Now Online: Whistler for Nat Geo Travel

In June I had the opportunity to photograph Whistler, British Columbia, for an online feature for National Geographic Travel and Destination Canada. I spent a busy, beautiful week photographing in Whistler, which was made all the more rewarding by being teamed up with illustrator and animator Rachel Ryle and producer Carmen Kerr of Storm Films. Rachel kept us laughing, Carmen kept us on schedule, and through it all, I kept on clicking. We hiked, biked, zip lined, rode ATVs, soaked up art, dined well, and crisscrossed the region on a jam-packed schedule.

Visit the National Geographic website to see our article and be sure to watch the darling animation created by Rachel that sums up our experience using her illustrations and my photos. It was a treat to work with two creative powerhouses and I’m happy to share the final product, plus a few more of my favorite images below. Enjoy the fruits of our labors and I hope you get inspired to visit Whistler!

The Town Plaza in Whistler VIllage, British Columbia, Canada.

Whistler Village is the focal point of the region and the jumping-off point for endless outdoor adventures. The pedestrian-only streets are lined with shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, and museums.

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An American family embraces the sports theme at the Olympic Plaza in Whistler Village while playing a game of football.

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Whistler is a mountain bikers paradise and I loved seeing people riding up to the outdoor cafes, resting their helmets on the table, and grabbing a beer. Here two couples eat at Fernie’s, or El Furniture Warehouse.

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Small plates at Bar Oso in Whistler Village include the fresh charcuterie board (a must!),  warm olives with Marcona olives, and blistered shishito peppers.

People dine at cozy Bar Oso in Whistler Village, British Columbia, Canada.

At Bar Oso, I spotted this attractive young couple and they were happy to let me photograph them. Later they told me that they were grateful I’d provided a little levity during the first meeting of the young woman’s boyfriend with her parents!

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The Raven Room, owned by two local couples, is one of my favorite restaurants in Whistler. Not only do they serve inventive cocktails (like this Negroni served over Campari and blood orange gelato), but also because they have a seasonal, local, ethically sourced (and delicious) menu.

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I was a bit too busy photographing to be able to partake in the sauna and baths at Scandinave Spa, but on my next visit, I’m dedicating an entire day to enjoy this place!

Scene at Blueberry Beach Park at Alta Lake, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

Most mornings I was up with the summer sun to photograph at one of the many lakes in the Whistler region. Pictured is a relaxing morning on Alta Lake.

Scene from the Cheakamus Lake Trail in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.

Rachel Ryle hikes through the sun-dappled forest on the Cheakamus Lake Trail.

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These mountain bikers moved to Whistler to enjoy the abundant trails and the generous community of female riders empowering each other.

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I can officially add being able to photograph while ziplining (and screaming with delight) to my resume. We headed out with Superfly Ziplines and spent an afternoon flying above the treetops.

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Zipline riders carry their trolleys from line to line on the multi-ride circuit on Rainbow Mountain.

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My family sells Polaris ATVs so I felt quite at home hitting the rocky trail on an RZR Tour with the Adventure Group. Though I wasn’t so comfortable being attacked by mosquitoes when I got out to photograph other riders on the route!

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The Train Wreck Hike is a short hike leading to graffiti-covered railroad cars.

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Rachel Ryle‘s logo is a tiny red heart and she decided that she could “leave her heart” in Whistler by adding her drawing to one of the railroad cars at the Train Wreck Hike.

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The Xxays canoe at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

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The Audain Art Museum houses a permanent collection of artwork from British Columbia and is known for its innovative architecture.

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The Audain Art Museum holds an impressive collection of First Nations and contemporary artwork.

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Vallea Lumina is a night walk through an old-growth forest that tells chapters of a multi-sensory story via illumination and projections. I had been a bit skeptical about what this experience would be like, but it was one of the most magical human-created experiences I’ve ever been to. I have to admit that when I stepped into this scene, which was buzzing with laser lights like fireflies and pulsing with ambient music, I was completely moved.

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Dream team calling it a wrap! Thanks for a lovely assignment, Rachel Ryle and Carmen Kerr.

