Cat Island, Day Two!

Just a quick update from Cat Island!  During the day I took the Gro-Pro out snorkeling on a local island and we kayaked through the mangrove to a secret beach.  Last night was the rehearsal dinner and dancing.  Nicci, the bride, surprised everyone by hiring a local drumline, Junk-a-Noo, to bring a 45 minute conga line (without stopping the music) through the resort!  Then, between beers, I was running back and forth on the beach getting star trail photos.  Having an incredible time at the Fernandez Bay Village!  Here are a few shots from the day:



Where In the World is Alex the Photo Guy?

Yes, there has been a blog slowdown.  I knew you were worried, but don't be!  I've been out and about through the east coast and midwest with not enough time in the day (or sleep at night) to blog enough!

I was recently awarded an incredible photo assignment for architecture photography that has put me in Boston, New York, DC, Minneapolis, and Chicago in less than a month.  I was also able to shoot for a wedding in Hilton Head and visit my brother's family with Keri.  It's been an insane September for me so far spending less than 4 days at home between August 30th and Sept 24th.  I've been on 6 rooftops, 6 planes, in 4 rental cars, and in over 25 office buildings.  I had NYPD graciously move police cars and bomb surveillance units out of the way for one of my shoots and have also sat with my tripod for an hour and a half waiting for a shadow to move out of the way.  I've sat in rush hour in 5 cities yelling at the clouds to go away (I'm not counting Atlanta rush hour- I see that all the time).  It's been an incredible assignment, with still a few more cities to go.  Luckily I have time on the last few- the reason why I visited the cities I did when I did was to catch them before the leaves fall off the trees.  The other cities up next are southern or California.  I'm neck deep in editing for these (some of these aren't final products yet), but I'll share a few quick highlights.

...nevermind that jerk in the pic.  Someone should have stolen something out of his open camera bag.

Here's my map of August 30th to Sept 24th (click for larger):

Greetings from London!

Keri and I touched town at Gatwick airport at 7am Wednesday morning (2am EDT).  We haven't gotten too much done due to jetlag and a sinus infection/cold, but we have walked around a good bit.  Our good friends Trevor and Sophie have been nice enough to let us crash with them in their flat.  Below a shot of their living room/kitchen/dining room/office/laundry room.  It looks like one of the "living in 412 square feet" displays at Ikea.  They also have a bedroom off to the side and a bathroom just out of frame.  You can see all of the bedding and suitcases piled up from Keri and I.  Today we plan to see the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben.  Hopefully the rain will hold off so I can keep my camera outside of my rain jacket.  More to come hopefully!  

A chance sighting of Kylie Minogue apparently filming a new music video.  We just saw pedestrian traffic stopped and had no idea what was going on.  Moments later, a short pop star ran by with film crews chasing her.


Firenze! Which apparently means "Florence" in Italian!

We kept wondering why the train stations kept saying "Firenze" and not "Florence."  I can honestly say Keri and I gave Italian the old [community] college try before hopping on a plane overseas.  We found about 8 hours of Italian on CDs and listened to them all in about 2 months.  I knew 8 hours of listening in the car wouldn't get me to conversational Italian, but I thought it would at least cover "why the hell isn't Florence on the map?  Should we ask someone in what city The David is located?  We eventually figured it out... and arrived in the artist's city.

To be honest, we were expecting something different.  We thought Rome was going to be a big, busy, bustling city; Florence would be a small, artsy city easy to get around; and Sienna would be just a big neighborhood town.  We were right about Rome and Sienna, but we overestimated the quaintness of Florence.  We're not saying we didn't like Florence, because we did experience some amazing art, stayed in a beautiful former convent, and Keri met "Bernini"- her new baby lamb leather jacket.  Florence just seemed full of crazy mopeds, long lines for museums, and a few unfriendly waiters.

I'll start the photo series with our first moment of peace from the trip.  Between the 5 missed standby flights to Italy, going to Germany first, getting acclimated in Venice, and the sightseeing in Cinque Terre, we began Florence with our first moment of downtime- laundry day.  Because Keri and I flew standby, we had to pack roughly 3 weeks of clothes in a "carry-on and one personal item."  Florence was about all our wardrobe could handle without offending the natives.  We settled into the Setti Santi Hostile (Seven Saints)- a former Catholic Convent- for a few hours of laundry, napping, and relaxation.  The window you see immediately below opened to an olive orchard.

The Ponte Vecchio and a close-up of the stilts supporting the retail shops that open to the inside of the bridge.


A random opera singer on the street.

And onto the market day 2.

This woman freehand embroiders fabric in about 20 seconds.  Pretty amazing to watch.

And of course, I had to include pictures of Bernini.  The coat that came to Keri by way of an Italian man that knows Keri's style and size by just one look at her.  No joke.  It was pretty amazing.

Part II on the way...

Cinque Terre, Italy! Part 2 of 2

Day two in the Cinque Terre consisted of a trail hike through the five towns.  You can read about day one and the Cinque Terre here.

Unfortunately we weren't able to spend much time in the other four cities, though we got to see the sights and have a few bites of food along the way.  In Rio Maggiore (the fifth city) we even decided to take a break and cool down with a dip in the Mediterranean.  The water was so unbelievably clear I had to actually taste it to see if it really was saltwater (yes).  We could easily see 30 to 50 feet below us in the clear blue water... so clear that we got a little freaked out and only stayed in for a few minutes.  Yeah, we're wusses used to the Atlantic ocean where the water's too murky to see the imaginary sharks lurking.  I think the worst thing we really had to worry about were topless aging overweight Europeans (no pictures of those, thankfully).

I'll stop with all this "wordy stuff" and aside from an occassional caption, let the pictures from the hike do the talking.  I am working on some panoramic shots I should have up in a few weeks of the views I couldn't fit in one shot.



WC = Water Closet = Bathroom





Italian Mailbox:


Keri and my lock on the Via dell'Amore trail between Maranola and Rio Maggiore where couples "lock up their love and throw away the key."  Keri's idea...

Though apparently we picked the wrong spot.  Maybe we were blazing a new trail.

Cinque Terre, Italy! Part 1 of 2

I was happy to be at the lake last weekend, however with no internet, TV, and Keri being sick, I was allotted a ton of time to work on Italy photos.  I think I plowed through 800+, leaving me only with a few more to go.  Hooray for late blog posts!

Cinque Terre was hands down our favorite location of the trip, with Sienna coming in a close second.   From wikipedia: "The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera.   'The Five Lands' is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.   Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible "modern" development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach it from the outside."

When we arrived via train from Venice, we has no idea where we were going to sleep that night- a common theme throughout our entire trip.  With other cities we visited, I would email or call hotels/hostels/bed and breakfasts when we were on our way.  Whichever place responded first got our business for the night.  I must say that with Keri's preparations we never had an issue in any city.   However, if we came close to having an issue, this one could have been it.  We decided out of the five cities, we wanted to stay in Monterosso because our plan the following day was to hike the 5 miles between all five cities (a common tourist thing to do).  We figured we'd stay at the northernmost city so we could do the entire trail in one day.

We arrived from Venice in the morning because we decided to save €50 and take the 4:30am train and sleep on the way.  We walked out of the train station with our luggage and no email correspondence as to where we could sleep- upon arrival, we found most people in Cinque Terre had no use for the internet or computers in general.  We did however have an amazing travel book with recommendations.  We had no need for a cab because the city is so small and I decided to take a shot at one of the places the book described as having an amazing view overlooking the city.  I found the address, left Keri with the luggage, and climbed a rather large and winding road to the top where the hotel stood.  I was greeted by an older, half-drunk Italian man resembeling the glass blower from Venice.  He informed me that there were no vacancies at their establishment but offered (in broken English) to call a friend to find us a room.  I climbed back down the road to tell Keri the news that "a random hotelier will find us on the street because I have a blue shirt on."   Sure enough- he did.  A very similar looking Italian man (sensing a theme here?) brought us to his wife at the wine shop they jointly owned to book a room.  She was asian, spoke English very well, and was by far one of the most helpful people we met on the entire trip.  They set us up with a sketchy, dimly lit interior room for the night... but it was cheap, had a private bathroom, and she promised us a better room the next day.  We had a great night with some great food and rested up for our trek the next day.  The following day, the asian woman came through for us and put us in a room so elegant, we almost rerouted our entire trip to stay another night there. 

In this first post, I'll put pictures that were not taken on our hike, though they may have come from day 1 or 2 in the Cinque Terre.  I will begin with our lunch.  Cinque Terre is known for Sardines... so we just had to try some.

Dinner on day 2:  Mussels with black and white spaghetti noodles.


Handheld shot overlooking Monterroso.

Monterosso at night.  Note the well lit building on the far left is actually a Nazi bunker from World War II.   It is crazy to think that this quiet little beach town was at one point bombed by Allied forces.



A picture of a chef through the window of a restaurant we couldn't afford.  :)

We like to New Years in Maine

Keri and I were in Maine for New Years two weeks ago.  My brother just finshed up dental school last year in Augusta, GA and it just so happened that the residency he decided on to follow school is in Augusta, ME.  They seem to love it up there so far.  I say so far because of this week's way below zero windchills. We flew into Boston and immediately drove to Waterville, ME where Patrick, Jennifer, and Abby live.  Very cute town with a relatively fresh coat of snow everywhere but the roads (much more prepared than Atlanta).   We spend New Years Eve and Day in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park with some cold hiking and beautiful scenery.  I would love to live somewhere that got a respectable amount of snow each year.  Maine may be a bit much, but an average Atlanta winter is usually pretty snowman-less.

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park:

A cold Keri in Boston:

And this one isn't mine, but I thought I'd let Patrick show you how much Abby likes the snow.

Adam Radford Photo Shoot

Last November I was on a business trip to New York City.  I was lucky enough to stretch it out into a long weekend vacation and Keri even joined me for the last few days.  Our good friends Dan and Sydne were gracious enough to let us crash at their place and with Manhattan apartment space so scarce, we were delighted to have them as hosts.

As far as photography goes, I decided to only take my 5d and my 50mm lens.  No flash, no wide angle, no telephoto.  I like to do this from time to time on vacation because it forces me to be a bit more creative with what I have.  It makes me "zoom with my feet" which often leads to different angles and different ideas.  If you've got a bunch of lenses, try leaving all of them at home but one prime lens on your next weekend vacation.  It's a very freeing experience.

A day before Keri arrived, I enjoyed spending a full day with my friend Adam Radford.  Adam and I go back to freshman year of college in Nashville where we lived in the same dorm 3 out of the 4 years.  Along with a close friendship, he and I also played music throughout our time in college.  At one point we started the terribly named duo "Acoustic Gluestick."  Though we really only played two shows under that name, we still snicker at the cheesy-ness when saying it out loud.  Adam has since moved on and graduated with a Master in Fine Arts in Acting from Columbia University.  However, while still pursuing an acting career he's keeping his music alive.   On stage he has a sincerely warm and welcoming voice with a talent for the acoustic guitar.  Off stage, he leads a quiet life as an artist in Manhattan- though if you coax it out of him, his personality can be quite animated.

We had a full day involving recording sessions, a bass lesson (he just bought a sweet Fender Jazz Bass and wanted a few pointers on playing it), burgers and shakes, and a photo shoot.   Seeing as this is a photo blog I figure I'd share some photos with you, rather than blather on.  Adam and I were very pleased with the below photos mostly taken in the upper west side of manhattan, dispite many were shot in a cold drizzle on the Hudson river.  It's amazing what you can do with a single 50mm lens in the dark.  If only I were able to take pictures of my band while actually being in the photos as well...


Side note:  This one was taken at Lincoln Center.  Shortly after this was shot, Adam and I saw Jennifer Connelly hail a cab next to us.

I also put together a few potential web headers for him.  I have no idea how to do web design, but I thought these could do something for him.

GA & TN Hiking: South Cumberland, TN & Brasstown Bald, GA (Part 2 of 2)

Along with Cloudland Canyon, GA, Curt and I drove into Tennessee to check out South Cumberland State Park.  The views there were breathtaking.  Unlike Cloudland, none of the overlooks had railings... which gave it another level of incredible.  Though we got freaked out a bit when approaching the edge, I couldn't imagine anything better than taking a camping trip, waking up from my tent on a Saturday morning, and watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee.  It's on my list for 2011.

The day following our two park hikes, Greg joined me in hiking up Brasstown Bald.  Though you end up driving up most of the way, there are still miles of trails surrounding Georgia's highest point that can keep you busy for days.  The sideways ice on all the branches was as interesting as it was beautiful.

First up:  South Cumberland

And for those with vertigo...

And finally, Brasstown Bald:

And I had to put this one in there for fun...

Georgia & Tennessee Hiking: Cloudland Canyon, GA (Part 1 of 2)

I'm a good bit behind on this one, but it's what always seems to happen to my personal photos.  Back in October, my good friend Curt Mayer and I took a day off of work to travel to northwest Georgia and south Tennessee to photograph a couple of the best state parks around.  Though the weather was a rough (snow/rain all day), we were able to crank the heater high enough and take the top down on the convertible we stole borrowed.   Cloudland canyon has numerous waterfalls and streams in addition to good foliage views- definitely a place I plan to visit again!


Venice, Italy | Part 2

This is a continuation of the Venice, Italy post I did on Monday.  Italy has a ridiculous amount of picturesque scenes.  Any idiot could have gotten these shots.    And as always, click on the pix for bigger versions!







I can't claim this one.  This is the one where Keri snatched the camera from me (she really never does this) and said, "no, shoot from behind the railing, don't shoot over it!"   I gotta say, she's got an eye when she's not afraid to use it. 

Venice, Italy | Part 1

As I have alluded to in the past, it always takes me a while to edit my personal photos.  When I go on vacation and take pictures, it always seems that when I get back, paid gigs seem to come my way and take precedent to whatever personal work I want to take care of.  As far as mine and Keri's Italy trip goes, I had weddings, portrait sessions, and the fact that I took 2,600 photos working against me. I'm trying to chip away at it city by city from the trip.  You can see Day 1 in Suttgart, Germany here.  I've finally gotten through days 2 & 3 in Venice and soon to come will be days 4 & 5 in Cinque Terre.  Feel free to give me honest feedback as I'm normally more of a portrait photographer than I am of landscapes.  If you have an interest in any prints in particular, email me!

The Rialto Bridge

We went to the island of Murano and watched this guy turn the glowing blob of glass below... this in about 5 minutes.