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WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes   |   WHEN: July 5, 2011   |   WHERE: Philly
I spent a few days in Philadelphia last week, and I wish I coulda spent a few days more just to do a little cityscape photography.  It's such a great city with so much character and history, and I only got to see a couple blocks of it this time, mostly while in transit.

I was in town for a technology conference downtown and didn't have much free time, but I was able to get away one night for dinner with photography friends Kylene and Charmi. BTW, raise your hand if you knew that New Jersey is only 30-40 minutes from Philly. Yeah, I didn't know either. When Charmi said she came in from New Jersey to meet up with us for dinner, I thought she was insane. In my 6th grade geography mind, New Jersey seemed like it was several hours or even a plane ride away from Philadelphia, so when Charmi told me it just a short drive, I kinda felt like one of those Jay Leno on-the-street interview people I always make fun of... you know, the ones who don't know how many states are in the US or when the War of 1812 was fought or who the current President is.

Not much time for photography during this trip, but I did get a few images walking from the hotel to dinner and back on a couple nights.

This next image was looking straight from the middle of the street that ran between my hotel and the one next to it.


30 days
WHO: me   |   WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Personal   |   WHEN: March 13, 2011
It's been 30 days since my last blog post, the longest span between entries since I started blogging over 5 years ago.  No joke, it took me 3 tries to get the right login username and password to even write this post. Not surprisingly, according to Google Analytics, the traffic from visitors coming to this blog has dramatically decreased in a month's time; if you're looking for a way to kill off your blog or website, just stop posting content frequently, or at all, and then set your countdown clock to see how long it takes.  To the few people that have still swung by looking for something - anything - new, I applaud your perseverance and thank you for your loyalty. 

My intention was/is certainly not to turn out the lights here.  The absence of new posts has largely been intentional.  At the beginning of the year, I decided that as our baby's due date got closer, I would purposely slow down the photography work to make sure I could spend some time with Kylie and not be working like a mad man right up to the delivery.  I wanted some down time to relax, enjoy, recharge and prepare for the monumental lifestyle change that is about to happen here at the house when our little girl arrives. Coincidentally, that's about 30 days from now... give or take a few days. Hopefully give. [grin]

You may or may not know that photography is not my only gig.  During the day I spend my time in the corporate world doing industrial design work for Texas Instruments (how many of you just now had flashbacks to the Speak-N-Spell?), and all the photography stuff happens in the evenings and on the weekends. I have a huuuuuge passion for photography, and I've enjoyed the work more than I can describe.  But it's also come at a cost. Working basically 2 jobs has from time to time taken a toll on me mentally and certainly physically.  And honestly, it's hard on our marriage during the busy seasons in the fall and spring.  Kylie has been amazingly supportive, gracious and sacrificial in my photography journey, but our time together as just the two of us is running out. I want us to be able to enjoy the time have left, and something had to give to do that, so photography has moved to the back burner for awhile until we get our feet back under us after our little girl arrives.

I'm still planning to post new stuff here albeit maybe a little less frequently for a while.  On that note, here's a few images from yesterday when Kylie and I had some maternity photos done by my friend Tina.  While Tina was photographing Kylie individually for a few minutes, I grabbed my camera and photographed images at the park we were at.  This first one is a photo of the pond with a reflection of a tree in the background and lily pads out of focus in the foreground.

Here's the tree and the pond with the lily pads from the first image.


New Orleans! (Part 1)
WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Portraits   |   WHEN: January 30, 2011   |   WHERE: New Orleans
Wow.  Major dust has settled on the blog.  It's been nearly 2 weeks since I've posted anything here, and I'm not gonna lie... it's been great.  I a little break from the blog and client work has been exactly what the photography doctor ordered.  Oh... and there was this little trip to New Orleans that was pretty fantastic, too.

One of the on-line photography forums I'm a member of decided several months ago that it'd be great to get together for a few days and talk about/demo/share topics and ideas around any and all things photography, and an idea was born.  Last week was the culmination of this plan as the first edition of the workshop took place in New Orleans.  And one of the best parts about this whole gig was that other than hotel conference rooms (cost split by 17 people) and travel accommodations, there was no workshop fee.  Everyone checked their egos at the door and came with an open mind, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to share.  Prior to arriving, we voted on a few topics to cover and had people volunteer to teach/demo on those topics with plenty of time built in for hands-on shooting to practice what was shared. 

