Monday, March 31, 2014

Elbow - "New York Morning" (MusicMonday)

I love the music of the British band Elbow. I love New York City. And I love the love song to New York Elbow created with "New York Morning."

As if that wasn't enough, the video for the song is an amazing super-short documentary about the aged, but still punk rock, couple Dennis and Lois and their love and involvement with NYC and the CBGB's scene.

Unfortunately, I haven't found any information on who the director of the video is. But here's a bit of extra trivia for you: Back in the day, the Happy Mondays released the song "Dennis and Lois" about the same couple.

Elbow's latest album The Take Off and Landing of Everything came out in March. They're touring throughout spring and summer in the US and Europe.

Lois in the video for "New York Morning" by Elbow

Friday, March 28, 2014

Arkansas Headwaters - In A Colorado Minute (Week 204)

Arkansas Headwaters - In A Colorado Minute (Week 204) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

The Arkansas River actually begins its journey in Colorado, where its waters are derived from the Rocky Mountains snowpack. A good section around the early part, or headwaters, of the Arkansas River have been designated as a Colorado State Park called Arkansas Headwaters State Park.

Conveniently, because I purchased a year-pass for Lory State Park near Fort Collins, we're able to get in for free at all 42 Colorado State Parks. So on our drive back from a road trip during Week 200, we stopped at a section of the river that is one of the most popular river boating (whitewater rafting, etc.) areas in the United States - and great for trout fishing, as well. I really didn't expect it to be that beautiful. Nor did I plan on shooting a weekly video about this place, so I didn't even take the tripod out of the car - hence some shaky footage and a few still photos, with which I replaced the same images as video at the very last minute before uploading.

We were so taken by how gorgeous this area was that we spent most of the afternoon hiking around and then basking in the sun on the top of a small peak just looking around at the wonderful vista. A classic Happy Place.

We had parked the car at the Hecla camp grounds and, before we left, picked our two favorite spots with views of the river to pitch our tent as soon as it gets warm. I can't wait! And I'm pretty sure I'll show you a video of what this place looks like in the summer in a few months...

Also, I want to figure out which train line runs along the river here. I suspect it's the Royal Gorge Route - but it might just be regular Amtrak line - if it's even a track for people transportation. One of my top priorities this spring/summer is to get on one of the Rocky Mountains trains and share a video of that trip with you!

The lovely song in this video is the instrumental version of "Chainsaw" by Josh Woodward, who makes hundreds of his songs available through a Creative Commons license. How awesome is that?

Arkansas Headwaters, Colorado
Hecla Campsite

Monday, March 24, 2014

Favorite Songs from the 4th 1/4 of 2013 (MusicMonday)

As the playlist of my favorite songs of the 1st quarter of 2014 is growing, I just realized I hadn't yet published my mix tape of favorite songs of the last quarter of 2013. So here is that one:

CD cover for Favorite Songs from 4th Quarter of 2013

5  - Mother Tongue - White Lies
6  - Pep Talk - Abandoned Pools
7  - Payday - The Title Sequence
8  - Down, Down The Deep River - Okkervil River
9  - Another Story - The Head And The Heart
10 - The Mercy Seat - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
11 - The Sing - Bill Callahan
12 - The Curse - Agnes Obel
13 - Where Did I Leave That Fire - Neko Case
14 - Blood Of Eden - Regina Spektor
15 - Becoming The Gunship - Islands
16 - Mermaids - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Watch the videos for these songs via my Pinterest Music board

Listen to these songs on Spotify

The photo on the CD cover was taken near Carr, Colorado, when I was shooting the video "Ghost Town Carr – In A Colorado Minute (Week 186)" - which you can watch HERE.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Prairie Dogs - In A Colorado Minute (Week 203)

Prairie Dogs - In A Colorado Minute (Week 203) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

Prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) can be found all over the North America's prairie and grasslands, including right here in Fort Collins, Colorado. Considered a disease-carrying pest by most locals and an easy to find shooting target for others, I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks they're rather adorable looking.

