Professional Photographer Mai Duong, the most enthusiastic photographer you will ever meet.

Outdoor

Pete and Niamh’s Engagement Session at Red Rocks… or not?

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Pete, Niamh, and I had the awesome plan of using one of the mornings or evenings during a climbing trip in Red Rocks to do their engagement session.  After one day of climbing at Red Rocks I thought to myself… that engagement session was not going to happen.  To bring them so close to awesome climbing, and not let them climb?  That’d be impossible.

So this is how we spent their engagement photo session:

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

Engagement Climbing Session at Red Rocks Nevada

I’d say that was time well spent 🙂


California Wildlife

Warning: Many photos of the same animals coming up. In between (not during) the snow hikes, we encountered quite a few wildlife.  Our first sighting were two deer.  A neighboring campsite was feeding this not-so-timid girl some bread.  I slowly approached them, mostly expecting them to run off, when they came towards me sniffing for food.  Okay, so not so wild after all.

California Wildlife

California Wildlife

The one with the goofy large ears was very interested in the noises my camera was making.  For the most part, I let her come near until it was at the point of touching my lens.  At that point, there was a deer about 6 inches from my face, so I jumped back.

California Wildlife California Wildlife

Guess she figured I was the scared one between the two of us.

California Wildlife

California Wildlife

California Wildlife

Then, on the day we were leaving our campsite, after the snowfall, we noticed a bunch of birds sniffing around our picnic table for crumbs.  Such pretty blue birds!  Xavier lamented the fact that he left his 70-200mm lens, and I tried the best I could do with my 24-70mm.  Note: Birds are skittish and tend to fly away very quickly.

California Wildlife

I happened to catch this fellah brandishing his wings like a cape.

California Wildlife

Later, while in Tahoe, we sat down by some trees at a tourist stop for a snack and a break before our drive back to the Bay Area.  While there, we were visited by some more of these blue birds.

California Wildlife

California Wildlife

California Wildlife California Wildlife

California Wildlife

California Wildlife

While hanging out in the forest, watching these birds around us, we were approached by… a chipmunk!!  I was so excited, I could barely control myself.  My namesake!  Coming to visit me!

California Wildlife California Wildlife

California Wildlife

California Wildlife

This one was also interested in the clicking noises my camera was making.

California Wildlife California Wildlife


Memorial Weekend Hikes

If Labor Day means the end of summer, then Memorial Day must mean the start of summer and I am very behind on the blog!  For Memorial Day Weekend, Xavier and I went to Eastern California for some snow hikes.  The first day, we started with a warm up hike around some frozen lakes and I tried out snowshoes for the first time.  I was a little disappointed with the lack of grippy-ness on inclines in soft snow (many near wipe outs).  Otherwise, snowshoeing turned out to be not very different from hiking in boots.

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking Snow Hiking
Camping near Twin Lakes.  (Post about the wildlife tomorrow.)

Snow Hiking Snow Hiking
We woke up to a little winter wonderland.

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking

The next day we attempted to summit San Joaquin Mountain.  The hike normally has amazing views, but the weather that day was pretty rough and there was no visibility.  Many factors resulted in us turning around, which could be summed up to: lack of time, lack of equipment, and poor weather conditions.  The road to the trailhead was unplowed which lengthened our approach by two miles, cutting into our time.  For some reason, we opted not to bring crampons resulting in some dicey moments.  From where we turned around we could see where crampons would be needed.  Lastly, the weather was terrible.  Winds were blowing at 40mph causing me to have visions of me being blown off cornices like a little rag dog (how… fun.) and the last half of the hike visibility was terrible with the wind bringing snow and clouds onto the mountainside.

Snow Hiking Snow Hiking
Xavier tried to get some shots of me looking bada$$, which wasn’t possible since I felt so pathetic.

Snow Hiking Snow Hiking
We turned around at the last dry spot, at dead man’s pass.

Snow Hiking

For the last day, we headed to Tahoe for a snow hike up Rubicon Peak.  This was a great hike without any need for snowshoes or crampons.  There were amazing views of Lake Tahoe and, besides the occasional cross country skier, mostly empty.  We followed the cross country ski tracks and paw prints most of the way up.  I really enjoyed seeing when the canine bounded off only to quickly return to its companion.  🙂  I love dogs.

