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November 17, 2011

Running From Dog

Our cat Jack has the run of the yards and cul-de-sac and enjoys wandering around his little neighborhood territory. This meandering has its limits, specifically those residential backyards that board their burglar deterrent canines.

But last night's calm ended when the next door neighbor's dog jumped up on the gate door hard enough to open it. He didn't hesitate to target Jack and chased him over our fence with a crashing thud and clawing scramble that sounded like serious business to us in the house.

Barb ran outside, screaming at the poor mutt of a culprit, chasing him to the street and promptly heading next door to inform the folks of the heinous crime. Liz ran to the backyard and found Jack ready to jump the back fence, cowering in fear.

It was a born again experience for the old boy.

November 2, 2011

Your Best Shot

Seasonal changes marked October with early rainstorms and shades of fall on the hillsides. The photo challenge was the most painless so far, but may not have been the best choice for stretching your creative muscles to the max. November's assignment: A window light portrait. Don't use a flash, just available light. If you want to fill any shadows, you can use a reflector. You can shoot any number of people (or pets), just make sure that your MAIN light is from a window. And this doesn't have to be a formal portrait: any candid will do, whether in private or public. Color or black and white will work, too. Humorous or serious, whatever.

The first in this series was taken by Cooper Guffey in Paso Robles and submitted by his grandmother, Ginnie. He had Addie pose for him and did a great job in the composition department! Bravo, Cooper. Keep shooting.

Bruce in Oregon found some colorful fare at the pumpkin patch. His grandson, Jacoby, had a great time, but Bruce didn't seem too thrilled. Hey, Bruce, at our age, pumpkins are just big orange squashes that are better off left in the field.

Don also found a pumpkin patch, but he didn't say which one, and didn't say whether he took anyone with him. Probably on Hwy 46 somewhere, just him and his Harley.

Ginnie says this about her Zinfandels entry: "Our little harvest was on the 23rd. We only got about 1/2 of the usual crop due to spring frost and summer rains which made the vines susceptible to mildew. So now fermentation is underway complete with a horde of fruit flies."

Ginnie's art group has been traveling to different places to paint on Fridays: "Last Friday's subject for the Friday paint-out was Atascadero Lake. Lots of honking and quaking there. Brought back old memories of Marty's duck that was released there." Ginnie, it looks like the leaves are just starting to turn there.

I'm trying to remember Marty's duck, but don't even have a foggy recollection. Most of us have other memories of Atascadero Lake -- good and bad -- and very bad!

Megen's entry is unusually weird looking - for a pumpkin. She says, "The cerebral pumpkin...who says Halloween is a brainless holiday???" Thanks, Meg, for shooting outside the box.

Here's another one of Megen's best pictures of October, even though she didn't formally enter it for the challenge. These expressions are priceless! Thanks.

Yours truly also has a couple of shots to share which you most likely seen already on my website. Our vacation to Paso in early October was a wonderful time -- seeing family, friends and favorite spots around the area. I planned to take sunset pictures at Spooner's Cove weeks before coming down, so that's where Barb and I headed the first night of our trip. The sunset was literally shocking to my senses as the sun disappeared below the horizon and the clouds lit up like cotton candy. This photo doesn't tell the emotional story, but is only a taste of awesome power of visual beauty that only reality can relish. I used a tripod and shot on manual exposure.

After leaving Paso, we drove to Yosemite, hoping to get a 'moonshot' at sunset at the Tunnel View. It was just rising while the sun was setting. God had other plans and it was raining when we drove in. But the pictures taken in the rain and mist gave the trees, mountains and rock faces a sense of rarity that I like more than the proverbial postcard Yosemite Valley photos. And sometimes it's just fun to get out in a drenched meadow, trying to keep your camera and lens dry and grabbing something you'll never see again!

Thanks to everyone who participated this month. I'm looking forward to November's portraits. Remember, the same old rules apply each month. Keep shooting. Keep smiling.


October 1, 2011

September Photo Challenge

Thanks to all who submitted photos for September's weird and woefully wacky F.U.N. challenge. My apologies for raising the bar a bit too high for us non-professionals. But we still had FUN, didn't we?

Ginnie's picture was taken in Paso Robles. Its title is "Fix or Repair Daily," which we all know is longhand for Ford, which is seen reflected in the window. Lots of color here.

Bruce trekked around to find a few covered barns to shoot in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This first one is the Stayton-Jordan footbridge, erected in 1988 to connect people walking from one park to another in Stayton, OR. Placed over the Salem Power Canal, it was destroyed by fire due to faulty Christmas tree lighting, but was rebuilt in 1998. Massive and sturdy now, it looks like it will last another 100 years. I'm titling this picture, "Not For Fords."

