Category Archives: Vacationation!

A Camera That Just Happens to Make Calls

Mom spoiled me beyond reason when I was home and got me a new iPhone 4S as a present. I was overjoyed because my 3GS was on its last legs, vibrating whenever it wanted (all the time) and taking forever to send a text. When it comes to my devices, I like to keep them looking clean, so I opted for the white 4S, as fingerprints are much harder to see on its body (the screen still needs to be wiped on occasion).

You have already read dozens of iPhone 4S reviews on dozens of blogs, so I am not here to tell you how fast it loads apps (FAST), how helpful Siri is (She is!), or how beautiful her Retina display is (Gorgeous). What I am here to tell you about though is the camera included on the 4S. It is so good, we shall hereto forward call it “the camera that just happens to make calls.”

Eight megapixels does not sound like a lot of resolution for a digital camera these days, especially when certain Finnish phone makers spew out cameraphones with 41 megapixels (Nokia, I am looking at you), however, the camera that just happens to make calls does not disappoint at all.

First, it loads several times faster than that on my 3GS, and rightly so. The A5 processor that powers the camera makes for a snappy experience that doesn’t get you caught out there missing special moments.

Second, its f/2.4 aperture and backside illuminated sensor allow you to shoot in all kinds of low-light environments that would otherwise be difficult. The flash is fast and bright, but as a die-hard Cartier-Bresson fan, I never use it. The HDR mode is surprisingly good, and it is a wonder the same thing isn’t on professional cameras. HDR processing is so tedious on a computer!

The ability to crop and make minor enhancements directly in the app preclude you from having to work on your photos in another app, however if you MUST use Instagram, the camera that just happens to make calls delivers well for 3rd-party apps as well.

I do not believe in iCloud yet, as I am a MobileMe subscriber, and have been for the past 3 years, so I can’t tell you anything about Photo Stream. I just want to tell you about the virtues of MobileMe Galleries and being able to host your website through iWeb, but alas, that deserves a post of its own.

However, what I will tell you is that the 4S is also a very capable video camera. 1080p video is something my trusty 50D can’t do (wishing for a 5D Mark III!!!), so I can’t even hate on the beautiful video it captures. Sound is bleh, but to be expected. You totally could get away with just taking video on the phone and synching it with audio recorded on another device though.

In sum, the camera that also happens to make calls delivers photos and video better than any other I can remember, and is on par with many prosumer camera on the market in terms of automated exposure. If it allowed for finer control and manual exposure somehow I would be even more thrilled, but for now, this little device is my trustiest camera that is always on my body.

There are samples here from the beach with my mom, our hotel by the beach that had deer for neighbors, the cemetery paying respects to my grandparents, and the plane ride back home. Let me know what you think!

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The Leap Day Post That Almost Didn’t Exist

I am rushing to finish this post for you before the Leap Day is over, and before February is over. Though I did not post anything all month, I wanted to share the last of the photos I took while at home with my family.

My dad and his wife took my brother and I to Deception Pass, up the coast of Washington. To be honest, I slept through more of the ride than I normally would have, but I did wake up for a quick trip to a vintage car shop, where I saw a very sexy Mustang and some cool Impalas.

Once we made it to Deception Pass, we were a little disheartened that the boat service that we were hoping to ride on, was closed for the season. Sadface! After some guffawing and haranguing, we scored some tickets to come back later when the season is full throttle. I did see a live BALD EAGLE though! A living symbol of America!

Instead of boating around the islands, we kept our visit topside and walked across the pass. The wind whipped around us, and the air was so fresh and full of the green goodness that emanates from all the trees.

The little emerald islands in and around the waterway were beautiful to behold. Though the water wears them down over time, they still remain, and are truly stunning against the rushing water.

We stopped by a National Park on the way home, and I would be pulling straws if I were to try and recall the name, but it was even more beautiful! We didn’t stay long because the day was getting shorter by the minute, and the sunlight was running out. We took a ferry back to the city and enjoyed the view.

