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Denmark Travel

Riding a bike through Copenhagen and nearly dying

I stayed with my good friend, Loui Jensen (pronounced Yen-sen), while I was in Copenhagen.

Loui tried to kill me.

Ok no, he didn’t actually try to kill me, but if he had of then he was going about it the right way.

See Loui told me that I couldn’t truly say I had explored Denmark without riding a bicycle through Copenhagen. Well, besides a tiny excursion riding a bike on an Irish island a few years ago, I haven’t ridden a bike since pretty much I was a kid.

Oh, but you never forget how to ride a bike! Yea sure. How about trying to remember how to ride one in Copenhagen traffic????

On top of it, how about trying to remember how to ride it on one that’s so tall, your feet are dangling 6 inches above the ground…when you’re trying to touch the ground. And in flip flops. When it’s raining. Uphills both ways in the snow.

Ok well maybe not that last one, but it was tough. It was somehow a lot tougher than I ever remember a bike being, but I think that’s because the bike was too tall for me. It’s hard remembering how to get your balance on a bicycle when you can’t really stop yourself from falling and when every time you stop, the bike has to fall over before you can get to the ground.

Anyhow, no more complaining because it was an amazing experience.

I eventually started to get the hang of it and, after scaring Loui a few times and myself as well, I began to feel slightly less terrified and enjoy Copenhagen more.

We first went to Loui’s sister’s house to get me a helmet (Loui was pretty sure I was going to die, I think). After that, we went to a huge cemetery near her house where Hans Christian Anderson is buried.

Somehow I expected his grave to be spectacular, Disney level stuff. After all, you’d think the author that basically allowed Disney to be successful would be super honored. Maybe a sign giving some background, a TV display where you could watch a movie about his life, laser light shows and a fog machine. I don’t know what I was expecting. But it was a very simple, unassuming and peaceful site in a rather majestic forest of a cemetery. I don’t know much about Hans Christian Anderson’s life story, but I know I would have liked that spot so hopefully he does too.

After that, we rode our bikes into the city center and around the gorgeous lakes, which are a meter (3 ft) low due to this year’s crazy heat wave in Europe. The lake was beautiful and had such a dramatic view of the Copenhagen skyline behind it.

Loui said people are trying to get the lakes filled in for a park. Man. I can really understand why they’d want to have all that space to be useable, but I really love seeing water. Maybe that’s less important to a city located in a country surrounded by so much water and so easily accessible. Afterall, it only takes 6 hours to drive from one side of Denmark to another. I’m from the desert so water is heaven.

Loui took me back up to Stephanskirken where I met another good friend, Niklas. Niklas and Loui were both volunteers at the ranch. We had a great lunch at Cafe Taxa in the “hipster” part of Copenhagen. You could tell it was the hipster section because there were coffeehouses everywhere lol.

After that, I considered riding the bike back to the city center, but decided to stop risking my life and go back to the apartment and I’m glad I did. Now it’s nice to just sit on the balcony and enjoy the cool wind, try to soak up some cold in my bones before I go back to the oven-like temperatures of the California desert. And now that I’m cold, I’m going to make a cup of hot tea which becomes oh so enjoyable snuggled under a blanket in the cool Danish sunshine after surviving a bike ride through Copenhagen.

Ireland Photography Travel

A para’normal’ couple’s shoot in Belfast, Ireland

I photographed a ghost.

Even stranger, I did a couples session of a live woman who is married to this ghost.

And even stranger still, the ghost is a dead Haitan pirate from 300 years ago.

photographing ghosts northern ireland belfast

Amanda Teague feeling her ghostly husband’s energy

The Ghostly Husband

The ghost’s name is Jack Teague which has called some people to say that Amanda Sparrow Large Teague is making this ghost up from the character Johnny Depp played in Pirates of the Carribean.  Amanda was a Johnny Depp pirate impersonator before she met this ghost, but she says she’s fully aware that the Pirates of the Caribbean is a fictional story and that she believes it was her interest in this chapter of history that attracted the ghost Jack to her in the first place.

Setting up the shoot in Belfast, Ireland

I flew to Dublin from California and took the train to Belfast, Northern Ireland amidst unseasonably warm Irish weather.  There were dramatic clouds in the sky, but no rain and not even a need for a sweater (or should I say jumper).

