Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 through the lens of my iPhone...

Like most of us now, I'm almost never without my camera-that-also-makes-phone-calls. So--some of this year's scenic mobile-photography highlights, from the Desert Southwest to NE Asia, Chicago and the Cascades...

 The first light of the year, spilling into the Grand Canyon; sunrise on January 1st, 2014:

 The year began with a mini road-trip--up to the Grand Canyon and then over to Santa Fe:
(so honored that this photo was included in

Paris Las Vegas. So weird.

As spring arrives in the Arizona,
     mountain snowmelt turns the lower desert green--
          in the Santa Catalina foothills:

...and the deserts bloom;
     for miles, globemallow carpeted the ground to the west of Phoenix:

...and late spring brings out the saguaro-bouquets:

Summer found us in South Korea,
traveling around the country for a month.
This was my fifth trip there,
but even the familiar can be framed by the unexpected:
In Seoul's Itaewon district, on a Friday afternoon,
you'd be forgiven for mistaking the streetscape
for a Middle-Eastern scene--Hallal groceries 
surrounding a hilltop mosque--
globalization and migration patterns... 

 Languid summer mornings along the river in Jeonju:

A four-hundred-year-old lecture hall in a Confucian academy, still used for classes:

 Back in Seoul, inside architect Zaha Hadid's newly opened Dongdaemun Design Plaza: a spaceship on the outside, eh?

Looking down on Seoul's old South Gate--the view from our room on a one-night hotel splurge:

Facing the hills, in Busan's Gamcheon district:

Over to Ulleungdo island--the most beautiful island you've never heard of, off the east coast of Korea: a lush, vertical volcanic landscape rising out of Siberian and Japanese currents, rich in seafood and medicinal mountain vegetables, splendid isolation, and hardy smiles. Very few non-Koreans make it here; GO NOW before the government's "Mysterious Island" campaign draws too much attention to this rugged wonder.

...and we got to stay here:

 ...and 'the unintentional poetry of an old brick wall,' in the port of Mokpo, on Korea's SW tip:
--featured on
     For this scene, I used the PerspectiveCorrect app to straighten the bricks’ vertical lines a bit, and then Snapseed’s “details” option to bring out the wall’s texture.
     Earlier this summer, I spent a month traveling around South Korea, and toward end of my stay, I decided to spend a couple of days in the city of Mokpo, a port on the SW tip of the country–one section of the country that I had never before visited. The old center of the city is full of architecture from the Japanese Colonial period (1910-1945), some of it being preserved, but lots of it in varying degrees of photographically-interesting decrepitude. It was an incredibly muggy afternoon, and after a morning of hiking, I had just finished a lunch of the local specialty, octopus soup, when I walked past this wall around the corner from the restaurant. 
     I was immediately struck by how aesthetically pleasing the proportions of the differently colored sections of brick and tile were–pleasing, and yet completely unintentional: the outline of what once had been a staircase, the weeds growing luxuriantly in what had once been an adjacent building… What gets built, what gets torn down, what gets left behind, what is deliberate versus what is spontaneous–so much goes into building a city, into deciding how to relate the history of a place, into considering what’s worth keeping and commemorating or what should be forgotten…
     Korea’s 20th-century history has been such a fast-paced combination of painful humiliation followed by dizzying, breathtaking modernization; the seaside city of Mokpo illustrates all of that in such a compact space, and this particular wall, to me, seemed emblematic of it all. Three days later, I flew back to the U.S.

Back to Southern Arizona, escaping the summer's triple-digit heat by spending some time up on Mount Lemmon--almost alpine, with wildflowers, evergreens, and a ski-lift:

Just after Labor Day, a few days up in Seattle, with a day-hike up on Mt. Rainier:

And a week in Chicago in October:

I thought it would just be gimmicky, but I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the glass-floored "Ledge" on top of the Willis Tower:

And back to Tucson for the remainder of the year.
As cliché as they might be considered,
desert sunsets just never get old...

This fall, Hipstamatic came out with its TinType app...
     great tool for portraits--fun with making faces:

...and what it looks like here NOW
'Fall'-color peaking late here in Tucson;
December in Sabino Canyon is glorious...


Five weeks ago, today, I had the trail-'incident' that has exiled me from running.
Most of the last few weeks, I've felt like this:
'jailed' by my crutches...
(but having fun with the XNview PhotoFX app)

Time has passed, physical therapy is coming along,
and I finally got the okay to retire the crutches.
So, this past weekend I tried a short hike...
...back on the same trail where I had the bad fall.

Not often you see this--
the exposed 'cacto-skeleton'
of a decaying prickly pear,
covered in lacy ice crystals:

Just behind the little dam in lower Sabino Canyon:

The Santa Catalina Mountains...

Hoping to run around these hills again soon...

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