New Mexico

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If I could go back anywhere in the US from our epic cross country road trip last year, it would have to be White Sands National Monument. Hands down, no questions asked. I need to spend more time in this place. We only had one night here. So we were able to shoot sunset and early morning. Park authorites were pretty strict about making sure that everyone left right as the sun was setting so I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked here. Plus they didn’t open at sunrise and I had to wait later in the day to get back in the next day. I didn’t go on any of the hikes or trails. We basically just parked our car, walked up to the highest sand dune and took a few pictures and sledded down the sand dunes. That was so much fun all on its on.

What first attracted me to visiting this place were all the beautiful lines that the wind created in the sand dunes. I thought they were so interesting and would be great for leading lines. But when I arrived, I quickly found out that you probably have to walk more than just the sand dune that was in front of your parking spot because those lines are probably covered by other people’s foot prints. LOL. To be honest, I photoshopped some of the footprints that are in this image because there are just sooo many of them. But the best part about this park is that shoes are pretty pointless. Unless you are wearing sneakers or something and plan on doing some serious hiking, it’s totally normal to be walking around barefoot. I love it!

My camera settings for this image is 1/40th of a second at F7.1 and ISO 160 with my Sony A7II and 28-70mm lens.

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And probably the most epic travel experience of 2017 was our cross country road trip from Northern Virginia all the way to Southern California. It was intense, but soooooo much fun. I can’t even express how fortunate I am to have been able to do something like that. Everyday was a brand new adventure with driving times averaging 9-10 hours everyday. That doesn’t include all our pitstops. Some were as long as touring Elvis’ Graceland to as short as visiting Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas for 10 minutes. Either way, it was a trip that I’ll never forget.

My favorite, favorite destination without a doubt was White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, New Mexico. It has been a place that I’ve been wanting to go for the longest time and when the opportunity presented itself, I knew that was a place where we were spending the night. No pit stops, no messing around, we’re taking as many pictures as we can of this place! So that meant sunset and sunrise. Unfortunately the park wasn’t open at sunrise but we were still able to take some early morning shots which was cool, but not as cool as sunrise. LOL.

Fortunately when we arrived at sunset, a huge rain storm was about to arrive as well. It turned the skies all these crazy colors of orange and purple, I literally thought I was in a dream. Running up and down these sand dunes is no joke either. I was going crazy trying to find different perspectives with the skies. By the end, I was super out of breath. Note to self, forget your shoes and bring a bottle of water next time you shoot sand dunes.

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/20th of a second ISO 160 with my Sony A7II 28-70mm.

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I’m currently in the middle of reading 5 books. This has never happened before. I’m more of the finish a book before you start another one type of person, but I’m super into all of these books. And the funniest part of it all is that I’ve never really read photography books either. The last time I read one must have been when I was in college or something taking photography as an elective. It’s funny because half of these books are about photo.

So if you want to get your summer reading on, check these books out:

  1. Ansel Adams: An Autobiography. More than anything, this book just makes me want to backpack around Yosemite for a year. However, this book starts from his early childhood and it’s super interesting how he has developed his creativity throughout his adult life.
  2. Extraordinary Everyday Photography: Awaken Your Vision to Create Stunning Images Wherever You Are.  All about finding unique compositions where you live. Seeing new things out of the mundane.
  3. The Business Idea Factory: A World-Class System for Creating Successful Business Ideas. If you ever feel like you’re in a rut, check out this book. Andrew originally recommended it to me and this may be my favorite out of the ones on this list.
  4. Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age.  It’s a really easy read with some inspiring stories of creatives from around the world. So far, my favorite part is about how the author, John Grisham and how he made his mark with ‘legal thrillers’.
  5. And I’m still waiting to finish listening to Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons. I started listening to it on our cross country road trip and I can’t wait to find out what happens 🙂

If you haven’t noticed, the books I like are self help, autobiography, non-fiction type books. LOL. Let me know if you’ve read any of these book or if you pick any of them up. What do you think, should we start a book club or something? I think that’d be so fun!

