Category Archives: Orange County

Map for my Costa Mesa to Newport Back Bay loop. Map data from Google 2016; ride details from RideWithGPS.

Ride: Newport Back Bay loop from Costa Mesa

Introduction

Newport Back Bay seen from Castaways Park.
Newport Back Bay seen from Castaways Park.

Newport Back Bay is a gem of central Orange County.   It’s a wetlands estuary located just inland from Newport Harbor, and has roughly six miles of paved bike path that allow you to ride only feet away from nature.  The views can be gorgeous, and I’ve seen many stunning sunsets while riding it.

For years I suggested that my students do an outdoor project at Newport Back Bay, and many came back saying “I never knew this was there; I loved it!”

However, actually cycling around Newport Back Bay is more complicated than it should be because the bicycle path does not actually form a complete loop around the bay.  On the eastern side the bike trail ends about a quarter mile north of PCH, and then doesn’t truly start up again until about a mile and a half north of PCH on the western side.  Thus, riders wanting to do a true loop must fend for themselves and figure out how to get through PCH and city streets to get back to the trail.

Route

I’ve created a complete loop with detailed notes in RideWithGPS: Costa Mesa -> Newport Back Bay Loop, and embedded a live view of the route below.  When starting from Estancia Park in Costa Mesa the route is just about 19 miles round trip and gains a total of 450 feet of elevation. Continue reading Ride: Newport Back Bay loop from Costa Mesa

Laguna Beach: my new favorite city to bike in

Okay, the headline might be a bit exaggerated, but when I come across a sign like this in a city, my heart goes pitter-pat:

A sign on the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach saying "Welcome to Laguna Beach", seen on December 24, 2015.
Welcome to Laguna Beach
A sign on the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach saying "Welcome to Laguna Beach", seen on December 24, 2015.
Give Bikes 3 Feet

Thanks Laguna Beach!

And in case you don’t know what the sign is referring to, it’s referring to California’s 2014 “Three Feet For Safety Act” (AB-1371), which mandates that

21760. (b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall pass in compliance with the requirements of this article applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.

(c) A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.

(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.

So, basically, cars must give bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing them, or slow to a reasonable speed and pass without risking injury to the cyclist.  Given the frequency with which cyclists need to dodge debris (and just plain lose their balance), a three foot passing margin is really a good idea.

Of course it’d be nice if police actually wrote tickets for violations of this law … but hey, I’ll take a sign as a good start.

Seen on December 24, 2015 as I enjoyed a lovely ride down PCH.  

Gisler Ave. connects to SART via a cool little bridge, seen here from on the trail itself.

Entering and exiting the Santa Ana River Trail in Costa Mesa

The length of the Santa Ana River Trail in Costa Mesa. Image from GoogleMaps
The length of the Santa Ana River Trail  in Costa Mesa (highlighted in blue). Image and map data from Google 2015; click for a larger version.

I live in Costa Mesa and love riding on the Santa Ana River Trail (SART), a multiuse paved trail open to walkers, runners, bicyclists, skaters, and more (pretty much anything non-motorized). If you’ve never ridden it before, you’ve got to: the Santa Ana River Trail runs more than 30 miles inland from the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Huntington Beach, where it connects up seamlessly with the beach’s bicycle path. And for that length it’s 100% car and crossing free – you have dozens of miles of paved trail to roll on continuously without stopping.  Insanely useful for getting places in central Orange County while avoiding cars.

But getting on the trail isn’t always intuitive, especially as the trail crosses  from one side of the river to the other within Costa Mesa’s borders. Starting near the ocean and heading inland, here are all the entrances from Costa Mesa:

The Santa Ana River Trail between Victoria/Hamilton and the beach is beautiful at high tide.
The Santa Ana River Trail between Victoria/Hamilton and the beach is beautiful at high tide.

I’ve also included two bonus entrances for people coming from Huntington Beach:

And I also point out where the bridge is:

PCH / southern end of Huntington State Beach

The PCH and Huntington State Beach entrance to the Santa Ana River Trail. Image and map data from Google Maps 2015.
The PCH and Huntington State Beach entrance to the Santa Ana River Trail; entrances are circled in green. Image and map data from Google 2015.

Continue reading Entering and exiting the Santa Ana River Trail in Costa Mesa

A portion of Newport Beach's skyline at night

Newport Beach at Night

Lately I’ve started bicycling longer distances1, and as I’m riding, I’m seeing more of my local area. So many of the bicycle paths lead to stunning views, not to mention the gorgeous little parks.

But now that it’s winter I’m out riding a lot at night. Night changes so much about the landscape, especially in urban areas where a single bright point-source of light (the sun or moon) is replaced by multiple small light sources, many of which are different colors and intensities. Combine the change in illumination with a requirement for long exposure times and you have a recipe for a dramatic visual change.

I wanted to try to capture some of that changed beauty, so I recently biked to a couple of my favorite vantage points in Newport Beach to try my hand at it.

A moonlit view of Lower Newport Bay (and partially Upper Newport Bay) with PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to the right and Newport Center's many tall buildings that surround Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA.  Saddleback Mountain (Santiago Peak and Modjeska Peak) can be seen off in the distance, to the left.  This image is a minimally manipulated single-frame, long-exposure capture. (Marc Perkins/Marc Perkins Photography)
A moonlit view of Newport Beach’s Lower Newport Bay (and partially Upper Newport Bay) with PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) to the right and Newport Center's many tall buildings that surround Fashion Island to the left. Saddleback Mountain can be seen off in the distance, to the left.
The view of west Newport Beach as seen from Ensign View Park (on Newport Heights).  Visible to the left is the Lido Peninsula and western tip of Lido Island with the Via Lido Bridge.  Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is visible in the foreground, as are many of the buildings on the Balboa Peninsula's western portion.  The two tall buildings on the left are the  the Vista Del Lido complex and the 601 Lido Condominiums; the two tall buildings on the right (that almost appear as one) are Newport: The Towers (3121 PCH) and Newport Surgery Center (3333 PCH).  This image is a minimally manipulated single-frame, long-exposure capture. (Marc Perkins/Marc Perkins Photography)
West Newport Beach as seen from Ensign View Park (in Newport Heights). Visible to the left is the Lido Peninsula and western tip of Lido Island with the Via Lido Bridge; Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is visible in the foreground, as are many of the buildings on the Newport Peninsula's / Balboa Peninsula's western portions. 2

But those are just general overviews; the image I’m happiest with takes just a piece of one of those and lets your eye linger on the details:

A view of west Newport Beach's Newport Harbor as seen at night from Ensign View Park.  In the foreground are buildings surrounding the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH); the back of the 2436 Pacific Coast Highway office building (that looks like a motel) is prominent, as is the Bayport Yachts round turret and Joe's Crab Shack.  Behind that are buildings on Newport Peninsula / Balboa Peninsula that front Newport Harbor, most striking among them is the multi-story Blackman Ltd. building at 3388 Via Lido Drive, with the parking structure at the Lido Marina Village on the right.  Behind those buildings and the palm trees lie two open-ocean oil platforms (one above the Blackman building, and one above the parking structure), which almost look as if they're floating in space.  This image is a minimally manipulated single-frame, long-exposure capture. (Marc Perkins/Marc Perkins Photography)
A closer look at a portion of west Newport Beach's Newport Harbor as seen at night from Ensign View Park. Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is in the foreground; behind that are buildings on Newport Peninsula / Balboa Peninsula that front Newport Harbor, most striking among them is the multi-story Blackman Ltd. building at 3388 Via Lido Drive, with the parking structure at the Lido Marina Village on the right. Behind those and the palm trees lie two open-ocean oil platforms (one above the Blackman building, and one above the parking structure).

All of these are single-frame exposures with minimal manipulation in post processing. A few more images can be found in my Newport Beach at Night album.

1 I’m trying to get in at least 80 miles a week, and am hoping to build up to riding a century in a few months.
2 The two tall buildings on the left are the Vista Del Lido complex and the 601 Lido Condominiums; the two tall buildings on the right (that almost appear as one) are Newport: The Towers (3121 PCH) and Newport Surgery Center (3333 PCH).

How to convert a child bike trailer into a cargo trailer: an illustrated guide

I’ve been trying to do more of my errands by bicycling, and one of my biggest holdups has been a lack of cargo room: it’s hard to lug home 80 pounds of cat litter in a backpack. So, a few months ago I started shopping on Craigslist for a bike trailer, only to find out that a good friend had one in her garage that I could have for free.

My Schwinn Spirit bike trailer before modifying it to had a wooden platform to carry cargo. (Marc C. Perkins)
My Schwinn Spirit bike trailer before modification.

That’s a Schwinn (Pacific Cycle) Spirit Bicycle Trailer, rated to hold up to two 50-lb kids (aka: 100 pounds of cargo!). I immediately fell in love with it, and even used it to lug home 80 pounds of cat litter from the pet store:

Two 42-pound bags of Fresh Step cat litter strapped in like kids into my bike trailer's child harness.  So cute! (Marc C. Perkins)
Two 42-pound bags of Fresh Step cat litter strapped in like kids into my bike trailer's child harness. So cute!

An unexpected bonus of the trailer is that whenever I have it attached to my bike, cars give me more maneuvering room. I bike on city streets in Orange County, CA, and am used to having only a few inches of space between my side mirror and the cars zipping past me. But when I’m using the trailer, most cars will actually change lanes before even attempting to pass me (or at least give me four or five feet of clearance), and I’ve had multiple people literally stop to let me go in front of them. Amazing.

But using the trailer for cargo has proved to be less than ideal, as the bottom of the trailer is just made of soft fabric: the kids’ weight is designed to be supported entirely by the harness (which is hung from a horizontal metal rod). So, unless I had cargo that was perfectly sized to fit into that harness (like the bags of cat litter), I was limited to low weight.

The Schwinn Spirit bike trailer has a lot of flat, open room in it once the child harness has been removed. (Marc C. Perkins)
The bottom of the Schwinn Spirit bike trailer (with the child harness removed) is just thin fabric: not good for cargo.

So, I wanted to modify the trailer to add a solid base to convert it to a cargo trailer, and while I found lots of DIY tutorials, they all involved removing the fabric. However, I wanted to keep the fabric on my trailer to protect my cargo from weather and prevent it from blowing around. Additionally, my guess is that the extra space I’m getting when I use the trailer is due to both the visual bulk of the trailer (it’s actually the same width as my handlebars, but makes my bike look much wider) and also because people think there are cute wittle children in the trailer and thus are panicked about the possibility of hitting them1.

So, what I ended up doing is removing the harness and adding a wooden shelf that fit inside the existing fabric, so my trailer now looks like this:

A view of my DIY bike trailer modification from the front looking in.  The shelf is high enough that it doesn't hit the fabric on the bottom of the trailer, but low enough to hold a large amount of stuff.  As a bonus, the shelf is hard to see, so drivers don't know there's not a kid inside :) (Marc Perkins)
My finished cargo trailer!

Read on for full instructions on how I built this!

Materials

Continue reading How to convert a child bike trailer into a cargo trailer: an illustrated guide

OCC Ornamental Horticulture Club’s First Place Garden

South Coast Plaza has a Spring Garden Show every year, and every year they have a contest for local landscape designers and schools to build judged gardens inside the mall. This year’s garden theme was “Healing Gardens”, and Orange Coast College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department Club built a garden for the visually impaired; OCC’s garden won first place in the competition!

A head-on view of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe.  This picture was taken Thursday April 27, 2012 at ~9pm, less than 48 hours after my in-progress pictures. (Marc C. Perkins)
A head-on view of the garden.

The team had only three days to build the entire garden on site. I took in-progress pictures of the team building the garden less than 48 hours before, and was amazed when I returned and saw the finished product. It’s a gorgeous work, and it also seems very functional for the visually impaired. The plants were chosen for texture and scent, and many are labeled in Braille:

A small portion of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  This image shows how many of the plants were described in braille. (Marc C. Perkins)But the centerpiece of the garden is a restored 1957 braille world globe, one of only 500 made.

A view of the braille world globe in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)
The Braille world globe seen in front of the waterfall.

The globe was contributed to the project by the club advisor, OCC Ornamental Horticulture Professor Rick Harlow. It features the world geography in exaggerated relief, so all the land on the globe can be sensed by touch. The club added Braille markers to the globe indicating where all the Braille-labeled plants are from.

A closeup view of the braille world globe in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)
A closeup view of the braille world globe.

The garden has other features to help the visually impaired, including wind chimes and a waterfall to provide auditory cues to direction, easy to use railings, easily sensible floor textures, and a speaking weather meter. The bottom of the waterfall grabbed my attention:

A closeup of the water feature installed in Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  This is a long exposure image, so the water blurred into nice streams. (Marc C. Perkins)The garden is just plain beautiful; it’s amazing what the club was able to do with such a limited space in just a few days.

A view of the braille world globe and one of the garden benches of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe. (Marc C. Perkins)Doesn’t it call out to you to relax in it?

The garden will be on display for this weekend only (April 27-29, 2012), so if you want to see it come quick!

