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Archive for the ‘Analog’ Category

Last month, Jeff and I took a two-day trip north to Corning, N.Y. After we made our own glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, Jeff surprised me with an afternoon excursion Watkins Glen State Park, which is famous for its sheer river gorge that features 19 different waterfalls. Had I known we’d be exploring the gorge, I wouldn’t have brought my Mamiya C220, which shoots square frames, but here are some of the pictures I made:

© 2016. The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. The Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Watkins Glen State Park in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Portra 400+1, Mamiya C220.

The next afternoon on our way back to York, we took a detour to visit Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Jeff had been billing it as “the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” (to be fair, many others refer to it as such), but when we arrived just before sunset, I felt a little let down. The fall foliage couldn’t be beat…

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

…but after exploring the Watkins Glen gorge and having visited the Grand Canyon in Arizona as well as Palo Duro Canyon in northern Texas, I couldn’t see anything canyon-esque about Pine Creek Gorge.

It’s a very nice river valley, though.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

© 2016. Pine Creek Gorge in northern Pennsylvania. Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Portra 400, Mamiya C220.

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As I wrote in my first Taiwan blog post, the point of the trip was to surprise my grandma for her birthday. When we weren’t exploring different parts of Taipei, we spent time with my grandma, which often involved meals, which frequently included her circle of friends.

The biggest meal was a birthday lunch hosted at a Neihu District restaurant by three of my grandma’s oldest friends whose husbands had all served in the Republic of China’s Navy with my grandpa in World War II. The husbands have died after enjoying decades of friendship, but their widows are still close friends. It was certainly the most lively meal we had in Taiwan, with a lot of delightful banter that I couldn’t understand but still enjoyed.

After the meal, I took portraits of each of the women, as well as my grandma, outside the restaurant:

© 2016. After Grandma's birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. After Grandma’s birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. After Grandma's birthday lunch in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. After Grandma’s birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. After Grandma's birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. After Grandma’s birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Grandma, after her birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma, after her birthday lunch with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Grandma (far left) with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma (far left) with friends in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

Then, the women parted ways, either by taxi or subway:

© 2016. Grandma says farewell to a departing friend who boarded her taxi, in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma says farewell to a departing friend who boarded her taxi, in Neihu District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Grandma on the subway out of Neihu Station. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Grandma on the subway out of Neihu Station. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+1, Pentax 6×7.

Growing up, my brothers and I would see our grandparents every Sunday for dinner, but I’d never spent much time with my grandma until this trip to see her in Taiwan. It was really lovely getting to learn more about her life and character as we sat together for breakfast every morning, and to meet so many of her friends throughout the week. It was also very special to me, as a photographer, to get to photograph my grandma in her own country, on film. I only wish we’d been able to do this sooner, and that we might be able to do it again in the near future.

That’s the last of my Taiwan blog posts (until I visit again?!). Here’s a quick rundown of the previous ones, if you happened to miss any:

  1. Welcome back, Grandma
  2. Da’an District
  3. Xinyi District
  4. Guandu Temple and Beitou District
  5. Huiji Temple on Zhishan
  6. Taipei by night
  7. Spirited away in Jiufen
  8. Jiufen by night
  9. Lungshan Temple of Manka
  10. Bopiliao Old Street
  11. Maokong Gondola
  12. National Palace Museum
  13. Day market
  14. Night markets

 

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As I wrote before, the first thing you’ll hear about when planning a trip to Taipei is the night markets — and for good reason.

