I keep going back to my pictures from Vietnam because I often find them to be the most interesting pictures that I took in the last year. I have learned that to take good pictures you need to put yourself in the right setting where you are sometimes a stranger. I like my pictures from Vietnam not only because they bring back good memories of visiting this country but also because the pictures were very different than the life that I live here. In this picture, I was walking in a small village in the hills and this girl and her mother came down from their hillside home to get some candy that we were passing out. What was sad is that she didn’t have much but just wanted a small piece of candy. It makes you wish you could do more for them when you see somebody so innocent that can be helped with so little.
I found it buried under a bunch of other books on the shelf next to my bed. The tattered copy of the 1990 South American Handbook was in my hands and it was bringing back memories of good times right after college when I just wanted to travel and explore the world.
As I opened the book, I noticed the sticky notes that were pinned on the pages of interesting cities, sites and countries. The notes were placed there by Bill my brother and myself. I had just returned from a long trip to Central America and he brought up the idea of the two of us taking a car trip from the top to the bottom of South America. He was ready for something different and new and I was itching to continue my travels. The book was our planing guide for the great adventure. The marked pages were places and things that we could drive to and see while we spent time touring through each country. As I turned the pages and saw the scribbled notes it brought back all the great memories I have of the time – the anticipation and the wonders of what such a trip would hold in store for us.
The trip never happened. For probably a dozen reasons all of them good ones – we just never made it happen. And as I turned the pages of the book it now it made me a little sad. What memories had I missed with my brother? What adventures should we have had together that we did not? Each crinkled note and page of that book now represented regrets of a trip not taken. While we talked about the trip together, we created dramatic visions in our own heads of taking a rugged jeep through desolate mountain ranges and coming upon small villages of locals. We might spend the night with them and eat the local food. We might end up in interesting situations every day. When we finished the trip we would have endless stories of our adventures. We would have memories.
As I looked at the maps (now falling out of the book), I realized an important lesson. We never regret the trips we take- just the one’s we don’t. I am sure everyone has experienced this regret at some point because I always hear people say that they wish they had traveled more while they still had the chance. Bill and I didn’t go on that trip, and we probably won’t ever have the chance now. I’ll keep the memories of planning the trip in my head because in my mind, I felt like we did make that trip in someway if only in our imaginations. I’ll keep the book too. I am sure I will open it up again someday and wonder about what it would be like – the trip we never took.
I went to take nighttime photos with my friend Armand tonight. It’s no secret that the San Diego skyline is among the most beautiful in the world so it was great to find a spot in Coronado where we could capture it in all its beauty. It was a cloudless night which I think makes for the best atmosphere to take skyline photos. It was another beautiful night in San Diego – America’s finest city.
Just got back from Las Vegas after celebrating Tu’s birthday weekend there. The trip was quite fun, we stayed at Mandarin Oriental (which I would recommend) and did most of the “Vegasy” things that one would expect. We did a little gambling – didn’t lose our money which was good. We did some eating – good noodles, sushi and dim sum. We did some watching of the Chargers – they did lose. And visited some of the beautiful hotels and attractions – like the one pictured below. Vegas was filled with people drinking on the streets. In fact it seemed like everyone had these big long cups filled with some kind of drink in them. I am not sure how people can drink so early in the morning and keep drinking all day – that must get kind of tiring. I took the picture below by setting the camera on the ledge outside of the Bellagio during the light show. The camera was set at f22 with a 10 second exposure and ISO about 320.
Just got back from a very nice trip to Washington DC. I have been to Washington DC about 4 times for work but I had never had the chance to explore the capital during those visits. I was in for quite a treat as I had about 2 days to tour the city with my girlfriend Tu and her family. I must say it did not disappoint. The monuments were more grand and historic than I could have even imagined. My feet were quite sore after two days of walking. The only disappointment was the White House. It seemed so small and not at all something that the President of the US would live in. I later found out that we were looking at the back of the White House. I guess I must return to the capital at some point to get a proper view of it.
My favorite pictures from the trip actually had nothing to do with Washington but some pictures that I took of Tu. I took a single picture of her against a large tree and I was very impressed with the shape of the tree, the leaves and the way the branches set out from the trunk of the tree. I did various color schemes but I ended up settling on the black and white.
They say that John Muir is largely responsible for bringing attention to Yosemite Valley and eventually convincing people to turn it into a national park. Well it is a national treasure and once you visit Yosemite you think of when and how you can return to see more of the beauty that you left behind. I was a little surprised a the length of the drive from San Diego to Yosemite. Yes I ended up stopping in a few places like San Luis Obisbo and San Jose for an evening but my trek up there by car took 3 days. It was well worth it. With my camera in hand I found lots of interesting things to photograph.
I didn’t actually get as many amazing photos as I would have expected. Well we ended up hiking up half dome which was far scarier and far harder than I would have imagined prior to committing to the hike. I vowed when I got to flat ground never to do it again. The best places I think to photograph in Yosemite were mirror lake and the Yosemite Valley itself. Not all the best photos are at sunrise, in fact sunset is better and the case of Mirror Lake the photos get best between 8 and 10 am in the summer. The photos could get even better in the winter because they lake fills up much higher given you pristine and still mirror images of half dome and other peeks in the area.
Having just quit my job from a company that I created with a partner and then sold to a larger company, I found myself with an extraordinary amount of time on my hands. More leisure time than I have had since I left college and back then I was quite handy at wasting hours on end writing silly songs on my guitar. I had batted around the idea of driving up the coast to see my friend Aaron and then hiking half dome up in Yosemite for quite some time since I had seen another friend of mine post some pictures of his triumphant ascent of the rock. Given my fun-employment status I decided to drive up this week.
On the way up the coast yesterday I had a chance to see something else I have wanted to see for a long time – Big Sur. Big Sur actually means “Big South” in Spanish, and if you have ever been up to this part of the central coast you will understand why. The cliffy coastline offers the most dramatic views off the West Coast. Stunning sheer cliffs drop of into the massive blue sea. The two lane highway is a stretch of 40+ miles of hair pin turns with the most amazing views you can find in California. Bixby Bridge is towards the north end of the drive and it is probably the most oft photo’d bridge on the drive. I always hate taking pictures of monuments or places that you would expect but I feel compelled for some reason. One good photographer I read about advised that you should always try to find something different when you are photographing something that is very common – a different angle, different colors, something unusual in the shot. When I was at Bixby Bridge, I just happened to notice a couple, holding each other and enjoying the moment. I decided to use them as my subjects and let Bixby Bridge in Big Sur act as the backdrop. The photo is not great but it did help me capture the monument and something different about the picture that might make it more interesting.