Focus & Perception

I find it interesting to observe the difference between what we see with the eye and what the camera records. They’re different mechanisms, different algorithms. For example…

To the eye at sunset the other night, looking south toward the Santa Monica Mountains I saw the bright lights of the setting sun reflecting off of a handful of windows that happened to be tilted in just the right direction. They were like golden jewels, pinpoints. The mountains were still lit at their tops while below the world slipped into shadow. On the valley floor below I could see red & white pinpoints, the traffic along Valley Circle Boulevard going and coming as folks got home from the day.

It was quite the scene. I grabbed my camera.

The camera still sees the golden glints and the traffic, but what stands out is what my brain had completely ignored and filtered out, the maze of power lines and the giant pole right in the middle. Sure, they were there when I was looking. But I wasn’t focused on them, opitically or mentally, but on what was in the distance. Unconsicously my brain filtered out all of those objects. Yet when the camera locks them into place in a two-dimensional image, they’re impossible to ignore.

What else is right there in front of us, but ignored, filtered out because we’re focused on something shiny behind us?

Rather than beat you over the head with the analogy, the philisophical implications are left as an exercise for the student…

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Filed under Photography, Sunsets


Yesterday I looked back on the last ten years of “We Love The Stars Too Fondly” and the last year in particular. Today, let’s look to the future.

I saw these when I went out to go to the grocery store today and my immediate first thought was that they symbolized “potential” to me. You know it’s there, it’s a rose bush, it’s produced spectacular flowers in the past. But now, with these two buds just starting to swell and burst with color, you can get that first glimpse of the true potential there.

Let’s hope the upcoming year(s) are also like that.

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Filed under Flowers, Photography

Ten Years Of WLTSTF

It snuck up on me. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized that today is the 10th anniversary of my starting this website.

I guess this is sort of a big one.

10 years.

3,653 days.

3,745 posts.

8,921 images. (90%+ are taken by me. The rest are images from the news, from cell phone screen captures, and so on.) To be perfectly honest, some of my favorite images of those 8,921 were posted yesterday. Still just a bit gobsmacked by that.

72 videos.

10 audio clips.

2,978 total comments.

75,498 total views.

49,522 total visitors to the site.

11,438 total likes.

1,827 followers (730 from WordPress, 703 from Twitter, 280 from FaceBook, 10 from Tumblr, 58 from, and 46 from Spoutible)

God alone knows how many words.

The last time I either was too busy or, more likely, simply forgot to post anything was April 10, 2020. Since they I’ve posted 1,115 days in a row.

In total there have only been fourteen days of those 3,653 days when I didn’t post anything at all.

I’m not only here (which is probably the most reliable source since I have the most control over the site’s existance) but also on:

  • Twitter (@momdude56)
  • Facebook (/paul.willett.56)
  • Mastodon (@momdude)
  • Post (@momdude)
  • Spoutible (@momdude)
  • Instagram (@momdude56)
  • Tumblr (pauljwillett)
  • Snapchat (pauljwillett)
  • Hive (@momdude)
  • BlueSky (waiting for an invite, but I’ll give you three guesses what it will be…)
  • Email (

I hope that at least a few of the 1,827 folks who get notified every day that I’ve posted something take a minute to look and/or read and get a moment of zen or pleasure from it. I enjoy creating it.

As always, I hope that in the next year there are many more occasions to share a pretty picture, a goofy story, or something clever.

As always, I hope that in the next year there will be many fewer occasions to descend into a venting rant about something stupid, annoying, or depressing.

As do we all, I’m sure.

As a lovely parting gift, couple of favorite pictures from the last year:

Stick around for the next year. It’ll be a slice!


Filed under Airshows, Astronomy, Birds, Christmas Lights, Critters, Entertainment, KC Chiefs, LA Angels, LA Kings, Los Angeles, Paul, Photography, Sports, Sunsets, Writing


(This was an amazing, astonishing, fantastic, {insert thesaurus here} event. I’m giving you the full-resolution photos – click on any of them to blow them up to download or look at the complete image.)

You can usually find hawks floating around the neighborhood. Red-tail hawks are the common ones, but you also find red-shouldered hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and some kind of “night hawk” that I hear often but haven’t yet been able to ID. We’re adjacent to some large natural, open areas, but even over the more densely populated areas of the city, there are often hawks.

Glorious, spectacular creatures. Usually observed from a considerable distance.

This morning I went out to pick up the first of the trash cans after I got payroll done. (Working from home for more than three years is still a mixed bag.) I saw a big red-tailed hawk just landing on top of this big Italian Cypress tree across the street. (It might also be an Emerald Green Arborvitae, but I digress.) I grabbed the camera and took a few pictures.

Unlike most of the times I see these hawks, this guy wasn’t going anywhere, so I had time to cross the street, walk down the cul-de-sac, and get a bit closer.

Of course, what I really, really wanted to get some photos of him flying, but Murphy’s Law ruled and said that he would take off and fly away when I was walking and had the camera down. *sigh*

A couple hours later, when I went out to get the other trash cans, I saw him circling fairly low overhead and I ran in to get the camera again. That opportunity had passed, but he was just landing in that same tree again.

Again he sat for a minute, then to my amazement he leapt into the air. I started shooting one picture after another.

I think it was about this point that I realized that he wasn’t going to soar around and circle overhead, but was diving. FAST!

Straight. At. Me.

Ten feet away from me? Maybe? Less? I could hear the air whistling through his feathers. I had no idea what was going on, but he went by me, then landed in the bush that surrounds the pole on our front porch, right next to the front door.

