My Amsterdam Vacation

Amsterdam is a pretty cool city. Very interesting, laid-back vibe. Chic. Sophisticated, yet fun. And everyone there pretty much speaks English, so getting around is never a problem. You can check out my zillions of photographs here. I took my point-and-shoot with me because I hate carrying around my big SLR when I’m traveling. It seriously marks you as being a tourist from out of town and it’s so cumbersome. I like to travel as lightly as possible and the added burden of a large camera (not to mention the fear of theft or damage) is enough to ensure I’ll always bring a point-and-shoot on an international vacation.

A few things to note:

  • I never once saw a homeless person.
  • NOTHING is open at 5:30 in the morning, not even the McDonald’s.
  • Get used to the smell of weed. It’s everywhere. What’s that? You don’t know what weed smells like? Oh, you sweet thing. You will before you leave.
  • I never once saw a real grocery store or pharmacy in the city, even though we stayed in a very residential part of town.
  • No one wears helmets on their bicycles or motorbikes.
  • You could totally buy a beer out of the VENDING MACHINE on our hotel floor.
  • Try not to slip and nearly break your ankle like I did in the Red Light District. I never, ever want to know what kind of fluid I slipped on.
  • Try not to get mowed down by an inattentive car driver like I did while you’re on a rental bike.
  • Do go to the Anne Frank House around 11:30 on a Tuesday, and if you’re lucky like we were, you won’t have to stand in line at all.
  • For a horribly hilarious time, visit the Sex Museum. You will spend an equal amount of time laughing uncontrollably and being disgusted by what you see.
  • None of the places in the Schiphol Airport that I could find will seal your drinks for you, so you can’t carry ANY beverages on the plane with you (as security is performed at each individual GATE instead of right after you check your bag as it is in U.S. airports). If you’re leaving out of this airport, make sure you carry an empty water bottle with you so you can fill it up at the bathroom after security. I wish I had known this; I had a 10.5 hour flight back home without my own bottle of water. Misery.
  • Like everywhere else in Europe that I’ve been to (okay, only two other places), restaurants are so STINGY with the soft drinks and water. It costs three Euros (at minimum) just to get a little bit more than a shot glass of either beverage. I like to chug my Diet Cokes and water when I’m eating, but you can’t do that in Europe. You have to sip, sip, sip, or smuggle in your own beverage from the corner shop. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, EUROPE?!?! Would it kill you to offer fountain drinks?!
  • Buy as many syrup waffles as humanly possible. Eat them incessantly. Be happy. Buy some for your parents but eat them yourself. They’ll never know. (Hi, mom and dad!)
  • Take a trip to the Dutch countryside and buy glorious, glorious CHEESE. Pesto cheese, garlic cheese, aged cheese, smoked cheese. The possibilities for future constipation are LIMITLESS! Laugh at your husband when he is pulled aside in security at the airport for having cheese in his bag while your cheese goes through the scanner unnoticed. Gloat. Rinse. Repeat.

A Rainy Labor Day in Chattanooga

My husband and I took a short trip up to Chattanooga, TN this weekend. We love Chattanooga: it’s small and friendly, full of fun and interesting things to do. It’s only two hours away from Atlanta, Birmingham, and Nashville, so it’s super easy to get to from pretty much any area in the mid-Southeast. The Tennessee Aquarium is to die for and you really should See Rock City if you haven’t. Of course, our mini-vacation was completely rained out today with the remnants of a tropical storm, so we didn’t get to do very much. The rain did, however, make going to Ruby Falls a fun little adventure since the entire waterfall is located entirely underground. We were one of the last tour groups they let in for the day as the caverns were beginning to flood because they had SO MUCH RAIN over the weekend.

The falls were absolutely beautiful. And cold. Absolutely freezing. Thank God for my rain jacket. When you enter the cavern containing Ruby Falls, they turn the lights on for exactly seven minutes. It is breathtaking and I felt as though I could have taken pictures forever. I’m sharing just a couple here, particularly those that came out completely abstract. I only brought my point-and-shoot down into the caverns, which was probably a mistake since the lighting was so low, but despite the blurriness (which I apologize for), I still think the pics are kind of cool.

I’ll be blogging later this week about my time second-shooting a wedding with Amy Carson Photography over the weekend!

An Ode To Wesley’s Boobie Trap

Click on the images to enlarge them for the full-on, glamorous effect!

For as long as I can remember, when driving from Birmingham to Memphis, we always turned right at Wesley’s Boobie Trap onto Highway 78 in Sumiton, Alabama. This sad, decrepit little strip joint has been on the corner of Highway 78 for YEARS, and I’ve always gotten a good chuckle out of seeing it. I’d love to know what it must look like inside, but frankly I would be afraid to even walk through the door. Can you imagine what you would see if you shown a black-light in there??

In any case, my mom and I drove up to see some relatives in Memphis over the Thanksgiving weekend, and since I had brought my camera, my mom suggested that I take a picture of the Boobie Trap. We were disappointed to see that the newer sign was no longer there (it featured a nude woman with the word BOOBIE over her chest, the O’s representing her breasts), but everything else was the same as always. I wanted to share these pictures I took with my blog readers, because I think the Boobie Trap is awesome in about a million ways and it makes me laugh!

Note: The pictures clearly aren’t the best, but that guy walking around in the parking lot had me weirded out. Who knew that there would be cars in the parking lot at 7 A.M. on Thanksgiving morning??

Back from New York

I had a lovely time in New York City last week. The weather was absolutely glorious: early to mid 60s the entire time. You didn’t even need a coat until evening, which was quite something considering that it was November in New York and the week before the weather had hovered in the 30s.

Autumn was in its most magnificent display in Central Park. I spent two hours Friday wandering around the west side of the park, walking next to the lake and making my way up to the Jackie O. Reservoir. The trees were positively bursting with fall colors: vivid yellows, reds, greens, and oranges were EVERYWHERE, and I sat down next to the lake at one point and just marveled at how perfect and beautiful it was. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and enveloped as I was within the park, it was quiet and peaceful, with the only¬† sounds coming from small animals scurrying round and the people rowing their boats in the middle of the lake. I could have sat on that bench forever.

I opted to take my sweet little Panasonic point-and-shoot with me, and I’m so glad that I was not burdened with the added girth and weight of the D90. I typically take my red JanSport backpack (still in great condition and I’ve had it for more than ten years) with me, but it’s really quite annoying (and inconvenient) to have that huge thing attached to my body, so it was quite a relief to carry a regular bag that didn’t weigh me down. I also didn’t end up being anyone’s pack mule during the trip (“Deborah, can I put this thing I’ve just bought in your backpack so I don’t have to carry it?”), which was an added bonus.

If you’d like to see my pictures, click here to go to my Flickr set. I didn’t edit any of the images; they are straight out of the camera. This is almost unheard of for me as I tend to crop here and there and add a little punch to my images, but the Central Park pictures in particular were so perfect that I didn’t see any need to edit them. The rest are just snap-shot type of photos and I wanted to keep them pure and unedited as well, weird facial expressions and all! Hah!

New York City Vacation

Well, I’m hitting the skies tomorrow and flying to New York City to visit my best friend Eric. He moved up there back in 2006 (the two of us drove a huge Penske truck from Birmingham to NYC when he moved) and I go up to see him once or twice a year. I’m very much looking forward to the colder weather, the city streets, and seeing good friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I debated about which camera to take with me: the Nikon D90 or my point-and-shoot Panasonic TZ5. I decided to go with the Panasonic. It takes GREAT pictures, and it’s really quite portable so I can just throw it in my bag without having to worry about any bulk. I don’t want to be walking around with a huge DSLR around my neck all the time. Plus, I’ve been to NYC so many times¬† now that I don’t find myself taking a photograph every two feet.

If you want to see some of my previous NYC photos, just go here, to my Flickr Collection page. I don’t have photos up from every time I’ve been to NYC (and I don’t have EVERY photo I’ve taken there included), but I do have five sets in the collection. Enjoy! I’ll be back next week!

Catching Up

I know, I know. I’m behind on blogging! I am shamed and chastened, if that makes you feel any better. (It should.)

I spent a lovely weekend taking (hundreds of) photographs, which I hope to get to on the computer at some point this evening. Saturday night was spent at the Alabama State Fair (more on this tomorrow!), Sunday was spent celebrating my second cousin’s first birthday, and Monday was spent in Chattanooga under a brilliant blue sky with the man I love. It was a wonderful weekend and I found that I was holding a camera in my hands almost constantly. I didn’t take any pictures for the shop; just pictures of things that I want to remember. Pictures that I took for the love of photography and not to sell. Sometimes I think those are the best pictures, because they are of loved ones and moments that are sacred and special.

In other news, one of my photographs is featured today on this wonderful blog, so click on over there and take a look at photographs documenting the first moments of fall.

Back from Vacation

I’m finally back to the blogging world after spending a lovely vacation in Panama City Beach. You can see just how beautiful it was in the picture on the left. Although we had rain the first day, the rest of the time it was quite lovely. I took many wonderful pictures and hope to have a few of them up in the shop soon.

Since I’m back in town again, it’s time to ramp up my photography efforts. In that vein, I have the following to-do list for the week:

  • Begin working on and editing the natural light macro shots I took before leaving.
  • Go through my beach photographs and cull the ones that would make for interesting prints.
  • Contribute to the Photographers of Etsy slide show for September. Fortunately for me, the theme is bodies of water, and I have tons of great ocean pictures from my vacation!

So glad to be back to the real world again. Vacation is nice, but it’s good to get back into a productive groove and not be lazy all the time!