Tag: Photography


June 25: Map Your Escape Route

Throughout this month of directives on how to get busy living your life, I have focused on a lot of spontaneous travel related items, such as playing a few travel games, to getting lost.

Today, I will take a look at the safer side of travel, and how you can use that to help get the blood pumping, the excitement level up and motivated to make things happen.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now – Alan Lakein

Maybe you are the type of person that does not embrace spontaneity. Maybe you don’t have deep pockets (I know I don’t) but still love to travel.  If travel hacking isn’t your thing and you just want to book a trip the old fashioned way, then here are a few tips for you to help make the planning phase a little easier, and a little more exciting:

Choosing a Destination

When choosing a destination for a large trip, a lot of factors come into the equation, such as time of year, season, length of time for vacation as well as money.  While I am a believer that all travel can be had inexpensively, I wouldn’t try and plan a beachfront villa in Bora Bora when you only have a 4 day vacation and $2,000.  Moral of the story, be realistic here.

Sites like Wanderfly are a godsend when it comes to the indecisive.  It is an intuitive web portal that will search for destinations based on time of year, theme, length of time and budget.  While I haven’t actually used their site to actually plan a vacation, I do use their site for idea generation.  Just one quick search will give you TONS of ideas on where to go, where to stay, things to do and so much more.

I could seriously sit here and do searches all day long.

Finding Airfare

So you have used Wanderfly to dream up some amazing destinations and have a general idea on what to expect for the price.  While Wanderfly uses Orbitz for their searches, I prefer to use Kayak and Bing Travel for my searches for 2 different reasons.

Kayak is a descendent of the old SideStep, one of the first companies to really develop a flight search aggregator.  Kayak searches all of the major airlines websites, as well as popular travel agencies such as Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline.  With tools to help you search all local airports, flexible days with a comparison matrix, Kayak is 2nd to none in the flight search business.

Bing Travel is the result of an online travel search company that Microsoft bought and integrated into their Bing search engine.  The reason I really love this site is that if you are traveling a common route (we will use LAX to JFK for example) with multiple flights per day, Bing Travel will look at the trending analysis of the flight costs, compare them against recent travel trends, previous year’s pricing and return a recommendation on wether you should purchase the tickets now because prices are set to raise, or if you should hold off, as ticket prices are set to drop.  This really is a handy tool when looking at flight costs over 3-4 months in advance.

Finding Hotels

Now you know where you are going and how you are getting there, let’s take a look at where to stay.  The real question here is if you are looking for a hotel room, or an all inclusive resort.  Kayak is my old fail safe when it comes to hotel searches, as their hotel search engine is just as powerful as their airfare search engine.  Kayak also has a section for deals and vacation packages that will help you look into package bundles and other deals that have amazing savings.

My other default is the Marriott website, as Juliet and I have been huge fans of their customer service and standards for many years now, they are our hotel membership of choice.  More times than not, while sites like Kayak are great, nothing quite beats searching right on the hotel website of your favorite brand.

For us, we can deal with a long flight, maybe a delay or two, but we will not scrimp on a bad night’s sleep or a dirty room.  Hotels are our number 1 priority when travelling, and it helps us wake up in a good mood, ready to attack the day.

Finding Adventure

Ahh, the most important part of your trip.  So you have picked your destination, your travel there and your hotel.  Great. Now let’s plan the fun stuff.  Let’s scope out where we are going to eat, where we are going to drink and where we are going to go have some amazing experiences.

TripAdvisor is a great place to start.  With recommendations based on city and location, Trip Advisor for me has constantly turned up great recommendations for sights to see, places to eat and more.

Twitter is another great tool for researching destinations, as there is always people willing to help give advice and recommendations on things to do, places to see, food to eat, drinks to… well, drink.  Recently, Juliet and I booked a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a much-needed vacation.  With a few quick searches and with the help of some Twitter friends, I got some great recommendations for smaller islands to visit, great drinks to try and restaurants to visit.  Cannot beat first hand recommendations.

The last recommendation for finding adventure at your destination is an old-fashioned Google Search.  There are blogs and websites dedicated to adventure travelers, from personal blogs to corporate guide companies and everything in between.  Chances are with a quick search you will come across a number of blogs from people who have vacationed at the same places you are headed.  Look at it this way, the most website traffic that hits my website from Google comes from people searching about road trips.  Yes, there are plenty more like me out there.

These are just a few of the tips and tricks to help make planning a vacation a little easier and a little more fun.  I spent regular amounts of time on these websites just dreaming about the vacations I would love to take, but I also visit these sites when I am ready to book my travel as well too.  Dreaming can be fun, just make sure to have a plan to turn that dream into a reality, then go ahead and plan your escape from the real world.

Day 25. Way 25. Plan a vacation. Map your escape route from reality.

What are your favorite ways to research and plan for trips? Share your stories, tips and tricks in the comments below!

Hotel Photo Credit / Beach Photo Credit / Zip Line Photo / Lego Photo Credit


Foto Friday – June 24, 2011

Around the time that I started my weekly Foto Friday postings, I came across a Twitter hashtag of #FriFotos, a hashtag used by twitter users the world over to share their photos on a certain theme.  These themes are typically announced mid-week by the #FriFotos host and garner a good following all day Friday.  I have chosen in the past not to align my Foto Friday post with the same theme as these posts were more for the sharing of the photos of my choice, rather than limiting myself to photos than to fit in with the theme.

This week I have chosen to follow in the lines of the theme, with the theme being “Blue.”

Today’s photo comes from my 2009 New England Road Trip and the Connecticut coast, a mere few hours from where I currently live less than 2 years later.  As Mike, Bryan and I left our hotel in Bridgeport, Connecticut that morning, we took our time and enjoyed the Connecticut coast on the Long Island Sound.

This photo really grabbed me as a very true depiction of the stereotypical New England coastline, with the grasses and coastal rocks in the foreground, the jetty and colonial house in the background.  These views are common up and down the entire New England coast, from Connecticut to Rhode Island, Massachusetts to Maine and they never fail to disappoint.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Tamron 11-18mm | Exposure –  F11 – 1/200

Would love your feedback on the photo and please feel free to share any other New England coast photos you might have, here in the comments!


Foto Friday – June 17, 2011

As the Stanley Cup playoffs come to an end with the Boston Bruins taking home Lord Stanley’s hallowed chalice, I felt it appropriate to honor the hockey players and fans as we all look forward to the 16 weeks until the start of the 2011-2012 season.

This photo is pretty much straight off the camera and that is what is special to me about this photo.  The color filled arena, with the orange glow against red chairs, the color just leaps off the photo, immersing and engaging the viewer.

Now that I am back in New York, I am also looking forward to a more hockey centric region and possible games at new arenas for me, out here on the east coast.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Tamron 11-18mm | Exposure –  F4.5 – 1/5

Any hockey fans in here?

Post some of your favorite photos from hockey games or share your hockey stories in the comments below!



My Team Cocktail and Pineapple Mojito Addiction

This is a syndication of a guest blog I wrote for Team Cocktail.  Original article can be found here.

Lets get these 2 simple facts out of the way right up front.

Fact 1: Team Cocktail is a bad influence and will drain your bank account.

Fact 2: You will have no money in your bank account, but you will be rocking the most stylish fashion around, be surrounded by hoards of gorgeous supermodels as you wow them with your exotic drink recipes while relaxing on a white sand Caribbean beach.

Or, at least that is how I envision it.

But I am not here to talk about the white sand beaches, the gorgeous women or even the awesome Team Cocktail clothes and accessories.  No, I am here to talk about how Team Cocktail is a bad influence on me (and my wallet) and why I completely love them for it.

It was not too long ago that I came to know Team Cocktail in all of their online awesomeness.  I started following them on Twitter and quickly found out just what an awesome group they were.  I then found myself spending inordinate amounts of time on their website, browsing through all of their awesome clothes and accessories, all while doing my best to avoid breaking out the credit card to completely revamp my wife’s and my wardrobe.

Soon after came my demise. I found their blog.  Yes, this very blog that this article is being posted on.  I started reading updates about these amazing TEAM COCKTAIL APPROVED locations, these great bars, amazing adventures that the other fans were embarking on.

