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Photography

Laid Back Day (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 7)

It was just one of those mornings where I did not want to do or think about anything important… so I didn’t. Well, sort of.

Our AirBnB has been cozy but also not healthy – the entire bottom floor has a moisture problem, which I am certain is perpetuated by tennants not taking good care to ventilate the place and the owner not properly cleaning. The shower area was a disaster… mold and mildew everywhere, and I don’t mean just a little… A LOT.

Cleaning supplies were purchased… and I spent almost two hours yesterday morning just scrubbing the shower and tub area.
T W O  H O U R S. It’s a small area too but there is tile and every single tile grout surface had mold. I was really tired after that so I took a shower and rested, then tidied up in one of the living areas. For someone who doesn’t have kids, I surely get into “mom” mode a lot.

The guys had been out at Karaoke the night before and all had hangovers… Paulina and I made plans to meet up with Chris for lunch at  A Happy Pancake – a restaurant that serves soufflé pancakes! I have been seeing videos for a couple of years about them… Simon and Martina’s video on YouTube stands out as the one that REALLY made me want to try these pancakes. You can watch that here:

Paulina and I took a train to Omotesando…

I snuck a photo of sleepy commuters on the way to Omotesando.

we had some time to kill before meeting up with Chris so we decided to walk around the winding backstreets of the area to look at the trendy shops where you can find all manner of things… from used clothing to high end fashion and every item in between.

When in Omotesando, do what the Omotesandians do.

One of our destinations was B-Side Label, a store that I always make a point to visit when I am in Tokyo… their stickers are all made right there, and the artists that provide designs are all local as well so this makes me feel good about purchasing items there.

Every trip into this store is a sensory bombardment, from the colorful stickers and products to the employees filled with personality and friendly conversation… once again I forgot to actually take photos IN the store but here is a photo of the outside!

Here I am with two of my furry friends outside of B-Side Label.

As per usual, I had a difficult time choosing exactly what labels would be coming home with me and to make the choice an even more difficult one, they had limited run Halloween editions of some of their favorite designs as well as new Halloween designs – that’s mostly what I purchased, since one they’re gone… they’re gone.

The stickers that I picked up today at B-Side Label… these were a very small selection of the ones that I wanted most!

After spending a long while at B-Side, we wandered toward the main street toward Kiddeland and found some… unusual stickers on the pedestrian overpasses – this is one of the things that I enjoy about Omotesando & Harajuku… random stickers and grafitti.

Looks like some random couple wanted to leave a more personalized mark on the sticker colelction!

 

“look at all of these stickers!…. oh.”

We browsed Kiddeland and then heard from Chris that he had arrived near the location of the soufflé pancakes, so we met him there.

My soufflé pancake at A Happy Pancake had a beautiful berry compote – a little too sweet but definitely complex in flavor.

 

Foreground: Pumpkin Raisin – Left Berry Compote – Right – Hot Chocolate – Photo courtesy of Chris Danford

A Happy Pancake did not disappoint! The atmosphere was bright and refreshing – despite being on the basement level of a building, the green theming and large wall displaying photos and videos of outdoor scenes and plants set the mood for happy interaction – the three of us had a lovely time talking and consuming delicious foods.

I have never tasted a pancake quite like this – it’s texture is indeed similar to a soufflé but a bit more heavy… it has inspired me to try this out when I return to Vancouver in December… having never made a soufflé of any sort I cannot predict if my outcome will be a pleasant one or not but I have eaten enough soufflé to know if it’s actually good or not!

After pancakes I was craving some good coffee. Chris did a quick search online and found a trendy pour over place nearby. We walked to our destination and waited a half hour before we realized that this was more of an experience than anything… one person to guide you through the process of choosing your coffee and educating you on it’s origins… one person to make the coffee. There were six people ahead of us and it took 3 a half hour to get their coffee so we decided to look elsewhere and possibly come back to this place another day.

This was the entrance… literally a short square door to a teeny staging area.

A new place for coffee was found fairly quickly… and just up the street a few blocks. It turned out to be a blessing because both the coffee and the chai that we tried were amazing – neither needed sugar added, a sign to me that this is superior coffee indeed.

Coffee and Chai for us… the doughnuts looked delicious but we had just eaten sweet things so perhaps next time we will try them too. – Photo courtesy of Chris Danford

Drinks at Higuma Doughnuts x Coffee Wrights were excellent! I definitely want to come back here and try the other drinks that they offer.

Chris departed after the consumption of coffee and chai, Paulina and I continued on to Harajuku in search of a store that Paulina wanted to visit called Alice on Wednesday.

As the name suggests, it was indeed an Alice in Wonderland themed shop, very cleverly decorated… lots of cute things here but nothing that particularly spoke to me. I’d like to have this table though:

Such an adorable table! I think my apartment needs this in it. 😀

Browsing done, we went to Takashita Dori, the main street in Harajuku. It was getting late and as it was a weekday, many shops were closed so it was not too crowded with people, which is a pleasant change from the usual.

I don’t remember the name of this store that these stairs lead down to, but I do remember from three years ago that this is a second hand clothing store that was pretty awesome.

Sparsely populated night street of Harajuku.

Since businesses were starting to close, we decided to call it a night and took our tired feet home.


Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden Was Open! (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 6)

Cooler weather has arrived, though it is still warm and still quite humid. It feels great to me until the mid-afternoon, when I really start sweating and my hair freaks out. I swear… I just cannot look good while I’m in Japan in any other season than winter… naturally curly hair and humidity do not mix well so I get about half a day looking okay and unless I take pains to wash and actually style my hair in the afternoon, then it becomes a wild and woolly mane that is out of control. Because I do not like to fuss over my appearance for more than a very short while, I choose the wild hair rather than look my best. I wonder what this says about me as a person?

My compatriots woke about an hour after I did and we did not take too long to relax this morning since we wanted to make it out of the house and to Shinjuku with time enough to enjoy the park before it closes at 4pm. 

Paulina, Fredrik and I went to our station (Hikifune) and jumped onto the train to Shinjuku. I had expressed the desire for a proper coffee as did Chris, so I looked online for a good place to go… and found a Blue Bottle Coffee right next to Shinjuku Station – oh the joy! They have really good coffee and I was surprised to see that they expanded from Northern California into Japan! 

Chris suggested that he pick up the coffee, since he would arrive shortly before we would, since he was only coming from Shibuya. He also surprised us with some tasty pastries from a French bakery that was right next to Blue Bottle, which we saved to eat in the park. 

Yes, we finally made it into Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – wooooooooo!

I took SO MANY PHOTOS but I was not alone… Paulina is also a photographer and Chris has gotten the photography bug so it was nice to not feel rushed to move on when I was busy composing nice shots. Prepare yourself for a very photo heavy post today!

This was my second time in the gardens… the first being back in June of 2015 when Chris and I lived in Tokyo for 3 months. On that first visit I was solo, and spent the entire very hot day there. It was 91 degrees F with 90% humidity, and this time it was much cooler, and about 10% less humidity – much more pleasant weather for certain! Regardless of the weather, I feel like I could visit this garden over and over and never tire of it. I am VERY much looking forward to when the leaves start changing their colors – this is one of the gardens that I will definitely be going back to!

The 4 of us strolled the garden and stopped at a large field to enjoy our tasty French treats, and then strolled more…

We had quiet times

 

We walked a lot – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

Chris roaming in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Taking closeups of…. something.

Photographing me photographing a tree – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

Wandering Boo. – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

Views like this make me want to move to Tokyo.

Those are my feets with smushed fallen Autumn leaves.

 

…. and silly times

 

We felt compelled. – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

Fredrik… STAHP! (DEUTSCHLAND!)

Caught in the act! – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

It’s THIS way!

Chris demonstrating exactly what this sign means… complete with stick!

Somehow this moment just… happened… and it was glorious.

WHA! A wild Fredrik suddenly appears!

 

and selfie times.

 

Happy people in the happy greenhouse!

We happy!

Happy! – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

 

But mostly, plant times.

 

We liked the greenhouse. – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

photo courtesy of Chris Danford

Something was interesting! It was probably that brown plant that I was fascinated with. – photo courtesy of Chris Danford

– photo courtesy of Chris Danford

I love the greenhouse in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden!

Just a little bud… I’m sure it will open soon!

I risked life and limb for this shot. – Photo Courtesy of Paulina

I wish that I knew what sort of plant this is…

Potted plants in pleasing arrangements.

The upper level in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden greenhouse.

I want to know what this plant is also!

This tree is going to look SO nice with Autumn color!

Why yes, this plant WAS FUZZY! Yet another that I desire to know the name of.

 

Oh, and cloud times too. So many beautiful clouds.

A couple was having kimono times. I’m pretty certain that we got better photos of them than they did of themselves. Thanks, Kimono Couple for giving me a nice photo subject!

 

Thanks for providing excellent composition, Kimono Couple! I think that we had better photos from you being there than the selfies that you two ended up taking. 😀

 

Garden times with my special friends was so needed, and what a sharp contrast to the inner turmoil that I was experiencing the day before! I was feeling completely opposite emotionally and while physically I still wasn’t great, I was much better in comparison.

We were all pretty hungry at the end of our garden visit. Chris suggested Gyukatsu Motomura, another beef katsu restaurant. This place was special! At the table are pots made of pottery that they light up so there is an open flame in each pot. Each person gets to choose their own pot, which is topped with a slab of pottery – this slab gets VERY HOT… 

We actually cooked our meat on these!

The gyokatsu is breaded and quickly deep fried, then sliced up and served with many sides. You take slices of the breaded beef and place them on your hot slab of pottery where it sears the meat – you get to choose how well or not well you cook your meat! 

The accompanying sides were delicious: Pickled vegetable, miso soup that I think may have had a beef base instead of fish, sweet mochi with what seemed like it had a syrup either made out of light molasses or maple, rice with barley and mountain potato which was in it’s stringy form of goodness – I do love mountain potato and on top of rice! OH YUMMERS! Two sauces were included as well… one that seemed like garlic and the other a sesame of some sort? 

After dinner a very tired Chris said adieu… Paulina, Fredrik and I went to Flying Tiger, a store that has origins in Denmark. We found all manner of quirky and useful things! I was after a nail brush and a sleeve for my MacBook…. I found what I needed! A Llama MacBook sleeve came home with me, and I don’t even find the pink background too annoying! x

In Flying Tiger – they had all sorts of fun things.

 

The three of us then went to Akihabara to meet up with Joy and Zach, who had been in arcades all day again… Fredrik left Paulina and I for a boys night out of karaoke with another friend from Sweden – Paulina and I went to a few arcades and then dragged our weary bodies back home with the intent to go to an Onsen in Asakusa, but once we were still and comfortable at home, we decided to not go anywhere. 

I called it a night fairly early – no plans as of yet for the morrow except to find some useable wifi so that I can upload some photos to my blog posts!


Know Your National Holidays… (Japan – Autumn 2018 Day 5)

Once again I woke before every one else in the house – around 6:30 am. I was not feeling well, and I noticed that my limbs had swollen even worse and my face was very puffy… I assumed it was due to some digestion issues of a rather uncomfortable nature  – things have… not been moving for a few days. Walking has been very uncomfortable due to all of this swelling and it has me quite concerned. 

Again I was ready to upload my blog to the website, but discovered that my photos were not uploading… finally I received a message that the server was taking too long to respond and it seems that the wifi included with our AirBnB has been throttled. I’m assuming that the 4 others have been using it as well because I’m certain that although I use my own fair amount of data it’s not enough to cause a throttle! 

I tidied my closet, straightened some things in the living room and caught up on messages…. at noon I was still waiting for the gang to get going and out of here and it was, quite frankly, making me very tense and upset. 

We decided to meet Chris in the afternoon but the group decided to first stop for Yakiniku for lunch – we went to a place called Kuidon, which I believe is a chain. We had a private booth with our Korean style bbq table and for just over 1,200 yen I had a feast!

 

Grillin’ dat meat!

We had a private room at Kuidon Yakiniku – a very nice experience and a very nice value.

Bellies satisfied, we moved on to our train and headed to Shinjuku, with the intent to go the the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden… we enjoyed walking the streets and found some beautiful street murals and funny signs.

 

Part of a mural in Shinjuku – I need to go back and get a panorama of this because it was awesome.

 

We even found a pop up cafe for FIKA! (Fika is a large part of Swedish life… basically it means to have a coffee and a pastry, often a cinnamon bun… but it’s much more than that as it’s a relaxing social time to reconnect with people and relaxation) We wanted to stop for fika but the shop was closed. 

We soon arrived at one of the gates to the garden – only to find that it was CLOSED! As it turns out if there is a national holiday that falls on a monday, then the next day the park is closed. Needless to say we were all quite disappointed… I messaged Chris to let him know that our next plan was to visit the Artnia store at the Square Enix headquarters.

There are SO MANY THINGS that I would have loved to purchase from that store… so much temptation. It’s a special place… sadly, all of the special figures in the museum portion of the building were all empty as the figures were on loan to another exhibit elsewhere in the city.

 

Artnia building at the Square Enix headquarters – a must visit for me each time I visit Tokyo.


After Artnia, we went to downtown Shinjuku and the Monster Hunter Cafe! They charged a 500 yen cover charge per person… despite the cute theming of the cafe I still feel like it was overpriced and we could have enjoyed a peek and a few photos from the doorway just as well without spending that plus the cost of drinks. Gotta say though, Capcom is being smart with all of this promotion and cashing in on the popularity of this game series – well done, Capcom… well done.

 

This Palico was big – a little over a third of my height. Monster Hunter Cafe.

 

After Monster Hunter Cafe, Paulina split off to go home and rest, Joy went back to Akiba for DDR. Chris, Zach, Fredrik and I wanted honey toast, but the restaurant was closed for the night… we did find out that a Tex-Mex bar upstairs also served the honey toast (apparently the building was one large hotel resort thing so the menu was universal to all eating spaces)

Honey Toast is a big loaf of bread, hollowed out, toasted and drizzled with honey… then filled with ice cream and fruit and other sweet toppings. These absolutely cannot be consumed by your self, or even two people… two honey toasts for 4 people was even too much – I think that in retrospect I could have been satisfied with just one shared amongst 4 of us as it was so sweet and filling. It was delicious but I think that now that I’ve tried it, I probably will never have it again. Also of note: It’s tasty, but nothing worthy of your palette… simply novel and interesting.

 

Honey Toast – I’ve got this out of my system now. Never again. (too sweet)

 

Chris was very tired so he said goodnight… Zach and Fredrik and I roamed around Shinjuku a bit longer to see all of the beautiful lights and then we headed home. There were good moments in the day but overall I was rather unhappy and decided that when I want to be active I will just split off on my own and not worry about the group – we can always join up again later. I discussed this with a few of them and they weren’t upset at all and in fact encouraged me to do so.

 

Shinjuku is beautiful at night – I was definitely feeling the Lost in Translation feelings today.

 

I love the detail on the street gates? posts?

 

I am a very active person, and I do believe that my style of enjoying a vacation most likely differs from the average person… I don’t sit still much so taking the day in such a slow manner drives me a bit crazy. 

Many personal things also bubbled to the surface of my mind as well, and I was finding difficulty to keep a happy attitude, all things considered. I think that tomorrow I will get some “me time” and visit a shrine to cleanse my restless spirit.


Dropbox vs Google Drive – A Frustrated Photographer’s View

As with anyone who deals with a large amount of photo and video media I have a fair amount of trouble managing all of my files, especially since disciplining myself to properly sort said files once I am home from whatever photography excursion I have been on has largely been a task that I have failed in.

