Monday, December 31, 2007

Fishing and Waikiki

Side By SideOn Sunday Dianne and I went to the relatively new fishing village set up on one of the piers just south of downtown Honolulu. We didn't get there until about noon, so the boats were quiet and the warehouse was just cleaning up from putting the catch on ice. Nevertheless, it was fun to walk around the docks.

There was quite a spectrum of boats docked at the pier. Some were in good shape and others were in need of some paint. Some of the crews were working hard and others were together having some beers. I don't know how much fishing activity there was since the rough seas have kept many boats docked. An article in yesterday's Star Bulletin talked about the high price of Ahi due to the limited fishing possible in the last few days.

Diamond Head and WaikikiAfter visiting the market, we went down to the Waikiki area to look around a bit. Even though it was a cloudy day, the beach was packed! In front of the public beach near the Fort DeRussy area, there is a rock wall built out into the ocean. It's the perfect spot for a view of the beach. The photo to the right is a view looking towards the Waikiki hotels and the Diamond Head crater. I also made a panorama photo of the entire beach view. You can see that on Flickr here. With Photoshop, I used that panorama to make a 'planet' of the Waikiki beach. That's the shot below.

Planet Waikiki

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Activities

New Kind of TreeEach time we take the Likelike Highway from the Honolulu area to the Kaneohe area, Dianne points out a cell phone tower disguised as a tree in the Kalihi area. She always says we should stop and take a picture. Today we did.

The tower is next to an elementary school on the side of a hill. It has been raining here quite a bit -- not constant and not hard, but the ground is pretty wet. What we didn't realize going into this was that we were going to have to climb around some steep, slippery grass covered slopes in order to get a picture. That was an adventure. I was slipping going up the hill and got pretty muddy. Dianne took a bit of a spill going back down and got a little dirty.

The color in the picture is pretty accurate. The green used on the tower is a solid color and doesn't exactly match the surrounding vegetation, but it is a good attempt to hide the tower. From a distance it doesn't pop out at you unless you're looking for it.

After stopping at Carol and Milton's place, we continued up the Eastern shore of the island for a little way. We stopped at a beach park and I got a couple photos. Click here to see a B&W photo of an offshore island called Chinaman's Hat (or as Dianne now likes to say, the Chinese Man's Hat). The slight bay was providing some protection, so you can't see the large waves in the photo. They were breaking quite a ways offshore. The photo below shows the Ko'olau Mountains just inland from the beach. The palms give a feeling how strong the breeze was. Even on a cloudy day the mountains are beautiful.

Cloudy Ko'olau Mountains

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ala Moana

Washed UpOn Friday we had a slow start to the day. We met Grandma and Sumi for lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. It's only a few blocks away -- very convenient. I had a Thai chicken pizza that was very good.

After lunch we walked around the mall a bit and then decided to go to the Ala Moana beach park. We took a leisurely walk around the park to check out the beach, the fishermen, the harbor, the canoes, and the surf. Although it was a cloudy day and there was a stiff breeze, it was a nice walk. The photo to the right shows one side of the harbor entrance where all the driftwood has washed up on the rocks. I have a similar photo here showing Dianne walking along the rock wall on the beach side of the park. The panorama photo below is taken from the breakwater wall located at the end of park. It's a panorama looking towards the Waikiki hotels and Diamond Head crater in the distance. That's Dianne on the right at the end of the wall.

View Toward Diamond Head Small

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Byodo-In Temple Hawaii

Flower 1Today we spent most of the day in the Kaneohe area on the Eastern side of Oahu.

Our first stop was at Carol & Milton's to feed the cat and do some laundry. Well...Dianne fed the cat and did the laundry while I was outside taking some flower photos. Unfortunately, I don't have a friendly botanist on the trip with me, so all the photos in my Flickr stream are labeled "flower." Some of them were on trees and some were on low plants or bushes.
Flower 2
It was mostly cloudy with some passing rain showers -- sometime pretty hard. The changing light made it hard to get some good shots. But the water on the flowers was nice. We also got caught up on some TV by watching the last episode of The Amazing Race.

Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat at the Windward Mall and then we went to see the Byodo-In Temple located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. The temple was finished in 1968 to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The temple is a scale replica of a 900 year old temple at Uji, Japan and like the original it is constructed entirely without nails. Although there are many temples in the area, this one is in a nice setting next to the mountains. The photo below is an HDR photo of the front of the temple. In the background you can see the mountains surrounded by the low rain clouds.


Ringing The BellOutside the temple is a bell house that has a 5 foot high, 3 ton brass bell that was cast in Osaka, Japan. There is a soft wood log used to strike the bell. The photo here is of me pulling the rope attached to the log to ring the bell. It gives off a deep tone that carries for some distance on the grounds. Traditionally the bell is struck before entering the temple.

Inside the temple is a huge Buddha (18 feet high) sitting on a lotus flower. According to our informational brochure, it was carved in Japan, covered with cloth, and painted with 3 coats of gold lacquer. On top of that is gold leaf. It is thought to be the largest Buddha figure carved since ancient times. It's hard to appreciate the immense scale of the statue with this photo.

The ponds around the temple had lots of large koi fish and a couple of black swans. I did get a panoramic photo of the back of the temple. You can see some of the orange koi swimming in the pond. Although the day was very overcast, the high dynamic range images bring out some of the beauty of the temple. I'm glad we stopped for a visit. Click on any image to go to Flickr and see larger versions. I didn't include all the images in this post, so better yet go to this set to see them all. Click on each thumbnail photo to see a larger version.

Byodo-In Panorama

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sick in Paradise

A few days after we got to Hawaii, I was dealing with a cold and a sore throat. I thought I had licked it with some over-the-counter stuff. I felt like I was on the mend on Christmas day. That night I woke up with a splitting sinus headache that stuck with me. I thought I'd see how things went, but as the day progressed and an ear ache developed, I knew I was in trouble.

So I sucked it up and looked around for a doctor in Hawaii. Went to one clinic based on a recommendation from the in-laws, but they weren't accepting my insurance. What a pain trying to find someone appropriate. I have to say thanks to some kind Humana representative that offered some suggestions and advice. I ended up at an urgent care clinic in Waikiki and walked out with the expected decongestant and antibiotics. Hopefully that'll help me put this behind.

If you have to be sick, at least this is the place to be.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday at the Shore

Rocky CoastOn Saturday we drove east from downtown to see some of the rocky shores on Oahu. There are many scenic overlook points along the road. The small photo to the right shows some water spraying up after hitting the rocks.

I took this HDR photo below of a little cove along the rocks. Just out of view at the right of the cove was a very narrow beach were a few kids were swimming. Must have been a lot of work to climb down there, but they had the place all to themselves. When we stopped at the parking area for the overlook we noticed bits of safety glass all over the parking lot. There was a Jaguar parked there with the driver's side window broken out and the mirror busted. Down the road at another overlook we saw another pile of glass. Someone was on a rampage.

Rocky Cove

Kailua BeachAfterwards we continued driving counterclockwise around the island and stopped at the Kailua beach. The small photo on the right is a view from the beach across the water to the next point of land. It has a relatively narrow, sandy beach with a beach ledge along the shore. A lot of people were there hanging out, enjoying the view, and playing in the surf. We watched several people kiteboarding. Go to the kiteboarding magazine website to see photos of the sails and boards they use. There was a solid strong wind so they were having a blast. There were quite a few people paddling in either kayaks or outrigger canoes. There were also people on boogie boards as well. It was a little cloudy on that side of the island, so it was nice and cool to lay on the beach. I did get my feet wet, but I didn't go swimming. The water was pretty cool. The photo below is of one lonely tree near the shoreline that had its roots exposed by some erosion of the sandy ledge going to the water. You can see all the photos from the day in the Flickr set here.

