On Assignment: Japan for Nat Geo Travel

Last October I photographed in Japan for a branded content project with National Geographic Travel and Japan National Tourism Organization. I posted images from the field on my Instagram account and after the assignment wrapped up, Nat Geo Travel did a takeover on their Instagram account and recently published articles on the Shimane and Hiroshima regions featuring my photography.

This was my second time to Japan and I remain charmed by the beautiful, friendly country. Scroll down to see my favorite images from the assignment along with some insights into the experience.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Unfortunately, when I arrived in Japan, I arrived with a typhoon which was lashing the country with high winds and heavy rains. Though this was not an ideal start to an assignment, luckily I had head-to-toe rain gear and protection for my camera. When I arrived at Dangyo-no-taki Waterfalls on the Oki Islands I was able to make this image of falls. Read more about my experience in a Behind the Lens article on National Geographic’s website.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The Oki Islands, located north of Honshu, felt like a magical place to me. The countryside was dotted with traditional drying racks for rice, the coastline was rugged, and the forests felt ancient and wise. In one of those forests, I photographed the Chichi-sugi Japanese Cedar, which at over 800 years of age and 10 meters in circumference, was definitely something to behold.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

My favorite thing about being on assignment is meeting the people. I was invited into the home of Keitaro Nagaoka, a fisherman, painter, and herbalist who has lived on the Oki Islands for 38 years. He let me photograph him while he mended his fishing nets in his home.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

In Keitaro Nagaoka’s kitchen, I saw his shelves lined with herbal tinctures and some unusual remedies, such as pit viper alcohol. Although he offered me a tipple (which I politely declined), this wise man doesn’t use the alcohol for imbibing, rather for treating wounds.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

I loved the moody look of Dogo Island, the largest of the Oki Islands, from the Nagu-misaki Cape.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

From the Nagu-misaki Cape on Dogo, the typhoon weather finally eased at sunset and I caught my first glimpse of the other Oki Islands, called the Dozen Islands.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

At Teuchi Soba near Goku one can try their hand at making soba noodles and then feast on them for lunch. Soba noodles are unique on the Oki Islands because they use 100% buckwheat.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The road leading to Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is lined with shops, eateries, and sacred torii gates. I couldn’t resist photographing this adorable Japanese couple as they ate from a food stall near the famous shrine.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Japan and claims to be the oldest. The surrounding region of Shimane Prefecture is known as the land of the gods because the gods return to Izumo-Taisha every October and the god of fortune, O-kuninushi-no-mikoto, is housed in the shrine.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Before the Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane Prefecture opens to the public, a team of gardeners spruces up the famous gardens, which are considered a living painting that changes with the time of day and the four seasons.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The gardens at the Adachi Museum are not for strolling, but rather for viewing. Around every corner is a carefully curated viewpoint for looking at the “living painting.”

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Tamatsukuri Onsen is a hot spring village located near Matsue in the Shimane Prefecture. I loved seeing families and friends, like these Japanese women, enjoying the public foot baths that lined the Tamayu River.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Tamatsukuri Onsen glows during the blue hour. The hot spring’s water is used in various bathing facilities and ryokans (inns) along the main thoroughfare which follows the Tamayu River.

Hiroshima Prefecture

Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was both a heart-breaking and hopeful experience. Although the atomic bomb devastated the city, somehow one building near the hypocenter remained standing after the infamous blast on August 6th, 1945. The Genbaku Dome was left in the same condition as it was found after the explosion.

Hiroshima Prefecture

The Children’s Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was built as a monument for peace and to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Ten years after surviving the atomic bomb being dropped on her city, Sadako Sasaki died at the age of twelve from leukemia, a common disease caused by nuclear radiation. During her illness she worked to fold over 1,000 origami cranes, hoping this would bring her a wish for good health. She did not survive, but her legacy of folding cranes has. Now children from all over the world come to the monument inspired by Sadako to deliver or send paper cranes to the memorial as a prayer for world peace and the end to nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima Prefecture

A man at his stand in the Omotesando Shopping Arcade which leads to the famous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island.