© 2016. Lin Jiang Street Night Market in Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Lin Jiang Street Night Market in Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

Night markets are street markets that begin operating just before sundown and close late at night. Many began as a collection of goods and food vendors clustered around temples, and now tourists and locals alike can choose from the larger, destination night markets as well as the more suburban, lesser-known, localized night markets. We visited both large and small night markets. Regardless of size, you’ll usually find that stores facing the street will fling their doors open to sell household goods or clothes, while food vendors will crowd the sidewalks and the middle of the street to hawk their xiaochi, the snacky foods at which Taiwan excels.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market, in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

Shilin Night Market is one of the largest in Taiwan, and even featured carnival-like games on one edge of its expanse. There’s also an underground food court area that’s almost as crowded as the street level. At one point, I asked my uncle Doug whether Taiwanese locals go to night markets, or if we were just surrounded by fellow tourists. He said night markets attract both — it’s a social thing to do, and the food is so cheap and easy to share.

Unfortunately for me, by the time we arrived at night markets at the end of the day, Taiwan’s oppressive humidity had sapped much of my hunger and appetite. The snacks I did try were delicious, though, and there was no shortage of food options. Night markets, especially the larger ones, can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of vendors, pedestrians and bright lights, but I think we succeeded in trying the foods we’d wanted to, and in immersing ourselves a bit in Taiwanese culture.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Shilin Night Market in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

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One of my favorite things about my grandma’s apartment in the Da’an District of Taipei is that it’s only a short walk away from a market (specifically, the market shown in the second photo of this blog post). Like older market houses in the U.S., this one features licensed vendors selling a variety of items from their stalls, ranging from fresh produce to raw meat to prepared foods to household goods. I can’t imagine many of the stalls would pass USDA regulations for food safety, but everything looked and smelled so good. Here are just a few photos, taken on a morning when my grandma and uncle Doug walked over to pick up some items for breakfast.

© 2016. A butcher in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A butcher in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh-made dumplings in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh-made dumplings in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh squids in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Fresh squids in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A vendor greeting my grandma and uncle Doug in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da'an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A vendor greeting my grandma and uncle Doug in 台北市公有成功市場 in Da’an District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

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For the first half of our week in Taipei, we debated whether to visit the National Palace Museum. The cons: It’s like the Met of Taipei, except more epic, so it teems with tourists. The pros: It’s like the Met of Taipei, except more epic, so you kinda need to go.

© 2016. National Palace Museum in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. National Palace Museum in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

Located in the Shilin District, the museum’s collection of almost 700,000 Chinese imperial art and artifacts spanning about 10,000 years of Chinese history. It’s not without its own controversy: The collection was originally housed and displayed in Beijing, until the 1930s when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek ordered that the most valuable pieces be evacuated ahead of the advancement of the Japanese Imperial Army. The collection continued to be moved around until the surrender of Japan in 1945. Three years later, the museum again evacuated the most valuable pieces, this time to Taiwan, before the Communist army seized control of the museum.

The People’s Republic of China claims the collection currently in Taiwan was stolen and actually belongs in China, but the Republic of China (Taiwan) has used the art and artifacts to bolster its claim to legitimacy because those items would likely have been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the mainland.

In the end, Jeff and I visited the museum by ourselves, going through almost every exhibit, relishing the air conditioning and trying to stay ahead of the traffic clogs that were the official tour groups of Japanese and Chinese tourists. We also visited the Zhishan Garden that’s outside the museum, but it was raining pretty hard, so I didn’t take any photos.

© 2016. Gateway to the National Palace Museum, facing the street and apartment buildings, in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Gateway to the National Palace Museum, facing the street and apartment buildings, in Shilin District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

I’m glad we made the decision to go, as disappointing as it was to learn that the museum’s most beloved pieces — the jadeite cabbage and the meat-shaped stone (literally, a piece of jadeite carved to resemble a head of cabbage and a piece of jasper carved and colored to resemble braised pork belly) — were temporarily being displayed elsewhere. I’m much more familiar with European and American art, so it was refreshing to learn more about Chinese art and history.

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Probably the most touristy thing we did during our week in Taipei was the Maokong Gondola.

