Pacific Northwest · Washington State

Getting lost in a 20 acre cornmaze

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This summer was truly a whirlwind. Weddings, Iceland, and a cross country road trip. Thousands of photographs, stories, laughs, memories.

But as I’ve found over the years, I’m most productive at sharing those photographs, stories, laughs and memories when I don’t really have time. Photography and blogging are a release when life gets too busy. After our road trip, I was working in tiny increments at home, and otherwise had way too much free time. Unsurprisingly, I still haven’t processed the photographs from our road trip.

So, as life has picked up steam in the past month, and as I find myself drowning in work, suddenly the camera and this blog are once again calling my name.

Hannah and I had planned for some time to head out to Washington’s famous Bob’s Corn Maze this past Saturday. It was all the more appropriate when the day began with some really difficult news (I’ll share more thoughts on this later). Suddenly, getting lost in a corn maze became both a physical and a mental escape. You don’t need to say a lot when you’re navigating the twists and turns and dead ends of 10 foot corn stalks, nor do you have much time to get too inside your head.

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This year was the third in a row that Hannah and I have welcomed Autumn with a visit to Bob’s. It’s become a tradition of sorts. Pulling up just as the farm opens, standing in line for fresh apple and pumpkin donuts, hot apple cider, kettle corn. Hopping on the hay ride across the road to the maze.

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Last year, we did the corn maze just after heavy rains. Unprepared, we found our shoes and pants submerged in puddles of mud. This year we came prepared, but the ground was sturdy and dry.

We ended the day with a visit to Chateau St. Michelle’s winery in Woodinville, WA. They make one of Hannah’s favorite Rieslings. Since we were last there, they have undergone massive renovations. It seems that they’ve reevaluated who their customer base is: fancier, less rustic, more private labels, higher prices. It’s still a great spot on a gorgeous estate. The wines are fantastic, the people are friendly. And it was a great way to recover from the twists and turns of the corn maze.

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Photography · Travel

Shipwrecks and Thor on Videy Island

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We’ve finally returned from a long series of trips that took us to the east coast, Iceland, and on a cross country trip with stops in Pittsburgh, PA, St. Louis, MO, Salina, KS, Denver, CO, Vernal, UT, Salt Lake City, UT, Boise, ID, and Hood River, OR, with lots of great stops in between. I have yet to work through the photographs from our road trip, but do have some to share from Videy Island.

Although many folks rent a car when they visit Iceland, we decided against it. Maybe it’s thriftiness, more likely it’s learning to travel when we were college students relying on late night bus connections and regional trains, but we thought it would force us to slow down and enjoy smaller bits of Iceland at a time. As a compromise of sorts, we instead purchased a Reykjavik City Card, which gave us access to public buses and national museums, as well as a nifty little ferry (read: small passenger boat) to Videy Island.

Classic rock and peace activism enthusiasts alike are most likely to recognize Videy for Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower. The tower itself is close to the small dock, and a short five minute walk upon arrival on the uninhabited island.

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Unfortunately (depending on how you think of it), the sun only kind of sets in Iceland in summer. While the sun technically falls below the horizon, the country is still well lit right up until dawn. Because of that, we saw Imagine Peace Tower’s base, but not its towering light.

The tourism folks in Iceland have really figured out how to make something like an uninhabited island extremely interesting. Videy Island, as it turns out, is historically significant, once important for worship and small industry. Before boarding our little passenger boat across the bay, we picked up a map that indicated dozens of interesting points, including public art by Yoko Ono (above) and Richard Serra (below); the site of a shipwreck; Thor’s headland, thought once to have been a worship site of the Norse god; and a now abandoned village.

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Serra framed beautiful views of Iceland with his stones.

Richard Serra’s Afangar (“Standing Stones”) features sets of two tall stones throughout Videy Island, each framing separate – and beautiful – views of Iceland.

The island isn’t all public art and peace, however, as this monument (below) to a shipwreck attests.

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We loved our visit to Videy Island, and spent many hours exploring there – including an attack by a horde of Arctic tern (small beautiful defensive birds that dive-bomb trespassing heads).

Photography · Travel

Happy fourth! (off to Iceland)

 

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My godson chasing bubbles. Shot on Nikon D5300 and 35mm f/1.8.

 

Not totally unexpectedly, this blog is most active when I’m most busy. Photography and blogging are largely a way to center myself when the world gets too hectic. Now that things have (temporarily) slowed down, so have my posting habits.

But there are photos on the horizon! Hannah and I are off to Iceland this evening, and I hope inspiration strikes.

In the meantime, how about that curious smile on my godson? We only get to see him about twice a year right now, living on the other side of the country. I love the time I get with him when we are back in Buffalo, though.

Photography · Seattle

Picture This: Seattle in bloom

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Summer is truly, really here. Just look at the gardens!

I got out of the apartment yesterday with nothing but my camera and that vintage 105mm f/2.5 lens I like so much. I didn’t find a whole lot I wanted to make pictures of, but there were a lot of beautiful flowers in the neighborhood gardens.

Does anyone know what kind of flower this is?

Picture This is a Daydreams in Analog feature focusing on a single photograph.

Photography · Travel

Picture This: Waterfalls, retreating glaciers, and a honeymoon

 

Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls (Juneau, Alaska)
Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls. Shot on Nikon D5300 with 18-55mm kit lens.

 

My wife and I both teach. Consequently, this means we both give up fun things like travel, hobbies, and sleep during the school year.

When we were planning our wedding, we knew it would have to be outside the school year. We also had to do almost all of the planning the summer a year before the wedding, with all the final details taken care of in the month right before it.

Planning any wedding is overwhelming, as many will surely tell you. For us, that we had to plan it in a confined space of time was even more stressful. So when we were thinking about our honeymoon, we chose something that required the least amount of thought on our part: a cruise out of Seattle to Alaska.

I’d never been on a cruise before, and Hannah had only been on one when she was young. Having now been there, done that, I think the description I heard from a fellow passenger best sums up the experience: cruises are “fat farms.” The best free entertainment on board is the endless variety of foods. And boy did we take advantage of that…

So it was always with great relief that we would come to shore and explore the beautiful Alaskan landscape.

When we were in Juneau, we hopped a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls (pictured above). We made a short hike to the falls, which really were beautiful. It’s hard to imagine, but the falls are significantly smaller than the glacier. This is true despite a 1.25 mile retreat since 1929 (wow).

Picture This is a Daydreams in Analog feature focusing on a single photograph.

Photography · Travel

Mourning in Berlin: The night the Brandenburg Gate came to life

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Last summer I traveled to Berlin for a couple weeks for work. It was shortly after the tragic Orlando nightclub shooting, and many of the western world’s cultural monuments were lit in the colors of the rainbow.

I was traveling on my own and had nowhere in particular to be. So on June 18, I wandered out of my AirBnB, onto the subway, and headed toward Berlin’s famous monument.

When I arrived, many folks were already there. Berlin felt like a pride parade and a funeral, all at once. People cried, hugged, laughed, cheered.

As the sun began to set, the crowd broke into a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” At the end of the song, the gate’s sandstone shone with the colors of the rainbow.

It was a powerful moment of solidarity, not soon forgotten.

31 Brandenburger Tor