Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Carving up the Glacier

While a volcano melts the glacier in Iceland, carvers are cutting up the Austrian glaciers on raceboards! Here’s Lowcarver this past weekend, riding his Virus snowboard at Hintertux…

Lowcarver at Hintertux

Below is a gallery of the best carving photos from Hintertux (and a couple of a friend who skis). I can’t wait for Carving Masters in just one week at Soelden! Hopefully I’ll get great shots and video of lots of carvers there.

For more on Hintertux, please see this earlier post with info of how to get there.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR lens, and a circular polarizing filter.

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Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 11:27 am.

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What is this Sauce of Death?

Blair’s Death Sauce is one of my favorite hot sauce brands. It’s got real flavor, despite being very hot (which hardly any chili sauce can achieve). The sauces range from warm (Sweet Death) to outrageous (Ultra Death – see YouTube clip) to the hottest food ever: pure capsaicin extract.

I plan to bring a bottle of Death Sauce with me on my round-the-world trip. Which kind should it be? Currently I’ve got these babies sitting around:

Death Sauce Collection 1

I was debating about Salsa de la Muerte (Spanish-speaking export version), After Death, or perhaps Stronger than Death. I don’t want to bring one so hot that no one can do more than taste a drop on a toothpick. Of course, if Blair could comp me a bottle of Golden Death (and could get it into Europe despite the volcano), I’d gladly share the newest member of the family with those I meet around the globe…

Hot Sauce lovers, Chiliheads, lend me your taste buds… which sauce do YOU think I should take around the world with me?

Death Sauce Collection 2

For those interested in how the photos were taken, see the setup below:

DSC_9232_sm

The first picture featured here was taken with a red gel on the off-camera strobe with the umbrella. The second was taken without gels. In both cases I used a “puffer” on the camera’s flash to soften the light.

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 3:44 pm.

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5 Most Critical Items in my Backpack

Alright, you could argue that underwear or a sleeping bag should be on this top 5 list for a round-the-world trip. But we’re not talking about the basics here (clothes, laptop, camera, toothbrush). We’re talking about packing the items that could easily be overlooked – those things that half the backpackers I meet are going to see and immediately wish they’d brought. So, what are they?

Dave's 5 Critical Items

1. Sleep aids

I’m not talking about pills; with 10 long-haul flights I’m definitely going to be tired enough. But I might want to sleep at odd times of day, or when some dude (or woman?) in the hostel bunkroom is doing his best impression of a Husqvarna. So the eye covers and earplugs are critical. Air France eye covers have long-lasting elastic. Silicone earplugs are comfy.

2. Lighting

Sure, a mini Maglite might be nice, but then I have to hold it. Why not get an efficient LED light that straps on my melon? Then I always have light wherever my head is pointed, which often coincides with where my eyes are pointed. The Petzl Zipka has a retracting string and multiple brightness settings.

3. Insect Repellant

I’ve heard that some of the places I’m going might have more insects than Munich (which has close to none). Think: Peruvian rainforest, the Hawaiian islands, and the jungles of Malaysia and Thailand. I’ll take 50% DEET lotion, please. Probably hard to find in Peru, but I can replenish it in Hawaii if I run low. Maybe I’ll be wishing for a mosquito net too, but let’s see.

4. Merino Wool Sweater

From my brief time testing out Smartwool & Icebreaker so far, this non-itchy, fast-drying, warm-when-wet material rocks. I think this sweater is going to be my favorite garment out of the 20 pieces of clothing I bring. Yeah, 20 sounds high, but that’s counting individual socks – hah!

5. 18-200mm Lens

Not everyone brings a D-SLR on their travels, but anyone interested in real sunset photos, action shots, and wide angles does. For my D90, I just substituted the Nikon 18-200mm VR for two other lenses (18-55 and 70-300), saving myself over a pound of weight. Plus I won’t have to switch lenses and get sand in my optics. And there’s only one place worse than your optics get sand… uhm, yeah.

What would you bring?

I want to make sure I’m not missing out on any critical items. What would the 5 (or 4, or 2) most important items in your pack be? If you’re out traveling now, tell me what you are most thankful you brought.

This list might change after the trip. Maybe my mini-umbrella doubles as a boat that keeps my camera above-water during the next Machu Picchu flood, or the 50’ clothesline saves my last Powerbar from being eaten by a bear in the wilderness. Perhaps I meet the Merino whose wool comprises my Icebreaker shirt, and I bring him home as a pet. So, I reserve the right to update this list in August when I’m back… stay tuned!

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 11:38 am.

20 comments

Surfing in landlocked downtown Munich!

Eisbach Surfing in Munich

For the surfers I met briefly today at the Eisbach in Munich: the gallery of my best photos is below, after the YouTube video. Val from Killians (hope I remembered your name right), I didn’t find any pics of you – but I can certainly meet up sometime and try to take a few! I live right near the Eisbach. Just leave a comment and I’ll email you.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D90 and the 18-200mm VR lens.

YouTube Preview Image

Go to YouTube to watch the video in HD!

Getting to the Eisbach Surfers’ Wave:

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Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 11:21 pm.

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What’s a gram worth?

As I get ready for my backpacking round-the-world trip, I’ve become very weight-conscious. Okay, backpack weight, not my weight… haha. One important piece of hardware for me is my D-SLR camera, a Nikon D90. Until now I’ve had two lenses: a lightweight 18-55 VR for everyday use, and a 70-300mm VR for zooming and sports.

For the lightest traveling, I decided to simplify to one lens. Several makers have 18-200 lenses but they all have drawbacks; in the end I went with Nikon’s own lens, with the drawback of “highest price” (~$700). For a great summary of the lens, see Ken Rockwell’s review of the Nikon 18-200 VR. After trying out the lens I agree with Ken: it’s well worth the extra cost to avoid the problems with brands like Sigma. See the photo below to compare the size of all three Nikon lenses: 18-55 VR, 18-200 VR, and 70-300 VR.

Nikon Lens Comparison 18-55, 18-200, 70-300

Here are the Nikon lens weight specs, where you can see the advantage of the relatively light Nikon 18-200 VR lens compared to carrying two others. All weights (from my kitchen scale) include a UV filter and lens caps (both ends).

Lens Weight (g) Weight (oz)
Nikon 18-55mm VR 300 10.5
Nikon 18-200mm  VR 628 22
Nikon 70-300mm VR 805 28

The difference is quite a lot when you consider I’d be carrying both the 18-55 and the 70-300 lenses for a total of 1.1 kilos! By choosing just the 18-200, I easily halve that (especially after chopping the 70-300mm lens pouch and lens hood from my packing list). Ultralight travel photography, here I come, with the best Nikon lens for the job!

If you’re interested in purchasing the 18-200mm VR, please consider using this Amazon link: Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II to help support my travels.

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 2:54 pm.

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Who needs pads? This is rugby!

I’d never been to a rugby game before, but decided to check it out when a friend from my German class invited me to see his team play. March 27th, 2010 in Munich:  this was Stusta vs. Stuttgart!

Over the years I’ve sprained ankles and knees playing Ultimate Frisbee. (Ultimate photo gallery here). But I can safely say that rugby is a slightly more contact-oriented sport. Here are a few photos to demonstrate, along with my commentary on the game. Maybe I have some of the rules wrong, so just correct me if I’ve misunderstood something…

Players pile on top of each other until the weight of their bodies causes the ball to pop out from underneath. An unlucky player that was left out of the pile grabs the ball and hopes to be the base for the next pile.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

When the ball goes out of bounds, it’s thrown back in, and both teams see who can lift their teammates higher in the air to snag the ball. Again, the winner gets to start the next pile.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

Here’s an example of what happens when there aren’t enough players nearby for a pile. Turn the opposing player upside down and shake until he drops the ball.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

I’m tied as to the best tackle I caught on film. Was it this one:

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

Or this one? (due to the angle it almost looks like #14’s left leg is twisted backwards)

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

By a nice trick of the camera (which often couldn’t focus fast enough, or I didn’t focus the right point)… the only guy looking at the ball is the only guy in sharp focus! (far right side)

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

One way you can score in rugby is by reaching the end zone. You do this by diving over the line, being sure not to touch the tripwire rigged to the sharks with laser beams on their heads.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

One last HIT…

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

See below for an album with even more photos, where you can also see these choice shots in larger size. Rugby is a lot easier to photograph than Ultimate Frisbee!

If any of the players from Stusta or Stuttgart want one of the shots in a larger size, just leave me a comment, and I’ll email it to you.

Congratulations to Stuttgart, who won the match. But both teams played really well, and I can honestly say it was the best rugby match I’ve ever seen.

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Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 4:02 pm.

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Hot Snowboard Carving

Bernd Snowboard Carving

Alright, you’ve probably seen a few videos like my latest craziness from February. For March I decided to put up some D-SLR snowboard carving photos taken with the Nikon D90 and 70-300mm VR lens. For all those riding hardboots, check these out! Raceboards are one major step faster than freeride boards, and provide superior stability and grip to carve serious trenches in the snow at high speed.

Here Peter shows off some really amazing turns on his Oxess snowboard… first the frontside,

Peter Snowboard Frontside Carve Oxess

And now the backside turn (I swear it’s not a mirror image of the frontside photo!),

Peter Snowboard Backside Carve Oxess

I think my body doesn’t turn far enough to be able to kiss the snow on the backside… heh. Here are a few shots of the author; you can see I’m not as practiced as Peter (and I wasn’t as confident on the bumpy/slushy snow we had later in the day when Bernd took these shots of me).

Dave Snowboard Backside Carve Virus

My Virus Xtremecarver snowboard grips like mad. I think I just need to learn to ride it better. The frontside turn, as always, is easier than the backside:

Dave Snowboard Carving Frontside Virus

If any carvers out there have some advice how I can improve my technique, please do leave a comment here! I have a feeling my stance may need adjustment, and I need to turn my upper body more on the backside turns.

Lastly, here’s Bernd on his trusty (~15-year-old) F2 Speedster SL. I’m curious how he’d do on a Silberpfeil, one of the most known factory-standard carving boards.

Bernd Snowboard Frontside Carve F2

And the tricky backside turn:

Bernd Snowboard Backside Carve F2

Below you’ll find a whole album with many more photos from all three of us. Enjoy, and leave a comment if you have some helpful advice about technique! (I’m the second rider).

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Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 2:29 pm.

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Mainau Butterfly House

On the island of Mainau in Bodensee, one can find a multitude of flowers. It’s known in German as the Blumeninsel, and lies just across from the German town of Meersburg on Bodensee. There are probably millions of flowers scattered around in thousands of gardens on this botanical island. Here’s a favorite shot of mine from the butterfly house:

This was one patient butterfly as I took several pics of him.

This was taken with my Nikon D90 and a 70-300 VR lens, which does a great job of shortening the depth of field.

A few more shots of flowers on Mainau will be coming up eventually! If you want to be notified, just subscribe to the blog with the orange RSS / Email buttons in the left sidebar.

Getting to Mainau:

  • Here’s a Google map of Mainau. I arrived at the ferry terminal on the right side of the island, coming from the nearby town of Meersburg. But you can also arrive there by car and park easily in the large parking area.
  • One tip: if you arrive at Mainau later in the day, you can get the Sunset ticket (1/2 price compared to the normal €15.90 entry fee). It’s good after 17:00, which in the summer is no problem! Winter prices are much cheaper at €7, but then you can’t see many flowers, so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do the sunset ticket, make sure you still have a way home, as the ferries from Mainau may stop running early (I had to take a bus to another town, then ferry back).

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago at 11:00 am.

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Family & Friends Plan

This January I made a plan to meet with a lot of family and friends in the US. Here’s the photographic evidence…

My brother has a knack for making funny poses in front of the camera

My brother has a knack for making funny poses in front of the camera.

Not Park 'n Eat, but Eat 'n Park... with 20 eat 'n smart menu items!

Not Park 'n Eat, but Eat 'n Park... with 20 eat 'n smart menu items!

Sometimes the best shot is the one just AFTER making funny faces at the camera.

Sometimes the best shot is the one just AFTER making funny faces at the camera.

I heard someone once fell in the water here?

I heard someone once fell in the water here?

This tree had nice, sweet-smelling flowers despite that it was the COLDth of January.

This tree had nice, sweet-smelling flowers despite that it was the COLDth of January.

These friends of mine could not stop laughing.

These friends of mine could not stop laughing.

These portraits were taken in Pennsylvania and in Richmond, VA with a Nikon D90. Most are just the 18-55 VR lens, but the last one is the 70-300 VR to provide a short depth-of-field and get some blur going.

Posted 8 years, 6 months ago at 1:37 pm.

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Around the World

After a lot of time and effort, I’ve saved up 200,000 frequent flyer miles on one carrier. Say what? Yes, that’s a lot. Enough for a coach-class “round the world” fare with 5 stops.

Some equipment (jackets, pants, Tevas, D90 D-SLR) I already have, but I’m loading up on gear this week while I’m in the States where the stuff is cheap. So far I picked up this pack, an Osprey Atmos 50:

Osprey Atmos 50

Plus I’ve found:

  • a lightweight down sleeping bag (perfect for hostels)
  • short and long Smartwool shirts, 150 weight
  • merino socks
  • headlamp with AAA’s
  • slimline money belt
  • in the plans: lightweight shoes

What critical pieces of gear would you recommend? I have super short hair so can skip the shampoo, but I need to bring a beard trimmer. I hope one charge on my Braun will last 2-3 months, hehe.

Possible stops after I depart Munich:

  • somewhere in South America
  • Hawaii
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Asia… Korea? Thailand?

Where have you been? What was the BEST hostel you ever stayed at? (For me it was the AF Chapman ship in Stockholm). I’m definitely open for suggestions. I’m planning a couple of side trips from my main itinerary with separate airline flights or train trips. And I’m aiming for warm climates, as I won’t bring full winter gear.

Let’s see what happens — maybe I meet a few of you on my travels!

Posted 8 years, 7 months ago at 5:49 am.

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