Mexico

Instead of freezing in Minneapolis as usual, I was able to travel in Mexico during the Christmas/New Years holiday this year, visiting Huatulco, Oaxaca, and Mexico City. It was amazing to see so much culture compressed and layered, getting glimpses of ancient to modern, urban to rural and all the colors in between. As with every trip, especially the ones with good food a comfortable exchange rate, I wish I had been able to stay longer. But we packed in lots of stops and sights and I tried to make the most of the photo ops I came across along the way.

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Through a New Lens

I took a trip to attend a wedding in Vermont a few weeks ago and didn’t know what camera to bring. When I am hired to shoot weddings I bring my fancy DSLR with several lenses and flashes. But as a guest that setup it isn’t good for casual shooting and general portability. (Plus I always worry about people spilling drinks on it when I set it down to dance.) I considered one of my film cameras but, frankly, I’m rusty and I didn’t want end up wasting a bunch of film for no good reason. I shoot a lot with my iPhone but I’ve noticed that when one person has a phone out, other people take theirs out as a reflex which ruins the mood. So I decided to try out my new(ish) Holga Digital. It totally sucks and I would never recommend buying one but it was definitely the right choice for this trip.

To start with, it looks like a miniature version of the classic Holga. It is made of durable plastic and weighs next to nothing. There are two switches, one to select color or black-and-white and another to select f8.0 or f2.8. It has no screen to preview or review photos. The shutter speed is handled by some simple software; the metadata showed a range from 1/35 to 1/8000. There is some shutter delay that I don’t quite understand. The image quality is super low and it tends to put itself to sleep more othen than I’d like. That said, I ended up with some neat shots and some happy accidents. I lost a lot of shots I had hoped would turn out but I also discovered a number of keepers that I don’t even remember taking. I also loved that it was very non-intrusive. We like to review photos immediately (“Let me see that one!!”) which tends to lead to more photos (“Wait, take another one like this!!”) and/or a discussion about appearances (“No, delete that, I look terrible!!”). The Holga Digital left all of that up to chance and it left me free to actually experience my trip.

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600 Miles Later

The video is done! I wanted to hold off on this post until the video was finished so I could share the whole story all together. As this video hopefully shows, every day on the Appalachian Trail had its struggles and its rewards. The towns, people, and views we encountered all added to the experience. I could never capture or share all the memorable moments we had along the way but I tried to cut together a collection of scenes that give a feel for life on the trail.

Some of my favorite stills from the journey.

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O Christmas Tree

I can’t help but agree with comedian Jim Gaffigan a little bit: “The Christmas tree…where did that tradition come from? It sounds like the behavior of a drunk man. I can picture it now: ‘Honey, why is there a… a pine tree in our living room?’ ‘I like it. We’re gonna… we’re gonna decorate it… for Jesus. Then I’m gonna hang my socks over the fireplace.'”



Brown Thursday

I don’t support this new trend but I had to cover it anyway. Brown Thursday, as it has been called, is a clear violation of America’s favorite holiday in terms of food. Going out at 7 or 8 pm and waiting in line until midnight is just crazy enough to be fun. Having stores open at 5 and 6 pm ruins all that. They don’t even pass out stuffing or cranberry sauce while you are in line.

Fire Truck Parade

Normally, a fleet of 30 fire trucks cruising down Main Street would be cause for alarm. This day, however, the trucks were met with smiles and waves. The annual Antique Fire Truck Parade in Bedford featured historical fire fighting equipment reaching as far back as a hose cart from 1888. Current and retired motorized vehicles came from neighboring counties as well.

Soccer Tradition

I happened across some guys warming up for a soccer game and decided to ask what league they played in. I learned that a group of workers at La Carreta, a local Mexican food chain, have gotten together for a mini soccer tournament on Easter and Memorial Day for the last 26 years. Four teams compete for bragging rights while friends and family socialize on the sidelines. The rain this morning left the fields muddy and uneven but players said the Easter competition has never been cancelled.

Plastic Rabbit Eggs

Easter is by far one of the strangest holidays, at least how we celebrate it now. Many symbols we associate with it are of non-Christian origin, it’s floating date was decided in an ancient meeting, and the cuisine is a hodgepodge of foods from all over the world. Personally, I like rabbits, spring vacation days, ham and all that. But the plastic egg hunts are right near the top of my hardest-things-to-photograph list.

A Day in DC

I pulled a 22-hour shift to cover Obama’s second inauguration (my first) in Washington yesterday. A group of people from the Lynchburg area organized a bus to leave at 1:30 a.m. and come back in the afternoon. With a 4ish-hour trip each way I knew it would be a long day. I mistakenly thought I’d be able to grab a decent nap during the ride but sometimes it just doesn’t work out (and it doesn’t help when you are right under the speaker for the en-route movie). All in all it was an amazing day and one that I’ll never forget. Seeing the sun rise over the Jefferson Memorial and feeling the crowd roar as Obama approached the lectern – photos and words really aren’t adequate to capture those moments. But they are better than nothing so, as usual, here is a set of my favorite pics from the day. Including a very candid photo of Obama hanging out with some people in the park…

Bogotá, Armenia, Salento

Selection of photos from Colombia, during a week-long trip I recently took with my parents. Our long-distance friend, Diego Mendoza, was marrying Angelica Bonilla in Bogotá and they invited us to attend. We took the opportunity to spend a few extra days visiting Armenia and Salento, also hiking a day in the Cocora Valley. The food was wonderful, the weather cooperated when it really mattered, and the people we met were all very patient and helpful.

I took all of these with an iPhone or Canon G10, a refreshing departure from the 5-lb Nikon and bag that I haul around for work. I wanted to both test the range of those cameras as well as force myself to experiment with a different shooting style.