Monday, October 31, 2016

Philadelphia: Harry Potter Festival

Happy Halloween! What a fun and appropriate day to share this post. Last weekend, I went to Philadelphia because there was a Harry Potter festival. Apparently it's an annual thing now and it was awesome.

I'm a major Harry Potter fan. The books became super popular when I was in junior high; basically, I began reading them when I was eleven, which was how old HP was in The Sorceror's Stone so I feel like we're peers. I have the e-books on my phone, I have the hard copies on display in the living room, and I love the movie marathons on television. And of course, I'm a member of Pottermore (I recently found out my patronus is a Siberian cat).

I took the sorting quiz on Pottermore years ago and found out that I'm a Slytherin. I didn't want to go all out with a costume (that's just not my style) so for this trip, I just threw on my favorite 'Slytherin Seeker' tee.
Although, it didn't really matter what i was wearing because it was a little chilly, which meant I kept my jacket on the whole time. But I appreciated the autumnal nip in the air after a week of temperatures in the 80s.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Travel Photography Gear

I am an amateur photographer at best; I know the basics and I have a decent camera. But for this Iceland trip, I really want to make an effort to get some really great photos and capture some amazing memories. I'm really looking forward to this trip because of the amazing, unfamiliar landscapes and the v. real probability that we will see the northern lights.

Over the past few years, I've gotten more interested in photography and with every trip, I think my skills are improving. So, for this exciting trip to Iceland, I really wanted to stretch my skills. I knew this would be the ideal trip in which to try something new. When I went to Arizona at the beginning of the year, I definitely ventured outside of my comfort zone. It was the first time I toted a mini tripod on a trip, it was the first time I consciously switched between lenses to line up certain shots, and it was also the first time I attempted time lapses. And it all worked out because it was a road trip-style holiday in a beautiful landscape-heavy locale. I could store my handful of gear in the car and grab what I needed as I needed it, instead of lugging it around with me. The lugging part is really off-putting and the main reason why I don't put more effort into photographing city breaks.
But in Iceland, we'll be in a similar scenario. It's a road trip-style holiday and I expect the landscape to be breathtaking, which will ultimately justify the efforts. I plan on lugging two cameras with me (I have a Sony NEX 5R and 5TL) so that I can set one up on a tripod to do time lapses and shoot video from a wide angle while I use the other camera to do closeups and panning videos. I'm not 100% sure how it'll work out, but I also have my family at my disposal to help.

Monday, October 17, 2016

DIY Camera Poncho (Rain Cover)

I don't know how many times I can annoyingly remind you that I'm heading to Iceland in less than a month, but I'm doing it again. The main point I've read again and again regarding Iceland's weather is that it's completely unpredictable. I've also read that the locals say that if you don't like the weather, you can just wait fifteen minutes.

Because there is a v. good chance that we'll be caught in some sort of precipitation (likely rain in early November, there is a potential for snow but v. unlikely), I thought I should buy some sort of weather protection for my camera. I was browsing on Amazon but everything looked kind of crappy, reviews in general weren't that stellar, and I didn't want to pay for something that looked crappy with bad reviews. Since the rain covers just looked like plastic bags anyway, I decided to make my own.

I was inspired by the rain covers that had openings for your hands too, so I decided to go beyond the dozens of tutorials out there that just require a singular hole in the bag.
You'll need:
1 x one gallon ziptop bag
2 x sandwich or one quart ziptop bags
packing tape
+ lens hood

Monday, October 10, 2016

Starting a New Travel Journal

On my most recent trip (to the UK and Greece) I finished my travel journal. It took me six years, but I did it. I already had another Moleskine lined up (I buy them if I see them on sale) so I set it up as the successor. I made a little title page, set up a table of contents page, and added my credit card and bank emergency numbers to the back, the same as my original journal. Something different I did was to add in a generic packing list to use as a reference and make it a little easier when I'm planning.

My new journal is the same as the old except it's a soft cover. I'm a little apprehensive to see how it holds up - the edges are getting scraped up already - but I appreciate how much lighter it is.
And even though I'll do my best to keep it tidy and well organized, I have a feeling I'll get kind of complacent here and there and get messier and messier with time. But you know, I actually kind of like that; it's more organic and real.

Monday, October 03, 2016

New Destinations: Copenhagen & Iceland

I'm about a month out from my 30th-birthday-present-to-myself trip to see the northern lights; you might remember me blabbering on about how it's #1 on my bucket list. I've been doing my best to learn the Danish and Icelandic pronunciations of various words and confusing city and site names and I'm still doing a spot of shopping here and there, trying to pick out warm (but still cute) clothes that will help me weather (pun intended) the potential feels-like-below-freezing temperatures we might face on our Ring Road road trip.
I thought I would share my planning strategy for this trip (especially since it involves navigating the Ring Road in six days) because it's been an interesting process.
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