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Some months ago, my friend Jen asked me if I wanted to come to Hawaii with her for her 30th birthday. Considering the fact that my birthday just happens to be the day after hers that meant that I too would then be spending my birthday in Hawaii. How could I say no to that? We spent the day of Jen's Big Island birthday on a whale watching tour, spotting many a whale off in the distance, splashing around. We couldn't get too close, because that is illegal. And, you know, dangerous. So my pictures are pretty bad (because I still...

I'm starting to think that there are no actual beaches in Hawaii. Because we certainly didn't find any. Well, we found beaches, but not the kind you want to sit at and tan while reading Eat, Pray, Love and drinking a Mai Tai. I'm starting to think I did Hawaii wrong. We did, however, on our first full day in Hawaii, find Kealakekua Bay, Pu`uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, and the Old Kona Airport Beach State Park, which are all technically beaches, I suppose. Beautiful though, but rocky and not really places you want to swim without fear of...

Aloha from Hawaii! I'm spending a week on the Big Island and have been pretty much non-stop touristing since arriving last Wednesday. I've never been to Hawaii before, and it sure is nice to be away from the Chicago winter. And to be on vacation. Because, you know, after working hard for a week and a half at my old job, it was totally time for a break. I deserved this. ;-) On our first night Jen, Andrew, and I settled into our hotel in Kona and took a walk by the waterside, grabbed a delicious poke meal, and got one of...

Many of my friends and I found ourselves in the Champaign-Urbana area on what happened to be homecoming weekend. But we weren't there for the game. We were there for a wedding. And so, while most visitors were in town watching football, Heather and Julie and I explored Allerton Park. I haven't been there in probably almost 10 years....

"We have to take Valry on adventures or else she's going to leave again." Heather   Since I came home from traveling around the world, Heather has decided that we need to take adventures,to keep me excited, so I won't leave again to travel. Of course, I already am planning to leave again to travel to Guatemala, but we might as well have a little fun while I'm in Chicago no matter what. Being Halloween, we decided to spend a day traveling to the Bear Den Zoo Pumpkin Farm in Waterford, Wisconsin to go pumpkin picking. (And to stop at a few must-see roadside...

I am not on vacation. It's something that is both easy to grasp and hard to understand. If I were on vacation I would need to fill all of my precious time with something new and exciting. Going to New York would mean Central Park and the Empire State Building. But I am now just living. So that means that I will have to take days to do things like laundry or going to the post office. And that means if, on my third day in Brooklyn, I don't leave the apartment because I am exhausted from the day before...

Going to Coney Island on the Fourth of July is a miserable experience. Inevitably I am standing next to a drunk guy who dances to everything and bumps into me and steps on my toes every other second. Inevitably I am next to a group of guys chanting everything from "Joey Chestnut"'s name to "ESPN" to "Mariah Carey" (at least they got wise to themselves and, at one point, started chanting "we're obnoxious"). Inevitably I am either too close or too far away to get good photos. Inevitably thunder sticks, signs, American flags, and people climbing on each other's shoulders...

When I arrived in New York on Sunday, after an hour-delayed-due-to-thunder-in-New-York flight, I had to make my first important decision: do I take a cab like I normally would do or pay much less but take an hour longer with a bus and two trains. I decided that, on my first day out, while everything was still in English, I couldn't set a bad precedent. ...

Joey Chestnut chomps through his hot dogs with such ferocity that particles of wet bun hang in the air like dust in front of a sunny crack of window. That is what I most crave to capture. Over the years I've honed my own method for competitive eating photography: slightly overexpose to account for shadows and to add brightness (it's a personal preference), high shutter speed (which often comes with bumping up the ISO) to suspend the debris in an isolated moment. In photographs, throughout years, throughout contests, throughout types of food, patterns emerge in how some eaters choose to eat. Bob Shoudt, AKA...