Another thing that totally rocked was how well everyone got along.  It was kinda cool to show up and feel like I already knew everyone even though I'd only met just a couple of the people in person prior to that.  The group really meshed incredibly well, and I'm excited about some of the the new things I learned and, more importantly, the new friendships that were formed.  I mean, the other 16 photogs even threw me a surprise baby shower with killer gifts one day at lunch.  Totally unexpected, and ridiculously awesome!

Here's a few non-workshop images from the first day when my friends Karen & Michele and I were walking around the French Quarter.  All images were created with available light.  I'll share images from some of the hands-on workshop shoots in part 2 post.

Here's Michele. I went to an Austin workshop a couple years ago and have become good friends with a couple people from that workshop, and Michele is one of them.

And here's Karen.  I met her in Austin as well.  BTW, Karen makes some of the most creative, fun lunches for her kiddos that I've ever seen.  She even brought me a couple animal shaped sandwich cutters so I can try out making some cool lunches for baby Nicolosi one day.  My favorite was the unicorn.

We spent a fair amount of the day being models for each other while doing some available-light shooting.  Obviously both Karen and Michele were easy to work with. (Sorry, ladies, I couldn't return the favor).

This dude was awe. some.  The guy holdin' the strings was pretty talented, too.

A few steps across the street from the big church a couple images up.

This reminds me of an image I took on our honeymoon in Italy.

Meet Giovanni.  This guy was a sweet/scary/talkative local artist we met down near the church.  He had a ton of character, and a TON of things to say.  Here he was framing up my mug.

Love this black and white of him.

That evening we were walking down near Pat O'briens, and thre was this really cool old wall right next door.  There were a couple groups doing a haunted New Orleans walking tour, and I grabbed this image as a few members from one of the groups were walking by.  I thought it kinda had an appropriately spooky feel to it.

More images tomorrow.


WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Travel   |   WHEN: November 29, 2010   |   WHERE: Princeton, Indiana
Kylie & I just got back from spending a few days in southern Indiana with her family for the Thanksgiving weekend.  We decided to make the 12 hour drive this time instead of fly because we love torture.  Oh, and because we wanted to bring the dog.  Ah, yes... that's why we drove.  Paying $200 (in addition to our tickets) just to allow Mia to sit in our lap on a plane seemed like robbery.  (Although seeing one of those TSA guys give her a pat-down mighta been worth it.)

So we gave me a little doggy sedative, piled in the car, and headed to Princeton (IN) last Wednesday.  Of course we, or at least I, spent Thursday eating myself into a coma with all the fantastic Thanksgiving day food Kylie's mom and grandma prepared.  We ate around noon.  I watched football and checked my eyelids for holes for a couple hours after that, and then we had round two for dinner before resuming my horizontal position in the living room.  I. Love. Thanksgiving.

Friday, Garry (my father-in-law), Bryce (Kylie's brother) and I headed out early to, well, drive around.  And drive around we did.  And around.  And around.  We ended up on some back-country, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, winding road for a while where - from the back seat of the truck - I nearly revisited my breakfast if you know what I mean.  Funny thing is we were talking about car-sickness just before that, and I told them I was good to go because, well, I was at that moment.  Shortly after, though, I dunno what happened... maybe it was me bragging how I rarely get car sick, but I about lost it.  Thankfully, I managed to keep it all down and everything was fine after our next stop when I got out of the truck and got some coooold air.

Anywho, I took my camera for our drive and grabbed a few images along the way, and here they are.

First up was this round barn Garry and Bryce knew of.  (And for the record, Garry and Bryce know about everything you could ever wanna know about Princeton and the surrounding area.  I joked that in the course of our 8 hour excursion, I think there were only about 3 houses we passed where they didn't know who currently or previously lived there.  Seriously.)  The barn was kinda interesting because, well, who builds a round barn?

This next one was just a drive by image from the back seat. 

Both Garry and Bryce created a lot of build-up for the jug rock.  I mean a LOT.  Like, you haven't lived until you've seen the jug rock build-up.  By the sarcastic tone in their voice, I prepared myself to be underwhelmed, and I was not disappointed.  It's basically a rock... on top of another rock.  (see below right).  Interesting?  Sure, kinda.  Geologically significant?  Debatable.  Worth the drive through "deliverance country" (as Bryce put it)?  My queasy stomach is still deciding.  One of the more fascinating aspects for sure is how little marketing the locals gave this 8th wonder of the world for as much build-up as it gets.  Check out the huge green "Jug Rock" sign below the "Keep Right" sign (below left) pointing out this marvel as your driving down the road.  They spared no expense, eh?

