wyoming photography workshop

08/19/2015

I know it seems like I travel a lot, but last week I actually started my first vacation of 2015 (provided you don’t count the fact that I took January 2nd off as part of the tail end of last year’s holiday break). I’m still finishing up the two weeks of PTO that I took off by doing some touristy stuff in and around New York (and running errands, always errands), but last week I attended the National Geographic Wyoming Cowboy Country Photography Workshop. It was quite fantastic. I’ve wanted to do one of the NatGeo workshops for a while, particularly after my trip to the Galapagos, and this one fit in with my already planned PTO schedule. The instructors (Jay, Jeff and Frank) were amazing, the entire class group was a blast, and everyone who worked at the CM Ranch was phenomenal. I may have threatened to kidnap the chef on more than one occasion.

And the scenery…

I haven’t spent a lot of time traveling to the “interior” of this country. Living on the coast has made it all too easy to choose to fly east when planning a trip somewhere, but a while back I made a commitment to try to see more of this vast expanse of a nation of ours. So I was really glad to have the opportunity to take this trip for that reason as well. Many years ago, one of my European friends remarked that the biggest difference they saw between Europe and America was just how big and open everything was here – Europe is not only geographically smaller, but developed at a time when, by necessity, everything needed to be close together. You simply don’t understand the vastness of America without seeing it.

Rather than trying to explain everything up front, I’ve embedded descriptions into the slideshow itself. And if you think there are a lot of pictures here, please note that these 115 or so pics have been whittled down from over 3300 that I took over the course of the week. That was the hardest part.

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venice

10/12/2014

It was somewhat of an impulse vacation, when I realized that if I didn’t take some time off soon, I wasn’t going to get a break until the end of the year because of the way some work projects were shaking out, so I put in for some time and decided, rather impassively based on some good deal opportunities on Expedia, to go to Venice for the week. I got back last weekend, but with the jet lag and the catching up with work and other stuff, I finally got to sit down and sort through photos this weekend.

The way the trip worked out, I really only spent four full days in Venice. I landed on Sunday mid-day, and flew out again on Friday afternoon, leaving Monday through Thursday as the days to truly wander around and soak in the atmosphere. I largely avoided the whole Clooney wedding kerfuffle (arriving after the main event, and yes, I planned my trip before that whole mess was even announced), but the tourist crowds in general were not avoidable.

By day then… (if you click on the thumbnails, you can click through all of the photos from the trip without having to exit)

Sunday and Monday: Some arrival shots, my hotel was situated right on the Grand Canal on the Dorsoduro side across from San Marco, so you could sit in the front lounge/bar and just drink cocktails and soak in the view. I did this a lot. On Monday, my original plan was to go to the architecture biennale, but apparently it’s closed on Mondays, so I recalculated and spent Monday at San Marco, visiting the museums (Museo Correr and the Doge’s Palace) and generally wandering around the area.

Tuesday: Second and more successful attempt to head over to the architecture biennale, curated by Rem Koolhas and held at the Venice Arsenale. It was mostly video installations, which doesn’t really lend itself to photography, and I didn’t spend a lot of time in the country pavilions at the end, choosing instead to grab some lunch and then head up the grand canal via vaporetto (where I got a coveted seat on the back deck of the boat) to the jewish ghetto for a late afternoon tour of the synagogues – again, no pictures allowed inside, but the tiny synagogues built secretly into the top floors of the houses here are a marked contrast from the luxury of San Marco. A definite must-see if you’re ever in Venice. The word “ghetto” actually derives from this tiny island, which was originally an italian “gheto”, or foundry, and which is where the original jews of venice were segregated because they could be walled off and locked in at night during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Wednesday: it was pouring rain on Wednesday, so I decided to make this my lazy day. I slept in and then headed over to the Peggy Guggenheim collection, which was near my hotel. Not a lot of pictures, because I generally don’t think photographs of art do any justice to the art itself.

