Tag Archives: nature

Creativity Sparks | Mt. Charleston Phot Walk | The Camera You Have

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We’ve all heard the cliche: the best camera is the one you have with you. And there’s usually a reason something becomes cliche — because, at least to some extent, it’s true.

In this case? Totally 100% TRUE.

Here’s the perfect example. That photo above? Taken with an iPhone 5c. I went on a photo walk yesterday. I thought I’d drive myself up to Mt. Charleston and take a hike I hadn’t been on — Mary Jane Falls. I wanted to capture a few nice shots. Maybe do a few yoga poses. Have a nice afternoon strolling about the mountain.

I got about  a quarter mile into my hike and saw a tree stump that I thought would be great to sit on for a creative self-portrait. I walked over and scoped out the scene. I found the perfect angle to set up my tripod. I checked for the best light and best background. I started setting up my camera equipment — put the camera on the tripod, adjusted the angle and height of the tripod, checked the ISO of my camera. And then. Yeah…then. Then I noticed an error code reading on my camera screen. Well, crap. I left my memory cards at home!!

At that precise moment, I looked up and saw how perfectly the light was hitting my tree stump. I slumped over a bit. I was thoroughly disappointed. What a great picture that would have been!

After a momentary moping session I decided I wasn’t going to skip my photo. I had a back up camera. Sort of. I had my iPhone!

I literally repeated that mantra in my head: the best camera is the one you have with you.

So the iPhone is my best camera. So what? Take your picture. Capture your moment. Don’t let the memory pass simply because you don’t have the fanciest camera to work with.

I still wasn’t sure how to take this picture. I didn’t have my phone tripod with me. How would I even prop the phone up? I almost gave up and settled for a handheld selfie. But then I noticed a spot on my regular tripod in which I might be able to wedge my phone. I didn’t know if it would hold or if that spot was even the right size/width. But I stuck the phone in there, and the darn thing stayed (honestly, I think it was quite a brilliant idea — I may just use that ridiculously large tripod to hold my little phone in the future for things like this).

I’m sure a person or two noticed my little turquoise-cased phone being held by a rather large tripod. But so what? Let them think it looks silly. It does.

But I captured my moment, a moment that would be otherwise gone.

So if you’re just getting into photography, and you’re feeling intimidated by all the professional photographers with big, expensive, fancy cameras — don’t be. If the only camera you have is a point and shoot, use it. If the only camera you have is on your phone, use it. If you have an old, clunky, first-generation DSLR, use it. It doesn’t matter what you have. Use the camera you have. Get to know it. Get to know light and shadow and the settings you can change. Find out what makes for the best pictures on your camera and what makes for the worst.

I’ve seen people with state-of-the-art cameras take poor pictures. And I’ve seen people with mediocre cameras take stellar pictures.

Do what you can with what you have, and forget the rest. Enjoy the creative process, and don’t look back!

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See The World | Travel Photography | Whitsunday Island, Australia

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I took this picture at sunrise, sitting on the deck of an old sailboat — a tall ship. The ship was precisely as you would picture a pirate ship. And the setting was pretty much as picturesque as it gets. The sun’s rays skipped across the ripples of the water. Tongue Bay shone like a jewel. Whitsunday Island sat in front of me, taunting me to come hike it.

Everything about this moment sounds like perfection. But in typical HRM fashion, I’m going to tell you like it is. ‘Cause it wasn’t all perfect. I woke up early enough to see the sunrise simply because I couldn’t sleep. Oh man, that ship. Here’s something people don’t tell you about century old pirate ships: they’re super uncomfortable! The rooms are about as big as a packed cubicle.  And the smell. Oh, the smell. The smell of old gym socks permeated every crevice of the sleeping quarters. And don’t get me started on the two-minute showers over the toilet. Haha!

I don’t mean to complain. The crew was fabulous. The food was fantastic. They really did everything they could to make our experience wonderful. I just learned a little something about boats, ships, and the like. And here’s what I learned: you should take a look at those damn things before you book. You might realize you prefer a more modern, comfortable ship over the nostalgia of the tall ships of the past. I now know I prefer a yacht. For reals!

