The Music City’s Neon Lights

I have totally fallen in love with Nashville! They call it the Music City and I love music. Nashville is obviously the heart of country music. But there so much more. Music streams from every bar and restaurant in the city. Bands playing the honky-tonks on Nashville’s Broadway compete for your attention day and night. Sometimes they even play too loud to have a normal conversation over dinner. But they add to the atmosphere of the city. It is cool to stroll up and down Broadway on a Saturday night, look at the party people, have a drink and listen to the bands wailing under the bright neon lights of the all the bars they play.

Nashville's Broadway Neon Lights

Nashville's Broadway Neon Lights

Nashville's Broadway Neon Lights

This Is Great Smoky Mountain National Park Too

There’s more than just waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. In fact it is probably more known for its wildlife. The park is home to coyotes, deer, turkeys, elk and most notably for the approximately 1600 black bears that live in those mountains. We had the chances to meet 2 of them. Kinda cool to watch a bear climb up a tree to feed.

Black Bear in GSMNP

Black Bear in GSMNP

And it is also known for its scenic views of the mountains, often covered in a little haze—hence the name Smoky Mountians—that gives the Smokies a beautiful blue glow on sunny days. And even on overcast days, when the sky is dark and gloomy, the views are magnificent.

Scenic Views of Great Smoky Mountain NP

Scenic Views of Great Smoky Mountain NP

I could have spent at least a few more days in the Smokies enjoying the views, the hikes and the wildlife. But we had a few more plans, so I guess I will have to save that for another year.

Scenic Views of Great Smoky Mountain NP

The Waterfalls of Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee encompasses 2114km2 making it one of the biggest national parks in the US. It is home to about 1600 black bears which everyone wants to see. It is also known for its many waterfalls. Too many to visit in just 3 days. We picked Grotto Falls and Lynn Camp Prong Cascades to hike to.

Lynn Camp Prong Cascades is just a short hike but to get a good shot, you need to climb some rocks and dangle over the river.

Lynn Prong Camp Cascades in the Smokies

You reach Grotto Falls after a steep 2km hike; you need to climb 585 feet. If you’re untrained like me, it is quite the climb. But it is well worthwhile. A person can actually pass behind the Grotto Falls. And you can setup for a pretty cool photo behind the falls.

Grotto Falls at Great Smoky Mountain NP

Grotto Falls at Great Smoky Mountain NP

But, you know, there is cool little falls all over the park. Often they are just off the paved road. We came across this very photogenic fall driving along the Little River on our way to Cades Cove. To be honest, I may just like this little unnamed fall the best.

Waterfall at Great Smoky Mountain National Park

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Scenes around Stone Mountain Park

When the weather is nice, Stone Mountain Park is a great place to be and to make some photographs.

At the heart of the park, there is gigantic quartz monzonite dome of about 251 m above the surrounding area. On its north face, there is a bas-relief that depicts three Confederate figures during the American Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. It is said to be the largest bas-relief in the world.

But scenes around the park are awesome too. I set up for a long exposure at their covered bridge and the old gristmill at the park.

Covered Bridge at Stone Mountain Park

Gristmill at Stone Mountain Park

And while I was working on the long exposure photos, my buddy Luc shot this amazing photo of the lake at Stone Mountain Park.

Stone Mountain Park by Luc Bogaerts

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Hello Atlanta

We arrived in Atlanta, GA with no issues. Smooth fight with Delta.

Atlanta is home to the headquarters of CNN and Coca-Cola. And what do you do on a rainy day? Right! You take the tour at CNN and Coca-Cola World.

At CNN we goofed around, posing as news anchors. They wouldn’t have us though. We lacked relevant experience apparently.

Selfie at the CNN Newsroom in Atlanta, GA

CNN Worldwide Headquarters in Atlanta, GA

Visiting Coca-Cola World is just a lot of fun: trying to unravel the secret recipe of Coca-Cola. And I think I know what it is. When you see all the promo materials Coke produced over time, I think the true secret to their success is being a famous household name.

The Original Coca-Cola Bottle

Coca-Cola World

Atlanta is our 1st stop on the music part of the trip: we got to see Faith Hill & Tim McGraw on their Soul2Soul tour at the Philips Arena. Really awesome show.

Faith Hill & Tim McGraw Soul2Soul Tour in Atlanta, GA

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Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)

I love Antwerp! It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. And that’s because it has a perfect mix old and new architecture, it has cool bars and nice restaurants. And it has cool museums. The MAS, Museum aan de Stroom, is one of those. Opened 2011, amidst some controversy about the design, it stands 10 stories high in an area of the city that is in full expansion. And from its rooftop you’ll have a great view over Antwerp.

MAS Museum Antwerp

Quality of iPhone Photos

Why are so many people picking on the quality of iPhone photos, and of any smartphone for that matter? Everybody says the photos are just not good enough for print or to show them on large format. Well, let’s talk about that for a minute…

I bought my 1st digital camera back in 2001. I took it with me on vacation to Hawaii and shot this photo of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor with it.

Pearl Harbor

The Olympus E-10 that I had back then, had a 3.7 megapixel sensor. Compact Flash cards cost a fortune. So I shot in what was called HiRes JPEG on that trip to get the most out of my memory card. Effectively, this photo is 1600 x 1200 pixels (that is a mere 1.83 megapixel).

This photo is hanging on a wall in my office, printed at 60cm x 40cm (23.6″ x 15.7″) behind plexiglass. After 15 years, I still love it. And I can promise you I will not take it down from my office wall anytime soon.

If you look real close at the print, it is grainy and a little soft.  The people on deck of the USS Arizona Memorial are nothing more than multi-colored blobs. And you can see some grain in the clouds too. But when you look at it from the right viewing distance,  it is a stunning photo that brings back quite a few memories.

Now consider this: my iPhone 7 has a 12MP camera, plenty of memory, shoots RAW and I can edit my photos in Lightroom Mobile right on my phone. So why should it produce photos that are inferior to that 15 year old photo I like so much?

Well, it doesn’t! The other day, I was in Antwerp attempting a long exposure shot of the new Port House, the Antwep Port Authority HQ designed by architect Zaha Hadid.

Antwerp Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects

While waiting on the sun to set, I flipped out my iPhone and shot and edited this photo of the building in Lightroom Mobile. On my iPhone! Guess what? It holds up to that 15 year old photo of the USS Arizona Memorial. And if that one was good enough to print at 60cm x 40cm, the iPhone photo should be good enough for print too.