Thursday, April 30, 2020

My World

I don't participate every month is P.J.'s Monthly photo blog, but this month's theme (Your World) made for a fairly easy set of photos. I know I really should attempt them every month, so I'll try to do better in the coming months. I've picked up my DSLR again since I've been in "shelter and place" and I have a lot of photos to choose from this month. I think I could probably come up with at least 10 different shots, just from my walks around the neighborhood over the past month, but here's my 5 that captures my world this month.

1. Weathervane

I'm a sucker for cool things like sundials and weathervanes. This particular weathervane is located on top of a house north of me, but in the same general neighborhood. Since I don't take the same route, I don't see this every day, but I noticed it early in the month and thought I really should take a photo of it, since it represents some interesting architecture, especially for Southern California. You don't see too many of these and I like that it gives off a New England kind of vibe. The only give away is the palm tree in the lower left hand corner of the shot. I could have edited that out, but that would have meant cropping some of the cupola out and I wanted that to be the main focus of the shot, and so the palm tree remains.

I remembered the next time I was out to take a photo of it, but the quality of the iPhone shot wasn't what I considered good enough, so I ended up throwing those shots away. I don't take the DSLR out every day, so the next time I walked around the neighborhood with the DSLR, I made sure to walk up that particular street. Because the weather had changed, we had some clouds in the sky which made for a more pleasing background to the shot.

2. Amusement Park

Twenty years ago, I was really into Roller Coaster Tycoon and particularly, Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (RCT2). The game is one of many out on the market that allows you to play amusement park scenarios, while creating an amusement park, maintaining a budget, building roller coasters of various kinds and making sure your peeps are happy. The thing about Tycoon 2 that made it so good as you could also create buildings into your park and really make your park look like the real deal, with interesting architecture and themed areas.

There are other programs out on the market now, but there's also OpenRCT2 which emulates RCT2 perfectly as long as you have the original disks, however it also comes with enhancements that allow you to play in Sandbox mode. In other words, instead of playing scenarios, you can just create your own landscape and build your own park. Needless to say, I've been playing a lot of OpenRCT2 the last couple of months and this is a screen shot of a flying roller coaster (one where the peeps lay down and it makes it feel like they're flying) that I built in one of my sandbox mode games.

3. Family FaceTime

Our immediate family is spread out with some in the Bay Area of California and the rest of us down here in Southern California. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have visited my daughter when she had her birthday at the end of last month, but couldn't due to shelter in place, so we FaceTimed. That has grown into a weekly event so that everyone can touch bases with each other and enjoy each others' company. My daughter suggested that we have weekly themes. Last week, it was crazy hats, this week, it was Toga. It's amazing what a couple of actual olive branches from the tree in the back yard and a sheet will do to help you win the theme for the week. 

This image got posted on Facebook earlier this week and everyone has had a good laugh at my expense, but it was worth it. I got my wife to smile/laugh in the background of the photo as well, so it's all good.

4. Ornithology

I don't claim to be an expert on birds, but I do have an interest in them and with spring here, there are lots of birds out and about, probably more due to the lack of people out and about. If the theme for the month had been birds, I would have been able to have five different kinds of birds with ease. I have a book that was published by the National Geographic Society entitled Field Guide to the Birds of North America and it has been quite helpful in letting me identify most of the birds I've seen while out on walks around the neighborhood. This spring, I've seen California Towhees, Spotted Towhees, a Cooper's hawk, hummingbirds, scrub jays, two different kinds of sparrows, two different kinds of finches, and several Western Bluebirds, such as this one who posed ever so nicely on a branch in the park just north of my house. 

I'm pretty sure the Spotted Towhees and the Bluebirds are both nesting in some trees in the park. A friend of mine says that I've been lucky with the Spotted Towhees as they are usually heard and not seen, but I've been able to spot them on two different occasions. There are more than just a couple of bluebirds in the park. I've seen at least three different ones, which is why I'm fairly certain they're nesting somewhere in the park as well.

5. Earth Day

This year was the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. I was in 6th grade at the time, so yeah, I know I'm old. Once again, under ordinary circumstances, I probably would have celebrated in some other way than sheltering in place, but there's not much I could do at this particular time. And so I take photos.

Besides birds, the insects are also out in force, particularly, the ladybugs. Insects and creepy crawlies give me different sorts of challenges, as unlike birds, you can usually get quite close to insects. I've been using a variety of lenses to take photos of ladybugs, honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies and other assorted insects and arachnids. This particular shot I used my 250 zoom macro lens to get up close and personal with a couple of bugs doing what nature intended them to do. I'm very pleased with the focus on this particular shot.

And that, my friends, is my interpretation of the theme, "Your World" for P.J.'s Monthly Photo Blogging challenge. Please click on the link and see how other people interpreted the theme of their world. As always, please feel free to comment. I won't bite.


  1. Awww, the ladybugs! ❤️
    Your Toga themed FaceTime snapshot made me smile. I love how people come up with fun and creative ideas.
    I feel blessed to have technology to help us stay connected. Imagine every family would have to deal with just one landline!

    1. We are incredibly blessed to have all of the technology today. I'm looking forward to our next FaceTime, as it's "Show and Tell."

  2. Love the weather vane and nature shots, as well as your Family Facetime themes. What an inspired idea! You had the perfect costume, too. ☺ Video games sure have come a long way! Roller Coaster Tycoon sounds like one that could occupy many hours of your time. Interesting!

    1. Thank you. Trust me when I say I have to make sure I limit my time on the game computer, otherwise, I might spend literally days playing OpenRCT2.

  3. I love your nature photography! I just put out my hummer feeder and hope they find it soon. The Asian lady beetle shot is fantastic! I have a DSLR and love to take it outside with me. It's a bit on the large size, but works so much better than a cameraphone.

    1. Thank you very much. I don't have a newer iPhone, so I can't compare, but the quality of my Canon far exceeds the iPhone under most circumstances.

  4. The toga photo gave me a good laugh and I think it's great your family is Facetiming and such. The favorite for me is the lady bug photo, wonderful clear zoom shot.
    Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade

    1. Thank you very much. I'm very pleased with the Lady Bug shot.

      Our FactTime theme for this week was show and tell. It was a little different, but I think we learned some new things about special things that people have held on to over the years.

  5. Good to see you participating in the PBC this month. I always enjoy the write-ups you compose to accompany your photos. At one time we had Roller Coaster Tycoon CDs in our house, but I don't think they're around anymore, so no "open" version play for us. That would be :( news for our "boys" who have moved on to STEAM platform and Nintendo Switch games.

    Love your outdoor shots, especially the ladybugs. The pleasure you take from the focus is well justified - you should print this one and hang it up!

    The weekly themes for your family Face Time meetups are a genius idea that I'm going to suggest to our extended family. The Show and Tell theme is a great opportunity for learning something new about those you're closest to.

    1. Thank you very much.

      If your boys are on STEAM, then you can purchase RCT2 for dirt cheap via that program as well. We didn't have all the expansions, so I think I spent $1.99 for all of them on-line so it would work.