Category Archives: Photography

I’ve Been Working On The Railroad

Along with the neuvo faux Tannenbaum and accouterments, this year features the premiere of our under-the-tree railroad line.

No one was more surprised than I was when it actually moved, stayed (more or less) on the tracks, and went (more or less) around the tree as designed.

I’m gonna need me one of those corduroy engineer’s hats and overalls!



Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography

Someplace Special – December 10th

Sedona, Arizona

(Gene Wilder to Zero Mostel, sucking his thumb and in a fetal position, when they’ve found out that “Springtime For Hitler” is going to be a smash hit that will run forever on Broadway: “No way out. No way out. No way out.”)

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Filed under Photography, Travel

The Fires Continue

We’re fine – still nothing that close to us, although another new fire has apparently started up over to the east by Monrovia.

Being Saturday, I was out at the hangar in Camarillo. The first big fire in this current sequence of six or seven fires started not too far from there and is still burning.

Map from Google.

For reference to assist those not familiar with Southern California, this is Ventura County, just to the north of Los Angeles. We live at the far west end of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County – on the right-hand border you can just see the edge of the dot that indicates where. The Camarillo Airport is just under the “101” icon between the words “Oxnard” and “Camarillo.”

For scale, from my house to the airport is about 35 miles on the freeway, almost exactly 25 miles as the crow flies. From my house to Carpenteria, on the far left edge of the map and just south of Santa Barbara, is about 50 miles directly.

This is not a small area. It’s “local” by Southern California standards, but it could cover the better portion of several states in New England.

Here’s what’s burned in this fire (which is in turn, as I said, one of about six going on right now):

Map from Google and CalFire. Scale is similar to the one above.

The fire started near Santa Paula on December 4th, spread toward Ventura, and is now moving up into the mountains and up the coast toward Carpenteria.

What’s that look like from the ground at Camarillo Airport?

On the far left you can see the smoke plume from the main fire up toward Carpenteria. Straight ahead you’re looking up toward the Santa Paula and Fillmore area. When I got there this morning things had started to die down a bit overnight, but the winds were starting to blow again.

By lunch we were looking at 30 mph winds with gusts to 45 mph. In the mountains and canyons where the fire was, it was worse. Naturally, this led to a number of flareups.

Looking toward Carpenteria.

Looking toward Santa Paula

I also learned that two of our CAF SoCal members lost their homes, burned to the ground. One of our members got out with literally just the clothes on his back, managing to get out in his wheel chair in the middle of the night when he woke with the house burning, finding his cars on fire in the driveway, and saved only because a neighbor saw him as they were bugging out and drove him to safety.

The winds are supposed to continue into tomorrow and then start dying down in the next week, but there’s no rain in the foreseeable future and these fires are now pushing up into the mountains where they’ll be very difficult to fight. There’s a lot of brush after a very wet winter last year and most of these areas haven’t burned in decades. These fires may still be burning well into 2018.



Filed under CAF, Disasters, Photography, Weather

And We’re Burning Again

Nothing particularly close to us, but three large, larger, and freakin’ huge brush fires have broken out within about thirty miles of us, with at least a couple more fires further inland out toward Riverside and San Bernardino.

From my office this morning the clouds of smoke from the fires in Sylmar and Santa Clarita made the sun reddish-brown like a dirty sunset.

As of this evening’s update from CalFire:

Creek Fire, Sylmar, 11,337 acres, 0% contained

Rye Fire, Santa Clarita, 5,000 acres, 5% contained, 1,300 homes evacuated

Thomas Fire, Ventura County, 50,000 acres, 0% contained, 27,000 homes evacuated

It will be days before we have a true handle on the extent of the damage. For example, in the Thomas Fire all they’re reporting is “150+ structures damaged,” but one of the structures in question was a 60-unit apartment building (burned to the ground) and another was the Vista Del Mar Hospital. Looking at local television coverage from the air, the number of houses that have burned to the ground will likely be far, far higher than 150.

Welcome to Southern California! Bring Bromotrifluoromethane!

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Filed under Disasters, Photography

Full Moon & Christmas Lights

Okay, so the moon was only about 97% full. Close enough for government work!

It’s tough to find a balance…

..between the moon & the Christmas lights. The dynamic range is too large!

Up close and personal…

…it’s even worse. Overexpose the moon just enough so you can still see features, and you can barely tell there are Christmas lights to be seen here. But…

…pull in the Christmas lights and the moon is completely overexposed.

This is why composite photos are needed. Or you can get artsy-phartsy…

…and just go for something more abstract.

Time to post this before the electricity goes out. It is REALLY howling out there tonight, and it’s just a matter of time before the wind brings down a tree branch and we go dark!

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Filed under Astronomy, Christmas Lights, Photography

Nuevo Faux Tannenbaum

For those of you not illiterate in three separate languages, we got a new artificial Christmas tree this year. Today was the day to put it up!

Yes, we need to get that ornament at the very top a bit more straight as seen from this side.

From this side it looks much better.

What did you do with your weekend?


Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography

Santa Clarita Valley By Moonlight (With FEELING & Four-Part Harmony)

Damn, I haven’t screwed up a post that badly in several years! I guess the serious lack of sleep might be catching up with me. Sorry ’bout that!

Tonight with the full moon shining overhead, we visited the William S. Hart Museum‘s Cowboys & Carols event. From the top of the hill where the Hart Museum’s mansion is located, the view of the Santa Clarita Valley was wonderful. The iPhone can’t do it justice:

Well, at least the “Camera” app in the iPhone can’t. But there are other apps! NightCap did a much better job of showing how the entire park was lit up by the moonlight, with the lights of Santa Clarita, Valencia, and Newhall beyond:

Inside the mansion there were carolers, plenty of docents to tell the story of Hart and the park and the mansion, carolers upstairs, and a violinist downstairs in the foyer.

Outside, the full moon was high. It was a very nice way to spend the evening in “sweater weather.”

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Filed under Photography