Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Forty-five years as a photographer, beginning with yearbook staff in sixth grade.

Picture of the Moment—Trash by any other name is still trash

Picture of the Moment

Yesterday,  when I drove Highway 94 to Tecate to get pictures of the Big Border Wall Baby, I passed a CalTrans maintenance dump where they accumulate rocks, crumbled concrete and asphalt, and items discarded at the side of the road by uncaring individuals. The dump had a unique sign:

It's trash day

As my wise old grandmother might say: “Trash by any other name is still trash.”

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Out & About—The bad guys don’t drive bright red cars

Out & About

Some readers might have seen the news over the past couple of weeks about a giant baby in Mexico peering over the border wall into the United States. It’s over in Tecate at coordinates 32°34’46.8″N 116°35’20.6″W or 32.579667, -116.589056

Location of the giant baby at the border wall in Tecate

Border Wall baby

Yes, we already have a border wall here in San Diego County.

Border wall

Border wall

Border wall

Border wall

Some of it, like in the pictures above, is about ten years old. Other sections, like the numbered panels in the picture below, are even older.

Border wall in San Diego County

Border Patrol agents like to park their vehicles in hidden locations on the top of mountain peaks, which, I’m sure, often results in the following conversation:

BP Agent 1: I see movement. 773.
Agent 2: I see it, too.
Agent 3: Copy.
Agent 2: Oh my God.
Agent 1: What is that?
Agent 3: It’s a little baby!
Agent 1: But it’s got YUGE hands!

Border Wall baby

I call it the “Border Wall Baby.” It was created by an anonymous French street artist who goes by JR. It is seventy feet tall and is basically a billboard support by scaffolding on the Mexico side.

Border wall baby

Border Wall baby

Border Wall baby

It will remain until early October, so if you want to see it, you don’t have much time.

JR says that he did not plan the art to coincide with Twitler’s announcement to repeal DACA, a program to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. We have to believe him since Twitler is unpredictable and the scaffolding took six weeks to build.

Border Wall baby

Border Wall baby

The concept came to JR in a dream and is based on an actual baby named Kikito who lives in one of the houses nearby. JR told news reporters, “I wonder, is this kid worrying about what will happen? What does he think? At 1 year old, you don’t see the frontier or which side is better.”

Kikito’s mom weighed in, as well. As JR tells it, “She was so happy, and she told me she hoped the image travels around the world. In her own words, she said it should help people think that they are not criminals; they are not rapists, which is how she feels Mexicans are often being portrayed. He’s just a little kid; he’s 1 year old, that’s why he has no political vision about the wall yet. He’s just looking at anything around him with curiosity.”

I got stopped three times by Border Patrol agents. The first asked me what I was doing. When I told him I was looking for the Border Wall Baby, he gave me explicit directions of how to get there and once I finished, to turn around and come back. To go any father would require a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The second agent asked me what I was doing, and I told him I had just been to take pictures of the Border Wall Baby. He said, “I thought it was something like that because the bad guys don’t drive bright red cars. They try to blend in.” The third one just waved me on by.

My bright red vehicle

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (9/18/2017)—You’re my best friend but I’m never going back again

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I often get asked what my favorite songs, albums, and artists are. My usual response is “Any song, album, or artist that is in my collection.”

However, in my next pass through my collection of non-classical music, I will be paying close attention to those songs which really get my foot stomping.  I will be making a list of them and then creating an SD card that I can play constantly on my little SoundBlaster Roar 2. Roar 2 accompanies me to the yard for gardening and the garage for storing, and since I like music on when I sleep, it will accompany me to the bedroom and help me sleep.

SanDisk now has 512GB SD cards which cost about $275. The SD Card is so small that it could be easy to lose or damage, making that an expensive $275…. The rumor mill says they have a prototype 1TB SD card but that rumor is 366 days old now. It will take me a little over six months to make this last pass, so maybe six months from now that 1TB card will be available.

