Sunday, October 6, 2019

Australia, Quickly - Outdoor Sydney

Last installment from Oz is some stuff seen out and about in Sydney. No real story to go along with it.

A couple early AM photos from Double Bay:

Daybreak in Double Bay


And some birds (colorful [and loud] birdlife is abundant!):

Rainbow Lorikeet

and again

One cool destination is The Grounds of Alexandria. Lots of outdoor food and drink (and where we see the macaw below).


And a bunch of random architecture-ish photos:

This way to amazing food

Always look up!

Over-the-wall architectural photo from Double Bay

Wynyard architecture


And on that note, thanks, Australia!


Friday, September 27, 2019

Australia, Quickly - Indoor Sydney

Our quick sortie through Oz, for better or for worse, doesn't include much inside time, but I drag my real camera along in case something catches my eye.

Palmer & Co. bar

One spot that stands out is Palmer & Co., a speakeasy-style bar in CBD Sydney. It's attached to a stunning restaurant called Mr. Wong, which I sadly don't have any photos of because I'm too busy being flabbergasted by the food.

Cordial me right in the tincture hole

Anyhow, Palmer & Co. is down a dirty alley, serves amazing drinks, and has a fantastic catacomb-y feel to it. 10/10, would drink here again (psssst, and there's a secret lift into the restaurant if you've got a booking).

My spirit animal is charcuterie

Another semi-random spot in which we find ourselves is the Queen Victoria Building, a city-block-sized indoor mall that feels a little less modern than most, which is quite a good thing.

So many lines

Murphy wanders for shops and I wander for photos.

Stairway to...nowhere?


Back to the beginning, however, I'd like to point out that these days, most of the times I insist upon bringing my "real camera" are when I know I'll be in spots with too little light for our otherwise impressively good smartphone cameras. With each successive generation of smartphone, though, I find that those instances keep getting chipped away. And now, with the various night modes and other related computational photography tricks out there, I feel like my "real camera" use cases are more and more out on the skinny branches. And as of recently, there are now flash/strobe options that are triggered over bluetooth from a phone. Five years ago, I never would have considered only having my smartphone on me if the photo "counted," but now, I have to think twice about it. I guess it's only a matter of time before I start calling my phone the "real camera" and I only keep the "big camera" for my tilt-shift lenses, long lenses, or other very niche applications...

But I digress. One more installment of Sydney stuff to come and then we'll be on to other stuff.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Australia, Quickly - Beaches and Pools by Foot

With our short stint in the Blue Mountains complete, we trade a horizon of thick haze from boundless eucalyptus trees for the very recognizable skyline of Sydney. We've found a lovely Airbnb in Double Bay, and the hostess lives up to her Superhost qualification immediately. Turns out a bottle of wine and some recommendations for cool spots goes a long way!

Our agenda for Sydney is the usual city stuff of good coffee, food, and cocktails, but here, we've added more outdoors stuff than normal because, well, it's a mild winter and there are beaches everywhere. For context, "mild winter" means 24C/75F, so the soft Aussies are all bundled up in their scarves and puffa jackets, but that's nicer than a lot of New Zealand summer days, so we're practically naked.

That mental picture aside, Australia has an amazing culture of fantastic outdoor pools; practically can't swing a cat without hitting one. And of course they're all by the beach, because why not, and of course all the beaches are connected by trails, because obviously.

Somewhere around Hermits Bay

So on consecutive days, I head out on big runs to explore these beaches. First day is Double Bay to Bondi, and the sightseeing along the way is fantastic.

Bondi Beach

Icebergs pool

We swim in Icebergs Pool, where I absolutely freeze my tits off, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime swim, so no complaining allowed. We follow that up with the Bondi to Coogee walk, which is beautiful, but swarmed with The Hordes, of which we are part. We top off the afternoon with a beer or three in Coogee with some local friends; bonus!

Along Bondi-Coogee walk

The next day, I run the other way: Double Bay to Pyrmont, past the Botanic Gardens, the Opera House, Circular Quay, and all the other sights. Definitely not the same beachy vibe as the run to Bondi, but far from awful.

