Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When Life Give You Lemons...

2012 has been grating on my nerves since before 2011 officially ended. To the point that I actually wrote the wrong age on my brother's birthday card because I was so focused on 2013.  Recently, I was talking to a friend who's in Germany trying to finish up his Ph.D. on about the same timeline as myself.  After adequately commiserating the old adage "When life give you lemons," popped up.  The proper ending is "make lemonade," but that didn't seem like enough of a pie in the face for Life the bully.  After some deliberation I decided that lemon meringue pie might be a suitable response.   Even while I was making this pie, I got a couple lemons; the crust wasn't coming together right, the meringue wasn't setting, and then it wouldn't seal.  I caught the pie just before it burned so it came out nice and toasted.  Hopefully everyone at lab is hungry tomorrow!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Illuminating Niagara Falls

I grew up less than two hours from Niagara Falls so my childhood was sprinkled with trips to see the falls.  One of my favorite sights was during the spring melt when we were able to see big chunks of river ice sail over the 150+ foot waterfalls. After not visiting for several years, the time seemed right for another venture, plus I was itching to try out my mom's camera somewhere other than my house before taking it on any lengthy excursion. Dave and I spent the afternoon in Buffalo with my family and grandparents before hopping across the border to spend the evening at the Falls.  On the agenda, the Journey Behind the Falls, the illumination of the Falls, and fireworks, of course.  All of which were new experiences for me. 

Niagara Falls
 The Journey Behind the Falls was a wild card.  It appeared to be very similar to the Cave of the Winds on the American-side so I was a little skeptical.  There's two forks behind the falls one leads to the portals and the other to the observation deck.  We took the path to the portals first to avoid the crowd.  The portals are just that - windows to the sheer power of the curtain of water that is Niagara Falls.  Unfortunately without being able to put it in context, the rushing water is a little underwhelming.  The tunnels that take you behind the falls were carved at the beginning of the 20th century.  Pretty impressive when you consider how much water pressure they're exposed to on any given day. We walked back to the observation deck wondering why we were given panchos and why we paid $15 to see this.  The observation deck answered both.  The deck was almost at the base of the horseshoe falls.  You could see the space between the falls and the cliff behind, creating its own treacherous natural tunnel.  It was a misty day to begin with bit the spray on the deck was intense.  I though the observation deck was worth it.  I got a few good pictures, cooled off significantly, and was able to relax.

Observation Deck at the Journey Behind the Falls
The pictures behind and next to the falls I took with my point and shoot.  Everything else I shot with the dSLR on Manual.  Not going to lie, I had to take at least twice four times as many pictures as I usually would before I had a few frames I was pleased with enough to keep. I thought taking the dSLR to the falls would convince me not to take that camera any further than on a leisurely day trip.  The only thing it taught me was, while comfortable, my mom's camera bag is inconvenient to access and store anything more than a set of keys. After a strong initial desire to throw the camera in the falls in the first few minutes of shooting in manual, I started to really enjoy the control I had in fine tuning my shots.  It was especially nice when shooting the illuminated Falls and the fireworks. I'm pretty sure I was driving Dave a little crazy while fussing with all of my shots.  Despite the extra time and equipment, I'm still torn about taking the camera to Spain or leaving it at home.

Table Rock lookout
Rainbow Horseshoe Falls
American Falls

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Independence Day USA!

For the first time in years I was able to go home for the 3rd and 4th of July and spend it with my family. The third of July is probably a bigger deal here than the fourth.  We live near one of the smaller Finger Lakes with tons of lake front cottages.  Every year the houses line the water front with flares and shoot off fireworks during the Ring of Fire.  The Ring of Fire comes with BBQ's by the lake with family and friends and horrible traffic on narrow country roads. I had to dig deep into my memory to figure out the back-roads to get home in any sort of reasonable amount of time.  The Fourth is a more low key day, especially in the 95F and humid heatwave we had. One of the advantages of living out in the country is that a lot of people will shoot off their own fireworks during the encouraged lawlessness of the holiday.  I took advantage of our own firework  display to try out some of the firework photography tips I picked up this week from Bethany (Beers and Beans).