One rainy Yosemite adventure

This past weekend, Cobalt and I embarked on an epic day trip to Yosemite National Park. Over the past year, we’ve been to five other national parks and monuments and we thought we could sneak one more in before 2016 ends. Plus my family and I used to go to Yosemite National Park every summer when I was growing up and I was itching to get back.

Having spent at least a week in Yosemite when I went with my family, I had to do some careful planning for our short day trip. It helped that a lot of the stuff that I enjoyed seeing in the summer (Glacier Point, Tuolumne Meadows, etc.) is not open in the winter so I had a shorter list of things to choose from.

It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from here so we left at 7:30 a.m. to make sure we would have time to spend in the park. Our first stop: Yosemite Valley. It’s often super overcrowded in the summer but there’s a good reason for it. It’s simply spectacular to be surrounded on all sides by huge slabs of rock, rushing water, and impressive waterfalls. Cobalt is not one for crowds so I figured that by going to the valley in December, he’d still get to see the awesomeness without being surrounded by people. It was kind of a dreary day — rainy and cold — but there were still quite a few people in the valley. We headed to the Happy Isles trail head to go see Vernal Falls. You can’t drive to the trail head so we had to park the car and hike in. We got a little lost of our way to the trail head and wandered around the Happy Isles for a bit but it paid off because we saw a deer family! Here is a picture of the buck. I think this might be the best deer picture I have ever taken. Enjoy:

I love how regal he looks…

We eventually found the trail head and wandered up the short trail to the footbridge below Vernal Falls. It’s a nice trail, with amazing views of the river crashing around below and waterfalls sneaking down the walls of the valley. In the summer, I enjoy hiking past the footbridge via the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls but it is closed in the winter (mist = ice = slippery!) and we had a lot of other stuff to see! So we headed back down the trail to the car where we had a quick lunch before heading back to see the rest of the valley.

The rain was starting to come down harder by this point but that didn’t stop our fellow tourists from having fun on the valley floor. We had to stop to take pictures of the Yosemite Falls because I loved seeing the people playing in the snow through the mist. There was so much going on! People were taking Christmas pictures in Santa hats or throwing snowballs at each other. Some people were even getting out sleds to slide around the icy snow.

The upper Yosemite fall sits above the mist on the valley floor.

After touring the rest of the valley mostly by car, we set off towards Wawona, which is on the southern edge of the park. To get there, you head up out of the Valley through a long tunnel. Right before you leave the valley, there is a “Tunnel View” parking area where you can get one last glimpse of the entire valley. It was a family tradition to stop and take a picture so Cobalt and I stopped and asked a family to take our picture.

The mist covered up the valley minutes after this picture was taken.

It was pouring and starting to get dark by the time we reached Wawona but I had one required stop left. My family used to stay in Wawona when we visited Yosemite and we loved hiking the Chilnualna Falls trail. It’s about a 10 minute hike to the lower fall so we parked at the trail head and ran up the trail. It was incredible! We usually go in August, which is when the water is at a pretty low point but the fall was just gushing this weekend. Forget the rain, Cobalt and I got majorly misted as we scuttled down toward the fall. It was so great to see an old family favorite again. Can’t wait to come back here with my whole family one day (hopefully soon!).

Let’s get some humans in that photo.

How are you? What are you up to? This week, I have to report at the American Geophysical Union’s national conference. Should be fun but also scary!

Tianjing and Jared got married (sneak peek)!!!!

Hey everyone! Long time no see! Hopefully I’ll have some time to update you on all the fun going on in my life but for today, let’s celebrate my two dear friends Tianjing and Jared who got married last weekend at the Chapel at Red Rocks here in Colorado. It was a beautiful wedding on a beautiful day (the rain waited until we were safely inside for the reception) and I had the honor of being their photographer (along with my friend Jem!). Having a second photographer made all the difference compared to the first wedding I photographed where I was the sole photographer. I feel like Jem and I just waltzed in and took control of the situation by taking awesome pictures. I got to be extra bossy – not only did I tell Tianjing and Jared what to do, but I also requested shots from Jem too (we split up the work so that we had different lenses on our cameras to get a wide variety of shots without having any downtime to change lenses). Plus it was a lot of fun to be working with someone instead of just running the show by myself!

Aaaaaaanyway, let’s talk about the bride and groom! I’ve known Tianjing since the first week of our graduate program here in Colorado. Tianjing showed up late so she missed the annoying 2.5 weeks of orientation that we all had to go through but we were fast friends anyway – I think it was our combined love of eating and being silly that did the trick. Ever since then, we’ve been getting together randomly to cook or go out for delicious food (one example is our trip to Aspen)! One day when we bumped into each other in the Cell Culture Facility at school, Tianjing told me she’d met a guy…. As she told me more and more about him, I knew he had to be someone special and I couldn’t wait to meet him! I finally did and as I sat across the table from Tianjing and Jared at a Korean BBQ place, I couldn’t believe how perfect they were for each other. I had this thought over and over again pretty much every time we hung out after that and it was definitely at the forefront of my mind on their wedding day.

I truly enjoyed taking your pictures, guys. It was so fun capturing all the giggles, smiles, and kisses that made up your wedding day. I wish you two all the happiness in the world. :) Stay tuned for a deluge of pictures!

That’s it for your sneak peek, folks! I hope you enjoyed them. What’s that? You want just onnnneeee more? Okay….

Eric and Clara got married (sneak peak)!!!

This weekend, my friends Clara and Eric got married! Eric works in the lab next to ours and has helped me a lot with my complicated data analysis problems and Clara is his crafty bride. Every time I see her, she is making something awesome (a new wallet, cute stuffed mice for the children she nannies for, etc etc etc). One time, Clara and I escaped from a party to go to Michael’s Crafts and get painting supplies. It was an awesome adventure. Anyway, there’s something special about these wedding photos I’m sharing with you today. I often bring my fatty DSLR to weddings to take pictures of the bride and groom but this time Eric and Clara asked me to be their official wedding photographer! WOW! So Cobalt and I headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park this past Saturday with my DSLR and all three of my lenses! It was epic – generally I think photographers get more than 2 days notice about photographing people’s weddings so this one was a lot of playing everything by ear and herding family and bridal party members around to make sure I got pictures that I thought Eric and Clara would want. Overall I think it went smoothly – it was a beautiful day at the park and Eric and Clara were so happy and fun to photograph. They had a short ceremony in the morning and the rest of the day was spent frolicking with family and friends (and lots of eating). It was a great day and I feel so honored that I got to be such a big part of it!

Now onto the pictures! I took over a thousand pictures that I am going to be slowly editing when I need a break from science this summer but for now here is a sneak peak so you can see for yourself how beautiful this day was! :)

Because this was my first wedding ever, I thought I would write a little about my experience and give (myself and anyone else who is interested) some reminders/tips. First of all, I LOVED photographing the wedding. I’m not going to lie; it was kind of fun being bossy to get everyone positioned for pictures. Also, I relished all the thinking I had to do about poses, lighting, where I should be, etc. I was so happy and in my element being creative!

Finally, two lists to sum up my reminders/tips:

First: what to bring for a “survival kit.” I brought bandaids, tissues, water, and hair clips. I should have also brought sunscreen because we all fried to a crisp out there. >_<

Second: some things I think will be important to remember when prepping to photograph a wedding/engagement session.

  1. Get to know the bride and groom – I think this was easy for me because I work with Eric and I see Clara a lot too. This is really important though because I want to take pictures that capture the couple’s essence and I want to put them into poses that seem natural for their personalities
  2. Ask the bride and groom beforehand for certain pictures that they definitely want – this part caused some stress on my part during this wedding because I didn’t know which family members had come and I didn’t know who wanted to be photographed with whom. Also I think if the bride and groom and the photographer have an idea about the “set list” before the wedding, it helps the photographer plan the shots and the timing needed to get all of them beforehand.

That’s all! I hope you liked the pictures! I can’t wait to photograph more weddings/engagements/special events! Let me know if you want me to do something for you! :D

Back into the fray!

Hey everyone! I’m back from Germany! It was super fun! First of all, Heidelberg is an adorable town nestled in some mountains in Germany. You should be able to see that from that top picture here. The conference I went to was at EMBL which is a giant laboratory tucked into the forest above Heidelberg. I hung out with my friends as soon as I landed in Heidelberg (adventures will soon be posted) and then spent the next few days being bussed back and forth between the town and the lab for the conference. The conference was awesome. All of the talks were full of innovation and cool science (pretty sure that excitement was the only thing that kept me awake in the face of the death jetlag) and I made a lot of fun international friends! After the conference, I spent one day frolicking in Heidelberg and the surrounding areas with some of the cool people I met at the conference (again with the adventures being posted soon!).

