A couple friends has asked me some time back if I used a circular polarizer for waterfalls. I was processing some pics over the weekend and randomly saw this 2 pics and thought it kinda showed why I used a polarizer. The left was taken unpolarized and the right was taken polarized. Both iPhone 7 plus images taken back to back with the same exact settings. It removes a bunch of reflections on the rock wall that I believe would be hard or almost impossible to remove in post processing. It usually also makes foliage slightly more vibrant but probably could achieve pretty similar in post processing if I wanted to.
My attempt on a blog entry for a trip that I always wanted to do but was a logistical nightmare and got postponed several times. A map to show roughly where Patagonia is basically close to the Southern tip of South America. There's a Chile portion (Torres del Paine) and an Argentina portion (Fitzroy) that I wanted to visit. For those that aren't familiar, maybe you have heard of the California based outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, their logo is basically the skyline of Cerro Fitzroy which is the mountain on the Argentina portion of my trip with me trying to find wifi at Laguna de Los Tres on a pretty morning. Off course there was no wifi there. :)
Logistic nightmare from the fact that it involves border crossing and multiple bus and taxi rides, car rental, International and Domestic airport changes, flight delays from strikes and also the biggest barrier is probably language. Most bookings can't be done online, most of the companies aren't big tech savvy people thus a bulk of the bookings can only be done when you get there. Hence here's quite a bit of uncertainty and having to keep our itinerary as flexible as possible to accommodate to weather changes on top of all these tiny details.
Some Logistic stuff
- 500 peso to go city from EZE. Got taxi front hotel counter. Taxi ride was almost an hour as traffic was really bad in the city on a Friday afternoon at about 4.30pm
- 390 peso FTE to El Calafate
- 250 peso El Calafate to FTE
- 690 peso from EZE to AEP. Most expensive taxi ride from this trip. Got this taxi from the TiendaLeon counter right before I exited the airport.
- 250 peso AEP to city. Used the company Transfer Express as there was a strike going on and lion was out of taxis for the next 2 hours, looked at the price list on lion was also 250 peso.
- 500 peso from El Chalten to river bend (aka ur road shot). Taxi is good for 2hrs. More than sufficient time.
- Used Cootra for inter state crossing between Argentina and Chile. Took the earliest bus they had which was at 8.30am daily. Bought tickets at hostel ranch grande.
- Rented a car from EMSA at Puerto Natales, Chile
- 1080 peso for 1 day car rental at El Calafate, Argentina for Perito Merino about a 80km drive. The entrance of the park is at about 50km and General admission is 250 peso per person good for 1 day. Opening hours 8am-4pm in the off peak/winter season.
- Stayed at Hosteria Schilling at El Calafate. Super popular place among backpackers. Cheap and good. Owners were super nice and friendly and I thought the lady at counter was cool :)
- Stayed at Lo de Trivi in El Chaltén because the other one was full. Lo de Trivi just across the road from the one I recommend. Recommend Hostel Rancho Grande but slow wifi probably due to the number of people in that hostel. Faster wifi at my hostel which is just across the road. It's better to stay at the end of the road trailhead starts there. Try El Muro restaurant (San Martin 912, El Chaltén) also at the end of the road like that place most haha of all the places I tried.
I will group them broadly into 2 sections. The Fitzroy, Argentina side and the Torres del Paine, Chile side. The Torres del Paine side is probably the more popular one whenever you hear anything about Patagonia, the next question you get is "are you doing the W trek? or the circuit?" Those are popular hikes on the Chile side. I personally having been to both very much prefer the Fitzroy side of Patagonia. I didn't end up doing the W hike due to weather conditions and only did a hike up to Mirador las Torres, Chile. I did a loop for Fitzroy in Argentina. The route I took was from El Chalten -> Laguna los Torres -> Cerro Torres -> El Chalten.
Some interesting stuff I found out about Buenos Aires, the Capital city of Argentina, South America in general during my short stay..
Macdonalds in Buenos Aires (or might have been South America in general) doesn't accept credit cards with chip. I haven't seen a credit card without chip since my school days, so basically they don't take credit cards. I was kinda out of Argentina Pesos on my last day and didn't want to change more but wanted to eat french fries. 37 pesos (~3 usd) for a large fries and i only had 34 pesos. Ended up having to get fries from Burger King instead which accepted chip cards. Argentina Pesos aren't the most stable currency in the world and hence there's almost no way to change that currency back to dollar or pounds or euros out of Argentina. I tried to change some for the trip from all the major US banks and no one would do it. Hence spend all ur money there.
I arrived at the domestic airport at about 7pm and taxis were delayed for 2 hours as there was an ongoing strike. Got to the city at 10pm and walked into a huge restaurant that was still kinda busy. There were so many kids still out with their parents on a Thursday night. When I left at about 11.30pm, the restaurant was packed with people and the kids were still there.. What time does school starts?!
Contrary to popular believe, Argentina is actually not as cheap as one would imagine. Was talking to the Schilling hostel owner back in El Calafate, he was saying how the Patagonia area probably cost the most in terms of standard of living probably due to tourism with Buenos Aires coming close 2nd. But the rest of the states/cities in Argentina are also not far behind. The owner told us numerous numerous times to visit Mendoza, Argentina.
In the pic, the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, a national monument that resembles Washington Monument in DC, is probably the most recognizable icon of the city. The city area looked a little like the streets of Paris and Milan type of architecture which was kinda cool. Interior of shopping malls had all these European looking pillars and decors. There's an area about 60 blocks (uber long walk since they don't have uber yet) from Obelisco de Buenos Aires called Caminito (which apparently means little walkway in Spanish) located in La Boca, Buenos Aires had all these bright colored rows of houses and buildings which appear on a lot of their postcards and totally reminded me of Burano, Venice.
South America is a really interesting place and if I ever have some free time.. I will probably spend a couple months here :)
Some of my favorite moments from 2016. Hope you enjoy. Happy Holidays and Happy 2017! Now I shall let the pics do the talking. :)
JANUARY - a memorable hike with Lance and Rami out on TDH the very last day of 2015.
JANUARY - I was out in Banff and Abraham Lake once again. Probably lost count of the number of times I been to Banff. Lol. In the uber cold winter months, Abraham Lake up in Canada has these frozen methane bubbles formations which look really really cool (no pun intended).
FEBRUARY - made a trip to Japan to visit the Nagano (for snow monkeys) , Kyoto (which I always wanted to visit) , Tokyo (for food) and also made a last minute trip out to Mount Fuji.
MARCH - caught cherry blossoms in both Seattle and Portland and missed both the wildflowers season at Rowena and tulips season at Woodburn this year.
MARCH - went to a bunch of DinePDX and got a pic of kaka that i really liked. Also did a random photoshoot thing with Steph and Robert.
APRIL - spent my birthday in Patagonia. Managed to visit both Torres del Paine, Chile and Fitzroy, Argentina for some fall colors in South America which I had wanted to visit for a uber long time. For some crazy reason that morning, I decided to jump into the water lol. The glacier water was uber cold, not kidding. Got pretty lucky up here at sunrise as I know a whole bunch of friends who had came up to this Mirador Las Torres viewpoint and never saw the three towers. Also Managed to spend some time in Bueno Aires, Argentina after the Patagonia trip. Really unique place.
