Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Denny Creek / Lake Melakwa

This was a hard hike for me. I'm not sure why, but for two weeks now I've been huffing and puffing up the mountains. I'm going to chalk it up to a stressful couple of weeks and put it behind me. Although, besides crazy superman Del who for some reason had energy to spare on this trip, I wasn't the only one who thought this was a hard hike.

Honestly one of the most beautiful hikes I think I've done so far, The Denny Creek trail is an amazing 9 mile round trip hike that transports you to a whole other world; under Brave New World like freeway overpasses, water slides over granite rocks, alpine peaks, glacier like snow packs, a mountain pass and a beautiful alpine lake. It's crowded and there a quite a few kids on the beginning of the trail, but I have to say the crowds are worth it. It's such a beautiful hike you have to do it at least once.

The trail starts out very "manufactured nature trail" like. Wood outlines the path for you and there are quite a few sets of stairs and a couple little bridges going over small creeks. Then you start to hear the freeway and all the sudden you are under a huge overpass. I wanted to take a quick picture of it for reference in this post. You can see a blur on the left side, which would be a large fingerprint on my lens! Didn't catch that until halfway up the trail when Del was nice enough to clean it my lens and pointed it out to me. 
Del commented that he was tired of saying hello to everyone on the trail and it makes sense as usually we are on trails that aren't very crowded and at most we see 4 hikers that we have to talk to. I knew that there were two waterfalls on this trail and because we were passing so many families, I assumed that they were only going up to the first waterfall. I was almost right. This bridge crosses Denny Creek and above it is the Keekwulee Falls which is basically a water slide over huge granite slabs where families had parked themselves after the 1.5 mile hike. 

Del handed down his tripod to me, so for this trip I thought I'd try it out. The sun was really bright and the sky had a lot of clouds so I couldn't leave my shutter open for too long at the falls. I didn't like any of the pictures I took, but I included this one in the post to show you the scope of how big the Falls actually were. If you look on the top left hand corner of the picture you will see a pair of little legs. Those are some big rocks!

About .5 miles after the first set of falls we came upon a series of switch backs that opened up to look upon the mountains surrounding us. This is a view of Denny Mountain and the peak you see on the left is called The Tooth. Del took some great pictures on his site of this valley and the rock scrambles.

After heading up a rocky climb and a quick pass through some beautiful trees with their roots exposed on the trail (roots man, damn!) you come to a clearing with a large ledge overlooking Snowshoe Falls. The trail leads over to them and we were able to actually stand on the rocks above the falls where you can see the snow pack. There were a few couples hanging out on the rocks and I figured this is where most day hikers turned around instead of heading up to the lake. Turned out I was right. We didn't pass too many people on our way up to Hemlock Pass, of course it was getting late and I'm sure most people that were heading that way were camping out.

On the way up to Hemlock Pass I turned around to take a picture of the trail. As you can see there were many rocks  and three times we had to traverse through runoff streams and waterfalls that crossed the path. At one point we crossed Denny Creek again and laid across the creek was a large log to walk over.

Finally making it up and over the pass we come to a sign point the way to the two different lakes off the trail. We head to the left towards Lake Melakwa. There was still snow on the lake edges and it was very cold, but what a welcome feeling. I was exhausted from the hike and was ready to just sit as I knew it was going to be nightfall when we finally made our way down and I would need all the energy I could get. In this picture you can see the highest peak, Chair Peak (on the right), to which there is a scramble to get up to the top.

Del headed off to find a good view to shoot and I sat down at the side of the lake and took my tripod out to play around with the panoramic option on my camera. I had no idea how to use it and didn't realize that I would have to put the pictures together later in Photoshop, but I still think this one turned out pretty well. Hopefully, now that I know how to use it, my next outing I will have some fun panoramics.

