When it comes to photography, especially film photography, I keep my equipment as consistent and simple as possible. The less one has to think about while taking pictures, the better. Kodak Portra 400 35mm (the 120 is great too, I just don’t use as much …
Author: Keith King
On our most recent trip to Denver, Colorado, we stayed in the recently-opened Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver. The rooms are beautiful and it’s within walking distance of Union Station, which is where we depart the train after arriving from the airport. Downtown Denver is fantastic …
If you’re looking for a foodie destination like no other, it’s time to make Denver your stop. We travel there every year, in November, and spend a day and a night downtown before heading to Estes Park for Thanksgiving. Spending some time in the Mile-High City gives us a chance to acclimate after our flight and, more importantly, it lets us experience this amazing city.
We’ve eaten at a number of restaurants there, and our most recent trip did not disappoint. Pay attention to this post and your taste buds will thank you.
After landing at the Denver International Airport, find the train and take it to downtown Denver. The train is such a convenient, pleasurable and economical way to travel. It cost around $10.50 per person and you’ll be at Union Station in about 40 minutes, not having to worry about white-knuckling through traffic on an unfamiliar highway.
Once you’re at Union Station, take some time to check it out. There are great shops and restaurants right inside. Last year, we spotted a breakfast/brunch place called Snooze, but our flight time wouldn’t let us stop to eat. This year, we stopped and I’m so glad we did. It’s so good that it’s almost worth a missed flight. Almost.
The menu is diverse and the dishes are varied. Since we weren’t driving, we each imbibed on a Morning Marg to sip on. It was wonderful and perfectly crafted with salt and a lime. To eat, Meg had the Huevos Tostada and I had the Pork Chile Verde Benny—I added an avocado, of course. Both dishes caused us to glance at one another upon first bite, to confirm that each other’s dishes were as delicious as our own.
The food and drink far exceeded what we ever could’ve hoped for and the service was second to none. We left Snooze ready to take on a day of exploration in Denver.
This is a post about food, so I’ll keep our Denver exploration information short. For fun, we walked to Larimer Square in the early afternoon and did some window shopping. This is a lively and historic street in Denver and we can’t wait to check it out at night. After Larimer Square, we walked to the REI Flagship store. Our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw how big the store was. Anything you’d ever need for outdoor pursuits is inside. One of my favorite spots was a white board near the entrance where staff members had listed favorite places to hike, bike, ski, etc. We remembered the recommended hike—Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park—and did it because of the suggestion. It was breath taking.
We walked everywhere, so we were getting hungry and couldn’t wait for dinner. Meg had surprised me with reservations to El Five, a tapas-style restaurant with an unbelievable view of downtown Denver. The vibe was lively and the space was perfectly decorated for lighting and ambiance.
The drinks are creative and delicious. We tried the Pasarela (rosemary infused tequila/ cinnamon/ lemon/ ginger beer) and it was one of my top drinks ever tried anywhere.
Twice it was suggested that we order the eggplant fries. We did and they were impossible to stop eating, so we didn’t stop. The European sea bass was our entree and it was small—they are tapas, after all—but so good. The dish was presented like a work of art and the taste solidified the art as ‘fine’.
We took a Lyft back to our hotel and turned in.
When morning arrived, we were excited to eat breakfast. The best part is that there’s a restaurant in the hotel called Apple Blossom. Take some time to look at the menu. It’s beautiful. It was our second time eating here and it was just as good, if not more so, than the first time.
The menu changes frequently with the seasons. But, I had shrimp and grits that blew my mind and Meg ordered a grapefruit bruleé along with eggs and potatoes. The ingredients were fresh and again, the service was impeccable.
If you find yourself in Denver, or you make it a destination for whatever reason, I can’t suggest these restaurants enough. If you try them, you’ll have varied and tasty dining experiences at each location.
Have fun and enjoy.
It was a Friday afternoon and we drove north after shortened work days, which are the best work days. We traversed the Straits of Mackinac via the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge. Our stomachs were rumbling so we decided to stop at the Village Inn in …
Photography is a personal creative journey. On our journey we should select a tool that will help us along the way. When it comes to cameras, the options can easily become overwhelming. Megapixels, pixel size, lenses, weatherproofing, DxO scores, and on and on are discussed. …
It can be the most difficult surrounding to photograph. Out of nowhere, you may find yourself stopped in the tracks of creativity before you even know what hit you. Or, it may hit you right away. You may walk, or drive, for hours looking for something to take pictures of, and return home with nothing.
This place is—the town you live in.
Fear not, though, for there is hope. A town, city, village, metropolis, etc. that you’re familiar with can be one of the most challenging environments to take pictures in. And, I say, “Why wouldn’t it be?”
After all, if you’re familiar with a place, there’s no visual stimulation. There’s nothing that ‘wows’ you or perks your brain. Being in new surroundings is exciting but we’re not all able to travel from new place to new place, constantly exposing ourselves to new surroundings. For many of us, our environment is routine and stale.
Here’s the trick: it’s not routine or stale.
If you feel like you’re in a creative slump, try to step out of yourself and your familiarity and look at your surroundings from a fresh perspective.
I live in the town I grew up in. It felt like there wasn’t anything to photograph nearby because I’d told myself that, “Nothing new is out there.” That’s where I was wrong. Not only are new photographic possibilities out there, but those possibilities are always changing because there could be a small added element to the scene, or the light could be different.
