Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I was very interested in photography as a teenager, however, I put my camera away while in college. I only picked it up again after the loss of my father - and it was his camera that I picked up that time. Since then, I have traveled to many new places with his camera and have taken some great photos.

On my last trip to Spain, however, I noticed that noise was beginning to show in the photos - and I banged the camera up a bit. Because of this I decided it was time to purchase a new camera, although it was a tough and sentimental decision.

Over the past week I have been taking the new camera out for "tests" to make sure it will be a good fit for my upcoming trip to France.

I find it very "fitting" that my primary, and subconscious, focus on these test excursions has been reflections.

And of course in the middle of the reflection photos we have this one - my Dad's sense of humor at play!

Thanks, Pops!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Queen's Leap, Siurana, Spain

(on display at AVA in Chattanooga, TN - July 5-31, 2013)

What a surprise! On our most recent trip we scheduled a day in the Priorat region of Spain to visit wineries. We were so surprised and amazed by the beauty of this region. Our day started with three incredible wine visits and ended with a fantastic dinner just outside of Barcelona. Between our last wine appointment and dinner, however, we planned a visit to the mountaintop town of Siurana.

Siurana is tiny but amazing. It is such a unique and beautiful place and while there we began planning our next visit. Siurana has a rich history - legend tells of an ancient city that was considered to be "unconquerable" due to its situation on the top of a mountain. However, this proved to be false as the town found itself under siege. As the legend goes, the Queen residing in this tiny town made the desperate decision to take her own life instead of watching her town be taken by the opposing force, in this story - the Christian Army - so she mounted her white horse and rode it off the cliff. Some people believe they can still see the imprint of the horse's hoof as he hesitated before leaping over the edge.

While visiting Siurana, we met a wonderful, elderly man. We told him upfront that we didn't speak or understand Spanish, and he did not speak English, but that didn't stop him from talking, and talking, and talking to us. We have no idea what he said, but whatever it was he was throughly enjoying his side of the conversation. We noticed him early in our visit, sitting on his cushion that he would carry around from spot to spot. In a town of only about 40 inhabitants I'm sure the visitors are a welcome entertainment. Perhaps he will still be there when we visit again and he can share more of his stories.

On our next visit we hope to spend a few nights in this town with day trips to visit wineries. This region definitely proved itself as a place to spend more time - hopefully sooner than later!

Wineries visited this year:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Coming Full Circle ~ Amarante, Portugal

Before my first digital camera, I was one of those tourists lugging around a large camera bag with several lenses, lots of batteries, and many varieties of film. This trip to Portugal was one of the last trips with that camera bag. Perhaps that's one reason I love this photo.

My husband and I decided to spend our 5th anniversary in Portugal. We were only beginning to enjoy and study the world of wine and wanted to go somewhere slightly off the beaten path. We ended up touring the Douro River Valley in Portugal learning about port.

This little town, Amarante, was one of our first stops. There were no wineries here, in fact there was not much of anything in this town except the beautiful Relais & Chateaux hotel, Casa da Calcada, where we spent our anniversary. The town itself, however, was extremely beautiful and quiet. We spent the day wandering through the maze of narrow lanes, too narrow for cars, and observing the locals in their daily routine - the boys playing a game of keep away with the little girl's doll, putting the doll on a ledge of the church just out of her reach, the old lady mending her laundry on the balcony, and the produce shop keeper with her cages and cages of song birds. There were very few other travelers in the area giving Amarante a very authentic feel. You could see most of this town within a couple of hours, which for us was part of the charm. It allowed time to sit in the square enjoying an expresso and a few glasses of wine before our amazing dinner back at the hotel.

I love when everything falls into place and a shot just works.

While the photos below are very low quality, I wanted to include them to show a little more about this town and people who live there.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Chamonix - Mont Blanc, France

View of Mont Blanc from Chamonix
Three Brave Souls ~ Aiguille du Midi, France
The Alps have always intrigued me. I will never forget the first time I flew over the Alps as a teenager, mesmerized by their vastness and beauty. Having the opportunity to visit this area was an incredible experience.

Since we are not skiers, visiting in the fall was perfect. The colors were amazing, the crowds were small, and the weather could not have been better. Of course, one of the highlights of our time there was taking the cable car up the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi. This ride not only gives a great view of Chamonix and the surrounding valley, but also takes you as close as you can get to Mont Blanc without needing gear and a lot of training.

Many adventure seekers ride the cable car to the top and then begin their own excursion. These three appear to have done just that. Others, including my husband, choose to begin their journey at the halfway point, well below the snow line, where a challenging trail leads you back to town.

