Category Archives: Flora

Friday Flower Fiesta (2-17-17)—Meet the Schitt Family

Friday Flower Fiesta

The aloe season is peaking right now, and with all the rain we have had this year, it’s turning into quite a stunning display.

The best places to see these magnificent plants is at the San Diego Zoo and in the median all along Camino del Sur in the Black Mountain Ranch and 4S Ranch areas.

Here are some pictures from this year’s display:

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

Aloes in San Diego

One of those above looked like a family, so I made a family reunion picture out of it.

Folks, meet the Schitt family:

The Schitt Family

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Out & About—Cajon Pass, Mormon Rocks, and the Blue Cut Fire

Out & About The World

My wise old grandmother was the epitome of efficiency. She never just went for a drive, or went for a walk, or went out just to go out. I’m the same way. I always have a purpose for going out, and I always try to get several things done in one long trip rather than making several short trips.

So when I’m out and about and run across something interesting that’s not on my list of things to do, I have three choices:

1. Stop and do it.
2. Ignore it.
3. Make a note of it and come back some other time.

I usually prefer to stop and do it since I’m rarely on a schedule, just trying to get things done on my list.

When I was out in the Mojave Desert last week on Highway 138 heading to Cajon Pass, I was zooming along at 69 mph when suddenly I came upon the Mormon Rocks. Look exactly like these:

Mormon Rocks

The mountains are rugged and the desert floor is flat, so to have those suddenly pop up in front of you is like something out of a Stephen King novel… “The Stand” or “The Dark Tower.”

The Mormon Rocks basically are at the intersection of Highway 138 and Interstate 15. According to Wikipedia, “In 1851, a group of Mormon settlers led by Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich traveled through the Cajon Pass in covered wagons on their way from Salt Lake City to southern California. The Mormon Rocks are where the Mormon trail and the railway merge.”

The Mormon Rocks are visual evidence of the San Andreas fault that runs through the area. They were so big and enormous that I couldn’t get them all in one picture, so I took 17 pictures and then used the Photomerge function in Photoshop to create two panoramas:

Mormon Rocks

Mormon Rocks

The vegetation in the pictures, coastal sage scrub and chaparral, is black and leafless because a wildfire roared through this area in August last year. Scrub and chaparral tend to be brittle, dry, and oily, perfect for wildfires.

Here in California we name our fires, kind of like the southeast names their hurricanes. We don’t consider fires to be people, though, so we usually name our fires after some landmark in the area where they started. This wildfire is known as the Blue Cut Fire since it started on the Blue Cut hiking trail.

The Blue Cut Fire was first reported on August 16, 2016, at 10:36 a.m. A red flag warning, also known as a fire weather warning, was in effect with temperatures near 100°F and winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour. By August 18, the fire had burned 37,000 acres of land and destroyed 105 homes and 213 other structures.

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Friday Flower Fiesta (12-16-2016)—Winter flowers in San Diego

Friday Flower Fiesta

Although Winter doesn’t begin for another few days, many of my northern friends are posting pictures of this really boring all-white landscaping. It’s enough to drive me to drinking margaritas. I thought today would be a perfect time to show them what real winter landscaping looks like.

Friday Flower Fiesta 12-19-14 Russel Ray Photos Friday Flower Fiesta 12-19-14 Russel Ray Photos
Red pelargonium, Friday Flower Fiesta, October 12, 2012 Friday Flower Fiesta Friday Flower Fiesta

Pansy

Bird of Paradise flower

Mother of thousands flower head from the side

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (11-25-16)—YOU…. are in trouble!

Friday Flower Fiesta

Many decades ago, in the year 1966 to be precise, the Principal of my elementary school, Charles H. Flato Jr. Elementary School in Kingsville TX, came around to my sixth grade class asking for volunteers to be school photographers. The school provided the camera and film, and had its own darkroom, and—get this—volunteers would get into all school events FREE! That included sporting events. I was sold.

It was only a few months later that I got into trouble with that same principal, Mrs. Ruby Gustavson. It seems that every time I developed pictures in the darkroom, I used, in her own words,”ten times as much paper and developer” as the other students. She never found out why, and I never told anyone, until now.

