Monday, September 30, 2013

AZ Part 14: Wahweap Dusk

Ahhhhhh, the desert. One of the only places on earth where supertelephoto lenses are perfectly acceptable pieces of kit for landscape work. Casa del Gatos overlooks Wahweap Bay on Lake Powell, so the only work required to make these photos was to step onto the back porch. I've seen worse views.

Lone Rock

Random cliff

A sliver of the Bay

Those first 3 were 400mm; these next 2 are 800mm.

Lone Rock again

And mostly the same sliver as above

So instead of teasing you endlessly with little slices of the grand landscape, this is 29 photos with the 400 stitched together; last light in the Bay.

Wahweap Bay from above (click for bigger)



Thursday, September 26, 2013

AZ Part 13: Casa de Ringo

Ringo is the newest feline addition to Casa del Gatos, and he's full of youthful exuberance with which to explore his world.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AZ Part 12: The Big Fin

The cave we visited was tucked into a cliffside, and it was in the shadow of a pretty big rock formation. Curiously, it also wasn't too far away from the hoodoos we had sessioned, so I was intrigued but not surprised to find some miniature versions hidden in a crack.

Mini 'doos

The big rock formation was fairly fin-like, and its base was peppered with tiny little cavelets. Given enough time, they'd turn into shelter suitable for humans instead of rodents or insects or birds.

The big fin in 4x5 format (click for bigger)

And from another angle (click for bigger)

By this time, the midday heat was in full swing, so the only sensible thing to do was to retreat back to the house for another round of espresso and naps, a habit I'd highly recommend you all fall in to, if only for a few days.


Monday, September 23, 2013

The Prius Game

For the record, I actually like the Prius. It has largely been responsible for a shift in Americans' outlook on fuel economy. It's pretty interesting from an engineering standpoint. And Toyota did a very nice job with the driving experience, although it's not exactly up my alley as far as driving experiences go.

All in all, it's an accessible car for a lot of people that easily lulls one into driving in an economical manner, and the car's powertrain and aerodynamics are designed to capitalize on those driving habits. So, Toyota, tip of the hat.

However, in California, it's a different story. They're everywhere. They're often a badge of environmental responsibility, unfortunately to the point where ownership offsets other sins. And they belch out smug. You know you've arrived in the big leagues when South Park tears you a new one.

So when a string of recent work trips took me to the Bay Area with some workmates, we rapidly found a way to occupy our traffic-choked voyages. We counted Prius. Without further ado, I present you with:

The Prius Game

Rule #1: The plural of Prius is Prius. First, there's no obvious way to speak about multiple Prius. Second (and this is the nail in the coffin), pluralizing Prius as Prius makes it sound like an infection.  "Boy, you sure do have a lot of Prius 'round here. You plannin' on doin' anything 'bout that?" Maybe a zombie infection. "Honey, it was awful. Prius everywhere. Silently and slowly stalking me. I watched them kill a cyclist." So to recap, the plural of Prius is Prius.

Rule #2: No matter which Variation of the Prius Game you're playing, you may not reuse a Prius.

Rule #3: Any vintage or generation of Prius is eligible.

Variation A (rookie mode): Count Prius. We did this on our first trip. It was so disruptive that the rest of our drive both ways was pretty much ruined. Dude, seriously, we couldn't go ten seconds without spotting one. "So the thing about this approach to eye tracking is that PRIUS god damn it shut up already PRIUS." When we played the game this way, we were in the several hundreds within a few hours of driving.

Variation B (semi-pro mode): Count pairs of Prius. We did this on our second trip. Counting single Prius was simply too disruptive. So the new rule was that you had to see two Prius at the same time, and then you could count a pair. One could be parked and one driving, or two driving opposite directions, or both driving the same direction, whatever. Hilariously, it took exactly 3 seconds after announcing this rule to see our first pair. We still counted 50+ pair during a few hours of driving. Our record was 5 Prius visible at the same time.

Variation C (god mode): Looking to up the ante yet again, on our next trip we announced a new rule. Still count pairs of Prius, visible at the same time, but they both have to be the same color. Again, hilariously, it was no more than 4 seconds after announcing this rule that we snagged our first matched pair. So this cut our bounty down to 21 pair, but still a pretty good haul considering the constraints.