While this photo almost looks like a black and white photo, it is truly a color photo. Since we traveled to Aiguille du Midi in the morning, the sun was positioned perfectly to provide the contrast and shadows on the varying ridges and figures. The blue photo below was taken after the sun had a chance to move slightly higher in the sky. Zooming in a bit on the figures also allowed the camera to find more of the light to show the blue tint of the snow and ice and the detail of the ridge behind.

As we frequently say when traveling ~ we did not have enough time in the Alps.

But how fortunate we were to have this experience.




Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Day at the Beach ~ Nice, France

A Day at the Beach ~ Nice, France

Snapping candids when I travel is a true passion of mine. While I know these photos are not the photos that people are looking to hang in their homes, I post them simply because I love them.

I call these photos "random people pics" and always look forward to finding someone, or even a group, that truly represent the feel of the place. My first academic love was anthropology, perhaps that explains the passion for my random people pics and for travel (or perhaps my love for travel fostered my love for anthropology). I feel that looking through my collection of candids will give the viewer a true sense of my experience in each place.

This couple could not have been a more perfect representation for my first trip to Nice. With another trip to this amazing city coming up in a few weeks, I have found myself reviewing photos from my previous trip and this couple keep coming to mind. My first trip to Nice was with a few of my middle school students. Some of these students had never spent much time away from their parents, few had ever flown, and only one had ever been out of the country. Having the ability to show them things they had never seen and give them an experience they will never forget was priceless. Another of my favorite photos from this trip happened just after this photo - my students were definitely intrigued by this couple, their clothing, their story, but then we stepped onto the beach. Unlike most of the beaches on the Cote d'Azur, Nice has a beach completely made of stones - no sand. My students were amazed and I so enjoyed watching them learn. I think this photo of my students captures the entire purpose of that trip - and of travel in general.  ~Enjoy

Friday, March 29, 2013

The World is Full of Color ~ Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of my favorite places and this is one of my favorite areas in Barcelona - Plaça Santa Maria in El Born. Although this is tiny "square" it has so much to do and see. The entrance to the beautiful Santa Maria del Mar Church forms one side of this small plaça  - on any given Saturday you can sit in one of the small cafe's and watch wedding party after wedding party. There is also a small fountain where locals come to fill up their water jugs for drinking water, there are two tapas cafes, an incredible dessert cafe (Bubó), a beautiful jewelry shop (Joid'Art) and one of the best wine bars in the city.

The colors of Plaça Santa Maria is another reason this is one my favorite places. I love the color used in the buildings in Barcelona, and this plaça highlights those colors well. My closet has always been full of neutrals - black, grey, oatmeal, white, a splash of red here and there, but my friend Montse, an accessory designer in Barcelona who makes the most beautiful scarves and wraps you will find, frequently reminded me that "The world is full of color." I think about her every time I see this photo.

While I have always enjoyed shooting in black and white, I found that most of photos from this trip were in color. Barcelona, after all, is a very colorful city!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recycling, Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy, France

As mentioned before, we love to incorporate wine tours in our travels. Many of our trips center around this activity. Our last trip to France was no exception. For our 10th anniversary we spent a couple of weeks exploring vineyards and wineries in Burgundy and Chateauneuf du Pape.

This is one of my favorite "wine" photos from that trip. We were leaving Aloxe Corton - a small and very beautiful village in Burgundy - and stopped just on the edge of town to get a shot of the entire village. I noticed three large wooden bins and decided to check them out. All were full of empty wine bottles - recycling bins. Hundreds of bottles in each bin. If you look closely, you may even see some of your favorite French wines...we see some of ours!

I would love to know how long those bottles had been collecting - probably not as long as we may think. While good wine can be expensive at home, if you are able to visit the area from which it comes you may find it less expensive than good water!

Planning a trip to this area can be tricky. It helps to have friends in the wine industry who can help you set up appointments - appointments are a must if you want to visit the wineries. Some are open for walk-ins, however, many are family businesses and with an appointment you may be able to spend some time with the wine maker of your favorite wine. You can, of course, make appointments on your own without the help of friends if you are able to find the contact information for the winery. We have learned that three appointments a day is perfect, and we stop in the morning for fresh bread and cheese to take with us for snacks along the way.

If you are considering spending a few days in the Burgundy region to explore the wineries of the Cote du Beaune and Cote du Nuits, Beaune may be your best bet in terms of a home base. Beaune is a wonderful town (one of our favorites) with many hotel and dining options. We stayed in a great B&B (Les Jardins de Lois) with terra cotta floors, a small balcony overlooking the garden, and a wine cellar directly under our room. If you're there on a Saturday, the morning market in the center of town is not to be missed!