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking

Snow Hiking


TGS at Joe’s Valley

Last April (I know… long ago), we drove to Utah (yes, from Portland) to go climbing at Joe’s Valley.  It was… cold.  We were only going to be there for four days, 3 of which were forecasted for snow/rain.  However, we were meeting with a large group of friends, all of whom were hellbent on going (“it’s the desert, it doesn’t snow!”), so we hopped in the car and headed 14 hours towards the boulders and clouds.  Sure enough, 3 out of 4 of the days, there was snow, rain, and even pellets of hard snow (not hail, I’ve forgetten the word). Regardless of the less than ideal weather, the trip was amazing.  There was still good climbing everywhere and great friends to climb with. We shrugged at the weather (“what can you do?”), made gourmet breakfasts on skillets and “hobo grills”, and even celebrated Easter with an Easter egg hunt.

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

It really was snowing.  The pictures I took (while standing out in the snow) are my favorite from the trip.  There really was nothing that was going to stop us from climbing.

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

To avoid the snow and rain, we opted to go to Triassic for two of the days, another outdoor climbing area that was a 45 minute car ride away.

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Also, you can’t have a climbing trip without climbing dogs! Here are our mascots from the weekend.

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos Joe's Valley Rock Climbing Photos

If you follow my photography at all, you’ll also notice that several of these photos are not my normal “style.”  I’ve been playing around with an idea for awhile, and this is the halfway point, a visual warm up, so to speak.  Let me know what you think, I would like your (brutally honest) opinion.


TGS Leavenworth

My rock climbing trip to Leavenworth, WA marks the transition between the Fall Schedule of Chaos to the Winter Season of Maladies.  Following this trip, I would proceed to get very ill for a week’s length (multiple times despite pumping myself with Vitamin C), but for now, let’s enjoy the climbing!

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos

High ball alert!

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos

Some awesome problems at the Cracked Egg:

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos

Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos Leavenworth Rock Climbing Photos


Crater Lake

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a huge fan of lakes, so you can’t be surprised that I went crazy over Crater Lake. I’ve been there once before, when I first moved to Portland, and haven’t been back since. For those of you looking for a quick tutorial about Crater Lake, it’s a caldera formed from a volcano that erupted long ago. Over time, snow, ice melt, and rain water filled the caldera, leaving it today at it’s balanced level. It’s fascinating, and a must visit.

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos

Crater Lake Photos Crater Lake Photos

One of the earliest debates Xavier and I ever had (day 2 of meeting each other) was whether “Crater Lake” was in California or Oregon. He had seen a sign for a “Crater Lake” while driving on the highway in California, so he was pretty certain it wasn’t in Oregon. I, having actually been to Crater Lake in Oregon, was pretty positive I was right. Initially, I won, but we eventually found a Crater Lake in California. We talked about visiting Crater Lake for years, so we finally gave it a visit during our Portland->SF drive.


Black Butte Circuit

Okay, that was a fun stint of present day blog posts, now back to… October!

After I returned from Alaska, I immediately went to uploading the Oregon Fun Run race photos. I told them they’d be up in a week, and for sure, less than two days later, I got them online by Wednesday morning. Xavier flew in later that day and we headed out at 4:30am (delayed due to car troubles the night before and morning of) the next day on a road trip down to California. We drove the scenic route where we stopped along the way for some small day hikes, which we dubbed our “black butte” circuit, and a break at Crater Lake.

We started off with a hike up Black Butte, outside of Three Sisters, OR. We followed that up with lunch at Alpenglow in Bend, OR (my favorite place to eat there) and a (hot) afternoon hike up Mt. Tumalo. Both hikes had great views for the easy effort required. Afterwards, we risked running out of gas to drive the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway where we found a $$$ functioning gas pump at Lava Lake and a sunset spot by Davis Lake.

On this trip, I was on a mission to make myself comfortable with using the wide angle 14-24mm lens. It was a major change from my usual telephoto preference, so sometimes I traded cameras with Xav for his super zoom.

The day afterwards was spent around Crater Lake and a hike up Mt. Bailey (Baldy), which I didn’t summit due to time constraints and my lack of speed. Crater Lake was awesome, so it’s getting its own post. The following day we finished the drive to California. We stopped at Black Butte, CA to complete our circuit (we also stopped to watch the Steelers game). We got to the summit of Black Butte in pretty good time (I was feeling especially motivated) where we saw the amazing view of Mt. Shasta…. covered in clouds. There we were, right next to the huge thing, and there was no evidence that a mountain existed. Bah!

On the way down we did see it, so we snapped a shot and finished the drive to the Bay Area.


Tips on Being a Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife Photography

Well, my Alaska trip report is (finally) done, so I’d like to make a post about my actual photography learning experience.  So, here are ten tips for wildlife photography, all of which I had to consider while in Alaska.  Warning: it starts to unravel at the end.

