Florida Keys

After the cruise, we drove south to visit the beautiful Florida Keys.  Our destination was Key West, however, we did stop for some photos and relaxation on Upper Matecumbe Key and Grassy Key.   We had a couple of days to explore and enjoy Key West and highly recommend it.  We spent most of our time in Malory Square and all around Duval Street.  We did go out exploring to Fort Zachary Taylor, the southernmost point and several sunrise/sunset locations.  While out, we stopped and ate at the original Sloppy Joes restaurant and consumed many slices of Key Lime Pie.

Cruising At Sea

On the cruise we had a couple of 'Sea Days' so I took advantage and shot the interior and exterior of the cruise ship. I woke up at my normal time (5am) so I was able to beat the crowd and capture these images of the Royal Princess.  In this post I am also including three additional images .  The first is the lighthouse just off the coast of Nassau and the second is of Megans Bay in St Thomas from the overlook and the final image is the Port of Ft Lauderdale.  All in all this was a fantastic cruise and I highly recommend the Princess Cruise line!

Dominica

On Dominica we visited the Ti Tou Gorge where they filmed a portion of Pirates of the Caribbean; then it was off to Trafalgar Falls and then back to the main port.

Grenada

On the mountainous island of Grenada we explored the beautiful Annandale Falls, the colorful capital, known of St George, and the beautiful beaches with its crystal-clear water.   We also stumbled across this eucalyptus tree, which is the only one on the island.  The eucalyptus tree has exfoliating grey bark that reveals vibrant shades of neon reds, yellows, greens and browns.

Bonaire

On Bonaire we visited the salt production flats where they flood the land with sea water into holding ponds and allow the water to evaporate over time.  This process kills the crustaceans living in the water giving it the pink glow.   What is left in at the end is white sea salt as you can see in the below image.  Many years ago, this salt production was accomplished through slavery and below is an example of one of their huts where they lived with up to 7-8 people per.  In continued travels around the island we also came upon this unique tree as well as these remnants of an old dock.

Aruba

From the Everglades I headed north to Ft Lauderdale for a Caribbean cruise aboard the Royal Princess.  Unfortunately, all our ports of call and “off ship” time was after sunrise and before sunset.  This means that I wasn’t able to use the golden hours to capture photos from the different islands so you won’t see my normal types of landscape photos.  Instead, what I will share are more travel photos incorporating landscape scenes and the photos unique to each island.  Our first stop was Aruba, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, where we visited the Alto Vista Chapel, Eagle Beach, Natural Arch and their historic California Lighthouse.

Everglades National Park, Florida

From Naples I headed southeast through the Everglades towards Homestead.  I wish I had more time to spend here exploring the 1.5 million acre wetlands preserve, however, I made the most of the limited time available.  I couldn’t go through the Everglades without taking an airboat tour, which was a fun time through the thick mangroves searching for alligators and other wildlife.  Unfortunately, there were no gators to be seen but we did run into a small pod of dolphins and several raccoons who made their home in the swamp.  I was still on the hunt for some alligator so I stopped at several waterways in search and ended up finding quite a few.  For sunset, I found a nice secluded pond to use as a foreground and got some radiant red and orange skies but the lack of clouds caused it to become dark fast.  The next morning, I scouted another pond to shoot sunrise and did manage to get some good vibrant pics.  For the remainder of the day I was scouting for birds and other wildlife and came upon Mrazek Pond at just the right time as it was full of Egret and Heron.  After watching them hunt for fish and play around for a while I headed on stopping at most of the areas on the way to Flamingo, the southern most point of the Everglades, and shot general landscape photos.

Naples, Florida

I had the opportunity to visit Florida for a few days before and after embarking on a springtime Caribbean cruise.  My first stop was in Naples as I prepared to explore the Everglades.  I had one evening and one morning so I decided to spend it photographing the Naples Pier.  It wasn’t the best of sunsets and was extremely windy but still came away with a couple shots to share.  For sunrise, I hit the pier early and took some long exposures prior to sunrise and then I ducked under to the pier to capture a couple more images as the sun was rising.

Southern Arizona

I recently spent a few days camping and hiking in Southern Arizona.  I visited Saguaro National Park, Catalina State Park, Coronado National Forest and Picancho State Park.  I highly recommend the Agua Caliente Trail and the Picancho Peak Trail – both were demanding and rewarding.  The weather was great the entire week and I had no problem finding places to camp out in the RV.  This was the first real test for the converted 4x4 Sprinter Van and it performed superbly.  Can't wait to take it out again!  Scout, my Australian Shepherd, made the journey as well and packed his own supplies. Here are a few photos from the journey:

Sedona, Arizona

I had the opportunity to visit Sedona in October of this year for some hiking and fun with my son.  We ended up spending about two full days there and got in about 25 miles of hiking in the following locations:  Westfork Trail, Devil’s Bridge, Soldiers Pass Trail (Seven Sacred Pools, Devil’s Kitchen and the Arches), Boynton Trail, Airport Lookout Trail and Red Rock Crossing.  Here are a few of the shots taken along the way:

Winter in Iceland

I had the great opportunity to visit and experience Iceland this winter. I flew into Reykjavik and from there branched north and spent two weeks exploring and photographing the Eastern and Southern coasts as well as the two peninsulas on the south and west side. Unfortunately, the northern sector was blocked for us during our stay due to the filming of the latest installment from the Fast and Furious franchise. During the trip the weather was not very cooperative so there are lots of cloudy and moody shots. We spent days shooting in the rain and welcomed the clearing skies and took advantage of them when we could. We started the trip with a stop at Stogafoss Waterfall, which is about a 200-ft. powerful waterfall, and then continued to Reynisdrangar, which are basalt sea stacks, accentuated by a black sand beach.

Vatnajokull Glacier is an outlet glacier which originates from the Oraefajokull Volcano and ends in the Fjallsjokull Lake (glacier lagoon). It is located on the eastern side of Iceland and is part of the Vatnajokull National Park. The blue ice on top is clear and clean compared to the portions of the bottom that scrape the earth carving fjords from the volcano to the lagoon. Here are a couple shots of glacier and glacier lagoon.

The icebergs are created from the sheering of the ice from the glacier. The three shots are of the ice lagoon with the first taken during the day, the second at sunset and the final after dark (about 11pm - If you look close you can see the stars).

Some of the Ice Lagoons are open to the ocean and the icebergs can float out to sea and get redeposited on the coast line. Included here is an action shot from the "Ice Beach" of Jokursarlon.

I also had the opportunity to visit and crawl through an Ice Cave which is also part of the glacier. These caves are formed by the ice melt and run off during the warmer months. I have included a few below: First is shooting back towards the mouth of the cave, the second shows a path leading deeper, the third shows how low the ceiling was as we got back towards the rear of the cave and the final shot is an abstract shooting straight up capturing the side of a vent in the ceiling.

You can’t visit Iceland and not capture some of the amazing northern lights. The weather service predicts the quality of the northern lights and issues these predictions with the best times and locations for viewing. The entire time we were there we only had a prediction/rating of 3 on a scale of 10. Here are a couple of shots taken on these nights with only a rating of 3 so you can imagine how spectacular they can be.

Heading back to the south central we went on a hunt for some of the local Icelandic Horses. We didn't have to look for long when we came across this beautiful herd below.

Iceland was a fantastic place to visit and vacation.  The people were all extremely nice and the food was wonderful.  The weather gave us a little trouble but I was still able to capture some of the beauty of Iceland and hope you enjoy! 

Winter in Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons (Moose, Wyoming)

After Yellowstone I headed a bit south to visit the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I spent three days exploring the national park and surrounding areas in search of wildlife and breath taking landscape images.  I was successful in finding a few Moose, Elk, Bald Eagles, Long Horn Sheep and a unique Pygmy Owl.  The temperatures hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and warmed up to about 20 degrees by the afternoon.  This just meant that I had to plan accordingly with extra batteries and warm clothing. 

On two of the mornings, I hiked out to Mormon Row in attempts to capture the Moulton Barn.  The parking lot was about 2 miles from the barn and I had to hit the trail while it was still dark. The path was packed from previous hikers and snowshoers so I was able to make it in hiking boots but  I did have to use my headlamp due to the thick fog and lack of light pre-sunrise.  If I wandered just a step off the packed path, I would find myself knee deep in the softer snow.  On the first morning the fog never cleared so I didn't get any great landscape shots with the Grand Tetons in the background.  I did get an audio recording of the coyotes yipping and howling though, and when coupled with the limited visibility made the atmosphere a little bit spooky.  

Although the fog made the distant landscape shots extremely difficult, it did transform the environment for intimate or macro landscape shots of the crystals formed in the snow and on the trees.  It also created very dramatic scenes where the forests were barely visible through the fog. The key here was just to make the best of use of the unique weather and capture images in the moment.

On the second morning, I hiked back out to Mormon Row and had much better visibility and was able to capture a few nice images.  I then headed over to the Elk Refuge and found some Bald Eagles feeding on an Elk carcass.  I also captured the feeding of the Elk while they chased the feed truck.

All in all I had a great time here and would love to return when the snow clears and the bears come out with their cubs.  

Below are several images that document my time in Jackson Hole and Moose, Wyoming:

Winter in Yellowstone National Park

I just had the opportunity to tour Yellowstone during the winter and witnessed some amazing wildlife scenes. It is interesting to understand that the park is closed during the winter except to snow cat tours and snow mobile tours. So as part of a photography tour with Natural Exposures we entered the park daily on large tracked and/or wheeled snow cats. We spent the days driving through different parts of the park spotting for wildlife.  During the course of the four days we spotted the following animals and were able to photograph them in some capacity: Bison, Coyotes, Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, Blue Heron, Elk, Fox, Raccoon and Beavers.

In addition to the wildlife, we also captured some landscape photography of Old Faithful and several of the thermal areas in the park.  These thermal areas emit so much heat it causes large clouds of mist which makes photography quite difficult at times.  Patience and a small breeze can make all the difference in the world.

Here are a few sample images...