Friday, June 21, 2013


After a few years of using Blogger's great service I have decided to transition to my own self-hosted site.  You can now find me here:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Costa Rica Travelog | Trees a Crowd

Already showed some foliage - ziplined through it, shot monkeys in it.  A few more to close off the flora and fauna section of our trip.  Of course Costa Rica has trees, and lots of 'em.  Incredibly we there during a "drought" - with the rainy season approaching it will really green up.

So these aren't so much about green trees but rather interesting trees.  Not a nature guy, but these just looked cool.  Across from our hotel in Tamarindo was this road leading off towards work areas and a municipal park.  And overhanging said road was this great stand of trees creating a natural arch.

The mid-morning sun had long since ramped up the intensity and so dappled through and lit everything above.  Pretty damn cozy.

We were in the Guanacaste province during our trip.  And indigenous to this region is the Guanacaste tree.  Don't know which came first, but these trees spread out like a mushroom clowd.  I do have some photos of these trees full on (you can see how big they are in the shot from the bus looking down the river in this previous post).  Opted to silhouette it against the vibrant dusk sky.

Returning from a morning shoot along the beach at Playa Tamarindo I came across this grizzled old thing hanging over the sand.  Those aging details are what I wanted to show here hence the black and white treatment.  Likewise for the one following which was just off the beach in Playa Conchal.  Massive, gnarly texture.

Our final morning of the trip found me out early along Playa Conchal.  Monkeys were howling and sand mites were biting, but otherwise quiet.  Turned out to be an uneventful dawn but I did like the way this forked tree framed the land beyond.  It would be one of the last shots I would take before departing.

One set left to wrap up the series.  I look back at these fondly, thinking of the warmth that seems to be evading us here on the prairies as summer is yet to begin.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Costa Rica Travelog | These Guys Are a Howl

Costa Rica, albeit the tiny portion we saw, is teeming with life.  Here we see a dog wandering around.  There we have geckos and iguanas and these mini-anteater-looking-things called Coati and funky looking squirrels and crazed racoons and birds birds birds and crabs in our hotel room...

But one of the bigger attractions, apparently, is the Howler monkey.  So named because they make A Lot of Freaking Noise.  Like an old dog with emphysema.  And a bullhorn.  First morning we heard them baying ("Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is that?!!") and then throughout the rest of the trip.  Eerie as hell when you're walking out to the beach for an early morning shoot.

They dangled and jumped and played around in the trees blanketing our first hotel, attracting quite an audience...

And following our run through the zip line course I had a chance to head back up to the launch platform and watch them at eye level and much closer.  This fellow lounged around, casually looked my way, then stuck his tongue out.  Fired away on motor drive and pieced these from the burst into a triptych that makes a nice spread in our photo book.

We learned that these dudes have been known to hitch a ride on passers by through the zip course.  No such luck with our group.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Costa Rica Travelog | You Don't Know Zip

I think it's pretty common for people to think of lush tree canopies when Costa Rica is mentioned. And where there are tall trees, there's an opportunity to zip line like a bat out of hell straight through 'em.

So we find ourselves at such a location during our trip (pre-planned as this was one of the available excursions).  I have done this before in Quebec although that had more of an obstacle course feel to it.  This version was just about getting from A to B as fast as possible, through tunneled out sections of the canopy.

After gearing up with the Most Uncomfortable Harness Imaginable, gloves, and thin plastic "helmets" (whose sole purpose was to act as a barrier against burning a new hairline into your scalp while whizzing under the zip cable) we made our way up into the canopy.  A staircase circled around a massive tree to a platform above.

At this point it's safe to say those with a fear of heights need not apply.  

There was never any question of safety as we progressed through the dozen or so courses.  A guide was with us at each platform and at no point were we ever untethered from the safety cables.  These guys were great, not only starting the runs but receiving us at the end of each.

Not really much time to take pictures between runs.  And there is no chance I'd be risking my camera while on the line itself.  But when the opportunity arose I unfurled the D700 and snapped a frame or two from our vantage points.  Trees like this hulking specimen were common throughout the runs and we smoked by them pretty tight and at speed.

One of our party found out the hard way that there was only one way down... the last run.  While there was a nice set of stairs ascending to the first platform, none followed.  Each course got progressively faster and longer.  The final run had us screaming into the station at a solid clip.  You feel that on the line, and definitely observing from a stationary perspective on the ground.

That last shot makes it into my collection of personal favorites.  Took a few cracks to get it - panning is always a bit of a crap shoot - but worth the kink in the neck. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Costa Rica Travelog | Sand & Surf

Didn't take long to blow my plan for the daily CR travelog to close off the trip but, as expected, Life got in the way.

Our time in Costa Rica started, frankly, on an abysmal note.  Horrible travel and a 22 hour day before getting to our hotel in the dark.  Hit the sack with extreme prejudice as completely tired having only about 2 hours sleep the night prior thanks to a completely borked flight plan.

But waking up to see our proximity to the beach and shores of Playa Tamarindo served to wipe all that from our collective memories.  The beach was huge, deep and beautiful.  

It was surprising hard packed and smooth, so much so that it was apparently easy to navigate on a bike.  Was surprised to see this dude casually coasting along.  This one still makes me chuckle.

The nature of the sand and high tide created interesting patterns along the shore that always caught my eye...

And said patterns also created interesting lines and textured which become even more striking in black and white...

Incidentally that shot above is the first time I tried a vertical stacked panorama - multiple shots stitched together from top to bottom to form one large image.  The file is massive, about 40MP in size.  Billboard, anyone?

The beach was also punctuated by rocky outcroppings which we'll see more of later...

On our last morning before heading on to Destination #2 I grabbed this.  As soon as the soon peaks over the horizon you skin starts to melt off your face, Raiders of the Lost Ark style.  But also gives me the backlight I needed to cut the line of the shore.

That's it for now.  Hopefully I can get back to the daily regime to close the rest of this series off.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lemons to Lemonade

So I check into a little boutique hotel. Little room. Little space between the adjacent building.

Hence this view:

But a quick look to the right offers something a little more interesting with lines, texture and contrast.

Still a lousy view, though.  At least they put a chocolate on my bed for nighty night.  And otherwise still a cool hotel.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

That would be me.  With my camera firmly resting on a tripod (Really Right Stuff - you guys rule), aimed up at the monolithic structure that is the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.  And me bent down trying to frame the damn thing.  Even with a 24mm lens it barely fit.

According to Wikipedia it is 200 feet tall and 151 feet wide.  Trying to get a shot from further back was a waste as too much traffic and pedestrians, and the perspective would have been skewed.  So I just went to the base and exaggerated the whole thing, waiting for the sky to get down to around the same level as the blue lights under the main arches.  Ultimately the exposure balanced and I was done.  A final shot of the entrance with the "ND" inlayed into the concrete and then I headed back to the hotel.

Looking forward to printing the first one.  Lots of room, there, as even the cropped version leaves me with a mere 28MP.  Ridiculous.