Andrew Stranovsky Photography: Blog https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Andrew Stranovsky Photography 2021 (Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Sun, 03 Jan 2021 21:08:00 GMT Sun, 03 Jan 2021 21:08:00 GMT https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u243590098-o658751342-50.jpg Andrew Stranovsky Photography: Blog https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog 120 120 Hodges Bay Antigua during COVID https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/12/hodges-bay-antigua-during-COVID Hodges Bay Resort and SpaHodges Bay Resort and SpaHodges Bay Resort and Spa in Antigua and Barbuda

Planned this birthday trip a few months back.  All our travel had been cancelled due to Covid, so felt like going all out on a Caribbean destination.  Picked a resort type place, in case we were stuck staying at one location for the entire time.  Settled on Hodges Bay Antigua for a week.  With direct flights out of JFK, strict COVID protocols, and an isolated resort destination, figured this was a sound travel plan in these times.

Sunday November 29

Got a little stressed out when our direct flight to Antigua out of JFK was cancelled for the second time.  Originally we had booked direct with Jetblue but that got cancelled.  We knew we'd have some juggling to do with COVID travel, but we didn't think our second American flight would get shut down.  We were able to get rebooked on a 6am flight to Miami, then a second flight to Antigua, however 6am out of JFK is never easy.  Rather than scramble to find an Uber at 4 am, we got a room Sunday night at the TWA hotel, with plans to just wake up early and walk over to the gate.

Hoping for a leisurely day slowly making our way over to the hotel for the evening, we got our heart rates going by looking for a missing engagement ring.  Once found and the panic settled, we looked forward to a drink during Covid times at the hotel.  Armed with our Covid tests and passports, vacation started once we grabbed our seats on the A train.

TWA hotel was empty, but the way to go if you stress about getting to the gate early for a 6 am flight.
 

 

Monday November 30th

Judging by our previous Caribbean trip pre-Covid this year, we assumed that JFK at 6am during COVID would be relatively empty, so we slowly made our way from the hotel to the terminal at 5 am for a 6 am flight.  Turned out to be very busy, and after getting stuck at security with a camera gear check, I almost missed the flight.  Ran over to the gate as they were boarding group 7.  Nevertheless once we took off on time and I was sure we would make our connection, I started to relax.  

Antigua airport was organized.  Went through a Covid temperature check and presented our negative tests.  Got a call from the hotel about a week before saying they couldn’t pick us up anymore due to the new contact tracing airport requirements, so we grabbed a cab over to the place once we got through customs.

It was a little cloudier than expected as a rain shower had just passed through.  Got set up in an oceanfront room with a balcony overlooking the beach and water.  Grabbed dinner at the beachfront restaurant, White Sands, and called it a night.
 

Tuesday December 1st

Birthday day!  Started off with the traditional coffee on the balcony.  Any time I'm in a hotel, I end up using the in-room coffee situation.

Followed up with breakfast outside, then picked the oceanfront pool with the swim-up bar for the day.

Flowers and champagne delivered to the room for the birthday girl.  Then a private beach dinner.

 

Wednesday December 2nd

After another unhealthy breakfast, we decided to motivate and grabbed a tandem kayak out to Prickly Pear island, right off the beach from our hotel.  Packed our snorkels and camera, towels, and paddled our way out to our own private island.

Once we got there, we immediately regretted not bringing any water, but after hanging around for the morning one of the hotel workers ended up coming out with another couple and dropped off some beers and waters.  The island was surrounded by a reef that had the best snorkeling of the trip.  Under normal circumstances, this tiny place would draw a crowd of beach loungers and visitors.

For dinner we decided to venture out a little, seeing as how the island wasn’t under full lockdown as we thought it might be, and got dinner at a small French restaurant, Le Bistro, within walking distance of our hotel.  One of the best meals I had on the island. And decorated for Christmas to boot.

Thursday December 3rd

Excursion day.  While the plan for this whole trip was a COVID-type-stay-at-the-resort-the-whole-time plan, we were getting a little antsy to “get out”, being practically alone at our huge resort.  Decided to check out the southern end of the island; the English Harbor, and the larger Falmouth Harbor.  About a 40 minute drive through the island, it had a good mix of local shops, restaurants, and contrasting mansions and super yachts.

Galleon Beach was our first stop.  Did some snorkeling along the shallow reef along the coastline.  Didn't see any turtles, but some great sights with the shallow reef right next to the beach.

Lunchtime we made our way back to the harbor and picked up a quick sandwich at Skullduggery’s Cafe.  The yachts parked in the Falmouth harbor were impressive.  Had never seen anything this big before.  Looked up the “Grace” as that was the largest motorized one sitting in front of us.

Walked over from the harbor to Pigeon Point beach, perfect for lounging and watching the sunset.  Boats were coming and going, but it didn’t feel like a harbor at all since the natural beach and reefs were so nice.  Saw some giant starfish near the reefs.  This was probably our favorite beach after the ones at Hodges Bay.  Super laid back and populated with yacht workers during their off hours.  Picked up some great frozen drinks at Bumpkins beach bar for the sunset.

Grabbed another beer at Skullduggery’s before we grabbed dinner at a local chicken spot, Flatties Flame Grill.  Checked out the boats at night, then headed home.

Friday December 4th

Beach morning with a rainbow, pool day, then a massage in the afternoon.  What more can I say.  Finished some books and drank more Antiguan rum.  Final birthday dinner at an empty NaCl (the restaurant at Hodges Bay), but still an excellent meal.

Saturday December 5th

Already starting to miss the beach, so we spent the whole morning taking it all in before sadly making our way to the airport.  All in all a great trip in these crazy COVID times.  Looking forward to 2021 travel planning.


 

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Antigua Caribbean COVID-19 Hodges Bay photography Resort and Spa travel TWA hotel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/12/hodges-bay-antigua-during-COVID Thu, 31 Dec 2020 21:15:00 GMT
Swimming with Stingrays https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/11/swimming-with-stingrays

Played around with my new underwater camera.  Threw together all my clips from our stingray and snorkeling adventure with Captain Marvin's tours.

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Cayman Islands Grand Cayman photography snorkeling Stingray City stingrays travel underwater https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/11/swimming-with-stingrays Sun, 15 Nov 2020 21:47:00 GMT
Long weekend at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/11/long-weekend-at-the-kimpton-seafire-resort-and-spa Kimpton Seafire Resort and SpaKimpton Seafire Resort and Spa

So I had been doing a lot of travel for work the previous year and collecting points on IHG.  Made it to Spire Elite status without even paying attention.  I’ve used hotel points here and there for a free room on a motorcycle road trip, or when driving out to Colorado to help move stuff when my dad moved out there from New Jersey, but I decided I wanted to make use of the points at somewhere better than a standard Holiday Inn express.  Did some research on the best use of points, and decided on a long weekend at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa in the Cayman Islands.  There were direct flights available from JFK, it was a warm location for the middle of January, and we had been big fans of the Kimpton brand from our stay at the Kimpton Gray in Chicago for a weekend the previous year.  The only rooms available for rewards nights were the standard Oceanview King rooms, so I grabbed one for 3 nights at 70K points a night.

 

January 16th Thursday

Thursday morning started off exciting with my girlfriend waking up with achy bones, a stuffy nose, and a slight fever.  I didn’t help anything by insisting that we get to the airport early.  Got us up early, made some coffee, and somehow convinced her to push through it.  Flu recovery would be better at a Spa than at home in bed?

JFK was obviously empty at the international terminal at 6 am.  The Cayman Airlines flight was the first one leaving that day, so we sat and waited for others to show up at the gate.  Even better, no coffee places had opened yet.

Flight was as expected.  Nothing special at all with a points booked economy ticket.  The free rum punch cocktails, premixed and served out of a plastic gallon milk container, were a great early morning wake me up, and I appreciated the “cheese sandwiches in a sandwich baggie” for a lunch snack.  It was a direct flight.  Can’t complain.

Super easy cab ride from the airport.  There were ads for a price checker app which I used because I'm paranoid, but the cab driver was super nice and knew where to go.

Check-in was a little surprising.  Since booking with points, I had assumed we'd get the most basic room that they had.  Due to my IHG status, they upgraded me to a 1 bedroom suite, gave me a $30 spa credit, and gave me a $30 restaurant credit.  Even better, my girlfriend mentioned that she was also an IHG member so they gave her a $30 spa credit as well.

We were early so they gave us a drink and we lounged at the beach for the afternoon.

Definitely one of the nicest rooms I’ve ever stayed in, and enormous.  Way more than we needed for the weekend.

While my girlfriend took a nap after check in to try and at least start her flu recovery, I checked out the wine happy hour, a standard for Kimpton hotels.

After the break, we decided to keep it local and dressed up for dinner at one of the hotel restaurants, Avecita, for some small plates, drinks, and desserts.  No complaints at all, as we started thinking we could get used to a spa resort type vacation.

 

January 17th Friday

Next morning, our first full day, we decided to start it off by taking advantage of our very temporary $1300 a night suite life, and ordered breakfast to be delivered to our room on the balcony.  Even tried to be healthy out of guilt.  Oatmeal, yogurt and fruit, and robes.

This morning’s schedule was one of the main reasons for the trip.  A spa day for the girlfriend.  Prepaid for a package and hoped the $60 in credits would make a dent in the bill, but yeah not even close.  While she relaxed at the spa getting a facial and mani/pedi, I lounged on the beach and broke out the new underwater video camera and full face snorkel set, which was one of my main goals for the trip to play around with.

Listened to rave reviews of the Seafire Spa over fruity drinks and tacos on the beach at Coccoloba.

Spent the rest of the afternoon poolside and reading.  Popsicles, drinks.  For a family friendly place, it certainly didn’t feel like it, as there weren’t too many kids or families at the pool.

Dinner in town for a change of pace.  The restaurant was recommended by hotel staff, but they told us the town would probably be pretty empty as there were no cruise ships in port.  Le Vele restaurant was perfect for seaside dining.

Lindsay has a severe aversion to seafood.  Can't eat any of it.  However since I had set up this trip, she wanted to do a seafood place for me for one dinner.  I ordered an appetizer, pretty much the only one that didn't contain any seafood, but she was a little skepticaland wasn’t completely sure they were seafood free.

 

January 18th Saturday

Still getting over the flu, we decided to sleep in a little longer than normal that morning.  I got up first and had to check out the free hot chocolate station, and picked up a snack from their pantry.

Spent the morning on the beach, trying out the new full face snorkels that I had brought with us.  Grabbed drinks and tacos on the beach.

Plan for the afternoon was to do something a little touristy, but something I wanted to do while there in the Caymans.  Made our way to the highly Captain Marvin's Swimming with Stingrays boat trip.  Picked up a fedora hat while waiting for our tickets, which ended up in the water almost immediately after getting on the boat.  One of the deckhands ended up jumping in to retrieve it before we headed out to the stingray grounds.  Got some great footage swimming with the stingrays and snorkeling with fish afterwards.  It was much more choppy than expected for everyone, and much more hands on with the sea-life than we expected.  Definitely something you should do at least once.

One more set of drinks on the beach, post terrifying ray excursion.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand CaymanSeven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Last dinner at Avecita.

 

January 19th Sunday

For our last day, we had to do breakfast in bed again.  This time we didn’t go healthy.

Final relaxing beach day and some snorkeling before heading back.

Loved the Caymans, and found a great way to use IHG points for expensive hotels.  I have a bunch left so I plan on banking them for one more Spire Elite trip before I figure out if I'm switching to another loyalty program. One other bonus that worked out well on this trip was getting a Chase Offer on Kimpton hotels with my credit card.  While points were used for the room, we racked up some charges with the spa, drinks, and food, so it was nice to see some credits come back that I wasn't expecting.

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) COVID-19 food Grand Cayman Islands Kimpton Seafire Resort photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/11/long-weekend-at-the-kimpton-seafire-resort-and-spa Sun, 15 Nov 2020 21:45:00 GMT
Santorini Sunsets https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/2/santorini Last stop on our Greece trip was the island of Santorini.  Honestly after always seeing gorgeous pictures of this place while scrolling through the amazing travel destinations categories on Instagram, I wanted to add this stop to our trip.  I hadn’t played with my camera pretty much at all so far, so I was determined to set up my tripod at least one or two times on this last island, while at the same time trying not to piss off my girlfriend.  True to form, we didn’t worry too much about specific itinerary planning for our short stay on Santorini.  Figured we would visit a winery, restaurant or two, and see the sights.  Nevertheless, true to Instagram influenced form, we insisted on staying in one of those cliffside places in the city of Oia that we had read so much about.
 

 

9/21/2019 Saturday

After getting to the port way too early (freely admit I’m a terrible traveler) and waiting in line, the Seajets ferry pulled up about a half hour late and we boarded with no issues.  This ferry was a little more upscale than the previous one we took.  Full bar with drinks, snacks, and even a race car replica in the lobby.

I was a little worried about getting to our next AirBNB “base of operations”, as the only thing I had really read before arriving in Oia is that there were no roads and that you had to be prepared to walk up and down a lot of stairs.  So when the host offered to pick us up from the airport and bring us and our luggage to our apartment for a fee, I gladly accepted.  30 pounds of useless camera gear gets heavy when traveling.  Once we arrived, we found our shuttle waiting for us, who drove us and a group of others up a long winding road from the port, over to our stop in Oia.  Once we arrived, we handed off our luggage to a linebacker who rushed us through tiny streets and a maze of stairs down the cliffside to our place.

First impression of the cave house we booked was the view.  We had seen pictures on the Airbnb site showing a small terrace with a table and a view, but assumed it had been shot to make it out to be better than it actually was.  The view was perfect.  Our place overlooked the southern side of the island, off a dead end walking cliffside street with almost no foot traffic.  Full kitchen and table, couch, and even a washer / dryer.  Exactly what we had hoped for a Santorini “cave house.”

Plan for the rest of the day was to get our bearings and relax on our terrace.  We picked up gyros from one of the popular take out places in Oia, Pitogyros, then headed over to a grocery store to pick up some snacks for the afternoon.  Great way to let the view settle in before planning our next moves.  I charged a few camera batteries, while others recharged.

Did some wandering to see the city at night, and had dinner at Roka before heading back home for the night.  Even broke out the tripod and got a few shots of the town at night before going to sleep.

Some clips from the first day.

 

9/22/2019 Sunday

Plan for this morning was to make the hike from Oia to Thera, following the cliff side paths.  Typically the hike is done in the opposite direction, as most people make their way into Oia for the afternoon and sunset, so we had the path to ourselves most of the time.  Very windy, but pleasant and nice to walk around.

Passed Skaros rock along the way and decided to appreciate it from a distance, rather than add an hour to the walk.

Passing a few little villages and towns, we made it to Thera.  After more quick gyros at Meat Corner, we caught a bus over to one of the wineries on our planning map.  Venetsanos Winery is right on the side of the cliffs, and is one of the smaller but more popular ones on the island.  Tried a flight of wines, saw the distillery, and enjoyed the windy view.  Known for their white wines made from assyrtiko grapes, we picked up a bottle of Santorini 2017 (100% assyrtiko) to bring back home to the U.S., and made our way back to Oia via the bus.

As it was getting later in the afternoon, we headed back to a spot we had checked out the day before to set up for the sunset.  First time I really brought out my tripod and grabbed a sunset spot early.  Why my girlfriend put up with this, I have no idea.  It may have been because we got an excellent spot on the wall in the castle ruins.  She ended up having a much better vantage point for the sunset.  The whole area got packed pretty quickly with everyone trying to view the sunset, including the harbor with boats giving sunset tours.  It was worth the wait as checking off a sunset in Oia should be on everyone’s list.

We had gotten a restaurant recommendation from friends who previously visited Oia.  First issue was that it was a seafood place, and the second issue was that it was located in the Ammoudi harbor.  Nevertheless, we went for it.  Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna.  Local fava bean dip, fish, and baklava, along with a small jug of wine, as the waves crashed on the harbor as we ate.  I loved it, and had no regrets, but I knew my knees would have some regrets the next morning as we hiked the 300+ stairs all the way back home. 

Took a few more tripod shots from our area then called it a night.

Some windy clips from day 2 on Santorini

 

9/23/2019 Monday

Since we had been around Oia for the past two days, and walked around most of Thera the previous day, the plan for our last day was to check out one of Santorini’s beaches.  We had not been disappointed with any of the beaches on Mykonos or Naxos, so we figured there was something to see here on Santorini.

My last day in Oia, I woke up pre-sunrise to get some shots while the streets were empty, and find a composition that I could get with the city and sunrise in the background.  Set up while it was still dark, and the city was silent.  Think I got a few keepers.

Once it was light out, but still very early, the Instagramers came out.  Lots of girls in dresses with their boyfriends running around behind them with iphones, trying to get "flowy" motion shots.  It was entertaining at first.  Then they all stepped up their game and started crossing barriers, jumping on roofs, walking into private homes and courtyards, to get the shot.  Once they started jumping in front of my tripod setup, I gave up and went home to make myself coffee.  I can see this place getting out of control in the future, if it's not already.  Still, I think I was happy with the shots that I got.  I could spend days here just taking pictures.

Once we were both up, we had some Greek yogurt and honey on our terrace, and made our way to the bus stop in Oia.  We must have passed 30-40 groups of tourist groups coming in for the day to Oia from the 5 or so cruise ships docked in the harbor.  Our plan coincidentally had us missing all of the Oia turmoil for the day as we grabbed a bus from Oia to Thera, then picked up another bus headed south over to Parissa, Santorini’s black sand beach.

My last experience with a black sand beach (non-winter time) was Honokalani Beach, a small stretch of sand located on the east side of Maui.  Parissa Beach wasn’t anything like we had seen yet.  It stretched for miles and was this coarse pebble sand that was super hot from baking in the sun.  Much bigger.  We spent the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon lounging on the beach before heading back to Thera.  As with all the beaches we had visited on this trip, the water was a perfect temperature and crystal clear.

Picked up an afternoon coffee at Zotos Cafe in Thera and wandered the town for a while.  Since we had done a dinner and a sunset in Oia already, we decided to make our last dinner in Greece somewhere in Thera overlooking the sunset.  We tried a few places who were already booked up, and finally reserved a table at Fanari on the edge overlooking the Thólos Naftílos volcano.

We had some time before dinner, so we grabbed some wine at Katrin Bar up the road.  Mingled with a very drunk British tourist couple who were about to depart on one of the cruise ships before we headed back to the restaurant to catch the sunset.  After a little trouble getting a table, since the staff didn’t really understand what a reservation meant, we were happily eating fried cheese and Octopus while watching our last Greek sunset for the trip.

Video from our last day.  I'm getting used to working with Shotcut.

9/24/2019 Tuesday

Next morning, the AirBnb host arranged for our bags to be picked up and we were on our way to Santorini airport.  No issues getting out, and dosed up on coffee and snacks at the Athens airport lounge before heading home.

This trip came together sort of last minute for us.  Since we didn’t have a lot of vacation left for the year, we wanted to pick a destination that involved more or less a direct flight from the NYC area, so we didn’t have to use up vacation days traveling.  Looking back at how we “compromised” on this destination, I wouldn't have planned anything differently.  The itinerary worked out perfectly.

I’ll eventually go through the pictures from my camera and post them to my travel gallery, but seeing as how I’m about 2 years behind on posting pictures, I have a lot of catching up to do first.

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) food Greece photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/2/santorini Fri, 14 Feb 2020 13:00:00 GMT
Naxos Beaches https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/1/naxos Next stop on our Greek Island trip was one that I was looking forward to the most.  I had heard of Mykonos, as it had become very popular travel destination, but we wanted to jump a little into the unknown on this trip.  Looking for something a little more low key, less jetsetter and luxurious, but having enough to explore and keeping it a nice beach vacation, we settled on Naxos for the next stop.  It had an old town, mountain villages, and plenty of nice beaches to visit.
 

9/17/2019 Tuesday

Coincidentally, after settling on a Naxos itinerary for 5 days, it turned out to be directly south and a short ferry ride from Mykonos.  The Greek ferry experience was interesting.  Booked with one ferry operator, Golden Star Ferries, and were given tickets for another operator, Seajets.  Sounded like we were rebooked, as our original ferry operator notified me that they weren’t running anymore that weekend.  Fortunately, the concierge at the Branco understood the issue and took care of everything by calling the ferry operator.  Even went out and got us the tickets the day before.  The Branco driver dropped us off at the port, early as always, and we waited for our ferry to show up.  Definitely confused as a Golden Star Ferry pulled up first.

Seajets ferry was a smooth ride, with plenty of seats.  After 40 minutes we pulled right up to the port of Naxos and made our way to somewhere we could get Wifi to get in touch with our AirBnB host.  We got a standard introduction to the area, recommendations on things to do and where to rent a car, then we were walked over to the apartment.  Immediately after ducking off the main road into the old town, I was lost.  We were taken through a restaurant courtyard, a few winding back streets, and somehow made our way to the door of the apartment.  Completely turned around.  I was very surprised by the place.  Much bigger than I thought it would be, with a full living room, eat in kitchen, and separate bedroom.  Even included a welcome kit with olive oil, honey, and jam, some Greek yogurt for breakfast, and bottled water.

What was most appealing about the place was the location.  We were right in the middle of old town, down one of the many maze alleyway-like streets throughout the city.  We got lost making our way back to the real estate management company to pick up a forgotten hat.  Decided to make the best our short time of remaining daylight and explored around our immediate area, including the walk up to Apollo’s temple and the harbor.  Saw some of the best sunsets that night before we dove back into the old town streets to get lost again.

 

I had gotten a recommendation for the Flamingo Restaurant from a neighbor who called Naxos his favorite Greek island.  Got a seat on the outdoor roof terrace.

Naturally, I had to go full ocean meal; octopus and squid.  Those with a spiteful distaste of seafood were in luck, as the lamb kleftiko turned out to be the better dish.

Finished off the meal with some complimentary dessert shots.

Still trying to fit in as much as we could our first day in Naxos, we explored the old town streets, getting lost in the process.  Made it up to the highest point in town at the Castle of Naxos to see the city at night, before crashing for the evening.

A few video clips of our first Naxos sunset and a walkthrough of the apartment.

9/18/2019 Wednesday

Our first full day in Naxos was kind of all over the place when it came to planning anything.   Getting lost in the Castle old town streets at night made us want to experience the excitement of this place during the daytime.  We made the same hike through the tiny streets back up to the castle and grabbed some coffee with a view.  Once there, the realization set in that we had seen these same streets and views already set in, and decided to make the most of a full day by motivating to see some of the mountain towns that were on our list.

