10/14/17
2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta: A Little Bit of Everything

2017 Balloon Fiesta Wrap-Up: although the morning mass ascensions last roughly two hours, they contain so much to see! First of all are the “simple” balloons. And then come the “special shapes.” Of course, people of all kinds, along with vendors, pilots and the chase crews, and on and on are there. I have already posted a few of the special shapes. Today I’ll post a few of the “sky jewels.” Most of all, I want to try to give readers a sense of the entire experience.

2017 Slideshow

The slideshow contains 84 images from the Mass Ascension on October 7, 2017. While you may not have been there, I hope this gives a sense of the experience. You may view in full screen by clicking on the icon at the bottom right. You may also control the volume or mute entirely.

If you prefer, you may view the 84 images on one page (or separately) in the Gallery.

Some 2017 “Sky Jewels”

While the “regular” balloons are sometimes called “plain,” they are anything but. Rather, they are very bright and colorful! These are just a few of my favorites.

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017: A Perfect Fiesta

Although winds for tomorrow’s Mass Ascension remain in question, the weather this week has been unbelievably good for the balloons. Especially relevant is that all events, so far, have gone off as scheduled. If you could not be here for the Fiesta – or even if you were – I hope you enjoy the images.

10/12/17
2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

2017 Balloon Fiesta Special Shapes

2017 Balloon Fiesta Special Shapes

2017 Balloon Fiesta special shapes: the crowd loves them. And, I like them too! But, in addition, I also like the “sky jewels.” Another post will show some of those. But, first of all, I want to show a few more of the Special Shapes.

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Armadillo

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Mexican Doll

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Kermie

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Buddy Beaver

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Black Sheep

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Busby the Queens

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Lottie Dottie Chicken

2017 balloon fiesta special shapes

Hyla the Frog

Finally, for those of you in the Albuquerque area, the weather looks good for the remainder of the 2017 Balloon Fiesta. Almost all the information you could need is here.

10/10/17
2017 Balloon Fiesta

2017 Balloon Fiesta, Part 1: Special Shapes

2017 Balloon Fiesta, Part 1: A Few of the Special Shapes

2017 Balloon Fiesta, officially the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, sponsored by Canon, began October 7 this year. The day before was pretty windy, which is important. The balloons will not take off, at least for Mass Ascension, if the winds are over 10 mph. But, the forecast for Saturday morning called for calm winds. So, I took a chance and bought a Park and Ride ticket Friday afternoon for the Saturday morning events.

I was at the Park and Ride at 5:00am, got on a bus at 5:30am (the longest I ever had to wait over the years), and did not reach the Balloon Field until 7:20am. I can say the Park and Ride system had a few problems that day. Dawn Patrol, something I had really wanted to photograph this year with a dSLR instead of phone, along with opening ceremonies and the beginning of Mass Ascension ended long before I arrived. Maybe another day this year – or next… Once you are actually there, the problems getting there seem not to matter too much!

2017 Balloon Fiesta

Setting Moon, Rising Balloon

The start of this year’s Balloon Fiesta is almost a week later than last year’s. The light was definitely different. The mass ascension, starting at 7:00am, definitely began in less light (on a very clear day!). But, the moon was almost full, just beginning to wane. Here, in the foreground, is a balloon beginning to inflate. Behind it, the moon is setting and a colorful hot air balloon is rising. The magic was underway!

Some of the Special Shapes on Saturday

Mister Z:

2017 Balloon Fiesta

Mister Z, Inflating and Taking Off

Darth Vader:

2017 Balloon Fiesta

Darth Vader

Yoda:

2017 Balloon Fiesta

Yoda

That’s it for this post. Many more images – both special shapes and the simpler sky jewels – to come over time.

10/9/17
Hover Fly

Hover Fly Update

Hover Fly Update

Hover Fly update with commentary of Baldo Villegas, who is now retired but former State Entomologist for California. I had written him last week, but was not sure I had the correct email. Yesterday afternoon I received his response. As all of his responses, this one is full of information and also interesting and easy to understand. Baldo helps everyone! Thank you, Baldo!

The insect in the picture is a Syrphid fly, not a wasp but a mimic. These flies belong to the large family of flies called Syrphidae and are known by the common names Hover Flies or Flower Flies. Most have warning coloration resembling that of wasps or bees. In fact there is one species that is commonly called a drone fly as it looks just like a male honey bee. Most syrphid flies are predators of soft bodied insects such as aphids. A few are pests of bulbs and such and others have interesting lifecycles and are rather interesting.

Syrphid flies will visit flowers for nectar and pollen in order to help in egg production. The nectar is for the energy that they consume hovering around aphid infested plants.