Amanda (and Jack) staring towards the ocean that he loves so much

 

Amanda had recently gone through surgery and so she didn’t feel up to traveling far.  Amazing sites like Dun Luce Castle or the Giant’s Causeway were off the list of backdrops.  After some research I found this amazing little park in Belfast called Hazelbank Park.  It had an amazing combination of forested area and beach.  I thought that was perfect for this ghostly couple’s shoot and I was so happy when I arrived.

 

Stepping together through the Irish forest

Meeting the ghost’s wife

I was surprised when a blond got out of the taxi at the park.  Amanda was wearing a bright blond wig instead of her normal dark brown hair.  She told me that she wanted to portray witches in a different light that they could be blond instead of brunettes.

 

photographing ghosts northern ireland woman married to dead pirate

Jack was sitting next to her reaching out to her. Can you see him?

 

We sat down to talk, Amanda and myself and two friends whom I’d recently met in Belfast visiting for Pride Week.  I admit I was a little scared of doing this photo session so when they offered to accompany me, I jumped for it.  Plus it’s nice to have someone hold your camera equipment haha.

 

Our first chat and learning about the ghost husband

Amanda told us all sorts of fascinating things about her relationship with Jack the pirate ghost husband.  Some of them a little scary.  She said there are good spirits as well as bad ones that you don’t want to get mixed up with and that you needed to test spirits before you interact with them.  I wondered what I was getting myself mixed up with.

 

Amanda told us that Jack’s energy used the candle as a focus point.

 

As weird as it was, if Amanda had been talking about any other subject, I would have thought she was perfectly sane.  I actually have a doctorate in marital and family therapy and there was nothing about amanda that said ‘crazy.’  That doesn’t necessarily mean that she is really married to a ghost, but I found her rationality particularly interesting (and relieving).

 

 

After talking for probably a good hour about their relationship, I suggested we take some pictures.

Posing a ghost and his wife

To be honest, I have been so nervous over this shoot that I could barely sleep the night before.  I’ve been researching couples poses and trying to figure out how to shoot them when the husband is invisible!  To make it even worse, Amanda said that she can’t see Jack and he isn’t really there in a body form.  He’s an energy that she senses.

 

Searching for Jack’s energy

 

There went all my ideas out the window.

Just wanted to do a normal couple’s shoot

I wanted to make sure this was a real couple’s shoot.  I wasn’t trying to stage something that highlighted the ghost part of it in a sensational way.  I could have just said things like pretend that you have your arm around him, pretend that he’s kissing your cheek etc., but that wasn’t how she said the relationship worked.

 

A ghostly kiss?

 

According to Amanda, Jack isn’t a physical being.  She can neither see him nor feel him as you would a regular human being.  He is just energy, a force or a feeling.  He doesn’t have eyes for her to gaze into or a waist she can put her arm around.  This made it really difficult for me to think of how to make a connection between the two of them.  Also whenever I would tell her to try to connect with him, she became very internal, closed her eyes trying to feel him.

 

 

At times it seemed simple for her to connect with him.  He would say things to her, like evidently he didn’t like the blond wig she had on.  Sometimes it seemed like they were bantering.   Sometimes she would have small quiet conversations about how he was going to stand.  Other times it seemed like he wasn’t there at all.

 

I found that many of her photos seemed sad and wistful.  Jack was sitting next to her in this picture.

 

To say it was difficult to pose them would be an understatement.

But overall, I wanted this to be a normal experience.  I wanted her (and him) to have a couple’s session like I would do with any other lovers on the earthly realm.

 

A laughing exchange on the Irish Antrim coast

My Thoughts

At the end of the day, I think I captured some good photographs that really tell an interesting story.  To me, the photos seem sad and wistful.  They really changed my perception of Amanda and I have become hesitant to post this as the crazy and sensational story that I was first expecting to do.  Amanda is a real person and she has been through a lot in her life and it pains me to think that so many people are going to get a laugh at her through my photography.

 

Laughing, crying, feeling like the rest of us

 

When we went down to the beach to photograph, the beauty of the Irish Antrim coastline and the soft lapping of the waves called for a natural pause.  We all sat and watched the water and the seagulls and just talked about life.  Amanda told us of her children and her past relationships, of bullying and of losing her son.