Just your average neighborhood 50m outdoor pool (@Botanic Gardens)

I could not have asked for better settings or better weather to go exploring by foot! The swim in Icebergs was memorable for all the right reasons, and I definitely feel fortunate to be able to design a couple days around these little mini-adventures.

Thanks for watching. Next up: some urban stuff.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Australia, Quickly - Blue Mountains

In this episode, Murphy and I make a quick getaway to Australia for her birthday (in some unspecified year, of course). We only have a few days, and rumor has it that Australia is big, so we keep our expectations realistic. Also, Ethel lived there for a year, so she has no need to go flapping about the entire place in our short time.

Does not disappoint

First light on the cliffs and a wispy waterfall

After landing in SYD, we escape immediately to the Blue Mountains, where we hole up in Katoomba for a couple nights with the express purpose of going on some solid trail runs. We make a pilgrimage to Govetts Leap for sunrise, and since it's cold as balls in the Blue Mountains in winter, it is pretty quiet.

Take me to church

With less color

The big run we go on is an absolute monster...all civilization in the Blue Mountains is on the rim, so the first thing you do is descend a million steep steps to get down to the bottom, which you then of course have to re-ascend a couple hours later when you're totally wrecked. Unfortunately the device on which I took some photos no longer exists, but there are a few photos uploaded to the Strava activity for the day, in case you want to see what the bottom of the Blue Mountains looks like a little bit (including some wildlife).

That same wispy waterfall from the other side

Katoomba is sleepy and cold in the winter, so our short time there consists of little more than the big run, a little run, and all the associated food, sleep, and caffeine that goes along with said runs. Clock ticking away, we bid the Blue Mountains adieu and head back towards Sydney for the rest of our visit.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

More Glass

One of our neighbors has a telescope with some neat bells and whistles, and it's fancy enough to stick a camera on the back of. Unfortunately, this makes for a different optical path than when you're looking through the telescope's eyepiece, and thus means that field of view options are more limited, but it's still handy enough for inspecting the moon at higher-than-normal magnification.

Still some light in the sky

Such acne

geeks: The first one is a shutter speed of 1/15, which seems insane for these focal lengths, but totally workable with careful attention to technique. The second one is 1/60, and the keeper rate is way higher with a couple more stops of shutter speed on board! Even with our clear and dark skies, atmospheric effects are very noticeable, albeit not nearly as bad as pretty much anywhere else :)


Monday, July 22, 2019

Diamond Lake

A neat and very accessible hike in the greater Wanaka area is to Diamond Lake (and above). It's short and easy and accessed from a paved road, which means that it can be a fan favorite in winter or on bad weather days or on hangover days when bigger missions might not be such a good idea for the delicate flowers in the group.

The goods from the upper overlook

Ice and green bookend the snags in the lake

Low winter sun

Goopy mushies

It's only about a 10-minute hike to the lake itself, and then another short stint gets you to the lake overlook and then up Rocky Mount where you can see the rest of the observable universe, give or take.

The goods in the other direction

Good fun and a high bang-for-the-buck little tramp, especially on a crisp winter day!


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Rob Roy

I'm just gonna do the thing where I pretend like it hasn't been a year since I posted.

Dear friends Jesse and Lisa visited us sans kiddos earlier this year, and we took half a day of brilliant weather to go to one of our favorite hikes. The overlooks for Rob Roy Glacier out in the Matukituki Valley are somewhere between easy and hard to get to, but the payoff in views is worth every drop of sweat. For context, it's a 14km round trip from the carpark with a few hundred vertical meters of climbing between here and there.

Nature hard at work

Wispy waterfall

Calving glacier

Global warming is super scary and sad, and one way it's manifested 'round here is by bits of the glacier calving off high above. As such, hanging out with a picnic and waiting for an icefall could be considered to be making the most of a dire situation.

Walls and falls

Ethel puts in the hard work...

...while they just look pretty and demand lattes

Dense beech

Big country

We've been out here during most seasons and in lots of different weather, and it's never disappointed. There are certainly more remote and grander landscapes to ponder, but this ticks all the boxes nicely!


Past Detritus