Baldo’s tagline in his email is “Love Bugs, Roses and Cats …. even if the cats don’t give a hoot.” 🙂

This gives me a chance to repost the photo:

Hover Fly

Hover Fly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

10/8/17
Hover Fly

Pollen Wasp: No, Just a Hoverfly

Pollen Wasp: No, Just a Hoverfly

Pollen wasp is something I had not known about until a few days ago. Yet, pollinators are something we talk about frequently, because of their vital importance to crops and virtually all plants on earth. I, and neighbors, try to include flowers that will attract pollinators. While we tend to think about the beauty of the the flowers, we talk less about the beauty of our pollinating friends. Yet, up close and personal, they can be beautiful and interesting.

pollen wasp hoverfly

(Pollen Wasp): Hoverfly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Regular readers and friends know that I have grown a variety of sunflowers for years. Years ago in Arizona I grew Tithonia rotundiflora (“Mexican sunflower”). It is in the same Family, Asteraceae, as our typical sunflowers. However, the genus is Tithonia rather than Helianthus. When I saw seeds in the grocery store, I thought maybe it would be fun here. So, I decided to try it. It is a fabulous plant for Albuquerque!

pollinators

Tithonia rotundiflora, “Mexican sunflower”

The other day I was out photographing the flowers. I saw a wasp on the tithonia. While I considered it a yellow jacket, its behavior seemed odd for a wasp. It almost seemed to be making love to the flower. So I kept photographing it, hoping I could understand what was going on. When I looked at the images on the computer, I saw what appeared to be a very odd mouth part. As it turns out, it is a very specialized mouth part, a “suctorial proboscis.” (These wasps – this isn’t one) are solitary vegetarians, sucking nectar and pollen from flower tubules.) As it turns out, what I took to be a wasp is, in reality, a hoverfly with also very specialized suctorial proboscis. Example here: hoverfly

The joy of photography: seeing and learning new and different things, without even trying! Last week I did not know what a pollen wasp was. Now I know what it is, and this is not one. It is a hoverfly. Now I know they also have these very specialized suctorial probosci. This week I am glad this one chose to visit my garden and allowed me to photograph it! And thanks to Anita Storino for the updated information.

09/27/17
Autumn Cosmos

Autumn Cosmos

Autumn Cosmos

Autumn cosmos: cosmos here in Albuquerque really come into their own in the fall. They are beautiful in their own right. In addition, goldfinches, finches, and even humming birds like them. More than that, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators like them. Also, they come in a wide variety, and many reseed themselves. More than that, they grow in poor soil. Therefore, they make a great annual in the high desert for many reasons. Yesterday they seemed to sparkle.

Autumn Cosmos

Cosmos Against a Beautiful Sky, before the Storm

Autumn Cosmos

Autumn Cosmos

Autumn Cosmos

Autumn Cosmos

Every now and then I see a package of seeds for a variety new to me. This year I tried “Seashell Mix.” As a photographer, I love them! As a gardener, I must note the germination rate was rather low. Will they reseed themselves? Although I do not yet know, I do plan to plant them again next year.

I am continuing to have fun playing with a new program. I first tried it with Autumn Roses. Here is something with the seashell variety.

autumn cosmos

Old Friends

For friends here in New Mexico, enjoy this beautiful autumn weather and *rain,* and the flowers so abundant at present.

09/25/17
miniature rose

Autumn Roses

Autumn Roses

Autumn roses seem especially sweet. Maybe that is because they will soon disappear until Spring. This past spring I had too many distractions and demands to take good care of the roses then. But, the monsoon season was good to my yard. That inspired me to get out and work to get a few things in better shape. I was happily surprised with the roses available to photograph this weekend. Also, I’m playing with a new program, so I feel a bit like a kid with a new set of finger paints. Thank you for indulging me.

autumn roses

Irresistible

autumn roses

Distant Drums

autumn roses

Foolish Pleasure

We are supposed to get more rain in the middle of the week. I put a few pansies out this weekend, and rain would be good for them as well as for the long-standing roses.

ARS Rose Notes

For my rose friends who read here, the final ARS Guidelines for Judging Rose Photography includes a National Challenge Class that will first be offered at the ARS Spring 2018 Convention. This is a heads-up, because photographing bloom cycles requires some planning. I do think this is a worthy national challenge class.

roses

Nat’l Challenge Class

Monday Morning Thoughts, a Long Digression

I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ The Viet Nam War. Throughout, I have thought about people I’ve known, and where they are in life and in their heads today (for those still alive). Last night was a little different. The episode covered the Tet Offensive to the assassination of Robert Kennedy. That is, Spring 1968, when Martin Luther King was also assassinated. I remember watching Lyndon Johnson’s speech, and many other things that had slipped into the deep recesses of my mind.

