Canon AE-1 35mm
Kodak Portra 400nc
Laura and I hooked up with Tom Lehman & Co. for some outdoor enjoyment in early August when she was visiting from Nashville for a few weeks. We’d wanted to do some camping while she was here and I was finally able to simply take a day off work to accomplish the necessary freedom of time to spend some of it in the wilderness.
The afore-mentioned Tom happened to be camping that same weekend and invited us to enjoy with his crew what is quite possibly the most amazing camping spot I’ve ever seen. The view of the Hood River valley and Mt. Hood itself was amazing, and enjoying the weekend with friends and especially with Laura was perfect.
In late September Laura and I were able to travel together back to Europe, this time to Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. The circumstance we found was an invitation to follow and shoot behind the scenes on the last leg of the European tour consisting of Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Nathaniel Rateliff, and we would have been able to travel longer had it not been for the wedding shoot in Wisconsin that had already been booked for a year or two.
Jumping back into European traveling mode only six months after our last trip was rather easy and automatic, though I hadn’t planned on making it back overseas so soon. We were rushed, of course, in getting to Amsterdam as soon as possible in order to catch up with the sequence of the final three shows of the tour, Cologne, Germany, Berlin, and Brussels Belgium. This time we wouldn’t be spending the majority of the time with only each other as we did last year. Instead, Odessa Jorgensen and Gill Landry, close friends of Laura’s would be doing much of the traveling along side us.
This time around we weren’t able to write the daily blog posts as we did last May, but we were able to do as much shooting. I’ve yet to finish getting my photos from the first trip processed and scanned due to a busy summer, but this time a round its actually been much quicker. Here are a few I shot of Laura and Odessa in Brugge and Berlin, respectively:
Kodak Portra 400nc
I’ll have more to share soon, including some of the concert and behind the scenes photos, though the best of those will be held until November for publication in print. If such things interests you, please keep track of Drt & Ink, my collaboration with Laura at our new site, drtandink.com and the blog at drtandink.com/blog.
Every so often I write a post here about what I’ve been working on in my 9-5 life. Sometimes a project comes along that particularly stands out in my mind. Some of you may know that I left my old job at Summit shortly after finishing the largest project I’ve ever been a part of, which led to some time off in between jobs before starting with StruckAxiom in June.
Officially today at StruckAxiom we’ve launched a site for quite possibly the hardest client to satisfy, ourselves. StruckAxiom.com has gone live and I’m extremely excited about the new branding (developed after Struck merged with Axiom) and the new site. Working at Struck so far has been challenging and exciting in terms of the ability to push into new areas and curiosities, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.
As for the future, besides working for a top-notch agency, I’ve got more ventures than ever, including a lot of rethinking of my own blog and website (new designs coming soon) and the collaborative site, blog, and life that Laura and I are beginning. Trying to find a way to fit it all in, including another trip to Europe on Sunday.
Quite a beautiful collection of images I’ve come upon today. Last night a friend stayed at our house. She and her travelling companions are from the area of Atlanta. Amidst conversation that lasted into the night, I described a love that I hold for the romanticizable South, which includes in many respects the aesthetic of simple lives and faded colors. Coming across these photographs today remind me directly of this sentiment that somehow resembles nostalgia.
Some of you may be followers of Parker’s project this year, combining a polaroid photo and quote for each day of this year. (see here on flickr) I remember a day at the beach well over a year ago when Parker first put a newly acquired Land Camera into use. It was a cold and windy day but the best part of the memory is remembering how that idea became a reality and in the last 6 months has become a success. I love seeing such movements happen, and I’ve even been fortunate enough to be the visual subject of a few small pieces of his project.
The Hasselblad photos below are from that first day, and the polaroids at the bottom are a few of my favorites of Parker’s work on this project so far this year.