About the size of rabbits, they make squeaking sounds like guinea pigs, they also remind you of a mix between a squirrel and a rat. Since I have no love for either of those animals when it comes to my garden and house, I understand how frustrating it must be to have prairie dogs dig up your yard and build their borrows and mounts.

While I was able to get relatively near to these animals living around a parking lot (Jax Mercantile) and model plane airfield, I never wished for a stronger zoom lens more than this week. Maybe later this year I'll have the gear to get a little closer with some wild animals...

What struck me most about these critters was how absolutely still they can sit or stand when they sense danger. Whiskey is almost as still when she does her "prairie dog" stance, which she happens to be doing right now next to me... begging for treats. Tststs.

The music in this video is called "Rain Hogs" and was written and performed by Jason Matherne.

This video is dedicated to Peter Verchick of Flower Power Botanticals, who has a different kind of appreciation for prairie dogs than I do.

If you like animal videos and want to see more prairie dogs, check out this video I shot in Berlin last year: Tierpark Zoo – In A Berlin Minute (Week 163)

In other news, I just published a vlog with updates relating to this web series.

Watch it in English:

Watch it in German:

Prairie Dogs - Fort Collins, Colorado

Friday, March 21, 2014

Windy Whiskey vlog + solution to YouTube "stuck in processing" issue

A quick and long-overdue update (in English + auf Deutsch) on where I am and what’s happening with my weekly Moving Postcard web series (which just reached its 200th week)… and an official introduction of Whiskey.

While it was a beautiful day, it was super windy up on the rocks around Horsetooth Reservoir. So I apologize for all the wind noise. Yes, I should have used the lavalier mic and yes, I need to look in the camera more.

Windy with Whiskey [Vlog 6 - English] 

Windig mit Whiskey [Vlog 6 - Deutsch]

When I tried uploading these videos to YouTube, I got the same error that many people seem to have experienced over the last few months: my video was perpetually stuck in "processing" claiming to be 95% done and then sitting there for over 8 hours without doing anything.

Of course, you can't reach anyone at YouTube to help resolve any issues - even if they are very common issues. In addition, you can't even find any official documentation on how this problem can be resolved. I read up on everything I could find. Tried different codecs on export and different browsers - all to no avail.

After I reached out to friends and strangers via social media and a YouTube Partners Google forum, I finally got the answer that made all the difference: upload to the SSL version of the YouTube uploader instead of the regular page: instead of

Yes, one little letter "s" did the trick. Instead of 12 hours of processing, my videos each uploaded within 5 minutes. If I understood it correctly, SSL pages include an error check (making sure what was sent is the same as what was received). There's the theory that larger, longer uploads my arrive with faults if you had drop-outs of your Internet connection.

The other adjustment I made from the original video (and this may have sped it up, but didn't resolve the problem on its own) was to drop the video export bit rate down from my usual 15,000 to only 5,000. This cut down the size of the file from 400 mb to 160 mb. With my 1-minute videos I'll keep the bit rate high, but for these longer vlogs,  a lower setting probably makes sense.

In case you want more details on what works for me (based on YouTube + Vimeo recommendations):
I export directly from FCP as .mov with h.264 codec. Frame rate set to current. Bit rate set for streaming (with 5,000 - 15,000 kbps). Frame size usually 1080, but dropped to 720 for the vlog.
Audio: AAC, 48, 128.
Streaming: checked for "fast start"

Thanks to everyone who helped me beat this YouTube bug!

Watch the Moving Postcard web series (currently in its “In A Colorado Minute” incarnation) on…

Moving Postcard website: 

Windy with Whiskey + Luci Westphal - Vlog 6

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rocky Mountains Drive: Wolf Creek Pass (Time Lapse) - In A Colorado Minute (Week 202)

Rocky Mountains Drive: Wolf Creek Pass (Time Lapse) - In A Colorado Minute (Week 202) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

A jaunty Rocky Mountains drive along Wolf Creek Pass (Highway 160 between Pagosa Springs and South Fork) in Mineral County, Colorado.

I filmed this on our way back from Pagosa Springs (after visiting Four Corners and Mesa Verde National Park / UNESCO World Heritage site the day before) during week 200.

