Friday, December 13, 2013

Costa Rica: Monteverde

Over Thanksgiving break, Casey and I headed down south to Costa Rica.  This is the first time we both had ever traveled to Central America and we had been looking forward to visiting Costa Rica for some time.  Everyone we had spoken to who had visited Costa Rica told us such amazing and, at times unbelievable,  things about this lush country.  And researching the country in planning our trip exposed us to even more great things this place had to offer.  We planned our trip based on three different climates: Cloud Forest, Rain Forest and the Beach.  We started in the cloud forest of Monteverde.

Monteverde is located in the northern part of the country near Costa Rica's active volcano.  To get there from San Jose, we drove about three hours, mainly on highways and then on a very long, unpaved uphill road.  We knew that Costa Rica was known for their bad roads and got introduced quickly.  

After the bumpy ride, we found our lodge, settled in and crashed after our long day of travel.  To finish out the day, we walked into town and tried out our Spanish at casual, typical restaurant which are called sodas.  That night, we went on a night walk with a biologist named Sergio.  He was awesome and showed us some amazing night creatures (most of which who's names I regrettably forgot.)

This was one for the first things we saw.  Well, the very first thing we saw was actually a two toed sloth, something that I have been drying to see for so many years now.  But it was high up in the tree and impossible to get a picture of in the low light.  Anyhow, this little guy was a great find.

Eventually, after being handled a bunch and with six flashlights on it, the frog realized that it was outnumbered and decided to play dead, giving us a great look at its cool, underside coloring.

Another cool creature we saw was this bug.  It makes some of the loudest sounds we heard during the night.

It made that loud noise until this Golden Back Spider ate it.  It was a pretty amazing site, especially with our guide narrating and predicating its behavior.  I believe this was the first bite before it quickly encapsulated it with its powerful silk.

Another spider we soon came across was this Banana Leaf Spider, appropriately named as we saw a few on banana trees.

The king of spiders was this Orange Kneed Tarantula.  Its body was probably 2 inches wide with hairy, gruesome legs.  Bummed I didn't get a clearer shot, but hey, it was pitch black without our lights.  Definitely one of many highlights of the night.  

The following day, we went to the actual cloud forest for some canopy touring.  This is probably the most well known activity in Costa Rica, as there were many zipline offers to choose from.   We were very happy with the one we chose, with 13 ziplines of various lengths to choose from.  If you know me well, I'm pretty afraid of heights, but this helped me overcome those fears.  There actually wasn't much time to be afraid since Casey and I were the first of the group to go and they just hook you up and push you along your way.

Here is a little view from the platform of one of the lines.  It was amazing up there!

Check out this video of Casey and I going tandem down the longest zipline.  It was 3300 feet long (about 3/4 of a mile!)  Tons of fun and I was so glad I had my Go Pro camera to catch this.

After the canopy tour, we headed into the butterfly sanctuary, where there were 20 different species of the beautifully painted creatures.  I didn't get most of the names, so here's just a run of the photos I got.

(Can't believe I got this shot!)

We then walked across eight bridges suspended above the treetops.  We didn't see too much wildlife as it was mid-afternoon, but we saw some amazing vistas and an array of plant life.

The cloud forest, and Costa Rica as a whole, is so lush that everything grows and prospers abundantly. Almost every tree supported a variety other vegetation with air plants, ferns, vines, moss and flowers growing on the every inch of the trees.

If I painted landscapes, this would have been an image bank paradise.

It's hard to capture just how high up we were, but if you think about this being the top of 20ft trees, you get a better idea.  Again, such diversity of plants growing and, for the most part, untouched.

I was excited to see this little bird and get a decent shot of it.  It's funny now looking back at the beginning of the trip at my excitement because we saw WAY more birds in the later half.

Last shot was this very geometrically pleasing fern.  I love the patterns you find in nature.

Alright, I need to go through the rest of the photos, but another post to come soon!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Show Catch Up

The fall always brings a bunch of acts out to the Bay Area and I've been lucky to go to a few this past month and, even luckier, been able to get my camera in too.  Recently I've started shooting and writing reviews of local shows for music website, The Bay Bridged.  Voted best music website by readers of SF Guardian, The Bay Bridged covers the local indie music scene and has given great exposure to photographic side of my skill set.  

Definitely still learning and getting the hang of shooting live shows, here are a few pictures I've grabbed in the last couple of weeks.

King Khan and the Shrines:



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dia De Los Muertos

This past weekend I had the pleasure of showing a new painting at WonderlandSF's group show: 7 Deadly Sins.  The theme mainly surrounded the cardinal sins with a few pieces, mine included, overlapping with the Dia De los Muertos theme.  Saturday night was the opening of the show and also the giant procession that went through the Mission and ended at Garfield Park, with alters to remember those who have passed.  It was a great night full of culture and community. 

Here's the piece I made for the show.  It's of an Osprey skull with some candy skull embellishments.  I'm super happy with piece and have been enjoying some great feedback.  Hope you all like it as well! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Catch Up Work

Playing catch up here.  I've been pretty relaxed with my updates this summer and wanted to share some recent works I did in the last few months.  Things have been pretty busy, with a fair amount of commission work and continuing my birds.  

This first one was a piece for the Rock and Rawhide Gala.  They are a New York animal adoption advocacy group and I painted and donated this one to be auctioned off.  Haven't done my best to follow up with the gala, but I hope it made them some moola.  