Often I am not intending to go on an excursion with the express purpose of taking photos and video but inevitably this is what I do… I have that wonderful device called a smartphone with me everywhere I go…. lo and behold, I return from wherever with many photos and videos. “I will just sort these out later” I say to myself and the digital files upload to my iCloud and Dropbox.

I was pondering this very conundrum this past weekend as I had holed up at home because I was not feeling well and was exceedingly bored. I decided that whilst resting I would be productive and finally sort all of my photos and videos into properly dated files, and perhaps also by subject matter or location. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a journey that would lead to nowhere but frustration.

Dropbox has been a tool that I have used for years and thought nothing of sitting down at my PC to do a little folder housecleaning. I logged on to the website and began my task, quickly noticing that everything was taking a LONG time to click through. Checking a box of a file to move… 10-30 seconds for a checkmark to appear… okay, well perhaps my computer is lagging for some reason… click out of the browser and into a program – no problem. Try another website… fast as fast can be… go back to Dropbox, click “move files” – two minutes before any sort of indication that there was something affected.

4-1/2 hours later and I had barely made a dent in my organization – I was left with frustration and a long but friendly email to Dropbox was written. In the meantime, I am not one to let grass grow under my feet as I wait so I looked to my Google Drive account, where I also have a few files stored.

Three years ago I had moved away from a trial run with Google Drive to Dropbox again because at the time Drive was not an effective way for me to move my digital media from my phone or my camera – it was unreliable and tedious, with the app often hanging and then crashing which made it un-usuable for my particular needs. I had hopes this time that perhaps a few things had been improved and I was not disappointed!

Google made a Drive app specifically for photos and videos and oh my have I been pleasantly surprised! Fast reliable transfers and it even sorts things by date and location, along with a proper way to search for your photos whether it be by that date or location but also by person! It finds photos of people and asks you for their names so you can search by name too! That part is simultaneously awesome and a little creepy as well.

After the app backs up all of your photos, it asks you if you would like it to also delete the media from your phone – 32,524 media files still remain there because I cannot bear to delete a one of them… maybe tomorrow!

Addendum: There is so much more to the Google Photos App that I want to talk about, so look for a proper review soon!

 


Boo is BACK!

WELL HELLO THERE!

Last year my domain lapsed… a long and uninteresting story for you, Dear Reader and I will spare you that misery.

Sufficient to say that what seemed to be a minor miracle happened in the form of my BEST FRIEND and SWEETHEART Chris revealing that he had retained my domain AAAAAND had my archived posts! JOY OF JOYS! My backups had been lost on an external hard drive that failed two years ago and ever since this domain lapsed I had been lamenting the loss thereof, but now NOW I can relieve all of those memories in blog form once again!

My plan going forward is to update here weekly and possibly more often if I feel inspired to wax long about some topic or post a bazillion photos. Speaking of photos, I do have a Mini Rant: Instagram is starting to displease me more and more as they have introduced more of the Facebook-like features such as only showing you the most popular photos in your feed and not having photos in chronological order. My own photos visibility has DRASTICALLY shrunk as well… my posting habits had slowed down quite a bit and for the first few photos I posted in the past couple of months my photos were receiving above average likes… mostly from random people and not my followers. Now, I am receiving BELOW average… usually I receive around 20 likes but for the past two or three I have had… 7 – 15 likes.

Seeking attention or popularity is not what I am all about regarding Instagram… I just want to connect with other photographers but it seems that the algorithm is specifically designed to under-expose your posts to prompt you to post more content which would in turn might motivate users to open the app more often, thus increasing the probability that you will interact with their advertisers. Shady in my opinion, but effective because human nature is, if nothing else, quite predictable.

Aside from FaceBook’s disagreeable tactics in regard to Instagram, that app has also become a place where everything is a cookie-cutter copy of certain styles and content. I am tired of the buildings, food and fashion all under white-washed filters. To be fair, when this style was first gaining popularity (particularly with VSCO app users) I did give it a fair shake and it wasn’t for me… I know that some very much like that aesthetic. The intent of mentioning this style is not to poke fun at people’s preferences but rather to point out that there is more and more of the same sort of photos being published on Instagram and not the creative variety that was prevalent in the early days of the app.

Noticing the sameness has caused me to take a thoughtful look at my own Instagram grid and I think that perhaps my own photography could use a boost of creativity so I am making it my challenge this spring and summer to push my creative boundaries in regard to my photography and video editing along side regular blog posts – keep your eyes peeled for more content here soon!


Day #74 – A Photo A Day 2013

Another quick post for the day!

I snapped a quick photo as I was driving east on Hwy 14 in Vancouver, WA – Mt. Hood is in the distance:

IMG_9453

Tangled FX with multiple effects layered, then I did a bit of a tilt-shift effect to soften the clouds and bring the focus down to the vanishing point.


Day #71 – A Photo A Day 2013

Trains are a never ending source of fascination to me and in particular I really like the BART Powell St. Station in San Francisco. Part of this may be a connection to it since my very first BART ride destination after leaving SFO was to that particular station.

I also really like the lines of that particular stop – so many textures and since the tunnel is so long at that point it gives me a chance to get really nice lines in the (excessive amounts of) photos that take of the station.

