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Paris ~ Part Trois
WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Personal, Travel   |   WHEN: April 12, 2010
We made it back from Paris late this afternoon, and I've been holding out on going to be too early to fight off the jet lag tomorrow, but I'm... running.... out.....of..........gas.......

So, not much penmanship tonight.  Instead I'll get right to the images.  More to come tomorrow, but here's another mini batch from the trip.

Here's the spiral emergency staircase outside the hotel window.  Not exactly a tourist hotspot, but I liked the composition and geometry of this image.

Barbie called... she wants her car back.

These shoes were made for walkin'.  As Kylie and I were sittin' on a bridge in Paris, I was thinking back on all the places these shoes have traversed... China, Sweden, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, and of course the US... I think it's finally time to retire these puppies before we head to London and Ireland next week.

Near Monmartre at the top of the city.  LOTS of steps on the way up.

The next couple are from Notre Dame.

Quasimodo had the day off.  This bell was humongo, though.  Can you imagine this thing ringin' while you're standing right underneath it.  It's 13 tons!  It was kinda crazy how you had to duck through small door openings and up a narrow set of wooden steps to see this bell.  One interesting factoid is that the bell tower was constructed of wood to absorb the vibration of the bell when it rang.  It's no longer used except on major holidays, but still interesting stuff.

One of the hundreds of gargoyles that adorn the top of the church.This guy kinda looks like he's sighing as he overlooks the city.  Cheer up, buddy... could have a worse view.

A view of Monmartre and Sacre Coeur (the white church at the top of the hill in the distance) from the top of Notre Dame.

This guy's job all day was to sit up top of Notre Dame and make sure traffic through some of the narrow passage ways was moving in the right direction.

A few of the 400 steps the lead up to the top.  It was cool that you could see and feel the depressions in the steps where so many people had climbed to the top.  It wasn't cool that there was no escalator or elevator. 

Tell me this French guy's not checking out the girl to the right in the image below. 

I'm not a big fan of the cliché image of all the tourist attractions, so I like this image of the Arc de Triomphe.  Just our luck the thing was undergoing renovations with some scaffolding up around parts of the base, but at least I was able to get a couple images without seeing too much of scaffolding. 

This one was actually a drive-by taken from the top of a double-decker tour bus.

Next up tomorrow... Eiffel Tower and graveyard images... my two favorite stops of the trip.


Lost and Found in Portland
WHAT: Personal, Travel   |   WHEN: March 27, 2010
I was in Portland for a couple days this past week, and nearly stayed much longer than planned.  I was supposed to leave the hotel at 6am on Thursday to head out on an 8am flight back to Dallas, but my wallet was nowhere to be found.  Those of you that know me or have been following the blog long enough are shocked this could happen to me, I'm sure. 

I tore my room apart looking for it, but nada.  Nil.  Zilch.  I told the people I was supposed to ride to the airport with to go on with out me, and plan B went into effect.  Checked with the hotel restaurant we ate at the night before to see if they had my wallet.  Nope.  At that point I was out of ideas because I literally hadn't used my wallet the whole trip except to get my room key out of it every time I went back to my room. 

Many phone calls to my travel agent, American Airlines, credit card companies, Kylie and the police landed me down at the Portland Police Central Precinct where an incredibly helpful lady at the station met me outside to give me a copy - at no charge - of the police report I'd filed.  Normally it's a $25 charge to get a copy, but she bent the rules and went out of her way to help me out (considering I had no money to pay for the report anyway).  Oregonians rock.  Seriously.  Several people offered to help with anything I needed, including Portland  photographer Candy Newby.  (Thanks, Candy!)

Anywho, to make a long and potentially over-hyped, over-dramatacized story short, while I was in the cab on the way to the airport to try my chances with police report in hand to go standby on a flight later in the day, the hotel called to tell me that the restaurant had found my wallet.  Whew.  Apparently it must have somehow fallen out of my back pocket when I was getting up from the table.  In any case, I turned the cab around and went back and got it and life returned to some resemblance of normality. 

Anyone else bored with this story yet?  Man, I am.  So, I'll get right to the photos because I'm tired of hearing me talk.  I only had about 90 minutes to get out and do some personal photography while I was there, but Portland's such a cool city with a ton of character.  I kinda wished I woulda got stuck there a little longer to explore more of the city, but teh following is a sample of Portland's awesomeness.

Lots of wicked-awesome architectural character in Portland.

A quick way to create an interesting look to an otherwise ordinary image:

-  Desaturate the image layer in Photoshop and change the blend mode to overlay
-  Create a new layer underneath the image layer and fill it with a color (I chose a steel blue color for this image)
-  Presto. You're done.

I do find this method works well particularly with high contrast images.


Sight-Sea'ing in Atlanta
WHAT: Personal, Travel   |   WHEN: March 4, 2010
I'm in Atlanta this week and had a little free time yesterday afternoon and was able to break away and check out the fishies at the Georgia Acquarium downtown.  $27 seemd a bit steep for a lok at a few of our fish friends, but it was a nice little getaway.

Here's my buddy Robin with a little dramatic overhead fish tank lighting.  ISO 5000.