On our way south we had driven through this area at night. In the darkness, we had suspected that the scenery was probably beautiful. We had no idea how stunning it would be during the day. When it comes to dimension and scale, both high and wide, I kind of don't think video really captures it like your eyes see it. But I hope this video gives you a bit of an idea why we kept saying "the journey is the destination" on this trip - even though our destinations, as you could see in the previous two videos, was amazing as well.

The song in this video is the instrumental version of the appropriately titled "Drive, Baby, Drive" - written and performed by Jason Matherne. Find more of his music on SoundCloud.

I plan on publishing a longer, unedited and slightly slower version of this drive very soon.

Since week 200, I have changed the format of my weekly video series a little bit. I will continue to publish a 1-minute video every week. However, I will now not always use footage I shot that very week but sometimes footage I shot in a previous week. This is mainly because the sites in Fort Collins are a bit limited and I'm excited about exploring other places around this and the surrounding states. But because of work, I can't necessarily take road trips every week. So from now on, my Moving Postcard videos will function a little less as an updated weekly journal of my travels and explorations and be more focused on showing you the coolest places I got to see over the previous few weeks.

If you have ideas of what I should explore and document for you within a day's drive of Northern Colorado, please leave a comment. Thank you!

Wolf Creek Pass, Mineral County, Colorado

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Photos from Mesa Verde National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site

The following are photos I took at the Mesa Verde National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site while shooting the 1-minute video "Mesa Verde – In A Colorado Minute (Week 201)" during the Moving Postcard Week 200 road trip.

You can watch the video and read more about the cliff dwellings and the park HERE.

Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Navajo Canyon - Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Navajo Canyon - Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Navajo Canyon - Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Cliff wall - Mesa Verde, Colorado

Cliff dwellings - Mesa Verde, Colorado

Cliff dwellings - Mesa Verde, Colorado

Looking north from a mesa in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Looking west out of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Square Tower House - Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Square Tower House - Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Kiva built by the Ancestral Pueblo people in Mesa Verde, Colorado

Kiva built by the Ancestral Pueblo people in Mesa Verde, Colorado

Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde UNESCO Heritage Site
Looking east at a Rocky Mountains ridge - Mesa Verde, Colorado
Burnt trees in front of a sunset sky - Mesa Verde, Colorado

Monday, March 10, 2014

Afghan Whigs - "Algiers" (MusicMonday)

The Afghan Whigs are releasing their first album (Do To The Beast) in 16 years on April 14th. That's exciting news already.

Even better, they already released a fantastic new song ("Algiers") a few weeks ago with an atmospheric and anachronistic video, directed by Phil Harder, set in the Wild West - granted it's a bit violent for my taste. But I love the scenery (and especially the band shots) because I love the Wild West and it reminds me of my new surroundings in Colorado.

Personally, I like the reference in the lyrics to "slave" - which reminds me of my favorite Afghan Whigs song: "My Curse".

Afghan Whigs - "Algiers"

AFGHAN WHIGS - ALGIERS from Kiss & Kill on Vimeo.

Afghan Whigs - Algiers

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mesa Verde - In A Colorado Minute (Week 201)

Mesa Verde - In A Colorado Minute (Week 201) from Luci Westphal on Vimeo.

Mesa Verde is not only a beautiful US National Park but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's the largest archeological preserve in the United States and features over 4000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo peoples, also known as Anasazi.

The Ancestral Pueblo peoples lived in Mesa Verde ("green table") from 600 to 1300, where they first built round pit houses, then mesa-top villages made of adobe and eventually the cliff dwellings.

Mesa Verde is in the Four Corners region, where I had traveled to on my special "Week 200" road trip. By the time we made it from the Four Corners Monument to Mesa Verde, there were less than two hours of daylight left. As a result, I didn't actually get to go into any of the cliff dwellings and I didn't really have time to set up my tripod for shots. Therefore, this videos shows mostly exterior views (with a few pit houses at an open archeological site) and consists more of photos than actual video footage. I hope I can make a second visit happen later this year to explore more of the cliff dwellings.