Hanging On

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tantalus Overlooks

Yesterday Dianne and I drove a road called Tantalus/Round Top. It's a windy, at times narrow road that hugs the roughly southern side of the mountains north of Honolulu. Along the drive, there are multiple spots where you can pull over to the side of the road and enjoy the view. The lush vegetation lining the road is beautiful too.

We had made the drive many years ago, but thought we'd go again. We found a state park off of Round Top that had a wonderful overlook. The view was amazing and the photos don't do it justice. You could see everything from Diamond Head crater to the Honolulu airport. The photo below is us at the overlook. In the background you can see the runway of the Honolulu airport. I have several panorama and HDR photos that I took from this overlook and one other. You can see them all in the photo set here.

Overlooking HNL

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day at Pearl Harbor

From the BridgeAfter starting the day with a manapua breakfast of champions, Dianne and I spent most of the day at Pearl Harbor. There is a relatively new museum there, the Pacific Aviation Museum that I wanted to check out.

We started with a guided tour of the battleship USS Missouri. I visited the ship many years ago (more decades ago than I care to admit) when it was mothballed in Bremerton, WA. At that time you could only go on the deck and visit the spot where the Japanese surrender documents for WWII were signed.

Now the Missouri is docked next to the Arizona memorial near Ford Island at Pearl Harbor. Not only can you go on deck, but parts of the ship are open and available to tour. In addition, you can pay for a guided tour through parts of several decks inside the Missouri. Dianne and I did that with three other folks. The small group made it a very nice tour. The group can't be that big as you get in to some pretty tight quarters. The guide takes you inside one of the main 16 inch gun turrets, and through various locations such as the officer’s mess, the crew’s mess, sleeping quarters, the post office, the “bank,” the machine shop, the firing control area below the turrets, the boilers, the electrical and steam control areas, the bridge, etc. It was a very interesting tour. If you tour the Missouri, take advantage of that option.

F4F Scene

After the Missouri tour, we went over to the Pacific Aviation Museum. A private group is constructing the museum around the site of the old airfield on Ford Island. The museum is near the site where some of the first bombs in the Pearl Harbor attack hit Ford Island. The museum is in the early stages of development – one of the hangars with planes from the WWII area is complete. Right now it is a small museum, but the planes they have are beautifully restored. The image here shows one of the scenes they created to showcase an F4F. We didn’t spend a lot of time there as there wasn't a lot to see (I found the Missouri tour more interesting), but it is a nice facility. As other hangars open up to cover other eras, it’ll be quite the aviation complex.

Ford Island Control TowerOutside the aviation museum you can see the remains of the old runway 4/22 that is broken up and partially covered with grass. An old control tower building, partially rust stained and in need of repair, still stands. It really jumps out from the blue sky that is enhanced with a polarizing filter.

You can see all the photos of our visit to Ford Island in my Flickr photoset here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Real Life Rocket J. Squirrel

I've never tried skydiving -- and I never will unless staring death in the face. That first step would be a doozy. So when I saw this article in the New York Times, I couldn't believe the headline. These folks are insane! I like the comment from the Physics prof. Yeah, in theory it should be possible. I'd be looking over the proof behind that conclusion very carefully.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Life's Good

I loved my cell phone -- the LG VX9800. It was the first phone I had with a QWERTY keyboard. It was great. I'd never get another phone without a keyboard for messaging. Although Dianne is thinking about bailing for an iPhone, I was happy with my service and the phone. I was happy...until a couple weeks ago.

The phone case popped off my belt while getting out of the car. The phone/case hit the bottom of the door opening and tumbled out on the ground. I had dropped my phone once before while in the case with no issues. But this time the front display of the phone was damaged. It was on, but the whole screen was completely white. As much as I loved the phone before, I hated it after that. I couldn't see who was calling, if the phone was charged, what time it was...argh! It was very irritating.

