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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

February/March 2014: Hawaii

It's been a bit of a drought of blog posts here, especially in comparison to the weekly clip of posts I maintained last year. Without an official or stated goal for the [photo-] blog this year, it has been less structured and I less disciplined, as I'd thought. I have also been rather busy as of late. but we'll get to that in due time.


In the interim, we went on a vacation to Hawaii! Sharon made plans to do a joint residency vacation with our good friends, the Doctors Kamath. They had planned a trip to the Big Island and to Maui; we would meet them halfway through their trip to Maui and spend the week adventuring with them. As a detail pertinent to these blogly proceedings, our Hawaii trip only barely bled into March 2014; but as it turns out, this is my blog, and I make up all the rules! So this trip can and shall count towards both February and March! Isn't that convenient? It's awesome.

I always feel obligated to acknowledge how incredibly we both are fortunate to have jobs that pay us so handsomely at so early a point in our careers and that also allow us time off to go on vacation. It's not lost on me that this isn't something everyone simply gets to do. In our case, I had the added "benefit" of the past two plus years of consistent monthly travel on behalf of said employer (typed in quotations, because of the cost behind it) that accumulated enough United reward points to pay for all of our roundtrip airfare! Anyway. It is acknowledged.

Hawaii was unforgettable and, as if it needed confirmation, stunningly beautiful. I knew this was true before I arrived, but nothing I had seen or heard really prepared me for the sheer natural beauty. All of the photos and videos paled in comparison; in the end, we're just striving to make a reasonable facsimile of the actual, physical beauty we encounter in reality.

I shot a ton of photos during our trip: I'm sharing a few here to commemorate the trip; the rest are all up on Google Plus. I'll put up a separate post for the monthly entry, dedicated to our morning at the Haleakala summit at sunrise.

Our first luau! We stayed in Ka'anapali during our time in Maui, but we spent a fair amount of time in Lahaina; this luau experience was from the well-recommended (by others to us, and now by us, too) Old Lahaina Luau. The food and the performances were spectacular (unfortunately the lighting for the performances was difficult; I included a handful of the performances in the Google Plus album.)

The next set comes from our epic daylong journey up and down the Road to Hana. The first few are from an impromptu stop at the Ho'okipa Beach, a site that instantly became my favorite of the entire trip. There were sea turtles! At least a dozen of them were napping on the beach when we saw them after checking out surfers battling the legendary waves at Ho'okipa. Other stops along the Road to Hana included the black sand beaches of Wai'anapanapa State Park and the beautiful O'heo Gulch at the eastern end of the Road to Hana just inside the gates of Haleakala National Park. There are lots of stories from this trip; "Road to Hana" is its own category and yet another unforgettable experience I'm glad we got to share.

I mentioned earlier that we stumbled upon what became our favorite spot of all of our Maui visit at Ho'okipa Beach; we liked it so much we went back for one last glimpse before we departed:

Looking back on all of these photos, I'm so so thankful we got to have this fabulous experience. We saw one island of Hawaii, and the natural beauty of Maui coupled with the wonderful company made it all sublime. And I love traveling with Sharon. She is ever the Big Ideas woman of the two of us; and boy was this ever a great idea.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 2014, Part I: Lunar New Year Parade

(I'm almost certain there will be a Part II)

I had a day to myself on Super Bowl Sunday earlier this month, and in the days before, I began looking for something to do. I realized that the Chinese/Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown was being held that same morning. I figured out that I could attend the downtown morning service that Sunday morning and be but a few quick subway stops away from the start of the parade, and a plan was made.

As I went through my experience at the 2013 Pride Parade in my head, I recalled just how crowded and nearly miserable it was at the Pride parade, with so many people jostling for position on the parade barricades for a view (let alone a shot with their cameras); and I specifically remember being at the Pride parade and watching with envy (and exasperation) as photographers walked by on the inside of the barricades along with the parade participants. So a lightbulb went off. I fired off an email to the parade organizers requesting a media pass that would get my inside the gates, figuring I had nothing to lose.

And it worked!

So I set off that morning with the Sigma 50-150mm tele lens on my D7100 and the Sigma 10-20mm on my D40. (In hindsight, perhaps I should have swapped these. Also, I perhaps should have swapped the long tele for the 35mm?). I looked for some tips on shooting parades. The pieces of advice I found centered on filling the frame with people's faces, getting crowd reactions, and walking with the parade route. I only really followed the second one with any consistency. After shooting this first parade inside the barricade, my only insight or thing-to-remember for next time would be to get familiar with the parade route beforehand if possible to know where to (possibly run to) set up for shots; also, while I would encourage anyone/myself to get up in close to people but to keep awareness to avoid collision or embarrassing yourself/myself (I had at least one close call; also, there were other photographers there, some press guys included, and I tried to balancing getting in close to get a shot with not being a douche and getting *in* everyone else's shot).

Here are a few from the set. The whole set, for now, is hosted on my Google Plus page.