Some more pictures:

Another favorite German word of mine is schloss or castle. I visited the castle with my friends the first day I was there and it was stunning. I learned so much European history… Look forward to a post on the schloss definitely. :)
My last day there, my new found friend T and I went for an epic hike (involving us getting lost a lot) in the mountain next to Heidelberg. The trees were so interesting!

Anyway, now I am back in Colorado. I’m super jetlagged still but life is insane in lab. I have to prepare (read: do multiple experiments) to give a presentation in a few weeks and if I really want to graduate at some point, I have to come up with what will ultimately be the “story” for my thesis. There’s actually a lot to talk about regarding my feelings about graduate school right now so I think maybe that will be in its own post soon.

Random questions below:
How are you guys? Is there anything specific you want me to definitely mention in my Germany (or Boston or San Antonio) posts? Do you want to know my favorite German word (it’s tchüss! – it means bye!)? I’m super frustrated with science/lab right now. Does anyone have any advice for relaxing/getting through hard work times? In other news, I am super excited that Allegiant finally came out today (where was it on my 10 hr flight back from Germany last week?!). Is anyone else a fan of the Divergent trilogy?

In other news, my blog is 3 years old today!!!! How did this happen?!

We need your help for our anniversary!

So Cobalt’s and my one year wedding anniversary is this weekend! To celebrate our anniversary, we’ve come up with a project and we need your (if you live within driving distance of Boulder) help!

A few weeks ago, Cobalt and I were hanging out with our (recently engaged!!!) friends J and K in a local bookstore. J and I were looking at magazines while K and Cobalt were off somewhere else. J picked up a few wedding magazines to flip through and I started with the photography ones until I discovered that this bookstore has an entire shelf dedicated to magazines from France. I picked up one about recent movies and flipped through it until I found an article about Ryan Gosling with this picture on the front:

I did not take this picture (obviously). This photo is by Art Streiber and is featured in the May 2013 edition of Premiere magazine.

I thought it was hilarious how he looks pretty normal except for those crazy yoda hands and I showed it to Cobalt. Then an idea was born…. here’s what we wanna do. So the day of our wedding anniversary (this Sunday, August 4), Cobalt and I want to have a photoshoot where you, our models, get to pick one crazy costume piece (we’ll have hats, masks, goggles, and even the yoda hands Mr. Gosling is wearing above for you to choose from but you can bring your own props too) and then you get to pose for us. I think it’s going to be really fun. Cobalt and I prepped all last weekend and we are super excited! If you would like to be in our photoshoot, leave me a comment here (or a Facebook message if we are Facebook friends) and I’ll contact you with details. Come one come all! :D

I also did not take this picture. This photo is also by Art Streiber and is featured in the May 2013 edition of Premiere magazine.
This is an example of one of the awesome props we acquired. Also this is how sad I will be if no one wants to do our photoshoot with us… :-/

If you are (unfortunately) too far away to come have fun with us on our wedding anniversary, tell me about your first wedding anniversary. Did you do anything special?

Look at that family…

This last weekend, Cobalt and I went to visit his family (Success! We saw both families in the same week!). I brought my DSLR so we could take a family picture! We were planning on doing the picture outside but then there was this HUGE thunderstorm so everything outside was soaking wet. The result was that we ended up pushing all the furniture around in the living room to make room for an indoor picture. It turned out to be fun though and I got to use my sweet infrared remote so no one had to run around with the timer on…

In other news, my friends A, J, and I made up an Instagram photo challenge to do together starting today… so exciting!

I’m sorry about the crazy posting schedule lately. There’s a lot going on/coming up (including teaching middle/high school students genetics and running a 5K – The Firefly Run – this Friday). I have a lot of ideas about things that I want to post (especially about France, which was 2 months ago now! :p) but no time to write about them. Boooo… What are you guys up to? Also, how do you make time to do creative things because I have all these projects/creative activities (like photography) that I never have any time for… wah…

Your turn… talk to me! :D Allllllso, leave a comment with your Instagram name if you want to do our photo challenge (and you need to know what “qwrahhhhh” means)!

DSLRs and what I know about them

Gustav wants to learn how to use a DSLR too…

First off… Our wedding pictures are up! I’ll post some on here on Wednesday! Cobalt and I have to figure out which 50 we like the best out of all of them for our wedding book. So many pictures to choose from!

Anyway, today’s post is about DSLR cameras. I have had a few people ask me if I have any advice on picking out DSLRS/getting into photography. So I thought I’d write a little post about it. Obviously if you have more questions, go ahead and ask and we can continue the discussion over a series of posts.

The bottom line
I think when you get your first DSLR, it’s good to just go with whatever used one that fits properly in your price range. You don’t know what you want in a DSLR yet but you need something to practice on. So if you can find a used (but not too used obviously) one that fits well in your price range, I say just go for it! As you play, you will notice features you do and don’t like in a camera and then when you are a more experienced photographer who can afford a brand new DSLR, you can get a really nice one with all the features you like.

Canon vs Nikon
As for the different brands, I have a Nikon because of just what I said above – my old boss’ husband was selling his old Nikon so he could buy a new one and I really wanted to try it out so I bought it. I haven’t looked back since. It has been so fun. The biggest differences I’ve seen between Nikon and Canon at least is that Canon products (the camera body, the lenses, etc) are usually bit cheaper (though experienced photographers will tell you that Nikon has better picture quality… I have no idea if this is true… I’ve seen professional photographers with both Canon and Nikon cameras). I like the Nikon cameras because you can change all the settings while looking through the view finder (as you’re taking a picture). As far as I can tell, Canon uses a series of menus that require you to use the viewing screen to change settings, but you’d have to ask a Canon person about that. It’s funny how hard it is to switch back and forth between them…

Learning how to use your DSLR
I actually took a class but it wasn’t as hands on as I would have liked. I learned a lot about photography in general – like lighting and composition, etc. It also got me started learning about how to use Photoshop to play with my pictures. A lot of camera stores offer more hands on classes that you can take. They generally have classes dedicated to either brand and any skill level. I learn the best by just trying things out so for me, the most helpful thing was to go out on photography adventures with friends and their DSLRS. We had a range of photography skills and were able to teach each other little things as we played. Some camera stores put on events like Mike’s Camera did with the zoo day where you can play with all sorts of cameras and they are there to help you. I would definitely recommend looking into what cameras stores you have around you. They usually have a list of fun photography events or classes in the community.

I think that’s all I can think of for now! Do you have any questions? Let’s hear them! I hope this was helpful…

Beautiful wedding in Santa Fe

This weekend, Cobalt and I headed south to Santa Fe (Do you know the way… to Santa Fe?) for K and M’s beautiful wedding. Everything about this wedding was so perfect for the two of them, from the well thought out vows and touching ceremony to the adorable bride and groom rat caketopper (not to mention their tower of whoopie pies instead of a traditional cake). We had so much fun with these two. We ate delicious barbecue and then danced the night away with all our friends… Plus it looks like they had quite a bit of fun themselves:

Congratulations you two! We’re soooo happy for you!

In other wedding news, our friends D and D are getting married this weekend! Yay! Congratulations to you guys too! :)

Finally, in other happiness, Baby L was born on Monday morning this week! Yay! Congrats B and T too! :)

Microscope Modeling

Lately we have been establishing a core microscopy facility in our new science building where anyone in the building can be trained on and use the fancy (and sometimes grumpy) fluorescence microscopes. Yesterday, a professional photographer came in to take pictures of all the microscopes so they can go on the University’s website. He started with our newest and most fancy (and most popular right now…) microscope and he needed some scientists to be photographed with the scope. Naturally, my friend A and I volunteered.

It turned out to be pretty cool. We got to put on gloves and play with the fancy microscope while he told us how to pose (probably the closest I’ll ever get to actual modeling). I think he was as excited as we were because as he shot, he would explain some of his equipment to us (super fancy photography equipment that I can only dream of owning one day), tell us about the types of shots he was taking, and tell us about how he came to be a professional photographer. Yay fancy microscopes while simultaneously nerding out over photography… Definitely a great way to start the day.

Afterwards A and I got K (who is “lucky” enough to share our section of the lab with us) to take this nice commemorative picture. Thanks K!

PS, nerd alert. So sometimes when I put on my gloves to do lab work, I think “Two by two, hands of blue…” which never ceases to freak me out a little… :-/

Some questions to think about: Is there anything you do as part of your job that causes some of your inner nerd to come out? Have you ever modeled (with or without a microscope)? Are you interested in cool photography gadgets like I am? If not, are there are other cool gadgets you are excited about? Tell me more… Have a good Friday/weekend!