Monday, August 31, 2015

Spectacular Sky

Saturday night I was going to walk to a nearby restaurant where I was meeting my friend David for dinner.  I left my place without my camera, something I rarely do.  But, I only got a few feet down the walkway when I saw this fantastic cloud in the skies to the north.  I went back and got my camera and snapped this shot looking over the other buildings in my complex.

When I got to my favorite viewpoint looking due east at Camelback Mountain, I saw more big bright clouds to the east.  So, I snapped a couple of photos here.

Then I got down to street level and turned south and saw this gorgeous cloud lighting up the sky.  I can even see some rain falling in the distance to the south.

All the way down the street until I got to the restaurant I was snapping photos of this spectacular sky. By the time I walked home, it was dark but all those clouds were filled with electricity and they were lighting my way all the way home.  Just as I got to my door, the wind started howling and I could feel some sprinkles of rain.  I don't think it rained much at my house but the light show was wonderful.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Earl Place & East Alvarado

Another historic neighborhood that was new to me is Earl Place.  It was an area I had not explored before.  The homes here were all small bungalow style houses but many of them were lovingly maintained or updated.  I did see a few that needed some work but, for the most part the area seems to be doing well.  The one above has that Spanish look with some very nice landscaping.

This one is a more classic look with some nice awnings to enhance those front windows.  That big tree off the side also adds some great framing from the street.

This one appears to be almost exactly like the one above only different color and different trim.  It makes me think that the same builder created both houses.

The East Alvarado neighborhood is a small area comprised of just two streets.  The houses here are a little bit larger than the Earl Place neighborhood and they are in a variety of styles.  This one has that southwestern Spanish look.

This one is a little more contemporary.  The red awnings are a nice touch on this one.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  Take a look at a very shiny sculpture in London.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

After the Rain

It is certainly a very rare occasion when I get to walk in the Desert Botanical Garden in late August but, late Thursday afternoon a wonderful thunderstorm rolled into the valley and the clouds opened up and blessed us with some much needed rain.

Understanding that desert rains seldom last long, I headed toward the garden on the chance that it might stop by the time I got there.  My timing was perfect.  Only occasional sprinkles were leading the way.  But, the heavy rain that preceded had covered the plants with raindrops and the paths with puddles.

The top shot is a desert rose welcoming the rain.  To the left is a saguaro lit up by the setting sun that was just then peeking through on the horizon.

And as I extended the telephoto lens to capture that big cloud to the south, a US Airways jet taking off from the airport glided into my view.  Needless to say, I enjoyed my late August romp in the garden.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Glass and Clouds

Those all-glass buildings always look their best when they are reflecting something interesting.  I especially like it when they reflect those big puffy clouds we see here during the monsoon season.

It's mother nature's way of painting murals!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Macro Challenge

A month or two ago I joined a group on Flickr called Macro Mondays.  They have a weekly theme-based challenge and the members shoot a macro photo based on the theme.  I really liked this one that I created for last Monday's challenge.   The theme was "Divided".  I photographed this divided flower on a small mirror and used some orange netting to create that mottled background.

A few weeks ago the subject was "Still Life" so I created this little scene using a tiny candelabra and some tiny books.  I've enjoyed challenging myself to come up with something for each theme.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Red Bench

I found this wonderful red bench at a local nursery.  It would certainly look good in almost any garden.  If I had a garden, I would have been tempted.  I'll have to stick with my patio chairs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another Phoenix

I posted a photo of this Phoenix Bird once before but it was 5 years ago.  Where does the time go!

This one is located in the Garfield Historic district.  I think it was put there to highlight the resurgence of that neighborhood.

The artist for this one is Joe A. Tyler and it was created with funds from the City of Phoenix Streets Percent for the Arts project.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Country Club Park & Del Norte

Country Club Park is a historic neighborhood that I had not explored before.  It's a middle class neighborhood located just a few blocks from the Phoenix Country Club but, it's not part of the exclusive Country Club properties that are along the golf course.  This little neighborhood has a variety of architecture.  This one has a bit of a Spanish hacienda style.

This one also in the Country Club Park area has the mid-century modern "salt-block" look to it.  When I was a kid, I loved this style.

The Del Norte neighborhood is one I've cruised around in before and I've even posted one or two houses from this area before.  It's full of 1940's bungalow sized houses.

I really like this one with all those windows and that wonderfully huge tree in front.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chiricahua Apache Family

This Allan Houser bronze sculpture sits at the entrance to the Phoenician Resort just past the guard station.  The resort has a huge art collection and I've featured pieces from the collection in the past.  Somehow I never got around to posting this one.

I have a new post Sharon's Sojourns today.  One random photo taken on a road trip leads to an interesting bit of history.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Well Designed

I featured a photo of this building four years ago because I admired the look of it.  I took that photo from the side of the building where a row of huge pillars create a symmetrical look.  You can see that old photo here.  Now I live just up the street from this building so I see it pretty much every day.  I think it's one of the more attractive office buildings in this area.  I've been inside only once a while ago but as I recall, the inside is equally attractive.  I'll make a point of going inside again and snapping some photos.  It's called the Biltmore Commerce Center.

By the way, that HDR at the top is for the offices of HDR Engineering, not for high-dynamic-range photography.  :-)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dressed up with Color

I featured a photo of this building before but, it's been over three years ago and since it's one of my favorite high-rise buildings in Phoenix I thought I'd feature it again.  I just love that bright red and orange trim.

