Sunday, May 27, 2012

deep-fried at the Ritz-Carlton...and tapas in Tucson

No shortage of food-blogs out there...and smart-phone-photography is making it easier than ever to post food-photos...So, a couple of snapseeded restaurant-shots from around Tucson recently:

No matter how posh, there's always a place for something deep-fried to go with cocktails, eh?

Tucked into its own private canyon on the far northwestern edge of Tucson, the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain resort is the epitome of understated desert chic... Each February, world champion golfers come to the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains to compete in the Accenture Match PlayChampionship, the spa has recently been ranked one of the best in the world, and it's been open for two and a half years now...So, curious, and since we live less than an hour's drive away, S. and I thought we'd spend an afternoon here...

...and on the patio of "Ignite" (the lobby lounge/café), we noshed on "Avocado FRIES!" With a three-chili aioli and an "Arizona Greyhound," (grapefruit and vodka), cactus wrens and cardinals darting about the blooming saguaros, the fried avocado wedges were an unexpected accompaniment to relaxing in the shade...

And now for a tapa: 
"Casa Vicente" is an institution in this desert city--Tucson's outpost for tapas a la española. Just south of the downtown core, this restaurant also features live music on different weeknights: classical guitar, flamenco, even tango lessons. This particular evening we tried "chipirones rellenos," a trio of baby calamari, skewered and stuffed with green tomatoes and spices. In a town more known for its tacos and burros (a.k.a. 'burritos' elsewhere), it's appropriate, if somewhat uncommon, to find Iberian fare--Tucson was founded in 1775 as an outpost of the Spanish empire, decades before it became Mexican, and then in the mid-19th century, finally part of a U.S. territory...And, by the way, the sangría here rocks. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

tea and gelato

A couple of scenes from earlier this evening here in Tucson:

First--some of the teas in "Seven Cups," recently named by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the best places in the U.S. to get authentic Chinese tea...

...and then some gelato, from a few blocks away at "Allegro Gelato,"
where the flavors literally rotate:

C'mon--isn't this the coolest frozen dessert display you've ever seen? Ahh, Italian style...And yep, that's an avocado you see front-and-center. Some other unexpected flavors--anise, lavender, saffron...

(Both of these photos were taken and edited completely on the iPhone, using the iPhone version of snapseed--tilt-shift and vignette filters, along with some 'ambiance'-tweaking for the bottom photo, using the 'tune image' filter.')

Thursday, May 17, 2012

two-fingered end-of-the-school-year fun...astronomers in L.A....a Uruguayan's tower


A student of mine was having finger-art fun--and I just had to take a couple of photos.
The left might just elicit a 'huh?'...but cross those fingers, and drama ensues...
(Gracias, David!)
Just another week with kids-in-the-classroom...

Now, a scene that's been 'stuck' in my iPhone for about a year and a half:
(drama-filter and center-focus vignette)

In the hills above Los Angeles, near the Hollywood sign, Kepler, Galileo and Copernicus look out over the city of 'stars'...Dominating the lawn in front of Griffith Observatory, this Astronomers Monument dates from the 1930's; the Depression-era Public Works of Art Projects gave work to artists and beautified public spaces. (Nearby is another piece of statuary: a bust of James Dean--the "Rebel Without a Cause" monument, commemorating the film in which Griffith Observatory played a large role.) There's no better place in L.A. from which to see the city lights at night...or to look up at real stars through the free public telescopes in the observatory itself.

And a bit of architectural contrast from Seoul:

One of the most distinctive buildings in central Seoul is the 33-story Jongno Tower, a triangular glass and steel tower topped with an oval floating above seven stories of emptiness.

Across the street is the traditionally reconstructed "Bo-shin-gahk" belfry, housing a large bronze bell. During the Joseon dynasty, the bell would be rung 33 times every morning, (symbolizing the 33 heavens of Buddhism), to open the city's gates. At dusk, the bell would be rung 28 times (linked to the locations of constellations) to signal the shutting of the city's gates.The original bell is now in the National Museum, but a reproduction still hangs here, and every December 31st, it's struck 33 times to ring in the New Year.

Here's the original iPhone shot--the colorful underside of the Bell Pavilion's roof was in almost total darkness. Using the selective control point, I was able to bring out the colorfully painted eaves...

(More about the architect--Uruguayan Rafael Viñoly--and his design:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

featured: architecture in Los Angeles...and saguaro blooms

This week, a snapseeded photo ('transplanted') featured on the homepage:   

(always a thrill to be published!)
--and here's the highlight:

I took the photo a few years ago, pre-iPhone,
and then the other evening, going back through some things,
I thought this scene would benefit from just a bit of tweaking--
just a little of bit of vignette to soften the edges
and pull the eyes even more toward the sky in the middle...
So--a 'transplanted' snapseed,
taken with a Canon, then edited with snapseed...


This morning, after I finished my Sabino Canyon run,
I grabbed my iPhone out of the car
and went back to take a few photos--
this year, a few weeks earlier than usual,
the saguaros are already blooming:

The cacti can be decades old before they start blooming,
and each hand-sized bloom stays 'fresh' for only a day;
bats and doves love to pollinate them...
The blooms are often hard to photograph since they're usually on the arm-tops,
but occasionally, you get a low-reaching limb:


(tilt-shift and center-focus filters used on all of the saguaro photos above)

Saguaros aren't the only cacti blooming;
cholla flowers are coming out too...
(no filters used here--just cropped)

Summer's almost here...and the thermometer is climbing...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Inca vs. Spaniard: "macro"-snapseeded chess set

Years ago, I got this while traveling in Latin America--
a Peruvian Inca vs. Spaniard chess-set:
Recently, I thought I'd play around with the almost-macro possibility of the iPhone camera, and this chess set seemed to lend itself to close-ups. For inexpensive folk-art, I like the detail of these little ceramic gamepieces.

While there are special clip-on macro-lenses available for the iPhone, (such as from, I don't have any such 'adaptor;' just using the iPhone itself, you can get remarkably close and still stay in focus:
above: using the tilt-shift filter and then the grunge filter...
below: using the tilt-shift and grunge filters again, but changing the texture
and texture-strength:

below--drama and tilt-shift filters:

...and finally,a heavy blur with the tilt-shift filter, to focus on the faces of the Inca Queen and  King; I don't know if the facial consternation was intended by whomever hand-painted these little pieces, but it seems historically appropriate: