Tag Archives: travel

Out and About – June 2017

I’ve not posted in what seems to me like years but perhaps to you seems a delightful age of peace and quiet.  Well, rejoice no longer!

Music at the Indy Canal

Lately I’ve tried to avail myself more frequently of the downtown Indianapolis Canal.  It’s a couple mile jaunt and boasts some of the most varied selections of people to observe that you can hope for in the city and even some live entertainment from time to time.

2017 Delphi Indiana

Last weekend I found myself in Delphi Indiana.  Of all the small towns in the area this one seems to have tried hardest to set itself apart from its peers.  It boasts a Wabash and Erie Canal interactive museum and a great system of parks.  This suspension bridge struck me as keenly allegorical.  It’s very small so even one person walking with regular footsteps can set up what seems like a pretty dangerous level of motion.  I shiver to think what a few people in-step could do to it.  It just goes to show how the force of things is multiplied with consistent and repeated action in anything we undertake in life.

2017 Delphi Indiana

And remember, jumping from the bridge is strictly prohibited.

2017 Delphi Indiana

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Chinese restaurant in town.  The sign reads:  “Dear customers, We’ll be closed for vacation for two month and we’ll be reopen on Aug 1st.”  This brings to mind a few thoughts.  Firstly, I assume this family is Chinese and has returned to their homeland for the summer.  I love the trust this speaks of for the community that they can just take off for months and that the town will welcome them back.  Also there’s a quaint sort of homespun quality to the homemade sign and simple message.  I really want to eat here on August 1st and see what the place is like.

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Well poo… it’s been six months

You know, every few months I pop on here and suddenly realize that it’s been far too long since I’ve made any update. You know it’s been too long when you have to scroll back 12 pages in Flickr to find the last picture you made commentary on. Oh well. No time like the present to catch up.

Alright… well, since June we’ve gone on vacation. We got in the car with three kids and said, “OK, oh children of ours, which direction?” After some discussion they said: “West!” so west we headed. A few more directional questions later we found ourselves in…

Madison Wisconsin for fireworks over water…
Madison Wisconsin 232

and a nice view of the capitol building…
Madison Wisconsin 124 Madison Wisconsin 146

Even the teenagers were happy and unafraid to show it for just this brief moment.
Madison Wisconsin 169

After another “Which way, kids?” we found ourselves in Milwaukee. This ultra-realistic statue of a security guard still haunts my dreams. Milwaukee WI 099

But the art museum is nice…
Milwaukee WI 037 And we even got to see the “wings” flap. Milwaukee WI 028

From there it was on to Green Bay where the youngest got eaten by a dinosaur…
Green Bay WI 001 … and there was this Lambeau field place on a cloudy day… Green Bay WI 022

Asking the kids again which way to go they voted to head over the top and loop the loop over Lake Michigan so we made our way up the long way to the Mackinac bridge and home through Michigan
Mackinac Bridge 011 Later, back in Indiana, the rain was record-breaking which made for great fungus Lake Mississinewa 041

but didn’t do a thing for the accommodations at the parks. You can just make out the top of the roof of the shelter house in the water.
Lake Mississinewa 005

But the bugs didn’t mind in Skiles Test Park.
Indianapolis Skiles Test Park 015 With August, as always in Indy, came GenCon 2015 GenCon_2015 Aug 01_0189134

And as the weather changed all manner of these little things were found laying about.
A poor dead house fly has come to dinner Immediately on the heels of GenCon, the state fair is always a wonderful place to see people… 2015 Indiana State Fair012
2015 Indiana State Fair038 With October, comes football and these guys rolled into town 2015 Colts vs Patriots027

Much to the disappointment of these guys
2015 Colts vs Patriots082 With the close of the year upon us, my muse was only awakened because of a realization that I was missing an opportunity. I get lots of products for review yet I wasn’t using them as photographic subjects. So over the past couple of days I’ve taken to exercising my macro lens. LED Bulb 024
faux necklace set 046 faux necklace set 049
Glass Crystal Glass Crystal
Glass Crystal

So it’s been a heck of year, in retrospect. Aside from those things pictured, there are a few events I should note. In October I moved out of my apartment and bought a house. In November we saw Elle King in concert and while she was profoundly foul mouthed she was deliciously entertaining. Best concert I’ve been to in years. And lastly, earlier in December my house was broken into and all my best camera equipment was stolen along with the majority of other electronics. So that’s been fun.

At any rate, it’s been a delightfully varied year. I promise I’ll write more often. But then, you’ve heard all THAT before I’m sure.

