Far away, close to home…

Another cultural event down in LA…

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Carnevale, Long Beach, California. March 2016.

This past weekend – while coinciding with Easter – was Long Beach’s Carnevale Festival.

Carnevale is the Italian celebration which traditionally proceeds the Lenten season – aka Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. This celebration is huge in Venice which has create an aesthetic of masks and costumes on top of the already great party atmosphere that has become a staple prior the long fast of Lent.

This LA based version was a bit later in the season – read: after the technical end – due to the earlier (and properly dated) celebration of French/widespread Mardi Gras.

While we never went down for Mardi Gras and only stayed down in Long Beach for a small part of the celebration (we had to make it back to the valley for Easter vigil), everything we saw and experienced was fun and boisterous.

Most of the people dressed up were there for the express person pf being photographed and later competing in the costume contest. These costumes ranged in both style and the extent of detail worked in. There was everything from geisha inspired to fantastic creatures – ie. unicorns and fairies- to cartoon-colored Victorians and beyond.

The only problem I had with the event was some of the attendees.  A lot – if not most – were professional to semi-professional photographers which made many of them cut throat and, often times, rude. I can’t count the number of times I was forcibly moved by hip checks or being banged into by cameras as someone else moved me for a better shot. While watching a dance performance, someone banged into my face and then continued to use the side of my glasses to steady their camera – this was after they used my leg as bag support. Yea, I was ticked.

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Despite these – literal – bumps and bruises, I loved the event and the setting. What’s great about Long Beach events is they can last all day but there are many other things to do and see in the area which makes the drive – and relatively cheap parking – worth the day trip.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Far away, close to home…

Needing to feel wind in my hair…

…and wheels under me feet.

Growing up, my family was never one for sitting still. By the time I graduated middle school, I’d already visited four countries and road tripped across the both coasts of the US multiple times. In recent years, I’ve been lucky enough to live in another country, which has granted me access to many quick trips across continents – trips I would never give up.

However, despite all my trips and the others I have been looking forward to do – and trust me there are many – I have quite a longing for hours and hours in a car with good music, a few cartons of junk food, and a good friend (or two).

I haven’t had a proper road trip in about eleven or twelve years – not including the repetitive 6 hour trek up to college and back home. Each of these trips were completely packed with stops – try hitting 1o national parks in the span of 3 days! – and as a 9 to 13 year old (around the time these road trips took place), this means a grumpy back seat.

As one of four girls scattered across a six year age span, this meant a crowded car, constant fights over the radio/CD, early mornings, no breaks, and breakneck speeds between too many stops with too much information to swallow.

Now that I’m older with access to a car that I’m able to drive, I’d love to repeat these stateline crossing adventures, setting my own stops and pace. I’m pretty sure I’d hit some oldies-but-goodies – four corners and Grand Canyon, just two name a couple along my current side of the US.

My father and I have been talking about a short road trip out to the desert and the Death Valley area for a photography road trip.

But until I manage it, here’s to travel-pangs!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar,

Needing to feel wind in my hair…

A world of pictures…

…can be a world of trouble if you aren’t careful.

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An Unidentified Boy in London. Morden Park, London. September 2016.

Recently, I’ve been going over old pictures from my various trips and talking to students about all the places I’ve been lucky enough to travel to. This paired with both national (I’m an American) and global changes has me thinking about the issues of crossing boarders with a camera – especially since most of us carry at least one of them in our pockets at all times: a cellphone.

For most of my life, I’ve barely wanted to be in a picture let alone take travel pictures with people in it, however, in the past year, I’ve traveled a lot by myself, so capturing pictures of other people experiencing the places I’ve visited is growing on me. But with this new passion comes some pretty big complications with everything from laws to ethics to consider.

So let’s start with the law:

My disclaimer here is that I’m talking about photography for personal use, not commercial. For-profit/commercial photography has a whole other set of guidelines which also changes from country to country and deals with everything from copyright to private verses public land and so on.

Anyway, laws can shift from country to country with some surprising results. I’m loving this post by Dave from The Longest Way Home which discusses differences from country to country, however, this was written almost 5 years ago so be aware that some of these may have changed!

More recently – but still 2 years ago – Hungary appeared across media outlets as an example of how laws are changing. Read the article for more information, but the basics come down to people with cameras are suspect and will have issues with the authorities, especially if people in your pictures are identifiable with stricter enforcement if you are a professional (paid) photographer.

In most places (like the US), in public locals, no one has the explicit right nor expectation of privacy. In other words –  with exceptions such as toilets and similar places – if you are in public, people have the right to photograph you and it does not matter the age, station, or situation (within limits) of the subject of the photograph.

Yes, this means that a stranger – or you – may legally take photographs of children while you are out traveling. I mention this explicitly because this is one area that gets the most push back.

And again, this is for non-commercial photography and can change from country to country. If the Hungarian law still stands, for example, you must get expressed permission from anyone who can be identified in your photos, even if you’re only posting them on your own sites for no financial gains.

This leads me to ethics:

Your best bet when judging what pictures you should or shouldn’t be taking is to go with your gut and common sense. If you feel a bit ‘ick’ about taking a photo, especially posting it: don’t do it!

For example, if you are taking pictures and someone either clearly does not want you taking their picture or asks you outright not to photograph something or someone, really consider it (this is different in political, protest, or human rights situations).

Also, think of your location and it’s significance. My biggest pet peeve is watching tourists take pictures in places, like churches, where there are postings explicitly asking for people not to take pictures. We are unfortunately in a era where people don’t think these kinds of signs apply to them or they are so digitally plugged in that they don’t think phones count as cameras – mostly, we’re in an era where people of all ages have little to no impulse control.

