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Full Moon Rising

Full Moon Rising

I felt happy because I was at the beach at sunset on December 16 and I wasn’t freezing.  I was wearing shorts and was feeling very comfortable.  The beach has a special meaning to me.  Well, that’s true of anywhere in nature.  It’s special because I feel safe, at “home”, and I am able to let go of all of the responsibilities I have put upon myself.  I am truly free when I can just be there in that moment, and that moment alone.

I watched a man and his son (well that’s my assumption anyway) pump up a standup paddle board.  They took turns pumping it up.  When it was done, the boy wanted the man to go first.  Smart boy.  The man was much, much heavier than he was so if the man could do it and not sink it, then the boy would feel brave enough to go for it.  The man paddled about 100 yards along the shoreline with the boy running alongside on the sand.  Then the man turned around and offered to race the boy back to the start.  The boy’s face lit up and he took off running and beat the man handily.

Then it was the boys turn.  He climbed aboard the raft and stood up and paddled away.  His face beaming.  He seemed so proud and so happy and so in that moment.  No another care in the world.  I don’t know their story, but everyone has one and there are problems in each of our lives.  But in that moment, on the beach, I just felt alive and present.  Similar, I think, to how that boy felt paddling on the water.  There were no outside distractions or problems.  Just the pure joy of being on the board, paddling across an ocean.  Focused only on standing up, balancing and paddling.

Once the sun set, the entire sky lit up like it was on fire.  There were pinks, oranges and reds.  The silhouette of the boats against the sky took my breath away.  But I wasn’t there to capture the sunset on this day, I was there to capture a near full moon rising above the mountains behind Santa Barbara.  At the precise moment the moon was to peek above the peak, a cloud laid to rest at the crest of the mountain.  The moons’ brilliant light was trying to shine through.  Instead, the moon does what the moon does.  It kept rising and soon it was in front of the cloud.  The cloud separated for the moon to shine through and that was my moment.  Or so I thought.

This was the exact moment I had waited for on the beach for the past 30 minutes.  I got into position, set my camera just right and then just like that everything came crashing down.  Romero had decided it was time to get some love and attention.  This was his precise moment.  The one he had been waiting for on the beach for the past 30 minutes.  “Pet me, love me, pet me, love me”, he was saying with his nose nudging up under my arm, which had the effect of knocking my camera to the sand.

Palm at Sunset

The moon kept rising and I pet him, kissed him and loved him and then asked him to please lay down for just 5 seconds.  He complied and so while the moon had risen a few more degrees, I was able to capture this image.  To me, it’s perfect.  I will always remember it as this story, not just a picture.  Ro needed attention and what is more important than that – he got it and by giving him that moment, the clouds cleared just a bit more, allowing this image to become a reality.

I could have been upset with Ro, but really, if you know Romero, you know that it is darn near impossible to be upset with that adorable face.  When you look into his big brown eyes, he is so hard to resist.  All he needed and wanted was to be center of attention for that moment.  Sometimes I need just that much attention and so by giving it to him, I also got it in return.  I love these moments and I love living in the moment.

   

Journey Across America

Last summer, I rode my bike over 4000 miles from Oregon to Virginia.  I had the most awesome support crew anyone could ever hope for, Rachel and Romero.  We documented our journey on our Ride Across America blog, but I thought I’d share this photo essay that I put together from that experience.

The beginning of a life-changing adventure is about to unfold along this transamerica bike trail

The journey has begun and at the end of the day you find this great location to pitch a tent, cook dinner and just breathe.

Along the way, there are multiple opportunities to re-live history. Here you can reflect on the gold rush days and imagine this train full of bustling passengers arriving in Virginia City.

It’s not just about riding your bike, you must also participate in all that this wonderful country of ours has to offer. Here in Idaho you can stop and do a bit of fly-fishing, unless you’re vegan and then you just take in the breathtaking beauty of it all.

With so many ghost towns scattered across the country, this one might be better named “Bearly Beginning”… At least for the east-bound traveller.

With every massive and grueling climb, nature rewards you with peaceful settings like this.

Every morning as you begin your morning ritual of getting in the groove for a day of riding, the cows are up to greet you and say good morning with a smile.

Just take your time to stop and engage with nature and try to understand how this place came to be. Earthquake Lake inside Yellowstone National Park has a history and it’s on this path that you will learn so much about our past.

At times, the roads are lonely, but that is when mother nature provides awesome distractions, right on cue, like these great cloud formations.

The weather can really heat up and take your breath away, so finding nice cool places like the Platte River give you some refuge.

Just like the rest of us, these wild elk are just planning their next meal.

Take it in and find the strength to continue even as it starts to feel like it might be too hard.

The mighty mountain ranges shoot up into the sky with such force. You’ll likely feel lucky that you won’t be ascending this great giant, but there are many others that you will conquer.

You might find it hard to ride through Damascus, VA. This is the jumping off point for so many trails that are just calling your name. Stop and enjoy the trails here, it’s a nice break from the saddle.

As the sun rises on the last day, you know this journey is about to come to an end.

Finally reaching your destination, there is no way you want to go back to your desk job. So just keep on riding, there are so many more paths to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Composition

I’ve been playing with various photographic compositional techniques over the past few weeks.  Here are some shots that show you what I’ve been up to.

ANGLES

Here is my hero shot, taken on a hike in the foothills of Santa Barbara.

So, the hero shot is taken from below, so here’s a shot taken from a trail we were hiking high above the roads on the Amalfi Coast a couple of months ago.

RULE OF THIRDS

The focal point of this image is the lemurs face, which is positioned according to the rule of thirds.

And one more example from Kenya…

LEADING LINES

Walking along the tracks in Dunsmuir, CA.

DEPTH OF FIELD

Here is an image I’ve posted before on this site, but clearly demonstrates the concept.

Picture of Ladybug

Ladybug

FRAMING

An image from Matera, Italy

Matera Sassi

SHOOTING VERTICAL

This is perhaps, one of my favorite ways to shoot.  In fact, I usually have to force myself to take a horizontal shot where most people I know are forcing themselves to take the vertical.

There are loads of other examples I could post here and one day, I just might do that.  I’ve played with cropping and isolation techniques, filling the frame (another of my favorites), emphasizing foregrounds, finding patterns in nature and demonstrating scale.  All very fun and useful techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

   

Fairview Gardens – Growing your own wheat

So, Rachel and I went to a class last weekend where we’d hoped to learn how to grow your own wheat and learn how to make it into flour.  Well, when we got there, Mark had some bad news.  His wheat crop failed this year due to some rain we got in June.  So, instead we got to learn a bit about how to make bean flour from beans.  I’d wanted to know how to do this just as well, so we were happy to stick it out and learn all that we could

Prior to our class, Mark pulled the bean plants from the farm and had them laying out to dry.  After the beans have dried, the next step is to thresh them.  Basically, this means, get the largest stick you can handle and beat the heck out of the dried plants.

After the beans have been dislodged from their shells, you sort of have a mess that looks a bit like this.

Now, it’s time to sort it all out and get them ready to winnow.

This took us right up until lunch time.  So after they were sorted, it was winnow time.  This is how it looks – oh and since we were short on wind that day, Mark was kind enough to lend us some wind from his fan.

This wasn’t easy for everyone, so for some, winnowing looked a bit more like this.  Perhaps a slower method, but just as effective.

Once we were all done there, it was time to wash the beans and let them dry.

With everyone participating we were now ready to let the beans dry.

And now for the workout of the day – or at least the workout of the afternoon.  It was time to grind them up into a flour.  There were several methods to choose from.  This was my favorite method.

Others preferred the old grind-it-with-a-stone method.

Either way, we all ended up with some beautiful looking flour that we could take home and make breads, pancakes, waffles or whatever else we wanted.

