Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Grouse Lake Trail

Just a quick post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope you are all looking forward to 2014. It doesn't matter if you're shooting with new gear in new places, or cherished gear in favorite places, as long as you're getting out there and making a few wrong turns.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Right Wrong Way

Want to get some interesting photos in Venice? Take one of the vaporetto boats the wrong way around the island at sunrise.

Giudecca Canal

I'd intended to take the boat on the most direct route to St. Mark's Square, through the Grand Canal (the "2" line), then explore the alleys before the crowds started showing up. However, the boats were still running few and far between since it was so early. I saw the "1" line was also going to St. Mark's Square, and thought, "How much longer could it be?"

It turned out to be much longer, much windier, and much colder, but much more interesting at the same time. I got a prime seat in front of the pilot's cabin, because no one else wanted to go this way. Their loss. I got to see the working side of Venice, and got a close up view of Giudecca since the boat made a couple stops there. I must have blown through half a roll on the Xpan, when I captured the picture above. All the working boats and cruises were on the move too. The poorly shot video below shows the overall atmosphere. It was amazing.

Seriously, it was cold, especially as we rounded the west side of the island and entered the open water of Laguna Veneta. I'm not a fan of the cold, but I loved every minute of it.

Sometimes getting lost or making a wrong turn is the best thing you can do when traveling.

Venice Flat Recommendation

Ok, you've seen the Paris edition, now it's time for Venice. Again, I found a great place on AirBnB, but it took a bit more searching this time.

Evening Rush

Initially, I'd booked a place closer to the heart of Venice, in Castello, which had a liberal cancellation policy. The reason I'd booked it was that it was so cheap. I was beginning to see why. A few days before we departed for Europe, I took another look at the place and got a different vibe. It looked like it was just some dude with some roommates and a spare room; not the kind of place I'd want to stay with my wife.

Thankfully by this point, the other costs of the trip had been spent, and I was a little more comfortable increasing the budget for Venice. I cancelled the original reservation and got all my money back, minus the AirBnB booking fee, which wasn't too bad. I applied for a better place, but the owner didn't respond within 24 hours, so the application expired. On to another place.

As they say, the third time's the charm. I found this place right near the Venice train station (Santa Lucia not Mestre). This made it incredibly easy to get settled on arrival. We met the host's assistant right across the canal from the train station at San Simeone Piccolo. The assistant was right on time meeting us, and even gave us some local restaurant recommendations while she was showing us the apartment. It's also worth noting that since the apartment was near the train station, it gave us easy access to all the vaporetto boats (mass transit waterbus) that go to every part of the city.

View Larger Map

And wouldn't you know it, Google just added Venice to Street View (though "street" doesn't really apply here). You can actually see the apartment with the silver window shade up top.

View Larger Map

I have to admit that it felt a little strange staying in a place attached to a church. Once I started thinking about it, I realized that there are few places in Italian cities that aren't attached to a church. Other than that, the place was clean, quiet, and had a shower that worked much better than the one in Rome. As you can see from Street View, the surrounding canals and alleys are charming, though I'd recommend packing your bags and seeing it for yourself. Happy travels!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


The last roll of film that I shot in Venice seemed like it would never end. Now that I have the results back from the lab, I can see why. Here's the first frame:

Early Start

I seriously think the film counter got all the way up to 39 before the roll was done. Was this a mistake? Yes. Is this photo still interesting? You bet.

Instead of thinking of this as a mistake though, I prefer to think of it as turning film up to 11.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Paris Flat Recommendation

One of my neighbors was asking about some of the details of our recent trip to Europe so he could plan something similar. Rather than just letting him in on the details, I figured I'd write a few blog posts about it.

Apartment View

Back in college, my buddy and I stayed at Woodstock Hostel. It was fun, and had all the good things you'd expect from a hosteling experience (more on that trip here). However, now that I'm married and all grown up, something better was in order. Thankfully I was able to find this apartment with a great host on AirBnB, just a stone's throw away from Notre Dame Cathedral and Les Halles Station.