Though the trip was not what we set out to do, I can’t imagine spending a great time with my family any other way. I cannot wait to come back home to take more pictures from the beautiful place I grew up in.

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At the Ocean with Mom

I had not been home to see my parents in forever and a half, so I took some time and came home to Washington to stay with them for a week. I have definitely been needing some time to recharge, reassess, and relax, so I am enjoying my time here with them.

Mom and I had been planning on spending some time to ourselves for a while, so we decided to come and stay in Ocean Shores for the weekend. Our hotel, the Grey Gull, is right on the beach, has a fantastic view, and is quite nicely appointed.

The two of us wandered down to the beach before sunset, and caught a glimpse of the tide starting to come in. I can’t wait to go to the jetty tomorrow and see what washes ashore in the morning. I like going the morning after a storm and being first on the beach to find treasure.

Between the gulls and the grey skies we had a great time walking along the beach. Hearing the ocean roar is an amazing reminder of the power of nature and the infinite detail in the world that we live in.

The goal tomorrow is to find some cool shells on the beach, investigate any cool animals or treasure that washes up, and check out a little house for mom to retire in that is not too far from the beach.

More to come soon!

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A Day With A Girl and Her Horse

Madeline invited me out to see her new horse, Valentino, and hang with her and Brian last weekend. We hadn’t been able to meet up for a while, so I jumped at the chance since we both were free. I hopped on the train from Grand Central around 1 on Saturday and set off for Yonkers.

I had just discovered Alexis Jordan’s song, ‘Happiness,’ the day before and pretty much had it on repeat the entire trip. Fitting travel track. I scored an express train was in Yonkers in a little over 20 minutes!

We hung out at hers and Brian’s place for a while and proceeded to nerd out until Brian came home. We then set off for the stable where Valentino lives. The ride there was actually very cool, as I am not used to seeing pine trees and things like that in The City. Everything is decidedly deciduous. There was still a good bit of snow, despite the balmy weather on Friday, so gloves were a must.

What a handsome young man-horse

At the stables, Madeline introduced me to Valentino. He is pretty young for a horse, but he is extremely friendly and well mannered. He has the colorway of a cow, and a design on his rear that resembles a heart. His nose is really fuzzy, and he farts a lot. He and Madeline are a perfect match in the arena. He will make an excellent polo pony!

While Maddy rode Valentino, I listened to banter from spooty and haughty moms doting on their daughters. Bleh. Much more entertaining was watching Madeline and Valentino run together.

Family Photo

I can’t wait to visit again when there is better weather to get them outside. Spring approaches, so says the groundhog.

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Whirlwind Tour: Yonkers or Bust!

I hadn’t seen my girls Emeri and Madeline in quite some time, so I decided to spend the day with them on Saturday. As the founding members of team awesome, we always have an adventure when we are together.

I took the Path train to Hoboken and met up with Emeri first. I had never been there before, but I loved it right away. The views of Manhattan were stunning, and the neighborhood there was very laid back.

Frank Sinatra park/beach was really fun to walk around. We had perfect weather, and a perfect buzz from our margaritas after visiting the local candy shop. Emeri and I contemplated Madeline’s recent move to Yonkers, and we decided that since we couldn’t see Yonkers from where we were, we would just have to go see it and her ourselves!

We hopped on a bus from Hoboken to Port Authority, and from there caught the shuttle to Grand Central. Finally, we took the Metro North to Yonkers, but not before we bought some white wine and pretzels at the cart on the train platform ( ! ). How about that for utilizing public transportation in a New York minute?!

Our train ride to Yonkers was short, and we made a new friend on the way. She explained to us that she was from Yonkers and that it is a nice place to live, but thought we were odd for going just because. We were on a mission to see the third leg of our tripod—Madeline!

