College, Montana, Musings, Photography, Small Town Things

This morning, and other observations.

001_24A 002_23A 003_22A 004_21AI walked my co-worker’s dog at a way too early hour this morning- I was out until 2 am last night, and surrounded by way too many people I never wanted to see again. My only comfort came in the form of a few greyhounds.

This morning, the inversion in town made everything look misty. The light was gorgeous and glowing. Unfortunately for some reason my SLR camera decided to not give me the crisp focus I desperately wanted. I crunched through the snow and finished the roll of film, and enjoyed my time alone. I didn’t see a soul for the whole hour I spent tramping around, and that sort of total isolation was oddly serene.

I then spent the day reading in the Starbucks- I’m currently reading The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro- it’s riveting, and as an Art History major I love the spin of history with fiction, and how the author describes forging a painting and the intricacies of art (plus NPR recommended it).  I’m also reading Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut- I attempted to read his things this summer but didn’t commit enough, and I feel less flighty now. Another novel I’m currently perusing, Priceless by Marne Davis Kellogg, describes the world of an anti-heroine jewel thief in rich, visual detail.

Afterwards, I thrifted a vintage scalloped-mink-fur collared black silk cardigan, an extraordinary find that I was surprised by. I almost thrifted a gorgeous strapless blue and white lace party dress but it was floor length and reeked of a Cinderella-y vibe to the point that I wondered if it came with white gloves. I’ll be damned if it didn’t make my neck look longer and my pale shoulders nice, though.

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Adventures, College, Exploring, Montana, Photography, Small Town Things

A quiet source of inspiration.

I forget that there’s a mountain in the middle of my home town. It sits in a corner of the city, rather rotund, not ominous in the least- just there. Mount Helena is an omnipresent part of the landscape, a token rise in elevation, a constant in my view of the city. Apparently, it has so much presence I take it for granted and forget to reconnect.

While I spent a good deal of the summer running on the lower trails, many of them unmarked social trails, I had not actually made it to the top of Mount Helena in years. Literally. I can count the number of times I’ve made it to the top on one of my hands. Feel free to send me mental waves of shame.

Well, it just increased by one more. After a casual suggestion that I didn’t take seriously enough, AK and I set off walking towards the mountain, through downtown, past locked doors and dark stores. While he was wearing entirely appropriate clothing- Goretex shoes with treads, waterproof gloves, two layers of practical jackets, and pants- I wore leather boots with no treads, a red wool pea coat (another possible post- why is it called a pea coat?!), cashmere/wool gloves with a few holes and no waterproofing capabilities, and a leather bag to hold my camera. I looked, quite frankly, like a moron. Or somebody from out of town. (To be fair, I hadn’t packed boots, actual pants, gloves, or any sort of practical coat for the weekend.)

I went first. It was probably best- I didn’t have to match a pace, but was rather able to set it. A hobbled pace, to be sure- the boots were very good at keeping away water, but terrible at making me feel like I could stand up and stay on the trail. I slipped, slid, and had to engage in all manner of balancing moves that made me feel more like an amateur trapeze artist than a walker of mountain trails. (Note to self: Toss hiking boots in the car, you may need them in the future). I led us down a trail that was entirely erroneous (my apologies!) for a bit, too, to add to the utter ridiculousness.

The top was rocky and icy. A 360 degree vista of trees, valleys, faraway hills and mountains made my breath catch in my throat for a few moments. I have resented this landscape, felt violated by the isolation, and have loathed Helena as a backwater town of little to offer. Little by little I forgive this town, realizing that these feelings of hate are ill-placed. When I can see for miles on the top of a long-neglected mountain with a worthwhile human being and breath the crisp air and feel more vital than I have in a long time, things are clarified, life is simplified, and my caustic feelings turn less acidic.

As we descended, AK led us through drifts where the wind erased the trail for some yards, led us back down the mountain, and occasionally turned around to wait for me when my shrieks and curses for fear of falling grew too common. In the end, we hopped a fence and got hot food, a good afternoon spent outside in my own little-traveled backyard.

Here’s the path we walked, courtesy of AK’s smart phone:  https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=208866538666354606641.0004ce418d59a12300060

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College, Food, Montana, Small Town Things

Food and thoughts. Or, if we want to go cliche, food for thought. You choose.

 

 

What does it say that I’m super sensitive to spicy food but always find myself being with the people who love the hottest food possible? (I’m trying to eat more spice to get myself used to it!)

Seriously, though.

This weekend was mediocre pie with somebody not mediocre in any way, La Tinga and sharing our space with a bitter Michigander whose presence I found quite humorous, and Sunday morning donuts worth drooling over for a pittance.

Just so you know, writing a check for $4.50 for six donuts doesn’t make people, specifically older already feisty men, very happy. In case you were wondering.

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Adventures, College, Montana, Photography

I hate gin! Or, Hanging Valley, the hike that ended up being ridiculously hard.

First, let me preface this by saying that I’m in decent shape. Not GREAT shape, but I hike and walk and run and all that healthy stuff.

