Well, there it is, the highlight of the trip. I tried stacking ND filters, but the easiest way was just to slap my solar eclipse glasses over the lens and take a shot. However, the journey actually started a few days prior to White Pocket. It's usually considered a consolation prize for people not winning the Wave Lottery, but I do think it really stand on its own for its beauty and the freedom of access and exploration.
We wanted to watch the eclipse from Muley Point, just up the Moki Dugway, which was packed with campers. We were able to find ourselves a little open area to park up for the night. I had an idea to setup a timelapse video of the moon's shadow moving across the land as the eclipse progressed, but that didn't work out at all. Not only there's no shadow moving, the auto-exposure of the phone camera didn't even capture the dimming of the lights.
After the eclipse, we waited a little to give other people a chance to clear out before driving down the Moki Dugway ourselves. From there, we visited Valley of the Gods. There, we could see people camping in every nook and cranny of any available pull-outs. Not much photos taken there because a lot of the pull-outs were still occupied by campers and there was a lot of car traffic for both directions.
Throughout the trip, I had "In Search of Sunrise" by DJ Tiesto playing at the back of my mine. While the annular eclipse was cool, I feel it's only a pre-show for the total eclipse next year. Even at its peak, everything was still brightly lit with only 20% of the sun, so I'm really looking forward to see what it'll be like with a total eclipse. I guess I'll find out next April. Here are all the photos from this trip [CLICK HERE].
Redwood Meadows Campground... previous not a viable destination due to its lack of flush toilets and shower, is now obtainable because of the Winnebago Revel. Having the RV has opened up the world of possibilities, especially with its 4x4 drive, it'll take us to places we've not thought about before. In this way, it has contributed to my photography.
I took a lot of pictures in the Trail of 100 Giants. Mounted the WATE for its super-wide 16mm, I was able to capture the sceneries in close distance. We also visited a natural waterslide where freezing water helped us cool off our feet. A short hike to Peppermint Falls offered beautiful stream-side views and we could walk along side of it until it reaches the drop-off from one giant mountain of granite. All these not heavily advertised officially, but enough people find them to create a well marked trail. I blame the Internet :)
Too see the full set of images, [CLICK HERE].
Picking up the Winnebago Revel 4x4 from Iowa and meander our way back to California, this is truly a dream roadtrip. After months of planning and anticipation, we've hit all the major destinations I've plotted out on Google Map. Yellowstone National Park was the obvious grand finale, but it's the Ayres Natural Bridge Park and Buffalo Gap BLM in Badlands that got me feeling secluded wondered why not more people are enjoying the great outdoors.
Yellowstone was a park in its own class. No amount of research could prepare me for its beauty and vastness. Sure, the major touristy spots were amazing, but I find myself enjoying breathtaking sceneries just driving around the park even more. The great plains with herds of buffalos scattered, the minor lakes and streams that were just painterly, these are the things that will make me want to come back and spend more time at each turnout to soak them all in.
For this trip, I packed only the 50'Lux and WATE. It seemed that we were following a thunderstorm or it was chasing us most of the time. We experienced 90 degree heat in South Dakota, and had to keep warm through the 35 degree cold nights in Yellowstone, but the Revel handled them with ease. It was truly our home away from home. If you wish to check the rest of the photos from the trip, [CLICK HERE].
It's been a few years, but we went back to visit the island of Oahu again during the President's Day / Chinese New Year weekend. Can't really say it was well planned, it was just the weekend that we're all available to take a few days off. On the day of our flight to Hawaii, the weather was forecasting to have thunderstorm storms almost all of the days that we're there. But what can we do? The trip was reserved at the end of last year, and we never visited in February before, so we didn't know the weather patterns around this time of year.
Well, the day that we landed was sunny enough. As it turned out, we only had one day of thunderstorm, and we were very thankful for that! However, not knowing how the next day was going to be, we maxed out our sun utilization, hitting Hanauma Bay and the swimming pools whenever we can.
On the day before the storm, we were treated to a dramatic sunset as we walked out to the Waikiki beach and around the marina area.
I'm amazed by the trees in Hawaii every time we're here. I just love the squiggly branches and the canopy they provide.
This was our first time staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. It must have been the biggest hotel complex in Waikiki. This was also our first time visiting without a rental car. Because the hotel was centrally located, we only need to Uber to Hanauma Bay. The hotel offered good amenities and the view from our hotel balcony wasn't too shabby, either.
Leica doesn't make it easy for someone to hold on to a camera year after years. With great restraint, I'm using shooting with the M9 after all these years. The sensor of the typ-240 didn't impress me enough to upgrade, which is ultimately the same reason I didn't go for the M-D, even though it hit all the right notes for me ergonomically. I'm afraid the M10 is just too much for me to resist with the ISO dial, thinner body, viewfinder upgrade, and wonderful new sensor. I will, however, be a little bit more stubborn and wait for the M-P version, making my M9 almost 10 years old when I do switch.
Why not wait for the M-D version? The real pull of the M-D version for me was the ISO dial on the back and never needing the LCD screen again. However, now with the dedicated ISO dial on top, I will have what I need and be able to see all my exposure settings by look down at the camera. I can just turn off previews, and reserve the right to use it when I need it. I would love to try to shoot with the WATE without the franken-finder and use the LCD screen liveview for focusing and composing. Also having the option to format SD cards in camera will be nice, which is not available with the M-D.
So, I've successfully punt the camera purchase decision down another 1 or 2 years, and my wallet will thank me for that.
Jessica needed some photos of herself, so we hanged some sheets for backdrop and setup a single light for a quick portrait session. A bit awkward for both of us... since she's not used to modeling and I'm not used to shooting studio portraits. But we pushed through and came out with some nice shots and a bit more experience for both of us :)
We have not been back to the Silver Saddle Ranch since our first visit 2 years ago. This weekend, we decided to visit it again to celebrate a friend's birthday. It felt as if time has stood still in California City. We were hoping to see more development around the ranch, but I guess things progress much slower in the desert.
Lately, I've been doing less photography, and when I shoot, I use mainly just the 50'Lux. For the complete set, you may [CLICK HERE].
Happy birthday to my little one... We invited all the family for a nice surf and turf dinner. With the older cousins going off to college and military, it'll be harder and harder to get everyone back together for group photos in the future.
... and don't forget, a "funny face" photo! Processed with VSCO Film "S - Fuji FP-100c Cool ++" preset.
We had a brief visit to the Little Saigon night market the past weekend. There were lots of people, lots of food stands, just too bad that we already had dinner right before. I saw some people were playing Pokemon Go... *shakes head* *sigh*
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.