Asia Trip 2013

So 2014 has been pretty busy for me so far and i haven’t had much free time to post about the rest of my 2013 travels. I wanted to create a separate post for each leg of our Asia journey, but instead I’ll just put it all together in one post.

After only three nights of rest back in Atlanta, we packed up our stuff once again and headed out to Singapore via Tokyo. We spent one night near Narita airport and arrived in Singapore the following day. It was ridiculously hot there and we spent three days sweating as we explored the city. We easily could have spent a week there and it still might not have been enough. 

Our next stop was Phuket. I had always wanted to see the beaches of Thailand, so I was very pumped about this part of the trip. We stayed at the Twinpalms resort, which was absolutely stunning. The service was on par with the InterContinental Bora Bora, but the prices were only a fraction. Phuket was so nice and relaxing, and we even took a boat trip through the Phi Phi Islands to Maya Bay where “The Beach” was filmed. Lots of tourists, but still an amazing paradise.

After Phuket, we took a short flight over to Bangkok, where we stayed at the Sofitel So, another beautiful hotel with top-level service. I never knew Bangkok was such an insanely large city. And the traffic is absurd. Makes me never want to complain about Atlanta traffic ever again. We spent three nights in Bangkok and had a chance to visit the Damnoen Saduak floating market. Simply awesome. We also spent some time walking the grounds of the Grand Palace and exploring the incredible artwork and architecture. 

Our final stop before heading back to Japan was Hong Kong. I remember my mom telling me stories about her visit to Hong Kong when I was little. Ever since, I wanted to see the city and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to do it. The food. The views. Such a kickass city. I definitely want to go back and dig deeper into the heart of Hong Kong.

So I finally got a chance to see Asia outside of Japan, and while I loved loved loved every single one of these cities, my heart will always live in Japan and after these two weeks I was so ready to get back to Tokyo. And because I love Japan so much (and because we spent two whole weeks there), I will put up a separate post just about our trip to Tokyo and Kyoto. Yes, I know I’m being biased.

Euro Trip 2013, Part 2: Geneva

The next stop on our trip was Geneva. I had never been there before, and our friend Francois lives there, so we had a chance to meet up with him for a bit. He drove us to the top of Salève, which is a mountain that overlooks the city. Unfortunately, it was really hazy that evening and the view was pretty limited.

We spent another day walking around the city and taking in the sights. It’s a beautiful city… almost like a cleaner, smaller version of Paris tucked away at the base of the Swiss Alps. The water in Lake Geneva has a gorgeous aquamarine hue to it and everything feels so fresh. It was definitely a nice teaser for what was to come: one week of village-hopping in the Alps.









(To read Part 1 of our Euro Trip 2013, click on Archive at the top of the page.)

Spring Snow in Lithuania

Back again to Lithuania for two weeks. I’ve been wanting to go during the winter to see Vilnius covered with a blanket of snow, but I’ve also been warned about the ridiculously frigid temperatures. But I got very lucky with this trip. Apparently, the weather had been pretty nice just before we arrived. A few days after we got there, a big snowstorm came rolling through and dumped about 4-5 inches on us. And all this without any crazy minus temps.

We actually got a small little dusting of snow a few days before the bigger storm came through. This photo was taken in the backyard of Inna’s mom’s house in Lentvaris, just outside of Vilnius.

The day of the snowstorm, we were running about Vilnius taking care of some errands. The snow started getting pretty heavy, so we headed home. I got these shots in the small town of Lentvaris.

It snowed all night and I really wanted to go down to Vilnius to take some shots of the city, so we headed down there in the morning. Unfortunately, since it was kind of a warmer spring snow, it didn’t stick all that well and melted fairly quickly when the sun broke out. But we still got to walk around Vilnius for a few hours, including a trip to the top of Gediminas Tower to get some nice views.
On our way home, we stopped by Trakai, which is another small town outside of Vilnius. It’s famous for its lakes and the Trakai Island Castle. A lot of the snow had already melted by this time, but it was still a beautiful sight.

I’m really glad I got to see Lithuania with some snow this time. I’m even happier that it wasn’t minus 20 degrees!