Sunday afternoon in Spain, driving back to Barcelona along the Mediterranean coast. The landscape is breathtaking and Amos keeps pulling off to the side of the road for us to photograph the beauty. Today is our last day in Spain and we are savoring every last sight. This morning, we awoke again on the coast. I walked the rocky beach for awhile, as Amos was still asleep in the car. We drove into the nearest town and found a bakery, at which we purchased some last minute gifts and espressos. On the road back to Barcelona, we passed a Spanish rummage sale and without hesitation, turned back immediately. This is the thing we love most, finding those hidden treasures amongst the junk. Amos found an old painting of ships on canvas and I a vintage fisherman’s basket. We were quite content with our purchases as they were the perfect way to end our trip.
The past few days have included the most aesthetic scenes I have ever experienced. I am feeling quite lucky to have been able to spend this time in Spain with Amos, being inspired by sharing new experiences. Although we only made it to two cities, we have both decided that we would like to return and explore more of this beautiful country.
En route to Oklahoma City in the morning.
The last two days have whizzed by, as should be expected as we speed by so much scenery and the speed at which you see a landscape from the window of a moving car. As Laura mentions, we’ve stopped many times, pulling over to the side of the road to shoot pictures, or to take in the views and the feel of the air.
We’ve been struck since arriving in Spain with how dry and arid of a climate it seems to have, especially as we drive further south along the Mediterranean. Its rather surreal even in this dry land, which feels like southern California or Mexico, to see mile after mile of orange and lemon fields and the many other things that grow here. Every field we drive by is also littered with the old ruins of buildings, mostly white stucco looking buildings that are likely hundreds and hundreds of years old.
Deciding to rent a car and drive south may have been one of the best ideas we’ve had for this trip. Its given us a great opportunity to explore at our own speed, a bit of a contrast from the rest of this trip. Not at all that traveling by foot and rail have been a bad or dissatisfying experience. We are obviously Americans in that once we got into the comfortable private space of our own car, there was an obvious feeling of comfortability and familiarity that were previously slightly lacking.
The first things we did when getting out on the road last Thursday was to stop for some food at a supermarket, and then making sandwiches on the beach between Barcelona and Valencia. We’ve made many similar stops since then, becoming more familiar with the Spanish supermarkets (which never contain peanut butter) and simplicity of the smaller towns we drive through. They all contain some sort of café/bar at the very least, and some of which we’ve stopped at for an morning or afternoon coffee, but have felt much less comfortable spending time in them than those in the city.
Our original goal in renting a car and driving was to make it as far as Gibraltar or Ronda. Because of the volcano delay and our extra time spent in Paris, in the end we only made it about half way to the southern tip of the country. We knew when we started, however, that if we wanted to explore the countryside, stop for photos when something looked interesting, or get any sleep at all, we should just drive south without a set plan of what most southern point we would reach.
After Valencia and the hostel we’d booked in advance there, arriving in towns and finding a place to stay didn’t seem at all predictable, and I had somewhat of a hunch it would go that way, but we were lucky enough to have rented a car with seats that lay back far enough to fall asleep on. I suppose I speak for myself, because those three nights I felt fine, while Laura wasn’t nearly as satisfied. The first night in the car seemed almost magical because as we drove late into the night, I knew we were still near the coast, and the exit I chose took us to a quaint little beach lined with a style of beach houses we’d never seen before. What was even better was that we easily found an RV parking lot quite near the ocean and the area felt much safer to simply pull over for the night than many places we’d driven through. The next morning, it was only a hop and a skip (which is roughly equal to a quarter mile drive) down to the row of beach houses and cafés for a morning café con leche and a coca cola. That early morning walk on the beach was one of our favorite and most surreal moments.
Another great place we stumbled upon was by way of a road through the mountains. It was interesting how many mountains we could always see in the distance in Spain. It was like range after range, and at one point we were crossing a hilly rise towards the ocean from a highway further in from the coast. As I mentioned, we saw old buildings’ ruins almost everywhere and as we came around an elevated bend in the highway, we saw a small group of horses down in the valley among some ruined buildings. I was rather dissatisfied with the pictures I got from the road but it wasn’t hard at all to find the little trail of a road that led back to the fence bordering the horses’ pen. The Spanish horses had some form of majesty to them, standing tall among the dry hills and old buildings.
On another similar experience we were driving through a very small villa whose back roads we explored simply out of curiosity. The road we were on for a moment was an old creek bed and as we pulled around a corner I stopped the car because ahead of us were three small dogs sitting simply in the road in a very quaint and orderly perpendicular fashion. I remember it as seeming so odd and surreal, thinking, “Where in the world are we?”. The dogs, however curious they were as I approached them with a camera, didn’t stick around for long.
We packed as much final action into our last day on the road as we could. We knew at some point we would have to condense the whole of our sprawled existence into the few bags we had in order to return home. We complicated the situation by spying what I assume is the how the Spanish hold their garage sales: a lot in town filled with small tents and tables presumably owned by the members of the neighborhood and other traveling merchants looking to pawn their “goods”. Laura and I are good rummagers, and such places are the most likely times for us to find the sorts of items while traveling that we will truly enjoy (as opposed to the silly touristy souvenirs of famous cities or the expensive shopping in Paris). The garage sale of sorts paralleled in our minds the street fair sale we attended with the Burnetts on our last day in Paris.
I haggled a bit with two interesting Dutch gentlemen for an old painting of a naval battle, and then found two great sheets of drape material in their stash as well for only a euro each. Laura made as best of communication as she could with another merchant who couldn’t seem to understand why she was looking for great pieces like the fishing basket she bought from him instead of his silly pieces of jewelry. There were so many additional items we surely would have brought home if we could have schemed a way to get them across an ocean and a continent. Laura’s fishing box is really something, reminding me of my grandfather with its large wicker basket for caught fish, two compartments for lures, and a padded top for sitting on. I found the drapes I bought to be perfect for padding in the extra roller bag I’d purchased in Barcelona expecting to need something extra in order to bring all our treasures home. Interestingly enough, we’ve been able to make it work, stuffing everything into some pocket of the suitcases we’ll take home. That also includes all the items we found in Roma and Paris, a paella pan, a red kerosene lantern, seashells from the beach, delicious chocolate to share with friends and family at home, and a blanket from one of the overnight trains we rode.
The last stretches of road we’ve driven north on were also quite exciting. After making sure everything was properly packed, we had that weight off our minds and enjoyed the hilly, windy road back north through the region near Altea that had been dark as we passed through it driving south. It was one of my funnest driving experiences ever as we drove up and down through curve after curve, seeing the many terraced orchards and white stucco buildings all while enjoying Devotchka on the stereo. In one town we slowed down, turned down the music, and rolled down the windows as we heard the church bells ringing through the narrow streets as we passed.
We made time for one last jaunt into the Mediterranean somewhere close to the southern part of Barcelona, one last swim in the aqua water before arriving in Barcelona for our last night before flying back to the States.
When we arrived in Valencia it was dark and it took us several attempts through narrow alleys and crowded streets to find a parking space. One of the downfalls to driving in European cities. After securing a place for the car to stay, we mapped out the route to the hostel and started walking. A few blocks into the walk we looked up and in front of us stood a towering stone structure that looked like a piece of a castle. The tower looked like every drawing I have ever seen of castles in fairytales. In the moonlight I was transported to a different time and stood mesmerized for several minutes. After walking through the castle gate we entered the old town of Valencia, an area I found to be the most similar to my aesthetic out of any other city we had visited. It was clean, quaint, and embodied the old world charm that I dreamed of capturing in my photographs. The hostel we were staying at proved to be quite amazing as well, situated on the second floor of an old Valencian building with floor to ceiling windows that opened to the street. We spent the rest of the evening together writing, reading, editing photos, and enjoying the time and place where we were.
In the morning, we set out to explore the city of Valencia. I was immediately captivated by the vibe of this city. We stopped at a small café for brunch that had the feeling of an artist’s space. There was handmade jewelry for sale on the counter, a few locals discussing fashion and sipping espresso, and a large white dog lounging in the middle of the floor. We ordered our usual café con leche and baguette with proscuito and queso. From there we wandered the streets some more, stopped at a wine store where we were enthusiatically greeted by the owner and given several samples of wine. We bought a bottle for our walk through the city and continued to explore.
Valencia has definitely been one of our favorite moments of this trip. Not only did it feel smaller, older, simpler, cleaner, and quainter, but it presented us with the first definitive vehicular challenge of the trip. Renting a car, we didn’t hesitate to acquire a gps as well which easily took us through the city center. Not only is driving through the narrow streets a novel and stressful experience (following where the gps demands we go) but finding a parking space among all this was nearly impossible. This challenge seemed to provide us with some triumph, and the rest of the single day we spent there was among pleasant weather and a easy scenic walk through the old district of town.
Valencia is such an old city that its maps have concentric circles drawn where former city boundaries and walls once stood, or now partially stand. In the morning I wandered up the foyer stairs in the building who’s second floor was occupied by our hostel. The banisters and tiling remind me of those European cities you somehow imagine exist in some form of style but feel completely surreal in actually seeing them. The same feeling exists in walking through the thin streets over cobblestones below and shuttered windows above with laundry hung out to dry.
In the Plaza Mayor we came upon a somewhat touristy street market but still enjoyed the styles and the bits and pieces of authentic Spain that we found.
The visual presence of Spain is overwhelming. Since Amos and I wanted to see more of the countryside, we decided to rent a car and spend a few days driving down the coast. The plan was to see how far south we could get before having to return to Barcelona for our flight home. This was the best decision we have made on this trip. However, it has left me wishing we had more time to explore this country and all its unique cities. Spent the morning on trains to get to the airport where we picked up our car. By the time we finally had our car, it was mid-afternoon and we were ready to be on the road. Our first stop is Valencia, though we took several detours before getting here. Having the freedom to stop when and where we wanted was so amazing, especially because we both like to explore more off the beaten path. Amos kept surprising me by turning off onto side roads and random exits. We stopped at a Supermarcado and bought groceries for a picnic and ended up on the beach. This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. An hour or two at the Mediterranean, eating sandwiches in the sand, watching ships sail by, drinking wine, and swimming in the turquoise water. We drove the rest of the way to Valencia with the windows down, enjoying the beautiful Spanish sunset.
Renting car to drive south, we set out from Barcelona on Thursday afternoon. We were told in Barcelona that every part of Spain we’d likely want to see would be represented by staying in the city, but our instincts and a bit of a desire to for a more relaxed couple of days driving though the country caused us to venture forth.
We really didn’t make it very far before finding multiple excuses to stop and shoot pictures. Of course the drive itself has been somewhat surreal. Most road signs are easy to understand but I think there are a few whose meaning will remain a mystery. The car we rented was a zippy little Citroen C4 with a manual transmission (which means I’ll be the only one driving). It’s big enough that the front seats will lay back enough to snooze if we decide to catch some sleep one of these nights without staying at a hostel.
Our first day’s goal in driving south was to make it to Valencia where we’d reserved a hostel in the old town. We were sure it would be an amazing place and we were right. After a few photographic stops, sandwiches and wine on the beach, and a quick lesson in finding a parking place in European cities, we made it through the narrow alleys and busy night streets of Valencia to our hostel. Unfortunately we didn’t feel like venturing out to find food so we finished off the fruit, wine, sprouts from the earlier sandwiches, and baguettes that we still had with us before doing some photo editing and going to bed. The next day’s plan was to explore Valencia and then continue south.
Some of the random people and conversations we’ve found on this trip have really been amazing. Not only was our pre-arranged meetings like that with the Burnetts great, but we’ve come across people in the midst of their unique or coincidental lives and we’ve enjoyed so much the interactions we’ve shared, made so much more beautiful by the known fact that soon we’ll go home and life will be back to normal.
Pauline, on the train from Rome to Paris, had intriguing stories and recommendations about Paris as a person who’d lived there and didn’t like it. The Burnetts are Americans living an inspiring life outside of much of what I’m use to seeing day to day at home.
Laura and I spent much of our time the last day in Paris finalizing some gifts and taking some photos with Craig and Lora and thought we might miss the train by the time we finally got to Paris Austerlitz station. On the train to Barcelona it just so happened that two fellows in the compartment next to mine are from Nashville. Tennessee born and raised, a couple pre-med graduates seeing the world before committing to med school. Thankfully we got to share quite a bit of conversation and even game of scrabble with Austin and Andrew during the overnight train ride. It was definitely a good bit of luck because the end of our Paris time had been a bit stressful and it was comforting to share time with more Americans, some who even live in a city we’re so familiar with. Sharing stories and the details we’ve learned about how to get around on the trains or metros or other systems is really great when you come across people to share with. Normally staying in hostels puts you in contact with quite a few who are also traveling, but of course we hadn’t stayed in a hostel throughout all our time in France.
Then we finally arrived in Barcelona and as Laura mentioned, I think Santi has been by far one of our favorite things about the city. I’ve never seen anything like the atmosphere at the Garden Hostel. Typically the the paella + sangría meal they offer at that hostel (for 7€) is suppose to only take place if six people sign up for it, and though it was only Laura and I signed up, Santi still made his phenomenal dish and a pitcher of sangría just for us.
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay a third night at the Garden Hostel (now affectionately referred to as Santi’s Place). We did book one final night there before we fly home since it was several days out and they still had open dorm rooms. That will be the the day we get back from our road trip.
Meanwhile, we also met up with Bryan Decán, a friend of some friends, (who also knows my cousins in Oklahoma, it turns out) who I’d met once before when he visited Portland. Bryan is an Austin, Texas guy who is now studying Spanish and living in Barcelona. He’s been here four months and has accrued a great amount of knowledge about the city and culture, all of which he loved to share. Exploring the city with Bryan, we stopped by Sagrada Familia, we found the shoes Laura’s feet desperately needed (a pair of El Gansos and some leather sandals), some delicious tapas, and quite honestly the absolutely most amazing bar I’ve ever seen in my life, deep in the Gotíc district of Barcelona. Words, photos, memories cannot explain the incredible aesthetic of Bar Marsella. We were all three speechless, its a place worth traveling to Barcelona just in itself.
Before leaving Barcelona we didn’t make quite as complete of a round of monument/museum sight-seeing as we had in Paris. Part of that was due to our less organized plans and the afternoon chocolates, tea, tapas, and wine offered at the hostel. Before leaving for this trip, Ryan Sharp warned me that “that Spanish siesta thing is legit” and he was right. Unfortunately for a couple days by the time I was able to catch up on sleep, writing, and the trip planning, it was around 2 or 3 pm, which is siesta time. There’s a very distinct deadness to many of the streets and shops during the late afternoon but the city certainly comes alive after dark. We were also in the city immediately following what I understood to be some major victories by the Barcelona fútbol team, which, in celebration by the fans in the streets, provided us with some additional novelty and entertainment.
I’m not exactly known to be a shopper but I’ve particularly enjoyed Barcelona because in our short times in the streets I’ve been able to find some items I’m very excited about (to add to the typewriter and other antiques and the brown plaid blanket we kept from the overnight train from Rome to Paris). In Barcelona, a few of the things I found were a Spanish Bible from 1859 in the most amazing little bookstore complete with an old Spanish shopkeeper and a cat, a beautiful pair of leather shoes made in Spain, an assortment of fine cigars (whose origin I won’t mention here) and Dutch pipe tobacco, and, after stumbling into a huge photography gear store on La Rambla, a 1965 Zeiss Icon Contraflex Super B 35mm. The Zeiss is a beautiful machine and I’ve already begun its inaugural roll of film here in España. I think it will make the perfect companion for my Hasselblad 500 c/m which has lately been increasingly lonely for another European camera in my camera bag.
Speaking of the film cameras, we’ve made it through most of the 120mm rolls purchased before this trip but the 35mm is holding out better. I was predicting for a few days in Paris that I’d be out of 120 far too soon, but all attempts to acquire additional rolls of Kodak Portra 400NC have been thwarted. First by holiday closings (ProPhot in Paris) and then by empty shelves (the mega store in Barcelona). I managed to find some rolls of Fujicolor 120 but would prefer to never use them and they’ll serve as last resorts for the rest of this trip.
Onward to Valencia..