© 2016. Maokong Gondola in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Maokong Gondola in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

The gondola lift system is actually part of Taipei’s MRT subway system. The line runs between the Taipei Zoo and the Maokong stations, with a total of four gondola stations on the line. Maokong itself is in area in Wenshan District, the southernmost of Taipei’s twelve districts, and is known for its tea plantations and mountainside views. The gondola itself is also much of the attraction.

© 2016. Maokong Gondola in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Maokong Gondola in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

We did take a trail to a temple that offered gorgeous views of Taipei — but by then, it was dusk and I didn’t have a tripod for my heavy Pentax 6×7. So, here’s my Instagram from that temple…

© 2016. View from Zhangsan Temple (樟山寺) in Wenshan District. Phone photo.

© 2016. View from Zhangsan Temple (樟山寺) in Wenshan District. Phone photo.

…and here’s a view of Taipei from another road earlier in the day:

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Maokong in Wenshan District. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

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Taipei isn’t all gleaming new buildings and cosmopolitan districts. Just a short walk from Lungshan Temple of Manka in Wanhua District is Bopiliao Old Street, a historical street and adjacent buildings that date back to the late 18th century.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

Bopiliao is one of the oldest and most well-preserved historical areas in Taipei. While many rooms are empty, some serve as art gallery spaces and others are dedicated to an interactive museum that compares facets of modern and “ancient” Taiwan culture.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

The abundance of brick and natural growth — as well as the absence of bright signs, fluorescent lights, street vendors and vehicle traffic — make Bopiliao a popular spot for photo shoots, as you can see in the final photo in this post.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Bopiliao Old Street in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

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Of the three temples we visited in Taipei, Lungshan Temple of Manka (also spelled “Longshan”) was by far the most popular. Built in 1738, it’s been partially destroyed by earthquakes, fires and WWII American bombers over the years, but was always rebuilt and renovated. The temple is located in Wanhua District, a fairly historic part of the city, and is right across the street from its own MRT station, which I’m sure contributes to its popularity among locals and tourists.

© 2016. Lunghsan Temple of Manka, right up against a more modern glass-paneled building. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Lunghsan Temple of Manka, right up against a more modern glass-paneled building. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

The other two temples we’d visited (Guandu and Huiji) are lesser-known and less-traveled, perhaps because they’re located so far from central Taipei and are a longer walk from MRT stations. I felt like I needed to tread carefully there, since we were the only obvious tourists at those temples.

Lungshan Temple was the complete opposite. While there were many worshippers and faithful paying their respects, it seemed like their numbers were almost matched by Western tourists. We saw a few sultry photo shoots, as well as a guy operating a Steadicam-esque setup. To top it off, we recently watched the season premiere of Fresh Off the Boat, in which the Huang family visited Taiwan for a wedding — and the bride was a model working a shoot at Lungshan Temple.

I’m glad Lungshan wasn’t the only temple we visited, but that doesn’t take away from the experience of visiting it.

© 2016. Fruit and flowers on the tables at Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Fruit and flowers on the tables at Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Lungshan Temple of Manka. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

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Jiufen is magical.

© 2016. In the courtyard at very bottom of the famous Jiufen stairs. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. In the courtyard at the bottom of the famous Jiufen stairs. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

So is CineStill 800T.

© 2016. Inside the upper tea room of Yu Zai Fan Shu Tea Stall (九份芋頭蕃薯) in Jiufen. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Inside the upper tea room of Yu Zai Fan Shu Tea Stall (九份芋頭蕃薯) in Jiufen. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A collection of pottery, teapots and other items at Yu Zai Fan Shu Tea Stall (九份芋頭蕃薯) in Jiufen. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. A collection of pottery, teapots and other items at Yu Zai Fan Shu Tea Stall (九份芋頭蕃薯) in Jiufen. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Looking up the famous Jiufen steps. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Looking up the famous Jiufen steps. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Jiufen Old Street, after the vendors closed for the night. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Jiufen Old Street, after the vendors closed for the night. Monday, Sept. 5, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

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Analog: Taipei by night

When you’re planning to visit Taiwan, the first thing anyone talks about is night markets. I’ll have an entire blog post dedicated to night markets later, but suffice it to say that Taipei has a pretty active night life, and I knew early on that I’d want to capture that on film.