 

A life story to tell

 

Amanda talked of her experience as a witch and the girls accompanying me talked of their experience of being in a homosexual relationship.  At one point, Amanda turned towards me and asked “Are you spiritual?  What’s your story?”  I had been quietly listening up to this point and hesitantly spoke up.  “I’m a Christian.”

 

Jack’s candle, wedding ring and compass

 

Everyone looked at me with shocked expressions and I shrugged.  “Real christianity,” I said “is being able to love and respect others whether you agree with the way they live their life or not.”  Jesus sat down with sinners (and tax collectors which let’s be honest is even worse) and shared a meal which I assume included laughter and conversation and life stories.  I doubt very much that he sat down and frowned at them and told them everything they did wrong.  I feel it’s my job to show love to others whether I agree with them or not.

 

A couple’s stroll down the beaches of Ireland

 

Which is why I hope that you who are reading this can find it in your heart to respond with love rather than criticism and hilarity.

My goal for my photography is to show the heart of the person in the photos.  Whether you believe Amanda is making this up or is crazy or is telling the truth, she is a real person with feelings and thoughts and a life story.  Please enjoy her story and my photographs.

 

Ireland Photography Travel

First morning in Ireland

I landed in Dublin, Ireland last night after a loooong journey.  And I immediately screwed up my Keto diet by eating spaghetti at my friend’s house (I mean I can’t say no can I? and it looked so good after a 15 hour flight).  After that he dropped me off at my bnb where they offered me tea and cookies (yea the same excuse here).

I got up this morning at 5am to try to catch the sunrise over the River Liffey in Dublin.  Of course I went the wrong direction and missed the best light so I’m going to try it again tomorrow.  I think I did get some good photos though anyhow and it was really nice walking around Dublin so early that it was quiet and peaceful.

 

Dublin ireland Liffey wedding photographer

Beautiful sunrise light on the River Liffey

 

Hardly any cars and hardly any people even walking down O’Connel street which is the busiest road in the country.  By the time I headed back, it was full of the sound of cars and the crowds had started to appear.

Down by the River Liffey, there was a cute couple sitting on a bench just laughing and talking.  I felt like an idiot but I asked them if I could take their picture.

 

river liffey dublin Ireland couples photography

Adorable couple by the river liffey

 

They were just so adorable and obviously enjoying the quiet morning. I’m glad I did too, because I think it came out really nice.

 

couple dublin, ireland river liffey

I love the random seagull hanging out with them

 

I had been walking around taking pictures of the buildings and the river, but I’m not a landscape photographer.  I really enjoy the people connection and how you can capture personality and relationships in photos.

 

river liffey dublin ireland couple laughing photography

Laughter is beautiful

 

Landscapes are just…I don’t know. They’re not lifeless, but I’m not sure that I’m the photographer to capture the life in landscapes.  But maybe I just need to practice it.  I suppose if I put all the effort into landscape photography that I’ve put into wedding photography, I’d be brilliant at it lol.

 

hay penny bridge dublin ireland ha'penny bridge

The hay penny bridge in Dublin, Ireland.  Not bad for a landscape.

 

I finally reached my goal which was the hay penny bridge.  Back in the day, they used to charge a toll of a half penny (a hay penny) to allow people to cross it.  As I was walking to the hay penny bridge, there was still some of that beautiful golden morning light left, but literally right as I got to where I wanted to take a picture, it was gone.  Ugh.  Just that boring flat grey morning light that Ireland always has.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, especially coming from the hot desert lol. But it’s not great for photos.

I still took a few pics and spotted a gorgeous couple walking across the hay penny bridge.

 

gorgeous couple hay penny bridge dublin ireland

Who is that crazy person with the camera?

 

They probably thought I was crazy snapping away at them, but I can’t help it when I see a cute couple lol.  She was Irish and he was from Spain.  Once I explained that I’m not crazy…or at least that I have a business card, they happily let me snap a pic. So cute!

 

smiling couple dublin ireland river liffey hay penny bridge

I love this picture

 

On the way back, I met an Irish man from Belfast and scored his phone number lol.  I always have the best of luck when I’m in Ireland.  Gotta love this country.

Photography Travel

Packing a camera bag for a destination wedding

canon camera lenses wedding photography

I’m spending the next month photographing weddings and couples portraits in eight different countries around europe.  Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Belgium, Iceland, Denmark, Greece and Italy.  I not only have to bring the right equipment, but I have to lug it on multiple airplane, bus and car trips thousands of miles around the continent of europe.

