Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31 - Observations Points

The pluralization of the title is a running gag we had going during the trip. For some reason, the topic came up about people strangely pluralizing things. For example, Red Rocks instead of just Red Rock and Nordstroms instead of just Nordstrom.

Anyway, we did the eight mile (round trip) hike up to Observation Point and then a little bit of Hidden Canyon on the way down. The OP hike has an elevation gain of about 2100 feet. The steep switchbacks start right at the trailhead and seem to never end. OP is much higher than Angels Landing, but I have a feeling AL is a more fun hike (and shorter too). I did enjoy the canyon section of OP and also the short segment of HC that we hiked.

What I find surprising is that OP has about the same elevation gain as Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock. It seems much tougher than Turtlehead to me, probably because of its length.

May 30 - Smoke Season

In my poor attempt to season a cast iron griddle I recently purchased, I managed to fill my house with smoke. Luckily, no smoke detectors went off (which could be bad if they simply don't work). In addition, it provided me with a fun photo opportunity.

May 29 - Star Wars in Concert

I've been waiting for this to come to Vegas. I'm a huge fan of cinematic scores and John Williams is easily my favorite composer. It was an awesome surprise to actually see Anthony Daniels on stage introducing each piece (I thought it would just be video of him).

They played most of my favorites as well as the usual suspects - Asteroid Field, Yoda's Theme, Duel of the Fates, Across the Stars, Battle of the Heroes, Luke and Leia, Anakin's Theme, and of course Imperial March. The finale could be nothing else but Throne Room from episode IV. They even did an Imperial March encore.

The concourse outside the arena was full of rare and original Star Wars props and memorabilia. They had a handwritten John Williams manuscript and various costumes from the films. For me though, the kicker was the actual Han Solo carbonite prop used in the films.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 28 - Rice Hole Sun

This crazy photo idea came about when I was getting ready to cook some rice. I put a layer of uncooked rice on some glass and shot my flash underneath through a small hole in some cardboard. I achieved the sun warmth by simply changing the temperature in Camera Raw.

May 27 - Fender Stratacoustic

I haven't touched this guitar in a few years. I needed another photo in a pinch and it provided some interesting lines. Rather than go the usual short depth of field route, I decided to get as much of it in focus as I could.

May 26 - Slidin' Thru

I first heard about the Slider Truck through my friend Rick Friele's Twitter post. Since then, I've been meaning to give them a try. I finally had my chance when they were in the Henderson area. I bought three sliders (a Pep Pep, a Yaya, and a Captain's) and a side of sweet potato fries. Their food is delicious and I'd definitely have it again. However, I wouldn't drive so far out of my way next time.

May 25 - BJ IPA

After work. we went to BJ's in Henderson to watch the Lakers/Suns game. I've recently gotten into IPAs (India Pale Ales), so I asked the waiter for a recommendation. He gave me their house IPA. I believe it's called Tempest and it's not even on the menu. Good stuff.

May 24 - Ménage à Trois

After going to all those cool places last week, I knew I would find it difficult again to find subject matter for this blog. Exhibit A: this is my wine rack from IKEA with a bottle of Ménage à Trois (a blend of three reds) and a bottle of Beringer white merlot.

May 23 - METoC Aftermath

Just like our 10-day Super Epic Fantastic Voyage through Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming last August, I decided not to shave during METoC. Sadly, this is all I have to show for it. Then again, it's not like I was trying to grow a beard. I just didn't want to shave.

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 22 - Patagonia Pawtography (METoC Day 9)

Sadly, this day saw the conclusion of METoC. We were supposed to spend one more night somewhere, but we decided to just call it a trip. This photo was taken outside the Patagonia store in Ventura. We then made a Chic-fil-A stop in Oxnard at my request before heading back to Vegas.

May 21 - High Dynamic Bridges (METoC Day 8)

We continued down highway 1 through San Francisco. As evidenced by these photos, I'm clearly a little obsessed with HDR (high dynamic range) photography. Of course, above is the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Below is the historic Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur.

May 20 - PCH Sunset (METoC Day 7)

This was a light photo day. Honestly, I didn't have a lot to choose from. Most of the day was spent on the road as we made our way back South from Fern Canyon, which turned out to be the Northernmost point of our trip. We took the 101 and then branched off onto highway 1, also known by some as the Pacific Coast Highway. My boss hates it when people call it that. He says the PCH is only a Southern Cal thing.

