The 2017 Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival

Today I attended the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival, held in Blackburn Park in Brookhaven, GA. I came with my puppy, Penny, who received a lot of compliments herself.

The festival featured a number of food trucks, arts & crafts booths, and live music. I stayed around for the dog parade & costume contest, which had the following categories in 2017:

  • Artsy Bark (stepping outside the box, creative)
  • Cherry Blossom Awesome (your finest in pink)
  • Doggie Diva (sophisticated, stylish)
  • Super Hero Swag (need we say more)
  • #SquadGoals (Pet+Pet or Pet+Human Combos)¹
  • Best in Show (All will bone down to you if you win)

There were a number of creative costumes this year! Below, a gallery from the images I captured during the event.

If you attended, what was your favorite part of the festival?

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¹ The #SquadGoals category was won by "The Three Amigos," my personal favorite from the day.

The 2016 Atlanta Dogwood Festival

This weekend I attended the Atlanta Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park. On Saturday, I participated in the Mimosa 5K race with a few friends. It was a lot of fun—and my first time drinking mimosas after a race.

On Sunday, I came back to stroll around the park, see the artist/vendor booths, and watch the dog frisbee competition. Below, a few photos from the 2016 Dogwood Festival.

 

The 2015 Red Bull SoapBox Race

This Saturday, I went to watch the 2015 Red Bull Soapbox Derby in Atlanta, GA. About 2,000 feet of North Avenue were blocked off for the event, with ~1200 feet devoted to the race track.

After capturing a few mundane shots of the cars in the competition, i decided to shift gears a little bit and go for some panning shots of the soap box cars to show the motion/speed as they came down the hill.

Harry the Hawk, mascot of the Atlanta Hawks, began the festivities by running the course with the American flag during the singing of the "The Star-Spangled Banner":

Shortly after 12PM, each of the 40 soap box cars had a chance to go down the race course solo, competing both on fastest time and best skit/performance prior to the race downhill. 

The team I was rooting for was the Ramblin' Wreck, a superb replica of Georgia Tech's Ramblin' Wreck (a restored Ford Model A Sports Coupe). Unfortunately, the Ramblin' Wreck popped a tire after the landing from the ramp along the course. Nevertheless, team Ramblin' Wreck pushed their way to the finish line, as seen here, much to the delight of the crowd:

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may not have posted the best time in the tournament, but they had a fantastic skit (and great enthusiasm within the confines of the soap box):

A Red Bull endorsed vehicle about to head down the course. Notice the nifty suspension gear:

A wide angle view of the crow and the team called "Firefighters" making their way down:

Team "We Never Ride Dirty":

Team Chariot, which did not finish (DNF) the race. Less than a second after I captured this photo, the chariot wrecked:

Team Rollergirls Downhill Devils has an amazing looking car. Bonus points go to the detail, such as the blue shoelace and the curvature of the frame:

This is Team Yongsa's Dragon Breath, and they were incredibly fast, if this photo is any indication. Out of the 40 participants, they had the best (or second best) time overall (under 33 seconds):

Team Uber Atlanta had a beautifully minimalistic design of their car that finished in the top ten overall: 

Left shark makes an appearance:

Team Because Racecar (aka, team swag/mustache):

The Big Wrench:

When I first saw this car racing downhill, my first impression was a grill on wheels:

Empire Cocktail Crafters:

At the end of the race. Are you NOT entertained???

Bonus photo as I was walking on North Avenue. This dog wins some kind of Sartorialist award for best fashion/haircut.

The 2015 Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade

This Saturday, I went to see the Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade. Having gone last year (but without my dSLR), I thought I would capture a few photos of the festivities. There was great music, food trucks, and hundreds of people (and some of their pets) either carrying lanterns or wearing them. Overall, more than 20,000 spectators came out to see the event.

