Sunday, July 15, 2018

Places Not To Plant Yourself

Turns out the runoff from those thermal features is kinda bad for plants.

But to be honest, I just think it's a near photo. Here's another one.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Grand Prismatic Spring

After Old Faithful we went to check out Grand Prismatic Spring. You can find a lot of photos of that online, many of them quite dramatic. I thought it had to be a bit overplayed, but we ought to check it out anyway. And it turns out I was wrong. That thing is frickin' amazing.

Somebody will inevitably ask if that's edited. It is, because it was shot in RAW and there's no way to not edit it. But it really is that colorful. It's ridiculous.

It's so colorful that if you look at it from the side, the water vapor rising off of it looks like it's colored blue.

Yeah, it's pretty cool. So it turns out I took a few photos there... like 180 or so... after I deleted the ones I really didn't like... Anyway, I won't make you look at all of them, but there will be a few. Because come on, this doesn't even look real...

There are two other pools next to Prismatic Spring. This one is Excelsior Geyser...

The other pool was... hell, I don't know. It was nowhere near as cool. Which was pretty much our attitude for the rest of the trip. "Oh, another amazing thermal feature? Is it even half as cool as Grand Prismatic Spring? Well then screw that stupid, one-of-a-kind, amazing-if-it-was-anywhere-else natural wonder." It kinda ruined us for the rest of the trip, but still so worth seeing.

I spent half an hour sitting in the line to get into the parking lot. I hate lines, I hate traffic, but it was 100% worth it. Go see that. As usual, more photos on Smugmug.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Yellowstone - Pool Abstracts

One of the neat things about the pools is the bizarre landscape of erosion, mineral deposits and bacterial mats that form in the runoff. You have to look closer, but the patterns and colors are amazing.

I have to concede that Wendy spotted this composition first. It's a good one!

This one almost looks like an aerial photo of a seaside cliff, but no. It's a closeup of a bubbling geyser. Nearly all of it is underwater too. It's a bit hard to see because the water is so clear, but if you look closely you can see the ripples from the water droplets hitting the calmer water.

Looks like a map of a desert with one river, if you ask me. And I do ask me, because nobody else would be so foolish.

And a few more of the lesser photos. As usual, more on Smugmug for the masochistic.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pride Parade 2018

Let's take a brief break from landscape photography for pretty much the exact, polar opposite - people wearing rainbow colors and sometimes not much else!

I went to Pride Parade again this year. I support the message and cause. It's basically just "be nice to people," which I find hard to oppose. But to be completely honest I mostly go because it's fun taking pictures of all the crazy people. I had previously gone in 2016 and had a good time. I actually thought I went in 2017, but apparently I didn't - go figure. 

I took a lot of photos today... 814 to be exact. Yeesh. I'm not going to post all of them here, but they will all be on Smugmug... whenever my internet connection finally catches up.

Let's start off with the visual/graphical opposite of the rest of the photos - Captain America!
Not only is this an impressively well-done cosplay, the guy is super friendly and nice, and is apparently doing this for charity. He's got a website with all his social media type stuff, so go check him out. 

Next up is Mythica! I've run into Mythica a few times now - at Pride Parade 2016, and doing some of my favorite chalk art. She's always really friendly as well, not to mention a colorful character - haha! ha... hey, it's my blog, I'll make terribly obvious jokes if I want to. Anyway, here she is again!

So that's enough of people I know, on to random people that I happened to get good photos of.
One of the things I like about Pride Parade is most people are delighted to be there. It's just a very positive experience.

Even better, a lot of them actually pose for the camera. It's almost like people that put on rainbow colors and makeup, grab balloons, and march in a parade want to have their photo taken! Weird...

Alright, some are a bit shy about it, but still. 

And if there's a doggo, you know I have to get picture of it. But PSA, I was talking to a parade marshal and they're actually against the rules. Partially because they tend to get dehydrated or heat exhaustion from walking on the hot pavement - thankfully not a problem today because it was cloudy. Also because they can get underfoot and get themselves or others into trouble. 

So that's great and all, but it's not a Pride Parade until you see...
Yep, gay sailors in a speedo. And when there are sailors around, you definitely need...

A giant walking condom. Naturally!

How about a pretty good cosplay of Hawkeye from the Avengers?

Good use of a pedalhopper! 

And again!

Oh hi ladies!

Yes, I even take photos of grump dogs.

Sneak: -100

Needs moar colors!

Carnival style!

And again...

Just a neat photo



Gaydar reading: inconclusive.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Old Faithful

We were fortunate to walk up right before Old Faithful put on a show. We were unfortunate in that the wind didn't blow the mist away, so we didn't get a very good view of the water from the geyser. Oh well - some days you get the geyser, some days the geyser gets you. (That's how that saying goes, right?)

Also saw a group of tourists re-enact the Abbey Road cover...

And see a number of smaller geysers in the area (more of these later...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trees in the Mist

We headed into Yellowstone relatively early in the morning. Near the entrance some thermal features threw up a cloud of mist that was backlit by the rising sun. It makes for a dramatic view.

In fact it was so dramatic that Wendy wrenched the car into a turnout, throwing around everything inside the car and narrowly missing the median. She then became so entranced with the view that she let the car roll into the curb instead of stopping it. Not exactly an auspicious beginning for a trip that turned out to involve some interesting driving.

A few more from that spot here. I'm too lazy to link them individually, so larger versions are here.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Grand Teton

We just got back from a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park. It was our most "All  American" vacation to date. We visited the first national park, saw bison, bears, cowboys, tall mountains and beautiful lakes.

But by far the most 'Merican thing was visiting Grand Tetons National Park. Because "t├ęton" means "breast" in French, and what could be more 'Merican than going to Big Titties National Park?

Anyway, without further classy banter, some photos...

This is my favorite photos of the Tetons that I've gotten to so far. This was taken from the Oxbow Bend turnout, a very nice place for sunrise. There was a photo workshop there at the same time, so probably 20 photographers in total running around. Thankfully it's a large enough area that we weren't much in each other's way. I do wish we could've gotten a better sky, but this one wasn't so bad.

My second pick from the same morning...

They're both pretty good in my opinion. I like the geese in the second one, but the full mountain range in the first one. Probably tomorrow I'll decide I like the second one better. :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Frozen Margaritas... and Science!

Limeade Frozen Margs ala Ben's Uncle
  • 1 can frozen limeade
  • Tequila
  • Triple Sec
  • Ice
Pour/squeeze limeade into a blender. Refill can with tequila and pour in. Refill halfway with Triple Sec and add. Add ice to taste, about 2-3 cans worth. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Blend and drink. I've been told that you should use Minute Maid limeade because the generic stuff will give you green torpedoes, but I have not observed this myself.
I've been a fan of frozen margaritas for years - ever since my college buddy Ben's Texan uncle showed us how to make them from limeade and ice. It's really a great summer drink in so many ways, and combines well with a lack of air conditioning. But I've always been annoyed that the frozen margs at some restaurants (notably Benny's) are much better than my home made margs. So one of my little projects this summer has been trying to create a better margarita.

The biggest difference is the texture. Restaurants margs have a smooth, thick, almost creamy texture. The ones I was making were more icy and granular, like a boozy snow-cone. I looked at buying a restaurant-style continuous mixer, but they're pretty expensive and I'd have to do a lot of drinking to justify it. Which isn't that much of a burden, but I don't want to become an alcoholic solely to amortize capital costs.

Better Frozen Margs
  • 1 can Bacardi frozen margarita mix
  • Tequila
  • Triple Sec
  • Ice
Pour/squeeze limeade into a blender. Refill can with tequila and pour in. Refill halfway with Triple Sec and add. Refill with water and add. Freeze for 4-8 hours, stirring/blending when you can. Add another can of water, freeze again and blend when possible.
Somewhere along the way I read that some of the commercial mixers took all liquid ingredients, rather than a bunch of ice and booze. So I figured I'd give that a try. And it turns out that's the secret! You just replace the ice with liquid water, freeze the whole thing, and you get a much better texture. The problem is that if you mix it all up at once, it'll separate in the freezer. Then you end up with a lake of concentrated booze and sugar, topped by a glacier that'll take 15 minutes and a pickaxe to pierce. So it's better to add some water and blend, freeze that, then add some more water and blend again. It ends up taking a day or two to make a pitcher of margs, but that's probably for the best anyway. Along the way I also tried out a Bacardi margarita mixer that I like a lot better than limeade, which was also an improvement.