More pictures

To see more pictures of the garden, head to my two galleries below:

Ute Smith works to artfully wrap a vine around a post at Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's in-progress installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for this year's show is "healing gardens", and the OCC team is installing a "garden for the blind," which will be complete with a braille world globe and braille labels.  This picture was taken Tuesday April 25, 2012 at ~11pm, as the team was working frantically to meet their Thursday-morning deadline.  This image was taken at a high ISO using the ambient light in the dim mall, so it's noisier than my typical images (and thus I'd recommend against printing it large). (Marc C. Perkins)
Garden Installation

A 3/4 view (with award ribbon visible!) of Orange Coast College's Ornamental Horticulture Club's first-place winning garden installation at the 2012 South Coast Plaza Spring Garden Show in Costa Mesa, CA.  The theme for the show was "healing gardens", and the OCC team installed a "garden for the visually impaired."  The garden's centerpiece is a 1957 restored globe for the blind, with the world geography in exaggerated height to be sensed by the touch of blind people; the locations of plants in the garden was indicated in braille on the globe.  This picture was taken Thursday April 27, 2012 at ~9pm, less than 48 hours after my in-progress pictures. (Marc C. Perkins)
Completed Garden

OCC’s team also won first place in the 2011 competition, and I have a few pictures of that garden in my 2011 Horticulture Garden Gallery.

Getting There

South Coast Plaza is at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Bristol St. in Costa Mesa, CA. The garden show is located in the portion of the mall that houses the Crate and Barrel and Apple stores. Parking and admission are free.

Philipp Rittermann’s “Emperor’s River” Gallery Opening at Orange Coast College

Hutong Neighborhood and Huaneng Coal Fired Power Plant, Dezhou, Shandong Province, China. ©2010 Philipp Scholz Rittermann - Image reproduced by permission from the author.

This past Saturday I went to a lecture and gallery opening celebration for Philipp Scholz Rittermann’s “Emperor’s River” project at Orange Coast College’s Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion. The talk and photographs were focused on Rittermann’s work from more than two months spent traveling along China’s Grand Canal, a millennia-old canal that runs 1,100 miles from Bejing to Hangzhou.

Emperor’s River focuses on telling the story of the people and places behind the recent massive expansion of China’s economy. He traveled the entire length of the Grand Canal, getting images of places that most western photographers ignore. There’s no Great Wall, few bright city lights, and no gorgeous mountain landscapes. But there are construction workers toiling, families working barges that follow the same routes people have have traveled for centuries, old buildings being torn down to be replaced with high-rises, and all the contrasts that come with quick industrialization.

Overview, Night Fish Market, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China. ©2010 Philipp Scholz Rittermann - Image reproduced by permission from the author.

I’ll be honest: during the talk I found the photographs to be good, but not addictive (except for the one at the top of this post, which grabbed me instantly). The images were being projected onto a large screen, but said projector wasn’t particularly detail-capable. The same goes for his website’s page on Emperor’s River – the pictures look good, but you might wonder “why should I go to a gallery for these, if I can just see them on the web?”

The reason you should go is that Mr. Rittermann’s speciality is to capture scenes that have many individual stories in them, and then to create giant prints that call out to the viewer to go over them inch by inch, revealing a bit more with every inch traveled.  He does this by photographing each scene as a panorama, stitching together the individual images1 to create a cohesive whole that is insanely high resolution, and so can be printed gigantic.

When I say gigantic, I mean it: some of the prints in the gallery are ten feet wide, and most are at least five or six feet wide. And these aren’t intended to be viewed from five or six feet away (as many large photographic prints are); there’s almost no noise visible in any of the prints, and they call out to you to stand with your nose touching the glass, peering into the scene absorbing all the minute details.

This construction site image is probably the best example:

High-rise apartment blocks under construction. Wuxi, Hangsu Province, China. ©2010 Philipp Scholz Rittermann - Image reproduced by permission from the author.

On the web, you’re probably looking at that and going “Okay, it’s a construction site. Um, yay?”  It’s well composed and gorgeously stitched, but at this resolution it’s basically just a construction site.  That’s essentially what I thought when I saw the image in the talk.

But when I saw the image in person, printed at more than six feet wide, I was able to see all the little details in precise, sharp focus. I could examine the stacking of individual bricks in each of the dozens of piles of them, I could look at how people were living in the lower floors of the mostly-completed buildings, I could look at the workers wandering the construction site, I could see the methodology of the construction in the background buildings, and as I spent more time I kept seeing more and more.  And the same thing happened with all the other prints (another excellent example is the second image I included, “Overview, Night Fish Market”; it’s just amazing in person).

