Watching the Whales

Living near the coast of Southern California has several perks, one of which is the ability to see whales swim along in the ocean. I have always had an appreciation for these amazing creatures, and being able to see Humpback whales while on vacations in Hawaii always fascinated me. It isn't until the past few years that I have taken the opportunity to see whales off of my very own coast through whale watching trips. The tours aren't always successful, it depends upon the time of the season as they move up or down the coast.

Last week was definitely a successful whale watching trip. Leaving from Ventura, CA, my small boat of ocean tourist were treated to seeing approximately nine whales as they made their voyage in the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, we saw dolphins, sea gulls and egrets.

Gardenias in bloom

My absolute favorite part of summer is smelling the amazing aroma of the gardenia bushes in the yard. The blooming (more like popping) of the mystery gardenias really means the start of summer. Last year while recovering from hip surgery, I was at home a lot and had an abundant amount of time to enjoy the beautiful aroma and aesthetics of the gardenias. Which, of course, meant some photo shoots while I was -- literally -- sitting around. Here is one of my subjects from last summer:

Gardenia bloom

This year, my hip is much stronger than it was last summer, but the gardenia bushes have bloomed and the peak time is now over. However, every time I look at the above image, I can smell the beautiful aroma of the gardenia, and I feel so happy.

What is your favorite summer scent?

Wildlife Learning Center Adult Zoology Class - Week 4

This is week 4 of the 5-week it was our second to last one. Every class has been awesome and has exceeded my expectations. However, week 4 might as well have been titled "Animals Kristina would love to have". A macaw, a rabbit, a kinkajou, bonus time with the sloth, and....a hedgehog. Yes, I would love to own a hedgehog, but unfortunately they are also illegal to own as a pet in California. Of course we saw lots of animals, but I will highlight just a few here.


Prairie Dog

Rex rabbit

African Pygmy Hedgehog

Cute little hedgehog face

Kinkajou peeking through the hole


And... we got bonus time with Lola the two-toed sloth! So of course I am showing you more pictures that I took of her:


I have to thank the Wildlife Learning Center for offering this amazing class. Tomorrow is the last of the series, and I am so very sad that it is ending.

Thank you for stopping by!

Amgen Tour of California- Stages 3 and 4

The Amgen Tour of California , which happens to be the largest bicycle race in the United States, breezed into Santa Clarita, CA with an exciting finish of Stage 3 on Tuesday May 14 and out of Santa Clarita, CA on Wednesday May 15. I had the opportunity to shoot this sporting event last week, and it was such a fun experience. Here are a few photos from the finish line, where the cyclists finished the race from Palmdale to Santa Clarita. Peter Sagan won that stage:


The start of Stage 4 -- from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara --was a much more relaxed atmosphere. I was able to get some candids of the riders before they took off:


It was really fun to step out of my comfort zone and try to utilize some of the concepts that I have learned from the likes of Dave Black and Scott Kelby. Of course it will take a lot of  practice and shooting a lot more sports -- but the main thing is that I had so much fun making these images!

Thank you for stopping by!

Wildlife Learning Center Pictures- Week 2

Last Tuesday night's adult zoologyclass at the Wildlife Learning Center was my favorite so far. I know that I only have two to choose from, and the sugar glider from last week's class was pretty awesome, but this week held porcupines and Lola the two-toed sloth, among other awesome animals. I took lots of pictures and we saw lots of animals, but I am going to highlight four here.
We visited with the -- leashed -- Serval to start the class off. No petting this gal. Every breeze and rain drop were picked up by her large ears, and she was intently looking for the source of unfamiliar sounds. Our instructor, Marissa, gave her kitty food to get her to face in our direction.
Next were the porcupines. Every time I visit the Wildlife Learning Center, I have the best time watching these little guys waddle around, climb their tree stumps and cage, and bump into each other. We were also treated to the juvenile porcupine's special way of begging--- by throwing punches into the air.
I had been dying to meet Lola the two toed sloth for quite some time. She is usually in her little warm habitat to mimic her natural environment, and just the average visitor isn't able to get into the house. However, our class got to squeeze into her little -- and very warm-- house.
In order for us to be able to pet her, she had to be distracted with a special treat of sweet potatoes.
Exerting all of that energy was so very taxing for this little sloth, so after eating and getting her photos taken, she was very tired and gave us a huge yawn:
And then she curled up for some much needed sleep (hey, life is tough when you're a sloth):
Again, while we sat in our chairs during the lecture portion of the class, there was something a crate really itching to get out. It turned out to be this Arctic fox, which came to the WLC because it was in a fur house and did not have fur up to their standard.
Thankfully for us, and even more thankfully for the fox.
Again, I have to say thank you to the Wildlife Learning Center for offering such a great opportunity! I look forward to this evening's class!
And thank you for stopping by!

