Snow Wimps In Action

I woke up this morning expecting the rain to come and wash away all the snow but since I live in the convergence zone, we got more snow instead — while the rest of the greater Seattle area got freezing rain on top of the snow from yesterday’s storm. Needless to say, the city pretty much came to a standstill from layers of ice. While I do agree, Seattleites are terrible drivers in snow but was it really necessary for the L.A. Times newspaper to insult us? Yesterday, the L.A. Times did a report about our snowstorm and called us snow wimps. The reporter was very condescending about our reactions to small amount of snow. I mean really… of all places, L.A.? They don’t even know how to drive in the rain and I doubt they would know how to drive in the snow at all — yet the reporter has the audacity to lecture us about our snow driving ability? I don’t like it when people make judgments without knowing how it really is. Does the reporter even know what the Seattle streets look like? I find the reporting really rude and not to mention bad journalism.¬† I know when I first moved down from Alaska, I had no problem driving in the snow but over the years, my ability becomes more cautious because of lack of practice. It’s hard to practice when it snows maybe a few times a year if even that. And that’s part of life… when you don’t continue to practice, you are not going to be good at it and eventually you might even forget how to do it. So… Take that L.A. Times… we are snow wimps and proud of it!

And speaking of practice. It has been a while since I shot my furry kids in action and with all the thick, fluffy snow; I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice my action shots. By afternoon, the snow fall had lighten up enough that I thought it would be okay to take my camera out in it. And of course, the furry kids love any opportunity to play in the snow.

One great thing about shooting Max in snow is his golden red fur. It creates nice contrast and makes it easier for me to get the correct exposure. Unlike Ms. Evie whose creamy white fur blends in too much with the snow. I tend to shoot her a little underexposed so that I can capture the details of her better.

Max is quite an athlete. He can catch Frisbees, knows how to play basketball, and he loves soccer. Nothing like a fun game of soccer in the snow. This was his first time playing soccer in the snow and as you can see, he was pretty good at it. ūüôā

Will Work For Chicken Jerky

There was a rain break this afternoon and I thought I would take the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood with my camera —¬† and see what I can discover. As I was putting on my shoes, the furry kids started to jump around me with excitement. When I told them “NO, you stay”, they looked so disappointed; I felt guilty. Then as I walked out the driveway and past the big piles of leaves, a bright idea came to mind. I thought it would be fun to shoot the furry kids playing in the leaves. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. They weren’t exactly thrill about the modeling session and protested but… in the end, they were willing to work for chicken jerky. ūüôā

One of the biggest challenges about photographing Max and Evie together is probably their contrasting fur colors. Because of Evie’s white fur and dark features, the camera has a difficult time detecting the correct exposure. If I set the exposure for Evie, Max usually end up being too dark and vice versa — if I set it for Max then Evie’s fur ends up being over exposed and lack contrast. In this case, I set the exposure for Evie and that way in Lightroom3, I have more room to play with the lighting to bring out the correct exposure in Max and the surrounding elements.

Be a Better Photographer: Shoot Your Dog

I love taking photos of my furry kids. Their wonderful personality and silly antics provides me with humorous entertainment but also a challenging opportunity to be a better photographer. Shooting the furry kids has helped me learn how to use the settings on my camera better than any other subjects. Most of the times, it’s a hit or miss kind of situations to get a good shot. Although with patience and treats, there are moments I have captured that are just precious.

Evie and Max playing in the summer snow.

Can you touch your nose with your tongue?

Fun In The Sun

Finally… over the weekend;¬†after months of cold and rainy days —¬†the weather temperature reached past 70 degrees for the first time this year. To celebrate the welcoming occasion, we decided to take a road trip to Long Beach, Washington. Long Beach is famous for its annual international kite flying festival and being the world’s longest beach.¬† It took over three hours to get there but the anticipation of¬†walking bare feet¬†on the warm sandy beach distracted me from the time. However, when we got there, it was windy and cold — the town didn’t look very inviting to me.¬†Actually, I thought it looked rather depressing on a bright sunny day.¬†So, after driving around the town a couple of times, I felt¬†it probably would be better to¬†head down to Cannon Beach in Oregon instead.¬†Even though¬†it¬†was an additional 40 minutes drive, my instinct was right.¬†It was a great decision. The beach and the weather was fantastic. I had¬†a great time¬†shooting the beautiful scenery and the furry kids had a blast of fun in the sun.

As always, I love watching the furry kids play. Their comical antics and the joy they express are priceless moments forever etched into my heart.