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Highlights from August So far…

Things have been quiet around this old blog lately but there’s certainly plenty going on in my head. As of late I’ve been remiss in posting but mainly because I’m going back through my entire photographic history and trying to be more organized and post everything to Flickr. So if you really want to see what’s going on then go check out Flickr. I promise fewer words, more photos.

In going through eons of old photos, I’ve reached the conclusion that I need to be much more meticulous in my post processing. In the past I’ve just gone out, spent 7-8 hours shooting random things and then come home exhausted and spending as little time as possible in getting things up. This, as it turns out, is a mistake. After only a few days I started finding shots that I’d given up on and resurrected them from their graves. Take this one from Crown Hill Cemetery, looking up through the monument of James Whitcomb Riley.

2012CrownHill_25

Before it was rather a washed out mess in the middle. It was one of my “This turned out OK but it could have been better” shots. Just a tiny tweak in post though and it’s one of my faves.

Also, after telling myself for years that I was going to go and really set myself to looking at the State Fair in detail I bothered to spend about 11 hours there for a daytime and an evening session. I’m not absolutely tickled with the results but they’re reasonable I’d say.

2013StateFairNight_57

Well, ok, I admit that I’m absolutely amused to the hilt about this batch. I spent an hour or so looking at the people trying to win $200 staying on the mechanical bull. Needless to say, the bull was undefeated but the expressions were timeless.

IndianaStateFair2013_34

I also did a bit of scrabbling about in the yard. This Praying Mantis was wonderfully patient with me on one weekend morning. Couldn’t have asked for a better subject.

Brown Praying Mantis in Macro

At any rate, you can find more of my randomness on Flickr. The photos from this post were from the sets below; feel free to poke around if you have free time.

Crown Hill Cemetery
2013 Indiana State Fair
Insects

Add me as a contact on Flickr and I’ll return the favor.  Always looking for more photos to thumb through in that 10 minutes first thing in the morning when I’m not quite alert enough to safely get out of bed.

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The Old Round Church – Richmond Vermont

We had some time to kill in Vermont so we took to roaming the countryside somewhat randomly. One of the things we stumbled upon was a unique church built in 1812 with a round configuration. The volunteer tour guide explained that the church was a combined congregation from several neighboring localities so the shape was rather apropos of the spirit of the place.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

The original construction cost $3,000 and was paid for by sales of the pews. Once you bought a pew, it was yours to sit in or pass down to your heirs as you saw fit.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

If you’re nice, they’ll let you stand in the pulpit and say a few words.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

From time to time they have concerts in the place and a pipe organ was brought in from some other neighboring historical building.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

It looks rather octagonal on the outside…

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

… but it’s round enough on the inside.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

I close with the view from the pulpit.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

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Vacation, Niagara Falls and the Dynamics of Post-Processing

A week or so ago I took off for the east coast with three intentions close to my heart:

1.  Take lots of photos.  Not just random touristy crap but shots with a sense of artistry in mind.  Shots that make me think when I get back.

2.  Do #1, but be patient and let the art come to me rather than trying to force it.

3.  Make time each day to sit down and write about whatever happened during the day.

As I sit back here in Indiana after a week…. yeah, I have to give myself a complete F-.  I took lots of photos but it was, frankly, lots of random touristy crap.  I wasn’t patient and I sure as shylock didn’t write about anything on vacation.  So here I am a week later trying to piece together the fragments of a vacation that, admittedly, was a lot of fun, but left me with more bullet points than I started out with.

One major addendum to #2 has been opened and it came to me as I sat at the kitchen table processing photos from the trip.  I realized that I was in some sort of bizarre race with myself to just put out product.  Like a McDonalds fry cook I was pushing out identical hash browns rather than trying to savor the details.  I recall during various points in the trip that I was shooting for the purposes of HDR but when I got home I couldn’t be bothered to actually do the processing required.  I’m happy to drive 20 hours across the country to take a photo, but that 60 seconds required to process it correctly… well, screw that.  I have a Facebook audience that demands instant gratification… or… wait… maybe it’s just ME that demands instant gratification.  So here we pick up a #4

4.  Be patient with post-processing, taking hours or days or weeks to generate a quality finished product rather than just a quick one.

What does this mean?  Well, many things.  Sure, you want to take the time to balance everything visually in a proper manner but this also means tagging and adding descriptions and taking the time to put down the words that go with the picture.  Sure a picture may be “worth 1,000 words” but a few scant words go a long way to making those 1,000 “words” much more meaningful.

