Monday, September 28, 2009

Bright, Shiny, Dry & Prickly

Howdy! I few days ago, I flew into Las Vegas after changing my itinerary from one night to two nights and postponing Seattle in order to get home a day sooner for my short break.

Vegas is still bright and shiny, and filled with pumped-in oxygen and the *pling*pling* of slot machines in full use.... I wasn't there to throw away money, though, so after getting checked in I headed out for a few hours of shooting at dusk and after dark on The Strip.

It was fun to experiment with long shutters and was my first attempt at an extended night shoot. That being kind as you peruse the handful of photos I've posted:).

After a good session of night shooting, I took the opportunity to use the extra day in Vegas to head down to the Mojave National Preserve and spend some time in the desert and try to get a decent sunset from Teutonia Peak. I'll have to admit, the desert wasn't what I expected. Hot while the sun was up, yes... but definitely more vegetation and wildlife than I thought I'd see. I didn't know it, but this section of the Mojave has one of (if not the) biggest and densest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world. I saw desert night lizards, darkling beetles, blacktail jackrabbits, and even what I think was a kit fox yelling at me and scratching his ear with his back leg on a boulder about 50 yards from where I was standing near the peak.

After a short detour from the trail on the way back down from the peak (thank you iPhone compass app:)), I stopped for a while perched on a sizable boulder and took some sky shots and enjoyed a cool, quiet, clear night of solitude.

Enjoy the photos! After another day at home, I'm off to New York, Maine, Virginia and DC... compliments of Jet Blue!


Saturday, September 26, 2009


So the drive down to Arches was fairly uneventful, a little longer than I expected, but a nice drive all the same. It's pretty crazy when you can drive for a couple hours... in a straight line. Not in the general sense of driving in a given direction, but truly in a straight line, where the road continues on in front of you and there is a far off vanishing point you think you'll never reach, and like the charging knights in a scene from The Holy Grail... voila, you're there.

Anyway, I think I was supposed to be talking about Arches National Park, eh? Well, it's pretty spectacular, I have to say. You really do feel at times like you're on Mars with the dry, reddish-tone landscape and fantastically shaped cliffs, arches, and other formations that constitute the draw for the park. I arrived at arguably the best time to take in the park, late afternoon, as the sun cast shadows on and through the rocks and highlighted the imaginary characters, scenes and objects the formations resemble.

I knew I wanted to get a sunset shot of Delicate Arch, a somewhat famously recognized symbol of the park, and of that region of the country... judge for yourself if I did it justice:). Needless to say I got the shot (or shots), after a short and moderately difficult 1.5 mile hike in to the site of the attraction. It was an interesting experience, as I wasn't alone in the desire to capture the image of Delicate at sunset. Rows of tripods and cameras peppered the north western rim of the small canyon that held a view of the Arch. I found a good spot to setup, though, and the only challenging part was trying to shoot in between the people scrambling up under the arch to get a photo of themselves underneath the natural wonder. Funny, at one point after a particularly steady stream of these snapshot-seekers was capped off by what seemed to be the last of them scampering off out of the frame of the shoot, an eruption of applause by the dozens of photographers seemed to have encouraged any others wanting to get their "i was here" photo to wait until another day...

The park isn't a small space, and undoubtedly one could spend days or even weeks exploring all it has to offer, but if you are crunched for time, and want to take in a ton of cool views and get some neat shots, Arches is definitely a good pick. If I were going back, I'd plan a solid 2 to 3 days to dedicate to the hikes and drives that it would take to get a complete experience of the park.

I'd hoped to re-arrange my trip to spend another day in the park, and allow for a day to do some city shots of Salt Lake City, but it didn't work out that way... so no SLC. But, my rescheduling did allow for some time in the Mojave desert outside of Vegas that I wasn't expecting to have... so look for my next post soon.... Vegas!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gondoliers and Aspens

Colorado brings back fond memories. An old college roommate of mine moved there a few years after school and was kind enough to let me (and countless others, I'm sure) visit and take advantage of the amazing skiing, beautiful scenery, and great climate.