Now, it’s off to Vegas next week to get married. I’m sure I’ll have something to post after that trip!

Three Days in NYC

I’ve been wanting to get back to New York for a while now, and we recently had a nice opportunity to go, so we spent a few days up there. We left last Wednesday and spent three nights at the wonderful little Ink48 hotel. 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous the day we arrived. I really wanted to watch the sunset from under the Brooklyn Bridge, so we headed over there about an hour before it went down. We stayed there for a while and then walked across the bridge once it got dark. The wind completely died down and it was amazing. I’ve never walked across it before and it blew my mind. It was so beautiful up there. 





Starving, we made our way down to Chinatown and had some late night dumplings at the Wonton Garden. 

The next morning, we went up to the top of Rockefeller Center. The visibility wasn’t that great, but it was still an awesome view and I got a nice shot of foggy Manhattan. 


Afterwards, we had lunch at Rock Center Cafe and then watched some ice skating. 


We spent the rest of the afternoon just aimlessly wandering and doing a little shopping. We made our way over to Yakitori Totto, which is my favorite restaurant in NYC. It’s an authentic Japanese yakitori joint and the food is amazing. However, it’s tiny and if you don’t get there early enough, you’ll definitely be waiting for a bit.

The next day, we strolled through Central Park and hit up Rockefeller again for an attempt at a sunset shot. But the visibility was horrible and you could barely even see the Empire State Building. We watched all the high school kids ice skating for a bit before heading back to our hotel to meet a friend for some drinks. Ink48 has an awesome rooftop lounge with one of the best unobstructed views of Manhattan. 


Our last day was St. Patty’s Day. Of course, we wanted to check out the parade, so we walked over to 5th Ave, but there were so many people we could hardly see anything. Got some street food for lunch and found a spot in Times Square to eat and chill for a while. It was definitely a strange experience that day. We really felt like we were thrown into a Jersey Shore episode. I didn’t think those people really existed in such numbers, but there was a green Snookie on every corner. Scary stuff.



After our interesting Jersey-leprechaun experience, we cabbed it to LaGuardia and caught our flight back home. When boarding the flight, I asked our captain if he would allow me to shoot a time-lapse out my window from gate to gate. He was totally cool with it, so I used my Gorillapod and propped it up on the armrest. Didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but I will probably edit it and post it soon anyways. 

All in all, had a wonderful trip to NYC. Love that place and hope to go back again this winter!

A Weekend in The Great Smokies

Last weekend, we took a short road trip from Atlanta up to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Some friends of ours invited us up to a cabin overlooking the Smoky Mountains, so we spent the weekend up there exploring the scenery, grilling out, and drinking some bacon vodka

Normally, the drive to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is just over four hours, but we opted for the scenic route on 441 that took us straight through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and got us there in about six hours. It’s a gorgeous drive and I highly recommend it, opposed to the highway route through Knoxville. We stopped about four or five times to check out the views, which is why it took us an extra two hours or so. 

We had a short but fun hike to Laurel Falls one day and got about a half-day of skiing in on another. And by “skiing,” I mean standing off to the side watching crazy out-of-control people flying down the slopes screaming “I… can’t… stoooopp!!” Definitely not the kind of skiing I’m used to after having lived in Colorado for seven years. Man, these people do not know how to ski up there!

It was a short weekend, but we had a great time just relaxing in a beautiful cabin. If you haven’t been to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, I definitely recommend it. Lots of fun up there!

Oh, and sorry to all those other cabins around us for practicing our Bigfoot calls all night long. Hope we didn’t keep you awake. 

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Weekend in Paradise

Inna and I have made trips to the Bahamas for two years in a row, including an engagement trip just about a year ago. And with my mom’s birthday being yesterday, we decided to bring her along this time for a birthday present, making this our third year in a row to Paradise Island.

We flew in direct from Atlanta on Friday morning and strolled around the property a bit, checking out the beautiful aquarium they have. We then walked down to the beach for a while and then, of course, headed to the casino where we proceeded to get our arses kicked.

We really didn’t do a whole lot while we were down there. Just ate, gambled, and hit the beach. Had some crappy weather on Saturday, but Sunday was gorgeous and we got lucky with a beautiful sunset. 

