2015 Photo Project: Vegas Edition

April’s theme is architecture, and, lucky for me, we hit up a hotspot for cool buildings earlier this month. All of these photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S4. Welcome to Vegas!

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The next three photos are from the Aria hotel, which had a ton of beautiful features.

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Can’t get out of Vegas without at least one shot of the replica Eiffel Tower (can’t wait to get a shot of the real thing in October!!).

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Some sweet stained glass windows in the lobby of the Excalibur.

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The Bellagio is such a gorgeous building, especially against that insaaaane blue sky.

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I had fun taking a few shots through the windows in the Bellagio. I liked this one the best.

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Caesar’s Palace. Gotta love a good column.

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Bellagio at dusk.

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The Cosmopolitan. I love the juxtaposition between the ultra-modern Cosmopolitan and the more old-world sophistication of the Bellagio right beside it.

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The Mob Museum! Such a cool experience. You should go.

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Check out the full project here. I can’t believe my 2015 photo project is almost 1/3 over! Where is 2015 running off to?!

2015 Photo Project: Vegas Edition

Snapshots: Zion National Park

My favorite thing that we did in Vegas was actually the thing that took us furthest from the Strip and all its craziness: we rented a car and drove the 2.5 hours to Zion National Park. And it. was. amazing. I had no idea what to expect. Bryan was really gungho about the idea and orchestrated everything, including getting up early on the day and taking a cab to the airport to pick up our rental car, as well as returning it amidst the chaotic traffic on the Strip later on (my hero). I was basically tagging along because he was so into it.

But oh God, this place was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It reminded me of the mountains, but not. Everything was so red. Even the road. The asphalt throughout the park was stained red from all the rock dust, I guess, and I thought that was so cool. Every twist in the road brought some new thing to take our breath away.

We decided to do the Canyon Overlook hike, which is a really easy, one mile round-trip hike with incredible views at the end. It took us almost two hours because we stopped every five feet or so to take pictures, and I don’t regret a minute of it. We got a bit lost trying to find it, which is quite the feat, since there is literally only one road to follow, but we eventually made it there. I tried to cull these down but just couldn’t decide on any to cut, so here, you get to enjoy them all. 🙂

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Snapshots: Zion National Park

2015 Photo Project: I Didn’t Completely Fail at March

I failed a lot less than I thought, actually, so that’s nice.

I didn’t manage to get a photo of the river valley from my usual spot, so the super grainy, low quality snap I got from the other side will have to suffice for this month. I did, however, manage to get a decent portrait of Bryan, as well as 25 of the 31 photos I aimed for. Considering how uninspired I felt by this theme, and how difficult I thought it was, I ended up with a lot more photos than I thought I had. Go me.

So here are the last of March’s pictures, and good riddance to this theme. Onwards and upwards to April: architecture.

All photos for March (except Bryan’s portrait) were taken on my Samsung Galaxy S4 and edited with VSCOcam.

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ISO 400  ||  28 mm at f/5.0  ||  1/6 

Find the whole project here. Which was your favorite from this month? Share your thoughts and whatever projects you have been working on in the comments.

2015 Photo Project: I Didn’t Completely Fail at March

2015 Photo Project: March Has Been a Slow Month

I am so very far behind on March’s theme (letters and numbers). Oh well, chalk it up to spring fever, depression, and my current inability to focus on anything.

Here is what I’ve got so far! All of these were taken on my Samsung Galaxy S4 and edited in VSCOcam.

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River Valley shot, from a different angle:

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I am not finding this theme particularly inspiring. I will be glad when I am on to April!

 

2015 Photo Project: March Has Been a Slow Month

Short Story: On a Beach Far, Far Away

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The beach. Sundown. A cool breeze lifting my hair. A tight pain in my chest, the twisting ache of nostalgia. Worse yet, nostalgia for that which has not yet passed.

A hundred yards down the beach, firelight flickers, shadows dance, laughter echoes. It touches me, but barely, like a ghost trying to make contact through the veil. I am here, but I am removed, hugging the edges. They have all submerged themselves completely, and I just can’t. I hug my sweatshirt tighter around me, let the ocean nip, playful, at my toes. The heavy crash of distant waves is a comforting infinity, endlessly repeating itself, never tiring.

Stars scatter overhead, a goddamn cliche, but they’re so bright and close I could lick them like rock candy. In the city, you sometimes forget that they exist at all, but out here, they are the prima ballerinas, en pointe at centre stage. I suddenly don’t ever want to go home.

I have known this time was coming. It is why I’m not at the bonfire, drinking and dancing and laughing. It’s why the romantic spark between Peter and I fizzled almost immediately. It’s why I feel sick to my stomach and currently contemplating wading into the waves and allowing them to pull me away from shore, to join them in their tireless, rhythmic eternity.

Tomorrow, this all ends, and I must return to my real life.

But I am different now; I am deeper, I am more fully human, more fully me, more fully awake than I’ve been in my life, and I don’t know how that fits in back home with the soulless 9-5s and the desperate, scrabbling consumerism. The well-worn path that I am expected to trod now that I’ve “got all this out of my system” – my mother’s words, not mine. I’m petrified that I will be sucked right back in without much of a fight, and I’ll wake up twenty years from now to find that the grandest, riskiest adventure of my life amounted to nothing. Meant nothing.

The tears threaten. Strains of garbled song drift on the breeze; I curse myself for the sentimentality that is causing me to mourn for this night before it has died, to weep for it rather than embrace it. I try to drag myself out of the malaise but it is like swimming against a rip current. I stop.

A distant light glimmers on the horizon. A boat way out there, reminding the world that they are alive. I wonder how long they’ve been out there, if it’s a cruise ship or a fishing vessel. If they miss their families.