 

Shiny Happy Asheville

I was first wooed by Asheville, North Carolina when I went to a friend’s wedding there in 2015. A year after, I fully fell for Asheville while on assignment there shooting a feature story for National Geographic Traveler magazine. What had resonated with me the most was the people. Whether they were native North Carolinians, visitors, or recent transplants, everyone loved the gem of a city tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When I got a call earlier this year from Explore Asheville, the city’s tourism board, asking me to photograph the area as expressed through the people, it was an irresistible assignment. So in May, I found myself in Asheville and Black Mountain meeting people who were kind and open to a stranger with a camera. Over the course of a few days, I interacted with hundreds of strangers through fun conversations, small world moments, shared smiles, and a mutual appreciation for the area.

As a photographer, I’m continually surprised by the generosity of the people I meet and am forever in their debt for taking the time to be in front of my lens. Thank you to all the shiny happy people I met on this assignment who make Asheville a shiny happy place.

Enjoy this selection of some of my favorite images from my shoot in May.

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Hemingway’s Cuba in the Cambria Suites Hotel is one of many rooftop bars downtown that is perfect for watching the sunset. When I saw this woman in a green dress, I knew I wanted to photograph her and it turns out she lives in another favorite city of mine, New Orleans.

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Hearty barbeque rib platters at 12 Bones Smokehouse in the River Arts District. I know a restaurant is good when there is a line out the door the entire time I’m photographing there!

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Sip sake under colorful lanterns at Ben’s Tune-Up in the South Slope neighborhood and you might even run into a real-life “Ariel” from The Little Mermaid.

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The Asheville City Market in downtown serves up local food, drink, and produce and is filled with wonderful folks like these two women I met that morning.

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A young family does their early morning shopping at the Asheville City Market.

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When photographing for the National Geographic Traveler article, I met Josh Copus, the founder of Clayspace Co-op. Although Josh wasn’t around on this visit, I met ceramic artist Tristan Glosby at Clayspace while he was working at the pottery wheel. 

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Inside many of the studios in the River Arts District, you’ll often run into artists at work. At Riverview Station, painter Galen Frost Bernard works in oils for his contemporary paintings.

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These women were exploring the multitude of galleries and artist studios at Riverview Station.

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Downtown Asheville is known for buskers of all genres, from musicians and singers to jugglers and poets. Josh Lauth is a multi-talented busker who juggles while balancing on a board with his pet “Space Dog” on his head.

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Shannon Monaghan is a poet busker who writes poems on a typewriter for people downtown. She wrote me a poem on travel.

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Whether you drum, dance, or simply enjoy, a visit to Asheville is only complete after a visit to the Friday night drum circle. Here a young father dances with his daughter to the beat of the drums.

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People from all walks of life come downtown on Fridays to enjoy the drum circle. I couldn’t help but move with the beats while I photographed the musicians and dancers.

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These young girls try their hand at drumming with the Asheville Drum Circle.

Street scene in downtown Ashevillle, North Carolina.

Asheville is known for its beautiful architecture, including the Neo-Gothic Jackson Building in downtown.

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I met this young boy along with his father, brother, and pet dog one afternoon at High Five Coffee in Woodfin. He’d just returned from an outing to a street festival where he’d gotten his face painted with a unicorn.

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This was my first visit to the charming little town of Black Mountain, which is less than a half-hour drive from downtown Asheville. I was smitten with the colorful, quaint streets.

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Busker Kevin Ali plays guitar and sings outside of Dripolator Coffee.

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If I owned a garden shop, it would be like Mellie Mac’s Garden Shack in Black Mountain. Mellie’s is not only a plant nursery but doubles as a wine bar and local hangout.

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I met this adorable family outside of the Hop Ice Cream Shop in Black Mountain.

To see more Asheville images, visit my Photoshelter gallery or check out the article on National Geographic’s website.

In Bookstores: 100 Dives of a Lifetime

For all of you lovers of the underwater world, I’m pleased to share that a book I photo edited for National Geographic on the world’s best scuba diving locations is now in bookstores! 100 Dives of a Lifetime is written by Carrie Miller, a friend and colleague I last collaborated with on a project for Tourism New Zealand.

While photo editing over the course of a year on this title, my eyes feasted on imagery from 100 locations around the world, both above and below the surface. At times finding images from these remote destinations was elusive, like digging for underwater treasure. Luckily, with the contributions from the libraries of many talented underwater photographers, the treasures are now on display in the pages of this beautiful book.