Meanwhile, I have started my list with a few songs off the top of my head. Here are five of them so you can hear what makes my foot stomp.

“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen, 1975

“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac, 1977

“Generation Clash” by Accept, 1989

“Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” by Rainbow, 1995

“Hot Rod Heart” by John Fogerty, 1997

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Out & About—Classic car show & chili cook-off in Alpine CA

Out & About

One of my favorite places to go in San Diego County is Alpine. It’s a mountain community at an elevation of 1,842 feet above sea level but is not too deep in the mountains. No winding mountain roads with 25 mph speed limits. In fact, Interstate 8 can get you there very quickly at 70 mph. Now that I live in Winter Gardens, I’m a mere 10 miles from Alpine. I can see myself going there often.

Alpine, California

Yesterday I headed to Alpine for the annual classic car show and chili cook-off.

Classic car show in Alpine, California

Classic car show in Alpine, California

Classic car show in Alpine, California

Mr & Mrs Redd were there with all the kids.Classic car show in Alpine, California

This dog is not what you think.
It’s a dog statue. Where do you buy a dog statue like that?
Dog statue

Only 90 years old. What’s the problem?
Classic car show in Alpine, California

My wise old grandmother had a 1960 Chevrolet Impala.
It had chrome everywhere. I hated it because I was the one
who had the privilege of polishing the chrome every weekend.
I don’t miss chrome but I do admit that it’s pretty when it’s shining.
Classic car show in Alpine, California
When you have connections, you can arrange to have your car show number
match the year of your classic car, in this case a 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
Just to the right of the drive-in tray you can see the window sticker.
Classic car show in Alpine, California

Here’s a close-up of the window sticker.
For a mere $2,846 back in 1957,
you could have had this classic car.
You dummy. What did you spend your money on?
What were you thinking?
Classic car show in Alpine, California

When I headed over to the chili cook-off, I saw lots of people
wearing Granite Hills Key Club shirts,
like these four who graciously agreed
to let me take their picture:
Alpine chili cook-off

Back in 1972 I asked my wise old grandmother what I could do to help others. She told me about Key Club at Henrietta M. King High School in Kingsville, Texas. I joined. That was my first experience volunteering and helping out. I followed up Key Club by joining Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity at Texas A&M University, and then continuing my volunteering even unto the present day.

Chili cookoff

Pirate Chili won my vote for best chili and best decorated booth.
It didn’t hurt that their chili came in a free ceramic pirate cup.
I, too, understand incentives (bribes).
Pirate cupPirate chili

I got to enjoy the music of my friends in
The Ideas Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio.
I never get tired of their classic rock ‘n’ roll.
The Ideas Rock 'n' Roll Trio in Alpine, California at the chili cook-off

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Opinion—They lost me

Opinion

I’m not a fan of wild west shootouts unless they are in the movies, so when I saw this notice on the window of a restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga where I had planned on eating lunch yesterday, I went elsewhere.

Firearms welcome

Wicked Cow in Rancho Cucamonga, California

My thinking on this matter is because, as many law enforcement officials have told us, when police arrive they don’t know who’s the bad guy and who’s the good guy. They have to assume that anyone waving a gun around and shooting is the bad the guy. Perhaps if concealed carry AND open carry actually required training and insurance at a minimum, kind of like a driver’s license, I might have greater confidence in the people who feel a need to eat lunch or shop at Walmart with guns proudly displayed. Just doesn’t make sense to me. And as we have seen too often, these people (I’m painting with a broad stroke here but as my wise old gramdmother said, “A few bad apples do, indeed, ruin the whole bunch.”) don’t understand what “protection” means. To wit:

Woman kills homeless man who asked her to move her Porsche SUV

Woman pulls gun at Walmart over last notebook

I grew up with guns and hunting, both let’s-kill-something-because-we-can-hunting and we-need-food hunting. My dad killed himself with a handgun when I was six. Maybe he would have killed himself anyway with a knife, razor blade, car exhaust fumes…. I don’t know. But the fact is that he killed himself with a handgun. I’m biased. I freely admit that.

