Seeing the World with the Tipsy Gypsies

Last week we spent a few days in Austin, TX for a little gathering called TravelCon. To be honest, we were pretty overwhelmed going into the whole experience, being conference newbies and all, but the crowd couldn’t have been better.

On the second day, we were introduced to a couple who called themselves The Tipsy Gypsies. Nate and Marta Connella describe themselves as “a married couple who quit everything to go see and experience the world.” They also like to chronicle their adventures through film, photography, and adult beverages.

Nate is a pretty fantastic filmmaker and has had a few of his travel films featured on Lonely Planet, National Geographic, BBC World News and Travel+Leisure. I really love his style because you can see that he likes to get up close and personal with the culture and people. So many travel filmmakers today rely too much on cinematic drone shots and in Nate’s films you can really feel the atmosphere on the street.

Take the example below, a one and a half minute look at their time in Hong Kong. You can feel the hustle and bustle in the streets in a city that houses some 7.4 million people.

Travel and Food and Drink

There’s not much that will get you closer to a culture than by enjoying local cuisine and drinks. For a lot of people that means venturing out a little farther than most tourists and seeing the soul of the locals in their own districts. I love Paris, but if you never leave the touristy center, you probably haven’t experienced the real grittiness of the city and the people that walk its streets.

In 2016, Nate and Marta traveled through Portugal for a month, starting in the north at Porto and heading down south to Lisboa. “If a country's wealth were based solely on the kindness and character of its people, Portugal would be one of the richest countries in the world,” said The Tipsy Gypsies about their film The Spirit of Portugal.

Check it out below and experience Portugal through the eyes of The Tipsy Gypsies, then plan a trip for yourself. After all, this is a site for inspiration. Now get out and travel! And thanks to Nate and Marta for hanging out and talking travel. Y’all are the best!

Cover Photo by The Tipsy Gypsies.

Dreaming of Berlin

On November 9, 1989, I was five years old. Not exactly a great age for remembering world events. Still, a single memory floats around in my head of holding a small newspaper for children with a picture of East and West Berliners standing atop a structure that I didn't know existed. 

Ever since that day I've been fascinated by the era known as the Cold War and what would motivate someone to put up a barrier between people. Currently, I'm reading Berlin Now: The City After The Wall by Peter Schneider and am struck by how much each side of the city had in common right before that day in November 1989. 

Standing for almost thirty years, it feels like the remains of the Berlin Wall speak to me. I've yet to step foot in Germany, beyond a flight routed through Frankfurt, and it is the top of my travel bucket list. I have this dream of being in the city for the thirty year anniversary of its fall in November of 2019. To stand at the Brandenburg Gate and look upon the progress achieved in my short lifetime.  

Music, Movies, and Memories

For the last few years, I've immersed myself in documentaries, movies, music, and remembrances of the Cold War era, especially the turbulent 1980's that led to the fall of the wall. Books like The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 by Frederick Taylor and Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, The Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin by Paul Hockenos offer a glimpse into the political, cultural and, everyday lives of Berliners on opposite sides. In Berlin Calling, Hockenos looks at the culture of communes, artists, squatters, and music that helped lead to the eventual reunification of the German capital. Taylor's The Berlin Wall gives a much more comprehensive take on the politics at the end of World War II that brought about the Wall and its eventual demise.

Following on from Berlin Calling, I stumbled upon a user mix on Apple Music entitled Berlin Wall, Microfilm, and the Cold War that collects some great tracks from David Bowie, Re-Flex, Blondie, and many more, that helps transport my mind to '89. 

Last year while talking with my grandfather, I learned that he'd been part of an Air Force team that helped prepare Francis Gary Powers for the reconnaissance flight that led to the 1960 U2 incident, the aftermath depicted in Steven Speilberg's Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. 

