Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Birthday Party


Birthday Party, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Today was Aleena's birthday party with her friends. We started at the house, went to the pool, and ended up back at the house for pizza, cake and ice cream (coconut ice cream with no milk).

Pictures from left to right: Mari, Suhani, Avery, Aryana, Aleena, Makayla and Amelia.

Jacob at Funarium


_MG_2447, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Last week we went to Funarium for Nudee's birthday. Nudee and Aleena share the same birthday. Jacob posed at counter for me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grooving in Sedona


Grooving in Sedona, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Sedona in Pictures


09-06-sedona-arizona--255__, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Here is a photo that I took while on the Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona, Arizona. I didn't take the tripod on the tour, as there were only two stops where I could have used it. Fortunately, it was light enough out that I could shoot with a fairly small aperture (f13) and still easily hand hold the shot.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

HDR Image From Sedona


09-06-sedona-arizona--444__, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

I took this image without a tripod while on the Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona.

The sky was overcast pretty much the entire time I was in Sedona (less than 24 hours). While this didn't make for great sunrise and sunset photos, it did make the light much less harsh during the late morning and afternoon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lucy in the Sky in Sedona


Lucy in the Sky in Sedona, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Snoopy in Sedona


09-06-sedona-arizona--397_8_9, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

There is a rock formation in Sedona, Arizona that looks like Snoopy on his back.

Happy Birthday Aleena

Today is Aleena's fifth birthday.  The birthday plans include:

 Today
 - I'm taking cookies and reading a story to her Kindergarten class.
 - Family to go and celebrate birthday with her cousins.  It is also Nudee's birthday.
 
 Tomorrow
 - Tim takes the girls to see the Mama Mia theater production.

 Next Friday
 - Birthday party with her friends. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rainbow Over the Red Rocks


09-06-sedona-arizona--38, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

I was on my way to take some sunset photos in Sedona when I saw this rainbow. I drover around to several locations taking shots trying to get the best angle. None came out great, but it was fun.

Cathederal Rock in Sedona


09-06-sedona-arizona--58, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Me at Cathederal Rock (or Courthouse Rock)


09-06-sedona-arizona--100__, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

I hit a double whammy in Sedona when shooting at sunset. There was no reflection shot at Cathederal Rock (used to be called Courthouse Rock) because of changes in the creek. There was also a cloud cover, which kept me from getting any great light. Still I had fun.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Please Vote for My Photos

As you may know, I'm trying to get some of the photos that I took on my Western trip published in book about Utah. If you could take a few minutes and vote for my images, I would appreciate it!





Vote!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Little Attitude


Little Attitude, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Jacob in Action


IMG_6786, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Here is another from last year's ES Games.

Jacob at Elementary School Games


IMG_6601, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

This photo was from last school year. I'm uploading photos to flickr, and I really like this one.

Western Adventure - Moment of Truth

The Mustang engine roared to life as I turned the key at 3:15 a.m.  Only fifteen minutes earlier I had awoken to the hotel alarm clock, not sure if I would get the chance to take any photographs of the Grand Canyon during the golden light of a sunrise or sunset.  Now I was confident that I would get the chance.  Even if the car wouldn't start back up after shooting the sunrise, I didn't think it would be a problem getting a jump start.

I made good time as I drove down Highway 67 towards the North Rim.  There were few cars on the road.  As I passed the unmanned park entrance, I couldn't help but reflect on the irony that the one time that I didn't actually get to take any photographs was the one time I had to pay the entrance fee.  Not that I begrudged the twenty-five dollar entrance fee which was valid for a week. 

I arrived at the Grand Canyon Lodge around 4:30 a.m.  Not sure if I would again need a jump start, I backed into a parking spot.  I decided to see if the car would start again, and unlike the previous day, it did. 

My plan was to shoot sunrise at Bright Angel Point.  There is a trail behind the Grand Canyon Lodge that leads to Bright Angel Point.  After consulting some hotel employees for directions, I made my way towards the trail.  The beginning part of the trail was lit by the lights from the lodge, but soon I found myself on a very dark trail.  The trail was a few feet wide and fairly smooth.  On my right side, however, was a significant drop off if I mistepped a bit.  In the daylight this would not be an issue, but as I progressed on the trail, it became very difficult to see.  Unfortunately, I had not brought a flashlight with me.  I did, however, have a cell phone, which provided a faint light that was just enough to light up the trail and keep me from taking a tumble down a dark mountain side.  My progress was very slow, as even with the phone I could not see well.