As my wise old grandmother also said, “When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.”

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Out & About—Non-birds at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park

Out & About

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures taken at the Safari Park with the rented Tamron 150-600 mm G2 lens on April 26, 2017. These are the non-birds. If you want to see the birds, see yesterday’s post.

Sumatran Tiger
Tiger at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Male bighorn sheep
Bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Female bighorn sheep
Female bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Meerkat
Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lowland Gorilla
Gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Contemplation
Gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Chillin’
Gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Baby Lowland Gorilla
Gorilla baby at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

African Lion Paw
Lion paw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

African Lion tongue
Lion tongue at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Three adults examining baby Giraffe
Giraffes at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Baby giraffe.
Giraffe baby at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Awwwww.
Mama and baby bighorn sheep.
Mama and baby bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Unknown mama and her baby.
Mama and baby at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Unknown hoofed animals
At the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

It’s Russel!
He wants to put us in his blog!
Run for the hills!
At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Safari Park birds

Out & About

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

At the beginning of 2017 I decided to upgrade my camera equipment. I was getting frustrated going to the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park but not being able to get to some of the wildlife because their enclosures were too big and, in the case of the birds, enclosed with screen and wire. I knew that a longer lens would take care of both of those problems.

My daily walkaround lens since 2007 was a Tamron 28-300 mm, so I decided to look at the 150-600 mm lenses. They come in three versions: Tamron G2, Sigma Contemporary, and Sigma Sport. At that time they ranged in price from $1,399 to $1,999, so they weren’t cheap.

Online reviews led me to believe that I would be buying the Sigma Sport for $1,999. I decided that real world use would be better than online reviews for that price, and it just so happens that one of our local camera stores specializes in renting all things camera. So I rented the Sigma Contemporary first (the cheapest), then the Sigma Sport (the most expensive), and then the Tamron G2. Rental period was one week each, so I went out each day to places like the railroad tracks, Ramona Grasslands, San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, the beaches, and the mountains to see if I could lug those things around for 10 hours a day, get good pictures, and be ready to do it again the next day without being too tired.

To make a long story short, for handheld pictures, I did not notice any difference in sharpness between the three lenses. The Sigma Sport was very heavy because it is all metal construction. The weight coupled with it getting too hot to handhold after a couple of hours in the San Diego sun coupled with its price dropped the Sigma Sport out of the competition.

The Sigma Contemporary lost out to the Tamron G2 based on one factor: which direction the zoom ring rotated. I discovered that Nikon and Sigma zoom rings rotate clockwise and Tamron and Canon zoom rings rotate clockwise. Remember that I handhold my equipment, not being a fan of tripods and monopods because of their bulkiness and difficulty in using in crowded areas. Zooming from low to high in a counterclockwise manner using the left hand is not natural, thus difficult and, due to the size and weight of these lenses, sometimes painful for someone 62 years old. Additionally, I had been using the Tamron 28-300 for ten years, so I already was quite comfortable with a clockwise rotation.

Lastly, at the end of three weeks, I compared the pictures from the three cameras. I found that the Tamron G2 gave me better blurred backgrounds than the other two lenses when I really wanted to get up close and personal. Following are bird pictures from the Safari Park taken with the Tamron 150-600 mm G2 lens on April 26, 2017. I have not cataloged these pictures yet so the only birds I know the name of are the the same ones you know the name of, so we’ll start with those.

Spoonbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Bald eagle at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Safari Park opens at 9:00 a.m., and that’s when I go to avoid
the huge afternoon crowds. So I guess this bird was eating breakfast.
At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

This great white pelican turned its pouch inside out, which makes
it look like something out of a Stephen King movie.
The mallard doesn’t look impressed.
At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

And now for the unknown birds.
At the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari ParkAt the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Mama and her little one.
At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

As I was leaving Safari Park, I saw a hawk soaring
overhead so, of course, I took a picture. Duh.
At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post