Rancho San Antonio


That is fog coming over the western hills, a phenomenon very typical here. That fog extends out to the coast. Sometimes it comes over the valley where I live as high clouds that give us nice cool mornings. The clouds retreat by noon, leaving us with hot, sunny, dry afternoons. The coast near here will be socked in with fog all day, meantime. That’s why I love living here in the valley.

The fog hovers over those hills and feeds water to those trees. Some trees along the ridgeline, not this particular ridge line, but other ridges closer to the ocean, create their own rain by an adaptation that has their needles pulling water out of the fog. I’m told there is mud and sometimes running water below those pines even though, under other types of trees in the same vicinity, the ground is dry.

The trails in Rancho San Antonio lead up through those forests. There are little running creeks, wild turkeys, the occasional deer, and even mountain lion. There is also a petting farm nestled in the woods in the flat area accessible to children. They have calves and lambs I think. I’ve definitely heard roosters crowing.

The park is crowded every day. It is extremely popular for walking. We passed a few people today up on the mountain trails who were all looking at the wildflowers. There were purple ones and yellow ones and one exotic looking cream and lavender poppy shaped flower. Thistles were in crazy bloom in the exposed dry areas.

There are always remote-plane hobbyists on the bluff. I happened to catch one of the planes while it was landed. The pilot was quite handy with the maneuvers, evoking some wows from my husband.


I missed the moves because I was trying to get a nice shot of a bird. Wildlife is so hard to photograph! Why do the critters always move right when I’m just about to get focused? It must be personal.

I always love looking at this little farm house up on the hill. It is very far away, but I zoomed in a lot. I’ll also show a shot without the zoom so you can see where it was in relation to where I was standing.


Today there was a couple walking down the street. I thought that was nice.

Here is the distant shot. The little farmhouse is hard to see in both photos. It’s to the left of the big cluster of trees on the right, pretty much at the top of the hill.


I like to imagine what it would be like to live up there all alone with all that open space. They probably have a view of the bay, which is on the other side of that hill.

Magical morning, March 30, 2013, Saratoga, California

The featured photo has been enhanced using GIMP Colors->Auto->White Balance followed by Colors->Auto->Color Enhance. It is the featured image because it’s more intense, but there is too much purple in the roof, and, arguably, in the fog. Here is the original.

Magical morning

This is a close up, not enhanced. (Because it is all fog, the over-purple effect of white balance and color enhance ruined it.)


In the next set, the first is original, the second, enhanced with white balance and color enhance. Very different feelings.

Zoomed less

Zoomed less enhanced

Mystical evening, Saratoga, California, March 28th

Software tips follow photos.

with some Nik Color Efex processing
with some Nik Color Efex processing



Well, as everyone who follows this blog knows, I am an avid follower of Leanne Cole’s Photography blog. (That link takes you to her latest post.) Now, Leanne is a professional artist. I am an absolute beginner. So why do I offer tips? Because I think there is value in the little things an absolute beginner has to offer to other people who might think like her and be in the same stage. Even if it’s only one other person out there in the blogisphere, who thinks like Nia Simone and finds value in her little trial-and-error discoveries on the way to someday, 20 years from now, actually being any good.

Leanne has talked about Nik software and Silver Efex. I recently  have acquired a Bamboo Craft. An amazing digitizing device. It was $50. (Another thing you’ll notice about Nia Simone’s blog, is everything has to be free or very inexpensive. I think actually, a lot of people can relate to that part!)

Anyway, the device is unbelievably wonderful and so is the software that came with it!!!! Corel Painter Essentials (heaven), Photoshop Elements (frightening, but I haven’t done the tutorial yet) and Nik Color Efex ( very hard to find –  it is under the Layer menu in Photoshop.)

The photo in the Featured Image of this post was taken in the evening with my DLSR propped on the top of my Subaru. (Tripod anyone?) The first photo in the post has had the Color Efex  layer applied. I lowered brilliance and warmth, merged the layers, and saved as JPEG. Then opened it in GIMP to scale it to 1000 pixels, my standard for this blog. I could not figure out how to do that in Photoshop.

Morning thoughts, a poem by Nia Simone

The Presence of the Tree

My computer glasses make me nearsighted
they dim what I can see beyond my computer screen
but when I gaze over their tops I see many leaves
upon a graceful tumult of branches.

Among the leaves moves the breeze
visible only by the presence of the tree.

© Nia Simone, 2/10/13

March 2, 2013
March 2, dawn

Take a walk in the park… Rancho San Antonio, Cupertino, California

Note: All tree closeups I owe to sethsnap.com for teaching me to see  “tree art.”  http://sethsnap.com/2013/02/16/tree-art-of-halls-creek/

Bridge over quiet waters
Light storm
Variety of life
Pull up a stump and stay awhile
Tree frame
Tree cathedral



Follow me
What a tangled web we weave
A distant, tranquil spot among the oaks
Silicon Valley








San Francisco Bay
Way home beckons
Shadow of the observer