We did also finally find this covered bridge which was pretty cool.  What was not cool, though - as we heard from one of the locals - is that in the last 5 years someone has tried to burn this bridge down twice.  The good news is there's a renovation project in the works to tidy up the bridge and make it fire-resistant.

Our final stop before heading back to the house was in French Lick, Indiana to see the West Baden Springs Hotel, and it was pretty amazing.  This hotel was considered by some to be the 8th wonder of the world back in the day when it was first built because of it's huge dome that many said architecturally couldn't be built.  If you've ever been to a Gaylord hotel, the West Baden Springs Hotel was kinda like a Gaylord hotel looong before there were Gaylord hotels... and much more opulent.  Walking through the hotel kinda felt like what I imagine walking around on the Titanic was like.  Very elegant in it's hay day with unmatched decor, prestige and reputation.  If you're ever in the area, check it out. After a long period of neglect and deteriation, it's recently been completely restored.

Here's an image of the dome covering the atrium.

A view from the library in the hotel.

A chandelier with a beautiful wood ceiling in the main lobby.

A decorative glass fixture hanging in one of the stairwells.  This is actually a combination of 2 images.  I took a close-up image of the fixture in focus, and then took a second image of the fixture out of focus.  Finally I just overlaid the second out-of-focus image on top of the in-focus image in Photochop and changed the blending mode of the top layer (the out-of-focus image) to overlay.  You can see the two original images below the final image.

Back at the house, my brother-in-law's dog, Phyllis, on the left and Mia on the right, both looking out the back door.  I think this photo is the only time during our 3 day stay these two weren't chasing, playing with, barking at or generally antagonizing each other. 

Yesterday, Garry and I went out to find some heavy farm machinery for me to drive around, but we found a vintage tractor pull first at the local fair grounds.

The tractor pull was kinda interesting, but I had one big beef... I wanted to see a little more bling on the tractors.  I mean, c'mon... I know all the tractors in the competition had to be built before 1958 (or something like that) to be allowed to participate, but why not spruce these babies up with some flame paint jobs, blue under-carriage LED lighting, or at a minimum a little chrome?  Huge marketing opportunity they're missing here.  You know, to appeal to the younger crowd.  Anywho.

Finally, Garry hooked me up with a ride in a Terra-Gator.  That just sounds cool... Terra-Gator.  This chick magnet is a beast, and was so cool to cruise in.  He was brave enough (or crazy enough) to let me drive this bad boy out on the open road (with his supervision, of course, and I gotta tell ya... I was honestly a little terrified I was gonna pancake something or someone with the gigantor tires while cruisin' down those narrow county roads at a top speed of 35mph.  I apologize if I ran you off the road.  I didn't mean to. Promise. 

Actually, everything went fine and good times were had by all.  Well, at least me... Garry was probably white-knuckling it the whole time I was driving.  I'm pretty sure I was a natural, though, so if this photography thing doesn't pan out, I might just become a Terra-Gator driver.

All in all, a fantastic trip.  It was great to see Kylie's family and get some down time in.  And now it's back to the grind to finish out the next few weeks strong before calling it quits for the holidays.


New England ~ Vacation!
WHO: Kylie & I   |   WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Personal, Travel   |   WHEN: October 6, 2010   |   WHERE: New England
Call it a make-up vacation.  A do-over of sorts.  Back in April Kylie and I had a trip planned to visit London and Ireland only to have the whole thing disrupted and ultimately cancelled by - of all things - a volcano in Iceland.  A volcano.  In Iceland.  Fast forward a couple months, and after reconciling the fact I would not be seeing sheep roaming the rolling, lush Irish country side near a 200 year old castle, we both were feeling the need to get outta Dodge for a few days.  The struggles and monotony of daily life had set in and before we knew it, there were days we felt like we were just passing each other in the hallway on the way to getting something else on the to-do list done.  It was time to get away.

After a little bit of indecision about where to go (mostly on my part), we spun the proverbial globe and landed on New England in the fall.  Being a little naive about the popularity of NE during the peak fall color season, we were a little, um, unprepared for how difficult it would be to score places to stay.  I was given the task of planning out the trip since Kylie basically did all the trip-planning for our 11 day honeymoon in Italy.  I thought to myself, hard could a couple days in New Engalnd be?  2 weeks later I was practically begging Kylie for help, and of course, she came through... after rolling her eyes at me a few times.  Hey I did get the first night's accommodations and dinner planned.  Baby steps, folks.  Baby steps.