MAY - Did a bunch of spring hikes around Pacific Northwest. A bunch of friends also visited and brought them around some hikes in the area.
MAY - a FedEx box showed up on my door steps. When I opened the box *dramatic music* I was almost in tears.. Almost a year after the #ShotoniPhone6 campaign.. Multiple lost/misplaced shipments from Apple and 76,413 email exchanges... My shot on iPhone 6 books, that Apple announced way long ago, have finally arrived! They didn't come equipped with gloves as they were supposed to. Haha but not gonna lie, the books looked pretty awesome. Never managed to see any of those billboards in person but some were featured in the book; One from Singapore (left) , one on a train station in Japan (not in the pic) and one above my favorite brunch location on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles (right).
JUNE - Did alot more climbing this year than I usually do. Attempted Mount Hood twice with Jan and summited once. Pretty brutal but still real fun. Probably will do it again sometime.
JUNE - Was in San Diego for my brother's graduation and later my folks made a trip up to Portland and brought them around for a couple hikes in the gorge, made a quick stop at trillium lake and of cos lots of food. :D
JULY - Jan brought me up the summit of Mount St Helens on a random rainy weekday. Couldn't see much or the crater rim when we got up to the summit. :( Here's a pic from across St. Helens. I should be somewhere up on the edge of the summit of that mountain across that day.
JULY - We also attempted to summit Mount Adams once, made it up probably 3/4 way and ran out of time and turned back. Will probably try that again sometime. One from my ridiculously windy campsite on Mount Adams for the night overlooking Mount Hood in the distance. Wind was howling so hard felt like my tent was about to fly away.
AUGUST - Rented Kai for a weekend to get some pics :D
AUGUST - Was at San Diego and San Francisco for a weekend, probably had a food coma for too long and didn't remember much of it. All I remembered was it was super foggy and cold when I was there :D
SEPTEMBER - Lava was flowing into the ocean in Hawaii and made a quick trip out to Kauai, Big Island and Honolulu mainly for the lava and also to get my poke fix. Pretty hot and steamy experience :p took a boat out to the ocean for 61G ocean entry and also hiked out the following day. Arrived in the middle of the two Cat 4 hurricane Lester and Madeline. Was supposed to do a helicopter tour but was cancelled due to weather conditions. Highly recommend to check it out before it stops flowing! :)
OCTOBER - Headed out to Dolomites in Italy for fall colors. Really scenic place and would totally recommend the trip to families. Itinerary is pretty easy to plan. Easy drive on a long scenic route, some hiking would be nice but not totally necessary. No camping required. Totally worth a trip.
OCTOBER - Decided also to check out Cinque Terre, Italy which had been on my list for a while but its far out along the coast of Italy and a little inaccessible and thus been pushing it out. We got there in low peak season, drove between most of the towns with plenty of free street parking (obviously not the case during peak season). There really wasn't much of a crowd, lower chances to get pickpocketed. Win-win.
NOVEMBER - Did a bunch of hikes mostly in the Pacific Northwest for fall and spent a weekend shooting Tula and Ashley's wedding in downtown PDX. Also last hike with Mr Jabaji before he took off the Chicago for a couple years. :(
DECEMBER - got 2 big snowstorms in Portland so far. Probably the most snow I have seen in December in Oregon. Can't wait to go snowboarding and when I get a chance this year.
I guess that's all for now. Happy Holidays! :)
Saw a full double rainbow 🌈 out the window, grabbed Jason's iPhone 6s Plus and took it for a run. I tried to take 2 Pano JPGs back to back with the 2 phones, hoping everything else close to equal. Tried to.. The iPhone7 Plus shot is up top and iPhone6s Plus is below. Colors seem to look more magenta, warmer and more vibrant on the 7. For some reason, the 7 looked like it had better dynamic range but maybe just my lack of skills. Top left cloud looked less blown on the 7 than on the 6s. Pretty subtle differences, I think if I processed them, I probably could make them look close to the same. Tried the 2x too and that's way more awesome obviously.
The screen on iPhone 7 Plus really reminded me how I used to wow whenever I looked at my images off the LCD of my Sony RX100. The screen looked way more vibrant and sharper than what shots looked like on my MacBook Pro. Totally sold! Verdict.. BBBMTL! 😝💸 #shotoniphone7
some initial shots with the my new toy will update again in a couple weeks :) the control you can get from the raw files pretty ridiculous. just lacks long exposure. Tried it out in Dolomites, Italy too recently and heres some that I liked..
Someone asked me about an itinerary for Singapore. So I did a quick list, this was tailored to flights out of Portland, Oregon (PDX). If you have something else you would like to know. Feel free to drop me a note and I will update this along the way.
I know from PDX Delta is the least stopover to Singapore.
- PDX -> Narita (NRT) 1hr stopover -> Singapore (SIN)
I did a quick search on Singapore Airlines which is also a member of Star Alliance (United is part of it). (Real excellent airline. Trust me on this one.) http://www.singaporeair.com/
- PDX -> LAX -> Narita (NRT) -> Singapore (SIN) I like this particular flight because it’s a A380
- PDX -> SFO -> Seoul (ICN) -> Singapore (SIN)
Stay somewhere downtown. Marriott is in a real good location. Runs about 250sgd a night. (~180usd) the entire shopping area is here it’s called Orchard Road.
A rough map of where things are. https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zbPpkkjxYccA.kG7QCzx2Sq2s&usp=sharing
The unique hotel, Marina Bay Sands, that I told you about earlier. Pretty good location too. If you don’t mind the hassle of changing hotels, you can stay here for a night. This hotel has a infinity pool at the rooftop. Living in the hotel is the only way to get access to the pool and also it’s a observation deck on the top floor of the hotel (free for hotel guest). There’s also a laser show at this hotel every night. https://www.marinabaysands.com/
Nearby there’s a famous greenhouse nearby. Popular tourist spot. Called Gardens by the Bay
Merlion is also across the bay from this hotel walking distance. (free of charge)
Another famous spot also nearby is Singapore Flyer. Basically a giant ferris wheel. The singapore version of London Eye. http://www.singaporeflyer.com/
A lot of my friends use this bus when they are there. Unlimited rides for a day to tour around. http://www.city-sightseeing.com/tours/singapore/singapore.htm
But to go to attractions usually they just use taxi.
Singapore Zoo. Award winning zoo. Worth a visit. http://www.zoo.com.sg/ Jurong Bird Park is at a different location. Night safari and River safari and Singapore Zoo are all at the same location. River safari is new but it’s only popular because they have some new panda bear exhibit. (I think you can skip this one unless you have extra time.) Just head for Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, night safari is really unique. Jurong Birdpark if you have time. They offer a park hopper pass online check it out on the zoo link above.
Sentosa. Within sentosa there's a bus and train service. It’s free. http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/attractions/ My friends that visit usually people will take shuttle one way and cable car one way. http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/attractions/imbiah-lookout/cable-car/ Famous attraction at Sentosa.. this merlion is bigger than the one in the city and this has a laser show. http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/attractions/imbiah-lookout/the-merlion/
The SEA Aquarium is also located in RWS. Heard its really good. Personally I haven’t been. http://www.rwsentosa.com/Homepage/Attractions/SEAAquarium
Some other interesting stuff in the area are like
- Clarke Quay (extremely popular among friends that visit)
- Little India
A lot of friends like to visit this mall. Personally, I have never been there.
