a day that combined my love of architecture, parade, cheap produce, and gardening. this was my first pride parade with my recently upgraded camera (canon 60D) and 18-200mm lens. soon after i got the new camera/lens, i went to the annual santa speedo run and made quite a mess of my photos, many which turned out blurry because the autoISO setting slowed down the shutter speed when i shot in aperture priority mode. that painful lesson made me realize i have to shoot in shutter priority when it comes to action photography. when the blizzard of 2013 hit boston in february, i got another chance to really use the camera. the boston marathon was another opportunity, and even the somerstreets festival a week ago could be considered good practice. this particular pride march would be the ultimate test and i can say the camera/lens worked beautifully.

i woke up somewhat late once again, around 10:30, which only gave me half an hour to get ready before i had to leave at 11:00 to make the noontime start of the parade. after using the bathroom then taking a shower, i spent the final few minutes getting dressed and heating up a bagel in the toaster oven (later to be combined with some salmon cream cheese). in my camera bag i only brought my 60D with the 18-200mm lens; i'd thought about maybe taking my 10-22mm wide angle as well but the whole reason why i got the 18-200mm was so i wouldn't have to change lenses so i decided to leave the wide angle at home. the wide angle has its place, but i use a lot of telephoto for parades, not too much wide angle scenic vistas. i also packed my fuji W3 3D camera in my pocket. the loser in all this is the panasonic ZS20, which i haven't used since getting the fuji camera more than 2 weeks ago.

it'd been raining throughout the night, sometimes heavily, but by morning the clouds were lifting and the sun was coming back. i took my bicycle, a plastic bag over the soaked saddle so my pants won't get wet. biking into boston made me a little anxious since the last time i did it i got a ticket. but i learned my lesson, and now when i run red lights, i look to made sure there aren't any cops around. biking into boston and passing through kendall square before the longfellow bridge is also a constant reminder of my recent bike accident where i broke my collarbone. the route from my house into the city is becoming a trail of tears, dotted with mishaps and bad memories.

last year the organizers changed the parade route so that it starts from copley square. i've figured out one of the best places to watch the march is at the intersection of clarendon and columbus avenue. it's right on the summit of a hill so you're looking down as the procession approaches towards the south end. i got to my spot with about a half hour to spare. so after locking up my bike, i walked down towards copley square, thinking maybe i could get a sneak peek of the procession during the assembly. however, i decided to take a detour on stuart street, to check out the old salada tea company entrance (300-330).

i first noticed it during the marathon back in april, but there was a lot of construction and i could only see a part of the doorway behind the barricades. but when i got up close to it today (the barricades were gone, but there's still construction happening inside the building), i suddenly remembered that i tried taking photos of this entrance once before, back in 2009, but a security guard came out and shooed me away, saying it was against the law to photograph private property. but with the ongoing renovation work, the entrance is temporarily blocked off from the inside, so there are no security guards for the time being, so i could take as many photos as i want with getting hassled. the entranceway is so beautiful, i may go back next weekend to take even more photos, to document every single inch, to admire the intricate carvings in detail. i have even more renewed interest since i bought a box of salada black tea to try out. unfortunately the salada tea is a little weak, not as robust as the red rose brand. i'll try to use it up quickly to make kombucha (which isn't too picky about what type of black tea since it changes the flavor anyway), and save the red rose for drinking instead.

with 15 minutes left before the start of the parade (and unlike other parades, the pride starts pretty much on time), i hurried back to my spot on top of the hill. unfortunately when i got there, 2 guys were already there. one of them had a canon dSLR camera. i stood nearby until the camera guy struck up a conversation with me. his name was sean from fitchburg, and he came into town with his friend roy. he belonged to a gay men architectural meetup and asked if i was gay myself. sean and roy seemed to be exact opposites: sean was round, friendly, gay, while roy was skinny, gruff, and straight. sean had been to pride before and also knew when and where the other local pride parades were happening. this was roy's first time and normally he isn't even around during the daytime since he works nights, but he took a day off so he could come. roy seemed out of place at first, but once the beads started flowing and he got some eyeful of pretty girls (be they straight, gay, trans, or drag), he seemed to be enjoying himself.