I was experimenting, trying to make a collage using one picture but sixteen pieces of paper. I would take a piece of paper and expose it to just one section of the picture. Then I’d take another piece of paper and expose it to a different section. When I finished, I had sixteen pieces of paper that, when laid together, created a collage. Similar to this:

Rose collage

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Obviously I was using a lot of paper and developer chemical. I don’t remember if I succeeded fifty years ago but I do remember spending a lot of time in that darkroom after school. Since I was still the juvenile delinquent that my wise old grandmother (MWOG) had adopted a year earlier, every time I came home late from school, MWOG wanted to know why. Where had I had been? What was I doing?

“I was developing pictures in the darkroom at school.”

Finally, enough was enough, and MWOG came up to the school one day after school was out, walked into Mrs. Gustavson’s office, and asked if I was there. Mrs. Gustavson didn’t know if I was, so she and MWOG walked down to the darkroom. There I was. With many of my paper trials hanging up drying. Individually they all looked like wasted paper—collectively, they looked like one of MWOG’s roses from her rose garden. Using Mrs. Gustavson’s own words again: “You…. are in trouble.”

Yep, I was in trouble. My experimentation came to an end, and I was allowed one hour and no more in the darkroom each day. I had to check in with Mrs. Gustavson anytime I was going to be in the darkroom, and she instituted surprise visits to the darkroom while I was there. She was sneaky….

In today’s world, a photographer’s darkroom is something like Photoshop, or Photo-Paint, or Paintshop. I use Photoshop mostly because it’s the de facto standard, meaning that there are billions of tutorials online. There also are things called “plug-ins” and “actions” that other people have created to do things automatically that might take me a month to figure out how to do.

The picture above was made using an action from Panos FX called “Big Pictures.” They have several dozen actions, and I have them all. Some of their actions are free; those that cost are very reasonably priced, especially if you use them a lot. Check ’em out.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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exhibiting her Panos FX book action.Zoey the Cool Cat book

Friday Flower Fiesta (9-16-2016)

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have had a need to create eBooks but I wanted one of those flipping eBooks that I see occasionally.

I have tried several of them but they either are absent-ware (parts of the program are absent unless you pay for it), are too difficult to work with, or are just plain bad.

Finally, I found Flip PDF, which makes flipping eBooks out of PDF files. Since Word and InDesign, the two programs that I use most for page layout, easily create PDF files, I gave it a try.

I’m extremely happy with it.

Check out this short flipping eBook of (mostly) flowers:

Flowers of the World

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Flower pictures that don’t look quite so picturery

How I Did It

I got so involved cataloging pictures from the last year and photoshopping some of them that the weekend suddenly has disappeared. Where did it go?

Ah, well, since it’s gone, following are a few flowers that I photoshopped using Topaz Glow, an awesome program if you want to create some really interesting pictures that don’t look like pictures anymore. All of these flowers were growing in one yard. They saw me out their living room window taking pictures and came out to talk to me.

Zinnia, Zinnia, Sunflower daisy, Passionflower.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Sunflower daisy

Passionflower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Friday Flower Fiesta (5-20-2016)

Friday Flower Fiesta

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over five months since my last Friday Flower Fiesta. Alas, time flies when you’re having fun….

People say we don’t have seasons here in San Diego, but I’m here to tell you we do. In fact, we’re in the midst of one of them right now: Purple Season.

Purple Season is when the Jacarandas, Lilies-of-the-Nile, and Sea Lavender all are blooming simultaneously.

Picture 7 - Biggest, baddest Jacaranda I've ever seen

lily of the nile 4x6 stamp

Sea lavender

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’ve been catching up on my Stephen King reading lately—Cell, Dr. Sleep, and now Insomnia. I have not been disappointed. As I was creating Photographic Art this morning, I hit the wrong key combination and came up with the following Lily-of-the-Nile, which made me think of Insomnia. Those of you who have read Insomnia probably will understand.

Lily of the Nile

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Day LilyDay Lily

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tuberous BegoniaTuberous Begonia

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

FuchsiaFuchsia

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

AnthuriumAnthurium

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Giant HibiscusGiant Hibiscus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

GingerGinger

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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