Monday, May 27, 2019

Metrolink to San Clemente Pier

     One of my all time bucket list items is to backpack all over Europe using their extensive public transportation systems, specifically all the train options.  I've been meaning to take the Metrolink to San Clemente Pier ever since I kept seeing advertisements for it on social media (see, our phones really are eavesdropping on us!)  After finding a free Saturday to do this, and doing a bit of research into how it works (because it's been that long since I've taken the Metrolink), I was ready to enjoy a traffic-free ride to the beach!

     There is a wealth of information on how to take the Metrolink and what areas it services here.  On the weekends, it is $10 to ride the Metrolink to anywhere it goes.  You can go as far south as Oceanside!  This is a steal, depending on where your destination is!  There were two possible departure times available, and I chose the later departure time because I wanted to sleep in a little.  From what I've observed, these departure times are pretty consistent barring any delays, so I liked that I could plan a trip ahead of time.  Living in SoCal, car culture is typically the way most people get around, and with that comes traffic.  Not gonna lie, this only appealed to me for two reasons:  1) not being in traffic on the freeway and 2) being able to sit there and zone out (haha, my needs are simple)

     It was a beautiful day, and there was just enough cloud cover to keep the sun from beating down on us.  I didn't plan, however, for the humidity.  Luckily, I made it through the day without buying a $20 t-shirt that I was never going to wear again!

     Once you get off the train, you can either head to the shops/restaurants, or cross the tracks to where the pier is.

     I really like how the painting isn't even from the perspective he's painting from LOL. 😃

     Not sure when it gets super busy, but around noon, we had lunch on the pier and there was still plenty of seating outside overlooking the water.

     This person has the right idea.  I plan on doing a lot of this in the summer!

     After ice cream, we decided to head to San Juan Capistrano.  However, one of the downsides of taking the train is that the train runs in the morning and late afternoon, and not in between.  We ended up taking a Lyft to the San Juan Capistrano Mission area for about $12 - not bad!

     The mission was closed for a Mariachi contest, so I only was able to get a glimpse from the gift shop. 

     If you like expensive coffee, you can get some at Hidden House Coffee.  I love their cups (and also that you don't need a straw to drink your iced coffee!)

     Not too long after our coffee break, there was a swarm of prom-goers outside taking photos.  There were also a bunch of people who were in the area for a wedding.  It got to be a bit too crowded, so we decided to go check out some of the shops near the mission.

     This is one of the large antique shops down the street from the mission.  I love looking at stuff in antique shops.  It's like rummaging through the homes of tons of people that lived in various decades.  In fact, that's exactly what it is LOL.

     It had to keep reminding myself that I had no real use for this, except for the fact that it was SOOOO cute!  Don't worry, I did not go home with it. 😞

     One of the best parts of this antique shop was rummaging through these Life magazines.  It's a pretty extensive collection, and the best part?  They were organized in chronological order!  It was like seeing history unfold right before your very eyes.  I loved looking up what was going on in the world when I was born or seeing what life was like in post World War II America.  The issues ranged from about $20 to $60 depending on their condition.

     We decided to take the last train back home.  It gave me a bit of anxiety though.  While we were there well in advance of the departure time, none of the trains that stopped announced their destinations, so we simply had to go by what time it was to determine if we were getting on the right train.  There wasn't anyone around to answer questions, which made it frustrating as well.  All in all, I would probably do this again.  Here are my pros and cons for doing something like this (on a weekend):


  • affordable, $10 for all day use
  • don't have to sit in traffic or drive
  • able to enjoy scenery or get work done on the train
  • environmentally friendly

  • no control over when you get there or when you leave
  • limited service in morning and late afternoon only
  • annoying people on the train doing everything  the Metrolink website says you shouldn't do on the train (listening to music without headphones, leaving stuff in the aisle, having loud conversations, taking up seats with stuff so people can't sit in them, etc.)
     By the time I got back to my car, I was running towards it hahahaha... 😂😂😂

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Photoville LA 2019 and Leica on Loan

     About 8 years ago, my friend Patty and I were at the Leica store in Washington, D.C. checking out all the sleek displays and playing with cameras outside of our price range.  The salesperson showed us the Leica D-Lux 6, and it was a pocketable little camera that took some contrast-y photos.  I was in the market for a point n shoot camera, and the D-Lux 6 was not only well-made, but it sported that elusive little red dot that so many camera enthusiasts long to own.  We both dropped about $800 and some change and walked out of there feeling like ballers.  Good times.  

     I've since sold the D-Lux 6 when point n shoots with better specs came on the market, namely the Canon G7x.  Only when you upgrade do you realize what you're missing out on.  I never did forget about the Leica though.  Its memory will forever be on my hard drive evident by the thousands of photos I took with it.  When the Leica Q was announced, I lusted after and stalked it, but the price point always kept me at bay.  I also rationalized that I could just wait for the second iteration of the camera, and let Leica make it really amazing before I pull the trigger on one.  

     When Photoville LA was announced, one of the draws was Leica's "Leica on Loan" promotion where you could borrow some Leica gear for 90 minutes free of charge.  I made sure to make it out to Photoville LA if only to get a chance to play with the Leica Q2 (which, by the way, is still on pre-order on every website I've checked out).  As my bad luck would have it, the two they had to loan out were already being used by other people.  They did, however, have a Leica Q-P to loan out, and since these were very similar cameras, I decided to go for it.  It took me a little while to get acquainted with where all the controls were, but once I figured those out, the camera was fairly easy to use.  

     The biggest challenge by far, was finding something to shoot.  While I'm a huge fan of The Annenberg Space for Photography, I'm not so much a fan of Century City.  I decided to photo walk around Photoville LA and see what I could shoot that most closely mimicked my normal shooting style and subjects.  What I was mainly interested in seeing from this type of camera was the color of the photos, as well as the camera's dynamic range.  I wasn't worried about liking the 28mm F1.7 fixed lens.  I used to regularly shoot with a Canon 28mm F1.8 prime and always loved this focal length for it's flexibility.

     The Contact High exhibit at the Annenberg is a great little exhibit.  For those of you in my age range, it'll bring you back to the nostalgia of the 80s and 90s.  I do want to go back and check this out again.

     I made the mistake of returning the camera about 30 minutes early, and wish that I had kept it longer.  Photoville LA itself was not as intriguing as I thought it was going to be, but the opportunity to use the Leica Q series camera was worth it, considering it is a little over $200 a week to rent them online.  Here is what I thought of the color and dynamic range.


The colors from the Q-P were nicely saturated, but I found them to lack a "pop" to them.  I know you can add this in post-processing, but I would prefer not to.  I did like the lack of vignetting (which is one of my pet peeves on the wider ends of my Canon lenses).  Not only was the lens on the Q-P sharp, but it was even from edge to edge with minimal vignetting.


I really enjoyed the dynamic range on the Q-P.  It maintained details where my Canons would've blown them out for sure.  The great dynamic range also made my black and white conversions easier to work with. 

Here are some other details about my experience I wanted to note:


The Q-P was comfortable to hold and use.  However, I would be lying if I said the placement of the controls were to my liking.  I read somewhere that people who use Leicas really have to enjoy all ins and outs of changing settings using the knobs at the top of the camera and on the front where the lens is.  This is SO true, and I may not be one of these people.  I found that I shot slower, and had to think more.  While I'm sure one would get faster over time (and with more than 60 minutes of using the camera), I have a feeling that I wouldn't want to work harder to get the same images I can get from my Canons. 


I can't lie.  These cameras are so good-looking.  You feel a little more special just having a Leica dangling from its impractical leather neck strap.  I love the simplicity of the design, and just holding it, you know that it was made with care and precision.  It was like going from driving a Honda (which is a great car) to stepping into a Porsche.  Yeah, that's what it's like.  It felt amazing to have one, if only for 60 minutes. 

     Now the real question is... did I $5,000+ like it?  Um, not at this time.  Nothing like a hefty price tag to keep ya in check LOL.  I think I'm gonna go buy some lottery tickets tomorrow. 😃