Thursday, September 17, 2009

After we finished our stay in Victoria we headed north then over the hills to the west coast of Vancouver Island to stay in Ucluelet. This photo is the "dock" at the house where we were staying (a GREAT deal - 1 or 2 bedroom apartment with lawn then beach). The owners advised me not to let the kids down there unsupervised. As soon as I saw the dock I understood why! It was juryrigged and very tippy.

A snap of Uncle C. looking out our window at Q. whose reflection you see in the bottom of the photo taking this pic.

At the end of the dock we got to enjoy watching otters dine on discarded fish scraps.

We went on a cruise with Archipelago Cruises from about 10 - 3 one day. It was an excellent boat that the proprietors lived on. They had an interesting story - they had been shrimpers for many years until there wasn't much of a market/catch left and then they crafted this new site seeing venture instead. They take a group of up to about 20 people out to the Broken Island group of islands - islands that are inhabited almost exclusively by sea lions, otters, eagles, whales etc. It was a foggy day - as all our days in Ucluelet were. That is what happens on the west coast... Here is a snap of some folks processing some thresher (?) sharks. The guy was showing off for us. We were heading out of the Ucluelet harbor. Apparently there used to be a huge fishing fleet here which was able to support several gas stations etc. Now there is just one gas station left - it was adjacent to where we stayed which was actually rather nice as there were always boats coming and going to enjoy watching.

Here is a shot of a humpback out toward one of the many many Broken Islands. We watched him for a while. There were a couple other whale watching boats doing the same thing. The nice thing about being in and around the islands is that the water is remarkably calm.

Down he goes. It was fun to watch the water pattern coming off his flukes and swirling in the water afterwards - he left behind a smooth patch on the water.

A sea lion colony - they were entertaining to watch - these bulls were busy scratching themselves - in tandem.

How often do you get to wander wherever you want and climb around on the boat? The kids had great fun. We all had good binoculars to use and thick blankets. We went with the preordered gourmet lunch option which was quite yummy.

This was when we scrambled down off the path near the Lighthouse at the Wild Pacific Trail to explore some tidepools. It was a good enough hike that we did it twice! Photos long and short.

climb the path to the sky, originally uploaded by beverlykaytw.

I'm pretty happy with this shot. The daily challenge (a couple days late as per usual for me these days) was "path". This is the path to the top of a hill at Twin Peaks - it might be the highest point you can get to in the city proper. It is extremely windy up there - I have a couple shots that were blurry from the gusting wind! I was alone for a while but was happy to see this guy come along and I hustled down to where he would appear to be near the top. This was shot with my wide angle lens and converted to black and white with my software Adobe Elements 6 using the "vivid landscape" setting - which darkens up blue sky nicely for added contrast in this kind of a shot.

I also submitted this photo for Digital Photo School's weekly assignment "contrast" and ended up runner up! I was pretty stoked about that since it is a moderated forum and usually there are some very good photos submitted. My photo linked back to my flickr account and I got a lot of visits out of it and a few more people who made me a "contact". I've stumbled on a few intriguing photographers thru these DPS assignments and made "contacts" of them myself.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

after the first game

after the first game, originally uploaded by beverlykaytw.

A quick snap on the way back to the car after his first game. On the walk to the field A. asked me "why am I doing this?" which I found exasperating as he agreed (wanted) to play back when we signed him up a few months ago. His dad asked him how it went today - he said "it was fun!". He is apparently happy to be playing. They had an hour of practice followed by a game that went just shy of 2 hours. A bit boring IMO but guess not for him. Unfortunately Q didn't have as good a first game in his league. This is A's first time playing baseball in a league.

Fort Baker lighthouse, originally uploaded by beverlykaytw.

trying out blogging direct from my photo page instead of my usual direct upload. I am quite intrigued by Fort Baker - the fort in the Presidio that rests under the Golden Gate Bridge. It is no long open daily. I also didn't have either a sweater or tripod with me as this was not a planned visit but I got a few good pics before retreating to the warmth of my car and will head back another day for more. This was my submission for "diptych" challenge. I shot it with my 10-22mm and 70-200mm lenses and had to crack open the software book to figure out how to make the diptych.