Working on a book is a long process that involves extensive collaboration with editorial and design teams and a huge amount of organization. Thank you to author Carrie Miller (who is currently working on another travel book relating to scuba diving!) and Moira Haney, Allyson Johnson, and Sanaa Akkach at National Geographic Books.

After working on this project, I took away an urgency to get myself scuba-certified, a deep appreciation for the art of underwater photography, and an obsession with nudibranchs.

Pick up a copy of 100 Dives of a Lifetime here. And stay tuned for another book that I’m about to wrap up in National Geographic’s “Of a Lifetime” series, one which won’t require dive fins!

 

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Return to the Rainforest

If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to go on this trip. I was deep into a homebody rut after four months at home. And I had other projects in the works that I was hesitant to set aside for two weeks while I didn’t have any internet connection in the jungle. 

For me it is typical before every trip, even the ones I’m most excited about, to have a little freakout where I’m mentally kicking and screaming, “I don’t want to go!” But then the bags get packed and the passport comes out. Once I’m on the plane I am forced to set aside all of the things I wanted to get done before I left. Muscle memory kicks in and I transform into a traveler again, ready for another adventure.

This was my second trip to the Peruvian Amazon and although I knew better from my prior experience, I still harbored a fantasy that the rainforest would look like a Ravensburger puzzle where toucans and macaws dripped from tree branches, monkeys and sloths kicked it together, and butterflies flitted over the heads of caimans. The rainforest is indeed a riot of species, so abundant that it pulses with life, but that doesn’t mean all of that life will line up for the perfect photograph. 

As the National Geographic Photography Expert, I taught the guests I traveled with how to photograph in extremely challenging photographic situations where deep, dark forests and overcast skies called for drastic changes to exposures from one sighting to the next. And I hopefully instilled the idea that although not every wildlife sighting we had made a good photograph, it was always a worthy experience. 

So I shifted my expectations and did my best to just soak up the humid decadence of the rainforest. I looked again to reflections and quiet moments and would ask the skiff drivers to stop or multiple occasions to photograph something subtle like flowers or vines. I reveled in feeling like I was in a Dr. Seussian world when floating past islands of skinny palm trees in a flooded forest or navigating a waterway flanked by giant white-barked ceiba trees. On forest walks, I had the time to appreciate the small species and even discover leaves carved by hungry insects into modern art. I watched blackwater and whitewater rivers converge into a hypnotic, constant stirring of cream into coffee. The staff on board the Delfin II ship spoiled me again with their hospitality, amazing meals, and their patience for my rusty Spanish. And I was able to revisit locals I’d met and photographed the year before and gift them with prints.

And although it turns out we had blips of internet connectivity when we’d pass certain communities, I decided to remain blissfully unconnected and instead tuned into the sounds of downpours, choruses of frogs and birds, and took in the unique experience of plying the swollen tributaries of the mighty Amazon River.

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Brown-throated three-toed sloths, with their charismatic half-smile, were delightful to spot, especially in close proximity during forest hikes.

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Something as simple as a patch of water lettuce could transform into abstract art with the right background reflections.

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The sighting of this white-throated toucan was my favorite encounter of the entire trip. This bird, the largest of the toucans, had eluded our view earlier during a skiff excursion on Magdalena Creek, but on a return visit, we found it roosting in a nearby tree before it then flew into perfect view.

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I loved simple, beautiful scenes like these roots and vines hanging from the rainforest canopy. As much as I enjoyed photographing the wildlife in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, I think it was moments like this that conveyed the magic of the region.

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A naturalist looked for wildlife during a skiff excursion on the Pacaya River. Most of our mornings and afternoons were spent motoring on the glass-like tributaries of the Upper Amazon.

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Precise caterpillar holes formed a pattern on a tropical green leaf, turning the leaf into nature’s own artwork.

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A tiny saddle-backed tamarin, who is about the size of a squirrel, nibbled on fruit from a tree over Nauta Creek.

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Watching the woolly monkeys swing and play from trees was a highlight of each week. Unfortunately, the curiosity we experienced from these animals was caused by some tour operators allowing people to feed and pet these animals.

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A group of great egrets gathered in treetops at sunset on El Dorado River.

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The graceful tailfeathers of a great egret blew in the wind as it hunted for fish.

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Blackwater (colored by tannins) and whitewater (colored by sediment) converged and looked like cream being poured into coffee on the Pacaya River.

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During a night walk, we encountered plenty of insects, snakes, spiders, and frogs like this Manaus slender-legged tree frog.

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A walk on a suspended bridge at Amazon Natural Park was an interesting change of perspective on the rainforest canopy.

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A heliconia butterfly rested on a green leaf to lay tiny white eggs.

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I ran into many of the people I’d met last year when I visited the community of San Francisco de Loreto on the Marañon River, including Safira, the girl on the far left. I brought her father prints of the images I’d taken of his family as a gift.

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I met this woman, Nora Tapujima Chavez, while I explored the small community of Amazonas. She let me spend time with her while she weaved a basket using the plastic from old rice sacks.

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The Delfin II ship never anchored in the vast waterways of the Upper Amazon but instead tied up to familiar trees.

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Photographers knew that the bow of the Delfin II was the place to be at sunset on the Ucayali River.

If you are interested in this expedition to the Peruvian Amazon, you can find out more here. And to see more of my images, visit my Photoshelter gallery.

The Shape of Ice

I’m very belated in sharing about my trip to Antarctica (which I took last year…in January), but I realize that I’m right on time in keeping with one of my New Year’s resolutions from 2018 which is to return to Antarctica. I’m pleased to share that in November of 2019 I’ll be the National Geographic Expert on the Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands itinerary with National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions.

Antarctica is one of those places that defies description and imagery. It is the most immense and remote place I’ve ever experienced. To get there you have to hopscotch down the South American continent all the way to the end of the world, the town of Ushuaia, Argentina. From there you board a ship which must cross the (occasionally dreaded) Drake Passage. After a day and change of navigation, depending on your fortunes with the crossing, you begin to see ice and then eventually land.

To imagine the Antarctic islands and continent, envision the majesty of an Alaskan mountain range, strip it of trees and other vegetation, pepper in some penguin colonies, and layer it with a thick frosting of glaciers and snow. What threw my mind for a loop was realizing that without trees and only an occasional man-made structure for reference, getting a sense of scale was nearly impossible. What I could sense, and what remains elusive from truly explaining to someone who has never been, is that everything around me was immense, remote, and beautiful.

I surprised myself with how charmed I was by penguins. It was pure entertainment to watch them tending their adorable chicks on rocky nests or scurrying back and forth from fishing duties. I loved watching the ruckus caused by thieving penguins, the lazy (or ingenious!) penguins who steal rocks from other nests rather than trudging down to the shoreline to fetch their own.

But what I was most enchanted with was the ice. I loved the patterns along the top of tidal glaciers, the artistry in icebergs being sculpted by waves and time, and the sheer awe inspired by massive tabular icebergs floating in an open ocean. I still daydream about the beautiful shapes of ice that I’m missing out on thousands of miles away at the end of the earth.

But now I know I’ll be back. Join me November 19th through December 12th, 2019, and experience the beauty of ice in Antarctica and unparalleled wildlife encounters in South Georgia.

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Guests stand on the bow of the National Geographic Explorer as the ship navigates through sheets of sea ice in the beautiful landscape of Crystal Sound.

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Have you ever peered into the heart of an iceberg? I’d paint my world in this blue if it could be reproduced from a can.

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The face of a tidal glacier looks like a castle made of ice in Paradise Bay.

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Two inflatable boats filled with guests are dwarfed by the immense icy waters.

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A favorite experience was “parking” the National Geographic Explorer in fast ice to have a stroll around Crystal Sound.

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Adelie penguins gather on the shoreline of Brown Bluff before diving into icy waters which harbor their predator, the leopard seal.

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During my January visit, there were plenty of chicks nuzzling underneath penguin parents in all of the colonies we visited.

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Three gentoo penguins walk in a row up a snow-covered hill with the National Geographic Explorer in the background.

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A pod of killer whales swim in the ice-filled waters of Cape Green.

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We were able to visit a few bases and historic sites, but my favorite was Historic British Base W on Detaille Island, which remains frozen in time since being abandoned in the 1950s.

To find out more about the Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falklands itinerary, click here. To see more of my images from Antarctica, visit this gallery.

