Practice Packing

Wednesday, March 30, 2011  at 10:27 PM
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With the official transition from Winter to Spring has also come the change from Winter skiing to Spring skiing!  Of course, here in the Pacific Northwest, that means the transition from icy, bone-chilling skiing weather to warm, wet, soggy skiing weather.  I'm so sick of the endless cold, grey skies, however, that I will happily take any change towards warm sunshine!

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I have been making my packing list for my impending nomadic life and yesterday I decided to 'practice pack' my pack, to see how heavy everything would be.  Color me extremely surprised at how much room everything took up!  I packed everything, including the clothing that I would be wearing, but it filled up the bag completely.  I was stunned, especially because I felt like I was packing very light--one pair of pants, only two short sleeve shirts, no hat/gloves, etc.
 

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The majority of weight/space taken came from my hiking boots, which I will theoretically be wearing for much of the time when hiking with my pack on, plus my sleeping bag.  I am usually terrible at packing (I pack all the wrong items, or I overpack) and I am trying so hard to be a better packer for this trip!

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Playing with Long Exposure on a Digital Camera

Sunday, March 27, 2011  at 10:48 PM
Lately I have been having fun with the long exposure settings on my digital camera.  On one hand, I can create very nice night photographs, like this one of a telephone pole on the ski slopes last weekend.

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On the  other, much more exciting, hand, I can create ghost-like apparitions!

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This was a fun, easy experiment that only required me to set up my camera on a tripod in a dimly-lit room, set the exposure to 8 seconds with the ISO at 80 (the lowest possible), and then pose in a variety of fun poses.  The trick was to make sure that I had light hitting me, so my image would be captured on the camera, without having too much light hitting the background and washing me out.  

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Even when I was holding extremely still in one location, I still did not appear crisp in the final image, which was surprising.  Obviously, this just means that I must practice holding extremely still for future night-time photos!
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Who We Are

Sunday, March 13, 2011  at 12:59 PM
Welcome to Nomadic Vignette!  This post is meant to tell everyone a bit more about who we are and what this blog is about.

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Chris, me and a friend before Chris skied the Vert Fest race.

My name is Danalynn and I am an educator who is in her twenties.  I graduated with Honors from Washington State University with a double degree: a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in French Language.  My husband, Chris, is also in his twenties and worked at a hospital during the week, while volunteering his weekends at Snoqualmie Ski Patrol.  He graduated from Franklin College (in Lugano, Switzerland) with a double major, Environmental Studies and International Relations.  We both are native English speakers hailing from Seattle, WA, USA.  I also speak French and a bit of Italian and German, while Chris speaks Italian and a bit of Chinese, French and German.

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My first time to Switzerland!

This blog is meant to document our traveling experience.  We have traveled extensively before, but starting in the Summer of 2011 we switched to a nomadic lifestyle and will be traveling indefinitely.  It's scary, but it should be an incredible adventure!  I love art, photography, and finding funny quirks in my day-to-day life, and I hope these loves come across in this blog!

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Chris, me, and friends with our Couchsurfing host in Romania.

In previous travels, we have WWOOFed, Couchsurfed, house sat, stayed with family and friends, and camped, all of which have been incredibly fun.

This is my Couchsurfing profile, and this is Chris's Couchsurfing profile, if you want to read reviews from people we have hosted and people who have hosted us, or even if you just want to get a taste of our past adventures!

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Chris and me, in a castle in Bellinzona, Switzerland.
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A Weekend Skiing

Monday, March 7, 2011  at 11:34 PM
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 I have been having fun learning how to ski in the past few weeks.  Plus, the lighting is always fun for photographs!

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Misty Moving Pictures

Thursday, March 3, 2011  at 7:00 AM
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I wish I could say that I love the gloomy, gray days, but they are much too dreary for me!  I prefer either the thrum of heavy rain or sunny blue skies.

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Of course, when I travel I usually prefer anything over rain--it is terrible walking all over town with wet feet, craning to see landmarks through drizzle and fog, and drying out multiple layers of wet clothing atop an equally wet backpack. At least with an overcast sky you can take fantastic foreboding photographs and find great indirect lighting!

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Lessons in Night Photography

Wednesday, March 2, 2011  at 7:00 AM
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The first time I went to France, I was fascinated by the way the buildings became lit up at night.  It seemed like a fantastic game of lights playing with old stones and turning crumbling castles into Disney-worthy dreams.  The first time, I was content to admire the show and imprint it upon my memory.

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The second time I went to France, I was armed with my small, 3MP point-and-shoot camera, determined to capture the magic from my memory on an SD card.   Instead of emerging victorious, I met only brutal disappointment as my best efforts resulted in photos of total darkness, photos of blurry light halos, and, my favorite, the smear of light that might be a face but also might just be that streetlight behind you.

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However, I am determined!  This next trip shall be glorious and filled with beautiful, awe-inspiring night photos (or at least ones where you can tell where a face starts and the streetlight ends).  I read several interesting guides to night-time photography recently, notably the exhaustive guide, Night Photography, by Andrew Sanderson.  Armed with my camera and my Gorilla-pod I went out to experiment and these were what I created!

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I find that a long F-stop (between 4 and 12) coupled with as small of an ISO as possible, all balanced upon a very stable tripod, works the best.  Next up: more painting with light (the last photo is me playing around with that) and more playing around to create the sharpest photos!  Old castles, I WILL be ready for you next time!
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Bikes and Baguettes

Tuesday, March 1, 2011  at 7:00 AM
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Four days after I moved into my French apartment in 2007, I ambled downtown, looking for a thrift shop.  I had a focused mission--no perusing old dishware, no lingering over old silk scarves, non!  Today was a Bike Day.  The day merited the capital letters as it had been a solid five years since I had last been on a bike.  However, the metro was expensive and unreliable (it seemed that striking was more of a past-time than a political statement for the French) and walking at a brisk pace still took forty minutes to get to town.

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I turned the corner from my University and there, on the cobblestone sidewalk, a row of battered old bikes beckoned.  If they had been sold in the United States they would have been advertised as vintage, but the French use and re-use their modes of transportation much like they move through the shells of buildings constructed five hundred years ago, so this was merely a not-so-new collection of bicyclettes.


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Stumbling over my clumsy tongue I delivered a jumble of french words to the shop-owner, hoping that he understood that I needed a bike that was reliable and easy to use, one that would not need any repairs but one that also would not need to be quick.  He pulled out a dusty blue bike and gestured for me to try it.  This ended up being an embarrassing, wobbly experience as I clambered on a bike again, unfamiliar from years apart.

My 'reliable, easy-to-use' bike ended up lacking one out of two brake levers and had only one usable gear (the highest one, which led me to walking it up even the slightest of hills), but the bike rides twice a day bolstered both my confidence and my wind-power, and it was in fact easy to use.

I love the artwork of Nancy LaBerge Muran, especially this series of bike paintings.  All of her work can be found at WatercolorByMuran.
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