It really was a perfect day and a wonderful class.  Keep an eye on Fairview Gardens for many great classes in 2012!

 

   

Coffee Plantation Tour

In January, I flew down to Panama with my son.  We flew into Panama City and pretty much immediately headed out to see the Panama Canal.  We went to Miraflores Locks and watched a cruise ship pass through the canal and then a ginormous freighter ship.  It was all very fascinating, but other than that, Panama City wasn’t my kind of vacation destination.

The next day we began our long journey to Boquete.  I’ll spare you the details of the journey itself, but suffice it to say, it was one long bus trip without healthy vegan food options along the way.

I was treated to a nice surprise upon arriving in Boquete.  There was Mexican food, Falafels and even an Organics food shop!  Whoo-hoo!  You might think this was the highlight, but it wasn’t.

Cafe de PanamaThe next morning we went on a tour of ‘Cafe de Panama Finca La Milagrosa’ – the miracle coffee plantation.  Raul picked us up in his dilapidated Jeep Cherokee and up the mountain we crawled.  High up into the cloud forest, we finally turned into the coffee plantation.

Walking around the fields, we tasted many different Panama Coffee Plantationcoffee berries.  The coffee berries are red when they are ripe and some have 1 peapod, some have 2 beans and others have 3.  The ones shaped like a peapod hold their caffeine strength through the entire process, better than the other varieties.  This particular plantation also grew the famous Geisha coffee, which sells for $100 per pound and $9 for a 12 oz cup at the local Coffee Shop!

Coffee BerriesAfter picking the ripe coffee berries, the beans must be separated from outer sweet berry.  In the early days, this was done entire by hand by Tito, the owner of this plantation.  If you taste the juice at this phase, there is a huge difference between the Geisha berries and the others.  The Geisha berries are incredibly sweet!

The beans will then ferment for up to 30 hours.  Any longer and you’ll have Coffee Beans Fermentingcoffee wine.  This is being done in some parts of Panama, but I’m not sure how successful they have been.  After fermentation, the beans flow through a similar structure to the Panama Canal, locks and all.  As the beans flow through, the higher density beans will sink to the bottom, then some will flow to the next lock and again, the higher density beans will stay put.  There is a series of 4 locks, the ones that make it all the way to the 4th, will leave the process and become part of the organic compost that is put back out into the fields.  The remaining beans have now been separated into 3 qualities of bean – premium, medium and average.

Coffee Beans DryingFinally, the beans are laid out to dry.  Once they are dried, the outer shell is removed – again either by hand using a mocahete or a machine.  In Brazil, the outer shell is sent off to be used as paper, but at this plantation, it is sent to the organic compost pile.

Now it’s time for the beans to rest.  They are exhausted Coffee Beans Restingby that they have been through, so they get placed in burlap (or other breathable bags) and sent to dry for another 3 to 4 months.

For many plantations, this is the end of the road for the beans.  From here they are often sold to other plants that will take care of the remaining process of roasting the beans, grinding the beans and bagging the beans.  But here, once the beans have rested, they move right on to the roasting process.

Coffee Beans RoastingIf you take a small portion of beans and place it into a roaster and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes, you will have a lightly roasted coffee bean.  Now, the amount of caffeine in that bean varies based on the type of bean (peapod or not) and the length of time it’s roasted.  The less time roasting, means more caffeine.  To make a medium roast, it only takes 2-3 additional minutes, then for dark roast another 3 minutes.

A lot of people think that the darker the roast of coffee, the greater Coffee Beans Groundconcentration of caffeine, but it is just the opposite.  When we were done roasting our beans, we took them to the grinder and finished up the process.  This plantation also does its’ own silk screening of the bags, so Coffee bean Bagthey handle everything from start to finish.  And at the end of our coffee plantation tour, we were given a small cup of coffee that was freshly roasted, ground and served by Tito!  If you’re in Panama, I would highly recommend this tour.  You can find out about it at Mamallena at the front desk.Coffee Cup

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