The crunch of feet on wet sand, then a shoulder brushes mine. “Deep thoughts?”

I manage to dredge up a smile from somewhere. “Deep and meaningful.”

Peter sprawls out on the sand next to me. Tall, gangly, not particularly beautiful, he carries himself with a kind of grace and good humour that immediately drew me to him. The tattoos don’t hurt, either. I’ve always been a sucker for a man with some ink.

His eyes glitter in the dark, bright with alcohol and the hint of ‘this could be our one last chance.’ Things have been cool between us since that night in Belize. Not hostile, just lacking in the warmth and security that I had grown accustomed to between us.

I open my mouth to speak several times but can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound trite and insincere, so I opt for silence. Peter’s eyes are closed, his arms folded behind his head. I think he’s fallen asleep until –

“You’re missing the party, you know.”

“I know.”

“Don’t do this to yourself.”

“What’s that?” A slight defensive edge.

He cracks one eye open. “Deny yourself the fun because its easier to inflict the pain on yourself than feel it afterwards.” He props himself up on one elbow, all earnestness now. “Seriously, April. You’re only hurting yourself. You can either enjoy a great party and be a little sad later, or you can just be sad. I’d rather have the party.”

And he is gone, brushing his hands on his shorts, casting a smile over his shoulder, retracing his footsteps across the beach.

I sit there awhile longer, arms wrapped around my knees, arguing with myself. It is the most Herculean effort of my life to pick myself up off the beach and follow him. My heart rages in my chest, but I console myself with the idea that maybe my plane will crash before I ever have to deal with all the big questions weighing on my mind.

And then I am engulfed in voices and arms and light, and I forget to think about tomorrow, or anything much at all.

*

Constructive feedback and comments are always appreciated! Leave yours in the comment section below if you’re so inclined. <3

Short Story: On a Beach Far, Far Away

Hometown Tourist: Paint Nite

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The water is murky with paint, my palette whirling chaos. My paintbrush flies across the canvas in wide, swooshing strokes that make me feel like a real artist. The contours of my vase aren’t exactly right; for a moment, I resist the urge to paint over it, to start again. I add some details to it, see if I can convince myself to accept the mistake, to go with it, but I can’t. I spend the next five minutes trying to fix it, and ultimately laughing in surrender, “I should have left it how it was.”

Next to me, Bryan is doing his first painting (ever? I think), leaning close to the canvas, his paintbrush held aloft in his hand as he carefully dabs white paint onto the edges of his flowers, adding highlights. “How do you do that?” I demand, incredulous and proud and a little jealous. “How are you just good at things all the time?”

We are at Paint Nite at Hudson’s in South Edmonton for my friend’s 25th birthday, an evening of drinking creatively, as the company slogan says. The premise is super simple: pick a painting that you would like to recreate from the long list of pieces that have been created just for Paint Nite, reserve your tickets, show up, get a drink or two, and follow the instructions to paint that painting. Voila! Easy peasy.

This was my second Paint Nite. I loved it the first time, and the second time was no different. I have been exploring my visual creativity more and more in the past year, and Paint Nite has been a great, low pressure way to learn new techniques and show myself what I am capable of achieving. The event itself is great: the instructors are knowledgeable and friendly, they know how to go with the flow when things go wrong (such as technology malfunctioning, because isn’t that what technology does?), and I always end up with something that I created at the end of it, even if it is not perfect. The only complaint I have is that both events I went to were rather squishy; the four of us were at one table, the backs of our canvases practically touching, my beer hidden behind my painting where I had to snake my arm around without disturbing said painting or any of my other supplies every time I wanted a drink.

Worth it, though. If you have any creative bone in your body (and let’s face it, all of us do!) then Paint Nite is a fun, casual way to dive into that and do some exploring. There are paintings for many tastes and ability levels, they take place in bars all over the city, and you can often find deals on LivingSocial and Groupon (tickets are generally $45 each). While you do receive detailed instructions, you are free to adapt them as you see fit, and it is a fascinating experience to see how everyone’s paintings turn out different despite being given the same supplies and instructions.

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Have you ever done Paint Nite or an event like it? What did you think?

Disclaimer: I was not paid or perked for this post, I just really like Paint Nite!

 

 

Hometown Tourist: Paint Nite

2015 Photo Project: VWXYZ

Well, these were definitely the easiest letters to come up with items for. -_- But I managed! And now another month has flown by and I am on to the next theme (letters and numbers, which, I’ll admit, sounds similar to February but is, in fact, quite different: words and typography and cool looking numbers are the name of March’s game).

V is for Vinegar

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ISO 800  ||  28 mm at f/4.0  ||  1/4000

W is for Wand

(I got it at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s Luna’s wand.)

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ISO 800  ||  38 mm at f/4.0  ||  1/4000

X is for Xi

(X was the hardest. So so hard to come up with something. So I decided to make a Greek letter out of office supplies, because why not? What object would you have chosen?)

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ISO 1600  ||  40 mm at f/4.5  ||  1/25

Y is for Yogurt

(Not an advertisement for Chapman’s Frozen Yogurt. But this stuff is damn good)

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ISO 800  ||  38 mm at f/4.0  ||  1/160

Aaaaaaaaaand

Z is for Zoom

Long exposures are SO FUN. I really want to do another one soon. I love how this happy accident shot turned out. Bryan raved about it. Which I count as pretty high praise, indeed. 🙂

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ISO 100  ||  75 mm at f/10  ||  20.0 seconds

Bonus shot because long exposures are fun:

Look at all those zoom-y lights!

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ISO 100  ||  28 mm at f/10  ||  20 seconds

So that’s it for February! Which was your favorite photo from this theme? Check out the whole project here.

2015 Photo Project: VWXYZ