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See you up the road, T-Bear

That’s our dog Teddy in a photo taken in 2010 during a big Lake Tahoe snowstorm. My partner Julie and I quite unexpectedly lost Teddy this morning when on his morning walk he laid down and never got up. It was heartbreaking in every sense of the word. 

If you will indulge me, a few words about Teddy -- or T-Bear, the name he preferred, believing that it gave him more street cred with the various hounds, hydrants and humanoids we met during our many travels. 

We first met Teddy in late 2008 when we were shopping around for a second rescue dog to keep our first rescue dog company while we slaved away at work. While T-Bear’s back story is a little muddy, we know this: He was possibly living in a mobile home in some creepy corner of the Central Coast when his owner got sent up the river for some unknown offense. 

T-Bear was subsequently imprisoned in the San Luis Obispo County animal shelter, only to be saved by a lab rescue group that dispatched him to a foster home in Summerland. That’s where we caught up with him and decided to bring him home, with his foster mom claiming, “he never barks like this usually.” 

She was correct. He usually barked longer, harder and louder. He could swim but had no idea what stairs were -- or how to use them. After spending much of his life outside, he was also quick to claim all furniture as his own and quickly and efficiently evicted me from my favorite food-stained, once-red couch in the den. 

In perhaps his neatest trick, each autumn he would let himself into the backyard and headbutt the crabapple tree until apples began falling. Our other dog thought the crabapples “tasted like shit,” but Teddy treated them as a seasonal delicacy that would enhance his already legendary ability to clear a room with a single artisan-crafted fart. 

Like Snoopy’s brother, Spike, T-Bear was the teller of tall tales, quite often of the adult variety. While pounding beers and watching hockey and Cinemax late at night, he liked to boast of the time he got a “hummer” from a shih tzu in the pound. He also claimed to have partied with Graham Parsons in Joshua Tree and to have once won a demolition derby in Arkansas. Technically speaking, I can’t disprove any of this. 

Teddy lived on the edge of glory. In the little more than four years that we owned him, he required surgery to remove a baseball-size pile of sandwich wrap from his belly, another surgery to remove an eye gone bad and yet another surgery to fix a collapsing windpipe. There were also a variety of other, smaller procedures that enriched a fleet of vets throughout the San Gabriel Valley. 

Next time you see a vet driving a luxury car, tell them T-Bear says hi and the front desk staff sucks ass, as they do at most vet offices. 

The vet told us the throat surgery would stop him from barking. She was a great vet and she was wrong. In time, and with much practice, the bark came most of the way back, letting us know whenever T-Bear wanted a walk, a meal, a double-reverse ear scratch or another treat inserted into his beloved, spit-and-dog-fur-covered Kong toy. 

If you have made it all the way through this, thank you for taking the time. Julie and I are among those known as “crazy dog people” who strive to treat our dogs better than children and, to be brutally honest, don’t really believe they’re “dogs.” We just work on the principle that they’re some type of higher being that we’re lucky to spend some time with and that vet bills and other annoyances are among minor concerns in the big, vast universe. 

One other favor: if you or anyone else you know is looking for a dog, please consider a rescue dog. We used Fetching Companions Retriever Rescue, a group that like many others could use all the support they can get. 



Bad knee

Haven't been shooting much the last couple weeks -- since tearing up my right knee playing ice hockey. The good news: I still have an ACL in my left knee! 

That's my leg in the immobilizer above. Had no idea I have such a freaky big space between my big toe and my second toe. 

Anyway, I'm managing to walk around some and since it's going to be a while until I play hockey again, I should hopefully have some time to play around with the camera soon. 


This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere in any medium or format without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 

Train in downtown Los Angeles

I took this one earlier this month for work -- that's the Gold Line leaving the Chinatown Station in downtown Los Angeles. The iconic City Hall building is in the background. 

The photo was taken from a small hill in Los Angeles State Historic Park a few minutes before sunset. I used a telephoto lens to help compress the distance and then played around with filters in Adobe Lightroom. 


6x6 app for iPhone

I recently picked up the 6x6 app for my crappy iPhone 3GS. It doesn't run great on the 3GS -- nothing does anymore -- but I really like the photos. 

The app is intended to replace the iPhone's native camera and to my eye it takes noticeably sharper photos. I did some slight cropping and a couple other adjustments in Lightroom to the photo above of my dog Sammy but the final result isn't much different than the original. 

