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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Big Red is Amazing!

My boy Big Red is an amazing dog.  One thing he's especially good at it is posing for my camera in outdoor settings.  He'll sit or lay down and stay long enough for me to get a few good shots before he moves on.  For action shots I let him follow his nose in a direction away from the sun while I get my camera set up (switch to servo mode, high frames per second, 1/500 of a second or faster and as small of an aperture as the sunlight will allow).  Then I call him back with some urgency and fire away as he comes running.  The key is getting him to run back to me through an area with good lighting, which usually means sunlight in his eyes to create eye catches.  Larger apertures will reduce the depth of field and leave you with fewer shots in focus.  But sometimes the shallow depth of field is useful to blur out a distracting background.  One last trick that I use for action photos is to move the autofocus point to either the far right or far left (on horizontal shots) so that Big Red is placed in one of the outer thirds of the frame.  This helps create an attractive composition following the rule of thirds and will leave you with creative options for cropping.  Enjoy some of my favorite Big Red photos:


I always pay attention to the sunset, and when there is a good sunset and I have time, I'll often scramble to one of my favorite sunset shooting spots nearby and enjoy the sunset while taking a few photos.  I have a few spots near my house that are adequate for taking sunset photos, and it's critical that they are very close because I'm usually in a rush and always running late when the sun is going down.  Even still, I wish I had some better locations for sunset photos.  I don't generally have any good scenery to add to the sunset, so the sky better be good enough to make the photo all by itself.  Here are a few from todays sunset.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Making Pisco Sours with Sandrita

Almost everyone that travels to Peru eventually gets offered some pisco.  Pisco is a type of Brandy, made from grapes in Peru and Chile.  The "pisco sour" is the most common cocktail made using pisco.  Make a batch at home following Sandrita's age old recipe:

Fill a blender half full of crushed ice.  Add the juice from 6 small lemons and a third of a bottle of pisco (roughly 250ml.).  Add one egg white and 2/3 cup of sugar.  Blend, taste, add more pisco or ice until you get your preferred consistency.  It's common to add a bit of cinnamon to decorate the froth on each cup of pisco sour.  Serve cold!

Pisco sours are delicious!  But they tend to be much stronger than they taste, so be careful with them.  Here's a few shots of Sandrita and I's two person pisco sour party/discotheque:

Sandrita told everyone she was going out to pick up some laundry, but she had a sly look in her eye, and she returned with a bag of lemons and a bag of ice.  I knew something was up.

Sure enough, Sandrita had a surprise for me, tonight we were going to be drinking pisco sours from Sandra's famous recipe.

Cut the lemons in half and use a squeezer to extract the juice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Vicuña

Just outside of Arequipa Peru, on the backside of Chachani, we came across a large pack of Vicuña.  The Vicuña make their home in the highlands of Peru and throughout South America.  In Inca and pre-Inca times Vicuña wool was reserved for the royal class only, while Alpaca was reserved for the nobility and Llama used for the commoners.  Apparently they are quite fast, as we saw several close to the road who ran away before I could get a shot.  Every high end clothing store in Arequipa has a small line of Vicuña clothing, but the prices are outrageous, like a grand and up for a sweater.  Usually these sweaters are behind glass, but I did get to touch a Vicuña scarf and it was super soft, but not $600.00 soft.  Enjoy the views and check my Peru gallery for larger sizes.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Three Days in Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon is the world's deepest canyon, and it's located about 5 hours from Arequipa Peru by car.  I had the great privilege of traveling to the canyon with , the Colca Specialist, and Naturaleza Activa, the best adventure tour company in Arequipa.  We descended all the way into the canyon on first day and stayed at a "familiar home," where we were served up hot showers, traditional food and culture and slept in private cottages for the night.  On the second day we hiked along the canyon until reaching the oasis, also known as Paradise.  The name is fitting, we relaxed poolside for three hours, swimming and drinking cold beers before being served a traditional lunch, all in in the towering presence of the Colca Canyon walls.  After digesting for another hour we climbed out of the canyon in three hours on a grueling switchback trail.  It was almost too much for me with all of my camera equipment.  My legs were sore for a few days after.  The next day we stopped by Cruz del Condor to get some amazing views of the Andean Condors that grace the cliffs of Colca Canyon. From there we drove through the Colca Valley to the town of Chivay and were treated to some hot spring therapy for our sore muscles and bones before heading back to Arequipa.  Overall the trip was excellent.  If you want to know more about Colca Canyon, see Guillermo's blog at: http://thecolcaspecialist.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the views:

The road to Colca

Me at the "familiar house"

Putting my feet up in Paradise

Climbing out of Colca Canyon

Traffic on the way out

Cruz del Condors

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Making Orange Beer with Cristal (not the racist kind)

Sometimes drinking in the morning is a necessity.  When morning drinking calls I usually mix a bloody mary or an orange beer.  Both are great for early morning tailgating at our beloved Nebraska Cornhusker games.  Since many don't know about orange beer, I'll fill you in.  Take a glass, fill it half full of your preferred beer and fill the rest up with orange juice.  I tend to use the beers I don't like to drink on their own, Bud Light, Busch Light, Anything light.  If my pockets are full, I'll even use my favorite beer of all time: Fat Tire.  It's not blasphemy if you follow up your orange beer with two non-orange Fat Tires to make up for disgracing the first one with orange juice.

When I tell people about orange beer they usually think I'm crazy.  Until they try it.  After giving out hundreds of orange beers at tailgates over the years no one has ever returned one, or spoken ill of orange beers again.  A few people drink only one and move on to straight beer.  But almost everyone likes it and has at least two (to finish off the beer).  It's a healthy and nutritious way to start drinking early in the morning, and that's appealing to most of the people I meet at 6 A.M. in lot 9 at Husker games.  Everyone asks what it tastes like.  It's pretty simple, it tastes like carbonated orange juice with a hint of beer (or a lot of beer, depending on how you mix it).

I decided to write this post after several of my friends here in Peru tried orange beer tonight, and while they were all mocking me at first, they all finished their beers in record time.  Tonight I used Peruvian orange nectar instead of orange juice, and Cristal beer.  Yes, Cristal beer, not the racist champagne brought out of obscurity and now boycotted by American rappers (for being racist).  Check google for more info on how racist Cristal the champagne company is.  Peruvian Cristal is a nice light lager, perfect for making orange beers, and so far I haven't heard anything about them being racist.  Enjoy.

Mapping my trip to Peru

I've created a google map of my trip to Peru, including my route from Columbia Missouri to Chicago Illinois, flight to Ft. Lauderdale, landing in Lima, flight to Arequipa, and soon, my trip to Colca Canyon.  To view the map click here:  http://maps.google.com/maps?tab=ml

In keeping with the idea of including a photo in each post, here is a the view of Chachani from the Arce house at sunset: