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archive for May 2012

not your ordinary sunday

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Butter headquarters is coming to you this morning from The Land of Enchantment – New Mexico! Jeremy has a meeting here and since we are fans of the multi-tasking, I suggested we stop in Albuquerque on the drive down, to… you know, SHOOT THE ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE?!

Albuquerque was along that narrow swath to get a perfect ring when the moon passed between our sun and our beloved planet. Jeremy, native son of New Mexico, suggested getting a high vantage from someplace like Sandia Crest, 5000 feet above Albuquerque. Several hundreds (thousand or more?) had the same idea… The forest service had the tremendous task of managing parking and emergency services while throngs of excited people flocked to the long north-south ridge crest. My National Parks Annual Pass got us in the door (they turned cars away that didn’t have a recreation pass – those folks parked further down the road).

to my south: my setup and fellow eclipse watchers

to my north – more eclipse watchers

For those wanting to know, here is what I shot with: my main system was the Nikon D3X with the Nikkor 500mm f4 lens (lens courtesy of Pro Photo Rental, they are the best!) and a sheet of Baader Astrosolar safety film courtesy of Doug Duncan, the Director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado, Boulder. My second system was the Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8. My third system was the iphone.

the sun, high in the sky

It took 30 minutes to scout out a proper location without obstructions and without getting in anyone’s way (remember, you want a clear path all the way to sunset). We finally settled among a group of the nicest people from New Mexico, Texas, and even two charming gentleman from as far away as the UK! There was a buzz of excitement in the air, even with over an hour to wait before anything actually happened. Jeremy and I had our handy solar eclipse glasses we purchased from our local hardware store (McGuckin – they’re awesome!). We purchased a dozen extras and proceeded to hand them out to anyone who needed a pair. [One New Mexico resident, Joseph Woods, was so appreciative he gave me his card and said I could select one of his artworks as a thank you – so sweet!] Before long, people were sharing food and filters and everyone was so damn nice! We should have eclipses more often.

the view over the rio grande rift valley

getting dimmer during the eclipse, but it was still incredibly bright out

Around 6:31pm (according to my camera time stamp), the moon began to take a small nibble out of the bottom right corner of the sun. We had about an hour to totality (when the moon is directly centered on the sun – in this case, the annular eclipse results in a ring). Mine was likely the most powerful magnification in my vicinity, and since eclipses are thankfully slow, I offered to let my neighbors look through the camera at the sun, sunspots, the shadow of the moon throughout the phases. SCIENCE!!! I photographed the disc of the sun with the big guns, but Jeremy reminded me of other fun things like eclipse shadows and pinhole projections.

pinhole projection on the only paper i had

cool eclipse shadows from the leaves projected on a rock (photo by jeremy)

the sun at totality – it’s still super bright

pinhole projection at totality

**Jump for more butter**

california bonanza recap (loads of pics)

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I’m back home from our week-long trip to California, but just for a day or so. It’s enough time to wash (and snuggle) the dog, do laundry, unpack gear, repack gear, process photos, and get ready to hit the road. Oh, and maybe a little time to share the past week with you in photos and ramblings.

chapter 1: wine country
We flew into the San Francisco Bay Area and drove a couple hours north to Healdsburg (where we were staying) for a little wine tasting. Well, Jeremy was wine tasting and I was the driver. My aunt and uncle were spending the weekend near Napa, so we met up with them for a delightful dinner at Redd in Yountville. I had hoped to arrive a little early so we could check out a few wineries in Napa Valley, but time seems to get sucked up by traffic in California.

la crema’s tasting room is in town (healdsburg)

appetizer: sashimi of hamachi, sticky rice, edamame, soy ginger sauce

main: caramelized diver scallops, cauliflower, capers, almond, golden raisins

The next morning was spent gathering some gear and food to take backpacking. Once all of that was sorted and packed, we went into town (Healdsburg) for lunch at Cyrus. I had hoped to have dinner there, but reservations fill quickly on weekends in wine country. Luckily, they gave me the option of lunch (Saturdays only from May to October). Lunch offers the exact same tasting menu options (you have 2-3 choices per course) and service as dinner. In a word, our meal was exquisite and that was in no small part due to the flawless, friendly, and bend-over-backwards accommodating service of the staff. The flavors, the textures, the attention to every single detail, the whimsy, the elegance…

let’s begin

cozy interior


amuse bouche: uni purée, whipped cauliflower, puffed rice and seaweed

salmon with ginger, daikon, snap pea-basil broth (not pictured: chilled artichoke soup)

left: humane foie gras cherry blossom parfait, barley, sea beans and shiso
right: chorizo-crusted scallop with sweet corn and lobster froth

black sea bass, pea sprouts, asparagus, sea grapes, lemon verbena

glazed tofu with asparagus and spring onions

jeremy opted for wine pairings with his meal

palate cleanser: avocado and lime sorbet

left: spring lamb tataki hot pot
right: seared beef cheek with green and black garlic, lotus root, natural jelly

left: cocoa nib “affogato”, condensed milk semifreddo
right: yuzu crèmeux, bergamot meringue, cream cheese ice cream

but wait! there’s more: mignardises

pastry-wrapped chocolates for “later”

itty bitty (1-inch diameter) freshly made doughnuts for a last bite

**Jump for more butter**

you so mighty

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Chapter 2: After our weekend of wining and dining, Jeremy and I drove to Yosemite National Park for a quick 3-day backpack to Cloud’s Rest – the best 360° view of the park I have ever seen. I’ll be back with a proper post shortly.

nevada fall in the distance

half dome

cloud’s rest benchmark


resident marmot of cloud’s rest

in camp

on nevada fall

lupine (grape soda?)

drive-by shooting of el capitan

half dome silhouette pre-dawn