Friday, June 27, 2014

Photographing Peregrine Falcons

Peregrine Falcon In Flight
camera settings: f/8, 1/2000 seconds, ISO-400
Single Point AF AI Servo

Peregrine falcons are probably my most photographed birds. I simply enjoy watching them. Photographing them in flight is a big challenge though, as they are not only very fast, they are the FASTEST ANIMAL on earth. They could dive up to 200+ mph when taking their prey. Oftentimes, my camera and lens is not fast enough to focus on them. The happiness however, of capturing them in flight is un-explainable, no words could describe, haha!!!

Lately however, I have learned some strategies when photographing birds in flight. That is to observe their behavior. When birds are perched on a cliff and on a tree, I watched them til they poop, which is a signal that soon they will leave and fly.  I prepare then my camera to be able to catch them in flight.

Sometimes, when I see them flying, I aim my camera at them, even it has difficulty focusing right away because of their fast speed. I however, still continue to follow them with my camera because I know there is a chance they could slow down, or find a place to perch, where my camera would have greater chance of focusing. Patience on following them while they are in flight until the camera and lens focuses do pay off. :)
Peregrine Falcon About to Perch
camera settings: f/8, 1/2000 seconds, ISO-400
Single Point AF AI Servo

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Upper Yosemite Falls

Below is the view of Yosemite Falls from the Valley Floor.
YOSEMITE FALLS FROM THE VALLEY
While all the pictures that follow below are from the trail above the Valley Floor. Let's hike up....
UPPER YOSEMITE FALLS TRAIL
 View of Upper Yosemite Fall With Half Dome from Upper Yosemite Trail

Friday, June 20, 2014

At Home With The Redwoods

In my previous posts, I shared some of the trails within the majestic ancient redwood forest and the gigantic redwood trees.
Redwood Highway ( parallel to the coast)
But Redwood National and State Parks is not all about the redwoods, despite the main attraction of course are these ancient tall trees. Right next to the redwood forest is the Pacific Ocean, and there is an amazing diversity of life that exists here.
Wildflowers Along Del Norte Coast, Redwood National Park
The diverse ecosystem here is recognized as both a World Heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve. These designations reflects worldwide awareness of the parks' resources as irreplaceable, and as such they must be safeguarded. One may complain that the ocean here seldom reflects the blue color from the sky. Especially during the summer, the ocean here is as gray as it can be. The greyness is due to the dense coastal fogs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Yosemite View Lodge: A Review

views from Yosemite Valley Floor, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is such a sight to behold, and is one of our favorite vacation destinations in California. The only drawback to staying here for non-campers (like us) is the price. Not all who loves the amazing and therapeutic wild are willing to camp. Sadly, we belong in that category. Most National Park hotels offer very little luxury for the money. You are paying for the price of 5-star hotel and resort (or more), yet only getting maybe a 1-star  or 0 ( very basic ) service and accommodations. Plus, you have to book your stay at least a year in advance to get a place to sleep inside the park. Though there are cheaper and more available lodging and hotels in not so nearby towns and cities, but they are quite far, needing at least 1-2 hours drive on a windy mountain road. The price and availability is probably the reason why most visitors to this amazing place stay somewhere in San Francisco (3-4 hours drive), then, only drive through the park for a day, not really experiencing the best that Yosemite has to offer. For after all, they could get luxurious accommodations for much less the price, and without having to book a year in advance. 

Last spring, we shifted our plans from a Death Valley National Park spring vacation to a Big Sur and Yosemite vacation. Of course, before cancelling our reservations at Death Valley, I made sure first that we will have rooms to sleep in both Big Sur and Yosemite. Because of very limited time ( about a month going into our vacation), as expected, there were no more rooms available inside Yosemite National Park, despite we would be visiting on a non-peak month, April. Fully booked inside-Yosemite hotels was a "blessing in disguise", because we were able to find Yosemite View Lodge, the only hotel outside Yosemite that is about 11 miles to the heart of Yosemite Valley. Unlike other outside-Yosemite lodging, Yosemite View Lodge is only maybe 15-20 minutes drive to the park, with a plus: no windy mountainous driving from the lodge to the valley floor. 

