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.

Windy, Wonderful Wellington

New Zealand is known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes and adventure sports, but I had no idea that it also boasts an urban gem in the capital city of Wellington.

Welly, as locals call it, made me feel right at home. Maybe it was the buzzing coffee culture where I could get a flight of flat whites at the Flight Coffee Hangar? Perhaps it was the plethora of funky second-hand shops selling vintage and retro treasures? Or it was the inviting waterfront that drew me like a moth to a flame to enjoy the sweeping views and breezes, outdoor artwork, museums, and farmer’s markets?

Whatever it was, Wellington has it. I hope these outtakes from my assignment with Nat Geo Travel and Tourism New Zealand give you a taste of Wonderful Welly.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

The Laundry Bar on Wellington’s famous Cuba Street hits the right chord with its funky New Orleans vibe and Southern-inspired menu.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Stretch your legs from central Wellington to the Aro Valley where an old garage is the now the new home of a popular brewery, the Garage Project.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Wellington has embraced the Cuban theme, which originated from a settler ship named “Cuba” in the 1840s and not with the country. Regardless of the origin, you’ll see nods to Cuba the country throughout the city, including at Fidel’s Cafe on (you guessed it) Cuba Street.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Who needs a wine or beer flight when you can get a different sort of buzz with a flat white flight? I was a skeptic until I sampled the espresso at Flight Coffee’s Hangar and was fueled up for the entire day picking up on notes of toffee or orange.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Another nod to Cuba, Havana Coffee Works is home to a roastery and a coffee shop. Here master roaster Joe Stoddart soaks in the toasted aroma of roasting beans.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Floriditas is a bright and airy eatery on Cuba Street.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

It is hard not to drool at Sheperd, a new restaurant in the Hannahs Factory Laneway, when a colorful bowl of radish, carrot, and beetroot salad greets you on the table.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

I loved wandering down the charming laneways like Eva Street in the Te Aro neighborhood of downtown Wellington.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

A Wellington icon is the Bucket Fountain kinetic sculpture on the downtown Cuba Street pedestrian mall.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

A trip to Welly isn’t complete without a ride on the famous cable car which carries visitors up to the beautiful, rolling grounds of the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Passersby can’t seem to resist posing with the waterfront sculpture called, “Solace of the Wind.”

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

In a city more famous for its wind and rain, the sunshine brings out people in droves to the Wellington waterfront. The Karaka Cafe provides seating, mats, and even hats to sun seekers.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

A wander along the waterfront will take visitors by text sculptures with words from New Zealand writers on the Wellington Writers Walk.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Actor/director Bryce Dallas Howard explores the Harbourside Market with Ray Letoa from Wellington’s Roxy Cinema. To learn more about Wellington, including a video featuring Bryce and more photos of the city from me, click here.

If you’re keen for more New Zealand inspiration, check out Nat Geo Travel’s Ultimate New Zealand Experience website. To license images, please visit my Photoshelter gallery.

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

Krista Rossow named National Geographic Traveler Contributing Photographer

national-geographic-traveler-cover-august-september-2017I’m pleased to share that my name has returned to the masthead of National Geographic Traveler magazine. While working as a photo editor for Traveler I spent seven years seeing my name in print. Now I’ve been named as one of the contributing photographers to the publication (alongside talented folks I consider inspirations) and you’ll see my name listed again on the masthead beginning in the current August/September 2017 issue. I’m happy to be a part of the Nat Geo Travel family!

national-geographic-traveler-masthead-krista-rossow-contributing-photographer

 

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.

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

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

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

 

Looking Back on 2015

In my (at times crazy) freelance life, I’m lucky to get to wear three hats: photographer, editor, and teacher. This past year had me busily swapping hats and it awarded me with some unforgettable experiences.

Last year I rang in the New Year overlooking the twinkling lights of Paris before heading to Spain to photograph a chilly Marbella on the Costa del Sol and then venturing to South Africa to shoot a feature story for National Geographic Traveler. February found me teaching photography in the Galápagos Islands for National Geographic Expeditions.

Fast forward to a summer spent teaching on ships on the Equator and in the Arctic Cirle and to my first workshop co-teaching with Jennifer Davidson in Austin, Texas. After returning home for the fall I put on my photo editing hat and got to work on multiple projects for National Geographic (did you see the Adelaide and Best of the World feature stories in the Dec 2015/Jan 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveler?). After Thanksgiving I headed south again to take part in the first Epic Photo Expedition in the Galápagos.

