It’s Taco Tuesday!

Happy Taco Tuesday, everyone!

Today I am sharing pictures of chorizo tacos that Cobalt and I made last week. Yum. It’s beef chorizo too, which makes me happy because I generally don’t eat pork.

Anyway, let’s talk about about tacos. I love them. I think they might be one of my favorite foods. They’re so versatile! You can pretty much put whatever you want in there. Add some form of protein + tomatoes, onions, and avocados and you are good to go.

For these tacos, we also added green chile because it’s green chile season in New Mexico right now. Apparently there are enough New Mexicans in this part of Washington to ensure that we get our own stash of green chile up here too.

These tacos also feature Cherokee purple tomatoes from our local farmer’s market. Yummmm…

I also picked out tiny corn tortillas. I liked the idea of having miniature chorizo tacos that fit snugly into your hand. I always overstuff my tacos (as you can see here) so they weren’t really bite-sized. Maybe more along the lines of three-bite sized. But still, they were fun to eat. And I was pretty full after this plate.

Let’s add some cheese to these guys…

Thank you Cobalt for being the cheese shaker. I was pretty hangry by the time I was taking the cheese pictures so it probably wasn’t easy to help me…

Speaking of green chile, this weekend we bought a box of freshly roasted chiles and brought them home to peel and freeze. We’re set for the year now… or at least for the next few months.

That’s all for today. Short and sweet. I couldn’t write any more because I got hungry looking at my pictures. Your turn now: what is your favorite taco ingredient? Or if you have a taco speciality, what is it? Let’s talk about food!

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No Learjet required

Well you guys know about my obsession with taking moon pics. I think I’ve eclipsed myself now with this pic of the moon jumping in front of the sun!

So who watched the eclipse yesterday? Who got to see totality? Does anyone feel slightly more blind today? I hope not. :(

My sister, Deoxyribolove, came into town for the event and then we drove down into Oregon to get the totality part. The 97% we were supposed to get in Washington just wasn’t enough.

After spending the weekend frolicking around Boise, we set up camp on an old golf course in Ontario, Oregon, which was in the zone of totality. I spent the evening collecting golf balls and photographing Deoxyribolove doing poi with glow sticks.

Some of the golf balls I found had had a rough few years since the golf course closed.
So many colors…
I like this one because you can see her moving around while she makes crazy circles.

It was a great evening for camping, minus the mosquitos. We headed to bed early to hide from those little suckers. But we had great views of the Big Dipper from our tent and a nice breeze keeping us cool all night.

In the morning, we had coffee and oatmeal and then set about preparing the campsite for the eclipse. Cobalt and I had bought a pack of eclipse glasses from an American-Astronomical-Society-approved site a while ago so those came out. We also brought a colander for playing with the eclipse light and a variety of recording devices: my Zoom audio recorder for recording us reacting to the eclipse, our GoPro for a video of the same thing, and my DSLR + an old 70-200 mm lens (+ 2x multiplier) that I acquired from my grandpa. Pretty sure it was not built for a digital camera. I am so happy that I got everything to play nicely with my camera.

SAFETY NOTE: I did NOT have the correct filter for my DSLR so it only got to photograph the sun during totality (see pic above). The rest of the time, I just used my 50 mm lens to play with the sunlight.

There were so many things to play with! Of course the colander made crazy shapes on the tent wall. But so did my hat, my hair, leaves on the trees around us, and even the crooks of our elbows!

In case you were wondering, this is not how you use a colander to look at the eclipse. I just thought this would be a fun way to document our playing around with light. Luckily Deoxyribolove was willing to be my model. 
Eclipsing sisters. There’s the sun through our bent arms. Deoxyribolove had all these sweet suns going through her long hair too!
Some pictures were an all-hands-on-deck kinda deal. Here Deoxyribolove is making the cute sun shadow while Cobalt holds a piece of paper up to the tent. I was photographing and rapidly changing camera settings and focus to get that little sun as crisp as possible.
Whoa. Leaves make sun shapes on sister, Cobalt shoulders, and paper.

And then it started to get very dark. It was weird at first. Kind of orange and red-tinted. And then it got darker, and darker, and darker! And then the golf course lights came on and then we got that perfect ring up there. We only got 1 minute and 26 seconds of totality so I told myself I had one chance to take a picture with my crazy camera set up. I wanted to make sure I spent some time just experiencing the eclipse.

So as we got closer to the ring phase, I turned on the GoPro and the Zoom recorder so they could happily record the event while we forgot they were recording us. Then I set up my camera on the tripod and aimed it sort of in the direction of the sun (can’t look through the lens at the non fully eclipsed sun). And then as soon as we hit the ring, I sprang into action: pointed camera at sun, focused lens (definitely no autofocus on this lens), snapped photo, and hoped that the exposure time was right. It looked awesome! I snapped a few more with different exposure settings even though I wasn’t supposed to and then I stopped and watched the rest of totality with Cobalt and my sister. We may have taken some selfies…

So cool! Of course there are a million other things I wish I had done and looked at or noticed. A minute is so short and even though I told myself I only got one try with the camera, I was thinking about photography a little more than I wanted to be, especially when I was trying to just be in that one moment.

For the record, the GoPro did a pretty good job of capturing the rapidly darkening sky all around us and the Zoom audio recorder recorded us (and all the other people at the golf course) freaking out. I think the big lesson here is that we’ll have to go see another total solar eclipse sometime. Maybe next time it will be longer. And maybe I’ll leave the fancy lenses at home. We’ll see…

I hope you had fun with whatever eclipse viewing you did too! We certainly did. 5 stars, would watch a total solar eclipse again. :)

Thank you orange shirt guy who offered to take this picture of us. I’m sorry, I have no idea what he looks like because I had my eclipse glasses on the whole time. I could only see his orange shirt out of the bottom of the glasses.

PS: Points if you knew where my title came from. I had the line from “You’re so vain” stuck in my head the whole time…

Meteors and other camping phenomena

Hello everyone! How are you? Cobalt and I went camping last weekend! On Saturday afternoon, we and our friends M and E (and their dog Bear) and K (and her dog Josie) piled into two cars with tons of camping supplies and hit the road to go camping in Umatilla National Forest!

So I like car camping because you don’t have to carry all of your stuff on your back and you have plenty of room for all the fun camera supplies you want. I had an extra bag full of a tripod, a variety of lenses, and my trusty DSLR because I was hoping to photograph the Perseid meteor shower.

While I gave myself a crazy photo challenge of trying to catch meteors streaking across a random spot in the sky, I think that camping offers a fun environment to try night time photography. It’s usually way darker out there since one point of camping is to get away from the city. And wow you can see so many stars (unless the moon is out…)! Plus it’s just fun to play with light when it’s dark. So I thought I’d talk a little about that, show off some crazy night sky pictures, and then we’ll top it all off with some fun hike pictures from the next day. Sound good?

Great. Let’s get started. So for those of you have followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that Cobalt and I love taking weird photos at night. There are some creepy ones like this one of him sneaking up on me. There’s a romantic one of us with the Big Dipper. Plus there are some weird ones like this one with the moon making weird patterns in the sky.

The thing I like about night time photography is that you have to be creative about what kind of light your camera sees. So sometimes I use the flash followed by ambient light. Sometimes I use just ambient light. And sometimes I use ambient light to convey motion. That is the most fun.

Check out my crazy star pictures from this weekend. Both of them have a pretty long exposure — I left the shutter open for a long time to try to capture a meteor in action. Look at how the stars are swirling around. Cooool.

Holy light streaks, Batman! Also maybe that’s a meteor in the top right hand corner? I played around a little with the settings in Lightroom here but maybe it’s too black and white? Check out the next photo for comparison.
We started the picture and then walked away for ~10 minutes while we got ready for bed. The stars moved sooooo much! Also maybe I caught two meteors on the right? It’s hard to tell. :-/

I ended up getting pretty frustrated with this whole process because the remote control I usually use with my camera to start and stop loooooong exposures was on the fritz. I think it needs a new battery. Also we kept seeing AMAZING meteors in the opposite direction from where my camera was pointing. Oh well… that is life. Plus, it’s important to remember to actually experience life too. Not just stare at it through a camera lens.

P.S. Do you see all those weird specks of light all over my pictures? Pretty sure it was still smokier than we thought out there. :p

While the night sky was perfect for star watching, we woke up Sunday morning to rain. Not big fat drops but just enough to make for a wet, cold morning. After hot oatmeal and coffee, five damp humans — and two soggy pups — shuffled up the trail for a 5 mile hike. I decided to leave the DSLR in the car though because I didn’t want to get it wet. So the iPhone got to take pictures instead.

Check out this fun panorama with Cobalt and M. I think they need to start making music together because it looks like an album cover to me. What do you think? Something indie, most likely.

I think their band would be called “Elk Snacks.” Thoughts?

If I had brought my DSLR, I think I would have liked to do some jumping pictures like I have in this blog post about the Maroon Bells. Those are always fun to do but they require some playing around with settings that makes them best suited for a DSLR instead.

I like to test the limits of my iPhone camera anyway though so here is my attempt to photograph this wet bee that was clinging to a flower. I got the camera close enough to the bee that you can make out her spiky fur while the background is a blur.

Fuzzy…..

Finally, I got one of my favorite hiking photos: Cobalt with the trail in front of him. I take this type of photo a lot. I like it because it shows off some scenery but then Cobalt’s there to put it all in perspective and make it interesting. Plus he’s always so determined on hikes. Here he’s wearing my amazing shark backpack. Also, isn’t this trail gorgeous? We’ve really been missing our trees over here.

That’s all for now. Who’s excited about the eclipse in LESS THAN A WEEK!?!?! What percentage totality is it where you live?

Even the moon is red

Hi guys. Potassium here. We’re going to take a break from the gorgeous food photos and take a peek at (Potassium’s favorite photography subject) the moon!

So we are getting a lot of smoke in here in Washington right now. There are a bunch of major wildfires burning in British Columbia, Canada. And because of the way the winds are blowing, all their smoke is coming here. If you are interested, here is a super helpful infographic from the Seattle Times that explains all the wind craziness.

Plus we have had an epic heatwave (in the 100s on this side of the state and in the 90s to the west). So basically, we now know how it feels to be a smoked ham (or cheddar, if you prefer cheese to ham like I do).

Annnnnyway, all the smoke in the air has made for some eerie days.

It seriously looks like a post-apocalyptic world out there. Who’s read The Road? Am I right?

But then when the moon comes up, it’s such a shocking shade of orange. Practicing for Halloween are we? I played around with settings on my DSLR to take a range of pumpkin-colored moon pictures, like the one featured at the top of this post.

Speaking of celestial objects, who’s getting excited about the eclipse? What percentage of totality will you have in your city? Is anyone driving anywhere?

That’s all for now. If you’re living in a smoke-covered zone, try not to go outside too much!

Inspired by food

Helloooo everyone! Long time no talk. We have a bunch to catch up on but today I want to talk about food.

So last week my friend Jem and I met up in Minneapolis to attend a food photography workshop by Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. I’d been following Lindsay for a while and I secretly wanted to attend one of her workshops but I never had the time. This time though, Jem and I jumped on an opportunity to go as “buddies” where we shared a table and set up. We were both pretty nervous since we are trained scientists/science communicators and not professional food bloggers (yet…). But it turned out to be so much fun. Now I am feeling inspired to work on my photography skills again, which is awesome because that’s why I made this blog all those years ago.

Come on, Potassium, enough chatter. Let’s talk about food:

First up: All the food was real. We ate almost everything after we photographed it and it was all delicious. Yum.

Now onto learning how to photograph food! So in addition to Jem and me, there were 11 other women at the workshop. Lindsay organized the workshop into 4 sessions over two days. The first session was a quick how-to lesson for DSLRs and then we got to practice shooting fresh fruits and veggies. Yum. Jem and I chose some radishes and I quickly became obsessed with their tangly roots.

This one made it to Twitter and Instagram but I like it so I’m posting it here too. So red…

In the second session, we learned about lighting. I think this session was super helpful for me because I never really think about lighting and camera angles when I’m shooting, other than “OK. The sun making weird shadows on my subject. I should maybe move.” Or “Crap, I’m photographing people in a lab and there’s absolutely no natural lighting going on here…. uhhh…” After this session, we practiced with tasty cobbler and melty ice cream. Then after our practice, we got to eat our creations. :D

The next day, we practiced our lighting skills again with some tasty breakfast (which also subsequently got eaten). My breakfast is featured at the top of this post.

After breakfast, we started our next session: composition. I loved this session because I think I learned something about myself here: There is no one “perfect” way to compose a photograph. It’s an entirely creative process. You pick what works best for your personal style and the message you want to send or story you want to tell. It may seem simple and/or kind of duh but it was magic for me. I feel like I get frustrated with photography and other creative endeavors (writing, etc.) because my stuff doesn’t match whatever weird standard I think it should match. But now I think that it doesn’t have to. The only thing that matters is that it looks the way I want it to and that it matches me, my personality, and my message (which is usually one of making things accessible in case you haven’t figured that out). MIND. BLOWN.