- Mustafa Center http://www.mustafa.com.sg/
Finally, Some local famous local food
- Chilli Crab (Singapore Dish)
- Bak Kut Teh (Singapore Dish- pork ribs soup)
- Hainanese Chicken Rice (Singapore Dish)
- Carrot Cake (not the regular sweet ones. It’s salty and doesn’t resemble a cake at all)
- Roti Prata (Indian food)
- Curry Fish Head (Singapore Dish)
- Yakun Kaya Toast (breakfast/tea place)
Hope it helps. Let me know if you got more questions and I will expand the list and go on from there. That's all for now! :)
Here's one from TDH on New Years Eve, definitely the last bad decision I made in 2015. A month had passed since and I had initially wanted to write an entry for it but got carried away by a bunch of stuff and life got in the way. Anyway since I am on a long flight now and I have some time to spare after watching this cycling movie (To The Fore) that a friend recommended, which turned out pretty good.. Here we go and bear with me, its gonna be long.
I have been to TDH Mountain (Tom Dick and Harry Mountain) a good number of times that I am pretty familiar with the route up. On this particular day, forecast was partially cloudy and would have been a good day to attempt the hike. Woke up at 2am and was supposed to meet up with Rami, Justin and Lance to head over to West Skibowl to start the hike. Alarm went off and checked my messages.. Justin bailed. Great. We continued as planned, drove towards Skibowl West, got a couple glimpse of Mount Hood looking extremely awesome throughout the drive and started the 5mile hike at about 4.30am. Weather forecast was still looking great, parked at Skibowl as the trailhead was closed and added probably another half mile or so to the hike.
The initial part of the hike to Mirror Lake was pretty easy, basically tons of footprints and no need for snowshoes. After mirror lake, we usually take the route towards the back and finally to the top of TDH. However, as we hiked a little more, I realized the usual route was not there anymore. I found this open area and decided that we could just ascend from the front instead. I had also heard a couple days ago that the trail up to the top has changed recently and thus initially thought it was a good idea. The climb became really steep and really deep fast and we put on our snowshoes and pushed on. Wind speed started to pick up, clouds started moving in and it started to snow or might have been just snow that got blew from the ground back into the air. Since we could kinda see the endpoint, we kept going in the brutal thigh deep snow all the way to the top and made it in record time! 6.45am way earlier than predicted, wasn't a good idea as it meant a longer wait in the cold. The mountain is now all covered in clouds/fog and we waited at a lower point among the trees as its ridiculously windy and cold up top. I ran up a couple times to check if things started to clear. Nope no luck and it's not surprising, I have been up there a bunch of times and probably only saw Mount Hood from TDH once or twice and there would always been a piece of cloud overhanging the top of Mount Hood. Then sunrise went by... Well it never happened or at least we never saw it happen and we were all packed (since technically we never unpacked) and all ready to go and I decided to head up one last time to check and lo and behold I saw the mountain through the cloud clearing, shouted for the Rami and Lance, while I fumbled with my own gear. When I managed to get my gear out, the clouds rolled in again. haha fml.
We packed and followed our initial snowshoes track to head back down and maybe a 100 feet down, we saw the mountain in between the trees. Lance stayed while Rami and I raced back up to the top. Stayed up top in that ridiculous wind, so strong I had to stay seated down and I had initially thought Iceland's wind was bad.. Eventually I got this photo handheld, you can probably see the wind blowing the snow really hard in the foreground trees. I started making my way down and I realized, Lance and Rami were gone. I see a fork on the snowshoes trail, and I took the right trail and later realize it leads to an open space with no trail which I still think it was the path we took up and the thigh trail was just all covered and erased in snow. I panicked and backtracked and took the left trail instead and started shouting their names. I found them maybe 30 mins later and realized they have been walking in circles as well. We started trying different trails that ascend and descend and eventually still brought us back to the same place. Extremely tired and demoralizing...
Eventually Rami decided that he wanted to try finding the usual trail we would take to get up from Mirror Lake and try to take that path down. which also means we got to snowshoe all the way back up the mountain before descending again. As we were going back up, I found a bar of service and called up Chelsea to let her know to get help if she doesn't hear from us in 2 hours as our phones are basically all dying from the cold. Also told Justin we were kinda lost. :D After some descending in the direction I think we should be going, I found a trail (kinda) and was extremely glad. Messaged Chelsea and Justin that we are back on track on our way down. Another 10 mins in, hey we are back on the same path we were before and I was extremely extremely demoralized by then. %#@$. We then decided to just go ahead bushwhacking and making a new trail towards the direction of Mirror Lake. We got to a big clearing which eventually lead to a cliff and I was like erm we should turn back, we gonna fall off that cliff. We went back to the open clearing, super exhausted, dug out three snow holes and sat in it and took a rest. I was kinda sweaty from the hike and stopping was definitely a bad idea as I would start shivering real fast. I found a spot with cell service but my phone was dead. Kept my phone in my gloves in an attempt to warm it up to revive it while Lance tried to called search and rescue with his limited battery life. Whenever I could revive my phone, I will take a picture of Mount Hood and a couple images of my surroundings with some description and send it to Justin. He has an extremely excellent sense of the area around Mount Hood and would roughly know where we were at which helps.
Rami was cold and went into the forest to get some shelter. Maybe 15 mins in, I heard some voices from above but I couldn't see anyone. Shouted back but I wondered if anyone really heard me. Maybe I wasn't loud enough or maybe I was just hearing voices haha (for the record Rami heard those voices too). After waiting a little longer, I felt a little cold and thought we should keep moving as it was going to get dark soon and I don't plan on staying there overnight. Lance was getting intermittent messages from Search and Rescue (SAR) and they asked stuff like..
- SAR: "are you lost?"
- SAR: "are you on the trail?"
- I guess not? if I was, I won't be lost?
- SAR: "call back in an hour."
- my phone has like 1% left… huh? really?
So we kinda slide down that extremely steep area and continued traveling in the direction I believed where Mirror Lake was at. Crossed multiple creeks and continued to push on. Lance then got another ping..
- SAR:"can you hear the sirens?"
- SAR: "keep walking.."
We later found out that the car was basically just by the freeway waiting. Rami kept walking and at this bend, we saw people above us. Awesomeee… Hikers that were making their way back from Mirror Lake. Rami shouted and asked if they could wait for us so we could head back on the trail. We basically had walked past Mirror Lake from a lower elevation and had missed it. One of them, Brett, came down and gave us some water, lifesaver! What a relief when we found the trail. *Humming Capital Cities' Safe + Sound* Probably another mile or so to go as we made our way down with Brett and his friends. When we made it out to the trailhead, there was a police officer waiting in the car, I believe that was the siren he was talking about. Anyway, glad to be safe. Crawled back to Lance's car and headed back, what an exciting day. :D Got frost nips from all my fingers which all became blisters after... and had awesome and WARM hotpot after at Brandon and Ting's place... Lesson learnt, buy a GPS... :P
Was given a set of Cokin Nuances from Cathy Photo a couple months back to test out. Been playing with it quite a bit but never got a chance to sit down to write an entry for it.
