Zion National Park, man, what a beautiful place to visit. You hear about Angel's Landing, you hear about the Narrows, but what I have not heard much about is riding bike on the scenic trail. At least I don't hear people rave about it. So, I'm doing it. It was the most enjoyable and beautiful bike ride I've ever taken.
We were invited to join our old friends for a weekend and the Zion National Park. Given the time of year and night time temperature just above freezing, it was only possible since we now have the RV. Packing all three fat tire e-bikes was a bit tricky, however the Revel's gear garage was very accomodating.
I read a little about the Zion Scenic Drive online, just to make sure that bikes are allowed. From the name itself, I thought it was meant for cars, and it might be somewhat dangerous to ride bikes on it, have to constantly watch out for cars coming up behind us. Was I wrong! The drive is now limited to the shuttle buses only and a few special permitted vehicles, other than that, it's completely empty. The shuttle buses run 5-10 minutes apart, so for long stretches of the road, we were completely alone to enjoy the view. When you do hear the cars come up behind you, you must stop for they will not pass you unless you are stopped.
The weather was great, with some shaded area being borderline chilly in the morning. Being in the off-season, there wasn't a lot of people either. Oh man, the view! It was my first time visiting Zion, I had no idea the beauty and majestic rocks and cliffs hiding behind each turn of the road. With the 28Cron mounted and the M9 hanging from my neck, a lot of the shots were just f/8, focused that infinity, and snapped while I was riding.
For the full set if images from this trip, [CLICK HERE]
Another bonus of having an RV is camping in slightly colder conditions. The temperature in the mountains were about 60s during the day and around 40s at night. We took the Revel for just one night in one of our favorite Barton Flats Campground and hiked up to Jenks Lake again. With some of the yellowing leaves, the feeling is very much different than summer.
The 28Cron is quite a versatile lens. It's wide enough to take in the sceneries and yet not awkward enough to take portraits.
Spent the weekend camping in Silverwood Lake State Park. The over 90 degree temperature didn't inspire a lot of photo-taking :) However, I did wake up early on the last day to catch the sunrise. The black and white photo above doesn't do it justice, so here are the color ones...
Soft sand, aqua blue water, and a cliff for you to hike... what not to love about Point Dume?! Today was the perfect day to hit the beach with temperature around 70F. We've driven past Point Dume a few times before, and I've always wanted to check it out. So we packed up the Revel and drove about 1.5 hour with traffic to this beautiful place.
The 28'Cron is such a great lens. I've been thinking about selling it since I got the WATE, but I just can't do it. It's got a slightly more contrasty rendering and a little natural vignette. Besides cropping down to 5x7 ratio and adjust exposure, I don't really have to do much post processing.
Old high school friends invited me and my son for a quick get-a-way at Miller Canyon OHV. Altogether, we had 2 RVs and 4 quads, 1 mini-jeep, and 2 motorcycles, and LOTS OF FUN!
I mounted the 28'Cron, not wanting to go too wide, I was able to capture most scenes as I see them. The quads kicked up lots of dust which made very dramatic images. Not good for the rest of us to breathe in, though.
Okay! This was a photographic bucket-list accomplishment! I've always wanted to come and checkout this Pirate tower located south of Laguna Beach. Although high noon wasn't probably the best time to take pictures, but we just have to make do with what we got.
It was very warm day for mid-October, so we decided to take my son here. He can have fun chasing the waves, while I explored the Pirate's Tower. There weren't as much people around as summer, so that was nice. Still it was hard to take a picture of the tower without somebody standing around it.
Being in the hot noon sun, I also tried to go for some high-contrast BW shots. [CLICK HERE] to see the full album...
We went camping again this past weekend at Barton Flats Campground in Big Bear Mountain. Since other campers didn't seem too enthused about hiking the short trail up to Jenks Lake again, I went with my son, who kept telling me this is one of his most favorite hikes.
Last month when we were here, the water level at Jenks Lake was really low. But it has returned back to normal level now. While we explored around the lake, a ranger told us that they had to clear a 3.5 mile stream with shovels to keep the water coming in. He was really proud, and we thanked him for his hard work.
To see other photos from the trip, [CLICK HERE]
This weekend marks the beginning of my son's spring break. So we went to check out the Natural History Museum (NHM) and California Science Center (CSC) next to USC. This was our first time visiting the NHM, and it was as expected... a display of old bones :)
We've been to CSC before, but I've never seen space shuttle Endeavour since it moved in there. What a magnificent display! Humanity really can accomplish anything, if we put our minds to it.
28'Cron was glued on the M9 the entire day. I tend to not switch lenses once I get out... maybe half of it is just laziness, but the other half is because I become adapted to the field of view of whatever focal length the lens I have on, and I just feel comfortable staying with it. To see the full set, [CLICK HERE]
We passed by the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) before, but never got to visit inside. So today we decided to give it a try. The kids will have the whole week off from school next week, and we didn't want them get stir crazy at home. First, we stopped by the Mitsuwa Japanese market near South Coast for lunch.
The museum was surprisingly small, compared to all of the other museum we've been to in Los Angeles. I guess that meant we'll have time to really study each exhibit. Most of them seemed really modern, lots of audio/visual stuff and recorded performances. Then there were a couple of interesting statistical stuff that picked out the most frequently used words from each President's speeches, and a map of cities labeled by the most common words captured from online dating profiles.
After OCMA, we swung by Fashion Island Shopping Center to walk around and get some PinkBerry.
The "Leica Q", just released yesterday, seems to have a lot of people excited. It checked a lot of must-want boxes that people have talked endlessly for: full-frame, slimmer body than the M, better ISO performance, EVF, and very good autofocus. Wait, what? AUTOFOCUS?! When did that become a big thing for Leica shooters?
The Q looks to be an effort for Leica to appeal to non-RF shooters who might come from DSLR or other Mirrorless offerings, but it doesn't interest me much. To be honest, I was tempted at first, too. I immediately thought that this would be a great backup to my M9 when the lights are low, but then I realized the flaw in that line of thinking... it will only be an second option for me. What I wanted was a camera that's good enough to replace the M9 to be my first option.
Since I shot exclusively with the 28'Cron on Sunday in the San Diego County Fair, I thought about how it would have been if I had the Q instead? I think it would have been just fine. For the shots of my son on the rides, I would have relied on the autofocus and it probably would have gotten me more shots than I did with the RF-and-wait method. It could also miss a few, like the shot above. It wasn't mission critical for me to get every shot in the right focus, but I got enough keepers to make me and my family happy, and most importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed the photo-taking process because I was 100% involved. If I had shot with the Q instead, I feel my own efforts or involvement would be greatly reduced to the level of using it as a point-and-shoot. Obviously, that's not where I want to be.
I know one can turn off all the auto-ness and shoot manual, but focus-by-wire with focus-peaking and live view zoom doesn't appeal to me. So... for now, I'll keep waiting. I'll wait for the right M9 replacement, while enjoy every minute with the M9.
My Journey into Leica...
A path not to be taken lightly, not without reservations, and not without dedication, but the results can be sweet, OH SO SWEET! This is a documentation of my trials and tribulations into the world of Leica Rangefinder Photography, and I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.