Monday, May 23, 2011

Digging Out

Street along the river in Hoi An, Vietnam

Spent the day trying to get a start on digging myself out of the massive pile of editing I am buried in. Slow, but steady progress is being made. No shooting tonight, thought I should play a little catch up instead of piling even more on the to do stack. Added a few new Vietnam photos to the Southeast Asia Gallery.

Also added a couple more to the Midwest Photo Gallery

Dam on the Fox River, Appleton, WI

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Electric.

Appleton saw a couple lines of strong storms move through Sunday evening, I was not back in time to witness the first, but felt it was my duty to take full advantage of the second. After the storms were just about past I headed out, where to? Shockingly, the river again. Shooting lightning is probably not the safest of endeavors, but sometimes you need to take a little risk. Spent some time hoping to not get struck down and walked away with one decent shot.

Spent most of the weekend down in Milwaukee visiting the sister. Saturday's weather left much to be desired, rainy and dreary, but Sunday's weather more than made up for it. Sunny and 80 degrees, finally the shorts awoke from hibernation to greet the summer sun. We headed to the Milwaukee Zoo to enjoy the weather and shoot some animals.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

That's alot of Dam power.

Last night I found myself wandering around the river again to do some shooting. While shooting the dam from the bridge, the dam operator asked if I would like to come shoot on the dam itself, of course I said yes, anything to get something a little different.

I donned the provided hard hat and carefully went out on the dam. I'm not sure what the real purpose of the hard hat is on the dam, I did not really feel an imminent head trauma threat, but more so the trip and fall off the dam and drown threat. Its definitely a unique perspective watching the water rage right underneath, you can definitely feel the raw power of the water. Spent some time, took some photos, chatted with the dam operator and learned a little about the workings of the dam. There is a lot more hydro-electric power being generated here than I had previously thought. All in all a pretty neat time, will have to think of a unique approach to shooting from there and go try again. I only had time to get one photo from the evening edited, perhaps more soon should I find the time to work on them, but for now I have places to be.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer? Are you here yet?

No work today, and no work yesterday, had some time to sit and tackle some editing. There are some new photos up in the Southeast Asia gallery to feast your eyes on, they will continue to trickle in as I find the time to edit, so check back.

Last night the weather was warm and calm, summer is finally within sight. I headed down to the river to a spot I just recently became aware of. The small park is secluded and quiet, and best of all you can get down to water level right next to the spill way. When I left home the clouds were nice in the east, I was hoping for them to light up nicely around sunset, but, nature doesn't follow a script, so it just means I will have to return to try again. Nothing spectacular, but here are a couple from the evening.

After some time at the dam, I headed back to the usual spot along the river to shoot a bit more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunrise at Angkor

The enormous task of sifting through thousands of photos has begun. Editing and retouching photos is a long and tedious process, I would much rather be out shooting, but it has to be done.

I have yet to sit down and write up a good reflective piece about the trip. Brian has posted an excellent reflection of our time in Vietnam over on his blog. His covers pretty much everything we observed and discussed while over there, I now feel anything I write will look like plagiarism. Go read.

I plan to post photos as I make way through the editing process. Here is one I worked on today, taken at sunrise on our first morning in Cambodia.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Big Blue

Bit of a lazy day today in LA. Bummed around this morning, then rode my friends bike 5 miles to El Segundo to pick up slides dropped off to be scanned. After that picked some L&L Hawaiian BBQ and took it to the beach for old time sake.

Rode a little further down the beach, closer to where I use to live,and here I sit, watching Big Blue. It's a bit breezy today, but still nice.

I have to ask myself, why did I leave?

Updated from my iPhone

Location:Vista Del Mar,,United States

Monday, April 25, 2011


Made it back to Los Angeles. The flight from Seoul was a quick 9hrs 40 min thanks to a wicked tail wind, normal time is 11 hours. Kinda dozed most of the time, didn't even watch any movies, on the way over I watched 4 movies, but that flight was 13 hours.

We walked to the ihop by Brian's apartment for some real Amurrrican Breakfast food. I opted for a nice stack of strawberry banana pancakes and Brian went with the chicken and waffles. Delicious.

Will be in LA for a couple days, then back to Wisconsin.

