Tag Archives: Photography
June 27, 2012

PV021: Salar de Uyuni (part 2)

This video, of course, continues where our first Salar de Uyuni video left off.

With everything I’ve got on my to-do list while we’re living in Australia, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for editing more travel videos. The biggest hurdle has been recording new voice-overs.  Oksana is usually off working for 40+ hours a week, so there’s not much time for us to collaborate on the next big show-and-tell.  I realized, however, that I had a set of voice-overs still on my hard drive — the ones we recorded last year during our Bolivian salt flat tour.  ‘Bout time I followed up with the second part of that fantastic tour…!

It wasn’t until I started editing that I realized how little footage I shot during day two and day three of that tour.  Lots of great photos, very little video.  I suspect it was because we didn’t have a reliable power source until the tour was over and I was worried about draining my batteries.  Made the edit a little harder to pull off, but thankfully, I was able to supplement it with extra photos (as well as some of Wendy and Dusty’s videos.)  I trust the beauty of the landscape still comes through.

Show Notes:


February 1, 2012

Thoughts on Thailand

Out of all the countries we visited on our trip around the world, Thailand was the one in which we spent the most time. 61 days, over two visits.  It has since gone down on our list of places we want to return to someday, but when we first arrived, we were not impressed.

We had been traveling fairly quickly ever since Africa and by October we were both ready for a break.  While we were still in Russia, we planned out the last three months of our trip.  In order to conserve money – we had just officially gone over our travel budget – we wanted to find a place to sit down and rest for a while.  I sent out a request on Facebook and Twitter and asked our friends and followers for their recommendations in Thailand.

We received a lot of good advice, but ultimately had a hard time taking advantage of it because we were set on a month-long rental.  We checked Craigslist and various vacation rental websites, but the vast majority of listings were only available in the largest cities or most touristy areas.  We debated traveling out to the remote islands until we found a place to our liking, but ultimately took the easy way out.  We spent just a couple days in Bangkok, recuperating from our jet lag, before flying to Phuket and following up on some leads there.

The first place we stopped was in party central, Patong.  I can’t even remember why we chose that town, because foam-party nightclubs, seedy massage parlors, and plentiful weed are not on our list of travel necessities.  Nevertheless, Oksana found us a cheap hotel away from the beach, and we stayed there a week.

Prices were low, as October is still officially the off-season.  And no wonder – it rained hard just about every day we were in Patong.  That didn’t bother me especially much because I had just come down with my first cold since leaving home almost a year and a half before.  For the next week, all I wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep.  Easier to do during the day – night were miserable… at least until I visited the pharmacist, a real life anime character, who prescribed me some heavy sleeping pills.

Unfortunately, just as I was about to get over my cold, Oksana picked it up.  Most of our month off was spent battling head and chest colds.

Eventually, we left the Starbucks and McDonald’s behind by moving just four kilometers down the island to Karon Beach.  The oceanfront was prettier, the tourists more family oriented, and both of those things suited us just fine.  For about $19 per night, we stayed in a huge hotel room, venturing out once a day to the pool or to place an order at the on-site restaurant.  We caught up on some internet stuff, rested our travel-worn feet, and worked on our tans.

Prices went up on November 1st with the official start of the high season, but we didn’t mind.  Our friends from Roam the Planet were due to arrive any day and, with our batteries recharged, we were ready to hit the road again.

Because of the record flooding that was going on in central Thailand during our stay, we didn’t get to see as much of the country as I’d hoped.  Most of the things I noticed about Thailand came from the few places we did spend some time: Bangkok, Phuket, the Phi Phi islands, Chiang Mai, and Koh Mak.


March 23, 2011

PV014: Salar de Uyuni

The Salar de Uyuni is the most amazing natural wonder I have ever seen in my life.  During our two trips through the world’s largest salt flats, Oksana and I got so many good photos and videos that editing them into a single podcast episode was more challenging than editing the ones where I don’t have enough footage.  I worried that I wouldn’t do this amazing landscape justice.

This video is almost fifteen minutes long and that’s even after I decided to eliminate day two and three of our tour (I may make that into a shorter episode later.)  I had the great fortune to be able to interview not just Oksana and myself, but also our guide and every one of the new friends we met on these tour.  This isn’t just “Arlo and Oksana’s Experience on the Salar,” it’s “Arlo and Oksana’s (Alaska), Rémy and Aurélie’s (France), Wendy and Dusty’s (Ohio), Soledad and Joaquin’s (Buenos Aires), and Oscar’s (La Paz) Experience on the Salar!”

