We took our first trip to Europe at Christmas in 1991, particularly because traveling on Christmas Day used to be rare and the Business Class cabins were mostly empty. In full disclosure, we were also skipping out on the usual family drama and all of the holiday hustle and bustle. There is something to be said for coming home to no holiday decorations and a clean start to the new year.
Continuing our tour of New Zealand, as we left Queenstown and headed North, we drove through Alpine looking landscapes that were simply breathtaking. It’s unfortunate that my photos just don’t do it justice.
The brilliant colors and rich textures are unlike anywhere else I have been in the world.
These are some sort of wild flower that grows all over New Zealand.
Just driving down the street reveals nature’s artwork.
Our next stop was Franz Josef Glacier which was a major disappointment. The glacier has melted to the point where you can no longer see it from it’s original viewing platform. The local town is laughable. We stayed at the nicest hotel ($300 USD/night) and it was a shitshow!
Fortunately the scenery prior to and continuing north from Frans Josef make up for it. The following day we drove to Picton to ferry across the Cook Strait to Wellington, the capital city of Wellington on the North Island.
At least we were back in civilization spending the night at The Intercontinental Hotel in Wellington. The next day we headed North to Hawk’s Bay for New Year’s Eve.
I must comment on the friendliness of the locals and the abundance of my favorite, seafood. As an island country, fresh seafood is everywhere and we didn’t hesitate to partake. The Green Lipped Muscles are huge and amazing.
Dinner that evening was dockside with an amazing sunset view.
Eye candy everywhere!
The laid back lifestyle of NZ is particularly conducive to the consumption of alcohol, and there is no shortage of booze.
The landscape is markedly different on the North Island but is nevertheless still remarkably stunning.
I thought it was interesting that the South Island is dominated by sheep but we drove past several cattle farms on the North Island. I grew up in the Midwest where cows were everywhere but I have never seen herds of cows so laid back that they just laid around on the ground, chillin’.
Although it looks like a little chapel (and maybe it originally was), this is actually a wine tasting room.
The wine country of New Zealand looks very similar to the wine country of Northern California.
Even inland, there is water, water everywhere.
Imagine a world without water.
Our final day is in Auckland. It was too bad the weather didn’t cooperate. Grey skies don’t make the best photos.
Auckland is located right on the water and has many newly constructed buildings with water views. Several other buildings are under construction in this rapidly growing city.
We took a cruise to a resort island to tour one of the local wineries.
Auckland is a main port of call on New Zealand cruise itineraries.
This was the view from the winery on the island.
Our last day in New Zealand was representative of the entire trip. A little rain, a little wine, water everywhere and beauty around every corner. If you ever have an opportunity to visit New Zealand, jump at it.
Driving from Dunedin to Queenstown proved to be similar to driving down the East coast in that the landscape constantly changed every hour or so. This route took us inland from the East coast to the West and although a little less spectacular, it was still stunning. We hiked up a hill to an amazing 360 view and came upon this terribly profound sign. What a disturbing thought! (more…)
The impetus for our trip Down Under was to scratch off another country from our bucket list and having heard how beautiful the countryside of New Zealand was, we continued our holiday trip by flying from Australia to New Zealand. We had two weeks to cover (more…)
As the largest city in Australia, Sydney boasts the recognizable Sydney Harbor Bridge and the iconic seashell shaped Opera House. It is also the capital of the state of New South Wales. Sydney is a relatively young city, having been first settled as a penal colony (more…)
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but one day was all we had to shoot the iconic sights and find the best restaurants. Fortunately I have been to Rome a few times before and know the historic center reasonably well so I knew exactly where I wanted to be to get the photos I wanted. The unfortunate thing is that one never knows when the monument or cathedral you want to shoot is going to be covered in scaffolding and being restored or cleaned. (more…)
Our trip to Italy was not only spontaneous but off the beaten path for the most part. Some destinations (see Part I) earn a big check mark once we have seen them and others, like Paris and Amsterdam, we return to again and again. (more…)
After a seven year absence from a visit to what is arguably the most beautiful landscapes in the world, it was decided that the birthday trip would be to Italy. Not the same old Italy that first time visitors and guide books direct travelers to, mind you, but something completely off the tourist grid. (more…)
I recently returned from shooting a brand new multi-family property in the rapidly growing Orlando suburb of Sanford, Florida. The owner of the property saw my photos of Two21 Armstrong in Auburn, AL and hired me to shoot their still under construction property for its website and marketing materials.
The shoot included twilight pool photos which always complicates the logistics of travel since the perfect timing of glowing blue skies doesn’t always coordinate well with flight schedules. (more…)
I was recently hired to shoot an apartment community in Auburn, Alabama that caters to students attending Auburn University. The property had recently enhanced their amenities and needed new photography for their brochures and website. (more…)
Being a photographer, I am almost never without a camera. This past weekend, we joined my extended family for some fun in Seagrove Beach, Florida. Ever since my nephew was born six months ago, we just can’t get enough time with him. Between his dad and me, I think he has to be the most photographed baby of all time!
Let’s be honest. ALL babies are not equally cute. I understand that their parents may think so, but the camera does not. In my case, this little guy is so photogenic I think I could get him work in Hollywood. (more…)
After the recent program was over and the group we were hosting left town, we stayed in the city for the weekend to recuperate. Some flights didn’t depart until mid afternoon so by the time we saw everyone off and changed hotels, it was time for a very late lunch. Just a few blocks away from our hotel was the iconic 21 Club and since neither one of us had ever been, we decided to go try their famous burger. Who knew we were in for a special treat, and I don’t mean just the burger.
I was in New York City recently, preparing for an upcoming trip where I will be the photographer for a group of company employees who will be going to Wall Street to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. The short trip is action packed and every move has been carefully choreographed to ensure the maximum “bang for the buck” and photo opps. As a photographer it’s essential to know where you will be and at what time of day so you can plan for the type of light that will be available in each location.
I shot a series of photos of the Chrysler building that was prominent in the skyline view from our hotel. The photos from our sight inspection trip will later be used for a variety of items. In this case, I chose this photo to be used for the luggage tags that will be sent to each of the trip’s participants. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part V
Call me a softie, a romantic at heart, or perhaps at the point in my life when I have crested the hill and begun what I hope to be a very elegant and gradual descent down the other side. Don’t get me wrong, I still love scuba diving, James Bond movies and the occasional leap off the top of a 2,000 foot tall mountain with nothing but a hang glider silently soaring over the beaches of Rio de Janiero. But sometime after my 40th birthday I noticed my priorities were shifting.
The obsession for the latest clothes, cars and cache has given way to experiencing life to the fullest every day. Life’s lessons learned have been punctuated by just how short life actually is. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part IV
Let’s face it. If you have been to Paris and liked it enough to return for another visit, you undoubtedly know the two biggest draws to the city. The visual eye candy comprised of amazing monuments, spectacular churches, ancient architecture, gardens, fountains, the River Seine and the cobblestone streets is reason enough for repeat visits to the crown jewel of Europe. The other reason is, of course, the food!
Clearly, the French can sculpt a statue, paint a canvas and design world class buildings. They can also create the most amazing, mouth-watering food I have ever seen anywhere. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part III
We arrived in Paris at the Gare du Norde train station and took a taxi to the Marriott Champs-Elysees where we discovered our room was not yet ready even though it was 4:00 p.m. and check-in was at 3:00. We asked if another room was available and after a few minutes of feverishly pounding his computer’s keyboard and making phone calls, the front desk clerk was able to change our room so we could unpack and get ready for dinner. Knowing that we were celebrating our 20th anniversary, the hotel manager kindly sent a celebratory cheese plate and bottle of white wine for our enjoyment. Abandoning all dietary common sense during our trip, we dove right in.
