Category Archives: Photography

Planets After Sunset

Once again, serendipity rears its ugly head!

A long day at the hangar meant that I was leaving just after sunset with a crystal clear (windy, dry, high fire danger) sky and a gorgeous sunset.

Not only was the gradient stunning, but so were those two bright planets!

That’s Jupiter on top (leaving the evening sky) and Venus on the bottom (entering it). I knew that Mercury might be seen under the right conditions, but was pretty sure that it had either set by this time or was really close to the horizon in the glare and probably not a naked-eye object.

So I checked.

(Image from StarWalkHD for the iPad)

Yeah, Mercury is last week’s news, already on the other side of the Sun, setting before it does. But…

Saturn’s up? I must have forgotten that.

I don’t see it in the photos above, but then, those photos had had the exposure shortened so they would closely resemble what I saw my eye was seeing. I had started by taking a couple of photos and letting the iPhone expose them, which meant they looked way too bright and the colors were all off. But with a longer exposure, maybe…

Click on the image, blow it up to full sized, then look to the upper left, just like in the StarWalk image.

See it?

How about now?

I would note for the record that, according to that image, Pluto is out there just above and to the left of Saturn. But given that I can’t see it even in a dark sky location with my 8″ telescope, I don’t think the iPhone 8 is pulling that one in.

Maybe I need an iPhone 11 Pro?


Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Photography, Space

Another Tree Heard From

Earlier this week the trees (aspens? poplars?) in front of our office building went from green to bright yellow overnight.

This afternoon some of the trees on the back side of the building were trying for some oranges and reds.

We’ll see how much they get done. For right now it’s a valiant effort, but they have a lot of practice to do before they’re ready for the big leagues in New England and upstate New York.

No tourism calendars will be showing these trees as an enticement to come and visit Beautiful Agoura Hills – but they beat looking at burnt hillsides and ash while taking a break from the office!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography

Sunset – November 14th

From the parking lot at the new office – ground level, no horizon views like I had from the second story of the parking garage at the old office.

I think I might have missed “peak sunset” by about five minutes, maybe ten.

I also noticed a really big plane up there, probably descending toward the downwind leg into LAX from Malibu (about 10 miles over the mountains to our left) to downtown LA. It didn’t look like a passenger jet, even one of the big new jumbo jets. More like a C-5 or Antonov 225. Huh…

Just on the other side of the frontage road on the right is the 101 Freeway. At this point and at this time the traffic headed back into the San Fernando Valley through the Calabasas Grade is moving right along. One or two exits down the road it will slow to an absolute crawl. (Fun times!)

The iPhone compensates for the low light by taking a photo that’s quite bright. What did it really look like?

Something more like this. Less detail and color, but much more like what the eye saw then in real life.

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Filed under Photography

New York, New York (Pictures Day 20)

In summary: New York City had a life of it’s own in my head. In early August 2016, I visited there for the first time. On the first afternoon we visited Central Park and were there for hours, despite the jet lag. Day One started with a tour of the Intrepid and the Space Shuttle Enterprise, followed by the full two and a half hour cruise around Manhattan – south down the Hudson River into the Upper Harbor, up the East River under the “BMW” bridges, past Midtown and the UN, into the Harlem River, back south into the Hudson River, underneath the George Washington Bridge, past Grant’s Tomb, and finally back into port. To finish Day Two we had a death march to find a cab, went to the Mets game, left early only to miss the best part, and inadvertently stiffed a nice cab driver. Bright & early on Day Three we headed out toward Liberty Island – it’s hard to take a bad picture there, then went to Ellis Island. Bank on Manhattan, we went to World Trade Center Museum, which was emotional & grueling. Day Four started out with a trip to Times Square, after which we headed to the Empire State Building. The views of Manhattan were spectacular!

Following our obligatory tourist visit to the Empire State Building, we had to boogie off to the Bronx. We had a coincidental appointment with history and some bombers.

When we travel, we love to see other ballparks, and one of the best of the best was next on our list.

This is the third iteration of this particular cathedral of sport. Until the time machine gets out of the shop we won’t be able to visit either of the earlier ones, but this one is pretty spectacular on its own.

