New Website (Finally)

After a few weeks (okay maybe it was more like a year) I finally created a new website so after several years of posting here I’m going to be moving over to a website that is more customizable and allows images to be displayed directly on the website even larger than the wordpress.com platform does.

The website is www.RoamingLama.com

I’m not that old (only 36) but trying to create a website – even with all of the templates out there – that I was happy with was challenging and until NextGen Pro was launched to host the galleries I wasn’t sold that moving to a new platform was worth it. However, they make the galleries/portfolios look so nice that I decided to give it a go. I ‘published’ my first post over there last night so it is live and I’d love for you to go over there, read the post, look at the pictures and ultimately follow me! We’ve got some amazing travel coming up in the next nine months – St. Lucia in October, Charleston in December and Hawaii in April 🙂 so I promise you there will be a lot of nice shots coming in the next year or so. In addition, I’m going to do a better job of expanding on the posts and describing:

1) How we take all these awesome trips without spending more than $1,000 or so out of pocket (leverage that credit score and make it work for you!) over the course of a couple weeks on lodging, cars, etc…. We do have to eat and of course the experiences are where we splurge. We’ve already decided to do an open door helicopter ride, kayaking and a sunset catamaran ride while on the beautiful island of Kauai

2) More photograph techniques

3) Some before/after photos to show you how I bring the feeling of ‘being’ there out in my images using Lightroom, Photoshop and other software

4) Weekly links to photography related articles that I’ve read or videos that I’ve watched. I’m constantly learning and evolving. That is one of my favorite things about photography – the learning never ends.

So hope you come over there and check me out – I look forward to the transition.

Maybe this will entice you as the most recent blog post has a couple of shots of the lions in Phinda – even one with a baby cub nursing. The shot below staring into the Lion’s eye turned out to be one of my favorite shots from the trip to Africa we took earlier this year.

Lions in Phinda

The Eye of the Lion

Lions in Phinda

Dream Lake in the dead of Winter (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Winter in the Rockies are magical – yes any time of season can be defined as magical so what makes the winter different? For me it is the dead silence that envelopes one of our nations most populated/visited national parks. In the summer I’d probably encounter one, if not two other people, on the trails pre-dawn but in the winter….not a single soul. It is just me and the watchful eyes of the elk wondering what the hell it is that I’m doing that early when it is this damn cold!?!

Dream Lake in the dead of Winter (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Dream Lake in the dead of Winter (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Regardless of the temperatures there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing the light hit the peaks as daybreaks on the Rockies. I only wish that during these trips I knew better how to use my GoPro because I would have taped it to a tree and captured the movement of the sun over the mountains as the day announces itself.

Cheetah’s at Sunset (Phinda Game Reserve, South African Safari)

During our trip to South Africa I rented a lens from Borrowlenses.com in order to bring the ‘action’ closer to me. The lens I rented was the new Tamron 150mm – 600mm and it certainly did the trick as I found myself able to zoom in tight and bring the animals right to me. For example, in this image the cheetah’s were probably 20 or 25 feet from our safari vehicle but because I had the long lens I was able to zoom in tight and frame this shot perfectly so that this guy and his brother were both in the shot as the sunset over the horizon. I intentionally let the light leak into the frame as I wanted the image to be warm and for the sunset ‘feel’ to be established without actually bringing in the sky. I did have to wait several minutes with the camera up to my eye for the cheetah in the front to do anything interesting but finally he looked towards us and yawned – clearly he was ready for us to move on as well.

Cheetah’s at Sunset (Phinda Game Reserve, South African Safari)

Cheetah's at Sunset (Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa)

Sunrise over Cottonball Basin (Death Valley National Park)

Finding interesting patterns in the Cottonball Basin of Death Valley National Park is not as easy as it seems when you look at this picture and geometrical shapes seem to spread out as far as the eye can see. The reality is finding these types of patterns in the direction that you want to see the sun rise or set is one of the challenges of taking interesting pictures of Death Valley National Park. The prior day I walked 6 – 8 miles back and forth across the Cottonball Basin and dropped pins on my GPS so that I could re-locate the spots in the dark the following morning. I wound up dropping around 8 pins – taking test shots during harsh lighting – and then deciding on which location to revisit the night before while scrolling through the photos on my laptop the night before.

Sunrise over Cottonball Basin (Death Valley National Park)

Sunrise over Cottonball Basin (Death Valley National Park)

White Rhinos (South Africa)

While we were in South Africa we were fortunate enough to see many white rhinos with immaculate horns – some of which may be worth up to $300,000 on the black market. For some reason the horns today fetch something like $60,000/kilogram and the adults have horns that weigh approximately 5 kilograms. The horns themselves are just made up of keratin – yes, keratin – the same exact materials that make up human finger nails, hair and horse hooves. Why does it cost so much? Tough question to answer but apparently in eastern medicine there is a belief that the horns are magical and can cure many ills and they also can serve as decorative handles for knives and other fine jewelry. Overall, it seems like an expensive price to pay for a ‘cure’ when I can just chew my finger nails and get the same medicinal effect?

White Rhinos (South Africa)

White Rhinos (South Africa)

Unfortunately, the war on the White Rhino horn trade in South Africa is still ongoing to the point where the country recently (briefly) lifted their ban on domestic trade of the horn. It was reinstated but is currently under review and there is a chance that South Africa decides to lessen the penalties on trading the horn within their country. Clearly, this would be a negative development as hundreds of these animals are marred or killed each year WITH the ban in place. Imagine what will happen if suddenly the penalties for committing the crime and trading the horn are lessened.

Atlas Statue in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City)

In front of Rockefeller Center (i.e. “30 Rock”) sits the “Atlas Statue” where Greek god Atlas is holding the universe above his head toward the heavens. Naturally, the statue is positioned directly across from the immaculate St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As I was taking this picture a tour guide was with a group and asked them ‘why the artist decided to position the statue in this location’ and the answer he gave was that it represented New York as the ‘center of the universe’.

Off to LA (I’m going to try and take some pictures at the beach if I have time) and Minnesota this week. A lot of flying for a couple hours of meetings but at least I get a decent chunk of miles for it. The American Airlines announced changes today to their mileage program which would make this trip a little less enticing.

Atlas Statue in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City)

Atlas in Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York City)

Tower Bridge (London, England)

On our way to Africa we spent a long layover in London, England before making the last leg of the flight from London to Cape Town. Yes, you read that right for some stupid ass reason we flew from Chicago to London (7ish hours?) and then to Cape Town (13ish Hours?). So because that flight was so long we decided that spending the day in London would be a nice way to break the trip in two and not make it feel like we were doing back to back flights. For the most part it worked – however what we didn’t factor in was an hour delay in Chicago and a two hour customs line in London (it was days after the Brussels bombing so security was tight – especially for people planning to spend seven hours in the country).

Tower Bridge (London, England)

Tower Bridge (London, England)

Originally, our plan was to do some of the churches we weren’t able to see last time (including St. Paul). Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that we were coming in on Sunday and all the churches were closed to tourists on days to respect those in prayer. Instead of heading to the churches we decided to hit a pub (I needed a beer!) and then went off to the Tower of London which we enjoyed during our last trip in 2010 or 2011. We had to tour it quickly and on the way out I snapped a few pictures of Tower Bridge.