Sunday, June 19, 2016

McWilliams Campground (Mt Charleston)

It's tough to resist star trail photography whenever we're out in a relatively dark area. Granted, "relatively dark" for a Las Vegas resident means pretty much anywhere.

I admit that I didn't put a ton of effort into this one. I tried to get a decent composition at 16mm. (With no mobile reception, I'm glad I once learned how to find the north star with reasonable accuracy). I set my camera for 30-second exposures at f/2.8 and ISO 6400. Then I just locked up my cable release and let it shoot continuously. After a little more than an hour, I packed up and went to bed.

It wasn't until I checked the resulting photos today that I would know whether or not I got anything worth posting. I've used software in the past from, but I decided to try something new today called StarStaX. Of course, I did some cleanup in Photoshop and adjusted the foreground exposure to my liking.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

White Dome Meets Half Dome (Yosemite National Park)

The second national park we visited during my bday road trip last year is probably my fave—Yosemite! As a general rule, dogs aren't allowed on national park trails, but there are plenty of paved and developed areas you can take your pet within the Yosemite valley.

Bawoo greets Half Dome in the distance.

Bawoo pays respect to the mighty power of Yosemite Falls.

We found some deer roaming the grounds near Yosemite Falls.

My obligatory HDR shot of Yosemite Falls.

On the way out, we ended our day by taking in the sunset at Glacier Point.

Friday, May 20, 2016

General Sherman (Sequoia National Park)

For my birthday vacation just over a year ago, we did a road trip through a couple of California national parks. At the time, I was doing a "100 Days of Macro" project and was focusing on very small subjects.

The General Sherman Tree is, obviously, the exact opposite. By trunk volume, it is the largest tree in the world. The conditions were super foggy during our visit, but that just adds to the magic of the atmosphere.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Inn at Europa Village

I'm suddenly in a photoblogging mood, so I decided to go through the images I captured last August when we stayed at The Inn at Europa Village. This place is absolutely amazing. We had previously stayed at the South Coast Winery and fully enjoyed it, but Europa Village is completely next level. I highly recommend checking out this Temecula Bed and Breakfast.

Almost all the rooms have balconies, but I selected the Viognier because it faces west.

Unfortunately, this tree blocks your view of the actual sunset. It's still a great room with a fantastic view.

Finding this random Korean book was interesting.

The inn's location is perfect—just past where Rancho California Rd stops being suburban and starts feeling "wine country." Perched on top of a hill, you really get some wonderful views of the surrounding valley.

It's not unusual to see several hot air balloons taking their morning flights. Even if you don't see them, you'll probably hear the thumping bass of the balloons' burners.

Naturally, you'll see a lot of balloon-themed decor like this hummingbird feeder.

Wandering the grounds, you can get a preview of the incredible breakfast you're about to experience. Chef Dean uses fresh ingredients from the garden to craft his creative dishes.

As he presents each dish, Chef Dean goes into such tremendous detail, it's tough to catch it all. It's even tougher to remember, especially since it's been so long. In short, everything was delightfully delicious. Plus, a picture is supposed to paint a thousand words, so here are five thousand for your viewing pleasure.

Newfound Gap Road (Great Smoky Mountains)

During our recent trip to Pigeon Forge TN, of course we had to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although I am a consistent "America the Beautiful" annual pass owner, Great Smoky Mountains is one of the few national parks that does not charge an entrance fee. The reason is tied to Newfound Gap Road. When the privately owned land and road were turned over to the government, the agreement was that there would never be a toll to travel the road. An entrance fee would essentially be a toll.

Though pure coincidence, it was a great way to celebrate Earth Day. Sure it was a little rainy, but what desert dweller doesn't enjoy the rain? The downside is that our view from the top of Clingmans Dome was nothing but a foggy forest, which was beautiful in its own way. Luckily there were many spots along the side of the road to capture some nice stream photos.

Our short sojourn was nowhere near enough time to fully appreciate what Great Smoky Mountains has to offer. We'll definitely need to return during a future trip.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Play-Doh Henge (Seven Magic Mountains)

When I heard about this art installation just outside the Las Vegas valley, I was immediately reminded of an old Eddie Izzard comedy routine. Except in this case, they've built a Play-Doh Henge! Named "Seven Magic Mountains" by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, it's a strange sight in the middle of the desert, but well worth the short drive.

This was a last minute photo decision. The clouds I saw while driving home on Friday night looked like they would lend themselves to an awesome sunset. Unfortunately, this was no longer the case once I arrived, but I captured what I could.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ultracrepidarian Tea Tasting

Our friends Debbie and David invited us to a tea tasting brunch. Jieun had to work, but that didn't prevent me from partaking in the pleasantly pretentious tea sipping shenanigans. (Clearly, I enjoy alliteration way too much).

I arrived early and seized the opportunity to snap some shots of their impressive setup. We would end up sampling ten teas that afternoon—a collection of white, green, yellow, oolong, and red (otherwise known as black).

All guests had their own labeled double-walled vessel. Putting that labeler to good use for sure.

At first I thought David had created his own tea bag labels. David's Tea turns out to be a Canadian specialty tea company from Montreal.

If you haven't Googled by now, "ultracrepidarianism" is the habit of giving opinions or advice on matters outside of one's knowledge. Luckily, we had some reference material.

A few of the teas had food pairing, but we also had excellent snack options in front of us.

This herbal tea wasn't actually part of the tasting. Pure decoration.

A closer look at one of the teas—Jasmine Phoenix Eyes white tea if I'm not mistaken. It turns out that all tea comes from the same plant. The end product depends on how it is processed.

Judging by the color, this might be the rare yellow tea. Even my unrefined palate easily picked up on its earthiness.

A shot of one of the food pairings. I regret not photographing the deliciously sweet black garlic item.

No Debbie and David event is complete without a culinary visit to Baguette Cafe. Olivier's quiche is always on point.

As is the uber rich and decadent chocolate torte.