Not everyone is as comfortable as we are in front of a camera — and we’re far from comfortable talking into a lens, ourselves! — so I want to thank everyone who contributed to this video, especially Soledad and Joaquin who struggled with an unfamiliar language on camera.  For what it’s worth, I think that having a 2-to-1 ratio for English-as-a-second (or third!) -language to native English speakers in this video is pretty cool!

Fifteen minutes may be asking too much of some internet viewers.  If you find yourself bored by the setup, might I suggest you jump to the 9 minute, 45 second mark?  Spoiler warning: It’s awesome!

Finally, there are more stories and photos of our Uyuni trips on:

Rémy and Aurélie’s travel blog: NEWZ FROM THE WORLD
Wendy and Dusty’s travel blog: roamthepla.net



September 9, 2010

Bioluminescent Display on the Outer Banks

Bioluminescent display at Nags Head

At dawn today, a light nor’easter blew in at the beach.  The surf roughed up a bit with whitecaps extending out to sea, but the waves themselves are not that large.  Still, it was a far cry from what the ocean was like just a few hours before, at 3am.

It was almost two o’clock when I when to bed last night, the last person in the cottage to turn out the lights.  Our room faces the ocean and just before going to sleep, I decided to look through the window screen at the ocean.  It had been calm all day, the waves no higher than 12-inches tall, so the whole expanse of water was simply flat and black.  A bright green wave broke on the sand bar.

I blinked.

Was that reflecting off the street lights or could it be…?

I waited through two more waves before waking up Oksana.  “Sorry, honey, but I think we might want to take a walk down to the beach.”


September 3, 2010

Lightning over the Nags Head Pier

Lightning over the Nags Head Pier

Purchase a Print or
Download Wallpaper: 1920×1200 or 1600×1200

Nags Head is turning into my de facto lightning photography grounds.  My grandparents have a beach house with a covered porch and hot summer afternoons often turn into evening thunderstorms.  But conditions aren’t always right.  Even when it’s not raining, often the wind blows so hard the camera vibrates on the tripod.

Anyone that’s tried to get a good lightning photo knows that it can take a lot of patience.  Good thunderstorms may display nice strikes every few seconds, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always have your camera pointed in the right direction.  Even if you do, the lightning strikes themselves won’t necessarily be photogenic.  It once took me 57 tries to get a lightning bolt to cooperate with the rule of thirds.

A couple weeks ago, another summer thunderstorm was passing us by at the cottage.  My cousin had a new camera and was out on the front porch trying to get a lightning photo of her own, but I decided to stay inside because it looked like it might rain at any minute.  Eventually she packed up, but the rain never arrived.  Later in the evening, when the lightning flashes picked up in frequency, I stepped out to take a look for myself.

The storm was passing south of us, heading out to sea, and as the warm, inland air advanced out over the sea, bolts of lightning were dancing every which way.  For a storm lover like me, it was a great show.  Even better, from where we sat it, was warm, dry, and there was not a breath of wind.  I decided to run in and grab my new camera.

Our neighbor’s cottage was empty, boarded up for the season. I didn’t figure they’d mind if I commandeered their gazebo overlooking the ocean.  Our porch is set back behind a dune, so it was a treat to be able to look out toward the Nags Head Pier with the storm behind it.  I didn’t even need a tripod; there was an 8-foot supporting column with a nice, flat surface on top.

How good was the show?  It took me exactly four exposures to get this shot.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Date: 9:04pm, 22 August 2010
Focal Length: 24mm
Shutter: 15 seconds
Aperture: F/4
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Minor rotation to level horizon, cropped to 17×6 panoramic, slight saturation increase

June 18, 2009

The Devil’s Throat

The Devil's Throat, Panorama, Iguazú, Argentina

Purchase a Print

La Garganta del Diablo: The Devil’s Throat.

To get to the highlight of Iguazú, you have to take a short train ride through the upper reaches of the park.  Above the waterfalls, the jungle gives way to long flat stretches of river.  Even though the water spreads almost as far as the eye can see in every direction, the mind can’t reconcile the raging torrents of the waterfalls below with the calm expanses of the water above.

