Tag Archives: tilt-shift

Muir Woods NM + the Presidio in the Rain

Muir Woods National Monument, California

Last month, Hailey and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. Milestones are a funny thing: its just a number, another day, yes, but if there is one thing to be proud of — to truly celebrate, unlike a birthday or Valentine’s Day — it’s success in marriage. We toasted by visiting the Anderson Valley, an unheralded region of redwoods, vineyards and orchards in Northern California’s Mendocino County. It was a short trip, just three nights, but it was our first taste of what traveling around California is like: hectic, expensive and stressful in the urban areas; blissful, relaxing and delicious in the rural ones.

Before we got there, we made some diversions on day one. Here’s how it looked:

Sunday

The Presidio’s Picnic Off the Grid

Our flight was delayed into San Francisco, renting the car took over an hour, and I provided bad directions in getting to the Presidio. Not the best start to a trip, but all was better once I had a colossal lamb burger. Continue reading

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An Evening in Zürich

Fraumunster and boats on the Linnat River, Zurich, Switzerland

I was in Zürich for one night with my wife and an exhausted toddler. It was the tail-end of a two-week train-bound vacation that had been extraordinary, but grueling. And Switzerland had squeezed our pocketbooks for all we were worth. Bringing our little caravan to an end in one of the world’s most expensive cities seemed like a bad idea. Our collective mentality seemed to be: “Let’s just check into our overpriced, 2-star student-project hotel and hide under our pillows until its time to fly home.” Continue reading

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Switzerland Through a Tilt-Shift Lens

Swiss flag flying off the back of a steam ship on Lake Lucerne

(Click on images for a larger view)

OK. So it’s been three months since we went to Switzerland, but I’m not done posting images. I’m just catastrophically slow at updating my blog now that I have my own business (by the way, check out our killer website, designed by HeyDay Creative).

On top of that, our little family has decided to move to a bigger house. Where this house will be, we don’t know yet, but getting our current place ready has been pretty consuming. The plus? Eventually, there will be new wall space in a new home to decorate with enlargements of Switzerland.

Continue reading

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Mexico Travelogue (Part 1): Viernes de Dolores

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It took roughly five minutes on the ground in Léon to ditch any lingering fear I had about traveling in Mexico. I’d love to point to one symbolic thing that put me at ease — a child releasing a white dove by the side of the road, or something ridiculous like that — but I can’t. It was just a feeling. Got bags, cleared immigration, found a taxi, we’re moving. OK, it’s go time. We’re on vacation. We’re traveling. Look: a Pollo Feliz billboard.

Soon, the taxi driver was excitedly conversing with Hailey about Guanajuato and the heat. Hace mucho calor, verdad? My Spanish is spotty, but I was catching the drift. I was still wearing jeans from an early start in Denver, and now the heat was making me regret it. This I resolved to change as soon as we checked in.

The highway between Léon and Guanajuato was finding a fold in the landscape and climbing into a dusty canyon speckled with dead-looking trees and colorful houses: the outskirts of the city. There was a festive air to Guanajuato on this Friday afternoon, and it was readily apparent even on the fringes of the city. Families were out in the plazas and in the parks, doing things together in the hot April sun. It was Viernes de Dolores, the Friday of Sorrows, just two days shy of Palm Sunday and the first in a chain of holy events we’d experience during our time in Mexico. In fact, despite being curious agnostics, Semana Santa was the whole reason Hailey and I were coming to Guanajuato and later visiting San Miguel de Allende. The celebrations and pageantry were something I had read about and wanted to photograph for some time. My religion didn’t matter, just the desire to witness an intense cultural celebration and learn from it. Little did I know just how much I would learn.

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By the entrance to the Hotel Antiguo Vapor was an altar to the Virgin Mary, decorated in papel picado, clipped flowers and candles. By nightfall we had seen dozens of these shrines, some decorated in sawdust, others with dried food like corn and beans. All of them were intensely purple — a sovereign color that would mark the days of our travels through Easter — and all of them were centered on a portrait of Mary.

