Friday, June 24, 2005



Red Rock Canyon is a recently aquired Open Space in Colorado Springs and once the construction is completed the park will offer rock climbing opportunities as well as miles of hiking trails and picnic areas.  This was my first visit to the park and I could not resist the stairway's beaconing invitation to climb to the top.

What awaited for me at the top was not only a spectacular view but there was also a very interesting structure cut into the rock.  The walls of the structure were layered by what was possibly some kind of cutting machine, but the surface was worn and weathered by exposure to the elements giving it an ancient Aztec appeal.

I climbed higher and was able to get a good view from above that revealed clear and distinct rooms.  My imagination ran wild as I tried to imagine who once lived in this dwelling cut into the mountain.

The dwellings had long been abandoned and the vegetation has taken over the site, giving a contrasting splash of green against the bright red rocks.

This is a close-up of one of the walls, a natural artistic beauty that can never be imitated no matter how we may try.  I half expected to see hieroglyphics on the walls.  I picked around the site and found evidence of a fire.  Scattered on the ground of one room were broken bottles and pottery.  I gathered the few that were still in tack and will clean them up later.  My priority after the shoot was to find out more about Red Rock Canyon and its mysterious yet beautiful dwellings.

My search revealed that it was in fact a quarry!  The ancient relics were probably the remainsof someone's garbage fire.  Oh well, so much for my archeological find.  Still, it was exciting for the time that I explored the site, thinking that it might have been a highway man's hideout or even some ancient native dwelling. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

MORE PAINTSHOP PRO (and another confession)

First of all, let me just say that if anyone is getting ready to rush out and join the Dornbrau Fan Club, hang on to your membership fee.  I have posted a couple really cool photo enhancements using my Paintshop Pro 9 software, but truth be known, these creations are more done by luck and accident than by creative talent.  Last night when I took over the computer, my son had left a few options open on the program that I didn't know existed.  The peacock and these buildings are just a few of my many experiments.  This gazebo stands over what is called The 7 Minute Spring in Manitou Springs, CO.  I'd be lying if I said I knew why it was called the 7 Minute Spring, I have no idea at all.

I posted some color pictures from this shoot earlier this year.  Somehow color just doesn't do the Nolan House justice.  It is quite striking in black and white.

This is another view of the Nolan House in Manitou Springs.  I love the sketched appearance of this Paintshop technique.  However, if you would like to see some exceptional artwork by a real sketch artist, check out this dragonfly.  This guy is the real McCoy!  Check out the rest of his journal for more awesome sketches and photographs.

PEACOCK, (paintshop watercolor)

I wish I could paint like this.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I have my camera back, but finding the opportunity to take pictures is hard now that I have so many little people to watch over.  Yesterday we spent the day at Rampart Range Reservoir, which offered some spectacular photo opportunities, but they will have to wait for a future visit.  I have over 400 shots but the majority of them are of the cousins playing in the water.  Needless to say, those pictures are priceless.

Rampart Range Reservoir is one of the main water supplies for Colorado Springs.  It is also a popular fishing and boating spot.  The water is crystal clear and ice cold as it is fed off of the snow melt from the mountains.

A gift from my nephew, before we could tell him that gathering of wild flowers in the forest was prohibited.  I took a picture for memories though.  Such a sweet offering.

The entire area provides a feast for the eyes, the tranquil lake, the lush forest of pine and aspen, and the rich undergrowth.  Even the air seemed different up there, the sky bluer and the clouds fluffier.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

ZOO (again) June 16

Today was the perfect day to take my young, visiting neices and nephew to the zoo.  An earlier rain had cooled the air so it wasn't too hot or muggy.  The 2 older children had specific animals that they wanted to see, but 5 year old Miki was happy with the chipmunks.

This is a 'kori bustard', which is penned with the giraffes.  Its a very tall bird, and very inquisitive.  I never really got a clear picture of this one because when it wasn't running in circles around the tree below me, it was trying to get a better look at my lens.  I knew it was going to be too dark but I was pleasantly surprised by the way this picture turned out.  Believe it or not I used no special effects, I merely sharpened it and removed a spot or two.

There were 3 peacocks out today, but no sign of the peahens.  The males called loudly to each other but there was no colorful displays of tail feathers.

The Mexican Gray Wolf Woods exhibit was our last stop and we timed it perfectly.  The wolves had just been fed and were very active.  This wolf was missing the tip of one of his ears. The picture was taken through a large glass window that serves as part of the enclosure for the forest habitat. The wolf was actually staring at my son beside me who wanted to see what would happen if he tried to make eye contact and stare down a wolf.  The wolf stared for almost a minute, and faked a lunge towards my son but never bared its teeth.  It made a few more passes in front of us before it joined the others in the shadows of the trees.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


This is another reworked picture.  I originally posted it in black and white because the color image was too washed out.  This time I increased the color balance to emphasize the reds and yellows that I had hoped to catch when I took the picture and this was the result.  This statue is of Kit Carson and stands outside the main gate at Fort Carson, Colorado.

