Saturday, August 20, 2011

The old cereus returns (and so do I) - August 2011

It's been a long time since I updated these pages. Just too busy. This page started as a place to put pictures of our night-blooming cereus plants that didn't fit on the webpage I created years ago. That original cereus was gravely damaged in January 2007 by a series of hard freezes (it can get below freezing in Los Angeles).

The plant was thought to be dead, but eventually new sprouts emerged from the soil. Gradually, it returned to health, becoming a very prolific producer of flat, green leaves... but no flowers. A few weeks ago, about a dozen buds were spotted on the original plant as well as two others that were separated out from the original after it revived. All three participated in this series of blooms that spanned three nights. There are no buds remaining on the plant that I have been able to detect, so this is probably it for the season.

I'm not especially fond of this particular batch of photographs, but without further ado, here are some of the pictures.




Most of these shots were fused from three different exposures using a program called Photomatix Pro. I don't have a lot of experience with HDR photography, so this is something of a learning experience.







I've been trying to recreate this backlit shot for some time. I like the original very much, but it's an old 2 megapixel shot, which means it does not bear much enlargement.







That's all for now.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Trona Pinnacles - January 2010

The Trona Pinnacles are located in the Mojave Desert, about 20 miles east of Ridgecrest. These tufa towers were formed when the area was covered by an ancient lake. Several movies, including Start Trek V, were filmed there. We went to the Pinnacles for the first time on New Year's Day, and the sky was somewhat uncooperative during the visit...







There was a nice sunset over the Mojave on the way home, however. Perhaps we left the Pinnacles a wee bit too early.


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Saturday, October 03, 2009

A cereus bud!

We've never had more cereus (oxypetalum) plants, and they've never looked healthier. However, there's been no activity this summer at all... other than the making of many new, big leaves. In contrast with past years, the plants spent the winter indoors, and have occupied a shady place this summer. They never get direct sun. This may be why the leaves have stayed a deep, vibrant green and most of the leaves do not look motheaten.

And the plants missed blooming on my birthday this year, which hasn't happened often in the last decade.

But, here's a look at a soon-to-be literal late bloomer...



Based on my photographic record, this plant looks to be about 11 days from blooming. Any later than that, and I'll miss it, owing to being out of town.



[Update: This flower bloomed the night after we left, so that's why there are no pictures.]

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yellowstone National Park - August 2009 (Part III)

Now for the third and final segment of Yellowstone pictures, starting with Upper Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail. We did all 328 steps down. Well, down wasn't the hard part!



A close-up of that rainbow...



Tower Falls...



The Yellowstone River snakes around...



This sign didn't lie...



My guess is this is a young elk...



Two views of Lower Falls from Artist Point at dawn




And, finally, the Teton Range again, this time from Snake River Overlook on the way back south...

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yellowstone National Park - August 2009 (Part II)

Most of the Teton and Yellowstone pictures were taken with a recently acquired Canon Rebel T1i, a 15 MP camera bought to succeed my aging 8 MP Digital Rebel XT. It's a nice camera but one major complaint is its mode dial is far too easily moved, which has led to me sometimes taking pictures using inappropriate settings. Oh, well. Now, if only the damned cereus plants would bloom! :-)

Here are some more Yellowstone pictures, starting with Clepsydra Geyser...



That's not marble, it's the damp surface of Grand Prismatic Spring...



Another, better show from Old Faithful...



Deer near Grant Village...



Yellowstone Lake at dawn, from near Gull Point..




Ironically, fishing isn't allowed from the Fishing Bridge, perhaps owing to the otters...



Family portrait...

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Yellowstone National Park - August 2009 (Part I)

From Grand Teton, we went north to Yellowstone, a much more crowded park. Just inside the South Entrance, we encountered Lewis Falls, just off the west side of the road...




The Kepler Cascades, near Old Faithful...



Speaking of Old Faithful...



Boil, bubble, toil and trouble... at Firehole Lake...



Not the surf reaching the shore... it's boiling water...



A cascade of steaming, hot water...



Firehole Falls... nice, cool water...



At Firehole Cascade...

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grand Teton National Park - August 2009

After the most exhausting summer of my life, it's time for an exhausting vacation :-) Yesterday, we arrived in Grand Teton NP, having left from Salt Lake City where the Mesoscale Conference was held. These pictures were taken today, from near Jenny Lake. The first is Grand Teton mountain itself from the trail to Hidden Falls.




And this is downstream of Hidden Falls...




The sun, low in the sky over the Snake River at Oxbow Bend...




Bison are everywhere in the park, and are completely unafraid of people. Indeed, they like to stand in the road and stare at all the shiny cars with their strange, two-legged occupants. With time, bison encounters went from a scary novelty to a tedious event...




Here are bison walking in front of an old barn on Mormon Row...




On to Yellowstone...

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Huntington Library - February and April 2009

We were able to get away to the Huntington Library's botanical gardens twice so far this year, in February and April. As you certainly would expect, there were many more flowers in bloom in April, especially in the Cactus Garden. First, flowering plants related to the cereus, though of course these will all be day bloomers. The cactus greenhouse is open on Saturdays, and among the specimens in bloom during the visit was this beautiful cereus labeled "Epicactus 'Mystic Mood'":




Two more views of this cereus...







Echinopsis obrepanda, also from the greenhouse. (Don't these Latin names sound like vile diseases?)




I didn't get the name of this one, but I think it's the same plant I had that perished in the January, 2007, freeze:






Straining for the sun,,,




One stands above the crowd...




Cyclops is a little bit spooky, especially when it catches the sun...




Finally, from February, a butterfly alights on a peach tree in the Chinese Garden that was in bloom at the time...


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Sequoia National Park - March 2009

In March, we went up to Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park. A foot and a half of snow fell after our arrival, making for some nice pictures and an interesting drive down the mountain. Before the snow fell, the clouds rolled in...




After the snow, on the drive back down...




Farther down the mountain, close to the snowline, where the snow on the road had already melted...




Looking back at the snow-covered mountains...


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