At first glance, the shrines seemed to be in the background of Guanajuato’s festive atmosphere. Our introductory walk through town led us by an endless stream of food vendors, street musicians and comically overburdened toy salesmen who catered to moms and dads and children who were cramming as much fun as they could into their day off. Our wanderings lead us to the El Pípila monument — one of the most impressive city overlooks I’ve ever visited — and it too was crawling with families and permeated with the vendors who were capitalizing on their hunger, their thirst, and their desire for simple but amusing toys.

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But the solemnity of the Viernes de Dolores emerged at nightfall. We had negotiated our way through the streets to Plazuela de San Fernando and dined on a molcajete filled with steak, chorizo, chicken, onions and nopales. Slap the ingredients on a corn tortilla, drop a spoonful of salsa verde across the top and you have one of Guanajuato’s signature dishes. We would have an even better one two days later at La Botellita, which included pineapples. But as dinner wrapped up, a cacophony of drummers echoed from Iglesia de San Roque, a yellow and red church just a block away. Soon, a massive procession of drummers of all ages entered the square, followed by an altar with a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary, dressed in purple robes and bedecked with flowers. The altar was too tall to pass underneath the phone and electrical wires draped across the narrow streets. So, it was an individual’s task to follow the altar with a large, forked stick and lift the loose wires for Mary to pass beneath.

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It was the trip’s first instance of serendipity. It’s second would follow on the heels of the parade. After we watched the parade continue into the heart of the city, we opted to walk back to the hotel — a bit fatigued and a bit comotose from the molcajete. We got a mere 100 yards before we discovered a crowd of people congregated around a stage set beneath Iglesia de San Roque. Merry mariachi music filled the air, and on stage, eight couples danced in a beautiful performance of baile folklórico. They pranced with gleeming smiles, and while it was so quintessentially Mexican in its colors, its sounds and its movements, it was also chivalrous and nostalgic, the kind of display that allows the audience to reach back for simpler times.

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Behind the audience, Guanajuato crawled up the hillside like a colorful array of Legos piled toward the stars. My feet were tired, and I was a bit dehydrated, but I was happy to be standing there. After all, we’d thought about cancelling the trip because of safety concerns. After all, Edward James Olmos — the guy who played Selena’s dad! — said “don’t go to Mexico…anywhere.”

I can tell you right now: from where I sit and from what I experienced in Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, go to this part of Mexico. It is so very worth it.

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Sterile Miniature Airports: DIA and DFW

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The world of today’s air traveler is a far cry from any jetset, glamorous notions of the ’50s. It is a miniature world of OCD rules and filthy public bathrooms. A place where TSA officials wear latex sanitation gloves to examine your passport (don’t know about you, but I sneeze on my passport all the time). It’s a realm of white noise and insulated thoughts, exaggerated anxiety and grey plastic bins. The threat level has recently been raised to orange for seven years now.

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And then there is the dietary habits of today’s traveler. Short layovers squeezing lunches into a 15 minute window — cardboard ingredients forced down a throat at 10:15am.

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There are worker bees who live this reality five to seven days a week. The burdens of the lifestyle are insane: shoes X-rayed twice a day, pockets stuffed with boarding pass stubs from yesterday, a two-minute wait for the next train to Terminal D. It is a life of 1,000 petty anxieties, each ticking the blood pressure up a notch each day.

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And then there was this girl in pink, staring at the candy store, waiting with her dad for it to open. And it reminds you that you are going somewhere deliberately — for once. No agenda. No business suit to iron. Just a lot of shorts and T-shirts in your suitcase. You’re three hours from walking off the plane into the realm of Mexico, a place that is familiar and yet all together new, exhilerating and bizarre. And you put your camera and its rented tilt-shift lens back in the bag and go find an exchange counter to get some pesos to get you started. Oh yeah: now I remember why I like traveling.

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