Category Archives: Travel
On the second leg of my camping trip last week, I stayed at the Collegiate Peaks campground outside Buena Vista, Colorado. Once again, after the evening thunderstorms, the skies cleared enough to provide some spectacular views of the stars. I even got lucky and captured several meteors streaking across the sky in some of the long-exposure shots below. It’s fascinating to me that our planet is under constant bombardment by space rocks (essentially every few seconds), but we often don’t realize or forget about that because something like 99.9% of meteors are tiny (sometimes as small as a grain of sand) and burn up in the atmosphere before they ever have a chance of reaching the ground.
Enlarged crop of the photo above that shows the meteor more clearly:
Some meteors that I captured were so faint that they weren’t visible to the naked eye and were only discovered later when I looked at the photos more closely:
I used my small LED flashlight to illuminate the tree during this 30-second exposure:
A little bit of fun with light painting:
I finally had a chance to sort through some of the photos I took during last week’s camping trip to Central Colorado. As I’ve always said – I’m not a very good landscape photographer (which, I think, still holds true), but I feel that it was almost impossible to take a bad photo when I was surrounded by such incredible beauty. Vast open landscape with hills and towering Collegiate Peaks in the west and mostly flat expanse of farm land in the east, big skies with clouds that often produce an amazing and electrifying display of evening thunderstorms, followed by rainbows and the magical golden light of the setting sun; and last, but not least – night starscapes that inspire wonder and ignite the imagination. While the tiny town of Hartsel, CO doesn’t have much to offer in itself, traveling just a dozen miles outside of it opens up vistas that create a stark contrast to the city life that I’m used to.
The first photo below is a panorama comprised of 11 images (you can see the large-resolution photo on Flickr; warning – it’s pretty huge!)
Look at that giant sky! My car on the country road and the cows grazing in the field behind it look tiny and insignificant under it:
The fire pit:
No processing was done to the image below. This is how the light, colors and the sky really looked after a thunderstorm! Incredible. I also love my long shadow.
I just got back from a 3-day camping trip in the beautiful Collegiate Peaks area of Colorado. While I’m definitely feeling refreshed, there is a lot of work to catch up on over the next several days.
It was surprising to learn about the flurry of earthquakes in Maryland and Colorado when I got back, in addition to the resignation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Really, it’s amazing how much can happen in the news over just a couple of days, but when you’re away from civilization for any period of time – disconnected from radio, television, internet and pretty much everything else, world events tend to seem very distant and unimportant. It’s just you, your tent, your thoughts and the vast expanse of the sky and natural landscape. In my mind, there is nothing better to clear your head and come back to the understanding of what’s really important in life.
I will post more photos from the trip in the near future, but right now – it’s back to the grind of editing shoots from last week and catching up on e-mails. Living in the city certainly has its perks (such as hot showers, flush toilets and gourmet food), but I would be lying if I said that I haven’t fantasized about living off the grid at some place similar to this for a while.
Having had a couple of very busy weeks, I was, once again, desperate to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, yesterday a friend and I ventured out to Ward, CO on a hiking trip that took us to the Left Hand Reservoir at a whooping elevation of over 10,000 feet. Going from 85-degree Denver summer heat to a windy, snow-covered mountain path was a refreshing experience.
After hiking up a remote trail that was covered with rocks and giant hills of still-unmelted snow for almost an hour, we finally came across a clearing that led to one of the most incredible mountain vistas I have ever seen. The Indian Peaks towered majestically in the background of a beautiful (even if man-made) lake. Along the way, we spotted some relatively fresh tracks in the mud that looked like they were from a small bear or a mountain lion. It was both exciting and slightly unnerving, given that we were in a pretty remote location entirely by ourselves with no other human beings around us for miles.
It never ceases to amaze me how many incredible locations there are in Colorado, and how I still haven’t explored the vast majority of them. It’s very humbling, and also fun to think about, because it means that there will always be more amazing places to see! I really need to get out more often.
For this trip, I left my DSLR at home and only brought my new Android cellphone and the little Canon PowerShot SD780IS point-and-shoot. Ironically, I ended up using my phone (HTC Sensation 4G) for most of the photos, particularly taking advantage of the super-fun Retro Camera app .
Originally, I didn’t want to bring my Canon 7D with lenses because of the weight, knowing that I would need to schlep it in my backpack on an uphill trail. But after seeing the beautiful quality of the images taken with my phone, I think I might start ditching the 7D at home more often, at least for personal photos :)
As I keep discovering, Colorado has no shortage of amazingly beautiful places within just a few hours’ drive from Denver. I haven’t gotten a chance to go camping at all this summer, until last weekend when I was finally able to get away for a couple of days to the gorgeous Lake George area.
I’m not much of a landscape photographer (waking up before dawn to catch the sunrise and the magic hour’s golden light is slightly above my level of dedication), so most of the photos I took were mid-day snapshots when the sun was harsh and high in the sky. The polarizing filter helped in making the photos a bit more saturated and contrasty.
The image below is actually a panorama stitched from about 8 separate shots. This was the only way I could get such a wide angle of view, and I think it turned out fairly well.
Below are some long exposure shots of the night sky (about 30-40 seconds each). The tree in the first shot is lit by the campfire, hence the red glow. These photos came out a little blurry (I maxed out my camera’s ISO and the aperture was at 2.8), but I’m still amazed at how intense the stars are outside of the city on a clear night. You an see the Milky Way with the naked eye – it never ceases to amaze me and ignite my imagination.
Coincidentally, on the days I was camping marked a peak of the September Perseids meteor shower. I saw at least two shooting stars, though, sadly – was unable to capture them on camera.
A bit of advice for you, my city-dwelling friends: step outside of the light polluted zone once in a while and look up at the night sky. Ponder the vastness of the Universe and your place in it. It really puts things into perspective :)
As part of a much-needed vacation last month, I took a trip to New York, where I spent some quality time with old friends and got a chance to explore parts of the city that I haven’t seen before.
After spending Labor Day weekend in Penfield, a cozy, albeit sleepy upstate town, Manhattan seemed as vibrant as ever. I happily explored the lively Greenwich Village, took an extended stroll through Central Park and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at night. I had potato dumplings (“vareniki”) and smoked fish at a Russian restaurant just off the boardwalk on Brighton Beach (where I also tasted Baltika beer for the first time); sushi at a joint on the Upper West Side and a falafel/hummus/pickle platter at 12 Chairs – a great Israeli-Eastern-European fusion restaurant in West Village. I visited Strand Bookstore, which had the largest collection of art and photography books I have ever seen. I also stopped by the gigantic Barnes and Noble on Union Square, where I picked up David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish and ended up reading the whole thing in its entirety, right there in the store. Quite an inspirational little book, I must say.
Coming back from vacation, no matter how long, always requires some degree of re-adjustment on my part. Hence, it took me almost two weeks to finally sort through the photos I’ve taken on this much-needed getaway trip. Without further adieu, enjoy!
On the way to the Cascade campground, just outside Buena Vista, CO:
An abandoned drive-in movie theater:
Home away from home:
Last weekend, Stephanie and I went on a wonderful 3-day camping/road trip to southern Colorado. We stayed in a cabin at Cutty’s Resort Hayden Creek, a scenic area surrounded by a beautiful mountain range. I suppose, this technically doesn’t count as “camping” per-se, since we did not sleep in a tent and had access to such amenities as running water, a flush toilet and even a shower and mini-fridge. Still, we were in nature, and that’s what counts, right? :) We had an amazing time, despite late-afternoon rain showers and the abundance of noisy kids on the campground premises. We went on a couple of beautiful hikes where we enjoyed the autumn colors in all of their brilliance, caught up on some reading, and at night we sat by the fire, eating canned vegetarian chili and mac-and-cheese, listening to the creek’s running water and looking at the stars that magnificently twinkled in the night sky.
On our second night, I took some incredible starfield photos, something I didn’t expect to get out of my 40D without a tripod and a remote trigger, but it’s amazing what ISO 3200 and F2.8 can do with a :30-second exposure! We got really lucky, as the skies were superbly clear, providing a breathtaking view of the heavens. We could see the Milky Way, and once we even briefly spotted a meteor. Living in the city, I almost never get the chance to see the night sky in all of its glory, so being away from all the light pollution, in the deep blackness of the night, it was quite a revelation to see the majestic myriad of stars and galaxies that populate the night sky. I can honestly say that it took my breath away. I’ve always had a fascination with astronomy, but seeing this with my own eyes really reminded me of how small we all really are, how insignificant on the grand scale, in the millions of light years of distance that penetrate through the Universe. All this bullshit with declining economy, mortgage crisis, wars, global warming, terrorism… None of it matters. We are nothing but a speck of dust; a dim flash lasting less than a fraction-of-a-second, a flash of life and so-called intelligence lost in the billions of stars and billions of years of the Universe’s existence. THAT is terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time.
On the way back to Denver, we stopped in Salida to get gas, drove through Buena Vista, and made a stop in Leadville to get something to eat at a cute little diner, followed by coffee at a place across the street. I found Leadville a quaint little Western mountain town, a mixture of cowboys and hippies, quiet and surrounded by gorgeous views. Certainly worth a stop, if you are ever in the area.
Going north, we drove through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen, and once again I marveled at the incredible abundance of land in this country. Miles and miles of open fields, forests and beautiful mountain ranges. This whole talk about the world’s overpopulation – we could fit billions of people here, if we wanted to. Of course, feeding them would be a different problem :)
Completely unexpected, we came across the breathtaking Clinton Gulch Reservoir in Summit County, located about 11,000 ft above sea level. Both Stephanie and I pondered the idea that we may have died and gone to heaven, or alternatively – were spontaneously teleported into the Swiss Alps.
Finally, we got on I-70 and drove to Idaho Springs, the last leg of our little road trip, where we indulged in a much-needed relaxation in the natural hot mineral springs and swimming pool. Not as large as the one in Glenwood Springs, but still cozy and beautiful, and less than an hour’s drive from Denver! The indoor pool was enclosed in a translucent dome and was a miniature tropical paradise, complete with flowers, plants and live banana and palm trees. I wish we could have stayed longer, but the weekend was over and eventually we had to drive home.
Once again, I’m amazed at how many beautiful locations there are in Colorado, many of them within a relatively short drive from Denver. Sometimes, it is like entering a different world. The fact that I opted out of any long-distance travel this year is, thankfully, compensated by these little trips. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a few more of those before the end of the year. And now, it’s back to the real life and the mundane household problems like cleaning the kitchen and paying bills. At least, I don’t have to be back at work until next week!
With record-breaking 100-degree heat in recent days, it has been difficult to find the motivation to do anything other than sit under a ceiling fan going on full-power and stare blankly into space. Thankfully, the facility where I work is climate-controlled to the point where I can almost see my own breath, thus making going to work a bit more tolerable. On the other hand, swinging back and forth between two extremes of having my brains frozen at work to having them melt when I get home is quite a jarring experience :)
Meanwhile, I think it’s time I got back on track and started pushing the whole VELFILM thing forward. I feel like I have been slacking off in recent months, which is okay – that’s what summers are for, but there are quite a few things I would like to accomplish before the fall.
Here are a couple more shots from my trip to Glenwood Springs. This is Mount Sopris, a magnificient 13,000-foot twin-summited peak south of Carbondale, CO, which somewhat resembles a dormant volcano.