California poppies

We took an overnight trip to Tomales Bay and I did manage to get some nice shots. Here are California poppies (our state flower).

20170614_Poppy_Cultivated_P115038620170614_Poppy_P1150447

Things are getting hot here after a very cool couple of weeks. I’m kind of looking forward to it, but then again, ask me next week after we get through a triple digit weekend!

Have a good rest of the week.

San Diego Zoo giant panda

I was going to make this the grand finale, and it might be, but I do have a few other zoo photos that might be good enough to share.

I am not sure of the name of this bear. I think it’s the daddy bear, Gao Gao.

Xiao Liwu 1

These pandas are seriously cute. But they also have big teeth, and keep in mind that’s bamboo he’s munching like it’s potato chips.

Xiao Liwu 2
Sweet but big teeth!

When we were in China, we did venture across Beijing using their public transit (which was awesome) to see their giant pandas. I felt that the enclosure was cramped, at least the part where they were at that moment, and it seemed like they wanted to get out. That upset me and I don’t think I showed pictures of them on my blog because of that. Other parts of the zoo were pretty nice. The pollution, sadly, affects everybody, animals and people alike.

The San Diego Zoo doesn’t depress me. The animals seem okay, for being captive. (Although honestly, the big male orangutan I showed in an earlier post looked sad.) I think I’m going to get an annual membership. I want to go back very often and try for more big cat photos without the cage visible, and other things.

This is Xiao Liwu (which means Little Gift). He was born on July 29, 2012.

Xiao Liwu 1 P1140751

Xiao Liwu 2 P1140771

This is Bai Yun, which means White Cloud. She is mama bear.

Bai Yun 1bP1140787
Bai Yun
Bai Yun 2b P1140785
Bai Yun

The zoo keeper told me they’ve bred Gao Gao and Bai Yun and given five of their cubs to China, per loan agreements with China. It’s really great we have this cooperation to help the beloved pandas.

Another interesting thing is Gao Gao was released into the wild in China, but it didn’t work out, (he raided crops), and so now he’s safe and sound in San Diego Zoo. He gets along well with his handlers and is active and interested in everything. I guess some pandas get released, to try to restore the population, so that’s awesome.

I used to think zoos were horrible, but it’s so hard to protect everything in the wild, (though we must keep trying with wildlife sanctuaries and law enforcement to protect the animals from poachers. I saw an award winning photo of armed guards protecting two of the remaining white rhinos in Africa. That’s what it takes.) Zoos play a big role in preservation as well as education. Sure, no wild animal should be captive, and maybe one day we’ll get to that point. In the meantime, I’m glad the San Diego Zoo does such a brilliant job with comfortable environments for the animals. They grow about 70 different kinds of bamboo for their bears and harvest 700 pounds a week for them. That zoo is a labor of love and science.

In other news, I had a happy realization. I can feed the finches in my back yard during the winter when we don’t have a veggie garden…and when they really need the food. Now I have something to look forward to in the winter. The birds delight me all day, and I was so sad to take away the feeder. I can still hear them out there working a bit harder in the neighborhood to get their food. I can’t wait to invite them back in for free food in the winter.

San Diego Zoo snow leopard

I’m going to have to give you a slow feed of the San Diego Zoo photos because I thought I was going to have a lot of photos from the finch feeder, but I had to take it down! I’m so sad, but they started creating problems in our back yard. Turns out in addition to the seed I was feeding them, they loved to devour the leaves on some of our vegetable plants. All those finches you saw on the feeder? Well, when it was full, there was an equal number on the plants. It was a sad day yesterday. I had to keep the blinds closed so I wouldn’t see them looking for the feeder all day. *sniff*

But I have some good photos from the zoo and I’ll dole them out one at a time until I can get out somewhere to take more photos and have more material to share. Here is a favorite of mine.

4_29_2017_San_Diego_Zoo_P1140610
Snow Leopard, San Diego Zoo, May 2017, photo copyrighted by Nicci Carrera

Five finches feeding

Actually, there were 8 at one time!

8 Finches

Remember I told you I had a surprise coming?

