Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hiking up Hills, Hiking up Tomatoes

I went on a little field trip at lunch time today. There's an open space park near where I work. I brought the camera with, and spent about twenty minutes exploring and taking photos. I think I took about twenty pictures. There are only four that I liked well enough to share.

Boy, taking decent pictures is HARD. There's so much to consider. Light, shape, composition, and most especially all the brick-a-brack and noisy mess of nature. I can't tell you how many pretty flowers or interesting shapes I saw, for which there was no way to frame up a shot without including a LOT of other junk.

The open space is accessible via a wide dirt trail from the parking lot. This terrain, all chaparral and scrub brush, is typical in our part of the world. The canyons are home to big scrub oaks, but the hills are topped by nothing taller than stumpy Manzanita trees. Unless you count the power line towers.

The skies, though, can be beautiful.

This photo is a good example of the clutter of nature I mentioned. The stump is kind of a mess of twigs, and the other kinds of plants make the bottom part of the picture pretty noisy and confusing.

I found this little rock stack in the middle of the trail. I wonder what it's story is?

I _think_ I needed a narrower aperture and a longer exposure here, to make it possible to capture both the rock stack and the background sharply. That's the correct theory, I think. But even if I'm right, I don't know how to make my camera do that yet. And I would probably have needed a tripod to hold a long enough exposure.

Also, this picture was taken by holding the camera about 3" from the ground, and guessing about the framing. I couldn't get my head into position to look through the viewfinder. Not without MANY more years practicing yoga, at least. :-)

In the shade of another Manzanita, there was a small outcropping of broken, lichen-covered rocks. I liked the textures very much, and the way the high mid-day sun finally found something interesting to cast a shadow on.

I really like this picture. But it suffers from a shallow depth of field, like the previous one. The farther recesses of the rock are a little blurry.

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It was family night in the garden tonight. Dinner outdoors, followed by hanging around and helping Mommy and Daddy build a tomato enclosure. Last year, we tried making a big cube around the tomatoes, then tying up the branches with twine. Twine snapped. Staves broke. The whole thing finally fell over.

This year, we're putting our basic engineering knowledge to the test, relying on triangles to keep things upright. We've used zip ties to secure the cross pieces. So far, they seem to give plenty of grip to keep the cross bars from slipping down the uprights. We'll see. Using the long cross-pieces for support, we then zip tie in shorter cross-cross-pieces, pushing the tomato limbs over/up where they need to be. It's all a grand experiment, like last year, but I'm optimistic.

Also showing their heads in our garden are our yellow crookneck squash, watermelons, and various carrots and bell peppers. The carrots didn't sprout as many as we'd hoped, but we've left room for follow-on plantings.

I'm REALLY looking forward to garden-fresh watermelon in a couple of months.

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My blood pressure was normal this morning. It's only been a day since I stopped taking the Triamterene, so it's early days yet, but I'm hopeful!

Food log:

Breakfast: granola with fresh blueberries and an amazingly sweet nectarine

Lunch: leftover veggie pizza, watermelon, and cole slaw

Snacks: a few cashews...too salty! A big chocolate chip cookie. So bad, but soooo good.

Dinner: a salad of lettuce, carrots and bell peppers from our CSA, tomatoes from our neighbor's crop, olives, dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts, with chipotle ranch dressing.

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