Updated from my iPhone

Location:W Sunset Blvd,Los Angeles,United States

Time Travel

About to depart from Korea, we leave at 4:40pm Monday and arrive 11:30 am Monday in LA. We arrive before we left.

Updated from my iPhone

Location:Yeongjong-dong,Incheon,South Korea

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Korea has Seoul.

Arrived in Seoul, South Korea early this morning. We have a 9 hour lay over, so we decided to take the train into the city and explore a bit. We visited Gyeongbokgung palace, which was quite something. The cherry blossoms are blooming, the sky is blue, and we are not sweaty and gross for once. It was a bit cool this morning, but its warming up nicely into the mid 60's, a comfortable change from Vietnam.

Brian, doing his best to blend in.

Seoul could be any major city in the U.S. or Europe, except its probably cleaner. It is quite a different world than Vietnam, thats for sure. Traffic laws being followed, no horns honking, no imminent threat from scooters at every moment, and children who are not trying to sell you things. Lots of class field trips to the palace, good to see kids in school and not working on the streets barely scraping by. Its quite sad to see so many children in Vietnam working, and not going to school.

One of the best parts about Seoul, the fact that facebook works again. Two weeks without it was a tough stretch. Anyway, time to head back to the train station and head back to the Airport.

Next stop, Los Angeles.

Farewell Vietnam

Well, the time has come to leave Vietnam. We are finalizing our packing, showering, and getting ready to head to the airport. It has been a wonderful trip, and I hate to leave.

Today we spent bumming around Saigon. One of our stops took us to the War Remembrance Museum. If their intention was to make American's feel bad about their countries involvement here, well, it worked. The museum is filled with many photos of the horrors of war, of course, covering only the terrible things done by American soldiers, no mention of the similar atrocities committed by the NVA and VC against those who supported the Americans. Even so, It was a far more accurate look at the war than I expected.

There was an excellent section of photographs from war correspondents, many quite graphic and disturbing, but an excellent compilation of very powerful images. Another section dealt with the lingering effects of agent orange, and the terrible birth defects it causes. Its shocking that people are still being born with birth defects stemming from agent orange use during the war. Some of the deformities are quite unbelievable. All in all I think we both left with a sense of dismay at the sheer waste of life and resources. I couldn't bring myself to take photos in the museum, I just did not feel right doing it, especially being American. Even though I was not there, I played no role, I still felt a sense of guilt for my countries actions.

On a lighter note, here are a couple quick clips from last night.

Now we are off to the airport. Tomorrow we hope to explore Seoul a little, perhaps an update should we stumble on wifi. And just because the trip has come to an end, it does not mean this blog will die. I hope to post more photos as I go through and edit once back in the States, and perhaps share stories to go along with the photos. But now, off to korea, then the long haul back to the states.

Vietnam, its been fun.

Opulence, I has it.

One of the best parts about Vietnam has to be the fact that we can go to the most expensive hotels in the city and still enjoy moderately priced beer at the roof top bars. We are currently at the Caravelle, they have a fleet of brand new mercedes to drive their guests around. Definitely a 5 star establishment, and even here the beer is still under 5 bucks. Overpriced by Vietnam standards, but not bad at all considering the class of the place.

This is our last day in Vietnam. We sadly depart tonight at midnight. Tomorrow we will spend a few hours exploring Seoul, South Korea between flights, should be interesting. Hopefully a blog post later tonight before we leave with some time lapse footage from last night.

Updated from my iPhone

Location:Lê Lợi,,Vietnam

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Street Update

At this very moment I am sitting on the streets of Saigon shootin a time-lapse sequence at the People's Committee Building, mooching off the Rex hotel's wifi. The wifi connectivity in Vietnam never ceases to amaze me.

Updated from my iPhone

Location:Lê Lợi,,Vietnam

Friday, April 22, 2011


This morning we must bid farewell to Phu Quoc Island. Our time here has been most pleasant. Laying on the beach, beer in hand, frolicking in the ocean throwing around a coconut like a football. Coconut like a football? Yes, I'm sure the German's were even more confused. What is this, they are not using their feet?

We had a full day of adventure yesterday, cruising around on the motorbikes, exploring the island. Searched in vain for a couple hours for a waterfall. No labels, no signs, its hard to find stuff here.

Did not find a great place for sunset last night while out cruising, but, we made due with where we were.

I think I hear ze panzers approaching...ze German's must be on the move, time to get out of here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zoom Zoom

This morning we woke up at 4:30, and hit the road by 5am. We tried to race the sun to the other side of the Island, but, its further than it looks on a map, and the roads are all dirt, gravel, and potholed. Had we arrived earlier, just before dawn, I believe the view would have been absolutely stunning. We arrived just after the sun broke over the horizon, but the view was still quite lovely.

The scooters are amazingly fun to drive, and offer a quick means of transport around the island. We did stumble upon a market in a small town which posed some slow driving difficulties, as the scooters are tough to control at low speeds, but, we managed. Brian mounted his gopro on his helmet, here is a quick clip of some of our ride this morning.

First you must occupy ze Island...

Phu Quoc Island, a bit like 1940’s Europe. Germans everywhere, occupying every nook and cranny. Perhaps they are trying to annex to island? Or perhaps just a fantastic vacation spot? Only time will tell.

We took a boat to Phu Quoc Island this morning. The boat ride was uneventful, calm seas and no ralphing. We arrived at the docks and did not have any type of transportation arranged. Some guy who takes people in a mini bus asked where we were headed, it was the same place his other two passengers were going, good, three bucks a person? Even better. We waited around with the other two (Germans of course) for a few minutes, noting the massive presence of jellyfish in the water. After a couple minutes the guy was back, this time with three large guys in tow. We piled in the van, and the three guys, who turned out to be from Mexico, busted out their portable bose ipod docking station and proceeded to blast bad club music. We stopped a few times in vain to find cold beer for them, and continued on. Not too much later a quick pee break for the three of them to alleviate their beer filled bladders. While they were out, our two German passengers suggested offering another 50,000 dong to the driver to just take off without them, we laughed, but I think we all actually considered trying it. The first stop was our hotel, and so ended our party bus trip.

Our beach bungalow was not ready yet, so we had to kill a little over an hour. We headed to the restaurant on the beach, and since we had only had a marginal breakfast of packaged cookies and muffin things, we had pineapple and banana pancakes, and the obligatory beer. The view was quite lovely; it did not take long to realize we are a world away from Hanoi.

We spent the day lounging on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and being accosted by drunken fisherman. We were in the water, swimming around looking for fish and such to take pictures of when a couple of fishing boats went by. It was just like the scene from Forrest Gump where Forrest gets excited to see Lt. Dan and basically just walks off the side of the boat. The fisherman was so excited; before we knew it he was right in the water and swimming over to us. What could he possibly be so excited about? Well, he had spotted the great white hope, and that great white hope would be me. I must explain, in Asian culture it is much desired to have the lightest skin possible, quite the opposite of American and most other caucasian cultures. I am indeed a red head, who currently lives in Wisconsin and have not seen the light of day for some time, thanks winter. I’m what some would call a bit pasty right now, and man, this guy was excited to see my pastiness. He came over started saying something in Vietnamese then kissed me on the cheek, very awkward, but ok. He then proceeded to do the same to Brian. It became clear to me this man smelled of alcohol and was quite drunk. One of his boat mates then did the exact same thing. We moved on, then they reaped the situation again a few minutes later, it was indeed very strange. For pictures of this very strange occurrence, visit Brian’s blog.

We rented motor bikes to ride tomorrow (yes mom, I'll be wearing a helmet), took them for a little test drive to get some petrol, should be quite the day tomorrow, very excited to get out and explore the island. Watched a halfway decent sunset this evening, followed by a nice dinner on the beach, sure is a rough life here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Superdong III

Headed to Phu Quoc Island in a few minutes, on a boat called the Superdong III. Go read Brian's post to hear about our time in the Delta and to see some photos of us. Not sure if we will have Internet on Phu Quoc, if we do I will try to post. Hopefully you will hear from me soon.

Updated from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Delta Days

Woke up before the sun this morning to go for a boat ride around a floating market at sunrise. It was overcast, so no good morning light, but, it was nice and cool. The floating market was pretty neat, lots of boats, all selling different things. They advertise what they are selling it by putting it on a long stick above the boat. So, pineapple vendors will have a tall stick with pineapples tied to it.

There were a couple of cute kids on one of the boats. They would cover their faces with their books whenever I raised my camera up, then peek out, smile, and laugh. It was a fun little game.

We stopped off at a land market where we walked around.

Stopped and had breakfast at one of the local places. Sat on tiny plastic stools.

Chicken and rice, followed by fresh mango. Was quite good.

Went to an island where we fed chicken chunks to crocodiles

And walked across a monkey bridge.

A small disclaimer, i don't have time to do any real editing on the photos, they are all pretty much straight out of the camera. Hopefully prettier pictures will be posted when I am back in the states and have time to go through and properly edit.

The trip is winding down, only a few days left. Headed to Rach Gia this afternoon, then to Phu Quoc Island tomorrow. Good chance we will not have internet until back in Saigon in a few days. If we do find a connection, we will be sure to update. As always, see Brian's Blog as well for more of our adventures.

Mekong Delta

Had a marvelous day cruising the Mekong Delta.

We visited a Buddhist monastery.

Rode on a Sampan.

Drank 100 proof homemade wine.

Made by this guy.

Who had us wear his helmet.

Caught and killed a fish.

Fried up and ate that fish.

Relaxed in hammocks.

Drove across a really long bridge.

And finally cooked my own bbq chicken for dinner along the Mekong River.

For more from the day, including some video, and actual stories, check out Brian's Blog

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shooting the Pig

I don't know how I have not mentioned it yet, but traffic here is crazy. There seem to be no real rules to the road, the majority of the intersections are uncontrolled, its basically a free for all. Somehow, it works itself out, well, most of the time. Only witnessed one minor bump between scooters so far, shocking really. En route to the airport in Da Nang today, we were no more than 3 inches away from completely taking out a scooter. The guy is lucky we stopped just in time or our taxi would have had a new hood ornament.

We were happy to get out of Da Nang, really not all that impressed. In the evening we took a cab down to the beach area and walked around. We found a nice restaurant across the street from the beach and had an excellent dinner. Two meals and two beers at a nice restaurant by the beach, sounds expensive, right? Well, wait for it, it cost us $7.46. Yea, Vietnam is awesome.

We arrived in Saigon late morning. At 1:30 we were picked up for our trip to the Cuchi tunnels. Most usually go by bus or car, but Brian found a tour that takes you there by motorboat up the river. The trip is quicker, no traffic to deal with, and its a stunningly beautiful trip. The usual group for this tour is fairly large I guess, however, being the afternoon tour, there were only three of us, so, basically a private tour. The tunnels were pretty incredible. I can definitely see how U.S. forces had such a hard time fighting against the VC, the jungle is thick and there are hidden doors and traps everywhere.

One of the highlights of the day was at the shooting range at the tunnels. For a fee, you can fire off many different types of weapons from the vietnam war era. I opted to run a 20 round belt through the good ol' M60(aka the pig). It was quite fun, but man does it have some serious muzzle climb. 3 round bursts are pretty much all you can keep on target. The other member of our tour was a nice young lady from New Zealand. She had never fired a gun before and jumped right in and went for the M60 as well, I was very impressed. We also made our way through 100m of tunnel, its a bit of a squeeze, I can't imagine being a tunnel rat during the war having to go into such tight, hostile spaces full of booby traps and unpleasantness. Even more so, I can't imagine living in the tunnels.

For more photos and video visit Brian's Blog, there are plenty of my shining face (and even one of my arse) so go take a look. I will hopefully be posting photos later this evening or tomorrow. But now we must go find something to eat. Until then enjoy the video brian shot of me shooting the M60.

UPDATE: Photos are here, yay!

A few photos from the day.

We had an excellent boat ride to and from the tunnels, had a bit of rain on the way back, but it did not last long.

Nice poofy clouds in the sky.

Lunch and fresh fruit on the boat

One type of enterance into the tunnels. Nearly impossible to see the small wood door under the leaves, wouldn't know its there unless you stepped on it.

Brian proving that not all from the States are too fat to fit.

After the tunnels we returned to Saigon. We went to a bierhaus place for dinner, then headed to the roof of the Sheridan Hotel to pretend to be classy. 6 dollars for a beer, I will just tell myself it was the best beer I had here. The view was quite nice, and I guess thats what you are paying for.