Scenes from my last trip to Costa Rica for the foreseeable future

this costa rican hermit crab from playa superfaraway, at the service limits of our brave kia subcompact, possessed a feisty and defiant attitude to go with its unusual home;

we left footprints

before eating chuletas in the watchful presence of the neighborhood chickens;

i have no images of the drive to alajuela, but it was eventful; here is a church;

Add caption, indeed;

i think this is the gulf coast of texas,

and whoa, flashback, another hermit crab, this one more private;

here i add to my fine collection of wing pictures, and this one i like a lot;

one of these does not belong with the rest,

but while we're at it, another city: dallas.

goodbye, alajuela. goodbye, costa rica.


September 10th, 2011

Ten years ago today, I was doing some homework for my Spanish class at 8 a.m. the following morning, a class that would begin in one world and end in another.


No more lens tilting

Just kidding. A bunch more shots.

Owl's Head Park, Bay Ridge

 Balcony and backyard, Williamsburg

  Bedford and S 9th, Williamsburg

Roof, Williamsburg

Shore Parkway and the Verrazano-Narrows


Just a couple more

My dear car managed to get itself into that last picture.

Full tilt

After my first and only nighttime scuba diving experience, I told anyone who would listen that "I will never again dive during the day." That is how I currently feel about my tilt-enabled Frankencamera setup (NEX-5, EzFoto tilt Pentax K adapter, various Pentax primes): I will never again take a photo with my lens perpendicular to the film/sensor plane.

And you will endure more pictures taken from my windows. Williamsburg looks ripe for a visit from Godzilla.

Regarding the NEX-5, a few words short of a review: yes, the interface is weird and annoying. It needs a physical dial or two. It is freaky looking. But these annoyances cannot eclipse the joy of having a proper APS-C-sized sensor with serious high ISO skillz in a tiny little body, especially now that I can use any of my SLR lenses on it, with the option of tilting each and every one of them. I realize that I am geeking out a little right now, but the current situation is a couple of minor complaints away from camera bliss.

Tilt photography

is totally awesome. Here is some good stuff. Tilting the lens just a few degrees can have a miniaturizing effect on landscapes and cityscapes. I have always wanted a tilt lens for my Pentax, but they are hard to find and rather expensive.

Recently, as I was surfing the web in pursuit of a Pentax K mount to Sony Alpha E adapter, I came across a reasonably priced model that also tilted. I thought to myself: each K-mount lens in my current possession has just become a tilt lens.

Here it is, between my NEX and an old Pentax-M f/1.4 50mm:

I am not sure if you can see the tilt, but the lens is pointing slightly up. That's how you get pictures to look like this.

That is, by the way, a handheld shot at ISO 1600. It helps that the f/1.4 lens is wide open. The NEX is pretty awesome at high sensitivity. I am going to have a lot of fun with this setup.

Not handheld:

The miniaturizing effect is really strong in the above shot of the corner playground.

For comparison, here's what the neighborhood looks like through untilted eyes:

ISO 3200, handheld at twilight. Color noise in the sky, yeah yeah, but it's way better low-light capability than I've ever had before. I think it looks good enough for me. I am loving pictures right now.


What you know about Alaska is wrong

That is, dear reader, if you are anything like yours truly, whose prior exposure to Alaska had been a few hours spent in the state capital slurping air terminal udon noodles on my way to or from Seoul, Korea. But even that is wrong, since the state capital is actually Juneau and not Anchorage.

It turns out that real people live in Alaska, and at least in Anchorage they do "normal" American things like working, going to the movies and getting groceries at giant supermarkets.

Alaska also has roads, though apparently not very many. The few that exist wind through a landscape larger and more jagged than this Mid-Atlantic East Coaster is used to.

After some time, even the Anchorage locals reveal themselves to be rugged frontierspeople under a thin cloak of civility. For example, a typical Alaskan hors d'oeuvres consists of a whole stuffed moose heart stitched up like a Victorian reanimation experiment and baked in the oven. Rumor is that they hunt these giant beasts on mountain bikes using fishing nets and a deadly gaze, but I did not witness the killing myself.

I should mention that the visit was centered around the wedding of Laura and Oscar, the former a good college friend of Ginna. The wedding was at Cooper Landing, a couple of hours south of Anchorage. I would post pictures of the wedding and all the wonderful people I met, but the event and its participants has been sufficiently documented elsewhere in these great InterWebs.

Laura and Oscar, along with their semi-tamed direwolf named Chino, hosted us. It may look docile in this photo, but I am told that it eats grizzly cubs for breakfast. Ginna looks blissfully unaware of any danger.

I hope this has been informative. Alaska is awesome.

Is that a heart emerging from the clouds? Alaska is full of love.

P.S. Yes, I have been gone awhile. No apologies. More to come.


Summer, etc.

This may be difficult to believe, dear reader, but during my absence from this journal I managed to find a moment or two away from the citrus groves, freeing my mind, if only for a few minutes, from the obsessive concerns of a common farmer, whose livelihood depends on the whims of the weather, and perhaps the exposure of his living room.

Rather than subject you to the tedium of a full show-and-tell, I present to you a picture or thirty with some snide comments thrown in for kicks, organized into chapters. I suppose that makes it a full show-and-tell. But you will enjoy it, god damn it.

I. Beijing

China has been blessed with ample reserves of flexibility and balance.



Neerav, aren't you vegetarian?

II. Summer

Ginna's old-school Jamis Dakota AL was a Craigslist special. Look at those vintage Judy XCs. Sure, the cartridge blew and leaked oil all over the place, and the elstomers are mush, but just look at them. Awesome.

Jumping at Fort Tilden on the hottest day of the summer in NYC.

Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

The twilight lasted for what seemed like hours.

In the moonlit night we took long exposure shots.

Sometimes the camera sees more than you do, and you are glad for it.

Then we went north into the Bay of Fundi, where ...

... extreme tides have carved extraordinary shapes out of the rocky coastal bluffs.

Franconia Ridge, New Hampshire.

III. The Wedding of Eunnie and Eric

Is there any experience more wonderful and humbling than the wedding of your little sister?