I’m also a sissy little girl so I can’t carry much weight.  I have to be very picky about what I’m bringing with me on this trip.

I decided to keep things as minimal as possible so here’s what I’m taking:

Canon 5d mark iii body:  The canon 5d mark iii is the classic wedding camera body.  This camera takes solid great quality photos, has good low light abilities and can take the beating cameras often get during weddings.  I once dropped mine and it’s now duct taped together and still works awesome.

Canon 70-200:  I don’t know how people can function without a 70-200.  This lens takes sweet photos and the bokeh is to die for.  Prime lenses are sometimes a bit sharper and some photographers prefer that, but I love the versatility that comes with a zoom lens.  I don’t like being up in people’s faces during a wedding so the fact that I can zoom in without moving any closer makes me feel a lot more comfortable.

Canon 24-70:  The 35-70 gives you a much wider view of the scene. This is what you need when you have a gorgeous irish countryside, a norwegian fjord or the vast mohave desert of california.  The 70-200 is much more narrow and is beautiful for helping to focus on a particular detail.  The 35-70 helps you see the big picture.

These are the only two lenses i’m bringing for the weddings. I’m also bring a 50mm lens so that I can walk around the cities and take photos without bringing quite so much attention to myself.  The other two lenses I mentioned above are big, especially the 70-200.  Most places I’ve been to in Europe I have felt safe and comfortable, but there are a few places that I would not want to walk down the street with $6,000 worth of camera equipment flashing around.  I figured the 50mm would bring less attention to myself.

For the next trip, I’m going to buy a mirrorless camera which is much smaller and looks very similar to cheap point and shoot cameras.

I also brought a flash, just a low cost Godox.  I didn’t bring a slavexxx although I may regret it.  It would be nice to be able to do off camera flash, but my bag was starting to get so heavy.  I also of course brought a pack of SD cards, 3 batteries and a charger, a hard drive for backing up the photos (could you imagine going on this trip and losing photos??), a few wet wipes for cleaning lenses, a camera remote, and a tripod.

I don’t know if I’m going to use the tripod.  I never use one for weddings or couples shoots, but I thought it would be cool to try to get some selfies.  I’m a middle child and nobody takes photos of the middle child lol.  I hardly have any photos of myself and I’d really like to have some that I like.  I’m going to try it although I’m not sure if it’s worth the 2 lbs of carrying around that tripod….

Keto Travel

Eating keto on an airplane

keto ketogenic diet travel airplane food

I am traveling to Ireland as I write this and it is a fourteen and a half hour trip.  OMGosh it’s killing me.  I don’t sleep on flights so I can avoid jet lag and I’m exhausted.  Exhaustion (as well as boredom) are the enemies of a ketogenic lifestyle.

Plan ahead

I screwed up so let me tell you that I’m not judging you if you aren’t perfect on keto.  First off, I didn’t pack very well.  I bought beef jerky which was a great idea.  I also bought Bai drinks which are great for the ketogenic diet.  However, I totally spaced on the fact that you can’t bring bottles of liquids onto the plane unless you buy it in the terminals. And of course no airport sells Bai’s.

I also was bad because I stole some of my sister’s fruit rolls (10 carbs each) and I grabbed a bag of dark chocolate Lindts.  What’s wrong with dark chocolate you say?  It’s a great treat for the ketogenic diet you say?  Well I say that I have no self control even in the best of circumstances and I overeat them.  And this plane trip is absolutely not the best of circumstances.  I did manage to stop before I ate the whole bag and I only had one of the roll ups so that wasn’t too bad. Only about 5 million carbs or so.

What I should have packed:

  • Beef jerky
  • A bag of veggies like carrots or snow peas
  • Berries
  • Cheese crips
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Boiled eggs (except I’m allergic)
  • Coconut chips

Airplane food=bad

The next fail was the airplane food.  Of course it’s totally cheap crappy food which automatically means carbs.  Carbohydrates are cheap.  Bread, pasta, crackers and a dessert.  Microwaved in plastic.  I ate some of it.  Ugh I’m sorry, body and I’m especially sorry, endocrine system.  I apologize to myself.

The problem is of course that I didn’t pack well.  Granted I packed the beef jerky, but I left it in my carry on which I put in the overhead compartment and I was too tired to pull it out when the slapped the plate of pseudo food in front of me.

