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Fountain City, Knoxville, TN

Sunday, November 30, 2008
Whether you spent some quality time with friends and family, ate too much turkey, did all your Christmas shopping, or just sat around relaxing in front of the tv, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
I'm not a big sports fan, but I love watching movies. Of course it follows that I would rather go to the theater than sit in front of the tv on Thanksgiving Day. The challenge is in deciding what to see, and 2008 hasn't been my favorite year for movies. The Dark Knight was good, and I really enjoyed Atonement (I loved the book). Iron Man was surprisingly better than expected, but overall the movies this year just haven't gotten me very excited. The most recent Indiana Jones and Bond movies were even a bit disappointing. For Thanksgiving, we decided to check out Nicole Kidman's new "epic saga" Australia, and I just have to say that I really, really like this movie. I'm a little sad to see that it didn't do better at the box office this weekend, but I guess it's hard to compete with the fans of Bond, Twilight, and Vince Vaughn.

I just hope that this movie doesn't get overlooked because it is very good, and Fox doesn't seem to be doing a great job promoting it. With many emotional highs and lows, I'll admit that it had me crying a couple of times. The little aboriginal boy in the film is just so cute and really steals the screen from Kidman and Hugh Jackman. The movie is long (2 hours and 45 minutes) so it is the perfect sort of movie for a holiday when you have a full stomach and hours of free time. It has action, romance, drama and an adorable kid. Yes it can be a bit melodramatic, and if you're the sort that gets annoyed with cute kids or gets bored with long movies or just doesn't enjoy epic, mixed-genre movies then you might as well stay home. If you enjoy epic movies like Pearl Harbor, Gladiator, Troy, and Braveheart then you'll probably love this movie too.

If you do see it then I hope you'll come back and let me know what you think.
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Wild Dunes Resort, Charleston, SC

Monday, November 3, 2008
Obviously my work gets processed before my personal pics so this is a little late but... Marcus's sister Sara and her boyfriend came to visit us from Sweden last month. While they were here, we did go to the Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove, but we also used their visit as an excuse to take a little vacation. I know that I'm always a little stumped when it comes to planning trips so this is my trip recap in case anyone wants to copy our itinerary.

First we went to Charleston which is really a GREAT place to visit. For the same price as a downtown hotel, we stayed at the Wild Dunes Resort out on Isle of Palms. We had a great room in the Village, but the whole resort was very nice. I'm pretty sure that they have facilities to do weddings there, and I'd definitely recommend checking it out if anyone is interested in a beach destination. Just be sure to take me with you because it's a beautiful area, and I would LOVE to do a bridal shoot in Charleston. In fact, if someone hires me to do a destination wedding in Charleston then I'll include a free day-after session with the couple. It's also not a very bad drive from Knoxville.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Our whole first day was spent at Patriots Point. We toured a submarine, an aircraft carrier, and a destroyer like the one that my grandfather served on in the Pacific during WWII. The aircraft carrier is huge, and you can spend several hours seeing the ships. From the dock there, we also boarded a boat that took us out into the harbor to tour Fort Sumter which is where the Civil War began.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs
The next day, we spent some time on the beach, but it was a little chilly. Then Marcus and I went on a bus tour of historic Charleston. The tour left from the visitor's center and gave us a good overview of the history and buildings. We debated taking a carriage tour instead, but the bus is much more comfortable and can cover more of the city so that you end up seeing more. I'd recommend taking the tour first thing in Charleston and then you can decide which areas you want to go back and explore on foot or which houses and churches you want to tour since several of them are open to the public.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

We really wanted to tour Drayton Hall which is Charleston's only remaining original plantation home (pre-Revolution). There are several plantations to choose from though, and some of the others are newer and prettier. We just didn't have enough time because we needed to head over to Atlanta. You really need at least 4 days to even just hit the high points in Charleston, and we had less than two. If you were planning a longer trip, it would be fun to spend 5 days in Charleston and then go to Savannah for another 4. It's another beautiful little city with lots of history, and the two aren't that far apart.

From Charleston, we drove to Atlanta where we stayed at the Marriott Marquis in downtown. I got a good price on it with priceline, and the room was nice. The inside of the building is what's really cool though, and my sister-in-law Sara enjoyed their pool. My only complaint was the expensive valet parking.

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

The hotel is downtown so you could walk to the sights. However, we moved our car to the lot directly across from CNN Center and arena. The CNN tour was short and not super informative but you do get to see inside the studio. They also have a nice food court there, and you can walk across Olympic Park to both the Georgia Aquarium and The World of Coca-Cola to hit all three in one day.

Marcus and I toured the Coke museum several years ago at their old location, and I thought it was fun. We didn't really have time to do it on this trip, but we did go to the aquarium. We apparently visited on a good day because the place wasn't very crowded. It isn't very spectacular if you've been to Ripley's and the Chattanooga aquarium, but they do have some nice exhibits including one with beluga whales and a huge habitat with plenty of rays, sharks, and even some whale sharks. Whale sharks are the world's largest fish species, and this aquarium is the only one outside of Asia that displays them. I don't think that it's a good thing to keep these huge guys in an aquarium considering that two of these beautiful creatures have died there this year, but they really are interesting to see.

I collected some new, cool texture photos from Fort Sumter and got a few pics on the ships, but my favorite photos from this trip were from the aquarium. This first photograph was taken through a viewing window on the six million gallon tank holding the whale sharks. It looks like a little fishbowl, but that fish is 15 feet long!