We rushed back down to the port and caught an 11am bus to the mountain towns, making our first stop at the marble town of Aperanthios.  Other than the several cafes located on the first street at the bottom of the town right near the bus stop, there weren’t too many people in this town.  The narrow stairs and pathways throughout the city were similar to the Old Town, except everything was made of marble.  While catching a few more pictures wandering around, we ended up running into a worker on a donkey coming back town one of the stair pathways.

Grabbed beer and lunch with one of the better Greek salads we had on the trip, all the while warding off bees which were rampant on this one street, before catching the bus back down the mountain.

Chalki was the next town we stopped at.  I really enjoyed the sunny mountain village vibes with the old stone architecture of these places.  The town was only a few streets with shops and cafes.  Took a quick tour of the Vallindras Kitron Distillery with a few samples of the Kitron liqueur.  Had my first Greek coffee, appreciated the picturesque “bug and tree” situation in the town center, then we headed out on a hike from the town to the surrounding villages that was displayed on one of the maps.  Our translation of the signs, as well as interpreting roads vs. property divider fences/paths, was probably not accurate, as we ended up hiking for over an hour and getting lost, on what was supposed to be a 20 minute circle.  Luckily we found our way back to the bus to make it out of the mountains late in the afternoon.

Once back, we checked out the Apollo temple, and with some time left in the afternoon we decided to grab another quick bus to the nearest beach, Agios Prokopios, for sunset.  We had heard of the Naxos beaches and were not yet sick of the sand from our stay in Mykonos.  Bus ride was quick, depositing us in a cool little beach town, with an empty beach for sunset.  It was chilly that time of the evening so we didn’t really get a good beach afternoon out of it, but it was nice to see another sunset before heading back home.

Grabbed dinner at Apostolis, the “bicycle” restaurant, on one of the streets right outside our apartment.

Few video clips of the day.

9/19/2019 Thursday

Thursday was one of the few days where we had pre-planned a full day activity.  We had decided we would spend the day on a catamaran tour, which was planning three different beach and snorkeling stops.  Felt it would give us a good tour of what Naxos beaches were like, and would help us plan our next day if we saw one we really liked.  Started with an early breakfast before heading out on the Rena.

With our first stop, we ended up making the trip across the water to Paros to visit Santa Maria beach.  Great snorkeling right off the boat.  We then went south and stopped at Kalogeros Beach in Paros, famous for it’s clay evidently, where you scrape it off the rocks and rub it all over your skid.  Definitely weird.  Had to be careful while on the rocks as the waves from the ferries would take you out if you weren’t careful.  I couldn’t get over how clear the water was for snorkeling.  Final stop was back across the water to Agrios Prokopios beach, where we had visited the day before.  During high season, this miles long beach is apparently so full of people, you can’t find a place to sit on the sand.  While the boat trip didn’t give us a tour of the southern Naxos beaches that we were expecting, the snorkeling off of Paros definitely made up for it.

Saw another great sunset while grabbing drinks at 520 Cocktail bar.  Really got lucky with the Naxos sky colors this trip.  I ended up feeling really loopy after the one drink at that place so we decided to head back home before dinner.  While walking back, we happened to pass the Flamingo restaurant we had visited previously, and noticed they had an entire garden seating section with live music that we had missed on our first visit.  Normally I try not to do repeat places on trips like this, but we felt we had to try this one out.  It was a much better experience the second time around, with the music and plate smashing dancing.

Some video clips of the day, including sailing, live Greek music, and dancing.

 

9/20/2019 Friday

Our last full day on Naxos, I was determined to get over my unreasonable aversion of driving in foreign countries.  I hate driving in general, and one of my last trips to Vietnam where there are absolutely no traffic laws and the city traffic is insane, was still in the back of my mind.  After breakfast at one of the waterside cafes, with a poor man’s spinach pie and more Greek coffee, we went straight to the car rental place near our apartment.  I was laughing at the daily cost of $30.  Most people at the place were paying 4 times as much to rent an ATV or scooter.  Assumably telling themselves that’s what they wanted to do, but in reality they probably couldn’t drive a manual transmission.  Rental company told us to keep the tank almost empty, just like we received it, and just put in $10 worth for the day.  “It’s an island.  There’s nowhere to go.”  

First stop out of town was one of the largest beaches on the island, Plaka Beach, just south of Agrios Prokopios.  Completely blown away by the water color and the soft beach sand.  Seemed to stretch for miles in each direction, as we couldn’t see the end in sight.  Had to spend at least a half hour there instead of continuing on, just because it was so pretty.  It was actually difficult to force ourselves to leave.

Nevertheless, we drove on after our quick stop and proceeded over to Aliko (Hawaii) beach, on the southwest tip of the island.  We had to hike through some sand dunes and vegetation before arriving at this small cliff-enclosed spot.  Spent some time there as the water was amazing.  After a while, again we forced ourselves to trek along to a few other southern spots with the car since we had it, all the while thinking about that first Plaka beach stop.

Driving around to spots along the remaining southern coast, each stop kept us closer and closer to just finally staying in the car and quickly looking out at the coastline, and concluding we would go back to Plaka beach and spend the rest of the afternoon there.

When we made it back to Plaka Beach, we finally stopped at a beach side cafe with dried octopus hanging for an advertisement.  Couldn’t get enough this trip.  Spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on this amazing beach before heading back to drop off the rental car.

For our last night in Naxos, rather than going out again to another sit-down restaurant, we headed back to the beach area of the town located at the south of old town, and picked up a glass of wine at Soulatso and chicken gyros at Gyro Gyro in Plateia Protodikeiou Circle.  Low key dining and people watching.  We picked up a slice of orange cake at the Sitári bakery next to the gyro place to enjoy at our last night in our Naxos apartment.

Amazing place to visit.  Couldn’t have asked for a better trip.  Don’t think I’ll ever get over Plaka beach.  Only thing I would have changed about the itinerary was to get over my fear of driving a little sooner.

 

9/21/2019 Saturday

The next morning, packed up and headed over to the port for our next Seajet ferry to Santorini.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) food Greece photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2020/1/naxos Tue, 28 Jan 2020 10:00:00 GMT
Mykonos Lounging https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2019/11/mykonos-2019 Been a while since I posted here.  Looking to get back into it, as I’ve had a lot of trips since I last wrote one up.  Going to try and start this back up with my most recent trip to the Greek islands with my girlfriend.  We both didn’t have a lot of vacation left this year, so we needed a destination that was somewhat easy to get to that didn’t involve two days of travel getting there.  Greece has always been on my list of places to see, so it was a pretty quick decision.  Planned out our itinerary which involved either really short flights or short ferry rides so travel wouldn’t take up too much of our time.  First stop on the itinerary was Mykonos.

We decided that we would approach Mykonos, our first stop, a little differently than normal.  Rather than coming up with a bunch of things to run around and see as quickly as we could in the three days we had there, we decided to pick some place nice to stay and just relax for our time there, maybe throwing in a few afternoon trips here and there if we felt like it.  Our planning map is below.  We picked the Branco Hotel for our stay on the first island.
 

 

 

9/13/2019 Friday

I was able to score two direct flights for us from Newark to Athens using points.  Overnight flight.  As usual, I had to get to the airport way too early.  My checked bag weighed over 50 lbs, as I was trying to sneak in as much photo gear on this trip as I could.  I promised myself I wouldn’t run around grabbing sunrise and sunset shots like I usually do I my solo trips. (way too much camera gear), so I was dumping extra stuff into my girlfriend’s bag.  Completely overpacked.  Grabbed a drink at the airport bar to try and calm down.

Once we boarded and my camera gear had safely made it aboard, I relaxed.  Overnight flight was great.  Left right on time and got two meals.  I stuck with my traditional “lots of red wine to sleep”.  Got several hours.
 

9/14/2019 Saturday

Landed at Athens and picked up our luggage with no problems.  Felt like I slept well.  I can usually function the day after an overnight flight to Europe for the most part, but usually end up crashing hard at a random point late in the afternoon.  As soon as we landed, my girlfriend had a notification from her credit card company that there was fraudulent activity, and that they would need to send her a new one.  Only brought one card with her.  Tried expedited shipping to our Mykonos hotel.  We had a 3 hour layover, and our Mykonos flight was on time as well.  Went to the first ATM I saw and didn’t have any issues taking out Euros.  High fee (reimbursed) and 1% exchange rate fee.  Small plane, but completely full.

Landed and immediately found the Branco Hotel driver waiting to pick us up, once we got our bags.  Took us too a BMW SUV which seemed like the largest car on the island.  There’s something to be said about not having to worry about how to get to your hotel after a long day of flying.

Since it was my first time in Greece, naturally my head was on a swivel as we drove through winding streets towards our hotel.  I knew we were on the south side of the island, right on the beach.  We passed a few places I recognized from our research.  Made it down through some windey narrow roads close to the beach and pulled up right to our hotel.  Happy it looked exactly like all the filtered photos I had seen of it.  Got free non alcoholic welcome drinks, tour of the room, and a tour of the main area and restaurant.  Blown away by the view.  A minimalist feel to the rooms, but couldn’t have picked a better location.


After unpacking, immediately went to the beach and picked out our sun loungers.  Little windy, but air temp was nice and the water temperature was perfect.  Couldn’t get over how clear the water was.  Lounge chairs, our first island beach drinks.  I think at this point, I was finally relaxed.  No more worrying about making it the destination, and all my camera gear was intact.  Started to crash a little before sunset so we went back to the hotel for a nap.  Caught the sunset from our window.
 

Usually don’t do too much planning for a trip in terms of fixed itineraries and reservations, as the exploring part of travel I think is the most fun.  Figured our first day was our relax and get settled in day, so we made a dinner reservation at 10:30 pm at Zingara, the hotel restaurant.  Made it easy for us the first night there.  Food was great.  Our first Greek salad.  Steak was perfect.  Wine right on the beach.  Chocolate praline for dessert, as we wanted to save our first baklava experience for another place.
 

Wandered the beach a little at night to see what else was in our area.  Grabbed a drink after dinner at a hotel bar right next to our place, which had a small crowd there, and was blasting 90s music.  Bartender said everyone was probably downtown at this time of night.  Worked out great for us as we were looking for a night cap and then crashing.


Threw all our video clips from that day into one video below.  I have to learn to shoot more horizontal videos while on vacation.

9/15/2019 Sunday

Woke up by sunlight for the first time in a long time.  Weather was perfect.  Breezy but not cold.  Bright sun.  Had to do an espresso right on our balcony before completely waking up.  I had read good reviews of the breakfast at Branco, and it didn't disappoint.  Breakfast at the restaurant was a la carte, whatever you wanted, all included.  Fresh orange juice, coffee, spinach pie, waffles, Greek yogurt and fruit.

Decided to grab a cabana in front of the pool to change it up for the day.  Located right in front of the pool, behind the bar and DJ, steps from the beach.  Hard not to relax and order drinks.  Why explore when we had everything we wanted right here.  Perfect water, weather.
 

Ate lunch and listened to the DJ all afternoon.  Really got into the music as it brought around the perfect vibe for the place.  Hotel brought us a complimentary fruit platter to our cabana.

Wrapped up the afternoon and then headed to Scorpios, our only other dedicated itinerary item for the Mykonos portion of our trip, for our 530 sunset beach reservation.  Their sunset ritual Sundays had been recommended to us, and seemed like the popular not to miss thing to do on the island.  Upscale beach club, place to be seen type situation.  It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel.

 

We showed up about a half hour before sunset.  They were only letting in people with a reservation, which we had.  Super easy to make one, but a somewhat hilarious interaction making it.  After going through the options and obviously skipping the terrace location with a $2000 minimum spend requirement, I requested a 5:30 pm time for Sunset Beach.  The next day, I got a confirmation response saying yes you are confirmed for 5:30, and please don’t worry about the drink prices.  Wasn’t quite sure what that even meant, as I had never asked for any information on drink prices.

Got us a bottle of rose and waited for the sunset.
 


Cool experience.  Very popular place.  Really picked up towards 9-10pm.  Decided we had been here long enough and caught a cab to the downtown part of the island.  Got gyros, picked up some souvenirs, our first baklava, and another drink.


Small maze like roads with blue and white  were really cool to see for the first time.  Went by a few clubs around midnight but they were completely empty.  Everyone must have just stayed at Scorpios.  Walked around a little more then called it a night.
 

9/16/2019 Monday

Looking forward to the breakfast this morning.  No such thing as eating healthy when I'm taking time off.  I was obviously up first, and made a trip to the balcony with my espresso to take in the morning.  Seemed a little less windy today.  Decided to switch up the breakfast strategy and go a little more unhealthy.  Got the jam spread, poached eggs, bread, fresh orange juice, and more coffee.  The restaurant was all about getting us to try everything, which I loved.
 

Since we ended up doing a lot of running around the previous day, we picked our sun loungers for the day and decided to hit the beach early.  Water and temperature were perfect, and we loved our location, so why not take advantage of it.  Only planning we foresaw for the morning involved beach, water, lounge, eat, drink, and relax.
 

Eventually we got a little antsy, and since it was our last full day on the island, we decided to try one other location that was recommended.  Nammos was within walking distance, so we hiked over there to check it out.  Again, only a 10 minute hike from our hotel.
 

Beach club with a bar right on the sand, loungers and umbrellas for rent, and enough yachts parked out in front along with a menu that made me realize I was happy we were planning on getting dinner back at our beach.  Nevertheless, we had to grab a cocktail and enjoy the place for what it was.  
 

Final glass of wine for the evening at Branco before we grabbed a pizza dinner at Yialo Yialo on the beach.
 

9/17/2019 Tuesday

Woke up pre-sunrise early that morning to try and get some early morning/sunrise shots with my tripod, of the beach area and hotel.  Not much in terms of shot planning, but it was fun to play with my camera for the first time on the trip.  Breakfast, followed by our usual switch up to a cabana for the morning.

The concierge was kind enough to pick up our ferry tickets the previous day for our ride to Naxos that afternoon.  Absolutely no wind today.  Perfect beach weather made it very difficult to want to leave our setup at Branco.  Experienced the DJ set on the beach one last time, which I have to say was one of the highlights of the trip.  Definitely the most popular setup on the small stretch of Platis Gialos Beach.  DJ Trixx's whole set is below.

Last ice tea with a brave stray cat, then we ended our Mykonos trip with a ride to the port to catch our ferry to Naxos.
 

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) food Greece photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2019/11/mykonos-2019 Tue, 12 Nov 2019 21:30:00 GMT
Sunrise Blend https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/7/sunrise-blend During a weekend trip to Florida last year, I set up on the bridge to Fort Myers Beach over Matanzas Harbor early in the morning.  I liked the view and I thought I would plan out a blending shot of the blue hour and sunrise.

I ended up taking a bunch of different exposures and shots over several hours in the same location.  I wanted to try and get a composition of both the river itself, the buildings on both the left and right, and the boats in the foreground.  What I found most difficult with this setup was forcing myself not to change my mind with the composition.  After running around on that damn bridge, getting different perspectives of the harbor, I settled on a composition, realizing that if I didn't set up soon, I'd miss the blue hour and would be unable to blend it into the sunrise shot if I kept moving around.  I grabbed these frames from Lightroom and took a first pass.

Started off with the sunrise exposure as my base layer.  I liked how the two lines of boats somewhat lead the eye to the sun and the town on the right.  After the sun came up, the building lights turned off, and looked like your typical beach town waiting for its morning coffee before waking up.

The buildings and boats during the blue hour were lit up nicely and gave off a warm glow, so I tried blending this shot into the main base layer.

Finally, I took this layer and blended in some of the sun into the base layer, to take care of some of the sky and sun that was blown out in the original exposure.

Sunrise over Matanzas Harbor, Fort Myers Beach, FloridaSunrise over Matanzas Harbor, Fort Myers Beach, FloridaView of the harbor at sunrise from the bridge going to Fort Myers Beach, Florida

After getting my base blend together, I added some contrast and curves adjustments, and settled on this as a first pass.  The blending might be a little too much for some, but in my opinion I think it captures this sunrise as it transpired over the course of a few hours.  I would have liked to blend in some of the boats from the blue hour into the final shot, but they moved around too much and masking them in proved to be too difficult for my Photoshop skills.

I have a bunch more shots of blue hour which I think look nice, so I'll develop one or two of those next.  I wanted to take an attempt at blending first.  Not sure why, but this Florida set has been sitting in my Lightroom catalog for a long time and it's been bugging me that I haven't finished going through all the pictures yet.  I recently finished a first pass at my Norway collection and the whole time I was going through them, this blend shot was stuck in the back of my mind, unfinished, and driving me nuts.  Glad I got through a first pass at this finally, to maintain my sanity.  I think now I can at least open my catalog from my recent trip to the Czech Republic and Slovakia and try and get through a few of those.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) florida fort myers photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/7/sunrise-blend Sun, 16 Jul 2017 11:30:00 GMT
Chef's Table https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/7/chefs-table I've recently become obsessed with the show Chef's Table.  By far the best documentary series I've seen on Netflix.  Made it through Season 1 and the first few episodes of Season 2 so far.  So much more than a show about cooking and restaurants.  Each episode can stand out on its own as it's own story.

Food is a big part of why I like to travel so much.  I have to experience the local cuisine wherever I go.  You'll never see me flying half way around the world to Taiwan and seeking out a TGI Fridays to get an American burger and fries.  So a series that showcases chefs and restaurants from all over the world is naturally appealing to me.  And the food photography is amazing.

 

My favorite episode so far is the one showcasing Magnus Neilsson's Flaviken.  A restaurant and chef, in the middle of nowhere Sweden, considered one of the best in the world.  How such a place can exist in the Arctic where nothing grows for 6 months out of the year is amazing to me.  I may just have to start a restaurant bucket list soon.  My google maps list of "want to go" places in NYC seems weak at this point.

 

The episode following Flaviken is about Grant Achatz's Alinea, the opener for Season 2.  While the food and restaurant in this episode blew my mind, I couldn't help but notice the differences in my appeal between this place and the previous place.  Alinea is located in a huge American city, easy to get to, with a well know restaurant scene.  Flaviken is located in a tiny town in Sweden, in a hard to get to area of the world, not really known for anything.  I think most, if given the choice between the two restaurants, would choose the latter, I think I'm always going to naturally gravitate towards the former.  Looking forward to finishing Season 2 and 3.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/7/chefs-table Sun, 09 Jul 2017 22:30:00 GMT
Norway Drone Footage https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/7/norway-drone-footage

Thought I'd share a short film by William Wei, a photographer who I traveled with in the Lofoten Islands.  He took some great footage with his drone and put together this awesome short video of the area (and yes I even make an appearance in the video).  While I'm still resisting spending the money on a new drone, this video did not help things...

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/7/norway-drone-footage Mon, 03 Jul 2017 10:00:00 GMT
The Cliff https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/the-cliff

Tried a small breakfast/lunch spot that recently opened in Jersey City Heights, right up the hill from where I live.  I'm happy to see places like this opening in the surrounding areas.  Small locally owned businesses still hopefully can survive here with the rising rents and real estate, and the last thing I want to see is another chain taking over.

Good coffee.

Small place, but they have a nice outdoor patio, and a small bar with a few seats right in front of the kitchen area.

They have plenty of healthy options on the menu, from oatmeal to acai bowls, but sometimes a good omelette is needed.  I really like the fact that they include a salad with breakfast.

The Cliff in Jersey City.  Looks to be a nice coffee shop addition to the area.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken Jersey City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/the-cliff Sat, 17 Jun 2017 21:30:00 GMT
Winter Photography in the Lofoten Islands https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/winter-photography-in-the-lofoten-islands Now that the temperature is in the 90's here in New Jersey, I figured I'd sit in my air conditioned apartment and finish up a first pass at my Lofoten Islands pictures.  Full gallery is located here and below, and I wrote up my field notes from my trip in the post.  Yes, a lot of food and beer pics, but what trip to the Arctic isn't complete without whale meat and beer.  I had an incredible time meeting new people and trying out winter landscape photography for the first time, and already am planning more trips back to that area of the world.

I wrote up a few posts previous to this final one as I developed these pictures, listed below, which go more into a few specifics of the trip, but I think this post summarized the trip for anyone interested.  I have a few more pictures that I'd like to add to the gallery, and plan on doing it eventually once I'm in the mood, but for now I think this is a good first pass.

 

After my last trip to Bhutan, which was my first photography workshop, I was determined to take another class as soon as possible.  Usually I take photography trips to new places during the spring, summer, and fall months, and leave the winter months for ski trips, but this time I decided to take a trip specifically for some winter photography.  I had been following Daniel Kordan’s site for a while, looking at the tours that were posted, saw that there were some spots left on the Lofoten Islands itinerary, and decided to go for it.

Spent the first day and night in Oslo, since the flights to the Lofotens was an early departure from the airport.  The overnight flight was empty, and I slept well, but I think I scratched my cornea again as my eye was bothering me.  Spent the day in Oslo drinking espresso, wandering downtown, and picking up a travel adapter to charge my batteries.  I’m usually pretty good about packing up all my camera gear, but this time around I forgot to bring a travel adapter.  Oslo is a great city and I would have liked to spend more time exploring, but it was freezing, I was exhausted from wandering around, and I preferred to go to a nearby restaurant with giant viking-like fireplaces Norwegian food, and beer.  Spent the night at the Cochs Pensjonat.  Simple rooms but warm and clean, and I got a good night's sleep for the mile walk back to the train station and ride to the airport.

Flight to Bodo was slightly delayed, so we had to run to make our flight to the Lofotens.  Almost everyone on the plane was there for photography, as we were all scrambling for overhead space to stash our gear.  Meeting the group was exciting.  We had a good group of people who had already traveled the world, and again I was probably the only one in the group with the shortest list of destinations.  Daniel and Alban explained to us that the forecast was snowy, which was good in that it would make for much better winter landscape scenery, but would not be great for northern lights hunting, something that I was desperately hoping to see on this trip.  It was cloudy and snowing pretty good when we landed, so we decided to make our way straight to the cabins where we would be staying for the next few nights.

These tiny little fishing cabins were perfect for a winter trip.  Cozy, bare bones, with heat and hot water.  My roommate for the trip brought a nice bottle of Akvavit, which definitely helped with warming up.  After a few pics from the bridge of our cabins, we all met for dinner at the only restaurant in town.  I got along just fine with the two Australians on the trip, as we decided then that we would have to try every Norwegian beer the place had available during our stay here the next few days.  The chef was awesome, and the Minke whale steak was excellent.  I slept well until about 1 am when we were woken up for some potential northern lights shots, which turned out to be somewhat of a bust.

Spent the next morning getting some shots of the town of Reine.  I couldn’t believe how many cod drying racks there were, waiting to be filled up at the start of the fishing season.  The light wasn’t that great, but we still got some good pictures.  Once we wrapped up shooting, we headed back to our Krambua Restaurant for a surprisingly nice breakfast spread.  Daniel gave us an overview of the plans for the tour the rest of the week, and showed us a few of his pictures from past tours.  Once the weather cleared, we gathered our ice spikes and waterproof boots up and headed out.

First stop was the town of Å, a long drive south from where we were staying, known to the Norwegians as “the end of the world” as there is nothing really past that town to the south except uninhabited islands and Arctic seas.  Got a few city pictures when the snow would clear, and it was fun exploring.

Towards the end we got some good light as we headed to our next destination, Skagsanden Beach.  It was a lot of fun walking around an Arctic beach in my new waders, trying to get wave and ice shots.  I had never pictured myself ever standing in an arctic ocean in the middle of the winter.  Even saw some crazy surfers out in the water.  It was surreal thinking as I stood there on the beach that the only thing north of me was the Arctic.  Clouds broke a few times to reveal some nice light, and I think I got a few keepers on that beach.  Dinner included great food again and more beers, and as the clouds closed in we looked forward to good sleep instead of northern lights in the sky.

Next morning we decided on a hike up a hill overlooking the town of Sakrisoy.  It was cloudy, freezing, and the snow and hail didn’t help anything, but I was determined to get to the top and get some shots overlooking small town filled with yellow cabins.  Light was nice, but I didn’t get too many shots due to the wind and hail.  Got a few more shots of the cabins at the bottom of the hill, but I didn’t really like any of my compositions after I went through all of them.  We stopped by the town of Reine to shoot the famous Reine mountain peak and bridge, then headed back out to Å to get some sunset cliff shots.

Dinner was entertaining and the Australians and I were no longer limiting ourselves to two beers for dinner.  They both happened to be miners, and have taken some amazing trips with their time off.  Cory and his wife live in Vietnam, and have already convinced me that I will have to visit sooner rather than later.  The three doctors on this trip have evidently done the northern lights thing many many times, and as they shared their galleries of past shots, those of us who had never seen them were getting more and more worried that we might miss out on the experience this trip as we looked at the forecast predicting another cloudy night.

Headed back to Reine the next morning for some sunrise pictures.  I was a little disappointed that we were going back to the same location again.  I would have been much happier going to another beach.  Didn’t really get any shots that I liked, however this time one of our group members decided to break out his drone.  I’ve seen these things before, but never really took any interest in them.  This Mavic Pro was amazing.  So small and compact, it fit right in his camera bag just like another lens, and the shots that he was getting were pretty amazing.  As something else to waste my money on that seems safer than a motorcycle, I knew I’d be looking into drone options when I got back home.

Heading back to our cabins, we had a couple hours before breakfast.  I had picked up some instant coffee at the lone grocery store in town.  Not the best coffee I’ve ever had, but certainly not the worst, and I was happy my dad’s habit of taking free coffee packets and more importantly, the cream, sugar, and stirrer packets, from hotel stays rubbed off on me, as I had brought some with me.  Drinking coffee on the balcony of my arctic fishing cabin made me thankful I had forced myself to do more trips like this.

Spent the morning driving out to the town of Nusfjord, a UNESCO protected fishing village in Norway, and the oldest harbor in the country.  Stopped along the way to grab a few more lake and beach pictures.  Lots of snow prevented us from really getting any dramatic coastline village pictures, but it was still nice walking around the town.  Even met a couple, Niko and Joska, who have been driving around the world for the past 4 years.

It ended up being too cloudy for sunsets at the harbor, so we headed back to the beach to see if we could catch any light coming through the clouds.  After getting stuck in a two and a half hour traffic jam due to a snow plow catching fire, the beers at dinner were more than satisfying.

Woke up early for a hike to get a few sunrise pictures over the town of Reine.  Hike was worth it, and we got the best light of the trip that morning.  Headed back to the hotel to check out, and spent another hour getting pictures around the area.  I was starting to get sick of the same cabin scenery, but the skies were clear that morning.  Driving to our next location, we finally started asking why the same locations over and over again.  Evidently there are a lot of tourists that visit the Lofoten Islands (obviously) and due to the small roads throughout the country it is illegal to stop on the side of the roads (to take pictures).  We had to choose our destinations carefully.  

We had a couple hours of driving to our next hotel in Leknes, when all of a sudden our bus just tipped over.  Apparently the markers on the side of the road indicating where the ditches were located, were incorrectly placed.  When we drifted to the right, the snow just gave way and we tipped over.  We ended up making the best of it.  There was a rocky beach on the other side of the road, and we wandered down there with our gear trying to get a few pictures in the middle of the blizzard.  After 4 hours, a taxi finally found us and was able to get the last of us to the hotel.  Our van was towed out later.  Afternoon was a complete bust, but we were rewarded with good news that the skies were forecasted to be clear that night.  We charged up our batteries, dressed warmly, and left for the beaches at 10:30 pm.

I’ve never had so much fun standing out in the cold in the middle of the night until 5 am taking pictures and watching green and purple lights dance around above me for no reason.  Epic experience.

I ended up sleeping for only a few hours.  Couldn’t get back to sleep so I just went to breakfast in the morning.  It was a snowy day again so no real opportunities to take pictures, so Daniel decided to hold a photo editing class.  I stayed for the first hour, but ended up leaving as I wanted to wander around Leknes instead.  After last night, I added boot dryers, toe and hand warmers, and instant coffee to my list of things to bring on my next winter photography trip.

 

Last day of the trip before our afternoon flight, we were rewarded with some really nice sunrise light.  I ended up getting some of my best shots during this time, along some random Straumsbukta Fjord.

Honestly, this trip wasn’t as nearly as exciting as my Bhutan trip, but it was nonetheless very memorable, as I had never been to any place like this before.  The northern lights were incredible, the Norwegian people were friendly, and I met some more amazing photographers on this trip that I will definitely try and keep in touch with.

While I found the workshop through Daniel Kordon’s work, I learned a lot about composition and technique from Alban Henderyckx, the other professional photographer guide, who was very helpful.  Being based in Iceland got me thinking of my next potential trip destination.  Coincidentally, as I finally landed in Newark and turned on my phone to begin the painful process of reconnecting to the real world, I received a message from my previous photographer guides about a new trip to Iceland they were planning for November.  I took this as a very good sign, and send them my deposit as we were taxiing to the gate….

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/winter-photography-in-the-lofoten-islands Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Lofoten Scenes: Northern Lights https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/lofoten-scenes-northern-lights Northern Lights over Uttakleiv Beach in the Lofoten Islands, NorwayNorthern Lights over Uttakleiv Beach in the Lofoten Islands, NorwayThe Northern Lights were weak this evening and came in waves, but still cast a nice reflection along the coastline of Uttakleiv Beach in the Lofoten Islands of Norway

One of my goals this trip was to try and get a few pictures of the northern lights.  Prior to this trip, I knew nothing about the northern lights.  I had seen plenty of pictures and knew that you had to get closer to the Arctic circle to see them, so I figured I'd just go to Norway and they'd be there.  Once we arrived, our guides told us that the weather had drastically changed from the week before.  It was snowing when we landed, and they were predicting lots of snow during our week in the Lofoten Islands, which would make for some nice snowy landscape scenes.  The prior week had been rainy and there had been no snow on the ground.  Unfortunately with snow comes cloudy skies, making it impossible to see any lights that might appear in the night sky, so our guides were not very hopeful about seeing the lights this week.

During our second night in our fishing cabin hotel, our group decided we would keep a lookout for anything that appeared in the sky.  It was snowing, but the forecast for lights was there.  We were all pretty tired from our first day of shooting, so when we were woken up at midnight by banging pots and pans and yelling for everyone to get out and shoot, I wasn't really sure what to make of it all.  I threw on my clothes and ran outside to set up my tripod.  It was still snowing and I didn't really see anything, but started taking my 30 second exposures.  Eventually we saw some very faint green behind some clouds, but honestly I wasn't too impressed.  After an hour, we all just went back to sleep.

Next day at breakfast, I better understood why we had to be ready at short notice to take northern lights pictures.  Their appearance is unpredictable, and may not last very long, so when they appear you want to be ready.  Our guides told us stories of guides pulling fire alarms in hotels to get groups of tourists up to see the northern lights.

Over the next few days, other members of my group shared their stories of seeing the lights, and shared some of their pictures.  This only got me more frustrated that I hadn't seen any yet, and with the weather forecasts I might not see them this trip.

On the fourth night, we were finally rewarded with a forecast of a clear night sky, so we decided to head out with our waterproof gear and headlamps at around 10 pm to Uttalkeiv Beach.  I wore pretty much every piece of clothing I had brought with me, since it was probably going to be cold standing in the Arctic ocean all night.

First thing I remember once the bus stopped and everyone started running towards the beach to set up their tripods was how freaking dark it was.  I picked a spot away from everyone else, set up my gear, and was ready to take some damn pictures when I realized I couldn't see anything.  How the hell do you manual focus your lens when you can't freaking see anything?  I tried a few test shots at close to infinite focus, but when it's pitch black out a "test shot" usually is a 1 minute exposure at high ISO.  At this rate, it was probably going to take me all night to just figure out how to focus, and I would probably miss the whole show.  I think there were a few others in my group who had the same thoughts as me.After a while, I remembered one piece of advise from the photographers was to try and focus on a distant star and manually set your white balance to something around 2950K.  I eventually zoomed in via live view, found a star, and got my setup in focus.  Once I got that figured out, I remember thinking ok yeah I'm not moving here for the next 4 hours because I'll never get this thing in focus again.

Focus frustration aside, my nervousness melted away as the lights began to appear.  They just sort of materialized out of nowhere behind the mountains, and came over us in waves of green and purple.  Apparently they were pretty weak, but it was still amazing to see.

I even took a camera phone picture of my DSLR's LCD screen of one of the shots I had taken, just to show people that this was what I was getting straight from the camera, with no post processing in Photoshop.

We ended up staying out in the cold, getting northern lights pictures until around 5 in the morning.  I'll be honest, towards the end my feet were starting to get super cold.  I think some water had gotten past my waterproof slip-ons, so that night's sleep in a warm hotel room was one of the better ones I've had.

I took a bunch of shots (hundreds), with the hopes of getting at least one keeper from each location.  You can even see here where I finally remembered to manually set my white balance.

Northern Lights over Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, NorwayNorthern Lights over Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, NorwayThe aurora was weak this night, but still put on a nice show over the calm waters of Haukland Beach.

Northern Lights over Uttakleiv Beach in the Lofoten Islands, NorwayNorthern Lights over Uttakleiv Beach in the Lofoten Islands, NorwayThe Northern Lights were weak this evening and came in waves, but still cast a nice reflection along the coastline of Uttakleiv Beach in the Lofoten Islands of Norway

These are my favorites from each location.  I think I was a little too paranoid about changing my setup once I got everything in focus, so I didn't move around a lot.  Learned a bunch my first time around shooting the northern lights, and I've already planned another trip in November to try and shoot them again.  Seeing these appear overhead in person for the first time was an experience I will never forget.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/lofoten-scenes-northern-lights Wed, 07 Jun 2017 10:00:00 GMT
ROKC Ramen and Drinks https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/rokc-ramen-and-drinks  

I'm really not sure how this one ended up on my list, but I finally caught the A train up to ROKC in Hamilton Heights to try out a few of their cocktails and ramen.  I read somewhere that these were some of the best cocktails in the city.  Oysters and ramen were a plus.  Walked right by the place the first time.  Small and very low key, tiny on the inside, but I was early enough to grab a seat at the bar.

Started off with the Smoke.  Burbon, ancho reyes, cynar, house bitters.  Had a great cinnamon taste to it.

Switched to the Beets.  Reposado tequila, beets balsamic reduction, dill.

The seafood broth ramen was surprisingly good for a cocktail bar.

Bartender recommended that I try the Thai Tea to finish things off.  Cachaca, Thai Tea, Condensed Milk, and absinthe.  Part of it is served as a shot in an egg shell and birds nest.  Wish I had gotten a better picture of this.  Presentation of this drink was pretty nice.

There were plenty of other drinks that I wanted to try, from the ones that came out on fire, to the ones served in a conch shell, but after 3 drinks and some ramen, I was done.

 

ROKC in NYC.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/6/rokc-ramen-and-drinks Sun, 04 Jun 2017 15:00:00 GMT
Lofoten Scenes: Sunsets https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/lofoten-scenes-sunsets Sunsets are always awesome to see, especially in foreign places with new backdrops.  Photographing them is a different story.  In general it usually doesn't work for me pointing the camera straight at the sun and clicking away.  Hurts the eyes, and the camera sensor doesn't really have a clue what to do.  I have some Lee Filters that I've played with, but adding additional layers of glass or resin in front of the glass in your lens tends to cause lens flare and affects the sharpness of the picture.  With that in mind, I ended up taking advantage of my digital camera's auto-bracketing feature and lots of memory cards.

Started with the +2 exposure to get the foreground exposed correctly.  Obviously the sun was blown out completely in this one.

I could see some of the blues in the sky around the edges of the standard exposure, so I blended some of it into my base Photoshop file.

Finally I blended some of the -2 exposure into my my sky to get the look of the sunset that I wanted.

Sunsets over Haukland Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySunsets over Haukland Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwayBest sunset of the trip. Clear skies and no snow while the sun was setting.

Final edit is with a correctly exposed sky blended into a better exposed foreground.  I think it still looks natural and not overly "processed" in PS.

While, I still have a lot of practice to do with blending exposures into Photoshop, I do like the technique and the setup.  I don't have to mess around with filters while I'm trying to get the shot in the short timeframe the sun goes down, and as long as I take enough exposure brackets, I will always have enough raw files to work with during post processing.  I still like the way filters get you closer to your final edit that you're probably looking for, which helps to reduce the time playing around in Photoshop, so those will still be in my camera bag while I travel, but so much can be done in Photoshop that I'm excited to continue practicing.

Sunsets over Haukland Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySunsets over Haukland Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwayLandscape turned blue as the sun made its way down behind the mountains near Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

Bridge to LofotensBridge to LofotensIt is illegal to pull over on the side of the road to take pictures in the Lofoten Islands in Norway. Roads are narrow, but luckily we were able to find a wide spot to catch the sun over the mountains and lake in the distance.

Sunsets over Haukland Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySunsets over Haukland Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwayAs the sun got closer to disappearing over the horizon, the skies turned a nice shade of blue just before the sun set over Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Norway

A few more basic blends.  If it's not on your bucket list yet, sunsets in the Lofoten Islands in the winter are worth the trip.

Getting closer to finishing up a first pass at my Norway album, then onto some post processing from my trips to Austin and Florida.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/lofoten-scenes-sunsets Tue, 30 May 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Bagel Cravings https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/bagel-cravings Wandering around the river to get sunrise light got me hungry one morning, and I realized I hadn't had a breakfast bagel in a while.  Decided to try out O'Bagel on Washington Street in Hoboken.  Haven't been there since they took over the old Sullivan's bar space.

Freshly baked bagels early morning smell great.

Lots of options.  Guac, egg, turkey, and cucumber on an everything bagel hit the spot.

O'Bagel in Hoboken.  Not bad for something on my side of the river.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/bagel-cravings Fri, 12 May 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Pinch Dumplings https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/pinch-dumplings I spent a lot of time in Taiwan for work in the past, and developed a serious addiction to dumplings.  Some of the best I've ever had were from the famed Din Tai Fung soup dumplings, as well as a street vendor making his homemade versions at 8 for $1.  Got a tip that Pinch Chinese in Soho has some good soup dumplings so I decided one night to swing by and try them out.

Plenty of bar seating to grab small plates and drinks.

The "This is Not Milk Tea" was strong.

Cumin ribs were outstanding.

Pork soup dumplings were very good, but just made me miss Taiwanese food even more.
 

Pinch Chinese is worth a visit if you're in the mood for soup dumplings and some drinks.  A little expensive though, but that's to be expected in this part of the city.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/pinch-dumplings Wed, 10 May 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Candy Factory https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/candy-factory

Got the chance to visit my cousin's studio for the first time.  I've been to one of her shows, and have seen plenty of her paintings around at family's houses, but I had never been to the place where she spends all her time painting.  My other cousin from the Czech Republic was in town as well, so we made it a small family event before going out to dinner.

Her studio is located in a place called the Candy Factory.  Think colorful!

I was not sure what to expect, but all I know was that I liked it.  Paint was all over the floor, adding to the ambiance of the place, and the swing was a nice touch.  Totally random.

Always cool to see her portraits and subject at the same time.

Recently, she published and launched a book detailing her life as a painter.  The book launch was a lot of fun.  Even had the Swiss ambassador there.  Showing us the spot on the floor where they got the details for the front and back covers was pretty cool.

Book is a nice read, and makes for a perfect addition to your bookshelf.  I can always help to get your copy signed as well!

I'm somewhat familiar with her current drip style of work.  I did not know she was starting to do more texture based works.  Really thick paint textures bring an almost 3D effect to the painting, and I'm curious to see how more of them turn out.

Great family studio visit.  I hope to be back soon, and this time I'll bring my flash.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/5/candy-factory Mon, 08 May 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Lofoten Scenes: Panoramic Hiltop Views https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/lofoten-scenes-panoramic-hiltop-views One of my goals this trip was to plan for at least a few panoramic shots when the opportunity presented itself.  With good vantage points and sprawling Arctic landscapes, I planned out my first attempts at capturing frames for some panoramic development when I returned.

I've seen plenty of panoramic shots, but never really understood what went into developing them.  I figured that people were getting really wide angle lenses and getting everything in one shot.  Evidently not the case, as I started to learn.  I got an eye opening lesson at post processing during my last trip, and learned a lot from the people I was traveling with.  Plan out your shots from left to right, and use the various options out there to develop and stitch together the frames into one large shot.

Well the plan was good, but unfortunately I didn't really remember when I had actually attempted to take panoramic frames after I got back.  Going through the thousands of garbage shots I took, I eventually started with the three above as my first attempt at stitching something together.  It was an early morning overview of the fishing village of Reine.  After hiking up a hill to get a better vantage point, we were rewarded with one of the better sunrises we had on the trip.  Tripod was set up, and I started "spraying and praying" hoping I would get something good.  Only thing I had really remembered from others who were more experienced with this was to shoot from left to right, and try to overlap frames by about 30-50% for easier stitching during post processing.  Ideally, I would have liked to shoot more frames in the portrait orientation, but I didn't have an L plate with me for this trip.

Early mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.Early mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.Hiked up a hill to catch an overview of Reine Village and harbor during a sunrise.

After making a few edits on the three frames in Lightroom to sync the light and colors, I exported all three frames to PTGui and stitched them together.  After a few attempts at stitching, I exported the final PSD to Photoshop and finished editing.  I was pretty happy with my resulting first panoramic (click for a larger view).

Another suggestion by the photographers this trip was to do vertical panoramics when trying to capture more of the foreground with your main subject in the background.  Still working on my earlier pics from the trip, I tried doing a vertical stitch with the above pics.  I liked the view of the mountain in the distance during a snowy morning blue hour, but wanted to get more of the houses in the foreground.

Snowy mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySnowy mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySnow was coming down pretty hard as the town of Reine began to wake up.

While I'm somewhat happy with the stitch, I think the shot could have been much better with less massive snowstorm and better light (click for a larger version).

Workflow:

  1. I did some basic balancing edits in Lightroom on the individual frames
  2. Exported the shots as 16 bit TIFF files into PTGui
  3. Tried a few different auto stitch options in PTGui, then ran the "optimize" option to get the error pixels down to "very good".  Computers are smarter than me, so if mine tells me I'm very good, I listen.
  4. Exported the stitch to a 16 bit PSD file into Photoshop
  5. Didn't save my stitch, so I redid steps 2-3 about 4 times before finally getting a stitch that I liked.
  6. Final crops and edits in Photoshop.
  7. I'll save the final PSD, as well as the three RAW files.  Next time I'll save the side text file for the stitch so I can reduce my rework stitching time.

As always, questions critiques and comments are always welcome.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/lofoten-scenes-panoramic-hiltop-views Fri, 21 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Asian Food and Ice Cream https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/asian-food-and-ice-cream I do not consider myself a picky eater.  I do draw the line at fried pigs ears though.  Bad experience in Spain where I overate during my first real tapas experience, forced down the pigs ears, then ended up hallucinating while I slept and had one of those dreams where I died (my plane crashed into a mountain).  So no more pigs ears.  Line drawn.

I do like trying new places that serve different food.  I still love Asian food and am on a cocktail kick, so I decided to check Pig & Khao off my list.  Asian places are easy, as they usually have small plates and plenty of bar seating.

Plenty of small plates to choose from, and a great drink menu.

Stuck with the Bangkok Fire.  All drinks should have Thai Chili.

Baby Octopus Paksiw

I love places where you can sit right in front of the kitchen and watch them cook everything.  Makes deciding what to get that much more difficult when you see all your options being made.

The chef recommended I keep going with the Pork Belly Adobo with a side of coconut rice to soak up the sauce.  The poached egg oozing into the gravy was perfect with the rice.  I don't think I even chewed this meal, I ate it so fast.  So good.  One more drink and I called it quits.

Unfortunately I am a sucker for dessert.  Literally no restraint.  And even more unfortunate for my high cholesterol problem, I walked by the Wowfulls right around the corner on Houston and couldn't resist.  Got the "Home Sweet Home" with Captain Crunch Cookies and Cream ice cream, took this shitty picture, and inhaled it.  Ended up walking some of this off all the way to the Christopher Street Path station.

 

Pig & Khao's and Wowfulls.  Maybe try these two on two different days.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/asian-food-and-ice-cream Tue, 18 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Mimi https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/mimi

Finally got to try Mimi's, a tiny French restaurant in the West Village that came highly recommended.  Being that this is more of a sit down place rather than my ususal sit at the bar and order food type place, I dragged my sister along who always humors me when I want to try a new restaurant.

Lighting was not great for food pictures, and I am way too insecure to brave the flash for a hipster food pic in a nice restaurant.  Drinks were perfect.  Never knew I liked blood orange in my negronis, but I do now.  Scallops and blood sausage was perfect.  And yes I secretly ordered it hoping my sister wouldn't like it, so I would have to eat all of it.  But she did.  I went for the Ris de Veau, sweet breads, for my main course which was topped with oranges and blood sausage.  It was amazing.