May 19 - Fern Canyon (METoC Day 6)

One of the gems of this trip was Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, containing the Gold Bluffs beach campground and Fern Canyon. A big goal of METoC was to camp on the beach and this place fulfilled that requirement. Fern Canyon is just a couple of miles past the campground. It's a short little trail into a beautiful ravine. Right at the trailhead, we encountered two elk grazing on the nearby grass.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 18 - Forest Moon (METoC Day 5)

When I realized that we were going to be in the kinds of forests that were used to film Return of the Jedi, I knew I had to bring something Star Wars related. I went from looking for a Stormtrooper outfit to searching for my old universal remote that's shaped like a lightsaber hilt. In the end, I couldn't find anything, but my stepbrother gave me this mini lightsaber replica that he picked up in a garage sale. Good enough!

These photos were taken in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Northern California. That place is absolutely beautiful. There's a section of road that runs alongside the 101 called The Avenue of the Giants. These redwoods are definitely gigantic and worth the trip alone.

May 17 - Leo's Ball (METoC Day 4)

I just realized that my only rule is that I must take a photo every day. That doesn't preclude multiple postings for a single day. My visit to the TWiT Cottage is certainly worthy of an extra post.

If you're a geek, you've no doubt heard of Leo Laporte and his Internet show called This Week in Tech. He broadcasts it from a house in Petaluma, CA aptly named the TWiT Cottage. Out of everything we did on this trip, this was my one must-do.

We were actually there after hours and on a day they are normally closed. I was perfectly happy with just seeing the place and taking a photo of the exterior. Luckily for us, Dane Golden was working inside and invited us in. I told him we had a dog with us. His response? "We like dogs!"

I've met Leo a couple times before, so it wasn't a big deal he wasn't there. In fact, it allowed me more time to check out the studio. Dane had me sit on Leo's ball and he gave me a rundown of all the technology. On our way out, he gave us little TWiT souvenirs. I was blown away by his hospitality.

May 17 - Team HTC-Columbia (METoC Day 4)

When I watched the Tour de France last year, I wasn't a big fan of HTC-Columbia. However, there are several reasons why I chose to feature them in today's post.

  1. Mick Rogers (above) is from Australia and ended up winning this year's Tour of California.
  2. Mark Cavendish (2nd photo) is regarded as the fastest sprinter in the world and won stage 1.
  3. Tony Martin (3rd photo) won the individual time trial stage in LA.
  4. They are just that good.
  5. I happened to have decent and clean photos of their main racers.
  6. In a couple of weeks, I'll be switching to the HTC EVO 4G phone and I wanted to give their sponsored team some love.

Incidentally, we caught stage 2 along Trinity Grade, which is in between Napa and Sonoma. This time around, the peloton was broken up, so we got wave after wave of smaller cyclist groups. The downside is that it rained most of the day.

May 16 - Tour of California (METoC Day 3)

Here comes the peloton!

Day 3 was focused on finding a good spot to watch stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California. We picked this area because it was a hill climb and it featured the tallest bridge in California. However, aside from a four-man breakaway lead group, the peloton was intact and flew by us like it was nothing. I guess an 8% uphill grade is nothing to these guys.

I'm far from happy with the photos I got of the race today. The plan was to get a nice shot of the cyclists with the bridge in the background, then switch to closeups. I failed on the former and the problem with the latter is that I have no idea who most of these guys are. The real disappointment for me is that I didn't get any shots of Lance. (Actually, I do see him behind a bunch of other riders in one of my shots).

In any case, it was a fun day. Watching these bike races in person is a lot of time and effort for about 30 seconds of action. I'd probably do it again though.

May 15 - Bud Light Show (METoC Day 2)

This photo started out with a simple idea. I wanted to sit inside my tent (sans rain fly) with the camera set on a tripod outside. I was going to trigger the shutter remotely and just set off the flash in my hand to light myself drinking a Bud Light Lime. Long story short, Louie got involved and the photo quickly evolved into a joint work of art.

In the final product, I still started the shutter remotely and I still flashed myself inside the tent. Louie did all the hard work outside. In the span of a 30-second exposure, he ran around like a mad man creating the light streaks with his head lamp, adding the red ground glow and floating highlights with his own flash (with gel), and producing the background glow by hitting the keyless entry on his car key.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 14 - North Star (METoC Day 1)

It's time to stop procrastinating and start posting photos from the Moderately Epic Tour of California (downgraded from Massively Epic because we returned to Vegas a day early).