Deciding he had taken all the shots he could, Del and I decided to head back down. He had purchased a head lamp earlier in the day thinking we might end up going down in the dark and boy was he right. I had an LED pen light that had been used as our only light as we came down Mt. Si in the middle of the night so I felt safe and prepared. Oh golly was I wrong. 
The batteries were almost dead in my light so we did a switch of batteries so we each had one good and one bad, but the light was so minimal that we were basically blind. The twilight was really nice and it was a cloudy night so the light pollution was bouncing off illuminating the trail. Once we reached the woods, however, it was pitch black. I twisted my ankle two or three times to the point of having to stop, and superhuman Del did it a couple times too but he just kept blazing the trail. He loves coming off the trail in the middle of the night. 
Finally we reached  Keekwulee Falls and it was at that point that we switched batteries back so his headlamp was at full power.After that it was a breeze getting back down to the trailhead. Per usual, we were the last ones off the trail and the seeing the truck almost brought tears to my eyes I was so tired. So lesson learned....bring light because you never never know.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Capitol Hill

I live on Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA. I've always wanted to live in the city and even when I was in LA I never had the ability to just park my car and walk to the grocery store or local coffee shop. I could never get drunk at a local bar and stumble home. The city was never easily accessible. That all changed when I moved to the Hill.

Many people say that Capitol Hill has changed for the worse. Gentrification has happened once again and old buildings are being torn down only to be replaced with parking lots and condos. The Cha Cha is one such place. A hipster haven on Pike, Bimbo's Bitchin Burrito's used to be located about 1/2 a mile down on Pike, but the building was torn down in preperation for either the Monorail extention or a condo building...I can't actually remember which! When Bimbo's relocated into their new spot, they created a club downstairs called The Cha Cha. Filled with memorabilia from Lucha Libre, it's dark, red, has a photo booth and $5 pitchers of Rainer Beer. They have subsiquently opened a Cha Cha in LA in the Silverlake neighborhood, sans Bimbo's. You might remember that a good friend of mine enjoy's a game of foosball there every now and then.

I felt like wandering today so I called my friend Casey and he agreed to join me. We met up at Bimbo's to catch up and eat some food before our walk. I captured the picture above when in the middle of Casey telling a story I noticed that my camera was on and had the shot already loaded into the view finder. I had to mess with the settings a bit but I was really excited to achieve the blurred background affect by bringing my F stop to around 3.5. I finally remembered something Del had taught me and I think it turned out really well!

I had always thought the Jimi Hendrix Memorial was in a very strange location. On the corner of Pine and Broadway, Jimi sat in front of an empty building. Finally just a couple months ago Everyday Music open it's doors and Jimi is now situated right in front of an excellent independant music store. I got down in front of the statue looked up to see the sky finally blue after a day of gray. I quickly snapped a few shots as the fluffy white clouds flew by. 

We headed over to Volunteer Park just as the sun was setting. Coming upon the reservoir I saw quite a few couples sitting around waiting for the sun to set. Del loves doing back lit photo's and I thought I might try my hand at one. Of course, I'm lacking his awesome skills and I ended up getting the couple full on in the shot instead of backlit; of course it didn't help that the guy was wearing a white shirt! It's still kinda sweet.

This is Black Sun, which supposedly inspired Soundgarden's song "Black Hole Sun". It's always been a wish of mine to capture a really beautiful shot of this scuplture, and I don't think I've done it just yet...but it's a good start.
A couple weeks ago I went to a little secret garden about a block away from my apartment that Casey showed me when I moved in. It's a bit of an oasis in the middle of the city and not a lot of people know it's there. Unfortunately it's become pretty overgrown and although there were some lovely flowers scattered about, there wasn't enough light for me to get a really lovely shot. I did, however, find this little guy hiding behind some brush.
Also of note, when Del and I were doing one of our walks in Bellevue we saw a poster for a lost cat. Instead of a picture of said kitty, there was a stick figure drawing of a cat. We laughed about it and figured that no one else would be stupid enough to post a sign like that. Then about a week ago up the road from my house I saw the sign in the above picture. I made it black and white as it's not that interesting a shot, but in black and white everything looks cool. 
So if anyone sees a clip art cat lingering around....

I'm hoping this will be an on going project for me, but I was really happy with the results of my outing today so I felt compelled to post what I have. I also will be giving more of a history of my lovely neighborhood in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Granite Lake

Even though we had hiked 10 miles the day before and had almost been eaten by something strange in the woods, we woke up Sunday morning and decided to do it all over again. Del has been searching for a lake recently, to no avail, so he suggested the hike to Granite Lake.

Before heading out he checked the route online. An article stated that the trail was about 11 miles round trip with a moderate gain. We packed minimal, thinking 11 miles wouldn't be too bad and headed out. This trail was also in the Middle Fork area, except it was only 2.5 miles in on paved road which was a welcome from the hike the day before which was 15 miles in down a dirt and gravel road.

We located the trail head with little difficulty and began our trek. Right away the trail proved to be more scenic than the previous day. The trail is actually an in use forestry service road so it was very wide, which made for a nice side by side walk. Right away we came upon a clearing that provided amazing views of Mt. Si and Mt. Teneriffe. I remember saying that I hoped the gain continued the way that it was going because it was very moderate and felt like a nice comfortable work out. Unfortunately Del laughed and said "hahahaha....don't get used to it". He was so right, as the trail really started to climb.

We could hear a pretty large creek off to the right and finally it came into view through the trees. It was a bit off the trail and to get to it we would have needed climbing gear, just to be safe. I kept hoping that we would end up crossing it so I could see it and luckily about 2.5 miles up we did.

Shortly after crossing the creek the trail really started to climb. The gain started to get pretty crazy and there were no switch backs to help in the process. Luckily it wasn't very rocky so we weren't slowed to much by having to scramble over rocks. It was really warm and there were quite a few clearings and not a lot of tree cover. The views were still excellent as we were able to see all the major peaks.

I started to get very tired and at one point I almost snapped at Del, and it was at that point I realized I needed to stop and eat. Del agreed and we sat down in the middle of the trail and ate a gigantic sub sandwich and rested for a bit.

Continuing up the trail we came to a fork in the road. The directions had said there was supposed to be two forks and at the second one we were supposed to see picnic benches. As I didn't remember seeing a fork in the road at all on our journey, I assumed this was the first one and since I saw no benches we decided to take the fork left...which we found was a mistake as we steadily climbed an empty creek bed. We eventually came to snow, which was a welcome site because we were so hot and covered in sweat and bugs. Grabbing handfuls of snow and letting it melt on our face and our limbs, we rested for a moment and hydrated ourselves from the outside.

Continuing up the trail we finally came to a clearing before what looked like a very steep and rock hill. We stopped to gather ourselves before taking on this endeavor as we were very tired from the hike up. As I laid on top of my backpack on an ant hill I began to pray for someone to come down the trail so we could know if we had taken the right path. Strangely enough I heard rocks tumbling down the hill and coming from the trail was a man on a mountain bike. I jumped up and asked him if we were on the right path. Of course, the answer was no. We were actually on our way to Russian Butte and were supposed to have taken a right at that fork a while ago.

Relieved to finally know where we were going, we started backtracking. I asked Del if he was excited to finally be on his way to see a lake and he said no..."I won't get excited until I actually see it". He has had so much bad luck trying to find a lake that he figured this would be no exception.

We reached the fork and started our descent towards Granite Lakes. I soon realized why Del was so melancholy about finally finding the right trail as we came to a clearing about .75 miles in and did not see a lake nor a clear trail. We started down one, only to come upon many trees blocking the trail. I remembered seeing the beginning of another trail so we started down that and after quite a bit of scrapes and tree branches in the eye we finally came to a point where we could see the lake.

I realized right away that in order to take a good picture out here I would need two things: a UV filter and a polarizer. As you can see in this picture the water filtered out the UV rays and made the sky a bright blue, however the sky is a wash. It was still a beautiful sight, even though we had to push our way through quite a bit of brush as there was no trail at all on the shores of the lake. The bugs were another story.

We knew that there would be issues with bugs, but for some reason we keep forgetting to purchase bug spray before the hikes and this time we paid dearly. I couldn't even sit for more than one second without a bug in my eye, my ear, my hair, my face. I literally had my own swarm of bugs that I named "Swarm Junior Junior".

Forever suffering for his art, Del braved the bugs and headed out through the brush to find the perfect shot. He has been waiting for this moment for quite sometime and he wasn't going to let any bugs stop him. At one point I heard him call for me as he was hearing a growling in the woods. I ran over his way with the gun and covered him while he continued to shoot. I found it amazing what fears he overcomes when out in the field. The shot is so important that he becomes no longer afraid of heights and can stand in the middle of an area full of animals and not show fear.

I had taken a few shots but was so fed up with the bugs that I put my camera away and used a bush branch to swat them away while I waited for Del to finish his. There was no way I was going to ask him to leave early. I knew this was pretty important to him and if he can man up and take the bug swarm, so could I!

I took this one last shot of Thompson Point before putting my camera away for the rest of the hike. If you click on the picture and zoom in you will see the cabin at the very top of the peak. It was a strange sight out in the middle of nowhere. I did some cropping on this photo as the colors were so off from the haze in the air. I can't wait to get those filters.

This trail kicked my ass...for sure. The gain was tremendous and add to it the heat and the bugs all I wanted to do was click my heals together three times and be transported back to the truck at the end of the trail. I keep reading that this trail is really only suited for winter hiking, but I strongly differ in opinion. Not only are you awarded with excellent views of the surrounding peaks, but you cross a lovely creek, come in contact with many wildflowers, have the opportunity to see at least two lakes if not 4 if you continue the trail up. Add the fact that this is an EXCELLENT work out due to the large elevation gain and no switch backs, I think this is a fine summer hike and wish that more people took the trail out to Granite Lake so it was clear of brush and more easily accessible.

Quartz Creek

For the last two weekends I've been sick and haven't been out on the trail, so when I started to feel like myself again we decided to take an outing. Quartz Creek Road was an easy choice. It forks off the Taylor River / Otter Falls trail so it was in familiar Middle Fork Territory. The interesting thing about this area is that it used to be over run with lawlessness. In fact, there was even a meth lab there, which you can evidently still see remnants of but we've never been over that way. Its really interesting to me that hikers and nature lovers are reclaiming this area as there are so many beautiful peaks, lakes and wildlife here that is really worth saving. After spending time in Los Angeles where people destroyed all history and wildlife to build tract housing and parking lots and on hikes you actually see grafitti on the rocks, it's really nice to be in a place where people respect the land.

Right away I noticed the abundance of buttercups and since this time of year the trail is so green, I thought it would be a good time to practice my close ups of flowers. I was really excited about this opportunity because the flowers were right in the sunlight and the gold of the buttercup was sparkling. I was really hoping to pull out the shimmer a bit more, but I'll keep practicing.

Finding the sign for the trail, we took a left and headed up. This used to be an old mining road and apparently there are still some mines up on the hill. We were on the look out for quartz, but really didn't find any. The trail is a gentle climb through the forest and although there are some pretty old growth trees, it's not too spectacular scenery wise. You can hear the creek below, but never actually see it.

I had seen this plant on other trails and I really liked it because to me it looked a bit like fireworks going off. However, when i zoomed in on this picture I saw a different view of it and if you look really closely you will notice our nemisis for the entire of the thousands of bugs we encountered.

I took quite a few pictures of these plants and yet I wasn't able to get the right shot. I was still really amazed at how sharp the details came out while only using the macro setting on my camera that I felt compelled to add the above shot, whatever composition it may be lacking.

The whole time I was walking I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye every time I turned around. It almost seemed like something was following us, but it would disappear the moment I turned around. I didn't make a mention of it because I know how superstitious Del can be and I didn't want to weird him out. Plus, sometimes I see things that other people don't really believe in so I tend to just keep quiet about them. However Del made a mention to me that he sensed something behind us and when he would look behind me he would see something. We dubbed this thing "Mystery Hiker" and honestly felt as though we had a presence that followed us up to the end of Quartz Creek Road, where the above shot was taken.

The end of Quartz Creek Road is a clearing with a couple fire pits and a make shift bench with a couple rocks on it that Del took to being an arrow and followed it. His instincts were correct and even though he had to forge a path through quiet a bit of brush he came to the edge and looked across to the hill next to us and saw a waterfall that ran all the way down the mountain, which I believe is called Bessemer Mountain. It was very hard to catch with my camera, but I'm posting it anyway...

