mountains

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On our third day in Taiwan, we headed to Jiufen. I had heard it’s like no other place in Taiwan with extremely narrow alleys with so many different vendors and places to eat, I really wanted to check it out. Little did I know it would take more than two hours by public transportation to get there from Taipei. From I read online, it didn’t seem like it would take that long. But those two hours made a huge difference.

By the time we got to the top of the mountains to Jiufen, it was pouring rain. And it was that uncomfortable rain where it was cold and splashing everywhere. So much to the point that when you were walking through those narrow alleys, you had to watch out for your eyeballs or else someone may poke you with their umbrella. We went but didn’t get to stay for as long as I would have liked. I really wanted to see what it looked like at night time but it was just way too crowded and wet.

But at least now I can see I went, right? LOL I’ll definitely have to try it again next time.

This image was taken while we were waiting for the bus to come. AT THE BUS STOP. I’ve never seen such a beautiful bus stop in my life!

My camera settings for this image are F6.3 at 1/160th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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If you remember Memorial Day weekend 2018, I went on the Old Rag Hike trail in the Shenandoah Mountains with my cousins. Well, a few weeks before Memorial Day weekend this year, I was trying to come up with a plan and asked everyone again if they wanted to go on another hike. Luckily, most were free and we ended up going on a hike that none of us had ever been before, Hawksbill Summit Trail.

It was a short stroll compared to Old Rag, but the elevation on the hike was no joke. In about 3/4th of a mile, you climb an elevation of 672 feet. So pretty much going straight uphill the entire way. I’m not exactly sure how long it took us but I want to say less than an hour. Once you get to the top, it’s totally worth it.

Luckily we started the day early by starting the hike at 9 am. There weren’t many other people on the trail yet and the trees covered the sun for most of the way which probably made the whole experience that much easier. By the time we reached the summit a few clouds had rolled in so I asked my cousin, Mona to sit on some rocks and pose for me. I loved how the jagged rocks were sticking out of the mountain. It was a little iffy actually getting her to that spot though.

You may have caught my other cousin, Karen on the summit too in last week’s post. LOL.

Overall, I would do this hike again if I were looking for a quick hike in the Shenandoah Mountains. It was strenuous enough to get a good sweat in, but it didn’t take all day which was nice.

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/2000th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm

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So this ends the week long look back at my adventures with my friend, Sue. If you haven’t been following along, she has been one of my best friends for forever and is moving to Austin, Texas this week. I’m grateful she asked me to take the long drive down to Texas with her so we can spend a little more time together but also I get to check out Austin since I’ve never really been to Texas before.

It’s crazy because looking back at our first cross country road trip, Spain, Maine, and now this image from St John, I’ve realized we’ve done so much together. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface. We’ve been on plenty of girls trips and have spent so much time just adventuring around the Washington DC metro area. I’ll miss her lots but I also know it won’t be for too long before I see her again.

This image is of St John Virgin Island. It’s funny because this was our first ever vacation together and probably one of my favorites. I mean how can it not be? I’m all about that island life. LOL. I remember the exact moment I took this too. We were actually staying on St Thomas, took a ferry to St John and then a bus took us to the local beaches from there. Fortunately the bus stopped at some beautiful places along the way for us to take pictures. I leaned over Sue to take this image but I’m pretty sure that she’s used to me doing stuff like that by now. Not much longer after I took this pic, we were down on that beach laying out 🙂 Sounds perfect right about now.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/640th sec at ISO 80 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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Photographers, tell me if you feel the same way: Sometimes after you travel, you feel like you need to just sit on the images before you can dedicate the time to edit them all. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the excitement of travel or something but I don’t know if I can do my best work right afterward I return home. Sometimes I’ll edit images along the way and be satisfied with them, but for the most part it’s always when I have had time pass where I’m really excited about an image. Am I the only who feels like that?

For example the image above. I have posted images from this same spot here and here and I really like them but I know I still have so many more images to edit and at the time I wasn’t too happy with them. I just needed some time to breath in between time to really remember the intention behind the image. So I ended up editing a whole bunch of images from Norway this past week. Some that I’ve posted before and redid, some that I have never worked on. I’m excited to share them with you  as time goes on:)

For this particular image, I love the mood that it is creating. Not only from the stormy clouds but the overall glow on the mountain sides and the ripples in the water. Norway is such a quiet country and I feel like this really conveys what it was like there. Ugh just looking at this image makes me want to go back. I loved visiting so much.

Just in case you’re planning on going, check out my road trip travel guide here.

My camera setting for this image is F10 at 1/40th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom lens.

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One of the places I was looking forward to the most while visiting Joshua Tree National Park was the Cholla Cactus Garden. From the pictures, I could tell that they were like cacti that I’ve never seen before. What surprised me the most was that some of them were taller than me! Andrew is 6′ and it looked like some of them were almost as tall as him! That’s insane.

One of my favorite parts about the garden was that it was right in front of these beautiful mountains. They made for an amazingly beautiful background at sunrise. More of those images soon but while I was looking through my images, I was really drawn to this one. I really liked having the photographers in the middle capturing the scene but still being able to see the cacti in the foreground and mountains in the background. The depth of this image is really interesting and perfectly describes what it’s like being in the garden.

If you’ve never been, the garden is a little bit out there but worth the drive. Probably 15-20 minutes outside of the other trails and attractions but I liked it so much that I actually went twice on our trip. One time with just Andrew when we went out for a solo sunrise adventure. The second time was when our cousins joined us later on in the day and I wanted to show them what it was all about. The sunrise adventure was a little bit better. Andrew and I were the only ones there and I loved when the sun rose a little bit and you could see the sunlight poking through the spikes of the cacti.

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/800th sec and ISO 800 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.

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Woke up at 4:30a yesterday to go light chasing!

My friend, Larry and I made our way to the Thornton Gap Entrance at Shenandoah National Park and it was fantastic. So many times I’ve been to Shenandoah National Park and run into fog like this and this. Yesterday was the opposite of that. It was cloudy but clear enough to see some fantastic colors. I haven’t had a chance to go through all my images, but I really liked this one. I think it really captures the mood plus I can’t stop looking at the light that is hitting this man’s yellow jacket. By the way, that’s not Larry. It was just another photographer enjoying the sunrise with us.

As far as a foliage report, I think this weekend would be a great time to go. This overlook, which is very close to the entrance, had some beautiful, colorful trees. As we were driving up the mountain though, we noticed that a lot of trees had already become bare with yellow leaves on the ground. So if you haven’t checked out much fall color, I’d recommend going to Shenandoah National Park soon. I’m not sure about the Front Royal entrance but if I had to guess, I’d guess it would probably be better to go sooner than later.

Man it’s like the fall colors came so quickly and now we’re already talking about them leaving? It’s like cherry blossom season in the fall. But speaking of cherry blossoms, I heard the Tidal Basin is looking real nice too. So I have a busy weekend planned of shooting.

Also Larry was kind enough to let me borrow his Sony A7III and I may be in love. My camera settings for this image is F9 at 1/80th sec at ISO 800 with Larry’s A7III and my 70-200mm handheld.