I used to keep pet rats, and at some point I decided to breed them. A litter of baby rats is usually between five and fifteen babies. They start out tiny and pink, and by the time they are a few weeks old they have fur and start opening their eyes. When they are little like this they are very tame, inquisitive, and friendly. I found homes for them all.
This led to endless variety of cute baby rat photos like the ones shown here. They like to cuddle and form little piles, so it was easy to take multiple photos of the same group of animals. Posted in response to the weekly photo challenge Variation on a Theme.
The key to naps is to get everyone in a pile.
There is more than one configuration of the nap pile
Time to sniff the butts!
Time for another nap. Naps are important.
I used to go caving nearly every weekend. I have since stopped, because I prefer to spend my weekends warm and dry, but I do miss the beauty and wonder of caves.
Caves are a beautiful “inner” geological world that may as well be out of this world, they are so foreign and unusual. Caves are one of the last unexplored territories on earth. There are very few places with as much unseen territory as caves (the oceans are another example). Because they can be difficult to get to, caves often remain unspoiled by trampling feet and human development. There are many detailed mineral formations and beautiful objects in caves, and they also provide valuable scientific research.
Soldier’s Cave is a limestone cave in California with many intricate features, including cave bacon and helictite. You can see bigger photos here.
Helictite is is a type of speleothem found in limestone caves. Helictite is formed when water and minerals are extruded from the wall over a very long period of time. The results are the beautiful, spindly, almost-transparent formation like the one shown below.
The rock formation below is called cave bacon. Cave bacon is formed in limestone-based caves when a thin stream of water dribbles down the edge and slowly leaves deposits over a very long time. In the end you get thin ribbony formations of minerals. These formations are also called “draperies” because they look a lot like fabric. They have to be lit from behind in order to show the stripes so vividly.
Posted in response to the photo challenge Out of This World and the daily prompt Fabric.
These food photos are posted in response the photo challenge Sweet.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but cooked fruit is always delicious. These bubbling pears were from a friend’s Thanksgiving meal. We spent the weekend at in Gualala, California. Gualala is north of San Francisco along the Pacific coast a little south of Mendocino. I spent Thanksgiving there with my old friend Andrew a few years ago.
You know what’s really sweet? Old friends. I’ve known Andrew since 1988. Sweet.
From the same Thanksgiving we ate this pear upside-down cake:
I think rust is beautiful. I like the shades of teal and orange. I found this object near the San Francisco Bay in Mountain View, California. Posted in response to weekly photo challenge weathered.
Sunset at the corner of Boylston St. and Dartmouth St. in Boston. Posted in response to the weekly photo challenge Corner.
On the northeastern edge of Death Valley is an abandoned ore mining town called Rhyolite. The weathered old ruins, some still standing, are breathtakingly beautiful. Rhyolite was a thriving town at the beginning of the last century. It declined as soon as the ore was depleted. At its peak, the town hosted several thousand residents. Now it’s a ghost town with rusting cars and crumbling, abandoned buildings.
I like the structure of this crumbling building. Rhyolite is a study in the sad beauty of decay. Decrepit buildings crumble and wilt against the stark desert background. Man-made structures weather like the nearby ashy bushes that struggle in the arid climate. The environment is harsh for urban and plant growth alike. It’s a perfect setting for photography. I went a little nuts taking photos.
I am glad the crumbling buildings haven’t been dismantled. Dusty and weathered, they are perfect accompaniments to the dry desert environment and are reminders of our fragile existence. Without a constant influx of resources and water, a town becomes a dry husk. These buildings are an elegant reminder of mortality. The ruins complement the harshness of the Death Valley environment perfectly.
Posted in response to the photo challenges Structure and Weathered. Read more travel stories here.
6094 U.S. 101, Amanda Park, WA 98526
A cluster of ferns in Quinault Rainforest
Quinault Rainforest, part of Olympic National Park, is on my shortlist of places to visit again. In July 2013 on my way from San Francisco to Boston, I visited this mossy, verdant wonderland in the northwest corner of Washington State. I could have spent a month taking photos there. The park features overflowing ferns, moss growing off giant trees, and numerous other epiphytes that only grow where it rains all the time. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants in a non-parasitic way. Examples include ferns, mosses, spike mosses, and lichens. It rains almost fourteen feet a year in the park, so the place is very green.
Quinault Rainforest is verdant and amazing
The paths were particularly beautiful because the sunlight shone through the hanging moss and ferns and created a green backlit effect. Much of the lush greenery was brightly dappled. The mixture of shadow and light was spectacular. Many fallen trunks in stages of decay were thick with moss growth. Shades of green were very intense. This place is loaded with ferns and moss.
Quinault Rainforest could have been a lovely home for elves and gnomes
Plants grew from every square inch of the earth. Moss draped from every tree. Light filtered through everything. The park was scenic and postcard-perfect. There are hikes of shorter and longer durations, all radiating out from Lake Quinault in the center. It’s a very family-friendly park. There’s even a seafood restaurant on one edge of the park with a view of the sunset.