Used Cokin Z-Pro series holder a couple years back when I was using grads. I stopped using them after getting a d800 and could get most pictures all in one shot or I would do a quick blend with masks. Hence haven't used the holder much. Back when I used grads, I took most shots on a 16-35mm and they produce a non fixable vignette at 16mm and correctable vignetting at closer to 19-20mm.
I tried to make some adjustments to the filter holder, by unscrewing and adjusting the holder so it only takes 1 filter rather than the 3 slots that it allows. This still made a vignette at 16mm but pretty correctable at 17-18mm. I will add some pics of the change I did to the filter later. Recently, I mainly used this filter at 24mm.
The copy of this filter i got from Cathay Photo was 10 stops (2^10=1024) meaning a 1/1000 sec shot with the filter will be about 1 second. Meaning you can acquire a longer exposure. so normally if you were trying to achieve a longer exposure you would lower your iso to the lowest say iso50 and change the aperture to say f/22 (However, causes diffraction and would make your picture look soft) and that would probably be the limit to how long your shutter speed could go. You could then add a ND filter to extend this exposure time.
With the filter on, you probably will not be able to see much in the viewfinder if you looked, so what I would usually do is focus first and take a test shot. Using this exposure time, i will multiply 1024 to the time and flip it over to manual focus and insert the filter on the holder and change my shutter speed accordingly. Whenever I add a 10 stop, I am usually trying to blur the water or streak the clouds and I would usually go for a longer exposure.
While testing it, the filter has a slight correctable magenta color cast. There's is no light leak when used with the Cokin Z-pro filter holder, the holder has a stopper at the bottom and will also prevent the filter from falling out in the other direction. All in all I think it works really well and according to google a set of Cokin Nuances 10 stop will cost less than getting the Lee filter big stopper. Value for money! I will add more pictures and thoughts along the way as I get through processing them but here's a couple for a start.
Favorite moments of 2015. Tried to process all new images but i guess i failed terribly. Did what I could, sorry it will take a while to load, best viewed on iPhone. :) Hope you enjoy. Happy Holidays and of course Happy 2016! :)
January - Abraham Lake in Canadian Rockies known for its ice bubbles due to the lake freezing and methane gas release from the lake bed. At -39 (doesn't really matter if it's Fahrenheit or Celsius anymore) with wind chill one morning, it's one of the coldest place I have ever been to. While we were on the lake near The Belly, we were standing on ice maybe 10 inch thick (?) but we couldn't see the bottom of the lake. We could still see the water flowing below, snow storming hard as usual and we walked on snow covered ice. After a while we heard some ice cracking in a distance, packed our stuff and left the ice right away. After we left, I googled and apparently it's normal to hear cracking sound of ice during changing conditions. Still kind of creepy. :P
January - Woke up at 3.45am 2 days in a row to head over to Trillium Lake for a sunrise shot. Day 1, fogged in. and I remember Rami and Lance and I decided to not do the hike. Day 2, extremely clear. The forecast on both days were partially cloudy. Great! Haha so heres a shot of Trillium Lake with some reflections.
January - Headed to Lost Lake with Tula Top and Justin Poe. Also met Ben Coffman and Chip MacAlpine shooting stars and milkyway while we were there. The skies were totally clear this morning and as luck has it.. 30 mins before sunrise, fog started rolling in and covered the mountain and we never saw the mountain again. Alas. As usual, Master Justin Poe got the shot of the day with mountain reflections and all the goodies. I tried doing some telephoto stuff as the fog was rolling in and got this pic of this little cabin that I thought was kinda cool before it was engulfed by fog. :)
February - Milky Way without the Calories. From Mount St Helens where I got a speeding ticket for driving 7mph faster than the 25mph road limit. Hmmm Seriously? I guess. :(
February - Karl the Fog PDX Edition. If you are not familiar with that term, every year there's a period of time due to some atmospheric phenomena, there's a higher chance to spot fog over Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco and photographers will flock there when there's fog/visibility warning and somehow/someone named it, Karl. He even has his own Instagram account @karlthefog. But anyway this is probably my personal favorite pic of Portland with a similar concept, been chasing for these conditions for a long long time. Happened to get lucky finally. Naming it Ter the fog, Instagram account in the making @terthefog :D
February - After my (n+1)th time to this extremely famous viewpoint in Portland.. This is probably the only time when all the conditions came together in a single exposure. Fog + city lights + Mount Hood + awesome sky. Checked.
February - Was here again with Justin Poe couple weeks later and the iPhone version of this shot was 1 of the 4 that made it on Apple billboards as part of the shot on iPhone6 campaign.
March - Iceland probably deserve an entire separate entry on its own. Ran into the biggest snowstorm they had in a while right when I landed (how lucky as always), spend probably 2 nights sleeping in the parking lot of Hallgrímskirkja before I started going anywhere. *Nervous laugh* Met a group of Thais that drove over to Kirkjufell before the snowstorm started, they got stuck at Kirkjufell for the next 2 days too. Not sure if it's better to be stuck at Kirkjufell or Reykjavík, but I totally fell in love with the noodle station haha, warm bowl of Thai beef noodle soup in the snowstorm = comfort food. Had that for 3 meals in 2 days lol, it was that good. :D Though the weather is generally never very good over there, it's the nicest country I ever visited. I will be back. I will. Side tracked too much but I wanted a photo of rainbows with the falls, went back over and over and just didn't fall though, so I will live with this reflection pic for now while Ron Coscorrosa continues to troll and terrorize me with his massive NAS drive collection of rainbows from Skógafoss.
March - One of my most memorable night in Iceland when aurora was KP9. We were out in one of the ice caves in Vatnajökull that morning when I checked out the weather forecast. There was a predicted KP9 solar storm that evening and Kirkjufell was supposed to be totally clear all night! I think u could already guess what we did. We got into the car and drove 6 hours to cloudless Kirkjufell. We had initially planned to get there at about sunset, so that I can still scout around for a couple of good spots for the aurora.. But as luck would have it, we ran into a flat tire along the way about 20 mins away from Reykjavík. Spent the next hour or so calling the camper van company to get help in locating the tools, and trying to figure how to remove the spare tire from under the van. Of course, we missed sunset with all that time wasted. As we drove and it got darker, the sky lit up with faint hues of green and when we got to Kirkjufell, it was already totally dark. Called Piriya Wongkongkathep (yes, I do know how to spell his name off the cuff) for help as we groped around trying to find the waterfalls there. To my horror there were already 9571 people there, all in the frame. :P Set up my camera and sat around for the rest of the night, watching the spectacular KP9 show that waxed and waned, and feeling thankful we made it there safely. :)
March - Spend almost 2 weeks in Iceland, not even enough. :) Definitely my favorite waterfalls in Iceland. The blue glacier water is real pretty.
March - The waves in Iceland are pretty scary. One of these waves crashed and almost took me out into the ocean with all my gear... Glad nothing serious happened.
April - Camera buttons had some issues for a while now.. Was deciding between sending it for repair and hoping that it would arrive before the Iceland trip or pray that the camera will not fail in Iceland. Went with the latter and was glad it survived Iceland. Here's one of those times I shot with my old d700 this year. Liked it quite abit and went back multiple times after I got my d800 back from Nikon but the pear blossoms were past peak. Postcard shots of Hood River, Oregon.
April - I spent countless mornings at Rowena Crest this year with Rami Jabaji and Lance Rudge and was lucky to get away without any nasty tick encounters. As pretty as these wild flowers are, I'd be ticked off if I had any bites from those buggers. :D
April - A morning hike to this mist machine with Lance Rudge. Butt slide most the way down the side of this sketchy hill all the way to the bottom. The poison oak on the side of "the trail" always make me paranoid I will land face down on them. :X
May - Rolling Hills of Palouse. Ran into Chip Phillips here running a workshop that morning. As usual, this is one of those places that's not close to anywhere on the map, probably made famous by Chip Phillips sets of ridiculous good images from here. Google it, you will be wowed. It's not on the way to anywhere but if you do go though, stop by Palouse Falls, it's great. By the way, I don't mean stop by, I probably meant take a 1 or 2 hours detour from the state park. :p
May - This juggernaut falls has so much spray coming off from the 207 ft waterfall its impossible to keep the lens dry.. I came back later in December too scroll below :D
May - Camera was in the shop again. Another d700 in action attempt at fairy falls.
June - This was one of the highlights from my short roadtrip to California with Rami. For several reasons, I have always skipped this waterfall; it's out of the way, requires walking on some train tracks, involves parking issues and the list of excuses goes on. Anyway, after skipping this numerous times, Rami decided to pull a last minute road trip and I just hopped on the bus. As usual, it's not the easiest place to access, but the place felt like the California Zoo by the time we left. Definitely drop by if you are ever in the area. It's worth it.
June - Another one of those nice lakes in Oregon that Jan Boitz pointed out to me at the top of South Sister. Back then I been there a couple times but every time its so foggy/overcast that I never saw anything from there. So sometime late last summer, I was actually up top that mountain in the distance on the left. Good times. :)
June - Thought it looked like a dinosaur foot and since I am watching Jurassic World back then I thought it was appropriate. I almost got a rainbow here ALMOST but yup it didn't fall through, spend the next 10 mins @#$%& and I left this place totally drenched and soaked. Usual :D
June - Here's my personal favorite waterfalls in Oregon that we visited due to bad weather along the Oregon coast over the weekend and made some changes in our plan. Still remember my first time here when I left with quite a bit of damage. Slipped, fell, damaged gear, drowned a remote, ripped pants and a couple deep cuts. A year or so later, I have probably been back 3 or 4 times now and the falls has definitely changed alot probably due to higher water flows at some point. I always wanted to show the sense of scale for this giant mist machine. Hope I was successful in conveying that here. This pic also won the water category this year of Oregon Wild Outdoor photo contest. Credit goes to Rami who helped me wipe my lens and triggered.
June - Was in Redwood National Park one morning shooting this lone rhododendron and a giant truck pulled over and 2 photographers got out, Sarah Marino and Ron. Pretty awesome morning chat, didn't walk away with any light beams but here's a foggy picture from those GIANT trees.
June - Ancient tree at Crater Lake. If you look hard enough, you can probably see wizard island in the distance. Walked to this tree and saw 2 other photographers, happened to be Brian Adelberg (days before his baby was due!) and Brian Kibbons.
July - Another road trip to Rainier cos Sarah decided to buy a last minute ticket up here for the weekend. Called up Rami for a last minute trip out and somehow things all worked out. Clear skies through the trip but wildflowers were looking awesome and at peak. Here's one from sunset.
July - Two of my favorites things, red and lone tree. What not to like about it Haha.
August - Went back to Banff again in the summer! Moraine Lake still had me in awe, nonetheless; imagine 10 giant peaks towering over an emerald lake, with layers of pine trees skirting the lake, alpenglow, reflections and all the good stuff. I could probably just sit around the lake and do nothing but admire it all day, but we had to check out Lake Louise and had to move on.
August - Peyto Lake is yet another postcard-perfect place and the lake’s captivating turquoise color (screams Jasmine Loke) can be attributed to the sediments of the melting glacier. The lake’s milky-blue color varies, depending on season and time of day. The intense color of the lake is incredibly charming, and I reckon I should have taken a telephoto abstract shot of a small part of the lake. Ah well, next time maybe. :)
August - Located in some remote canyon. At some time in the day, the arch glows from the reflected sun light off the canyon wall behind. I always classify pictures into 2 categories; looks good in photos and looks good in person. The 1st category basically just means it involves some form of photography technique; isolation of subject, reflection by going really low, perspective, telephoto or something along those lines. The 2nd category needs no further elaboration, basically looks good when you are seeing it. This place belongs to the latter, the glow is UNREAL.
August - On the verge of a 3000 feet drop above Colorado River. Yeap, that's me looking for cell signal.
September - Got a bunch of ridiculous sunset in Portland during the month of September. Was late for a really great one and missed a bunch. Looking through those from that week and I liked this one the most. With Rami and Justin again. Justin used to hate cityscape, probably still do but I made him starts shooting Dudu and I am proud of it. 10 stops 5 mins exposure. Single shot. :)
October - So Portland Japanese Garden was closed this year, had to find an alternative. :)
October - Was here for another rainbow attempt again. Saw this strip of sunlight that was illuminating downtown Portland.
November - My favorite series of iPhone pictures, all from the Subway hike in Zion National Park, Utah. I could hardly convince people that its all shot on iPhone.. but the next 3 images are all #ShotOniPhone6.
This happened the night when we saw this weird UFO cloud in the sky, greenish/purplish probably due to light pollution. Later got tweeted and hashtagged all over the place. Apparently, was Navy Trident II (D5) missile test flight off the coast of Southern California. Here's a selfie from that night.
November - one of the coolest hike I have ever done and had wanted to do for a long time. Spot the hikers all along the trail to the top! :D the guy with the blue bag is Pete Pattano.
November - Wanted to do this for a while now but conditions never quite worked out. Costed me an umbrella but I guess it was kinda worth it. :P Rainy morning with Lance and Rami and met Adrain Klein at the falls.
December - Headed out to FCF with Lance and Rami, half hoping the gate will not be closed. Alas didnt get too lucky there. That gate added 4 unncessary miles to the hike in the not so awesome ice and slush. The consistent rain didnt help the situation at all. We were about 4 day late from prime, may look pretty and all but I got 3 word; cold, wet and miserable. Haha. Got to 2 miles before the trailhead, seeing the icy scene and i realized i had forgotten my spikes.. Opps. Stole one side of Rami's spike during the hike and when I got here, precariously slide around those slick ice to get to the edge for the selfie. :) Cold, wet and miserable but I guess it was still a pretty scene!
December - Opted for 3 extra hours of sleep and skipped TDH Mountain (Tom Dick and Harry Mountain) this morning met up with Justin and Rami and got here with 3 addition hours of sleep. Pretty awesome until.. I fell in the water. lol also my current wallpaper :D
December - Seen a bunch of pics and travel blogs of Christ the Redeemer but I never thought I will see it in person. Foggy rainy but definitely very cool. I guess we managed to skip the crowd, when I tried to purchase the tickets at the counter in Copacabana (the world famous 4km balneario beach), the lady at the counter warned us "0 visibility" and after buying the ticket, she placed a big fat stamp in red on the tickets that reads "ZERO visibility" that was kinda funny. I guess I managed to skip the crowd, saw a bunch of Taiwanese up there as I was leaving, definitely didn't see much Asians the entire trip. Pretty rare IMO for a popular tourist spot.
