A Week Without Instagram: Travel Photography the Old Way

ROCKPORT, MAINE – (c)  Russell JohnsonA Week at the Maine Media Workshops

To someone who shoots pictures while traveling, a week without a mobile phone cam, Instagram or Photoshop is like crossing the River Styxx. I admit to a certain amount of dependence on Photoshop’s “content aware tool,” which can magically erase power poles and tourists in paisley pants. And as much as I gripe about a feature called HDR (high dynamic range), which can turn normal landscapes into surreal scenes from Lord of the Rings, I still sometimes use it when my Mother Nature doesn’t oblige with the right light.

Will I survive five days without these digital wonders? Just me and my camera?

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Photo: Sebastapol, California 4th of July

4th of July, Sebastapol, CAPhoto (c) 2012 Russell Johnson

If you grew up in the mid-century US as I did, a hot summer afternoon meant a Dairy Queen or Foster’s Freeze soft serve ice milk cone dipped in chocolate. The Dairy Queen across from my elementary school in Minneapolis is still there. Now, on a hot day, I fire up my GPS and go miles out of my way to get in my licks. I found this Foster’s Freeze last weekend in Sebastapol, California. The flag is for real, hanging on a 4th of July fireworks stand.

Solar Eclipse 2012: Ganesha

Eclipse 2012 Ganesha

The symbolism is India: Hindu and Islamic, but the scene is the wall of my house in Sonoma, California. The patterns are cast by a lattice fence during the 2012 Solar Eclipse. The Ganesha was carved for me by a villager in Changu Narayan, Nepal. A friend of mine, a UN official there, gave the man money out of his own pocket to start a crafts business.

Getting Out Of Vegas: The Valley of Fire

“Get out of Dodge” is a line from the 50s TV Western Gunsmoke in which Marshal Dillon admonishes ne’er-do-wells to high-tail it out of Dodge City Kansas. The Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada is hardly Kansas, although Dorothy would be quite pleased with its yellow rock roads. The Valley of Fire is the perfect place to go to get out that outlaw town Las Vegas, as we did during the chaos of Consumer Electronics Show.

CES attracted some 150 thousand people and completely transformed Sin City. A restaurant manager friend tells us that the nerds don’t spend any money on dinners and luxuries, they get hammered on beer and attempt to engage the local professionals, and we don’t mean Real Estate Professionals.  But Las Vegas is ringed by some spectacular places, such as the Valley of Fire, a Nevada State Park, where my wife and I spent the day without connectivity, meditating upon a total absence of technology.

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