A metal catwalk stretches just over a kilometer from the end of the train tracks to the platform above their featured attraction.  Oksana and I let our fellow train passengers rush past us while we took pictures of butterflies and birds.  We were in no rush and we realized that if we didn’t have to catch the very next train back, we could have the end platform almost to ourselves before the next gaggle of tourists arrived.

The view, when you finally reach it, answers any questions you might have about the naming of “The Devil’s Throat.”  Water comes out of the jungle from three directions, finds every edge of the semi-circular cliff, and plunges over the edge.  Clouds of water vapor periodically explode out of the white abyss, forming rainbows in their wake.  Tiny swifts flit everywhere, in and out of their nests in the small caves hidden away below.  The railing is perched right on the edge; in certain places you can lean out and look straight down into the maelstrom.

Oksana and I made the trip out to La Garganta twice, making a mental note to visit in the late afternoon after the sun fell behind our backs (and our camera lens).

We must have taken dozens (if not hundreds) of photos from different areas on the platform.  This one is, again, a stitched panorama from about 15 actual photos.  Some of the rainbows we captured were much more vibrant, but of course that was because the mist was in full effect and obscuring the waterfalls.

The building hidden in the trees on the other side of the falls, only a few hundred yards away, is a part of Iguaçu, the Brazilian side of the park.  In the full-resolution version, you can actually make out the swifts in the mist.  Also, I cropped a significant portion of the panorama out, but I left in just a tiny piece of water cascading over the edge in the lower left-hand corner.  It’s an almost subliminal hint of just how close to the edge we were.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 13 November 2008
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter: 1/1000 second
Aperture: F/7.1
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Stitched 15 photos in Autostitch, cropped, cloned out arm and water bottle from railing

Just for fun, I’ve included the un-retouched version of what I cropped out after the jump, plus a bookmark in Google Maps for a sense of scale… (more…)

June 7, 2009

Iguazú Falls

Iguazú Panorama

It’s hard to describe nature’s power on display in Iguazú.    Any one of the waterfalls in the park is worth seeing and the views where a good portion of them are in sight are simply staggering.  Before visiting Argentina, I’d read somewhere that the average amount of water plunging over the cliffs in Iguazú is triple that of Niagara Falls.  I’ve never been to Niagara, so I didn’t know what to expect.

If you like anticipation and escalation before your reveals like we do, I think Oksana and I happened upon the perfect way to see the park.  Early on our first day, we decided to walk along the isolated Sendero Macuco, hoping the quiet of the morning would reveal more wildlife.  It did.  Besides the ever-present lizards, butterflies, and biting insects, we also glimpsed a couple of rodents (small capybaras or perhaps cuy), a monkey, and a rather large and intimidating snake.

From there, we hiked back into the park, took a few pictures of the Coatis among the tourists, and embarked on what they call the “Lower Trail.”  Huge waterfalls intersected the trail, raging white water often directly under the metal catwalk beneath our feet.  With their twists and turns, intermittent spray-rainbows, and deep booming bass, they were impressive enough… but they were also just solitary streams.

And then, as we continued along the Lower Trail, we spotted the towering falls in the distance along the Brazil side of the park.  Our wonder increased alongside the number of photos we took, but it was only when we rounded the next corner, came up against the Argentine view you see above, that we thought we had witnessed the best Iguazú had to offer.

We waited patiently while the ebb and flow of camera-bearing tourists passed and finally, when we had the short balcony to ourselves, I took a series of photos in burst mode, expecting to stitch them into a panorama later.

It wasn’t easy to select the first photo to show of Iguazú (I have a folder of 452.)  I do like the foreground elements here, they lend a sort of frame to the composition, but as we kept walking through the park, along the Upper Trail, we found views from the tops of those same waterfalls that rivaled this one.  And we were wrong about this being the climactic view of the park.  It was bettered twice again: Once when we took a boat right into the spray coming off one of these behemoths, and then again when we stood on the edge of La Garganta del Diablo: The Devil’s Throat.

Canon Digital Rebel XT
Date: 12 November 2008
Focal Length: 18mm
Shutter: 1/400 second
Aperture: F/7.1
ISO: 100
Photoshop: Stitched from 4 images, cropped, minor color correction

Oksana and I have decided to do our first podcast video on Iguazú.  Hopefully we’ll have something to show by the end of June.