The parade went through various historic districts of Atlanta along the BeltLine: Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and Virginia Highlands. I stood near the intersection of Monroe Drive and 10th Street (where the conclusion of the parade took place) to capture some of the photos:


Visiting the WeWork Office in Tel Aviv, Israel

During my trip to Israel, I had a chance to visit the WeWork office in central Tel Aviv, Israel. 

WeWork is a startup founded in NYC, whose business model is to provide shared office space to small companies and technology startups. The most recent investment rounds value the company at $10 billion. I think the business model is fantastic: bringing like-minded entrepreneur types into one co-working space. The Tel Aviv office features three floors of office space, a living room with a kitchen (with free beer!), and a large shared working area with a number of computers for use.

I took some photographs during my visit, which appear below.

There is something like WeWork in Atlanta with the Atlanta Tech Village (whose monthly pitch events I attend), but it would be cool to see WeWork expand to other parts of Atlanta.

 

 

The "Read Everywhere" Campaign at The New York Public Library

This week, I was in New York City for a brief business trip.

On the first evening of my stay in the City, I took a three hour walk around Midtown Manhattan. One of my favorite stops along the walk was the outdoor exhibit at The New York Public Library.

This summer, The New York Public Library has a very cool campaign called "I Read Everywhere" (hashtag: #ireadeverywhere on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter). From the promotional for the read everywhere movement:

This summer, The New York Public Library is celebrating the excitement and personal joy of reading with the hashtag #ireadeverywhere. We are asking all of you to join authors, librarians and other readers from all over the world to share your favorite — and unusual — reading spots, along with the hashtag and our handle @nypl, all in an effort to inspire others to pick up a book (or an e-reader) and start their own adventures.

I took a few photos of the outside of the NYPL:

The famous NYPL lion with the "Read Everywhere" advestisement.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to go into the library on this particular visit (as I arrived to the library at its closing time of 7PM). I did take a few photos of the beautiful outdoor library room:

The outdoor library room featured carts for a "book swap"leave one book for others, take one home.

Finally, there was a giant board where people left notes on what they are reading this summer:

Here's a selection of notable books profiled in the photo above (outside of the popular The Song of Ice and Fire series, which is mentioned numerous times):

Based on the press release, the outdoor reading room just ended on July 17. However, reading never stops. I hope you can find some of these book recommendations helpful. Happy reading!

 

Cathy Barrow ("Mrs. Wheelbarrow") at Preserving Place

Something that I am trying to get more involved in this year is exploring the food/restaurant scene in the Atlanta area. 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending Cathy Barrow's presentation at Preserving Place, where Cathy taught the audience how to preserve a selection of foods. Cathy Barrow, also known as Mrs. Wheelbarrow, is the author of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round PreservingThe book was available for purchase at the event, and a large number of folks in attendance stayed until the end to get their book signed by Mrs. Wheelbarrow.

The three main highlights of the event were learning how to make/preserve jam, bacon, and home-made butter. Something I learned that I hadn't known previously: you can make homemade butter by using heavy cream and spinning it in a mixer until it solidifies. 

Mrs. Wheelbarrow was very helpful in answering the many questions coming from the audience. One of the best questions asked was during a preparation of preserving pork belly: "Did you bring that with you on the plane?" To which Mrs. Barrow delightfully responded: "No, I don't fly with pork belly. I have to draw the line somewhere." Everyone burst out laughing, and it was a wonderful moment.

Below are some photos which I captured at the event. Mrs. Wheelbarrow is wearing a white apron with blue flowers, and the owner of Preserving Place, Martha McMillin, is dressed in a solid blue apron. 

If you're interested in learning more or perhaps taking a class about preserving food in the future, Preserving Place has a great lineup of future events on this page. I highly recommend it.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Snow Storm in Atlanta

After the late January snow storm that crippled Atlanta, the city was better prepared for the "storm of the decade" as some media outlets were calling it. In fact, most business and schools came out and said they were shutting down for the day. The governor of Georgia issued a state of emergency for 45 counties across much of northern GA, including most counties in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

Based on my experience, the storm wasn't as bad as some people predicted. I went out for a stroll around my neighborhood this afternoon and captured the photos below. Most of the falling precipitation was falling ice rather than accumulating snow. 