After thinking about it for a bit, Dianne and I went to the Verizon store and got a new, replacement phone last night. I decided to stay with LG, and went with the ENV - orange. It's very similar to my old phone...a little smaller, a little lighter, a little better camera. But most importantly, it has a working outer screen. Like LG's tag line, Life's Good!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Night Images

StripesA follow-up to my last post, here are a few more night images taken after our first snow. The black & white image at right is a shot taken at Raymond Walters College. They put in a relatively new parking lot in the back and this long sidewalk leads from the main building (behind me) to the lot. I liked the light/dark stripe pattern on the sidewalk created by the evenly spaced lights. Clicking on the image will take you to a larger version in Flickr.

The first image below is of the lights in front of a house along Kenwood road, just north of downtown Blue Ash, OH. It's not my style of house, but I think it's pretty. Sitting back from the road with a large yard and a small stream gives it a picturesque setting. The owners have a nice light display that stands out on the fresh snow. I know the lights are a bit hard to see, but this angle is a much better view of the house and yard. There was quite a bit of ground light bouncing off the clouds, so the sky stands out in the HDR image.

The bottom image is a high dynamic range panorama taken at the Blue Ash Town Square. The Millennium clock-bell tower and the holiday lights are nice. Much of the snow on the brick pavers had melted, but I still like the shot. If you want to see the large version, click on it but be warned that it's a very large file.

Holiday Lights

Blue Ash Town Square

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Night Images

Last night we had a light snowfall -- about an inch or a little more. Much of the snow melted from roads and sidewalks, but there was still a fresh white layer on the grass and trees. I thought I'd try taking some night images hoping the light reflecting off the snow would create some interesting effects. I got a few shots that turned out OK.

Downtown Blue Ash has a veteran's memorial with statues around the perimeter of the bricked area around a monument. This is a shot of a few of the statues that are still covered with a bit of snow. There was a slight breeze moving the flags. I like the effect created by the long exposure.

Blue Ash Veteran's Memorial

The City of Blue Ash restored the Hunt Road House. You can read more about the house's history here. The house has lights simulating candles in each window and the large pine tree is covered with lights for the holidays. I took several shots with different exposures and created this high dynamic range (HDR) image of the house. The sky was overcast and the city lights were reflecting off the clouds. The HDR effect really brings out that reflected light. If you're not familiar with HDR images, compare this photo to the single exposure image at the bottom of the post to get an idea of what the HDR processing does.

Hunt Road House

While I was there, I also tried my first attempt at light painting. With a long exposure (about 30 seconds), I ran in the frame and used a flashlight to write "Merry Xmas." Since I was moving, you don't even see me in the photo. I tried it a couple times and this was the best even the "X" didn't turn out very well. I also forgot to write backwards, so I had to flip the image on the horizontal. Compare it to the shot above -- I didn't move the tripod. Oops. I have a couple more night images I'll post later.

Merry Xmas

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Latest Macro Monday Project

Fresh From The DryerThe latest theme for the Macro Mondays group on Flickr is fuzzy. It's kind of a wide open theme. I took it to mean a physical fuzziness. I'm guessing some folks might use a blur to interpret fuzzy, but I thought that kinda defeated the purpose of trying to get a good, sharp macro shot. It's always fun to see how others interpret the theme.

The black & white shot to the right is an extreme close up of the fuzzy fibers in a sheet of lint collected from the dryer lint screen after drying some fleece items.

The other fuzzy items we had handy were some plush stuffed animals. The photo below is a head shot of a monkey eating a banana. I also got a shot of a lion's mane that you can see here.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mound O' Dirt

Kenwood Mountain 1Dianne and I were driving through the parking lot at the Kenwood Mall a couple weeks ago and I just started laughing when I saw this mound of dirt. I couldn't believe they just piled the dirt up around the light in the parking lot. It gives the illusion that the light is only a few feet tall. Silly me would have taken the light down before putting the dirt there.

The dirt came from a huge hole on the north side of the property near the Kroger grocery store. Looks like they're putting in footings for a large building. I guess this is part of the Crate and Barrel and the office complex described in this article. You can see Dianne in her new red jacket in each of the photos for scale.

Kenwood Mountain 2