(Oops, I lied.  This is the picture I posted, taken on the same day but definitely not the same shot.)

I have my camera back, but I also have a house full of children which makes concentration on photo opportunities (other than the children themselves) difficult.  He doesn't know it yet, but I'm ditching my husband on Sunday for a 'Me' day, which I believe I have earned.

Sunday, June 12, 2005



My camera is slowly making its way back to me, but in the mean time I am still going through some older files.  These photos were taken in February enroute to Fort Knox, Kentucky.  I have no idea what or where the poles are in the first picture but thought it was really interesting at the time.  The large arch, or course, is the Saint Louis Arch.  It really is a neat thing to see, but it doesn't do anything, its just .... there.

My daughter doesn't understand why I took this picture, nor why I would include it on my website, but hey, I think it looks cool.  Among the many things that catch my eye are lines and shadows.  This picture presented a little feast for my eyes.

When I first saw this bus on the road in Kansas I thought it was very cool.  We played a sort of interstate-leap-frog all the way cross country and finally lost sight of it somewhere in Illinois (oops, my mistake, husband pointed out we didn't go through Ohio).

This statue stands outside the Cabelas store in Kansas.  The detail is wonderful during the day, but the statue is most striking in the night.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


I didn't quite get the sun in the exact position I wanted, but I think I did pretty good considering that the car was moving at about 55 mph.  Is it just me, or are sunsets more brilliant over the desert?

This  is a view of the Santa Monica Pier from the road.  It was like a time warp on the pier, with sidewalk performers and tiny shops crowded in along the walkway.  Fishermen lined the rails.  While we were there a small sting ray was pulled up and returned to the water.

I don't know what those people were taking pictures of, there was nothing out there.  They were the more interesting subject in my opinion.  I tried to get this picture in color but it came out washed out so I switched the camera to black and white (one of my favorite features on the Cybershot) and came up with this.  I posted a different version of this picture in the earlier entries of this journal but have since aquired a program that allowed me to clean it up a little better. I occasionally go back and try reworking older pictures but most times I'll find that the original was the better picture. This was the exception, today's attempt produced a more intence contrast.

GRAND CANYON 2004, revisited

I found these pictures while looking for my Disneyland pictures from last summer.  We took a trip to California, via Arizona and had to visit the Grand Canyon.  I used my Sony Cybershot, which is a wonderful little camera but I had the resolution set too low and it resulted in grainy pictures.  Still, it was hard not to capture the awesome natural beauty of the canyon.


I had to cut part of the first picture off because I had inadvertently included a portion of my palm as I tried to shade the camera from the sun.  The tower is the Desert View Watchtower, which is a very striking structure no matter how you photograph it.  I am looking forward to returning to the Canyon with my new camera.  My goal is to get a good sunset picture.  The sunsets there are phenomenal but I was unable to capture the magical beauty at the time.  But soon, I hope, soon!

Friday, June 10, 2005


This is one of my favorite pictures from our California vacation last year.  All this time we had thought of Mickey Mouse as being a nice, child-friendly mouse, but when my daughter Rocky finally got an opportunity to meet her childhood idol, what did he do... he pulled her hair!  'When Celebrity Rodents Attack, Caught on Tape!'  Story at 11.  Mickey didn't realize that he had a handful of Rocky's hair and started walking away with poor Rocky hollering, trying to pull free.  She wasn't hurt though and likes to show the picture off to her friends.

Thursday, June 9, 2005


My husband has gone to Kentucky to pick up my neices and nephew, and has taken my camera with him so I have decided to revisit my old files.  I have thousands of exposures on my computer, of various degrees of quality.  Some of the files are almost identical to pictures taken on another date and then some pictures I swear I've never seen before.  Robins are very cooperative subjects for me.  This little guy may actually be the same one I photograph on each visit to the Cattail Marsh.  Sometimes he will actually hop over within a few feet of me and casually peck at the gravel near my feet.

The northern flicker is also a familiar sight along the path to the marsh.  They are extremely camera shy and will move around the opposite side of the tree upon my approach.  This is about as good a shot as I've ever gotten of one so far.

I captured this tender shot at the man-made-pond in town.  The parents hovered protectively over the little chicks but once they felt reassured that I meant no harm, the lessons resumed.

The spotted towhee is one of the noisiest little creatures in the forest.  This little guy scratched through the fallen leaves and twigs for a meal for over an hour.  I can't say that I recall it ever making a cheep or chirp, but it sounded like a herd of elephants crashing through the undergrowth.  The red eyes give it an almost evil appearance.

