Wednesday, May 30

Jim Goldstein Gives Us Some Great Advice On Fellow Photographers


Jim claims; “I've been meaning to share one of these stories for a while. Now that I have a story to offset it I felt the time was right to share it. Bottom line... photographers need to be cool with each other and avoid being jerks.”

Photographers: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

As a photographer I consider myself fortunate to be alive during an amazing time where a resurgence in photography, thanks to digital, has paralleled an unprecedented revolution in communication, thanks to the Internet. The Internet has facilitated a constant buzz and chatter relating to everything photography enabling us to learn, gain inspiration and even compete. Every moment of the day we are bombarded with photography whether we’ve taken and shared our photo(s) or someone else has shared their photo(s) with us in the news, on a forum, on a social media site, etc. If you take a moment to put that Internet chatter and buzz on pause and strip away our cameras and computers we are left to see the individuals behind it all. We may not literally see every photographer worldwide, but in our day to day interaction we can see the qualities these people bring to the photography community. We see human nature at its best, worst and ugliest form.

Over the past year I’ve had a couple of experiences that warranted a discussion on photographer ethics, but I put it off. I put off the discussion because it was so disheartening. I was witness to the bad and the ugly, but recently I experienced the good… in fact the very good. Given the nature of my most recent experience I felt I could share my stories so that there was some perspective if not balance. After all I didn’t want to leave you feeling as disheartened as I had and I wanted to highlight an example of where photographers acted their best, exemplifying how our community could be and should be… all the time.


The Bad & The Ugly

Less than a year ago I was in one of my favorite locations, Glacier National Park. It was one of the few times I’ve had the opportunity to visit Logan Pass, home to amazing high altitude meadows. The scenery in this location is jaw dropping with craggy mountain peaks of exposed rock towering above fragile green meadows filled with alpine flowers and softly running creeks and waterfalls. At certain times of the year visitors are confined to boardwalks to minimize foot traffic across the meadow helping them stay healthy and productive.


On the morning I was visiting I witnessed a photographer walking across an area outside the permitted boardwalk, along a perpendicular stone ledge (non continuous) that stretched out to the small valley below. He was returning to the boardwalk. As it so happens the valley below is home to a highly sought after waterfall to photograph. I approached the photographer to let him know that the meadow was closed in case he missed the signs and to make small talk as opposed to being confrontational. Here the wild ride begins and to keep it short I’ll summarize the events that transpired in our conversation:

♦ When discussing the meadow closure the photographer felt he knew better than the park service stating the meadow does just fine with foot traffic, after all he’s been visiting the park for decades and there has been no impact to the meadow that he’s seen.

♦ When asking where the highly sought after waterfall was I was told it was still under tens of feet of snow given the time of year. This turned out to be a lie as the waterfall could be seen if you knew where to look. I was able to see it later on my hike up the boardwalk.

♦ When making small talk to learn about his photography and workshops I was told a fake name and given a fake web site URL

♦ When asking about good alternate photography subjects, not subject to the meadow closure, I was pointed to subjects in the opposite direction of the highly sought after waterfall and told times that were polar opposite to when the best time to take photos truly was. If it was a sunset location I was told to go there at sunrise and vice versa.

Fortunately on this trip I had enough information and experience to know that the photographer I had run into was unscrupulous and untrustworthy. It was a very unfortunate encounter, but one that was an eye opener to a side of photography I’ve rarely seen.

The Good (If Not Great)

Recently I ventured out to Lassen National Forest to photograph the annular solar eclipse. The goal was to see the moon centered over the sun revealing a perfect ring of fire around the moon. I had an idea of where to go to make this happen, but not an exact location. Referencing a NASA Google Maps mashup I found a stretch of highway that would allow me to get well positioned to get the photo I had in mind. After driving 5 ½ hours I knew I was in the right place after seeing a small cluster of photographers and astronomy enthusiasts set up at a turnout. What made me realize this was the spot? Easy the astronomy enthusiasts had gigantic telescopes, up to 16”, set up.