As the adage goes, pictures tell a thousand words, so I’ll let these images help tell the story of my most memorable experiences of 2015.

On Assignment: Durban Days

Scene on the Durban waterfront.

I fell in love with South Africa in 2013 and was delighted to be asked by National Geographic Traveler to head back to photograph Durban and the Kwa-Zulu Natal region for the May 2015 issue. I went on safari in a UNESCO World Heritage site, hiked into the jaw-dropping Drakensburg Mountains on the border with Lesotho, and explored the urban landscape of Durban. I ate plenty of curry and spent as much time as I could on the waterfront documenting the everyday lives of Durbanites. The photos from this assignment were also displayed in a gallery show in Durban during the INDABA travel show.

Most Obscure Destination: Jan Mayen

krista-rossow-jan-mayen-landscape

I had never heard of Jan Mayen until the day before setting foot on the island while traveling as a photo expert on the National Geographic Explorer. Located at 70°59′N 8°32′W in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, we had the opportunity to explore this Norwegian island on a rare sunny afternoon. We walked on a moonlike landscape and admired the “shy” glacier-covered Beerenberg Volcano as it would occasionally emerge from its cloud cover.

Second Most Obscure Destination: Juan Fernández Archipelago

krista-rossow-robinson-crusoe-island

Located 416 miles off of the coast of Chile is a land that inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe, the Juan Fernández Archipelago. While working on the National Geographic Explorer as a photo expert on a voyage exploring Peru and Chile, I was able to go on shore on Robinson Crusoe Island and even hike high into the foothills of this verdant, charming, and almost forgotten isle.

Most Exhilarating Experience: An Erupting Volcano

kristar-rossow-wolf-volcano-eruption

A week before I headed to the Galápagos Islands in June, I heard news of Wolf Volcano erupting. I couldn’t wait to get down to the islands to perhaps catch a glimpse. Although nowhere near the full splendor of the initial eruption, what I saw was equally awe-inspiring. One evening, as the National Geographic Endeavour navigated closer to the island and the light faded from the sky, the lava hot spots illuminated the smoke and clouds in a terrific orange color. We stayed up late into the night entranced by the glow and trying our best to photograph a low-light situation from a moving platform (this was definitely the most difficult photographic situation of the year!).

Favorite American Experience

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As much as I love to experience other cultures, I always have loved American culture. During the Picture Austin photo workshop I taught with Jennifer Davidson, we took our students to the Bastrop Homecoming Rodeo to capture this American tradition.

Most Memorable Wildlife Experience

krista-rossow-polar-bear-arctic

I’d never before seen a polar bear in the wild, and although this fellow came right up to the bow of our ship (we think he smelled the bacon from breakfast) during my Arctic expedition, I’m sharing this wide-angle shot of him in his native habitat. It struck me as so poignantly beautiful that these powerful creatures live solitary lives in extreme environments. It reminded me that the way we live our daily lives has repercussions further away than we might imagine.

Best Teaching Team

epic-galapagos-photo-team

Last month I was part of an incredible team brought together for the first Epic Photo Expedition in the Galápagos. From left to right: Mark Thiessen, Ralph Lee Hopkins, me, Jonathan Kingston, Jennifer Davidson, Tui De Roy, Gabe Biderman, David Brommer, and Rich Reed. I’m heading back this December for another epic; will you join? Photo courtesy of Greg Cook.

So Many Miles

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In 2015 I took 68 flights, six expeditions by ship, and added four new countries to my list. The year was filled with new faces and places with a little editing here, some shooting there, and a lot of teaching others to love photography.

2016 already promises lots of adventures starting with attending the annual National Geographic Seminar tomorrow in Washington, DC, and leaving for an Asian adventure next week.

Stay up to date with all that is happening here and through my quarterly newsletter. I hope our paths cross in this new year. Happy 2016!

Man riding horses on Costa Rican beach.

On Newsstands: Costa Rica for National Geographic Traveler

Last November I had the opportunity to photograph la pura vida in a tiny corner of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula for National Geographic Traveler magazine. In a rented 4×4 I bounced my way down potholed dirt roads to the tiny surfing villages of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. There, nestled between the thick jungle and rocky coastline, I met local Costa Ricans, or Ticos, as well as folks from all over the globe that had come to this slice of paradise to soak up the surf, sun, and slow life.

Although summer isn’t quite over, the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler is in subscriber’s mailboxes now and will shortly be on newsstands. For more photos, stay subscribed to this blog where I’ll be posting outtakes from the assignment. Read the article by Johanna Berkman in it’s entirely here.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.