Saturday, December 12, 2015

Today is Saturday and I am feeling nostalgia......

Up in the state of Washington for a few months now and I am definitely missing the California beaches. Going through my beach photography collection a little while ago and I picked out a few photos from the album.
On a typical Saturday morning at this hour, I would already be in Santa Monica checking out the scenery and having the best R&R money cannot buy.

and on every Veterans Day the scene in Santa Monica beach

I will be back.... just not soon enough.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Oympia XA 2 - Another Gem

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Qmee, what everyone is talking about

Over the years I acquired two Olympus XAs with Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens off ebay for under $30 a piece including shipping. The XA was reputed to be "the other" camera for Henri Cartier-Bresson and his peers and many famous photos were shot on the XA. It is very small, measures just 4" x 2.25" x 1", weighs a mere 10 oz with batteries despite having a stainless steel body. For those of you familiar with Minox GL, it is just a tad bigger fits easily in one's coat pocket or purse. A rather inconspicuous little camera, it is a true rangefinder camera with a fast Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens (XA2), with aperture priority and viewfinder shutter speed display and a switch at the bottom of the lens for ASA/ISO selection. Very quiet shutter, almost inaudible. The XA was designed by Yoshihita Maitani, the same man behind Olympus PEN and OM film cameras. One other plus point for the Olympus XA is that it uses the readily available SR44 batteries. I would like to land my hand on a XA 4 which has a macro setting but they are hard to come by and command a high price on ebay.

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Not my sports car, taken while standing on the lower deck of Kingston ferry in Seattle

Messed this one up real good... double exposure but surprise.....

Palm size XA - No more excuse for leaving my camera at home

Great info on the Olympus XA and many classic cameras at This is absolutely my favorite Go To site if I am looking for well documented and researched info on classic cameras.

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On a slightly off topic subject. If you have a dead meter needle (viewfinder) which happens in many of these well loved classics made at least 3 decades ago, try shaking the camera gently (an old trick), and point the lens at a bright light to nudge the needle back to life. Sometimes that jolts the needle back to life which in my case worked for the second XA in my possession. XA uses two cds cells, one for the viewfinder meter and the other for the lens shutter. The viewfinder meter/needle is the one that most commonly gives up from lack of use/age. This little trick reminds me of an old Weston light meter I had, which needed some help to start working again.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

YouTube videos

A slide show/video of photos taken on a day trip on foot to New York City, South Street Seaport, lower Manhattan and Wall Street. New York City is a city that never sleeps, full of life, sights and sounds, plenty of photo ops. My camera set up that day was not fancy but it was adequate for street photography. A trusty Canon 10D and the poor man (woman)'s L lens - the legendary "beer can" - Canon 70-200mm f/4 zoom and a cheap Tamron 19-35 f3.5-4.5 wide angle made for a very rewarding outing in the busiest city on this side of the Atlantic.

This second video is a collage of sepia photography most created with the help of Photoshop software and a few from my Lith printing collection. I love sepia and the warm tone :)

The last one is my favorite. It was a video compiled from digital photos shot on my Canon Elan and Canon 10D with Tamron 28-250mm f/3.5-5.6. This was at the annual Cinco de Mayo festival in downtown San Jose California a few years back. The kids were so adorable. It was one of those days you look back every so often and wish you have more of them.....Enjoy.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Grifone Sangiovese - Glorious Tuscan Red

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You may know that I love wine, good wine, especially those that can be had at a great price. My favorite place to shop on a weekly basis is my neighborhood #Trader Joe's. It is the first question I ask whenever I am considering moving to a new town/city - "Where is the nearest Trader Joe's?" lol.