Day 1 saw us drive up US-95 towards Tonopah. We cut across to Mono Lake and continued North towards Tahoe. We had trouble finding a good camp site before sunset. Finally, at around 9pm, we lucked upon a spot right next to the west fork of the Carson River.

By this point, I hadn't taken a single photo all day. I decided to bust out a long exposure Polaris star trail attempt. This one was actually my first try. It could definitely benefit from a full frame body, but I'm pretty happy with it. It was shot at ISO1600 at f/5.6 for around 20 minutes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 13 - METoC Prep

Louie and I are about to embark on the Massively Epic Tour of California. The thing is, I spent most of my evening shopping for last minute items. I then spent most of my late evening doing laundry and working on this blog. I was already one week behind on the posting. If I don't catch up before we leave, I'll be about two and a half weeks behind when we return.

Long story short, this is pretty much what I'll be bringing on the trip. I am nowhere near finished packing and it's almost 2am. I think I'll just get up early and last minute it. I'm clutch like that.

May 12 - pH Balance

I went with Jenny to the Miss USA preliminaries at the Planet Hollywood. Her cousin is Miss Minnesota and the tickets were free, so why the heck not. Afterwards, I noticed this curved glass window with the Westgate Towers pool area outside. I immediately knew I had my photo because it's just such a confusing image.

May 11 - White Wash

Seriously. Who photographs the inside of their dishwasher? This guy! LOL

This actually turned out much more interesting than I expected. I guess that isn't really saying much. As a side note, I almost never use my dishwasher. This is the fullest it's been in a long time. That was the genesis for this photo idea.

May 10 - New Tripod

I'm on a roll now. My new tripod arrived on Monday, so I decided to feature it in today's post. It's cheap, but it's a ball head, which is something I've been wanting for a long time. As seen here, I inverted the main shaft and mounted the camera upside-down... just because. I'm not sure how useful that capability is.

May 9 - Mother's Day

My brother and I had dinner at Hot N Juicy Crawfish with JMACTS to celebrate Mother's Day. At the end of the meal, I tried to give some money for the bill, but it was of course rejected. My brother proceeded to fold my 20 into a heart. Obviously, the 20 isn't really that color.

May 8 - Rebel Relativity

I'm in catchup mode, it's late, and I still have a lot of packing to do. As a result, I'm keeping these posts simple. Here's a snapshot of the graduate and me. I rarely get to wear my UNLV tie.

May 7 - xtine x2

OK so this is the same photoshoot as the previous day, but we were still shooting after midnight, so this qualifies as May 7's potd. I got this idea from the same guy who taught me how to photograph water drops. I figured we would get playful and give it a try.

May 6 - Film Student

Almost exactly a week ago, I did a photoshoot with Christine for her graduation. Since then, I've fallen way behind on updating this blog. I was procrastinating on choosing a set of photos to post for May 6. I ultimately decided on a single photo; one that captured her graduation with a BA in Film.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5 - Tilt-Shift Revisited

I thought about doing a Cinco de Mayo photo, but then I got lazy and stayed in. Besides, I had already braved the insanely strong winds to ascend Exploration Peak and get a photo of the park below. It would be a shame to waste that effort.

I admit. I am a little obsessed with fake tilt-shift photography. I'm still trying to capture my quintessential T-S shot. I think I'm getting close. I'm sure this won't be the last time a T-S photo shows up in this blog.

May 4 - Star Wars Day

May the 4th be with you! I wanted to get something that I could tie in to Star Wars Day. After we watched the Laker game at my local pub (around 10:30pm), I made a spur of the moment decision to just head west on Blue Diamond Rd. I basically drove until I found a spot where I thought I could get a decent starry sky photo; before I knew it, I was at Red Rock!

I didn't want to spend too much time out there in the middle of the night, so I quickly shot a few 30-second exposures with absolute guesses on the focus. I was shooting at ISO 1600 at f/2.8, so although my car isn't in focus, I'm lucky I was even close. Not bad for a few minutes of work in the dark.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 3 - Water Drops

I've been wanting to capture water drops for the longest time. I have to give props to Elson Jandoc for steering me towards this Youtube video on how to get it done. It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought.

I only included the photo below because it was the very first frame I attempted. One shot and I pretty much had what I needed. Of course, I decided to shoot some more. One thing I knew had to change was the background reflecting in the water. The shot below is too defined and I wanted it more abstract.