Same with the photo below, taken at Inspiration Point in Will Rogers State Park above the Pacific Palisades in L.A.

Like Hipstamatic, 6x6 works in square format. But 6x6 is much leaner -- there are eight filters to choose from in both color and black-and-white mode for a grand total of 16. There are many more potential filter combinations in Hisptamatic. They're both a lot of fun but 6x6 seems like a good choice when looking for a good, solid photograph without all the gimmicky stuff. 

Prints and other merch at very reasonable prices are available on my SmugMug site and follow me on Twitter



These photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. All rights reserved. 


A pair of ground squirrels canoodling on the rocks above the shore of Williams Lake in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness above Taos Ski Valley.
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  A Canada goose at the Huntington gardens in San Marino, CA. Too bad the pool in the background is pea-soup color. Processed with Photoshop Elements -- compare with the photo below processed with Snapseed on the iPad.
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A trio of wildlife photos I took last year. None are technically perfect, but they all kind of work. If you have time, check out the large image of the lizard -- amazing critters. 

Check out more of my work on my SmugMug site -- yes, prints and merchandise are available -- and follow me on Twitter.   


These photos ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without the advanced written permission of Steve Hymon. All rights reserved. 

Mule deer

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From a technical standpoint, this photo sucks ass! It was exposed poorly, it's not very sharp, there's a ton of noise -- owing to the fact I shot it with a telephoto lens on my camera and it was dusk.

From a composition viewpoint...hey it's actually not that sucky. I got a decent shot of the deer's eyes. I followed the rule of thirds, with the deer taking the left and center frame. I almost kinda dig it.

Of course, these days it's possible to go to any photo sharing website and see pixel perfect photos that practically let you see the insides of the deer. If I posted this anywhere but my own blog, it would get laughed right off the page.

But here's the thing: screw you, pixel counters and digital photography slaves! Photos don't have to be perfect. They don't even have to be near perfect. If you're an amateur hobbyist, they just have to be kinda interesting and in photos such as the above, there's often a next time. The mule deer at Will Rogers State Park almost always wander near the parking lot and stables at dusk.

So next time I'll bring a tripod, lower the ISO (this image captured at 1600) and perhaps have a crisper telephoto lens than the shitty one (in Nikon's defense, I dropped this one in the ocean) I'm too cheap to replace.

Check out more of my not-perfect-but-kinda-interesting photography on my SmugMug site and follow me on Twitter. I just hurt my knee today playing hockey, so I have nothing better to do for a few days than blather online whether anyone's listening or not.


This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without Steve Hymon's advance written permission. All rights reserved. 

Summit Lake

The view west across Summit Lake of the Big Pine Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness.

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Been going back and using Lightroom to process some photos I f---ed up the first time 'round. Nabbed this one at Summit Lake in the Big Pine Lakes part of the John Muir Wilderness this summer. Not bad for mid-day, eh? 

Thank you, Nikon DX 10-24mm wide angle lens and Lightroom! All I had to do was find a good spot and manage not to drop the camera on a rock between the Sierra and home in LaLaLand. 

Here are some more pics from the backpack on my SmugMug site. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, where occasionally I say something less than profound. 

This photo is ©Steve Hymon and not to be used elsewhere in any medium without Steve Hymon's advanced written permission. 

La Jolla and the sea

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Another one from La Jolla last weekend -- this time with people actually in the photo. I used the 'aged' filter in Lightroom on this one to nice effect. 

Check out my SmugMug site and follow me on Twitter for occasional bursts of wisdom and other nuggets. 


This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used without advanced written permission by Steve Hymon.

Mammoth Mountain gondola

A view of Mammoth Mountain on a stormy day. Upper gondola is disappearing into the clouds and the top of Chair 5 is at right.

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I like going back older photos every once in a while. Inevitably I find myself gagging over some images that I initially liked while finding others that I had dismissed but were kinda interesting. 

This is one of those. The first time I processed it in Elements I didn't do much -- and it looked a little washed out despite pretty good composition. I've since bought Lightroom and not to sound like a shill (although glad to do so for $$$$!), but I was able to make it a much more dramatic image. 

