Winter break in Curaçao

As has become our tradition, my wife and I decided to take a mid-winter break and visit a warm place we've never been before. After getting some good advice from our friend Christine (check out her travel blog!), we decided to check out Curaçao!

One of the things that attracted us the most about Curaçao was that it wasn't just beaches. It has an incredible historic downtown featuring colorful facades along waterways, just like you'd see in the Netherlands.

Of course, the beaches were awesome, as well. We tried a number of different local beaches, some well-known, some less. We also opted for a day at Baoase Luxury Resort - you can pick up a day pass and get access to their beach, complete with luxury cabanas, food and drinks. We also spent a morning doing some dives - you can see those photos here.

On our last day, we dove a bit into the culture and did a walking tour of the historic downtown area with our local guide, Emlyn. He was a treasure trove of information and it was such a valuable experience - I highly recommend it if you want to actually get to know the culture and history behind the island. Also, we capped off the tour with a tasty lunch at a local market, our last meal in Curaçao and the perfect send off.

For a list of the different places we went, you can visit my wife's travel blog, Perhaps Patagonia.

Many thanks to the Curaçao Tourism Board for the tour!

Underwater Photography in Curaçao

I've been a certified open water scuba diver for over 5 years now, but up till now, all my underwater media was done on various GoPro cameras. On our recent vacation to Curaçao, I decided the time was right to try out some underwater photography using a better camera.

Given the price of most underwater housings for DSLR cameras, and my relative inexperience, I decided it didn't make sense to invest too heavily at this time. Luckily, after chatting with the folks over at Ikelite, it turns out a camera I already own is one they recommend, the Leica D-Lux Type 109. I picked up the housing and a red filter (helps control the color cast in tropical waters) and familiarized myself as best I could with the ins and outs of using it.

We did two dives in Curaçao, one called "Tugboat" and the second we went diving under a giant decommissioned oil tanker. I shot all these with no strobes, as I wanted to focus more on the atmospheric feeling one gets underwater rather than the underwater sea life.

Overall, I was pretty amazed at how well the camera & housing performed. It certainly adds a bit of heft when traveling, but underwater it was simple to use. The Leica also did amazing with no artificial light sources, with many of these images shot at 6400 ISO!

Can't wait for our next diving trip to try my hand at more underwater imagery!

FTA 02: Backcountry Winter Memories

With the current Winter Olympics finally coming to a close, and my recent trip to Jackson Hole, I've been thinking a lot about my time as a ski bum. Looking back into the archive and found a few photos from a backcountry day I took with my buddies Trevor (who is an incredible photographer too!) and Rush.

I can't believe I took these photos TEN YEARS AGO. Wow, how the time flies.

FTA 01: Happy Halloween & Dia de los Muertos!

Wanted to take this lovely holiday season to start a new feature here on the blog: FTA or, From the Archives. First up, these lovely men and women (yes, many men dress up as women in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos) from La Paz, Mexico. This series was taken in November of 2014.

Scotland - Whisky & The Northern Lights

Scotland in the fall: crisp weather, warm whisky, and all of the colors. I recently got offered a chance to visit Scotland for the first time, thanks to my new friends over at William Grant & Sons. Although I only had about a week of time to explore, I tried to pack in as much as possible.

Aberdeen

Although Aberdeen doesn't get a lot of love as a must-visit city in Scotland, it's a great embarking point to visit Speyside and Northern Scotland. The city itself has a charm to it as well, reminding me of an old port city you'd find in the NE of the US. I teamed up with my buddy Kyle who happened to be in town for a few hours of exploring.

Speyside

If you don't know what Speyside is, well, I didn't either. It's a region in Scotland that's well-known among whisky lovers for the scotch it produces. A lot of the big names are here, (including many of WG&S's whiskies!), but it also has many small distilleries that dot it's picturesque landscape. After spending a couple nights at the Grant's Distillery and Balvenie Castle, I visited a few other distilleries with some new friends and spent the night in the small town of Craigellachie.

Inverness

After just a few hours in Inverness, it completely stole my heart. This beautiful little city is in a prime location for exploring Loch Ness (which I didn't get a chance to do this trip!) and was also a great rest stop for my journey northward. Witnessing the sunset in this little town, walking along the river and watching the colorful leaves flutter in the breeze, was enough to convince me to come back soon.

The Northern Lights

As a total novice when it comes to shooting the Northern Lights, I found out that it's relatively rare to see them from anywhere in the UK. I'd been reading up and found some websites to follow that tracked the likelihood of the lights being seen and thought there might be a chance if I just got as far north as I could. Heading north, we decided to stop in the small town of Castletown, which had a beach area you could walk out too. Incredibly, luck was on our side - bucket list item, check!

...and a castle.

It just wouldn't be a visit to Scotland without visiting a castle, so on the final trip back to Aberdeen and my flight home, I stopped in to visit the "small" castle of Dunrobin. Looking forward to seeing more castles, drinking more whisky, and seeing MUCH more of Scotland on my next visit!

A Weekend at the Lake

Nothing is more summer in New York City than LEAVING the sticky city behind and heading out on a weekend retreat. Luckily, our good friends Bill & Sabry have the perfect house on Lake Henry in Pennsylvania. Even luckier, they invited us out for a weekend of relaxation!

Our Gracious Hosts

The House

Bill & Sabry have been working on this dream house for years, and it shows. They patiently waited for this dream property to come up for sale, and once they purchased it, they set about updating it to their exact specs. With an obvious love for modern, clean design, the house is open and full of light, both in the mornings with the sun rising through the main windows, or the pink glow of the perfect sunsets.