We decided to stick with the hot appetizers, although the cold ones looked delicious.  I was lucky to grab a picture of this Gnocchi Parisian, topped with cream, cabbage, peas, and ham, before we inhaled it.

Apple tart topped with ice cream was a perfect way to finish up an amazing meal.  The two glasses of generously poured wine definitely helped me stomach the bill.

Mimi's in New York's West Village.  My favorite restaurant so far.  Small venue, great food and service, and has made me a guaranteed return diner.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/mimi Fri, 14 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Lofoten Scenes: Fishing Cabins https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/lofoten-scenes-fishing-cabins Evidently one of the most picturesque things about the Lofoten Islands are the small fishing villages comprised of red and yellow cabins that decorate the Arctic landscapes.  As usual, I didn't do any research before booking this trip, other than making sure I could pay for it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that most of our overnight stays would be in one of these cabins.  Growing up, my dad taught skiing on the weekends and our family rented a tiny winter cabin for the ski season from a family friend.  It was a no thrills place, with only a wood stove for heat, but we all grew to love it, and I definitely miss the weekends we spent there.  Staying in a waterside cabin at the Eliassen Rorbuer in Hamnoy brought a comforting sense of nostalgia that I didn't expect when booking this trip.

Mountain Peak in Reine, Lofoten Islands, NorwayMountain Peak in Reine, Lofoten Islands, NorwayA snowy blue hour in Reine, Norway. Early morning lights made for some nice reflections around the bridge towards the peak.

Weather wasn't the greatest, but I still got this bridge shot that everyone gets.

Hamnoy, Norway: A view of the Eliassen Rorbuer cabins from the bridge crossing over to Hamnoy in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.Hamnoy, Norway: A view of the Eliassen Rorbuer cabins from the bridge crossing over to Hamnoy in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.The cabins, restaurant, and location are a popular destination for photographers visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway in the winter.

Stayed in the cabin in the center of the picture.

Hamnoy, Norway: A view of the Eliassen Rorbuer cabins during blue hour in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.Hamnoy, Norway: A view of the Eliassen Rorbuer cabins during blue hour in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.The cabins, restaurant, and location are a popular destination for photographers visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway in the winter. Accomodations are simple but perfect for a cozy winter setting.

Yellow fishermen cabins of Sakrisoy, in the Lofoten Islands in NorwayYellow fishermen cabins of Sakrisoy, in the Lofoten Islands in NorwayBetween the snow, wind, and even some hail, the light broke through the clouds over Sakrisoy occasionally and made for some nice water effects with the yellow homes in the background.

Yellow cabins were a nice change and looked nice with the green and blue waters surrounding this village.  I was amazed how clear the water is up here.

Snowstorm Over a Red Fisherman's Cabin in the Lofoten Islands, Norway.Snowstorm Over a Red Fisherman's Cabin in the Lofoten Islands, Norway.Caught some good light as a snowstorm swept in and whited out the area. Had about 5 minutes of the light trying to peak through the clouds and reflect on the water and coastline rocks.

In general, landscape photography involves chasing light.  With the amount of snow we were getting on this trip, we stopped any chance we had when we caught the sun popping through the cloudy skies.

Early mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.Early mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.Skies cleared during the sunrise, so we were able to see the mountains in the distance from our vantage point above Reine Village.

We were guided to some excellent vantage points above the surrounding towns, and when the skies were clear the sunrises were amazing.  This was the first trip I tried to take some panoramic shots with the idea of stitching them together in post processing.  Got through developing these that shown here, so I plan on developing the panoramics next.  Hoping I get at least one that I can keep.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/lofoten-scenes-fishing-cabins Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Tacos https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/tacos

I'll always have a thing for tacos.  So quick and easy and tasty.  I've been a fan of Goa Taco for a while now.  Hadn't been in a long time, and noticed they are expanding....

One of their new locations popped up in the West Village, so naturally I stopped in and grabbed one.

It was already noon on a Sunday, so naturally they sold out quick.  Grabbed the last mojo beef one they had before they called for more ingredients from their main East Village location.

Small spot, perfect for grabbing a quick bite if you don't want pizza.  They use this Indian flatbread that works perfectly for a shell.  Go for the pork belly taco, their signature taco, if they have it.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/tacos Sun, 09 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Breakfast Spot https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/breakfast-spot

After some more travel and trying to catch up at my day job, I finally had some time this weekend to try out a new breakfast spot that's been on my list.  I work strange early hours during the week, so sleeping in and waiting for the typical brunch spots to open around 10 or 11 is difficult for me on the weekends.  When I saw that a new place, Sam a.m., opened up near me and was open early on the weekends, I added it to my list.  After a 10 minute ride on the Lightrail near me, I was sitting at the counter drinking coffee and reviewing the menu.

Coffee from Stumptown is always a plus.

A small place in a nice area of downtown Jersey City, they have much more than your standard coffee shop offerings.  I was there early, but I can see why this place filled up really quickly.

Stuck with "The Classic", as I feel that's always a good judge of how the rest of the food will be.  It didn't disappoint.

 

Sam a.m. in Jersey City, NJ.  I'll be back on an early weekend morning to try the rest of the menu.  So far so good.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Jersey City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/breakfast-spot Thu, 06 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Lofoten Scenes: Skagsanden Beach and Arctic Sunsets https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/lofoten-scenes-Skagsanden-beach-and-arctic-sunsets Got a late start going through the pictures from my most recent photography trip.  I think I've seen pictures from everyone else from the group posted to their various websites and social media outlets.  In all honesty this last trip motivated me to finish a first pass on all of my pictures from my previous Bhutan trip last year.  Couldn't start going through these and leave those unfinished.

At the end of February, I took a photography workshop with Daniel Kordon and Alban Henderyckx in the Lofoten Islands in Norway.  Again, after my photography workshop in Bhutan, I was hooked on doing something like that again.  I've never traveled to a "winter" destination specifically for photography, so this was another first for me.  Amazing trip.  Met a lot of great people that I will make an effort to stay in touch with, and I learned a lot more about landscape photography.  While only a week long, my field notes journal still has a bunch of notes that I need to transfer over to here, however I decided rather than go through a bunch of posts for each portion of the trip, I'd tackle the pictures first.  For now, I am trying to grab one from each day before moving on to the next.

Skagsanden Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySkagsanden Beach, Lofoten Islands, NorwayLong exposure to capture the patterns of the arctic waves on Skagsanden Beach off the coast of Flakstad in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. First time standing in an arctic ocean during the winter.

Found ourselves at Skagsanden Beach as the sun was going down.  We had been told to bring waterproof waders for this trip by our guides, and mine were definitely used whenever we were along the coastlines.

Took several exposures using my new RRS tripod (I love this thing).  Started with this one in Lightroom.

Adjusted the color and white balance, and warmed up the scene a little.

I used the water from this exposure.  I think it looked the best out of all the shots that I grabbed.  I blended the water into the other exposures in Photoshop.  Added some sharpening to the rocks, and in the end I decided to crop out the house on the right.  I thought it was too distracting.

Sunset in Å, the "End of the World", a small town in Moskenes, the Lofoten Islands, NorwaySunset in Å, the "End of the World", a small town in Moskenes, the Lofoten Islands, NorwayAs the clouds moved in, a snowstorm turned the visibility to zero, but not before we caught some nice light during the sunset viewed from the cliffs around Å, a small village in Lofoten, Norway.

I took several pictures from this location near Å, the "End of the World" according to the Lofoten Norwegians, but I started off with this one.  I really liked the light rays around the mountain islands in the distance.

Started off with the shot with the mountains exposed correctly.

Then adjusted the underexposed version to blend in the sky and the reflections in the water.

Any questions, critiques, or comments are welcome.  EXIF information for my pictures is always available once I post the gallery.

This blending of exposures is still new to me and I have a ways to go with my post processing skills.  But practicing this is fun for me, and a nice break from the work side of my life.  I avoided using filters in this scenario as I zoomed into the sunny area, as dumping more glass in front of my lens tends to cause lens flare which can be tough to get rid of in post processing.  Hey, it's a first pass.  I'm glad for this trip that I planned on doing this type of post processing by getting myself a good tripod and taking a lot of bracketed shots.

More to come as I get through more pictures.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Lofoten Norway photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/4/lofoten-scenes-Skagsanden-beach-and-arctic-sunsets Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:00:00 GMT
End of a Journey https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/3/end-of-a-journey Views from PunakhaViews from PunakhaPrayer flags and rice fields decorate the landscape in Punakha, Bhutan

Views from PunakhaViews from PunakhaPrayer flags and rice fields decorate the landscape in Punakha, Bhutan

Naturally I couldn’t sleep because of the excitement from the day before.  I was the first one at breakfast, but felt relaxed as we were nearing the end of our journey and didn’t have any more long drives ahead of us.  Grabbed a few more shots around the hotel before heading towards Dochula Pass and the western side of Bhutan.

Dochula PassDochula PassClear skies above Duchula Pass on the road between Thimpu and Punakha, Bhutan

Dochula PassDochula PassClear skies above Duchula Pass on the road between Thimpu and Punakha, Bhutan

Upon getting to the pass, we took advantage of the clear skies, and even got to see the Himalayas in the distance.

Tachog BridgeTachog BridgeA view of a small river crossing in Thimpu, Bhutan

Tachog Bridge: Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo was the man who built the iron chain bridges in Bhutan in the late 1300s, and is said to have built 108 of these bridges around Tibet and Bhutan. Many of them are still in use today, showing how strong and durable the bridges are.

Tachog BridgeTachog BridgeA view of a small river crossing in Thimpu, Bhutan

Attempted a few long exposures of the water underneath a bridge in Thimphu.  Our guides informed us that they had closed the bridge for safety.  Would have been a better angle standing on the bridge, but that’s if I could have braved crossing a rickety wire bridge.

Made it back to Paro that evening to conclude our trip.  After stopping by Yonten’s souvenir shop to pick up a few last minute trinkets (Got a set of Ara cups for my Ara jar), we all headed over to the pizza place to have pizza and beers with the owner of the tour company which had dealt with us these past two weeks.  I’ll be honest, at this point in the trip I was looking forward to anything but the standard tourist meals we had been served.  Yonten knew we liked our beer cold, so he had planned ahead.  The purveyors of Authentic Pizza took care of us.

The next day, the trip was over.  Couldn’t believe it.  We all packed up, headed to the airport, and once we landed, said our goodbyes in Bangkok.  A few of us vowed that we were in on the next trip that was put together.  Grabbed food at Din Tai Fung before getting up early the next morning and flying home.  After a canceled flight and a layover in LA from Tokyo, I was back in the real world.

Elia and Naomi Locardi and Dream Photo Tours couldn’t have put together a better trip for me.  This was my first photo tour, and the most exciting trip I’ve ever been on.  Met a lot of great people that I will definitely keep in touch with (eh I’m still scared of dentists), and I know I will do more trips like this in the future.  I even appreciated the hand written thank you note I received at the end of the trip.  It was so much more than a photography tour.  An experience that’s impossible to repeat.  The description on their website doesn’t do the trip justice, but it’s well worth it in my opinion.

Went through a lot of pictures, and tried to develop them as best as I could.  Elia’s post processing techniques are amazing, and I’m hoping practice will help me.  It’s still a learning process, but as I went through them and wrote up my trip notes here, I got to relive the experiences, and am thankful I finally forced myself to do something like this, outside my comfort zone.

Full gallery is located here.  Questions, comments, and feedback is always welcome!
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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/3/end-of-a-journey Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Landslides https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/3/landslides Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongDzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongViews from inside and around the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongViews from inside and around the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Trongsa Dzong and ValleyTrongsa Dzong and ValleyViews of the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan. You can see a landslide blocking the road in the distance.

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongViews from inside and around the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

Next morning, attempted a few more shots of the valley and Dzong.  We learned at breakfast that the landslide that we had experienced a few days ago turned out to be much bigger than expected.  The highway was still closed.  People had been stuck in the east for around 4 days.  Tour groups were running around trying to figure out how to rent emergency helicopters (only two in the country) to get back to the airport.  We weren’t exactly sure what we were going to do, so we took a few more pictures of the town and Dzong before heading over to the Yankhel resort for coffee and lunch.  Lots of uncertainty for the afternoon, as guides from many groups were trying to figure out what to do.  The country was essentially cut in half.

At around 4 pm, we got the notification that the road had opened up and that they were starting to let cars through.  It was going to be a long and bumpy ride.  Several hours later, as traffic inched towards the cleared blockage, we saw large crowds gathered on the side of the road through the pitch black, and even saw one construction worker being helped by four others limp down the highway, injured from falling rocks.  Evidently they were letting only small cars through, but Yonten managed to persuade the government official supervising the crossing to let us try to get our bus across.  As we all got off the bus and took a look at the steep muddy incline we had to get past, I don’t know what worried me more.  The fact that our bus stood no chance of making it up this hill, or the fact that the rocks above the cleared blockage seemed to be only being held back by the three flashlight beams constantly monitoring them for any potential signs of more slippage.

Our driver didn’t even come close the first two tries, but on the third with the crowds cheering and dozens helping to push the bus over the last 10 feet, it miraculously made it past the hill, and we all sprinted after it, as if worried that if we didn’t hurry it would somehow get stuck or turned around again.  Thanks to Rene Sorensen for taking a few of these pics!  I was too terrified of the 2000 foot roadside cliffs we were running alongside to even think about taking my camera out.

After hours and hours of bumpy roads, we finally made it to Hotel Lobesa at around 4 am in Punakha.  Huge rooms, hot water, and a comfortable bed.  We praised our driver, and we all agreed to sleep in the next morning.  I attempted to fall asleep, but was still too excited from the events earlier so I planned for an early morning breakfast in a few hours.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/3/landslides Fri, 17 Mar 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Ogyen Choling, Bumptang, and Nunneries https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/3/ogyen-choling-bumptang-and-nunneries Well I've taken a slight hiatus from writing here.  Spent a couple months skiing and traveling, taking a few more pictures along the way.  I wanted to finish up this Bhutan series before moving on to other pictures and places, so I'm continuing with a few more posts for last few days of this Bhutan trip.

Ogyen Choling Palace MuseumOgyen Choling Palace MuseumViews from Ogyen Choling Palace Museun in Jakar, Bhutan

Ogyen Choling Palace MuseumOgyen Choling Palace MuseumViews from Ogyen Choling Palace Museun in Jakar, Bhutan

Jakar Village HomeJakar Village HomeGraciously invited into the homes by villagers in Jakar, Bhutan, near the Ogyen Choling Palace Museum

Jakar Village HomeJakar Village HomeGraciously invited into the homes by villagers in Jakar, Bhutan, near the Ogyen Choling Palace Museum

Jakar Village HomeJakar Village HomeGraciously invited into the homes by villagers in Jakar, Bhutan, near the Ogyen Choling Palace Museum

Jakar Village HomeJakar Village HomeGraciously invited into the homes by villagers in Jakar, Bhutan, near the Ogyen Choling Palace Museum

Ogyen CholingOgyen CholingViews from Ogyen Choling Palace Museun in Jakar, Bhutan

Ogyen CholingOgyen CholingViews from Ogyen Choling Palace Museun in Jakar, Bhutan

Staying in a museum palace in Bhutan was by far the coolest hotel experience of the trip.  Literally as well.  It was much colder in the east of Bhutan during this part of the trip.  We woke up early that morning to walk around the small town and see the start of the villagers' day.  Very muddy walk, with no real roads, running into the occasional cow or chicken on the paths between homes.  When Yonten our guide decided to start knocking on villagers doors to see if we could get a look at a typical family's home, I was a little skeptical.  I mean if a complete stranger knocked on my door at 6 am in Hoboken, asking to see if they could see my place, I would be pretty pissed off.  However the first place we stopped, we were invited in immediately.  Our entire group.  The family was so nice.  Each home has a shrine room, a sleeping room, and a modest kitchen with a wood stove running constantly.  All families there are self sufficient, raising cattle, and growing rice and vegetables.  We visited two places.  Both places offered us Ara, but even for me drinking grain alcohol at 6 in the morning was a little much.  We offered gifts of toothbrushes and chocolate to the children as a token of our appreciation for the tours.

Pema Choling NunneryPema Choling NunneryViews of the nunnery in Tang Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan

Pema Choling NunneryPema Choling NunneryViews of the nunnery in Tang Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan

Ogyen CholingOgyen CholingViews from Ogyen Choling Palace Museun in Jakar, Bhutan

Pema Choling NunneryPema Choling NunneryViews of the nunnery in Tang Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan

Pema Choling NunneryPema Choling NunneryViews of the nunnery in Tang Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan

Views from Yathra Weaving CenterViews from Yathra Weaving CenterLocated in Chumey Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan, the locals were always curious to see so many crazy photographers running around taking pictures of everything.

Views from Yathra Weaving CenterViews from Yathra Weaving CenterLocated in Chumey Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan, the locals were always curious to see so many crazy photographers running around taking pictures of everything.

After a nice breakfast, we left the town and drove back to Bumtang, grabbing a few shots of the valley, Dzong, and a Nunnery along the way before grabbing lunch at Kaila Guesthouse.  We had a long drive ahead of us back to the west of Bhutan, so we grabbed coffee at Cafe Perk before heading out.  Stopped at the weaving center on the way back towards our destination hotel in Trongsa and got a few pics of the local kids who were curious to see tourists in their area.

Trongsa Dzong and ValleyTrongsa Dzong and ValleyViews of the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan. You can see a landslide blocking the road in the distance.

Trongsa DzongTrongsa DzongView overlooking the Dzong in Trongsa, Bhutan

When we made it to the hotel, we all tried grabbing shots of the valley view and Dzong at night.  Unfortunately I couldn't get around the damn street lamp that was flaring my lens, so I was pretty disappointed with almost all of my night shots.  After getting set up with a basement room with no hot water or shower, I was looking forward to an extra beer that night.  A few from our group ended up heading over to the driver/guide break room to grab drinks with Yonten and a few other guides/drivers.  I will always be a fan of the local Bhutanese Ara.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/3/ogyen-choling-bumptang-and-nunneries Tue, 14 Mar 2017 10:00:00 GMT
Sunrise in Colorado https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/1/sunrise-in-colorado

Looks like we may have a pretty good storm coming through this week.  Just my luck as my flight out of here and back to reality is about when they are predicting the most snow is coming.  If United offers free flight changes, I may have to extend my trip out here.

Sunrise over Lake DillonSunrise over Lake DillonView of the sun coming up over a partially frozen Lake Dillon (Dillon Reservoir) in Summit County, Colorado

Took a break from processing Bhutan pictures to try and grab a shot of a sunrise over a partially frozen Dillon Reservoir here in Summit County.  I liked how the ice looked near the dam, and didn't really know where the sun would pop up as it was my first time in this location shooting early in the morning.  I think the reflections turned out nice in the ice and lake.  I think I could have waited for the full sun to pop up from behind the mountains, but I think the colors were better at this point, and the wind was blowing pretty hard and moving the clouds through quickly.  What do you think?  As always, comments and critiques are always welcome.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Colorado photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2017/1/sunrise-in-colorado Tue, 03 Jan 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Portraits in Bhutan https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/portraits-in-bhutan

Woke up this morning to no power and a rainy day.  Our next destination for the night was the Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Tang Valley.  Our guides warned us that this was going to be a very rustic place.  No internet, possibly no hot water, maybe no power.  We decided to delay our departure until late morning.  Before getting on the road, we wandered around the local town and grabbed coffee at Cafe Perk.  Soaked up as much caffeine and WiFi that we could, as we would be without it for the next two days.  Out of all the places that we were going to stay, I was looking forward to this place the most after our guides told us about it.  Staying in a Bhutanese museum?  Definitely an experience I didn’t plan on getting when I went in blind on this trip.

Rain hampered us stopping along the road to grab shots.  We reached the valley and had a late lunch picnic near a small temple structure along the side of the road, trying to shield ourselves from the rain and stray dogs.  It was fun watching all the school children hike over the river bridge through the rain and up the hill back to their homes.

Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by the museum curator who gave us a brief overview of the history of the place.  We were then introduced to the local weavers who had brought scarves, bags, and other hand knit goods to sell.  I ended up buying two scarves, figuring they’d make good gifts when I got back home.

Portraits in BhutanPortraits in BhutanPortrait sessions at Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Tang Valley, Bhutan

Children of BhutanChildren of BhutanPortrait sessions at Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Tang Valley, Bhutan

Portraits in BhutanPortraits in BhutanPortrait sessions at Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Tang Valley, Bhutan

Portraits in BhutanPortraits in BhutanPortrait sessions at Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Tang Valley, Bhutan

Portraits in BhutanPortraits in BhutanPortrait sessions at Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Tang Valley, Bhutan

To combat the rain hampering our landscape photography, our tour leaders set up a few portrait sessions with hired locals at the museum.  This was a really cool experience, but I was a little disappointed with the setup.  The subjects were set up in very low light conditions inside the museum, and it was extremely difficult, almost impossible at least for me, to get good shots.  I don’t think I was pushy enough to get better angles.  Definitely something I would like to try again though.  After the sessions, we ended up giving gifts of toothbrushes and chocolates to the kids, and tips to the others.

Finished the day with a great dinner and some amazing custard dessert.  Even sampled some more Ara, a sandlewood version, which was much smoother than the egg one I had previously.  Finished off the night with a few more Red Panda beers and travel stories before calling it a night.  Out of all the places we stayed at, the museum rooms, completely isolated from what it seemed like the rest of the country, with no internet and modest accommodations, was by far my favorite.  For a trip wanting to disconnect from life back home, this was the perfect place to stay.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/portraits-in-bhutan Fri, 30 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Tamshing Lhakhang Festival and Red Panda Beer https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/tamshing-lhakhang-festival-and-red-panda-beer

After recovering from my stint of self induced alcohol blindness, I woke up the next morning to chilly rainy weather and immediately made my way over to the kitchen in search for any type of coffee.  The places that we were staying in were definitely getting better as we headed east.  Power was limited, but there were heating stoves in the rooms, and the showers had hot water.

I was immediately jealous of the 3 Indian guys gearing up to continue their motorcycle trek across the country.  Indians are evidently the only nationality allowed to freely enter and leave Bhutan as they wish.  Riding through the country on these roads would definitely be an awesome experience.

