Sep 25, 2010

Tasty's in Tokyo

Of course we had Sushi. It's a law, I think. I was also fed soba noodles which are delightfully gluten-free (made from buckwheat, which isn't wheat at all), and also all kinds of tasty meats (like this eel) and veggies. If you've never had those little tiny spiky cucumbers they grow in Asia, you're missing out. They are so crispy!

Here's Kona chowing down.

 Dinner was Sushi. My hosts were more than happy to buy a nice sushi dinner at their companies expense. Who am I to complain?

This is our chef...getting the food ready (he's not really cooking, cause, you know, it's sushi; should he even be called a chef?). It tasted better than it looks here. The room temperature feel of it, however wasn't my favorite part.

 Pretty good presentation, though! The two pink ones at 3:00 were the most expensive pieces, I'm told. They were very smooth feeling and tasted pretty good. Actually they all tasted pretty good. Actually they all tasted pretty much the same...the textures were different, however.

 The Salmon eggs weren't bad, but I really didn't see what the trout get all excited about. These were on a California roll (I know, in Japan!) and that was a nice way for me to enjoy them. The other eggs, at 5:00 in the above picture with a black band, were not so nice for me. They were okay, but they felt like little tiny styrofoam balls in my mouth. That's the only dish I was served twice in Japan. Wouldn't you know?

I just thought these silver skinned fish should get a close up. They were also very smooth, and the skin was not chewy, as I was afraid it would be. Plus it's shiny. Ooooh.

This is a mushroom pudding with fishy tofu stuff in the bottom. It was very good. Why can't I get the good stuff twice?

"How about some White Fish?" Why not--I like whitefish in the states--caught fresh from the Snake River...mmmm. Maybe they'll even cook it with lemon.

Oh, wait: sushi joint. Right. Well, they're not exactly what I would keep if I was fishing. At least you don't have to gut them.

And then dessert. It's like Jell-O, but a little harder.  And not that sweet. And it has green fuzz. It is tasty, though.

Anyway, it was fun to eat there. Always an adventure. It could be worse: they could have served insects.

Tokyo Flower Friday

I know, I know: it's already Saturday. Oh, well.

This guy was blooming big in a park in Tokyo, just begging to be photographed. These grow on big bushes. I think it's Hibiscus--I should have bottled some and sold it to Bath and Body Works, or something.

Nikon D700 (incognito), 70-300mm VR f/4.5-5.6 lens @ 270mm, f/11, 1/160s, ISO 500.

Sep 15, 2010

Behind Enemy Lines

We'd been called in to complete a difficult job. Natives were rebellious and had gone to ground. So there we were, entrenched in foliage, shots going off all around us. I ducked low, looking for the right angle to get my shot off, but no matter how I moved about or snuck in close, all I got was crusty looks and distrustful glances made from behind deep cover.

We kept at it, however, and maintained a vigil for the opportunity to break in and obtain the objective. The locals had to be turned, and we were the only ones to do it. Still, opposition was tough and the defenses were tight.

Then I remembered what I learned in 'Nam. We began to break through, and some of the natives were helping persuade the others. Though I could see in the eyes that it was like DEFCON 4 was still in effect.

Finally, through diligence, negotiation, cajoling, and sharp shooting, the mission was accomplished. The defenses were lowered, arms were surrendered, and an accord was reached. Both sides ended up sated and peace holds today.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Nikon D-700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens, f/6.3, various speeds, ISO 640.

Sep 13, 2010

Hearing Voices

I pulled up to Chevron on my scooter to perform my weekly fill-up (65mpg this week; not bad) when I was accosted by a voice. "Hey, Buddy," it said, and I jumped because I hadn't noticed anyone standing there. "Yeah, you, pumping the gas," it continued, and I realized that the voice was coming from the pump, and I was wondering why the attendant was talking to me. Then the voice went on to talk about how it would be a shame to waste any gas on running over a pedestrian. Some kinda public service announcement.