December - Iguazu Falls, 2nd largest waterfall in the world, definitely made Niagara Falls look tiny. Was in the middle of some rainstorm during the time we were there, hence the large amount of tea flowing through the Iguazu river (i meant muddy water). There's a boardwalk that brings you to Devil's Throat on the bottom right of the picture. Comes with a free muddy water shower. haha took a walk on the boardwalk, other than being completely soaked, we could barely see anything :D
December - Since Iguazu river runs between Brazil and Argentina, going over to Argentina sounded like a good idea :P
December - Glimpse of Heaven. :D also one of my favorite pics from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I really like how the clouds formed a ring around Corcovado Mountain (It means hunchback and apparent when you see the mountain from Vista Chinesa which I didn't end up seeing anything due to the fog) with Christ the Redeemer at the top. Might also be one of my personal favorites from 2015 and hence kept it for the last.
Got a bunch of questions about the Elowah Elowah Elowah shot I posted a couple weeks ago, thought I will make a post on it. This comp belongs to one of my favorite landscape photographer, Marc Adamus.
Here goes... Basically my base exposure (top left) was shot at f11 iso400. Kinda liked those small little swirls on the right of the reflection from the water splashes from the ridiculous amount of flow from the falls. I wanted to keep the splashes frozen as always.
2nd exposure was shot polarized to remove the polarized part in the foreground and also have a longer water falls exposure. Shot was also at 1/1.6s f13 iso200 hyperfocus.
The final shot was a stack for the trees with a 1/200s f5.6 and iso800. Fast shutter speed was to freeze the foliage and not to have motion blur.
After multiple wipe shot rinse repeat of maybe 50 shots I got a couple of clean exposures to make the shot work. Hopefully this helps. :)
Thankful and excited to be part of the latest Apple World Gallery, especially after seeing the awesome pictures on Apple's #ShotoniPhone6 campaign back in March. I would love to visit all the places that feature my pics and take a #selfie with all of them but that is not too feasible. If you happen to see any of the 4 pictures somewhere, grab a picture of it and send them to me pleaseee. terenceleezy(at)gmail(dot)com My friends have caught sight of them on billboards in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Canada, Dubai, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Thailand and of course Singapore. I am trying to look for the pics worldwide (I believe they are also available in print as well), and I will update my blog entry whenever I have a chance. Thanks everyone for the help in advance!
Published on 9 Aug on Straits Times, Singapore
Published on 10 Aug on Straits Times Life D8-D9, Singapore
Featured on Stuff.TV
Featured on Apple's Website :)
Featured on 500px
Got a bunch of questions about Iceland and I thought I will just write up answers to questions that people have asked and I will add along the way..
Itinerary. I didn't have one but I knew where I wanted to check out and I plan according to weather. I will add a map of the places i checked out and also the places I hope I had went. some places off my head in counter clockwise direction on the map.
- Reykjavík (city)
- the usual golden circle (all the good stuff)
- Brúarfoss (my fav waterfall in Iceland)
- Vík (beach, church)
- Vatnajökull Ice cave (in the winter, more below)
- Skógafoss (waterfall)
- Seljalandsfoss (waterfall)
- Jökulsárlón (glacier lagoon AND ice beach) check both out!
Places that I didn't get a chance to go due to the severe storm/lack of time..
- Gljúfurárfoss (hidden waterfall near Seljalandsfoss)
- Höfn (Vesturhorn or batman mountain)
- Sólheimasandur DC-3 Plane Crash (heard its gated now, 2km walk one way)
- Goðafoss (waterfall)
- Hvítserkur (the famous sea troll)
- and of cos the highlands/fjords that are only accessible when its not winter.
Accommodation/Car. To keep things simple and flexible as we wanted to catch aurora and headed towards clear sky every night, we rented a camper van and basically slept in the car. The car is pretty well equipped and I will post pics to illustrate that better later. We could cook simple meals and sleep in a bed in the car. I went with Happy Campers and was really happy with them and would definitely rent from them again when I head back again sometime. Great service also note they only have Manual/Stick shift. They have pillows and blankets but I opted to bring my own sleeping bag and pillow for comfort :) Check them out at http://www.happycampers.is/ One thing to plan ahead though, they do airport pickup to their rental place but they can drop you off at the main bus terminal in Reykjavík and u can get a bus ticket all the way to the airport. Those bus runs every hour I believe so plan ahead (free wifi onboard)! :)
Showering. It was kinda cold. We basically showered every other day at local pools. There's plenty of those swimming pools/ thermal pools around and you can get a "showering facility" for less than 10 bucks a per entry. I don't mean showering in the swimming pool.. They have hot water showers available. http://www.swimminginiceland.com/
Wifi/Hotspot. I got my wifi dongle from http://iceland.trawire.com/ came up to about 10 usd a day. they can deliver and drop off at happy camper for no additional cost. hence no hassle. Unlimited data for instagramming. unbeatable LOL. Service was actually pretty good all over Iceland, there was a couple of blind spots here and there but at most places u will have 4g network. I did look up other companies like Vodafone for wifi but they didn't offer micro sim back then and i would need to use my old unlocked iphone.
Electricity and charging. I had 9 DSLR batteries. I got a 300w battery inverter and also a car cigarette socket dual splitter. one for battery charging and one for gps. and several usb socket on those to give u enough juice on ur cellphones and the trawire wifi dongle. And one addition note.. remember to unplug ur power before leaving the car/sleeping or the charging will just keep running and u know what will happen after. :p Didn't happen to me but happened to a friend and I was pretty careful about it when I was there. I also tested it and somehow the cigarette lighter socket doesn't disconnect power when the car engine is off/car key removed.
Aurora. I basically checked for predicted clear skies every night and drive in that direction for the day. I saw aurora 5 of 8 non stormy days we were there. I was there for a total of 11 days but was stormed in Reykjavík for 3 days lol. I used this for cloud cover check and I found it really accurate during the time I was there. http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/cloudcover/
Ice Cave. There's 3 big companies that does the tours. I went with http://www.localguideofvatnajokull.com/ book early. I mean WAY early. My trip was basically planned around available space in the ice cave tour. haha.
Diving. More on this later. I wanted to do the Silfra fissure dive. Did some research and booked it. Things didn't work out as planned. Hence didn't do it in the end.
Hope it helps. Let me know if you got more questions and I will expand the list and go on from there. For the record, Iceland probably the most awesome place I ever been to. And yes i will be back! :)
An entry on some of my favorite moments of 2014. I hope you enjoy - if they did not manage to amaze you, I hope that they at least entertained you a bit! The view at many of these places is just so breathtaking that photos don’t do them 100% justice. But I try my best to capture what I see so that I can share nature’s beauty with everyone. Happy Holidays and Happy 2015! :)
I had mentioned in another blog entry that I am not big on camping/backpacking, but yet I went again the past week to Canada. This marks my 2nd backpacking trip in a span of just 2 weeks? I figured I could still do this while I am young (well, below 30 is young, right?), before I regret it later on.
This time, we headed over to Mount Assiniboine with a short side trip to Banff National Park. The first day we were at Banff, the weather wasn't too cooperative, as clouds enshrouded the sky and it rained all day. We covered most of the major Banff landmarks (or rather, lake-marks) in a day – did a ho hum sunrise at Lake Louise, followed by Moraine Lake, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Herbert Lake, Banff Viewpoint and ended off the day at Two Jack Lake with a very unmemorable sunset. The next morning, I drove over to Moraine Lake for sunrise from Canmore, and while it was totally foggy, I suppose I needed to see it for myself. So that rounded up my short stay at Banff National Park. Here are some photos of 2 of my favorite places in Banff National Park.
If you Google “Moraine Lake”, you’d get a ton of photos that are breathtakingly beautiful, to say the least. I’ve seen photos of Moraine Lake so many times I thought I’d be desensitized when I finally see it in person. But what did I know? It had me in awe, nonetheless; imagine 10 giant peaks towering over an emerald lake, with layers of pine trees skirting the lake. I could probably just sit around the lake and do nothing but admire it all day, but the rain pelted down on us and we had to move on.
Peyto Lake is yet another postcard-perfect place and the lake’s captivating turquoise color can be attributed to the sediments of the melting glacier. The lake’s milky-blue color varies, depending on season and time of day. The intense color of the lake is incredibly charming, and I reckon I should have taken a telephoto abstract shot of a small part of the lake. Ah well, next time maybe.
And off we headed to backpack at Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. When we got there, the skies were overcast again and we hiked towards the campsite in the rain. After we’d pitched our tents, we went out to scout for a sunset spot. We didn't get a decent sunset but instead got a ton of wind to chill our bones. However, the saving grace was definitely our meals. We had pretty amazing Thai food for dinner made by our Thai chef, Por (she's a real chef at a Thai restaurant), who’d flew in from Brisbane for this trip.
The next morning we did sunrise at Lake Magog, where we met Justin Renzik and his friends. First light at Lake Magog was pretty awesome and it was probably the only day we saw some clouds. Mt Assiniboine rises above Lake Magog and because of its pyramidal shape, Mt Assiniboine is often known as the “Matterhorn” of North America. I have yet to see the real Matterhorn, but after seeing Mt Assiniboine, I am itching to see the real deal.
We then scouted a couple more lakes for the night’s milkyway photos before going heading back for lunch. After a re-energizing lunch, we started our hike up to Nub Peak. The trail is segmented into various levels of elevation that have rather endearing names: Nub, Niblet, Nublet and Nub Peak (in ascending order). The hike was relatively easy with moderate elevation gain all the way to Nublet, but things got choppy thereafter. From Nublet to Nub Peak, it gets pretty sketchy when you hike past a ridge and start hugging the Nub from the left. Some parts of the trail are basically narrow paths that drop vertically on the left – lose your footing and that’s it. Though Nub Peak is the highest point on the trail, most people get their sunset shots from either Niblet or Nublet. I have seen a shot by Kevin McNeal taken from Nub Peak and decided to check it out myself. After ruffling my nerves quite a bit, I made it up to Nub Peak unscathed. I only took a couple of shots before sunset and rushed back to Nublet for sunset. I made it just in time for sunset and met everyone else at Nublet. It was a clear, cloudless sunset at Nublet, but in my opinion, Nublet offers the best views of the 4 lakes (Lake Magog, Sunburst Lake, Cerulean Lake, and Elizabeth Lake) and Mt Assiniboine, so I enjoyed shooting there.
After sunset, we rushed down to one of the smaller lakes that we had scouted earlier for milkyway shots. It was a really jam-packed and productive day, before we headed back to base to rest for the night. The next morning, we did sunrise at a few of the smaller lakes that we’d found the previous day. It was a fine day for crystal clear reflections from the lack of wind but the caveat was that the sky was also crystal clear (read: cloudless). We hung out around the lakes for a bit before heading back to pack up. As they always say, all good things come to an end, and this was it. I am back in transit to PDX and yes, I am going back to work tomorrow. It was a short trip but nevertheless, a memorable one. Yet another one of nature’s gems checked! :)
Always wanted a shot of Portland with a little rainbow in the background. So when it started pouring yesterday in Hillsboro, I decided to take a drive down to Pittock Mansion. When I was driving down 26, the rain got heavier and heavier but I could see a full double rainbow in front of me. Once I got to Pittock Mansion, I realized I forgot my f-stop rain cover for my backpack and I also forgot my trusty waterproof Columbia jacket. Great. Got out of the car in a GAP hoodie and walked to the viewpoint in the pouring rain. Got there and saw nothing and no one in sight, as always. Hung out for a while as I get drenched. Couple of 5 mins passed, nothing happened and I was about to give up and head home. Just as I was about to leave, I saw the sun peaked out from the clouds. Double Rainbow at Pittock Mansion, Checked! Sometimes I do get lucky I guess, Happy Tuesday! :)
One of the seasons that I look forward to is fall, as the warm summer tapers off to cooler temperatures, and the parched foliage gets cloaked in vivid hues of yellow, orange and red for a fleeting couple of weeks. The confluence of stunning fall colors seem to exist to cajole us into the subsequent colder days, and for photographers, fall is undoubtedly the season to capture nature's blazing palette before everything turns monotone during the frigid winter.
This fall I headed over to Colorado for some fall foliage photos. I've heard so much about how amazing the aspen trees there look in fall, and they definitely didn't disappoint. I spent about three days around Aspen and Crested Butte, both places about 4 hours away from Denver. The roads were often flanked by beautiful foliage of golden leaves interspersed with dark green spruce trees, so it was a really scenic drive throughout.
We arrived late at night on Thursday and drove straight to Aspen for 4 hours or so. It was about 5am when we got to Maroon Lake, but to our surprise, the lake was already littered with photographers. As a fellow photographer we met later on so aptly put it, "it was like the whole of humanity was at the lake!" My guesstimate is that there were about 87 photographers that morning? It was definitely dicey, jostling for a prime spot.
When the sun finally peeked out, I could see why the place is so sort after. As the first light bathed the tips of the peaks, the citrine aspen groves around the lake began to slowly reveal their true colors (pun intended!), unraveling a postcard perfect scene. The insane congregation of photographers was also affirmed as the sun came out.
While the early morning light provides a softer feel of Maroon Bells, some people prefer the stronger light later in the day. Both perspectives have their strengths – early morning reflections are more pristine, while mid-day light accentuates the contrast of the fall colors.
I have seen aspen trees around where I live before, but never in this magnitude and grandeur. When the wind blows, the sight of the aspen leaves rustling is reminiscent of shimmering golden coins. It was a real treat to drive alongside gilded hills of aspen.
We spent the weekend weaving through roads that were inundated by rolling hills of autumn colors. While not everywhere was peak, as there were still patches of summer’s green foliage, the array of colors underscores the brevity of fall’s glory.
We were lucky that the weather wasn’t adverse that weekend, though it took a turn for the worse on the day we left. I am back in rainy Portland now, and the leaves have yet to turn color, but the splendid gold rush I had experienced in Colorado has already made my autumn complete.
