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Archive for September, 2006

Seahawks beat the Giants…Again

September 25, 2006 Leave a comment
Today was projected to be one heck of a game, so by invitation Tracy and I went to our friend Kevin’s condo in Belltown, Seattle. He rented out one of the event rooms with a grill outdoors and it was certainly a perfect day for grilling – an unusually sunny day in Seattle.
 
The first few plays of the game was spectacular after we recovered the ball. After the first couple of touchdowns Kevin wanted to say we would definitely win, but that would’ve jinxed us so we wouldn’t let him…until after the 4 touchdown toward the end of the first half! That was our mistake, because during the second half their offense stepped up to the challenge and it appeared our defense got a little sloppy. We still won by 12 points: Seahawks 42, Giants 30. After last year’s win against the Giants in overtime I expected a little more of a fight from the Giants, but it was still a fairly decent game.
 
After we helped clean up, Tracy and I drove to Queen Anne, Seattle, to Kerry Park. It is a wonderful viewpoint for seeing both the Seattle cityscape and Mt. Rainier, as you can see below by a couple of sample photographs I took.
 
It was truly a great day.
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Categories: Games

Our New Tripod and Head

September 22, 2006 Leave a comment
To support our new camera, we bought a new, rugged tripod. Today the head came in: a ball head with the trigger off to the side. With that design, it can support more weight than typically quick-release ball heads. I used our old camera to snap a couple of shots of how this looks. (I really need to sell that camera and its accessories.)
Categories: Hobbies

Comparing Lenses

September 16, 2006 Leave a comment

I bought a higher quality tripod made by Manfrotto and order a cool ball head that lowers the center of gravity and can support more weight. That’s a good thing, since I’m comparing a few different lenses right now – some weighing almost 4 lbs. Our new camera weights about 1.8 lbs. on its own. Our current tripod just isn’t stable enough to support a heavier camera and lens.

I want a good zoom lens and have found a lot of good reviews on the following zoom lenses.

Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom: a good all-purpose lens that covers the range of my kit lens, an 18-70mm AF-S Nikkor. All reviews suggest just selling the kit lens since there’s really no purpose having a lens with the same aperture but less range of focal length. The aperture isn’t as open and I wouldn’t be able to use a teleconverter. VR on a typically hand-held lens like this would be a big help to reduce vibration.

Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom: a good zoom lens with a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout. This lens would support a teleconverter but is quite large and pretty expensive. VR is also not recommended when using a tripod, and I’m really not sure how much shooting I’ll do on a monopod. I couldn’t use my current monopod since the bottom segment isn’t very sturdy, so I do plan on selling that along with the rest of our old digital camera equipment.

Sigma APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM: at about half the price of the Nikkor 70-200mm, this lens sports all the features of the Nikkor except it lacks vibration reduction. It’s a little shorter, which means it will fit in my Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW.

Price is certainly a factor, but so is quality. These three lenses have all received good reviews. With the Sigma we don’t have to pay for marketing, either. If anyone has any other good zoom lenses to add that are optimized for digital SLRs, or any opinions on these lenses, feel free to post a reply.

Categories: Hobbies

No Self-Service Gas Stations in Oregon

September 4, 2006 1 comment

While on our trip in Portland, Oregon, I tried filling up at a gas station only to be told that self-service pumps were banned. It turns out that New Jersey is the other of 2 U.S. states that do not allow self-service gas stations. From various news clippings online, it seems that Oregon doesn’t trust its residents to handle dangerous materials such as gasoline. I guess with staggering numbers of people igniting themselves in the other 48 states at the gas pumps, it’s no wonder.

So, if you’re traveling in Oregon or New Jersey stay in your car and let them do the work, but I wouldn’t recommend using a debit card. Giving away your pin code is just asking for trouble.

Categories: Travel

Portland

September 3, 2006 Leave a comment

Tracy and I finally decided to head down to Portland, Oregon, for Labor Day weekend this year. We didn’t decide to do so until a few days before hand so we had to make plans quickly. I also called my cousin who lives in Portland to arrange to meet him for dinner Saturday night.

After dropping Suzie off at the kennel since we were staying in a hotel the first night, we packed up the car, top off the gas tank, and 2 hours later we were a mere 45 miles from the gas station. We left around 2:40 PM on a Friday on Labor Day weekend, so the interstate was jam-packed with people who seem to fear S-curves.

With little time to spare, we attempted our arranged stop at Mount St. Helens. It was an invigorating rush to drive to Coldwater Ridge – about 45 miles from I-5 – before the sun set. It’s a good thing German-engineered cars are designed to handle such terrain. We made it with enough time to capture a few shots like you see below, as well as just take in the majesty of such destruction but blossoming life.

We made it into Portland late and got a little lost, finding the rather shady side of town often found near airports. Once we got there, our hotel room was quite nice and a welcome comfort after quite a long drive. The next morning we slept in a little and went to Multnomah Falls. I’ve wanted to get down there since my parents told me of it, since I happened to mention such a tall fall they had a picture of. Tall it is! Unfortunately, the sun wouldn’t peek out from behind the cliff but I think the shots still came off good. Tracy found out that the best time of year to go when the sun is shining on the falls is afternoon around June 15th.

After stopping by a couple of other falls, like Horsetail Falls where we took a picture of ourselves (my odd hand position is me pressing the remote to our camera and not thinking to hide it better), we went back to downtown Portland. We walked around and had a good lunch, then went to the Pearl District for an art festival. There were quite a few interesting and beautiful things there. We also thought Portland was like a cleaner Seattle: less trash, fewer vagrants, and well-kept walls and sidewalks. The streets weren’t quite as narrow either, which is wonderful consider how often a two-lane road in Seattle is no better than a single lane. We did find a Columbia Sportswear store. I do like Columbia. I’ve been looking for a waterproof soft shell (breathable and versatile) and found one there for quite a bit cheaper than at REI. We also found me a couple of nice shirts that are a bit different than what I have already. Now that I’m losing weight some of my more baggy clothes need to go.

Finally, we decided to find my cousin’s house. We met his girlfriend and another friend of his, chatted, and went to dinner at a fascinating and delicious restaurant. This place is a small chain that buys old properties and converts them into restaurants, hotels, and even theaters. This particular property was an old school, where the detention hall was a bar (there were several) and it had two restaurants and a movie theater. The gym looked like a banquet hall and there was still more we didn’t fully explore.

We did want to go to Cannon Beach where the famous Haystack rock formation is, but we wouldn’t have made it by sunset. Even before we left for Portland we doubted that we’d find a campsite since all tent sites were first-come, first-serve and it was Labor Day weekend. Now that Tracy has a different role, though, we’ll have more weekends to do things like going back down there. I’ve seen a lot of spectacular photographs of Cannon Beach at dusk, and it looks very romantic. We ended up chatting a little longer at the restaurant and headed back to Seattle. Traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as when we left and we made it back safely.

Categories: Travel