Of all the beaches I’ve been to along both Washington and Oregon coast, Cannon Beach is one of my most favorite. I love its smooth sandy beach¬†and¬†despite the rows¬†of multi-million dollar houses packed along the coast, it still has the natural wilderness quality.

Cannon Beach is recognized by its well-known landmark, Haystack Rock. It’s often accessible at low tide, especially in the summertime —¬†and with an elevation of¬†235 feet, the rock is quite¬†an impressive sight.¬† During low tides, there are many interesting tide pools¬†to explore — which I love to do. The experience tends to bring out the kid in me and I find myself poking at the anemones,¬†searching for¬†sea urchins,¬†hermit crabs¬†and other critters with wonder and excitement.

Near Haystack Rock are two tall rocks rising straight out of the water — known as the Needles. Even though they are not as tall as the Haystack Rock, nevertheless, I find them¬† just as impressive. As I try to picture in my mind what the area must have looked like millions of years ago when volcanic eruptions formed these rocks.

It was a beautiful day to say the least… and nothing like an amazing sunset to end the day as we headed home across the Astoria-Megler Bridge¬†¬†— the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.


Weekend Discovery

After months of rainy, cold weather,¬†the¬†sun-drenched weekend was a welcome¬†relief. On Saturday, we decided to head East on U.S. Route 2 or otherwise known as Stevens Pass for another much-needed road trip. Route 2¬†is an east‚Äďwest U.S. Highway spanning 2,579¬†miles (4,150¬†km) across the northern continental United States.

With the cost of gas hovering close to $4.00 a gallon, we didn’t want to go too far and thought it would be fun to drive the scenic route 2¬†to the town, Leavenworth. It’s located about 115 miles from Seattle.¬†Leavenworth is¬†a small Bavarian style village nestled in¬†a beautiful valley surrounded by tall mountain peaks. The last time I visited the place was about 15 years ago. Although the scenery was still amazing, the town¬†felt¬†more like a tourist trap. Especially, when a grilled bratwurst¬†on a hot dog bun cost $11.

After we had our expensive hot dog, we drove around and saw¬†a house for sale with the view below. What an amazing place to live… it almost made me want to move there. But, then again, I’m an ocean girl at heart. I like living close to the ocean.

On Sunday, we decided to stay closer to home and headed to Discovery Park in Seattle. What a gorgeous day!

Flowers blooming…

Kites flying… boats gliding…

We sat and soak up the sun,¬†as we¬†watch the furry kids run around, play ball,¬†having a great time… just living in the moment.

Another beautiful day… ahh… life is good. ūüėÄ

Food Flight

It has been over a week since my thyroid surgery. Although the incision is healing nicely, it’s still a pain in the neck and my energy level is weak. I haven’t been able to do much without feeling achy and exhausted. Needless to say, between my lack of energy and the rainy weather –the furry kids were acting up and feeling bored. So, when there was a break in the rainy weather yesterday, I grabbed my camera, the furry kids, and a loaf of stale bread and we headed down to the beach.¬†It wasn’t exactly a great beach day. The wind was blowing and the waves were fairly rough, but it felt good to be out of the house and smell the salty sea air.¬† After the furry kids¬†had their fun, I put them back in the truck.

Then with my camera and the loaf of bread, I went off to have some fun shooting birds. It was fun to observe and shoot the seagulls. I have to say, the more I observe the seagulls, the more respect I have for them. They are actually a lot more interesting and intelligent than I’ve ever thought. It was comical, yet fascinating watching them fight over food through the camera lens.

I found a spot with a couple of seagulls. And¬†holy cow! As soon as I toss that first piece, within seconds — a flock came flying in.

Seeing the swarm coming, the little seagull on the ground quickly took flight with the bread. As it tried desperately to outfly the others.

It was amazing to see them all pursuing the poor seagull so closely without crashing into each other. However, if you look at the center two birds in the photo below. It does look as if their wings got tangled. Anyway, after a short flight and lots of loud squawking they succeeded in scaring the poor little guy into dropping the bread.

The dark brown seagull in the center came up from behind and caught the bread.

You can see it with the bread on the left of the photo. Unlike the small seagull trying to escape with the bread. This one was smarter. And with one quick bite, he quickly swallows the bread as others look on with disappointment.

Monday Snap Shot

The cool,¬†grey, rainy spring weather is making me rather lazy lately. I spent the weekend doing… absolutely nothing creative with the camera, nor my artwork. Instead, I¬†was mostly a¬†junk food junky couch potato.¬†So… on this glorious grey, rainy Monday — I find myself unmotivated and with nothing to post but a¬† snap shot of my furry kids.

Furry Portraits

Here are some furry portraits from our outing at the Marymoor dog park. It was very interesting to sit and observe the expressions from all the different dogs. If only we¬†could tell¬†what they were thinking —¬† then again, maybe not. I’m sure they probably think we humans are a strange breed.

The first two furry kids belong to me, Maximus and Ms. Evie.

Maximus the wonder dog. A loyal companion who understands over 60 commands and words, love to play sports, and will  wipe his paws before entering the house.

Ms. Evie, the designer dog. She is a foodie consultant who loves to taste test all types of cuisine. And knows how to beg  get what she wants with her sad puppy eyes.

Here is another designer dog, the Golden-doodle (a combination of a golden retriever and a poodle) with the best looking hairdo prize.

Forty Acres of Heaven

The City of Redmond is best known as the home¬†of Microsoft and Nintendo of America.¬†However, for us dog lovers —¬†it’s best known for the “Doggy Disneyland” in Marymoor Park. The park contains over six hundred acres of recreational activities, rare amenities, and culturally enriching events. And forty acres¬†were developed into¬†one of the largest¬†off-leash dog park in the country.

This is where dogs can finally be free to be dogs: they can roam freely, run wild, play balls, swim, socialize and sniff endless butts.

The park is open to all breeds and sizes. However, some smaller dogs might feel intimidated by the larger size dogs. Though, this dachshund seem very sure of himself against the giant, looking down on him.

Words of caution… the park is not fenced. So, if you are unable to keep your furry kids under control with verbal commends, you will find yourself chasing after them or worst — they disappear.¬†Just because it’s a leash free park,¬†you still need to keep an eye on them and have them under control.¬†Also, don’t bring your furry kids if you¬†know they can’t play nice with others. Other than that, the park is forty acres of heaven for your furry kids.

The Dam Road Trip

I’ve wanted to take pictures of the eagle migration for the last couple of weekends but the weather has not been very cooperative. Finally there was a break in the weather yesterday and off we went on my eagle-shooting quest. Unfortunately, when we got there — not a single eagle to be seen. It looks like I’ve missed the migration. ūüė¶¬† Oh well, there is always next year. Besides, we were driving on one of the most beautiful scenic roads in America — the North Cascades Highway. It offers¬†an amazing display of enormous mountain peaks, lakes and dams along the way. Since the weather was so beautiful, we decided to do a dam road trip instead.

The highway is also a part of the Cascade Loop, a 400-mile driving tour through the cascades. Although, we knew we weren’t going to do the loop because part of the highway is closed during winter. We thought we would drive the distance to see the three dams: Gorge Dam, Diablo Dam, and Ross Dam.

The first dam we came to is the Gorge Dam. This dam is the smallest of the three.

After you pass the Gorge Dam, the next stop is the Diablo¬†Dam¬†and the amazing look-out point. Words cannot even begin to describe this view —¬†you will see the surrounding Cascades, wild-life, Diablo Lake, and more. I was still hoping to see an eagle or two but¬†¬†¬†¬† no luck.

While I tried my best to capture the beauty of the place, it was just too much for the camera. This is one of those places that you have to experience it in person to get a better sense of its true majestic beauty.

Though I wanted to explore the area a little more, unfortunately, the temperature was freezing cold and very windy. It wasn’t easy to hold the camera steady when my hands were shaking. After taking only a dozen shots, my fingers were numb. We continued on to the next dam, which is the Ross Dam.

A few miles after the Diablo Dam outlook, there were snow on the road and got thicker as we head up higher. It was a good thing, the SUV has four-wheel drive. We were able to continue up the hill without any problem and kept driving until we saw the sign.

We didn’t get to see the Ross Dam but the furry kids had a great time playing in the snow.

Out And About

ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅAfter weeks of rainy weather, we finally got a break yesterday —¬†what a gorgeous sunny day. We took advantage of it and went on a road trip with our restless furry kids. Without¬†a¬†specific destination in mind, ÔĽŅÔĽŅwe decided to take the Interstate 90 —¬†also known as the Snoqualmie Pass¬†in Washington State. It’s a very beautiful scenic drive that cuts through the Cascade Mountains. ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅThe Interstate 90 eventually ends somewhere in the State of Massachusetts.

After about 45 minutes drive, we ended up at Snoqualmie Pass Summit Ski Lodge.

The furry kids went nuts over the snow, especially Evie. It was fun watching her hop around like a snow bunny in the deep snow.

She had so much fun that when it was time to go; she refused to get in the car and had to be carried. Hmm… sure reminds me of when my boys were little kids.