When I finally arrived at Bright Angel Point, I found myself alone for almost forty-five minutes.  As the sun started to come up, some people started joining me.  I had originally set up by the rail, as it was dark when I arrived and I hadn't realized that I could climb up on some of the rocks for a better vantage point.  All in all there were probably ten people who were taking photographs of that sunrise from Bright Angel Point.  Only one other used a tripod.  A few were hand holding their slr's, while the rest were shooting with point and shoot cameras.

I continued to shoot until the sun had been up almost an hour.  After that, I made my way back to the lodge.  It took me longer to return to the lodge than my snail paced journey from it, largely because I stopped five or six times to take photographs.  When I finally made my way back to my car, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the engine started again. 

I drove back to Jacob's Lake Inn, packed my belongings and checked out.  After I filled up the gas tank, a different young mechanic checked my battery.  At first he told me it was fine, but then had some trouble with a test and told me it had gone bad.  The car started back up again, but I decided that I would go to Kanab, Utah to get the battery replaced.  I didnt' want to go the rest of the trip worrying whether the car would start. 

As I made my way towards Kanab, I tried to call the rental car company to explain the situation.  After twenty minutes on hold, I lost the signal.  After about forty-five minutes, I approached a small town, and the first building I saw was named Judd Auto Services.  I thought I was in Kanab, but would find out later that I was actually in Fredonia, Arizona.  I soon explained my situation to Mike, and told him how I was looking for the cheapest battery possible.  He had one for seventy dollars that he thought would work.  While I wasn't thrilled about buying a battery for a rental car, I decided that I'd rather fork over the money than risk losing more time.  Mike tried to install the battery, but it was too tall, preventing the hood from closing.  He had another battery available, but it would cost over one hundred dollars.  Mike told me that some other places further up the road might sell less expensive batteries.  I asked him if he could charge the current battery.  I had assumed that the other two evaluations were correct and it needed replacement, but as the price was higher than I wanted to pay, I started to explore other options.

Mike ran a few tests and pronounced that the battery was fine.  Perhaps it didn't start after the first jump because I had run the AC and hadn't driven enough to charge it back up he offered.  In any case, there was no reason to replace the battery.  I paid Mike's very reasonable fee of twenty dollars and was off to my next destination, the red rocks Sedona. 

As I drove towards Sedona, I remembered that a friend from grade school, Linda Borcher, lived in Kanab.  We had recently friended each other on Facebook, and I was going to try to stop by while I was in the area.  The battery problems made me forget all about it, and by the time I remembered, Kanab was hours in my rear view mirror.

To be continued....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thai Political Update

I haven't given much of a political update in the last few months.  Not surprisingly, the conflict between the red and yellow shirts, while not in the streets, continues.

The UDD (the red shirts) mounted a petition drive requesting a royal pardon for former PM Thaksin.  I believe one story reported that over four million people had signed.  Thaksin's opponents and some academics claim that the petition is illegal because one has to serve part of one's sentence to be eligible. There was a lengthy editorial piece in the Bangkok There was a piece in the Bangkok Post last week where a scholar laid out the reason since the petition was illegal, that it was outside the scope of the monarchy's powers.  I found it interesting that he cited several constitutional provisions that would prevent the monarchy from granting an illegal pardon, however, he offered no legal precedent that receiving a pardon requires one to serve at least part of one's sentence. 

I am not an expert on Thai law or pardons in general.  Perhaps that is such a rudimentary concept that every Thai knows it already.  Of course, he wrote the piece in English which means it was directed mainly at a Thai audience.  In the most famous pardon in U.S. history, President Ford pardoned President Nixon before he was even charged with a crime.  The learned writer may have been absolutely correct, however, I am always suspicious when someone who takes the time to provide authority for most of his points provides none for the most important part of his argument. 

Another story is the controversy around the investigation into the attempted assassination of PAD (yellow shirt) leader Sodhi in April.  The speculation is that the police chief had interfered with the investigation, and perhaps may have had knowledge of it.  There was a lot of pressure on PM Abhisit to remove the chief, who was set to retire in two months.  There was some kind of deal struck where the chief would go on leave for a month, but that may have fallen through.  Its all very confusing, and so very Thai. 




Friday, August 7, 2009

Monument Valley Eagle


Monument Valley Eagle, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

At one of the rock formations in Monument Valley, if you lay on your back and look up, you see what appears to be an eagle painstakingly carved by nature.

Monday, August 3, 2009

24 Hours in Hua Hin

Tim and I took the kids to Hua Hin for a day at the beach and pool.  The two and a half hour drive took us three hours, largely because of a long bathroom and food stop at a 7-11 on the way there. 

Tim made a reservation at the Hyatt because it has a really nice pool that snakes around the hotel.  The beach there is so-so, but that is the same for most of Hua Hin. 

The weather wasn't too bad.  It drizzled very lightly a good portion of both days.  There was no storm, and the rain was not heavy enough to prevent the kids from playing in the pool.  The upside to the rain was that the weather was very pleasant.  It wasn't too cold to swim, nor was it uncomfortable to sit around the pool.

We spent most of the time at the pool.  The kids really liked giant slide.  Aleena was actually too small to ride it.  I went up with her the first day, and was telling her to go.  She kept saying that we had to ask the lifeguard sitting there.  The guard looked up and told us that she couldn't.  On the second day a different lifeguard let her slide.ore

We went to dinner at Coco 51.  They have a Thai and Western menu.  We ended up ordering mostly Western fare.  Overall the food was pretty good.  My lasagna was average, but the fish and chips were fantastic.  The batter was crunch but not greasy and the fish itself tasted delicious.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was probably the best batter fried fish that I have eaten. 

Tim arranged for a 2:00 p.m. checkout, so the girls spent most of the second at the pool  Jacob spent a good deal of time at the beach playing in the sand.  I buried him in the sand, which got laughs from some of the passer byes. 

I only brought my Crocs on this trip, so I decided to run barefoot on the beach.  Jacob ran with me for a short time until he became tired. 

Before we left we ate lunch a the hotel.

Aleena's Fierce Smile


So Fierce!, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Not Poetry in Motion


Not Poetry in Motion, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Buried!


Buried!, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Jacob had me bury him in the sand during our trip to Hua Hin.

Bridge of Love


Bridge of Love, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

We don't have a lot of photos together. My remote trigger wasn't working for some reason, so I used the 10 second time and ran into the picture. I made it with only a second to spare.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grand I Say


Grand I Say, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

Hua Hinn

We are off to Hua Hinn to spend two days and one night at the beach.  We are staying at the Hyatt, which has a great pool, so we may spend most of our time there. 

For a Canyon, It's Grand, In This Photo, Not So Much

Yet another picture of the Grand Canyon from Cape Royal at the North Rim.

The Grand Canyon were my least favorite photos, and aside from Las Vegas, my least favorite part of my trip.

Grand Canyon from Cape Royal


09-07-grand-canyon-127, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

This is one of the images that I took before I had the car battery problems.

Western Vacation - Of Canyons & Batteries

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on the third day, eager to get to the Grand Canyon by sunrise to take some photos.  Twenty-five minutes later I walked out the door and my hopes of capturing a beautiful sunrise were already dashed.  Sunrise was probably less than twenty minutes away, and I was a good sixty to ninety minutes from my destination.

Still, I was up and awake, so I decide to see if I could still catch some good light.  Prior to arriving at the Grand Canyon entrance, I stopped and took a few photos of some deer along the side of the road. 

I arrived at the entrance to the Grand Canyon at about 5:40 a.m..  The entrance consists of a small kiosk sized building in between the two lanes of the road.  There was no-one working at the booth to collect the twenty-five dollar fee (good for a week), so I followed the instructions of the sign that read to go on through.

I followed the signs to Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim (8,033 feet) and one of the three places I wanted to see.  When I finally arrived, it was well after six o'clock, and the beautiful light of the morning had already fled.  There were two people already there, one with a camera and the other with a dog on a leash.  They were chatting away, the guy with the dog mentioning to the other that he was on disability due to a heart condition.  I mentioned that I had hoped to make it by sunrise, and the guy with the camera told me that I had missed it.  It took a bit will power to not make a smart alack retort like "oh, that big yellow ball is the sun, I never would have guessed." 

I took a few photos then headed for my second destination, Cape Royal.  When I arrived, I ran into the dog guy again.  He saw the California license plate on my rental and asked me where I lived in California.  I tried to keep this conversation short, but he managed to mention his disability.  My guess is that he tells anyone that will listen, and some who won't, about his ailment. 