I was a student at the University of Chicago in the Spring of 1968. The University is on the south side of Chicago. I had come from a university that might consider tearing down a library if necessary to expand football. The University of Chicago had torn down the football field and was in the process of building a new library. I lived in a 12th floor apartment, that looked south. I could see Rockefeller Chapel, the Museum of Science and Industry, and a tiny glimpse of Lake Michigan. The university had its own bus for students, a bus that continually circled through Hyde Park to shuttle students to and from classes and back home. Most days I had the same bus driver.

Chicago When Martin Luther King Was Assassinated

Martin Luther King was assassinated on a Thursday. Friday morning was calm on the south side of Chicago. By the end of classes Friday afternoon, the tension was palpable. I caught the bus to go home. I was the last person off. The driver, who had gotten to know me over the year, said, “I’m going to drop you off at the door to your building today (instead of about 1/2 block away). Don’t go out tonight. Stay in your apartment.”

That weekend, first of all, and for days, I could look out and see the south side of Chicago burning. As a result, the heavily armed Military, not just police and National Guard, were patrolling the streets. Most of all, I remember looking out and seeing the Army camped on the grounds of the Museum of Science and Industry. Military tents completely covered those grounds. Maybe that is what I have remembered most of all.

I watched the helicopters hover over the meeting between the Blackstone Rangers and police, as they tried to work out a truce.

I have not thought about these things in a long time. What stood out to me from last night’s episode was the Marine, who had fought in Viet Nam, who was ordered to go to one of the cities with civil unrest. He refused an order to go, which essentially ended his military career. He said in essence, “I thought we would be sent for regular police work, protecting buildings, that kind of thing. Then they started issuing the same equipment we had had in Viet Nam: flak jackets, the same bullets, all the same things. I said I was not going.”

That was 49 years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I half-apologize for the digression.

09/22/17
autumn

First Day of Autumn 2017

autumn

Autumn

First Day of Autumn 2017

The first day of autumn in New Mexico is always exciting. Chile roasting and the State Fair are almost over, but the Balloon Fiesta, Marigold Parade, arrival of the cranes and other migratory birds, and gorgeous days with cool, crisp nights are still ahead. This is how the day began:

autumn sunrise

Sunrise Looking WEST

While I grew Mexican sunflowers many years ago in Arizona, this is the first year I have grown them in New Mexico. I had forgotten how much I liked them. Because I now know, I plan to grow them in subsequent years. In addition, the pollinators like them, too.

autumn

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia)

Other flowers that bloom well up until frost are cosmos. They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Pollinators like cosmos also.

Autumn

Fall Cosmos

The first day of fall 2017 began beautifully. I was reminded of this quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

I’m going out to enjoy it now, but with sun protective clothes and hat. 🙂 Wishing you a beautiful day, too.

09/20/17
sunrise

Beautiful Start to the Day

Sunrise

sunrise

Another Typical New Mexico Sunrise

Even as a child visiting the Southwest on vacations, I understood there was something special about the light here. Rather than growing tired of it with now-constant exposure and age, I appreciate it even more. While this morning was a little nippy and the arrival of Fall is not far behind, sunrise was spectacular (even without crepuscular rays 🙂 ))))))))) )!

09/19/17
ars rose photography

ARS Rose Photography Update

ARS Rose Photography Update

ARS Rose Photography Update: the American Rose Society’s Board of Directors has approved the final version of the First Edition of Guidelines and Rules for Judging Rose Photography. Editors are completing the final editorial review. The text will appear shortly on the website of the American Rose Society. Members will be able to access it by going to “Resources”and scrolling down. In the meantime, members may see and download six PowerPoint programs explaining use of the Guidelines. The PowerPoints appear alphabetically rather than by topic, so be sure to scroll through.

ars rose photography

2017 ARS Photography Guidelines and PowerPoints Explaining Use Are Now Available

Because some readers may not be ARS members but still interested in the PowerPoints, I’m posting links here. Click on the links to view.

The current six are:

Creative Interpretation

Floral Arrangements

Shrubs, Old Garden Roses, etc.

Rose Sprays

Fully Open, Stamens Showing

How to Mount and Mat an 8×10 Photo for ARS Shows

While those are the current six, watch for additional ones in the future. In addition to these, planned are One Bloom, Macro Photography, The Enhanced Sections, What’s New in the 2017 Guidelines, and People, Not Cameras, Create Images.

You may view the current ones, as well as new ones as they appear, at a PowerPoint Library at Southwest Desert Gardening.

One does not have to be a member of any rose society to enter roses, arrangements, or photographs in ARS sanctioned rose shows. Anyone can enter!