Breakfasts here are always pretty much the same, but at Kaila they bake their own bread, which was amazing.  I am typically up early, so it worked out for me during breakfast as I was always the first to steal most of the bread.  I noticed another tourist staying at the hotel had brought his own instant coffee, and thought that was a great idea.  Another thing to add to my list of things to bring on my next trip.

We decided to postpone going to the festival at Tamshing Lhakhang that morning for a few hours, as the locals had decided to try and wait out the rain before performing.  Spent the morning clearing memory cards and charging batteries.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Tamshing Lhakhang FestivalTamshing Lhakhang FestivalFestival in Bumthang, Bhutan saw lots of rain and fog, but still a large attendance.

Festival was difficult to shoot in the rain.  This one was different from the others in that they had a whole viewing tent set up for tourist seating.  It was tough moving around to try and get tourists out of my backgrounds.  It was more fun to watch than to shoot to be honest.  Not a lot of keepers.

I still can’t believe all the marijuana plants growing along the side of the road.  Evidently it grows everywhere, but the locals know it’s illegal so don’t really do anything with it.

Stopped by the local microbrewery after the festival to pick up a few cases of beer for the road.  A Swiss guy decided to start his own brewery after moving to Bhutan.  It’s a Weiss beer and pretty good.  I picked up some of their apple cider for lunch as well.  Cider goes great with momos, which are Bhutanese dumplings filled with vegetables and cheese.

Jambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanJambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanTemple goer in Jambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, Bhutan

Jambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanJambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanPrayer wheels in Jambey Lhakhang, Bhumthang, Bhutan

Jambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanJambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanLocals sell souveniers to tourists visiting the temples

Jambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanJambey Lhakhang, Bumthang, BhutanTemple goer in Bumthang, Bhutan

Our first stop after lunch was the small Jambey Lhakhang temple in Jakar.  Rain was still an issue, but I had not grown tired of seeing new temples.  This one was small, and the few locals that were there mid day were still adamant about walking around in a clockwise direction.

Jakar DzongJakar DzongRainy shots from the Jakar Dzong in Bhutan

Bumthang, BhutanBumthang, BhutanInsence in Jakar Dzong in Bhutan

Visited the Jakar Dzong later in the afternoon.  Tried a few different angle shots.  Wish I had more time there.  I couldn’t really come up with anything that I liked.

Rain was coming down that day, so our tour leaders asked if we wanted to either try to get shots from another location they had in mind, most likely washed out by fog and rain, or go back to the hotel where we could get an introduction to Lightroom and Photoshop post processing.  We all voted for the latter.  I was super excited for this option.  I had never attended a course or been taught post processing in person by a professional photographer.  Mostly trial and error on my own, and youtube videos.  Thinking we would have to set up in the common area cafeteria and huddle around a laptop screen, we were shocked to learn that the hotel owner offered us the use of his second floor conference room and projector setup.  Aside from learning more about Lightroom/Photoshop in 2 hours than I had ever learned prior to playing around with it for the past 7 years, it was a really cool experience once you realized you were in the middle of nowhere in a country that barely had power, sitting in a conference room with a large format projector watching a post processing presentation.  I filled up three pages in my field notes journal with notes.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/tamshing-lhakhang-festival-and-red-panda-beer Thu, 29 Dec 2016 13:30:00 GMT
Punakha and Gangtey https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/punakha-and-gangtey Bridge to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal ChortenBridge to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal ChortenPrayer flags decorate the handrails of this suspension bridge to the path up to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten Temple in Punakha, Bhutan

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal ChortenKhamsum Yulley Namgyal ChortenViews of the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten temple and Punakha Valley in Bhutan

Punakha Valley, BhutanPunakha Valley, BhutanViews from the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten temple in Punakha, Bhutan

We had a long drive ahead of us today.  After our standard dose of coffee and standardized breakfasts, we headed out to a river spot in Punakha where we would hike up to a stupa to get shots of the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten temple and surrounding valley.  Each hotel we stayed at was better than the last.  The weather was sunny and pleasant, making the hike to the top very relaxing.  Almost tropical.  The bus ride with the windows down and everyone with their cameras on their laps is something I won’t forget.  There are not a lot of tourists and tourist groups to run into in Bhutan, but it was fun running into an older Italian guy where I was set up with my tripod, and getting a “Chow Valentino” from him for wearing my VR46 MotoGP shirt.  No language in common, just two Rossi fans in a completely random part of the world.

Hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten TempleHike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten TempleHike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten temple in Punakha, Bhutan

Rice fields of PunakhaRice fields of PunakhaViews of the rice fields along the path up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten in Punakha, Bhutan

Bridge to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal ChortenBridge to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal ChortenPrayer flags decorate the handrails of this suspension bridge to the path up to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten Temple in Punakha, Bhutan. Apples also for sale to hikers.

Bhutan RainbowBhutan RainbowCaught a rainbow on the drive from Punakha to Gangtey, Bhutan

After the hike back down, we headed out on the road.  Grabbed coffee at Drupchu Cafe, then lunch at a place called St. Wifi Restaurant.  By this time I really had started to miss asphalt.  The novelty of bumpy and muddy roads were beginning to wear off on me.  A pit stop for tea in Kuenphen Restaurant near Nubding rewarded us with a rainbow over the valley before we headed off on the road again.  We passed several waterfalls along the muddy highway, and I tried not to think about how all this water could simply wash away the road if it didn’t drain through the right way.  That thought, on top of our tires within inches of the edge at all times of the sheer cliffs along the highway didn’t help my fear of heights.  Sitting on the right side of the bus, with the cliffs to my right, I think I was leaning at a 45 degree angle towards the center of the bus the whole drive, in the hopes that my lean would somehow save us from dropping off the cliff.

Gangtey Camp in BhutanGangtey Camp in BhutanTravellers make camp near the Gangtey Monastery for the Gangtey Tsechu festival the next day

We finally reached our destination, the Hotel Gangtey Palace, where we would crash for the night in order to attend the Gangtey Tsechu blessing and festival the next morning.  When we arrived, our guide had told us that the visitors from around the area would be camped near the side of the temple, and would probably have a night market set up.  A few of us decided to try and wander around in the rain and mud to check out the camp.  We ended up getting invited into one of the camp tents for a drink with the locals.  Awesome experience.  They were mostly guides and drivers for other tour groups, gathered around a stove and telling stories.  They asked us how we enjoyed our “Bhutanese car massages”, courtesy of the abnormally rainy weather and unfinished bumpy highways.  Humorous sarcasm is evidently universal, even in the middle of nowhere.

Gangtey Monastery, BhutanGangtey Monastery, BhutanPeople attending the 5am Gangtey Tsechu festival and blessing in the rain. You always have to walk clockwise around a Dzong in Bhutan

Gangtey Tsechu FestivalGangtey Tsechu FestivalPeople attending the Gangtey Tsechu festival try and avoid the on and off rain showers throughout the morning.

Gangtey Tsechu FestivalGangtey Tsechu FestivalPeople attending the Gangtey Tsechu festival try and avoid the on and off rain showers throughout the morning.

Gangtey Tsechu FestivalGangtey Tsechu FestivalPeople attending the Gangtey Tsechu festival try and avoid the on and off rain showers throughout the morning.

Gangtey Tsechu FestivalGangtey Tsechu FestivalPeople attending the Gangtey Tsechu festival try and avoid the on and off rain showers throughout the morning.

Gangtey Tsechu FestivalGangtey Tsechu FestivalPerformers didn't let the rain or cold weather stop them during the blessing at the Gangtey Tsechu Festival in Bhutan

Gangtey Tsechu FestivalGangtey Tsechu FestivalAbbot blesses the festival attendees.

Gangtey, BhutanGangtey, BhutanSmall town of Gangtey and it's monastery in Bhutan

Woke up early the next day to attend the blessing at the Gangtey Monastery prior to the festival.  The rainy weather made for some interesting blue hour shots.  All the visitors were praying as they were walking around the temple in a clockwise direction.  Evidently it is very bad to walk around a temple in Bhutan in a counterclockwise direction.

Valley of Gangtey, BhutanValley of Gangtey, BhutanViews of the valley near Gangtey, Bhutan

Valley of Gangtey, BhutanValley of Gangtey, BhutanViews of the valley near Gangtey, Bhutan

After breakfast, we packed up and headed out to the bus.  Our luck finally ran out with our heavy bus and the muddy roads, and we spent a good amount of time pushing the bus out of the muddy hotel driveway and onto the road.  Spent a while walking around the valley in Gangtey to get a few more pictures, before starting our very long drive east towards our destination of Bumthang.  Interesting fact, we learned that this whole valley is protected by the government for the Tibetian black lake crane, which migrates here during the change of seasons.

I am naturally paranoid when it comes to driving on narrow roads with 1000 ft drops off the side and no guardrails.  But when you’re driving along, and rocks from the cliffs above you start hitting the side of your bus, and your tour leader starts getting a little worried, I get a little nervous.  When your Bhutanese guide tells everyone OK now it’s time to get off the bus and run ahead (since we can run faster than the bus can drive along these roads) just in case a landslide pushes the vehicle over the side, you grab your gear and let the adrenaline move your legs for you.  The bus slowly caught up to us and we made it through safely, but that’s an experience I didn’t think I would ever get on this trip.  Evidently the rainy weather had been playing havoc on the road conditions.  There were several more slides throughout the country, and when one happens, it takes a while to clear the road and traffic backs up when there’s only one road.

Trongsa Dzong, BhutanTrongsa Dzong, BhutanViews of the Trongsa Dzong on the drive from Gangtey to Bumthang, Bhutan

We passed through Trongsa and stopped to grab a few pictures of the Dzong along the side of the road while there was still light.  After a normal 4 hour drive turned into 9+ hours, we were rewarded upon our arrival at Kaila Guest House in Bumthang with good beef, french fries, and beer.  The owner even gave us some of his locally brewed Ara, made from butter, egg, and freaking pure alcohol.  This stuff was great, but it was considered bad luck to not finish the egg.  Moonshine infused eggs are not good, and after a few of these, coupled with no power at night and pitch black rooms, I woke up at 3 am and somehow convinced myself that I had gone blind from the alcohol while I searched frantically for my headlamp to prove to myself that I still had vision.  Alcohol is bad.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/punakha-and-gangtey Mon, 19 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Thimphu Drubchen https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/thimphu-drubchen Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan. The The Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan, head of religion

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

Thimphu DrubchenThimphu DrubchenThimphu Drubchen festival in Bhutan

My trip in Bhutan continued with a visit to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.  After our standard Bhutanese tourist breakfast, we headed out to the Thimphu Drubchen (festival).  Finally got a chance to get some better pictures of the locals.  Even got to see the Chief Abbot, head of all religion in Bhutan.  The costumes for these performances were unbelievable.

Afterwards we headed back into town to grab coffee at Ambient Cafe, a surprisingly modern coffee place, and not what I was expecting at all.  Expensive coffee, free Wifi, and locals on their laptops.  Could have been located in Brooklyn for all I know.

Thimphu, BhutanThimphu, BhutanViews from the streets of Thimphu, Bhutan

Thimphu, BhutanThimphu, BhutanViews from the streets of Thimphu, Bhutan

Thimphu, BhutanThimphu, BhutanViews from the streets of Thimphu, Bhutan

Thimphu, BhutanThimphu, BhutanThe government tried installing the country's first traffic light here, but it caused so much confusion that after an hour, the king decreed it be removed and replaced by a crossing guard.

After coffee we all got to wander around the capital of Thimphu before heading over to the bus.  I remember how everyone has pretty much embraced the stray dog situation.  Yonten says he can’t sleep at night if he doesn’t hear dogs barking.  The kids here enjoy running around and playing with the strays.  Got my tourist picture of the Thimphu crossing guard.  Years ago the government tried to install the country’s first traffic light at this intersection.  The population couldn’t understand what the light signals meant and it was evidently a disaster, so after one hour the king commanded that the light be removed and a crossing guard be placed there instead.

Thimphu, BhutanThimphu, BhutanTibetan craft stalls in Thimphu, Bhutan

After lunch at Tara Inn, we headed over to a handicraft market.  I usually don’t do souvenir shops, but after learning about the local moonshine that was brewed by the Bhutanese, called Ara, I was determined to find a handmade ara carrying jug to take back home with me.  Yonten our guide helped us pick one out.  Figure it would make a good conversation piece on my bookshelf.

Thimphu, BhutanThimphu, BhutanView overlooking the town of Thimphu, Bhutan and the Tashichho Dzong

We set up for blue hour overlooking the Thimphu Dzong.  I think this was the first time on the trip that I focused on framing my shot, then sticking with the same exact frame from golden hour all the way through sunset, thinking I would try my hand at blending in the light from a few different times.

After taking what seemed like way too many bracketed shots, I had a few of these to help me fall asleep.  All in all a great day of shooting.

Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu, BhutanKuenselphodrang, Thimphu, BhutanViews from the large Bhudda that overlooks the town of Thimphu, Bhutan

Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu, BhutanKuenselphodrang, Thimphu, BhutanViews from the large Bhudda that overlooks the town of Thimphu, Bhutan

Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu, BhutanKuenselphodrang, Thimphu, BhutanViews from the large Bhudda that overlooks the town of Thimphu, Bhutan

Next morning we got up early to grab pictures of the Buddha overlooking Thimphu before our long drive over to Punakha through Dochula pass.  The road was essentially non existent.  Just a muddy bumpy drive for what seemed like hours and hours.  We reached the top of Dochula Pass and grabbed coffee since we couldn’t really see anything through the fog.  Our tour leaders had been here 5 times previously and had always seemed to get stuck with the same fog.  After more driving, we checked into Hotel Vara after lunch.

Punakha Dzong, BhutanPunakha Dzong, BhutanViews of the Dzong in Phunaka, Bhutan

Got some nice blue hour shots of the Punakha Dzong down by the river that runs near it.  Even though we had seen several temples already, I was still enjoying walking around each one.  All very similar in looks, but all different.

That evening a couple of us decided we wanted to have a few beers at dinner.  We spent the first part of the evening running around the town at night, going from place to place searching for beer.  It was definitely an adventure.  There are not exactly convenience stores where you can just go and pick up anything you’d like.  It seemed like we were going door to door to people’s homes, asking for alcohol.  Refrigeration is also not big in Bhutan.  That was a must though.  Everyone wanted a cold beer.  It finally worked out for us.  We found a couple watching TV in this little corner “store” who had a fridge in the back and sold us 6 bottles.  We then circled back around to the other place we had found earlier and bought another bunch of warm bottles.  While I do enjoy the idea of a photo tour where you are driven to ideal locations for shots, experiences like this is really what stick with me.  As I continue to go through all my pictures, each one brings back memories of the trip.  But the act of running around with a group of people I just met, in a foreign place completely different from what I am used to, with the common goal of just buying and drinking a cold beer is something that I won't need a picture to remember.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/12/thimphu-drubchen Sun, 11 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT
Haa Valley https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/11/haa-valley

Woke up the next morning and packed up all my gear before breakfast, both nervous and excited for what to expect next.  Today the plan was to head west towards Haa Valley, and we had a decent drive ahead of us.

Rice Fields in ParoRice Fields in ParoViews of the rice fields of Paro, Bhutan

Rice Fields in ParoRice Fields in ParoViews of the rice fields of Paro, Bhutan

 

That didn't prevent us from stopping along the side of the road to get a few valley shots of the rice fields of Paro before the drive.  Bouncing along the dirt roads, we talked about post processing workflow, file export options, and night-shot gaffer tape photography tips.  Probably boring topics to most people, but I had a grin on my face the entire time as I sat and listened.  At above 3000m on the canyon roads, you could notice the start of fall foliage colors.  The road was interesting, to say the least, with shear drop-offs into the valley below and a width barely wide enough to squeeze one car through, let alone two way traffic.  I had expressed my fear of heights, so I was told multiple times to not look out the window.

Finally reached our mid point goal of Chele La Pass, the highest driveable point on the road at 3988 meters, and had a picnic lunch on the pass in the midst of thousands of prayer flags.  That sums up the drive and the lunch in one sentence, but I think it's pretty obvious at this point that those few words do not describe this experience the way it should be described.

Prayer Flags at Chele La PassPrayer Flags at Chele La PassViews from the highest road in Paro on the way to Haa, Bhutan

Prayer Flags at Chele La PassPrayer Flags at Chele La PassViews from the highest road in Paro on the way to Haa, Bhutan

Prayer Flags at Chele La PassPrayer Flags at Chele La PassViews from the highest road in Paro on the way to Haa, Bhutan

Caught some good light every once in awhile.  It was nice being with a group of people who didn't mind staying in one location for a long time to see if better light showed up.  We even hung a string of prayer flags on the ridge line before getting back on the bus.

After the sun started going down, we hopped back on the road for the rest of our drive to Haa and the Risum Resort for dinner, beers, and a good night’s sleep.  This place was even bigger than the place before.  Had a 3 room apartment to myself, and a rain type shower.  No internet access or heat for the night, but I think that made the overnight stay even more relaxing.

Takchu, BhutanTakchu, BhutanView from the small township of Takchu above Haa in Bhutan

Takchu GompaTakchu GompaTemple in the township of Takchu above Haa Valley in Bhutan

Takchu, BhutanTakchu, BhutanPrayer flags in Takchu above Haa in Bhutan

Next morning we still had a long drive to the country's largest city and capital, Thimphu.  First we drove up a canyon road to get a few pictures of Haa Valley and visit a temple in Takchu.  Didn't have sunny blue skies and it was a little wet out, but the views were still nice.  Ran into a few cows on the road.  Hoping at this point I’d have some keepers as I took a bunch of bracketed shots.  Monk children pounding away at the locally grown hemp for incense was fun to see, and they didn’t mind getting their picture taken by a bunch of crazy tourists.  We learned that there was practice festival dancing going on at the local monastery in Haa.  The monks would be performing the Black Hat Dance, so we thought it would be a great chance to practice dance shots before the official festival in Thimphu that we would be attending the next day.

Black Hat DanceBlack Hat DancePerformers practice a traditional dance in a monastery at Haa, Bhutan, before the festival the next day in Thimphu

Black Hat DanceBlack Hat DancePerformers practice a traditional dance in a monastery at Haa, Bhutan, before the festival the next day in Thimphu

Black Hat DanceBlack Hat DancePerformers practice a traditional dance in a monastery at Haa, Bhutan, before the festival the next day in Thimphu

Black Hat DanceBlack Hat DancePerformers practice a traditional dance in a monastery at Haa, Bhutan, before the festival the next day in Thimphu

Black Hat DanceBlack Hat DancePerformers practice a traditional dance in a monastery at Haa, Bhutan, before the festival the next day in Thimphu

Black Hat DanceBlack Hat DancePerformers practice a traditional dance in a monastery at Haa, Bhutan, before the festival the next day in Thimphu

Spectators of HaaSpectators of HaaLocals watch a practice performance of the Black Hat Dance in Haa, Bhutan

Tried getting some shots of the performers, but was more interested in just watching.  I had originally thought the clowns were there to interact with the crowd and chase away the stray dogs loitering in between the dancers, but learned that they were actually the dance leaders.  In addition to their entertainment duties, they walk around and let the dancers know if they are messing up during the routine.  Started to rain towards the end so we headed back to the hotel for lunch.

Haa ValleyHaa ValleyViews from the road to Thimphu from Haa, Bhutan

 

As we departed the down, we stopped along the road a few more times to get shots of the valley town.  Light seemed to be getting better.  Drive was long and bumpy.  I remember being happy sitting in the back of the bus, watching everyone edit their photos on their Macbook Pros while driving.

Dzong in Haa, BhutanDzong in Haa, BhutanSunset making it through a cloudy sky on the road to Thimphu from Haa, Bhutan

As the sunset started approaching, we made it to a view of another temple in Haa.  In between moments of wind and rain, there was some nice light peeking through the clouds.  After the sun went down, we packed up the tripods and kept heading towards Thimphu.  Once we got there, it was definitely a change from what we were used to.  A larger town than we were used to for Bhutan, but for the largest town in the country, it was surprisingly small.  We stopped at an Indian restaurant because our hosts were afraid we would need some western food.  We all ended up ordering Indian food anyway.

Pre-warned about the stray dog population, I was grateful for the earplugs our photographer guides gave us at the beginning of the trip.  Overnight it sounded like there was a war going on between something like 100 packs of wild dogs.

Still trying to develop all of my pics.  As I start to get into a rhythm of keeping only the pics I like, I keep getting hung up on certain shots and trying to apply all the new post processing techniques that I learned on this trip.  In the past I would do some basic Lightroom editing.  Now I'm going a little nuts with blending layers, brushing, curves, and luminosity masks!  My goal is to finish going through everything by the end of the month, but I'll still take the time to write up everything while it's still fresh in my mind.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/11/haa-valley Thu, 17 Nov 2016 11:00:00 GMT
Tiger's Nest and Paro https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/11/tigers-nest-and-paro Traveling to Asia is always going to be a long outbound flight from where I am.  The flight is definitely longer when seated right next to you is the entire cast of Kinky Boots traveling to Tokyo for their Asia tour, and the United entertainment system goes down.  Lots of singing and stretching and dancing in the aisles.  A little too much for a 14+ hour flight.  Luckily there was free wine and melatonin, and United gave everyone a $150 credit because of the entertainment system not working.  Honestly, it didn’t bother me that much.  I slept most of the way, and I regret not asking to get my picture taken with the cast.  Would have been funny to share.  Landing in Tokyo, I luckily still had my Star Alliance gold status to get me into the lounge, so I stocked up on Sapporo, espresso, sushi before my 6 hour flight to Bangkok.  Checked into the Holiday Inn (points got me a free room) and got upgraded to a suite bigger than my apartment.

After trying to get some sleep and failing, wandered around the area to find a crepe place for breakfast.  I had the entire day to kill before meeting the group the next day for our flights to Bhutan.  I had packed for cooler weather, so I wasn’t really prepared to explore Bangkok in 100% humidity and 90 degree heat, all while pouring rain.  The rolling power outages in the city didn’t help either.

Found a few coffee places and tried not to worry about meeting up with a group of strangers the next day.  When I try not to worry, I usually end up worrying more.  Not sure why.  After grabbing Din Tai Fung, I went back to the hotel to try and get some sleep before my 3 am cab to the airport.  Didn’t sleep at all.

Luckily my apprehension about meeting new people dissipated when we all met as a group and introduced ourselves the next early morning at the airport.  I kept my sarcasm at a minimum, although I did tell the two navy dentists on the trip that I was scared of them and their horrible profession of distributing pain to others for no reason.  Apprehension soon faded to excitement as we all searched for coffee before the flight.  Traveling with fellow photography enthusiasts was going to be fun.

