Recent Posts

Yellowstone: Not Just A Hot Steaming Mess!

Yellowstone: Not Just A Hot Steaming Mess!

If you have been watching the news recently, you will know that Yellowstone was temporarily closed earlier this summer due to historic flooding. The park was closed down because these floods destroyed roads in the north loop. This closure drastically reduced the amount of visitors 

Beautiful Birds of Bosque Del Apache

Beautiful Birds of Bosque Del Apache

If you are looking for a fun, structured, guided photography trip, look no further than Krisztina’s trip to Bosque del Apache, New Mexico! She has been a friend of mine for some time, and is actually my photography mentor. The trip is geared towards photographers, 

Foxes and Friends, Oh Deer – Amazing San Juan Wildlife!

Foxes and Friends, Oh Deer – Amazing San Juan Wildlife!

San Juan Island is home to a diverse group of species and a lot of great spots to find them. Luckily, the small size of the island made it so that most of these spots were often less than a few minutes apart, so it is great for people who do not like long drives (like me). Also, you could find an amazing spot to take a photo simply by walking a little trail or driving a short road, because, usually, the animals would just pop up near you because of the concentration of life on the island; lots of opportunities to take that perfect shot. And, even if you miss a shot you really wanted, you can often find another just a short stroll away. Sounds pretty fun, right? It definitely was for me!

San Juan Island is famous for its Red Foxes (although most of them are not actually red). These foxes were elusive, so it was often hard to get a photo of them, but they were certainly around. They were similar to the other species in density on Pickett’s Lane, but they were definitely sneakier than most. I managed to get some photos, but they were good at slinking around through the tall grass. To further their mastery of the art of disappearing and reappearing, they also had carved-out rabbit tunnels that enabled them to pop out at an entirely different location. One of them got really close to us, however, and quite bluntly trotted across the road in front of us, clearly displaying that it did not care about where we were. By the time I got my camera pointed in the correct direction, the fox had already turned to show me almost nothing but its bushy (and rather adorable) tail.

Similarly to the foxes, the eagles at Cattle Point just didn’t seem to care where we were. They just sat there, almost like they wanted us to take photos of them. They also sat in clearly visible spots on trees or poles just a small step off the beaten path. They were quite good subjects for beginners and experts alike, and there were a ton of them around to be photographed. There were just so many of them, just sitting around surveying their territory and watching for rivals or prey. One eagle sighting in particular stood out to me. We found a young eagle sitting on a short fence pole a few steps off the trail from Cattle Point Lighthouse. I had no idea what it was, and decided to get closer to it. I slid across a back trail, getting closer and closer, but not too close. I was able to get a photo of the bird from a distance that would have scared a normal bird, but this one seemed unfazed by me, and just sat there looking up at passing Seagulls in an adorable, wide-eyed fashion. I actually thought it was a new species until I started editing the photo, so I spent most of the time photographing and thinking of species names simultaneously.

After going down the lane where you find the foxes, you can go down to South Beach. We did this, but Mom noticed movement on the hill leading off the prairie. We turned around and… BAM, two adult deer were on the hill. Upon closer inspection, we also found two spotted little fawns in a patch of shade. They stayed in a little area in the shadow of a tree for a little while, touching their noses to each other and wandering around, then retreated to an area closer to their mom. Those two fawns were so darn cute, you would think only puppies and kittens could boast that kind of cuteness, but fawns can too, apparently.

Staying on the topic of adorable animals near South Beach, the swallows on South Beach were really cute too. Have you ever seen a swallow chick? Honestly, most people have probably never seen one, as they hide in their mud nests hanging from the eaves of buildings until they are ready to try to fly, and they do not look much like chicks at that point. There were not many buildings around the driftwood piles on South Beach, so the Swallow chicks came out much earlier than usual. These little guys have a rather squeaky chirp, and seem to mostly use it to convince their mother to give them more food than their sibling. The mom catches bugs, and flys the dead bugs back to the chicks to keep those little fluff balls fed. Also, Swallows are exceptionally hard to photograph, as they are really fast, so you need to find a spot they come back to and wait for them to come into the frame. The chicks provided a perfect opportunity, as their mom had to keep flying back in to feed them. I just had to wait along her usual flight path, and took photos when she came in. I also got photos when she slowed down to do a food drop for the chicks.

Another awesome bird we found was the heron. They were plentiful on Fourth of July Beach, but you could find them at Dead Man’s Cove as well. Yes, I know the last spot sounds like something from a pirate movie, but it actually has a sad history involving slavery. If a slave ship saw an enforcement ship coming, they would load the slaves into bags and toss them overboard. In short, they basically killed them all to avoid punishment. Now, back to talking about birds rather than murder. The heron is a ruthless and efficient wading bird that spears fish by coiling its long neck and jabbing fish with their long, pointy beak. Oops, maybe I still am talking about murder. Oh well, I suppose that is inevitable when talking about a predatory bird. You can often find these graceful, long-necked hunters walking in shallow water, pulling up clams from the sand bed and spearing fish.

Welcome to the Whale-derness: These Sightings Were Not Just Flukes!

Welcome to the Whale-derness: These Sightings Were Not Just Flukes!

As the San Juan Islands are known for whales, whale-watching is one of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of these islands! The islands have several different species of whales, like minke whales, humpbacks, and orcas! We used a company called Maya’s Legacy 

Snacking on San Juan Island – The Tastiest Way to Live the Island Life!

Snacking on San Juan Island – The Tastiest Way to Live the Island Life!

After being trip-deprived and running dry on blog material, I finally got my vaccine and was able to go back on a trip. We recently packed up and headed to the San Juan Islands! While I was on the plane, I was so excited to 

Spectacular Schönbrunn, an Informational Guide to the  Star Attraction of Vienna

Spectacular Schönbrunn, an Informational Guide to the Star Attraction of Vienna

As we walked into the entrance courtyard of Schönbrunn palace, the entire palace seemed to be bathed in a thick sheet of golden light, almost like honey in consistency, and was reflecting off of the grand staircases winding above the arched entrance leading to the central hall. Just to back you up on the general information before we start, I decided to go to Schönbrunn on one of our days in Vienna. I had seen pictures, and the palace was very beautiful in the photos, but it was so much more impressive in real life (and this is saying something, as the photos were also incredibly beautiful).

When we came into the front of the palace grounds, the small fountains to the side of the yard sprayed up prismatic water that shone brightly in the sun, like liquid diamonds. This prismatic effect caused for an extremely dramatic entrance that took the awesomeness to a whole new level! The majority of the back courtyard, on the other hand, is taken up by an enormous flower mosaic in the floor, entirely symmetrical and divided into beautiful shapes. To top it all, the back was closed in with the huge, regal Neptune fountain, a large slab of granite with a statue of Neptune on top, with his trident held high and water spraying across the rocks. In all, the outer courtyards were out of this world (pun intended)!

As we walked into the front room of the palace, we saw the true size of the room we were in, with its gigantic stairs and arching entrances. After I dropped my camera off in the entrance room, we grabbed our voice tours and rushed off into the palace. Some of my favorite rooms include the Great Gallery and the Millions Room. The Great Gallery contained an enormous amount of gold and marble, as well as an elaborate ceiling mosaic and detailed matrix-style trim (also made of gold). The gallery also contained hundreds of elaborate candle mounts and chandeliers, fittingly also (perhaps a little obvious at this point because of the decoration style that had been used for a fair amount of the room thus far) made out of polished and gleaming golden shafts. The Millions Room was a different style of fancy, with exotic rosewood panels (made of a special archetype of rosewood called Feketin) and miniature busts in the walls, framed in curves of spiky gold frames. These rooms were the highlights of the palace interior, and maybe even my favorite part of the palace! I could not take photos to show you the inside of the palace, so here are links you should use to see the inside of this amazing palace. Use this link to see the Great Gallery: https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/about-schoenbrunn/the-palace/tour-of-the-palace/great-gallery?tourId=8 and this link to see the Millions Room: https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/about-schoenbrunn/the-palace/tour-of-the-palace/millions-room?tourId=8.

Up the hill from the main courtyard, we walked to the huge, grand Gloriette. The hill it was situated on was very tall and covered in a latticework of paths, so when I finally got to the top, I felt like someone had cooked my legs into a stew and left it on the stove for 5 days! At the top of the hill, the Gloriette loomed above us with its dramatic pillars, and was crowned by a large statue of an Imperial Eagle perched on a globe. When we got into the side staircase, we took it all the way up to the large observation deck on the roof and looked out over the city. When we came down the hill, I had some gelato at the small stand below the hill (spoiler alert, very delicious).

Outside of the main building, the back courtyard branched out into spectacular gardens, with the huge central yard as the crossroads into these amazing attractions, such as an enormous area covered in hedge mazes. In the largest maze, there was a huge tree, with a large iron observation deck hanging on top. There were also two smaller mazes, but these were less impressive, and the only one that was actually hard to navigate was the large one. Because it was so hard to navigate, it was actually used in the Amazing Race as a spot for a clue box (if you do not know, the Amazing Race is an international challenge, and if you do not watch the tv show, which I highly recommend watching, you are missing out as of now). These mazes were so cool that, if you go to Schönbrunn, make sure you at least visit the mazes (they are aMAZEing)!

From Spitz to Krems, The Great Wachau Valley  Family Bike-A-Thon

From Spitz to Krems, The Great Wachau Valley Family Bike-A-Thon

As the train rolled into Melk, the abbey above the town blazed down over the surrounding valley, almost as if it was welcoming us into Melk. Even though the abbey looked awesome from the outside, that day was actually reserved for a 13-mile bike ride 

The Various Vibrances of Vienna

The Various Vibrances of Vienna

As we drove into Vienna, the modern buildings around the outskirts of the city thinned out, and in their place, the ancient arches and domes became more abundant as we entered the historic city center. Later, after we checked into our hotel, we decided to 

Salzburgerland Sightseeing With Samo – Our Family Photos in Gosau and Hallstatt with Samo Rovan

Salzburgerland Sightseeing With Samo – Our Family Photos in Gosau and Hallstatt with Samo Rovan

One of our most action-packed days in the Salzburgerland region was our time with our friend Samo Rovan (my favorite photographer in all of Europe). The first thing that we did when we got to the rural and beautiful Gosau valley area was have an enormous and super fun snowball fight near the lake. At one point, I pretended to aim at my mom, but switched my aim and hit my dad in the face while mom was shelled-up and covering her body with her arms. As soon as we got done with the snowball fight, we went over to a nearby field and took some pictures in an alpine meadow. The meadow that we went over to had some beautiful cows in it that Samo decided to take our photos with… one of the larger ones got closer. Dad pulled me away before it got there, but Mom decided to stay directly in the grass patch where the cow’s trajectory was quite clearly pointing straight at and the cow ousted her using its huge horns, then proceeded to graze exactly where she was standing moments before! Come on, mom, moooooove over.

Gosau
Snowball Fight
“Mooooove Over, Mom”

We also went up the huge mountains around Gosau on a gondola. Once we got up the mountains, we went up a smaller peak to get some pictures with the lake and the valley far below as the background. On the way up, Samo asked me to throw a snowball at him, but I screwed up my aim and accidentally hit his butt with it instead of his back. Up on the peaks, Samo showed us some edible flowers (my favorite being the tasty trumpet) and gave us one of each to try. By the end of the day, I was picking tons of tasty trumpets and slurping up their nectar. The tasty trumpets were small yellow flowers with very sweet nectar inside of them. Speaking of cool flowers, Samo also showed us these awesome flowers that could have their stems tied in loops and could then shoot their buds as projectiles. Near the end of our alpine adventure, we got lunch at an alpine lodge. The Käsekrainer (cheese-filled bratwurst) I ate was super delicious and quite rich. On the way back down to the gondola, Samo decided to slide down a small hill on some snow, but when I tried to do it, my butt went kaput and I slid most of the way down on my rear end. Overall, going to Gosau was a very good choice for our photo shoot.

“Tasty Trumpets”
Käsekrainer
Snow Sliding

After Gosau, we decided to continue our photo shoot adventure in Hallstatt. Hallstatt is a relatively small town on the shore of Lake Hallstatt. This amazing town was veiled by lake mist because of the rain when we saw it and had a very mystical feel because of its ancient church and wooden houses. I should also point out that it is one of the oldest settlements in Europe that is still inhabited today and that it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As soon as we got to Hallstatt, it started raining so hard that Samo had to pass out his umbrellas and we stayed under awnings for as much of the exploration process as possible. I was actually tempted to not go into the town, but I am glad that my mom and dad persuaded me to keep going because this was actually my favorite part of our photoshoot. Everything in Hallstatt was awesome except for the part when I tried to dodge a car near a small opening, and I accidentally bumped into a stinging nettle and boy was it irritating, although even that couldn’t ruin the photoshoot. After the nettle, I decided to go down to the shore and look at the incredible swans gliding across the water with their feathers still wet from the rain and shimmering in the light. By that time, it had briefly stopped raining and we were down on the boat docks with the swans in the water. At the end of our experience, one of the swans actually had the nerve to oust us from the dock by hissing at us and coming ashore. Right before we left the town, we decided to get an ice cream and a cream roll to eat. My ice cream had hot fudge, Kit-Kats, Neapolitan wafers, chocolate orbs, and chocolate-filled straws, and it was amazingly scrumptious. When Mom tried Dad’s cream roll, he accidentally smudged cream all over her nose and she had to lick it off. When we left Hallstatt, we were only a few minutes into the drive when it started down-pouring again. Overall, Hallstatt was extremely beautiful and well worth going to. This photoshoot may have been the best one that we ever had, even though the other two adventures that we had with Samo were also amazing.

Hallstatt
Ice Cream Delight
Creamed
Welcome to Wonderland aka The Bluntautal Valley

Welcome to Wonderland aka The Bluntautal Valley

The lake in Bluntautal Valley is a beautiful alpine spring with a surface like stained glass. This valley looks like it was pulled directly out of a fairy tale story. This valley is surrounded by a beautiful forest and huge mountains that jut into the