London

What do you think of my new software?

After

I just got Nik software’s Silver Efex pro 2!  The bulk of my

work is black and white, and I got inspiration from another

blogger to improve on my favorite type of photography.  The first

photo was done in photoshop, with a sepia filter, as I am quite

fond of sepia also.  The second photo is using the software.

There are so many options, I have a hard time settling on the

final image, but this is what I ended up with.  Look ok?  My

photography club is holding a charity auction at the end of

September, and I am going to contribute it.

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Let’s go for a ride

available at etsy.com

When we went to London last year for the wedding, we took a ride in the London Eye.

Considering how crowded the city was that weekend, I don’t remember waiting in line too

long.  If you go to London, I think this is a must-do.  The cars are huge, and it goes slow

enough to take plenty of pictures.  And the views!   London is so beautiful from the Eye.

We went during the day, I can’t imagine what its like at night.  Its probably slow enough

you could get good photos without camera shake if you really braced yourself.  If you like

these simple photos, please visit etsy.com.  Thanks!

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Happy Anniversary Will & Kate! Our weekend in London during the Royal Wedding

This why my husband is so great:  Three weeks before the Royal Wedding, I was telling him how I was excited to get up early and

watch the wedding on t.v.  It would be over by the time we had to leave for work.  I mumbled something about it being cool if we

were actually there.  He said, “why don’t we”?  I said no, that’s crazy with this short notice, and we just paid off another trip we

took.  The next day, I am sitting at my desk at work and he calls.  He says he has an air/hotel package  pulled up, and he is about to hit

the book button.  I was freaking out!  I am usually the planner, taking months to research a trip.  So I said, fine do it.  And we were off

for a four-day weekend in London!  We arrived on the 28th.  The city was full of media and pictures of Will and Kate plastered the city.

The procession route, St. James Park, and Westminster Abbey area were full of campers.  They had been there for a week!  While I would

have loved to see them in the carriage after the wedding, I chose to stand by the church to see them emerge together for the first time

as a married couple.  We decided to go at 4 am.  We got up around 3, got ready, and headed to the church.  There was already a good

crowd there.  We got pretty close, but even closer after the police made people pack up their tents and chairs as it got closer to the wedding.

I have never been so packed in a crowd like that.  My arms were literally pinned to my sides.  It was a struggle just to get a bottle of water

out of my bag.  The only problems were people from the back kept pushing everyone forward, causing the front row to yell back to stop

pushing.  There was also an annoying guy who was very tall in the front row with a t.v camera.  I thought isn’t he important enough to

stand somewhere else?  So after standing for 7 hours, people started to arrive.  The family was shuttled in by buses.  We didn’t see

any famous people as they took the side entrance.  When the immediate family started to arrive, I gave the camera to Jim, as he is taller

and would get better shots (as you can see).  I love the photos he got of Kate, and even had a canvas print made for our bonus room wall.

After everyone was in, we turned around to the media stand behind us  with the local t.v stations.  They turned a monitor towards us

and we were able to watch the wedding.  It was really awesome.  I got to watch it again as I recorded it at home.  After it was over, I was

looking forward to seeing them come out together.  That never happened.  A whole crowd of horse guards blocked our view.  Of course

we got a great view of Pippa in her carriage!  When the crowd started to disperse, we went to lunch, then back to the hotel.  I would

have gone to Buckingham Palace, but we thought the balcony appearance would be over by the time we got there.  It wasn’t.  We were

able to watch everything else on t.v.  We even watched the fighter jets on t.v, and outside our window at the same time!  We then fell asleep for

three hours!  Besides the wedding, I got to eat the best fish & chips, took some great photos, and even visited an old friend who lives

outside of London.  One of the best weekends ever!

Pippa leaving wedding

us in the middle of millions

the media stand behind us let us watch the wedding on a monitor

these horses blocked our view when they were leaving the church

The Queen and Charles
William walking into the church
campers across from Westminster Abbey
Media stand across from Westminster Abbey
the crowd outside Westminster Abbey
Categories: fun pics, London | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Packing for your trip? Here’s what I learned to lighten the load

hubby and me at sunset, Edisto Beach, SC

In my travel experiences, I have come a long way in terms of packing for a vacation.  My first 10- day trip to Europe consisted

of a giant wheeled suitcase with everything but the kitchen sink! This irritated many strangers as they had to help me hoist it onto trains, buses, and boats!

Since then, with luggage fees and a lost suitcase, I have

learned how to whittle everything down to one carry-on.  Now these have been for no more than a 4-day weekend, but I am

challenging myself this fall when we take a 10-day trip to Italy with only a carry-on.  My husband and I will have the smaller

wheeled suitcases they allow on board, along with a small backpack for me, and our camera equipment backpack for him.

I think the key is renting places with washing machines!  But here are some of my tips:

1.  Travel in warm weather, you wear less, so you pack less.

2.  As stated above, rent apartments with washing machines.  If that is not possible, your clothes can be hand-washed in the bathroom sink.

We have done this, and bought a clothes line with a sink stopper from Magellan’s to hang our wet clothes on besides chairs or whatever.

You can also get soap sheets, or pack some dry detergent with you.

3. If you do choose to wash your clothes in the room and you don’t have access to or want to pay to dry your clothes at a laundry mat with

a dryer, you will need wrinkle-free, quick dry clothes.  Buy socks that are not 100% cotton, not only do they dry overnight, they keep

you from getting blisters if you walk a lot since they don’t get moist and rub against your feet.  Some places to get some nice travel clothes

are Magellan’s as mentioned above, Patagonia ,Athleta, and REI.  I have found some really cute dresses at the last two places that you can wear

anytime! Now these are not cheap.  I have had to save money for a couple months to get clothes, which is fine, if you know far in advance

where you are going.

4.  Some awesome packing aids are packing cubes, which really help condense things like underwear, or those air compression bags you squeeze the

air out of (without a vacuum).  I have seen these at Target and The Container Store.  I love these!  You can really compress your

clothes down, and have room for new stuff when you go shopping!

5.  If I know I am only going to hand-wash items, I really don’t want to wash my underwear because I feel like that is not clean enough.

I have bought cheap packages of underwear, rolled them up tight into a zip-loc bag, and then thrown away a pair every day so

I am not carrying around dirty underwear.  That’s just my preference, I am sure most people wouldn’t care 🙂

6. For the few outfits you will bring, make sure all the colors match, so you can wear any top and bottom together. Or just wear dresses.

7.  If you don’t want to bring socks and tennis shoes, or sneakers, get some good walking sandals and wear those the whole

time.  A good walking sandal that I found is Merrell brand.  I know REI sells these as well as individual stores, and online.

I have some that I have walked several miles around Chicago for 3 days straight, and they never bothered me.

8. Now how about those pesky airline restrictions on liquids in your carry-on?

*Instead of bringing a travel bottle of your facial cleanser, I use those Dove facial cloths that activate when you wet them.

They free up space in my quart bag, and exfoliate everyday that I use them.

*Some things you only use a tiny bit of, like eye cream.  Even that small jar is too big to take with you.  Go to a

cosmetic counter like Bare Minerals, and ask for a sample of something.  Those tiny plastic containers they give

you are perfect for eye cream or some makeup you will use a little of.

*If you are traveling with someone who does not need all the space in their little quart bag, put some of your

stuff in their bag!

9.  Do you really need your hairdryer?  Most places provide one, but if not, wash you hair at night and let it air-dry

and just wear it in a pony tail or braids while on vacation.  If you do it this way, you may be able to cut down on

your liquid items as you may not need to pack hairspray, leave-in conditioner, or styling gel.

10. I know there are tons of tips I don’t know about.  What are yours?

Categories: Beach, Chicago, fun pics, London, New York, Paris, Switzerland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey kids look… Big Ben, Parliament….

available at etsy.com

I will forever associate these two major landmarks with National Lampoon’s European Vacation where Clark drives past Big Ben and Parliament several times as he can’t get off the roundabout.     Though I think the first movie is much better!  What do you think?  Christmas Vacation was really good too.  Anyway, I love the dramatic clouds over Parliament, as it kind of looks like a storm is coming, but it was actually partly sunny.  And I LOVE this picture of Big Ben.  We were out late one night taking photos, and decided to finally go back to our hotel.  We got off at Westminster Tube station, walked out, and surprise! there was Big Ben.  And yes, the clock is accurate, it really was almost midnight.  We had this photo made into a large canvas over our couch, and it looks awesome.  You could own these photos too at etsy.com!

available at etsy.com
Categories: London, photos for sale | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swishy pictures!

available at etsy.com

available at etsy.com

My favorite kind of photography is night photography.  I love getting the car headlight trails in front of a nice subject.  I call these “swishy pictures” since the car lights are all blurry and swishy.  Here are a couple of my favorite:  the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Big Ben with traffic on the Westminster Bridge.  When I was preparing my tripod and camera for the London pic, some drunk kids came by, and I got a perfectly framed shot of someone mooning me!  I chose not to capture that image 🙂  You can also see these photos on etsy.com.

Categories: London, Paris, photos for sale | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Continuing my street lamp obsession….

available at etsy.com

The other day I posted my favorite street lamp in Paris.  Now here is my favorite in London.  It helps that the beautiful London Eye is in the background 🙂  This was taken last year the weekend of the Royal Wedding!  More on that later….. You can also see this photo at etsy.com.

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