Turns out graduate school is hard. And time consuming. And hard to put off just because you feel like using your camera. I know, terrible excuse, but I've felt like hour long commutes, hundred page readings and such haven't left enough hours in the day to shoot anything interesting. Get to the good stuff though, right? I went to Maine for a weekend. Maine is beautiful.
The government was not beautiful that weekend and was instead shut down. Hence, going to Bar Harbor, Maine, home of Acadia National Park ended up being a bit ill-timed. Every cloud have a silver lining though, and luckily no one really cared if we just parked outside the park and walked in. At each, cars would stack up on the sides of the road while their owners wandered past the barriers onto the trails.
I'm usually pretty apprehensive to do the following things: break rules, go past barriers, ignore signs that tell me not to do things. Regardless of how much I understand the government shutdown, though, I know that National Parks are there to be enjoyed, not regulated. Especially considering the fact that the leaves were festive enough to bring Robert Frost to tears.
Nothing like a couple of beautiful fall days and a Maine sunset to make you reconsider your life decisions, I guess. The camera always makes a strong case.
As I moved to a new apartment in Medford I excavated the bedroom that I grew up in at home. With all my nostalgia reflexes suppressed I managed to throw a number of things away. Nonetheless the experience was an accelerated trip through my adolescence -- always enjoyable.
The Pittsburgh Pirates hat that I wore every day for 3 years.
Sobe bottles that I collected until they made too many flavors to keep track of.
A cowbell that sat on my desk all through high school -- origins unknown.
The receipt from my first tattoo, 5 months after I turned 18.
Assorted signage swiped from gas stations, record stores and elsewhere.
If it all looks like teenage rebellion let me assure you it wasn't.
The majority of my extended family lives in Colorado, meaning that I make frequent trips to beautiful places like Estes Park on visits. In the past I've struggled to capture the breadth of the scenery and, while I felt like a more competent photographer this time, I'm still not 100% satisfied with the finished products. That said, the shots that I took came out well and it's always an enjoyment to shoot in such an dynamic environment. The sun and moon were extremely present over the weekend, which presented both challenges and opportunities.
For 3 consecutive days we toured Iceland in a tiny rented Nissan Micra -- affectionately referred to as "The Toaster Oven." These are the places we went in that magical machine.
Heimay is the largest of the Vestmannaeyjar islands - a small archipelago off the southern coast of Iceland -- as well as being the only populated one. The town stretches over the grassy hills of the island right up to the base of the two peaks Helgafell and Eldfell, the latter of which had a massive volcanic eruption in 1973. Our first stop was for coffee (universally weak in Iceland) and the woman working the counter suggested that we walk a path that runs up Eldfell and over a pass to the peak of Helgafell. Despite a relatively treacherous path, the views of the islands, ocean and town from the pass between the two peaks were worth the trek.
Snæfellsnes is a peninsula on the West coast of Iceland. There are a number of small coastal towns, as well as a wealth of volcanic formations, beaches, geothermal hot springs and lava rocks. Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth was set at the peninsula's biggest volcanic mountain Snæfellsjökull.
Our first stop was Stykkishólmur, a small fishing town on the north shore that has a historic number of small islands. We braved the rain to visit the colorful harbor, the roadside horses and the local bakery.
From there we followed our travel book to a little town called Rif, where we had read about a small cafe with stellar fish soup. Rif felt almost deserted at first, but the sun emerging through the clouds gave it a nice shine. The tiny Gamla Rif cafe was warm and welcoming with incredible fish soup as advertised. The town reminded me that I'm often surprised by which are my favorite stops on the road.
The afternoon sun brought us around to the southern part of the peninsula. We made a couple of stops to walk up the hills next to the highway, with the view showing the ocean to our right and the volcanic Snæfellsjökull National Park to our left. Lastly, we visited the black sand beach Djúpalónssandur. There we encountered lifting stones that Icelandic fisherman were required to test their strength on. Those who couldn't lift the second smallest (called Hálfdrættingur or "weakling") weren't allowed on the boat. After easily hoisting Hálfdrættingur we went for a quick dip in the freezing water, getting us plenty of stares from other, less enthusiastic visitors.
Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon reachable by 5 hours on the road east of Reykjavik. It's one of those places that you can read about anywhere on the internet, and there are millions of pictures to be seen. In my opinion it's near impossible to capture the feeling of being there. The magnitude of the natural beauty was completely humbling.
People frequently asked me why I had chosen to go to Iceland above other places. I'd say that these sights are a pretty good argument.
Traveling around Iceland was a journey in itself. Except for the stretches surrounding Reykjavik, we didn't hit much in the way of multilane highways, so there was always the odd feeling of following a singular path. Our drives were constants battle between wanting to stop and appreciate the sights around us, and the nagging urge to move on to our destination. We passed at least 100 beautiful would-be destinations every time we got in the car. A lot of the time it felt wrong to just let them rush by through the window.
As we traveled the weather changed constantly. Most days felt like they were lived in stages, or phases, depending on the time of day and the mood of the skies. There were times that we would watch the sun burst through the sky in front of us, or monitor an ominously approaching rain path approaching from the side. The cloudscapes were some of the most vivid I've seen -- painted low across the sky like they were waiting to be climbed on, but stretching on for so long that you can't imagine them ending.
The entire trip, as well as each day, were bookended by the city of Reykjavik. Despite being the biggest city on the island, I would contest that Reykjavik feels distinctly small. The streets never reach the chaotic, overflowing level of many American cities, and the low height of the buildings along with the central location of the commercial areas gives it a very tangible feeling. The graffiti in the city is incredible. I always keep an eye out for street art, but walking the streets of Reykjavik it was impossible not to see it on almost every block. I meant to ask someone there whether street murals are commissioned and if so by who, but never got around to it. Full wall murals crop up in the alleys and on sidestreets, while smaller pieces are even more ubiquitous. The style of the majority of the pieces was very explosive, full of life and color.
Because of the growing tourism industry in Iceland, Reykjavik stands at a crossroads of visitors and locals. Many Icelandic people seemed especially willing to blend with travelers rather than repelling them, with English as the mediating language. At each turn of our trip we found that we could ask for advice, directions or recommendations and the residents of the city would share their unique insights with us. Between getting directions to a secluded geothermal hot pot and being directed to the best fish restaurant on the harbor our experiences with our hosts were top notch.
In a sightseeing and touring sense, the 2 days that we spent exploring the city were plenty. The Hallgrímskirkja Church, Bæjarins Beztu hot dog stand, and Tjörnin lake were all worthwhile places to visit, as advertised. I got the sense, however, that Reykjavik is the kind of city that unfolds more charm the more familiar you get with it.
My camera got run over by a school bus. Details aren't necessary. I have a new one. These are some pictures of the old one.
As I have mentioned before, I am spending the summer interning at Arcadia Sustainable Food and Agriculture -- a nonprofit based out of a sustainable farm on George Washington's old estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Today I got the privilege of sitting in on an incredible project that Arcadia, and more specifically my co-worker Juju Harris, is working on.
Juju is one of the most lively and inspirational people that I have ever worked with. Her dedication to nutrition education and outreach is amazing and the way that she creates comfort and warmth in conversations with complete strangers is something I am in awe of. Not to mention the fact that she is constantly making delicious food for those around her.
The project that I am referring to is a cookbook that Juju is authoring, with her target audience being people who use food assistance in the D.C. area. The recipes are based around the staples of the Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental food assistance program, and utilize fresh, locally available produce to create complete, healthy meals.
Today Juju cooked a number of different recipes from her book, and Molly Peterson worked the camera, bringing the ideas to life. My role was behind the scenes filming for a forthcoming video on Arcadia's YouTube channel, but I snapped a few photos of my own when I got the chance. It was inspirational to work in the midst of people who are so skilled at their craft -- Juju with cooking and Molly with food photography. The best of my photos and a more in-depth write up can be found on Arcadia's blog: arcadiafood.blogspot.com
One of the coolest aspects of my job working on the Arcadia Mobile Market this summer has been visiting sustainable farms and farmers in the Washington, DC area. On Monday we took a trip to Northern Virginia to visit our milk and egg suppliers. The Moo-Thru Stand, where we get our milk, is a kitschy little creamery stand in Remington, VA. David, the store manager is just about the nicest guy I've ever met, and the abundance of cow regalia relates the Moo-Thru to a comforting archetype of rural ice cream stands in my mind.
Helen's Hens is an pastured hen farm in The Plains, Virginia. The landscape at the farm is absolutely gorgeous. The hills roll by and when it's sunny the sky and clouds look like they've been painted. After spending so much time in the DC metropolitan area, it's relaxing to return to a slower, less chaotic landscape.
Much of the content that I'm shooting at these sites will be used on Arcadia's blog or in a forthcoming video series for their YouTube channel. I'll link to that content through social media as it becomes available. Nonetheless, I had some extra footage that I put together to make this little clip from The Plains.
First time I've been in D.C. for the 4th in many years.
Weather wasn't pretty while I was eating breakfast....
...but that didn't stop people from being out and waiting for cupcakes at 10am.
The weather started looking up as I was wandering around the Northwest quadrant.
Afternoon held some birthday beers for America...
... cool people who let me hang out with them on their roofs...
and fireworks in the air and on the street.
All you can ask from a summer holiday.
For the months of June and July I am living in a townhouse right near the campus of Georgetown University. The area is a stark difference to the suburban nature of my past apartment, and the immediacy of the city still feels very new. Georgetown is a beautiful neighborhood with plenty of colorful architecture. I've gone wandering with my camera a couple of times, luckily the grid system allows me to go pretty much anywhere and still find my way back home.
With some time freed up between finishing school and moving to Washington, DC for the summer, I was able to finish a lot of outstanding video projects that I've been hoping to finish.
The first is a compilation of a bunch of footage shot over the past four years of college. Much of this stuff was shot spontaneously, inartistically and without much of an afterthought. Why I'm leading with it I have no idea, as it probably means more to me than anyone else. Nonetheless...
Another ongoing project was the process of learning how to create timelapse videos using an intervalometer. Over the course of the past couple of years I tried time and time again to get better at the timing, the framing and the subject matter. I'm nowhere near the point where the work is as spectacular as many of the pieces that inspire me, but I put together a little highlight real of my attempts nonetheless.
Lastly, I filmed a quick musical piece while borrowing a friend's 5D. Since my T1i takes mediocre video, it was fun to play around with a pro-level camera, and fantasize about having a more powerful camera body (in the works). This was a lot of fun to shoot, as Momo and Duncan were basically creating the performance as we went, and I've always loved a good cover song.
When I graduated from college this weekend, I didn't even own a wallet. After having mine stolen many weeks ago some combination of busyness, apathy and a fear of permanence kept me from getting a new one. Dollar bills, credit cards and IDs swam loosely in my pants' pockets all weekend, and when I walked in the door of my apartment after dropping my sister off at the airport I took them out and laughed.
Now that the ceremonies and congratulations are done, I will try to unite the pieces of myself that have grown separately over the past four years.
I spent the weekend among friends and family, constantly introducing then meeting, sitting then standing, laughing then being deeply moved. The whole opus was a whirlwind and I am thankful that my camera made it to a few events, but will rely on the photo albums of others to relive the majority of the experience.
The strongest urge that I had was to repress the feelings of strangeness, and of discomfort. As we walked across campus I struggled to ignore the feeling that this walk across campus was different from all others. As I hugged and congratulated people I swallowed the lump in my throat that was a drawn out goodbye. Looking at the faces and places that have made up my home for the past 4 years was enough in itself, so I smiled, and tried not to think. Emotions were strong enough already in the crowds that I was engulfed by.
Yet as I sit here in reflection, I will try to embrace the discomfort. I may not move forward with grace, but I am sure that I will move forward nonetheless. I believe that we learn in motion, rather than stasis so I will dive headfirst into the unknown. The fear that I feel is derived from a sense of impending adulthood and a waning grip on the excitement of youth. The realistic outcome is probably somewhere in between. The past 72 hours have left me excited to bring my energy onto new avenues and into bigger situations. In the name of the university that I call home and the friends who walked each step with me I will let the inspiration of the past 4 years drive me towards a meaningful tomorrow.
And I will buy a wallet.
A couple of my friends have been learning the traditional Haka over the course of this semester in preparation for the Tufts Hawaiian Club's yearly luau.
When I was a kid one of my camp counselors was from New Zealand and he showed us some form of the Haka. Seeing videos of it being done at rugby matches and watching last year's luau, I've always been captivated by the organized passion involved in the performance. I was extremely impressed with my friends' work.
Unfortunately I wasn't planning on photographing the event and ended up having my camera by coincidence. I didn't prepare for the sub-par lighting conditions or catch any of the rest of the luau, but I wanted to share some of the better photos nonetheless. I particularly liked editing some of the RAW files in B&W to capture the body paint.
I've always been inspired by the way Boston comes to life on Patriot's Day. The countless families, locals and college students that line the streets give energy to those who are completing the incredible physical task. Taking part in the festivities is something I've always looked forward to.
This year looked to be no different. The weather was nice, the characters were out, and there was a guy eating a Big Mac at mile 25.
So when I received a message from my mom that said "omg explosions at the finish line", my heart sank. I don't have anything to say that others haven't put more eloquently, so I'll keep my words light. To be tangentially involved in the events was an emotionally wrenching experience. I ache for anyone who was hurt, while feeling inspired by those who stepped up to help.
As the streets cleared and only physical remnants of the race remained, it was difficult to find a way to center myself. I find more and more that in these moments we seek each other.
Over the course of the late winter and spring I've been trying to master the craft of timelapse photography. I've made timelapse videos before simply by leaving my DSLR recording video for an extended period of time, but the creative control of shooting individual frames appeals to me. I'm hoping to pull together the finished videos in a sort of collage before summer starts. Today being the first nice day of the year I felt compelled to shoot a new timelapse, and to share some stills from my ongoing attempts. Each of these photos is just one in a much larger group, and they probably would never be seen alone except for this post. I kind of like that about them.
Spring break for me was a road trip to Georgia with a bunch of good friends. Stops were minimal and considering that the goal was to maximize beach time I didn't get too many chances to bring my camera out. That said, my yearly solitary sunrise on the beach was a good opportunity to try some new things, and it was a blast to shoot in some off-center locations (someday I'll do a photo essay on South of the Border). I'm hoping to put together a video compilation of all the clips I shot the past two years. For now though, here is an assortment of photos from the trip.