Listening to everyone talk about gear, travel, and taking pictures through airplane windows was just nice.  I even liked the Bhutan Airlines logo enough to keep the in-flight magazine and air sickness bag as souvenirs.  A quick stopover in Kolkata, India, and we were off to Paro, Bhutan, flying near the Himalayas with everyone trying to grab a shot of Everest through the airplane windows.  After an incredible approach, flying through a valley with hills and mountains literally on both sides of us, we were in country.

Our group was introduced to Yonten our guide and Tenzin our driver, and we were on the bus headed towards Khangkhu Resort, our hotel for the next two nights.  Driving down the road next to the airport and seeing the simple housing and sparse landscape surrounding the airport, reminded me of no other place that I had ever been to.  It was nice to see something brand new.

We checked into the hotel and the staff were more than helpful, insisting on lugging all our camera gear and luggage to our rooms.  The rooms were very nice, and the views were perfect for the first day in a new country.  Tourism is strictly regulated by the Bhutanese government, and any place that houses tourists needs to be sanctioned by the government, taught to cater to tourists and prepare government recommended meals.  After settling in, we grabbed our gear and headed for the bus to grab lunch in town before heading over to the Paro Dzong that we were all staring at from our hotel room.

Bhutanese food involves a lot of red chili paste, cheese, red rice, and chicken or beef (for the tourists).  I loved it the first day.  Different from anything I had ever had, which is what I was hoping for.

Valley in Paro, BhutanValley in Paro, BhutanA view of the Rinpung Dzong and Valley from Khangkhu Resort in Paro, Bhutan Valley in Paro, BhutanValley in Paro, BhutanA view of the Rinpung Dzong and Valley in Paro, Bhutan National Museum of BhutanNational Museum of BhutanA view of the fort museum overlooking Valley in Paro, BhutanValley in Paro, BhutanA view of the Rinpung Dzong and Valley in Paro, Bhutan Paro ValleyParo ValleyA view of Paro Valley in Bhutan Monk in Rinpung DzongMonk in Rinpung DzongRinpung Dzong in Paro, Bhutan

First stop that afternoon was the Dzong and Museum Fort in Paro.  Light was harsh but we all still snapped away.  Valley overlooking Paro and the surrounding farmland was nice, and my pictures definitely don’t do it justice.  I liked seeing all the chilies grown by all the farmers being dried on the roofs of all the houses.  The museum above the Dzong was my first Buddhist museum.  No photos allowed.  While the masks of the faces of Buddha were impressive, I think we were all drawn to the metal detector that our guide was insisting could tell the difference between men and women.  That made no sense to any of us, but it seemed to work.

Bhutanese SingerBhutanese SingerDancers and musicians stopped by the Khangkhu Resort for a practice session before the festival the next day.

Bhutanese DancersBhutanese DancersDancers and musicians stopped by the Khangkhu Resort for a practice session before the festival the next day.

Bhutanese DancersBhutanese DancersDancers and musicians stopped by the Khangkhu Resort for a practice session before the festival the next day.

Bhutanese DancersBhutanese DancersDancers and musicians stopped by the Khangkhu Resort for a practice session before the festival the next day.

Bhutanese MusiciansBhutanese MusiciansDancers and musicians stopped by the Khangkhu Resort for a practice session before the festival the next day.

After a few more shots of the valley and museum, we headed back to the hotel as our tour leaders had scheduled a dance performance.  We were going to need some practice shooting dancers before heading to the festivals over the coming days.  I was definitely out of my element during this.  I was happier to watch the performance than focus on my shooting location and composing my shots.

Dinner consisted of good food and Bhutanese beer.  Much needed after trying to process the events of that day.  Lots of talk on post processing….I tried writing everything down but looking through my notes, not a lot of it makes sense.  One interesting note...no mountain in Bhutan has ever been climbed.  The Bhutanese believe that their gods or spirits live in the peaks of the mountains, so they won’t let anyone climb them like they’ve done in Nepal with Everest.  That was something that stuck out during the evening’s conversation.

Photo backpack assistantPhoto backpack assistantWe hired mules to help carry our camera gear halfway up the hike to Tiger's Nest Monastary in Paro, Bhutan

After a relatively early night’s sleep, we were ready for our hike the next day.  I dosed up on hotel room coffee before a good breakfast, as I can never sleep anymore anyway, then we drove out to the trail leading up to the Paro Taktsang, also known as Tiger’s Nest.  Our tour leaders had recommended we rent mules to carry our gear half way up.  Elevation change was noticeable, and it was wet and muddy, but not the worst hike I’ve ever been on.  Interesting fact picked up during the hike.  Our guide Yonten only has one name.  Names are chosen by the monks when Bhutanese are born, after reading the astrological signs.  There are only about 20 names total in Bhutan, mostly chosen for the spirit at the temple closest to where the baby is brought.  I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic about the total amount of names...my sarcasm radar for the Bhutanese is non-existent.

Tiger's Nest MonastaryTiger's Nest MonastaryTaktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest Monastary, is worth the hike up into the mountains.

Tiger's Nest MonastaryTiger's Nest MonastaryTaktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest Monastary, is worth the hike up into the mountains.

Tiger's Nest MonastaryTiger's Nest MonastaryTaktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest Monastary, is worth the hike up into the mountains.

Tiger's Nest MonastaryTiger's Nest MonastaryTaktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest Monastary, is worth the hike up into the mountains.

 

Spent the day getting shots of the temple, having lunch on the overlook, and chasing away the stray dog packs from knocking over our tripods.  We were able to visit the inside of the monastery as well.  About 8 or 9 monks live there at any given time, and were broadcasting their daily prayers/chants through a loudspeaker for everyone to hear.

Started the hike back down early to avoid hiking along a steep muddy trail in the dark.  Dinner was capped off with some chocolates from Japan.  I still couldn’t believe how much travel everyone else in the group has done.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Filled up 32GB of cards during the first two days of the trip.  Before leaving for Bhutan, I was determined to disconnect for two weeks from work and life back home, so I forced myself to not bring a laptop and brought along my traveling Chromebook for backups.  After dinner I spent the evening transferring everything to my two external hard drives, a very slow process, but excited for the next day to see how Tiger’s Nest could be topped.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/11/tigers-nest-and-paro Thu, 10 Nov 2016 11:00:00 GMT
A Kingdom of Happiness https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/11/a-kingdom-of-happiness Tiger's Nest MonastaryTiger's Nest MonastaryTaktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest Monastary, is worth the hike up into the mountains.

Bhutanese MusiciansBhutanese MusiciansDancers and musicians stopped by the Khangkhu Resort for a practice session before the festival the next day.

Paro ValleyParo ValleyA view of Paro Valley in Bhutan

Where to begin...

I’ve been back home for a few weeks now, and I’m still somewhat in shock over what I was able to experience during my recent trip.  Aside from the the far-off location I was able to visit, sights I was able to see and photograph, and culture I was given a tour of, I am having difficulty trying to figure out how to tell people how special this trip was for me.  Any time I try to talk to someone about the trip, I just end up giving up because what’s the point….I don’t think I can ever convey in words or pictures how this trip was for me.

I love travel and I love to take pictures.  More so the act of traveling to get the pictures I would say.  I don’t know.  Maybe the travel photography experience?  Decided I would pick a destination I hadn’t been to yet and really focus on photography.

I’ve traveled alone to new places many times.  Traveled with friends and family to other places as well.  Why not try something different this time?  I scrolled through my list of photography website bookmarks that I frequent, and finally started clicking on the destination workshops links.  Tagging along with professional photographers and a group of strangers who share common interests in photography and travel (and hopefully food and sarcasm)?  I could do something like that, I told myself, despite my social retardation.

What better way to experience something like that than doing a tour in Bhutan?  For some reason as I was navigating through the various options and destinations, the place just caught my eye.  Knew nothing about it, or even where it was, but the one or two photos I saw of the temples looked like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and “the land of happiness” description sounded exactly the kind of destination I needed to visit at this point in my life.  Finally got up the nerve to send in my deposit payment, and from there it was just eager anticipation every day, waiting for more info on the tour itinerary and flight information.  I will admit, I was a little freaked out about the welcome kit...summer and winter clothing, headlamps, camera gear….not really overwhelming per se, but more so the fact that this list was telling me this trip was going to happen.

The only other thing I bought for myself for this trip was a set of field notes journals.  I figured I’d be traveling on a once in a lifetime trip, and I was determined to disconnect and not bring a laptop, so why not write down everything that came to mind during the trip.  I’m glad I did.  As I’m slowly going through pictures and writing up some of my experiences, I realize I’m doing it more to relive and remember the experience rather than to pass along an unfortunately redacted trip report due to poor writing.  But reliving the experience is definitely worth it as I’m stuck back in New Jersey at work, so I might as well try….

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Bhutan photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/11/a-kingdom-of-happiness Sat, 05 Nov 2016 22:00:00 GMT
Florida Dilema https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/10/florida-dilema I've always been more of an winter/autumn person.  I just don't really like the hot weather.  Mountains over beaches, always.  Dad's down in Florida now permanently, but does it differently than most.  Florida for the spring and fall months, winters teaching skiing in Colorado.  I've been down to Florida before in July/August.  Going to the beach when it's 105 degrees and high humidity is just not fun for me.

 
Decided to do a quick weekend to visit my dad before my big October mid life crisis disconnect trip.  He was thrilled that I showed up.  Weather was not as bad as I thought it would be, so a few days at the beach, plus some river kayaking was the perfect itinerary for a weekend trip.  Evidently this time of year is Florida's rainy season, so there were some pretty awesome lightening storms that I got to witness from a distance.
 
Clouds at Bowditch Point ParkClouds at Bowditch Point ParkCrazy weather during the rainy season, but nice cloud formations as a result of the storms.
 
Clouds at Bowditch Point ParkClouds at Bowditch Point ParkCrazy weather during the rainy season, but nice cloud formations as a result of the storms.
 
Bowditch Point ParkBowditch Point ParkSunset long exposure. Crazy weather during the rainy season. Notice the storm to the right. Couldn't capture any lightening strikes.
 
Sunset at Bowditch Point ParkSunset at Bowditch Point Park
 
Clouds at Bowditch Point ParkClouds at Bowditch Point ParkCrazy weather during the rainy season, but nice cloud formations as a result of the storms.
 
Sunset at Bowditch Point ParkSunset at Bowditch Point Park
 
Clouds at Bowditch Point ParkClouds at Bowditch Point ParkCrazy weather during the rainy season, but nice cloud formations as a result of the storms.
 
Clouds at Bowditch Point ParkClouds at Bowditch Point ParkCrazy weather during the rainy season, but nice cloud formations as a result of the storms.
 
Crazy weather.  I'd be on the beach where it's bright and sunny, and 10 miles off in the distance there are repeated lightning strikes and downpours.  I tried my last afternoon to set up for some lightening pics, but I realized I had no clue what I was doing.  Setting 30 second exposures with ND filters didn't seem to pick up any lightening, although my shutter was open for it.  I'll have to do some research on how to go about catching lightning shots.
I swore to stay away from Florida in the summer months, but with clouds like this and constant lightning storms in the afternoon, I think I could get some pretty good shots down here and learn to deal with the heat.
 
 
Food isn't bad either, but again that's just me and my insane vacation food intake reasoning. I'm going to be out of touch for a few weeks. Got some good travel coming up. Picked a destination that has always been on my list, but this time rather than keeping it on a list, I'm going.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Florida food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/10/florida-dilema Tue, 04 Oct 2016 10:00:00 GMT
California Coast https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/california-coast El Matador State BeachEl Matador State BeachLong exposures taken at sunset of the Pacific Coast Highway Venice Fishing PierVenice Fishing PierLong exposure of the pier at Venice Beach El Matador State BeachEl Matador State BeachLong exposures taken at sunset of the Pacific Coast Highway Santa Monica PierSanta Monica Pier Manhattan Beach PierManhattan Beach Pier Runyon Canyon ParkRunyon Canyon Park El Matador State BeachEl Matador State BeachLong exposures taken at sunset of the Pacific Coast Highway Downtown LA from Griffith ObservatoryDowntown LA from Griffith Observatory Manhattan Beach PierManhattan Beach Pier El Matador State BeachEl Matador State BeachLong exposures taken at sunset of the Pacific Coast Highway Runyon Canyon ParkRunyon Canyon Park Santa Monica PierSanta Monica Pier Venice BeachVenice Beach Venice Fishing PierVenice Fishing PierLong exposure of the pier at Venice Beach Venice BeachVenice Beach Manhattan Beach PierManhattan Beach Pier Manhattan Beach PierManhattan Beach Pier El Matador State BeachEl Matador State BeachLong exposures taken at sunset of the Pacific Coast Highway Manhattan Beach PierManhattan Beach Pier Venice BeachVenice Beach

Finally got around to finishing up my California pictures.  I got to play around with my ND filters during the day and I like the way the waves blended together.  And yes, I lugged around my two pound glass ball most of the time in my camera pack.  I guess I do spend a lot of time under bridges and piers.  No judgement.

Full gallery is located here

Took about 50 or so keepers.  I wish I could have gotten some better night shots of the downtown LA cityscape, but I didn't luck out with the hazy weather.  I see myself making a habit of quick weekend trips out to explore more beaches and sunsets on the West Coast.

After a big breakfast at The Sidewalk Cafe in Venice Beach, and some preflight snacks at Hennessey's Tavern in Hermosa Beach, I'm ready to come home and start getting for my next big trip in October.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Los Angeles food photography travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/california-coast Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Thai Food Disaster https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/thai-food-disaster My second day on the west coast entailed much of the same.  Needed coffee bad that morning.  Not sure if this is necessarily a good thing or not, but there seem to be a lot more pretentious coffee bars in the area since I was here last maybe 10 years ago.

Decided to sit down at Intelligentsia Coffee, which had a cool industrial look going, but a lot of people on Macbook Airs working on their movie scripts.  I immediately noticed the drip coffee pourers so I ignored the rest of it.

I still love this way of brewing coffee.

$8 for two cups of really good coffee.  I guess that's a good thing?  Eh there are better shops closer to Venice beach.

Tried out Kreation Kafe on the recommendation of our Lyft driver from the previous night.  This seemed more Venice Beach.

Probably the healthiest meal I ate for breakfast that trip.

That didn't last though....the place was right next door to Blue Star Donut, and I had to try the strawberry margarita donut.

Grabbed the gear and got a few more long exposures that day.  One final spot on the list for the weekend was to head up to Griffith Observatory to try and get some night shots of Downtown LA.  I had been there once before years ago, but remember a lot of haze and limited visibility.  On the way there, we decided to stop at a Thai place with good recommendations called Jitlada.

The food was amazing, but in my haste to pic something off the menu, I went for one of the "chef's specialties".  There were like 12 dishes listed there I think, so I picked the fried pork one that looked interesting.  It was interesting, in that it was beyond spicy.  Next thing you know I had downed two glasses of water and was sweating profusely.  I couldn't feel my lips for a few hours after the meal had ended.  Food was great, but expensive and painful.  I'll stick to donuts for dinner next time.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Los Angeles food travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/thai-food-disaster Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Donuts and Jerk Chicken https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/donuts-and-jerk-chicken Something about being on vacation always destroys my ability to attempt and eat sensibly.  As if being temporarily away from home makes the act of stuffing junk food down my throat not that unhealthy.  It's only during vacation I will act this way.  I'll go back to healthy when I get home.

The Rad Muffin breakfast sandwich from Flake in Venice.  Great way to start the day.  Spicy sauce was perfect, but obviously one cannot simply eat just a ham egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast while on vacation.  After downing the iced coffee, headed over to check out the pre-arrival researched donut shop.

I never stand a chance at a place like this.  Blue Star Donuts on Abbot Kinney has a huge selection.  I had to try the Cointreau Creme Brulee after seeing the hand torching the baker was doing.

They give you a pipet of orange cointreau to inject in the middle of the donut.  Amazing, but definitely needed to walk this off after I splurged on an apple fritter to wash down the donut.

Luckily there are plenty of coffee shops everywhere to dose up on caffeine after crashing on all that sugar.

And plenty of beaches and boardwalks to wander.

Shrimp fajitas for lunch from La Fiesta Brava seemed like a more healthy choice.

After pretty much ensuring a mandatory Lipitor prescription and yet another "you're a moron" talking to from my doctor next month, grabbed the camera gear and headed up the Pacific Coast Highway to get some sunset shots along the coast.  I think I got a few keepers.  Going through all of them will take a while.  Wasn't as relaxing as I'm used to when waiting around for long exposure shots to finish.  Between worrying about the high tide stranding us in the spot we had picked, and the news of an explosion in NYC and spotty cell phone service, we finished up quickly and packed up our gear.

Destressed at Cha Cha Chicken, one of my sister's favorite places in Santa Monica.  Great recommendation.  Red lighting was terrible for taking hipster food pictures, but the food is perfect.  I've added this along with In N' Out Burger to the list of repeat places to visit on my next trip to the West Coast.

Even after a night of drinking, I still have no moral problems with finishing it up with a giant tub of frozen peanut butter yogurt and some unhealthy toppings.  Still going through all of my pictures from the weekend.  I'll post them up once completed.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Los Angeles food travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/donuts-and-jerk-chicken Sat, 24 Sep 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Priorities https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/priorities Every once in awhile, you need a long weekend somewhere.  My friend had been pestering me for a while to meet him out in LA before his Vegas trip, so I finally decided to burn some frequent flier miles.  Use them while you still have them, in my opinion.  After searching, I was shocked I could get a round trip flight for 20,000 miles.  I’m glad he was persistent.

 

The last time I was in Venice Beach was 10 or so years ago when my sister lived there.  I loved the area back then, and the idea of a 6 hour flight to visit a busy downtown with city traffic didn’t appeal to me, so staying near the beach was a must for me.

 

Friday travel is never pleasant. United Club was full for the first hour I was at the airport. Finally got in to grab a few free drinks and some snack food. After a long flight, passing in and out of consciousness from either a lack of interest in the movie I was stuck watching, or from listening to the background banter of my fellow economy class passengers complaining about the cost of the tapas snack pack, I got to settle into a nice one hour wait for the Dollar Rent a Car reservation clerk to hand us the keys.

 

At about 1 am, we finally got out of there with the car and headed for what we had been craving since the mention of LAX several weeks ago.

I don't know what it is about In N' Out Burger, but these things are incredible.  We were definitely the only sober people in that place at 1 am, but because of the perfect burgers, handcut fries, and yes I got a chocolate milkshake, I can see why everyone shows up there.  Totally worth all the travel aggravation.

After west coast gluttonous activities, we made our way over to the AirBnB to crash and plan out the rest of our itinerary, because unfortunately, the bulk of the planning was consumed by ensuring we'd get at least one double double during our time on the opposite side of the continent.

When you're in California, yes there's wine and beaches and plenty of amazing restaurants to try, but you need to grab a burger at In N' Out Burger at least once in your life.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Los Angeles food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/priorities Tue, 20 Sep 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Orale https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/orale

Still a fan of tacos, and finally ordered food from Orale Mexican Kitchen during their Taco Tuesday special.  Half price tacos, cash only.  The weren't the best I've ever had but they were pretty good.  $9 for five machin tacos.  Roasted bone marrow topped with crispy pork belly and shredded cabbage.

While I am ready for cooler weather and ski season, I am going to miss the frozen margaritas.

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Jersey City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/orale Wed, 14 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Down to three https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/down-to-three

Came home today to find one of the green ones lying dead on the floor.  Couldn't believe it.  Haven't lost a parakeet on my watch in a long time.  They usually pass away when my sister or dad was taking care of them.  I was surprised.  They were all flying around yesterday just fine.  He looked old and had an arched back, which is what I'm used to seeing when they get old.  Kinda sad.  What am I going to do when there are only two or one left?  They will be so lonely!  I may have to get some more just to keep the one company.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/down-to-three Mon, 12 Sep 2016 21:42:58 GMT
Brazilian Food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/brazilian-food Met up with my sister for our weekly family meal.  My dad has been pushing for the three of us to meet up once a week these past few months, and now that he's officially moved down to Florida, we are trying to continue the tradition.

My sister suggested we go to Miss Favela as it was in the area we both happened to be in after work.  I'm always up for trying new places, and when my dad was involved he liked sticking to the one cheap Thai food place in Hoboken for our meetups.  It had been a while since I had Brazilian food, so I was up for it.

Caipirinhas are just dangerous, but delicious.  I had way too many of these.

Picadinho A Carioca: Chopped beef, rice and beans, collard greens, and fried banana, topped with an egg.  I inhaled this.

Go for the happy drinks, and if you're braver than me like my sister, evidently this spot is very popular for dancing.

 

My sister's sarcasm is evident in her caption, but true I guess.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/brazilian-food Mon, 12 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Last few from Williamsburg https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/last-few-from-williamsburg Downtown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetDowntown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Not a long exposure, but the water still looks nice.

Williamsburg BridgeWilliamsburg BridgeShot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper

North Brooklyn Farms and the Williamsburg BridgeNorth Brooklyn Farms and the Williamsburg BridgeThe views are starting to get blocked with all the buildings going up around this place. Worth seeing it with the views while they are still there.

North Brooklyn Farms was a nice surprise.  I was trying to find another spot along the river to shoot the bridge and came across this area.  It was tough finding an angle without showing all the new construction going up around this garden.  I think this place would look great at night.

Williamsburg BridgeWilliamsburg BridgeShot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper

Still a fan of long exposures during the day to make the water nice and smooth, and the clouds somewhat blurry in the background.

I'll definitely be back Brooklyn.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/last-few-from-williamsburg Sat, 10 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Sunsets from Brooklyn https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/sunsets-from-brooklyn Downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge at SunsetDowntown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Downtown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetDowntown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Downtown Manhattan and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at SunDowntown Manhattan and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at SunSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Downtown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetDowntown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetWilliamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

A few more from the same spot in Williamsburg.  This sunset was epic, and the long exposures did some nice blending of the colors in the sky.  Didn't really do too much editing with these, other than add some sharpening.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/sunsets-from-brooklyn Thu, 08 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Weekend Eats https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/weekend-eats

Stopped into a few more new places this past weekend as I was wandering around for pictures.