Hiroshima Prefecture

Japanese deer wander freely on Miyajima Island and have been accustomed to tourists, like these Japanese women who had just come from a wedding.

Hiroshima Prefecture

The bright orange Itsukushima Shrine is known as the floating shrine because of its unique placement on the Seto Inland Sea. At low tide, the illusion of floating disappears as the water retreats and the local deer come in to graze for a bite to eat.

Hiroshima Prefecture

The bright orange O-Torii, or Grand Torii Gate, which stands in the Seto Inland Sea at about 16.8 meters in height, is the most well-known structure of Itsukushima Shrine.

Hiroshima Prefecture

At low tide, visitors flock to the base of the O-Torii to marvel at its size and to make wishes by placing coins into the wooden base of the gate.

If you’d like to see even more images of Japan or license images for commercial or editorial usage, please visit my Photoshelter archive.

On Assignment: New Zealand for Nat Geo Travel

This past April I went to New Zealand on assignment for Nat Geo Travel to make images for a special website, the Ultimate New Zealand Experience. National Geographic writer Carrie Miller and I joined actor/director Bryce Dallas Howard and Tourism New Zealand to explore the beautiful island nation.

The results of our explorations are now live on the Ultimate New Zealand Experience website. Every page is packed with inspiring content including short videos, my photography, and informative articles. I’ve broken out some highlights below to make sure you see it all!

A feast for the eyes:


The Bay of Islands near Kerikeri on the North Island looks blissful at sunrise. To see just how diverse the many landscapes of New Zealand are, visit my 19 Epic Landscapes photo gallery.

Urban exploration:


In addition to being New Zealand’s capital, Wellington is also the capital of coffee and beer culture, second-hand shops, friendly folks, gusty winds, and small-town vibes.

Maori culture:


Discover 6 Ways to Experience Maori Culture and see images of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, sacred and spectacular Cape Reinga, and an ancient kauri tree named Tāne Mahuta.

Strap on your hiking boots:


Watch Bryce Dallas Howard, Carrie Miller, and me walk amongst the clouds near Queenstown and venture onto the Routeburn Track, one of the 9 “Great Walks” of New Zealand.

For foodies:


A visit to New Zealand will not leave you hungry. Inspire your appetite with images of impromptu roadside stands, bountiful farmers markets, and gorgeous wine regions. And read Carrie Miller’s 7 Ways to Eat and Drink Your Way Through New Zealand and don’t forget to look for us in the video where we dine al fresco one of the prettiest settings in the Bay of Islands.

Before this assignment, I’d never been to New Zealand and I now find myself daydreaming about how to get back there as soon as possible. I’ll be sharing more of my experience and outtakes from this epic assignment in upcoming posts.

On Newsstands: Asheville for National Geographic Traveler

“How quickly can you get to Asheville?” I read the email while thousands of miles away on the deck of a tall-masted ship in the Greek Isles. I looked up at the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea and thought, “Soon?” Flash forward two weeks and I found myself surrounded by a different sort of blue; that of the dusky layers of forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Arriving almost directly to Asheville from Greece’s famous islands, I have to admit this assignment didn’t have quite the caché. But for what this small town in North Carolina lacks in international name recognition, it makes up for with delicious eats, creative energy, big heart, and Appalachian charm.

I discovered that Asheville is an addiction, so much so that people from all over have come to call it home…with no intentions of ever moving again. And after being in a place like Santorini, where its fame has at times become its folly, I can see how locals, newcomers, and visitors alike revel in a small town life with world-class perks and a stunning setting.

To see a sampling of Asheville’s allure, enjoy a few asignment outtakes and a glimpse of the magazine spread below or pick up a copy of the April/May 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveler, now on newsstands. Also, on National Geographic Travel you can delve into my experience on assignment in a “Behind the Scenes” article.


Happily Ever Asheville, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s April/May 2017 issue.


Happily Ever Asheville, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s April/May 2017 issue.


Happily Ever Asheville, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s April/May 2017 issue.


