Strawberry Fields and that Analog Feel

This past weekend, my roommates and I decided to take a break from the urban life. We spent our Saturday morning at Patterson Fruit Farm (8765 Mulberry Road, Chesterland, OH 44026) picking strawberries. It was my first time strawberry picking (and I’ve only been apple picking once before, when I was a teeny tiny little kid) so I was super pumped.

I brought along my camera, Marcus (yes, I named my camera), to capture all the fun.

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We arrived at the farm a little past 10AM, when it was bright but not overbearingly sunny. I wore a black T-shirt and some shorts, but with the morning breeze, a longer pair of pants would’ve felt more comfortable.

The farm had opened not long before we arrived; even so, there were quite a few people there – mostly families with younger children. Some had already finished their picking for the day, and were preparing to leave.

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When you arrive at the strawberry fields, a few employees greet you to give you a basket to store your loot and show you what fields are open for picking. I noticed that they opened up more sections as the day went on, to ensure that no singular area was over-harvested. Plus, it means that you’ll always have nice, fresh strawberries to pick regardless of what time you arrive.

I also appreciated that the farm had lined the fields with straw; it had rained the previous night, and without the straw, the ground would have been soggy and muddy. The straw made it more bearable to kneel, or even sit, down onto the ground to harvest the strawberries. Because the strawberry bushes are low to the ground, it does mean you have to do quite a bit of kneeling and hovering. If you have bad knees, this might not be the best sustained activity for you (unless you bring a stool, which honestly, isn’t a bad idea at all).

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Overall, I had a lot of fun and got to nab some great pictures. I especially love the photo of me holding up the strawberry in the feature photo. Because there was so much direct sunlight, some of the photos looked a little bit bleached during post-processing (I set it on P mode, and don’t use a UV filter). I didn’t really mind it, because I think it gave the photos a cool vintage vibe, which prompted me to be more experimental in my photo editing. (I will probably grab my a UV filter from one of my dad’s old Minoltas when I head home in August, though.)

To give the photos that truly analog feel, I used Analog Efex Pro 2 from the Google Nik Collection (which is now free!). All of the photos were edited using the Classic Camera 7 filter, though I did play around with the film type and the dust filters.

While I quite like this app, though I do wish there were two changes – (1) that I could open RAW files directly without having to convert it first, and (2) that there was a save button that didn’t close the program after the new product is saved. It was a little bit tiresome to have to re-open the app repeatedly to edit more photos. If you opened more than one photo at a time, you end up editing all of them with the same filters. This is merely a problem with the UX, though; otherwise, the app does exactly what it says it will do and is easy and intuitive to use.

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I’m really happy with the results of the photos, and of course the 6 lbs of strawberries I harvested with my roommate! (We split into two duos; we harvested nearly 10 lbs altogether.) We’ve frozen most of it, while I added some to a homemade banana ice cream. Cassandra, one of my roommates, has plans to make a strawberry sorbet!

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After our time at the strawberry farm, we headed over to the Pizza Festival to feed our tummies. One of my goals this summer in Cleveland is to spend as much time outdoors as possible. So far, I’ve gone kayaking in the Vermillion metroparks (I wish I had brought my camera along for the view – it was gorgeous!) and spent some time exploring West Side Market and cooking with friends. (Another goal is, of course, update this blog as much as possible!)

Up next on my list are: Hocking Hills and Kalihari Water Park.

If you’ve got any suggestions for my Cleveland summer, drop me a comment! I’d love to find more places to go to.

Fin.

Writer’s notes:
1. Sun protection is real business. This summer, before you spend an obnoxious amount of time outdoors, make sure to check for the UV Index (here by Coppertone) and take other precautions accordingly.
2. I really like Uniqlo’s UV-protective clothing (here), and for my face I use Skinfood’s Aloe Watery Sun Water Gel (here). Biore’s Watery Essence (here) is really great too.

Old Friends in Old Places

Since being back home, I’ve met up with some old friends and revisited some old places.

One such place is SoHo, or South of Houston St, a booming shopping and art district in lower Manhattan. Honestly, I’ve become pretty disenchanted with the store offerings at SoHo (and consumerism as a whole), so I’m more interested in finding places to take fancy photographs. So far, the hunt is still on.

Angelika Film Center HQ. SoHo, NYC. December 27, 2016 // Pentax KS2.
Angelika Film Center HQ. SoHo, NYC. December 27, 2016 // Pentax KS2.

Day time activities aside, my favorite thing to do in the city is walking around at night. I absolutely love the night lights of New York, and although it means I grew up never seeing a star in the night sky, I still would not have traded it for the world. Luckily for me, I got friends who are more than glad to indulge me in some nighttime city exploring.

Rockefeller Park, North End in Battery Park City. December 28, 2016 // Pentax KS2.
Rockefeller Park, North End in Battery Park City. December 28, 2016 // Pentax KS2.

Our original plan was to go watch one of our friends get a tattoo – but he got the tattoo without me! So we rearranged our itinerary, and settled for walking around our old high school neighborhood instead.

New Tats. December 28, 2016 // Pentax KS2.
New Tats. December 28, 2016 // Pentax KS2.

I finally got the chance to visit The Oculus, the main building of the World Trade Center transportation hub. A friend I was with said it best when he described it as a Venus fly trap from far away. A beautiful Venus fly trap, but a Venus fly trap nonetheless.

The Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava. December 28, 2016 // Pentax KS2.
The Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava. December 28, 2016 // Pentax KS2.

The structure was designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish neofuturistic architect (think the late great Zaha Hadid). If I am being honest, I think the architecture on the outside is eye-catching, but doesn’t necessarily belong. The interior, however, is absolutely breathtaking with its clean white lines and futuristic feel.

Changing lights at the Oculus, World Trade Center Transportation Hub. December 29, 2016 // Pentax KS2.
Changing lights at the Oculus, World Trade Center Transportation Hub. December 29, 2016 // Pentax KS2.

Lastly, I rounded the last few days off with a belated holiday party with another old group of friends. This group of friends is very special to me—they are people I’ve grown up with. We’ve known each other for ages, and it is honestly always such a joy to round the year off with them.

Secret Santa with some old friends. December 29, 2016 // Pentax KS2.
Secret Santa with some old friends. December 29, 2016 // Pentax KS2.

The end of the year is always a time for reminiscing. I love catching up with old friends to share stories about our college lives, which for the time being seem like a distant fairytale.

That’s the thing about college, especially when you go to a college so far away. Any break or return home feels more like a vacation or an escape from reality. It is a weird feeling, especially when you think about how this very same place used to be such a big part of our lives, and now we’re completely focused on a different place.

But that’s life, right? You complete one chapter and you move on, but you really don’t think about how far you’ve come until you take a step back and revisit all the chapters you’ve already written.

Until next time! Happy New Year’s (soon)! I’d have a toast to that. 😉

Fin

Writer’s Note:
Benjamin Kabak over at CityLabs @TheAtlantic wrote an interesting critique of the shortcomings of Calatrava’s design, specifically the sacrificing of function for form. It can be read here.

Outtakes

I cannot believe there are only 5 days left of 2016 – and I definitely cannot believe that it’s been 23 days since I last posted. (Not such a great track record for a new endeavor, now is it?) I’ve accumulated some photos in the three-week period I’ve spent with Marcus, my trusty Pentax KS2. While I’ve been uploading select photos onto Project 365, here are some of the outtakes form this month-long period that didn’t quite make it to any blog posts.

Before I left Cleveland for winter break, I took some time off after finals to visit the museums around campus. I stopped by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) and Cleveland Museum of Art.

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Average food waste per household. Seen at the Our Global Kitchen exhibit at the CMNH. Taken on December 14, 2016 using a Pentax KS2.
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Aztec market place, as seen in OGK exhibit at CMNH. Taken using a Pentax KS2 on December 14, 2016.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is currently putting on a food exhibit called Our Global Kitchen (here); it centers around food and its cultural influences and impacts. It’s incredibly fascinating, and the museum did a great job building interactive and fun displays. There is also a food kitchen, hosted weekly in conjunction with Whole Foods Market.

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Ever wondered how Kublai Khan enjoyed his breakfast? Well, now you know! As seen at OGK, at CMNH. Taken using a Pentax KS2 on December 14, 2016.
Eating utensils from all around the world. OGK exhibit, Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.
Eating utensils from all around the world. OGK exhibit, Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.

I also visited the Cleveland Museum of Art, a place which I’ve photographed extensively already. Though, I must say, with 55,000 sqm of floor space, you’re always discovering new things. The Asian art galleries are my favorite, but I decided to venture to cover the whole gallery and see what new items were up on rotation.

Tree Root with carved base at CMA. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.
Tree Root with carved base at CMA. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.
The Wade Family Tiffany Necklaces, on loan from (L) CMNH, and (R) Tiffany & Co. Special Centennial loan at CMA. Taken on December 14, 2016 using a Pentax KS2.
The Wade Family Tiffany Necklaces, on loan from (L) CMNH, and (R) Tiffany & Co. Special Centennial loan at CMA. Taken on December 14, 2016 using a Pentax KS2.
View of Baroque Gallery from Gallery 301, at the CMA. Taken on December 14, 2016 using a Pentax KS2.
View of Baroque Gallery from Gallery 301, at the CMA. Taken on December 14, 2016 using a Pentax KS2.

I was not disappointed. I came across the Wade Family Tiffany Jewels (here) in Gallery 221. I also discovered Gallery 301, also known as the Collector’s Cabinet. It sits perched on the third floor, overlooking the Baroque gallery. The gallery space is incredibly tiny, but what it lacks in floor space it makes up for in peace and view.

Wade Park, the greenspace that surrounds the CMA and CMNH is always beautiful during the winter time. The lighting installations look great among the fresh snow we got in Cleveland during the time.

