Showing posts with label nature photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nature photography. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California

A Review of Some Notable Oak Trees in Paso Robles


The name Paso Robles literally means Pass of the Oaks when translated from the Spanish. And, of course, Paso Robles was Spanish before it was American. I'm guessing the oak tree population was greater than the human population before the town began. Some oaks are three times higher than the homes and businesses they live beside. Photographing them can be a challenge because of their size alone.

Although you can't walk far in Paso Robles without seeing at least one oak tree, certain areas seem to have some of the oldest or most unique oaks. I'd like to show you where to find them and show you some photos. Some of these oaks are so huge and so surrounded by buildings that it's hard to get far enough away from them to get their entirety in a photo.

Downtown Paso Robles


Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
The Oak in the Road, 5th and Vine, Paso Robles


The Oak in the Road


All of our downtown area is not commercial. There are some residential areas only a block or two from the commercial part of downtown. One of the streets there has so many oaks they named it Oak Street. The reason why is obvious if you take a stroll along it. This residential area often has deer in its crosswalks at dusk a block from the commercial area.

It appears when they built Fifth Street,  the city fathers left the oak you see above intact. This tree was measured by Phil Dirkx in May, 2015. At that time he found the trunk was 23 feet around at five feet above the ground. He estimated it was ten feet in diameter. A photo taken in c. 1886  shows a tree that appears even larger than this one at a Paso Robles picnic. So we know these trees have been around a long time.

Here are some other photos of the Tree in the Road.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Tree on Corner of 5th and Vine, Paso Robles, Looking South

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak in Fifth Street. Notice Branched Trunk
The photos above  give you an idea of how huge this tree is. Compare it to the cars and the houses. You can also see how the tree has been pruned and trimmed over the years. These photos were taken in the last week of October when both leaves and acorns were dropping onto the street. There is room on both sides of the tree for cars to drive past. Think of the tree as a unique center divider as cars enter this block or leave it.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Looking up at the Sky through the Leafy Branches of the Oak. 

In the photo  above I aimed the camera straight up to look at the sky through the tree's canopy.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Details in the Bark of an Old Oak, Trimmed through the Years
Above you can see every detail in the bark of this old oak. It has been trimmed and pruned as needed through the years. You can see some fresh scars where smaller branches have been removed, as well as older scars where there were once large branches.

When I left to photograph these trees, I expected to also get photos of another tree in the middle of Oak Street between Fourth and Fifth Street that I have often driven around in the past. Sadly, this time there was only a stump. It appears the tree recently was removed.

Show your friends this amazing tree by sending them the postcard below. Just click on the image to get purchase information at Zazzle. Oak in the Road in Paso Robles Postcard


More Oaks Near Downtown Paso Robles


These photos were taken on 12th Street, one of the main east/west streets downtown. My dentist has an office there in one of the old homes. Both businesses and residences locate on 12th Street. I have focused on the oak trees near residences in these photos. This photo was taken in spring. I couldn't help the fact that it was trash pickup day the day I went walking after my dentist appointment.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Tall Oak on 12th Street West of Spring Street

The sheer size of the these oak trees makes them hard to fit into one shot because there's no way you can get far enough away from them unless they are on a corner. The house above isn't.  The house below is, but it's still hard to get all those branches into the shot. Some of these oaks seem to have tentacles rather than branches and they seem to reach everywhere as their branches curve. 

This photo also presents one of the other problems with getting ideal shots of anything tall or high, such as a sunset. There are wires almost everywhere downtown. It's hard not to capture them because they always seem to be in the way.


Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Trees on 12th and Chestnut in Paso Robles

Oaks Right Downtown

We have oak trees right next to some of our most important city government buildings in close proximity to the shopping center of downtown. Here are some of them. I have captured many of them on my Zazzle products. Some of our most beautiful oaks are in the parking lot of the train station. I have photographed the one on Velta Circle many times. You can see some of the best in this blog post: Photos of North County Transport Center Buses.  Here's another of some different oaks in the parking lot. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Trees in Transport Center Parking Lot in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic

The tree below is also very close to the train station on Pine Street, though not in its parking lot. Below is the larger view of this unique oak tree. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California


Below you see more of the tree in a smaller size. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Arching Oak Near Train Station in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic


The oak below lives next to the Paso Robles Library entrance. You will often see patrons reading in its shade or homeless people napping on the benches. The library building is two stories tall, so that gives you an idea as to the size of the tree. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak in Front of Paso Robles Library, © B. Radisavljevic


The Zazzle postcard below shows the courtyard in back of the Superior Courthouse building downtown. Just click on it for more information. You can see it has its share of old oaks. 




These are in an alley downtown. Sure wish they'd put those wires underground, but they can't afford to.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak in Paso Robles Downtown Alley, © B. Radisavljevic

Oak Lane in East Paso Robles


Oak Lane is a rural street that's right behind the tract where I live. It is full of small farms and amazing oak trees. It is just past the intersection of South River Road and Charolais Road. It runs between South River Road and the property next to the Salinas River. It's a nice walk for those who like to see farm animals of all kinds and some gorgeous oak trees. And oaks aren't the only trees you will see -- just the most impressive. Here's one of them. As you can probably tell, this tree was taken in winter. That's my favorite season for photographing deciduous oaks. I like seeing their "bare bones."

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Tree on Oak Lane as Sundown Approaches, © B. Radisavljevic


Linne Road Oak Trees


Linne Road is accessed from Sherwood Road in Paso Robles and twists a bit before continuing east toward Sculpterra Winery and other farms and vineyards. It is worth the short drive from the city for those who love oak trees. I have featured some of my photos of a damaged oak on Linne, what I call a tree with character, in this post, Looking at Deciduous Oaks in Winter. Here I will just show you one shot I took on this country road. The oak tree itself is so huge I can't get it all into the shot. It was this owl metal sculpture that made me notice it first.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California


You can see the tree has already done a number on the fence. I guess the owl is keeping an eye on it. The tree extends far behind and next to the owl on the other side. Even the eye can hardly see the entire tree at once.

I did notice another oak not far from this one. It was just outside one of the farms. It appeared to be hollow. So I looked inside.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Hollow Oak Tree on Linne Road in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic

The Tree That Lives Across the Street


I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour of some of Paso Robles' most  interesting old oaks. I never get tired of discovering and photographing new ones. Of course my favorite is the one that lives across the street from me. I like to photograph it best at sunset. This was taken in winter.

Bare Oak in Winter Sunset, © B. Radisavljevic

Below it is not  so bare.

Not So Bare Oak in Summer Sunset, © B. Radisavljevic

Which tree did you like best?

Fellow contributor Mary Beth Granger also loves photography and is very good at it. I especially enjoyed her post Explore St. Louis: The Gateway Arch. 

See all reviews here related to photography. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Robin Revue: Watching Our Baby Robins Hatch

Oh what a show I enjoyed this Spring! I enjoyed an up close and personal seat to a family of baby robins being born. As a nature and animal lover I was in awe of two industrious robins persevering in a city neighborhood to expand their family on my front porch. I usually write reviews on Review This!, but thought this was a revue all could enjoy.


Day 1 What Is On The Porch Light?


As I drove into the driveway I noticed something hanging on the front porch light. Hmmm. The something looked like straw. Upon further investigation I determined the something was dried lawn clippings and a few pieces of string. Hmmm. The light bulb had not quite shown brightly yet.

The light bulb began to glow a wee bit brighter when hours later I drove down the driveway and noticed quite a bit of activity on the porch light; I saw a bird flying to the porch light with a mouthful of string. When I returned hours later I discovered a nicely built nest on top of the porch light. (It took awhile for the light bulb to burn brightly, some days are like that!)


I wasn't sure this would be the best place for a nest - but what do I know. I love all animals, but admit I know little about birds. At this point I wasn't sure what type of birds had built the nest as I had not gotten a good look at the nest. Although the nest looks lopsided and perhaps flimsy the nest was actually anchored around the point of the top of the porch light.