Warped Speed - at the Powell St. BART Station

Warped Speed – at the Powell St. BART Station

This was taken as I was waiting for BART to take me to SFO last weekend. I really wanted to capture the motion of the train as it was coming in for a stop and I felt inspired to not only run it through Tangled FX but also played around with it in ElastiCam, made by Lucky Clan. I only warped the windows of the train to give it a sense of faster motion while maintaining the integrity of the lines of the rest of the train.

ElastiCam takes a bit of getting used to, not that it’s difficult to use – quite the opposite actually, but fine-tuning just how sensitive you do or do not want the effect to be to the touch of your finger takes a bit of time. At first I found myself over-applying effects, but once I got used to gently dragging and adjusting the strength of the effect, I found it to be extremely fun and satisfying to watch the transformation to my photo.


Day #70 – A Photo A Day 2013

Quick post today – I have much left to do today (I’m in Portland visiting family and friends!) but I’m still committed to making my daily posts!

Today’s is #3 from the #7faceless challenge that Sumsion challenged us to on Instagram:

Day #3 of the #7faceless Challenge

Day #3 of the #7faceless Challenge


Day #69 – A Photo A Day 2013

My hike to/on Mount Sutro yielded more shots than I originally thought. As I have gone back to look at all of the pictures that I snapped that day I was pleased with more shots than I anticipated so that means that I’m not done posting photos here from that day. 🙂

Lupine Leaves on Mount Sutro

Lupine Leaves on Mount Sutro

I used a subtle effect from Tangled FX to give those lupine leaves just a little more definition and then converted the picture to black and white. Simple, quick and easy! The leaves already looked really fuzzy (and in reality were really really soft!) but I wanted that definition to really stand out in the photo since the tactile sensation is impossible to actually transmit through the viewing of a picture.


Day #68 – A Photo A Day 2013

Since I posted a rather serious picture yesterday it seemed fitting that I post Day #2 of Sumsion’s #7faceless challenge – it’s a much more light hearted post!

Yesterday’s photo was all about a time in my life when things seemed dark and un-fixable, a very sad time for me. Today’s picture is all about where I am today – joyful and content, rejoicing in my life and in the wonderful blessings that I enjoy every day:

Dancing With Joy = #7faceless Challenge

Dancing With Joy = #7faceless Challenge

I really didn’t do much editing to this one – just added a vignette and toned down the colors a teeny bit.
It took SO MANY TAKES to actually capture my dancing without having my face in focus! I finally just twirled several times to get the effect I wanted and even then I took a lot of photos before I finally found one that seemed suitable within the confines of this challenge.

Life is good!


Day #67 – A Photo A Day 2013

Instagram has been one way that I have been sharing my photography for two years now and in those two years I have found quite a few amazing artists that have greatly encouraged me to continue pushing the envelope of my creativity.

One of people who has influenced me the most is Sumsion – I was going to link to his Statigram page, but he’s turned off public viewing, which is disappointing to me because I would love to share his work here as well. (he is simply amazing!)

Sumsion’s latest challenge is a self-portrait challenge but the trick is to not have your face in focus. So far, this has been a very difficult challenge for me!

This is my first submission:

Blown Away - for the #7faceless Challenge on Instagram

Blown Away – for the #7faceless Challenge on Instagram

When I uploaded this to Instagram, some people that know me in “real life” were concerned because it seemed a bit dark. I explained that this is not representative of me now, but rather that it was how I felt at a certain point in time in my past – I felt like who I was had been completely blown away, destroyed and empty. I was having difficulty deciding just how to begin this challenge until a conversation I had earlier that day reminded me of that dark time and inspiration hit me.

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with my self-portrait, and after a couple of hours of experimentation, I found the right combination of app layering to actually achieve what you see here. This was a difficult one to actually upload for public consumption on Instagram – I felt like I was revealing quite a bit of myself without telling all of the personal details and I felt a bit of trepidation as I hit that upload button.

Immediately after, I felt almost a feeling of relief akin to happiness in that moment.

These challenges that Sumsion has presented to his followers have not only been pivotal points that have pushed me creatively but have also been instrumental in self-exploration and have taught me quite a bit about myself, even as far as really revealing to me how I view myself both externally and as a person.


Day #66 – A Photo A Day 2013

On my walk on Mount Sutro two days ago there may not have been a view of the ocean, but there were quite a few eucalyptus trees and many wild flowers. The smell in the forest was so invigorating and it was so quiet and peaceful – it didn’t even feel like I was in the middle of San Francisco.

Along the trail in many places there were Forget-me-nots, which are one of my favorite old-fashioned flowers. I tried out the macro lens that I won from Photojojo and was very pleased to find that I could get less than an inch from the flower for a nice bokeh effect.

Forget-Me-Nots on Mt. Sutro

Forget-Me-Nots on Mt. Sutro

Again, I’ve run it through Tangled FX using two effects and blending the two pictures. I was lucky to have the sunlight actually show up for the few seconds that I was on my knees taking this photo.

I was disappointed that I didn’t have an ocean view for the sunset, but what a beautiful oasis this hill provides in the middle of the city! I think this may end up being a new favorite place to ofrequent.


Day #64 – A Photo A Day 2013

More fun with Tangled FX!

This is the “mountains” of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland as seen from the queue during the nightly fireworks show.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Edit

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Edit

This pic obviously doesn’t have any fireworks, but the sky was filled with all sorts of smoke from them and it made for a strange hue when I took the picture.

I ran it through three different effects in Tangled FX and also let it color boost and WOW the effect was crazy! It almost looks like lava or something! I’m so in love with Tangled FX!


Day #63 – A Photo A Day 2013

At the risk of redundancy I am posting yet another pic edited in Tangled FX because I simply cannot get enough of that app!

I layered two different Tangled FX effects for this picture of one of the Chinese Dancing Lions at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.

Dancing Lion at the Chinese New Year Parade 2013

Dancing Lion at the Chinese New Year Parade 2013

I really wish that I knew exactly how this app works – it’s so fascinating! This picture was already a little blurry because of the motion of the lion so I felt that it would be perfect to use the “blurred” effect to make it a little less noticeable. That didn’t quite give me the results that I wanted so I layered the “smooth fibers” effect over it as well to sharpen it up a little and to give the picture a bit more depth and detail.


Day #61 – A Photo A Day 2013

There are SO MANY photo editing apps that I have been wanting to download lately but I have been limiting myself to one or two at a time so I can fully explore them before moving on and adding another to my library of well-used apps.

I just purchased Tangled FX, and app that I’ve had my eye on for a few weeks now and let me say that this app has blown me a away for a few reasons.

1. It’s easy to use. Effect options are clearly marked and it’s not hard to figure out what process you want by looking at the toolbar.

2. Processing time is minimal. It’s only taking a few seconds for the chosen effect to alter the photo.

3. Customization. You can adjust the effect scale factor, color boost, contrast or gamma.

4. There is a wide selection of effect choices – 16 in all.

Today’s picture was modified in Tangled FX, and I layered two effects in Blender to get the look that I wanted:

Piggy Art In The Window of Gallery 16 - Edited

Piggy Art In The Window of Gallery 16 – Edited

I pass by Gallery 16 a few times a week, and FINALLY the shadows were just right so I seized the moment and got my shot! Immediately I knew that I wanted to use Tangled FX to modify the photo. The shadows already had rather soft edges but I very much wanted to highlight and exaggerate that.


Day #59 – A Photo A Day 2013

App Layering. It’s addictive. It’s highly rewarding and creatively stimulating, not expensive and most apps are really easy to understand and apply practically.

I’m doing another Before and After post today because the edit I did this morning is so drastically different from the original photo that I wanted to show the difference.

The Hawaiian Chieftain is again the subject photo of the day. This photo here was taken on my iPhone 4s, native camera app at approx. 4:45 in the afternoon.

Here you see it un-touched – no edits nor touchups of any sort, just the raw photo:

Hawaiian Chieftian Un-Edited Photo

Hawaiian Chieftian Un-Edited Photo

I went to bed last night thinking of this pic and how I’d like to edit it. As I found myself immersed in the process, the picture ended up becoming something much more different than I envisioned it to be in the first place and I built layer upon layer of editing and overall I am much more pleased with the finished result than what I had originally planned to do.

Hawaiian Chieftian Heavily Edited Photo

Hawaiian Chieftian Heavily Edited Photo

I started out in Photo FX where I added a bit of haze to darken things up a little. I then moved on to Iris where I added a bit of dirt, back to Photo FX to darken it a bit more. On to Filtermania 2, then Wow FX, back to Filtermania 2, again to Wow FX again, on to ScratchCam and that’s where I forget just how many more times I ended up going back into Photo FX and Filtermania 2. This edit has taken the longest of any iPhone editing I have done – there were just a lot of layers to play with and tweak until I got just the look that I was going for.

I really don’t know what I would do without Photo FX and ScratchCam – they are my staples, and the Dropico apps are quickly becoming favorites as well!


Day #57 – A Photo A Day 2013

Yesterday I learned that two tall ships were in town so OF COURSE today I had to go see them, since I have had a life long fascination with tall ships, pirates and the sea.

This afternoon I started the long walk to Pier 40. It was warm today and very sunny so I was particularly looking forward to a long walk that I routinely enjoy. Also, I hadn’t walked toward the tourist-y part of San Francisco in quite a while so I was ready to go.

It wasn’t as crowded as it would be on the weekends, and people were smiley and friendly. Lots of runners and bicyclists and people walking their dogs, apparently oblivious to the fact that THERE ARE TALL SHIPS IN TOWN! How could they not be heading straight there that very moment?! It boggles my mind.

The bay looked like a blue jewel glinting in the afternoon sun and it made me want to take a dip, despite what I knew the temperature of the water to be. I resisted the urge, partially because I wanted to reach my destination and partially because… well, I had no swimsuit! Onward I marched…

Past the Ferry Building, past Boudin Bakery, past In-n-Out – I almost stopped there but NO! I must resist! The ships await! (and because I like this pic, here is a shot of the Ferry Building! It’s an accidental shot, and I haven’t edited it)

Ferry Building - Accidental Photo

Ferry Building – Accidental Photo

I avoided pier 39 completely and went onto…. wait, where is Pier 40? This is 41, where The Balclutha, and amazing ship in her own right (and an original!) makes her permanent home.