These redwinged blackbirds fluttered almost welcomingly to me as I explored the edge of the pond by the cattail field.  It took me a while to comprehend that their gestures and musical calls were not playful at all.  They were trying to get me to move away from their nesting ground.  The dried reeds hid dozens of nests woven into the leaves.  Disappointed that I had not suddenly developed Doolittle skills in animal communication after all, I left the poor birds in peace. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

WISH I WAS THERE, Monday Photo Shoot


There are many places on earth that I wish I could visit again... my hometown in Hawaii, my mom's hometown on the Big Island, the Grand Canyon... but the one place I would love to be more than anything else is... the moon!  Ever since I was a child the moon has held a special facination for me.  No matter where I moved to, and I moved a lot with a father in the navy, the moon was there.  It was the one constant in my life, and yet it was so elusive, so far away and so out of reach.  I often wondered what it would be like to lay on the moon and stare up at the earth, what a beautiful sight that must be.  Even now, as an adult with children of my own, I have the same dream.  I don't suppose I will ever live that dream, but in the mean time, each time I look into the night sky, each time the moon shines in the blue sky above me, I wonder...  So that is where I would like to be, on the moon, gazing up at the earth.

Your Monday Photo Shoot -- Wish You Were There


When I first came to Colorado, these ponds were a favorite playground for my children as well as my neice and nephews.  Sadly, chemical run-off from a plant miles away has contaminated the water and the ponds and the surrounding park is now closed.

We used to catch fish and crawdads here.  The fish are thriving but no one dares to try and catch them.

I have never had any luck photographing insects, usually I have settle for pictures of dead bugs since the live ones are too fast for me.  This little turquoise dragonfly was very cooperative and waited patiently while I focused on it.

I could not believe my luck when I saw these cactus flowers.  I usually happen upon them when they are either not quite fully opened, or already closing.  These ones were almost posing for me.

Sunday, June 5, 2005


Colorado Springs has a huge military community with so many bases, including several Air Force bases in the surrounding area.  Peterson AFB hosts an air show each year.  Yesterday was a windy and overcast day but spectators came by the thousands to watch the show and to show their own support for the armed services.

My father was in the Navy, so I grew up with the Blue Angels.  My dad had always made a point of taking the family to see their performances any time they were in town.  Seeing the blue and gold fighter brought back a rush of fond memories.

Miss Mitchell is a B25J bomber, named after an actual bomber that flew with the 380th Bomb Squadron.  Miss Mitchell was not a person, the name came from from the type of bomber it was, a Mitchell.  The bomber is fully restored and airworthy and makes appearances at airshows around the country.

I'm sure there is a technical name for this fighter, something with lots of letters and numbers... and I'm sure it was clearly written on the plaque that hung on the rails infront of the plane, but I was was too entranced with the plane itself that I neglected to pay attention.  I call this 'pretty, shiney plane with propellors'.

We arrived too late for much of the aerial displays, but we were able to catch the Thunderbirds flying team.  As with the Blue Angels, I watched the Tunderbirds perform frequently when I was a child and have always been in awe of their precision and beauty.

For as many times as I've seen them in my life, it wasn't until thistime that I realized the design on the bottom of the jets were that of the Native American thunderbird.

Inverted fly-by.  I'm sure if you were to ask the pilots they'd deny the difficulty of this maneuver but it still gets me screaming and cheering like a child when I see them do it.

I still don't understand how they can fly with such precise formations.  To top it off, these guys are flying sideways!  I can't even walk a straight line, there is no way on earth that I could do something like that in a huge flying machine like that.  The strong winds and thick clouds didn't even seem to affect the performance.  At the end of the show I was chattering just as excitedly as my children.  I am already looking forward to the next air show.

Friday, June 3, 2005


This isn't a very good picture at all, but I love the way the sun seems to shine right through the feathers of the hawk.  These birds are really quite huge and its shadow was like that of an airplane crossing in front of the sun.


After taking the picture of hawk I caught sight of the old jalope out of the corner of my eye, almost camoflauged by an equally rusty shed.  The mountainscape taken behind the shed.  I hope the owners of the property realize what treasures they have in their own back yard, in both the old truck and the vista.

All of my photographs have names although I don't always use them when posting the pictures.  This one I call 'Edge of the Storm'.  I think that says it all.


The storm was sudden and brought torrential rain and hail.  It passed quickly and left the land refreshed.  The yucca plant is very pretty to look at, but I can personally attest to the wickedness of its pointed leaves.  The cactus is also deceptively attractive.  The spines on the leaves can pierce a leather boot as easily as it would paper... again, I speak from experience.