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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gearing Up for The Cold

Mono Lake South Tufa State Reserve, Lee Vining, CA
 Dawn at 14 degree Fahrenheit ( -10 degree Celsius)
If you have a scenery such as Mono Lake, yet the temperature is below freezing, would you stay outside for a long time to bring with you Mono Lake memories? Or would you just take a quick shot and leave? But then, getting to the lake needs a little bit of walking too, if you are not geared up for below freezing temperature, your bones may be frozen cold before you reach the lake. If you already have reached the lake, where you already have endured some cold, why not walk around the lake some more to find some interesting spot?  After finding your favorite spot, why not wait for sunrise? After all, sunrise is just maybe 30 minutes away! After sunrise, you may want to stay 30 minutes more when the soft morning light hits the tufas ( tufa means calcium carbonate towers as you see from above and below picture) . Mono Lake looks like an alien kingdom,where the enchantment it brings you may keep you to stay longer.
Tufas at Dawn
How would you be able to endure at least one hour exposure to sub freezing temperature for some photography without suffering? One difference between hiking and photographing is that hiking warms you up and helps you fight the cold, whereas photographing freezes you because you stand still and wait for that moment! A few minutes in the cold won't hurt, but to stay out for more than an hour or a day would be terribly suffering for most. 
Me, Surviving -10C temperature for more than an hour without suffering
What gears help me to enjoy being out for a long time in subfreezing temperature? 
1. Warm Gloves and Ski Mask. 
2. Layered Clothing. I wear hiking or running shirt over a thermal undershirt, a hoodie, fleece jacket, and light and breathable outside shell. For bottom layers, I wear thermal underpants and hiking pants. 
3. Hiking boots and wool socks.
Mono Lake at dawn
Among all those gears, if you ask me, which one will you most likely wear the most? For me, the answer is: hoodie! 

You can wear your hoodie as an inside layer like in the above situation, or wear it casually when the temperature is only chilly but not freezing cold. Because I wear hoodie a lot of the times, I always watch when there are good hoodie sale. I prefer zipped hoodie since it is easier for layering, and will not mess up my hair when I need to take it off when it feels warmer. For colors, I prefer blue or brown or black hoodie for street walking, however, I do have some brighter colors such as red, yellow and orange for hiking! 
Yellow  Aeropostale Hoodie For Hiking
Why that bright yellow color for hiking? We never know what will happen, it is best always if we wear something that we can easily be seen by our rescuers if we are lost. Thankfully, many brands such as Aeropostale hoodie carry really a wide selection of colors, and right now, at half the price!
Mono Lake, Sunrise
Will you give up on sights such as these just because of negative temperature? 
Mono Lake, a few minutes after sunrise
Or, are you willing to gear up for the cold? 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Manzanar National Historical Site

The Vast Desert at Manzanar National Historical Site
"The first thing we were asked to do was to fill the sack with straw. That would be our bed. Night came and I saw holes up the roof. I saw stars, so BEAUTIFUL. We woke up with sand all over us. The desert, it is so brutally hot in the summer, bone chilling cold in the winter, and there was always the WIND."- some words that haunted me after watching "Remembering Manzanar". A walk in Manzanar National Historical Site relives the painful history where Japanese Americans were put in isolation in this internment camp right in the middle of the desert.
Japanese Garden ( Japanese loves nature and rocks, and in their internment camp, they put up several gardens)
It's hard not to feel sad walking at this site's interpretative trail, which relives a painful history of the past. PLease click Manzanar National Historical Site to learn more about the place.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Island Prime

View of San Diego Bay from Island Prime, Harbor Island, San Diego
America's Cup World Series is in town. Most people would probably crowd the San Diego Embarcadero and Marina Park to experience the live fast action sailing race on high speed catamarans. We will avoid the crowd in marina and downtown area to have more solitude in witnessing the world's most prestigious sailing competition.
We have our little secret where to photograph quietly during international sailing events. Because America's Cup shares the race track along the bay, we know exactly where is the closest spot to witness how high speed catamarans perform on a race without fighting with the crowds. What is also ideal about this place is that it is very close to some of San Diego's nicest restaurants with a view such as Island Prime
Island Prime and San Diego Downtown from Harbor Island
Island Prime is located on Harbor Island Drive. Actually, the entire length of the Harbor Island is good for taking photos of sailing events since this is where the sail racing track passes. There are many nice restaurants in the area, but oftentimes, we just go to Island Prime since it is closest to our quiet spot. Island Prime Restaurant has a stilt-supported structure, thus it gives a feeling of being in the middle of the bay if you are inside. 
Shot Through The Glass Wall Inside Island Prime Restaurant
During peak hours however, if you are very hungry and does not have reservation, you may want to skip Island Prime since the wait is very long, unless you called in for reservation. If we do not have reservation, we spend our waiting time taking photos of the scenery around or of the events if there is one along the boardwalk. The boardwalk here is very long and is a lot quieter compared to the Embarcadero Marina Park closer to downtown. 
San Diego Bay from Harbor Island's Board Walk
Island Prime is a prime restaurant for seafood and steak that has great views all around, from Point Loma to North Island to downtown San Diego. While waiting for the entree, they give you bread that is so uniquely delicious.
Island Prime's Bread (served while waiting for entree)- this bread is really so uniquely delicious
I usually do not take pictures of the food that we eat, however, because of the cell phone these days, it is now easier for me to take pictures of the food without getting noticed :)
 Seared Ahi Tuna on a Bed of Wilted Spinach and Arugula
Colorado Lamb Rock
For more information on Island Prime Restaurant, you can check their menu, and yelp for reviews

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lake Poway to Mt. Woodson Trail Fall, Winter and Spring

fall foliage at Lake Poway

dust of snow at Potato Chip Rock
 dust of now at Potato Chip Rock
 spring wildflowers lining the trail
   spring wildflowers lining the trail
   spring wildflowers lining the trail
 spring wildflowers lining the trail