Mayan Adventures

I’ve been thinking about writing about my recent trip to the south of Mexico, but I’m short of words at the moment. I hope these 20 photos speak to you in their own way. Many are available for purchase. I’ll leave links to those that are, but also feel free to of course just take them in.

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Society 6

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Colmar, France

Colmar was the first town I ever visited in France and also the first class trip I ever took with my Spring Abroad Program, (IES Abroad Freiburg: Language and Area Studies). We took a bus in for the day and walked around town after visiting the Colmar’s St Martin’s Cathedral. This Alsace town is just as pristine and quintessentially French as it appears in these photos.

To top off the experience, a few of my new friends and I went on an hour long search for a cafe to share an Escargot appetizer. (Most places were closed because it was Sunday). We all ordered in subpar German as we’d only been in Europe for a few days and were still somewhat jet lagged. The waitress answered back to us in English as most Europeans will do to you despite your best efforts to speak in the local languages. Since we all shared one pricey Escargot platter I had exactly one Escargot, which I can only describe to have tasted like chicken. Some things are universal I guess.

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Be sure to follow my travel adventures on instagram at: @colormeadri

Till Next Time,

Adri

Studio Saturday #1

Hello Friends,

I’ve just come back from painting at the Paint Brush Studio in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. That’s where my long time mentor Arthur Evans teaches. Today was our Christmas party where there was a plethora of cheese, meats, desserts and wine. With all the fun I still was able to work on a few paintings (one was left over from last week and the second was a study of water and mountains). They’re both paintings of Sognefjord in Norway. I’ve been working on Norway paintings for a few months now so in the upcoming months I’ll probably start painting new subject matter.

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Flåm, Norway from Above. Acrylic 16 x 20″ on Canvas

 

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Sognefjord, Norway from Above. Acrylic 16 x 16″ on Canvas. 

I’ll be posting these within the next day on my instagram, Society 6, and Redbubble accounts.

Till Next Time,

Adri

 

Declaring Undying Love for Baden Baden, Germany

Let me tell you about a little town called Baden Baden. Nestled in gentle rolling hills, it’s one of the most scenic small towns in the state of Baden Württemberg in the Black Forest. It was by far my favorite day trip destination when I was living in Freiburg, Germany. I went to visit the famous Baden Baden thermal baths and loved it there so much I went back to visit 3 times. People liked to make fun of me because they felt like thermal bathing was an activity best left to retirees, but I’d like to think I just have a great taste for the finer things in life.

Here are my tips for planning a day time spa adventure in Baden Baden:

  1. Use the Baden Wüttemberg day ticket when travelling with multiple people: Baden Württemberg Day Ticket Rules

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2. At the Friedrichsbad Spa, you can go the traditional route and do the in depth two hour bathing in the original chambers for around 40 Euros, or you can choose to go next door to the Caracalla spa which is a very nice indoor/outdoor pool. It’s a cheaper and more family friendly option. (Swim trunks are allowed in this section of the thermal baths). It’s the same healing mineral water at a fraction of the price, so if you are uncomfortable bathing without clothes as is required in the original part of the spa, this is the way to go: Caracalla Spa

3. Bring your own towel if possible because otherwise you’ll have to rent one for an outrageous fee. If you don’t have a towel you can buy one at a nearby DM, Germany’s most popular drug store. All the stores in the area are ready to serve incoming tourists with their bathing needs. If you forgot to pack a swimsuit, you can also be sure that H & M will have you covered for a cheap emergency bathing suit.

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4. Try to plan your trip to Baden Baden in the spring when the cherry blossoms are blooming. ‘Nough said 😉

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5. I would say that if you wanted to do some exploring of this hilly town, make sure to squeeze that in before bathing at the mineral baths. My experience is that once you finish bathing the hot water you will be left exhausted, overly relaxed and dehydrated, not a  good recipe for exploring. I know you’re excited to witness the iconic baths, but trust me, if you try to climb all those steps for panoramic views after 3 hours of steamy swimming, you might not end up exploring at all.

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6. Don’t forget to visit one of Baden Baden’s amazing cultural museums. There are several great options to choose from.

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7. There are so many great restaurants and cafe’s to choose from, but if you get overwhelmed by sit down prices and don’t want to cave and go to an American Fast Food Style restaurant, why don’t you give a German Fast Food Franchise a chance. For example, there’s a great chain called Nordsee that sells fish platters and sandwiches and it’s directly on the way to the thermal baths. There’s also a Chinese restaurant really close to the thermal baths called Lotus. I really liked it and it’s really cheap. However, it seems to have mixed reviews on Trip Advisor.

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8. Also, keep in mind that the train station for Baden Baden does not stop in the town center. You will need to pay a few more Euros for a Bus Shuttle into town. That really threw me off the first time I went. If you are scared and confused about how to buy the ticket just ask a local and they’ll gladly walk you through it. There’s a “slow” bus that will make many stops and an “express” bus. Either one shouldn’t take you all that long so just take whichever bus comes first.

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9. Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong way to explore a city. If you want to walk all over town the whole day and learn every cultural and historical thing about Baden Baden, knock yourself out. If you love window shopping, then by golly you should go window shop. If you want to relax in a park somewhere or decide you feel like going to the hotel a little early, take all the time you need. Sometimes life is all about those quiet adventures.

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Hope you all enjoyed this post. For more photos from my travel adventures, follow me on instagram: @colormeadri

See you all next time 🙂

My Personal History with Photography: From Point and Shoot and beyond

These days I’ve been doing a lot of camera day dreaming. I plan to do a separate post about cameras that I love but are beyond my price range. The more serious part of me is pretty sure that my next camera is going to be the Olympus OMD-EM10, which is more suited to my needs and desire to have manual control dials.

Photo from getolympus.com

While researching different camera brands I came across a number of comparison sites and photo blogs that I love, so I figure I’d share those links:

http://cameradecision.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalRevCom

Mathieu Gasquet (youtube)

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/

This list could extend on forever but I’ll just end it right here.

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m very brand loyal to Olympus. I understand that they don’t necessarily stay on the cutting edge of technology in the imaging side of things, but quite frankly I’m just used to using these cameras and their stabilization and focusing capabilities are quite fast. Olympus produces lightweight cameras that are durable and relatively inexpensive compared to other pricier brands like Nikon and Sony.

My first ever camera was one of those old Nikon Coolpix point and shoots. I don’t remember what the model was even called, but since it shot at anywhere from 3-6 mega pixels depending on how far it was zoomed, the model name isn’t even worth the mention. Regardless I loved that camera. I loved having the option to take snapshots wherever I went. I was ecstatic at the time that I could take more than the 25 photos I would have otherwise taken with a disposable film camera from the grocery store. I could even print the photos at home on our printer, which was cool because we’d just recently upgraded to a color printer.

When I began painting in middle school I used these poorly pixellated paper printouts as reference photos for my equally bad quality landscape paintings. (You’ve got to start somewhere right?) Initially no one foresaw that digital cameras would ever surpass film in definition, color depth, and so on. Even as large digital SLR’s began to enter the scene I always assumed I’d continue to take snapshots on crappy 6 megapixel point and shoots, simply because SLR’s were quite costly and much too big for me to hold up for longer than 5 minutes at a time.

Enter the Olympus EPen 1, which I believe came out around 2008. It was one of the first mirrorless 4/3 digital cameras. It took a while for people to understand that this technology would soon take over the digital photography world and make it less and less attractive to own a bulky, boxy SLR.

My first high quality camera was the famed Olympus EPL1, which my parents graciously bought me in the fall of 2011. When I think back, having a decent quality camera really boosted the quality of my paintings as I could now actually see the details in my pictures. The EPL1 shot at 12 mega pixels and retained these pixels even with zoom, since mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras typically are used with optical zoom lenses instead of digital zoom (which crops to the center to zoom and thus cutting out digital data as one zooms further and further).

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Beautiful Low light performance from the Olympus EPL1 (Seattle’s Discover Bay in Winter)

It was a beautiful camera and it turned out beautiful Jpeg files, even more beautiful than any of the Olympus cameras I’ve used after it. It did lag quite a bit so when I got to college I decided to sell it to buy a camera with faster performance. My next Olympus camera was the Pen-mini 1, which was indeed a very quick and small camera. Even though the specifications for this camera looked similar on paper to the Pen lite 1, the mini had horrible white balance issues. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fix in iPhoto but I hated just how much editing I had to do to each file just to get the picture to look normal again.

Even with its small size the Olympus pen mini is still able to create amazing results. I loved having my pen mini with me in Europe (even when my kit lens broke on me in Zürich).

This past spring I sold my mini to get an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is an amazing camera. I barely have to edit the files unless I took them in weird lighting or at night. This model gave me an extra 4 megapixels which allows me to sell a considerable variety of print products on Society 6 and Redbubble. I couldn’t have enabled nearly as many products with the 12 mega pixels on my pen mini or my iPhone (which has honestly become my second favorite camera since it is the one I’m almost always guaranteed to have on me.)

It amazes me how far digital cameras have advanced technologically since those first micro 4/3 cameras came out. Sometimes I wonder if my pictures would be better if I bought the fanciest camera on the block or some extra lenses but new products are always coming out. There’s no need to go chasing after the next new thing. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to have the latest gear, but for now I don’t necessarily want a bunch of high res ultra focused shots. I don’t want to distract my eye from the compositions and the colors of nature that first drew me to photography. I’d rather make small upgrades in cameras then jump up to some ultra capable camera right now when all I’m used to is small mirorless models with the kit lens the camera was sold with. I am excited though to see how these technologies progress over time for when it makes more sense for me to own a fancier camera.

Stay tuned for subsequent posts and if you’re into instagram follow me there at: @colormeadri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on Old School vs. Modern Photography

I suppose I should preface this whole article by saying that I am a hobby photographer and I shoot currently with an Olympus Pen Lite 5, which is a great camera but honestly because the menu system is so complicated, it feels at times more like an over-glorified point and shoot with a lens screwed onto it. I do not possess the full technical vocabulary of someone whose life revolves around cameras and dials and technical specifications. I do however think I have a fairly good conceptual understanding of aperture, white balance, shutter speed and the like, but as my shooting priorities rest mainly on shooting as many pictures as possible while I’m out and about doing other things, I end up leaving my camera on automatic mode embarrassingly often.

Do I not want to improve? Of course I do. More than anything though I just want the shot. In that primal moment where I see something shiny that catches my eye, I revert to caveman mode. I revert to the abstract painter who only cares about lines and frames and focal points. I could care less in those moments about my exposure or shutter speed, because frankly due to Olympus’s excellent stabilization system, most of the time I won’t even stop walking to take a picture. Occasionally I’ll even take pictures in a bus or a car, and those moments are all about timing more than anything else. If I have to go back into Olympus’s convoluted unintuitive menu system to adjust the exposure I’ve already missed the shot.

I have my eye on the Olympus Omd 10 Mark II. It’s almost identical in specifications to my current camera, only it comes with dials to adjust controls manually. I want to make this trade because I think there are times when it’s worth it to have faster more accurate control over lighting and exposure time, especially at night.

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This is what happens if you try to take photos at night with a UV filter on your lens. Say goodbye to the stars my friend.

(A few years ago I bought a UV filter for my 14-42 mm kit lens and basically never took it off for years. I’ve always been very disappointed with all my night-time photos, even the ones with longer exposures, but the other day it dawned on me that the UV filter was obstructing most existing light from entering my camera’s sensor. I’m excited to try to shoot some stars sans UV filter someday soon).

I have a study abroad friend who recently enrolled in a film class. I love the look of her pictures, but I just don’t feel like film is for me. I’d love to have a viewfinder on my camera, especially an analog one, but I do like being able to use new developments like autofocus. A few weeks ago I also realized that with my camera’s touchscreen I can select a manual focus point. Just touch the screen and the camera will lock onto your selection. You can’t do that on an analog camera, (though Leica is making some really expensive but fascinating digital hybrids like the M9 which hold onto many retro manual controls while implementing new technologies).

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Thanks Olympus for your touchscreen focus that helped me capture these deer. I even had time to spare to capture a video clip of them running away from me!

I don’t think it’s bad that photography is advancing in automatic functions. It kind of reminds me of the disagreements between oil painters and acrylic painters. Oil painters tend to be a bit more purist and look down on acrylics because they’re synthetic and cold and the newer pigments aren’t what the Old Masters used. I feel that if you understand the past of painting and keep it in mind in your work, you can still be considered professional even if your methods are unconventional. Similarly for photography, if you at least understand how your camera works, how light and color work you shouldn’t be regarded as an inferior artist when you use new automatic tools to assist you. Now, if the final product even after post-production isn’t good, then that’s a different story, but we all have to try out new things and fail now and then, don’t we?

Also be sure to check out my new Redbubble account to see some of my better paintings and photos.

And to see photos of my travels be sure to follow my instagram at :@colormeadri

Have a nice day,

Adri

 

Volendam, Marken, Zaanse Schans

Last November when I visited the Netherlands I took a touristy tour of preserved Dutch villages with Viator Tours. I loved every minute of it. Here are some photos from the day. To be honest because this was a year ago, I wouldn’t be able to tell you for certain which town is which, but I am posting the photos in chronological order, so hopefully seeing them will give you an idea of whether you’d like to do a similar tour someday:

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To see more of my travel photos, be sure to follow my instagram. I am new to the site and currently in my insta honeymoon phase, so there will be plenty of nature photography and Europe photos in the coming weeks on that account.

❤ Color Me Adri