This second bridge spans Crabtree Creek. Named the Larwood Bridge, it was built in 1939 and can be seen in Scio, OR. I like the way the shade on the bridge compliments/contrasts with the light rocks in the foreground, giving a nice balance to the shot. Title: "1939 Undercover Freeway"

Unfortunately, Kennedy Gold Mine in Jackson, CA isn't a F.U.N. kind of place by any stretch. The Forty-Niners hated the low wages (the clock started AFTER you were lowered into the mine and ended BEFORE you made your ascent from a mile down). They also hated the unsafe conditions and the fact that you'd lose your hearing after a few years. I found this turkey (?) feather and used it to contrast the "Freedom of Flight and (mis)Fortunes of Niners."

Once an all-moving collection of noisy machinery and clanging ore crushers, every piece of equipment is now silent at this mine. More than silent, it has been frozen by water and weather into a rusted and crumbling hulk of steel and wood. The Ichabod of the Sierra, the "glory has departed" to take its place in the history books and memories of old timers who still remember the operation back in the '40's. I've given this photo the title: "Nuts and Bolts"

Don was out chasing the wind a few weeks ago and heard a strange sound behind a hill on Hwy 46 West. The next thing he knew, a hot air balloon slowly lifted above the vineyards, newlyweds in tow (or basket). Thankfully, he had his trusty Nikon D300 with him and zoomed along behind the tracking vehicle. He was able to get this "down under" shot with the moon perfectly placed beside it. Great shot, Don! You won't get that one again! Both of his balloon shots bear the title: "Hot Air Balloon Chasing on an FXDL from the Highway Forty-six Farm Stand."

We're going to make October a lot easier on our "challenge" sensitivities by asking for Your Best Shot. So you can really submit anything you like. Just make sure it was taken in October. All previous rules apply.

• Must be taken by October 31.
• Manipulation is accepted.
• Any camera can be used.
• Creativity counts
• You can submit as many shots as you want, but only two of my choice will be posted.

Thanks and happy shooting!

September 26, 2011

Kick in the Pants

Barb and I have been looking for this ad for years and finally found it tonight on Google Books website. In early 1966, she, Margo Maggiani and Mary Lou Hollywood were chosen to model for a MerCruiser ad photo shoot at Lake Nacimiento.
The ad was published in Popular Mechanics March 1966 special issue on boating. Barb is driving the boat, Margo is sitting by her and Mary Lou is in the back seat.
They didn't get paid in cash, but could choose color-coordinated outfits from Paso Robles Mercantile.
One exciting tidbit: Barb almost wrecked the boat after they told her to drive fast and close to the huge boat they were shooting from. She came a little too close and almost hit it. Barb's "Please don't tell the owner that I almost wrecked his boat" was answered by, "I don't have to: he's standing right here!"

September 17, 2011

Vintage Vision

I've recently joined Facebook's "You Know You Grew Up In Paso Robles When . . . " where folks post vintage pictures of local people and places. It's great looking at all of those old memories and see familiar names and places before 'civilization' took its toll.

I thought it would be fun to find a Photoshop Elements plug-in that would imitate a vintage look and found a set of free plug-ins called Filter Forge Freepack 2 – Photo Effects. There are more than enough choices and settings to transform your picture into an instantly aged work of art. Check it out.

August 31, 2011

Yikes! Yowling Yellow!

Ginnie's entry of a restored gas pump: "Shot on Main Street in Templeton last Sunday morning with our 'little guy' camera on AE. 2.8, 1/1000, ISO 80, Flash ON. " Jack says this is an authentic gas pump which sits in place at an old station at 7th and Main. The service station has been converted to the 'Burger Station' where you can order old fashioned juice-running-down-your-arm burgers and great french fries. Closed on Sundays the way everything should be."

Harry's entry of a tobacco field: "Yellow out this way means tobacco. From our home we can look about a 1/4 mile away to the next road over which is actually kind of on a hill. Just grabbed these in a hurry. When I smoked I guess it was Mellow Yellow-a trib to Donovan-but not any longer." Harry lives in Danville, KY.

My friend, Linda, in Lodi loves to take pictures, too, and submitted these two of her huge sunflowers. Or maybe it's the same flower. I think she had to stand on a ladder to get the closeup.

Megen had to go all the way to Las Vegas for this shot: "The view from the 49th floor of the Palazzo in Las Vegas...note the chardonnay yellow storm clouds. Yes, I enhanced the colors and the focus is distorted. But very fun!"