My old roommate doesn't live here any longer, but an good friend of Kathryn's does, and so we were able to accept her gracious hospitality and services as tour guide for a couple of beautiful days in the Centennial State.

We hit a fun Italian cultural festival in Lakewood the first day, and enjoyed a little wine tasting, tasty sicilian pizza, a gondolier, and some traditional Italian flag-throwers. We drove down to Colorado Springs where we stayed for the night, and got up the next day to venture out to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Rockies are staggering, and we were there just as the Aspens were starting to turn, giving a hint of the incredible beauty they'll provide in a few weeks . A drive up to Forest Canyon Overlook provided some snow to contrast with the tropical weather I've been in for the last couple of weeks, and whet my appetite for ski season. We were treated to amazing vistas, elk sightings, and cool cloud formations on the drive up, and we stopped on the way down to take a couple-hour hike up to Dream Lake.

A tent, bag and an overnighter under the stars would have been perfect:). Alas, no camping was in the agenda, but the trip was amazing all the same.

Denver would definitely be on my short list of places to live. Great climate, active culture, some of the most impressive mountains in your backyard... how can you go wrong?

I'll catch you guys again after Arches... gotta catch a sunset at Delicate Arch:).



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Costa Rica...

Costa Rica was incredible. I started off my time there by driving from the airport up to the Arenal Volcano and stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, right at the base of this active volcano in the Northwest of Costa Rica.

Set back in the forest accessible by a kilometer gravel/riverrock road, its definitely off the beaten path, but well worth the effort.

Beatiful hikes, wildlife a-plenty, an amazing view of the volcano, (especially if you catch it on a clear night where you can watch streams of red-hot boulders being spit out of the volcano and roll down the face
of the mountain).

My next stop in Costa Rica was Puntarenas, where I’d planned to access some of the famous beaches of Nicoya on the western coast. Unfortunately, rain, heavy and frequent prevented me from getting to these, but there was plenty more to shoot at the resort and small parks nearby. Iguanas ran around like squirrels and in a park nearby the resort, pale-faced monkeys emerged from their morning naps and littered the trees, accepting bananas and other snacks from the Tico children there in the park picnicking with their families.

The 1 hour drive back from Puntarenas ended up being a 5 hour trip, as I encountered traffic back-ups, closed roads, and heavy rains. This kept me from the 1/2 day I’d planned shooting
downtown San Jose, and I ended up staying near the airport to catch my morning flight out of the country.

Although I didn’t get to experience or shoot several of the places and things I had wanted to, I still loved Costa Rica. The people were friendly, laid back, and the country is beautiful. I’d love another trip, a longer one that would allow for more exploration of the regions I didn’t get a chance to visit this time....

Until the next post,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I’m sitting here typing up the content for this blog as I wait in a parking lot of traffic on the Inter-American Highway, west of San Ramon, and not yet to Puntaneras, my destination for tonight. Both lanes are blocked off, because sadly, an accident took the life of someone and la policia need to do their CSI before they clear the road. I imagine this will be a few hours, but I’m in no hurry, and even if I were, I think seeing the wreckage would have quickly corrected that with a dose of perspective.

Today, September 15th, was the independence day, like our July 4th, for the Costa Rican people. Judging by the coolers and beach umbrellas sticking out of the trunk and littering the ground around the wreckage, this family must have been returning from their holiday. Instead of a reason to celebrate, it will be a very sad memory every year from now on for a handful of family and friends of whomever died tonight.

I have a renewed appreciation for my trip, and the gift it is to be able to undergo it.

That being said, my apologies for not posting sooner, but the short Puerto Rican portion of my journey, as well as the first two days of the Costa Rican stint have been sparse as far as availability of internet has gone (and phone service, for that matter). So, here goes:

Puerto Rico, as some of you saw from my Twitter is definitely somewhere I would love to return. Friendly people, lots to see and do, and I only scratched the surface with the one usable day I had. I arrived late on the night of the 12th after flying through Ft. Lauderdale (where I made my last post). Some shots of the nightlife in Isla Verde, the tourist area where I was staying was fun, but I really enjoyed the following day. I got up, walked to the beach early, but missed the sunrise I intended to shoot. Oh well :). I used the rest of the day to drive up through Loiza, a prominent surfing and public beach area, and along the coast, turning south to visit El Yunque Nat’l Forest. My El Yunque visit was much quicker than I’d have preferred and many desireable trails were left un-hiked, but what I did see was amazing. Incredible views from Yokahu tower, and great shots of a couple beautiful waterfalls...

...not to mention jumping off of one :). Well, not the waterfall itself, but one of its lower falls had a deep pool at the bottom, and I took the 15 or so foot plunge at the invite of Fredo, a local who saw me shooting and told me about the jump. I shot him and his friends with a promise to email some pics, and traded spots, with him shooting me making the jump. Good times!

So I’ve decided to hold off on a Costa Rican post to another day, perhaps at the end of this portion of the trip, perhaps sooner, but I think you’ve had enough for now.... hope you enjoy the pics! View from Loiza, Puerto Rico

Blessings to all... appreciate those you love and the time you have with them.


La Mina Falls, El Yunque Nat'l Forest
View from Yokahu Tower, El Yunque Nat'l Forest

La Coca Falls, El Yunque Nat'l Forest

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Da Bahamas Mon...

So the first stop on my adventure was Nassau, The Bahamas... and I have to admit, it wasn't what I expected. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of beauty around, and well, its the Bahamas. On New Providence however, though I found a lot of shooting opportunities, little of them were white sandy beaches... at least now what I thought of when I think white sandy beaches. I suppose it's not the island to go to if that's what your looking for. I'm also sure that my limited exposure to what the island has to offer may have missed a white sandy beach or two:). Its a very touristy-town, at least between Cable Beach (where I was staying) and downtown Nassau. It's also the capitol city of The Bahamas, and so you get things that come along with any capitol city... a mixture of commerce and poverty, history and progress, as well as portions of the city that have fallen into disrepair.

I've learned (or re-learned) a few things on this trip that will be helpful in my future travels...

1. Transportation is worth the expense. I thought it would be a good idea to save some dough, and use the bicycles the hotel made available to me to get around on. That would have been a good idea, except for the fact that a) It rained very hard off and on throughout the day, every day. b) the bikes couldn't be used in the evenings.
Having my own transportation would have been worth the expense and allowed me to take advantage of a ton more shooting opportunities.

2.Turns out, trespassing is taken seriously in The Bahamas. No arrests or anything scary, but an attempt to circumvent a hotel fence to get (what I can only imagine would have been) a killer sunset shot garnered me an earful from the property guard. Oops.

3.The shot will often only be there for a moment, take it when you can, and allow plenty of time to prep for it. For example, airconditioned hotel rooms and hot, humid air cause condensation on glass when introduced to one another. Camera lenses are made of glass. Dang. So much for that sunset....

Overall, I'm stoked for the first stop. Some good shots were taken... even though they're not what I expected... Some "other side of the road" shots, wildlife shots, downtown city shots, and yes... even some beach shots :). I've posted a couple here, and hoping it will give a taste for more when I can get my website up and running.
"Flamingo Show", Ardastra Gardens & Z00 "Straw Market" d/t Nassau

"Beach Front", Cable Beach at Goodman's Bay

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And so it begins....

Hello! A few weeks ago, I saw a Twitter message from a friend of mine about the Jet Blue All-You-Can-Fly for $599 deal they were promoting, I can only assume to fill some otherwise empty seats in a down-season. I checked it out, sure there was a catch, but to my pleasant surprise, it was the real-deal. All you can fly, anywhere they go for a full month, September 8 to October 8, 2009 - all you pay are taxes, which are nominal.... and totally worth it. So I booked it, and began a couple week flurry of making arrangements for flights, researching destinations, and contacting people I knew to prepare for what will be a 14-city, 6 week adventure...

I've never been much of a writer, so bear with me on any rambling or rabbit-trails I go down. I'll be posting the itinerary soon, and look forward to getting some sample pictures up as well to give a taste of the what's to come once I'm back from the trip and have had a chance to make edits and post some work on my website,

Until then, I hope you enjoy the shots, can endure my writing, and please, let me know what you think!