Though, honestly, looking back, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. The Whitsundays were beautiful. Pristine. Untouched. And I was fortunate enough to sail around them, scuba dive their reefs, hike their trails, and swim in their waters. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

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See The World | Travel Photography | Hanalei Bay, Kauai

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It’s hard to believe, but prior to the day I took this picture, I had never taken a proper beach day. Sure. I’d spent many days wandering beaches. But I’d never shown up on a beach with a cooler, beach chairs, drinks, food, a good book, and a snorkel set.

But on that day, that is precisely what my friend, Christy, and I did.

You see, we were exhausted. We had just backpacked the Kalalau trail. And then we came back to civilization and continued our hiking plans. We knew we would likely not return to Kauai anytime soon, and we wanted to see as much of the island as possible. Man-oh-man, was it beautiful! But, as I said, we were exhausted. So we decided to take advantage of all the goodies stocked in the condo we rented.

And I’ve gotta tell ya — when you come prepared with all the goods, it’s possible to sit on a beach for just about ever and do absolutely nothing. So we did. We started on one side of Hanalei Bay. And then the sun started to move, so we headed over to the next side. We sat in the sun with our hats and our SPF 100 sunblock for more than five hours straight. And it was phenomenal. Beach days? They rock. Hanalei Bay? It rocks too.

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See The World | Travel Photography | Aguas Calientes, Peru

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This picture. An oldie but a goodie. The Urubamba River in the heart of Aguas Calientes, Peru. So many memories spring to mind when I see Peru. And Aguas Calientes? Oh dear. Laughter. That’s what it brings to the forefront — pure laughter. Because it reminds me of a city that I took so many beautiful photos in, photos that I like to call “false advertising.” The damn town was terrible.

Cue laughter.

But at the same time it was the gateway to one of the most magnificent places I’ve ever seen in my entire life, Machu Picchu. If you’re not familiar with Machu Picchu, I encourage you to look it up. It’s often called the lost city of the Incas. And when I say it’s magnificent, I mean pure magic. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

Oh, I do LOVE Peru. I will go back one day. The food, the people, the HIKING. The rolling hillsides and mountains and jungle. I. Can’t. Even.

You know what I love about these posts? They make me fall in love with my life, bit by bit. Every time I write one, I want to start gushing about how magical the world is, and how lucky I am to experience it this way. I get giddy with excitement for my next adventures. I just want to giggle and reminisce. This may be my best idea yet, folks. For reals.

I hope the end to your day is just as beautiful as mine is tonight.

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See The World | Travel Photography | Valley of Fire State Park

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The story behind this photo is kind of funny. My dear friend and I decided we needed a little adventure. We hadn’t hiked in a bit, and we once hiked every weekend. A day trip to Valley of Fire State Park outside Las Vegas was just what we needed. He mentioned a hike to something called Elephant Rock. Neither of us had done in before, and it sounded like a great idea to me. So without any research, we hopped in the truck and were on our way.

We then reached the windy road that traces its way to Valley of Fire. A police car sat in our way. We stopped, and the officer informed us that Valley of Fire was holding a cycling event that day. Huge groups of cyclists would be on the roads. He advised us to be careful (and what he meant was — don’t run over a biker). Got it.

And so we continued forward, proceeding to get stuck behind every single group of cyclists we saw. It was the SLOWEST drive we’d ever taken. There may have been some profanity and certainly much laughter along that road, as we cursed ourselves for not knowing about the race. A drive that normally took 20 minutes seemed to take 2 hours. (I may or may not be exaggerating.)

At last! We finally made it to the Valley of Fire entrance. After sitting for way longer than anticipated, we were ready for that hike. We were pumped up. We were looking for some scrambling, some bouldering, maybe a little rock climbing. We looked at the map we picked up at the entrance. How long was this hike? Elephant Rock seemed fairly close to the road.

