Monday, February 18, 2019

Photo concept hits me while in IKEA store

Every once in a while, a photo concept hits me like a lightning bolt, and that's what happened the other day while walking through an IKEA store in Fishers, Ind., with family members.

We were well into our stroll through the store (probably even beyond the halfway point) when a series of patterns, lines, colors oddities (to me, anyway) started to jump out at me as I perused the displays sprinkled about.

I pulled out my iPhone X and started taking shots. I didn't think at the time that I'd grab very many, knowing that we were almost through with our stroll. But I ended up taking a lot more pictures than I thought I would. The photo of the floor rugs you see leading off the post was probably the busiest of the photos I took;  it had both patterns and colors.

But that's the simple point of this post. I did only minor editing (occasionally to boost shadow detail), but otherwise, these are mostly the raw images.

Again, it's simply about patterns, lines, colors and oddities.

As always, to view a larger, sharper version of a photo, simply click on the image. This is particularly helpful when accessing the blog using a mobile device. To view a full gallery of images from this shoot, follow the link in this sentence.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Myrtle Beach trek, Part IV:
Stops for food and drink

Jan. 16 proved to be a day of disappointing decisions in Myrtle Beach, S.C., when Lee Ann and I came to pick places to dine and visit a craft brewery.

Before leaving our lodging quarters in pursuit of food and drink, we'd pretty much decided to dine at Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in The Market Common to kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes. You don't find good German sit-down eatery establishments anywhere, much less one also specializing in German beers.

But when we got to the mixed-use village on the city's south side, we were intrigued when we spotted the Tupelo Honey Cafe a block away from Gordon Biersch. Leading off the post is one view of the cafe's exterior.

Being a Van Morrison fan (he had a hit with the song "Tupelo Honey"), and learning that the cafe specialized in southern cooking, I felt it was a sign that we ought to change plans at the last minute. In hindsight, it was not a sign at all. And alas, I wish we would have stuck to Plan A.

Tupelo Honey Cafe is a beautiful establishment. We both liked the light-colored woods decor and interesting ceiling fan mechanism (see photos), which I'd never seen before.

I ordered an IPA draft from New South Brewery, a Myrtle Beach craft brewery, and it was refreshing and pleasing, and I'd definitely get it again. (A quick aside: We had contemplated going to New South for my brewery trip -- I say "my" because Lee Ann is not a beer drinker; she indulges my interest in it -- but that trip was put off a day, again at the last minute.)

It was not busy when we arrived. Our server was pleasant, cheerful and attentive. She told us her favorite dishes, and I decided to order one of the ones she favored, a slow-roasted pork grilled cheddar cheese sandwich on pumpernickel bread (left). I asked for the accompanying smoked jalapeno barbecue sauce to come on the side rather than on the sandwich.

For my one side, I asked for the mixed greens salad and house white vinaigrette dressing (right). It wasn't until the salad was served that I realized the dressing would be cream style, not vinegar style. That wasn't a problem with me, but Lee Ann had ordered the same salad and dressing for one of her two sides. She is allergic to milk and daily creams, and milk is almost always used in cream dressings, sauces and gravies. She was so hungry that she decided to brave it and consumed the salad with the cream dressing (she would suffer the usual consequences later).

For her main fare, Lee Ann ordered a lunch plate of sweet-tea-brined roasted chicken with honey lacquer (below) and two sides. In addition to the salad side, she also got some salt and pepper crispy brussels.

I had no qualms with my sandwich, and I liked the barbecue sauce enough that I needed a refill on the small sauce sample the server had brought me with the plate. Lee Ann wasn't as enamored with her meal, especially the brussels, which she normally likes. In fact, we have grilled brussels ourselves at home, but she said the brussels in her side were so crispy that they were dry. I'm not a huge fan of brussels, so I don't know for sure ... but perhaps some people like their brussels cripsy (kind of like some people -- myself included -- like their bacon crispy if not with occasional black).

We also received some biscuits served with honey (right). I asked the server if the honey was the restaurant's namesake Tupelo Honey, and she smiled and said no, Tupelo Honey is pretty expensive, and though the honey served with our biscuits was regular honey, she said the store sold jars of Tupelo Honey at the reception desk (I think she said the price was $5 or $6 a jar).

The seating area of Tupelo Honey Cafe (above) from our vantage point in a booth. Below is a closeup shot of the window decor you see in the background of the photo above. 

Above: The cafe's bar area, which boasts quite a few beers on tap, including a half-dozen or so craft brewers. One of those was an IPA from New South Brewery of Myrtle Beach, which I ordered and enjoyed. Afterward I checked New South's website site and learned they currently are serving two IPAs -- an American and an imperial double IPA, so I'm not sure which one I had. I'd guess the American IPA. 

The interesting ceiling fan mechanism (above) and an angular view of the eatery's artsy room-separation decor (below). 

Above and below are two other views of the cafe's exterior, and a look at the eatery's outdoor seating area is shown in the second photo below. If that image looks familiar, you may have seen it in yesterday's post about The Market Common. 

Liberty Brewery and Grill

If you made it through the review of our trip to Tupelo Honey Cafe above, you know a little about the decision we made for a brewery visit while in Myrtle Beach. Choices on the table were Gordon Biersch, which would feature German beers (an intriguing prospect), and two more traditional craft breweries -- New South and Liberty.

Gordon Biersch was in The Market Common, and Liberty was at Broadway at the Beach, both places that we ultimately included on our itinerary. Liberty also had a taproom along U.S. 17 (King's Highway), Myrtle Beach's main thoroughfare, which we had passed several times on this visit alone. That put New South on the outside; to go there would require a separate trip at some point. For whatever reason, we decided to make a brewery trip at either Market Common or Broadway at the Beach.

When we decided to pass on Gordon Biersch after going to The Market Common, we were left with Liberty Brewing the next day, when we went to Broadway at the Beach. The photo above shows the brewery's front facade; the rear view can be seen in the final image below. The brewery also has an eatery -- the "grill" portion of its name -- but we had no plans to dine there.

The brewery offered generous samples of its eight core beers for $12, so I went that route. The brewery happened to be out of one of the core beers so they let me pick one from the seasonal menu, and I opted for a seasonal Wet Bandits Imperial IPA.

The core beers I sampled are shown above (and from the side, in the image below). Using the photo above as a guide, they are (from left, front and middle row): the seasonal IPA, the Liberty Lager (with orange slice), Wheat the People (a pale wheat American Ale) and the White Ale (an American twist on a traditional Belgium witbier). Back row from left: Turn Your Head and Coffee (an American porter), Broadway Brown Ale, Rocket's Red Ale and Honest I.P. Abe (with lemon slice).

I was underwhelmed by most of the brews, and as the first picture below might indicate, a little perplexed that at least two glasses -- the lager and white ale -- showed bubbles, which to me meant carbonation. Sure enough, they tasted that way. Still, I managed to down the lager and almost all of the white ale before moving on to the other as quickly as my stomach could handle things.

Why the haste? Because I didn't want them to get too warm by the time I got to them. (A craft brew aficionado in Raleigh told me a year ago that good craft brews -- certainly ales and dark beers -- should be easy on the palate no matter if they are served cold or warm. In fact, he said, many porters and stouts taste better at room temperature. No wonder I'm not a fan of those coffee beers!). But I digress.

The Wheat the People I found light and citrusy, not a favorite attribute in beers I favor. The Honest I.P. Ale packed the hoppy kick I expect in an IPA, but it lacked crispness and, therefore, freshness that has made me gravitate to craft beers in recent years. Rocket's Red Ale is brewed with Vienna and caramel malts and hops from the Pacific Northwest, but I detected a discernible lack of malty notes.

The Broadway Brown Ale was akin to the red ale, except with the brown you could detect coffee notes. But like the red ale, it lacked a smooth maltiness, so I didn't care for it. I sensed very thin malt notes in the porter as well -- and a strangely hoppy kick, neither of which I cared for. But I did enjoy the brew's coffee aroma before ever taking a sip. I guess I was most disappointed with the Wet Bandits IPA, which when reading the beer menu, I hadn't noticed was heavily fruity. I don't like fruits in my beers. Wet Bandits is heavily fruity. 

