Friday, October 31, 2008

Aki no Ame

Literally, "rain of Autumn."

Of course, as we all know, Autumn is the most poetic of seasons, especially in Japan. The steady drip of rain in the narrow lanes of Gion, the glimpse of a maiko making her way through the town on some mid-day errand—these things have a timeless quality which would require more than words or pictures to convey.

Perhaps a haiku by Basho would do it.

Photos: Rainy Street—Kyoto, 2008; Narrow Lane, Gion—Kyoto, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Journalism vs Art

Yes, there were times during our trip that we found Japan to be crowded and noisy. Yes, the initial arrival at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka was confusing, what with currency changing, railroad passes and the like. Luckily, Shawna and Maz are old Japan hands. Come to think of it, I guess that I’m an old Japan hand too.

Yes, the streets of Kyoto could be crowed and noisy, with ubiquitous motor scooters and mini-trucks zipping down extremely narrow streets.

But I have chosen to create my own Japan, a Japan of cloistered gardens, quiet waterfalls, bamboo groves and Zen temples.

Of course, the cyberspace version of Japan is mighty cool, as well . . .

Photos: Kansai Airport—Osaka, 2008; Street Scene—Kyoto, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

That Kyoto Mystique

Walking though the narrow byways and alleys of Kyoto peering at the enigmatic facades.

Then, entering though the noren curtains a world of enveloping warmth and intimacy.

Photos: Green Noren—Kyoto, 2008; Negi Interior—Kyoto, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Night Train to Kyoto

Arriving in Osaka three hours late under a darkening sky.

Still yet to do: negotiate Japanese customs, exchange money and secure the rail pass. Then find and board the train to Kyoto.

Once aboard the train, random glimpses seen through the fog of jet lag: a multi-colored ferris wheel, McDonalds, "Slot" (?), massive apartment buildings, enigmatic billboards, pachinko parlors, two people talking on a balcony.

Finally, pulling into Kyoto Station at 9:35 PM.

Photo: Billboards—Japan, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

. . . from the archives #29: Branch & Granite—Sierra Nevada, 1990

Directions: Highway 50 going towards Tahoe, turn right at Kyburz, thence to the Silver Creek campground.

Yes, there are quite a few Silver Creeks in the Sierra Nevada.

Photo: Branch & Granite—Sierra Nevada, 1990

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Farewell to Hawai’i

As Mike gazed out the window he took in the random cloud patterns and the vast expanse of the Pacific. Seen from the incredible altitude attained by the airplane the clouds and ocean seemed to be on the verge of relinquishing some great philosophical insight. A metaphor for . . .

But then the light dimmed, the sky went dark and the lights of the Bay Area loomed in the distance.

Photo: Return Flight—Pacific Ocean, 2007

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Culinary Adventures (2)

We participated in a "vanilla luncheon" at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company (north of Hilo.) Some of the dishes, admittedly, had very little vanilla in them. The vanilla lemonade was very refreshing! Afterwards a lecture on vanilla by the owner.

On our way back, a lot of highway repair stoppages. And so it was that I was able to grab the above shot of grass and eucalyptus out the car window.

Photos: Vanilla Company—Hawai’i, 2007; Grass & Eucalyptus—Hawai’i, 2007

Friday, October 24, 2008

Culinary Adventures

Café 100 is known far and wide for their loco moco. But I don’t think I ordered it. I have to say, not very memorable foodwise but heavy on local atmosphere.

Malasadas are Portuguese-derived dough confections deep-fried beignet style. Quite nice.

Photos: Loco Moco, Café 100—Hawai’i, 2007; Malasadas—Hawai’i, 2007

Thursday, October 23, 2008


As we drove through the rain the road steadily climbed and the air grew chill. Wisps of fog began to trail across the highway. We finally reached the small town of Volcano and located our rental cottage. Once inside we set out some leftover orchids from the wedding dinner the night before.

Next day dawned damp but rainless: an excellent day for a hike through a still-steaming crater in nearby Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Photos: Orchids in Cottage Window—Hawai’i, 2007; Hali in Crater—Hawai’i, 2007

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kona Lua Rain

As we stopped at a fruit stand on our way to Volcano the rain gradually picked up in intensity.