Thursday: My last full day, which was beautiful again, I decided to just take a lengthy walk, starting in San Marco and heading back up towards and past the Rialto Bridge, wandering in and out of side streets and canals and basically getting lost (although you can never get really lost in venice, because you’re never that far from the Grand Canal). Made my way back for a late afternoon lunch near L’Accademia Bridge, the “other” bridge that crosses the Grand Canal, and then finally went back to San Marco for the ultimate in tourist trap dinners, but had a total blast listening to the band and just generally enjoying the piazza, wine, and atmosphere.

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philly

06/5/2014

The weekend before Memorial Day was my law school reunion. 15 years (gasp!). It was tons of fun, and compared to last time, much less anxiety-inducing (I had gotten laid off from my job only three months before my 10-year reunion, so the “what are you doing now” questions were a little awkward). I didn’t take many pictures of the festivities, because I was having too much fun in the enjoyment of them, but Saturday morning I walked up to the new Barnes Foundation and took a few shots.

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galapagos, day 7

08/29/2013

Friday was our last full day in the islands, as Saturday involved an early-morning wake-up call so that we could all spend half the day traveling back to ecuador. Our last day took us out to genovesa island, which is completely covered in various seabirds, including the red-footed booby. Not only do these have red feet rather than blue, but they are the only boobies with prehensile feet, so that they can perch in trees (blue-footed boobies get their foot color from eating oysters. Red-footed boobies get their foot color from eating squid).

We also saw frigate birds, which remind me of nothing so much as a disney villain (or villain’s henchman). Appropriate, given that their main means of collecting food and nesting materials involves stealing it from other birds who’ve done all the work. Other sightings included a really cool owl, more sea lions (of course), more swallow-tailed gulls, a yellow-crowned night heron, a grey pelican, and as always, more nazca boobies. I think if I keep typing “boobies” my whole site is going to end up caught in a giant spam filter.

Our morning and afternoon hikes were both on Genovesa, on different parts of the island, and it was probably the toughest walk of the trip – the first area involved climbing up some giant lava steps, and then having to climb down them again, and the afternoon involved walking over very sharp uneven lava the whole way. so…fun!

Since it was my last day, I took twice as many photos as usual, and couldn’t pick my favorites, so I apologize in advance for the repetition. Be happy that I got down to less than 40 pics out of the almost 600 shot.

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galapagos, day 6

08/29/2013

Thursday was our first and only real “beach” day, where we actually just sat on a beach in the sun all morning. Conveniently, it was also the only morning on the entire trip that was full-on sunny and not overcast. About an hour into sitting on the beach and reading, I got bored so threw on my wetsuit and fins and went snorkeling again (that was another option), so there will be some final underwater pics once I get around to picking up the discs from the photo lab. Morning beach was the island of Bartolome.

In the afternoon, it was back in the Zodiac for a ride around Sombrero Chino (chinese hat), named for the fact that it…looks like a chinese hat. Very original. This is the home of penguins(!). Galapagos penguins are extremely endangered, and there are only about 1200 remaining. but we got to see a few, diving in the water, climbing out of the water, and looking off into the distance like champions. Plus a few other already familiar animals.

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galapagos, day 5

08/27/2013

On Wednesday, the ship remained near Santa Cruz, but on the other side of the island, where we went to “Cerro Dragon” (or Dragon Hill), home to the native land iguanas, who were almost extinct before the Darwin foundation and the galapagos national park service helped restore the population through a captive breeding program (which is now over – there are only three land iguanas remaining at the Darwin research station). Our second stop of the morning was snorkeling at guy fawkes island (again, pictures to arrive later).

In the afternoon, we went to another portion of Santa Cruz known as “el eden”, and went for Zodiac rides along the water and looked for sharks.

