A visit to the Desert

Posted on Sep 15, 2011 in photography

San Diego has many different macro-climates – the ocean, the mountains and the deserts.  The good thing is that you can generally get to all three with a 2 hour drive of wherever you are at.  One moment you can be surfing and the next moment in the mountains skiing.

I went to Borrego Springs which is a national park here in San Diego figuring that the post holiday crowds would be gone and it would be easy to take pictures with no one in them.  Boy was I right.  The place was absolutely deserted (no pun intended).  There was nobody there except for a few rangers.  I decided to take a hike on Palm Canyon Trail.  The first couple of signs on the trail warned me to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes and mountain lions.  I was definitely scared a bit as I hiked over rocks and dry creek beds.  Well, I ended up hiking for awhile and after finding myself drenched with sweat and getting more worried about rattlers by the moment, I turned back.

On the way into the park, I noticed these pretty awesome cloud formations and I took a few shots of the tremendous clouds forming over the desert horizon.

Not 1 but Tu

Posted on Sep 13, 2011 in photography

I was having some fun tonight taking pictures of Tu again tonight.  It was late and she wasn’t exactly in the mood to take pictures but she let me.  It took about 5 minutes and I managed to duplicate her sitting next to herself on the couch.  It’s amazing some of the things you can do with digital cameras and photoshop.

Learning persistence and patience

Posted on Sep 12, 2011 in photography

Photography really helps you understand a lot about yourself. I like to think I am very persistent person, but I am positive that I am not very patient.  That shows I think in a lot of the raw photos that I take.  I tend to take hundreds of pictures in a very short period of time and never stop for breaks when I am shooting something – that is my persistence showing.  But also, many of those photo’s are poorly composed and not crystal clear focus – that is my lack of patience showing.  Luckily in this digital age my lack of patience is forgiven as I just delete any of the photos that are not good – and there are many.  I would say about 50% of my photos are discarded right off the bat, and another 25% deleted after a second go through.  I focus on fine tuning the rest of those photos with PhotoShop and some remarkable software from NIK Software (a company based here in San Diego).

I took the shot below in Vinh Long Vietnam.  For about 5 days straight I was trying to capture a good shot outside of Tu’s home there.  Each day I ended up with an array of non-inspiring shots that didn’t really convey anything about the neighborhood.  On the last day, I finally captured a photo I liked.  Three girls on bikes were sharing a bike ride home during an outright monsoon.  I mean it was pouring rain like you have never seen.  The girls were laughing.  What you do not see before this photo is what setup that shot.  The girls were cycling by and they noticed a crazy white guy standing in the middle of the rain taking pictures. First off they probably rarely so white people in this town, and secondly they probably never saw anybody taking photos in the pouring rain.  You would think based on this photo that they were having a laugh at the cow, but it was in fact me.  This photo is a good example of you can get a good photo but it will oftentimes take a lot of patience and persistence.  In this case it took me about 4 days.

Tu gets soaked

Posted on Sep 9, 2011 in photography

The power went out in San Diego yesterday.  I mean the whole city – 1.4 million customers and about 3 million people.  The blackout started at 3:40 pm and went on all night.  It made for quite an interesting day since most people had to go “old school” and just hang out and talk to each other rather than spending time on their computers and IPAD’s.

Tu and I went down to the beach for sunset and I took along the D3 that I have been renting the last week.  I found a nice little place where waves were crashing over the rocks and Tu decided to pose for pictures.   This shot turned out pretty interesting.  She was sitting there posing when all of a sudden a huge wave broke over the rock and started to rush towards her.  As you can see, she had no idea that the wave was headed in her direction.  This is about half a second before the wave hit her and she got drenched.

Just got back from Washington DC

Posted on Sep 8, 2011 in Travel

 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.

A visit to Kathy’s

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 in Family

I just went up for a visit to my sisters Kathy.  She lives in Central California along a beautiful stretch of beach called Pismo Beach.  I am from a large family of 12 kids and Kathy was the oldest, although you would never know it since she looks much younger than I do.  Kathy was a special person in the family.  She just has a very dynamic and cheery disposition that draws everyone to her.  I remember when we were younger and she left the house finally to go to college.  We were left traumatized as she drove away as we felt the family would never be the same without her around the house.  Well it was true – everything did change after she left.  It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the same without her there.

I had never really had the opportunity to visit Kathy in many years and check out her home or the area that she lived so this was a special experience.   I am not sure how to describe what it is that Kathy does since it is so eclectic and original.  I would say she is part collector, part stylist, part decorator and part food aficionado all rolled into one.  She just has a knack for creating a feeling in places that she goes.  Her house is an amazing collection of beautiful vignettes and pieces done more tastefully and originally then you might find in any place in the world.   It is french shabby chic but much much more.   I was lucky enough that she let me photograph the rooms of her house – something that she has not allowed anyone else to do.

Kathy let me take some pictures of her too while I was there.  She was very easy to take pictures of because the camera loves her, but she even changed her outfits and let me take pictures of her in various settings.  Kathy is pretty amazing and I really enjoyed my short but eventful time in her house.

Drama at Children’s Pool

Posted on Sep 1, 2011 in photography

Another day of monster waves in La Jolla today.  TV crews everywhere (at least 5 stations by my count) covering not only the monster waves but the fact there have been multiple Great White Shark sightings in the last 7 days and the surf is cluttered with more surfers then ever.  They had the breakwater closed as we watched 10 foot waves slam and the project upwards another 15 feet above the breakwater. An amazing and drama filled day at La Jolla’s Children’s pool.

Wild Waves in La Jolla

Posted on Sep 1, 2011 in photography

When I heard about the big storm in New Zealand that was pushing monster waves towards the California coastline, I knew that there might some good photo opportunities coming up.  While the biggest waves hadn’t come around – they wont until Friday – I grabbed my camera and headed down to the cove to watch some waves bat up against the rocks.  While the waves were not as big as I expected I did find a place just south of Children’s pool where the water geysered up every time a big wave hit the rocks.

This was my last photo of the afternoon.  As I snapped the picture, I realized I was too close to the edge and the wave came tumbling down on me and the camera.  Now the D700’s are built rock solid with good proofing however I think I may have inflicted some long term damage on it.  It remains to be seen.  In any case, I got an ok photo of it.  And if the camera does go kaput, I am looking for any excuse to upgrade to the D3.