1. Know their schedule.
Animals like to come out during dawn and dusk.

Wildlife Photography

2. Use the “1 over” rule.
I may have made up the name, but I didn’t make up the rule. If you’re shooting at 200mm, your shutter speed should be at least 1/200, even faster if you’re unsteady like me. Even faster if you have a cropped sensor camera.  Even faster if you’re on a rocky boat.

Wildlife Photography

3. Use spot focus on their eyes.
Don’t use matrix focus. You don’t want to see the focus on the shrub in front of them…. unless you’re going for artistic.

Wildlife Photography Wildlife Photography

4. Know your camera.
Shooting with someone else’s camera can lead to disaster if you don’t know what you’re shooting with, like shooting at f/20 instead of f/4.

Wildlife Photography

5. Watch your settings.
It’s morning, and no longer night time, so change your settings back to daylight, since you don’t want to be fumbling with it when an animal pops up and then pops away. And be sure to set it back if you do something drastic.  Especially if you borrow someone else’s camera. Sorry Drel.

Wildlife Photography

6. Always bring your camera.
And your super zoom while you’re at it.  You never know when you might see random animals in the water.  Like a porpoise.

Wildlife Photography

7. Go to where the animals are.
Or, in our case, stay on land to see water animals, and head out on water to see land animals.

Wildlife Photography

8. Have no fear.
Or be crazy and walk up to a huge male moose as the he stands by a cow and calf. That should bode well.

Wildlife Photography Wildlife Photography

9. Don’t get distracted.
Just because a train is coming does not mean you should take a picture of the train instead of keeping your focus on the elusive bald eagle.

Wildlife Photography Wildlife Photography

10. Bring Alenka along.
She’ll spot any animal. If you want to spot crazy people, bring Andreal along.

Wildlife Photography


MOOSE! Day 5

Alaska Photos

Day 5 in Alaska, the last day of my trip. Our plan was to head back to Anchorage in the morning, since there were two places I still wanted to go before flying out that night: Power Line Trail and Knowles Coastal Trail.

MORE PHOTOS…


Denali National Park, Day 4

Alaska Photos
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Orcas? Puffins? Day 2

National Fjords Tour

This boat ride took you around Resurrection Bay where you can catch a close up view of the Fjords and Glaciers, along with many wildlife sightings. Less than a week before, Alenka’s hostel roommate had shown her pictures of the tons of Orcas that she had seen on this boat tour, so our expectations were to see at least one, but not likely much more. The tour guides had mentioned that most of them had migrated away already, but we were still hopeful. Alenka had chosen Alaska specifically to see the Orcas (Slovenia doesn’t really have those coming into the Mediterranean) and Andreal was also big on seeing Whales. I was on the boat to see Puffins (a guaranteed no sighting) and Mountain Goats (since we had seen none on land thus far).

Alaska Photos
The views on the boat were pretty spectacular (although for the second half of the tour I just wanted to be back on solid land)
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Alaska! Day 1

Alaska… what a fun trip. Andreal and I went to Alaska for five days at the end of September. We planned a long distance driving tour of Anchorage->Seward->Homer->Denali National Park->Anchorage. My trip reports often become overly detailed, so rather than one epic post of five days, I’m breaking it down into multiple posts.

Alaska Photos
MORE PHOTOS…


Climbing Mt. St. Helens

I went up Mt. St. Helens with Annie, Ben, and Ben’s parents.  I’m not going to do a play-by-play, because 11 hours worth of play-by-play would be a ridiculously long post.  But yes, it took us 11 hours to do the round trip.

Mt. St. Helens photos
MORE PHOTOS…


Butchart Gardens of Victoria BC

When we were racing in Victoria, our Saturday dragon boat races were very early (first race of the day!), so we made tentative plans to see the Butchart Gardens in the afternoon.  Well, the races ended up running 2 hours late (due to a boat capsizing and possible other issues), which they made up partially by skipping their hour lunch break (those poor race officials and volunteers).  The day was very very hot and very very sunny (not a cloud in the sky), so by the time we finished our second race, we were debating on finding a cold pool to dunk ourselves in, or walk through the sunny gardens of Butchart.

Butchart Gardens of Victoria BC Photos
My new favorite flower
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Hiking in Portland

Happy Labor Day everyone! Hope yours is fantastic and you get to spend it outdoors.

