A Month in New York // Part 1

Last year, during a month in September and October, I lived and worked out of New York. In a future post, I will write at length about the logic behind the trip and my experiences. For now, here is a small selection of photos I took on the streets.

 

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Wheels

 

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People

 

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Tilt Shift

I carried a tilt shift lens with me most of the week. They can produce some interesting results. Read here if you want to know more about tilt shift.

 

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Flushing

I lived in Flushing during my stay. I had previously lived nearby in Whitestone during the summer of 2008. I fell in love with the area all over again.

 

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Fin

Finally, a black and white shot from south ferry.

 

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What do you think about this new format? I kept words to a minimum and let the photos speak for themselves. Let me know on Facebook or your favorite other social network.

A Sunrise Drive to Lick Observatory

SUNRISE

 

You all know that I’m a car lover. I’ve been building them out of Lego, drawing them and looking at them on the road for as long as I can remember. Point to a car on the street and I can usually name the make, model and model year (within a few years). I watch Top Gear and Drive, read Jalopnik, Autoblog and Speedhunters, and regularly share my thoughts on the latest happenings in the car world.

That’s why it’s a mystery why for the first three years after I moved to California, I drove my parent’s family-focused crossover SUV. It was practical, but it didn’t suit my lifestyle or my interests.

It wasn’t until September that I finally bought something smaller and better suited to my lifestyle. I sold the SUV to a family from Craiglist and bought Dan’s 2012 GTI. It is my first performance-focused car, and it excited me. Driving went from being a routine just like brushing my teeth or showering to being something I looked forward to when I woke up.

 

A photo of my GTI from my regular afternoon drive up Page Mill Road

 

Shortly after I bought the car and before I went to New York for a month, I organized a sunrise drive up to Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. 10 of us, split between 6 cars, woke up before 4am and started driving up from the base at around 5:30am.

 

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Sunrise is a perfect time to drive up to the observatory for two reasons. One, because of the cold and lack of light, there are no bicyclists that normally share the narrow road. Two, as the sun lights the sky, our headlights won’t disturb the telescopes (that usually require near darkness).

Those of us who wanted to drive more spiritedly drove at the front while slower cars followed. We wanted everyone to reach the top and enjoy the view while also letting the thrill seekers enjoy the curvy, technical roads.

 

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Most of us reached the top at dawn, 10 minutes before sunrise. The sky was gradually shifting between beautiful hues of blue, violet and red. Fog and clouds blanketed the valley while hills and mountains poked through. It was hard to believe that we had driven up and not taken a helicopter to the top. The view was that breathtaking.

 

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A short walk from where we parked our cars, we found a raised platform to stand on. We stood in silence, basking in the soft glow of the sun. I remember being overcome by a feeling of euphoria. There I was, on top of the world with my friends, sleep deprived, blood full of adrenaline, and surrounded by endless beauty and serenity. It was a spiritual experience.

 

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I feel that in our active, connected lives, we rarely get the chance to enjoy some peace and quiet with each other. Being there on the mountain reminded me that sharing some quiet time with friends can be as refreshing as a deep late night conversation.

 

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Everyone had their phones and cameras out. What I love about sunrise and sunset is that the lighting is so good that it’s difficult to take a bad photograph.

 

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Eric taking a Hyperlapse as the sun rises

 

 

 

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Former Brohaus roommates and two of the smartest people I know, Mark and Iain.

 

 

 

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Susie took some great photos with her selfie stick and GoPro. That’s nothing unexpected. She has always had a good eye. In fact, she is one of the first people that I ever went on a photowalk with.

 

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Below are two of her photos that show all 10 of us. I haven’t been the biggest fan of selfie sticks after seeing them all over during my recent travels to Southeast Asia and Hawaii. I think selfie culture is narcissistic and only drives us further apart. However, when used properly (not just to take a selfie), they allow for some interesting angles. Great shots, Susie.

 

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Photo Credit: Susie Fu

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Photo Credit: Susie Fu

 

I tried a few more double exposures. If any of you have cameras with multiple exposure mode built in or want to learn how to do it in post, let’s go shoot. As you can see, I need more practice.

 

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I’d like to thank all of you who came. I couldn’t have found a better group to drive up a mountain, enjoy a sunrise and eat breakfast with. Let’s do something like this again, soon. If you want to come to something like this in the future, reach out to me. I’ll make sure to invite you next time.

A Weekend in Seattle // Part 3

This is the last in a series of three posts about a weekend I spent in Seattle. Read part 1 here and part 2 here. It’s going to be light on words and heavy on photographs. Scroll through and enjoy.

 

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We saw this man making balloon animals in the morning. We returned later to find only his crown.