Pictures at the Wildlife Learning Center

I have always loved animals, and love visiting the Wildlife Learning Center. Imagine my excitement when I found out that they were offering an interactive adult zoology class for five weeks! Last week was my first class, and of course I took some photos to share with you all. We started learning about the different animal classifications, starting with insects such as the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach:

This Indian Stick insect:

And this scorpion (I did not touch this little guy):

We moved onto learning about amphibians by looking at this African Bullfrog:

And then moved onto learning about reptiles like this baby American Alligator:

We then learned that birds are closely related to the reptile family, and saw this blind screech owl that was rescued:

The softest little animal that was brought out for us to learn about was the Sugar Glider, a marsupial (there were actually four rolled up in a blanket, I was able to catch this one as he got out -- yes it had to be held so that it wouldn't glide away):

And out night ended with a showing of this grey fox:

I look forward to the next month of classes. Thank you to the Wildlife learning Center for offering this type of outreach to adults, and for doing great work!

And thank you, as always, for stopping by!



Macro Photography Images

It has been a long time since I have posted--I have had some personal health obstacles within the past 10 months, and am finally getting back to blogging! I have some exciting news to share with my wonderful readers, I have recently gained interest in having my images hanging in a few different locations. Currently, I have six images hanging at a spa in Santa Clarita, CA-- what is more calming than some beautiful macro nature images?

Here are the six images that were chosen to hang:

Night Blooming Cerus

Night Blooming Cerus

Backlit Leaf

Backlit Leaf

Orchid Waterfall

Orchid Waterfall

Backlit Orchid

Backlit Orchid

Cana Lily

Cana Lily with Water Drops

Aloe Leaves

Aloe Leaves

Of course you can contact me about ordering any of these images for the walls of your home of to give to someone you love!

Thank you as always for stopping by!




A glimpse of Spring

I know, while the rest of the country freezes, Southern California has nothing to complain about. This past week has bee beyond gorgeous, and has me looking forward to spring and taking bee-yoo-tee-ful photos like this one: Tulip

Not to toot my own horn, but when I look at this image it just shouts "Spring is here!!" and gives me a warm tingly feeling all over.

This was taken in March of 2009, with a Canon rebel XTi and Tamron 90mm lens at Descanso Gardens, which is my favorite place here in Southern California.

Thank you for stopping by.

Things are looking up

For Christmas, my beloved Mr. Wonderful presented me with two fantastic Peter Lik photo books, one a Limited Edition photo book of his work in Las Vegas and beyond, as well as a book dedicated solely to Vegas. I always stop into Lik’s galleries in Vegas and Hawaii (those are the places I tend to travel most) to see some awe-inspiring landscape images, and are they ever. The Vegas galleries are really inspiring after a few cocktails. While looking through these awesome images, I was struck by the photos of Palm trees in Vegas. Being a Southern California resident who loves to visit Sin City, I must say I rarely look up to enjoy the beauty of the luscious palms. I don’t think I do that at home either.

Anyhow, while visiting the San Fernando Mission last week, I did precisely that: looked up. It’s amazing what you see up there:

Lone palm

I liked the idea of this solitary palm and bright blue sky. I just did a little bit of editing in Lightroom 3.

Palm building

I loved the juxtaposition of the building and the palm tree. The color contrasts really grabbed me.

A Pair of Palms

This might be my favorite palm tree image of the day. I know that one of the photographic “rules” is to have odd quantities of objects in photos, but I really liked how the breaking of this rule worked out for this pair. The bright blue sky and the greens just grabbed my attention.

Of course there are other trees in Southern California. One of my out of town visitors pointed this out:



This looks to be a Ceiba tree. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Of course I had to get a macro shot of those thorns:


I had an image previous to this one that was tighter on the tree, but the thorn was just too...shocking.

Thank you Mr. Wonderful for inspiring me with my Christmas gifts.

And thank you as always for stopping by!

Home reflection

Home reflection, originally uploaded by kej328.

Testing out the ability to blog from my Flickr page.

What better than to test it out with a nice reflection of my favorite place? A different view of home, certainly I never really see it like this.

And taken on the fly with the iPhone, edited with Photogene.

Thanks for stopping by!

Project 365 Day 18

Today was another wet day here in Southern California. The weathermen were actually correct when saying that it was going to storm (usually here in SoCal, that means a light drizzle). But today, there was wind AND rain. Now being a Southern California resident, and it being a holiday from work, I stayed inside. And inside is exactly where I got this shot from: Project 365 #18: Droplets

This image is of rain drops on a protruding bay window, taken with THE 5DM2 at 1/50, f/2.8 ISO 800 with no flash. The colors in the back of the window are cars on the street and some greenery.

I am trying something new and importing the files as DNG files into Lightroom2. I then brought up the exposure and saturation, and turned the original horizontal shot into a portrait crop.

As always, thanks for stopping by!