Patagonian Dreams

Once upon a time, I flew south in the springtime to find autumn in the Austral lands. I boarded a ship named Orion that took me through turbulent channels and calm coves on an expedition of wonder. I was enchanted by gnarled forests of windswept beech trees and lighthouses dangling over the ends of the earth. I was charmed by orchestras of elephant seals. I felt wind and mud in my face as I galloped a horse across the pampa. I was brought to tears by the sheer beauty of mountains. And I even licked a glacier.

It does feel like some sort of wonderful dream now, months later, as I write this while Christmas lights twinkle outside of my window. The trip I took in March as a National Geographic Expert for National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions to Argentina’s Staten Island and Chilean Patagonia was one of my favorites to date. Although I don’t yet have a scheduled return, I’m working on it and dreaming about Patagonia in the meantime. Here are a few images to inspire your own Patagonian dreams.

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A long cry from the other Staten Island in New York, Argentina’s Isla de los Estados is a rugged, unkempt landscape; just the way nature intended it.

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The weather in Patagonia can be capricious. We arrived under clear skies at the famed Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. But after climbing the wooden stairs from the landing to the top of the island, I could see a dark storm approaching. Most of my visit was conducted under torrential rains, but as I made a dash for the last zodiac to the ship, the sky parted and this rainbow appeared.

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This expedition was my first on the beautiful National Geographic Orion. Here she is looking especially dainty in front of the Garibaldi Glacier inside of Chile’s Alberto de Agostini National Park. If anyone ever thinks that I’m “roughing it” on these expeditions, don’t feel bad for me when I come home to a fully stocked bar and multi-course fine dining.

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Whipping winds couldn’t keep me from venturing onto the deck of the Orion to photograph the sunset along the Strait of Magellan.

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Southern elephant seals in Karukinka Natural Park blend into the beach like logs when they’re resting, but they cannot be ignored when they cause a ruckus. In fact, this bunch interrupted an interview I was doing with Video Chronicler Mark Coger (and you can see the blooper here).

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For the love of trees! I adored the shapes of the Southern beech trees in Karukinka Natural Park.

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I’ve seen the Torres del Paine massif in countless photos and nothing could prepare me for how overwhelmed I’d feel when I finally gazed at such beauty in person. I decided then that Torres del Paine National Park is in the top five most beautiful places I’ve even been.

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We took various hikes throughout Torres del Paine National Park and had many guanaco as willing subject matter to pose in front of the gorgeous mountain backdrops.

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Although I didn’t photograph while galloping on my horse, that experience is seared into my mind forever.

If you’re interested in coming to a photo workshop with me in Torres del Paine (the place that brought me to tears), shoot me an email to let me know. And if you’d like to see more images from this expedition, visit the full galleries of Chilean Patagonia and Argentina’s Staten Island.

Learn Travel Photography in Santa Fe

At the end of next month, I’ll be teaching my New World of Travel Photography workshop for the second time at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. From June 24th to 29th, we’ll spend five full days exploring the city and surrounding areas of New Mexico while making time for lectures and critiques. I love seeing photographers learn in the workshop format, especially at a place like the Santa Fe Workshops because the learning is intense and inspiration is everywhere.

Last year we ventured down to the historic Plaza to challenge ourselves to capture an iconic place in a new way. We explored Canyon Road and the Farmer’s Market to capture local color. And we even hit the road to capture the landscape and towns nearby which helped to build a fuller picture of the area. Every student came away with a beautiful set of images that captured the unique sense of place in Santa Fe.

Spaces are limited, so be sure to sign up soon if you are interested in exploring this beautiful corner of the Land of Enchantment with me.

 

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It seems there is a photo around every corner in the charming residential neighborhoods near Canyon Road that are filled with adobe homes.

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Colorful dancers twirl in the historic Santa Fe Plaza on a sunny afternoon.

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The Santa Fe Farmers Market is a wonderful location to photograph the locals, especially those with a unique style. 

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Summertime brings locals and visitors to the Santa Fe Plaza to enjoy concerts and entertainment.

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Chile ristras decorate a colorful building in the funky little town of Madrid (pronounced Mad-rid) near Santa Fe.

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The landscape around Abiquiu inspired the famous painter Georgia O’Keeffe.