Some quick research introduced me to CineStill, which reworks ECN-2 motion picture film so it can be shot and processed for C-41. They’re working on production of medium-format film, but for now, only 35mm is available. It’s not a perfect film — it’s particularly known for halation — but I loved the examples of urban night photography I’d seen, and wanted to give it a try. Thanks to a Canon EOS A2 loan from Tyler Rippel, via FIND in a BOX, I was able to shoot CineStill in Taiwan.

Honestly, it was nerve-wracking for me to use new-to-me film with a new-to-me camera at night in a country I may never be able to visit again. But I trusted my light meter and went for it. The results certainly aren’t perfect — they’re gritty, grainy and grungy — but that’s exactly what I wanted. Here are a few photos from our nocturnal wanderings, with more to come:

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. CineStill 800T +2, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

© 2016. Ximending in Wanhua District. Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. CineStill 800T +1, Canon EOS A2.

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To get to Huiji Temple on Zhishan — a small, lesser-known temple on the top of a jungly hill in the middle of Shilin District in Taipei — you must take a short but very steep hike up this step path…

© 2016. One of two paths to Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. One of two paths to Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

…or you must take a short but very steep hike up this step path.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

I am enamored of red paper lanterns, which you’ll see in future blog posts as well. When I was researching for our trip and saw this beautiful path lined with tasseled lanterns, I knew we needed to see it for ourselves.

The temple itself is a smaller one, and much of the front was shielded by construction scaffolding as it was undergoing renovations.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

So, despite the stifling humidity and swarming mosquitoes in the jungle-like conditions, I spent most of my time on the lantern path. We’d arrived at the temple just before dusk, so light was fading fast, especially in the thick foliage beneath the temple where the path was.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Huiji Temple on Zhishan in Shilin District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

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When Jeff and I travel, we usually plan our trips around where we want to eat. For our Taiwan trip with my uncle Doug, I planned daily excursions around where I wanted to photograph. This included, among other places, temples and “touristy” destinations that Doug — who lived part of his childhood in Taipei — said he normally wouldn’t consider when visiting Taiwan.

Luckily for us, the long MRT ride into Beitou District, the far reaches of Taipei, was worth it: It was a beautiful, sunny day — the only sunny day we would get, it turned out — and the blue skies were perfect for the Guandu Temple.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

This was the first of three temples we would visit during our trip, and the first I’d ever been to. Worship at the site began in the 1660s, and a temple was constructed in the early 1700s, making it the first temple in Taiwan dedicated to the goddess Mazu. Partly Buddhist and partly Taoist, it’s quite a large complex, with many sections that we didn’t explore because we wanted to move on to our next temple, located in Shilin District.

© 2016. The front

© 2016. The front “courtyard” of Guandu Temple. Vendors sold wares and food items that could be offered up inside the temple. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. The Taipei skyline can be seen from the gardens above the Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. The Taipei skyline can be seen from the gardens above the Guandu Temple in Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

We easily could have spent another hour or two at the temple, but light was falling and we needed to move on to Shilin District. But first, a quick look at the residential streets we walked through Beitou to get back to the MRT station:

© 2016. Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax tx7.

© 2016. Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax tx7.

© 2016. Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Beitou District. Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

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During our week in Taiwan, we didn’t visit or even travel through all 12 of Taipei’s administrative districts, but I did get the impression that while many districts share similar characteristics and industries, several boast fairly distinctive qualities.