After such an elaborate appetizer, we had to think twice about heading out for dinner. Well, not really! We knew what was in store for us and finished dressing for dinner. This night’s destination was a small, left bank restaurant serving classic Parisian dishes. (more…)
Twenty Years in Paris – Part II
Amsterdam is as charming and picturesque in September as it is in spring or summer. The canals and narrow houses lining them glow beautifully in the Autumn sun or after the evening lights appear, which happens as early as 5:00 p.m. in the fall season. Regardless of the time of year Amsterdam never fails to provide its visitors with plenty of eye candy and a magical experience not soon forgotten.
Twenty Years of Paris – Part I
Working the system using a combined 55+ years of travel experience, the best option for free Business Class seats on our 20th anniversary trip to Europe for the dates we needed turned out to be via Washington, D.C. So our trip began with a flight from Atlanta to D.C. where we would make our connection to Amsterdam on a KLM flight.
Taking full advantage of our passionate belief that the journey IS the trip, we booked a morning flight to DC so we could enjoy the day in our nation’s capital. (more…)
This year, since July 4th fell on a Wednesday, it seemed the perfect opportunity for a long weekend trip. And, since a trip means photo opportunities, I wanted to choose a great place to photograph fireworks. The choice was easy – New York City, of course! Macy’s presents the largest fireworks display in the country every year. Done deal, NYC here we come!
A big part of what separates a true photographer from anyone with a cell phone is (more…)
Phoenix is a city of contradictions. It is a desert city but a river runs through it. Lush green golf courses are surrounded by powdery dry, dusty landscapes. Mile after mile of flat land, with occasional mountains rising from nowhere, form a most interesting topography not often seen throughout the United States.
A neighbor to Phoenix, Scottsdale is an upscale suburban area that is part oasis and part arid mountains scattered amid the hot, dry landscape. Adjacent to Camelback mountain is The Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott resort and spa. The property is very large and comprised of several two story guest room buildings scattered around the meticulously manicured gardens.
I can only imagine what the water bill must be at a resort like this in the middle of the desert. The grounds are very nicely maintained and (more…)
A little more difficult to reach than Antelope Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon involves climbing rocks and ladders, and squeezing between narrow gaps in the rock. Although the rock colors and textures are very similar to what we saw in Antelope, Rattlesnake has a very different look and feel.
The canyon is smaller, has more light, and where Antelope can be traversed all the way through and exited on the other side, Rattlesnake is one-way with a dead end. Apparently because of the more difficult access, there are far fewer tourists visiting this canyon and therefore it is much less often photographed.
Not a good place to be if you suffer from claustrophobia, Rattlesnake Canyon is nevertheless another location where photographing nature is almost required. The lighting conditions make it tricky to capture great images, but a little creativity and a good eye go a long way. Have you ever seen more beautiful rocks? The feeling is pure magic.
Last year’s trip to Arizona began as a long weekend getaway and ended up being quite an interesting adventure. Our drive North from the Phoenix airport took us to a part of the country I had never seen before. It was my first visit to the Grand Canyon, Sedona and that magical place I had seen many photos of but was shooting for the first time, Antelope Canyon.
After spending a day in Grand Canyon National Park, I was expecting Antelope Canyon to be more (more…)
Waking up the next morning in the quiet, gorgeous condo we found the previous day through Airbnb.com, it was hard to believe that we had gone from such a ridiculous situation to such tranquility in just a few hours. The condo’s owner, who lives in Dallas, arranged for his local manager to meet us at the unit and let us “check in” at noon after high-tailing it out of the hip, young, trendy place where we clearly did not belong.
We quickly stocked up on staples for a weekend in Mexico. Beer, wine, some Scotch and munchies to nibble on. The one bedroom condo (more…)
We paid dearly for the hotel’s car to pick us up from the airport in Cancun for our 55 minute transfer to Playa del Carmen. Having been to Mexico several times before, and even fallen prey to two of the biggest tourist scams in the country, we knew it was better to be safe than sorry since we wouldn’t need a rental car for our long weekend stay in Playa. Paying off police officers who stop tourists in rental cars on their way to the airport only fuels the corruption fires that burn throughout Mexico.
The atmosphere on the flight to Cancun was even more festive than a flight to Las Vegas. After all, nobody is flying to Cancun for business. Everyone is headed for a vacation and many of us began our libations (more…)