#ShEli2013 The Honeymoon: Cantabria and Asturias

We made several stops during the honeymoon in Spain; our first after Majorca was in the north of Spain. We landed in Santander, and drove through Cantabria to Asturias. I knew we were in for a beautiful drive along the coast, but I have to admit: I was completely unprepared for the mountains. The first five of these photos are from the Picos de Europa National Park near Covadonga; the last is of a statue in Llanes that overlooks Los Cubos de la Memoria.

Lodging: We stayed four nights at Hotel Posada del Valle, which in addition to being a charming, family-run hotel is also the site of an organic farm.

Dining: True to the recommendations we heard and read, the hotel’s breakfast and dinner were amazing. Despite its location and looks, lunch at the bar between the twin lakes in Picos de Europa, Ercina and Enol, was a surprise hit. Basque chorizo simmered in Asturian hard cider, a braised goat fabada (Spanish cassoulet? ¡Sí, por favor!) and a bottle of crianza from La Rioja made for an amazing, siesta-inducing meal – especially at the end of a three-hour hike. During the majority of which we may or may not have lost our way. 

Side Notes: Posada del Valle grows most of their own produce, and they also raise a flock of maybe 200 sheep. It was strangely calming for this urban meat-eater to fall asleep and awake to the sound of animals that are being raised for the purpose of becoming my dinner. Also, while stopping at a grocery for directions, we found a six-pack of 1.5L bottles of sparkling water for €5. Worth every cent.

Joking Around With Seth Meyers

Eli Center:

Amateur golfers like to watch the PGA tournament. Tennis players, Wimbledon. And once upon a time, home cooks watched Julia Child.

I get a huge kick out of following Brad Trent’s work.

Originally posted on Damn Ugly Photography:

Seth Meyers

Click on any image for Full-Size

I’ve had a pretty good run of celebrity shoots lately…Frankie Valli, Ricky Gervais, Tony Bennett, Spike Lee, Willem Dafoe…and I’m trying my best to catch up on the behind-the-scenes on most of them. This shoot with Seth Meyers was actually shot back in February, but it just published a few weeks ago in the latest issue of Amtrak’s ‘Arrive’ magazine. Rob Smith…Arrive’s Art director and one of my oldest friends…had a few thoughts on what he wanted to do with the shoot, and I had a couple of ideas as well, so we drove out to Queens where all the prop warehouses have moved to see if anything got us going…

Since Seth was the Head Writer at SNL, we both stopped when we came across these old desks and typewriters…

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Next, we brainstormed a few…

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My Guys

Codex to #ShEli2013: A Playlist For Rocking

by guest blogger, groomsman, and brother-from-another-mother Elijah Jackson “Original Eli” Chandler


A Playlist for Rocking

Here’s the deal: I loved that weekend in Pittsburgh. Friggin’ loved it. So I wanted to give everyone a gift as a thank you for making that weekend one of the top five weekends of my life. Some people hear that and think, “Really? What kind of boring life do you lead?” The answer is, “I don’t lead a boring my life. My life is amazing. I travel all over North America for work and for play, I try new things, I meet new people, and basically kick all the ass allowed by federal and state laws. That’s how good that weekend was.” Now, what I’d prefer to do is buy everyone a car, but I’m not Oprah (though I think the talk show scene is missing an important voice by not giving me a studio, an audience, and a mic). So what I can do is make a playlist for everyone to rock to whenever they need a little pick me up. Because I like to type I always build a codex for any playlist I create. You’ll find it below:

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Bringing Dad Home In the Overhead Bin, by Shira Toeplitz

In case you haven’t already heard the story of how my wife-elect brought her father’s remains back to the States, the Washington Post ran her essay this Sunday in the Outlook section. We don’t get many guarantees in life, but let there be no doubt: Gideon would be proud.


Sadly, I only knew Gideon Toeplitz for a few years – but the stories his friends and colleagues have shared with me, both before and after he passed away, are the stuff of legend.  I’ve been fortunate enough to record a handful of them for posterity, but until I’m able to produce them for your listening pleasure, I recommend this 2001 profile from  the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Sunday Magazine, penned by the same writer who wrote Gideon’s  obituary for the PG.

Note to self: I should really send a letter to this Andrew Druckenbrod fellow.

Saddest Song

The Best Camera?

I find myself conflicted. On one hand, the journalism industry is suffering unspeakable losses as publishers scramble to turn a profit. The Chicago Sun-Times, for instance, recently laid off its entire photojournalism staff, apparently expecting reporters to cover the chasm with their smartphones. This is a novel concept, but while it might seem a decent idea for Facebook or Instagram, I can’t see it producing Pulitzer- or NPPA- caliber photojournalism. As a lifelong news junkie, an ardent (if fairly new) devotee of photography, and the husband-elect of a journalist,  this development strikes me as a harbinger of bad things to come.

On the other hand, while I greatly appreciate photography as an art form, I also love to take my own photos. I’m the guy who whips out a camera and makes some memories, sometimes when it’s appropriate, and sometimes when it’s not. Lately I seem to be studying the work of respected photographers (e.g. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Gliden.. the list goes on and on, but I’m decidedly a fan of Magnum Photography.) I also try to do a decent job of self-editing, so as not to flood my friends’ feeds with stuff that belongs on the cutting room floor. Sometimes I even get paid to shoot, but believe me – I’m keeping my day job.

Talking with a good friend recently about his search for a new camera, I remembered a nugget of wisdom I came across soon after I got into photography: F/8 and Be There. At first I mistook it as an esoteric formula for calculating aperture, but over time I found it to be both a classic rule of photography, as well as something a philosophy. Over the past few years I’ve owned (and sold) a handful of decent cameras and lenses, but lately some of my most fun and interesting photos came not from my Fujifilm X100, of which I’m a HUGE fan, but from my iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong. In terms of image quality, iPhones can’t muster anything approaching the output of cameras with bigger sensors and better optics. But whatever kind of camera we own, the one most of us have with us at any given time is a smartphone – with its tiny sensor, non-zooming lens (a good thing!),  Facebook app, Angry Birds, and all the rest. Which brings to mind another aphorism  – The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You.

I loved having my “good” camera handy to shoot Will and Christine’s flash wedding, but my iPhone shots seem to be plenty popular. They show up in the darnedest places, including DC/neighborhood spots like FamousDC, Borderstan, Greater Greater Washington and DCist. </self-promotion>

It’s not the same, but why let that stop you? Say you’re driving up California’s Route 1 / Pacific Coast Highway. (Shira and I did in 2012, and got engaged along the way.) Obviously, we’re glad we rented a Mustang convertible – but I’m sure we’d have done fine in another car. I would have asked, she would have said yes, we would have driven up the coast to Sonoma…  hell, in a smaller car, maybe I wouldn’t have scraped the quarter panel off in the parking garage. 

Same goes for photography: whatever you have, use it! Go nuts!  I say the world is an utterly fascinating place, if you slow down long enough to pay attention. All it takes is a fraction of a second.