If it’s not a door, what is it?

This Is Not A Door

Yeah, I know, it’s not quite what the prompt was going for, but sometimes a photo fits the name of the prompt so perfectly that you just have to use it.

This photo inspired a lot of discussion back in the day when someone grabbed it from my website and submitted it to one of the Cheezburger sites without my permission. Sadly, it was dominated by people who were convinced the photo had to have been faked, and cited a terrible misunderstanding of how JPEGs work as their “proof.” Even after I showed up to point to the original, high-res source, they were arguing that the compression artifacts in the small version were somehow proof that it had been manipulated.

Yes, compression artifacts. In the small version. *facepalm*

From that, I learned that people are cynical, but don’t actually know how to detect real fakery.

Alas, the sign’s been painted over with plain brown, so this paradox is now a thing of the past.

Orange: Sky, Flames, Balloon…

The first thing I noticed when going through my photos for the orange challenge is that I take a lot of sunset pictures! I made a point to mix it up and narrowed it down to twelve shots, then checked out how they looked together and settled on six. Then I realized I’d forgotten to upload one, and couldn’t bear to leave it out, bringing the gallery up to seven.

Ragged clouds in a blue sky, lit up yellow-orange just like a Maxfield Parrish painting…a bird of paradise flower…a cosplayer at Comic-Con dressed in a jumpsuit, wielding a Portal gun…ocean waves reflecting another sunset, made even deeper orange than usual by smoke from a wildfire….visiting the big orange balloon at Orange County’s Great Park…torches lighting the gateway to Adventureland at night…and finally a sunset shot, silhouetting the Manhattan Beach Pier…

Sunset in the Corner

Sunset Silhouette

When I have time to compose a scenic photo, the rule of thirds is usually on my mind. Even if I’m not putting an object off-center, I’m trying to line up visual borders with the 3×3 grid — a horizon, or the top or side of a building, or a treeline. Sometimes symmetry works better, though…and sometimes I’m just trying to get a snapshot of someone or something.

In this case, I stopped by a store after work and arrived just as the sun was about to set, at the top of a hill, giving me a clear view to the west. When that happens, you don’t go inside, you stop and watch!

(What I really wanted was to catch a nearby farm-style windmill silhouetted against the sun, but unfortunately the best place for that was in the middle of a crosswalk across a busy street, and I wasn’t going to trust in my ability to stop, aim, take a few photos, and get back to the side.)

Spiraling Down into the Depths


A few years ago I visited Hearst Castle on a trip up the California coast to San Francisco. The “Castle” is actually several elaborate buildings up on top of a hill overlooking the ocean, surrounded by the Hearst Ranch. If I remember correctly, this stairway wasn’t actually part of the tour, but opened up next to our route, and I paused for a moment to take a look and a picture. No doubt it leads to a wine cellar.

Response to the “Depth” photo challenge.

Icy Hot?


It’s hard for me to really pick a photo that says “warmth.” Perspective on cold is different in Southern California, where winters approach but rarely drop below freezing, and the winter rains make December through April the greenest months of the year. So we don’t use fires much, and flowers and greenery make me think of the cool winter/spring weather instead of the hot, dry, brown summers. Even beaches make me think of late afternoon ocean breezes.

So I thought I’d pull out a shot for irony: An “Icy” warning sign somewhere in the San Gabriel Mountains, seen during the warmth of spring…when it most definitely isn’t icy!

Carpet of Yellow Flowers

Blanket of yellow flowers

There are a lot of jacaranda trees near where I work, lining the walkways through the business and hotel parks and lining the sidewalks along the street. There are also a lot of these trees, which look so similar that I assumed they were more jacarandas until the first spring I was here, when they bloomed bright yellow instead of light purple. From what I can tell, they’re Tipuana trees, also known as Pride of Bolivia trees, and despite the similarities, they aren’t closely related.

The flowers act the same, though, dropping in thick blankets as spring turns to summer.

This particular tree, sadly, is no longer there. It was ripped out this fall, as part of a massive landscaping project to convert one of the office buildings into a hotel.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Abandoned floppy disk on tracks

This week’s photo challenge is “abandoned” — kind of like this blog was for a few months. ;-)

A few years back, I explored a disused spur of railroad tracks branching off of the main line into a light industrial area of town. In many places, the tracks had already been ripped out, leaving only gravel paths (and in some cases stepping stones, as seen below) between buildings that no longer needed freight access.

I found this floppy disk sitting on the track, and the combination of an obsolete data technology and what I thought of at the time as an obsolete transportation technology just struck me.

A path of stepping stones between two buildings.The funny thing is, trains in the form of light rail have made a resurgence in the last few years. Los Angeles’ Metro rail system, started in the 1990s, has expanded dramatically. I actually commuted myself along the Green Line at one point, and while normally that meant driving halfway there to pick up the end of the line, there were a few times I tried picking up a connecting (well, not quite connecting) train from Metrolink, at a station not far from this spot. In fact, the track in the first two photos has since been converted into a footpath connecting a shuttle stop to the commuter rail station.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

In the Lamppost Forest

Urban Light at LACMA is a large square filled with over 200 lamp posts that the artist collected from various locations over several years, spaced wide enough to walk through comfortably. It’s like being in a forest of lamp posts — perfect for this week’s challenge.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t even planning on going there. We went to see the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum at the other end of the park. Oil has been seeping out of the ground for thousands of years, trapping animals and preserving their bones in an incredible collection of ice age fossils. But the parking lot on that side of the park was full, so we parked in the LACMA structure at the other end.