The building is called the Optima Tower and it's a combination of office space and condo space.  I could live there!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

More Thorne Rooms

I have three more of the Thorne Rooms to show you today.  The one above is an American Federal Dining Room.

This one is an Italian Dining Room from around 1500.

The one to the left is my favorite of all of them.  It is a dining room from an Art Deco New York townhouse.  I love that glimpse of high-rise buildings out the window in the back.  

The next time I'm in Chicago, I'm going to make a point of photographing the 68 rooms that the Chicago Art Institute has in their collection.  In fact, I'm looking forward to seeing them all again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thorne Rooms....Revisited

Last year I did a post about the Thorne Rooms, a collection a miniature rooms at the Phoenix Art Museum.  They were created by Indiana native Narcissi Niblack Thorne who developed an interest in miniatures when her uncle began sending her pieces he found in his travels.  She created 98 rooms altogether and the Phoenix Art Museum is lucky to have 20 of them.  I love to go look at them whenever I visit the museum.  The photo above is of the long room where they are located.  With that large window at the end of the room, photographing them behind their glass is very difficult but, on this last trip to the museum I was determined to get a few shots.

Placing my lens right up against the glass, I was able to snap a few shots without the glare or reflection on the glass.  The room above is called the English Adam Dining Room.  Everything in the room seems to be perfectly in scale.

Even with a wide angle lens, I was still not able to capture the full extent of each room so, for this shot I just photographed one half of the room.

I liked this half with the harp and door open to the garden.

Tomorrow I'll show you a few more of the rooms.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tempe Waterfront

I was in Tempe a couple of weeks ago and snapped this photo of a new condo development located across the street from Tempe Town Lake.  They designed the long sail-like panels to give the feeling of sailing.  It's a rather unique design for a desert city.  Yes, there is a lake nearby but, it's a man-made lake and it's not large enough to seriously sail on.

Monday, August 17, 2015


It is way too hot to be out taking pictures so I've pulled a couple out of the archives to show you.  This is another sculpture by Heloise Crista, the artist and Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice who resides at Taliesin.  This statue is located in a park dedicated to FLW in north Scottsdale.  I've posted some of Crista's work before.  You can see it here.  

Here is a view of the full statue.  It is very dramatic and once again is influenced by her years as a dancer.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quiet Downtown

The plaza between the Wells Fargo Building and the garage building is very quiet on this day.  I actually took this on a Sunday so there weren't many people out and about.  Yesterday when I was downtown there were quite a lot of people on on the streets in spite of the extreme heat.  The past few days have been real scorchers here in our desert city.  The temperature has been hovering around the 115f/46c mark all week long.  Just a short time outside is exhausting.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I found a hidden gem in Rome.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Making of a Judge

Yesterday I had the extreme pleasure of witnessing the investiture ceremony for my friend James D. Smith to be sworn in as a Superior Court Judge.  James is my close friend David's brother.  That is James on the left taking the oath of office from the Honorable Scott Bales, Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

The Robing of the New Judge was done by Susan R. Smith, James and David's mother.  

My friend David said a few words about James as did several other of James' friends and colleagues.  

And then, James addressed the crowd and thanked everyone for coming.  He even have a few classmates from law school who were kind enough to to brave the extreme temperatures of Phoenix in August to attend the ceremony.  

Congratulations James!  You are going to make an excellent judge.  All the best to you!  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cheery Lynn & Coronado

I have some representatives of our historic neighborhoods here in Phoenix, the two today are called Cheery Lynn and Coronado.  The house above is from the Cherry Lynn neighborhood, an area with a lot of 1930's era houses.  This one with a Spanish look.

This one in that same neighborhood also sports a Spanish style architecture and has some very nice shade trees.

The Coronado neighborhood is one of the largest areas and has all styles of bungalow-sized homes that date from the 1920's.  This one looks rather smashing with it's red awning.

This one also has a nice shade tree but I like that rock trim on the house.  The Coronado neighborhood is where I found the unusual door that I posted back on July 26th.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


I found this house in a nearby East Phoenix neighborhood and I was struck by the symmetrical landscaping design.  Up against the house on this side is a neat row of fence-post cactus, all the same height.

From this angle you can see the neat row of barrel cactus and an equally neat row of agave plants in the front.  There is nothing random about the placement of these desert plants.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I spotted these two Marines walking across the street so using my telephoto I zoomed in on them just as this young lady marched into the frame.  She looks like she's taking that "marching" thing much more seriously than the two guys.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sunday Night Concert

I had a special treat on Sunday night, the Idina Menzel concert in downtown Phoenix.  She put on a fabulous show that the sold out audience thoroughly enjoyed.  We had seats in the 9th row so we were close enough to get a fantastic view and when she came down into the audience, she was right at the end of our row.  Here she is singing a duet from the show "Rent" with a very talented audience member.  This iPhone photo turned way better than I expected.

Oh and yes, she did sing that song from "Frozen" along with a bunch of kids from the audience.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Musical Phoenix Bird

This depiction of the Phoenix Bird might take a little imagination from some people.

This one can be found in the entrance courtyard to the Musical Instrument Museum and  it therefore, has a bit of musical instrument theme to it.

This sculpture was created by Louis Halleux, Belgian sculptor.  He named the piece appropriately enough "Phoenix".