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.
Maybe the title should be "So many things to buy, so little money". A bit off topic from Photography... After my recent trip of RV camping with friends, I've looking at various Class B RVs. Due to our city's parking regulation, which doesn't allow RV parking on streets nor trailers on driveways, I was thinking about finding a trailer that will fit in our garage. I already had my eyes set on the Taxa Cricket Camper, and it seemed perfect for us. Its 6'9" height will barely fit through our garage door, and we've started moving things out of the garage to make room.
But after the last trip, I was convinced that an RV is probably the better way to go. A class B RV will look like a van that can be parked on our driveway. It'll allow the kids to move around in the back, distract them from long drives. And, the thought of having a shower/toilet built-in will make boondocking possible. The trailer camper was always meant to be a stepping stone towards an RV in the later future (we're not getting any younger), so I asked myself, why not skip the middle step and just go directly to an RV?
The major deterrent is obviously the price, about 100k. They don't depreciate that fast so it'll likely keep its value for a while. Another fear is that it'll end up sitting in my driveway not used, but knowing us, I think we'll put it to good use. Having an RV means you can plan trips that go further, longer, and in seasons where you wouldn't dare with tents. The RV industry has gone through some technology update in recent years, with solar and lithium battery, some RV makers are moving towards a no-propane and no-generator design. I've found the Hymer Aktiv to be the one for us. Time to save some money, quick.
So what does this has to do with Photography? Well, it means no more new lenses, no more M10, and no more new gears. Plus, some people have often suggested that instead of a piece of new gear, people should invest the money on trips to make new memories. That's my main goal here. New RV so we can take more trips to make new memories... That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.
What an idyllic place for camping and fishing! I got invited to go RV camping with my friends to this central California location near Mammoth Lakes. The campground is in the middle of a plain that's surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. Being about 7000 feet above sea level, it was hot during the day time as the sun shines directly down, and yet chilly at night. The ever-bending Owens River provided plenty of places for fishes to hide and for the fishermen to cast their lines. There's also an off-road track that we took advantage of. Besides the swarms of mosquitos and blood sucking flies, it was a great weekend.
It was the first time I took my son fishing, so he had a blast. While I don't feel the same attraction for fishing, it was a wonder to see how many kids can concentrate and stay quiet while patiently waiting, whom might be considered over-active or hyper in normal settings. Patience as a virtue is often awarded in fishing, as long as the river is well stocked ;-)
With such an expansive landscape, I saw no desire of switching lenses from the WATE. I heard someone said that landscape photography is basically photographing weather. It felt true here. The land is beautiful all day long, but you really need to wait for the right light and cloud formations to kick it up a notch. Ultimately, I'm just glad to be able to take the camera out again, after being a bit stagnant lately. For the whole set of images, [CLICK HERE].
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].
This campground around 100 miles away from our house is slowly becoming one of my favorite place to camp. Though it's near Big Bear Lake, popular local mountain resort city, this campground only required a short drive on a less traveled road that has less traffic and easier to drive. Jenks Lake is only a short hike away from the campground with nicely shaded trails and it's not too strenuous.
The Lake has lost a lot of its water from the recent drought, and even the non-eventful El Nino couldn't help it much. 50'Lux does its wonders again, giving me creamy bokeh and lovely colors. The WATE isn't lacking, either, giving me the wider perspective and sharp as needles. For the full set, [CLICK HERE].
Finally returned for a week long vacation in Oahu, Hawaii. This my fifth time there, same island, and I still can't get enough of its beauty. This time I brought only the 16-18-21 WATE and the 50'Lux, but I mainly shot with 16mm almost 90% of the time. Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip:
I had a ton of fun shooting it wide at f/8, almost paid no attention to focus. For the full set, please check it out [HERE].
Today we visited a house with pool up on the Hollywood Hills. This perhaps the last chance for the kids to get to splash in the pool before autumn roll around. Labor Day, to me, is always the holiday to send off summer with a last hurrah.
It feels kind of strange, now that we're grown up. Back in the days, this marks the beginning of another school year, time for us to collect ourselves. But now I look at September melancholy because it feels like another year is almost passing us by... Where have all the time gone? What have I done this year that was memorable?
Maybe these shots of empty pools shows what I'm feeling. It reminds us of the fun we had... after the party ends, all that's left are the still water and the eerie lights.
When you find a campground that's well maintained and has easy hiking trails that showcase beautiful sceneries, it's hard to resist going back again and again, and again. This time armed with the WATE, I was determined to rediscover the landscapes and see if I can find different angles to capture its beauty.
Something different about this trip, was taking a few more family members, like my mother-in-law, and niece and nephews. Having new members sharing our camping experience is always a good thing. For the full set of images, please visit my personal gallery [HERE].
For my 41st birthday, I asked my wife that we go camping. Luckily, we were able to find a open spot in Barton Flats Campground in San Bernardino National Forest (Near Big Bear Lake). Strangely enough, we've been camping all around California, and yet, this is the first time we've camped near Big Bear. I guess we always thought of it as a ski resort thing in the winter, but I'm glad we've found more use for it during the summer!
Barton Flats turned out to be a great campground. There are many big trees here to provide good shades and there are nice clean toilets and free showers. The camp host does an excellent job upkeeping the place... each campsite is raked and cleaned before the guests' arrival. We definitely wouldn't mind coming back here again.
Very near the campground, there's very nice short hike (approx. 1 mile) up to Jens Lake. It tooks us about an hour, with plenty of rests, to hike up to the Lake. The stunning view of the lake makes the hike worth it. Some of us went walking around the lake which probably took less than 30 minutes. The water is very clear, but we told to not swim in it because there are lots of fish hooks from people's line getting caught in the algae.
All in all, what a lovely weekend to celebrate my birthday. I found that 16mm is great for taking selfies, so you might see more of me in my own photographs! NOT :) If you would like the see the full set of images from this weekend, [CLICK HERE].
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.