Last week we took what I thought would be a grand paragliding odyssey to Utah, Wyoming, and maybe Colorado. We first went to the Point of the Mountain and quickly became demoralized due to our lack of skills in high wind and having to learn around a huge amount of people while trying not to cause collisions between others. So failing that, we thought it would be nice to go up American Fork Canyon and hike Timp from the Timpanooke Trail. I’ve hiked from the Aspen Grove side more times than I can remember, but only once from the Timpanooke side, which is also the prettier, but longer trail.
Anyways, we were only able to make it just under 3/4’s of the way from the peak due to thin snow bridges with no alternate way around them. I’ve never been stopped by snow before on the Aspen Grove side, but I guess there are very limited spots to ascend on the Timpanooke side. I don’t even care about the peak, but I was super bummed as I really wanted to show Amber Emerald Lake and get some pictures from there; one of the prettiest spots on the planet if you ask me. Here is a shot near the end of the trail for us looking back towards the backside of Alta and Snowbird. Yeah, I grew up just a few minutes drive from here near Aspen Grove. This makes me miss it!
The full sized panorama’s can be found by clicking on the pictures and going to the larger sizes in flickr, these small sized shots really blow..
Last May we took a quick trip over to the Hakone area to go to this crazy onsen that has everything from a coffee bath, a wine bath, sake bath, and a pool you dip your feet into and let little fish nibble off your top layer of skin. We also were able to see another side of Fuji I had not seen before once we reached the Gotemba area. The city of Gotemba has got one hell of a view! I took these shots from their shrine, which was also nearby an awesome camp spot we found that was cheap and had a pretty amazing view of Fuji as well. I think I actually enjoyed the Gotemba area a bit more than Hakone, which is probably blasphemous to even say as so many people love Hakone, but that is the problem.. So many people in Hakone!
Of course, every time I go through my shots of Japan I miss it quite a bit, but it is easy to forget that during the spring time when I took these shots I had the worst allergies of my life! I could barely sleep at night for over a month during our last year there. I guess that is the price exacted by Mother Japan for so much amazing photography potential.
I am pretty sure this is in no way a unique shot as about 5 million people have probably stood beneath this sculpture with camera pointed towards the sky, but this is my take. I used a 7 shot DRI for the sky and HDR for the sculpture and building. I cheated a little bit and cloned out a small amount of some random building on the bottom left side of the shot.
My eyes are more than healed enough to process photos, but I am still going to just fish into my archive of photos I have already completed but have yet to post. I think that snow monkeys and Fuji must be my weakness, because after a couple of hours around either, I end up with way, way too many shots! I don’t remember if any of these shots were DRI’s or not, but I am pretty sure that at least one of the color ones was a DRI.
I have two friends travelling around in Thailand right now, one of them has a Flickr page and some great shots of Thailand found here. Naturally I am jealous, especially when I see shots of the Andaman Sea. I started going through my shots from our last trip to Thailand back in November/December of last year with the intent of putting together a tutorial on exactly how I throw together a lot of my DRI/HDR blended shots. I spent all morning on it, but I was not happy with the shot and scrapped the tutorial part. I cannot just delete the photo after all that work though! This first was taken in the city of Ayutthaya in one of the many, many shrines they have. The other is the 6 shot DRI that I worked on taken during the early morning sunrise at Railay Beach. If you could deport all of the tourists from the area except me and my wife, give me about 100 bags of sea salt and vinegar potato chips, a kayak and couple of years supply of sunscreen, it would be the ultimate beach paradise!
Along our drive through Wyoming we entered into a place I had never visited before, Big Horn Basin. It was quite a pleasant area with very green fields surrounded by strikingly orange rock, wide open ranges, lots of moose, and a couple of waterfalls. Since it is kind of in the middle of nowhere, there was not very much traffic, which makes you feel like you have the area all to yourself. I wouldn’t mind going back sometime as I am sure there is a lot to explore, I could even live in one of the surrounding towns!
When we landed in the States earlier this year, we went straight from the airport to an auto dealership and purchased a vehicle. From there we visited families in Utah and Idaho, the road tripped through the Tetons, Yellowstone, Wyoming, South Dakota, all the way down to Georgia. There was still a lot of snow in the Yellowstone area and a pass we wanted to use was closed about a mile and a half from the top. We ended up taking an impromptu trip on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. It is like a different world in this area after living in Japan. Completely desolate and vast, wide open spaces. Here is a 4-shot pano I snapped from a pull out.