For example, parts of Xinyi District look like anywhere else in the city…

© 2016. Taipei-Keelung Main Road in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Taipei-Keelung Main Road in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Apartments in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Apartments in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

…while some areas pay homage to Taiwanese history as the modern era looms nearby…

© 2016. National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Garden, with Taipei 101 visible, in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400 +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Garden, with Taipei 101 visible, in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400 +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Taipei 101 and National Sun Yat-sen Memorial, reflected, in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400 +2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Taipei 101 and National Sun Yat-sen Memorial, reflected, in Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400 +2, Pentax 6×7.

…and finally, other areas could be considered the Wall Street or Times Square of Taipei.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Xinyi District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

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In my earliest, most coherent memory of my grandparents, they were visiting my family for a few days in Houston, and I brought my grandmother a small vase of flowers for their room.

When I was in fourth grade, my grandparents retired from a life of diplomacy and public service (read: constant moving) and bought a house 20 minutes away from us. It was then that they became a regular presence in our lives: Every week, Sunday meant a big family dinner, and Western holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent at their house. Once summer came around, though, they returned for a few months to Taiwan, and it was up to us to keep their plants watered and mailbox empty until they returned in September.

This summer, my grandmother returned to the Taipei apartment she and my grandfather have owned for decades. When Jeff and I heard my Uncle Doug was planning a surprise visit to coincide with her birthday, we invited ourselves to come along for the week.

Needless to say, my grandmother was surprised to find the three of us at her door early one morning a few weeks ago, but soon enough, we were all off to breakfast together.

© 2016. Chinese breakfast in a Da'an District street food stall. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Chinese breakfast in a Da’an District street food stall. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

My grandparents’ apartment is located in the Da’an District. Here’s some film from the general vicinity:

© 2016. 台北市公有成功市場, an indoor market near my grandmother's apartment. The vendors inside sell anything from butchered meat and fish to household goods to ready-to-eat food items. I'll have more film of the inside, later. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. 台北市公有成功市場, an indoor market near my grandmother’s apartment. The vendors inside sell anything from butchered meat and fish to household goods to ready-to-eat food items. I’ll have more film of the inside, later. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Along Dunhua South Road in Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Along Dunhua South Road in Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Along South Dunhua Road in Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Along Dunhua South Road in Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. The Taipei flag is displayed outside an apartment in the Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. The Republic of China flag is displayed outside an apartment in the Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. A kindergarten or daycare center in the Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. A kindergarten or daycare center in the Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. An apartment in a Da'an District alley. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. An apartment in a Da’an District alley. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. View from the Technology Building MRT Station (科技大樓站) in Da'an District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. View from the Technology Building MRT Station (科技大樓站) in Da’an District. Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

I’ll share plenty of more film later, soon!

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Analog: Welcome back, Grandma

My grandmother is returning to the United States today after spending the summer in Taiwan.

Jeff and I, with my Uncle Doug, planned a surprise visit to Taiwan for her birthday a few weeks ago. In the week we spent there, we explored and ate a lot in the Taipei area. Even better, I learned a lot more about my grandmother and the storied life she’s led.

The daughter of a newspaper publisher and the wife of a lifelong diplomat, my grandmother raised three sons, worked for a time as a translator at the United Nations and had a professional relationship with Madame Chiang Kai-shek. I’ve always known her to be proper, dignified and reserved — no surprise, given her role as a diplomat’s spouse — but as we spent time with her, she let slip a playful, almost whimsical side that was new and delightful to me.

Case in point: The below photo, which I took after her birthday lunch outside a Japanese-style teahouse.

© 2016. Outside Qingtian Geo 76 青田七六 in the Da'an District of Taipei on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6x7.

© 2016. Outside Qingtian Geo 76 青田七六 in the Da’an District of Taipei on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

I’d asked her to stand next to the bicycle for her birthday photo. She suggested she pretend to ride it — even though she admitted she’d always been terrible at riding bicycles.

This is easily my favorite photo I’ve ever taken of her.

I’m really glad we got to spend so much time with my grandmother in Taiwan, and I look forward to seeing her on U.S. soil soon enough.

More film from the trip to come.

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Once I decided to bring film on our most recent Texas trip because of our Franklin Barbecue/Austin, Texas excursion, I determined to find something else to photograph so I could make the most out of bringing my Pentax 6×7.

So, on a sweltering Saturday afternoon before our Astros game, Jeff, my younger brother Geoff and our friend Hannah agreed to indulge me by going to the Sugar & Cloth color wall.

It’s basically one long warehouse wall painted in eight different colors, with each paint color extending out onto the pavement below by six feet. This makes it extremely Instagram-friendly; in fact, I’ve seen on Instagram numerous photos of engaged or married couples and of seniors against the backdrop of the wall. Because my parents live just on the outskirts of Houston, we don’t often go “into Houston,” so it was a treat, albeit a sweaty one, to spend an hour at the color wall.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

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It’s now tradition/a mandate that whenever Jeff and I visit Texas, we go to a local-ish barbecue joint.

Previous outings have included Gatlin’s BBQ in Houston, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, Roegels Barbecue Co in Houston and The Salt Lick in Driftwood. Separately, I’ve been to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, and Jeff has eaten at Pecan Lodge in Dallas.

So we were long overdue to eat at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, which is perhaps best known for the line that forms 4-6 hours before it opens at 11 a.m.

With my younger brother Geoff, we left Houston at 5 a.m. one hot Friday morning and arrived at Franklin at 7:40 — just in time to snag the last spot in line with almost full shade cast by the building.

Here are some frames, courtesy of my Pentax 6×7, that I took of our long-awaited pilgrimage to Franklin, and of our walking tour of Austin afterwards.

© 2016. This is part of the line after we’d already eaten. The line was so long that Franklin staff had to tell some relative late-comers not to expect to get anything. Portra 400.

© 2016. This is before Jeff moved into the shade. Franklin staff later brought out umbrellas for those in line to protect themselves against the sun. Portra 400.

© 2016. Boots. Portra 400.

© 2016. No boots. Portra 400.

© 2016. The fuel. Portra 400.

© 2016. Fin. Portra 400.

© 2016. This is after we took a free tour of the Texas State Capitol. The flag was at half-mast after five Dallas police officers were shot and killed the previous day. Portra 400.

© 2016. Portra 400.

© 2016. There might be more five-pointed stars on the Texas State Capitol grounds than there are in any other state. Portra 400.

© 2016. Portra 400.

© 2016. Geoff! Portra 400.

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Jeff and I are suckers for national parks, so almost immediately after we booked our flights to California, he reserved a campground site in Yosemite National Park. We budgeted only two days and a night for the park, but, accompanied by my brother Matt, we definitely made the most of those 30 hours.

As we drove into the park, the sunshiney day turned to spitting rain, and we barely got our tents up in time. We then immediately started heading toward Glacier Point Road, with a few stops along the way. Pentax 6×7 the entire time, of course — I left my 5DII at Matt and Emily’s house in Fremont:

© 2016. I stood in the rain for almost 10 minutes to wait for the sun to break through the clouds and hit those trees. We didn’t see the sun again that day until sunset. Cathedral Rocks and Spires. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

Then onward and upwards:

© 2016. El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall and Cathedral Rocks and Spires, from Tunnel View. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Bridalveil Fall, from Tunnel View. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

As we continued on Glacier Point Road and gained elevation, the temperature dropped precipitously. While we’d enjoyed low 70s in Yosemite Valley, we suddenly faced upper 20s and snow:

© 2016. Matt and me, off of Glacier Point Road. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

When we arrived at Glacier Point, we found Half Dome and much of the rest of the view obscured by clouds. So we decided to hike the Panorama Trail to Illilouette Falls Bridge, in hopes that the sun would eventually overcome the clouds by the time we returned to Glacier Point.

© 2016. Jeff, Matt and Half Dome, from the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

© 2016. View from the Illilouette Falls Bridge. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

We spent maybe five minutes on the bridge, and then went right back up the Panorama Trail to return to Glacier Point.

