Archive for Photography

Night Blooming Argentine Giant Cactus Flowers

Night Blooming Cactus Flowers

Our Argentine Giant (Echinopsis candicans) offered these two beautiful flowers last evening. This is the second blooming on this cactus this year. Since we purchased this cactus in 2011 and planted it in front of the house, it has reliably given us flowers every year. This year, it is also starting to grow “pups,” which are the three buds seen near the base of the cactus in the image at the left above. This variety of cactus spreads out as it ages with several pups, each eventually producing flowers.

About Argentine Giant from Wikipedia:

Echinopsis candicans has a shrubby growth habit, with individual stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The plant as a whole can be as much as 3 m (10 ft) across. The stems are light green, with a diameter of up to 14 cm (5.5 in) and have 9–11 low ribs. The large white areoles are spaced at 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) and produce brownish yellow spines, the central spines being up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long, the radial spines only up to 4 cm (1.6 in).

The fragrant white flowers open at night. They are large, up to 19 cm (7.5 in) across and 18–23 cm (7.1–9.1 in) long.

Summer is not over by a long shot and there are more desert flowers to come. Stay tuned.

Comments (1)

Flag Day 2020

Flag Day 2020

We would have our USA flag up and flying today except that the winds are forecast to be gusts to 35 which is a bit much for our little flagpole and very hard on the flags themselves (we also fly the AZ state banner). Regardless, for the Flag Day occasion, I dug out this photo of our flag (proudly flying atop the pole) which I took last month with my little SL1 Canon Rebel and the EF 100-400 telephoto lens. Click on the image to enlarge.

We take this occasion to salute the Red, White and Blue, regardless of all the turmoil being reported in the media. Our little niche of desert space and the surrounding community are mostly in normal mode save for minor COVID-19 effects on some businesses and facilities. We have no riots, no looting, no edicts handed arbitrarily down from government bureaucrats and have enjoyed a nice relaxing environment here at home and in town. We thank God Almighty for those blessings.

On a different topic, Damsel and I were tested for our DNA through Ancestry and discovered our “roots.” The results weren’t much of a surprise since our sisters had already done this and shared the results, but it was an interesting experience to locate distant DNA matched possible relatives. I have been building my family tree and the links they provide are quite helpful. In the hobby sense, it is an interesting undertaking to find some of our closet “skeletons.” I have no intent of mentioning any of that here, but the whole genealogy quest has been sort of fun and interesting. YMMV

So, to those patriotic Americans who take the Flag Day occasion to revere and celebrate our Nation as envisioned by the Founders, enjoy the day for what it is - a celebration of our heritage, our legacy and, God willing, the future greatness of America and the Flag for which it stands.

Comments off

Red Bird of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise Flower

Today, the first few of the colorful Red Bird of Paradise flowers opened in our courtyard this morning. These flowers (a.k.a. Pride of Barbados) will be opening until fall. We have three of the Red Bird shrubs in the courtyard, so there should be plenty of color throughout the summer.

More about these shrubs from Texas Superstar:

Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free climates. The plant is usually tall, growing large even after freezing to the ground the previous winter. The leaves are fern like. Pride–of–Barbados has incredibly showy blossoms of orange and red. The individual flowers are bowl shaped, 2–3 inches across, with five crinkled, unequal red and orange petals, and ten prominent bright red stamens. The striking orange red flowers are an attention grabber!

The flowers get a lot of visits from butterflies, bees, sphinx moths and hummingbirds. We have seen these and more browsing the flowers throughout the summer. The sphinx moths mentioned above usually show up around dusk since they are mostly nocturnal.

Comments off

Summer Seems To Be Here

Our First Saguaro Flowers

In spite of the actual summer start date next month, we have had triple digit weather for two days now and the forecast is for more of the same for the next few days. I just went out on the back patio (4:30PM) and saw the temperature gauge showing 105°F. That’s about a degree cooler than an hour ago. We can deal with it since the air conditioner is keeping the house cool enough.

The flowers in the image above were open this morning on our big saguaro cactus out front by the driveway. These are the first two buds to open on this cactus and there are many more to come. There have been saguaro flowers open in other places in town for a couple of weeks now, but these are our first. We look forward to having a lot more of these in the weeks to come.