More ferns and moss in Quinault Rainforest
Even more ferns and greenery
Posted in response to It IS Easy Being Green!
A few years ago I visited Kauai, Hawaii, and discovered this large, bulbous, green, and knobby fruit, about the size of a pear.
Is it edible? Is it poisonous? Is it full grown? What the heck is it? My website received a lot of Google hits from people searching for “bulbous fruit”, which is what I called it before I realized its true name.
I have since learned that this is the fruit of the noni tree. It is edible (though not too tasty) and not poisonous (if you don’t eat too many). Proponents claim that the noni fruit and its juice can treat a wide variety of health problems, ranging from cancer to senility to psoriasis. Science hasn’t backed up these claims, so if you get a case of psoriasis, see a doctor. The noni fruit has also been used in many commercial skin and hair care products. Go ahead and slather it on if you need to moisturize, just don’t expect a cure for cancer.
I would go back to Kauai in a heartbeat. The plants there seemed bigger, greener, weirder. See the original high-resolution photo.
Posted in response to the weekly photo challenge It IS easy being green!
This is the bottom of Wailua waterfall in Kauai, Hawaii. It was huge and rushing and loud. There were at least four signs that said KEEP OUT and DANGER and suchlike. One sign said PEOPLE HAVE DIED HERE. A local guy told us there was a trail and that we’d be A-OKAY, so naturally we hopped the fence. The hike was not too long, but it was very muddy and involved ropes attached to trees. At the bottom we discovered a beautiful rainbow, with a second shadow rainbow, and the entire population of Kauai’s mosquitos. The weather was pretty good on the way down. The last 20 feet on the way up it started raining cats and dogs. Hooray!
Rule of thirds is a way of framing photos so that they are more pleasing to the eye. The idea is that if you break up the photo into thirds, the main lines of action should follow the divider lines. For example, if you take a photo of a person, don’t center them exactly in the frame; shift them to a focal point along the left or right divider lines. It is easier to demonstrate with a photo that doesn’t quite meet the standard.
The flower photo above doesn’t quite follow the rule of thirds. The stamen is too low and is also cropped off the picture. The photo below is lined up much better. See? Isn’t it easier on the eyes?
The photo of an abandoned photo is also a good example of applying the rule of thirds:
Rule of thirds is not an absolute rule but it is a great way to frame one’s photos. Let me know of your favorite “rule of third” photos! Posted in response to weekly photo challenge Frame
I saw this funky abandoned shed during my road trip across the U.S. a few years back. It is located somewhere in the midwest. This whole farm was a tourist attraction; it was advertised as a bunch of dilapidated farm houses you could explore. I like how you can see the other structure off in the distance from within the forefront shed. I also like how the lines seem to point in a spiral outwards. Normally I like “rule of thirds” photos where the subject is not fully centered, but I think in this case having the entrance in the center of the photograph makes the most sense. The shed in the forefront is a frame in two meanings: a frame or structure made of wood, and a frame or viewport to the outside.
Posted in response to this week’s photo challenge, Frame.
His name was Jabba the Hutt due to his corpulence. He barked like a dog, blew up his chin with air, and ate live crickets. When he wasn’t eating, he sat very still so that he was very easy to photograph. I had him for ten years until his eyes started to fade and he had a harder time catching crickets. He is shown here in the prime of his life, sitting on a painting. He changed colors to match whatever his surroundings were, more or less. He could muster several shades of brown and blue-green.
When I first got him home and he started barking, I thought there was an actual dog either right outside my window or somehow, disturbingly, inside my apartment. It was a big enough place that this was almost plausible, until I realized it was the frog.
His method for catching crickets was to look about two inches into the space in front of him. If there was a cricket there he’d pounce with his mouth open, landing such that cricket was instantly in his mouth. Efficient!
He was tons of fun. I still miss him.
Posted in response to weekly photo challenge Fun!
This is a cave in upper state New York that I used to visit often. Clarksville is a fun, muddy, cold, wet cave. There are narrower tunnels in Clarksville than the one shown below, but this photo captures the cave best.
Caving used to be my life. Every weekend I would haul ass to either in upper state New York (when I was in Boston the first time many years ago) or to Sierra Nevada (when I lived in California more recently). I was a weekend warrior. I was OK with being cold, wet, dirty, and uncomfortable, in pursuit of an outdoor experience.
I stopped caving because I now prefer to stay dry and warm.
This post is in response to the weekly photo challenge Narrow
A cairn is a little collection of rocks to indicate that hikers/climbers were here. This little cairn on top of Little Baldy, Sequoia National Park, is the icing on the cake that makes this photo interesting to me.
This post is for the weekly photo challenge: Cherry On Top
The weekly photo challenge is “cherry on top”. I think the ivy on this old church in Copley Square, Boston really makes the building interesting. I’m not a church-goer but I do think the old stone architecture is beautiful.
Posted in response to weekly photo challenges Cherry On Top and Tour Guide