© 2016. Moss on the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

As we made our way up the Panorama Trail’s gradual incline, the clouds slowly began giving way, and the quality of light changed before our eyes. Unsure if we’d reach Glacier Point by sunset, we stopped to grab photos of Half Dome as it was bathed in a beautiful glow.

© 2016. Half Dome from the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

Then we hiked for maybe 10 more minutes and realized we were basically back at Glacier Point. So we hurried to the overlook and waited for the sun to finally come out. This frame — my only one of Half Dome lit by the sun — was the last on my roll for the day:

© 2016. Half Dome from Glacier Point. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

The next morning, over breakfast burritos, we decided to hike the Yosemite Falls Trail.

© 2016. Yosemite Falls, as seen from Yosemite Valley. Monday, May 2, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

This trail is notoriously steep, with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet over 3 miles, and it was definitely a challenge for me. Worst of all, by the time Jeff and I got to the top of Yosemite Falls, we found it difficult to enjoy the vista simply because of the time of day — it was just past noon, and half the valley was cast in dark blue haze.

So here’s one more photo of the upper falls, taken on the trail’s downhill section after Columbia Rock:

© 2016. Yosemite Falls, as seen from the Yosemite Falls Trail. Monday, May 2, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

The next day, Jeff and I flew out of San Jose, marking the end of our trip. Despite my occasional misuse, it was an excellent test run for my Sekonic L-508, and I’m excited to use it for future outings!

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Of course, our Bay Area visit last month wouldn’t have been complete if we hadn’t made a Golden Gate Bridge expedition.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

It was at this point in our trip that Jeff actually complained about our having blue skies every day. I knew he wanted that iconic San Francisco fog for photos, but the picture-perfect day combined with Ektar was all I needed to make me happy.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. View from the bridge. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

We’d walked most of the length of the bridge with Matt, Emily and the kids when Emily decided to take the kids back towards San Francisco. Matt, Jeff and I continued on to Battery Spencer for probably the most popular overlook of the bridge:

© 2016. View from Battery Spencer. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

On our way back across the bridge, we saw two couples of gray whales breaching beneath the bridge. While I didn’t attempt to take any photos on film, seeing whales in the bay was definitely a highlight of the day, as you can tell from my tweets.

We reunited with Emily, who provided much-needed pastries, and went on to Baker Beach, but only after Jeff and I paused in a sandy woodland area for quick portraits:

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Then onward to the beach:

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Anyone who knows me knows I strongly dislike beaches. I’m not a fan of hot sand or dirty ocean water or greasy sunscreen or salty, humid breezes. It turns out, however, that I’ve just been on the wrong coast this entire time. Baker Beach, at least when we were there, was delightfully cool and crisp, and even the wet sand didn’t cling to my feet.

Plus, Atlantic beaches don’t get the sunset, nor this view:

© 2016. The Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Coming up next: YOSEMITE!

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I hauled both digital and film cameras on our trip to California last month — digital for my very active niece and nephew, and film for everything else. I did manage to capture the kids on film, though — in Livermore.

Matt and Emily live in Fremont, so Jeff and I never considered going to Napa Valley when Livermore is practically in their backyard. Accompanied by them, as well as their friends who have Livermore wine connections, we went to BoaVentura de Caires Winery, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Page Mill Winery and Wente Vineyards. Here’s some Ektar from BoaVentura, which featured two very friendly dogs and a (fenced) yard of chickens clucking near the wine-tasting room:

© 2016. Henry in the bocce court at BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

Especially in Fremont and Livermore, I noticed beautiful, soaring rosebushes everywhere. Emily said roses are grown in vineyards because the flowers are susceptible to the same diseases as the grapes. While each vineyard we visited featured rosebushes, BoaVentura boasted a wider array of flowers, which I loved.

© 2016. BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

© 2016. Layla at BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

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