Normally, when I’m trying to come up with ideas for places to photograph, my location ideas are far away. I know they’ll be a little more unfamiliar to me and that will make them more interesting. However, more recently, I’ve been concentrating on places that are closer to home. It all comes down to the ‘Work Smarter, Not Harder’ adage.
So, on a cloudy day—this is my favorite light—I set out to photograph my hometown. As if a familiar surrounding isn’t enough, it was also post-autumn/ early winter, so the leaves had fallen and it was that time of year when everything takes on a color that is simultaneously gray and brown.
Two blocks away is an auto repair shop. It’s an old building and there are usually some interesting vehicles in the parking lot there. I pulled in and found some great subject matter. Since the time of year is often drab in color, I chose to seek out pops of color.
For anyone feeling weighed down by their surroundings, look no further than the work of William Eggleston. His work is proof that there is something to photograph anywhere and everywhere.
So, go out into your neighborhood or main street. It could have buildings or it could be a dirt road.
What you take pictures of may be familiar to you, but it’ll be new to someone else. And you’ll be producing art.
Detroit has stolen our hearts…again. With its history, character (and characters), food and architecture, it won’t be the last time, without a doubt. And, that’s ok. Steal away Detroit, steal away. After visiting there for a weekend earlier this year, I wrote a post here …
Few things are as enjoyable as loading some film into a camera and exploring a small, unfamiliar town. It’s the basis for how I came upon the name ‘Village Voyager’, after all. The, often, slow and methodical approach to composition and the new elements of …
There are times when the need to create burns inside. If that need, that feeling, wasn’t there, life would be so much easier. But, life wouldn’t be as beautiful and fulfilling. I suppose this is the artist’s dilemma. One of them anyway.
If I haven’t taken photos in a while, I can tell that my soul is a little off. The act of carrying a camera: observing, predicting, controlling exposures and compositions, it all has such a grounding effect. I’ll often dedicate one weekend every month or two and take pictures. The weekend’s days are mine to make pictures whenever and wherever I choose.
When that weekend is complete, my creative hunger is fed and I feel ready to take on the regularities of life. Such was the case recently when I stayed in Big Rapids, Michigan. I’d been to Big Rapids before, and it’s a fun place to photograph, but what I was really looking forward to on my recent excursion was exploring some of the small communities around Big Rapids.
Being in a new place stimulates the senses and creativity. Going to a new town, or new anywhere, makes me feel like a kid again because I’m seeing new things and places for the first time. There are of course similarities to other places, but each place that I’ve ever been to has things that are uniquely its own.
One of the town’s I visited was White Cloud, Michigan. White Cloud is a town that I’d always pass while driving on the highway, so it felt right to visit it since I wasn’t far away.
Walking, versus driving, is the best way to explore a small town, or anywhere for that matter. It allows you to see, observe and feel the rhythms of a place. So that’s exactly what I did. I pulled off to the side of a street, turned the key to my car off and listened. There was a barking dog in the distance and the faint sound of an occasional distant car passing by.
I was parked next to a laundromat so I decided to walk there first. The sign was eye-catching so I immediately photographed it. Then, a person began to walk toward the laundromat and a minivan parked in front as well. It may not seem like much but moments like these are wonderful for a couple of reasons.
First, they are genuine moments. Nothing about it was posed or contrived—it was serendipity at its finest. And, this is why walking is so important in photography: it allows you to immerse yourself in a space, and it also allows you to be ready with your camera when chance moments occur.
Finally, the addition of a person and minivan added to the image. The building itself was interesting, but whenever I take a photo, I’m thinking,”How can I make this more interesting.” I often try to include people in my pictures because I think it’s important to do so. They give life to a picture and make them more relatable. It’s not always possible to do so because small towns, especially, are so quiet. But, when possible, I try.
After the laundromat, I began walking down what looked like a main street, and turned left. There was a classic Chevy Blazer parked. The simplicity of the vehicle’s design was appealing to me. Also, there was a house behind it that provided a nice sense of place.
Pro Tip: If you’re wondering about taking a photo—take it. Too many times I’ve not taken a picture only to regret not taking it later. Listen to whatever “voice” is suggesting a moment or scene might make a good picture.
Across the street from the Blazer was a vehicle service station. The service station evoked a feeling of ‘small town’ because it wasn’t like some of the newer, bigger and fancier service stations that inhabit so much real estate in small towns. This one was smaller and appeared to have some history under its oil-stained ground.
On the outskirts of town was an old bowling alley building. I’m not sure if it was still in operation or not. There was grass growing out of the parking lot in spots and a some of the lettering was missing on the side of the building. It was perfect for a photograph.
As I looked at the White Cloud website, I noticed that the images that were used were aesthetically beautiful. They showed scenes and people having a wonderful time, partaking in outdoor pursuits, in White Cloud.
To some, it may seem like an old bowling building or laundromat aren’t “pretty” locations for a picture. But, I feel like they are as beautiful, if not more so, because they are authentic. Each visual element and vignette of a town is what makes a place what it is, and what could be more beautiful than that?
My only regret is that I’m not able to spend a lot more time in a place to know people and document the happenings. But, I don’t think there would ever be enough time for me to do that. So, I enjoy what time I have to explore the amazing places nearby and photograph what I can. It was ever so satisfying taking some time on a sunny and warm September Sunday and exploring the quaint town of White Cloud.
To drive into Houghton, Michigan—a small college (Michigan Technological University) town in Michigan’s upper peninsula (U.P.)—is to be welcomed by a tidy, small-business-filled-main-street downtown. It had been years since I’d been there. It didn’t look like a lot had changed, but that’s a good thing. …