Photography . . . Travel . . .

Friday, February 26, 2010


The San Diego DSLR Photo Group has been running a Picture-A-Day Challenge for the month of February. The idea is to take a new photo every single day of the month, which at the start sounded a lot easier that it has turned out to be. Luckily February only has 28 days, but even so there have been a few days where I'm sure I'm not the only one who had trouble coming up with an idea. 

I was going to post all of the images I've used this month, but even in smaller size it's just too many, so instead I'll post one of my favorites so far. I got home from work late one night, and had not taken a shot yet. I had my camera in my hand, and sat down on the couch for a bit to think about what to do, when Calli came over to visit.

Click here for the whole gallery of shots, in the order that they were taken.  Check out the link to the SD-DSLR site to see what some of the others have done. There are some very creative photographers in that group.

San Diego Night Shots

My friend Marty and I got together on Tuesday evening for some night photography in San Diego. We had a couple of ideas we wanted to try out, and Heather was standing by with bail money just in case the second idea turned out to be a bad one.

Our first idea was to shoot the downtown skyline from the end of Harbor Island, and we found a nice spot near the old paddle wheel boat/restaurant. We even pulled out some flashlights and tried a bit of light painting on the rocks, trees and the paddle wheel boat.

Click here for more night time shots from San Diego.

Idea number 2, the one that had the potential to result in Heather having to find a bail bondsman in the middle of the night, was to find a place overlooking the airport, where we could get some shots of the runway lights all lit up. Years ago no one would have thought twice about 2 guys standing on a street corner on a hill overlooking the airport, with tripods and long lenses pointed down towards the incoming planes. Today. . . well, just ask those 2 Brits who are in trouble in India. We were directly under the landing path, and the planes were coming in from behind us right over our heads, and not all that high at that point either. I did not have a really long lens with me (Marty did), but still got a few shots. We decided that video would have been much more dramatic, and we're also thinking of trying this again when there is enough light to actually see the planes, not just the light trails. We think we may have spotted an even better vantage point too, so stay tuned for more in the future.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Steak and Neon - Fat City Steakhouse, San Diego

Heather and I decided to go out for dinner this evening, to an old favorite of mine here in San Diego, Fat City Steakhouse.  I've been going there since I came to San Diego in late 1980. 

Almost anyone who has visited San Diego has probably spotted the big pink building with the glowing neon signs on the corner of Pacific Highway and Hawthorn. The interior of the Steakhouse has some great art deco glass. The China Camp restaurant is also good.

I had the bone-in ribeye, or as Heather likes to call it, the "Fred Flintstone Plate".


San Diego Waterfront - Urban Trees and Maritime Museum

I took a walk along the San Diego Waterfront near the Maritime Museum this afternoon. One of the more interesting things you'll find down there are the Urban Trees, a collection of art placed along the edge of the bay. Each one is in its own "planter".

I don't remember all of the names, but I think this one is Paper Airplanes.

This one actually looks like a tree.

Click here to see more Urban Trees.

The Maritime Museum is always nice in the later afternoon sun. Today was no exception, especially with fluffy white clouds in the background at times.

Click here to see more images from the San Diego Maritime Museum this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Slot & Buttes Pass (Anza Borrego Desert State Park) - Mon 2/15

My friends Rae and Robert joined me for a day of exploring and some hiking in Anza Borrego this past Monday (2/15). We drove out Buttes Pass Road to San Felipe Wash, then up Borrego Mountain Wash until it ends at The Slot. The Slot is about a one-mile (each way) hike that winds its way down through a rather narrow canyon in the sandstone. Most people park at the "top" area, which is just off of Buttes Pass Road, a graded dirt road accessible by most vehicles. From there you scramble down a hillside and then walk downstream through the narrow canyon, then turn around and walk back the same way. We started at the other end, by driving around the Borrego Mountains and coming up the canyon. That route requires 4WD, it's mostly easy but there are a few rocky spots to get over.

There is a lot of vegetation growing out there right now, which makes me think this is going to be a good year for wildflowers.

The Slot is aptly named. It really is pretty narrow most of the way. Here's Robert and Rae in what is actually one of the wider spots.

One of the more unnerving spots in the hike is when you pass under the various rocks that are wedged in the gap above, and look like they could collapse at any time. We came across at least one rockfall that we had to scramble over that I don't remember being there back in November. (We also spotted several recently fallen large chunks of sandstone rock along the trail we were driving, some were pretty big and could have easily blocked the path had they landed differently.)

The canyon is down below, when you are standing on the rim you can't even tell there is a passable route through there.

The ocotillo were blooming beautifully, and the cholla cactus were looking pretty good too.

Robert took this shot of me and the Xterra parked along Borrego Mountain Road.

You can see more images at my SmugMug gallery by clicking here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year

Today marks the start of the Year of the Tiger, so I thought it only too appropriate to go to the San Diego Zoo to see if I could get a few shots of the Malayan tigers. I spent about an hour at Tiger River, watching Jin and Seri chase some food, chase each other, and generally just lounge around acting like any other cat (any other cat that weighs close to 200 lbs that is).

Jin and Seri are sisters, 2 of a litter of 3, born 21 months ago at the San Diego Zoo.  Their brother is now living in Florida.  Click here to see some shots of the 3 of them playing together on March 21st of 2009 .

Click here to see more from today.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

Heather and I decided to take the scenic route home after the Group Shoot lunch today, in this case that meant Rancho Sante Fe Road to San Elijo Road to Elfin Forest and eventually Harmony Grove Road.  Lots to see along that route, including the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, which is a rather large complex of hiking trails up to and around the Olivenhain Dam & Reservoir.  I knew the reservoir was there, but had never figured out how to get up there. The trail starts at an interpretive center just off of Harmony Grove Road, at 492' elevation. We went about 1.5 miles up to a picnic area overlooking the reservoir at 1,140'. 

On the way back down we came to a sign that showed 0.4 mile back to the start if we went the way we came up, or 0.6 mile if we took an alternate trail.

It was not a tough decision to decide on the alternate, since it would be new.  Then we saw this sign, just a few yards down the trail.

This is Southern California, it's basically a desert, how hard could the "unimproved creek crossing" be?  After about 0.5 mile, almost all down a pretty steep hill, we found out.  Maybe if Heather and I didn't both have such short legs we could have made it across the last group of rocks, but we could tell it would not have ended well.

So, back up the hill to the junction, and back down the way we came. 

Click here to see more from our little (and a mile longer than we expected) hike this afternoon.

Leo Carrillo Ranch - Carlsbad, CA - SD-DSLR February Group Shoot

Heather and I joined the San Diego DSLR Photo Group for its monthly Group Shoot at the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park in Carlsbad this morning. The weather was perfect for wandering around this 27-acre complex of buildings that were constructed between 1937 and 1940 by the actor and conservationist Leo Carrillo. The ranch was the site of an 1880 adode.  

One of the more interesting things at the ranch is the large collection of peafowl that roam the property. There is even an all-white one that really seems to like attention from people.

There is quite a bit to see here, this is certainly someplace we'll go back to again.

Click here to see more images from today.

Click here to see the SD-DSLR Group Shoot gallery with shots from all of the photographers who attended.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Desert Road Trip - Day 6 - Still Taking the Long Way Home

I spent Thursday night in 29 Palms, then on Friday morning I met up with my friend Mitch at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, in Morongo Valley, for a hike and some photos. Before leaving 29 Palms I got some shots of the murals, which are the other thing that the town is known for (the first being the Marine Corps base). Many of the buildings are painted with elaborate murals depicting the history and nature of the area.

Heading west from 29 Palms on Hwy 62 I had a great view of the snow covered San Bernardino Mountains. (And, just in case anyone was wondering, I was actually on the phone with Jodi and Bruce, working, when I shot this picture. So, I wasn't totally goofing off on Friday.)

Parked next to Mitch's Xterra at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. Note the matching yellow skid plates.

Part of the Preserve has an accessible walkway, other parts are hiking and horse trails.

Much of the Preserve was burned in a fire in June of 2005, but the trails have all been restored, and the vegetation is coming back (slowly).

From Morongo Valley we headed for Indio via Dillon Road. We wandered for a bit around Sky Valley, and drove by the sites of the 2 cabins that my father had out there when I was young. We spent many summers in those little cabins. It was hot. After lunch with Mitch I took Hwy 74, the Palms to Pines Highway, up over the mountains and eventually to Hwy 79, then followed that to Santa Ysabel. If you look closely you can see the roadway winding its way up from Palm Desert below.

I made one last stop at the Julian Pie Company's main bakery in Santa Ysabel, then took the old Julian Hwy (the predecessor to, and a lot more windy and narrow than, Hwy 78) towards Ramona and home at 6:00PM.

Click here to see more pictures from the road.

(Note that the link in this post and the 2 previous ones from the road all take you to the same SmugMug gallery, which has images from Sunday 1/31, Thursday 2/4 and Friday 2/5. The pictures are in the gallery in the order taken.)

About Me

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.