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?


The Grape White Way: Broadway in the Sonoma Vineyards

The Grape White Way: Broadway in Sonoma

Romantic nights evey summer in Jack London State Park in the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma County, California. The Transcendence Theatre Company, comprised of many Broadway veterans, has made the park home for the summer, singing and hoofing every weekend through September 1. The stage is in the ruins of an old winery on author Jack London’s property, next to the cottage in which he wrote. The California State Legislature slashed funds and the park was threatened with closure, but locals formed a group to save and manage it.

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.

The Filoli Gardens

This place makes me happy.

Filoli is a US National Historical Trust site and a California State Historic Landmark. Located south of San Francisco, it is considered one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century and is known for its magnificent but peaceful gardens, with some 500 types of roses and 200 kinds of camelias. While the valleys of Sonoma and Napa are famous for wine tasting, Filoli has apple and pear tastings and offers such civilized activities as flower shows with tea. Mostly, it is a place to lose yourself in beauty.

Filoli is NOT an Italian name. It is an acronym for the motto of its builder, gold magnate William Bowers Bourne. Filoli means “Fight for a just cause. Love your fellow man. Live a good life.” He did.

Filoli is open to the public.


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