The Balclutha is a National Historic Landmark and Pier 41 is in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park so I asked the park rangers if perhaps I had the wrong pier? No, Pier 40 was correct, and this is Pier 41… It turned out that Pier 40 IS JUST A FEW BLOCKS FROM MY APARTMENT!!! Arg! So I walked miles out of my way when I would have been at the ships in mere minutes.

The park rangers and I had a good laugh at the irony, and they explained the odd-even placement of pier numbers – basically the Ferry Building is the center and everything to the south of the Ferry Building is the even numbered piers and everything to the north of the Ferry Building is the odd numbered piers.

Disappointed, I started the walk home. Tours were due to end at 5 and I knew there was no way that I could walk there in time. (there was only a window of 1 hour for dockside tours) My feet were killing me – I already had some major blisters from a very long walk I had taken earlier in the week and I feared that I was forming blisters under my blisters… so I hopped on the F-Line and started home.

I hopped off at my stop and walked toward my apartment. I realized that I would have JUST enough time to get to the dock to spend a few minutes there so I decided to walk through the pain and make my way there. Fast walking and blisters do NOT mix but I cared not.

Finally I was there! 10 minutes on board the Hawaiian Chieftanso I didn’t have time to shoot many pictures but I took a few and talked with one of the ship hands. Everyone in the crew was dressed in appropriate attire for the late 1700’s early 1800’s as is evident to the photo I shot and edited below:

Aboard the Hawaiian Chieftan

Aboard the Hawaiian Chieftan

Shot with my iPhone 4s, edited in Photo FX, Iris, and ScratchCam.

10 minutes on board was not enough and I didn’t have time to go on board the Lady Washington… I’m going back tomorrow!


Day #56 – A Photo A Day 2013

We have arrived at post #2 for today, which is actually today’s post! Hopefully the website and internet access woes are behind me for a great deal of time.

I met @tatum22 and @diegoscott83 of Instagram fame on the instawalk_sf and they are a continual source of inspiration to me. They have this Monday tradition where they post “Meditation Monday” pictures where one of them (usually @diegoscott83) jumps in the air in a pose of levitated mediation and they have really perfected this!

Below is one of the shots that I took of @diegoscott83 doing just that at Fort Point right under the Golden Gate Bridge here in San Francisco.

@diegoscott83 "levitating" under the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point - Instawalk_SF 2103

@diegoscott83 “levitating” under the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point – Instawalk_SF 2103

There was a great deal of lens flare that I wanted to keep in the picture, but it was hard to tone down the outer edges of the picture and still keep the basic integrity of that awesome flare. I’m basically happy with how this turned out but I may re-visit the pic for a re-edit later.


Day #53 – A Photo A Day 2013

Goodness, my internet connection has been SO HORRIBLE this week, and it has only gotten worse! Much thanks that Philz Coffee here in SoMa not only has the best coffee that I have ever tasted (and tea!) but also has free WiFi access that is enabling me to write this post!

My horrid connection that (insert well-known broadband provider name here) has been providing to me lately has made me want to escape into a fantasy world where there is no packet loss and I don’t have to pay for my plentiful lightning-fast internet access. At this moment, I would also like this fantasy world to look nothing like this coffee shop – although it is decorated tastefully, I’d rather be in a moody forest right now, cavorting in flowing dresses and uploading photos to my hearts content, sweet breezes gently wafting through my hair and perhaps a bit of hauntingly beautiful music beckoning me toward it’s source…

Erm, back to the post…

Since there is no such place available, I have created this place – in photographic form – for my eye to wander to and in turn inspire sweet dreams to escape the reality of this daily purgatory fraught with continual internet connection disruption.

Dark Forest Beckons

Dark Forest Beckons

Again, photo taken with my iPhone 4s – I began by doing a few things in Photo FX – I often start in this app to tune the pic up a bit, if I feel that it needs it or if I want to enhance a certain aspect of the photo, before I begin layering other apps. Some of the current reviews of this app are less than stellar, but it seems that all of those have to do with the new version released for iOS 6 – I refuse to upgrade my iOS because I read and hear so many disparaging things about it that it doesn’t seem worth my while. So, I’m still very very happy with Photo FX.

Next, I layered effects in Filtermania 2 juuuuust hints of layering there – I didn’t want to alter the base picture too much but rather enhance it (and hide a few modern details that I didn’t want there) – next came Iris, which has apparently been re-worked by the creators to be called Laminar. I use Iris all of the time – easy to use and so many choices for editing. I’m afraid that I won’t like the new version after reading a few of the reviews – again, this is for iOS 6, so I don’t have anything to worry about as long as I don’t “upgrade”.

Lastly, just a hint of ScratchCam. I have played with the free version of this app enough that I now know that I really need to get the full version! I don’t know what I would do without you, ScratchCam!

Sometimes when I create a piece with one of my photos I am too critical. With this piece I can wholeheartedly say that I am really very happy with the way it turned out, and I hope that it pleases others as much as I seem to have pleased myself. (a rare thing!)


Day #52 – A Photo A Day 2013

When I am out and about, I really do need to be better at keeping track of where I taking random photos because if enough days pass I can tell you about where I was, but I’m not able to exactly pinpoint the exact location where a specific picture was taken.