I wonder if there wasn’t something in that bush that he was after. One of the bigger lizards? A rat or mouse? A bird’s nest of some sort? I know there are some house finch nests up under the eaves, just like in the back yard (search this site for “finch,” plenty of photos) but I don’t know of anything in that bush.

He gave me the hairy eyeball. I wasn’t doing anything other than shooting photos. Okay, there was that whole drooling thing since my jaw was on the ground…

Look at those claws!

Look at that glorious plumage and the patterns in all of those feathers!

Look at that glorious red tail! And he’s gone, soaring in ground effect about knee height, passing right past me on the other side, again no more than ten feet away.


But wait. After a couple minutes to regain my wits, I remembered that there’s a security camera that looks at the front porch.

Good. It really happened.

My thought at the time was that the hawk might be building a nest in the area, possibly at the top of that tree, and that it had seen me looking at it repeatedly and saw me as a threat. Maybe. But having now seen the pictures and how it was looking into that bush, I’m leaning more toward the idea that it was looking for something in that bush for lunch and I happened to be in the way.

I’ll never know, but either way … WOW!!!



Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography, Video


They’re back. Some of my favorites.

They have a bit of an attitude. I like it.

Finding a high perch, they make sure everyone knows who’s in charge.

Right up until the hawks show up. Let’s not be stupid!

Down on the ground, hustling for food, that flapping, flipping, waving tail is the easist way to identify them.

They scamper, slightly smaller and slower than roadrunners.

Then it’s a face plant for bugs, seeds, or whatever they found.

Throwing out that chest and ruling the yard.

Wait, what’s that dude with a camera doing?

Outta here! Showing off one of the other classic identifying marks, the white patches under the wings.


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Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography


I’ve put up a second feeder, away from Little Bastard’s domain, and it’s getting a different crowd.

Cleared for landing!

Gotta adjust for it being in the shade, overexpose the background next time.

Yet another automatic camera setting to learn how to override.

If I walk by to get to the trash cans on the side of the garage, they’ll buzz me, sometimes getting way to close.

That’s because they have nests in these ivy plants along the fence and in the flowering plants next to the laundry room.

But if I just go out and sit about ten feet away, and be quiet, and patient, sometimes they’ll ignore me.

Sitting in the sun, the sunlight off of their iridescent feathers is just spectacular.

Then, “No More Paparazzi! I’m outta here!”


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Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography

Bisecting The Sky

Southwest flight #2040, San Jose, CA to San Diego, CA, at 37,800 feet and 500 knots, a Boeing 737-8H4. It’s at the pointy end of that line of water vapor.

If you were to say, “That’s just a routine sunset and a plane flying overhead,” then you would be correct. And so much missing the point.

What’s 100% normal for us in the US today would have been jaw droppingly amazing to someone from 100 years ago and witchcraft to someone from 300 years ago. And even today there are multitudes who honestly believe that the moon landings were faked, the Earth is flat, and vaccines don’t work.

So the next time you see a jet with a couple hundred passengers just routinely travelling in 90 minutes a route that would have taken their great-great-great-grandparents a week, stop to take it in and wonder what your great-great-great-grandkids will think of as routine and you would think of as black magic.

Or just watch the moon, the clouds, the pretty sunset, and the bright white line sprinting across the sky. Keep it simple.

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Filed under Photography, Sunsets

A Place Lost

Where is home? I know where I live, but that’s different.

Too late now.

I was there for an hour or two. That will have to do.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Travel

Aurora Hunting

Some of you may have heard that there’s a large electromagetic storm going on above Earth’s poles tonight. This is caused by a very large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that exploded off of the Sun two days ago and hit the Earth straight on tonight. It’s not large enough to cause a catastrophic event (google “Carrington Event,” the results of which would be many orders of magnitude worse if it were to happen in today’s computer-driven, satellite based, electronic world) but it is expected to cause the most extensive display of aurora in more than twenty years.

As we approach midnight on the US west coast, we’re getting pictures online from aurora seen as far south as Kansas, Kentucky, and Virginia. Out here there are sitings as far south as Grass Valley, CA (just north of Sacremento) and just south of Lake Tahoe, NV.

Even with that, it’s still highly unlikely that we would see aurora here in Los Angeles, three hundred or miles south of there. With light pollution to boot. Possible! But highly unlikely.

I went out with the camera using the “light bucket” lens – wide angled, very high speed, sharp focus – to see if I might just get lucky and see something the naked eye can’t pick out.

(Click on the image to see it full sized – it’s nice! I’m giving you the big file, not compressed to save disk space!)

The glow at the bottom right is just the usual light pollution from the San Fernando Valley. Above is the Big Dipper with the two end “pointer” stars aimed at Polaris, the North Star. Some other interesting stuff possibly visible – but no sign of any red or green aurora.

I hope you got more lucky!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Young Moon Sunset

Saturn and Jupiter are off in the morning sky now, but it’s that time of month and the three-day old Moon is a thin, spectacular crescent in the sunset sky. And Venus is still around, the third brightest object in the sky.

With a telescope or even a good binocular setup (mounted on a tripod for stability mainly), using much better optics than an iPhone has, you would see that Venus also displays a crescent, the same shape and oriented in the same direction as the Moon. It’s geometry.

Mercury’s out there too, lower down in the sunset sky, more difficult to see. Maybe I’ll give it a try in the next couple of days. (Guess what shape and orientation it displays through a telescope right now?)

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography