Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner finally flies

After over two years of reporting on the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing’s long awaited aircraft has arrived. Yesterday morning, the aircraft took off on a three hour historic flight over Washington, landing successfully in Boeing field just outside of Seattle, Washington.

And now, the data analysis begins. A full year of testing as well as multiple test flights follow this first step, all towards making the final delivery to Boeing’s first customer, ANA at the end of next year. We’re looking forward to getting onboard.

Great coffee shops around the world: What makes a great one anyway?

Hank Leukart, while savoring blueberry pie and a cup of chai at the University of Zoka in Seattle proclaimed it the best coffee shop in the world. As what happens when one proclaims something the best in the world, he immediately began to wonder if he overshot by his gushing. What does he know anyway? After all, had he been in every coffee shop in the world? Of course not, but he has been to a few.

In his essay, “searching for the best coffee shop: a lifelong quest for caffeine nirvana” on his blog without baggage, Leukart extols on the virtues of several coffee shops in various parts of the world. Read his essay and you’ll have visited through his eyes several coffee shops that range from Afro Cafe in Cape Town, South Africa to Latte Da in Lee Vining near the east entrance of Yosemite.

To make it to the best coffee shop list,according to Leukart, there are seven attributes a great coffee shop must have:

  1. great coffee
  2. great tea/Chai,
  3. comfortable seats for relaxing and intermingling
  4. a full menu of good food
  5. free Internet access
  6. laptop outlets
  7. an unlocked bathroom

My current favorite coffee shop is the Crimson Cup in the Clintonville section of Columbus, Ohio. It doesn’t have a full menu, but it has all the other attributes. Although there isn’t a full menu, the eats are fresh baked and awesome, particularly the offerings from Pattycake Bakery that specializes in vegan treats.

For anyone in need of a caffeine fix, check out the side bar that accompanies Leukart’s article. He has several suggestions.

By the way, Leukart doesn’t drink coffee. He’s a fan of chai. I love chai, but have yet to find a coffee shop that serves it unsweetened.

Through the Gadling Lens: photographing skies

Oh, how I’d love to regale you with my brilliant photographic skills in capturing the sky’s majesty!

I’d love to, but I can’t.

For some reason, I’m really, really horrid when it comes to shooting skies. Oh, I can manage to get a good sunset photo here and there, and occasionally my blue skies appear shockingly blue, but the truth is that for the most part, I get by with a little help from Photoshop — bump up the contrast here, deepen a hue there, you know how it goes. My husband, on the other hand, is masterful at shooting sky shots — the image you see to the left was taken by him this past weekend. And that image, by the way, is completely unretouched, straight out of the camera.

He kills me with his sky-capturing ways.

Anyway, I thought this week we could drool over the sky photo porn that currently graces our Gadling Flickr pool, for some inspiration as to how to shoot. This time, however, I’m sitting where you are — looking for any clues as to how to make my sky photographs that much better.

So, on with the show.
1. God rays

My husband calls these “God rays” — the rays of light that appear from clouds when the sun is behind them.

When I asked him how he managed to capture this image (because while he was taking this, I was trying to take the same image with my camera, and failing miserably), and he said, “I set my aperture to a pinhole — about f22 — my ISO was set to about 100, and then I played with the shutter speed to get the shot. It ended up working at 1/500th of a second.”

Okay, so that’s pretty technical. Suffice to say, however, that Marcus — I mean, Alien Hamster — took several shots to experiment with the various settings, to see what worked for him. And really, that’s sort of what photography is all about: experimenting and learning along the way.

Another great God ray shot:

This great shot was shot and shared by othernel, of sunset over the East Village in New York City. Notice how the sun is more golden — therefore, I’m guessing, taken at a later time in the day than my husband’s shot — giving the image an entirely different mood. Notice also in both that the objects beneath the sun’s rays are almost in silhouette: remember that when you’re trying to shoot these God rays, you’re shooting for the rays, not the actual objects in the frame. Well done.

2. Clouds

Clouds obviously also make great subjects for photographs, and the following are pretty stellar:

Now, this amazing shot shared by Patrick Powers has quite obviously been processed; however, it’s been done to great effect. Those clouds — those crazy-white, featherlike clouds — look positively three-dimensional, almost like they could float right out of the screen. The entire scene almost looks artificial, rendering the shot more a work of art, then a documentary image. Really beautiful work.

And how impressive is this shot shared by Bonnie Bowne, taken in the Grand Tetons? Notice all the shades that are in the thunderheads, going from snowy white to dark, foreboding grey. I love how the trees in the foreground are in total silhouette, so that their details don’t compete with the colours of the clouds. If I were to guess (and Bonnie, if you read this, feel free to correct me), she exposed the shot for the white of the clouds, “tricking” the camera into thinking it was shooting in bright sunshine — thus resulting in a faster shutter speed, and making the trees look dark. Amazing.

3. Sunshine.

Of course, the most beautiful subject you can shoot in the sky is sunshine, and obviously, sunrises and sunsets are pretty intoxicating. Here are a couple of really stunning ones.

This sunset, shot and shared by Andy Bokanev Photography is stunning — not just because of the colours of the sky, but notice he also managed to get the light in the lighthouse building, as well as the colours of the flowers in the foreground. That’s some pretty stellar exposure right there. The glow of the light in the windows does so much to set the mood of this image — very well done. I’m guessing that this shot was taken using a very long exposure (that is, a slow shutter speed) and a tripod, with the ISO set to a very low number, to reduce graininess. Absolutely stunning.

In addition, take a look at this sunrise:

PDPhotography, who shot and shared this shot, has revealed one of my favourite ways of photographing the sky: from 37,000 feet. I love shots out of airplane windows, and this one is pretty great. I think we often think that we should only pull out our cameras when we’ve finally arrived at our destination — this shot is a great reminder that there’s some beautiful scenery en route, as well.

4. Silhouettes

Finally, I love the use of silhouette to accentuate the sky. A beautiful example:

This is another shot shared by Bonnie Bowne, taken — get his — in the parking lot of a Walmart store. What makes this shot so effective is that instead of just taking the shot of the sky — which might have been the more knee-jerk approache — she took the shot with the stark, dark tree in the foreground. The black silhouette of the tree has the effect of actually making the colours and light of the sky far more prominent, more impressive. It was an inspired way to shoot the sky.

And finally, this amazing night shot by fiznatty:

Seriously, does this shot not take your breath away? Fiznatty says, “the moon rises above the snowy slopes overlooking the Swedish town of Bjorkliden.” Unbelievable.

Okay, again, taking a guess as to how fiznatty managed this: obviously, no flash was involved, and he likely used a tripod and left his shutter open for quite some time, in order to pick up the light of the stars in the sky. If I’m right, then fiznatty stood still for quite some time — maybe a minute or two? — while the shutter was open, taking the shot. Amazing.

So that’s it. Again, if any of the photographers who took these shots would like to share their expertise here, I’d love to learn from you. And if you have any questions or additional comments, as always, you can always contact me directly at karenDOTwalrondATweblogsincDOTcom – and I’m happy to address them in upcoming Through the Gadling Lens posts.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.

Through the Gadling Lens can be found every Thursday right here, at 11 a.m. To read more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.

Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon: Go there for a chocolate fix

If you’ve ever walked into an upscale candy store like I did on Thursday when I walked into Posh Chocolat in Missoula, Montana, you know how your eyes are drawn to those glass cases after you/ve had whiff of that rich and creamy smell. You know how each piece of chocolate is so darned pretty that it’s hard to choose. Again, that’s what happened to me at Posh Chocolat.

Think about how that experience might be multiplied by more than 30. That’s how many gourmet and artisan chocolatiers will be at the Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon this Sunday, July 12.

The chocolatiers are among the finest of the fine. Along with tasting all types of chocolate, with the entry fee you can attend demonstrations, talks and on-going interviews by TasteTV’s Chocolate Television program. Wine is also involved with the event and one of the demonstrations is about a chocolate spa.

For the best ticket deal, get a ticket on-line for $20. At the door, you’ll pay $25. Kids under 6 are free and from ages 7-12, $10. The salon is being held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center.

Look for Posh Chocolat’s offerings for sure. The truffles are AMAZING! Our sister blog, Luxist has a rundown of some of the other chocolatiers and speakers. If you miss this year’s, there’s always next year. This year is the 2nd annual event. I’m assuming there will be a 3rd.

Beer travel for Memorial Day: 10 options and more

Head to any state and you’ll find a favorite local beer with quite the following. At HalogenLife, Kyle Anderson has come up with a favorite 10 beers in 10 states list to add perfection to a Memorial Day weekend trip. The list doesn’t mean you should drink and drive your way across America. Instead, use it as a guide to the best beers whether you’re beaching it, going on a picnic, or throwing a backyard barbecue.

Read on for Anderson’s suggestions as well as other best beer options.

I’m quite fond of Barley’s Brewing Company in Columbus. You’ll have to go to this microbrewery restaurants to partake, however–unless someone brings you a sealed glass jug of it like a friend of mine once did for her husband. Her main job was figuring out how to keep it cold long enough to make it to Sturbridge, MA. This was back when a glass jug filled with liquid could be a carry-on bag.

My favorite beer and food pairing is Barley’s Pilsner and sauerkraut balls. For a beer lover’s experience, order a sampling of each arranged from the lightest to the darkest. It’s a bit hard to find parking, but here’s a tip. Park at the North Market and head in to buy Jose Madrid salsa and chips. Get your parking ticket stamped, and voila, parking has just become affordable. By the way, this is a family friendly place.

For beer to take on the road, try Great Lakes Brewing Company. Brewed in Cleveland, the beer never disappoints. Burning River is the one we bring home the most. Great Lakes Brewing also has a brew pub in the Ohio City section of Cleveland, but it’s also easy to find at grocery stores and many convenience stores across Ohio.

If you’re driving through Montana, try Bayern Brewing Company, the only German-style microbrewery in the Rockies. The brewery is located in Missoula, but you can find its beer elsewhere. Every summer when we head to Montana, this beer is one thing we look forward to. Not the only thing. One thing. Try Juergen’s Bayern Pilsner.

Karen, the Gadling non-beer drinker vouches for St. Arnold’s Brewing Company in Houston and expressed disappointment it wasn’t on the list. Now it is. St. Arnold’s is touted as Texas’s oldest craft brewery. You don’t have to be at the brewery to partake On Thursday nights from how through the summer, you can quench that beer thirst while listening to a Thursday night concert at Discovery Green. Because this beer is also bottled, you can take it with you when you head out of Texas. Before you go, take in a public brewery tour at 1:00 on Saturday. Tours are $5 and included beer tasting and a souvenir glass.

Here’s Anderson’s list. The article gives a run-down of what makes each beer a standout. Enjoy a beer adventure this Memorial Day. Just don’t drink and drive.