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8 posts from May 2004

May 31, 2004

San Francisco Carnival Parade

Yesterday Sharon and I headed up to San Francisco to spend the day with our friends Dick, Trina and Pete. The plan was to walk over to the Carnival Parade and then go back Dick and Trina's new house for some food and drinks. We weren't disappointed as the parade was awesome and Dick impressed us with his famous marinated flank steak while I mixed and poured the margaritas.

I brought along my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens to shoot the parade which proved to be an excellent choice. Sometimes I would have like to have been able to get even closer, but overall it was perfect. For the past couple weeks now I have been shooting entirely in manual mode which I have grown to absolutely love. I'm getting much more consistent results and it just feels really good to have so much control.

Here is a sample of the images taken at the parade. There was not much editing at all expect for some basic curves adjustments, sharpening and resizing. You can find the complete gallery HERE.

May 30, 2004

New surfing and kitesurfing galleries

On Friday I got a chance to help out the official photographer (Kurt Jones) of the NSL surfing competition by shooting the Santa Cruz leg of the competition (he couldn't make it). The comp was held at the surf break known as "The Hook" in Santa Cruz. Conditions were terrible with very overcast skies and 3 foot surf but when you can surf as good as these guys can, you can surf on anything.

Here are a few from day, but you can see more in my online sports gallery (including larger versions).

Here is what, "The Hook" looks like. The little specs in the water are the surfers.

After the comp I headed north to Waddell Creek to shoot some kitesurfing. Waddell is a killer place that I hope to get good enough to kitesurf sometime.

May 27, 2004

So you like Espresso?

If you like Espresso as much as I do, you probably have an espresso machine at home that you use occasionally. You see the beautiful machines in all the top cafés and day dream about putting one in place of your microwave. If only those home espresso machines were faster, easier to use, had virtually no cleanup and made a cup of espresso that could equal the quality you expect from a fine Italian restaurant. Well good news espresso drinkers, I found the answer.

Enter Nespresso...

Nespresso is a brand (owned by Nestle) of home/office espresso machines and a variety of different espresso flavors (12 premium blends to be exact). The espresso is hermetically sealed in individual aluminum capsules, each color coded for identification. The machines work by puncturing the capsule and then forcing hot water at high pressure through the capsule and into your espresso cup. The result is some of the best espresso I have ever yet, hands down. When you are finished making the cup, the capsule is ejected into a storage container that can later be dumped into the recycle bin when filled (about 10-15 capsules).

The Nespresso capsules can only be purchased via mail order directly from Nestle. They cost .45 cents each which is more expensive than buying pre-ground coffee, but much less expensive than buying a cup at Starbucks or some other café. The results speak for themselves and I find they are well worth .45 cents for a killer cup of espresso. Oh yeah, they ship them to you via 2nd day air UPS at a cost of $2.95 per order.

I picked up the C190 Nespresso machine and I found it to be an excellent machine. I paid $329 for the machine but later found you can get it much cheaper on EBay. Sometimes you can even find great deals on capsules on EBay. The machine came with 20 espresso capsules and 2 espresso cups and saucers.

The capsules

May 24, 2004

I got a full page spread!

I still have my Paris recap blog entry to write, but in the meantime you will have to join in my exitement about something else.

Today I received my copy of the premier issue of Stance International magazine. Stance International is the new English version of the very popular French, Stance magazine.

Here is a scan of the front cover (this is not my image).

And here is a scan of the page with my image. I originally blogged this image in this entry.

Now I have to wait for the new issues of Kiting, Powerkite and Kiteworld.

May 15, 2004

La Tit

Yesterday we visited the beautiful artist community known as Montmartre. This is also the location of the famous Sacre-Coeur. The church was beautiful with giant domes and intricate painted ceilings. From the church we heading into the streets, wondering by numerous cafes and souvenir shops. The little cobble stone streets away from the town center (away from the hoards of tourists) were romantic and picturesque. After a quick two hour lunch at a wonderful café we decided to head towards Moulin Rouge. On the way there the streets quickly changed from dreamy, to dreary. Sex shops and seedy vendors were everywhere (along with condom vending machines on the walls) and we began feeling a bit uncomfortable (not a place to carry thousands of dollars worth of camera gear). We decided to change directions and forget the visit to Moulin Rouge. At this point we were getting very tired and decided to jump back on the metro and head home for a nap.

Sacre-Coeur

Town Center

Along the quiet back streets

Paris really messes with your time clock. It doesn't get dark until about 9:30pm so when we take naps we think we are getting up around 7 only to find it's nearly 10pm. We were completely exhausted after all the walking but still managed to get dressed and head out for some dinner. We attempted to find a little restaurant that someone recommended to us but had no luck finding our way. We did however come across what looked like a great little French restaurant and decided to give it a try. Low and behold it was actually a Russian restaurant with a menu where we couldn't read ANYTHING. We were very nervous about what we got ourselves into but the waiter was nice and there was a great little Russian band placing music. The waiter tried his best to describe some of the menu items to us. Sharon pointed to one item and the waiter leaned in and said, "it's like... Bock bock bock". Next I asked about another item and the waiter told me it was Salmon in a cake. We ended up ordering some sausage dish for an appetizer that turned out to be magnificent. For the main course, Sharon had a meat ravioli and I had the Salmon cake dish. Both were actually fabulous and we were very happy we decided to stay at the restaurant. While we were eating and drinking I looked over to Sharon and to my surprise, her breast was hanging completely out of her dress. I have no idea how long it was out or if anyone else noticed but it sure gave us a great laugh and a great story.