Big red chair. Wade Oval, Cleveland, OH. Peek the Weatherhead School of Business building in the background, designed by the one and only Frank Gehry. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.
Big red chair. Wade Oval, Cleveland, OH. Peek the Weatherhead School of Business building in the background, designed by the one and only Frank Gehry. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.
Dandelions in Wade Oval, Cleveland, OH. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.
Dandelions in Wade Oval, Cleveland, OH. CMA in the background. Pentax KS2 // December 14, 2016.

In addition to museum hopping, I spent a lot of time eating! I love photographing food, because the colors offer great contrast. My favorite is when there is movement; I think food is meant to be eaten so I love photographing food that’s half eaten or being eaten. What better way to show that food tastes good than by photographing people eating it, right?

Korean food with girlfriends at Korea House on Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH. Taken with a Pentax KS2 on December 14, 2016.
Korean food with girlfriends at Korea House on Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH. Taken with a Pentax KS2 on December 14, 2016.
Korean food with girlfriends at Korea House. I ordered the Sundubu! Yum. Taken using a Pentex KS2 on December 14, 2016.
Korean food with girlfriends at Korea House. I ordered the Sundubu! Yum. Taken using a Pentex KS2 on December 14, 2016.
11/365: Brunch with sisters at the Washington Place Inn. I ordered the Eggs in a Nest. Pentax KS2 // December 17, 2016.
11/365: Brunch with sisters at the Washington Place Inn. I ordered the Eggs in a Nest. Pentax KS2 // December 17, 2016.
14/365: Friends and food at Yard House. Pentax KS2 // December 20, 2016.
14/365: Friends and food at Yard House. Pentax KS2 // December 20, 2016.

I’ve got to give credit where credit is due, and I must say that Cleveland’s food scene is a solid A+. Most restaurants generally aren’t very expensive, and you get great food for what you pay for. I don’t think I’ve had a bad meal at a restaurant in the 3 years I’ve been in Cleveland.

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Pentax KS2 // December 21, 2016.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Pentax KS2 // December 21, 2016.

Upon returning to NYC, I checked out the Ai Weiwei exhibit at Lisson Gallery (read more here). My favorite part is definitely the wallpaper off to the side of the gallery. After speaking with the gallery employee, I learned that Ai Weiwei left little description of the wallpaper, though from the motifs it is clear that he was inspired by recent events in Syria and his time spent with refugees in Greece.

16/365: Roots and Branches by Ai Weiwei at Lisson Gallery. These stumps are iron casts! Pentax KS2 // December 22, 2016.
16/365: Roots and Branches by Ai Weiwei at Lisson Gallery. These stumps are iron casts! Pentax KS2 // December 22, 2016.

Ai has a wonderful way of combining art with political activism. He famously said, “The purpose of art is the fight for freedom.” This installation is no different. The use of tree trunks collected from Southern China alludes to the Chinese diaspora in the 50’s and 60’s, as well as shows Ai’s tendency to mix the traditional with the modern and contemporary.

The exhibit itself is also a comment on modern society. From the Gallery Press Release, “The iron roots and tree trunks shown in New York are presented in a natural, untreated state, appearing at first glance as organic forms, yet upon closer inspection, reveal their artificiality. Not born of nature but made by human hands, the works, themselves contorted by the surrounding landscape, represent a society uprooted by industrialisation and modernisation, illustrating how progress can often come at the expense of cultural and societal well-being.” (here)

There is so much that can be explored in Ai’s exhibit, too much for this blog post, but perhaps I will write a review on it at a later date. For now, enjoy some more shots taken at the gallery.

Artificiality. 2016: Roots and Branches, Ai Weiwei. Lisson Gallery, New York, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 23, 2016.
Artificiality. 2016: Roots and Branches, Ai Weiwei. Lisson Gallery, New York, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 23, 2016.
Taken by Sharon. 2016: Roots and Branches, Ai Weiwei. Lisson Gallery, New York, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 26, 2016.
Taken by Sharon. 2016: Roots and Branches, Ai Weiwei. Lisson Gallery, New York, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 23, 2016.
Sharon's outfit of the day. 2016: Roots and Branches, Ai Weiwei. Lisson Gallery, New York, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 23. 2016.
Sharon’s outfit of the day. 2016: Roots and Branches, Ai Weiwei. Lisson Gallery, New York, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 23. 2016.

All in all, it is great being home. I’m on day 5 of being home, most of which consists of lazing around in my sweet PJs.

18/365: Holiday attire. Pentax KS2 // December 25, 2016.
18/365: Holiday attire. Pentax KS2 // December 25, 2016.
Local bubble tea shop. Brooklyn, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 24, 2016.
Local bubble tea shop. Brooklyn, NY. Pentax KS2 // December 24, 2016.

In the event that I don’t post in the next week or so, have a happy new year and happy holidays!

Fin

Writer’s notes:
(1) Ai Weiwei is a well-known Chinese artist and activist. You can learn more about him here.

(2) I recently started watching Westworld, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you have access to HBO/HBO Go or have a way of getting access to it, check it out. Read more about Westworld here.