I really love this place. If you can get down there, do it. The property is enormous and beautiful, and despite being cut off from the main land, there’s actually quite a bit to do there. It’s a great place to visit, whether you have kids or not. 

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One Week in Munich

Earlier this month, Inna had to travel to Munich for a few days for some meetings, so we decided to make it a week-long excursion and I would tag along, exploring the city while she was stuck in offices all day. Fair trade, no?

We departed Atlanta on a Saturday evening and arrived in Munich on Sunday. We spent the first couple of days wandering around the city, taking in some sights and consuming lots of wienerschnitzel and sausages. And beer. Big, blisfful steins of beer. 

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After spending the day checking out the castle and the village below, we made our way back to Munich and took a flight home first thing in the morning. It had been a while since my last trip to Germany, but I was reminded once again why I love that country so much. You can’t go wrong with the food, the city of Munich itself is gorgeous and historical (like anywhere else in Europe), and the people were incredibly kind. It’s definitely a city we could see ourselves living in and hopefully we’ll make our way back there soon.

London, Amsterdam, Paris, & Vilnius via iPhone

On May 24th, we set out to Lithuania to set up home base for about three months. From there, we’ve decided to take some side trips to travel parts of Europe. Our first side trip took us to London, Amsterdam, then train to Paris and back to Vilnius. We just booked a week-long excursion to Greece and we’re currently trying to plan a Scandinavian trip as well. 

These are just some random shots taken with my iPhone over the last few weeks, in chronological order. 

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Behind the scenes of my time-lapse video, "Destination"

I’ve played around with time-lapse in the past, but I’ve never put together an entire video. So while I was in Destin, Florida for a few weeks, I decided to give it a go. 


Shooting the time-lapse itself was a blast. I decided to make it a tilt shift video, so it was fun to try and find subjects to shoot that might look good as miniatures. Unfortunately, some of the angles weren’t ideal for tilt shift, and some of the shots were too close up to the people, so they didn’t quite look as miniature as I wanted. 

I think my favorite shots are the single anchored boat and the woman sitting by herself on the pier. That lady looked a little down, and she definitely had some things on her mind, so it was kind of interesting to watch her sitting there. 

In all, I think I had about 13,000 stills that I took that day. Obviously, I didn’t use a lot of them for this video. Some had horrible flickering issues, some had bad angles, and others just didn’t make for good tilt shift shots. Speaking of which, the sequences from the boat ride were also some of my favorite, but obviously were not tilt shift. I ended up taking a shot every second, not knowing how long it was going to take us to get to our destination, but it ended up being way too many shots. So I had to set the time lapse for 30fps and I still ended up cutting out about 75% of that entire boat ride. 

The flickering was my biggest issue while editing this in post. I couldn’t figure out a good way to solve this issue, and after reading a ton of tutorials and reviews on deflicker plug-ins, I came across a solution. It wasn’t the quickest way to solve this problem, but it did help a lot. A gentleman named Chris on the forum wrote up a Photoshop script. I tried it out and it worked pretty well for most of my sequences with flicker, but not all. However, I will say that I probably didn’t use it to its fullest potential, so it may work even better than it did for me (I was in a rush because I wanted to get this done before I left Atlanta for three months to go to Europe). So here’s a link to the thread with the deflicker script. Make sure you read the entire thread because there are multiple versions of this script available for download, each one an improvement on the previous one. 

At any rate, I had a blast making this video. I know I probably missed some steps somewhere, either while shooting or in post, but I’m planning on doing a lot of these in the future, so hopefully I’ll become more efficient and put out better quality in the end. I hope you guys enjoy this one and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions on how I could’ve done something better. Thanks for watching!

(By the way, the gallery above are frame grabs from the video itself, so apologies for the quality. The uncompressed still shots were actually pretty nice.)

Three weeks at the beach

Inna and I are down in Destin, Florida for the next three weeks, just livin’ the life. I’m planning on using this trip to hone some time-lapse skills before our trip to Lithuania in May. In the meantime, here are a few random photos from the last few days. 

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