There was a sign about a wedding area, so I headed down a short trail there and took some photos.  I wandered around for a while, took some photos.  I was really hungry by this point, I got in my car to leave.  Just before I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw the actual sign for Cape Royal.  I shook my head, I thought that I had been taking pictures at Cape Royal, but in fact it was on a trail adjacent to the parking lot.  So I parked the car, gathered my gear and went to take some more photos.  I spent another hour or two at Cape Royal, then headed back to the hotel.  My plan was to head back to the hotel, grab some food, take a nap and come back closer to sunrise. 

Four hours later, after some sleep and food, I got back in my rental car to head back to the Grand Canyon.  At this point, I noticed that my parking lights were on.  I gave it only a brief thought, but I must have left it on since morning.  When I turned the lights off when arriving at Imperial Point, I must not have turned it all the way off.  On my way back to the Grand Canyon I stopped a couple of times to take some photos of the scenery.  The second stop was to catch a beam of light streaming from the heavens.

When I got back in the car, it wouldn't start.  After a few tries, it was clear the batter wasn't going to turn over.  I was a thirty minute drive from my hotel and about an equal distance to the Grand Canyon entrance.  I looked at my cell phone, and it indicated that I was out of service range.  I started waving down passing cars.  Almost every motorist I waved down stopped to see what was wrong.  Unfortunately, the were almost all tourists whose cars were not equipped with jumper cables.  A local did stop, but he did not have cables in the car.  He indicated that he had jumper cables in his car, but he was driving his wife's minivan. 

Finally, after thirty minutes, a U.S. Forest Service employee stopped.  He had jumper cables and was able to get me started.  This good Samaritan friend told me that there was a service station in the park, and that they could probably charge or replace the battery.  After thanking him for his help, I was on my way again. 

This time when I approached the park entrance, there was a line of cars about ten deep.  I paid my twenty-five dollars, and then drove to the park visitor's center.  Bright Angel Point, the third of my destinations, is located on a trail behind the Grand Canyon lodge next to the visitor's center.  I found a parking spot and backed in.

I turned off the car and then immediately tried to restart it.  Nothing happened.  I tried again, hoping, but not expecting a different result.  The engine remained silent so I headed to the visitor's center to get help.  I asked if I could get a jump start in a few hours (after photographing the sunset), but I was told that after 6:00 p.m. park rangers were available on an emergency basis.  After a twenty minute wait, a park ranger was giving me a jump start.  She told me that the service station in the park would provide no help with my battery problem.  My "closest" option was the town of Kanab, Utah,  a forty minute drive from my hotel, and a little less than two hours from my current location.  The bad news continued as she told me that it would be closed by the time I got there tonight, so I would have to go in the morning.

As I left the Grand Canyon, I was a little disappointed.  I had missed both sunrise and sunset this day, and there was no way I would hit sunrise the next day since the shop wouldn't open until 8:00 or 9:00.  My plan was to leave the Grand Canyon the next afternoon, so I was going to miss all the good photo shooting time.  I pulled into the service station next to the hotel to get some gas.  They had a garage attached, so I had the mechanic check the battery.  He told me the battery needed replacement, and gave me the same story as the park ranger.  He told me that they could give me a jump in the morning if necessary. 

The car actually started up after his test, so I parked it in the front of the hotel.  I had some dinner at the hotel wondering what to do. 

As I was getting ready for bed, a thought came to me.  I set my alarm clock for 3:00 a.m.  When I woke up, I would go and try to start the car.  If it started, I would go and take photos of sunrise.  Even if it wouldn't start back up after I got there, I was confident that I could get a jump in the morning.  If it didn't turn over, then I would sleep for a few more hours, and then go get the battery looked after. 

What happened?  Well, that's tomorrow's story. 

Jacob and the Tree


Jacob and the Tree, originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.

My Photography Gear

Here is what I'm currently using.

Camera
-Canon 40D

Lenses
-Canon EF 70-200mm L IS USM Lens
-Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM Lens
-Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens
-Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens

Flash
- Canon Speedlite 430EX Flash Review

Tripod and Head
- Giottos MTL 9361B
- Benro KB-0A

Memory
-ScanDisk Ultra II 8GB Compact Flash
- Kingston 8 GB Compact Flash
- Kingston 4 GB Compact Flash

Jacob a Smilin'


Jacob a Smilin', originally uploaded by eBv iMAGES.