Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Air Transportation Day

It was a gorgeous day to photograph aircraft, with just the right amount of layered, white, puffy clouds for a backdrop.  Here we go:

See what I mean!  As big as many of these planes are, all it takes are a few clouds to shrink them down to size.  This is a Japan Airlines plane just departing Honolulu International.

Same plane, climbing almost above the clouds and much closer to us.

I took this photo to show the clouds which were so kind to show-up this morning, but also their reflections on the very calm Pacific.  The trade winds came up soon after this and the sea got back to normal.

This plane belongs to China Airlines.  Thanks for such a well-timed departure!

The Air Force got into the act, too.  This is a giant C-17, heading for parts unknown.

Finally, Korean Air Lines, in their beautiful sky blue colors heads for home.

A Duck tour and a colorful canoe heading for shore.  I took this while waiting for the next plane to takeoff.

Those clouds on the horizon blocked us from seeing the sun drop into the sea this evening, but the subtle colors of orange, pink and lavender were beautiful in their own way.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Moon Set, Ships And A Sunset

More photos from the lanai:

I was up early (for me) on 27 December, and caught this view of the just past full moon setting.

Zoomed-in view, but morning, 28 December.

A commercial long line fishing boat sails between two private fishing vessels, also morning December 27th.

Navatek and Star of Honolulu searching the same piece of ocean for whales.  When I wasn't taking pictures, I had the binoculars glued to them.

Pay dirt!  Whale Ho!  Just off the port bow!  Thanks, Navatek.

The two ships appeared to be engaged in a game of "chicken". 

Hard to tell just how close they were, but I'm sure it's not really dangerous.  I imagine the captains are in radio contact at all times to ensure something "unfortunate" doesn't happen.

The south shore caught a "bump" of wave energy, so surfers were happy, but the strong trade winds were making conditions challenging.  Notice how the winds are tearing the tops off the waves.

A rather unique sunset today, 28 December.

Clouds to the north of the actual sunset.

Okay, sports fans, time to once again play:  "What's in a Cloud".  I'll go first.  I see a fish from the Bathypelagic Zone, looking up into the perpetual night, mouth full of teeth agape in hopes of running into prey.  What do you see?

Here's another opportunity to stretch your imaginations:  Allow me...I see an Abominable Snowman, facing away from us, its long, hairy arms outstretched in a truly menacing posture, while letting go a blood-curdling howl to scare away tourists.  Your turn!

That's all for today folks.  Have a good day tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Whales And New Halen Portrait

Christmas Day was busy for the visiting whale population and we were excited to watch them cavort from the lanai.  Taking photos of them, from a mile, or three or four away, is a challenge to put it mildly.  I know you won't be too impressed with the images to follow, but I have a pretty good idea you understand.

After watching whales for a good bit of the morning, it was time to go to work.  Two days ago, I wiped out the 20 x 16-inch Halen portrait.  Too much negative space to deal with and I could never seem to feel good about how I filled it.  Nearly six months work on numerous versions...gone.  It felt good, actually, to put that canvas out of its misery and begin again, with renewed enthusiasm.

This a pretty good shot of what catches our eyes first.  A big plume of spray, called a blow.  If we're lucky, as the spray subsides, we see the animal's back.  If we are really lucky, we also see the tail flukes.  The two small white dots above the spray, are two White Terns (also known as fairy terns) flying formation over the water--maybe hunting.  The other thing in the water is the Honolulu Harbor lighted entrance beacon. 

Here you can just see the whale's dark back during a blow.  At this distance, pixilation results if I crop the image too much.

This shows a whale's back pretty well.  That's a very tall harbor crane, which shows how close-by the harbor entrance they pass.

Yesterday, we were entertained by what appeared to us to be the classic mating behavior which features a female, with or without a calf, followed closely by what is referred to as an "escort" male.  The escort is usually harassed by one or more other males attempting to take his place.  Sometimes in their attempt to replace the escort, collisions occur between the males, as well as, other aggressive, often violent contact between them. 

We could tell it was a group by seeing three or four, almost simultaneous blows, as well as, their bodies as they passed in front of us, moving from west to east.  For the first time this season, they were in view long enough for me to get photos.

As the whale group disappeared and my camera was all out of one's and zero's, I headed for the studio.  A final decision was made with regard to the size canvas for the New Halen portrait, so work began.

New reference photo, though it was among those taken back in August!  The new painting is on a 12 x 9-inch (30.4 x 22.8-cm) canvas.  To transfer the image to the canvas, I place "landmarks", then connect the dots, so-to-speak.  Using a grid system never appealed to me, and my free-hand drawing leaves much to be desired with respect to accuracy.

This is the portrait today, 26 December.  For some reason, I kept the mixtures quite thin, almost like  watercolors.  You can see with this size canvas and head, much of the negative (empty) space is eliminated, hopefully helping viewers keep focus on Halen.  With the larger canvas, his head was over-sized, along with way too much empty space.  Nothing about the composition was acceptable and I should've realized this fact from the beginning.  I felt comfortable immediately with this format and the work went quickly and could be considered complete as is.  Wait!  Did you really believe me!  Just kidding.  At a minimum, I'll put in some background color--probably a colorful gray made from the colors in his face.  As for his shirt, that's something which has bugged me from the start of this portrait way back in June.  Stay tuned to find out how it is resolved!

Hope you're all having a well-deserved rest following Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve In Hawaii

Lots of folks were on the ocean this morning, enjoying the holidays Hawaiian style.  Parasail boats, giving brave flyers the ride of their lives, both the Navatek and Star of Honolulu on whale watching cruises, numerous spear fishermen--recognizable only by their floats moving at the surface, private sailboats and fishing boats, sightseeing tour boats and scuba diving boats.  Of course, there was also the usual commercial ocean traffic, including the Ruby Princess cruise ship arriving this morning.  Best of all, we spotted numerous whales celebrating their holidays in Hawaiian waters. :)  Some photos from the lanai:

A little of almost everything in this photo:  The Navatek, a parasail boat with flyer airborne, the Star of Honolulu on the far right and lower left is the top of the Ruby Princess.  Click on the image for a closer look.

This beautifully-decorated airliner belongs to Hainan Airlines, the largest privately-owned air transport company in the People's Republic of China.  Today was the first time we've seen one of their aircraft takeoff.  Red symbolizes good fortune and joy in Chinese culture and yellow is considered the most beautiful and prestigious color.  I just think it's striking. :)

One of two parasail boats busy today towing flyers over the ocean.  They're not as close to the Star as it looks in this photo, but I'm sure the passengers are still getting a great view of the person hanging below that bright yellow parachute  The Star of Honolulu is dead in the water, drifting, to remain the lawful distance away from what is, no doubt, one or more whales.  I'm sure that flyer saw them, too.

A zoomed-in view of the--dare I say it--"golden parachute" and the Star of Honolulu.  We use the Star and Navatek to help us find whales and we're always glad to see them head out on a cruise.  Whenever they slow down, or stop, we know exactly where to look. :))  We took our only whale watching cruise on the Navatek while here on vacation several years ago.

It was a lovely sunset today, featuring a nice complementary blue/orange color palette.  How did Mother Nature ever come up with that?!

The large cloud formation mid-right reminded me of a humpback whale.  We enjoyed multiple sightings today, so I've got whales on the brain.

I love seeing those fiery cloud edges once the sun sets.

This huge Christmas tree is quite a distance from us, and stands out very well at dusk.  You can see it's way west of the airport, but we have no idea exactly where it's located.  It changes colors every few seconds and I'll add one more photo, just for Christmas spirit.

Here it is in red.  The light reflecting on the lagoon almost looks like snow...don't you think?.

That's all for today folks.  Mele Kalikimaka to all, and to all a Happy New Year!! 

Shopper's Paradise

I made my annual Christmas shopping visit to Ala Moana Center on December 23rd--a full day earlier than necessary--and was astounded by what I found.  Construction of the Eva Addition is nearly complete, meaning the place now has an additional 650,000-square feet of stores and restaurants.  It's quite overwhelming and perfectly designed with easy access, but nearly impossible to escape from.

My approach to this orgy of shopping is to have no list, nor any idea of what to buy.  Just wander among the thousands of people and look into the seemingly endless number of shops until a proverbial bolt out of the blue strikes.  At that moment, I make the purchase and head for the car.

It's rather a nice way to Christmas shop actually.  Being alone, there's no need to keep track of another person, no conflicting agendas, or concerns about the time.  It's also a treat to see the highly-creative decorations and performers entertaining the crowd.  Best of all, the phone in my back pocket, recorded my footsteps and told me I'd exceeded my "desired active minutes" for the day.  According to Mr. Android, I took 6,157-steps in 63-minutes. felt like I walked four or five miles and was there three hours.

Most of the time (and steps) today, came from getting from the parking place into the center and finding my way back to the car once the shopping was complete.  I sure hope Michele likes my choices.

I did manage to snap a few photos for your consideration:

Don't laugh, but this photo was to remind me where I parked!  Each level had a huge number, as well as a symbol.  I have no idea why the symbols are there, since every column on this level was exactly the same.  Wait!  I do have an idea...Perhaps it's for shoppers who have a difficult time remembering numbers.  In a way, it is easier to think of being parked on the moon level, rather than level-5.  Level -4, by the way, had a sun symbol.

The view crossing from the parking garage to the mall.  It is free parking, by the way, and they must have about 75,000-stalls!

Like the sign says, this is the Centerstage.  The young girl was performing Christmas carols and had a very nice voice.  If she can handle this crowd, she'll be a star someday!  Hula dancers also entertain crowds, too.  No surprise about that.

The sky and trees make this open-air shopping center pretty nice.

Though I was shopping for Michele, I had to go into this golf shop.  It had an incredible amount of stuff for golfers, especially those with large amounts of disposable income.  Despite an attraction to bright colors, you'd never see me in this ensemble on the links.