I arrived with an hour to go before the eclipse began, but after I set up my camera I realized I was not going to be capturing any photos worth my while. My plan to stack two vari-ND filters on my 400mm lens was a failed plan as it was introducing too much reflection and ghosting of the sun. Before I gave up hope though I talked with the people around me who knew what they were doing. While I didn’t know any of the people around me, they were well versed in photographing solar eclipses and I was able to glean enough information from them allowing me to create a makeshift solar filter from a pair of eclipse glasses I received from a friend. By holding the filter over my lens I was one step closer to getting a decent shot.

2 minutes later another photographer came over to set up his camera. Space filled up quickly at the rest stop so I offered to remove my extra tripod & camera so he could set up. We got to talking and low and behold he lived about a mile from me. Seeing that I was holding up a filter to my camera by hand he offered to give me a piece of thick paper, blue painters tape and scissors. I instantly took him up on his offer and made an impromptu custom fitted solar filter from my eclipse glasses. It was because of the generosity of several people (my friend providing the eclipse glasses, a stranger providing various supplies and the collective knowledge of the people around me) that allowed me to successfully photograph my first solar eclipse.


Final Thoughts

Back when I was in Glacier National Park it seemed that the ethos of fellow photographers were as bad as they could be. My outlook on the photography community was at an all time low. After my time in Lassen my faith was completely restored. Yes there are always bad apples out there, but at the same time there are some incredible people who are always happy to help.

Over the past year I’ve continued to probe and experiment to see exactly what is the state of ethos and camaraderie amongst photographers and along the way I’ve learned a few important things that lay the foundation to the “good” (if not great):

1. It always pays to talk to your neighboring photographers.

2. Be as generous to others as you’d like others to be with you.

3. Never assume anything when sizing up a photographer as you never know who might be setting up next to you.

4. Always share your contact info to swap notes and see each others photos after the shoot.

5. Don’t get so caught up in your shoot that you lose sight of having fun and making new friends.

So while there’s always a presence of photographers that are good, bad and ugly, the ratio of these types of photographers is dependent on you. The more generous and considerate you are with others, the more generous and considerate others will be with you and those they encounter on their future outings.

Twisted Trees

Twisted Trees, Glacier National Park

You can Follow Jim @ JMG-Galleries-Jim M. Goldstein on Google+ under Photography And Art. He’s an awesome photographer and has some great tips about taking pictures.

Or you can Follow his blogs on WordPress @ Landscape, Nature And Travel Photography.

To see his work check out his JMG Galleries.

Keep your thinking cap on.

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Wednesday, May 23

Who Is Alice?


American McGee’s Alice


Jeffrey Scott Campbell’s Alice


Anonymous Alice Body


Jeffrey Scott Campbell’s Alice-Ouch!


Mia Wasikowska’s Alice

We all have some Alice in us!

I did these at Face In Hole a fun website where you can make yourself into anything and anyone. Try it, it’s quite fun!

I hope your week is full of good things and fun times with friends and family!

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James, my Room-mate and partner in crime.

Monday, May 21

Did You See The Ring Of Fire Eclipse?

On May 20th, (yesterday) we had the “Ring Of Fire” solar eclipse that could be seen in the Western US. We could see it here in San Mateo, California and it was spectacular! James and I were outside by the pool watching it on our patio.

This was the first solar eclipse I have seen in nearly 18 years. This would be my 3rd I have viewed through the years. I saw the last one back then, and even remember seeing one in Michigan City, Indiana (my home town) while I was in grade school.

We made these boxes that were big enough to go over our heads (total dark viewing) and put a white piece of paper on the inside that you would watch it on. In the back of the box we cut a square to hold the piece of paper with the pin hole in it. You put the box on your shoulders to view in comfort. It worked really well (us kids had a laugh at seeing each other) and no kids went blind in my class.

Yesterday I used the same viewing trick minus the box and held my two pieces of white paper. One to watch it on, the other to view it with. I actually got a pretty large image by holding one further away although my arms got tired. James had his digital camera to view it with and got some pictures.

Another cool thing to see during an eclipse is the way the light looks! It gets darker as the moon pushes it’s way onto the sun. Everything looked odd, shadows were different and reflections of the sun off of mirrored surfaces looked awesome.

I found some images of the Ring Of Fire eclipse people sent in from all over the area it was viewed in.


The Ring Of Fire moment.


  The eclipse being reflected many times over from the windows of another building onto this one.


Just as the moon starts to roll across the sun, an edge appears.


This image is nice with the oil refinery in front of the eclipse.

