Corbin's Treehouse - Corbin Dunn, Santa Cruz, CA
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Archive for the 'Nature' Category

Driveway Sign: Monkey Playground

I playfully call my house the “Monkey Playground”. Why? Why not!

Well, okay, I’m sort of monkey like since I like climbing around on lots of things. A little known fact about me: my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi had a sticker on the side that said “Monkey *” (that last symbol was a star, not an asterisk). I thought it was funny — sort of like an aviator call sign for the pilot.

The new sign, freshly painted:


This is my first stencil. Here’s how I made it:

* Find an image on the internet to make a stencil out of. Drop it into Adobe Illustrator.

* With my Wacom tablet (a mouse would work), trace it with the pencil tool. Fix it up so the path looks fairly smooth. Download my version here.

* Print the stencil — it may take several pages if it is large.

* Tape it down on top of some poster board (thin cardboard from an art supply store.)

* Put something underneath the cardboard so you don’t cut into your table (I used a balsa wood model airplane table).

* Cut it out with a sharp new exacto knife.



* Spray paint it!

I can hear myself telling people how to get to my place: “Yeah, pull into the driveway with a red monkey painted on a huge white saw blade out front.”

A few good pictures

From the UCSC Arboretum, taken yesterday.

An HDR shot of a bee; the image was generated from a single RAW exposure, mainly to increase some details that you couldn’t see with the original photograph.

An HDR generated from three exposures, and my wide angle lens:

A regular image, touched up in Aperture slightly, taken with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens:

An HDR from three exposures using the 70-200mm lens. The non-HDR looked pretty good, but the right side was slightly over exposed from the sun, and the background was pure black. The HDR combination fills out those areas, and prevents it from being over exposed:

70-200mm canon lens

I got a nice new lens a few weeks ago. It takes GREAT pictures. Here’s some examples from a few days ago:

Bottlenose brush in the front of our house.

Cactus flower at the Santa Cruz house (dad’s house).


Sunset from my dad’s house:

Photography: Great tree pictures from Castle Rock

Last weekend, I took a trip up to Castle Rock state park. It is a popular climbing destination, and there is some gorgeous scenery. I went by myself, and brought my camera along with my climbing shoes strapped to my waist. I put up a gallery for some of the best photos here: Corbin’s Pictures – Castle Rock – January 2005. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites.

Here is a cool picture of a very mossy branch:

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In the gallery, you can see a few pictures before and after it giving different perspectives. I was quite happy with this one, and the full size image looks pretty good.

This picture displays some of the gorgeous green moss that exists at Castle Rock:

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The photo almost looks fake, and the greens are so vibrant.

This photo is another good picture:

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I really like mossy tree tops!

There are several other good pictures in the gallery. Be sure to take a look!

Barbara Butler’s Treehouses and Play Structures

Barbara Butler, who has some great treehouses and play structures that have appeared in several treehouse books, has a great website: She offers both pre designed wooden play houses and 2-story play sets, as well as site-specific, redwood play structures and children’s treehouses that come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at her website, and buy the book “Treehouses — the House that Jack Built”, which features my treehouse and also one of Barbara’s structures.

Rock Climbing in Red Rocks, Nevada

For the past few days on my holiday break, I went and did some climbing at Red Rocks, Nevada with a few friends (Jason, Sara, and Ellie). It was a blast! I really love rock climbing, and being out in nature was great. I took a bunch of pictures.

I learned a TON of new stuff on the trip. First of all, I had never really known how to properly setup a rappel after a climb, but after a great lesson from jason and repeating it a bunch of times, I finally got the hang of it. In addition to that, I learned how to do some traditional climbing! (Also called “trad climbing”, which is when you use “natural protection” instead of bolts. This usually consists of camming devices, and various pieces of metal, called nuts, to stick in cracks and stuff).

The first day, we started off easy, doing some 5.8 warm ups followed by some easy 10’s. Then, we moved onto another area where we met this guy Gary, a long time Red Rocks climber from Vegas. He was self belaying a 5.12a (or was it a b?); well, technically, he had his little dog, Toby, there to help in case of an emergency, but other than that he was doing some solo climbing. We exchanged a few belays, and he gave me some great beta that allowed me to onsight a 5.11b (my first 5.11 outdoor lead). After that, I gave his 5.12 a try on top rope, and fell on the crux, but otherwise made it up! Then, I led a 5.11c; that thing was HARD! I was taxed at the cruz, and barley made the clip before falling. It was a risky clip; I was high cliping and there was a lot of rope out. It was scary for a moment. After I hung on the clip for a while, I finished it off with no problem.

The next day, we warmed up on some 10’s. Jason taught me some trad climbing techniques, and let me use his gear to climb my first trad climb (a 5.10-, which felt like a 5.9, and apparently another book has it listed as a 5.9+). It was a TON of fun placing gear, and I’m going to really get into it next year. After that, we headed to this really crowded area, where I attempted to lead a 5.11b. I fell twice, hard, on the second clip, and twisted my ankle a bit when I slammed against the wall. I finally made clip three after the third try, and finished it off. I then led a 5.11a, hanging on one clip for some rest; I was hoping for an onsight, but I was a little tired after my first attempts on the 11b. Then, I top roped an 11c a few times (falling on a few of the hard sections — i never did get it clean!), a GREAT 10d and then led a long 5.9 before we ended the day. A TON of fun climbing, and I’m really only telling my tale; everyone else had a great time and did a ton of great climbs.

The next day, man, my left foot was really sore from my hard falls! Oh well..c’est la vie.

A great artist and Photoshop drawing tips

Olduvai George has a great artistic blog. In his latest post, he goes over some of the finer details of using photoshop to create some of his artwork. Wonderful! Take a gander at it over here.

Wild parrots of Spain!

While walking along the street in Barcelona, I saw something that astonished me. A flock of “wild” parrots in Barcelona!

I really like nature, and I really like birds, so it was cool to see them. I snapped a few pictures, but they didn’t want me to get too close.


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I like flowers. They represent something very beautiful, and serenity.

(c) 2008-2017 Corbin Dunn

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