art, creativity, travel

Sculpting is an incredible art. It is such a gift to be able to take a raw material and be able to chisel, pinch, bend, and who knows what else, into something beautiful. I like walking around them and finding ways to find either an emotion I’m getting from it that the sculptor intended a viewer to feel, or finding an emotion I think it exudes. Below are a few photos from my travels that stuck out for me.

A woman in rapture:


Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City (May 2016)


Play time:


de Young Museum, San Francisco (November 2014)


Heavy thoughts at the river:


Whistler, Canada (July 2016)


I’m ready for my close-up:


Musee du Louvre, Paris (March 2014)


No one’s supposed to know:


Musee Rodin, Paris (March 2014)


Photo of the Moment – Ah, Paris :)



Our first airbnb experience landed us in Place D’Italie in the 13th arr. of Paris. Suzette was a great host and started our jet-lagged trip off with a fresh baguette, the butteriest of croissants and a bottle of wine. It was an excellent welcome. There was brie and jam in the fridge, too.

We are back from our trip now, and I am all over the place with organizing everything: tickets, receipts, brochures, hundreds of photos, souvenirs, and all that. Still a little out of sorts as far as time, but it’s been okay. My body wants to be on vacation. It wants to find a way to the next cafe where I can hear people speaking another language, discussing topics over wine and cheese, or steak and au gratin potatoes. My eyes want to feast on the art of history’s greatest aritsts and new ones, too.

The post-vacation blues are kind of the worst, except that we came home to a sunny weekend, a bustling farmer’s market that sold cheeses and baguettes. There was an accordion player playing the theme to the French movie, Amelie. It put a smile on our faces. Despite feeling a little gloomy, overcast hanging in the mornings, we have our memories of a city that opened our eyes, exercised our minds, and didn’t have a problem with us hanging around. It will not be our last trip to Paris. We’ll be back.

Paris – Saturday, March 15


I’m alive! I haven’t flown international in almost nine years. The flightfrom Seattle to Paris took off almost 45 minutes late, but we still got to Paris at 11:00, when it was an ETA of 11:32 a.m. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep a wink, so I worked really hard to stay awake, and succeeded. I stayed up until almost midnight.

When we got to the gate, a friend of ours greeted us just outside of the airport. It turns out the trains were all running for free because of pollution. The idea being that since the air quality is bad, the government would like for you to please use public or alternative transportation instead of using your car. So we rode the train for free all day. 

The train ride into Paris and to our apartment was super easy. There was a bit of a delay just before we needed to transfer to another line, so rather than wait for things to happen, we walked to the connecting stop and found the Metro line we needed.

We found the apartment in no time and were greeted by the woman from whom we are renting. I had some serious jet lag, but her excitement about meeting us was great. She showed us how to access the building and gave us the arm’s length tour of the place. It’s definitely smaller than a hotel, but it has a full kitchen and full bath and space for a full size bed and kitchen table for two. It was asvertised as a Romantic getaway. She set us up with a bottle of wine, baguettes, croissants and some cheese and jam in the fridge. I was feeling reallyo out of sorts by the end of our meet-n-greet. After we parted ways, we dove into the bread and cheese and wine. At this point it was 2:00 p.m.local time. We got settled and I took a much needed shower.

After some organization, we headed off to Montmarte to walk around the cobble stoned streets with cute shops and café after café. My favorite part wax seeing artists selling paintings in a square. They had their easels and painted as tourists perused their works. But before all of this, we visited the basilica of the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart). There were tons of people here. Admittedly, it was a bit off putting, but we were all there for the same reason: great views and to watch dusk settle over the city. There were also a handful of scam artists trying to get you to buy friendship bracelets. Our Rick Steve’s guide warned us about this ahead of time, so we were prepared to just walk on by. Not that  it wasn’t ibvious that they were just trying to scam you. There were about five of them trying to get the bracelet on you. 

When we got to the top, we entered the cathedral. It was indeed grand with a rope line around the pews taking you past statues of Mary, information about the murals on the wall, and rows of candles where for 2 or 10 Euro you could light one. We lit one and thought our thoughts about those who have departed. Our friend N is quite the history buff and speaks French, so he gave us some background on the mosaic mural at the dome of the cathedral. He also translated some text on a wall about how the church was built to ask forgiveness for the revolution.

We exited and walked through the streets, past the artists, past the metallic painted street performer with elf ears playing a lute, and came to a hill where we could see the Eifel Tower as Parisian teens chatted, one playing a guitar and singing a tune. It was here where N wanted to show us a statue of a man who had something to do with gree thought and had a quote from Votaire inscribed on the bottom. It was also here where we saw a pigeon house that had food in it that made the pigeons infertile for the sake of population control.

We headed down the hill to find some cheese and salad as we were meeting N’s girlfriend for dinner at her place. We walked into a fromagerie and bought a couple of small bricks not knowing what kind of cheeses they were, only that from the illustrations, one was made from cow’s milk and the other from sheep. We actually chose one because it was shaped as a star and thought that was cute.  We found a grocerty store for some packaged mixed greens and it was off to meet M. Her apartment was on the 5th (America’s 6th) floor. No elevator, we winded up the wooden staircase where conversation on many topics ensued, wine was poured, cheese, an au gratin dish, and flat bread was had. With N deciding to stay over, A and I took the trains back almost not finding the place. But we did, and I pretty much just fell onto the bed and passed out, waking at some point in the night to brush my teeth and feeling a wave of serious time adjustment and alcohol pulse through my body. But I woke up pretty early today and despite the hoarse throat, am fine. I tookna nice shower and ate a banana from the plane and am off to the bakery next door for some fresh bread and coffee.

The packing challenge for a photographer like me

photography, travel

My week-long trip to Paris with my husband is almost upon us. We’re meeting a friend who has been living and teaching in the city and we’re excited to be able to pair exploring an art culture capital and spending time with him. After reading the suggested packing list from the Rick Steve’s travel website, I’ve been playing with what to bring on this trip as far as how many kinds of what article of clothing. But probably more stressful, but important, is what camera gear to bring.

Since about a week ago, I’ve considered everything from bringing multiple lenses or just one extra lens. Maybe my smaller and older DSLR which works perfectly fine, or put my new DSLR to good use. I even found myself checking out mirrorless micro 4/3 cameras, but that seemed too extravagant a decision, not to mention having to learn how to use it properly on such short notice. But I’ve figured it out.  This is what I’m bringing

– Body: Nikon D7100
– Lens: AF Nikkor 20mm / f2.8D

Here are some photography goals I’m putting into place for myself specifically for this trip:

One camera. One lens. I am petite and do not want to check a bag. I decided lighter is better for me. On my last big trip to Chicago, I had three lenses and the whole bag served as my personal item for the plane, making it so that I had to check a bag. Flying international, I am not interested in standing at the carousel and waiting for my bag to pop out. I want on and off and into a train or cab as soon as possible. The 20mm is wide, but cropped anyway.  I plan to utilize the 1.3x crop feature to get in “closer” without having to move my feet. I know I’m not actually getting closer, but I’m tricking myself to believe I’m getting closer. There are times when I want to compose tighter and know when I need the extra angle of view. I walked around town yesterday and tried it out and I’m happy enough with how it works:


In-camera 1.3x cropping in D7100 using AF Nikkor 20mm/f2.8 prime lens. Standing across the street from this establishment, the image on the left is before the 1.3x crop.


We are not going to be on-the-go like the last time we were in Paris, so I want to take advantage of the strolls around town and just breathe.

Get it right in-camera. I was perusing a flickr forum about the lens I’m brining. One person brought up something unrelated to the lens, but a practice that I learned about in photography school. It’s something that makes tons of sense to me when shooting with film, but is something I neglect when shooting digital, which is to get it right in-camera. My Digital I – Photoshop Fundamentals instructor stressed that just because you can shoot off dozens of frames for one shot doesn’t mean you should or have to. You just end up with these extra shots that take up memory card space. It serves as digital waste. So, positively speaking, I want to get it right in-camera. I want to take my time composing and work to expose no more than three times per shot. If it doesn’t work, maybe it wasn’t meant to be 🙂

Have fun with my friends. It can be difficult being the only person with a camera. Sometimes I end up straying from the group. As someone who enjoys abstract and street photography, It is not my first instinct to take pictures of my friends and family, which means my presence can be practically non-existent. This becomes a drag for them, and I end up feeling guilty about not being around. I want to find balance and remember that this trip is not a photo expedition for just me. It’s a trip to spend time with loved ones and relax and take it all in. I want to avoid menu-diving into my camera. I want to have conversations, play board games, pose for a few shots, discuss the use of thick brush strokes on a canvas at a museum, or practice some Kung Fu forms along the Seine! Awareness of my surroundings will be key.   

For now, I say adieu!


Note: I am not a professional photographer.  This post is not intended to be professional advice about travel photography. This is a personal reflection on what I want to do for myself to make my travel and photography experience one that serves me well.