PS. the image is from sunset at White Sands National Monument <3

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I know I’ve been talking about New Mexico a lot but I just loved it. It was my first time ever in the state, we spent most of our time on our road trip in New Mexico and overall, it’s just awesome. And top of that list was definietly, 100% White Sands National Monument.

It was a lot smaller of a park and a lot quieter of a place in general. I never felt like it was too crowded or impossible to take images without anybody in it. It was just so chill. I love this image in particular because it’s just so simple and what it’s really like being there. It reminds me of just walking along the sand – never too hot and relaxing in between your toes.  The best was being able to walk around the entire park without any shoes on.  I feel like every national park should be like that (or is that the asian side of me wanting to take my shoes off everywhere?). It was very much like walking along a beach with no ocean.

Besides the natural beauty of it, my favorite part of the park was the sledding! When we were first coming in to the park, there were these other two girls who were walking out. They offered us their snow sleds and without hesistation, we took them. Sliding down these dunes was so much fun. A lot better than I thought it would be. I felt like I was in elementary school again and it was our first snow day of the year. You can actually get a pretty good speed on these dunes if you find the right one.

This image was taken bright and early in the morning, right when the park opened. Don’t try to come for sunrise, you will be disappointed.

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The last night in New Mexico and we tried to visit Taos Pueblo. I say ‘tried’ because there was road construction and we weren’t actually able to make it in to the vicinity! So 2 hours of driving basically went down the drain. It’s all good though. I always try to make the best of the situation and luckily the town outside of the Pueblo had some amazing Tex  Mex. So we stopped for a little bit to stretch out legs and got some food. And I’m talking about cheese on top of cheese with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top plus some of the best bites of elote corn I’ve ever had. YUMMMM.

With our bellies full we made the drive back to Santa Fe. We stopped at a few scenic overlooks which were all very beautiful but it wasn’t until about 30 minutes before sunset did the sky really start changing. A storm was about to come through and I had no idea where we could stop to take pics. I was totally prepared to take sunset pictures at the Taos but didn’t know where I could do it along the road. Soon enough we drove right by this huge intersection and I quickly pulled into the parking lot of a Ohkay Casino. It was probably the most random place to pull over considering there bus loads of people and cars there but it didn’t matter, I was there for the backdrop of the casino. I mean how amazing is this backyard? Absolutely nuts. The mountain range seemed like it was out of a movie but we had no idea who or what was inside the shack. We kept our distance and I decided to just use it as a foreground.

Moral of the story: everything will be ok as long as cheese is involved.

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Before we left on this road trip, we had all our stops planned. But the original plan was to stay in Roswell, New Mexico because Sue’s bananas over aliens. But days before we left I was on tripadvisor.com and everyone was saying how Roswell was very disappointing it was. Skrt Skrt– change of plans.

Luckily we were able to adjust our plans to stay in Santa Fe instead. In hindsight this new plan was a 100x better. Not knocking Roswell or anything but we drove through it and the 15 minutes that we spent in the town was all we needed. It probably would have been cool at night time but for us to get the most out of the trip, Santa Fe was a much better idea.

I was so excited to be visiting. It’s one of those places that I’d heard of before but never thought I’d ever visit. My mind immediately went straight to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. One of my all time favorite artists. I just admire her paintings, creativity, and boldness so much. I could not wait to visit!

georgia okeefe museum, exhibit

Thats me looking at some images of the artist. I swear I’m wearing shorts!

We ended up staying one extra night in Santa Fe so we spent the next day in Tent Rocks National Monument. I guess I was still thinking about O’Keeffe’s flower images while walking the trail because I see some of those abstract qualities in the image above. I took the image while we were walking through the extremely narrow slot canyons. Everyone was concentrating on what was ahead on the trail, I ended up just looking up.

I can see why O’Keeffe loved New Mexico so much. It’s a such a beautiful state and I’m so glad we got to spend extra time traveling and sight seeing. I really look forward to visiting again.