Day 363 ~ Indianahhh...
WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Project 365 (2009), Travel   |   WHEN: December 29, 2009
I'm pretty sure I couldn't have possibly napped more than I did during Kylie and I's 3 day visit to Indiana over Christmas to visit her family.  I mean, I think her parents are still waiting for my body imprint to come out of their La-Z-Boy.  This was pretty much how my schedule went while we were there.  Eat - nap - snack - watch some TV - eat more - snack - watch TV - put a few pieces of the 1000 piece puzzle together - graze - snack (if I wasn't napping) - nap - go to bed.  Get up next day and repeat.  It was the best 3 days of the year.  I seriously haven't felt as relaxed and rested for as long as I can remember as I did after our trip.

I did manage to squeeze in a little walk in between naps on Christmas Eve day, if only to prove I didn't sleep the whole time I was in Indiana.

Funny little story about this first image.  Who says photography's not a contact sport?  I was inspired recently by friend and super-talented fellow Dallas photogapher Jen Weintraub and her photo of an adorable little girl on a spinning merry-go-round, and when I spied one near the police station in downtown Princeton, I thought I'd give it a try.

Now, I was the only one around, so no cute little models in fun clothes were available to spruce up this image, so I'm already -3 points.  Anyway, let me paint you a visual.  Close your eyes and imagine me leaned in holding my camera in the center of the merry-go-round with the other hand on one of the outer rails.  I've got one foot on the merry-go-round (so I can reach the center with my camera) while the other is pushing on the wet stone/grass around this death wheel to generate the motion that will give this pullitzer the motion blur.  Got that in your head?  Good.  Well, it lasted about 3/4 of a revolution before my wet shoe slipped off the merry-go-round.  Now I was faced with a dllemna... I've got a rather expensive camera & lens in one hand, and my other is precariously still holding on to the rail.  I'm starting to go down and I can either A) let the camera go to help brace my fall with that hand and probably come out unscathed, B) take my non-camera hand off the rail it was on and try and break my fall on the merry-go-round platform while my knees likely drag in the wet grass and stone or C) keep my camera hand on the camera and my other hand on the rail and break my fall with my shin on the edge of the platform and my chin on the next rail over.  I ask you, what would you have done?  I chose C... and all the ungraceful glory that came with it.

I'm just glad there wasn't anyone around to see my merry-go-round fail.  I popped right back up (biting my lip and shedding a tear on the inside because of the sharp pains in my knee and chin) and went about my business like nothing happened just in case someone might've seen the debacle from a nearby window.  In any case, was it worth it for the image below?  I say yes.

Here's the courthouse in the quaint little downtown square.


Day 308 ~ Cancun Wrap-Up
WHAT: Cityscapes & Landscapes, Project 365 (2009), Travel   |   WHEN: November 9, 2009
Ahhh, back in the USA, and workin' to get caught up.  If you've followed the last couple days, you know we were in Cancun celebrating my friend Tina's 40th birthday as well as a handful of other November birthdays amongst friends, and you know the weather was, well, IDA'ish.  I ate enough resort food for the next year... for 3 people.  My elbow and ankle are on the mend from my [not-so] graceful Segway mishap.  And my camera is likely rusting away as we speak from all the salt water spray she encountered while trying to get a few beach images in 40mph winds. 

Oh, and one of the more impressive and embarrassing factoids about the trip was that Kylie polished off two lengthy books in the span of three and a half days while we were there... impressive because in total she read about 900 pages; embarrassing because I managed to read a total of about 4 dinner menus.

I'll finish off the Cancun trip with a random collection of images from the last couple days.

Looking up at one of the chandeliers in the lobby.

A summary of our stay in Cancun.

Here's the gang.  These next two were taken by an airline pilot.

These next three shots were inspired my the photographic genius of my buddy Jeff (pictured in the image below).  I had set my camera down and walked away after doing a 3 second exposure of the resort theater where we did Tina's surprise birthday celebration (see next to last photo below), and he had picked it up and started firing off a few images not realizing it was set in manual and for such a long exposure time.  Most of the images were a whole lotta blurry (I mean art, Jeff), but in one frame someone had taken a photo in the background with a point-n-shoot camera, and the flash from that shot had temporarily frozen the action in one of Jeff's shots.  The result was pretty serendipitously cool, so I had my friend Laurie come over with her point-n-shoot camera and we recreated the set-up... again and again and again...  (Sorry I drained your battery, Laurie, but hey, you did end up with about 20 random profile shots of a couple people!) 

To recap, I had Laurie stand about to one side or the other of the subject, and after I pressed the shutter release for a three second exposure while hand-holding the camera, I told Laurie to fire her camera so I could use her flash to light the subjects.  

First up, Jeff and his gangst look.

Then the birthday star, Tina.

And finally back to Jeff moving in on Kylie.

Here's the theater Jerry and Tammy talked the hotel into letting us use for a pre-dinner party for Tina at no cost, with a DJ and bartender included.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering since i did have a few questions about this on Facebook, we stayed at the Hotel Riu Palace Las Americas.


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