Of course, I also mixed in a bit of the fantastic, mainly with movies like Atomic Blonde, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and tv shows The Same Sky and The Americans

Constantly Making Plans

I'm not sure there's any other city in the world that I've dreamed about more than Berlin. From constantly reading, studying maps of the Wall's route and even brushing up on the German language (not quite successfully though), there's no place I've prepared for more without actually going. That's something I'd like to remedy shortly. As I said before, I'd love to be in Berlin for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, but the truth is, right now I'd settle for simply seeing the city. 

There's an inherent romanticism to travel. The movement from one place to another. New sights, smells, surroundings and a sense of shared kinship. For me, though, seeing Berlin isn't merely a change of place, but a pilgrimage of sorts. Like stepping foot on ancestral soil, even though I have mostly English and Scottish heritage. After immersing myself in the history, culture and politics of the Cold War, visiting Berlin feels like going home. 

So in 2019, that's what I hope to do. See you soon, Berlin.

The Itinerary: Paris For Fun

It's been a long few weeks in the Journey & Play world. From lots of work projects, hurt shoulders, and wrists, to the beginning of new jobs and all the anxiety that can bring. So from us (Kim & Kevin) enjoy your weekend and look for the fun, the lighthearted, the joyful. Start with this short film from Guy Trefler for a lighthearted and irreverent look at the City of Lights.

Five Great Criterion Collection Films On Sale Now

I'm a firm believer in the ability of film to transport us somewhere new, whether that be to a new world or to a country we've never been before. One of the best ways to do that is through the Criterion Collection. Not only does the Criterion Collection highlight some of the most beautiful films ever made, it also brings directors and films from world cinema to your doorstep.

If you're looking to start a collection of films that you'll definitely not find on Netflix, like Godard's Breathless, Truffaut's The 400 Blows, or Ozu's Good Morning, then Criterion is the way to go. Complete with the most authentic cut of the film and brilliantly designed packaging, it's a piece of film history that you'll love to have displayed on your bookshelf. 

Barnes & Noble is having a 50% off sale on all Criterion Collection products until August 6. I've already grabbed a few of my favorites and here's a few more to consider for your classic film collection. 

This post contains affiliate links that help us keep Journey & Play running. If you buy something through one of the affiliate links, J&P earns a small commission to help keep this site running, at no cost to you.

Day For Night

Truffaut's look at the world of filmmaking makes for a funny and very French classic. Winner of the 1973 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Day For NIght chronicles the production of the fictitious film "Meet Pamela" about the drama that ensues when a young Frenchman introduces his parents to his new British wife. 

 

Wings of Desire

Set against the backdrop of Berlin in the mid-1980's, Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire is a compelling look at what it means to be alive. Centering around two angels looking down (yes this is the original version of City of Angels with Nic Cage and Meg Ryan) the film uses black and white and color to convey emotion and life. It also features an excellent performance by Peter Falk as himself. 

 

Seven Samurai

Akira Kurosawa's epic Seven Samurai transports you to the time of honor and duty as the way of the samurai comes into conflict with the changing modern world. The part story of courage and morality, Seven Samurai looks at what it means to follow an old tradition in an ever-changing world. Oft-cited as inspiration from modern directors, Kurosawa's classic is a great intro to Asian cinema of the 1950's. 

 

8 1/2

Moving to the Italy, director Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 is considered to be his magnum opus. Part autobiography, and part fantasy, Fellini delivers a surreal look at what it means to create art. If you're a fan of surrealistic films and great 60's fashion, Fellini's 8 1/2 is a great choice. 

 

Night and Fog

Released 10 years after the end of World War II, Alain Resnais' Night and Fog is a sobering, heart-wrenching look at life in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. Filmed not too long after liberation, Night and Fog's almost monotone narration is in stark contrast to the brutality played out on screen. I first saw Night and Fog in college and its images have stuck with me ever since. 

You can find more great titles from the Criterion Collection sale at Barnes & Noble here or in store, but hurry, the sale ends August 6. 

Why I Switched From Nikon to Sony

If you’ve spent any amount of time with a photographer, you’ll have no doubt heard about their preferred brand of camera and why it’s the best thing to use.

For me that was Nikon. I started with a little Nikon D3200 that was a perfect beginner camera. It had all the main manual functions that I knew how to use at a pretty low price point.