***

The words I should have written last night about Niagara run somewhat along the following lines….

The night before we drove from Vermont to Buffalo in an bleary 6-hour stretch that lasted until 3am.  We pulled into the hotel in a state of paranoia about whether the desk clerk would have held our room for us so late into the night.  Luckily for our sanity, he had received instructions from his predecessor so we were not unexpected at that ungodly hour.  Mercifully, checkout was not until 12 and we used every minute of that in our beleaguered journey to the land of wakefulness.

Rubbing the sleep from our eyes, we motored onward to Niagara and my impressions of the place warrant another spate of bulletpoints.

a.  When I was a wee lad in the early 80’s traveling with my grandparents, we roamed from west coast to east and the world seemed an open book.  Sure there was kitschy  randomness but it was the exception.  Arriving at Niagara  I was stunned at just how… commercial… the whole thing had become.  My mind wandered to times 400 years previous when Samuel de Champlain stumbled upon the site and discovered this monumental natural phenomenon. It really puts into perspective how much we’ve sanitized the natural world for our consumption. We’ve taken the awesome spectacle of nature and enclosed her in guard rails. It makes a one rather sad, to be frank.

b. The number of languages spoken by the people in evidence here made me want to go back and study my German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Danish with much more attention. We spent many hours wondering “what language was that?” as we walked around listening to the varied cacophony. As a xenophile who appreciates other cultures much more than his own, it was endlessly gratifying to see people from all over the world enjoying the same bits of America which held our attention.

c. The falls is a rather striated locale. On the Canadian side, you have a casino and what looks like the most abundant accommodation. From the American side, it looks like the Canadians really have their shit together. This could be a totally wrong impression since we were passport-less on the American side and thus, completely stuck, but the other side of the river… yeah, it looked like flipping Nirvana. On this side, we had a view of the falls, mostly under construction and a huge 7-story building that someone built without any knowledge of who would actually bother to rent space in it. The first floor is a souvenir shop worthy of any good flea market and the second floor is a “made in America” shop that offers t-shirts and random unsavory food items. I’d heard that the Canadian side was “better” but I had no idea it was this unequal.

d. The American side of things offers several “attractions” for an extra fee. For $15 a person you can go out on a boat and get closer to the falls. This is the “Maid of the Mist” that’s been running for ages. The boats do go fairly close to the base of the falls and I guess… well, we didn’t choose this particular option for our extra $50 but it seems like it would be tolerable. We chose instead “The Cave of the Mist” in which you can walk up a wooden stairway and get right under the hellacious torrent of the falls themselves. Part of me is disappointed that they did this at all really. They took a natural wonder and put stairs under it after all. Another part of me … well, the part of me that stood there under the falls getting drenched was delighted by the idea. It should be noted that I intentionally didn’t take my camera to “The Cave” because of the risk involved in taking $2,000 worth of camera equipment under a waterfall. As it turns out, except for the “Hurricane” platform, my camera would have been fairly safe.

Alright, all that diatribe was pursuant to waiting for the upload to finish so let’s get on with the photos.

I was surprised… and yet not surprised… at the crowds. It wasn’t terrible on a weekday but it wasn’t exactly intimate.

From Niagra Falls, NY

It is truly amazing to think that this small overlook is the juncture between two huge lakes, one emptying into another. What’s more, it’s been a focus of human attention for millenia. No matter how the tiny humans may scurry and worry, the Earth carries on in its well-worn groove. Makes one feel more than a bit insignificant.

From Niagra Falls, NY

What strikes me here is the rocky profile under the water. For tens of thousands of years, water has poured over this rocky decline. Yet this sharp point persists, resisting a million, a billion tiny nibbles from every minuscule particle of sediment that made its way over the falls.

From Niagra Falls, NY

The Canadian side has high-rises, a casino, even a Burger King. The American side…. well, it has a flea market. I’m not exactly sure what that says about us, but taking away all that, it is a truly epic sight.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Here are my three traveling companions for the trip.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Ahhhh, the observation deck… This also leads to the “Maid of the Mist”. That attraction costs $15 per person. Luckily, the organizers were nice enough to offer a $1 trip down just to look around. This is what we paid for. It was a $4 well worth it. Not sure $60 to go out on a boat would have been similarly well received.

From Niagra Falls, NY

From the observation deck, I recalled the intent to capture the falls “as if frozen”. This is my attempt at 1/1000 of a second. Doesn’t look much different from the standard.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Here are the “Maid of the Mist” crowd.

From Niagra Falls, NY

One has to admit that taking a step back, the whole area is pretty phenomenal. This has been going on, pretty much as it is now, for thousands of years. Those glaciers did us a favor. Whether you believe in God or not, this is not a place to be taken lightly.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Looking the other direction, we have the bridge to Canada.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Laura is always chippper….

From Niagra Falls, NY

I leave you with the awesome majesty of the falls. Pounding on and on for centuries.

From Niagra Falls, NY

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French Lick, Indiana and West Baden Springs

Our real vacation of the year approaches so it seemed wise to go warm up on some nearby tourist attractions. This previous weekend we went off to see the gem of Southern Indiana, French Lick.

You can tell we’re all really excited.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

First stop, French Lick hotel and casino.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

We’re far from the only ones in evidence on this glorious summer day.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The interior is decorated in middle-American gaudy.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

And the front desk guy made sure we saw the “baskilisks”. I guess they are kinda basking.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The place gets a Fonzi-style thumbs-up from the cherubs.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Kids got bored more quickly than the adults, as usual.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

In the main formal dining hall, chandeliers as far as the eye can see it seems.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

When photographing, it always pays to look up.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

But there are more modest light fixtures. I love the lines in this one.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Overlooking the sulfurous gardens…

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The stench of the springs left some people rather minimally impressed.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

No shortage of fancy

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

“Read the sign…”
“On the door…”
“The Sign….”
“Right there!…”
“The sign!!”
“Read the sign!!!!”
“Oh nevermind…”

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Pluto never looked so happy.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

After the first hotel, West Baden offers another more majestic example of the genre.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The central lobby is a huge domed area 200 feet wide

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

… with a pendulous chandelier hanging from the ceiling 135 feet above the floor.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

While you’re waiting for your parents to get tired of looking around, you can even play a game of checkers…

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

…or just fall asleep altogether on one of the many pieces of wonderfully comfortable furniture.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Lots of stained glass is on offer.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

And the well-manicured grounds also offer a cemetery for those in the mood for such things.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

But watch out for the frogs. They spit.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Alright, enough of that. I’m out of here…

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

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Miscellaneous Photographic Rot From June

As is typical, I’ve been rather remiss in my posting. Sure, I can take hundreds of photos and spray them around the Interwebs but I’m apparently not nearly manly enough to bother to comment on them with anything approaching timeliness. Ah well.

After returning from St. Louis, I felt myself bitten again by the macro bug (no pun intended). I chased this little green critter around the yard for a while before he conveniently alighted on a day lily. I’m endlessly amused by the fact that these guys have hair if you look close enough.

From 6-15-2013 Misc

Over the years, it seems that the once-common caterpillar is increasingly hard to find. Luckily, this one sat still for quite a while.

From 6-15-2013 Misc

A week later on the 20th, Zionsville was graced with an exceptionally beautiful and fiery sunset. Some things cannot be ignored.

From 6-23-2013 Misc

On the 24th, I was asked to photograph a local youth baseball game. Despite the fact that I will happily photograph anything for anyone for free and try to promote this offer fairly widely, I only get about two requests a year So when they come, I give them my utmost attention.

It’s my hope that when the kids see their photos that they feel like they’ve really gotten the ‘big league’ treatment.

From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball

And I’m always amused when the ball appears to hover in mid-air.

From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball
From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball
From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball
From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball

And the emotions on display are priceless.

From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball

And sometimes you capture that instant of decision. Ball in glove, foot on base, that would be… out at first.

From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball

And for some, you don’t really need the ground, you can just hover above it.

From 6-24-2013 Westfield Youth Baseball

The next day, in search of … well, anything to photograph, I made off for a local outdoor concert. As always, there is an ocean of things to point a camera at.

Joy abounds among young and old…

From Fisher’s Concerts 6-25-2013

when not-quite-Jimmy-Buffett is singing.

From Fisher’s Concerts 6-25-2013

uh oh. I think he’s seen me.

From Fisher’s Concerts 6-25-2013

An apt image for July 4th, I’d say.

From Fisher’s Concerts 6-25-2013

And nobody ever pays nearly enough attention to the drummer.

From Fisher’s Concerts 6-25-2013

Finally, on the 30th, it was time to visit the IMA. Relatively speaking the stop was brief, but not uninteresting. It never ceases to amaze me, however, how little the exhibits change in the main galleries from one year to the next. I was there for the Ai Weiwei exhibit, but as always, the insects in the garden steal the show.

From IMA 6-30-2013

And that pretty well sums up the last two weeks in photography.

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