Photo First Aid - Fixing Blurry Travel Photos

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Image: tonyhall.

Sometimes even the most promising travel photos turn out badly. Some of the most frustrating ones come out blurry, and unless you are experimenting with creative photography techniques, that's probably not what you were hoping for. Unfortunately, you can't just crop out the bad part or work some quick magic to regain your lost clarity. And to make matters worse, it is highly unlikely that you can easily go back and retake them. You may think that these blurred photos are a lost cause, but I've got a few suggestions to help keep those shots out of the trashcan. While salvaging may be what you need right now, I've also got some tips to help you take better, non-blurry, photos on your next trip.

Artsmart Roundtable: Ceilings and the Art of Looking Up

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Looking up is uncomfortable, as any visitor to the Sistine Chapel can attest. (Heck, even Michelangelo complained about it when he had to paint the thing.) Try it. Tilt your head back and look at the ceiling for awhile. It hurts after awhile and as humans, we avoid things that cause discomfort.

Sometimes we are motivated to look up. Whether it's the sun in the sky or a well-designed building, something may encourage us to draw our eyes upwards. More often than not, especially when we travel, we forget to look above us. We're more concerned with what's in front and or what's coming from behind. (Or glued to our damn cell phones.) We're barraged with information, and sometimes discerning where we are is challenging enough. We often forget to peer up and see what's hovering just above us.

Artists and architects, however, have been inventing reasons for us to look up for centuries. Here are a few ceilings (both real and virtual) that prove that forgetting to look up is a bad idea.

Weekend Escapes: Maryhill Winery and the Columbia River Gorge

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columbia river gorge view

We recently spent a crisp, fall weekend in the Columbia River Gorge, which lies on the border between Washington and Oregon. As we took in the stunning views, tasting wine and peeking behind the scenes of Maryhill Winery, we quickly realized that a winery might just be the perfect activity to discover the essence of a place. Wine, after all, is more than just crushed grapes. It is the warm sun that ripens, the earth that influences its flavors, and the many hands of the people who harvest and tinker with the grapes until it reaches the final product, a bottle of wine. And while you're at its source, you might as well take a taste. And taste we did, and as we discovered which wines suited us, we also discovered the place from which they came.

2011 Traveler's Gift Guide

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travellious gift guide

This gift list won't talk about traditional travel gear and it wont tell you to get an iPad. You already know about that stuff or we've covered some of it in past. (Those old lists, they are still really excellent, by the way. In 2008 we tackled gifts for first time travelers, backpackers, urban seeks and diy options. In 2009, we kept it quirky with guides to two of our favorite sources for offbeat goods, Fred Flare and Etsy. And last year, we rounded up some more favorites in our 2010 guide.) But enough about the past, let's move onto the present and show you some of the things that have caught our eye this holiday season.

Desktop Calendar: December 2011

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desktop calendar travel december 2011

As the year winds to a close, we've been thinking a lot about where we've been this past year. Our conversations keep returning to food and these bright red crawfish called me to as the offbeat mascot of this holiday season.

One of our most salient memories from this past May was attending the Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, the self-proclaimed crawfish capital of the world. It was hot, humid and not a cloud in sight. We sipped daiquiris out of necessity, tapped our feet as Zydeco music filled the air, and sat down to a basket of some of the best crawfish we'd ever tasted. All the while, creating an unforgettable travel experience.

Where has your year taken you? What's the best meal you had in your travels? And, check out this post on Louisiana cuisine if this photo leaves you hungry.

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Travellious Test Labs: Powerbag Backpack

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ful powerbag backpack

Ever since I got my first smartphone, I've more and more frequently run into the situations where I'm out on the road and my phone is dying. Or, I've been part of the growing masses of people in the airport, frantically searching for a free plug to give their phone or tablet a charge. It's a frustrating situation and I'm guessing you've been there. I recently had the opportunity to test out a backpack that was made to alleviate these stressful situations - the Powerbag. It's a backpack designed with a charging system built-in, which allows you the charge your phone or tablet while you're carrying it around. No more hunting, no more plug stalking.

Artsmart Roundtable: Five American Artists Worthy of a Second Look

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looking at art
Image: andybrannan.

To the uninitiated, art after 1950 can be tough to wrap your head around. Artists moved away from just a pretty picture and expanded their repertoire to include the likes of dripped paint, text on walls, boxes made of plywood or dropped the visual entirely and went conceptual. I've often overheard museum goers scoff at these works and mutter "I don't get it." or "That's not art." or, my favorite, "I could have done that." (My reply to this is criticism, by the way, is "but, you didn't.")

I appreciate that the desire to understand or "get it" is innate or perhaps pounded into our heads as schoolchildren. However, as an adult, I find pleasure in not understanding everything around me. There's a joy in looking at a work of art whose meaning is not immediately grasped or deplete of meaning entirely. I love that the artist gives us, the viewer, some of the control to allow the meaning to be what we make of it, depending on the attention we chose to give. And, I'll admit, I often let myself stop worrying about what it all means and just take pleasure in its beauty.

If you're one of these skeptics, I encourage you to not skip the modern wing on your next museum visit and take some time to acquaint yourself with some great American artists. Stop worrying about what it all means and just give yourself an afternoon of pure, unadulterated experience. But, don't take my word for it, let these five artists change your mind about the value of that art that you don't quite understand.

Know Your Food: Louisiana

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Not too long ago, we began our love affair with Louisiana, not in Louisiana itself, but at home in Seattle at a little food truck called Where Ya at Matt. We spent months on a diet rich in red beans, grits, fried shrimp and beignets, which made us crave it directly from its source. Luckily, a ridiculously cheap rental car deal led Austin and I to pay a visit to Louisiana this past spring. We set out on a week-long tasting adventure across the state, and while the foods that follow are now familiar friends, we imagined you might need a bit of a Cajun crash course.

Travellious Test Labs: Outdoor Research Helium Jacket

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outdoor research helium womens jacket

I should be prepared to deal with the rain. After all, I have lived in Seattle for five years now. The thing is, in Seattle, I just deal. Getting a bit wet happens and if it's monsoon weather, I begrudgingly pull the Gortex out of the back of the closet.

Over the past year, however, I kept finding myself heading to tropical locals like Hawaii or St. Croix, where suggested packing was always a light raincoat or umbrella. I was at a loss on what to pack, as I don't even own an umbrella and a heavy raincoat was not going to take up precious cargo space for a "just in case" scenario. So, I broke down and began the hunt for the tiniest raincoat imaginable.

I discovered this Helium jacket by Outdoor Research that is lightweight, easily packed, and works perfectly in a pinch. It's quickly become one of my travel favorites.

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