Time was a tickin for me. I had one more free day available to go into downtown Tokyo before I would be leaving Japan and I STILL had not shot the Roppongi clock. It is kind of easy to miss since it is behind the Mori Tower, but damnit, there is a Starbucks right across the street with an open air seating area. I could have been comfortably sitting across the street sniping people as they walk past the clock while sipping down my Grande Carmel Machiotto that is sized for a midget and priced for a baron!
I don’t know what the hell kind of time it is flashing, if it is even time at all. The numbers seem to be a bit more random and only change once every 10 seconds or so. Maybe it is a Mayan numerical countdown until the end of the world, I don’t know. I just know that you need to take a walk behind the Mori Tower and find this clock and feed your camera!
It is hard not to miss all of the exploring of ancient relics in Turkey such as Anavarza Kalesi. Me and a friend hit this one early in the morning and quickly climbed to the top to witness a vividly golden sunrise without a soul in sight. I am always fascinated at the thought of ancient times and how this place must have looked. It is hard to find information about reliable dating for this site because it is just so damn ancient and the area has changed hands so many times that it is difficult to ascertain the age. The amazing thing is that this castle has a sprawling city remains below that has yet to ever be excavated even to this day!
So I grew tired of paying WordPress an annual fee to edit my theme CSS, so I finally reverted to a free theme that allowed me to change the background and header. I have quickly put together my own haphazard header and background, but I think I am partial to a lighter background for viewing photos, so I will probably change that in the future. The only problem is that I cannot change the color of the text, so the background might have to remain dark so the text remains readable. I also do not understand why every theme they have leaves a huge amount of unused space on the edge of each column??? I want to display and view pictures as large as possible!
I finally bought an Arca-Swiss plate for my 70-200 tripod foot so I can start getting some landscape and architectural shots with this most excellent lens. I have really liked the results, although, if it gets very windy, I find that my carbon fiber tripod is a little bit too much on the travel size to be able to handle long exposure shots with the 70-200 mounted up there without getting a little blur. It was a bit windy this evening, so I had to hang my entire bag on the tripod to ensure all exposures would come out sharp.
This friendly local fly fisher saw me shooting pictures of the sunset on my tripod and tried to communicate with me, asking if it was okay to move to the area my camera was pointed. Above and beyond respectful and I would never expect anyone to stay out of the way of a photographer in a public area like this, but I was actually quite glad he was going to position himself close to the setting sun rays reflecting off of the water. I hurriedly moved my tripod into place for a better composition with my freezing cold wife in tow and snapped these off.
I have only a couple of weeks left here in Japan and kept realizing that there were quite a few shots that I did not have due to my short notice move to Turkey before last summer. Now that I am back, I now have only a few weekends left before leaving Japan for good. We basically only had this last weekend as our only time when we don’t have something planned and getting a good shot of Fuji was one of “those shots” I was missing out on. So we threw our sleeping bags into our small little Toyota Starlet to camp out on Friday night for a 4am viewing of Fuji across Lake Motosu as long as our luck way for clear viewing conditions.
Two people sleeping in a Toyota Starlet goes against the grain of the universe and I would never recommend anyone ever try that. On top of not being able to sleep in 3 cubic feet worth of space, I also omitted my allergy meds, and allergies in Japan kick my ass. Luckily the weather cooperated and we had our first clear skies in what seemed like weeks. Not only did we get an awesome viewing at Lake Motosu, but we were also able to get some nice warm light paint on Fuji across nearby Lake Saiko.
My weakness in Tokyo.. Architecture. I have to shoot it.
Since our international flights originated in Bangkok, we thought it would be interesting to head up to the city of Ayutthaya, which is about an hour away from the city center, maybe slightly longer if you get caught in the hellish traffic usually found in Bangkok. We flagged a taxi down in the morning and were able to get an all day tour from the most friendly cab driver I have ever met in my life–and only for 1,500 baht. His mother was born in the city, so he knew exactly where to take us. He knew of so many spots that we eventually became so wore out that we had to turn him around back to Bangkok… where he proceeded to take us to more places. So I have a lot of shots from that day since there is so much cool stuff to see. Thank you Mr. Bangkok cab driver.
I had to go back into my extremely neglected archives so that I can vary my recently posted photos a bit instead of nothing but Turkey, I need to get away from work and go on a trip! That will be Thailand to meet my wife leaving in exactly in one week. This will be a second attempt at getting good pictures in that country as my first one was what prompted me to get a DSLR after my P&S became full of dust particles that ruined almost every picture I took the first time I was there. Anyways, here is another one of my favorite buildings–if not my favorite–in Tokyo, the Tokyo International Forum. The first batch I had processed I went really heavy on the orange hues for some reason. I have quite a few that I shot with a fluorescent white balance under these incandescent lights which gave a very blueish result.