Photoessay: Albania Blooms

I have yet to write about Albania, but it was one of the countries that stuck with me most. While I loved the friendly people, little bits of chaos that infiltrated everyday life and the gorgeous Adriatic sea on my doorstep, the flowers are what immediately come to mind when I picture the country. It seemed like everywhere I looked, another new kind of flower peeked out between a fence or two buildings, brightening my day.

So I tried to make it a habit to stop and smell the roses. In other words, I photographed the shit out of those flowers.

Enjoy!

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Which flowers are your favorite? Have you ever seen any of these where you live or while traveling?

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Photoessay: Ugly Beautiful Zagreb

I’m back home now and beginning the immense project of processing my photographs from a long five months of travel through Europe. I visited what felt like city after city, and while many were somewhat like the others, blending into the background of extended travel, Zagreb, Croatia is one city that really stood out to me. I liked the contrasts of Upper and Lower Zagreb; the lower area felt like the metropolis you’d expect from Croatia’s capital, while the upper town stretched over hills and held beautiful green space. In fifteen minutes you could walk from a busy downtown to what felt like a secluded residential street and just as easily make your way back to the buzzing hum below.

When asked to describe the architecture of Zagreb to a friend shortly after leaving, I said this: It’s the weirdest mix of ugly and beautiful I’d ever seen in one place. And I like it. While I didn’t walk away with many photographs (just enough!), I did pick up some lovely memories of a city I’d be delighted to revisit.

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Have you ever been to Zagreb, Croatia and what did you think? Would you like to go? How ’bout that retro passenger van? (I want one!)

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Photoessay: Holidays in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Did you know? I’m from Pittsburgh. You probably already know that, maybe thanks to me gushing about the city in this post. On Christmas day I arrived home with two big suitcases, a ten month old puppy and a visitor from Korea, who may or may not be a long-term boyfriend that I’ve been keeping secret because that’s my personal life. The week or so following Christmas was absolutely packed with events: multiple days of “Christmas”, a birthday and birthday party, dinners and cousins and shopping trips, a visit to the famous Fallingwater house, what felt like no sleep and not enough coffee to combat my exhaustion. New Years Eve, New Years Day, an airport goodbye, meeting my little brother’s boyfriend (AHHH he’s not ten anymore!), my cousin’s birthday, and now mass amounts of snow have followed the holiday insanity, keeping up the insanity. It never ends. But I took a lot of pictures!

So for now, while I take a breather and set up my schedule this January in preparation for European adventures, I’ll share with you some photographs I’ve taken these past days. I’ll preface it with just one more comment: it’s been everything you’d imagine winter is and then some. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and settle in, now.

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Christmas morning breakfast, the day after Christmas. I had to rectify my gluten intake after so long in Korea, primarily through the consumption of too many Christmas eggs.
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Christmas cookies also required.
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Mary looking adorable, as usual.
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A pancake trying to look as adorable as Mary, and it’s kind of working.
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My boyfriend did the first puzzle of his life and is now completely addicted.
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Downtown Pittsburgh looking gorgeous. In the winter, PPG Plaza turns into an ice skating rink with this Christmas tree as the centerpiece.
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I don’t know why I never noticed the beautiful, old-timey architecture directly next to more modern gems until I already had moved away from Pittsburgh.
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Christmas without puppies? Now that’s just wrong.
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A trip to Phipps Conservatory was a great way to spend an evening. The building is entirely LEED approved (also known as a “green” building) and has cool exhibits year-round. If you don’t like plants, you’ll still like the glass sculptures hidden around all of the gardens (though they’re a seasonal installment) and maybe also the miniature volcano that you can make erupt.
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Acrobats. Failed acrobats.
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My birthday was lovely and filled with friends and delicious cake!
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Then the snowstorms arrived in full force.
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A trip to Fallingwater to see the architectural genius that is this house. The freezing temperatures made me want to cuddle up next to the fireplace in there and never, ever come out.
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Hi Mary, you’re still adorable and kind of weird!
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I became a little enchanted with winter photography this past week or so…
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New Years Eve dinner at a fancy restaurant was a nice treat. Thanks Mom and Dad! (Too bad I was so cranky and exhausted by this evening that I cried because I didn’t want to wear high heels and the patriarchy. LOL.)
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We celebrated my one-week-delayed kind-of-my-twin cousin’s birthday, too.
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Need another reason to visit Pittsburgh? Hofbrauhaus.
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The snow is so gorgeous when you’re bundled up and warm.

The whirlwind is finally coming to a pause, so expect a few more posts coming up soon and don’t forget to enter into the giveaway, which ends on Wednesday night EST. Unless you don’t like free stuff, in which case, WHO ARE YOU?! I hope everyone has had a good first week of January! Don’t break your resolutions, just yet! 🙂

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Have you had a busy couple of weeks, too, or were your holidays more relaxing than mine? What do you think of all that snow?

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Photoessay: Udo, Jeju’s Cow Island

If I were to describe Jeju Island in colors, I’d choose green, orange and black. If I were to describe Udo, a small island off of the big island, I’d say it was black, white and blue. Grey has always been one of my favorite colors, so it’s not hard to imagine that Udo stole my heart from the beginning and never let it go. Renting a motorbike and scootering around the perimeter made it that much better.

Udo means cow island and is named that because the island is apparently shaped like a cow lying down.

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Yeah, I don’t see it either. Anyways, let’s just move on to the pictures that make sense.