My stroll took me across the major thoroughfares in Buckhead: Piedmont Road and Peachtree Road. The following photos show that the roads were well treated.

Ice-encrusted trees across the Hotel Intercontinental in Buckhead (Atlanta, GA).

Piedmont road at around 2PM. A car would pass once every couple of minutes. Most Atlantans stayed off the roads today.

This is the Piedmont Road/Peachtree Road intersection in Buckhead. Not a car in sight...

A car veers onto the on-ramp for GA-400, headed northbound.

Piedmont Road was deserted, but treated with salt/sand earlier.

A view of Twin Peaks and Farm Burger on Piedmont Road in Buckhead.

The bright peach state, covered by icicles, on February 12, 2014.

Atlanta Police making their rounds on Peachtree Road.

A lot of the businesses were closed. Here's a selection:

My favorite burrito place, Chipotle, looking empty.

All Caribou locations across Atlanta were shut down today. I was staying safe and warm, thank you, Caribou.

One of the few exceptions I stumbled upon, and where I warmed up for a few minutes, was this Kroger that was open on Piedmont Road. 

The Sovereign Building, the tallest building in Buckhead, seen across Piedmont Road.

The Southern Art menu is not decipherable under the ice/freezing rain.

A car in the Kroger parking lot, bracing the elements.

A treated Piedmont Road. 

Corner Bakery was closed too...

Along my winter stroll, I came across people who were doing the same. They were enjoying the weather, taking walks, shopping, or otherwise seeing what everyone else was up to in the neighborhood.

This poor man was hauling his luggage on Piedmont Road. He had about 3/4th of a mile to go to reach his hotel further up Piedmont Road.

What a capture! As I turned around, the man from the couple featured above, decided to do a "foot low five." 

Everyone, meet the adorable Molly. "She needs her daily walk."

Taking it easy...

An urban, wintry landscape, punctuated by a walker.

Since no one was on the roads, it was perfectly acceptable to walk in the middle of the city streets. In fact, it was probably advantageous/safer to do so, away from power lines that had accumulated ice.

When you can't drive, why not go for a bike ride as these two ladies did?

And a few more scenes from my urban walk:

An old truck idles on Lenox Road, across Lenox Square Mall.

Hello, inverted signs.

Lenox Square Mall was completely deserted. An eerie, but beautiful, sight.

An advertisement for an iPhone 5C on a wall of a MARTA bus station.

A local church.

"You and I need answers." How come this storm was so overblown, for example?

My last stretch of the stroll was on a local road, and I captured the following neighborhood scenes:

Park Avenue, iced. 

No construction on this afternoon.

This tree branch, weighed down by ice, blocked a portion of the sidewalk.

Icicles were common.

This. Old. House.

I framed this beautiful house against icy branches across the street. 

A juxtaposition: a cone, a tree branch, and my footprint.

"Good fences make good neighbors." One of my favorite scenes on my walk.

This winter storm largely spared the metro Atlanta area. Nevertheless, today made for a wonderful snow day for those of us who worked/stayed at home (which was most of Atlanta). I hope you enjoyed these photographs!

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All photographs © by: Eugene Buchko // eugene.buchko@gmail.com

 

Hiking The Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina

Over the Labor Day weekend, my friends and I traveled to the Pisgah National Forest (part of the Appalachian Mountains) in North Carolina for a three-day hiking/camping trip. 

The half million acres of the Pisgah National Forest surrounding Asheville, NC features some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery. Our goal was to traverse about 19 miles over three days. On the first day, we arrived at the tip of the Art Loeb Trail and set off. Here's our happy group as we arrived:

Happy faces before departing for the day's hike.

Happy faces before departing for the day's hike.

 After four miles of hiking, we were caught in a downpour and scrambled to find a place to camp. It took me some time to set up my small tent, but after receiving some help, I was already drenched and needed to change clothes. After the rain ended, we were treated to this spectacular view at our campsite:   

The sun shines through the trees after a downpour.

The sun shines through the trees after a downpour.

In the evening, we made dinner (spaghetti!) and shared a few cups of a drink I've never had before:

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We wound down the evening by making a fire. The following morning, we had breakfast, put away our tents and other gear, and prepared to go for a ten-mile round-trip hike to Cold Mountain. It was a moderately strenuous hike. 

What I remember most is getting to the peak of Cold Mountain and looking into the distance and seeing these giant rain clouds. And then this depressed sound, sort of like a drum in the distance. It wasn't thunder. It was rain hitting the treetops in the distance. I've never heard this kind of sound before on a mountaintop, and it was glorious.  

After taking a few photos at the top of the peak, we headed back to the campsite where we stayed the previous night. 

We ended up saving the best part of the hike for the final day (on Labor Day). On this day, we hiked through the Black Balsam area that includes some of the most spectacular mountain balds in the Southern Appalachians. This area above 6,000 feet in elevation is almost entire devoid of trees. I captured this photo of our group as we were traversing the trail:

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Here, we took a brief respite, drank some water, and took some fun pictures.  

Group photo! Self timer on my dSLR which sat on my backpack.

Group photo! Self timer on my dSLR which sat on my backpack.

Portrait in the wilderness

Portrait in the wilderness

I took some time and captured the butterflies in the area:

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We then proceeded on the Art Loeb Trail for a couple more hours and got back to ours cars. Along the way, we stopped a number of times to pick on the fresh blueberries. They were delicious!

Overall, the camping trip was a great success. We were sweaty, exhausted, but everyone had a great time (minus getting stung by the pesky wasps). I highly recommended checking out this part of the Appalachian Trail if you're looking for a weekend getaway. The trails are well maintained from spring to autumn, there are plenty of camp sites in which to camp, and the views are wonderful.

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Note: you can see some of the photos featured in this post in my gallery, Appalachian Mountains

The 2013 Inman Park Festival and Parade

This past weekend, I attended the Inman Park Festival. Perhaps the highlight of the event was the Inman Park Parade on Saturday afternoon. I've posted the set of images on my Flickr page, but I wanted to highlight my favorites from the parade in the gallery below.

Post-Processing: an Image from Wyoming

At the moment, if you navigate to the home page of this site, the gallery that loads is that of Yellowstone National Park. Technically, I've included a couple of images in that gallery from the neighboring Grand Teton National Park as well.

But on the way to Yellowstone, there were a number of beautiful stops along the way. I wanted to highlight my post-processing one of these images.

I photograph in RAW and use Adobe Lightroom to import my images. Below, the RAW image as converted to JPEG:

Jackson River in Wyoming. Unprocessed JPEG.

I then exported the image into Adobe Photoshop CS5, where I made a few edits. First, I wanted to make the foreground sharper (the rocks, river, and the plants). Second, I wanted to bring some clarity into the clouds in the sky (it is slightly blown out in the original). The final edit looks like this:

The Jackson River. Edited version.

You'll notice that I've also altered the color of the sky from off-white to blue/purple. I was able to do that by changing my color mode from RGB to Lab in Photoshop (Image --> Mode --> Lab Color). Then I went to the Curves Adjustment tool and selected the "b" channel. From there, all you have to do is pull the curve ever so slightly downward to bring the blue hues into the image. Here's a screenshot:

Screenshot of LAB color mode and a very slight curves adjustment to the "b" curve to bring in the bluish hues.

This is a very simple post-processing technique but I've found it works quite effectively. If I wanted to create a more orange/yellow look, all I have to do is pull the curve in the opposite (up) direction above.

That's my brief photography tutorial of the week. If you have questions, please leave a comment below.

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Note: if you want to see my entire gallery from Yellowstone (including detailed captions), follow this link.