quintuplet

Picture of the Moment

I went to Old Town San Diego this morning at 6:00. Old Town is coming up very quickly in my San Diego Historical Landmark series and since I don’t like people in my pictures, I thought this morning would be a good time to get pictures without people in them.

Old Town is about ten miles from me, and halfway through the drive it started raining, hard, even though the part of the sky I could see was partly cloudy with three huge rainbows.

I tried to get a good picture but it’s difficult to do when you’re driving 65 mph in the rain. Without focusing I was pointing the camera and clicking. I got only two decent pictures, neither of them worth writing home about but certainly good enough for blogging:



Photographic Art logo

I suspect many of you see much better rainbow pictures on a daily basis. Here in San Diego we get excited if we see rain, much less rainbows!

I searched Google to see if there were any good pictures of the rainbow trio. Not a one. Then it occurred to me: It was 6:00 in the morning! No one except me was up! I could claim it was a rainbow quintuplet, get busy in Photoshop, post a rainbow quintuplet on Facebook, and probably no one would question it……..LOL

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (12-12-14)—Orbs (or making something out of nothing at all)

Friday Flower Fiesta

My main reason for creating Photographic Art is because my camera, a Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i if you bought it in the United States) is a semi-professional camera that cost me about $700. My main camera lens is a Tamron 28-300mm macro zoom lens that cost me about $300. In other words, I have a whopping thousand dollars worth of camera equipment. Although I have 48 years of photographic experience, do I really think that I can compete with the professional with $35,000 worth of camera equipment and his own gallery downtown? No, I don’t.

So with the poor quality from the inadequate equipment, I create something unique, one of a kind images that no one else can create because they don’t know how I do it. They can try because they know I use Photoshop, and they might even come close, but unless they know the exact settings I use, they’re not going to get an exact reproduction of my Photographic Art. Heck, sometimes the Art is so unique that even I don’t know what settings I used, so even I cannot reproduce it!

Some of the pictures in my vast collection are what many photographers would call throwaways. However, a couple of things that my wise old grandmother told me back in 1966 has always stuck with me:

“What comes out of the camera is just the basics to start with.”
“Don’t throw anything away. There is no away.”

Throughout the ensuing decades, I have learned to throw things away, but I take far less trash to the curb each week than my neighbors do. Maybe they just buy more crap than I do………….

Anyway, for today’s Friday Flower Fiesta, I thought I would take ten of my throwaway photographs and use them to make flower orbs in brushed aluminum frames. These pictures were out of focus, had poor composition, or are simply too small to use to make high quality Photographic Art. Here they are, with the original picture beneath each framed flower orb.


Framed flower orb

flower (226)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (253)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (269) original

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (270) original

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (301)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (302)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (312)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (334)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (342)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos


Framed flower orb

flower (350)

Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos

Number 5 is my favorite. It looks like a face, maybe something out of a Stephen King novel. Number eight is my second favorite, and then number 7 is third.

If you would like to learn how to create orbs, see my post here. It’s really easy; takes just a couple of minutes…. Unless you don’t have Photoshop…. Then it will take a lot longer!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (12-11-14)—I rest my case


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts


I see that people are starting to say things like, “One of my New Year’s resolutions will be…..”

I have never made New Year’s resolutions. I always thought that making New Year’s resolutions was simply a way to procrastinate. If you need to do something, start today! If you need to quit doing something, start today! The best time is always NOW!


Many decades, when I was but 12 (I’m 59.75 now), I had a fight with a good friend. My wise old grandmother told me to write him a letter and tell him exactly how I felt. I did. Then she said, “Now put it in the bottom drawer of your dresser under your socks and leave it there for 24 hours.” Well, drat. I was all excited, ready to put it in an envelope, mail it to him, and never see him again. By the end of 24 hours, I had already forgotten about the letter. My wise old grandmother had not. She made me get it out and read it. After I finished, she asked, “Do you still want to send it?” “No,” I answered. “Do you want to rewrite it?” “No.” “What do you want to do with it?” “Throw it away.” And I did.

I still have the occasional need to write a letter to someone, but I always put it in the bottom drawer of my dresser under my socks. (Yes, I still keep my socks in the bottom drawer!) I leave it there for 24 hours and then re-read it to see if I really want to send it, to really say those things to someone that I usually like, care about, or even love. In 47 years, I have only sent one letter.

That applies to proofreading, too. If you’re working on something significant—a poem, a book, a term paper, a public announcement, a speech, a video—once you’ve finished, put it in a deep, dark place and leave it for 24 hours. Resist the urge to think about it, get it out, and make changes. If you have those urges, simply make notes to look at 24 hours from now.

If only I could get this secret to everyone in the Republican party because they publish so many falsehoods. Hmmmm. Maybe they want to….


I read a lot. I always have a book or magazine (both made out of real paper!) with me so that if I have to wait, I can pull something out and read a little. Makes waiting at the doctor’s office so much easier as the second hour of waiting rolls around….

chimeraWith books, I usually read for 30 minutes or 30 pages, whichever comes first. With Stephen King books, it’s usually 30 minutes.

Recently I finished reading an August 2013 uncorrected proof of Chimera, by David Wellington, published in April 2014. Since Jim has worked at bookstores (Borders, Barnes & Nobel, B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, Brentano) for 45 years, he has lots of uncorrected proofs. They are fun to read because they have typos and other inconsistences that always get corrected before the final book is published.

Chimera made it onto my “too-good-to-put-down” list. I usually read until I could read no more. It’s a science fiction thriller action book but the science fiction is something that’s probably not too far off. Might even be possible in a secret research laboratory somewhere.

In science, a chimera is a single animal organism with genetically distinct cells from two different zygotes. In this book, the chimera are humans with a few genetic modifications. Quite interesting, and a very good read for those who like a science fiction thriller or are fans of David Wellington.


Just before reading Chimera, I read The Crusades, by Zoe Oldenbourg. It was easy to put that book down because the period of the crusades was really an ugly time in world history, not to mention religious history. ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other religious terrorist organizations are just the modern version of the crusades.


The Rackateer by John GrishamSo what am I reading now? I’m glad you asked.

John Grisham has always been high on my favorite author list—The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Rainmaker, The Last Juror….

My current read is The Rackateer, published in 2012. I have read 254 pages but I’ve only been reading since Monday. In other words, it has made it onto my “too-good-to-put-down” list.


I love scouring the Internet for stories about criminals in action, especially if the criminals seem a little incompetent. Here’s my favorite from this past week:

In February 2014, Carlos Ruiz broken into a home in New Jersey and stole many items, including a sound system. He had gotten away originally, but a half hour later he was arrested after returning to the scene of the crime to retrieve the remote control.

I remember someone saying that the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.


Another example of the criminal returning to the scene of the crime:

Christopher Miller, also of New Jersey (what is it with New Jersey?) was arrested after robbing a Stride Rite shoe store. He had just finished serving 15 years in state prison for robbing, uh, the same Stride Rite store 15 years ago.


Lastly, in the incompetent criminal category:

Colten Green was arrested in Illinois (It wasn’t New Jersey!) for robbing a Circle K gas station. According to police, it was easy to point the finger at Green because he was on probation for robbery and was wearing an ankle monitor.


If you think doing your taxes is are complicated, it might have something to do with the state you live in. Vertex, a tax software company, reports that tax-heavy states like Massachusetts (“Taxachusetts”) often have the simplest tax systems. States like Utah, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Texas have the most complicated.


Many decades ago I went to see George Carlin (1937-2008) live in Houston. Almost every day I see a Carlin meme on Facebook, and they always are worth the read. Here’s the funniest one I found this past week:

George Carlin

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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If you fly into San Diego….

Did you know?

AirplaneI have only flown once since 9/11.

It’s not that I fear flying.

It’s because I really really really really really don’t like waiting, especially if I have to stand and wait.

Zoey the Cool Cat bookI always have a book or magazine with me so that I can read if I’m forced to wait anywhere.

In the case of flying, though, I’m not forced to fly and wait in those security screening lines, so I don’t fly.

If I can’t get there by bus, train, car, bike, or foot, I figure I really don’t need to go.

However, if you are flying into San Diego, especially during the holidays, be sure to sit on the left side of the plane so you’ll have the most spectacular views of downtown San Diego.

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Also remember to contact me because I often have free or discounted tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld if you’re interested in visiting those.

I also have some good resources after being here for 21 years so I can probably find you discounts on other attractions, too.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#8: The Sherman-Gilbert House

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Even though San Diego was “discovered” in 1542 and “founded” in 1769, lacking in a historical perspective are old buildings.

Progress over the millennia sent buildings to the scrap heap of history in favor of new and improved.

The oldest buildings that remain are seven structures moved from their original locations to the Victorian Village (also called Heritage Row) in Heritage Park.

Heritage Park sign

Heritage Park location map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The seven structures include six homes and one temple, all built between 1887 and 1896.

Interestingly, the Heritage Park web site indicates that only two of the seven structures are San Diego Historical Landmarks. I know for certain that three of them are, and I won’t understand it if I discover that not all of them are registered historical landmarks. That would be weird to save a building, spend lots of money moving it, putting it in a place called “Heritage” Park, taking care of it, but not designating it as a historical landmark. Yep. That would be weird, weird, weird.

One that I know for certain is registered is San Diego Historical Landmark #8, the Sherman-Gilbert House, the first structure moved to Heritage Park in the Spring of 1971.

Sherman-Gilbert house in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The house was built in 1887 and first owned by John Sherman, a San Diego real estate developer and cousin of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Cousin John Sherman should not be confused with brother John Sherman, a significant politician and three-time presidential candidate.

