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Photography Travels

Straight on Through to New Orleans

New Orleans

We started off this morning right with a breakfast buffet at a Shoney’s restaurant. I had never been to one before, James said he remembered them fondly from his childhood and had thought them all to be closed.

We rolled into Birmingham around 1:30 looking for a bite to eat. @Amy_norinn suggested via Twitter that we check out Golden Rule BBQ, but after the last two days we’re both a little BBQ’d out so we hit up my friend Zack for a suggestion. He immediately shot back with a place called ‘The Garage Cafe.’ Knowing that Zack is from Decatur I figured his suggestion to be spot on.

The directions were weird because they lead us smack in the middle of a residential block but sure enough we found it. When we arrived the place looked awesome. Sort of an artsy / DIY / punk bar cafe surrounded by antiques.

Sadly, they aren’t open until 3pm and our hunger just couldn’t wait that long, so we took Amy’s second suggestion of a place called Jackson’s. I’m sad to have missed The Garage, it seems exactly like my kind of place hopefully I’ll get to come back here some day. We instead went to a place recommended by Amy on her second attempt, Jackson’s. It was fairly standard bar cafe food but we were just happy to eat.

From there we wandered around a little bit and found an ice cream shop where we both got cones and then hit the road to New Orleans.

We arrived at our hotel around 9pm and after settling in went out for a bite to eat. Sadly everywhere we tried was closed so we wound up at a Krystal’s (think fake White Castle) on Bourbon Street. The last time I was here I had avoided Bourbon Street and while it was an interesting walk, it’s definitely not the type of place I’d like to spend time. We quickly made our way to Royal Street where the way the streets are lit it’s almost as if someone is preparing a stage show on every corner. The architecture of this city just shines and the two of us spent time wandering and photographing before making our way over to Flanagan’s for a drink.

The last time I was at Flanagan’s during the Mercedes Benz Tweet Race I fell in love with this city. There is a presence here that I cannot explain. It draws me in and makes me want to explore.

Photos now. More later.

Categories
Photography Travels

Thunderstorms, BBQ and Vineyards

NashvilleSaturday started off quietly as James and I awoke to our iPhone alarms at 8:30. We packed up our things and made sure not to disturb Lee, Rebecca or Michael on the way out.

The beauty of Louisville shined though the gray overcast morning as we wandered the streets. Knowing our next destination, Nashville, was only three hours away we decided to take some time to explore before rolling out.

First things first we head over to the Louisville Slugger factory to get the tour. We were suprised to find they also have a mini Norman Rockwell exhibit there as well and we spent some time learning about both baseball and art.

From there we made a stop off to Cake Flour bakery for a quick bite to eat and suddenly we found ourselves caught in a torrential downpour. We watched from inside as the street began to flood and it began to look like the dead of night at 11 am EST and decided it as our cue to get out of town ASAP.

Sure enough we passed right through the storm on the road but otherwise the trip to Nashville was uneventful. Turns out the Nashville beer festival was sold out so we met up with my friend Robin and decided to grab some BBQ then head over to Arrington Vineyards for a wine tasting. We sat beneath the trees overlooking some gorgeous Tennessee hills sipping wine and talking about video production and laughing like idiots.

After some sobering up we blared some pop music and drove towards the city to show James Yazoo Brewery. Yazoo is a local Tennessee beer company with a wide variety of beers and an excellent brewpub. We relaxed there sampling beers as the sun went down sharing old stories and laughing at dumb jokes.

From there we head downtown where Robin described the damage of the flood that hit Nashville last year and we met a homeless gentleman, Ernie. He told us about swimming in the river and hopping fences. Somehow it came up that we were headed to New Orleans and he told us that is where he’s from originally, he then launched into detailed suggestions of things to do there, specifically citing that the French Quarter is overhyped and we need to make sure we explore the whole city.

After wandering the strip for a while we ended the night in a dueling piano bar off of Broadway before heading back to Robin’s place for the evening. All in all it was a laid back and carefree day. I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

We’re now solidly on the road to Birmingham for lunch and New Orleans this evening. Until tomorrow true believers, enjoy the photos!

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Photography Travels

Chicago to Louisville (and Indianapolis for lunch)

Windmills

About 11 o’clock this morning we set off from Chicago, south towards Louisville.  James brought along some playlists of funk music and snacks for the road and our good friend Lee had decided to join us for this leg. Coincidentally Lee’s girlfriend Rebecca is going to be in Louisville this weekend so it made sense for him to join us. The three of us relaxed and joked around on the road and it wasn’t long before we were stopping to photograph windmills and “Hell Is Real” signs indicating we were definitely deep into the great state of Indiana.

We posed the question of where we should stop for lunch to our Twitter followers and  the awesome @JennFree suggested Scotty’s Brewhouse in Indianapolis. Her pitch was compelling and seeing as how I’m on a never-ending quest to try as many different beers as possible, any place with “Brewhouse” in the title immediately appeals to me. Luckily the guys were happy with it too.

When we arrived in Indianapolis we were struck by the beauty of the city. With it’s many beautiful monuments and circles, the downtown area is simply gorgeous. We wandered around a bit, checking out a smoke shop and a vintage styled Dunkin’ Donuts. We stopped off at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument and were instantly taken aback by it’s beauty and size. The entry on Gowalla for it mentions it being comparable to anything in DC and I’d say it’s formidable by my memory. Sadly the structure is under restoration but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying it nonetheless.

Scotty’s was a very large sports bar / pub with outdoor seating and a fairly typical menu but a reasonably sized beer selection. Lee and I each tried a local brew and chat a bit before hitting the road again. Lee proposed that the city would be suitable for another visit sometime. I definitely agree. It didn’t hurt our impression though that we arrived there to our first real taste of summer weather (a refreshing change from chilly Chicago.)

From there, it was straight on through to Louisville without stopping. Upon our arrival we hit up local music shop EarX-tacy and then went for some BBQ at Mark’s Feed Store on the suggestion of the wonderful Ms. Amy Guth. The atmosphere was friendly, and the food was okay. The three of us were mostly happy to have arrived.

Tonight we are staying with a friend of Lee and Rebecca’s and tomorrow James and I will bid them adieu and head to Nashville hopefully in time for the East Nashville Beer Festival.

For now, we’re going to hit the local bar scene. Good night folks enjoy the photos!

Categories
Photography Travels

Into the great wide open.

Open on FlickrA week ago I had my final day at Apple Inc.

As much as I deeply love Apple it was one of those things where it was just time for me to move on. The constraints of working a retail job have been a challenge to my personal creative pursuits for some time so after six and a half year I’ve decided to move on (for now at least).

Today marks the beginning of something else entirely. Today I am leaving on what I hope to be the first of many road trips across the United States, during which my goal will be to write and publish a photo set daily from the road.

On this trip I will be accompanied by the always awesome and always funky fresh James Vest. The two of us will be exploring our way down to New Orleans and back over the course of 8 days.

We’ll be reaching out on Twitter to crowd-source the things we do in each city and others are welcome to meet up with us if they so choose.

I have to cut this short as I still have a few things to take care of before hitting the road. Expect another blog later today but in the meantime here is how you can follow us:

John
Twitter | Flickr | FourSquare | Gowalla

James
Twitter

Categories
Photography Technology

Digital Rebel + Aperture + Flickr = Ridiculously Simple.

Seriously, it’s getting ridiculous how easy the process for photography is getting.

Back in February, my friend Lindsay and I did a photoshoot in the mall parking garage. She’s a photographer herself, but she’s also an aspiring model. This works out well because I consider myself a designer who is an aspiring photographer. So anyway she’s looking to build a modeling portfolio, and I’m looking to build a photo one of my own. I also recently acquired a copy of Apple’s Aperture professional photography software and was itching to try it out.

Overall while we had a great time, but when I looked at the shots, I was disappointed. We were limited by cold weather,  the lighting was awkward, and many of the poses left a lot to be desired. (due both to the weather and Lindsay and I’s comfort levels I’m sure). I ended up letting the photos sit for months after the initial shoot.

It was shortly after that time that I discovered my Flickr addiction. And the other day, I decided to take another crack at the photos because I wanted to put something up, just for the sake of it. (I paid for a Pro account, I should use it no?) When I dove in, I was blown away. I can’t say enough how impressed I am, both by the ease of use of the program and the results I achieved. Aperture made it easy to color correct and retouch a lot of what I viewed were unusable photos.

The more I think about it though, the more it’s unbelievable to me. Anyone who has even worked with real professional color photography can tell you how much of a pain in the ass the whole process can be. While it’s a lot of fun, you can spend weeks on single images at times. Not only that, but it’s expensive. Retouching can be a nightmare, and color correction can have you walking back and forth, turning nobs trying to get something just right. Don’t even get me started on the cost/hassle of promoting and sharing your work.

Nowadays, you can get a Digital SLR for under a grand that take images at resolutions higher than film grain and print to a high-end printer that outputs higher than film grain as well. Using a program like Aperture or Photoshop, you can have a whole ‘roll’ edited and corrected in a matter of minutes. From there, it’s easy to share share it on the web for everyone to see or subscribe to, so you know people are checking it out.

As a side note; I remember during my senior year at Pratt, I did some of my work digitally for my color photo class. I would print my work on my Epson 2200 and hang it next to my other work. The really amazing part is that my peers in class were unable to tell the difference. That to me sealed the deal, my 35mm camera sits and collects dust these days. Stuff like iPhoto and Flickr’s are the icing on the cake. I can hardly remember what life was like before digital.

Anyway, I present to you without further ado: Lindsay O’Connor.

Elevator
Lindsay
Lindsay

Out of fairness to my lovely modeling friend, I will not post the before and after comparisons. I’d like to assure you, though, that the quality was not nearly this nice until I took them into Aperture. That’s not a criticism on her, but on my skills as a photographer. Luckily, I’m still a designer.

Check out the rest of the shots here.