For example, this bit of stencil graffiti that Chris and I discovered on our way to the basketball court on Saturday:

Tron Graffiti Stencil

Tron Graffiti Stencil

I know for certain that this was stenciled on the sidewalk between 3rd and 4th streets, but what I am NOT sure of is what street we were actually walking on – I want to say that it was Brannan Street but I’m not exactly confident in saying that it definitely was. (I’ll ask Chris – maybe he will remember)

Anyway, I take great delight in finding things like this in random places, especially when it has a geeky subject like Tron… what I can’t figure out though is what on earth does the Nike Swoosh (props to Carolyn Davidson) have to do with Tron???


Day #51 – A Photo A Day 2013

More fun with the Manga Camera app was had today with a pic that I took of my own eye around two weeks when my fisheye lens from Photojojo arrived.

On it’s own the pic was less than stellar, in as much as it was just my eye – BORING – but now that I’ve discovered this new app, it was time to make it a bit more interesting.

I’ve got my eye on things…

Pop Art Eye - Self Portrait

Pop Art Eye – Self Portrait

Before I ran it through Manga Camera I sharpened it a little in Photo FX, then after running it through Manga I went to Colormania and applied a couple of filters – that wasn’t satisfactory so I went back to Photo FX and added a bit more color and polarization and there you have it – a new and improved version of my eye! If only it looked that good in real life.


Day #50 – A Photo A Day 2013

As of late, Chris and I have used a great deal of our free time (free time? well, perhaps not, but we’re making time) to play Borderlands 2, an obsession that I think is not going to go away anytime soon.

I never did play the first one all the way through, simply because I didn’t have regular access to the 360 before we got married and we weren’t living in the same city. I kinda wish that I had, but after paying #2 I have to say that this is much better than the first one. (and I really liked that one!)

I think that my own obsession over Borderlands 2 is beginning to affect my creativity, because everywhere I look I’m imagining how things would look like if they were places in the game and I’m altering my photos to have a hint of that look.

For example, here’s one that I edited today. I took this pic at 3rd and Market streets yesterday as I was walking home from the BART station:

3rd and Market St.

3rd and Market St.

I cartoon-ized it in an app called Manga Camera, then ran it through Iris, Colormania, Scratch Cam and then in Iris one more time to get the grunge effect that I wanted. I do wish that I could have gotten a more cell-shaded effect, but I have yet to find an app that will help me achieve that.

Nonetheless, I’m basically happy with the results, and I think that I’ve found a new obsession with Manga Camera!


Day #49 – A Photo A Day 2013

Visiting another city was on my list of things to do today, mainly because I wanted to go to a fabric sale at Joann Fabrics, and there isn’t one here in San Francisco.

We have a couple of fabric stores here, Britex which is AWEEESOME but expensive and another warehouse-style place on Howard St., the name of which escapes me at the moment.

The warehouse place always has a clearance section and decent prices, but I wanted specifically to catch the 50% off of clearance prices at Joann.

So, I hopped on BART and away I went!

Neither sewing nor fabric nor Joann’s has anything to do with today’s pic other than all of those things were my motivation for going out in the first place, but I digress.

Balboa Park BART Station

Balboa Park BART Station

This trip marks the first time that I have used BART for anything other than going to and from the airport and I thought that it was about time that I get outside of the city for a little exploration. (even if it was just a fabric store!)

I hopped on the first train to come along, which happened to be going to Daily City. What I learned along the way (and I figured this is what would happen) is that I had to get off at Balboa Park to catch another train that would go all the way to Colma. As it turns out, I had a little bit of a wait at Balboa and it ended up being the same amount of time that I would have spent waiting for the right train at the Powell St. Station. Oh well! That gave me time to play with my iPhone and take some pics!

This pic is of the station looking upward and at the sky, layered in the Blender app with an accidental shot that took of the platform in front of me… if you look in the upper right-hand corner of the pic, you’ll see a cigarette butt there!

After layering this pic in Photo FX, Iris and ScratchCam, the sky looks really stormy, but it was actually quite sunny out that day. I love how you can totally change the mood of a pic right there on your iPhone!

It was a fun little trip – I have now dubbed Colma “Dead Town” because in my walk from the BART station to the shopping complex where the fabric store is, I saw no less than 4 graveyards, and big ones at that. I SO need to go back there just to take pictures of gravestones!!!


Day #48 – A Photo A Day 2013

Chris and I have decided to do more things together that are physically active. When we were looking for an apartment here, we saw these basketball courts near one of the apartment complexes that we toured and made a note to go back.

Yesterday we went there to shoot hoops, and ended up going again today, vowing to make this our weekend morning tradition. We had such fun! It made me realize just how awful at shooting baskets I have become but it’s still fun nonetheless and I’m determined to up my skill level to what it used to be. (or at least try!)

Chris was getting some serious air time – he says that he wasn’t jumping high enough, but I was certainly impressed and of course I brought out the iPhone to snap some pics, much to his chagrin but he was still a sweetie and didn’t complain.

Chris - Michael Jordan Style

Chris – Michael Jordan Style

We played at the Berry Street Basketball Courts at the end of Mission Creek Park – there is also a sand volleyball court there too!

It’s underneath Highway 280 which provides some nice shade and an interesting setting. It’s clean and quiet and steps away from Mission Bay and a super nice walkway along the water, which is the route that Chris and I like to take to walk there.

I’m sure we will have many more happy one-on-one games there! It’s a nice spot.