Pros of Staying in Yosemite View Lodge:

1. The hotel is next to Merced River, with as good mountain views.
Views near Yosemite View Lodge

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Unique Things to See and do in London

London has cemented itself as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with its unique, multi-cultural society and electric atmosphere attracting millions of spectators every year. Recent research showed however that the rest of the UK is suffering as a result, with visitors not being made aware of the great sights to see around the entire country. It is understandable that people want to see the Capital City, but even within London itself, there are wondrous things to see and do that are slipping largely under the radar. So, beyond Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, here are some great things you should include on your itinerary for a trip to The Big Smoke.

London by Night

Everyone takes a trip to see iconic landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben and the Tower of London but why not see them in a truly unique and visually stunning way, by taking the London by Night tour. Sitting in an open-top bus, you can see the city come to life with light and sound as everything seems to sparkle with a new-found beauty and charm.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Ford Fiesta Car Reliably Cruising Seward Highway

Reflections on a Lake, Along Seward Highway, Alaska

Before I started planning for our Alaska trip, I had no idea where to go. At first, I was looking at cruises since that is what the majority I know often talked about. A cruise to Alaska seemed ideal since it is not only easier, but also, cheaper. I won't have to make our own itinerary, hotel reservations, and rent a car. However, I didn't want to spend more time seeing Alaska from the ship, and very little time on land. I don't want to be limited in what I can do in National Parks. The hiker and explorer within me yearns to explore Alaska deeper! I would love to be inside exploring the blue glaciers, possibly seeing a lot more of Alaskan wildlife, and conquering some Alaskan slopes.

The first magazine I turned into for information was National Geographic. I would always frequent the nearby bookstore and start looking at places to hike and explore in Alaska. I came across National Geographic's Book on World's 50 Drives of a Lifetime. One of the 50 is Seward Highway! 
Fireweeds and Glaciated Mountain, Seward Highway

Then, I learned about one of the world's best hikes, Harding Icefield, considered to be a giant staircase to Ice Age. Harding Icefield Trail can be accessed from the town of Seward.   
Harding Icefield

Seward is the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park where it has been shaped by glaciers, ocean storms and earthquakes.  
Aialik Glacier Calving, Kenai Fjords National Park
(one of the outflowing tidewater galciers of Harding Icefield)

Leaving the bookstore, I knew then that we must not settle for a cruise. I must plan our own trip, which includes a drive on Seward Highway to stop wherever to enjoy every scenery along the highway that would inspire us to stop. The plan must also include a hike in Harding Icefield! 
Hiking Harding Icefield Trail

Sunday, June 01, 2014

So Much "Me" Time and Joy of Capturing Osprey Family

So much "me" in the above picture. :)  Probably  the very reason why I hardly have the motivation to write or update this blog since I don't know when is because I am spending so much time out of the doors. I hardly have time to look at the pictures I captured. I hardly have time to get to computer when am home. I have been so busy in such a very joyful way, enjoying so much me time outdoors. Haha!

Anyway, let me share with you my most recent joy. It is this joy that motivated me to spend some time sitting down to enjoy the pictures I took. Since I have been drawn to birding last year, I kept on wishing to catch an osprey with a fish. It's not at all easy, but no wish, no carrot on the stick to keep us going. Since finding the joy in birding, I had been doing a lot of yoga exercises to strengthen my shoulders and back because of the heavy weight of the camera + fast telephoto lens I carry in my backpack when we hike. Yesterday was finally my lucky day. I was able to witness male osprey bringing fish to his family. Here are some of the pictures of osprey from yesterday.
osprey with fish

Enjoy the Outdoors Any Time with a Portable Kayak


Outdoors enthusiasts live for the warm days of spring and summer. Taking the mountain bike for a spin through the countryside or grabbing the oars and kayak and heading out to the nearest lake to soak up the rays and sights is wonderful for both the mind and body.

One of the biggest complaints about traditional kayaks is how cumbersome they are to carry and how difficult they are to transport. Aside from the initial cost of the kayaks, life vests and oars, purchasing roof racks and a universal mounting system can add several hundred dollars to the total cost. If you are planning a big camping trip and have a small car, you may find yourself having to choose between toting the kayaks or the mountain bikes because of exterior space limitations.

If you are planning an extended hiking trip, toting a traditional kayak to your camp site can be next to impossible. Portable kayaks are generating a lot of buzz in the media and from avid sports enthusiasts. They feature a lightweight folding frame that easily fits into their backpack carry bag, and they take little time to set up. With a folding kayak, you can literally explore the world without limits and take in the beauty of some of nature's most tucked-away rivers and lakes.