Ahem. Anyway, Kristin and I had been wanting to hike Hanging Valley for awhile- since about June, in fact. We got up there at about 9:30 this morning after getting bagels, and we promptly found a trail that wasn’t really a trail. Eventually finding the RIGHT trail, we marched. Uphill. A lot.

Hanging Valley is a round trip of 12 miles through dry timber. There is not a lot of gorgeous scenery, and the trail is mostly steeply uphill for the first two miles. For us, it was also really hot- we were literally dripping sweat after about 15 minutes because of the temperature.

Basically, the combination of steep grade, temperature, and our lack of enthusiasm for the less-than-spectacular scenery led to us only making 6 of those 12 miles. The end of Hanging Valley supposedly leads to a 300 foot drop off with views that are breathtaking, but we didn’t hold our breath to find out.

So, if you are in the mood for some serious 12 miles of hiking, go for it!  If you’re like us, you might just reconsider…after all, 200 meters down the road is the Trout Creek Trail. Our code phrase for turning around was, “I HATE GIN!”, which we both exclaimed after reaching a point that was dry and depressing.

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Adventures, Americana, College, Photography

Summer: Beginning

 

 

Summer is officially here. After winning a 3.86 GPA this semester, and beginning work full time next week, summer seems to hardly be staying with me at all, though!

I’ve been reading Nabokov, Heller, and taking lots of photographs downtown. Meghan left for D.C. yesterday, and Wednesday she and Jackson had a barbecue, complete with potato salad, chips, brownies, cookies, burgers and hot dogs.  I drove down for the day to pick up parking permits and do nothing at all. We drank mimosas, lounged on chairs outdoors, fended off wasps and played various backyard games. The day was almost as perfect as one could hope for.

Bower, the skittish cat, made a few cameos. Mark performed card tricks that left everybody mind boggled. Shelby and Jake didn’t stay long, just long enough to eat food and lament their early departures. We all discussed nothing and everything, and when the sun started dipping low, I hopped back into the car and departed. The 1.5 hour drive yielded some of the most gorgeous clouds I have ever witnessed.

Lately I’ve been running in the evening with Kristin, which has been beyond magnificent. I missed running, and my body is getting back into the rhythm beautifully. It’s like it was just hibernating. I find running to be a total release from everything stressful or confusing, and it smooths out the wrinkles in my life better than most things.

Anyway, enjoy some photographs from my life recently!

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Adventures, Black and White, College, Food, Montana, Photography

An enormous photograph post with not much text.

Self explanatory. I am at a loss for words right now, my mind is so full of various thoughts that pulling them out in some semblance of order feels to be a monstrous task at the moment.

So, instead, consume some visual evidence from the events in my life.

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Black and White, College, Favorite things, Food, Montana, Photography

Food lately

Target was closed on Easter, or you would have seen these much earlier! (That means about 30 something hours sooner). I’m still so pleased with how the f/1.4 lens is making everything seem! I guess I’m in the honeymoon stage with a camera lens- oops.

Emily and I went to Cafe Zydeco, a Cajun food place off Main Street, and it was delicious! Nova Cafe with Kristin was perfect, per usual, except this time I didn’t gorge myself! I got a nice, normal sizes meal (le sigh)- normally I leave feeling like I could sleep for hours with a full stomach.

There was snow this weekend, but it quickly melted. I’ll post photographs sometime later. It’s Montana, it’s April, but snow keep showing up, unwanted. Like that party guest who comes and drinks all your liquor and then disappears and shows up sporadically.

Anyway, back to the point of this post: FOOD!

Alright, so I’m in love with food in a way that I haven’t encountered in a whole lot of other people. To me, it’s a gorgeous creation that I couldn’t imagine not having in my life. I love photographing it and eating it, savoring the image later to rekindle how good the meal tasted. Good food is something to be savored.

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College, Food, Montana, Photography

The f/1.4 lens makes a debut!

Okay, guys. I’m excited.

So the photographs I’m posting aren’t my favorites, but the focus of the 1.4 lens is SO awesome that it makes them automatically more fun! I like how it’s soft and crisp at the same time. Plus, it lets it so much more light, and I hate using artificial flash!

When my parents gave it to me, I took of my 50mm f/1.8 and compared it to the f/1.4, and showed them how much more LIGHT will be let it, and I got super ridiculously loud and happy about it. In a public place. Oops.

I’ve got another roll almost ready, and I’m finally starting to get the hang of focusing with the lens, so perhaps the next roll will be a little more awesome, but here are some photographs from the first roll with this beautiful new addition to my lens collection!

Someday I’ll take pictures of all of the lenses I own and give a visual catalog. Some of them are quite lovely! This is my current favorite though.

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College, Europe, Exploring, Favorite things, Lugano, Photography, Switzerland

I miss this city.

 

Lugano, Switzerland. A paradiso among the Svizzera landscape, a gem among the glinting, often snow-capped mountains.

Placed on the Italian border, this gorgeous city has broken my heart time and time again. It is almost a year since I left, and thinking about this place makes me so happy and yet so sad.