Little did we know this trip would end up becoming our babymoon when we found out not too long ago that we're pregnant with our first mininicolosi (thanks for the name, Kim).  I didn't even know what a babymoon was until a little over a month ago.  I never saw the chapter on babymoons in my life manual, but apparently that chapter also mentions things like push presents.  Push presents??  Clearly a group of moms have conspired to milk this pregnancy thing for all it's worth.  I kid, people. I kid.  Kylie deserves every bit of pregnancy pizzazz Hallmark and it's cohorts can dream up.

I know what you're thinkin'.... Blah bu-blah blah blah...Man, would he get on to the pictures already??  I'm almost there grasshopper.

So the night before we're supposed to fly out to Boston, I notice I'm gettin' a little achy and a bit of the chills.  Those bit of chills turned into all out shivering while I was trying to sleep, and I woke up with a fever around 102.  I swear I looked like a neanderthal the next morning as I was lumbering around trying to throw some clothes in the suitcase.  I don't remember much of what Kylie said to me that morning, but I think I responded in caveman speak with things like  Ungh... shirt.  Cold.  Jacket good.  Camera heavy.  I just wanted to crawl back into bed.  But this was our babymoon.  Nobody and nothin' stops the babymoon.

Long story short, turns out I had developed phlebitis in my right leg in addition to a nasty skin infection in my shin and calf area on my right leg.  So we spent the better part of the first day at the doctors office followed by a little trip to the hospital.  Good times.  But did I mention nothing gets in the way of the babymoon?  After nabbing a prescription from a doc in addition to a heavy dose of Alleve, we were on our way.

I didn't take as many photos as I thought I would, mostly because I just didn't feel like picking up my camera for the first day or two.  Here's some of my favorites of the ones I did take, though.

These first three were near the House of Seven Gables in Salem while we were killin' time waiting for my first Dr's appointment.

Here's where we stayed the first night in Maine, The Inn at Tanglewood Hall.  This place was freakin' beautiful and inn keepers Su and Andy were so friendly and personable.  I couldn't recommend this place more if you're looking for a B&B to stay in near York.

The next 7 images are random photographs from the inn.

From there we drove the coast of Maine for a bit in search of lighthouses.  This was the last bit of sun we saw for the day as tropical rains parked themselves in the sky over this region for most of the afternoon and evening.

Sorry, no Hoff sightings.

This is the Nubble Lighthouse in York.  I'd seen it before a few years back, but I never get tired of views like this.

It was a little windiliscious as they storms started moving in.

A got the brilliant idea I was gonna get a great photo of the sea gulls by luring one or two of them over towards me with a Fritos Honey BBQ Twist corn chip.  I got a little more than I bargained for.  At the first sight of a snack, I was bombarded a la Hitchcock style with a flock of seagulls.  All I could see and hear was Kylie laughing when I seriously ran for and dove back inside the car.

Here's a view ;ooking out the windshield at one of the perpetrators.

After cycling the windshield wipers, here's a better view of his mug.

While continuing on our drive, we came upon a partially dried up lakebed.  Looked like a graveyard of sorts for some smaller boats.  Stunk as all get-out, but had some great photo ops.

Next several images are from a a beach area somewhere between York and Portland, Maine.  Loved this footbridge.

Mama Nicolosi at 12 weeks.

Then we stumbled upon this place on teh side of the rode that was a freakin' gold mine for collectibles and all things nostalgic.  We were starved and trying to avoid rain, though, so I only spent about 10 minutes here.  I could've easly spent 3 hours.

We finally rolled into Portland, Maine around 4:15pm, and of course the light house we came to see closed at 4.  The trip took a little longer to get there than what we estimated... like 3 hours longer.  Oh, well, still ran out and was able to get this image of the Portland Head Light.  This is an HDR image for any photographers out there that were wondering.

The next 2 days were spent in new Hampshire near Stowe where we visited Cabot Cheese Farm to see how cheese was made, a maple syrup farm to see how pure maple syrup is made, and then Ben and Jerry's factory to see - you guessed it - how they make their ice cream.  Vermont also had a little more color than some of the other areas we visited.

We were also able to find a few old covered bridges in Vermont.


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