Eventually I sobered up a bit and became curious about why the texture was different. I could probably ask a food scientist or a physicist, but I'm lazy and the internet is right there. So I did some Googling, read some stuff about formation of ice crystals, and made some completely unfounded conjectures which I will now present as "knowledge." Basically I think when you start with ice cubes you have relatively large crystals, which get chopped into smaller ones in the blender but are never very small. But when you start from a mixture of water, sugar, alcohol, salt, etc the water freezes into much smaller crystals because of the freeze concentration. Basically as the water freezes into pure ice, the remaining liquid has a higher concentration of solutes, which makes it even harder for the remaining water to freeze thus preventing larger crystals from forming. I think. Anyway, here are some really fascinating pages on the formation of crystals in ice cream, which seems like mostly the same thing.

So there you have it - better drinking through physics. My next task is trying to make better frozen margs from scratch. I've had one promising batch, but I haven't worked out a repeatable recipe yet. It looks like it'll be roughly the same as above, but replacing the premix with 3/4 cup of lime juice and 3/2 cup of simple syrup, give or take. I might also try extra-strength simple syrup. Anyway, I'll let you know when I figure it out, if I'm still capable of typing by then.

Update - here's my best stab at a good recipe before I call it quits for the season.

  • 8 oz tequila
  • 4 oz triple sec
  • 6 oz lime juice
  • 10 oz simple syrup
  • 20 oz water
Mix together everything but the water in a large blender. If you're not sure of the recipe, you may want to go easy on the lime juice and simple syrup - you can always add more later. Add 8oz of water. Freeze for 6-8 hours, stirring a couple times if possible. Take out of freezer. Taste and adjust lime/syrup ratio if needed. Add remaining water and blend. Refreeze, stirring a couple more times if possible. Blend again before serving. 

All amounts are easily modified if you like it stronger/weaker, more/less limey, more/less sweet. But if you add too much water it will be more difficult to blend after freezing. 

Use a long serving spoon to mix while blending. Before serving it should be liquid enough to maintain a smooth flow in the blender without assistance. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Memorial Day Canyons pt 3

One more from Fry Canyon last Memorial Day. Think I'll get through those before Labor Day? Eh, probably not, but oh well.

Anyway, I like this one because it's a somewhat narrow section, but still manages to show the scale of things. It's hard to get all of those at once - usually the narrow sections don't supply good overlooks like this. Plus the light is nice and soft with no hotspots, another rarity.

This is from later in the same canyon - definitely a different feel. Obviously I didn't take one, since that's me impersonating a corpse in the pool. It was just a nice place for a rest, one of the first warm spots after a lot of cold water. Also our fourth canyon in three days (more for some of the others) so we were getting a little tired.

I think I'll probably quit going on about this trip after this post, but if you just can't get enough there are 125 photos here.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Memorial Day Canyons pt. 2

The advantage of only posting once a month (or quarter... or year...) is that I can make photos from one vacation last a really long time! See, there's a method to my sloth madness!

This isn't really a great photo, but I heard some comments about canyons being claustrophobic. Which is definitely true some of the time, but not all of the time. Although that log solidly wedged 30 feet up might cause one to consider what this looks like during a flash flood.

Since I'm already posting photos of questionable quality, here's a canyon selfie. I know you're all jealous of my high-class canyon duds!
Although now that I think about it, that wetsuit might be the second or third most expensive item of clothing that I own. Does that make it high-class? Either way, I consider that to be a true victory in life. The shirt, on the other hand, was two dollars at Goodwill - which is why it's being used to protect the aforementioned high-class undergarment.