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
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
We went to the top of Table Mountain twice during our trip Cape Town – the first trip was foggy and the views were unique but less impressive than they were on the second trip when the sun was shining and the blue sky stretched as far as the eye could see. With the view I needed to take a panorama to bring the whole scene together so I took 17 individual pictures and merged them into a panorama in Photoshop. Because of the size of the image the one below is a smaller size than I normally post but if you have the time (and patience) to click on the picture, load in ‘original size’ and zoom in and see all the details it is quite impressive!
All of the focal points of Cape Town are shown in this picture. From left to right – the cable car from the bottom to the top of table mountain is on the left, Lion’s Head (another famous mountain with spectacular views) which trails down to Signal Hill and leads to the Soccer Stadium that housed the most important matches of the world cup in South Africa a few years back. Off in the distance is Robben Island which has been used over the years as a prison and held Nelson Mandela during his 18 of his years spent behind bars.
Cape Town from Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa)
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)
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.
One of the most frequent animals that we saw while on safari was the zebra – they were everywhere! The first few days seeing zebras was exciting but by the end of the trip we were hoping another predator came out from the bush to take one out. I know that is TERRIBLE but you really don’t understand how many there were and the other animals have to eat something! It is the circle of life. Still because they were so plentiful I got a lot of nice pictures of them and I’m not sure but I may convert all of them to black and white. I think the treatment makes the details in the animal jump out better.
Grazing Zebra (Safari – South Africa)
I celebrated my birthday over the holiday weekend and because I enjoyed the lens that rented so much (Tamron 150mm – 600mm) my fantastic wife bought it for me. For her birthday I’m going to plan a little trip for us where I can put the lens to use…we need some images for the wall at home. Maybe Yellowstone? It’s been far too long since I’ve been there.
We were climbing down from watching the sunset over Florence when out of one of the windows I spotted this view. I loved the contrasting blue sky to the east with the warmer colors to the west where the sun had just dipped below the horizon. Add in the square below that was just starting to bustle with early evening activity and dinner goers, the historic cathedral and hills in the backdrop and it made for a picturesque scene. Of the places we’ve visited in Italy this is definitely one of the areas I’d love to go back to – the wines and delicious food mixed with the history of the city make it one of my favorite places we’ve ever visited.
Florence in the Early Evening (Florence, Italy)