Don, you didn't say where this house is located. Looks like it's close to Disneyland. Also looks like an artist lives there!


More of Don's handiwork. I think this is close to Paso Robles. Safflower is my guess.

Yours Truly likes to shoot anything with clouds hanging around. This is the top of a Comcast Cable satellite dish in their yard on Tam O'Shanter Drive with the moon setting at sunrise. Taken with my Canon SD980 point and shoot.

Hopelessly drab, but I do like clouds after a summer without them. Had to change the color of the building from beige to yellow to qualify for this challenge.

Cousin Bruce got his poppy picture in right under the wire. Looks like a California Poppy living outside of Bend, OR. Doesn't look homesick, and I don't blame him.
"It's been a wet year this year.  Hard to find too much yellow amongst all this green.  This photo was taken in David's back yard in Bend."

Thanks, Bruce!

Thanks to everyone who labored for this assignment. I'll be posting September's challenge soon. Keep shooting!

August 5, 2011

First Bloomin' Sunflower

Most of the sunflowers we planted in mid-June are now up and ready to blush in all their glory. The first one to see the light was this red one with bright yellow stamens. It is among a choir of mixed notes, some of which are about 18" tall and others about 6'.

The miniature agapanthus wimped out on us this year. A couple of them died, but this one is holding on, right in front of Agatha, whose porcelain portrait graces the backyard behind the flower bed. She is strikingly striking with her Mona Lisa smile and globular eyes. You wouldn't want to hang her in the living room by Uncle Tilden, that's for sure!

July 31, 2011

A Barn By Any Other Name . . .

Thanks to Bruce, Don, Yours Truly and Ginnie for submitting their barn photos. We all win the grand prize on Internet notoriety! I found a poem online to accompany our efforts. A little corny, but who cares?

The first two pictures are of a barn that Bruce found. Turns out it is the famous Gribble Barn five miles from Canby, Oregon. You can Google it if you want. Thanks Bruce!

The second two photos are by Nighthawk Don, who always has stars in his eyes. These were taken in the Paso Robles area using long exposures. Thanks, Don!

The nexgt picture was taken a few miles south of Lake Tulloch by yours truly. It has been Photoshopped to death just for fun.

Last, but not least are Ginnie's entries of the octogon barn in San Luis Obispo. "The Octagon Barn was built in 1900 by Portuguese immigrants...see Wikipedia for the historical scoop."

There is an old barn along the lone countryside,
Where the roots of rural life deepened and never died.
The weather vane is rusty, the barn leans to the west,
And what we see beyond the old wood frame is best
Through the years it has become the symbol of toil,
Where footsteps remain undisturbed deep in the soil.

Nature had no mercy weathered by rain, sleet and snow,
Winds whipping and blowing to and fro.
Tree limbs brush the roof, the Milk River proceeds below,
Crows soaring above rafters, cawing with woe.
The barn standing so simple, embraced with time past,
An old dwelling full of memories that forever last.

Rain dripping down the eaves,
Rabbits burrowing underneath the leaves.
Walking with my mind back to days untold,
A path in which my father tread until he was very old.
Where children have played "hide-and-go-seek" without a care,
Hidden in the barn, unfound there.
Milking cows, squirting milk at the cats,
And then giggling at the goats wearing our hats.

Holding stable for a team of horses out of the heat,
Piglets, calves and chickens grown for meat.
Lifting of grain and hay to the hayloft up high,
Insects finding refuge beneath the humble floor lie.

In my youth we did many a chore,
As the soft wind whispered through the barn door.
And out behind that old barn for sure,
Was a good paddling or two that did occur.
There are some things learned cleaning out that barn muck,
Pride of work for an honest buck.

Remembering barn dances and a square dancer's call,
Sound of a fiddle enjoyed by neighbors and all.
Let's pull our hearts close to old fashioned days,
Rolling tumbleweeds, hay grain and cattle was the ways.
Barns built of logs and boards painted bright red,
Large and small to fit the farmstead.

New barns now are revealed on stretched out land,
With the blueprints drawn by a master's hand.
We thank the old timers for our heritage of yesteryear,
Building the barns that we hold so very dear.
Time takes us through endless stages,
Turning through the years a hundred pages.

A father passes on his fertile lands,
The old barn then rests from his calloused hands.
How we wish we could repay, a young boy running to find
Each manner and course of life that we now leave behind.
Yesterdays are not really gone, they’re with us every day.
During the passage of time, we value old memories in every way.

By Lorraine E. Watson, Phillips County

Ginnie claimed this was a 20 sock-stickers shot. She deserved all the pain she could get, since she didn't use her Nikon D40, but opted for her ol' Canon S3 point-and-shoot! (Just kidding, Sis. Great snaps!)