The location could not have been better. I could pop out in the morning for a photo-walk around Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis to watch the Seine and the rest of the city wake up. In the afternoons and evenings, I could head over to Place Georges Pompidou or Esplanade de la Liberation for some pictures and people-watching. C'est tres magnifique.

View Larger Map

Really the only down side was that there were a lot of steps to get up to the apartment. However, being on the top floor also afforded a charming view of the rooftops of Paris (picture above). It also allowed for more light and less noise. The place was totally silent at night, in spite of all the restaurants and shops below. Speaking of which, there was a convenient Carrefour (care-A-foo) grocery store right across the street. One of the restaurants we enjoyed in the area was Pain Vin Fromages, which was a cozy fondue place with a friendly staff, and more varieties of cheese than I'll ever remember.

Apartment Steps

One recommendation I'd make before departing for any apartments in Europe: write down the coordinates and bring a GPS. Paris is notoriously difficult to navigate, especially if you've just arrived on an airplane and popped out of a subway station. If you have a Garmin GPS like I do, make sure you write down the coordinates in decimal-minute format. There are several websites that will do the conversion for you. Alternatively, you can do what I do and put Google Earth in decimal-minute format, mouse over the point of interest, and write down the coordinates at the bottom. Also note that it may take your GPS a few minutes to lock onto the satellites since you've presumably traveled a great distance. Sit down, relax, and enjoy an overpriced bottle of water while you wait. Oh yeah, don't forget extra batteries for the GPS.

More to come...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bagging Europe

Just got back from Europe last week. My wife and I flew into Paris, took trains to Heidelberg, Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Fussen, then flew out of Venice. Needless to say, it was quite a trip.

Paris, Bavaria, Venice

The photo above is the gear I took with me, which I took just before we left. I wish I had a before-and-after shot, but when you get back from three weeks on the go, you just kind of crash. I only got all my film mailed off to NCPS a couple days ago. That's for another blog post though. As I was putting the bag together, I kept my Notes from Rome post in mind. Here's the breakdown:

Hasselblad Xpan, because I just couldn't resist the urge to take it, even though it's really heavy.

Leica CL, because I wanted to take a Leica, and it's lighter than the M6.

Leica 90 f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit, for a little more reach, or in case someone needed a portrait taken (no one did).

Canon S95, for all the stoopid pictures in bad light, plus it can shoot video.

Polaris light meter, because camera light meters can't always be trusted.

Sea to Summit Soft Cell, otherwise known as the Xpan Go Bag. These days it's more organized thanks to the Tiffen filter case to the right.

Manhattan Portage Europa Medium Messenger Bag, because it's light weight, well made, looks sharp, and can swallow a ton of stuff when expanded. It even had room for a music box on the return trip.

Nine rolls of Kodak 400TX (Tri-X), which is my go to black and white film with lots of latitude.

Seven rolls of Kodak Portra 400, which I mainly planned to use in the Xpan. It turned out that Venice was very colorful though, so I did the unthinkable and put color film in the CL as well.

One roll of Fuji Pro 400H, which has been sitting around since before I switched to Portra.

One roll of Ilford FP4 125, in case I wanted to shoot some higher quality black and white.

Kalt Blower Brush, for the battle against dust. Thankfully there are no worries about dust on the sensor when you use film.

Garmin eTrex Venture HC, so I'd know where I'd been. It's also fun to post far-away places on Strava.

Extra pair of glasses (in the white case), so I'm not completely helpless if something happens to my main glasses. Really they're just the glasses from my previous prescription; better than nothing.

Toothbrush, because I'm paranoid like that.

Day to day on the trip I didn't lug all this gear around. Usually I'd carry either the CL or the Xpan, depending on what I was expecting to shoot. If I took both, then I just needed to remember to give my shoulder a rest now and then. The coffee shops of Europe make it very easy to take breaks.