while initially overcast, once the parade started, the sun came out. although great for the event, i was hoping for more clouds to cut down on possible harsh shadows. but it wasn't too bad and from where i was shooting, the lighting was pretty good.

i'd also brought my 3D camera but shot mostly with the dSLR. the dSLR had 3 things going for it: clarity, speed, and reach. while i would've liked to shoot more with the 3D camera, it can't shot in rapid succession (which means it's easy to miss the action) - unless i use the special multiple shot mode, but then the image quality drops. the fuji also doesn't have quite a reach, with a shallow zoom. i ended up shooting with 3D only during lulls in the parade, when there wasn't anything particularly interesting that i should be shooting with the bigger camera. or, only at the beginning or end of something interesting, before and after i shoot with the canon. the result was most of my 3D photos were of mundane subjects.

the canon 60D with the 18-200mm is a joy to use for parade photography. the body itself is an improvement over my old canon rebel XT because of the faster frames per second rate (5.3 fps versus 3.0 fps, a gain of more than 2 additional photos per second). the 18-200mm is great because i don't have to change lenses anymore to go from wide angle to telephoto. no more missed shots as i fumble with a lens change (and less dangerous too, no risk of dropping a lens or dust getting onto the sensor).

maybe the level of swag is an indicator of a recovering economy, but there seemed to a little bit more of it this year. more beads, more bracelets, more candy, more sex packets. that can only be a good thing, no? it also helps to be closer to the front of the parade, when supply is still at an abundance. (later when i saw the end of the parade for a second time from nearby berkeley, there didn't seem to be as much free stuff and some of the tired walking parade participants were hitching rides on floats).

with the boston mayoral seat open now that menino is finally calling it quits after this term, there was a lot more local politicians at pride. unfortunately their efforts are wasted on the likes of me since living in cambridge i can't vote in boston. there were also some higher level politicians and a few celebrities. barney frank came out to support ed markey (in a bid for the open senate seat left by john kerry), who walked with fellow congressman joe kennedy iii, who marched besides recently out pro basketball player jason collins. elizabeth warren was there, and so was district attorney martha coakley. i also saw carlos arredondo, the cowboy hero of the marathon bombings. not seen was mayor menino, who just recently had yet another surgery; he's normally at constant at these parades. governor deval patrick was a no-show, but with his decision not to pursue another term, there wasn't that much incentive for him to come. also missing was sonia chang-diaz, who i see all the time at the boston parades.

with the procession winding down, i bid farewell to sean and roy, got back onto my bike, and traveled along columbus avenue to berkeley street, to catch the tail end of the parade. the streets were all blocked off but passable on a bike. i continued onwards along columbus to arlington street, then traveling the wrong way on a one way (streets were blocked off, the police could hardly care), i made it to boylston, followed the process to tremont, then down essex and washington street to downtown crossing all the way to haymarket.

i picked up a few things at haymarket. i must've looked out of place, decorated in my bead necklaces and jelly bracelets. i caught a fruit vendor eyeballing a pair of pretty young ladies wearing tight jeans. "the more you're married, the more you look," he lamented to me. "bruins! bruins!" a group of vendors shouted. i turned around and saw bruins player milan lucic pushing a baby stroller along with his wife. i ended up getting: 3 lbs. potatoes ($1), 2 bags of onions ($1), 3 tomatoes ($2), 2 avocados ($1.25 each), and 3 bunches of scallions ($1). i also wanted to get some cherries and berries but i couldn't get them back safely so decided to get them next time.

i showered when i got back home, then went to the cafe to drop off some produce, before continuing to belmont. when my parents returned home shortly afterwards, we went to rock meadow. my father and i were planting some korean melons, my mother was there to do some birdwatching. a chinese family was wandering the gardens and chatted with my father briefly. turns out they're from taiwan as well, but going back this month. the asian gardeners in the very large plot next to ours turned out to be taiwanese as well, but they were less friendly.

as for birds, there were the usual robins, but we also saw song sparrows, cowbirds, tree swallows, and red-wing blackbirds. there was an old guy there armed with a long white canon telephoto lens snapping photos of the swallows. 2 passing birdwatchers told us they saw a grosbeak further along the trail.

i had some zongzi for dinner before returning home.