After that, I picked up a Nikon D750 and was entirely in love with it. I paired it with a 24-120mm f/4 zoom lens, a 50mm 1.8 and an 85mm 1.8 D series lens. The 85mm was my absolute favorite, and I couldn’t get enough of its swirly bokeh and tack sharpness. 

 Shot with a Nikon D750 with a Nikon 24-120mm lens in Austin, TX. 

Shot with a Nikon D750 with a Nikon 24-120mm lens in Austin, TX. 

The D750 was the perfect mix of functionality, style, and effectiveness. I was able to capture 1080p video with the ability to switch quickly back to a brilliant portrait style camera. 

Travel

 Shot with a Nikon D750 with a 50mm 1.8D lens in Paris, France.

Shot with a Nikon D750 with a 50mm 1.8D lens in Paris, France.

In 2016 I packed up my D750 and a single 50mm lens for a trip to Paris and Amsterdam. The ensuing photos are some of my absolute favorites, but the experience of carrying around the D750 with a small lens and battery pack was less than ideal. More and more I found myself trying to pare down my kit for a lighter travel load, and the D750 wasn’t cutting it. 

A full day of walking around the canals of Amsterdam left me with a pretty sore neck and back. 

Video

Another breaking point was the inability to shoot 4K video and Nikon not having a line of dedicated video camcorders. I didn’t want to invest more money in a system that wasn’t compatible with my future endeavors. Canon has the C-series line of pro camcorders, and Sony’s FS camcorders are quickly catching up while Nikon focuses mainly on DSLR’s.  

Finding a Replacement

I narrowed my options down to the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Sony a7Rii, but after going into a store and handling both cameras, the small form factor of the mirrorless Sony easily won out over the bulkier Canon. 

I based a lot of my decision on ease of use when traveling and the a7Rii beat the 5D Mark IV on size alone. I pack almost exclusively in a carry-on so space is premium and the smaller footprint of the Sony won out.

 Shot with the Sony a7Rii with a Sony 50mm 1.8 lens in Seattle.

Shot with the Sony a7Rii with a Sony 50mm 1.8 lens in Seattle.

My kit now consists of the Sony a7Rii with a Sony 50mm 1.8 and the new Sony 24-105mm f/4 which has been incredible. 

Lens Mount

One of my favorite things about the Sony system is its ability to accept other company's lenses through adapters. You can put an adapter on a Nikon, but you lose a lot of the functionality. With something like the Metabones EF to E T Smart Adapter you can use all the autofocus functions of Sony cameras while using newer Canon lenses. 

 Shot with a Sony a7Rii with a Metabones T Smart Adapter and a Canon 70-200mm IS lens in Houston. 

Shot with a Sony a7Rii with a Metabones T Smart Adapter and a Canon 70-200mm IS lens in Houston. 

Drawbacks of the Sony a7Rii

My biggest qualm with the a7Rii is that its small size means that battery life is pretty awful, especially when shooting video. The batteries themselves are tiny and don’t hold a charge for very long. I’ve found a bit of a compromise by rigging up an external battery pack that extends my shooting by a ton, but it adds to the bulk. To be clear, it’s only a small problem, but can be annoying when traveling and not going back to your home base all day long. 

The new Sony a7iii has a unique style battery that is said to almost double the battery life of the NP-FW50 battery that fits the a7Rii, which I’m eager to try out. You can read more about the new a7iii here

 Shot with Sony a7Rii with a Sony 50mm 1.8 lens in Seattle.

Shot with Sony a7Rii with a Sony 50mm 1.8 lens in Seattle.

Conclusion

I’ve had my Sony setup for about seven months now, and I can’t remember a single time when I’ve regretted the switch from Nikon. After spending some time traveling with the new setup, the smaller weight, superior video specs, and fabulous low-light capabilities have only confirmed that I made the right choice. 

Now to get my hands on a Sony FS5 and see how my set of lenses looks on a full-fledged pro cinema camera.