September 28, 2011

Alcatraz (The Rock)

Copyright May Rogers 2011.
All rights reserved.
Photos shot using Sony DSLR

Find MM.Rogers Photography on Twitter.

Alcatraz (from the word alcatraces or seabirds) is an island in San Francisco Bay popularly known from early 1930s as one of the world's high-tech penitentiary that housed some of the most famous inmates in the United States. Presently, 'The Rock' serves as a tourist hot spot bringing more than a million tourists and travelers to the island every year.

The self-guided tour took more than 2 hours with audio tour available within the main cells, stories told by former inmates and officers of Alcatraz.

The day in San Francisco was very foggy, cold and windy. Not the very best time to take photos. Most of the photos I took are blurry and dark and without the proper protection gear, my lens was constantly exposed to moisture.

Although many boats can take you to the Alcatraz island for $15, only Alcatraz Cruises is allowed to make stop at Alcatraz. There are early bird, day and night tours for $26 per person. Board the nice white vessel at Pier 33 at Bay Street. They also offer to souvenir photos for $22 (2 pcs 5x7).
The 1910 Social Hall. Destroyed by fire in 1970, it served as what it was - a social hall - to many employees, prison officers and their families living on the island.
First Winter Western Gull. The basic I stage of Western Gull of the Pacific Coast. These birds are cute, they do not shy away from where people are in the hopes of finding food. According to, the First Winter (Basic I) is like juvenal plumage, but head, throat, and breast lighter and more streaked. Bill black with pale base, eyes dark brown.
The cells along 'Broadway'

Taken from the control room using a telephoto lens on a foggy day

Inside the main cell house with audio tours
Photo tip: Wide lens will do wonders inside the cell house, use telephoto lens outside
Chambray Alcatraz Prison Uniform

Michigan Avenue is a cell block just like "Broadway" where some of the racial minority inmates lived.
The garden cared by volunteers
The Alcatraz Lighthouse was the first on the Pacific Coast and has been in operation since 1854.

September 25, 2011

Road Trip!

Copyright May Rogers 2011.
All rights reserved.
Photos shot using Sony DSLR

Find MM.Rogers Photography on Twitter.

Down in San Simeon, families found it best to travel by RV trucks. Passing by curvy roads and unrailed cliffs of Big Sur leading to San Simeon, it seems awfully unsafe and poses a threat to other vehicles. But RVs are perfectly convenient for campers and road adventurers.


September 23, 2011

Orange Lily (The Power of Careful Selection)

by Travis North / Shutter Photo Magazine

Orange Lily by May Rogers

As a photographer, our job is to capture subjects and present them in ways that our viewers are not accustomed to.  When it comes to shooting common subjects – such as flowers, people or otherwise – it can be difficult to present them in a way that is uncommon.  In these cases, what could matter more than what we present is what doesn’t make it into the photograph.  May Rogers, a fashion writer and designer from Honolulu, understands this concept well as demonstrated in her photograph, Orange Lily.

May has presented us with a fairly common and beautiful flower, a Lily.  Lilies come in a great number of colors, but the general shape is pretty recognizable to most of us.  That’s not to say that a typical photograph of a Lily is not going to be beautiful.  But in admiring such a typical photo, we would be admiring the flower, not the photograph (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  For a photo to be noticed as a photograph, one needs to do something more eye catching.  As May has done, one could get selective with what is shown.  You could also get really creative with the lighting.  May has chosen to do both.  She has cropped the shot really tight and she has used selective and dramatic lighting to control your focus.

From a framing perspective, May’s choice of crop is a little safe.  It’s not so tight as to take a big risk.  Alone, such a crop would not have been so eye catching.  It’s a personal preference, but I would have liked to see more of a walk on the edge.  I would have liked to have seen a really tight crop – cutting off as much as 2/3rds of the shot.  But again, that’s only a preference.  I don’t feel May’s choice of crop has hurt the photo in any way, and it certainly isn’t turning anyone away.  Either way, the crop is not typical, and it will catch some eyes.

What really makes the shot for me is the way in which May illuminated the flower.  The lighting is soft and focused, and it accentuates the color gradient of the flower.  As the stamen (the pollen tips) of this particular flower are incredibly dark in color, the lighting illuminates the pale color of the petals but doesn’t pull out the stamen.  The result is that the stamen are silhouetted against a warm background as they dance around the stigma (the single projection at the center of the flower).  The tiny dark spots around the inner portion of each petal – again accentuated by the lighting – serves well to mimic the feel of the stamen.  May’s use of light really does wonders to really separate this photograph from other flower shots.

May Rogers has only been on Flickr for about two months now.  While this would certainly be enough time for some users to rack up quite a photostream, May has flexed her strength of selection in what she has chosen to share the world.  This is admirable and, in my eyes, will separate her from other photographers moving forward.  You can of course find May’s Photostream on Flickr.

September 21, 2011

Allerton Garden (Kauai)

Copyright May Rogers 2011.
All rights reserved.
Photos shot using Sony DSLR

Find MM.Rogers Photography on Twitter.

Remember those giant trees in the movie Jurassic Park? Now popularly called "Jurassic Trees", they can be found on Kauai's National Tropical Botanical Garden - Allerton Garden. Without a doubt one of the most photographed attraction on Kauai, they bring more and more tourists to the garden everyday to complete a very interesting 2-hour botanical garden tour.

Experience Allerton Garden tour for yourself. To visit, call (808) 7422623. Reservation is required for the tour. Cost per person: $45 adult; $20 children 10 years and above. Kamaaina (Kauai residents) rates are also offered with free entrance on Sundays.

READ! Wear comfy shoes and long-sleeved shirts and pants for your protection against mosquitoes. Don't forget to carry insect repellant with you at all times when touring around Kauai.

See Kauai and NTBG's most distinct plant collections through my Sony camera. 

Note: I researched the taxonomy and species the best I could. For more information on these plants, go to NTBG website.

Moreton Bay Fig Trees are well-known on Kauai as Jurassic Trees. They can grow to 50 meters with roots as tall as 6 feet. This tree produces sweet figs up to 2.5 cm in diameter.

 This is 5'6 tall me.
Cacao trees grow to about 12-15 feet high, beans are mainly used as food by drying them out in the sun and then processed to become our most-loved heavenly chocolates.
Pachypodium Lamerei or Bontaka is a very interesting cactus-like tree from Madagascar. It has thick trunks and scary spikes all over that can grow leaves and white flowers . Our guide also warned us that this is poisonous.  

Indian Mulberry or Noni is a shrub less than 10 feet high used for medicinal purposes such as treating sores, infections, cuts, sore throats and toothaches. Read more here.
Red Ginger (also called Eileen MacDonald) is a very attractive plant with large leaves and oblong petals very common in Hawaii used mostly as decorative or ornamental. They can grow very long and surprise you in a place like this (see below).

Our guide called this lily on a tree (almost resembles a Jamaican Poinsettia). It's a tall shrub with green, long pointy leaves and orange flowers. I couldn't find its taxonomy so feel free to comment and give information on this beautiful plant.

Ever-blooming Ixora is a common tropical plant, a native of Asia, this species bloom in colors red, pink, yellow, white and orange. It grows ball-shaped flower clusters with sweet nectar that bees love.

A pond statue from Pompeii from the owners' travel souvenirs collection
Autograph Tree. I autographed it with our funny name.

*All photos are property of MM.Rogers.
Please enjoy them but do not copy.

Shootout Challenge: Crawlers

I'm self-learning how to shoot buzzing insects. How hard it is! Especially using a telephoto lens. My hand shakes, my subject moves fast, I don't even wanna start on the lack of lighting. Another big factor that could affect shooting an insect - my fear of anything that creeps, crawl, buzz and fly.

Find MM.Rogers Photography on Twitter.