No worries. Even a short hike sounded like a good plan.

And then we reached our destination. How did we know? Because we could see Elephant Rock from the road. Not only could we see it, but we could also see that it wasn’t a hike at all. It was literally a hop, skip and a jump from the parking area.

We laughed hysterically. Our epic adventure was a rock on the side of the road.

So, not quite what we expected. But we made the most of it by climbing up and over that rock in every which way possible. We posed, we stood on high, we took a jump shot or two.

Hike or no hike, Elephant Rock is pretty stunning, isn’t it?

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See The World | Travel Photography | Kalalau, Kauai (Part 2)

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Yesterday I told you a bit about Kalalau, a stunning beach in Kauai, Hawaii. That place holds a little piece of magic. The magic is held in the creamy sand. It’s held in the towering cliffs that rise behind you. It’s held in the reds and greens and blues and grays that surround you. It’s held in the enchanting sunrises.

Actually, this picture was taken at sunrise. We camped at Kalalau. Because there are no buildings. There are no cabins or resorts. Kalalau is a part of the Hawaii State Park system. This is one of the reasons Kalalau stays so pristine and untouched — few people set foot on that creamy, yellow sand. This is also the reason I was up before sunrise.

I’m not much of a camper. I don’t sleep well on a 1/4″ thick sleeping pad. I don’t enjoy the heat and humidity provided by a nylon tent in the summer. And I really don’t enjoy attempting to go to the bathroom with a flashlight in the middle of the night. So, yes, my night’s sleep was less than stellar, and I rose before the sun. But for this view? It was worth it.

Pure bliss. Peace. Solitude. Moments like this make me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Because I’m so fortunate. So fortunate to be one of the few that buried my feet in the damp sand on this little piece of island paradise one morning in July. One of the few that showered in the community waterfall. And swam in the freshwater cave-pool. And listened to an old Hawaiian chief sing in the darkness. And swam around a cliff with a group of locals to come upon an even more remote beach, one that even fewer see, with precisely zero footsteps in the sand until we got there. One of the few that jumped into the waves and turned around to see water falling from the cliffs, turning black lava rock green with moss in every direction.

Oh yes, I’m fortunate. And this life? It’s such a magical adventure.

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See The World | Travel Photography | Kalalau, Kauai

There’s a beach in Kauai called Kalalau. Kalalau is a magical part of the Hawaiian Islands. Getting there is a battle, and that’s half the reason it continues to hold its majesty. It’s stunning. It’s pristine. It’s visited by few. Fancy a boat ride and a swim to shore? Or a treacherous 11-mile hike? That’s what it will take to get you there. But I promise, it’ll be worth every harrowing moment.

Kalalau changes you. In all the best ways.

I left a piece of my heart in Kalalau. And for that, I feel so very fortunate.

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Here’s something you may not know about me — I travel. Quite a lot, actually.

Exploring the world. Finding adventures. Seeing everything I can possibly see. That’s pretty much what I live for. Travel was actually what sparked my interest in photography. I wanted to capture the places I was visiting. I wanted to illustrate my adventures through pictures.

And so I talked with a photographer friend of mine, and I bought a DSLR (the “fancy” camera), and I started to play around. I started by taking pictures of pretty much everything. Whether I was at home, exploring a new mountain, or in a foreign place, exploring a whole new continent, I was taking pictures.

And that’s where my love of photography really grew. It was in landscapes and nature. It was in sheltered rainforests, mountains that shielded sunsets, and beaches trampled by ocean waves. It was there in those places that I learned to use my camera. It was there in those places that I learned to tell stories through photos.

Then the other day, I was thinking. Why not share my journey around the world with you? Why not let you in on this piece of my life that I treasure so dearly?

And so, See The World | Travel Photography posts are born.

I hope you’ll stop by to see my latest landscape photos and the tidbits of stories that compliment them. I hope you’ll enjoy this slice of my life, this insight into my heart and soul.

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