I like the way the film and small-digital complimented each other on this trip. I could take all the touristy, I've-been-here shots with the S95, which let me conserve my film resources and be more considerate when I was in "real" photography mode. Having both also provided some insurance that all the shots from the trip would not be lost. In the end, I came back with about 10 rolls exposed, plus about 500 digital pictures from the point-and-shoot.

More to come when I get the film back...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prints available on Etsy

Sydney Sunset

I'm happy to announce that four prints are now available via ThePhotoWay shop on Etsy. I hope you'll take the time to check it out, buy a print (or four), tell all your friends, and get them to tell all their friends. That's not asking for too much, is it? :-) Seriously though, any support for this site is much appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NBM House and Home


Yesterday I needed to clear my head a bit before meeting a friend of mine in Eastern Market, so I decided to swing by the National Building Museum. I didn't have any particular exhibits in mind, but I've never known the NBM to disappoint. By chance I came across the House & Home exhibit. At first glance it didn't seem like much; some displays of rooms and such. The detailed models of city and country residential structures were interesting. But the real magic was toward the end.

Imagine an issue of Dwell magazine that's 10 feet tall and consists of nothing more than full page images of beautiful, modern homes and apartments. Now instead of still images, imagine video, constantly alternating between each side of the magazine, showing people living in the homes, along with some Helvetica-like music. It really was enthralling.

On top of that, one the dwellings featured in the video was MICA's very own Gateway building. My picture above doesn't really do it justice.

If you're in the area of the National Building Museum or the Gateway building, I suggest you take 30 minutes and check them out. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fort McHenry Radio


This isn't really photography related, but I thought I'd post something about it since I can't seem to find it elsewhere on the Internet. One dark, early morning commuting through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, I noticed that certain radio stations would stay on the air even as I was passing through the tunnel. "Surely not,"1 I thought to myself; I was underground, under the water. There must be a repeater.

I pointed this out to a friend of mine, and he figured that since the stations coming through were from Baltimore, maybe they had enough power to make it into the tunnel. I had my doubts, but I didn't have any evidence to the contrary.

A few months ago I was driving through the tunnel yet again, but this time I'd left the radio in scan mode since none of my presets had anything good on. Sure enough, the tuner landed on 107.1 MHz about half way through the tunnel. A female voice simply repeated, "This is the Maryland Transportation Authority radio rebroadcast system for bore 3 of the Fort McHenry Tunnel. This is only a test."

So not only is there a repeater for the tunnel, there's actually one for each bore of the tunnel. I haven't done an exhaustive search for stations that they're repeating, but so far I've found 100.7 and 102.7. I'm sure there are more.

I also haven't checked to see if there's something similar for the Harbor Tunnel. My guess is that it's really there to provide emergency broadcasts to people that might be stuck in the tunnel during the regular bumper-to-bumper delays. Obviously it also provides entertainment, probably helps relieve some people's claustrophobia, and may give workers something to listen to while they're doing maintenance.

Ok, that was a lot of words for not a lot of content. The picture above was taken (haphazardly) with a Leica M6 on Kodak Tri-X. Normally I wouldn't post such a poor photo, but it seems to capture a bit of the grittiness of commuting in this area. It's also my only photo that's remotely relevant to this article.

Happy shooting and commuting!

1Insert Airplane quote here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

From Industry to Charm

Really these pictures could have been taken in any industrial area. These pictures happen to be from Baltimore. I still believe in Baltimore. Between 1950 and 2012, the population dropped from about 1.1 million to around 600 thousand. But I think the city is well over that statistic. Today it's more about the art, the business, the waterfront, the history, and of course, the charm.

If all you know of Baltimore is what you've seen on The Wire, you know nothing. I dare you to walk up Charles Street from Federal Hill to Penn Station and not fall in love.

These pictures were not taken anywhere near Charles Street. At no point was I afraid that some thug would take away my Leica though. Just put that image out of your head.

Chain Link

Point Breeze

Point Breeze

Point Breeze