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

Trip Recap: Charleston & Atlanta Photographs

After the aquarium, we went to a Thrashers NHL game. Unfortunately, they didn't win, but hey... I'm from Tennessee so I'm used to that, right? It was still a lot of fun and a good ending to a great trip.

Edit: I saw on tv that Live at Five did a segment on the aquarium and swimming with the whale sharks.
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Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm one of those people who is smart enough to save cool sites to my favorites list, but then I never remember to go back and sort and visit them again. I was just looking for something else today and ran into this really cool site that I had saved. Gregory Colbert's photography is really beautiful and spiritual. If you have some free time, it's definitely worth checking out on the Ashes and Snow website. If you have a fast enough connection to use the enhanced version of the site then you can view the photos as well as some very artistic video work. This work is just AMAZING!

Marcus bought one of the little photo books for me, and it is really cool. However, someday I would love to see the actual photo exhibition and experience the photos in all their glory as huge prints. It's scheduled to be in Brazil next year if anyone happens to be in that area and wants to check it out.

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Beach, Forks, Washington

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Someone suggested that the slideshow links from my trip aren't really easy to find so...


It's funny because this is Marcus's least favorite of the 3 slideshows, and it's my favorite. I had a really hard time narrowing down the photos from the beach so it is a bit repetitive, and there aren't any cute animals. The beaches were really gorgeous though.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

Our first night in Forks, we took the short hike through the woods to Second Beach for sunset. The beach is sandy with a really unique arch. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so sunset wasn't as colorful as I'd hoped. Other than a few others taking pictures, the beach was empty, and the walk back to the car through the dark forest was a little creepy - especially when the bats started swooping all around our heads.
Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

We visited Ruby Beach in the middle of the afternoon which is usually my least favorite time of day for photos. It had more rocks than Second Beach and was very crowded, but it's easily accessible down a wide, steep path from the parking and is probably beautiful at sunset.
Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

Rialto beach was my favorite, but that may have something to do with the fact that we had a clear sunset while visiting. It is covered with little pebbles and had large waves. You can park just a few feet from the beach, and there's a public bathroom. The beach was crowded, but we walked down the beach and away from most of the people. The only thing that I didn't like was that the beach pretty much disappears at high tide. I was afraid that we would be have to walk back through the twisted stack of tree trunks that lines the beach (a VERY difficult task even in daylight), but we didn't.

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

Pacific Northwest Trip Photo Recap 3/3

We did visit several places on our trip and feel like we had a good overview of the area. For a really romantic, relaxing vacation, you may want to go somewhere that involves a little less traveling around. However, if you're like me and have a hard time sitting in one spot, I think this is a great little trip. I don't really feel like we missed anything major, and we didn't feel too rushed either.

My least favorite part was probably Vancouver, but Victoria and the whale watching are fun. The alternative is to just take the ferry over to Victoria and back from Port Angeles which doesn't seem as productive.

Here's our itinerary:

Day 1 - arrive in Seattle

Day 2 - tour Seattle (Pike Place Market, Museum of Flight, Space Needle)

Day 3 - Boeing factory tour, drive to Vancouver (Stanley Park)

Day 3 - Grouse Mountain, ferry to Victoria

Day 4 - whale watching, ferry to Port Angeles

Day 5 - Hurricane Ridge, drive to Forks by way of Crescent Lake, (can visit Sol Duc here but we took a nap instead), sunset at Second Beach

Day 6 - Hoh Rainforest, Ruby Beach, Sol Duc, sunset at Rialto

Day 7 - return to Seattle (chance to do anything you missed out on before)

Day 8 - Fly home

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Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

By the time we got through customs, ate dinner, and checked into our hotel in Port Angeles, it was time for bed. I will say that the hotel choices in Port Angeles are limited so you may want to look into the B&B options. Although he only had a couple of hours sleep, Marcus got up early with me (thanks, Honey!). I really wanted to be on Hurricane Ridge closer to sunrise, but the sun was coming up SUPER early. It's a 17 mile drive into Olympic National Park from Port Angeles, and I think we got up to the visitor center around 7. After taking one of the shorter walks close to the visitor center, we drove to the end of the road and started the trek to the top of the hill.
Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

The trip to the top of Hurricane Hill is an absolute must-see and one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. The trail climbs about 650 feet from the parking and can be steep, but it's worth the trouble. At that time of morning, there were very few people on the trail, and we could really enjoy the wildlife and stupendous views. When you get to the top, you can enjoy the views in every direction, looking down to Port Angeles and the Strait of Juan de Fuca or inland across the tops of the Olympic Mountains. The juxtaposition of colorful wildflowers and melting snow is spectacular, and we saw several marmots. Do remember to take water, sunscreen, and a sun hat as the trail is mostly exposed. We got sunburned on our whale watching trip and spent the rest of the trip peeling.

Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

After leaving Hurricane Ridge, we drove west past the beautifully blue Lake Crescent and checked into our room in Forks for two nights. Forks has a few choices for lodging and food (try Pacific Pizza) and is an easy drive to the places we wanted to visit. One of those places was the Hoh Rainforest where we took one of the easy walks near the visitor center. The moss-covered trees are HUGE, and we had a run-in with a spunky squirrel and elk right on the trail. One of the rangers eventually had to chase the elk off so that the visitors could use the trail. We also hiked out to the waterfall at Sol Duc Hot Springs.

Northwest Trip Recap Photos 2/3

The Olympic National Park isn't huge (at least not the parts that are easily accessible), and you can hit most of the highlights in just a few days or stay longer and revel in the beauty of nature. Enjoy the show!


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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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