Variation C marked a change in our driving patterns and awareness of nearby Prius. Since matching a pair is pretty difficult, we'd have to be hyper-aware of any that were traveling with us that could be matched up with an oncoming Prius. So knowing that there was a gold, a silver, and a blue alongside us made for a good method of filtering the oncoming ones, usually alerting us with their telltale double-bubble roofline. We also maybe found ourselves hanging nearby a same-direction Prius longer than we would have otherwise, purely in hopes of finding its match. This is the automotive equivalent of being a barnacle, with the sole exception that the only thing a Prius has in common with either a whale or a ship is a striking inability to get out of its own way.

We're looking for a suitable new rule for Variation D. I'm considering counting lone Prius between matched pairs. Thus, going for a high score of maybe 90 Prius in between seeing two of the same color at the same time.

I don't think anything will beat the coincidence we happened upon during our first trip, though. On 680 South, we were in the leftmost of 4 lanes, and the remaining 3 lanes had adjacent silver Prius. This is the holy grail of smug: a synchronized matched triplet.

Actually taking a photo of a matched pair was deceptively difficult.  Enjoy, and feel free to suggest new Rules, Variations, or awesome spottings of your own.

Smugly, and until next time...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

AZ Part 11: Moonscape

I've been behaving like a good monkey and working through this Arizona trip chronologically, and then I edited this panorama. I'm super happy with it, and goddamnititsmyblogandillpostoutoforderifiwantto, so here you go. It's somewhere between Big Water and Alstrom Point.

Not of this planet (click for bigger)

Sometimes our very own planet can look very unfamiliar.

And sometime I'm probably going to have to print this ten feet wide. The biggest version (not linked here) is unreal.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

AZ Part 10: More from the Cave

The cave from the previous post was a quiet little oasis in the big bad desert. Its single tree and big overhanging roof were welcome distractions from everything else out there. The tree and roof also served as evidence of a rare desert commodity: water.

These next few images are all chosen views of the walls and roof; millennia of mineral-laden storm water have stained the fragile and flaking rock with its unique signature.

And yes, those are all right-side-up.

The subtle striations, undulating texture, and gradual decomposition in the rock were exquisite, and the mark of the water only made it more extraordinary. This next one is slightly less abstract and gives a little more context.

Stained (click for a bit bigger)

Desert awesome. Dessert awesome. Mmmmmm cookies.


Monday, September 16, 2013

AZ Part 9: Little Cave

Another quick blast out into the Arizona desert, aka Chris' backyard, took us to this cool (literally) little cave tucked into the side of a cliff wall. It made for a welcome respite from the climbing temperature, and of course had the significant bonus of being quite photogenic.

Looking up

Looking out

Lots more to come.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Burning Man 2013

I was a busy little bee at Burning Man this year and came home with about fourteen hundred photos. As usual, I find it difficult to whittle them down to a presentable number. I'm under no delusion that I'm coming home with too many awesome photos, but rather that many of them show a little slice of awesomeness or have some little thread of an awesome story attached to them.

I find that we tell stories about Burning Man that are practically incomprehensible in the default world: "Hey, so last night was great. We danced in the pyramid and then at the place with the jellyfish, then saw Mir, caught some tunes at the disco duck art car, and found a fondue party in the deep playa." Makes perfect sense out there and raises an eyebrow or two among workmates.

Thus, showing any of those little subjects in this grandest of adult playgrounds seems to lend credence to those nonsensical stories. And that's why it's hard for me to whittle them down.

So as I went through in Lightroom and 1-starred and then 2-starred and then 3-starred photos, a clear pattern emerged. I can find interesting things to point a camera at during any hour of the day out there (it's hard not to), but the ones that resonate the most for me come from the Dark times (I like telling people that there are only 4 times of day out there: Light, Dark, Getting Light, and Getting Dark).

So without any more babble from my spout of incoherence, here's what caught my eye this year.

After 9 trips to the playa over the last 10 years, it's undeniable that Burning Man has been a positive influence in my life and something I've looked forward to ardently each summer. It's also a curious contrast for me, as we've made a habit of visiting the Black Rock Desert during other times of the year, and it's with both intrigue and trepidation that I enter the fray each August.

I definitely have a few more to share from this year's burn, but this will be it for now.

And yes, my camera gear is really dusty.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

AZ Part 8: Who-doos

Here are a few more from the hoodoos, this time with a human element.

Murphy stargazes

Chris gets all Zen

Moonlit selfie

The last two are lit naturally; the first one is a bit more complicated :) The hoodoos are so complex in their geometry and texture that moving the strobe just a few inches obliterates some shadows, creates others, and totally changes the mood of the light.


Past Detritus