April 2019 End Notes

April 2019 is coming to an end and as usual, I’m taking a moment to look back and summarize this month’s photographic activities, insights, changes and updates to my website, and a few other random thoughts that have crossed my mind. :-)

What’s Been Happening

April began with our little Toni’s 16th birthday – quite the age for a dog, and she’s still eager to get out and hike! As soon as I put on hiking clothes (she recognizes them!) and grab the camera, she’s bouncing around me and wants to make sure that I take her with me. The hikes with her have to be shorter now and temperatures are an increasing issue with her heart condition (these old valves don’t close that well anymore), but on her birthday it was overcast and we went for a 3 mile hike at nearby Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve. I found a nice spot with California Poppies for her birthday portrait, and made a few other photos of her. They’re in a little gallery in my personal, German weblog if you’re interested: Toni’s 16th birthday.

After the crazy amounts of “running around” (and driving) in March, I slowed down a bit in April, but the backlog of images that need an evaluation and developing inevitably grew. This time of the year is just too precious to not make the most of it and be out with the camera often.

I had hoped to get one last desert hike in while we’re having some cooler temperatures, but that didn’t work out – I caught a nasty bug that flattened me for the last couple of days and I’m still recovering. Maybe I’ll get another chance in May – usually we still get a few cooler days, even in the desert. You’ll read about it here then. :-)

The Flowers!

The flowers continued to astound, but on our local trails, the most beautiful carpets have faded now – as much rain as we had through February, it was lacking in March and April, actually (we’re still above the average winter precipitation I believe though). Nevertheless, the flowers are coming in waves – and as I write this, the Clarkias, Charming Centaury, Chamise, Yellow and Golden Yarrow, Showy Penstemon, Snapdragons and a lot of others are in some state of bloom.

One thing that I found interesting to observe was how long some flowers lasted this year – and how short-lived others were. I’ve seen Texas Toadflax and Red Maids in bloom for about two months on our local trails for example, while Chaparral Gilia and Jewelflower were out for only about two or three weeks – I would have considered Texas Toadflax and Chaparral Gilia similarly delicate, but the Toadflax was a lot more resilient and long-lasting.

Invasive Invasion

Unfortunately, what has really exploded in April are invasive mustard and filaree. On some of the hillsides around Lake Hodges, and at places that have been used for grazing/farming in the past, there’s hardly anything else to see than invasive plants – it’s such a pity. People say “it’s still pretty!” and I won’t argue with one’s individual perception of beauty – but imagine how much more pretty it could be if there was a lively, healthy mix of native plants (bushes, shrubs, and wildflowers) instead of these “invasive monocultures” that dry up quickly and pose a greater fire threat than native plants.

I’m putting two pairs of photos side by side here, hoping that they’ll say “more than a thousand words” (or, since it’s four photos, four thousand words, actually;-). As usual, you can click to open them larger:

Nathan Serrato of The Escondido Creek Conservancy wrote an article about the mustards: The Superdoom and he mentions that recent research suggests that black mustard prevents native plants from growing by releasing chemicals into the soil.” — and at the same time we see people posting photos and selfies of and with these fields of invasive mustard, commenting “the flowers are so pretty this year!” Obviously, I’m losing my mind when I see that… :-P

How can we educate more people to recognize these invasives? And maybe it’s not the best idea but sometimes I wonder: what would happen if everyone out on a trail would pull an invasive mustard if they saw it? :-} Just thinking out loud…

Anyway, on to more enjoyable things.

The Print Club

In the second half of April, Lori, Joseph and Peter came over to our house to chat and to discuss our prints over coffee and cake (and then cheese and port, and then pizza and beer). I called the four of us “The Print Club”. :-)

Everyone brought a couple of their prints on all kinds of papers (we had tried different sampler packs over time) and different formats. We had some prints where the same photo was printed on different papers for comparison, and Peter brought the results of his in-depth comparison of working with different printer management and profile options. It all was a blast. Time went by in a breeze and it all was a thousand times better than looking at photographs on screen or in a projection. I’ve written about this before (Printing At Home) and this meeting was proof that there’s no better way to look at photographs and learn from the experience than through prints.

Speaking of prints: I have uploaded a few new photos to my print-on-demand store, and pulled a few older ones. The total number is under 1000 now and I intend to keep it that way (and perhaps get it even lower). I’d appreciate it if you took a look, and perhaps consider purchasing a print. It will help me greatly as an artist. If you can’t find a photo that you’re looking for, please contact me and I’ll help.

Portfolio Additions

The following portfolios have been updated, with the photos below: Resistance & Hope, Desert Minutiae, Shrublands, Malpais – and in addition to that, the San Diego Native Wildflowers portfolio has seen further updates as well (unsurprisingly!).

And that’s all for April. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy the photos and stick around for more.

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6 thoughts on “April 2019 End Notes”

  1. Tamarisk, which I was involved in a project to remove, had a similar effect on the soil. In it’s case, it would “sweat” salts into the soil and ruin the PH balance that the Cottonwoods and other native plants preferred. Just another way it was out-competing the native plants. The mustard is out en force this year, worse than I have ever seen it.

  2. Congratulations on keeping your companion happy and healthy (enough!) all those years. He looks very sweet. The Spring carpet is gorgeous, a haze of beautiful color. I agree with you about invasive species, and the same two are problems here as well. The Bisti Badlands orange shards photo is outstanding, I also really like the bamboo lattice and the live oak. Your print meeting sounds wonderful. A busy month! I hope you’re all better.

    • Thank you very much, Lynn – sorry that I missed this comment and didn’t reply sooner. On the plus side, the cold’s all gone now (replaced by allergies, haha!). I’m surprised to hear that mustard and filaree are a problem in the PNW as well – I would not have expected that.

      PS: Toni wants me to tell you that she’s a girl. ;-)


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