Another great day in Paris.

May 14, 2004

Rest in Peace

Yesterday we attempted to go to the Museum of Modern Art but it was closed to a private party. Damn that private party! Instead we made our way through the street of Paris, just walking towards anything that looked cool. After a couple miles we came across a wonderful cemetery where we spent a couple hours wondering around. Once we were completely chilled to the bone (the weather was overcast and very cold), we headed back to the loft for a quick nap (which turned into about a 4 hour nap) and then headed out for dinner. Since it was so late once we woke up, we decided to just head down the street to the restaurant 38 Eiffel were we had our first dinner. After a quick two hour meal we headed home for bed (yes, the French spend way too much time eating).

The doors to Museum of Modern Art

The Cemetery

We also made a quick visit to the Trocedero that wasn't very exciting.

Cool Little French Man

View from the Trocedero

The rest of the images from today can be found HERE.

May 12, 2004

The car with the green shag carpet

What an amazing day we had in Paris today. It started out with our new, New Zealand friend Konrad stopping by the loft around 9am to pick up his case of chef's knives. I know what you're thinking, why the hell did we have someone's case of knives? Well yesterday when we split the cab ride with Konrad, he was dropped off first and accidentally left his case in the cab. We discovered this when getting all of our luggage out of the cab and quickly grabbed the case knowing that I gave Konrad my email address. The cab driver said he would be more than happy to take the case back over to where Konrad was staying but we read that as, "I'll drive straight over to the pawn shop and see what these are worth". Once we got our internet connection working at the loft, we found that Konrad had already emailed me and was worried about his case. He was happy to hear we had it with us and invited him over to come hang out with us for the day.

First line of business, Crepes. We walked around the local streets, in and out of pastry shops and café's until we landed in a nice little place that had a good selection of crepes. After eating our wonderful French breakfast we decided to walk over to the Arc de Triomphe which was about a mile away. On our way we found a great open air market that seemed to go on forever. Everything your stomach was asking for was available. Seafood, vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, pastries, chocolate, clothes, trinkets and toys, you name it, it was there. The great thing about it was that it was very Parisian and not setup for tourists. A wonderful little slice of Paris.

After leaving the market we walked around the streets passing wonderful churches, café's and Parisian stores. Finally we came to the Arc and made our way through the underground tunnel since it would be nearly impossible to walk across the Place Charles de Gaulle circle which surrounds the Arc due to the number of insane drivers. The circle is so dangerous that most car insurance companies have a clause in their policies that say that the insurance is void while you are in the circle.

The tunnel leading to the Arc had several venders praying off the tourists including one that swindled us. He walked up and started talking all nice and asked me to put out my finger so he could show us something. He then pulled out some string and used my finger to create the worst string bracelet I have ever seen (read this as a bunch of string twirled together and tied) and promptly tied it on Sharon's wrist. He followed this by doing it again and putting a bracelet on me. Finally he looked and said, 5 Euros (1 US dollar = 1.25 Euro). Both Sharon and I quickly removed the bracelets and said, "No way!", we didn't ask for these. The street hustler quickly began to get irritated and suddenly forgot most of his English. This caused our friend Konrad who was browsing some art from another vendor to come on over and give his support. We finally decided to bring it to an end and pay the vendor a couple Euros to leave us alone. This was followed by Konrad giving the vendor a little lecture about being a hustler who prays off tourists and then we were off on our way again. Sharon and I did stop to take a look at some great oil paintings and ended up purchasing one of the paintings for only $40 US dollars (the vendor wanted 60 Euros). Not bad for an original oil painting.

The Tunnel

Konrad checking out the sketches from the Artist, we purchased one the paintings like the one on the far right.

Finally, the Arc de Triomphe

Following our trip to the Arc, we made our way to the Champs Elysees to check out the scene. We didn't spend too much time there because we were all so hungry and were not going to pay the inflated cost of food just to eat there. We did however manage to go into the Peugeot dealer and find a car that was covered in Green Shag Carpet.

We also discovered these futuristic vehicles called, La Street Cleaner.

Finally we finished our little tour of Paris by picking up some sandwiches from a bakery and eating them in the park next to the Eiffel Tower. We said our goodbyes to the Konrad and went back to the loft for a nap.

All in all, a wonderful day with weather that couldn't be beat. We can't wait to wake up tomorrow and have another adventure.

See more pictures from taday at my online gallery.

Until tomorrow, au revoir.

May 11, 2004

Hello from Paris

Sharon and I arrived in Paris today to begin celebrating our 30th birthdays. It has always been a dream of ours to visit Paris, so I guess you could call this our dream vacation.

We arrived today around 10am after a long, but uneventful flight. After hanging around the airport for about an hour waiting for our private shuttle, we found that most workers in the transportation field were on strike and our shuttle wasn't coming. On the plane we met a nice guy from New Zealand and decided to split a cab with him. The view immediately outside the airport is not so nice, but once we arrived in Paris it just kept getting better and better.

We rented a penthouse loft about 100 yards away from the Eiffel tower instead of checking into a hotel. This was the best move we could have ever made. The loft is nothing sort of spectacular with breathtaking views of the Eiffel tower and the surrounding Parisian streets.

Due to severe jet lag we weren't very mobile today, but we did manage to get out and walk around the Eiffel Tower and eat dinner at a great little restaurant called 38 Eiffel. It was our first experience with French cuisine and if all the restaurants are like 38 Eiffel, we are going to be in heaven.

It's time for bed now. We are looking forward to waking up and finding a nice place for a great French breakfast. Until then, here are a couple pictures from the balcony of our Paris loft.