The featured song is the instrumental version of "Upcoming Downtime" by Josh Woodward, who made this song available on his website ( via a Creative Commons license. Thank you, Josh!

Navajo Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Photos from the Four Corners Monument

Here are a few photos from the Four Corners Monument, which I shot while making the 1-minute video "Four Corners Monument – In A Colorado Minute (Week 200)" during the 200th week of making 1-minute Moving Postcard videos in Berlin, Brooklyn, Colorado and around the world.

Read more about it and watch the video here:

Four Corners Monument sign

Four Corners Monument seen from Arizona with Colorado in the background

No pets allowed on the Four Corners Monument

A wider view of the Four Corners quadripoint where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet

A close view of the Four Corners quadripoint where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet

Colorado state seal

Whiskey explores Colorado in the Four Corners region after totally dissing New Mexico and before doing some business in Utah and then barking at tourists in Arizona - all within walking distance at Four Corners

Utah state seal

Four Corner Monument visitor parking in Utah 

Arizona state seal

Snow-covered mountains in Arizona, seen from Utah at Four Corners Monument
New Mexico state seal

Plant growing in dry New Mexican soil at the Four Corners Monument

Navajo Nation flag at Four Corners Monument

Navajo Taco stand at the Four Corners Monument

My traveling buddies, Whiskey and Scott, standing in Utah with an Arizona backdrop

No skateboarding pets allowed on the actual Four Corners Monument. Booh!(via Instagram

The Breaking Bad Skyler-inspired coin toss chose Colorado, which makes sense since that's where I chose to throw it.(via Instagram)

Four Corners: four feet, four states, four times the fun.
(via Instagram)

Me shooting the center of Four Corners Monument.
(Photo by Scott Solary)

Me standing on the Four Corner quadripoint - feet and tripod legs in four different states.(Photo by Scott Solary)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week 200 Road Trip Photos

The week from February 27 to March 5 was the 200th week of me shooting and publishing the weekly 1-minute web series Moving Postcard (depending on where I live at the time, it's subtitled In A Berlin Minute, In A Brooklyn Minute or In A Colorado Minute - and sometimes In Another Minute).

It also happened to be Scott's birth week. To celebrate in style, Scott, Whiskey and I went on a road trip right through the state of Colorado, from Fort Collins in the north-east to Four Corners in the south-west.

Our four feet in four states at Four Corners

We stayed in Pagosa Springs, dined in Durango and Buena Vista, visited Four Corners (including quick dips into Utah, Arizona and New Mexico), Mesa Verde National Park, and Arkansas Headwater State Park.

Along the road we saw so many amazing and beautiful sights and vistas that the statement "The journey is the destination!" became the true motto of our trip. It was the best! And I'm looking forward to many more…

Leaving Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Below are a few photos I mostly took and published via Instagram during the trip.

I will be publishing several 1-minute videos over the next few weeks and several more photo posts. When I do, I will add the links here:

Four Corners Monument – In A Colorado Minute (Week 200) (video and info)

Photos from the Four Corners Monument

Mesa Verde – In A Colorado Minute (Week 201) (video and info)

Church in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Frozen waterfall at the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Hot springs in Pagosa Springs along the San Juan River, Colorado

Old school welcome sign makes it clear: we're in the Wild West now!

Historic Mancos, Colorado

No pets allowed on Four Corners Monuent. Booh!

… and the coin lands in Colorado - at Four Corners Monument

Navajo Taco stand at Four Corners

Square Tower cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde, Colorado

Mesa Verde with a Rocky Mountains peaks backdrop - Colorado

Navajo Canyon in Mesa Verde, Colorado

Navajo Canyon in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Driving through Mineral County, Colorado

Driving down the long Gunbarrel Road with the Rocky Mountains all around us was an just one of many surprise highlights of this trip. 

Arkansas River in the Arkansas Headwaters State Park, Colorado

Can't wait to return to the Arkansas Headwaters when it's warm enough to get in the water.

Filming the Arkansas River in Colorado

Us at a future camping spot in Colorado

Dinner stop at Coyote Cantina in Buena Vista, Colorado

High Peaks Liquor - between the peaks
Buena Vista, Colorado