On Newsstands: Croatia for National Geographic Traveller

This past September I had the opportunity to explore the coastline of Croatia. From past photo editing projects, I’d been clued into how gorgeous the country is, but it was quite something else to see it in person. I was smitten with the beautiful Venetian-influenced walled cities and dazzled by the shimmering blues of the Adriatic Sea contrasting with the fresh green of pines along the rocky Dalmatian Coast.

Now I’m fortunate enough to share part of the experience in a feature story I wrote and shot in the December 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK Edition). In it I share images from Hvar, Korcula, and, the jewel of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik. If you happen to be in the UK, pick up a copy on newsstands now, but if not, enjoy the layout here.


December 2016 feature story on Croatia in National Geographic Traveller UK Edition written and photographed by Krista Rossow.


December 2016 feature story on Croatia in National Geographic Traveller UK Edition written and photographed by Krista Rossow.


December 2016 feature story on Croatia in National Geographic Traveller UK Edition written and photographed by Krista Rossow.


December 2016 feature story on Croatia in National Geographic Traveller UK Edition written and photographed by Krista Rossow.

Buds on grape vines in Oregon Willamette Valley

On Newsstands: The Oregon Trail to Pinot Noir

Last month, just as buds were appearing on vines, I explored Oregon’s wine country while on assignment for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine. Head to newsstands to pick up an issue of this Pacific Northwest magazine and get inspired to take “The Oregon Trail to Pinot Noir.”

1859 Magazine Spread

Road Reconsidered article shot for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine, May/June 2015 issue.

1859 Magazine Spread

Road Reconsidered article shot for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine, May/June 2015 issue.

For more images from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, see outtakes here.

Marine iguanas at sunset

On Assignment with National Geographic Expeditions: Galápagos Islands

I’m recently back from my first trip to the Galápagos Islands. I was lucky enough to visit these islands located 600 miles off of the coast of Ecuador while working as a Photo Expert and Instructor for National Geographic Expeditions and Lindblad. Calling these pristine volcanic islands my “office” for two weeks while navigating above and below the Equator on the National Geographic Endeavour was an unparalleled experience.

With my background as a photo editor, you can imagine that I’ve seen quite a few images from the Galápagos Islands. I knew I’d be seeing giant tortoises (for which the islands are named) and the popular blue-footed booby. What I wasn’t prepared for was what it felt like to be on the islands.

My first impression was that I’d arrived in a prehistoric land, sans dinosaurs but, as Darwin learned over a few short months in 1835, teeming with a variety of species who have adapted quite uniquely to their environments. You could not only feel the age of the islands, but you could see it as we traveled from west to east, from the youngest to the oldest islands. At the young age of less than a million years old, Fernandina is still volcanically active and growing while nurturing scores of animals.Visiting older Genovesa you see only the crescent moon of a sinking caldera, an island in the final stages of life yet still home to thousands of seabirds.

During the two weeks on board I met guests from as near as Oregon and as far as Australia, children whose ages were in the single digits and retired folks who made being in their eighties look easy, and eager-to-shoot photo enthusiasts and people who didn’t know they’d have so much fun with their cameras while on the islands. I worked with a talented photo team, namely Jennifer Davidson and Jose Calvo, and for one week had the chance to work a legend of National Geographic, Annie Griffiths. During every outing I was impressed with the knowledge of Lindblad Expeditions’ naturalists, whose passion for the islands is palpable. And every time I was on the ship I was taken care of by a friendly and professional crew.

And the best part is that I get to go back. I’ll be returning to the islands for two more photo-specific expeditions on October 24th and 31st (details here). I hope these photos give you an idea of what it feels like to be on an expedition in the Galápagos. And I’d love to see you there in the fall!

A sea lion approaches people on a beach.

One of the most delightful things about the Galápagos is how close humans can get to the animals. Sea lions, like this one at Punta Pitt, are as curious about us as we are about them. Because the animals on the islands have few predators, they are unafraid. Using their energy to get out of our way would be wasteful, but visitors must keep a 6-ft distance to comply with national park rules.

National Geographic Endeavour ship at sunset.

The hull of the National Geographic Endeavour glistens in the last light as we return from a hike on Genovesa Island. The ship was our base as we explored the islands using small inflatable boats known as zodiacs to ferry us to shore or out on deep-water snorkels.

A red footed booby on Genovesa Island

Everyone hears about the blue-footed booby, but my personal favorite booby is the red-footed species. Their bright blue and purple beaks won me over.

Photographing a Peruvian booby in the Galapagos Islands

Speaking of boobies, we were lucky enough to be present for the first spotting of a Peruvian booby on the Galápagos Islands. Here naturalist Walter Perez and his zodiac full of guests photograph the surprising animal. Read more about the news on the Lindblad Expeditions blog here.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands.

Snorkeling is an almost daily activity while on expedition in the islands. With visions of ancient pirates in our minds, we swam into a cave at Buccaneer Cove on Santiago Island and found a large school of fish. During the snorkels we not only swam with fish, but also with sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, penguins, and cormorants.

Naturalist on the Galapagos.

Naturalist Pato Maldonado explains to some young guests how different animals use the cacti growing on Santa Cruz Islands as food. Every hike, zodiac ride, or snorkel is led by a naturalist guide in groups of 16 or less. All naturalists in the Galapagos are required to be residents of the islands.

Joyful woman hiking in the Galapagos.

One of the guests expresses her joy at reaching the top of the hike near Darwin Lake on Isabela Island. This photograph of her happiness captures what it is like to explore these beautiful islands.

Guests on the bow of the National Geographic Endeavour

One evening before heading to the recap session, guests had a cocktail at sunset while the ship cruised near Daphne Major Islet. The nightly recap sessions in the lounge included a briefing on the next day’s activities and could include mini-sessions on photography or natural history and perhaps a short screening of underwater footage from that day’s snorkel.

The barrel at Post Office Bay

You’ve got mail! There are few signs of the history of man on the Galápagos Islands, but on Floreana Island there is a post office barrel where whalers and sailors would leave their correspondence to be picked-up and hand delivered by others who happened to be passing in the right direction. The tradition continues and I happened to pick up two postcards that I’ll be able to deliver in Oregon.

Lava cactus and landscape in Fernandina

Visiting the islands, you quickly learn how different each one can appear from the others. Fernandina is the youngest of the islands in the Galapagos. It is home to a large colony of marine iguanas and the endemic lava cactus species.

Walking back to ship in Galapagos.

A hike comes to an end as guests walk back to catch a zodiac to the National Geographic Endeavour. On the two photo-focused weeks I taught on, we spent as much time as we could shooting the islands at sunset and sunrise.

Krista photographing a sea lion in the Galapagos Islands. Photo by Naturalist and Photo Instructor Greg Aranea.

A photo of me photographing a sea lion in the Galápagos Islands. Perhaps I’ll see you in the Galápagos this fall? Photo by Naturalist Greg Aranea.


Hong Kong skyline viewed from ship.

Jumping Ships

I’ve spent the majority of my time this year on a ship and I’m about to get onto another.

I recently returned from my assignment with Semester at Sea as photographer for the Spring 2014 Voyage’s communications team. While on board the MV Explorer, we circumnavigated the globe, traveling 23,379 nautical miles west from Ensenada, Mexico, to Southampton, England.

To see all of my posts for Semester at Sea, click here. And head to my personal travel blog (which is still catching up!) for even more photos and reflections. My personal highlights were exploring Yangon, Myanmar, on a serendipitous day of travel, marveling at life and death along the Ganges River in India, and wandering through the temples of Kyoto, Japan. I was lucky enough to get to tag along with a few classes while in port as well. I received at crash course in South African cinema while visiting the University of Cape Town. And I’m now well-versed in the art of Burmese puppetry and have a better grasp on evolution after visiting the botanic gardens and zoo in Singapore.

And this weekend I’m getting onto another ship, the National Geographic Endeavor, to teach photography for National Geographic and Lindblad in the Galápagos Islands off of Ecuador. Follow along through Lindblad Expeditions’ Instagram feed here.

My subject matter is quickly going to change from globe-trotting college students to slow-moving tortoises and happy sea lions, but before that happens, below is a collection of my favorite photos of student life from the Spring 2014 Semester at Sea voyage. Click on any thumbnail to view larger in gallery mode.