"Restoration of the barn began in 1997, when the barn was near collapse. Structural improvements have been completed. Current activity concentrates on bringing the Barn into the community as a fully permitted gathering space." - from Wikipedia

July 16, 2011

The American Barn

The cool, crisp morning air was silent, except for the rising songsters' melodies and one dog barking. Hardly any traffic at 6:00 on Saturday, mainly pickups and a tractor. A dead opposum was grinning at me when I got out of the car on Brandt Road. I'll spare you the picture!

The "No Trespassing" signs limited most shots to "this side of the fence," but I was able to get out in a field for the barn picture with the blue flowers in the foreground. And I had to mount my camera on a tripod and use the 10 second timer while raising it 8 feet over my head for the Locke Road shots with the vineyards surrounding the 'barn.' The result: A 20% success ratio. Pretty good, I thought, since this is the first time I've tried it.

San Joaquin county probably has thousands of old and new barns. They may change a bit in style over the years, but the theory stays the same. Cover your valuables from the elements --- hay, vehicles, livestock, tack and stuff that won't fit in that little house you built.

My sister says, "I never met a barn I didn't like." That about sums it up for me as well.

July 5, 2011

4th of July Artworks

This first serious attempt to shoot fireworks finds me in amazement at the artistic displays of color, form and contrast they provide. There was 15 minutes of non-stop action and my shutter really got a workout. I finally settled on 2 seconds at f8, with manual focusing, which is a trick in itself, trying to find infinity (it's a little back from the full stop point on the focus ring).

Hope you enjoy them, too. Use the slideshow feature at my website and the dark gray background option at the top center of the screen.

June 26, 2011

Roman Catholic Terrorist Oaths

I was shocked to read some of the oaths taken by certain orders of the RC Church, including those of cardinals, bishops, Knights of Columbus and Jesuits. Supreme loyalty to the Pope demands agreement to persecuting and even killing all non-Roman Catholics! Is there a terrorist connection here? If not, why doesn't the RC Church condemn these oaths? If it has, please let me know.

"I do further promise and declare, that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly or openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Liberals, as I am directed to do to extirpate and exterminate them from the face of the whole earth, and that I will spare neither sex, age nor condition, and that I will hang, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive these infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women and crush their infant heads against the wall, in order to annihilate forever their execrable race.
"That when the same cannot be done openly, I will secretly use the poison cup, the strangulation cord, the steel of the poniard, or the leaden bullet, regardless of the honor, rank, dignity or authority of the person or persons whatsoever may be their condition in life, either public or private, as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agent of the Pope or superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Faith of the Society of Jesus." Jesuit Extreme Oath of Induction

"I, ___ ___, now in the presence of Almighty God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Blessed St. John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, and all the Saints, Sacred Hosts of Heaven and to you, my Ghostly Father, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, in the Pontification of Paul III, and continued to the present, do by the Womb of the Virgin, the Matrix of God, and the Rod of Jesus Christ, declare and swear that his Holiness, the Pope, is Christ’s Viceregent and is the true and only Head of the Catholic of Universal Church throughout the earth; and that by virtue of the keys of binding and loosing given his Holiness by my Savior, Jesus Christ, he hath power to depose heretical kings, princes, states, commonwealths and governments and they may be safely destroyed. Therefore to the utmost of my power I will defend this doctrine and his Holiness’ right and custom against all usurpers of the heretical or Protestant authority whatever, especially the Lutheran Church of Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway and the now pretended authority of the Churches of England and Scotland, of the Calvinists, of same now established in Ireland and on the continent of America and elsewhere, and all adherents in regard that they may be usurped and heretical, opposing the sacred Mother Church of Rome.
"I do now denounce and disown any allegiance as due to any heretical king, prince, or state, named Protestant, or Liberals, or obedient to any of their laws, magistrates or officers....
"I do further declare that I will help, assist and advise all or any of his Holiness’ agents, in any place where I should be, in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Ireland, or America or in any other kingdom or territory I shall come to and do my utmost to extirpate the heretical Protestant or Masonic doctrines and to destroy all their pretended powers, legal or otherwise....
"I do further promise and declare that I will, when opportunity presents, make and wage relentless war, secretly and openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Masons, as I am directed to do to extirpate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex, or condition, and that I will hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive these infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women and crush their infant’s heads against the walls in order to annihilate their execrably race. That when the same cannot be done openly, I will secretly use the poisonous cup, the strangulation cord, the steel poniard, or the leaden bullet, regardless of the honor, rank, dignity, or authority of the persons whatever may be their condition in life, either public or private, as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agent of the Pope or Superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Father of the Society of Jesus....
"That I will provide myself with arms and ammunition that I may be in readiness when the word is passed, or I am commanded to defend the Church either as an individual or with the Militia of the Pope." Oath Taken by a Perspective Member of the Knights of Columbus