The dog above is the adorable, yet extremely masculine Bruno, Casey's co-worker's dog.  We got a chance to dog sit this guys for a day and I took the opportunity to both give him a shower and get some good action shots.  Naturally, I sent Bruno's owner some pictures that I took him and of the painting I did of him, and he was so stoked on it that he wanted his own.   

Here's what I painted him:
I'd like to think that I don't rank paintings, but I do and I like this one better.  It's amazing, looking at the difference between the two, what painting for free as opposed to painting for a set price looks like.  Not sure if I can draw hard conclusions from this exercise, but it's interesting nonetheless and my weird perfectionism seems to come out under pressure.   

On to birds.  I had taken a break from them, so it was time to get back to it.  Currently, I'm displaying nine of my birds and in anticipation of this show I painted a couple birds to be part of it.

The first is the Aplomado Falcon.   I took some liberties on its coloration here, but in general, it's probably one of the cooler colored raptors.  Plus, that tail is pretty hard to beat.

And then there was another Puffin.  Had to do it.  They are just so expressive and something about the proportions of their bodies is so interesting to me.  I had fun on this one and feel like I finally found some balance between the details and the gestures.

These next few are drawing that I'm doing for Darwin Cafe's soon-to-be little, yet much bigger and louder, baby sister.  The new restaurant and venue is called Doc Ricketts, slated to open in mid-December.  These drawings, along with a bunch of others that I really need to do, will be part of the website, menu and other printed materials.  I'm super excited and honored to be working on this project and can't wait to see the final product as well as enjoy a nice glass of wine in the new spot.

You'll notice a marine theme in these.  Doc Ed Ricketts was a character in a couple of John Steinbeck's books, as well as a real life marine biologist in the Monterey Bay area and pioneer in the field.  Naturally, the visual concept and theme of the restaurant will based on his work and local, coastal imagery.  (sorry about all the white space, just posting scans here)

That's pretty much what I've been up to since the Wonderland SF Show.  Speaking of which, I'm working on another painting for a November group show there.  I just started today and have a good feeling about the first pass, which is always a good sign.  Hopefully I'll have something to show for it soon.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is one of the most unique music festival and we are lucky to have it in our backyard: Golden Gate Park.  Generously funded by recently deceased Warren Hellman, HSB is a free 3-Day festival with some of the best acts in not just Bluegrass, but a bunch of other genres as well. Since 2001, flocks of people have been attending this huge event, enjoying the somehow always sunny weather with friends, family and friendly strangers.  

Here are some photos I took of the festival.  I just recently started shooting for a local music/art happenings blog: The Bay Bridged.   This was my first entry for them with more to come!  Hopefully this will make my posts here more frequent.  

Evolfo Doofeht on the Porch Stage, October 6th.
(The Food of Love spelled backwards)

G. Love & Special Sauce on the Arrow Stage October 5th.

Local heros Sonny & The Sunsets on the Towers of Gold Stage October 5th

The banjo legend, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers on the Banjo Stage October 6th

with Edie Brickell

Santa Cruz hillbillies, The Devil Makes Three playing the Arrow Stage October 6th

I learned a lot at this festival, from weaving through an endless crowd, to shooting in super bright light and realizing that an ipad was blocking Steve Martin's banjo the whole time!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rock Climbing in Santa Barbara

For Independence Day weekend, Casey, Richmond and I drove down to Santa Barbara for a somewhat  impromptu weekend with our friends Colin and Megan.  This was pretty much the first time I had been down to Santa Barbara (the first time was on a waterpolo road trip and we were only there for a day) and was excited to hang out and see what the town was all about.  Being some of our most outdoorsy friends, it was no surprise that we did a bunch of sports.  Richmond and I surfed in Big Sur on the way down, I swam a 1 mile open water race with Megan, we all played a bunch of frisbee and body surfing, and to top it off, we climbed some big rocks.  

I've been to climbing gyms a couple times in the past, but this was my first time ever climbing outdoors on real rock.  It was terrifying and exhilarating mixed with challenging and sweat promoting. 

Here is a shot of Megan rappelling down to set up the first climb.  Basically, she and Colin climbed up some shallower areas to get on the top and set up the anchor so we could top rope.  Pretty courageous from my perspective.

Here is my favorite shot of the two.  Megan is doing the first climb on the route that she set up while Colin is rappelling down from the second route he's setting up.  

Here is Casey showing her skills and crafty footwork while she makes her way up the rock.  I'd say she's about 45 feet up at this point.  

This is a bottom view of Richmond making his way up. Bummed I didn't get better pictures of his climb, but I had only brought my point-and-shoot on the trip and my batteries were on the verge of death at this point. 

Here is Richmond belaying me.  Top roping is a two person activity, where one person climbs, attached to one end of the rope, and another person belays, keeping the rope taught and ready to catch the climber if they fall.   It's a weird experience to know you're safe if you fall but still feel completely vulnerable.

Here is a sweet shot Colin got of me making my way up.  This was right after a really flat and difficult spot where was pretty much ready to call it quits.  But they encouraged me that it got better after and I made it up to the top.

In the end, I did two climbs and made it to the top of each of them.  To top it off, I did a mile open water swim a few hours later.  I was feeling like an old man with back pains, but after that swim (or more so after the warm down after that swim) I felt pretty young.