This isn’t your typical splashy modern photography. The images aren’t over saturated (so refreshing!), and they don’t necessarily have a single element that pulls your eye in and makes you click “like” right away.  But each image has dozens of different scenes in it, and dozens of different stories to tell. These are images that need to be seen large, and when you do see them I guarantee that you’ll stand in front of each one for a good long time absorbing all the detail.

If you have the time, head over to the gallery and take a look (it’s free!). There are a few dozen prints of his up, and they’re all gorgeous.  Just be sure to get your nose right up to the glass, and look at them in depth.  You’ll be glad you did.

Getting There

Orange Coast College’s Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion: Mr. Rittermann’s show runs from April 7 through April 28, 2012.  The gallery is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11-7pm, and Saturday from 11-4pm; it is entirely free.  The gallery is located next to the Starbucks on OCC’s campus; the base address for the campus is 2701 Fairview Rd. in Costa Mesa, CA. The college has a map and directions page to get you to the campus, and the gallery’s website has a map locating the gallery on OCC’s rather large (and confusing) campus; I’d suggest printing the map if you’re unfamiliar with the campus.  Parking is free on Saturdays in any campus lot, but during the week all spaces on campus require a permit except for those with coin-operated meters.

1 Mr. Rittermann freely admits that he combines these individual images for artistic effect – choosing each image of the panorama to tell the story, not necessarily choosing images that are taken at the exact same moment.  So this isn’t single-frame, capture-a-moment-in-time photography; it’s different, in a good way.  And Mr. Rittermann is a master of panora stitching: horizontal lines, diagonal lines, rippling water, moving people, and parallax-inducing situations are everywhere (literally every single print is a stitched-together panorama), yet I didn’t see a single blending flaw other than a few ghost people and duplicate people in the prints.  And at 10-feet wide, blending flaws would be obvious (at least if I did the blending).

Amaryllis flower buds

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum sp. cultivars) are grown in most cold regions of the United States as an indoor houseplant that people work hard to force to flower. One of the nice things about living in coastal Orange County is that plants like amaryllis can live year-round outdoors in the soil, and need no forcing to flower.

We put in a few small plants 7 or 8 years ago, and they’re now giant bulbs that send up multiple flower stalks every spring. I’ve been watching this year’s flowering stalks grow daily, and finally made some time last week to go out and get some pictures.

Three young developing amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp cultivar) inflorescences can be seen growing on their scapes, long leafless stems that support them.  Amaryllis inflorescences contain multiple flowers that develop inside spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround the young flowers.  The two spathes are just starting to split open on the closest flower, revealing a bit of red from one of the flowers.  The two flower stalks in the background are blurred out of focus.  This image was captured outside using natural light; no flowers were harmed in the production of this image. (Marc C. Perkins)
Teamwork: Three developing amaryllis inflorescences.

Amaryllis flowers grow in inflorescences, clusters of multiple flowers growing from a single leafless stalk called a scape (three scapes with their developing inflorescences are visible in the picture above). The actual flowers develop at the tips of the scapes surrounded by two modified leaves (bracts) called spathes.

In the image above you can see the two spathes starting to split apart on the front-most inflorescence, revealing one of the red amaryllis flowers inside. As the spathes open further, the multiple flowers contained inside start to elongate their pedicels (the stalks that attach each flower to the scape) and they emerge from the spathes:

An amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp. cultivar) inflorescence pictured just as its flower buds are emerging from their sheath.  There are three red and green flowers easily visible.  These flowers are growing from a scape, a leafless stem that is used to support flowers.  The three emerging buds are surrounded by two spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround the flowers as they develop (and then stay present as the flowers bloom).  This image was taken outdoors using natural lighting on an intact plant growing in my yard; no flowers were destroyed in the making of this image :) (Marc C. Perkins)
Opening Day: Three amaryllis flower buds emerge from their sheath

Amaryllis are showy, long-lasting flowers, but I think the buds are under-appreciated.

Technically these shots were fun to capture. I wanted to create a studio-esque feel, so the viewer could focus on the details of the buds themselves without distraction from the background. I worked on a partly cloudy day, and set up a black backdrop behind the subjects I wanted to photograph, using a reflector to add highlights or fill as needed. The second image is a blend of five images to get additional depth of field (using the technique described in my poinsettia behind the scenes post), but the first is a single-frame capture. All plants were left completely intact, and if all goes well they’ll be in full flower soon.

More pictures

To see more of my pictures of plants, head to my plants portfolio page or my botany demonstrations gallery.

Here are two more images of amaryllis. The first is another image from the day’s work (a single inflorescence up close) and the second is a closeup of one of my amaryllis flowers from last year.

A young developing amaryllis ([Hippeastrum] sp cultivar) flower just starting to emerge from its sheath.  Amaryllis flowers grow on a scape, a long leafless stem, and develop inside spathes, bracts (modified leaves) that surround an inflorescence (cluster of multiple flowers).  The two spathes are just starting to split open, revealing a bit of red from one of the flowers.  This image was captured outside using natural light, with a reflector used to angle light on to highlight the texture of the flower bud's tip.  No flowers were harmed in the production of this image. (Marc C. Perkins) Amaryllis are commonly grown as indoor plants in cold regions, but here in Southern California I can grown them out in my yard.  The flowers are absolutely huge, and I wanted to capture the immensity of the blooms with this picture.  Seen in the background is a plot of roses, with a post-sunset dusky sky in the background.  As a side note, this may actually be a Hippeastrum, as plants sold as Amaryllis are apparently often actually Hippeastrum. (Marc C. Perkins)

Chicken cat

While photographing Oliver for my cats up for adoption series, I captured this image of him looking just like a chicken, which I thought would make a great post to end the week:

Oliver, a two year old male short-haired brown tabby and white cat, looks like a chicken in this picture.  Here he's perked up and stretched his neck as far up as it'll go, looking intently at something off camera.  He really does look like a chicken here.  Oliver is a sweet cat who needs a home with no dogs and no kids.  Oliver is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Oliver: chicken cat.

He was standing on top of a bank of cages at the rescue, and had just been mildly startled by something off in the distance.  So he stretched his neck up to see better.

Can’t you just hear the clucking?

More kitties?

To see more cats available for adoption at Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Orange County, CA, head to my cats available for adoption in Orange County, CA page.

To see more cat pictures I’ve taken, you can see a list of all of my pet posts, or head straight to my pets portfolio page.

Sad shelter pictures: cats behind bars

I don’t like pictures of animals in cages, especially ones that are clearly behind bars.  But while I was photographing cats available for adoption at Miss Kitty’s Rescue last week I decided to take a few “behind the bars” images, and I’ll hesitantly share them here.

The reason for sharing them is simple: living in cages is the reality for many cats. There are simply too many cats, and not enough loving enough homes for them all.

Awesome cats like Oliver and Trista end up being born feral or getting tossed out onto the street by an unloving owner.  If they’re lucky, they’re picked up by a rescue like Miss Kitty’s, who befriends them and sees if they could make a good pet. If they can make a good pet they live in a foster home for some time, then move to a cage at a display location like Petsmart in the hopes that someone will adopt them, enduring the hundreds of kids and dogs that knock on their cage’s window and bark at them.  And that’s if they’re lucky.

Oliver, a two year old male short-haired brown tabby and white cat, looks out from behind the bars of his cage.  I don't like pictures of cats behind bars, but it's what happens when people abandon their cats or let them have offspring uncontrolled.  Oliver is a sweet cat who needs a home with no dogs and no kids.  Oliver is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Oliver looks out from behind the bars of his cage.
Trista, a three year old female short-haired brown tabby cat, comes up to the bars of his cage to ask for petting in the rescue shelter he's currently living in.   I don't like pictures of cats behind bars, but it's what happens when people abandon their cats or let them have offspring uncontrolled.  Trista is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Trista comes up to the bars of her cage to ask for petting. Mindy, who runs the rescue, pets her.

Won’t you help?  

When you do want a new companion, adopt a pet in need (not from a breeder).  But if you can’t adopt right now, you can also help spread the word about pets in need of adoption.  You could also volunteer to help at your local rescue or shelter; they’re always looking for good people (and if you’re a photographer, see if they want a volunteer photographer).  Or donate to organizations like the Humane Society, an organization that works to, among other things, fund efforts to spay and neuter cats and dogs to help reduce the pet overpopulation problem.

Whatever you do, just make it so that I don’t need to take pictures of cats in need of a home anymore.

Both of these cats (as of this writing) are currently available for adoption through Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA. For more information on the rescue, and to find out how to adopt them, contact Mindy at misskittysrescue@yahoo.com.

More kitties?

To see more cats available for adoption at Miss Kitty’s Rescue in Orange County, CA, head to my cats available for adoption in Orange County, CA page.

To see more cat pictures I’ve taken, you can see a list of all of my pet posts, or head straight to my pets portfolio page.