That got me thinking. I was thinking about all the times I pumped gas and didn't have anyone reminding me not to run over children in the street. Like last week when I was in rock Springs, WY pumping gas. No voices there.

Weren't any voices in Colorado Springs where I had just come from, too. And it's a good thing: I hate to think of the kind of voices I might hear at a place called Garden of the Gods.

It's a cool place. Lots of rocks. Arkosic sandstones pushed vertical during the Laramide orogeny some 50 million years ago. Kinda cool. However, we were there in the middle of the afternoon the first time, and that's just not the great time of light for landscapes (hence the cartoony processing on the above). Still, sometimes you shoot when you can. Sometimes you step out of the car in the parkinglot and look up and see the Moon finishing the day off at the North face of the Tower of Babel. 

This climbing route reaches about 300 feet high, and the moon below really makes it feel tall. Using my 300mm f/4 lens at f/11 brought a sharp image with both the moon and the rock face in focus. Never climbed this myself--a little above my skill level. The Three Graces are really more suitable for me and my chalk bag. The trouble is, you sometimes reach for a hold and find a pigeon instead. Sorry, that's 'Rock Dove' in the Garden.

Besides rocks and their doves in the park, plants also abound. This juniper guards the base of the Scout Climb  (so named because even Boy Scouts can climb it). It's a slab climb that is pretty simple once you realize that you can really stand pretty tall and walk almost directly up the face.

Yep, in Garden of the Gods just about anybody can get up just about any of the rocks and end up two or three hundred feet above the ground in no time. Even the flowers can lodge themselves in the crevices.

And there are lots of crevices. Kids love this place.

The Kissing Camels (below, duh) welcome you when you arrive and also introduce you to Pikes Peak, which is an amazing piece of granite.

It really is a single piece of granite, too, and as it floated upward through the Crust it cause the Garden of the Gods to stand up tall. And you can fish in the reservoirs.

We drove up there on Labor Day to enjoy the views that inspired Katharine Lee Bates. We enjoyed the views from Crystal reservoir, but the wind was picking up so we continued our drive to the 14,110 foot summit. Then we were surprised to find our trip halted at Glen Cove because the winds were howling at over 80 miles per hour above the tree line, and they closed the road. Hmmm...they closed the road at the gift shop: what a coincidence. Undaunted, we continued shooting pictures, despite the breeze. Wouldn't you know it, there were power lines in the way. These things are the scourge of the universe.

Still, I made this image, and it's one of my favorites from the trip. I shot it with my 300mm f/4 lens. I tried it from several different angles, and apertures. This lens is fixed at 300mm, which is something like a 12x magnification on a spotting scope, and it doesn't zoom at all. This really forces me to see the world in a different way, and it's pretty fun. I settled on this one (this time--another day I may prefer a different perspective) at f/8.0, 1/640s, and ISO 400. I particularly like that the tree is frozen at an angle as the wind blew it around.

As the trees swayed in the wind a few feet below timberline, the sounds of other tourists was about all one could hear. A few squirrels. Some cyclists cussing about choosing the windiest day ever for their ride. The ranger turning all the cars around. No voices from the gift shop saying, "Hey, Buddy--yeah, you with the camera..."

Sep 12, 2010

Starry Starry Night

More like the Don McLean, perhaps, and less like the Van Gogh...perhaps not.

Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/2.8 AF-S lens @ 40mm, f/4.0, 30s, ISO 4000. This image was made over Palisades Reservoir, in Southeast Idaho. I know a guy with a great view.

Sep 10, 2010

Balloon Glow Friday

Yep: the balloons glow. They blow 'em up then they light 'em up. It's pretty cool, and you can walk among them throughout the entire process. More to come.

Sep 6, 2010

Not quite Flower Friday on Sunday

Well, no flower posted this week, but I did shoot some that I'm excited to share with you soon. Plus, some incredible characters from the streets of Colorado Springs, the Colorado Balloon Classic, and Helen Hunt Falls. So stay tuned, and I'll have some ready for you later this week.

Also on the schedule: Saudi Arabia, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

See you soon.