"Heretic, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose." From the oath given by all cardinals, bishops, and arch-bishops

"Communists destroy churches because they are God's enemies; Catholic's destroy (non-Catholic) churches because they are God's friends...Against such men-founded churches...Catholics in Latin America should arise and wipe them out with fire." John J. Oberlander, in The Voice of Freedom, 1954, p. 20

June 11, 2011

Tree - Rhymes With Majesty

Trees are wonderful creations that remind us of the majestic beauty and singular personality that only God can create. I find myself moved by this sentinel symmetry and will purposely seek and photograph those trees that say something more than 'seen one, seen them all.'

Trees are like miniature mountains that stand tall and point to heaven. But they add a living, breathing sense of glory all their own as they reach out to touch that light that gives them life.

We were given two arms to do the same - reach out to God who made us with praise, honor and worship before His presence.

May 21, 2011

Oregon Still Beautiful

Visit Oregon when you have the opportunity. Just make sure it isn't raining.

Barb and I took a week in May to explore the coast and see Barb's old haunt, Pacific City where she lived in the late 50's. We also enjoyed seeing cousin Bruce and his family in Oregon City, just south of Portland. Thanks, Bruce and Penny, for making us feel at home and showing us around.

It took a full week to process all the pictures. Burnout has been achieved!

May 4, 2011


"Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry." Psalm 147:7-9

The God of glory paints the landscape with fields of flowers this spring. It has become an annual tradition of awesome wonder, even for us dull-witted souls.

April 30, 2011

At The Speed of Finite

One of the blessings of dying is knowing that lots of family will get together and talk about you. They'll laugh, cry, share and after it's all over, they'll eat a lot of great food and say their loving goodbyes before heading back home.

It was a good day for Mom's second memorial service. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and a lukewarm breeze. The kids played outside and the curmudgeons who hadn't seen each other for years felt the reminder of every wrinkle and color-starved hair. Time is flying as we speed down the tracks.

It will soon be our turn to arrive at our final destination.

Memorial/Reunion pictures

April 19, 2011

History Lesson

The older the building, the more intriguing the story, especially when it's full of ancient machinery, tools and oddities that beg the question: "Man! What is that?"

A recent invitation to enter the bowels of a forgotten world was quickly accepted. Luke gave me the grand tour of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century shipbuilding factory, now turned into a metal fabrication business. The poor lighting was helped with all the holes in the metal roof, walls, and doors. Dusty windows, skylights, redwood framing and a smell akin to my grandfather's garage and shop in San Luis Obispo heightened my sense of deja vu.

Who knows how many people have worked here on the Deep Water Channel at the Port of Stockton. Years of lunchboxing it to Harrison Street either to draw plans, supervise, get your finger cut off or smashed while operating a machine, or wrenching your back when lifting parts for assembly --- it had to be a dirty job.

My dad owned a radiator repair business in Los Banos in the late 50's. Hands and fingernails always dirty, burn marks on his arms from soldering and welding, the look of a real man's man. These workers in Stockton were most likely as manly. There is an honorable side of grease and grime. God made us to work. Some of us like to get dirty in the process. We don't look down on those who don't. We just feel a bit sorry for them.

You can see the whole series of shots here: Dave Skinner Photography

April 4, 2011

Shooting Stars and Monkeyflowers

Okay, all you flower lovers out there: Now is the time to head to the hinterlands and scope out God's handiwork while the grass is green and the flowers are wild. My favorite specimen is the Shooting Star for its striking shape and color. There are a number of species here in the Sierra. Can you believe there are 30 species of Monkeyflower in Yosemite alone! What a wonderful world we live in thanks to a wonderful God who coded flowers with the ability to vary within their genus.

We joined a ranger-led hike at New Melones Lake this Saturday and look forward to heading back to the area to hike at our own pace (a photographer can't have a good time if he's trying to keep up with the crowd). Maybe I'll see you out there, too.

March 15, 2011

How Wise My Bird-Brained Little Friend

How wise my bird-brained little friend,
Whose fathers' feathers (brushed with blue
By clever choice and prescient will)
Display a blushing breast as well.

Conscious evolution thus proven for us simple skeptics.

March 5, 2011

Song of Spring

Forgive my impatience, but don't we need a breath of forge-fired heat to replace the craggy winter cold?

And, yes, this is California.