In the courtyard, I am expecting our Red Bird of Paradise shrubs to have flowers open any day now, and our Cherry Red cactus flowers coming shortly after those.

Despite the warmer temperatures, we always look forward to our summer flowers. Click on the image to enlarge.

Comments off

Armed Forces Day, 2020

Pair of AT6 Aircraft

In the past, we have posted about Armed Forces Day on this blog. Our old home in K’Stan was located in a community that actually had an Armed Forces Day parade annually and we blogged about those back then. Well, today, there probably aren’t any parades out there because of the dreaded COVID-19. That’s a loss for them for sure.

The lack of parades, however, did not deter the intrepid airmen piloting the two North American AT6 Airplanes shown flying in formation above our Wickenburg home today. The resonant sound of the radial engines overhead brought us out of the house this morning and what a sweet sound it was to hear.

I managed to capture the above image of the high-flying planes as they passed over our place with the new 400mm lens. They were quite high, perhaps eight or ten thousand feet AGL. The planes made several passes over the area which was a delight to see these two nostalgic beauties as they transited the area.

We see that there have been several organized fly-overs in various places around the country, including the Phoenix area, but unfortunately not visible here. It is not known by us if this was an organized fly-over or just a couple of vintage AAF Trainers out for fun. Regardless, they were awesome.

We wish our Military Men and Women Godspeed on this Armed Forces Day and pray for their safety in harm’s way. May God bless them and their families on this day.

Comments off

May 07, 2020 Super “Flower” Moon

Super “Flower” Moon

I put the new Canon EF 100-400mm lens on my Canon EOS REbel SL1 camera last evening to attempt to photograph the full moon at perigee. So called a “super” moon, it only appears slightly larger to the naked eye, but is around thirty thousand miles closer than when at apogee.

From EarthSky:

This year’s farthest apogee comes on March 24, 2020 (252,707 miles or 406,692 km), and the closest perigee occurs some 2 weeks later, on April 7 (221,772 miles or 356,907 km). That’s a difference of about 30,000 miles (50,000 km). Meanwhile, the moon’s mean distance (semi-major axis) from Earth is 238,855 miles (384,400 km).

There is good Lunar information at the above link with a nice photo comparison of the difference in apparent size from perigee to apogee. There is also a graphical illustration showing the lunar elliptical orbit compared to a circular orbit about the earth.

I took the above image at 8:28 PM AZ time last evening from the courtyard in front of our little house. The camera was set to Tv (shutter priority) with an exposure of i/4000 sec. The focal length was set to 400mm and the ISO was set to 6400. The lens aperture at this setting is F5.6. I also took this photo of the moon last Tuesday while it was in its waxing gibbous phase.

this photo

The moniker “Flower Moon” is based on the fact that there are flowers in bloom at this time of year. We certainly have a lot of them opening almost daily in April/May.

Update: I found out that it was also possible to resolve the planet Venus as a crescent using the new lens.

20200507-crescent-venus.jpg

Comments off

Arizona Spring Cactus Flowers

Beavertail Cactus Flower Prickly Pear Flower
Argentine Giant Cactus Flower Ball Cactus Flower

Since mid-March, the cacti in our xeriscape gardens have had open flowers. The individual flowers aren’t around more than a day or two at most, but, thankfully, the individual flower buds have matured at different times over the last five weeks providing us with almost continuous colorful flowers from day to day.

The two flowers at the top are from our opuntia cacti, a.k.a. paddle cacti. Top left is from one of our beavertail cacti and top right is a flower on a prickly pear. The bottom left is an Argentine Giant flower. one of three that were open simultaneously last week. On the bottom right is a flower from a little ball cactus that my sister in Stockton, CA, mailed to me last year. I don’t know the botanical name of this cactus, but it sure makes pretty pink flowers.

I love springtime in the desert!

All the photos were taken using my Canon EOS Rebel T6i camera or with Bob’s Canon EOS Rebel SL1, both equipped with EFS 18-135mm lenses. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

Comments (1)

« Previous entries

-->