Can’t Stop Won’t Stop…

…using photo filters on my new iphone 5!

I like to consider myself a relentless seeker of beauty and character in unexpected places. I work hard to convince myself that depth and creativity are alive and well in the suburbs, mostly because it makes me feel better about the fact that I’m not living in some vibrant, bustling, artful city. It’s the little things that make all the difference, right? So earlier this week I decided to head to old town Fairfax just a couple miles from my office. I was hoping to find a bit of small town charm and take some old-timey pictures on main street, but I’m sad to say I did not find the inspiration I was seeking in this (mostly) charmless place. Yes, there was the old courthouse, a nice church, some cozy looking restaurants and the place was old…but the unattractive “modern” architectural blobs overlooking main street and the generally uninspired look of the place just didn’t provide the photographic charm I was seeking. Every structure seemed to commemorate some minor Confederate happening and since I’m not really a Civil War buff, the whole historical aspect of downtown Fairfax just wasn’t enough to make up for the less than magical feel of the place.

The kind of architecturally  inspiring masterpieces you can in downtown Fairfax.

The kind of architecturally inspiring masterpieces you’ll find in downtown Fairfax.

So wanting to look at something pretty and different after spending the week looking at highways, office buildings and suburban developments, my brother and I headed up to Ellicott City just outside Baltimore. The original plan was to meet up with a meetup group for a hike, but we ended up getting lost (big surprise there) and arriving late. And the hike turned out to be more of a stroll through the woods down an old trolley route rather than a walk in the woods. But after our pleasant semi-nature stroll we headed to the historic district and had a nice time eating, walking around, taking pictures, visiting antique stores, and eating some more. It’s fair to say all my walking was cancelled out by a portabello wrap, spinach risotto and onion rings. But oh well.

The nice thing about Ellicott City is that it feels vibrant and lived in, unlike many American small towns, which often feel sleepy and preserved — pretty places you can visit when you’re in the mood for something quaint and old-fashioned, but not much more than outdoor historical museums when it comes down to it. But Ellicott City was bustling with people, restaurants, bars, weird shops, hills, historic sites and yes, plenty of charm. I love hilly cities and towns because they add a level of perspective, layering and depth you just can’t get in flat places. As far as small towns go, Ellicott City is now in my top 10. But that’s not the point of this entry.

The point of this entry is that photo filters are amazing. My old phone didn’t have filters so this is all new to me; suddenly, a mediocre picture looks cool! I would like to provide an example:

My non-filtered photo did capture an unexpected ray of sun, but otherwise all we have here is a hipster/redneck kid (it's hard to tell) enjoying a cigarrette and coffee in front of an antique store.

My non-filtered photo did capture a fortuitous ray of sunlight, but otherwise all we have here is a hipster/redneck kid (it’s hard to tell) enjoying a cigarette and coffee in front of an antique store.

And then, filter magic happens:

After applying the "transfer" filter, my picture suddenly looks artistic, and if I do say so myself, pretty cool.

After applying the “transfer” filter, my picture suddenly looks artistic, and if I do say so myself, pretty interesting. Filters make a statement. What kind of statement I am making here I don’t know, but this photo feels very different from the first one.

Here’s another example:

Here you see a few buildings under unfiltered conditions.

Here you see a few buildings under unfiltered conditions.

And suddenly I've added a layer of nostalgia and fuzzy feelings!

And suddenly I’ve added a layer of nostalgia and fuzzy feelings!

Here are some more (mostly filtered) pictures of Ellicott City. Any one interested in more small town exploration?

Historic Ellicott City through a bridge.

Historic Ellicott City through a bridge.

Bikes at the entrance of an alleyway.

Bikes at the entrance of an alleyway.

Side streets. Cars kept ruining all my pictures.

Side streets. Cars kept ruining all my pictures.

I feel sorry for the guy with the "cash for gold sign." That's always seemed like an unpleasant job to me.

I feel sorry for the guy with the “cash for gold sign.” That’s always seemed like an unpleasant job to me.

This is a view of historic downtown from a side street in the hills around town.

This is a view of historic downtown from a side street in the hills around town.

I don't think this guy really appreciated being in my photo. I just wanted a picture of the mural. He just happened to be there.

I don’t think this guy really appreciated being in my photo. I just wanted a picture of the mural. He just happened to be there.

A cute little stairway and house.

A cute little stairway and house.

A not so cute stairway.

A not so cute stairway.

Some pretty buildings in historic downtown.

Some pretty buildings in historic downtown.

Some happy, colorful buildings.

Some happy, colorful buildings.



Categories: D.C, D.C Side Trips, DC Area Hiking, Suburbs, U.S Travels

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Great photos, and yes, filters are fun. Then there is photoshop… 🙂 –Curt

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  1. Sibling D.C Exploration | My (Former) Nomad Life

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