The clearing also had the above spot that looked out over the hills next to us and a peak way off to the left that still had snow on it. The rocks all around us had a beautiful red hue on them that I'm really glad came out in my shots. The log in the above picture is on the ledge and provides a lovely resting spot. This would be a good place to turn around and would make for a nice day hike with a great pay off...however being us, we decided to continue up the trail which I now know leads up to Rooster Mountain.

I took this picture just as we headed up Rooster Mountain Trail. Do you see where the trail stops? Did that make us turn back? Of course not. We pushed through the brush and continued up the trail. It had a nice incline, but there were switch backs so it didn't hurt the legs too much. There were a few small creeks that had created sink holes around them, so if you treck up that way be sure to watch your footing.

About half a mile into this deserted trail we heard a sound. It was three short bursts of something that sounded like a cross between a money and a bear "oowooh oowooh oowooh". It made us a bit nervous, but of course continued up. It seemed distant enough and it stopped after a bit, but the sound always came in threes "oowooh oowooh oowooh".

Since it was around 7 pm and we weren't sure where the trail went, Del suggested we walk another hour before heading back down the trail. About 45 minutes after that we were in the middle of a darkened section of the trail and all the sudden that sound we heard before was back, except this time it was so loud it sounded like it was right in the forest next to us. Del pulled out the gun and we waited. He had me slowly, at first, head back down the trail...then I really started to gain some speed, all the while looking behind me to make sure we weren't being followed. We heard the sound a few more times, but it got a bit quieter the further down we went so it seemed as though whatever it was wasn't following us. I can't remember ever being that scared on the trail.

We made it back down to the begining of Quartz Creek Road and immediately felt more safe. It seems as though whatever was up there stayed up there. We stopped for a moment to look at the view again and calm down from the fright. It helped because as we started our descent, Del stopped to take some really beautiful shots of a daisy that had a spider on it that had changed to the color of the flower so it was completely white. I tried to take a stab at it with my camera but it didn't come out as lovely as his. I'll be sure to post the link if he puts the picture up on his site. As an extra added bonus he even went all youtube starwars lightsaber kid like on invisible bigfoot, even curb stomping him Gears style. It was awesome.

Quartz Creek wasn't as picturesque as some of the hikes we've been on however there was something about this trail that stayed with me. I don't know what was up there, or who was up there, but I know that I felt someone walking with us and I know that there was a creature that perhaps was unexplainable lurking in the trees. I hope to one day have the courage to go back and continue the hike all the way up to Rooster Mountain peak.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sup Pop's 20th Birthday

I'm not sure how I lucked out on such a great job up here. Not only do I get to meet artists and interview them, but I also get invited to industry events and this week it was Sub Pop's 20th Birthday celebration at the top of the Space Needle. Please check out their website if for some reason you are not familiar with this iconic Seattle label.

I almost didn't go. My co-workers at the last minute decided not to go and two of my friends weren't feeling well and another of my friends is deathly afraid of heights. I didn't really want to go on my own, but I knew I would kick myself if I didn't at least check it it was a free trip to the top of the Space Needle, one of my favorite places in the city and so expensive to go up in at this time of year.

I arrived just as the sun was setting so the Needle was lit up a bright orange. The sky was bright blue and I just loved the contrast of colors. I would have loved a couple of bright white clouds in this picture, but I'm not going to complain about a cloudless Seattle day!

I headed for the line to board the elevator for the top. I felt as though I was literally surrounded by an Urban Outfitters store. Everyone looked the same, dressed the same and it made me feel like I knew everyone. Like all of Silverlake or Echo Park had taken the trek up to Seattle and I was going to run into someone I knew. It was unsettling and made me glad I had decided to wear a hoodie with jeans instead of trying to conform to some hipster type ideal. Are dark rimmed glasses and beards the new flannel for the Northwest? I digress...

As soon as I got to the top I was let off right into the line for the bar where I proceeded to order a Jack and Coke and then headed for the food. I wandered around looking for a place to sit, but the entire area was now so packed that there was hardly any room to wander around let alone sit down and eat. I quickly ate, sucked down my beverage and then headed out to the observation deck.

If you have never been to the Space Needle before, the top consists of two parts. One interior, where the party was held, and then an outdoor section that circles around the top giving you 360 degree views of the city. The sun was setting and I tried my hardest to capture the sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains as they were back lit beautifully, but I just don't have the skill yet and I faultered....miserably, as you can see from the above photo. I almost didn't want to post it as the colors are atrocious and it's so blurred, but I decided I might as well. I'm not a professional and it gives you an idea of what I was looking at. So there :)

At this point I've realized there is no way I'm going to take a decent shot from here, and besides they are all touristy photo's anyway. I went back inside to get another drink and listen to some music.

The lines are stupidly long now as it's around 10:15 and the party is in full swing. After finally obtaining another beverage I went over to check out Death Vessel, who had just started their set. The acoustics were terrible, the sound man wasn't paying attention and there was a lot of feedback coming from the speakers, but damn could those boys play. I am really interested to see them live as they blew me away even with all the sound issues.

As you can see from the picture above, it was really dark in there and since the band was moving it was next to impossible to get a picture of them that was clear. My first call when I finally left the party was to Del and I asked him "I need to learn how to take a picture of people moving in a really dark place" to which he replied "Oooohhh hahahahahahaha, good luck". I guess I have my first challenge.

As I left I took a quick picture of this poster which, besides the flag on the top of the Needle, was the only mention of the party I had just attended. I'm glad I went because I would have always wondered, but as far as venues go I would have preferred it be in the nearby EMP. The Space Needle just wasn't the right space for this, but I applaud them for their effort!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Are Scientists @ Neumos

After the RZA interview, I was a little wary of getting to another artist interview early. Unfortunately no matter how much I try not to be, I always am. Luckily Motzo and another one of our PA's Kyle were there already. We sat in the bar for a bit waiting and enjoying happy hour prices ($3 for Dewars, $3 pints!) and I took a few shots with my camera. It was really dark in the bar so I was playing with my settings. The above picture was a zoomed in shot of the top shelf of the bar. I cropped the heck out of it as most of the shot was black and added some fun effects from Photoshop. I thought it looked like a panoramic of a city.

The band wasn't very late at all, we were supposed to meet at 8 pm and around 8:10 we got a call from the tour manager that they were ready for us. We walked through the venue to the backstage area and passed many curious and jealous fans. The band was seated in one of the green rooms (there are three at Neumos and they had two opening acts) with a laptop in front of them trying to figure out where a good book store was in the area.

We set up quickly and closed the doors to the green room. It was stupidly hot in there with the lights on, but even though I was sweating and a bit nervous I asked them questions with ease. Both Keith and Chris were funny and stupidly quick witted. Every answer they gave it was like a well rehearsed play and I had a hard time not laughing out loud. I didn't get to take many pictures, in fact I only shot the two. The above one is my favorite though, even if I had taken many I think this would have been my favorite. It caught them in a moment where, even though there is a full camera crew in front of them, they are just being their normal selves.

We interviewed them for a good 30 minutes, which was great because usually we don't get that much time with a band before their show. We didn't stay for the show, I've been feeling a little under the weather and thought it would be best if I went home to sleep, but I'm really glad I got the chance to meet We Are Scientists. I hope to get some video footage from our producer soon so I can post it along with the pictures.

Please check out their website, myspace and watch their new video Chick Lit on youtube.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Twin Falls

Twin Falls is a short 3 1/2 mile round trip hike off of the Iron Horse trail. It can be a brutal one though as it goes straight down to the falls through a very narrow path filled with full grown nettle plants, wildflowers and some pretty amazing old growth trees.

I was excited about this trip because it was short (I was feeling a bit under the weather) and there were waterfalls and I could practice shooting them with my new camera.

We started at the Twin Falls trail head which heads straight up the hill to meet up with the Iron Horse Trail. The trail to Twin Falls is approximately 300 feet up the trail and once you meet up with it, you go straight down the hillside through what starts out as an almost overgrown trail. It clears up to show you some old growth trees and then takes a steep descent to the falls. The first view point looks at the upper falls, but if you continue down the path you will come to a bridge with a breathtaking view of the entire upper falls. It was here that I set up with the tripod to try my first shots.