Upon arrival, we met Madeline on the boardwalk by the Hudson. The view from her apartment alone is to die for. It was beyond peaceful. Emeri posed with the giant sturgeon and played inside of model fish for a while before we checked out Madeline’s sweet pad.

Madeline wined and dined us until we were stuffed, and we loved catching up as the sun set along the west bank of the river. We gave each other hugs and kisses and Emeri and I were on the last train back to Grand Central. We both have a greater appreciation for getting outside The City now. We were definitely recharged. In fact, I was recharged enough to go to a party via a Vespa later that evening in Washington Heights. You already know it was too festive for fotos though, lol.

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A Glorious, Glowing Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is all about resting and recharging, but with the world’s greatest weather sitting on top of the world’s greatest city for an entire weekend, how can you sit inside? Bollocks.

Hurricane Earl approached the state Friday evening and the sky was starting to look a bit cloudy, but nothing ever got nasty. I am the type of person that likes a good storm, so I asked for a key to the roof from my super, and he begrudgingly agreed. Apparently, no one is supposed to be up there after our fourth of July festivities. Womp.

Luckily, we are on good terms and he let me borrow the key long enough to make my way to the roof and take some fantastic photos with Chris and the pigeons. We had to be careful because its not really set up for lounging or even walking around up there. The views are quite stunning so I think if the roof goes un-renovated, that would be a complete waste. I’m definitely getting some lawn chairs to put up there.

We invited some friends over and had a small shindig and danced the night away. You know I can’t hold my camera with a wineglass, so I apologize for the lapse in photos for that event.

Saturday was the most golden day I had ever been given. The weather after the “storm” was absolutely amazing. There was a slight cool breeze that permeated the city, and there were a few lazy clouds overhead. I spent some time in the Lower East Side with Juan and had a grand time. Where there weren’t clouds, there were leaves from trees above to filter down some dappled sunlight. Hearing the birds chirp and woosh by as I walked down Rivington was divine. I topped off the afternoon with cupcakes from Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a prompt trip to the gym to burn off said cupcakes, and a visit to Mike, my barber. In short, I shone like the Sun King Himself. Bless you Louis XIV.

On Sunday, there was no brunch planned, but just as with the day before, we were given a golden afternoon. Chris Hickson and I spent time in the garden and made a new friend, Jane, who plants most everything in there. She knows everything about everything to do with plants.

She showed us the most wondrous plant, called an elephant ear, which was taller than I am. It has giant emerald leaves and sturdy stalks. Since it is a tropical plant, Jane said that she is going to dig it up for the winter, and that both Chris and I can have a piece of it to keep! Huzzah!

There was plenty of life in the garden today aside from greenery and humans. The bee house was abuzz with the sounds of its many minions, and all of them seemed quite happy about the sunshine we were blessed with.

Even the butterflies came out to play (and pose) on their namesake butterfly bush.

After absorbing the purest oxygen in the city there for a while, we went to the Brazil Day festival on Sixth Avenue. None of us got the memo for dress code there, as we were all in bright red, in a sea of green and yellow shirts. Ooops.

Some people didn’t even bother with shirts though. Oh, you City Gym Boys, you get me every time.

When we were finished with the celebration (tired of trying to understand Portuguese) we made our way to Juniors for a slice of cheesecake, and then to Pier 84 by my place. Something about the water was more sparkly than usual. I ended up taking a short nap on a bench there while the Chrises talked to their boos on the phone. The guy in the photo above was my inspiration for a nap. It was a little disorienting to wake up and see nothing but blue sky, but in a good way.

After I woke up, I saw this woman with her dog and got life for a moment. Get into her and LIVE.

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My Family Floats on Memorial Day Weekend

My family back home actually DID something cool for Memorial Day Weekend. They went rafting together in Wenatchee and had a great time dumping each other into the water.

They also had a great time dumping people on other rafts into the water (then saving them).

The company that they went through took these amazing photos of them from the banks of the river.


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