Aruba – Here’s to Balashi
As summer draws to an end and children everywhere rush (walk slowly with their heads down) back to school, I am now delighting in the fact that I just finished my Master’s degree in engineering. To celebrate this milestone I went to Aruba for a week with my family and some awesome family friends (you know who you are) to soak up the sun. We stayed in the Hyatt Regency and I have to say that it is the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen. The lobby is completely open on one end to the street entrance and on the other end to the island marvels that await. To coax you more gently in the right direction there is a constant breeze blowing through the entire lobby. The flowing white linen draped around the seating areas flaps with the wind as you desperately try to decide whether to stay inside or venture outdoors. Making the decision even more difficult is the casino entrance that pours cold air 20 feet into the open lobby – A very smart trick to get people gambling, lucky for me I don’t know how. Since I was there for a week, I didn’t have to make the aforementioned decision as I spent plenty of time in both the lobby and outside. While I do have some pictures of the lobby, they were not taken with my usual care because honestly, I just didn’t want to take photos. I was so relaxed that setting up my tripod and camera in the middle of the place somehow seemed wrong. That’s not to say I don’t have photos for you. In fact, I think these are some of my best. Almost all of my HDR shots were taken in one day since the rest of the week I didn’t really feel like carrying a tripod on my horse (horseback riding into the sunset – try it once before you die), in the jeep (off road safari to a natural pool – don’t try it if you have high blood pressure), on the sailboat (it’s harder than you think to get a sailboat to sit still for 9 shots), or under my beach chair (safe for all ages). But HDR or not, I have some good shots for you that I’ll be sharing in the next few days. The photos in this set are brought to you by happy hour. Balashi, Aruba’s local beer, is not only cheap, but quite tasty as well. After 5 or 6 Balashis on the dockside bar with the fam I began to notice a sunset which is quite possibly the most amazing sunset I have ever seen. And no, I did not have beer goggles for the sunset. Rushing to my room in my inebriated state, I grabbed my tripod, urinated for 15 minutes, and stationed myself at the beach while my family looked on in amusement. Have you ever been so tipsy that a simple, obvious, and maybe questionable idea seemed like the most incredible and exciting idea in the world? And then later you realize that perhaps it wasn’t such a great idea when you notice that the fridge you were trying to fit into is a little broken (completely joking, sort of). One would think that trying to bracket 9 exposures on a tripod, in the sand, in heavy wind, and after 6 beers would be one of these amazingly ungreat ideas, but to tell you the truth, I think the beers helped. So here’s to Balashi, cheers! The first two shots I am sharing with you were taken right at the hotel beach. I really didn’t do much post-processing to these photos. The sunset really looked this incredible. Lounging Drinks of Dusk Sweet Beginnings I can’t think of better conditions under which to get married and by the looks of things, they even had a good number of guests. I actually met the bride of this wedding at the hotel bar later in the week while her husband was gambling in the casino (if that isn’t marriage I don’t know what is). Turns out they live in the same area as me… small world. Best of luck to them. Sweet Abandonment No, the groom didn’t really get abandoned. That’s my brother who decided to get all artistic by standing in the middle of my shot. Why one would choose the look of abandonment in such a beautiful setting, I’m not sure, but it worked out pretty well. Thanks Sam! Under Cover This canvas was part of the beautiful wedding that just ended when I started taking photos. By this time the sun had set and the sky was completely engulfed in the myriad of colors you see here. Private Service This table setting is the location of the bride and groom’s first dinner. I didn’t stay around long enough to see what they ate, but I bet you it was just as good as the atmosphere. Bamboo Cove Dinner for Two The above two shots are NOT an HDR photos. There was too much motion to blend the exposures properly so I used the -1 EV shot to keep the highlights in and used Photoshop’s handy shadow recovery tool to bring out the table and chairs.