Photography 101: Double – Cannery Descent

Cannery Descent

Today’s Photo 101 is all about seeing double. I remembered this photo I took the last time I was at The Cannery, a historic landmark located near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Over a century since its opening, the facility is now being used as galleries for the Academy of Art University. The third floor was deserted when I went up there, giving me a chance to shoot this unusual angle.


Where Do Birds Go In Winter?

You probably already know, but it’s more complicated than you might think. Joe at  It’s Okay To Be Smart breaks it down.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular, Or: Fugazi Bank Building

Fugazi Bank Building

This week’s challenge is all about angles, and I was reminded of a photo I took in San Francisco recently. The Fugazi Bank Building is named after Giovanni F. Fugazi, a prominent businessman in the 19th Century. His work helped lay the cornerstone for what the city’s Italian community has become. Though the building’s current ownership might be…questionable, its distinctive design and status as a heritage landmark are anything but.

Daily Prompt: Thanks, Gundam Wing

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about guilty pleasures. Specifically, thanking them for the inexplicable joy they bring to your life. I’ve got a few guilty pleasures, but the one that stands out the most is Gundam Wing. Originally released in Japan in 1995, it was finally localized and premiered in America on Cartoon Network’s Toonami in March 2000. There’s far better anime out there, of course; even the original Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979 had more relatable characters, political intrigue, and a narrative that examined the consequences of revenge and ambition. Nearly 40 years later, Amuro Ray VS Char Aznable is still one of the most bitter rivalries you’ll ever see in anime. But I didn’t know any of that when I was 15 years old and watching Gundam Wing for the first time. All I knew was there were badass giant robots fighting in outer space! Seriously, watch this premiere trailer:

And yes, that is Peter Cullen, AKA Optimus Prime!

Every weekday evening (and Midnight Run on Saturdays), I was treated to this epic intro:

…It’s so good. Gundam Wing, thank you for that wonderfully cheesy 90s rave theme. I still have that on my most-played iPod playlist. Thanks for your loveable – if somewhat underdeveloped – cast; Treize Khushrenada may not have been the best villain, but the man was a brilliant tactician and made taking rose petal-filled bubble baths cool. Thanks for the Epyon, which is such an awesome robot design that I had to get its scale model kit. Thanks for giving the viewers an ensemble cast of heroes, as the show would fall flat if even one of them were gone. That especially goes for Quatre, who first showed me that anime heroes could be flawed, introspective strategists instead of hot-blooded warriors…even if he (Spoilers!) was technically the most dangerous and frightening character. Thank you for those awesome space battles, even if most of the animation was constantly reused to save the budget for the epic finale. The showdown between the Earth and colony forces was built up perfectly; no other anime has ever captured the sheer amount of hamminess and spectacle quite like it. I usually prefer more thought-provoking storytelling, but I’ll gladly make some popcorn and binge watch well into a Saturday night. Thank you for helping shape my love of anime, science fiction, and entertainment. Gundam Wing, you truly are one of a kind.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Angular, Or: Kula Garden Trail

Kula Garden Trail

This week’s challenge is all about angles, and this shot from the Kula Botanical Garden instantly came to mind. Located on the lower slopes of Haleakala, the garden boasts a huge assortment of flowers and plants, as well as koi pond that’s just out of frame on the left. Oh, and don’t worry if it’s raining. The place is still gorgeous even during a downpour…

Photography 101: Landscape – Pailoa Bay, Maui

Pailoa Bay, Maui

Today’s Photo 101 is all about landscapes, and Maui is a godsend for nature photographers. There are so many places, I actually had trouble choosing one photo! I ultimately settled on this shot from Pailoa Bay, near the end of the Road To Hana. And no, those colors were not photoshopped or filtered. Those brilliant green plants, sparkling blue ocean, and black beaches are exactly what Pailoa Bay looks like. I actually teared up a bit when I first saw it; this niche of unspoiled nature still remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Daily Prompt: The Not-So Good Old Days

Hey, folks. Tonight’s Daily Prompt is all about “salad days.” It’s a saying that refers to a great or memorable time in your life, usually seen through the lens of nostalgia. This one’s kind of tricky for me, because I’ve realized that some of my “good old days” weren’t so good in retrospect. My knee-jerk answer is to say my university years, specifically the time leading up to my graduation. Getting my bachelor’s degree was, from an achievement standpoint, the crowning moment of my life. I strode across that stage in a black cap and gown, practically drowning in the sweat of a 110-degree June morning. Reaching that moment wasn’t quite so easy; paying for my entire college education out of my own pocket taught me the value of discipline, patience, and motivation. I still cherish those long commutes on BART, dosing off involuntarily every morning, and desperately trying to do as much work as possible on the way back. Those insane 2 AM essay writing sessions, staying awake just long enough to perfect every last sentence. Working part time jobs, scraping by with every last penny, learning to appreciate the taste of canned peas…It was physically and mentally exhausting, but it was so satisfying. Doing something for myself – be it working towards a goal, building something with my hands, climbing a mountain, whatever – makes me feel more alive. Something was forged in that academic crucible, and I’m still trying to figure out what it is.

Looking back, however, I now realize it came with a cost. I was so focused on academics and not wasting time, I sacrificed everything else. Most folks associate college with partying, beer, romance, and the development of one’s identity. I had none of that; I never went out for the sake of going out, never developed any relationships, nothing. You ever try talking about astrophysics or Renaissance Literature in a social setting? Not fun. I often had the same classmates in different lectures, but I only regarded them as familiar faces, not actual individuals with lives of their own. That was a huge mistake on my part; I may have been at the top of my classes, but I was an absolute dunce as social and interpersonal relations. Reading and learning are much more fun when you can share the experience. I’m still really introverted and shy around people, but even I recognize the importance and necessity of interacting with others. It’s not about being the life of the party or center of attention; it’s about finding common ground and helping each other grow. There’s an old saying that “no man is an island.” I’m 30, and I’m just now starting to turn my proverbial island into a peninsula.

If I have any legitimate “good old days,” they were probably in the summer of 2013. For the first time in my life, I had free time to indulge in more things I truly enjoy: traveling and exploration. I usually travel abroad once or twice a year (including a certain last-minute winter surprise that’ll be revealed soon!), but circumstances put me in downtown San Francisco twice a week. I had hours to fill in a city that I’d never really seen before. So, I walked. And walked. And walked. I’d intentionally get myself lost by taking random turns, navigating by my sense of direction and knowledge of certain landmark locations. I’ve mapped out about a third of the city on foot, wandering through neighborhoods, exploring foreign markets, climbing all the hills I could find…Those adventures made me realize how much I enjoy photography; before that, I was firmly entrenched in the written medium. Judging by the photo gallery here, my adventures paid off in spades. Most folks in the city are so focused on their phones, they don’t notice the marvels around them…The happiest moment of that summer was looking down at the curved city landscape from the top of Lombard Street, with the sun shining on my back, and a steady breeze blowing through my hair.

I hope the coming days will be even better.

Photography 101: Moment, Or: BART Blur


Today’s Photo 101 is all about capturing a moment via movement. Here’s a sight that most Bay Area commuters will find familiar: a BART train pulling into the station. Not pictured: the hundreds of people crammed into the Embarcadero Station platform at rush hour.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Achievement, Or: Haleakala Summit

This week’s challenge is all about achievement, so I immediately thought of my time on Haleakala. It’s an ancient volcano that comprises the majority of Maui, Hawaii. I didn’t realize just how tall it was until I started the trip up its slopes. Green plains and lush forests gave way to rocky outcroppings and sparse vegetation. The weather at sea level was pleasant enough, but I soon found myself in the thick of nasty rainstorm. Utterly drenched from head to toe – my camera suffering a little water damage – I finally reached the top. 10,023 feet up, all in a drive that took two hours. It was the highest location on the planet on which I’ve ever been (not counting flights, of course), and I spent a few minutes taking it all in. I stood on Puʻu ʻUlaʻula, AKA the Red Hill. The flooded, rocky abyss resembled the Moon more than Earth. Fittingly, there’s an astronomical observatory just down the road…that’s closed to the public. Hopefully, at least the skies will be clear the next time I go.

Photography 101: The Natural World – Under The Canopy

Under The Jungle Canopy

Today’s Photo 101 is all about nature. Luckily, that particular subject is right up my alley; I tend to be adventurous when I travel. Be it the peak of Gibraltar, Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands, Aruba’s Shark’s Mouth, the road to and caverns near Hana, hiking Mount Diablo, the slopes of Haleakala, the black sands of Pailoa Bay, or even just a flower in the rain, I’m there. This particular photo is one of several I took in Maui’s rainforest trail at Honolua

*Sighs* Great memories.