Finch up close

No? You mean you have more going on than tracking my posts? LOL

Finches_3_P1150301.JPG

Well, I’m sorry to have been offline so long, and I also owe you the final San Diego Zoo photos, but this particular treasure trove was a long time coming. I bought and installed the feeder but it was windy every single day! I have a lightweight tripod so I had to wait. But today the wind died down.

Finches_6_P1150351

It took a week for the first finch to arrive and he must have kept it secret for as long as possible because it was another week before more showed up. As you can see, the feeder gets up to 8 at a time. It’s supposed to hold 15 but those would be very small finches.

Finches_5_P1150323

Have a great weekend, what remains of it, and a great week coming up.

Finch with one landing

San Diego Zoo, birds

I didn’t get the info on all of these amazing birds, and I’m kicking myself now for that. The first one is a whistling duck. I had to also capture these birds on video because it is amazing how their throats swell and vibrate, a phenomenon that simply cannot be captured in a still shot.

20170429P1140594

2017 0429P1140634

 

 

 

20170429P1140586

 

All three of these species are in the same habitat. I’m not sure if they are all from the same environment in the wild. If not, that would be interesting that the zookeepers could make it work. Another reason I wish I had photographed all the descriptions.

I have a few more photos to show you, including a grand finale.

Have a great remainder of the weekend.

San Diego Zoo, hooved animals

It was fairly hot last Saturday, and a lot of the animals were sleeping.

20170429P1140578

Or standing in the shade.

20170429P1140574

Look how graceful the antlers are on this one.

20170429P1140577

We’re getting through the zoo animals pretty quickly! I’m going to have to do another photography outing.

It is suddenly very hot here and mornings are the only time to do yard work. It was almost 100 degrees the last two days. It’s early for that, but I guess it’s a heat wave. I should go to the beach for some photos. Maybe on the weekend, early though.

I hope you have a good rest of the week. It’s all downhill from here, in a good way I hope!

San Diego Zoo shots!

Hello, I hope you are having a good week. I had the big thrill of visiting the San Diego Zoo, which I loved. I’m ready to start sharing photos.

Growing up, we had an Encyclopedia. It was the only one my dad sold during his very short-lived days as a door-to-door salesman, LOL. Anyway, I loved looking at the animals and the anteater was one of my favorites.

20170501P1140569
Anteater

When I looked down and saw it at the zoo, I was so excited. As a child I thought they were really weird looking, but I had no idea they are pretty! This one looks pretty healthy, huh? His coat looks healthy to me. I didn’t know they were black and white with stripes. They move pretty fast. I guess he was out on the hunt for ants.

Another animal I was always interested in was the warthog. My brother and I used to run around calling each other warthogs. So every time I came up to a cage and saw something that I thought was a warthog I would cry out to my husband, “Look, a warthog,” but then it wouldn’t be. Finally I found one, sleeping peacefully by a rock.

2017 0429P1140634
Warthog

Big news, I cancelled my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. I have an older laptop, not super powerful, and the background processes were slowing down my machine. Rather than investing in a new computer, I canceled the subscription. I would say that’s a tad more economical a solution, LOL!  No new computer, no ten dollars a month.

I am back to GIMP. I might buy Lightroom or another software package someday but not as a cloud service. Anyway, how this affects you is I that can’t batch process, or at least, I don’t know how, so my photos will be coming out a little at a time. That might not be a bad thing since I don’t spend as much time shooting new photos as I should! Maybe I can communicate more often now, sharing a few images at a time and talking to you more. I’ll also be doing less processing. I am going more natural, taking my photography more towards just the photography part and less image processing, although I still will probably do some digital photo painting. I have that software and a little tablet that I haven’t used in a couple years, and I miss working this way.

I certainly have a treasure trove of images from the zoo to share. Here is my favorite image of the day. I’ve never seen an orangutan in person, wow!

2017 0429P1140702

Wild bunny

This was supposed to go up yesterday for Easter, but I forgot. I happened to capture this little guy by zooming a lot before he hopped away (of course). This was taken in Sparks Nevada, which has a lot of these little cotton-tails and also a lot big jack rabbits.