My guidelines follow pretty dang closely with most others: if you are shooting young kids, avoid them being truly recognizable from blocked faces or set in locals which hinder recognition. If you feel like you have to sneak a picture, don’t do it. If you wouldn’t post a picture of a person – especially a child – you know personally in this location, don’t post someone else’s. Basic.

Finally, when it comes to taking pictures while traveling, I have two last points: always research what rules and regulations fit for where you are headed, just in case – not everyone let’s the old ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know’ fly; and get your head up every once in a while. While documenting a trip is great, you’ll make a lot of great memories if you look more with your eyes and less with your lenses.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

PS. click photos for captions!

A world of pictures…

Travel Starved….

…and getting through it.

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Chinese Lantern Festival, Los Angeles. March 2016.

This post marks number 108 over the course of three years and, without having any real new travel in the last few months, it is easy to admit that I’m getting more than a little stir crazy being back home – a feeling I know more travelers than not have felt more than once or twice (a year!).

So what can you do? After all, despite what a million pins say on Pintrest, 90%+ of us -especially with college loans – are never going to put enough away to quit our jobs and travel for years at a time.

Well, you can work on your staycation list – or start creating one!

As I’ve said before, most of us that have lived in one place our whole lives haven’t explored much of our local environment, so if you get together the kind of things you want to do or see in places that you don’t live, you’ll probably be able to find an a similar activity closer to home – with a few environmental exceptions of course.

Look at art, science, or history museums, local carnivals and Ren Faires – which are growing in number and theme! – or just different parts of surrounding towns or cities. Push this further by subscribing to your local event sights – they’ll cover everything from art events to fairs – this way you’ll be notified on events all year long!

The key is to just get out and away from the sights (and sometimes the people) you see everyday.

For example, this weekend, we took the metro down to union station for the Chinese Lantern Festival. While this felt a lot more like a local multi-cultural festival than anything else and only lasted a few hours (not quite enough to slake my travel thirst), it was a good way of getting out of my own house and head and explore part of my world I hadn’t seen in a while. It helped.

Another thing to remember is you should try to save what you can do locally for the long haul, and do shorter, far away trips. Maybe you won’t get a month – yet alone a year – exploring temples or forests or beaches in your dream destinations, but you can usually figure something short out. For an added bonus, try to plan for the off season and you’ll get more out of your money with fewer crowds to fight through.

The thing that many of us are guilty of – myself included – is to torture ourselves with images and pins of all the beautiful places in the world we hope to travel to instead of the office/jobs that we are – for lack of a better term – trapped in. For this reason, if you are really traveled starved, I do not recommend pinning travel ideas or images or even reading about others adventures if you aren’t actively working to get yourself on those adventures – be it saving money or staying local.

Whatever it is that you need to do to get over your travel-pining, do it without torturing yourself.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Travel Starved….

A wrap on Paris

Revamping the checklist.

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Paris in Grey. Paris, France. January 2016.

Today while flipping through channels, I stumbled upon the 1995 film, Sabrina. While the sum total of Paris seen in this film comes to about 25 minutes of the two hour film, it is one movie which has cemented itself as my quintessential image of the city. I couldn’t help but sit and watch Julia Ormond wander the familiar Paris streets and think back to all the sites I’ve been able to see and all those that I still hope to explore.

Which brings me to my trip out to Paris last February. After that trip, I made a list of all the things that I wanted to see and do next time I landed in this lovely city.

Just as predicted, this list was a phenomenal way to pick out what I wanted to cover when mom, dad, and I visited the city during my graduation week.

My dad hadn’t been to Paris in about 30 years so while we hit all the key ‘must see’ places – Sacre Coeur, Eiffle Tower (which I got to the top of this time), Notre Dame (which I also got to climb up and all over) and the Arc de Triomphe – I also got to cross a few of my own off the list.

The Musee Jacquemart-Andre is one of the museums feature in Audrey Hepburn’s How to Steal a Million. While I really wanted to run through the outer courtyard featured in the film, my parents and I were so happy with this stop. The museum is a converted mansion home which houses the old owners collection of art. Walking around this lavish house was amazing and I loved the final section where all the portraits were painted by the lady of the house. Again, a great experience: quick and inexpensive.

The Paris catacombs was just as amazing the second time around. After walking through again, I have one piece of advice: go quickly (meaning now, not rush through the site) and behave yourself. Despite the rigorous patrolling, this walk through showed that not all the bones – especially those in the design features – are holding up. So, if you can go in, do it before they either stop general walk throughs or it’s beyond recognition.

When it comes to the Moulin Rouge, I guess the third time is the charm. A few things you’ll need to know if you are going to the show is the dress code which includes no jeans or street shoes. They seem to be a bit lax in the non-peak seasons, but not following these guidelines could keep you out of the show despite having paid for tickets. You’ll also want to arrive early – more than you’d think. We arrived just before the suggested entry time and were pretty far back in the theatre. Seating is first come, first seated, so early is better.

So what’s left to see?

I want to finally manage a river walk along the Seine. I love river walks and, bringing back the Sabrina reference, this walk will give a new kind of perspective of this city.

And if you’ve watched the past two seasons of Vikings, you’ll know that we’ve covered the siege of Paris as well as the beginning of Rolo’s time living in the city. Seeing how vital the river and its surrounding area where in these events, I’m (still!) desperate to see the city with this in mind.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to travel back alone (or with companions willing to stick to my schedule) to do this bit of my wish list unencumbered as well as hit other French cities – I loved Lyon and Normandy so I’m thrilled to see what else this country has to offer!

But until I make it back, I’ll just have to keep planning and traveling along.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

A wrap on Paris