Balboa Park – Inez Grant-Parker Memorial Rose Garden

For those of you who do not live in the area, Balboa Park  ( is San Diego’s jewel: a city park of 1200 acres overlooking downtown high rises and the harbor. The park was commissioned in 1868, but was undeveloped until 1892 when Kate Sessions planted over 100 trees and countless shrubs and plants. Her plants and trees are still in the park. Soon after the turn of the twentieth century a master plan was finally created. With San Diego set to play host to the 1915 Panama Exposition, commemorating the opening of the Panama Canal, the Park Commissioners renamed the park, from “City Park” to its current name chosen in honor of Spanish-born Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean while on exploration in Panama. The 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition provided the impetus for the creation of many cultural institutions as well as the park’s stunning, highly ornamented Spanish-Renaissance architectural style.

Some time I will take you on a photo walk of the park and its architectural buildings, but today this is about the Rose Garden. ( These photos were taken in late April. I parked my car at the old Naval Hospital and walked up the hill. After spending over an hour in the Rose Garden, I walked across the pedestrian bridge, down the Prado, past the Organ Pavillion and back to my car. The last few photos are from my walk outside of the Rose Garden. I wish you could smell the fragrance as you walk through the garden with me. Enjoy: (if you want to see a larger view of any photo, click on it and although you will leave the blog it will create a very user-friendly a slide show)

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Big Sister is Moving in and Taking Over

Are you a big sister? Or were you a little sister?

Of the two girls in our family, I am the little sister. I don’t know how it is in other families, but in our family, my big sister and I were not friends growing up. She was the first-born and the perfect child. She was my mom’s best friend and confidant. I was the tag-along kid and my mom could never figure out why I would rather read a book than play a musical instrument. There were three years between Dana Jo and me, though there might as well have been ten. Dana was confident and born worldly-wise, athletic, artistic and musical. I was awkward and studious. In our teen years Dana was very popular, maturing early. Our driveway was lined with fast cars, and the house filled with boys, music and laughter when Dana was around. I was under a tree outside reading a book.

I adored my older sister, but I was jealous of her good looks and easy ways. I was also jealous of her always getting “her” way. Why could she borrow my clothes, but I couldn’t touch hers? Big sisters!

She always decided everything; we followed her. If she was interested in horses, the whole family got involved. If she was a majorette in high school, we all showed up at the football games. Not so for my brother and me. The family didn’t watch him play football or care that I was on the field twirling flags. It was all about Dana, the first-born. Dana got her drivers license the day she turned 16; I had to wait until I was 19. She seemed always to be in charge and a little bossy. Big sisters!

I have been happy for several years with my Olympus Stylus 1010 digital camera. She is a constant companion; slipping in my pocket easily whether I am hiking or dancing. But it’s well worn with a scratched LCD screen.

But big sister has moved in and I think she is taking over.

I recently bought a new SLR digital camera; a Canon EOS 60D, 18 megapixels. It is so big! I hardly know what to do with it. It doesn’t slip in a pocket; it is stored in a camera bag bigger than my purse. But, oh, does it take good pictures. Like my own big sister who could do everything so perfectly, this big sister camera is an excellent performer.

Canon camera bag compared to Olympus camera bag

Olympus on the left, Canon on the right.

I don’t know how this is all going to work out. I can’t imagine taking this large camera on a hike in the backcountry. A friend recently asked me to photograph her rose garden. I took both cameras. I am still more comfortable with the Olympus, but got the best pictures with the Canon. Will the Canon now be the controlling factor of my photography—what I will do and how I will do it—its superior optics vs. its size? Is this like a bossy big sister taking over?

My backyard rose taken with the Canon.

Same rose taken just seconds later with Olympus camera, same lighting, etc.

Comparing the same rose with the two cameras.

I am learning to use the Canon and will share my journey with you. There is a lot to learn! As if I wasn’t already confused enough with these two cameras and their roles, a new little sister has joined the family. Cute and adorable and so easy to be around, I have an I-phone 4S with a 5 Megapixel camera. This little jewel is so user-friendly. With two clicks I can share my photography and life with friends around the world via e-mail, text or Facebook. No need to rush home and download files to the computer first. Sharing is done on location.

I phone 4S, my other new BFF.

Will I be using three cameras simultaneously? Who will be put aside as not needed now? I have no idea . . . time will tell . . .  but I’m sure having fun with this optical dilemma. And in my real life, my big sister and I are now the best of friends. We are very different, but share the common thread of growing up together. We are family. We are sisters.

Me on the left, and my big sister Dana Jo Russ on the right. (taken September 2011)