Sedona

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I suppose it was about a month ago now that I visited Sedona with my mom. I’ve finally gotten around to editing photos and exporting them in various file formats for printing, blogging, etc. Sometimes I think there has to be a more efficient way than my current process that I just don’t know about. It helps that I took a sick day today and was finally able to work on photography in between sniffles and tissues. My day of being stuck inside my apartment and being forced into sedentarism, a word I just created, actually flew by. It was aided by an episode of Homeland and a documentary on Kobe Bryant.

So, I really didn’t know what to expect from Sedona. My mom and I had originally planned to meet up in Tahoe, but sort of ad hoc decided randomly upon Sedona instead. I’d never been, but she had and she guaranteed me that spending six days there was still not enough to see and do everything. Though skeptical of this claim, I happily booked a flight and the trip then sort of disappeared to the back of my mind. It wasn’t until the day before that it really hit me I was leaving the next day. In hindsight, I think it made the trip even more enjoyable for me because I didn’t have a chance to start creating expectations of the trip. At the last minute, I grabbed a copy of Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck off my bookshelf, which I had pilfered from a friend last year out of a bag of books she was getting rid of. It turned out to be the perfect read for the flight there and back, and is just as timely and relevant now as it was back in 1962.

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“It is impossible to be in this high spinal country without giving thought to the first men who crossed it, the French explorers, the Lewis and Clark men. We fly it in five hours, drive it in a week, dawdle it as I was doing in a month or six weeks. But Lewis and Clark and their party started in St. Louis in 1804 and returned in 1806. And if we get to thinking we are men, we might remember that in the two and a half years of pushing through wild and unknown country to The Pacific Ocean and then back, only one man died and only one deserted. And we get sick if the milk delivery is late and nearly die of heart failure if there is an elevator strike. What must these men have thought as a really new world unrolled – or was the progress so slow that the impact was lost? I can’t believe they were unimpressed.”

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Now, before your mind goes to correcting me, I realize the inaccuracy of the quote, and the misplacement of it here in a post about Sedona, Arizona. But still, that is the spirit that unexpectedly permeated my trip to the southwest. I realized, with a fleeting sense of sadness but more wonder, that that type of discovery is not only a relic of a bygone era, but also that no such trip would be possible today. We can explore places that expand our worldview, challenge our assumptions, break down biases, but from here on out we will always know someone has been there before. I began to wonder what left in the world remains uncharted? Placing myself in the shoes of Meriweather Lewis, I realized the great sense of curiosity, mission and adventure that must have taken hold of his soul.

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I was so interested by imagining walking two moons in this man’s moccasins that I got a copy of Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, a biography about Lewis and the expedition he led across the Louisiana Purchase to discover just what President Jefferson had bought.

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“Ocian in view! O! The joy.” – William Clark

If I were ever to get a tattoo, which is 95% unlikely, I would probably get this quote. I guess he jumped the gun and too quickly misidentified the body of water he was seeing, but the sense of adventure in it, and the happiness they must have felt at seeing what they thought was the Pacific Ocean after an incomprehensibly arduous journey, is a sentiment that stirs something in me. Plus, I always am joyous when I see the Pacific Ocean.

It’s my contention that it is impossible to take a bad photo in Sedona. The trip reinvigorated my atrophying attention and effort in photography. The past few weeks, where I’ve found time to dabble around in lightroom, I’ve tried some new editing techniques, trying to parse it down and lightly touch the photos. Like a woman’s makeup, I am trying to use editing tools to play up the natural spectacular features of the image rather than recreate something that is not there. I am quite pleased with how my Sedona photographs have turned out so far.

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I signed up for an art class. Just a two week course that focuses on photography printing and matting. We are supposed to bring two images to class that we will work with, and by the end we will have them printed and prepared for framing. As I’ve looked around, DC does have more art courses than I originally suspected. This particular one I will be taking at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW). I will let you all know how it goes!

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Stargazing

I took the opportunity offered by a pig roast in West Virginia to take a stab at night photography, with some pretty interesting results. In the shots I took earlier in the night, you can see some of the clouds in the sky, which lend a dynamic energy and movement to the images. Later, when the clouds disappeared, the stars filled the sky like sand in a brilliant sandbox. I’m excited for some more nighttime photography experimentation and I’m already dreaming of a desert vacation in the near future.

Fall has embraced the mid-Atlantic in its chilly yet comforting arms, and so it was the perfect chance to head west into the Shenandoah for a couple days to see the leaves changing color, throw on some cable-knit sweaters and goose down vests, and eat some pumpkin and apple spice donuts.

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Hippies

Growing up, I thought the hippies I encountered or knew about were a relic of 1960s America; people who had it right, were trying to live alternative lifestyles, who were not slaves to prevailing trends or the beat of someone else’s drum. As I got older, I began to see the hippie subgroup as people either trying to hold on to the golden vestiges of their youth, or new hippies, trying to be throwback, and through shunning mainline pop cultural trends, where subscribing to another one in its place. Not that I perceived this as an entire negative: I was happy to consider myself as a recipe with a dash of hippie, or as I thought at the time, words that were synonymous such as “free” or, for the more committed, “eccentric.” In California, the perception was nearly a sliding scale along a geospatial line: the further north you went, the more “Walden Pond” the scenario got, and the further south, the more the term was used to describe a fashion more than a state of mind.

Obviously, these are generalizations, and I’m sure many would argue not what “it’s all about” anyway. My point is, I thought it was a culture unique to California; after all, I had grown up learning about the Haight and Ashbury, the Summer of Love, the political turmoil and the anti-Vietnam War protests. But, my sample size was small, my worldview undeveloped, my experiences limited.

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20141025-IMG_7712We arrived to the distillery in Western Virginia after a day spent out at the Maryland vineyards, picking grapes we would later make into wine. The sun radiated that low, more mature light so characteristic of falls and winters out east. Rather than illuminating the world in bright, ever-optimistic sunlight, the sun cast shadows on leaves, threw bright halos on things, did not warm your core as easily. After a day spent out in the sun, drinking wine, clipping grape clusters and lugging heavy bins of grapes here and there, our group was relaxed and exhausted.20141024-IMG_759120141024-IMG_7603 20141025-IMG_771520141025-IMG_7713As we gathered around the campfire, waiting for our designated tasting room time to sample the distilleries cordials, we sat in chairs carved out of massive, aged tree trunks anchored to a carpet of deciduous leaves. I was captivated by the voice of an artist performing her newest songs; the tunes seemed fit for just this occasion as she beat on a hollow drum she held in her hand. She told us her music had evolved to reflect the influences she had encountered during her travels in Southeast Asia. She wore a flower garland in her hair, a Native American blanket as a shawl…

Wait a second… this seemed all too familiar. But what was this? Were we not in Western Virginia? I began to look more closely around at the people. A man nearby wore a tweed vest, a cap with a feather standing proudly at attention, ironic glasses. The younger people sported beards, facial hair, eccentric hats. I realized we were in the land of living off the grid, where “different” is once again on-trend. It began to make sense: we were at a distillery in the Appalachians, where historically clandestine operations of making moonshine were as much a part of American history as the hippie movement of the Sixties. It dawned on me: the alternative lifestyle is not so unique to California hippies. It exists in many different forms, immediately recognizable once you see it face to face, despite the very different environments. Walden Pond was, after all, in Massachusetts, not a California suburb.

20141025-IMG_772120141025-IMG_7722 20141025-IMG_7731And so, once again, I was reminded of the wonderful varieties of America. I spend so much time dreaming of and traveling to far off places in the world, when really there are arguably just as many interesting sub-cultures and regional differences here at home. I really enjoy these moments, when I can appreciate the “fabric of America,” as cheesy as that sounds, and where I can start to daydream about other trips I want to take: to the South, to New England, to the Southwest, to the Rockies, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest… the list goes on and on.

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Yosemite and a Double Wedding

We received a hand drawn invitation in the mail. It will be a double wedding, we are told, with Arrow The Dog as ring-bearer. The scene is a glen within a forest, handmade decorations adorn the trees. Front and center are my friends: two couples, happily standing side by side. My friends, the sisters I went to college with and their husbands-to-be, never ones to shy away from the unconventional, will be getting married in the most unique wedding I’ve been to yet. Continue reading

The Sad Endangered Posts

It’s been much too long since I last posted. I could blame the 2014 Summer Wedding Tour for zapping my weekends, but in reality those have been fun times with great travel opportunities and the perfect excuse to make time for friends. I could blame training for consuming my weekday evenings, but that is one of my primary outlets. So, basically, I have no excuse. I have some lovely photos sitting in a queue awaiting their time in the spotlight. I also know of a few exciting photo opportunities coming up that will surely dazzle. In the meantime, please enjoy the lovely views of my hometown.

Looking at these photos, I’m instantly taken back to my adolescence. The cool fog bank off in the distance is like a comforting blanket. I can hear the seals under the wharf from where I’m taking the photo. I can feel the anxious desire to jump into the ocean and swim until I can’t feel my limbs anymore. I can see the silhouette of the cyprus trees along the cliffs, veiled in ocean mist as the waves explode not far below. I can sense the testosterone in the water as surfers jockey for position in the line up. I observe the bikers as they pedal by, so casually, on beach cruisers. It’s been a while since I spent a long time back in Santa Cruz, but it’s where I’m from, and I carry part of it with me wherever I go. These pictures remind me of that.

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