Anyway, as I was processing that new information, we got to practice our composition with pancakes and a billion possible toppings. Jem and I were really interested in getting motion into our pictures: showing syrup running down the side of the stack or toasted coconut flakes snowing down from above. It was definitely more challenging than we thought it would be but that’s okay. There’s plenty of time to practice. :)

Go syrup, go! Some of you may have seen this on Facebook or Instagram but it wanted to make an appearance on the blog as well.

The final session was to introduce us to Adobe Lightroom, which is one of the Adobe products I hadn’t played with yet. Omg. It is endlessly fun. It’s a different way of thinking about photos compared to Photoshop and it seems equally as powerful as Photoshop (but in different ways). Time for tons of photo playing.

So besides my mind-blowing revelation in the workshop, there were a few other things that stuck out to me that I’d like to mention here. At the beginning, Lindsay asked each of us to write down a few objectives for what we wanted to get out of the workshop. Then she checked in with us periodically to make sure we were hitting our objectives. This activity ensured that everyone had a personalized experience. Also, each session was taught with a small lecture, a demo, and then practice time so that everyone could have a chance to learn however she learned best. Finally, there were so many props for food staging and toppings to try. It was a great safe haven to let your creativity fly! I came home loving my DSLR again and ready to try to take more food pictures on my own.

Below is my first attempt: a matcha green tea latte in a mug that we got for our wedding (they were a set: this one is the Potassium mug and then we also have a blue Cobalt mug <3). I’ve been obsessed with learning how to make my own matcha lattes for the past few months and then this one was so pretty in the Potassium mug. I wanted to show it off. Enjoy!

Mmmm… matcha…

Whew. That concludes Potassium’s epic food photography workshop recap. Stay tuned. More photos coming your way soon (potentially even more food photos).

Now it’s your turn: what is something you have done recently that made you feel inspired and excited? Or what is something you’d like to do? Also it’s summer! Is it hot where you are? We’ve been melting in 100 degree weather up here in… Washington (state)? Yeah… we have a lot to catch up on, don’t we? Until next time!

A lunar grin

Hi team! How’s it going on this lovely first Friday of March? I’ve been super busy as usual with this program. Some of my recent activities include: eating peanut M&M’s on the air for my internship, photographing a science rally for Science, and combatting a vicious cold! Now we only have two weeks left in this quarter and everything is going nuts (like my M&M’s!). All four of our huge assignments this quarter are due back to back to back to back and then back to back to back to back again with revisions. Yikes!

But even with all of this craziness going on, I couldn’t help noticing the moon these past few nights. In case you were wondering, yes I’m still obsessed with the moon. Two nights ago, I caught it chilling with Venus when Cobalt and I went to run some errands. Then last night, I saw it grinning through our back door as I was getting ready for bed. “Oh I see what you’re doing there, moon,” I told it. Then I ran to get my camera. But by the time I came back, the moon was already hiding behind one of the apartment buildings in our complex. “Don’t think you’ve won,” I told its faint glow, all I could see from behind the building. “We’ll meet again tomorrow night…” So tonight I sat on the couch scritching a sleepy Tarantula and doing homework, just waiting for the sun to go down. Finally the moon appeared, smile and all. A HA! Caught ya, moon!

Bee my valentine?

Hi friends!

I don’t have much time to chat today but I wanted to leave you with this fat bee! Last weekend was the first time we’d seen the sun in a while (Holy rain/flooding, Batman!) and Cobalt and I took full advantage of it by going to Carmel-by-the-sea with our friend Mercury and our other friend C! We did this epic hike at Point Lobos to explore the beautiful forest and beaches near Carmel. The trails were very muddy (more like small creeks instead of trails) but it was all worth it for beautiful views of the coast. I found a bunch of fun anemones and crabs hanging out in tide pools too! But today’s picture is a cute bee that I found on the trail. These huge bees were hanging out with some bright yellow flowers, bending them every which way when the fat bees landed. I was amused and had to stop to do a quick photoshoot of bee/flower interaction.

Enjoy!

Ahhhh how has it been two months again?! Oh I know… first the holidays happened and then school started up again! AHHHHHH! This quarter is equally as crazy as the first in some ways but also quite different in others. We only have two classes instead of four and we’re writing a few really long pieces instead of a bunch of tiny ones so the pace is quite different. One really fun part of this quarter is that I am working for Big Picture Science, which is a fun sciencey podcast based out of the SETI institute. You should check it out if you are interested!

Back to homework for me…….. :(