And how about some shoes to go with that new outfit?  I should have taken a look at the price tag, but I have a feeling they're very expensive.

This is the last golf shoe photo.  How patriotic can you get!

Bloomingdales is one of the new stores in the Eva Addition and I did stroll through it.  Never made it to their New York store.

Some of the oversize decorations, and palm trees!

Mannequins have come a long way!

Have a fun and safe time on your holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dinner At Ichiriki Nabe, Don Vito Poocherelli And The Portrait

I'm recycling a photo of our Doberman Pinscher when he was a puppy.  We got him after our home in Arlington, Texas, was broken into a few days before Christmas in 1988.  Vito was Michele's very first dog and we thought a pet would be more fun than an electronic burglar alarm.  He was purebred, so his registration papers required three names.  Always thinking of Italy, we suspected he might turn out to be pretty tough, not unlike Don Vito Corleone of "The Godfather".  That, of course, led us to the tongue-in-cheek, "Don Vito Poocherelli".

Also included in this post are some photos from our dinner last night with Richard and Annette Chang, at Ichiriki nabe restaurant and of course, the latest on the self-portrait.

I asked Michele how this photo came to be.  She didn't remember exactly, but suggested that perhaps I'd just returned from a run.  As for Vito, he'd probably been playing and decided it was time for a nap on a warm bed. :)  If this doesn't qualify as a "feel good" image, I don't know what does.

Golfing buddy Richard Chang and wife Annette invited us to join them at Ichiriki Nabe Restaurant  for dinner Tuesday evening and what a treat it was.  "Nabe" means hot pot in Japanese and that's the specialty at Ichiriki.  We've seen it at other restaurants, but this was our first time to enjoy it.  Notice how the broth pot is divided.  It enables each person to select their own style of broth, as well as, cook their food as they like.  This clever approach completely eliminates squabbling between couples, siblings or friends trying to decide who will give-in on the broth and other items.  They should probably mount a scoreboard on a wall, with a running tally of "Relationships Saved to date".     
Basically, you choose the type of broth you want, then vegetables and finally, meats and/or seafood.  The broth shows up first, placed on a table top burner and brought to a boil.  Your vegetable choices arrive next, beautifully arranged in a large bowl, seen above.  Top left in the photo is one of the two dipping sauces which accompany the meal.

Lastly, the meat and seafood are presented.  So, the broth is boiling and you place the vegetables in the pot, cooking them as long as desired.  Whenever you're ready, you cook the meat and seafood choices in the broth.  Our meat choice was fabulous and famous Kobe beef, thinly-sliced.  A quick swish in the bubbling liquid and it was done and truly delicious.  Another name for this type of hot pot, or nabe dining is "shabu-shabu", which translates into "swish-swish", for the action and sound of moving the food in the broth.  Please click on the link if you think I'm capable of making this stuff up. :)

Here, you're seeing Mr. Richard Chang, Master of both golf and nabe dining, show us how it's done.  He uses a similar technique with equal skill to fish golf balls out of course ponds! :)  Two dipping sauces are given to each diner to further enhance the flavor of the food.  But wait!  We're not done yet!  The meal also features a heaping bowl of steamed white rice!  And you're STILL not finished!  When all the veggies and meats are gone, you get a choice of ramen or udon noodles to place into your soup bowl and add the last of the wonderful broth.  If you have any room for dessert after all of this...well...don't even think about it.

What a wonderful introduction to this ancient and delightful dining style.  You get up-close and personal with your food choices, enjoy them as raw, or as cooked as you like, and are completely stuffed when finished.  I couldn't help but wonder if Italians learned of this multiple-course dining regimen from Marco Polo, who historians now theorize might've taken a side trip to Japan!  Being Italian, however, they had to create their own take on it, deciding to serve the noodles as the first course, not the last.  Who knew?!

Still haven't done much on the lower third of this, but I'm working my way there.  Most of the recent effort has been on getting the reflected light under the jaw and on the neck correct.  Still not quite there, but closing in on it.

A close-up of the area in question.  Getting the values and transitions right is like juggling chain saws...a very delicate operation.  The color palette seems to be working its way to orange-violet, almost on its own.  The last two days, the brush of choice has been my "pinkie" finger tip.

That's it for today shoppers.  And speaking of (or tomorrow) is Christmas gift shopping day for me.  This year I'm determined to get an early start. :)  In recent years, I could be found wandering around Ala Moana Center on Christmas Eve with a dazed look on my face, waiting for a bolt of inspiration to hit me.  Luckily for Michele, the place has so-o many stores selling everything imaginable, it wasn't that difficult to find the perfect gifts.  It was already the planet's largest open-air shopping mall, but now, they've almost finished a 650,000-square foot addition called, the Eva Wing Expansion.  I'm glad I'm in good shape, because walking through this place may take at least ten-thousand steps.  The irony is, neither of us give much of a hoot about gifts.  Oh, well. :))

Have a Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it, and to everyone else, Happy Holidays and All the Best in the New Year!