Monday, February 25, 2008

Lightroom to the Rescue

I've actually been prepping a post full of pictures altered in Adobe Lightroom, but this example was too good to pass up. The top picture is obviously the original, as shot back in early December 2005. It was shot with my little point and shoot, which is a solid camera, but it has a tendency to overexpose on cloudy days. Between that and the general lack of color "punch" I have a lot of pictures from that fall that I'm not entirely happy with. While the modified version below isn't perfect, it is immensely improved.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Moon Delayed

On Wednesday the moon experienced the last full lunar eclipse visible from North America for the next two years. People all across the country gazed up in wonder and awe as the shadow of our planet slid across the face of the full moon.

Sadly, people in Denver and surrounds gazed up in awe at dark, patchy clouds that completely obscured any views of the eclipse. I had my camera ready and everything! Luckily, the next night was gorgeous, and I did get these snaps of an almost full, non-eclipsed moon.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cave of the Winds

Kerosene Lanterns in the Dark...

After our sojourn to the Garden of the Gods, we traipsed up the highway to the Cave of the Winds. One of the major attractions in the Colorado Springs area, the Cave of the Winds is one of the larger open caves, and is the largest commercial cave in Colorado.

I had visited the cave years ago with my family, but it had been long enough that I felt it was time to play the tourist and visit again. I had no interest in the wimpy 45 minute basic tour. I know plenty about cave geology and didn't really want to take a tour along well lit concreted paths with guardrails. Caves should be dark, spooky, and totally awesome.

Taking a flash photo of these stalactites made them glow for a few seconds afterward, a very cool effect.

So we opted for the longer, and slightly more expensive, "lantern tour." This tour took us beyond the normal part of the cave into the un-electrified and slightly spookier part of the cavern system called "The Grands." The whole tour was done with only the feeble illumination of our kerosene lanterns, which was an entirely new way of spelunking for me.

The tour guide spoke mostly about the history of the cave, with plenty of spooky stories to freak out the girls. Tales of mummies, spiders, and ghosts kept us all entertained. I must confess though, that after the Paris Catacombs, it takes more than a dark place to freak me out. Now a dark place with the bones of a few hundred thousand dead Parisians, yeah, that will do it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Garden of the Gods

Unlike most folk, rather than settle in with chips and beer and the Super Bowl, Liz and I headed to Colorado Springs for a little bit of adventure. Our first stop was the famous Garden of the Gods, a public park situated between Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Massif.

To call the area, "stunningly gorgeous" would really be an understatement. The wind and water sculpted sandstone of the fountain formation looks almost organic, certainly unlike what most people think of us mere rocks.

Looming over the park, and the city of Colorado Springs itself, Pikes Peak is still every bit the landmark it was when gold miners painted "Pikes Peak or Bust" on their wagons.

I took the opportunity to try my hand at panoramic photography. The series I shot is quite a bit longer than this two-frame stitch, but I figured I shouldn't get too ambitious with my first attempt, and really, this shot of the hogback formations looks pretty good.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Some weeks ago my ex-student and friend Takashi (たかし) came to visit me here in Denver. He is a student from Kanazawa university, who is currently doing a years study abroad in Boston.

Since I just live her, I was unsure at what exactly to do as a "tourist" in Denver. After lunch at a local Japanese restaurant, my inspiration had hit a dead end. Luckily, Matt came to the rescue with the idea of taking the totally free Coors Brewery tour in nearby Golden CO.

The Coors brewery is the largest single site brewery in the world, and the newly combined company of Molson-Coors provides beer all over North American and the United Kingdom. Interestingly enough, I had actually take the tour once before, when I was perhaps 10 years old! Neither Matt, Brian, nor Takashi had been lucky enough to previously see the wonders of the brewing process.

While the giant fermenting vats certainly hinted at the scale of the operation, what really drove it home was the packaging floor. To see just one tiny part of the assembly line shipping out a 36 pack of Coors Light every second or so was amazing. The sheer volume of beer was indeed a bit humbling, and it gave one a powerful thirst...

Luckily for us that thirst was quenched, for at the end of the tour we could try, fresh from the freshest beer tap ever, three 8 oz samples of the various Molson-Coors products. As I recall, I sampled Molson, Killian's Irish Red, and Blue Moon Wheat Beer, having already had a draught of raw, super fresh Original Coors while on the tour.

We all had a fantastic time, and learned a new respect for Coors, but I think I'll still stick with micro brewed beer, when at all possible.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Stock Show pt. 2

Back at the Rodeo, some weeks ago now, we were in the middle of a VERY difficult environment for photography. Between the low light, the distance, and the fast action, it was a tough shoot for sure. Things were compounded by the manual focus on the lens I was using for most of the pictures, sadly, a lot of my shots are a bit on the blurry side.

Luckily, what they lack in photographic finesse, many of them make up in content. I caught some pretty cool shots... I just wish they were prettier! The above two photos are from the formation riding team, and I have to say I was impressed at their daring and skill. Galloping horses around at top speed and doing formations, in the dark at times, is a calling few are prepared for.

Next up was calf roping, and again the sheer speed of the event made things hard, though I think this shot conveys that pretty well.

This photograph from the Bull "Fight" (basically a clown running away from the large, angry bovine) has to be one of my favorites of the whole night. There is one man IN the barrel, the other guy, the actual "fighter" just jumped off the top of the barrel and is in the process of leaping over said angry bovine. Now THAT takes guts, and a good set of legs. Sadly this is one of the out of focus shots that no amount of post production work can really save.

The barrel racers tried hard, but it seemed that perhaps they thought the goal was to
hit the barrels rather than avoid them!

The finale was of course the bull-riders, and those guys just have to be given a round of applause. Avoiding an angry bovine just makes sense, but strapping yourself to the back of an animal that large that really, really, doesn't want your there? I'm not sure if thats courageous or just plain stupid.

As a parting shot I took a few snaps of a power plant, a nice change from the high speed world of bucking broncos and an opportunity to use my poor neglected tripod.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


This is an absolutely hilarious commercial for Pizza-la, one of the major Japanese delivery pizza places. While not bad, Pizza-la came in third after Domino and a local place that made something called a Piririan Pizza with lots of meat and spices. Pizza-la was far, far better than Strawberry Cones though.

Ah yes, the ins and outs of ordering Pizza in Japan. Remember, don't order the ebi-mayo. Unless you like shrimp and mayonnaise on your pizza...

Snowy Denver

The other day we got quite a snow storm, and I snapped a few decent shots while walking home from work. These actually required a fair amount of post processing, as the orange glow from the streetlights overwhelmed some of the images.