By far one of our favorite touches on the house was the dock they designed. With space to dine, and a giant day bed for lounging on, it's no surprise we fell asleep out there one night and only woke up to drag ourselves to our bed.

Thanks for the wonderful time guys!

Apple Talk & Workshop

A few nights ago, I was invited by Apple to give a talk about my travel photography at the Apple store in SOHO. Since the previous night they had Anthony Bourdain speak, I was a bit nervous.

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It was great to see so many people show up and learn about my journey, how I tell stories, and hopefully I imparted a few tips and pointers for anyone who came to learn.

Thanks again to all the team at Apple corporate and SOHO for hosting me!

Australia Wedding

I love the fact that my wife is half Australian, but what I love even more is that means we have family in Australia, and perfect excuses to visit. One of the Aussie cousins was getting married in May, and given that they made the trek to our wedding in Mexico, we couldn't say no - and didn't want to.

Sydney

My wife and I decided to fly in a few days ahead of the fam to get some alone time in Australia, and decided to just poke around Sydney for a few days. My wife had told me all about Australian coffee being the best stuff on earth, and she WAS NOT WRONG. We spent most of the time browsing cool shops, drinking coffees and taking in the beautiful city.

Gold Coast

Once the rest of the family arrived, we hopped on a plane up to Gold Coast and Byron Bay, where the wedding was going to take place. Ironically, I'm not a big photo taker during personal events, so there weren't too many photos to share. The wedding, in true Aussie fashion, was a blast.

Bondi

After the wedding, the family decided to spend a relaxing few days back in Sydney in Bondi, an incredibly stunning beach area of Sydney where my wife lived for a year. If I was ever going to live abroad again, this place might just top the list.

Taronga Zoo

While spending the day at the zoo isn't my usual recommendation, I'll make an exception for the Taronga Zoo. Not only is the actual zoo layout beautiful, nestled on a forested hillside overlooking Sydney, but you get to take a ferry across the harbor and a tram ride just to get there.

Bondi to Coogee

One of the coolest things about this coastal area of Sydney is the walk from Bondi to Coogee. A winding path leads past several beaches, a graveyard and a few coastal towns and the views are one of a kind. In the few days we spent here, I walked the path a number of times, ran it once and took PLENTY of photos.

Looking forward to the next visit to Australia, hopefully to explore Melbourne and some of the inland or outback or whatever it is you call it.

Taking a break on Grand Cayman

By mid-winter in New York, Erin and I are always ready to get out of town to someplace warm and sunny. This year, we used Kayak's "explore" function to find a cheap, tropical destination and lo-and-behold, we bought flights to Grand Cayman. The next step was finding a place to stay: after a bit of research, we decided on the Wyndham Reef Resort, on the East side of the island, away from the main tourist strip of Seven Mile Beach.

Flying to Grand Cayman was easy, JetBlue actually flies direct from New York! We rented a car since we were going to the other side of the island and wanted the flexibility. Since the island is a British territory, it was my first time driving on the left hand side of the road - I didn't make TOO many mistakes! As we drove across the island from the main city of George Town to the east side, it was nice to see the landscape change to more of a local feel. After a quick stop for a late lunch (or early dinner?) at great local spot called Kurt's Corner, we arrived at the Wyndham Reef.

As one of only a few resorts on the East side of Grand Cayman, the Wyndham felt like a little tiny village in itself. It has a huge stretch of beach, multiple pools & hot tubs, a spa, coffee shop, a restaurant, and of course a beach bar with awesome bartenders. Also, literally EVERY room looks out on the ocean. We had coffee on our balcony the first morning, enjoying the gentle sea breeze and waking up. We also stocked up on snacks & drinks at the stores right across the road which was majorly convenient.

There were a ton of available activities, and we quickly signed up for a trip to Sting Ray City. We also wanted to do a few dives, but as it turns out, since we hadn't been on a dive in 2 years we needed to do a refresher course and opted not to because of our limited time. At sunset every day, you can feed the giant Frigate birds that circle overhead from the pier, definitely a crazy experience and it seemed like kids and adults were loving it.

Happy hour was, of course, our favorite time, and we got to know the bartenders, Nazeer & Tony really well. They're both masters of the tropical cocktail, with any number of flavors possible. We were also lucky enough to be visiting during a full moon, and there's nothing quite like enjoying fresh seafood on a beach by the light of the moon! Even though we didn't take advantage of it, the resort also offers all-inclusive packages to make things simple and easy.

Hands down one of our favorite things we did was Sting Ray City. The concierge advised us to try the 7am trip, and avoid the crowds that amass by midday from the cruise ships. True to the advice, we were the ONLY boat out there, and had the entire sand bar to ourself! Plus, as a photographer, I wasn't going to say no to sunrise photos.

Our captain from White Sand Water Sports showed us how to feed the rays using squid - it was a little scary at first, but they don't have any teeth and are quite gentle. After the feeding, we had time to go snorkeling on the nearby reef as well, and it was full to the brim of sea life of all kinds.

As it turns out, 4 days on Grand Cayman was exactly what we needed to recharge our batteries. Although I might need to spend some time at the gym after too many conch fritters and piña coladas, it was a perfect, laid-back, relaxing getaway.

The Wyndham Reef kindly offered us a complimentary stay, but all opinions are my own.

Women's March on Washington, DC

Just in case you were wondering what Democracy looks like...