We only got a few good pictures unfortunately but here they are. We were not very well prepared so I’m glad there were so many nice pictures of it sent in by people to the internet.


This is me using the two pieces of paper viewing method. The further away you hold the paper with the pin hole, the larger the image gets. It may look primitive but it works and you can still watch the whole thing.


Here’s the image James got with his camera. Since they all look the same (just at different times) I thought one would be enough.

One thing I saw that freaked me out was watching the neighbor’s kids. They came outside to see it for themselves. Not one child had anything to view it on and were joined by a few parents as I watched in horror as they all were peeking at the eclipse threw their fingers!

Most of these kids go to school, and it’s sad as I wonder if they even studied the coming eclipse. I’m sure nobody went blind but it can happen and two pieces of paper is a small price to pay to keep your eyesight.

Did anyone see the Ring Of Fire eclipse? If you took any pictures leave me a link as I’d love to see them. Have you ever seen a solar eclipse?

This is a great weekend that I’m still enjoying very much!

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Wednesday, May 16

Venus The Girl Who Looks Like A Living Doll

This is a 15 year old girl from London whom I first saw on "Right This Minute" and since then she has gained internet fame for her look as a "living doll." On YouTube you can find more of her videos as she shows you how to put on make-up to achieve different looks if you want to try them out for yourself. She also cooks and shows off her favorite clothes and more, all the things a 15 year old would be interested in. I think it's harmless enough as her mother is looking after her and she is as cute as a button! She seems to be very happy doing it, and I wonder what do you think?

Venus Angelic With Helen Fospero & Dan Lobb On April 4th 2012

I love Anime and with her doll make up and all she would make a great anime character if you ask me! I hope I see more of her in the future, maybe in a movie. She would of made an awesome Alice In Wonderland, don’t you think?


Venus With Sailor Moon Hair-Do

I also think that at 15 she’d make a beautiful model. She could be another “Twiggy".” Yes some people are going to take what she’s doing the wrong way (there’s always sickies out there) but you can’t hold that against Venus for wanting to perform anymore than you can Lady Gaga. Her hair and make-up advice is really quite good. She shows you zombie makeup, dog makeup, how to do your hair, just all kinds of cool things. I love watching her. 

This is what “Right This Minute” had to say about Venus:

“We interviewed Venus a few months ago about her unique look as a living doll. Since we interviewed her she's gained internet fame and she even says she has new plans for a TV series and much more!” To see the rest of that interview: Internet Fame for Venus, the Girl who Looks like a Doll! »

She is not only on YouTube but she has her own webpage on it, so you can visit all of her video’s in one place on YouTube at: VENUSANGELIC

She is different and very refreshing! What do you think?

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Picking The Right Flowers For The Right Sign

Every sign of the Horoscope has it’s own unique idiosyncrasies. Whether it be colors, gemstones, planets, moods, etc. certain signs will be drawn to different flora and fauna just like each sign represents a particular energy or style of that sign.
This being Spring it’s time to relish what beauty nature gives to us so what particular flowers are you drawn to and do they coincide with what sign you are?
I had always thought that “Lily Of The Valley” was not only a flower I adored but being a Taurus one that went with my sign. Well, was I surprised, and see if you are too starting with (of course) my sign.

Taurus (April 20th to May 20th) Rose, poppy, foxglove, daisy, primula, violet, columbine, mallow, berries, sundew, ash, cypress, vine, apple, crab apple, pear, fig, citrus, palms
A Sundew Feeding

Gemini (May 21 to June 20) Lily of the valley, lavender, maidenhair fern, myrtle, fern, orchid, chrysanthemum, lilac, azalea, nut-bearing trees, hazel
 An Orchid Blooming

Cancer (June 21 to July 22) Bear's breeches, morning glory, geranium, lily, water lily, cabbage, lotus, verbena, Southern magnolia, cow parsley, white flowers
Water Lily

Leo (July 23 to Aug. 22) Sunflower, marigold, celandine, passion flower, vines, rosemary, aster, larkspur, dahlia, heliotrope, palm, bay, laurel, walnut, olive, citrus trees

Photobucket  Sunflower

Virgo (Aug. 23 to Sept. 22) Narcissus, chrysanthemums, aster, all brightly colored small flowers (particularly blue or yellow), cherry, nut bearing trees (not just edible)

Libra (Sept. 23 to Oct. 22) Large roses, aster, hydrangea, blue flowers, mint, daisy, berries, Taurean flowers, plum, ash, poplar and Taurean trees
Photobucket Daisy

Scorpio (Oct. 23 to Nov. 21) Rhododendron, geranium, holly, black-eyed Susan, scarlet monkey flower, anemone, heather, gardenia, honey suckle, cactus, Arian flowers, yew, blackthorn, bushy trees
Black-Eyed Susan

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 to Dec. 21) Pinks and carnations, dandelion, clematis, peony, blackberry, thistle, moss, sage, rush, lime, birch, mulberry, oak, ash, chestnut
Blow On Dandyline 

Capricorn (Dec. 22 to Jan. 19) Ivy, heartsease, love-lies-bleeding, pansy, knapweed, hemp, Scotch broom, trillium, baby's breath, camellia, magnolia, pine, elm, yew, willow, aspen, poplar, hemlock

Aquarius (Jan. 20 to Feb. 18) Solomon's seal, orchid, goldenrain, goldenrod, jack-in-the-pulpit, bird of paradise, gladiolus, trillium, kiwi, fruit trees, elderberry, olive, alder
Bird Of Paradise

Pisces (Feb. 19 to March 20) Water lily (with sea green, crimson blooms), moss, poppy, rhubarb, yarrow, clematis, wisteria, lilac, orchid, willow, fig, trees growing near water

Aries (March 21 to April 19) Honeysuckle, thistle, bryony, peppermint, tiger lily, geranium, hops, impatiens, onions, hollyhock, thorn-bearing trees/shrubs, some firs
Peppermint Plant

If you’re so inclined to know more about this see Zodiac Sign Flowers, they have some nice information.
Now that you know what flowers to pick for your Horoscope sign what can you do with the information? You could start a Horoscope themed garden, or give your friends one of their plants on a birthday! How about a Zen/Horoscope garden? What fun!
Now I know why I’m so good at growing my roses! My roses were the best in the neighborhood in the old days. Oh the smell! I have always liked poppies, violets, palms and figs too so I’m pleasantly surprised. Not that it really matters because I love to garden and I will grow anything I’m interested in. I have grown poppies from bulbs and it’s great fun.
Did you know what kind of plants and flowers went with your birthday and did any surprise you?
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Friday, May 11

Life Goes On


Sometimes you have to take in the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you’ve got, and remember what you had.
Learn to forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret, people change, things go wrong, but just remember, life goes on.

Today’s my birthday and I’m another year older, with another year of wear and tear. As I look into the mirror all I can think of is; “It’s My Life…” and I’m thrilled to see how many of my friends from different backgrounds and countries wished me a happy birthday! You didn’t have to do it and I’m sure you’re busy with your own lives but I wanted to tell you it made my day!

I can’t tell you how good you made me feel by remembering my

Happy Birthday

It means so much to me and it’s so thoughtful of you!


Thanx for putting the “happy” into this day for me. I know we don’t all know each other in the flesh, but it’s the soul and meaning that counts.


Google search in their special way had this for me today and it said; “Happy Birthday Bekkie Sanchez.” I’m sure everyone gets one but I liked it very much. Too bad it wasn’t “real” it looks so delicious!


Have a Great Weekend

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Saturday, May 5

Today I’m Mexican!

Having a last name like Sanchez I have people mistake me for Mexican all the time. Until they see me! Lol! It’s OK I’m actually Spanish and my people came through Mexico and I like to party soooooo


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The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill

James is from California and he told me about wild parrots living on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. After hearing his story I had to go see them for myself. Grabbing our cameras James and I set off to hopefully see and catch some pictures of them ourselves. As we climbed Telegraph Hill my excitement rose as I watched for any signs of the green birds. Not seeing any I panicked, wondering if they were still living in the area.

How the birds, natives of South America, came to take up residence in San Francisco is a matter of speculation, even legend. Bittner, who devoted years to chronicling and caring for them, first noticed the parrots in 1989, when the flock numbered just four….a mated pair and their offspring. The adults wore quarantine bands, suggesting they had been released by, or escaped from, importers.

By 1994, Bittner and his neighbors on Telegraph Hill counted 26 parrots. By 1999, 50.