Pittock Mansion Forest Park Hike Photos
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Portland Festival Symphony

One of the many great things about Portland is the free events it offers.  Yesterday, the Portland Symphony performed on the Tom McCall Waterfront.  I didn’t go, but next year, I’m definitely gonna go check it out.  But, it brings me to this post, about the Portland Festival Symphony.

Portland Festival Symphony Photos in Washington Park
Pretty funny conductor.

The Washington Park Summer Festival hosts free concerts in the amphitheater of Washington Park and I like to attend the Portland Festival Symphony’s concert.  This year was their 30th anniversary, so we (the audience and orchestra) sang them a happy birthday.  The performers are good, the music is beautiful, and the conductor is funny.  This year, I think over 2500 people came to watch them play. People bring picnic dinners and drinks, and lounge about on their blankets. It’s a nice way to spend your summer evening. At the end, they hand out maracas and flutes for the children.  Then, with the aide of hundreds of children with their new instruments, they perform a song together.  That has to be a recipe for success, right? 

MORE PHOTOS…


Fontainebleau Bouldering

It’s been over a month since I went climbing (ack!).  The last time I climbed was at Fontainebleau (in France!), the birthplace of bouldering.  This place is amazing!  The number of rocks and routes to climb is ridiculous.  A circuit can consist of over 100 routes!  Needless to say, I did not complete a circuit.

Fontainebleau Bouldering Photos
MORE PHOTOS…


Dog Mountain

Went on a hike up Dog Mountain. Supposedly it’s 6 miles round trip, but according to sign posts, it ended up being more like 7.5 miles. Boy was I sore the next day. But, the hike was nice, with lots of wildflowers up top. The last stretch of the hike had great views, but was extremely windy. Next time, I’m packing a warm hat and a wind breaker.  But, if you’re looking for a good hike end of June or early July, this would be one!

Dog Mountain Photos
Wildflowers in abundance at the top
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Leavenworth Bouldering

I went camping and climbing in Leavenworth, WA for my sister’s birthday. Since it’s still early in the summer, the weather wasn’t too hot, especially if we stayed in the shady areas. We got to climb a lot of good 3 star problems. I even sent a V2, my highest rated outdoor bouldering problem yet. Last year I had tried an overhung hueco problem that I couldn’t complete, but this year I sent it! It was pretty satisfying to have that as a gauge of progress.

Leavenworth Bouldering Photos
Annie working on “Fridge Center”, a V4
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Goofing off in Bishop

Topping out on a problem is hard work, so we made sure to have fun at the top.

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Annie’s Icebreaker Ad

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Ben’s Icebreaker Ad

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Prepping for his swan dive

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Andy’s Patagonia Ad


Bouldering in Bishop

Last weekend, I drove down with my housemates to meet our friends living in Truckee, CA for a weekend climbing adventure in Bishop, CA. A trip with good friends always makes things amazing.

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Everyone on the boulder

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Annie on the classic v6 Hulk (4 out of 3 stars. Yeah, 4.)

Bouldering in Bishop, CA
Andy’s sick toe hook on the classic v4 Iron Man

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Crater Mountain of the Mono Basin

Due to the snow storm that hit the Sierra Nevada Mountains, all our big hikes had to be scratched. Instead we went skiing at Mammoth Mountain (on October 16th, early, I know!). Saturday we went on a hike up Crater Mountain. Turns out, the snow made it easier to go up the slippery pumice gravel at the top. And the views? Amazing! So much reward for a pretty low key hike!

Register at the Summit
I signed my first summit log. Also at the summit was the first register, a little notepad placed there in 1966. It says:
Crater Mtn.
Ele 9,172 ft.
Placed by Joe Kurtak and C.R. Kurtak November 10, 1966 Came up from Mono Mills.

Walking back in snow
Walking back in snow

View from the summit
A view of snow-capped mountains all around


Mount Baldwin Attempt

I attempted to summit Mount Baldwin, but difficult route finding and snow at the top foiled my plans. In the end, I declared a local maxima, Mount Maianh, mine.

Me and Red Slate Mountain in the background
Me and Red Slate Mountain

Attempting to summit
Attempting to summit Baldwin

Lunch at Mildred Lake
Lunch at Mildred Lake

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Mount Hoffman & Hoffman’s Thumb

Last weekend I headed BACK to Yosemite for another camping trip. We arrived there on Saturday and did a warm up hike to Mount Hoffman’s summit. The view was fantastic and Hoffman’s thumb looks like so much fun to climb!

Hoffman's Thumb
Hoffman’s Thumb

Cathedral Peak and friends
Cathedral Peak and friends

May Lake
May Lake