Leaving a place so beautiful, so multi-faceted, and so full of life is not an easy thing to do. When this place has the best friends you’ve ever known, it gets harder. I have cried so many times over missing Switzerland, and my heart still bears bruises somewhere, but they’ve backed off to become a dull thud. They’ll always be there.

Now, Bozeman is blooming. Montana has the same crisp feeling as Switzerland, and a similiar landscape close to the Rockies. I look at the peaks nearby and if I don’t look at the landscape below I leave this English speaking place for a bit and return to a place that felt pretty damn amazing.

I took these photographs almost exactly a year ago for a project to document the streets and the people. The results were gorgeous- and still are.

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Adventures, Americana, Cameras, College, Montana, Photography

Primavera in several forms.

The last few days have been busy with mostly unimportant things like reading about World War II, sun bathing, eating food food, and enjoying being 21, which hasn’t been super exciting but is freeing at the same time.

My photographs will be improving soon, though, as a result of the f/1.4 50mm lens my parents got me for my birthday! I opened it this morning at my favorite breakfast place in Bozeman, the Nova, and am SO excited to shoot with it and experience the gorgeous focus and diffusion! WOO!

Anyway, here are some photographs from my 50mm 1.8 lens of yesterday and some of the days before.

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Americana, College, Hilarity, Montana, Photography

If only you’d been there.

Montana weather is notoriously fickle. One moment the sun is shining, the next it’s raining, then it’s hailing, or sometimes Nature even skips the rain and hail and just blizzards out of nowhere.

Well, that’s what happened. I drove home Sunday afternoon into a clear Bozeman. I woke up to a good 8 inches of snow, and there were 4 more inches on top of that by noon. WHAT?! Then, by 3, it got up to about 40 degrees and began melting. Tuesday and Wednesday were warm, about 50 and 60 degrees, respectively, and the snow created huge mud puddles and quagmires everywhere! By Thursday Meghan and I went downtown and got warm enough to stop in the Chocolate Moose (pun, get it?) for a root beer float and a chocolate milkshake.

While we were sipping the refreshments, I was waving my camera around, and this guy who looks rather vagrant-y stops, stands, and says, “Hey, did you take my picture?”

I immediately tell him no, but then he repeats himself- “Hey, would you take my picture?”

Ohhhh, that’s what he was asking. He introduces himself as “Sam, the most produced songwriter in the world!”

I say, “Sure!”, set the focus, and tell him, “One, two…”

“ORGASM!” Sam says as the shutter clicks. Then, Sam the Most Produced Songwriter in the World walks off into the sunny Bozeman midday.

Sadly, his photograph didn’t turn out…it was the end of the roll. :(

Anyway, here are the photographs from this last week. Just living the dream- school, walks, sunshine, snow, blizzards, and surprises.

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Adventures, Americana, College, Exploring, Favorite things, Food, Inspiration, Photography

Food photographs: Seattle Edition

I live to eat. I do not eat to live. Food is a passion, a way of life, and frankly, a big deal. I also tend to photograph food constantly, to the chagrin of my friends and family. They have  accepted that at some point during our meals a bulky Olympus OM-20 will make an appearance and begin snapping away at everybody’s food- sometimes with flash!

The food in Seattle was great. I had never properly wandered through every crevice of the Pike Place Market, touristy though it may seem, and we found a great crepe place hidden in the back! My childhood friend Ariel also took us to Michou, right on the Market, where we had great deli-style sandwiches. She works for a really cool company right downtown, and although it was a cold, blustery walk, it was entirely worth it!

I also photographed the food stalls a lot. I couldn’t help myself! Blood oranges, snap peas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries- how could one not? I find that photographing food also makes me appreciate my meals more. I go back and just say, “Ahhh, wasn’t _____ marvelous?” (Insert photographed meal in blank space). 

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Adventures, Americana, College, Exploring, Food, Montana, Photography, Small Town Things

The wide angles. And cheese.

 

A few months ago my friend Julia’s parents approached me, asking me if I wanted a few old Olympus OM series lenses, as a photographer relative of theirs left them a number of them. They had old Canon SLRs and bodies, but no Olympus body, and kindly gave me five beautiful lenses!

Two wide angle lenses, a shift lens, an enormous zoom lens, and a basic zoom lens later, I was stuck trying to figure out which was my favorite!

I find myself using the Tamron 17mm wide-angle lens a lot, because:

a) It looks awesome on the Olympus body- a lot more legitimate than my usual 50mm f/1.8

b) It is supremely wide-angle and warps everything.

However, the focusing is rather tricky, and I find myself taking quite a while until I finish a roll of film with that lens.

I really like photographing orderly thinks like grocery store aisles, and with the wide-angle lens I have a lot of fun doing that. As you can tell by my photograph of the cheese section of a local convenience store.

Mmmm, cheese.

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College, Europe, Exploring, Lugano, Nostalgia, Photography, Switzerland

Scanned photographs from my first semester in Lugano!

I can’t believe these came up in an old box I found- I brought a few rolls of film with me, and I need to scan them in. Unfortunately, the scanner here at school is terrible, but it gave these a weird grain that I sort of like.

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