BEE photo by MM.Rogers
Locust on my trash bag
Snail crawling up our mailbox

September 20, 2011

Iconic San Francisco Sights

Copyright May Rogers 2011.
All rights reserved.
Photos shot using Sony DSLR

Find MM.Rogers Photography on Twitter.

The overwhelming San Francisco is bigger than the biggest I imagined it to be. My first time to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, I couldn't take a good photo- my excitement prevented me to- and left me wishing we were driving a convertible instead. San Francisco is located on the West Coast of USA, the fourth most populous city in California. Cultures thrive, people and taxes grow and it remains one of the best tourist destinations in the world.

With so many photos to shoot and share, I selected the 8 most photographed iconic San Francisco sights.

1. Golden Gate Bridge (view from Fort Point). To get the best feel of the bridge, people cross it by bicycle or even on foot. It's a long walk but you get to photograph the sights down below and marvel on how red-orange the bridge is. The best view of Golden Gate is from Marin Highlands.

2. Ferry Building Marketplace (view from Bay Bridge). It is the center of a transit hub that connects all of San Francisco's neighborhoods and the surrounding bay communities (read more here)
3. The Painted Ladies (Postcard Row). One of the most crowded tourist attractions in SF. The place is called Postcard Row with 7 pastel-colored Victorian houses located on Alamo Square. Photography tip: use a wide angle lens. I used my telephoto and I had to position myself to the side just to fit all of the 7 houses. But with this lens, I was able to answer my question "who lives there?" and took a shot of a cat sitting inside the living room in one of the houses.

"Girl and the City"

4. San Francisco Bay is of course one of the most photographed and well-loved scene in SF. The weather is often foggy and chilly which is very refreshing when you are in a crowd. The bay is for barges, tour boats, sailors and kite surfers. The best view is right by Fort Point (under the bridge).
5. Powell-Hyde Cable Cars. These electric-powered cars run from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf. The fee is $6.00, tickets are sold when you hop in.  
6. Union Square is the hottest shopping destination in San Francisco. With big malls such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Macys. This is where the cable cars go up and down, where the open-top tourists buses stop, where all the biggest designers are.
7. Transamerica Pyramid. This iconic building will follow you everywhere you go in the city. With its towering height of 853 feet high with 48 floors that make up the Pyramid Center, it remains the tallest building in Northern California and one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Read more here.
8. Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda is one of the most widely recognized masterpieces that Bernard Maybeck produced and originally constructed in 1915. This Roman-Greek inspired architecture now serves as tourist attraction and events rental (weddings, photo shoots etc).

Next: Allerton Garden

September 19, 2011

Anini (Kauai)

Copyright May Rogers 2011.
All rights reserved.
Photos shot using Sony DSLR

Find MM.Rogers Photography on Twitter.

Life on Kauai is a story to be told. All of it. No matter how short, how long. There was never a day with the same sunrise nor same sunset. And that to me is just unique. These color palettes are always worth documenting, worth the pictures, worth motivating myself to get up everyday at 5am.

One day I came across this blog by an old man of 70, a visitor on Kauai. He wrote the most heart-warming photo-blog about camping to see the sunrise in Anini Beach with his loving wife. He said this place in the most romantic in all of Kauai. And I couldn't agree more. But I didn't know about it until we decided to get up at 3am, made the trip from West to North Kauai which took us 40 minutes. We planned our "sunrise in Anini" trip for more than a year. The day came, and what do you know, typhoon came with it.

All photos below were taken on a very rainy day. Still, no good amount of rainfall is enough to conceal a real beauty.

Anini Beach at 5am. We sat and watched how the sun struggled to peek in through storm clouds and this is the result. See the lighthouse? That is Kilauea Lighthouse shining its light until today.

It mirrored a sunset beauty the minute rain clouds took over
Anini Beach is located on the North side of the island, popular for surfing and snorkeling. It has clear water, sightings of turtles' heads bobbing in and out of the water, great sunrise with a huge family park.  

 Campers at the park in tents or green bug-van. Take a pick.

Sea view along North side leaving Anini

Don't you just love this color?