Even though we were there a good three hours before game time, the place was already getting pretty packed. It was a real lucky break that we had bought tickets for this particular date months earlier. It was truly a hot ticket, but we weren’t giving up ours, even though we almost could have paid for the trip in what we could have gotten if we had scalped them.

There were a LOT of news vans and media crews there, even for New York City! Local, national, international, all turned out in droves for the game this day. Satellite uplink trunks for blocks and blocks.

It turns out that the game we picked (because it fit into our schedule) was Alex Rodriguez’s final game, with all of the pomp and circumstance associated with that.

We sat around outside the gates and watched the crowd for a couple of hours, especially all of the news crews and media “celebrities.” I don’t have a clue who this woman was, but she set up shop right in front of our bench and was drawing quite a bit of attention, for example.

Once we got to our seats out by the left field foul pole, I started the usual stadium tour that I always try to take when I’m at a new stadium for the first time. Our seats weren’t quite this close to the field, but that turned out to be a good thing.

The crowd was looking for ARod and I was loving the atmosphere of such a legendary site.

Once out in dead center field, about an hour before the actual game, looking back to the west, I noticed that the clouds were building up.


Ten minutes later, now outside of the right field bleachers, it really started to look nasty.

There were a ton of pre-game ceremonies planned to say goodbye to ARod – but maybe God isn’t an ARod fan?

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Filed under Photography, Travel

Fall Arrives In SoCal

There are those who say that we don’t get fall in Southern California, or the foliage change of color that goes along with it.

Not true!

Granted, we don’t have the weeks of slow build up to an explosion of color like Vermont does. (These trees were all quite green on Friday, for example.)

In fact, our “fall foliage” season seems to last about 36 hours. Aren’t you glad that I captured some of it for you?!

In two days it will all be gone and these trees will be completely barren. Blink and you’ll miss it!

The thing to REALLY watch out for? On a cool, misty, foggy, drizzly morning like this, with a layer of these leaves covering the tile and polished brick walkway into the office it’s like being on an ice skating rink. Slippery little bastards!

But as you’re lying there, twisted and broken and bleeding, waiting for the paramedics to come, try to make sure you come down on your back so you can watch the glorious display above you!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography

Sunset – November 10th

It’s much calmer than it was a year ago, when we were finishing three days with all of the valuables packed into two cars, waiting to see if the bugout order was coming.

Tonight all we have for existential crises are the approaching Monday.

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Filed under Photography

No Context For You – November 09th

There’s something tantalizing here. Almost enough detail to recognize where and when I inadvertently pushed a button and saved an image without realizing it.


Meanwhile, Jeez Louise, *WHEN* did it become **NOVEMBER**??!!

Sorry, it caught me off guard today.

Way back at the beginning of the year I wrote about how last year became the “year without Christmas” for me. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, given what I got to exchange Christmas for, but it was odd. (And to answer the question posed at the end of that article – right here at home, given the nature of the business at my new job.)

But then 2019 has had its own unique sets of “challenges,” many of which have impacted other holidays, both societal and personal.

For example, between 2018 and 2019, it’s the first time in forever that we didn’t go somewhere to watch fireworks on July 4th. Oh, from the new house, which is on the top of a hill, we can see them off in the distance – but it’s not the same.

In both 2018 and 2019, it’s the first time in forever when we haven’t been to an Angels baseball game. None. Not one. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Labor Day or thereabouts used to be Worldcon. Maybe not every year like when I was in college or soon thereafter (i.e., before the kids arrived) but usually at least 2 out of three years, or three out of five. Now – nothing since 2009. Hell, we didn’t even get to the Worldcon in San Jose last year!

Our trips to the movie theaters have plummeted. We used to go at least once a month – now it’s once or twice a year. Maybe.

Halloween at the new house has been a non-event for two years in a row now. We used to have so, so many kids come by and bring out the telescopes. Now, even though we’re only a mile away, we might as well be on a rural highway halfway between Renwick and Hardy, Iowa.

So here we are in early November and Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away. We’ll be doing…what?

And Christmas is only six and a half weeks away. We know we won’t be traveling, but will the lights and festivities and decorations and celebrations be up to our familiar standards?

One might start to think that we’re doing this “adulting” thing incorrectly.

(Thank you for attending my TED whine!)



Filed under Castle Willett, Family, Photography, Travel