And then came the drinks.  My first foray into the Team Cocktail concoctions was “The Tornado”. I convinced a local bartender to follow the Team Cocktail recipe and was I ever glad that I did.  Smooth, yet sweet, the drink goes down way too smooth for a drink that potent.  Guaranteed to have you feeling like a Tornado hit you after only a few of these great drinks.

My absolute favorite so far (and my wife’s too) has got to be the Pineapple Mojito. As soon as we read that update, the shopping list was made and that was all we could talk about for 2 days.

Here is our journey, in photos, to the best cocktail we have had in quite some time:

The all-important shopping list:

Store #1: RUM

Store #2: A Muddler (we needed a new one)

Store #3: Brown Sugar, Club Soda & Mint

Store #4: Pineapple

Store #5: Mojito Barware

Yes, you read that correctly.  5 stores to get everything we needed to make the mojitos.  That is where this story was born from. I was taking photos of every ingredient as the shopping day went along. Slowest.Day.Ever. Seemed like eternity until we got home and got our mixologist on. (Well, my wife got her mixologist on. I got my bar back on. She used to bartend, me, there is a reason I drink beer)

After a few minutes, our exotic drink recipe turned this:

Into this:

…….And I realized, I have my supermodel….

…now where is my Caribbean beach….



Foto Friday – June 10, 2011

Today’s photo comes from a nearby New York Vineyard, Clinton Cellars.  This old barn is actually the tasting room for the winery and no longer functions as a barn, but proved to be very picturesque with the right photo touches.  Unfortunately, the wine was nowhere near as good as the scenery was, and the customer service was even worse than that.

The memories of this shot, besides the abhorrent wine was that this was Sean‘s first visit to upstate New York to visit us.  The winery is set off in the countryside, with nature surrounding it.

Sean had a great time during his short visit here in New York, but as our first visitor that stayed longer than 1 night (sorry Mike), it was a great feeling to have a little piece of home out in NY with us in the form of our friend.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Tamron 11-18mm | Exposure –  F6.3 – 1/60

Do you have any photos that remind you of certain friends?

If so, share them in the comments below!


Foto Friday – June 3, 2011

Today’s photo comes from Huntington Beach, CA and holds quite a few special memories and stories for both Juliet and I.  Lifeguard stand 9 is only a few stands from where Juliet and I were married in 2010.  Huntington Beach itself is quite significant to us as well, as we have spent many nights walking, jogging, running, biking up and down the boardwalk, as well as enjoying the nightlife on Main Street.

It is also the area in California that we identify with the most.  Even though we own our home about 60 miles east, we still refer to Huntington Beach as our home (sorry Sean, we are hijacking your house), since we first started dating while both renting rooms from our good friend Sean.

The memories are too numerous to count.  A block party BBQ for seemingly any major (and minor) holidays. 4th of July fireworks on the beach.  Parties that lasted til 2am and others that lasted a few bottles of wine. Renovations that started out with paint, that turned into a total room conversion. Dean, ahh, Mr. Dean.

Oh, and one infamous White Trash party.

That is what this photo of Huntington Beach signifies to us.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens –Canon 28-105mm | Exposure –  F9 – 1/200

Ever been to Huntington Beach, CA?

Do you have a photo that in one, single shot, signifies so much to you?

Would love to hear about it in the comments.


June 2: Take A Photo

Again, just like yesterday’s advice, pretty straight forward and to the point.  Hopefully you see a trend forming.  Simple, easy items to inject a little bit of creativity and a little bit of something new into your mind that show you how to get the most out of life.

You don’t need to quit your job, sell everything you own and travel the world, living out of a backpack.  If you want to, great, I support you 100%, but not all of us are in the position to live to that extreme.  Some of us need something little, like a reminder to take a break every now and then and clear your head. Or in today’s example, go take a photo.

It doesn’t matter if you have an expensive Digital SLR setup or just your 5 year old camera phone, or heck, even an old instant film camera.  Go take a photo of something in a way that you would have never looked at it before.  Get close up, frame the photo a different way, take it in black and white.  The goal here is to find beauty and find something new and beautiful in the things that surround you.

Here is an example of me putting this into practice:

In reality, the photo is of a cup of water, the regular, run of the mill kind of water that is served in restaurants around the country, maybe even the world?  But taken at an angle, with a close up focus on the lemon wedge and where it is hanging onto the cup, gives this photo some drama.  It gives it an artistic way to look at something as mundane as a cup of water.

Do you strive to see life in a different way?

Is everyone artistically inclined?  No, and I understand that, but almost everyone has a camera and a Facebook page. Or email. Or a friend.   Share that photo with your friends, family and acquaintances.  Share your view on the world. Share your story of the photograph.  Share yourself with someone else.  By sharing yourself, you allow yourself the opportunity to positively impact someone else’s life, but you also allow yourself the opportunity to have your life impacted by others.

Day 2. Way 2. Take a photo. Share it with the world.  Share yourself with someone else.  Make it beautiful.

Are you an outgoing or a shy person?

Are you one to share yourself with others, or are you introverted?

I would love to see your photos, so please share them here if you feel so inclined!


10 Photos from My Bucket List

Okay, so I haven’t officially posted my bucket list yet, like I have wanted to.  It is coming, trust me. But here are some photographs that attempt to paint the picture of why these places are on my bucket list.

Alaska & Northern Lights
Great Wall of China
Great Barrier Reef
Machu Picchu
Great Pyramids
Vatican City

So, what places are ‘must-see’ on your bucket list?  Let me know in the comments below!

Madlives Photo Credit / Nurburgring Photo Credit / Alaska Photo Credit / Scotland Photo Credit / China Photo Credit / Machu Picchu Photo Credit / Great Barrier Reef Photo Credit / Serengeti Photo Credit / Vatican City Photo Credit / Egypt Photo Credit


Foto Friday – May 27, 2011

When Mike and I embarked on our 2nd Epic Road Trip back in 2007, we had a much more lenient time frame than the previous year, and we also were not pulling a trailer either.  We chose to take a longer route and visit friends, family and other attractions along the way.

The only event that was pre-planned was a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The Brickyard. Tickets were purchased a few weeks in advance and did not disappoint. After taking 3/4 of a lap around the banked turns and backstretch of the track, the shuttle stopped just shy of the pagoda and let us out to take pictures and tell stories about the origins of the track, the bricks, the history.  This is one of many shots that were taken from the track, all of them worthy of being posted here (and might possibly be in future posts) but this one was chosen for the detail of the grooves in the track, with the tower at the end and the grandstands flanking the track on both sides, I thought it was compositionally one of the best.

Oh, and this week is the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Read more here.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Tamron 11-17mm | Exposure –  1/400 – F/16

Any other motorsports fans out there?  Would love to see your pictures from the races!


Foto Friday – May 20, 2011

Foto Friday is a feature on Get Busy Livin’ and will run regularly, you guessed it,  every Friday.  This will be my opportunity to display some of my photography, as well as a short story to go with the photograph.

Today’s photo comes from one of my journeys back to central Minnesota and my grandparents house.  Situated on 38 acres of land, it is the ultimate in peace and solitude.  At any given time during the spring or fall, you can see deer out on the tree line.  Birds happily come and eat off of one of their many bird feeders positioned right out front of their kitchen window.  You truly feel one with nature, even on those mornings you wake up to a frost covered meadow, complete with a bent over bird feeder that a bear got ahold of last night.

Juliet and I ventured back for her first trip to Minnesota in September, 2008.  At the time, her first prolonged stay in the “cold”, when during the early morning it was a crisp 35 degrees outside.

Minnesota is a gorgeous place during the fall, when all of the trees are preparing for winter, a handful of trees changing colors and dropping their leaves, and weather that is cool during the day and a little bite in the air at night.  This photo is one of my grandma’s old wagon wheels that she has used throughout the years in her previous homes as decoration in her yard and garden.  Today it stands as the marker for the garage and driveway during the winter, but provides some great contrast in colors with the surrounding foliage during the fall.

Camera – Canon EOS Rebel XT | Lens – Tamron 11-17mm | Exposure –  1/200 – F/10

Does anyone have any special photos or stories from their grandparents?  Would love to hear them in the comments below!