 Mom And Dad Robin Continue Nest Building


The nest became a very popular hangout for Mom and Dad Robin. I had identified the birds as robins and they must have been doing a little internal nest housekeeping with the amount of activity to and from the nest from the trees nearby. I was still questioning if this was a great place for a nest. I tried to look at the location from the robins' point of view. Yes, the nest was high off the ground and well, that was about all I could come up with ...  I thought about not turning the light on at night or what would happen if the light was accidentally turned on? I thought about the UPS deliveries, the dog walkers, the dog who lives in the home of the nest! The porch light did not seem like a great location, but of course I was vested in keeping this nest safe.

As the robins did housekeeping in the nest I found both robins quite nonchalant about the location and the bustling activity in and out the door. I was warned robins could dive bomb you if you are too close to the nest, but these two robins were pretty laid back. Until.... the eggs were laid.

We've Got Robin Eggs


Disclaimer: The photos are not always are not always the best quality as the porch light is 8 feet high and I had to get on a step ladder and then blindly hold out the camera over the top of the nest while trying not to fall off the ladder! 

One egg and Two Newborn Robins


And then there were 3 baby robins. Okay, not exactly the cutest little fuzzballs!



But growing fast!


Starting to get feathers!


Dad Robin Is An Excellent Guard


As Mom robin tended to her duties on the nest it was clear Dad Robin was not going to allow anyone near the nests. He was either in a tree about 50 feet away chirping or on this bush 10 feet away standing guard. If you opened the front door or he saw you approach the front door from the interior through the storm glass he would start shrieking and start dive bombing the door. (Dive bombing bird = not good photos!) I was so curious to see the robins, but did not want to disturb their newborn family or stress the birds. 



Taking photos of the bird nest became a two person challenge. If both birds were gone I would very very quickly try to take a photo.

The Family Of Three Robins Grows


Since I could not see what image I was taking it was always a surprise when I checked the photos.


I can't believe how quick the baby robins grew. The average baby robin takes two weeks to reach the size of their parents. The nest was quickly becoming a tight fit for the three babies.


The babies would hold their heads up and cheep cheep waiting for mom to return.


By ten days old the feathers had grown and it was difficult to find the babies in the nest with all the feathers.



I don't know if there is a runt of the litter in the bird world, but one little robin always seemed to be buried in the nest while two of the babies were adept at sticking their heads up above the nest.


Day 12 brought a nest full of what appeared to be very mature robins. By this time the family had become very territorial of the robins and anxiously checked all day to make sure they were safe. However due to their size it was clear leaving the nest was in the imminent future.

Time To Say Goodbye!


Right on schedule Day 13 brought the departure of the baby robins. I did not want to disturb the robins as we anxiously awaited lift off so did not take any photos. My family kept their distance to nervously watch the departure. It was more of a kerplunk then lift off. Thankfully the exit was a safe kerplunk into the fluffy tree and then the babies and parents flew to the tree about 50 feet away.

Whew! I was definitely vested in this little ole family and was relieved it was a successful journey from egg to exit.
Collage of the birth of baby robins.


All that was left was the nest as a reminder of our time together! As if on cue after the babies exit the nest fell off the porch light on Day 14. 






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review

Watching the Salinas River Go By


The Salinas River was not part of my life until 1995, when my mother moved to a part of Paso Robles California only three blocks from river access. It was the first time I had lived near a real river. I grew up in Los Angeles County, and the only rivers I saw were mostly empty cement waterways that only filled after heavy rains. When we lived near Seattle for four months I was delighted to see some real rivers. I had always wanted to live near one, and now I live in Mom's house where the Salinas River is a short walk away. I love to watch it.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
An Ideal Place to Sit and Watch the Salinas River in Paso Robles, taken with Nikon Coolpix S9300

Getting to Know and Photograph the River


Once I had such easy access to the Salinas River, I began to study it and observe and photograph it on a regular basis. The Salinas is a subterranean river. That means I don't see it most of the year because it's flowing underground. If we get heavy rains, it becomes visible again for a few weeks and then disappears from sight. I try to make the most of the weeks when I'm able to photograph the flowing river. I have put many of my Salinas River photographs on puzzles, greeting cards, posters, postcards, and other print-on-demand products at Zazzle. You can see most of those products here. Among them are a poster and greeting card of the bench photo above.

I just made a new poster of my favorite river shot. The river always makes me feel peaceful as it flows by me. So I added a bit of text that reminds me of one of my favorite hymns: "Like a River Glorious"

Here is my new poster. For ordering information, please click the photo. If you'd prefer to have the poster without the words or if you want to change the words, it's easy to do once you click through to Zazzle and click to customize.



You can listen to the hymn here. Sample the many digital professional recordings of the hymn on Amazon.




The Day the Salinas River Came to Me


One January day I had been walking in the dry riverbed after some recent rains, hoping the river was visible again. I didn't see much more than a few puddles. I was walking away with my camera to return to the riverbank when suddenly the river first trickled and then rushed toward me. I was able to capture it on video. I also got some still shots. You can see the video and the photographs I was able to capture that day and also learn more about the river in this article: The Salinas River: Now You See It. Some of my products also feature photos you will see on that page.

What I Like about Photographing the Salinas River


Access to the river from Larry Moore Park is easy. It's also easy to find a parking place beside or very near this neighborhood park. I get some interesting sunset shots over the river if I walk the river trail at dusk. Here are a couple of them.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS



Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

I can also find a wide variety of native plants, weeds, and trees to photograph beside or even in the river. I also see a lot of driftwood. I especially like this shot of a log in the river.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with Nikon Coolpix S8200


The sand on the bank also provides some interesting shots. In the photo below, you see footprints leading down to the river.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS


Sometimes one may see some unexpected wildlife. Birds are common, but hard for me to shoot. Rabbits, though,  appear quite often at dusk. I almost didn't see this one. Do you see it?

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Rabbit Blending with River Sand, taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

After the winter rains, the riverbank can come alive with color, as in the shot below. I was looking down from the trail when I took this photo.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

No matter when I visit the river, whether it's flowing or dry, there is always something new to discover and photograph. My shots aren't as professional as my friend Mary Beth Granger's who gives us some tips in Challenge Yourself to Take Better Photographs, but I have fun.

My Photography Equipment


Photography is my hobby, and I get along fine with a point and shoot camera. My favorite was a Nikon Coolpix that fit in my purse or pocket, but somehow I lost it when I went out one day with friends and we made a number of stops.

Some of these photos were  taken with my Canon PowerShot, another point and shoot. It has a longer zoom than the Nikon did. The zoom helped me capture that almost hidden rabbit above. The Canon won't fit in my pocket, but I got a nifty case for it that will also hold my cell phone and extra battery packs and San Disks. Nothing is worse than finding out that your battery is dead just as you find the perfect shot you'd been searching for.

The case below is the one I chose to go with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. It's light and the strap is so comfortable that I don't mind having to carry the larger camera. When I still  had my Nikon, I could even fit it in the slot next to my Canon, though I think it was really meant for a lens. Now the PowerShot and the case go with me everywhere because every time I leave them home I find a shot I wanted to take and couldn't.

Did You Enjoy this Brief Look at the Salinas River?

If you would like to photograph the Salinas River from Larry Moore Park, here's a map to help you find it. My directions are from the Paso Robles Walmart parking lot. You can drive to the park from the southeast exit and park along Riverbank Lane. Or you can park just west of J. C. Penny, that white building on the map closest to the river. That diagonal path you see next to Penny's leads to a park entrance. When you reach that entrance, go straight toward the river. You can't miss it. 



I'll leave you with one last photo with a bit of wildlife. I couldn't get close enough, even with my zoom, to bring the ducks closer, but occasionally they do get to the river. This shot was taken with my Coolpix S8200 and it didn't have as long a zoom as my Canon,  which I did not yet own back in 2013 when this was taken. I didn't want to crop the photo to make the ducks show up better because it would diminish the view of the river.

Ducks Swimming in Salinas River





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review of Tips for Photographing on a Hike

 There is nothing like a hike in the woods to find great material for nature photography.  During the past month I have gone on several outings with photographer friends to capture the beautiful images of springtime in Missouri.  These images were taken on two of our outings at state parks in the St. Louis metro area.  The photo above was taken at Cuivre River State Park in Troy,  Missouri.  The second park we visited was Lone Elk Park just off Hwy 44 in the southwest portion of the region.

Preparing for Your Trip

Good preparation is important for your trip.  On both of the occasions there was a chance of rain so some rain gear was added to my checklist.
  • Camera and back pack
  • Extra batteries and memory cards for the camera
  • Lens cloth to wipe away dust and dirt
  • Two lenses- one wide angle(18-70) and a longer lens (70-300)
  • large trash bag (to sit on if the area is muddy)
  • rain poncho (just in case)
  • lens hood
  • filter
  • tripod
Although I make sure all of these things are in my backpack, when I get to the place where we are going to shoot I leave most of the items in my car.  I do this because we were going on trails of 1 mile or less and if I need something else I can go back to the car.  For my first trip from the car to shoot I will put on one of my lenses and make sure to wipe it off.  I then check my battery and memory card and head out to shoot.  Later depending on what I'm wanting to photograph, I will come back and change lenses and/or pick up my tripod.  I used to always carry my backpack and tripod with me, but I have found that to be too cumbersome and not needed for short hikes.

 Photographing Wildlife

I have not done a lot of wildlife photography but on my trip to Lone Elk Park I had two photography buddies who really helped  me to hone in on wildlife to photograph.  Dina was great at listening for birds and pointed out the Pileated Woodpecker  that I was able to capture with my long lens in the photo below. In the photo below that you will see an Elk.  Our photo buddy Mac drove ahead of us through the park and would point out places where we could find Elk and Bison. I found that photographing wildlife takes a lot more patience than photographing flowers.

Photographing Plants and Flowers

I enjoy photographing flowers and foliage.

There is always something interesting to shoot in the parks. The first shot  is some pink dogwood I spotted through the trees.  This photo was taken in Lone Elk Park and the shot was taken out of the window of the car.  I had my lens set on aperture priority f8 and was able to capture the pink as I saw it through the trees.


We were hiking down a small path in Cuivre River State park when I saw part of an old stone wall. I stopped on the path and took several shots of the wall from different directions. It is amazing the different looks you get just by walking around an area and looking at it from a different angle.

I love the way the leaves were growing over this stone wall.  The sunlight filtering through the trees also gave it an interesting look.

 Waterdrops and Puddles Create Interesting Photos

We were at Cuivre River right after a rainfall and there were puddles everywhere and raindrops still falling from the branches and leaves.  Sometimes new photographers avoid rainy days, but I find that you can capture some of your best images on a rainy day.  The first photo was looking down at the top of an old stone pillar.  The pillar was about 3 feet high and a oval pool of water had collected in the top of the pillar.  I stood over the pillar and focused my camera down on the puddle of water that showed a reflection of the trees above.              

This next photo depicts a waterdrop on a branch.  I was having trouble getting a good shot when a fellow photographer suggested I back up a bit and refocused.  It took a few tries but I was finally able to get a fairly clear shot of the waterdrop with the background blurred.  

Watch for Special Features to Photograph

As you are out in a park look for special features to add to your photographs.  Old stone bridges like the one below make an interesting photograph.  Don't forget to turn around and look at the path you've just walked down.  The leading lines will also make for an interesting photo.


I couldn't resist photographing this goose that sat out right in the middle of the parking lot.  He didn't move all the while I was shooting.

Gifts from  my Photographs

Here are some items I made on Zazzle from my photographs.  You can see other items on my Zazzle shop by clicking through either of the links below.
Old Bridge at Cuivre River Card
Old Bridge at Cuivre River Card by mbgphoto
Look at other Old stone bridge Cards at zazzle.com
Leaves on Old Stone Wall Gift Box
Leaves on Old Stone Wall Gift Box by mbgphoto
Check out Cuivre river state park Gift Boxes online at zazzle



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.