 

 

 

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A different look at the famous Market Theater Gum Wall

 

 

 

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Beautiful light and fog frequently envelops the skyline.

 

 

 

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A look down one of the many beautiful alleys in Seattle.

 

No visit to Seattle is complete without a stop at the Seattle Central Library. Watch this TED talk to learn about its origins and the story of its creation.

 

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The Seattle Central Library is a photographer magnet. I saw camera toting visitors everywhere.

A Weekend in Seattle // Part 2

Where I left off in my last post from this series, Geoffrey, Vinny and I had run out of water on our hike up Mount Dickerman. Fortunately, as you can see in the photo below, we made it down safely and survived to live another day!

 

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The drive back was an absolute foil for the hike down. Our spirits were up and our nerves were calm.

 

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Not only were we utterly exhausted, our shoes and clothing were coated in mud and soil. Nothing escaped without some visible sign of our journey.

 

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Even my iPhone and my backup battery were on their last legs.

 

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The rest of the drive, we kept our eyes open for a place to stop for drinks. Unfortunately, the Mount Dickerman trail starts at a remote location; most of the drive is through the woods.

As soon as we saw a kid on the side of the road selling lemonade, we stopped and bought a few cups. It put a grin on the kid’s face and quenched our thirst. Normally I don’t like lemonade stands (I don’t think teaching kids to sell commodities of little value is a good way of teaching business skills), but I couldn’t have been more thankful.

Thanks kid. That lemonade was the most delicious drink I have ever had.

 

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Boeing Everett Factory
Everett, WA

Since Geoffrey is an engineer at Boeing and I’m an airplane nerd, we stopped by Boeing’s plant in Everett for a quick tour around.

 

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I first visited as a child. Since then, Boeing started producing the 787 and is using more composites in the construction of its other airplanes.

 

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The Dreamlifter below is an aircraft based on the 747-400 that was produced exclusively to ship 787 parts for assembly around the world and final assembly at the Everett factory. The tail of the plane is hinged and can open fully, allowing 787 fuselage sections, wings and horizontal stabilizers to be placed inside.

The Dreamliner follows in a long line of funny looking aircraft made for moving large cargo over long distances like the Pregnant Guppy, Super Guppy and Beluga.

 

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The image below is a panorama that can be scrolled or swiped horizontally. Click through for access to larger versions. Most of the planes in the center are 787s. You can recognize them by the curved serrations on the rear of the engine cover that are designed to reduce noise.

 

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Musashi’s
University District, Seattle

After freshening up a bit at Geof’s place we stopped at Musashi’s near University of Washington for some chirashi with Vinny’s high school friend, Mike.

 

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The fish was good, the portions were appropriate, the service was quick and the price was pretty low. I wish we had something like this nearby when I was at Columbia. UW students, I’m jealous.

 

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Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
University District, Seattle

We topped off our meal with dessert at Molly Moon’s. Given that I felt like huckleberries saved my life earlier in the day, I had no choice but a large waffle cone with huckleberry ice cream. Simply delicious.

 

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Linda’s Tavern
Capitol Hill, Seattle

As the night was still very young when we finished dinner, the next stop on our itinerary was drinks with Geof’s friends at Linda’s Tavern in Capitol Hill.

 

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I have an interesting connection with Capitol Hill. Back mid 2011, I was extremely close to taking an offer at Amazon and living in Capitol Hill. The guys at Brohaus convinced me to move to Palo Alto instead. I can’t even imagine how different my life would be now.

 

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Red Bull Soapbox Derby
Seattle, WA

The next day, went met downtown for the Red Bull Soapbox Derby.

The derby wasn’t the primary reason for our visit, but it was our reason for choosing the weekend that we did. In the race, teams tried to post the quickest time using homemade soapbox cars that are powered by nothing but gravity. When it’s a team’s turn, they are given a few minutes to perform a skit related to their theme and then must launch their car down the street. Watch Red Bull’s video below to see how it went.

 

 

Before the start of the race, all teams exhibited their cars at the top of the hill just like a paddock tour in F1 or Le Mans. The teams had a chance to show off their workmanship and creativity while trying to win the crowd’s favorite vote.

 

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Some teams even handed out cards autographed by the drivers.

 

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While at the race, we grabbed lunch at Napkin Friends, a food truck that sells sandwiches that are half latke, half panini.

 

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Photo Credit: Crystal

 

There were plenty of thrilling and humorous moments.

 

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And there were about as many spills and crashes.

 

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If the Red Bull Soapbox derby comes to your town, go see it. It’s a great way to connect with the community and watch people do stupidly hilarious things. I had an amazing time and I’m sure you will too.

 

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Stay tuned folks. I’ll be publishing the last post of this series next week with some photos of the streets and architecture around Seattle.