So you can imagine how happy I was when I spotted at the end of the wine aisle at Trader Joe's a bottle of #Sangiovesee that looks yes, very Italian with its red label. The label is elegant, very European, not quite French but definitely warm, Mediterranean......The label reads Grifone Sangiovese, Together with cases of Sangiovese is the #Primitivo (hmmm, don't know anything about Primitivo but now I am really intrigued and definitely want to try out the Sangiovese that is selling $3.99 a bottle). I have had Sangiovese on many occasions and love it with spicy Asian dishes and Italian pasta, and the Sangiovese has a bouquet that is between a very robust Shiraz and a mellowed down Merlot, but perfectto on a day of good company and good food.
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I bought two bottles of Grifone Sangiovese that evening for a mere $8 and promptly came back for more. It was a beautiful red and upon doing more research on the web, I came across this review by Gil Lempert - Schwarz of Las Vegas Review Journal who describes the Grifone Sangiovese so eloquently in his article HERE and I quote "On the nose: There is spicy black fruit, sweet tobacco, balsamic reduction, cedar box, ripe red cherry fruit..........On the palate: The wine expands to show its ample vibrant red and black fruit medley, dominated by the classic — similar to the Chianti zone ...and he goes on to say - Yet another killer value from the heart of noble winemaking in Italy. It’s very Italian and very Tuscan through and through..."

Buy the Grifone Sangiovese and Primitivo by the case and drink them before the end of 2016 - Gil Lampert tells his readers. That is exactly what I am going to do on my next trip to Trader Joe's. To me, it is truly amazing that Trader Joe's can bring such great wine to the US and sell it at the stores for a mere $3.99 (in California) a bottle!!
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You can read the full review by Gil Lampert - Schwarz here on Grifone Sangiovese and on Grifone Primitivo

Also on the #Grifone in the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer HERE

On the right - Pizza freshly made at the local cafe restaurant at Monterey Bay Marina - First hot meal after pulling into Monterey Bay having sailed some 20 hours non stop from Sausalito chased by a storm that was nowhere on the map on NOAA the morning we left Sausalito. It was cold, damp and foggy throughout the entire journey and we were glad to finally be tied to a dock. This yummy pizza was just what we badly needed

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Magnificent Seattle Waterfront at Dusk

Up in #Seattle since Jan 5th when we drove his Ford Explorer packed with office equipment, computers, books, clothing and made the 18 hour 2 night journey north from Ventura California. With a bit of good luck we found a furnished studio in downtown Seattle 3 blocks from Alaskan Way and quickly set up base. It is still winter and most days it is either cloudy or rainy. When it rains in Seattle, the sky just opens and it rains cats and dogs the whole day long. We have also had a few days of glorious sunshine and temp is normally in the mid 40s to low 50s, what you would call mild winter days. It is comfortable as long as one is properly dressed for the weather.

Yesterday we decided to do a test run on the light rail transit from #Westlake Station downtown to #SEATAC Airport. It cost a mere $2.75 per trip and takes about 40 minutes from point to point. Hence it is very convenient to fly in and out of SEATAC if you live downtown not mentioning the many restaurants and shops on every block. Driving can be nerve wrecking though, pedestrians and tourists everywhere. However #Seattle has a very good public transit system that connects downtown with nearby suburbs and one can definitely do without a car. Parking is prohibitively expensive and if you are looking for an apartment downtown, be sure to ask if you would have a parking spot.

On the way back from the airport, we got off at #International Station/Pioneer Square, 3 stops before #Westlake Station and walked home along the waterfront. It was a beautiful late afternoon and we caught the sunset just in time. I am a happy camper each time I am near the water.........

Here are a few snapshots taken with his #HTC One smartphone. It is amazing that these shots are so good that to me they rival those taken with my DSLR. You be the judge. Unfortunately I did not have my Canon 10D and lenses with me, it was too heavy to be lugging them around in a backpack, instead I opted to take the# Olympus XA2 loaded with a C41 Kodak Black and White film and did some black and white instead. I hope I have at least a few good shots from the 35mm film.

Finally below a picture of the beautiful Seattle skyline. Steadying the #HTC One on top of the giant binoculars on the pier was a key factor in getting a decent night scene. The IS (Image Stabilization) feature is another vote for getting a HTC One smartphone. Shot is not perfect but on a 8x10 print it will probably look good enough to frame. A small Gorilla pod would definitely help and again I left home without it.

No wonder my DSLR stays at home more and more these days.