Photo: Kona Lua Rain—Hawai'i, 2007

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Manago Hotel

On the way to Volcano we stopped to take a look at the Manago Hotel.

We didn’t stay there, but Shawna’s friend Jenny did. Her report wasn’t all that complimentary.

Photo: TV Room, Manago Hotel—Hawai’i, 2007

Monday, October 20, 2008


The wedding was held on a manicured strip of land with the Pacific on one side and one of the Mauna Lani’s fish ponds on the other. During the ceremony fish kept leaping out of the pond (in celebration, I’m sure.)

Afterwards . . . mai tais for all, including the pleased brand-new in-laws.

And of course the most important thing—photographs taken by the skilled Autumn Burke, intent on capturing that extremely romantic Hawaiian sunset light.

Later that night, an exquisite reception dinner at the Mauna Lani, with Mike giving a little talk in English and Japanese.
Photos: Fish Pond, Mauna Lani—Hawai’i, 2007; Drinking Mai-Tais—Hawai’i, 2007; Shawna & Maz & Autumn Burke—Hawai’i, 2007

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rehearsal Dinner

Very clever . . . a take-out buffet at Spencer Beach State Park.

Mike was charged with picking up the goodies in the small inland town of Waimea. Now Waimea is located at 2669 feet: when Mike arrived rain was starting to fall and a stiff wind was blowing. Soon the temperature started to drop.

Mike picked up the cakes at Leilani Bakery. He got matches, fruit salad, ice, duct tape and poke at the Foodland Market. Thence to L&L Hawaiian Barbecue for a tetris-like experience at cramming in all of the to-go orders into Mike’s small rental car.

When Mike left Waimea at 6:00 PM the temperature was 68°. As he descended the winding road towards the ocean the temperature began to gradually rise; by the time he turned into the Spencer Beach parking lot it was over 80°.

Above photo illustrates Margaret lighting Amy’s birthday candles (part of the festivities), as well as the assembled guests and the abundant food on hand.

Photo: Margaret Lighting Candles—Hawai’i, 2007

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mauna Lani Resort

The wedding was held on the grounds of the Mauna Lani Resort. Very airy and pleasant as well as being within walking distance of archeological sites. Above: Shawna and Hali exploring the complex.

Photo: Shawna & Hali—Hawai’i, 2007

Friday, October 17, 2008

Horseback Ride

We managed to talk some of our friends into going on a horseback ride through the Big Island’s Parker Ranch. Very interesting . . . I had thought we would be riding through dim rain forests, but instead we found ourselves on wide-open plains, clouds swirling around overhead with intermittent drizzle. Very dramatic.

Photo: Horseback Riding, Parker Ranch—Hawai’i, 2007

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Botanical Garden

On the east side of the island. The sun coming through the dense forest was creating problematic blobs of light here and there, but the same light allowed these leaves to be backlit to their best advantage.

Photo: Leaves—Hawai’i, 2007

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ocean View

Driving north we had this view of the ocean, the clouds parting momentarily. One of my first photomerge attempts.

Photo: Ocean View—Hawai’i, 2007

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Palms on the Horizon

I was struck by the curvilinear arrangement of the palm trees on the horizon and the sultry noontime clouds.

Photo: Palms on the Horizon—Hawai’i, 2007

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau—Lava & Palm Trees

Clouds were gathering while we were at the park. Later that day it would rain quite heavily.

Photo: Lava & Palm Trees, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau—Hawai’i, 2007

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

During our visit we spent some time hiking around the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (sometimes called "the place of refuge.") You can read about it here.

What struck us most was the ethereal quality of the palm trees. Quite often hokey-looking in California (especially Northern California), here they seemed to take on a much more appropriate dimension.

Photo: Palm Trees, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau—Hawai’i, 2007

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hawai’i Pix

Last year at this time I was in Hawai’i (on the Big Island) to attend Shawna and Maz’s wedding. But since there was no mikereport at the time, I’ve decided to revisit some of last year’s pix.

This young honu had just been released by a rescue program at the Mauna Lani hotel. He (she?) stared at me for a few seconds, then turned and scuttled into the sea.

(FYI: Live blogging, per se, will be intermittent for the next several days . However, I have arranged my Hawaiian pix to show up every day.)

Photo: Honu—Hawai’i, 2007

Friday, October 10, 2008

San Francisco Theological Seminary

The seminary is located, not in San Francisco, but in San Anselmo.

This view can be seen from a point above "The Hub," the big traffic intersection in San Anselmo.

Photo: San Francisco Theological Seminary—Marin County, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Poison Oak & Fence

There’s a certain element of danger in taking poison oak photos.

Do not—repeat, do not—inadvertently get too close!

Photo: Poison Oak & Fence—Marin County, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama & Zoltron

Whoa . . . this is a little psychedelic. Odd, at any rate.

Photo: Obama & Zoltron—Marin County, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Silver Pass Lake

Printing up some contact sheets I just came across the three vertical photos I took to make this merge.

Silver Pass Lake is on the right, an unnamed pond on the left. The John Muir Trail passes between them and heads on down towards the Mono Creek crossing.

Photo: Silver Pass Lake—Sierra Nevada, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Backup Plan

There should be a term used to describe photographers’ backup paranoia. (I tried to find one via Google, but no luck. I did, however, find this: Toddler with rare lumpy food phobia eats 14 yogurts a day.

But I digress. Backup paranoia is due, mainly, to the truism that all hard drives inevitably fail. So, in order to avoid data loss caused by a failed hard drive, photographers are constantly seeking ways to "back up" their data. And in so doing, some are going extreme. We see folks out for a shoot taking along laptops and multiple external hard drives along with a labyrinthine tangle of computer cables.

For someone who has his roots in the film era, this is all very interesting. Of course, with film, there never was any backup. If light accidentally hit the emulsion, then it was over. (This happened to me.) If X-rays fogged your images, then that was it. (Never happened to me, but I always had to hassle with airport security.) If your darkroom caught on fire then no more negatives (never happened to me, but happened to Ansel Adams: "On top of a rather jittery state of mind we had the misfortune to suffer a fire which consumed half of our new darkroom and burned up a lot of my good negatives. Insurance covers material loss - but the negatives!!" Quote found here.) Well, you get the picture: there was always the chance, however slight, that your images would never make it to the printing stage.

The question remains,how far should one go in order to banish uncertainty? One thing that’s interesting to me is that there seems to be little actual data on the hard drive failure rate. So when deciding whether to succumb to paranoia or to resist it, there’s little evidence upon which to base a rational decision. I know, I know: "all hard drives eventually fail." Yes, but what are the percentages? I’ve seen hard drive failures before, at work. But not one at home.

Anyway, my current backup plan involves copying as many files as I deem worth saving to two external hard drives on a quarterly basis. (Not often enough, to be sure.)

Travelling, I’ve got a Hyperdrive, a small iPod-like device, and several CompactFlash cards (see above.) As the cards are utilized, they’re downloaded onto the Hyperdrive. Once all cards have been filled up, then I start reformatting them. This would in no way satisfy a true backup devotee, but I think it works for me.

Photo: Digital Backup Equipment—Marin County, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

First Rain

Yesterday we had the first rain of the season, with the nandina in the back yard collecting a nice set of rain drops.

Photo: Nandina, First Rain—Marin County, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fire Engine

Hali managed to get into the Woodacre Market just before a large contingent of firemen arrived. While she was ordering an exquisite veggie sandwich, I was taking this photo of one of their fire engines.

Photo: Fire Engine—Marin County, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Surfer, Golden Gate Bridge

I drove into San Francisco yesterday on an errand. But since I was (by design) a little early, I first stopped by Fort Point in the Presidio, where I watched a lone surfer trying his luck with what looked like (to me, anyway) pretty strong waves.

Got the above shot just before he wiped out.

Photo: Surfer & Golden Gate Bridge—San Francisco, 2008; Infiniti & Golden Gate Bridge—San Francisco, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Comrade Obama

Not everyone in Marin is in favor of Obama.

However, I’m not certain if these bumper stickers present a logical argument; Karl Marx surely wouldn’t be proud of an "empty suit," would he? Rather, he would want someone who would be able to facilitate the "revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." Don’t think Obama’s interested in that.

Oh. We shouldn’t take this too seriously?

Photo: Comrade Obama—Marin County, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Poison Oak

The poison oak in Marin is just now achieving a nice menacing shade of red.

Photo: Poison Oak—Marin County, 2008