And now I'm kind of digging it, especially in black and white with more contrast. Even though the gondola is tough as nails -- it has to be to survive at that elevation -- here it looks small and fragile compared to the majest of the mountain and the weather. And I like the hints of Chair 5 at right and Chair 25 on Lincoln Mountain in the lower left corner of the frame. The run at lower right is the top of the great Gold Hill trail -- easy to access from Chair 9 or Chair 5. 

Incidentally, I took the photo last April from the Snowcreek condo parking lot -- which is a ways away from the mountain. I used my 55-200mm telephoto which on this day was behaving itself (it was dropped in the ocean in late 2011) and got a fairly sharp image. 

If you're feeling unusually generous or decorative and want to buy this image, prints are available for very reasonable prices on my SmugMug site. And please follow me on Twitter, where I expound wisdom and stupidity 140 characters at a time. 


This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission from Steve Hymon. 

La Jolla pelicans

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La Jolla Cove has way too many tourists, but it's a great place to get relatively close to shorebirds and sea lions amid some pretty spectacular scenery. 

I took all three of the above shots with my 55-200mm telephoto lens on my Nikon D5100 -- probably about 20 feet or so from the brown pelicans. My lens is in bad shape and can be hard to focus, but the light was good and I was close, so I got some decent shots. 

I cropped the top shot pretty heavily to get rid of some other pelicans that were slightly out of focus. The bottom two photos didn't require much work. I think I like the middle one best although having the photo's primary subjects on the righthand and lefthand side of the frame with nothing but background in the middle is unusual. 

Check out more of my work on my SmugMug site -- prints are available for very affordable prices -- and follow my ramblings and online utterances on Twitter


These photos are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without Steve Hymon's advance written permission. 

Sea gull closeup

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Got this one in La Jolla yesterday. Someone was feeding him Fritos and the lil' guy was standing on a cliff with the ocean behind him. I just snapped a quick one with my telephoto on the camera and ended up with a surprisingly nice background. 

Check out more of my work on SmugMug and follow me on Twitter


This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission. 

LA-96 Nike missile site

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The old Nike missile radar tracking station in the Santa Monica Mountains above the Encino Reservoir. Yep, through the '50s and into the '60s, our military had these kind of sites around the state on the lookout for Soviet Union nukes headed our way. There were also a series of launch sites around the L.A. area, although this wasn't one of them. Here's an L.A. Times story about the site being rechristened into San Vicente Mountain Park in 1998.

Another view: 

The views are pretty amazing of the L.A. area although I did a poor job of capturing them -- only having the 10-24mm wide angle lens with me. But this gives you an idea of what's up there -- and why you'd want to be here on a super clear day. The first photo below is looking east toward the San Gabriel Mountains. Below is the view of the Encino Reservoir and the western side of the San Fernando Valley. 

You can reach the site by car by driving Mulholland Drive west from the 405. The better way -- on foot -- is simple: follow Westridge Road until it dead ends and turns into a fire road (there's a small dirt parking lot beyond the stone gate). From there, it's about a three-mile hike to the Nike site. You can see it from about a mile away. It's a pretty easy hike, but there's some uphill and downhill in both directions. 

Check out my SmugMug site for info on prints and licensing and follow me on Twitter.


These photographs are ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission from Steve Hymon.

Santa Monica Bay at night

Looks much, much better larger -- please click here!! 

That's a view of Santa Monica Bay from the Westridge Fire Road above Mandeville Canyon. I didn't have a tripod with me, so I perched the camera on top of a trail-side garbage can intended to serve dog walkers. In other words, I got a big whiff of doggy poo. 

So the photo isn't quite as crisp as it should be and the exposure is also a little off. I gave the photo a big crop in Lightroom and used the graduated filter to darken up the skies. 

Also, it was a good sunset, but not a great one. Armed with a tripod and good sunset, this could be an awesome photo.  

Check out my SmugMug site and follow me on Twitter.


This photograph is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without advanced written permission from Steve Hymon.

Rose Parade

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The Tournament of Roses parade this morning in Pasadena. The photo was taken with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone using the JohnS lens and the new C-Type Plate film, which has a bleachy, old-timey feel. It works well for the parade, which is basically a three-hour exercise in nostalgia. 

If you're into Hipstamatic, the C-Type film comes with the new Tinto 1884 lens, which produces photos with very shallow depth of field and combines well with the color C-Type or b&w D-Type film. Give it a try. 


This photo ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advance written permission.