The house is in the Stick Eastlake architectural style, sometimes referred to as Victorian Stick, a style that was popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Several characteristics of the Stick style include interpenetrating roof planes, bold paneled brick chimneys, wrap-around porch, spindle detailing, “panelled” on blank walls, and radiating spindle details at the gable peaks.

There are few survival examples of the Stick Eastlake style; the Sherman-Gilbert House is one of them.

Sherman-Gilbert house in San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

From 1892 to 1965, the home was owned by sisters Bess and Gertrude Gilbert, significant San Diego patrons of art and music. While they owned the house, they brought internationally famous entertainers to receptions there, including Yehudi Menuhin, Artur Rubinstein, and Ernestine Schumann-Heink.

The house was marked for demolition in 1969. Concerned citizens formed the Save Our Heritage Organization and were granted a reprieve to raise funds and move the house from its original location at 139 Fir Street in Bankers Hill.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, moving historic structures in order to save them was commonplace. It’s now considered inappropriate to move them, which also means that sometimes historic structures are demolished rather than saved, usually in the name of progress such as highways, skyscrapers, and shopping malls.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

For previous posts in the
San Diego Historical Landmarks series,
go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (12-8-14)—Mama’s gonna look so great

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Someone told me that the Christmas season is here. Maybe it was one of the online news sites that was showing me the Spirit of Christmas as people fight to get in the traffic lane that seems to be going fastest, fight for a parking space if they ever get to where they want to go, fight to buy stuff at the lowest price…. So much fighting, and in the midst of it all, we seem to forget the real fighting.

I feel it is my Christmas duty to help put an end to all the fighting by not participating in the Christmas spirit as defined by big business. I wish them all the luck in the world at making enough money to pay their employees a living wage and having some left over to buy that fourth vacation home or that thirtieth car for their collection….

I was going to post some of the bad Christmas songs by my favorite artists, things like “Happy Xmas, War Is Over” by John Lennon, “Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” by The Ramones, “Must Be Santa” by Bob Dylan, or “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys.

I must admit that I really don’t like any of those. I think they are pretty bad songs. So I went searching for the worst Christmas songs ever. Some of those showed up on the list. No surprise.

I found one list, titled “Stupid Christmas Songs.” It had some songs that I had never heard before, including this one:

“The Christmas Shoes” by Newsong

It was almost Christmas time,
There I stood in another line
Trying to buy that last gift or two,
not really in the Christmas mood

Standing right in front of me
Was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing ’round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

And his clothes were worn and old,
He was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here”
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes

So I laid the money down,
I just had to help him out
And I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama’s gonna look so great

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me what Christmas is all about

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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If you don’t ask, there’s only one answer

My wise old grandmother

In 1966, my grandmother taught me that if you want something, you have to ask.

If you ask, there are two answers: Yes or No.

If you don’t ask, there is only one answer: No.

My left shoulder and both knees are asking me to get out of the home inspection business. They don’t like crawling around anymore in attics and under houses. I have spent all of 2014 applying for various jobs, but I can tell you that ageism is alive and well in the work environment.

I would like to ask you to buy any Photographic Art and use it as a gift for Christmas, a December wedding or anniversary, a December birthday, or for a Fall graduate. Of course, if you can come up with other reasons for a gift, I’m all for it!

I am just starting out in this venture so I don’t have a decades-long track record. However, Jim Frimmer (missionvalleyliving.com) and Thomas Nelson (thomasjnelsonrealtor.com) are using my work for close of escrow and anniversary gifts. They attach their business cards and various messages to the back using rubber cement. From the reactions of their Clients, I know I have something going here.

I am at Fine Art America (1-russel-ray.artistwebsites.com) mainly because they are inexpensive compared to my local printing, art, and framing shops; and they have a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, even for buyer’s remorse!

If you think shipping costs are too high, you can buy the digital file directly from me for $49 and then have it printed at your favorite local shop.

I also do custom work for $49. For example, Thomas Nelson saw five Photographic Art that he liked for his most recent Client. Buying all five as one close-of-escrow gift was a little expensive, so he asked me if I could merge them, which I did. Here is the result:

Harley-Davidson montage

With my photography collection and resources, I can make one-of-a-kind Photographic Art in huge sizes. Thomas Nelson bought a panorama of San Diego (San Diego panorama) that I created using 16 separate pictures. The final product was four feet long. His Client was surprised and ecstatic!

San Diego

I recommend metal prints—they are virtually indestructible, the color is spectacular, they are light and easy to hang, and they are inexpensive compared to traditional glass and frame.

Please consider buying Photographic Art
for your gift-giving needs.
Thank you!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for health, happiness, peace, and prosperity
in 2015 and beyond.

Looking for a unique gift for Christmas?Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Suffering from Bare Wall Syndrome? Need a unique gift?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

photograhic art taking pictures making art