I had the opportunity to visit Tombstone Territorial Park in Yukon, Canada last week, together with a bunch of avid photographers, who had come from all over the world for this trip. While Tombstone does not have the commonplace reputation of other famous Parks such Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Tombstone is fervently touted as a Holy Grail destination amongst landscape photographers – its pristine wilderness of rugged peaks, permafrost landforms and subarctic tundra valleys make for sublime landscape shots.
Personally, I am not a big fan of camping, so I must admit I really wasn't keen on the trip at first blush. I felt like it would be testing waters that may be too deep for me, and so I was pretty reluctant to dive into it when Piriya first asked me to join in the trip. While I hesitated quite a bit, I am glad I eventually decided to go for it. The breathtaking views and unadulterated landscape of Tombstone left me in awe, and while I cannot describe in words what I saw and felt during those days I was there, I hope to do justice to the awesome place with my photos and modest write-up here.
The trip started off with a side trip to Juneau, Alaska, to visit the Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves. I managed to find a relatively cheaper way to get to Yukon via Juneau, so I figured I might as well leverage the chance to seek out some new ice caves there, before heading to Yukon. We set off for a morning hike to the ice caves before sunrise, wanting to avoid the crowds. We spent half the day exploring the caves, and because it was my second time there, I was on the lookout for new ice caves to photograph. Even though it was my second trip to the caves, I was still very much amazed by the caves. The sculpted interiors and the range of blues inside the caves continue to captivate me.
The ice caves that I saw just 2 months ago had melted so much in such a short time that I could barely recognize it. The trite warnings of global warming and whatnot suddenly felt so real and daunting, when faced with the melting and ever-changing glaciers of Mendenhall. Determined to make the best of our trip to the receding glacier, we spent a good amount of time in the caves, before hiking back to Downtown Juneau. The day ended with our usual fare of Alaskan king crabs at Tracy’s King Crab Shack. :)
We then continued our journey from Juneau, Alaska to Skagway, Alaska along the Alaskan Marine Highway, followed by a long bus ride from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon. And after another 8 hours drive we finally arrived at Dawson City, Yukon. It was definitely a long journey to get to Yukon, but like they always say, no pain, no gain?
We spent a night in Dawson City before heading to Tombstone. I had my first encounter with northern lights at Dawson City! The sky was alight was a pretty intense green glow, and it felt so surreal to be standing below the vastness of the sky that was painting a luminescent green picture in the middle of the night.
The next day marked the start of our 5 days backpacking trip into Tombstone Territorial Park. We flew in by helicopter, and spent 2 days at Divide Lake and 3 days at Talus Lake. Being out there for 5 days without cell service and wifi is something I am not too familiar with. I must say it's quite a good break from the hustle and bustle of the world beyond where we where, as we basically had the entire place to ourselves.
The weather at Tombstone can only be described as tempestuous. The weather was all sunny on the first day when we did our hike from Talus Lake to Divide Lake. So far so good, right? Not really. After setting up our tents at Divide Lake, it started to cloud over and soon it started pouring for the next 12 hours. The rain slowly turned into freezing rain and it eventually started to snow for the next 24 hours. I struggled to keep warm with layers, but the wind chill was debilitating. The predicted weather forecast of 0 to 15 degrees Celsius took a nosedive to range from -10 to 0 degrees Celsius instead.
Armored with only a base layer, a fleece, a windbreaker shell and some running gloves, I was in for a chilly hike that made the movie Frozen feel so familiar to me at that point, hah. We hiked back to Talus Lake in the snow, and the snow peppered terrain that we last saw bare looked vastly different, in a better way. The snow accentuated the ragged peaks, and the frosty veneer added depth to the tundra valleys. While we were definitely unhinged by the cold, we were also very excited by the prospect of shooting the alluring scape before us. And so we spent the next 3 days out and about Talus Lake, enduring the frigid weather to get the best shots.
During our trip, we were very conscientious when it came to monitoring aurora activity. On our 3rd night we had set our alarm hourly to check for aurora activity. Piriya got out of his tent at 1 am and shouted "Aurora! Aurora!" That got me all excited and I ran out of my tent, and was overwhelmed by the sky that was filled with green bands of dancing light. I was mesmerized by the orchestra of green waves, and watched them as they waxed and waned against the velvety night sky. I don’t think I would ever forget that moment.
Our basic itinerary went along these lines: day hike, eat, sleep, scout for sunrise and sunset spots, eat and sleep. The cycle repeated itself for the 5 days we were there. The cold began to take its toll on us, as the 4th and 5th day was just too cold for everyone. The lakes had all froze over, and everything that had moisture became frosty; our clothes, our water, even our lashes. Even so, we pressed on through sunrises and sunsets, and stayed up for some aurora action at night. It was almost miserable, but the remarkable landscapes in Tombstone more than made up for it.
Coincidentally, we bumped into the all time esteemed landscape photographer, Marc Adamus. It was a pleasure meeting him! Some of us were a little starstruck meeting him, hah. Here's a pic of the group (missing 1) with Marc Adamus.
Top 5 highlights of the trip in no specific order.
1. Aurora encounters
2. Meeting Marc Adamus
3. Camping food never tasted this good. I was very blessed to be camping with these folks, as they were really good cooks (especially Sara). We had awesome Thai food during when we were camping out in Tombstone, and I would do well to recruit them for future camping trips :p
4. The insanely picturesque landscapes of Tombstone Territorial Park
5. Finally, a shout out to the most awesome companions for the trip!
Just some rough edits and previews on the go while heading back to PDX. More pics to come! Totally looking forward to work tomorrow.. NOT. :P
Coupled with alpenglow on Mount Hood, got some luck with the supermoon rising above the overcasted Portland skies. Happy Mid Autumn Festival Everyone! :)
Off to Yukon. Here's one from the ice cave in Juneau that I visited again yesterday. The glacier retreating and melting is so so real. I was here standing at the exact same spot 2 months ago and the amount the ice changed is ridiculous. The cave also lost a big part of the entrance about a month ago and a couple smaller caves we found the last time has melted so much and their entrances are way bigger. It's so amazing yet scary.
Juneau, miss ya so much and I am back! Did a morning hike yesterday to Mendenhall Glacier to search for some new ice caves and found a couple. Travelled quite abit of distance today. Juneau -> Haines -> Skagway -> Whitehorse.
Btw Happy long weekend everyone! More updates later.. Stay tuned! :)
Finally saw Rainier's reflection from Reflection Lake. Was here last year and the winds was too strong for an reflection to form. Thought of using the tree and the wildflowers to form an inverted V. Also met ART WOLFE! What an exciting morning! :)
This shot was taken about an hour before sunset and 10 mins before a thunderstorm came by, stayed around soaking us all and we had to hide behind a big rock as lightning was way too close for comfort in the open fields.. Didn’t get too lucky with the weather at Glacier National Park 3 days of rain and 1 day of thunderstorm. Hence had to find comps that didn’t include the overcasted sky and here’s one shot of me at the bottom of triple falls trying to get it without the sky. Will be back again someday and photos to come soon. :)
ps. does this place remind anyone of Keller Fountain? :p