Advice

Keep your kept food in a separate bag in your carry on.  As soon as you get on the plane, remove the food and put the bag under your seat so you can grab it when you get hungry.  That way you aren’t tempted with the crappy airplane food.

Fortunately I didn’t give in to temptation with the drinks.  Water and tea all the way baby.

Fatigue and boredom eating are the enemies of keto.  If you are purposely staying away to avoid jet lag like I do or if you just can’t sleep on planes, you may begin to snack because you are tired, bored and your body hurts (carbs numb emotional and physical pain).  Again, have your keto food prepared so that you can keep yourself awake nibbling on beef jerky rather than airline pretzels.  Also try getting up an exercising in the airplane bathroom so that you can work out your stiffness and pain from sitting still for so long.  I might help ease those fatigue carb cravings.

Travel

Starting my big trip: 5 things traveling does for you

I’ve started my big adventure!  I am currently on a plane headed towards Dublin, Ireland.  So exciting!

I admit to being a little nervous about this trip.  It is going to be an absolute whirlwind tour of europe and it’s going to be physically exhausting.  I’m literally photographing weddings and couple sessions in eight different countries.  EIGHT.  Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Belgium, Iceland, Denmark, Greece and Italy.

I am going to be exhausted lol.

It will be amazing though.  I wish more people would get out and travel.  Americans travel surprisingly little.  I heard statistics that only 30% of americans even have a passport and only 15% of those travel outside North America.  That’s such a tiny percentage when travel does so much for you.

1. Travel gives you confidence

Travel is tough.  It really is.  I mean just packing your bags for a long trip can be horrendous lol.  I think I packed and unpacked and repacked my bag about 20 times. And then the traffic to Los Angeles airport was so bad it took hooourrrrssss to get there.

But seriously, when you travel, especially travel on your own, there’s so many obstacles and new things you have to figure out.  How do you use the train system?  How do you call a cab?  How do you get from one place to another?  What do you do when you’re lost?  How do you communicate with someone who speaks a different language?  How do you get your flip flops back from the monkey that stole them?  All these things are part of the excitement and craziness of traveling.

I was seriously stressed out prior to this trip thinking of how difficult it was going to be traveling to eight different countries in less than a month.  But at the same time I know it’s going to be amazing and I am going to be so proud of myself when I finish it.

Self esteem comes through accomplishment and there is no greater accomplishment than traveling the world.

2.  Travel makes you see the world differently

People used to say that traveling to europe made you ‘worldly.’  They were right.  Traveling opens your eyes to how big and diverse the world is.  You meet and befriend so many new people and so many different kinds of people.  I once sat and had a conversation with a romanian gypsy who was begging in front of a church.

Now I will admit that there’s two types of travelers:  tourists and travelers.  Don’t be a tourist.  These are the people who just go and see all the famous sites. They bungle around with their hawaiian shirts, standing out and never becoming part of the culture.  Travelers try to go native. They try to understand the culture and experience the normal life of the people.  Tourists can travel and never change.  Travelers return a different person.

3. Travel makes you love your own culture

I never felt so American as when I traveled lol.  And I never loved America as much as when I traveled.  It’s funny because travel is all about other countries, but the differences are never as evident as when you immerse yourself in another culture.  There are good and bad things about every culture and traveling helps you to see that clearly.   I never appreciated American culture as much as when I travel.

4. Travel makes you love other cultures too

Having said that, I also have fallen in love with other cultures.  Just like my own culture, there are pros and cons.  I love Ireland’s passion for music and dance.  I hate that they often tear each other down for being “too educated.”  Nothing is perfect, but it is all wonderful and exciting.

5. Travel helps you grow

Most of all, travel makes you become a better person.  You grow in confidence, knowledge, courage, communication, creativity and joy.  I don’t think anything in life is as effecting at creating personal growth as travel.  And certainly nothing is as enjoyable.

I had a lot of fears going into such an intensive trip as the one I’m undertaking now, but at the end of the day I now that it is going to shape me and improve me.  We’re hitting turbulence at the moment and I am trying to pretend it’s not freaking me out.  All the plane trips I’ve been on and this is the first time I’ve ever been through turbulence.  Assuming I come out of it alive, I’m going to be just a slightly braver, better person.  And that’s really what the world needs.