In the evening, we took a sunset sail around Daphne Major, the site of evolutionary research on Darwin’s finches for the past 40+ years by Peter and Rosemary Grant of Princeton University. During their time studying the finches, they have actually witnessed first-hand two small-scale evolutionary changes to the finch population on this island.

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galapagos, day 4

08/27/2013

Tuesday brought us to one of the few islands in the Galapagos that is inhabited by humans, Santa Cruz. 97% of the Galapagos is a national park, and the remaining 3%, including Santa Cruz and San Cristobal (where our airplane landed) is home to approximately 30,000 Galapagenos. Our day took us to the Charles Darwin research station, a local private school that Lindblad helps fund, and a protected giant land turtle migration route in the highlands. No pictures of the school, as I feel a bit odd posting pictures of other people’s children on here, but the Darwin research station is the local home to approximately 80 scientists who study the flora and fauna of the islands. It also functions as a giant rescue site, helping to recover local animal populations that would otherwise have gone extinct. It was also, until he died last year, the home of the most famous giant turtle, Lonesome George. The current most famous resident is Diego, who was repatriated from the San Diego zoo, after it was discovered that he was only one of a handful of living male turtles of his particular sub-species. The center also cultivates local native plant species to distribute to local residents to assist in replacing invasive species that had previously been brought to the island.

The afternoon took us to the highlands which are much wetter and greener, and the place to see giant turtles in their native habitat.

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galapagos, day 3

08/26/2013

On Monday, we were at Floreana island, with a morning for snorkeling (and as such, no pictures yet). In the afternoon, we went for Zodiac rides around the island looking for extremely rare Floreana Mockingbirds, which we didn’t find. We did find, however, an extremely out-of-place (and skinny) Juan Fernandez fur seal, from Juan Fernandez island off the coast of Chile, who had clearly gotten lost somewhere and found a resting place on the island. Our naturalist guide for the afternoon, Carlos, actually flipped out at the sighting, because there have only been 3 or 4 ever seen on the islands, and this is the first one he’s encountered. So that was exciting. Other sightings on Monday included swallow-tailed herons, galapagos great egrets, lava herons, and, as always, sea lions.

We also made a stop at an inlet called Post Office Bay, which is a traditional spot for leaving postcards. The tradition involves new visitors looking through the cards that have been left previously and, if they find an address that is near their home, promising to hand deliver the card when they return to civilization. Unfortunately, there was nothing near NYC, so I didn’t get to take anything with me.

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galapagos, day 2

08/26/2013

Day 2 took us to espanola island, which is one of the richest areas for bird life in the galapagos. In the morning we went snorkeling, which will be a separate photo update, as any photos I managed to take were with a disposable underwater camera that I have to get developed. The walk here involved a surface almost entirely composed of lava boulders, which was not the easiest surface to walk on, but it was totally worth it. Animals include marine iguanas, albatrosses, galapagos doves, swallow-tailed gulls, galapagos hawks, lots of boobies (nazca and blue-footed), and, of course, sea lions.

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galapagos, day 1

08/25/2013

The only way I’m going to be able to do this with any sense of organization is going to be to break these entries up by day. So…after spending the day flying to Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Friday August 16th, we actually made our way to the Galapagos (and our floating home, the Lindblad/National Geographic Endeavour) on Saturday. The morning was consumed with flying to San Cristobal, transferring to the boat, and figuring out our rooms and whatnot, but by Saturday afternoon, we were sent on our first disembarkation, a short hike at Cerro Brujo (on San Cristobal) and checking out the beach. This would the last day for a few days that we would see any humans other than those traveling with us.

This was quite possibly one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, and I had an excellent time both on and off the boat. Also, a word of warning. I took over 2000 pictures on this trip. I am making a very serious effort to whittle each day’s batch down to the few that are the best and/or representative of what we saw. I do have a habit of taking 20 pictures of the same thing, so I promise to not post everything. But there will be a lot of sea lions (and other animals repeated on other days). Because they were everywhere.

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