My main frustration with the camera first off was the brightness of the falls. It was so white against such a dark background that my shots were washed out. Since I'm not exactly versed yet in the correct settings I wasn't able to achieve a good shot.

Del sensed my frustration and pulled out his filters and set one in front of my lens (I can't remember if it was the polarizer or the neutral density, I'll clarify with him and update this post). As you can see it really warmed up the colors and made the falls clear. Scroll up to see the picture above for the difference. I'm still learning all the terminology and I'm sure the more I learn I'll look back on this post and cringe (as I'm sure anyone with any knowledge of cameras is doing right now!).

I noticed another view point a bit lower from the bridge so we wandered a bit further down and was greeted with a lovely view of the lower falls, which cascades down a rock face. I was playing with the zoom and although this isn't the best picture I was enjoying the different colors in the rock and with the water flowing over it I though it might make for a nice shot. I'm sure I will be able to come back to it later and play around with it when I start to learn more.

I was playing around with shutter speed on this one as I didn't have Del's filter (he was taking shots of his own). I was able to darken up the trees and pull out the color, but as you can see the falls still blur up even at a higher shutter speed (is it higher if it goes quicker or is it when it's slower...ugh) In any case, I made it so the shutter was only open for a quick moment but it still blurred.

Last time Del had been down to the falls he tried to climb all the way down to the bottom of the upper falls and ended up dangling off a cliff. This time he noticed another trail and asked if I was up for climbing down. As always, of course I was! It was harrowing, and I don't recommend it to the daily hiker. It was pretty much straight down, very muddy and slippery. We used tree roots to hold on to as we descended. Finally reaching the bottom he actually slipped jumping off a rock, which made my heart stop and I perched myself on a rock to watch him as he wandered around the slippery surfaces.

My battery was dying at this point, but I was able to catch a few shots of the waterfall, with the same issue as before. I was a little frustrated so I put my camera away. The above shot I actually cropped down. The original had two large boulders that were to the left that when I was at the falls I thought framed the shot, but when I processed it at home it the boulders were actually a distraction from the falls. So I cut them out.

The hike up out of the falls was easy, but dirty, and the hike up the rest of the trail was all up hill and a great work out. We saw many people going up and down the trail many times so obviously it's used as a sort of cross training. For a day climb and for any one who is new to hiking, I highly recommend Twin Falls.

UPDATED 7/10/08:

Just a quick note: Del was nice enough to show me a trick in photoshop with the above picture. The new version is below. He lightened up the shadows and really brought out the rocks and the green. Thanks Del!

4th of July

I purchased a new camera today! It was completely an impulse purchase, but I walked into a camera shop on the 4th to just look around and saw it in the clearance section. I looked at it, played with it and realized that it had everything I needed. I figured I would come back when I got paid next and if it was still there, I would get it. We walked back to the car, sat there for a minute and I realized that I've been wanting a camera for the longest time and there was no way I was going to be able to spend the $350 on the camera I had been looking at. We walked back in and $75 later I had a new toy!

I headed home to get ready for the night of the 4th, and while I was waiting to be picked up I started playing around with the macro option on my camera. Since my apartment is pretty bare, I took pictures of the only thing I had in the apartment that had texture to it; a fake plant that had been handed down to me because no one else in the family would take it. It's sitting in a wicker planter and I just got down on the floor and used it to stabilize my shot. After a few tries and playing around with the settings I ended up with pretty nice shot.

I like this one a lot, it's pretty fun to be able to catch the detail and texture of things. I think that was one of the reasons I wanted a camera. To take a shot of something that looks one way, but when you actually see the entire subject you get this feeling of "that's what it really was?" Almost like creating beauty out of what one would see as ugly.

I didn't bring my camera up to take pictures of the fireworks, I love fireworks so much that I just wanted to experience them through my eyes instead of the viewfinder. However, I was lucky enough to have someone else there to take some beautiful shots from my vantage point on a rooftop in West Seattle. We were able to see two different fireworks shows, which just blew my mind and was so amazing to see my first 4th of july back in Seattle. I felt really blessed and lucky to be spending the holiday with good friends and in such a perfect location. Please check out the photos here.