Now the wild parrots that call San Francisco home have become a given of city life, squawking their way to their favorite spots, delighting tourists. The famous flock is now about 300 strong, more than triple its size 10 years ago.

The parrots became famous when Mark Bittner, an unemployed musician down on his luck, was house cleaning for a woman who let him live rent-free in a cabin on Telegraph Hill. There he discovered and fell in love with the feral parrots. He began spending all of his free time with them, feeding and interacting with the parrots and found them to be quite endearing.


Mark Bittner With His Parrots

This relationship caused Bittner to write a book on his unique experience with his beloved parrots called “The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story With Wings” in 2004. He is now the local wild parrot expert and a tourist attraction himself. 

In May 2005 a documentary by Judy Irving that chronicles Mark Bittner and his parrots named “The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill” aired on the PBS series Independent Lens. The video below is a preview of that series when there was still only about 45 birds. After the series and book the parrots became even more popular with tourists and San Franciscans.

In 2007 San Francisco banned feeding the parrots which has made tourists and bird loving residents very unhappy. The parrots were falling ill to a bone disease caused by eating too many seeds and not enough of the blossoms and other food they would normally eat. They were also losing their foraging instincts and street smarts, making them easy targets for predators.

They fall prey not only to hawks but also to a tiny worm thought to come from raccoons, Erlichman said. The worm causes a neurological disease marked by dizziness and the inability to fly.

A local bird rescue group, which was founded to rescue abandoned pet cockatiels, is inundated with wild parrots who need care, including fledglings that crash and break a wing or leg, birds stricken by illness and those injured by predators or accident.

"As a flock, it's healthy, it's growing," said Jennifer Erlichman, the rescue's wild conure coordinator. "There has always been a percentage that falls ill or gets injured. The percentage hasn't changed. There are just more birds."

When we were almost to the top of Telegraph Hill we saw a parrot. And then another. Soon there they were, flying about and hanging in the trees. Some even thought we had seed which helped us get some pictures of their funny antics. 









They are so colorful and we were lucky to get pictures while they were picking mates although I couldn’t tell the difference between the males and females. They are playful, colorful birds who dart around acrobatically and chirp at high decibels.

Now the flock is not only growing but they are migrating to the San Francisco suburbs. “The birds probably migrated there in search of food;” said Mark Bittner, the man who helped make the birds a tourist draw in San Francisco.

A flock of about 100 can be found around the northern edge of San Francisco. The first of their kind has been rumored to have been freed by a lady who owned a pet store and one day she opened up all the cages and let the animals go. They adapted to the city's chill and fog and the presence of humans when Bittner discovered them.

The birds in Brisbane (some of which circulate back to San Francisco) have been spotted eating juniper and hawthorn berries. They were first seen there about three years ago and were welcomed by the residents.

We had such a good day walking up Telegraph Hill photographing these beautiful birds although we did not run into Mark Bittner himself. After all, it was 2011 when these pictures were taken although Mark’s still caring for his beloved parrots today.

In 2005 it looked like the parrots where not in for a happy ending. As usual “man” had stepped in and the parrots were losing their main home. That would include three Monterey cypresses where the parrots perch, watch for preying hawks, stash their offspring while they hunt for food and mate. One tree was cut down and the parrots were seen hopping on wires and acting confused. Flocks would fly towards the area where the tree was, circle and fly away over and over again acting upset. “I can’t predict what this will do to the parrots in the long term,” Bittner told the press.

When the chainsaws started up to cut down the other two trees it was Mark Bittner who saved the day again. Living next door he ran out of his cottage, stood at the base of the trees in protest and persuaded the workers to turn off their saws. They did. The case went to court and the parrot supporters and Bittner waited to see what would become of them.

In 2007 the remaining trees were saved by the City. It was remarkable! San Francisco took over the responsibility and liability for the two aging Monterey cypress trees on private property along Greenwich Street where the world famous cherry-headed conures spent a lot of their time; much to the enjoyment of residents and visitors from afar.

Bittner’s quote said it all; "I’m quite astonished that this is happening. And I’m really grateful," Bittner said; "I just don’t want their life to be made any more difficult," he added.

So if you’re ever in San Francisco, you must visit The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill and take along your camera.

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