Becoming more and more of a fan of coffee shops lately.  I still have four noisy parakeets going strong in my apartment, and I get sick of sitting there when I have some work to do.  I had a bunch of pictures to go through for uploading to Getty Images.  Lots of keywording and metadata to update and make sure is correct before hitting the submit button.  I had a batch of about 50 pictures uploaded, and had been putting off sorting through them and finalizing the submittal for a while, so I threw the Chromebook into my backpack before heading over to Williamsburg.  Sometimes adding a destination to a procrastinatable task helps me get it done.  Coffee shops are also an excuse to leave a bunch of my contact cards with the rest in the stacks.

Grabbed a few shots along the East River from Williamsburg, then decided to wait out until sunset hour at Blank Cafe, a small coffee shop that serves Japanese comfort food like Nanban chicken and house made teas.  I feel guilty that I only got an iced coffee.  Plenty of outlets and tables too.  Quiet area of Brooklyn, not busy, and outdoor seating.  Although it's a little out of the way for me, I will definitely be back.  Williamsburg is a great area with so many things to see and places to try.  I can understand why I always see people in these types of coffee places with their headphones and laptops.  It was strangely relaxing.  Got my work done.  I am such a yuppie.  Also interesting is that it transforms into a burger place at 6 pm.  Out come the different menus and signs and everything.  Didn't feel the need to try a burger, so I left and went next door.

Right next door to the coffee spot is Donna, a cocktail bar with tacos.  Seriously.  Like I could resist a place like this?  Even the menu had the types of glasses the drinks would come in, so I could prepare myself for any potential social anxiety coming from drinking out of a martini glass.

Stuck with the Tiger Lily and a socially comfortable glass, although the flower backfired on the whole decision making process.  Tried the Cult Classic as well, and halfway through that one I realized I would have trouble with my tripod and filters if I kept trying things.  Ended up getting some sunset pictures I was pretty happy with after leaving here.  Might have to make this a standard ritual.

Tacos from Oaxaca Taqueria.  Quick, easy, and open late.  Delicious.

Mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies, along with a lemon sour beer, from Greenpoint Beer & Ale.  They add this optional house lemon syrup upon request.  I highly recommend adding it.  Doesn't make it sweet or anything, but makes the beer perfectly sour.  And who doesn't love pierogies to snack on.  Nice layout and open to the street.  Perfect for the end of summer.

Sangria and patatas bravas from Cork N Fork in the East Village.  Eh who am I kidding.  I was in the area and knew this place was low key, has great sangria, and I get a bonus 5 frequent flier miles per $ spent, on top of 5% cash back.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/weekend-eats Tue, 06 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
New York Sunsets https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/new-york-sunsets Downtown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetDowntown New York City and the Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetWilliamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Downtown Manhattan and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at SunDowntown Manhattan and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at SunSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Downtown Manhattan and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at SunDowntown Manhattan and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges at SunSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Williamsburg Bridge at SunsetWilliamsburg Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Downtown Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge at SunsetDowntown Manhattan and the Manhattan Bridge at SunsetSunset viewed from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shot using a Lee Filters Big Stopper, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Sometimes it's nice to leave the headphones off and just enjoy the view while you're waiting for a 110 second exposure to finish.  Definitely got lucky with the light and clouds.  I have a bunch more to go through but these are my favorites so far.

Questions and comments are always welcome.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/9/new-york-sunsets Sun, 04 Sep 2016 10:08:30 GMT
Izakayas https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/izakayas I became a big fan of Izakayas when traveling abroad.  Usually small bars that served good beer and had a big assortment of small plates available.  These were super easy to walk into alone, grab a drink, and try a bunch of different things from the menu.

Izakaya NoMad on 26th is worth the visit.  This place always seems to be packed, but they have a nice long bar where you can usually get a seat.  The music is a little loud, but definitely fits with the casual ambiance of the place.

Plenty of Japanese beer available.  I took it easy and avoided the extensive sake menu this time.

Small plate menus are a weakness of mine.  So many things to choose from.  As soon as I saw that okonomiyaki was available, I had to get it.  A Japanese "pancake" filled with seafood and covered with fish flakes, it's normally shared with two people, but I didn't let that stop me from ordering it.  This was very good.

Gyoza, perfectly fried and crunchy with a meat filling.

The big draw for me to these places is the yakitori options.  Skewers of meat, seafood, and vegetables grilled up quick and served on small plates go perfectly with a few beers.  I controlled myself and just tried one, the beef short rib.  Next time I come back, I'll resist the pancakes and dumplings, and just stick with the skewers.  Maybe some sake.

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/izakayas Thu, 01 Sep 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Closing https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/closing Never thought it would happen, but it looks like our house that we grew up in is finally being sold.  Not sure why I never expected it to happen.  I guess I always kept putting off the idea.  It was always a nice escape over the years to just "go home" and stay with the parents for the weekend.  Life goes on I guess.  I think it's harder for me than I realize to let go of this place.  Every time I go home to help clean out all the stuff we don't need anymore, I end up saving bits and pieces.  A coffee mug, another plant, an old key chain found in the back of the utensil drawer.  I do feel a little better knowing that the people buying the place are actually going to fix it up a bit and live in it.  I was always worried that we'd settle for a contractor buying the place and knocking it down to build yet another prefab mansion, typical on the street nowadays. 

I think the house looks great now with all the floors cleaned up and the walls painted.  Even my dad now regrets not doing it sooner.  I don't know, I just kind of felt like getting a bunch of pictures of the place before I leave it for good.  It's sad seeing it empty now, even though it looks so nice to me.  So many great memories growing up there.

Even the garage is empty now!  I took as many tools as I could fit in my tiny Hoboken garage, more for the fact that it didn't sit well with me getting rid of them.  I'll probably never use them.  I am definitely going to miss the times going back to change my car oil with my dad in the driveway.  How do I end up missing a driveway?  I do know that my mom could never have handled the clean out.  She was always a hoarder, and it would have killed her to see us throw out so much stuff.  There was just so much of everything....endless clothes, dishes, backpacks, ski equipment, THINGS.  Most of it rarely or never used, and all that it accomplished was that it hurt throwing it all out.

This whole process has taken it's toll on my dad.  He just seems so sad all the time.  Nothing I can do about it, except to assure him that he will be less stressed out once he's settled in Florida and Colorado.  The weeks and weeks of endless trips to the city dump to throw out accumulated stuff from 40 years even got to me, but I would always have the option of escaping the purge by running back to my apartment.  I know he always wanted to see either me or my sister inherit this place, but what am I going to do with a four bedroom house?  Such is life.  I already have a ticket to fly down to Florida for a long weekend to check in on him.  It's tough feeling guilty about things when there really isn't much you can do about it.  But I do think there's hope in the future to put the stress behind us and savor the happy memories this place brought our family.  Looking forward to ski season in Colorado.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/closing Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Downtown Malls https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/downtown-malls Brookfield Place ViewsBrookfield Place ViewsTaken with a wide angle 16-35 F2.8L a 3 stop graduated ND, and a 10 stop ND

It was looking to be a hot, humid, and rainy morning so I decided to go over to the waterfront around Brookfield Place downtown.  If I got too hot, I would be able to easily duck into an air conditioned coffee shop for recovery.

The light was a little rough, so I brought along my new Soft graduated ND filters to go along with my 10 stop ND to get some long exposures of the harbor.

Westfield World Trade CenterWestfield World Trade CenterOpening of the new mall in the World Trade Center

Westfield World Trade CenterWestfield World Trade CenterOpening of the new mall in the World Trade Center

The new Westfield World Trade Center mall is pretty nice.  It's right at the entrance/exit to the WTC PATH train so it's a quick 10 minute ride for me.  First thing I noticed was that a new Nespresso store will be opening up there soon.  I can do some damage at that place.

World Trade CenterWorld Trade CenterTaken with a wide angle 16-35 F2.8L

Brookfield Place ViewsBrookfield Place ViewsTaken with a wide angle 16-35 F2.8L a 3 stop graduated ND, and a 10 stop ND

Clouds were moving nicely, but kept hiding the sun so the filters were tough to get right.  I like the look of the sailboat masts swaying back and forth from the long exposure as well.

Westfield World Trade CenterWestfield World Trade CenterOpening of the new mall in the World Trade Center

Westfield World Trade CenterWestfield World Trade CenterOpening of the new mall in the World Trade Center

Brookfield Place ViewsBrookfield Place ViewsTaken with a wide angle 16-35 F2.8L a 3 stop graduated ND, and a 10 stop ND

Brookfield PlaceBrookfield PlaceViews from the mall connected to the World Trade Center. Perfect for wandering around when It's too hot and humid outside

This person had the right setup.  Grab a chair and people watch through a giant window.

Brookfield PlaceBrookfield PlaceViews from the mall connected to the World Trade Center. Perfect for wandering around when It's too hot and humid outside

Brookfield PlaceBrookfield PlaceViews from the mall connected to the World Trade Center. Perfect for wandering around when It's too hot and humid outside

The food courts at Brookfield Place are amazing.  Black Seed Bagels, Umami Burger, Mighty Quinn's BBQ, Blue Ribbon Sushi, Num Pang Sandwich Shop, are located in the upper Hudson Eats food court, just to name a few.  Downstairs in the French food market, there are a few restaurants and bars where you can select your own cut of meat or fish and have them cook it up in front of you at the bar.

Ended up getting a snack of pork and chive dumplings from Norther Tiger.  I'm still a sucker for dumplings.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/downtown-malls Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Clouds https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/clouds Clouds over the Hudson RiverClouds over the Hudson RiverLong exposure of Downtown Manhattan from Hoboken, NJ Clouds over the Empire State BuildingClouds over the Empire State BuildingLong exposure of Midtown Manhattan from Hoboken, NJ Clouds over the Empire State BuildingClouds over the Empire State BuildingLong exposure of Midtown Manhattan from Hoboken, NJ

Still playing around with my 10 stop ND filter.  Clouds were nice today.  I used to wait for blue hour or sunset to get the smooth water look.  Now, with the filter I can make that happen during daylight hours and still make happy hour.  God I am getting old.  I did notice some darkening around the edges in some of my longer exposures.  I'll have to read up on why that's happening.  I only brought the 16-35mm with me this time around.  I'll stick with the 24-105mm for shots across the river.  At 16mm, all you get is a big picture of the river with some of the city way in the background.  I think I'll venture into the city and try and set up the tripod / filter on a busy street to get some better blurred motion shots.  I always enjoy staring out at the city from across the river, but I need a change of scenery.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/clouds Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Big Stopper https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/Big-Stopper Downtown ManhattanDowntown ManhattanTaken using the Lee Big Stopper, 20 second exposure, f / 8.0, ISO 50.

Finally got to play around with my "necessary" purchases for my upcoming trip.  I've always liked the look of long exposures taken at night.  The waves blend together to form almost a foggy like look for the water.  I've been seeing a lot of landscape pictures taken with these effects during the day, so I bought myself a Lee Big Stopper ND filter.  It's a 10 stop neutral density filter.  It reduces the amount of light coming into your camera, so that you can increase your shutter speed by 10 stops.

The above pic was taken with a 20 second shutter speed at f/ 8.0 and a 50 ISO.  Obviously I am neurotic enough to where my shaky hands make a tripod necessary for this setup.  I didn't think the clouds were moving all that much, but it looks like they were, even in the span of 20 seconds.  I set up the shot, metered it at f/ 8.0 in automatic, which gave me a 1/60th shutter speed.  Then I threw the camera into manual, turned off autofocus, dropped in the filter, and dropped the shutter speed to 20 seconds (approximately 10 stops).

Downtown ManhattanDowntown ManhattanTaken using the Lee Big Stopper, 10 second exposure, f / 8.0, ISO 50

Added a few filters to this one.  I'll keep an eye out for the clouds and waves the next few days.  I have a few more ideas where I think a daytime long exposure would look nice.

I really liked watching this video, which sold me on the idea of a drop in filter system instead of a screw in filter system.  As you can probably guess, I'm already thinking about getting some of the graduated filters as well, but I think I'll have fun for now playing with this filter.  As always, comments, even anonymous ones, are welcome.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/Big-Stopper Mon, 15 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Levels and Venezuelan Milkshakes https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/Levels-and-Venezuelan-Milkshakes

I wanted to get a picture of the coincidentally aligned mixer levels, but this damn margarita kept getting in the way.

I tried three more times, and after consistently repeated photobombs, gave up and decided to leave this awful place and get food.

  I've always wanted to try this place.  Opened up Google Maps on my phone, and realized it was only a few blocks away.  It's a Venezuelan restaurant located in Chelsea that always seems pretty popular with the locals.  Walked around the block two times before forcing myself to go in.  Definitely my type of place.  Small table settings, friendly service, not too quiet, and you don't feel out of place grabbing a meal on your own.  I've been to a few arepas in the city, as well as in Venezuela, so I'm familiar with the food.  What caught my eye when browsing the menu for this place was the description of the merengadas, traditional Venezuelan milkshakes made using juice and powdered milk.

GUANABANA MERENGADA  Totally worth the social anxiety.

PABELLÓN CRIOLLO Venezuelan national dish. White rice, black beans, sweet plantain and a selection of El Cocotero homade stews

 

BIENMESABE Sponge Cake soaked in sweet coconut milk topped with whipped coconut cream and toasted coconut flakes.  This was amazing.

 

I think this place would be great for a small group of people.  Plenty of appetizers to try, and they have beer, wine, and sangria, but I would stick with trying out the juices and milkshakes.

 

 

Damn you B&H and your mobile app

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/Levels-and-Venezuelan-Milkshakes Fri, 12 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Raindrops https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/raindrops Ralph Bunche ParkRalph Bunche ParkTudor City, NY

Tudor City BridgeTudor City BridgeTudor City, NY

Tudor City LookoutTudor City LookoutTudor City, NY

Tudor City BridgeTudor City BridgeTudor City, NY

Ralph Bunche ParkRalph Bunche ParkTudor City, NY

Construction SiteConstruction SiteTudor City, NY

Tudor City ApartmentsTudor City ApartmentsTudor City, NY

A few more from a rainy weekend in Tudor City.  Took the wide angle lens, my raincoat, and just wandered till I felt better.  Looking forward to October travel.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/raindrops Tue, 09 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Superpowers https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/superpowers SuperpowersSuperpowersTudor City, NY

I most definitely have superpowers.

Rainy StepsRainy StepsTudor City, NY

United NationsUnited NationsTudor City, NY

Walked around Tudor City in the rain.  I love the city when it's quiet during a rainy weekend.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/superpowers Sat, 06 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
BEC https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/bec

I had to give this place a try eventually.  Growing up in New Jersey, a bacon egg and cheese on a roll was a common breakfast meal.  So a place called BEC that makes specialty egg sandwiches?  Definitely worth the visit.

Small place in Chelsea with several versions of an egg sandwich.  Perfect to duck into early on a rainy Sunday morning.

I went with the "Roadhouse", with two eggs (perfectly runny), sweet Italian pork sausage, cheddar cheese, avacado, slaw, BBQ sauce, on a Ciabatta roll.

Add BEC to your list if you ever need a gourmet breakfast sandwich for breakfast in the city.  Take a break from donuts.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/8/bec Wed, 03 Aug 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Travel Tips: Mobile Passport and a Portable Number https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/travel-tips-mobile-passport-and-a-portable-number Well it’s looking like my trip is getting close to being finalized, at least according to my poor credit card.  After two automated, and somewhat judgemental, phone call security checkups asking me if I’m still sane for authorizing these charges, I think my travel plans are finally coming together.  Being excited and looking forward to something is definitely a nice feeling to have these days.

 

While I always look forward to travelling and all the good memories that come from any trip that I take, I can’t help but recall some of the frustrating things I’ve encountered during a few trips abroad.

Google Voice

Getting access to the local currency is always a necessity.  It shouldn’t have to be difficult nowadays, and for the most part, it isn’t.  There are plenty of no foreign fee transaction credit cards out there, as well as debit cards that reimburse you for any fees which I will talk about some other time.  However you will always end up running into a situation where you try to use your cards abroad and they get locked down due to some automated fraud detection system.  This will happen even if you’re like me and call in travel notifications to every one of your credit and debit cards, even the ones you don’t take with you.  Yes, I am paranoid and thorough.  I’ve been using Google Voice ever since Google bought out GrandCentral and offered the service to Google account holders.  It’s a free phone number that you can link to any phone number you have control over.  I use it as my main number, and link it to my home, cell, and office phone.  It’s especially great to have one if you like to travel abroad.  You can make free phone calls, and send free texts,  to the U.S. from your gmail account wherever you can get an internet connection.  I use it as my number for all my credit cards, so if I ever have any security issues, I can take care of it via a quick phone call from my “home” number.  It’s also great for calling your dad who refuses to pick up the phone if he doesn’t recognize the number on caller ID.

Mobile Passport (Android / iPhone)

There is nothing like sitting in coach on a flight back from Tokyo for 14 hours, filling out a paper customs form after prying your eyes open from a crust of melatonin and red wine, then having to sit in a customs and border control line for two hours after getting off the plane.  While I still recommend getting your Global Entry card to skip the lines and baggage check, it may not be worth the $100 fee for others.  Mobile Passport for your phone is a nice alternative.  It allows you to fill out the form electronically from your phone, and even has dedicated lines starting to pop up in a few major international airports.  All for free.  Definitely worth downloading and setting up.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/travel-tips-mobile-passport-and-a-portable-number Sun, 31 Jul 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Eats https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/eats

While I do cook at home almost every day during the week, I still enjoy going out and trying new spots for food and drinks.  I get plenty of comments about how I must go out all the time from other people and how it's such a waste of money.  When I get cornered into one of those conversations, I usually just keep my mouth shut and later make sure I buy an extra spite round of an overpriced NYC cocktail and drink to their judgement.

                                   

Been on a cocktail run lately.  There are so many different ones to try.  I think I'm starting to wind down on my taco cravings, but I will always grab some if asked by a friend to join them, and margaritas are still great during the summer.  I eat healthy for the most part during the week, but when I scroll past a donut pic on Instagram, I somehow end up making my way over to the city one weekend morning. I will admit, my food photography is sub par. Usually try to sneak in the pic with my phone, trying not to be too obvious about it. I will have to force myself to eat and drink out more, strictly for the pursuit of furthering my food photography skills.

 

Planning a trip in the fall and I'm super anxious about finalizing it.  I've made all my travel plans...tickets and hotel rooms booked with miles and points.  Now I just have to wait on others to finalize, which always stresses me out.  I've already started organizing my photo gear, and as usual with any trip I feel like I need more.  I'll try and keep a clear head about what I “need”, so hopefully I just end up with an extra memory card.  Maybe a third battery.  Oh and a 9 or 10 stop ND filter set.  I think I'll need an adapter for that so the filters work with my lenses.  No lenses….no lenses.  Ugh I don't think I have a polarizer for my wide angle.

 

I'm always looking for food and drink recommendations!

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/eats Sat, 23 Jul 2016 16:15:00 GMT
Night Photo Mission https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/night-photo-mission SkyhawkSkyhawkEssex County Airport Photo Missions

Finally bugged my pilot friend long enough to get his night certifications up to date, and decided to try out taking a few sunset and night shots over the city.  The flight was surprisingly smooth.  I was expecting a bumpy ride with the evening winds, but it turned out great.  I think the bike ride home was way more bumpy.  Haven't done a lot of night riding in a while, and some of these New Jersey potholes popped me out of my seat a few times.

We did a few circles around mid and downtown.  Flight lasted about an hour.  I filled up my 32 GB card with some golden hour and blue hour shots, so now I have a ton of development work to do.  I had to stick with very high ISO settings when it got dark, and my F4.0 lens was not that fast, so hopefully the pictures aren't too noisy.  Here are a few I've done so far.

Newark AirportNewark AirportTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Newark AirportNewark AirportTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Flying over Newark Airport was pretty cool.  Planes were coming in for landing to the left of us, and below and to the right of us, planes were taking off.

Port ElizabethPort ElizabethTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Downtown ManhattanDowntown ManhattanTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Empire State BuildingEmpire State BuildingTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Empire State Building and Madison Square GardenEmpire State Building and Madison Square GardenTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

It was still light out, but dark enough to where all the building lights started coming on.

Downtown ManhattanDowntown ManhattanTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Queensboro BridgeQueensboro BridgeTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Downtown ManhattanDowntown ManhattanTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Downtown ManhattanDowntown ManhattanTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

Added some filters to these.  I like the way they turned out.

Empire State Building and Madison Square GardenEmpire State Building and Madison Square GardenTaken during a July 12, 2016 photo flight with Century Air out of Essex County Airport, New Jersey

I'll link these to the full resolution pictures once I'm done going through the rest.  Register, and you'll get an email notification once the gallery is complete.  I think I'll have at least a few keepers.  Towards the end of the trip, while flying back up the Hudson River to turn west towards Teterboro Airport, I put my camera down and just enjoyed the view.  It's always nice to get away from everything every once in a while.

Full Gallery is done and located here.  Comments are always welcome!

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/night-photo-mission Thu, 14 Jul 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Golden Hour https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/golden-hour Empire State BuildingEmpire State BuildingEnd of golden hour over Downtown NYC

One World Trade CenterOne World Trade CenterEnd of golden hour over Downtown NYC

One World Trade CenterOne World Trade CenterEnd of golden hour over Downtown NYC

One World Trade CenterOne World Trade CenterEnd of golden hour over Downtown NYC

One World Trade CenterOne World Trade CenterEnd of golden hour over Downtown NYC

Empire State BuildingEmpire State Building4th of July Colors

I don't think I'm ever going to get tired of the views of the city along the Hudson.  I'm still trying to find a few different angles, and I can't for the life of me find the location for that twisted dock shot that everyone gets of downtown NYC, but when the skies are like this, I don't mind wandering down the river to look around.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/7/golden-hour Mon, 04 Jul 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Home Repair https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/home-repair My dad's home clean up continues.  Lots of stuff to get rid of.  After his first inspection report, he decided to fix up as much of the things in the report himself.  I try to explain to him that he shouldn't take inspection reports so seriously.  It's all a part of the home sale process.  It's an old house, and I think he takes it personally.

Started off with the vines growing on the side of the porch.  My parents had hung wires across the screens to allow a grape vine to grow.  I liked them there.  Gave a little more natural privacy to the screened in porch.  I felt bad ripping them all down, but evidently the town wouldn't issue a certificate of occupancy if they were still there.

Basement clean out continued as well.  Got rid of a bunch of old ski trophies and other high school things.  I haven't looked at any of this stuff in years, so it wasn't too hard throwing this stuff away.  I still can't believe how much junk was in that house.  My mom kept everything!  My dad had a friend come by and take all the furniture out, except for his bedroom.  It's definitely awkward seeing the house so empty now.  My dad has decided to get the floors cleaned up, the walls spackled and painted, and the outside of the house powerwashed.  I think it's needed and will definitely help sell the place, but at the same time it's awful seeing my dad so down, now that everything is gone.

Found these toy cars during the clean out.  I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of them, so I took them back to my place.

 

Most of the plants are gone now, but we couldn't bring ourselves to throw away this 3 foot cactus.  My mom always liked this cactus.  It was a pain (literally) bringing this thing back to my apartment, but I like the memories it brings sitting next to my bookshelf.

Towards the end of the day, we came to all the Christmas stuff we had stored in the basement.  My dad got really sad at the thought of throwing out all our Christmas ornaments and stockings that we would hang up in front of the fireplace.  These obviously came back to my garage.  I'll fly them out with me when I go to Colorado for Christmas this year and surprise him with them.

I told him we could go anywhere for dinner that he wanted, and this is what he chose.  Rolling my eyes as we drove up, he told me him and mom used to come here a couple times a week for lunch.  I guess he wanted something familiar.  I wish I could make my dad feel better about this whole process, but I guess I just have to let the whole thing run its course.  I try to get him to come into Hoboken during the week to get dinner.  He must be having a rough time, because I think when he actually goes to a restaurant that I've picked and spends money, he enjoys himself instead of worrying about the final cost.  Hopefully this home sale will be behind us after this summer, and he can try and relax out in Colorado.

Still got the birds to keep me company, and my dad enjoys saying hi to them whenever he's in town.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/home-repair Sun, 26 Jun 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Colgate Clock https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/colgate-clock Colgate ClockColgate ClockView of downtown NYC and the Colgate Clock from Jersey City

Colgate ClockColgate ClockView of downtown NYC and the Colgate Clock from Jersey City

Colgate ClockColgate ClockView of downtown NYC and the Colgate Clock from Jersey City. You can see the start of a red moon rising to the right.

I'm not going to lie.  I was on a mission to try a taco place that I've passed by a million times, so I forced the idea of shooting the sunset near the Colgate Clock in downtown Jersey City, near Taqueria Downtown.  I think it turned out well.  I had some excellent tacos and a really awesome margarita (or two), and got a few keepers from the shoreline.  I went with a few different long exposures while the light changed.  I always liked the look of crisp objects in almost foggy-looking water.  Orange, purple, and blue/green.  I'm partial to the purple one.  I think I'm going to pick up a 9 or 10 stop ND filter to try for some long exposures during the daytime.  As always, any comments and critiques are welcome.  You can click the above pictures to go to each one's individual photo page, where larger images are available to view.

So many different ones to try!

I'm only doing one of these next time.  These were strong, but still highly recommended.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/colgate-clock Tue, 21 Jun 2016 22:00:00 GMT
Old Architecture https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/old-architecture Central TerminalCentral TerminalOld Train Station In Jersey City, New Jersey

Ellis Island DepartureEllis Island DepartureOld Piers and Landings at Ellis Island

Central TerminalCentral TerminalOld Train Station In Jersey City, New Jersey

Goldman Sachs BuildingGoldman Sachs BuildingGS Building In Jersey City on the Hudson River

Life Size ChessLife Size ChessLiberty House Restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey

Walked down to Liberty State Park after a big breakfast one morning.  Nice to get out and walk around.  I think I was more interested in the old train terminal and the old ferry piers that used to connect Ellis Island to New Jersey.  

I am definitely from New Jersey.  Still appreciate a giant breakfast at a 24 hour diner.  Brownstone Pancake Factory in Downtown Jersey is worth the trip.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken New York City food photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/old-architecture Sun, 19 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Delmonico's https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/delmonicos Delmonico'sDelmonico'sDowntown New York City

I've been coming into the city for a while, and I can't believe I've never noticed this building.

Delmonico'sDelmonico'sDowntown New York City

Tried a few different angles.  I bet this building will look better at night.

Depth of FocusDepth of FocusPillars in New York

I was just playing around with my fast lens here, seeing if I could get some good DOF.

CirclesCirclesArtwork in the Financial District

No CarsNo CarsSigns in Downtown New York City

Coffee Shop Warning SignsCoffee Shop Warning SignsSigns in New York City

You can always find interesting signs in the city.  This coffee shop definitely has one of the better ones that I've run into.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/delmonicos Mon, 13 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Gift Card Giveaway https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/gift-card-giveaway

I'm running another giveaway on my friend's raffle site, JackRaffit.  Works great, free to join, and you get a $50 gift certificate for anything from my site.  Definitely worth checking out and signing up.  They run free giveaways every week.

Use this link to join my raffle.  Let me know if you have any issues, and feel free to share!

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/gift-card-giveaway Thu, 09 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Home Clean-Out https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/home-clean-out Got a call from my dad this weekend, looking for some help to clean out the house.  He has it on the market, so we will eventually need to empty the place of all the stuff we don't want anymore.  Poor guy sounded exhausted on the phone.  More mentally exhausted than physically.  It's always tough taking trailer load after trailer load of stuff you've accumulated over the years to the local recycling center.  So I packed my backpack and hopped on the bike to go stay with my dad for the rest of the weekend.

I'll never forget the look my dad gives me when I do something stupid.  I think it's the same look I give to people when they ask me stupid questions.  Yes, I went back home to help him clean up, but I knew there would be stuff that he would want me to keep and take back to my place.  Not exactly easy to throw a bunch of stuff in the trunk of my bike to bring back to my garage.  He gave me the same look when I rode up that afternoon, as when he first taught me to change the oil in my car.  I was laying underneath the car after warming up the engine for a few minutes.  He was laying under there with me, making sure I wouldn't screw up anything.  I decided to position myself right underneath the oil pan so I could get better leverage on the drain bolt.  I mean literally right in front of the thing.  As I started wrenching on it, my dad was giving me the same "you idiot" look out of the corner of my eye.  Needless to say after a few more turns, I had hot engine oil spilling all over my face and chest.  I think my dad still regrets sending me to college to this day.

I can always tell when my dad makes a new purchase.  You'll see something at the house out of place, like his new running sneakers.  I even know the thought process behind this purchase...find the cheapest possible running sneaker on Amazon.  In this case, hot pink ladies running shoes.  He was even going to wear them to the Italian restaurant we were going to for dinner, but luckily I am socially retarded enough to where I couldn't handle something like that in public, so I made him change his shoes.

Spent much of the day taking loads of old clothes, books, and just junk, over to the city recycling center via my dad's old trusty trailer.  All these bins were completely full of stuff at one point or another.  Now we are just dumping the bins.  Still a ton of stuff to get rid of.

Home is definitely "emptier" with all my mom's plants gone now.

My dad kept this cactus for me though.  He knew my mom loved this one and wanted me to have it.  It will look nice in my apartment.  I think this guy is as old as me.

Still going to miss this place.  It's been in the family for 40 years.

One of my main jobs when I get home is to try and make sure my dad isn't eating like a complete savage.  He uses me as an excuse to go out and buy polish sausages, kielbasa, and pretty much anything else that's terrible for you at a Polish butcher shop.  So like the good son, I try to eat as much of it as I can before he just eats it all himself.  Woke up Sunday morning to watch the MotoGP races, and unfortunately the only coffee I could find was this sealed can of instant Cuban coffee.  I believe the can had a very faded date of 1987 on it, but it was sealed and I needed coffee.  Between the sausages trying to stop my heart, and this super charged caffeinated Cuban motor oil making my heart explode, it was the perfect balanced meal.

After watching the first two races over breakfast, we lounged and watched the main race.  It was an amazing race.  My dad has been a Rossi fan since we both started watching in 2003.  Best race of the season so far.

I still need to clean out the garage.  Lots of tools and camping to go through and save.  Two kayaks to move to Florida, and one Sunfish sailboat to move to Colorado.  We'll figure it out.  It's tough for me and my dad, again more so mentally than physically, but I know he will be happier in the end without this place to worry about anymore.

Even he, who wants to get rid of everything as quickly as possible, will every once in a while stop to play.  After trashing endless amounts of books, sewing supplies, and old posters in his back office, he decided to wind up this old coo coo clock hanging on the wall.  After waiting for the bird to start blaring, he decided he would lug it down to Florida after all.

After cleaning up all day, we went to dinner at an Italian place in town.  He even swung for an appetizer, now that he could afford it since he was selling his house.  After a second helping of free bread, not one ounce of sauce was left from that stuffed mushroom order.

Italian usually cheers us up, but in this case it wasn't that good.  After leaving the place, my dad insisted on walking past the old ski shop in town where my mom used to work.  He was so happy that after four years, they still have her picture up in the storefront window.

On the drive home, he got a call from his realtor with another offer on his house, so that cheered him up.  He mentioned to me once that he'd like to go back to Alaska one more time, so I think I'll start looking at trips after he sells this house.  I need to get back to taking pictures.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/6/home-clean-out Mon, 06 Jun 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Food for miles https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/food-for-miles Been having a rough time in general.  Getting stressed out over meaningless things.  I've been trying my usual distractions....trying out some new eats while banking some miles.

I've been meaning to try this place out since it's right around the corner from me, and since I heard they make a bacon and egg sandwich on a cheesy biscuit.  Still a sucker for breakfast sandwiches.  Comes from growing up in Jersey I guess.  The sandwich didn't disappoint.  No miles from this place, but the sandwich won me over.

I'm glad I always have the option to quickly get into the city.  I never need a specific destination.  I just hop on the train, pick a stop to get off at, and wander.  You can always find something.

Once I find a new doughnut shop, I become obsessed with trying out all the different ones.  I've gone down the road of getting 2 or 3 at a time before.  I won't do that again.  The peanut butter and jelly from The Doughnut Project is worth trying.

Tried the Tacombi up on 24th.  Big space with plenty of seating.  Wasn't too crowded when I went.  Tacos were very good, but a little on the expensive side for what you get.  I'll have to try a few of the drinks they have there.  I like the Bleeker street location better.  Nicer area.

As soon as I realized I was near Madison Square Park, I had to run over and grab a dessert.  Double chocolate ice cream sandwich from Melt Bakery.  The ice cream is perfectly hard so that when you bite into it, it doesn't spread out and go everywhere.

Sunburst Espresso Bar is an all day coffee and breakfast place.  Free Wifi, and offers a nice break spot from wandering around.  You get 5 miles per dollar spent there, so the guilty iced coffee doesn't make you feel so bad.

Cooper's Craft and Kitchen has a bunch of awesome beers on tap.  Haven't tried the food yet.  5 miles per dollar here as well.

Cork N' Fork is a small tapas bar on the east side.  Great sangria at happy hour, and you get the miles for it.

Nice little taco spot that serves miles as well.

Back to thinking about a trip somewhere.  Not looking forward to the 3 day weekend.  No plans, and it's a little too hot for me to wander around taking pictures.  The city will be too crowded for me.  Maybe a ride upstate somewhere.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/food-for-miles Sat, 28 May 2016 12:00:00 GMT
East River Skies https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/east-river-skies Clouds over the Empire State BuildingClouds over the Empire State BuildingSeveral exposures combined into one, using some Nik filters for effect

Brooklyn ConstructionBrooklyn ConstructionI would love to own one of these apartments, right on the river. Amazing views.

Sunset over MidtownSunset over MidtownViewed from East River State Park in Brooklyn

Sunset on the East RiverSunset on the East RiverViewed from East River State Park in Brooklyn

Hiked over to Brooklyn and the East River State Park to scope out some potential city scene shots from the river.  It's nice being able to walk up right on to the river in the park.  This area of Brooklyn is very nice...plenty of restaurants and bars in the area to sneak into for a break.   It was super windy next to the water, and my lightweight tripod didn't hold up so well for long exposures, but I got a few keepers.  For the first one, I tried out a Nik filter, now available for free from Google, after combining a few bracketed exposures in Lightroom.

It brings out the clouds which is what I was going for.  Clouds were perfect right before the sunset, but the wind was strong and cleared the skies right as the sun was going down.  I'll keep this location on my list of places to hit again.  There's a Brooklyn Barge bar up the street from here that I will have to check out.  Outdoor settings and city views....can't complain.  I think dealing with river winds and sunset shot setups will be easier after a few drinks.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/east-river-skies Tue, 24 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Donuts and Meatballs https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/donuts-and-meatballs I've been running around trying to find some new photo spots, but haven't really taken anything that I've liked.  The upside is that while I'm out I generally end up finding some pretty good places to grab food.

I look forward to my weekends because I enjoy getting up early and going out to grab coffee and breakfast.  La Isla in downtown Hoboken is always a favorite of mine, and I still get the stuffed french toast every once in a while.  Their Cuban Latte is still the best in the city.  They are open early enough on the weekends and have a nice counter top dining setup, perfect after wandering around for some early morning pics.

Another favorite of mine is Ultramarinos, a Venezuelan cafe a few blocks away from me.  You can't go wrong with chorizo, eggs, and toast.  The spicy hot chocolate is amazing.

After an early happy hour with a friend in the city, I decided to stick around for the sunset on the Hudson river.  I needed to grab something to hold me over, and didn't feel like eating at another bar.  Stopped by Pho Sure to grab a Tiger and some Banh Mi.

Sunset was great, and ended up getting a few keepers.  See my previous post.

Sometimes you just want to go to a diner and get a giant omelette and coffee.  I'm a fan of Hudson Diner right off the Christopher Street PATH stop.  Friendly service and comfortable booths.

Other times, you'll just have a craving for a donut.  The Doughnut Project opened up a few months ago and I finally decided to try it out.  They had not yet baked their chocolate and bone marrow donuts yet, so I had to settle for a coffee and the salted chocolate with buttered pretzel topping donut.  Awesome place.  I was the only one in there early on a rainy Saturday.  They were playing the new Star Wars, and I got to enjoy a funny argument between the two owners and baker regarding light saber colors.

For dinners, I am generally always happy with grabbing Italian food.  I found myself in Brooklyn waiting around for another evening shot, and ended up walking by The Meatball Shop.  I didn't even know they had a location in Williamsburg.  I like this one the best out of all three.  Bigger than the others and a nicer crowd.  I could have ordered another 4 meatballs without any problems, but I held back.

Looking forward to a rainy weekend coming up.  Maybe some reflection shots.  Mugello race on Sunday!

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) Hoboken New York City food https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/donuts-and-meatballs Fri, 20 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Sunset from the Pier https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/sunset-from-the-pier Downtown Hoboken WaterfrontDowntown Hoboken WaterfrontSunset over Downtown Hoboken on the Hudson River, viewed from Pier 45 in New York

Sunset over Downtown Hoboken on the Hudson River, viewed from Pier 45 in New York

Blue Skies above Downtown Jersey CityBlue Skies above Downtown Jersey CityTaken from Pier 45 in NYC.

Blue skies above Jersey City

Pier 45Pier 45One World Trade Center viewed from Pier 45 in Downtown NYC. If you look closely you can see a ghost who wandered into my shot.

One World Trade Center viewed from Pier 45 in Downtown NYC. If you look closely you can see a ghost who wandered into my shot.

W Hotel in HobokenW Hotel in HobokenA view of Downtown Hoboken and the W Hotel from across the Hudson River from Pier 45

A view of Downtown Hoboken and the W Hotel from across the Hudson River from Pier 45

Empire State Building from Pier 45Empire State Building from Pier 45Long exposure of the Pier 45 area and the Empire State Building

Pier 45Pier 45Long exposure of the Pier 45 area and the Empire State Building

Long exposure of the Pier 45 area and the Empire State Building

Met up with a friend for a quick happy hour in the city.  Since it was mid week and she was able to get out of work early, we started early and called it quits early.  Stopped by Pho Sure to grab a quick bite and before heading over to the PATH, I walked over to the river after noticing the cloud cover.  I stayed around for sunset and got a few long exposures.  Awesome night out, and it was nice watching people doing Tango dancing on the pier.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/sunset-from-the-pier Sat, 14 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Roosevelt Props https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/roosevelt-props I happened to be scrolling through my Instagram explore feed, and came across this particular photo with a glass ball.  I thought it looked really cool, and decided that I could try something like this.  Seemed like an interesting way to capture different reflections.

 

 

Because sometimes, even if you know how something's going to end, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride.

A photo posted by Aiden White (@aidenawhite) on

There were actually a few people in the comments section who were also inspired by this picture.  I threw myself into the comments thread, and went on an Amazon shopping spree.  Obviously I remembered to get the MileagePlusX miles before buying it.

Ravenswood Generating StationRavenswood Generating StationA different view of the Ravenswood Generating Station (old Con Ed Plant) across the East River from Roosevelt Island in New York

Roosevelt IslandRoosevelt IslandFounders memorial on Roosevelt Island

Ravenswood Generating StationRavenswood Generating StationA different view of the Ravenswood Generating Station (old Con Ed Plant) across the East River from Roosevelt Island in New York

Queensboro BridgeQueensboro BridgeViewed from Roosevelt Island

Queensboro BridgeQueensboro BridgeA different view of the Ravenswood Generating Station (old Con Ed Plant) across the East River from Roosevelt Island in New York, with the Queensboro Bridge out of focus in the background

Queensboro BridgeQueensboro BridgeViewed from Roosevelt Island

Ravenswood Generating StationRavenswood Generating StationViewed from Roosevelt Island

View from Roosevelt IslandView from Roosevelt Island

Hopped on the F train over to Roosevelt Island.  I hadn't been there yet, and wanted to check out the scenery.  Roosevelt Island is worth the trip if you want somewhere quiet to walk around.  I did the whole loop around the island, taking reading breaks on any benches I came across.  Visited the memorial at the southern tip, and saw some guy trying to teach his girlfriend how to ride a motorcycle in the northern lot.  There were a lot of stalls.  With that many restarts, I'm guessing he had to push jump start his bike at the end of the session.  No way that battery still held a charge.

Only thing that really drew my eye was the power station.  I guess I've been a chemical engineer for too long.  There weren't too many people around so I brought out the glass ball and started playing around with different angles.  I don't think my hands are steady enough for holding it up and taking a picture at the same time, and they are definitely not steady enough for bracketing shots.  I'm partial to the last one, where you can see the bridge in the background, but see something totally different in the ball.  I ended up tagging the three people in the last photo, which I posted to Instagram, who mentioned their glass ball purchases as well.  I'm hoping to see some of their shots soon!

 

 

A photo posted by Andrew Stranovsky (@ars1138) on

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/roosevelt-props Thu, 12 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Brooklyn Wandering https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/brooklyn-wandering Made my way over to Brooklyn to scope out some potential night shot locations from the pier parks.  I've seen a lot of photos of Downtown from this side of the East River.  I know a few of the locations already, but some others I have not been able to track down.

Old vs NewOld vs NewDowntown Manhattan, NYC

Church StreetChurch StreetDowntown Manhattan, NYC

One World Trade CenterOne World Trade CenterFreedom Tower, Downtown Manhattan, NYC

Started off in Downtown, then made my way from the PATH over to to the F train. It was such a nice day out. Purposefully left the headphones off.

Brooklyn Bridge Pier 5 ParkBrooklyn Bridge Pier 5 ParkBrooklyn, NYC

Brooklyn Bridge Pier 6 ParkBrooklyn Bridge Pier 6 ParkBrooklyn, NYC

278 Crossover278 CrossoverBrooklyn, NYC

Brooklyn SpringtimeBrooklyn SpringtimeBrooklyn, NYC

It was nice seeing so many people using the public grills along the river. Walking up and down the piers, I didn't end up finding the location I was looking for, so I made my way back to the Carroll Gardens area. I'll have to do some more Google Maps research before heading out there again. In my typical can't make up my mind mindset, I set out with an idea for night shots, but end up going out there too early and burning myself out walking around. One day I will actually make a plan and stick to it.

Had a friend who used to live in this area and ended up stopping by Wingbar to grab an unhealthy snack.  Wings are still great here, and the dive bar atmosphere was comforting. I can't remember the last time I've had wings. I love this place, and wish there were more like it where I live. Save it to your Google Maps and stop by if you're ever in the area.

Nice video on leaving your comfort zone and trying something new.

 

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) New York City food photography https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/brooklyn-wandering Mon, 09 May 2016 10:00:00 GMT
Free Google Drive Storage https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/free-google-drive-storage

If you're interested in free Google Drive storage, check out Google's Local Guide program.  You use Google Maps on your phone to leave reviews and pictures of places you visit, mainly restaurants and bars, and you earn points for your reviews.

After enrolling in the free program, you'll probably already have a bunch of points as you've probably rated places you've been to when using Google Maps on your phone.

They have 5 different levels, but once you reach level 4, one of the main benefits is that you receive 1 terabyte of Google Drive storage for 2 years.  Normally, 1 terabyte is $10 a month, so I think it's great that they are giving this away for free.  If you're like me who has a lot of pictures and videos that you don't want to lose, having a backup copy in the cloud is a nice option.  No external hard drives to worry about crashing.

Another benefit is that you can see the viewer count of your pictures.  You will end up mostly taking pictures of your food, but it's always fun for me looking through the view counters.

For some reason and I have no clue why, this breakfast picture from Austin's Le Cafe Crepe has over 40,000 views.  I don't even know why I bother with my own website.

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(Andrew Stranovsky Photography) food travel https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/free-google-drive-storage Fri, 06 May 2016 23:00:00 GMT
Baohaus https://www.stranovskyphotography.com/blog/2016/5/baohaus With talks of potentially sending me back over to Taiwan for work for a few weeks, I had a craving for some Taiwanese snacks.

I first had pork belly bao during my second trip to Taiwan.  My coworker got them for us at one of the night markets we went to.  It was a small sandwich in a Taiwanese bun, only a few bites, but it was delicious.  I remembered seeing a place in the city that was reviewed on one of Anthony Bourdain's shows, Baohaus, and tried it out.  Been there a few times now.

Small place on East 14th giving off a divey vibe inside, but the people taking orders and making the food are more than happy to chat with you about their favorites and recommendations.

The Birdhaus Bao (chicken) and the Chairman Bao (pork belly).  I've tried everything on the menu so far, but my favorite is still the Chairman Bao.  Still not as good as the ones I've had in Taiwan, and definitely not as cheap, but pretty authentic.  Grab one for a snack if you're walking around in that area.

Baohaus

I'm hoping this Taiwan trip materializes and I get some free time.  I had always assumed I'd be taking many more trips out there for work, but unfortunately the project that was taking me out there ended.  I regret never getting any good shots of Taipei at night, as well as not one single good night shot of Taipei 101.  Not the end of the world though.  Taiwan is a great place to visit, and I could easily spend a week or two