Yesterday one of A's friends invited him and Q join him for his overnight birthday party at the Embassy Suites down near the airport. That idea still bemuses me to some extent but I dropped off Q late (after his soccer game finished) and the kids were clearly having a blast. I joined the festivities long enough to enjoy a margarita at the free happy hour then hustled home for an evening alone w/ DH. We went to One Market Street for dinner. This pretty much is my fine dining birthday dinner. I made the reservation a week ago or so when I realized we had a free evening. Open Table had just sent me an email with the Michelin star winners listed. So I decided to go with a starred restaurant. I'd actually eaten there for lunch before - which I forgot. But this was the one restaurant I could get the reservation time I wanted that had a menu that appealed to me. It was GREAT! You know how often there is at least one item that falls a bit short? Well we ordered an app and entree each and they were all excellent and we enjoyed a little dessert at the end - also very good (although it was creme brulee which isn't too hard to make really tasty). They started us out with an amuse buche that was a little piece of tombo tuna - so yummy! I had heirloom tomatoes with pork belly, tamarind sauce and a few leaves of greens - a "BLT" of sorts (no crouton due to my gluten allergy - which the server knew about and was helpful with). Dinner was a roast duck breast - 3 thin slices - and a leg confit on the other side of the plate and there was pickled fig and other stuff - kale as I recall. It was all so good. DH had the shrimp and tomato crostini started and bacon wrapped pork loins. I fully supported their Michelin star designation.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I keep thinking that I am getting better at my photos (and I AM) but I get links to other peoples work and today got a link to a sports photographer's blog - WOW. If you were interested and scrolled down in the comments you would see his explanations about how he lit the shots - a lot of these people are just so generous with sharing their knowledge. I follow this guy who does a flash lit photo a day - and he also posts a photo and schematic of how he lit the shot. So kind. Also a flickr friend Sheila got an invite by Getty Images to submit some of her pics. Pretty great honor that speaks to the quality of her work. Anyway - seeing the work of so many others is just so humbling.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Next stop was Victoria on Vancouver Island. We had a rental home on the Gorge waterway - this was our view from our spacious deck as we enjoyed out take-out dinner in the warm eves of the heat wave.

DH & I loved The Bug Zoo even more than the kids did! Our tour guide Robin was fantastic and how often do you get to hold a scorpion?

The Craigdarroch Castle was better than I expected and I do recommend it.

We spent a couple of hours kayaking on the Gorge. A was a good kayak partner and we made it upstream and also downstream to the edge of the harbour so we had a nice view of The Empress and Parliament.

This was our view after we pulled our kayaks out of the water. Not a bad way to end a day.

Not a stunning image but Q was always on C if he could help it. I thought it was pretty sweet (and felt a bit sorry for C at times having Q hanging off him always!).
For links to the photos in the short album or long album click away :-)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Very much enjoyed the movie Julie & Julia - which I saw with cousin Julia while the kids were at school.
We left Portland right after another excellent breakfast at HPP with Nanma and drove as quickly as we could for the ferry at Anacortez. We didn't quite know where Anacortez was and we didn't really understand why Seattle traffic was so bad mid-day. Never the less we made the (very large) ferry in time. (There were bets to the contrary). This is a view from our ferry leaving Orcas Island heading to Vancouver I realize when thinking about it - but was worth mentioning. Our huge ferry stopped dead and lowered a zodiac to "rescue" this eagle. This (female?) was swimming away as fast as she could go but she had a long way to go. However by the time the ferry managed to halt and zodiac get lowered she had made it to shore. The boat folks thought she was hurt and called the wildlife people but I think it turned out she just had a huge fish in her mouth and couldn't fly. She hopped up the hill where she was met by her mate. It was quite interesting watching an eagle swim using their wings.

This fuzzy lady was in one of the fields on the farm we stayed at on Orcas Island in the San Juans.
A and I walked down to the beach at the farm shortly after 7 a.m. It was amazing to see how glass smooth the water is - after all this is ocean water.

It was low tide and there were plenty of orange and purple sea stars to be seen. I love tidepooling and especially the showy stars - perhaps because I never had the opportunity until I was an adult. It will be interesting to see if my kids seek them out when they grow up.

Before we left we grabbed some lunch and headed to the highest point on the mountain - our group is at the picnic table below. It was a hazy day but you could still see a classic cone volcano in the distance (Mt Baker?). Orcas was only one night but a lovely island worth a longer visit some day. For more photos see long or short.
Last night we had a few clouds moving through - which is relatively unusual for this city - usually blue skys or fog but not that many good cloud days. I headed to the beach after dinner when the guys headed down to playground for a little ball throwing. I didn't make it to the beach quite quickly enough and there was some awesome clouds in the sky above me as I drove but I did get some shots. Pretty sunsets are always nice. I like this one as you have the couple off the the right and you get a sense of the vastness of the place. It is pretty cool that this is on the edge of a very populous city. No surfers in sight - was kind of hoping for a few. But quite a few other people down enjoying the warm evening and pretty setting sun.

A couple of nights ago I decided to grab the camera and get shooting again. Q was in the tub playing and I added my flash and manually dialed it down and bounced it off the left wall. I posted these that eve to flickr. The next day was my highest viewing ever at 1182 views of my photos and/or site. Not sure why. I generally run more like 150-200 views in a day altho there is a lot of swing depending on whether or not I've been posting. Who views the photos and why? I had 3 bubble photos and they got around 50 views each so they didn't make up the total by a long shot. I just find it curious. I have a contact Sheila from Manilla who takes marvelous photos - all the more amazing since she didn't get going until Dec '08. She has a ton of people who follow her and post comments with big images and then real comments by real friends of hers get lost in the dross. I know it annoys her at times. That's flickr for you. I have made some flickr friends I enjoy very much and I always enjoy hearing from them.

geez - just checked out my fotki account. Turns out on 8/15 I had 8 visitors - and somehow they managed to view 20,151 photos! That somehow just seems like 1 person viewed hours worth of photos or something. Too weird.
Last night was checking out how to make Spam Musubi. A tried it first (he is the most food adventurous person in the family - at age 9). I bought it next. He fought me for it. It is seriously yummy. Now I need to figure out where to buy spam. And maybe get a mold. Got everything else. Spam better not have gluten in it.