For the record, Lee Ann and I also stopped in at Duplin Winery's store in North Myrtle Beach, which we've visited a few times in the past. Because I've done previous posts about Duplin, I didn't feel compelled to do more pictures to include in the series from this trek.

However, after our tasting session at Duplin, we took our complimentary glasses of wine and sat with a nice couple from Williamsport, Pa. They introduced themselves as Barrett and Jackie (I thought they said Barry and Jackie, but Lee Ann tells me otherwise).

From them, I learned a bit about the international headquarters for Little League Baseball and Softball (which technically is located in South Williamsport, across the West Branch of the Susquehanna River from Williamsport).

End of series

Previously in this series: 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Myrtle Beach trek, Part III:
The Beach and the Boardwalk

There is a reason "beach" is part of the name for Myrtle Beach, which is why I felt at least one post in this series of shoots at the popular South Carolina resort community should be devoted to the sand and its iconic boardwalk.

I'm getting increasingly comfortable composing backlighted photographs, and the one you see leading off the post was my favorite from all of my "beach" and "boardwalk" shots on our recent visit to Myrtle Beach.

I was pleased that the blades of grass in the foreground -- whose texture I've come to appreciate as a nifty and artistic secondary element in beach-related photos -- didn't go too far up into the frame to distract from the silhouetted subjects. While this is, indeed, a monochrome conversion, the original color isn't a whole lot different, no doubt because of the heavy contrast introduced by backlight.

I took advantage of an afternoon sun to compose another silhouette piece integrating one of the piers into the composition in the image immediately below. It, too, is a monochrome conversion.

There isn't a whole lot more to say to set up the remainder of the images in this post beyond what I convey in the captions, so before transitioning into those images, here's a repeat of something I remind all visitors (and try to repeat in every post for the benefit of any new visitors):

As always, to view a larger, sharper version of an image in this post, simply click on the image. This is particularly useful when accessing the blog using a mobile device. To see a full gallery of images from my shoot at the beach and along the boardwalk, click on the link in this sentence.

Photo geek stuff: I used my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens equipped with a polarizing filter and took three different exposures for each composition so I could meld them into one during post-processing using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software. The 8.0 f/stop was my constant during the shoot, which means my variable exposures were determined by the shutter speed. I used an ISO of 160 unless the full shot was in all shade.

Above and next two below: Anyone who has visited Myrtle Beach knows how the shoreline is heavily stacked with resorts. These images support that.  

Back to more relaxing visuals, I again used wild grass (above) to texturize my composition ... and to frame the beachwalker near the pier. A thin opening in an otherwise thick layer of clouds (below) gives sundown some yellow and orange coloring. 

Above and below: As the marker in the bottom right of the above photo informs, this sculpture (called "The Goddess of the Sea") by Kristen Visbal was a project of the Myrtle Beach Downtown Public Art Initiative. It was dedicated June 1, 2018, "to the people of Myrtle Beach for the enrichment of our environment." 

A look down the boardwalk (above) and through a small covered alley between buildings on the beach side of the boardwalk (below). To the naked eye, the scene below, beginning with the pale green area on the left, is completely dark until hitting the bright-colored painted objects at the end. HDR processing added shadow detail to everything between the camera and the bright blues, reds, oranges and yellows.   

Another slice of the boardwalk (above) and a closer look at the Dry Don's signage (below). 

A little beyond Dry Don's, this couple sat, intermittently enjoying the entertainment of the pigeons (liked the one below) foraging for their next handouts from humans. 

Above: Another look down the boardwalk, this time to integrate the flagpoles and lampposts into the composition.

I present the photo above (showing a section of the roof of Pier 14 restaurant and lounge) to set up the closeup shot below that juxtaposes the mannequin (shown in the above photo next to the Pier 14 sign) with a real person climbing down a ladder.

Above: It doesn't seem right to do a post about the beach and boardwalk without including at least one photo of the iconic Ferris wheel. For those of you expecting it, here you go.

Next up: Food and drink

Previously in this series: