Monday, September 7, 2015

Organic & Inorganic

Just a walk on the Burra Burra trail to check out what's cooking with the geology.  Happily surprised by three species of white and pink wildflowers, plus bluecurls, a white tarweed, and some small California poppies.  Also an admiral  and numerous woodland skippers in the bluecurls (too flighty to photograph this time.)  Click on a photo to enlarge.

Arrangement in Orange and White.

The Grey and the Green

Delicate white and pink

White crystals not quartz

Naked-stemmed buckwheat

Light green and flakey, serpentinite?

Who am I to have so many petals?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve: A July 17 Hike

This new preserve in Morgan Hill has been open for about a month and, like much of the Coyote Valley, it has a history of ranching activities.  My favorite aspects of this hike were the wonderful views to the North and East, the variety of tree species, serpentine outcrop, and the signs of animal inhabitants.  There were even some July flowers in bloom.

Leaving the busy world behind.  Preserve entrance and surroundings on Palm Drive.  Map, preserve info, and driving directions.

There is only one official trail here and, from the parking lot, you climb and then descend for four miles through switchbacks with about 400' elevation gain.  Patches of shade provide scattered resting places all along the way, although there are hot stretches in full sun.  We went counterclockwise along the loop trail.

We were greeted by a juvenile Western bluebird in the lower preserve-entrance side of the Arrowhead Trail where there are remnants of ranching history.

Someone in the canine family has been on the trail and, since dogs are not allowed in Open Space Preserves, it was probably a coyote.  The size was right.  We also saw deer and their tracks.

Valley oak and buckeye are prominent trees.  Bay grows around the now-dry draws.

This hollyleaf cherry was at the first picnic table overlook and  a new species for me.  

Mount Hamilton is visible through valley haze to the northeast... is the Metcalf Energy Center to the north.

Hikers below, leaving the preserve.

Serpentine outcrop (?), agriculture, east valley hills; a scene from the hike's descent.  

You may have noticed that, except for the Valley itself, the Preserve and surrounding area is very dry.  What flowers could possibly grow here in this droughty July?  Consider the annual white tarweed which seems to be finding water and sustenance in a shaded spot along the trail.  It may have edible seeds and, who knows, might be your new lawn and snack in a few years.  (Do not harvest tarweed here!  This is a Preserve. Do not eat wildflowers without consulting a certified expert!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Lush and the Sharp: A June 30th Hike at Almaden Quicksilver

It's dry and hot at AQS but summer wildflowers and even some farewell-to-spring are out.  Many are not in my immediate repertoire so I'm hoping to get ID assistance.  This one reminds me of buckwheat.

This seems to be a teasel of some kind and it is blooming from the bottom up.  Lovely anthers and we can call this specimen both sharp and lush.  

Elderberry, at the height of lush abundance.  

Very lush but very sparse and in only one spot on the hike.  Composite of some sort.  Anyone know?

Going to seed in the softest and downiest way.  A thistle 
or close relative, perhaps.

The least-focused but the sharpest of all and now we know why artichoke is a thistle.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rock Me Like a Rock: Pinnacles West Side

Well, I have a hiking friend who likes to hug trees, particularly fragrant pines, and I discovered on Wednesday that I now like to hug rocks.  There's just something about geology....
This is the rock...let's see what we can find out about it.

And, the setting, the lovely west side of The Pinnacles National Park.
Now, usually, I focus on wildflowers and they were blooming in proliferation on the west side of Pinnacles NP in mid-March 2015.  So, maybe one shot....

Some variety of Sedum aka "stonecrop".....likes to grow directly on rocks.  
OK, back to "The Rock"....
What do you notice first?
Well, first off, this rock is on the floor of the west side on Juniper Canyon Trail, not up in the Pinnacles proper.  So, probably an important question is whether it is part of the Pacific Plate which was wrenched off of SoCal and, through plate tectonics, moved the Pinnacles formation north 195 miles from its volcanic origin.
Then you might notice that this rock is mighty white and covered with plants like lichen and moss.

Irregular cracks and fissures.  

Small crystals show in the hand lens and macro mode photo.

 Here's mention of volcanic tuff from the Geology Cafe Pinnacles fieldtrip; perhaps my rock is tuff????   Can I find out about it's composition?

Mosses and vascular plants find homes on this rock and speed the breakdown started by lichens.  

On to the Balconies

Here's more about Pinnacles National Park.

And the GeoCafe Pinnacles FieldTrip.

From My Balcony

It's fascinating to people-watch from my balcony.  Today I am trying out different white balances, on advice from a friend.  Everything's blurry.  Also very red-saturated.  Don't know what fstop to use, so everything's on 22.  My point&shoot only went up to 8 and now I want to learn more about fstops and what they do.  

We had some rain today.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Harvey Bear Ranch Park: Using the dSLR

Here are a few photos from my first real attempt to use a dSLR seriously.  The camera was in spot focus the whole time with focus in the upper middle spot.  Just didn't know how to change that around at the time.  Some photos seem good and some need help or a re-do.  This is a reflective learning post and your comments are welcome!

Goal: learn how to compose a long view and use the camera's functions to optimize the focus.

The morning was overcast, with a grey light.   This composition seems OK, maybe some different cropping.  The contrast on the figures seems too extreme.  But I like the subdued tones.  Would like more overall focus.  

Looks pretty flat & maybe too much going on?  I tend to crop, crop, crop my tree shots and don't know how to use the camera to reveal what I see in real life.  Would like more dimensionality and depth here.  

Have been doing a lot of macro shots with my point&shoot in the last few years and was relieved to see that the dSLR (without a macro lens) can also capture close-up beauty.  

OK, its blurry and weirdly vibrant pink.  But I like the composition and love all Clarkias.  

It was breezy and this branch was moving up & down.  There seems to be quite a bit of light here and maybe this could use more post-production contrast.  

Love these butter-and-eggy flowers, especially that they're tricolored.   The dSLR seems to pick up more depth in some macro shots, making them look messier and wilder.  

Even messier and wilder, plus too breezy to focus completely.  Anyway, I do like this wildness as an alternative to my usual "portrait" flower shots. 

A bit of inter-species interaction.

Like the wire and thistle combo here but there's some oversaturation going on.   Think this is from using the "vivid" setting to counteract the gray sky.  

Thank you for your attention to this experiment.  There will be more.