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This is a photoessay about an island so it’s only appropriate that I begin with a photograph of the ferry that took me there.
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Black rocks and bright white sand made quite the pretty picture. It looked like this all over the island.
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This beach, named Seobin Baeksa, is the only beach in Korea filled with rhodolith, which are like coral but unattached to things. You could call them the tumbleweeds of the ocean.
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What’s a rural islet without a rusting kiddy bike?
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Rolling, clear blue waves are one thing I may never see enough of.
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I found a family of hermit crabs, and I temporarily kidnapped this little guy so I could take a picture of him. Which I messed up/overexposed, and have somewhat salvaged enough to show you. Adorable.
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And of course I stopped for coffee, enjoyed at one of these coast side tables.
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The coffee shop gave you little books to write it while you were waiting for your order, so I took that opportunity to promote myself. No shame.
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Aww, a cat sleeping on top of someone’s laptop. Why isn’t that surprising?
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Considering that Udo is formed by a bunch of old volcanic rocks, it’s understandable that the attempts at farming aren’t very intensive.
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Things to do next time I go to Udo: get dizzy and nearly vomit on a speed boat.
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Dramatic views included.
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I spy with my little eye…
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Stack a rock and make a wish; these pillars are all over Korea, especially in Buddhist temples, but they suddenly look like precarious feats of gravity when done with porous, volcanic rocks.

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Have you ever been to Cow Island? Did you spy the hiding kitty?

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Photoessay: Bikes of Germany

Germany is one of those countries with its ducks all in a row when it comes to transportation. Public transportation is everywhere, convenient and cheap. Cars are small, sometimes battery powered and gas is expensive, which prohibits people from driving for dumb reasons. Scooters and motorcycles are more common than uncommon. Walking for long stretches is considered usual, and when you can’t walk, then the answer is to bike.

Biking is everywhere. Bikers have their own lanes, either part of the road or the sidewalk, and if you’re walking in the bike lane someone will yell at you and possibly just fly past you at high speeds, scaring you poopless. Most people have mastered one handed biking, biking with heavy bags, biking around sharp corners without wiping out. It’s amazing.

So, yeah, I took a lot of pictures of bicycles while I was in Germany. Why not?

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Moto, moto, on the wall…
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Biking gets you places and prevents heart disease!
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Bike to the beach, sit your butt in the sand, swim in freezing water, bike home and dry off in the process. Smart.
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Travemünde, Germany.
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People lock their bikes onto anything they can find, including street signs.
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Baby goes for a bike ride!
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Everyone in Leipzig bikes to the library. Everyone.
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You can always drag your infant child around, too.
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Brave souls, biking with the traffic.
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Bike and sightsee at the same time!
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Bicycles and graffiti somehow go together quite well…
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Some people bike to the river, then relax for a while outside.
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Or people just stick their bikes into the bushes.
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Biking through Potsdam was one of the best things I did during vacation.
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If you didn’t bring a bike to Germany, you can always rent one.

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Photoessay: A Neighborhood in Rural Taean

Over a long weekend, I took a little trip to Padori Beach in Taean, South Korea. The area is remote to say the least, so finding a remote place in a remote area? Turns out it yields some interesting photographs. These are from a small neighborhood tucked behind the beach and quite a bit away from the main roads. From the photographs it would seem as though the whole place is deserted, but that’s not the case. I just happen to wake up and take my dog for walks at hours when civilization isn’t ready for it. Also, the few people I saw were elderly Korean ajummas. And one does not simply take a picture of an ajumma, my friend.

Enjoy yet another look into rural, countryside life in the high-tech internet capital of the world, South Korea. The contrast is amazing, isn’t it?

(The featured photograph of a farm ladder from a little bit ago was also taken during this walk.)

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(You can buy prints of this photograph here.)

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Photoessay: Blue Skies of Germany

My vacation in Germany lasted 13 days total, and I expected it to rain at least once. No one can hope for clear, blue skies for two straight weeks, right? Well, I was treated to day after day of exactly the opposite of dreary weather. Occasional clouds framed by a bright, clear, beautiful blue sky rolled above me. Every day was dry and gorgeous, until finally at 9pm, the night before my flight back to Korea, a huge thunderstorm rolled in. And it was one of those rare, strong but beautiful thunderstorms.

So while practicing the deceptively difficult field of architectural photography, I kept finding myself taking the same photograph, just different. And they were all gorgeous, because of those bright blue skies behind the subject at hand. Looking through my pictures, I was blown away by how many gorgeous skies made their way into my documentation. So if you’re having a rough, rainy day, maybe you can use these photographs to take you back to sunnier times. They definitely do that for me.

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Potsdam, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Berlin, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Potsdam, Germany
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Berlin, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Potsdam, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Potsdam, Germany
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The infamous Glockenspiel.
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Munich, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Berlin, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Berlin, Germany
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Munich, Germany
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Berlin, Germany
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Munich, Germany

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Photoessay: Street Signs of Berlin

I have a fascination with a few common day objects, one of which is street signs. Wherever I go, I find myself photographing them. It could be the contrast between the sign and the background, the static words and the life behind them, or maybe just the awesome bokeh they produce, but signs get me every time. Before I know it, *snap*, a hundredth picture of yet another street sign. At least I can make a photoessay out of them, right?

I spent most of my time in Berlin, which means I wandered through a lot of Berlin’s streets, sometimes with Claudia and sometimes alone. I’ve included some signs that don’t quite qualify as street signs, but they have words and I liked the photograph. Words, ya know? They work. Enjoy these eighteen snapshots from the streets of Berlin, Germany.

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Photoessay: Nature Walk in the Countryside

I’ve often walked down the one lane roads that wind between rice paddies for miles and gawked at the excess of natural beauty, but it was only this week that I let my camera in on my little secret. Get ready for plants, lots of green, rice sprouts, a guest appearance by a snake and so, so, SO many spiders. (Maybe don’t look at these pictures before bed if you’re prone to spightmares.) Otherwise, enjoy the mid-morning walk in my sneakers, except for the leftover spiderwebs sticking to your face.

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