May 21

Baños at Night

by in Photography, Postcard Valet, Travel

Baños, Ecuador, New Years Eve

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I spent quite a bit of time at the recent NASA Tweetup looking through my camera’s viewfinder.  Although I didn’t come away with any decent photos of the launch itself (I focused on the video this time, instead), I figured this week’s photo would still come from last weekend.

Then I found myself playing with Oksana’s new iPad, installing the Dropbox app.  I tapped into my account and started to play with what could and couldn’t open on the tablet.  That’s when I came across a folder full of Ecuador photos and realized that, even though I hadn’t taken my DSLR along on the trip, I still managed to come away with some decent shots.

This is Baños.  I love this little town tucked in the middle of the mountains.  There are trails everywhere up the steep hillsides and it only takes around 40 minutes to hike to the top (even if you do have to huff and puff through the altitude).

On one such hike, we found ourselves at the surprisingly popular Café del Cielo.  It was one of the few places we encountered in Baños that had unrestricted wi-fi, plus the packed house was a good indication that the food wasn’t bad, either.  They were too busy to even put us on the waiting list, though, so we resolved to come back later.

Later turned out to be New Year’s Eve.  We wanted to be reunited with the rest of the group before midnight, so hiking up and down the trail in the dark wasn’t an option.  We took an expensive cab ride up the meandering roads behind the mountain instead and, what with all the costumed kids stopping us for New Year’s cash donations, it probably took just as long to get there.  Our driver, knowing that we were at his mercy, arranged for an even higher fare for a scheduled ride back down.

But it was all worth it.  Café del Cielo was practically deserted and the very friendly and attentive waiter put us right up against the plate glass windows.  While Robert, Ana, Alicia, and I enjoyed our small meals (everything cost $5 or less; fairly expensive for Baños) and fantastic fancy coffees, I leaned my wife’s point-and-shoot against the window and took many long-exposure pictures.  Oksana’s little Panasonic doesn’t give you any manual controls, but at least its Starlight preset allows you to dial in 15, 30, or 60 second exposures.  This shot was my favorite of the evening; no reflections in the glass and neither over- nor under-exposed.  Sort of the Goldilocks photo of the set.  You know, just right.

Panasonic DMC-TZ5
Date: 8:54pm, 26 June 2008
Focal Length: 29mm
Shutter: 30 seconds
Aperture: F/4.8
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Unaltered

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Welcome to Postcard Valet

Postcard Valet is a travel blog and video podcast by Arlo and Oksana Midgett. They just returned to Juneau, Alaska, after almost three full years of travel and living abroad. Many of their stories, photos, and videos have yet to be shared...

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