Thursday, December 31, 2009

VLA Evening

The second image in this blog experiment was one of the antennae in the Very Large Array in New Mexico, at sunrise. It ends with another taken at the VLA in the evening a year later.

It has not exactly been an image a day, but I had a sneaking suspicion that would be a hard one to pull off. Nonetheless, I managed to achieve the primary goals: to keep up regular practice at digital photofinishing and to share the results with family and friends.

Overall, I like the idea, but to do it again it would have to have a wider purpose and not as frequent.

It's been fun. Hope you all enjoyed. And HAPPY NEW YEAR all!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All I Want...

We celebrated my daughter's birthday on the 19th so that there was a bit of separation between that and another, rather better known birth. She was actually born on the 24th---in our family that is a Christmas baby.

A few weeks ago, she also lost her first tooth.

Anyway, Farrell and her friends enjoyed a Princess Party held at the Pink Polka Dot in Houston. I did too, running around trying to get just the photo I wanted.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oceanside Pier

Some time, when you are watching a movie, pay attention to the lighting. It's night time and cloudy but we can still see's cloudy but our hero is squinting as though staring at the sun...that sort of thing.
Much of what we see is suggestion, and our minds fill in the rest. Imagery is a powerful tool and advertisers know it.
I enjoy analyzing images and movies. One of the highlights of my museum career---other than my first day at work for the UBC Geological Museum, but nearly as early---was being involved in the production of "Rock Candy: A Video About Mineral Collecting". One of the most satisfying parts about being involved in such a low budget cinematic undertaking (i.e. small) is that one has the chance to experience almost every aspect of film making; if not in directly performing tasks, or even roles, then more than vicariously by being in such proximity as to observe minutiae in the work by those whose purview a particular assignment was.
Beach, palm trees, sunset. OK, the photographer enhanced the sunset colors a bit...
How about completely fabricated? Dec 27th, the sun is nearly at high noon. Anyway, I thought I would have a bit of fun creating an image that reminded one of warm summer evenings. It's Frederick's job, and those who know me, know to whom I am referring. :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Food Dance

Well, it is what this pelican did when he was fed a fish. Walking down the Oceanside Pier today, we came across a few children feeding a pelican their father's freshly caught fish bait---smaller fish, such as mackerel, meant to be used as lure for larger fish, such as...I'm not sure...just larger.
It was not really a dance but what rather passed for one as the bird caught up a fish in its bill, then jerked his head backwards to send the fish down his gullet while tottering on his---or her---feet and flapping the wings for steadiness.
The big bird was keen on the fish and quick about retrieval, and between recalling the sign not far back on the pier about not standing too close to these pterodactyl look-alikes and trying to get a decent photo of the action, it was a bit challenging to get a fish up on the rail while looking through the lens then leap and back far enough to click a few frames of the entire scene.

Last week for this blog business...we'll try to make sure one each day goes up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


My friend, Steve, is holding the largest spodumene crystal of the find so far. It had just been washed by Jeff Swanger, whose headlamp is lighting up the specimen. While the color zonation is real, the color of the "non-purple" part is a bit skewed; I think influenced by the background colors. It is as the camera recorded it.

It has been a great we continued on the pocket but nothing as large as this.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Another gem that has recently emerged from its cradle of creation. This spodumene crystal exhibits color zonation causes by the changing chemistry of the fluids from which it crystallized. Such color zonation is not wholly unusual, but rare enough to make a crystal more prized than some others.

This specimen displays its colors openly, while others from this same find are apparently "just" shades of pinkish purple---darkest along the length of the crystal, much like the deeper tones of a pane of glass seen on its edge. A dichroscope---a tool used by gemologists to determine pleochroism, the presence of multiple colors in a gem material---reveals in most of the apparently simply purplish crystals a direction in which they are also green, not discernible by the naked eye.

It is intriguing, one, that while the simplicity is often lauded and indeed sought by many, others find complexity captivating, and two, that while some objects (or people) appear simple at first, under closer scrutiny betray a more labyrinthine nature. Conversely, an elaborate comportment might belie a deceptively straightforward character.

Makes life interesting.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Digging It Out

Part of my life these days is spent as a volunteer miner at a local gem mine: the Oceanview mine near Pala in north San Diego County. On the 5th of December, late in the afternoon, Jeff Swanger (the mine owner), Steve Carter and I opened up a newly found pocket and extracted some of the finest kunzite unearthed in the Pala District in many decades. Kunzite is the pink to purple gem variety of the mineral species spodumene.
This photo was actually taken last Saturday when a number of visitors were present and more gems were being hauled out of the expanding cavity. This is one of those pieces after it was briefly rinsed using the water supply we have underground; it is being lit by one of the miner's lamps.

Digging it out. This title does not really convey the effort, the time, and the money it takes to bring these gems to light but, suffice to say, these are considerable. One must think about whether or not it is worth it. However, if we ever had doubts, the absolute thrill of being the first humans to lay fingers---albeit muddy, bleeding ones---upon these beautiful works of natural art, would lay those misgivings to rest.

"Digging it out" also had another meaning for me recently and involves a decision I am still making. For those that know me, it is hard to believe, but I allowed myself to be in the position of having almost everything electronic I have ever done to reside on a single hard drive (I normally have everything backed up at least four ways). Four days away from going to buy a new back up hard drive; my last remaining electronic repository stopped cooperating with any computer I plugged it into. Hence my lack of posts of late.

After trying several methods to recover the data, I am left with one more possibility---a very expensive one. Some think not, and better to move on. I see the logic and can even envisage mustering up the detachment to do so by imagining a house fire in which all is lost and one is forced to accept a new beginning. I mentioned this to my wife and her response was "It is not like a house fire. It is more like an earthquake where everything got buried and may still be intact under the rubble."

The only question is, "Is it worth it to dig it out?" My mineral field collecting buddies won't find anything until you've made sacrifices to the rock gods---a bit of blood-letting.

Is it worth it?