P1140536-1

This time of year is also for taxes and planting our vegetable garden. One thing is not so nice, but the other is great. We planted two weeks early after looking at the long-term forecast and seeing it wouldn’t get too cold, so we have a good jump on it. It’s been raining like crazy, my husband roto-tilled in a lot of fertilizer, and the plants are growing really fast as a result.

We also now have a wood chipper for our palm branches and can turn them into a nourishing mulch which in turn provides food for the palm tree when you spread it around the base. The dried palm fronds make a golden brown mulch that’s pretty.

We also took the plunge and bought a compost barrel. You’d think we live on a farm rather than the suburbs, but this area (Silicon Valley) is incredible for growing things. It’s more a matter of getting control of the weeds than anything else. We don’t have a lawn any more, but lawns tame the weeds in some ways. Our neighbor’s lawns look amazing again after a brown year last year when our watering was curtailed, but we have gravel with plants and drip watering now. Lawns are in some ways easy and in other ways a lot of work. So is weed control in our vast areas of mulch, especially when you want to be organic. But I guess it’s a matter of what work you like to do. I don’t mind pulling up the weeds by hand as long as there aren’t too many, which we have managed because we used plastic as a barrier. Weeds grow on top of the plastic in the bit of soil that the mulch creates, and they grow through the drainage holes we punched, but those weeds come up easily. Weeding is my job. There are a lot of things only my husband can do, so I do the things I can do. Yard work is oddly enjoyable though!

You can look forward to some plant photos at some point and I have a surprise planned for you, but I have to wait for the rain to stop before I can do that. I have to tell you, it’s bizarre getting this much rain in California. In the mountains it looks like January. It’s starting to rain up there so maybe the snow will melt, but honestly, it’s not going to melt this summer. They are planning to keep the ski resort at Squaw open all summer, which is pretty exciting in some ways, but the locals are quite sick of snow. It’s feast or famine, I guess! Down here in the valley, there was some catastrophic flooding and California roads are a disaster. The legislature just wrote a bill to slap us with a 12 cents a gallon tax to fix the roads. That’s understandable, but the thing I don’t know is, where was the money for roads coming from before? Why is there a shortfall in funding for that? I’d like to know what money was spent before and if the storms caused a shortfall in funding, and if so, how long will we need that tax? I think the roads have been under-funded for some time. I’d like to know why. I have so many questions, but so far, no answers.

Well that’s it for this wandering post. Have a great week!

Phone photos

Part of me would like to be low-tech, but when the WikiLeaks blast came out about how cell phones can be hacked and the best way to prevent it is to keep the operating system up-to-date, I had to make a choice: no smart phone or upgrade to one that can support the latest Android. I decided to keep up with the world.

As soon as my husband set up the phone ;–) I started experimenting with the camera. It has a fixed aperture of f 2.8. That seems pretty great; it’s certainly possible to get bokeh.

Having a good phone camera is incredibly convenient.

IMG_20170402_182746_01

I’m finding I love all three of my cameras, my Panasonic DMC ZS40, my OnePlus 3 phone, and of course my Sony a300 DSLR with its many lenses.

IMG_20170402_182900

There are so many times when a photo must be taken, and if I don’t have one of the cameras available, the phone serves quite nicely. Although I do want to start to leave out one of the cameras so it’s readily available for the great family shot, the phone is handy for things like an unexpected spectacular moon rise. You can pull over, grab the phone out of the purse or pocket, and snap a picture.

IMG_20170411_204837IMG_20170411_204824_01

I find I’m doing posts when I have new photos rather than on Mondays and Fridays. It’s recommended to have regular days, but I’m going to try this for a while. When I have photos, I don’t want to wait for the designated day!

I hope you are having a good week and have nice plans for the weekend.

 

Flowers for the weekend

The lilies opened and I did some more experimenting with our travel camera (Panasonic DMC ZS40). So I had to share.

Macro flowers

Of course I was playing around with light. The afternoon sun comes in our dining room window, so it’s a great place to put the flowers for photography.

20170405-P1140389-1

The lilies almost look like they’re made of wax. The daisies look like paper.

20170405-P1140407-4

The particles of pollen make the purple ones look very real.

macro flowers

Hope you are having a good weekend!