outdoors

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I feel in love with Oregon. I loved every minute we were there. I felt so at peace and calm during our whole road trip across the state, I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s considering visiting the Pacific Northwest.

The real reason we went was to celebrate my birthday and to visit a place we had never been to. Portland was a city that both Andrew and I had heard was a fun place to be but never been. But we also knew it was the place to be if you like good food and weird things. Both did not disappoint!

Since this was our first time visiting Oregon, we didn’t really know what to expect. We’ve been back for less than a month, I already know of somethings that I would do differently. With that said, we will be back again. Both Andrew and I left with the feeling of wanting to see and do more. But I think that’s the sign of an amazing trip. Prior to the trip, I did tons of research on the Oregon coast on Pinterest and asked some friends who I knew had visited before. Through my research, I quickly realized that Oregon is a very dog-friendly state. Minus Crater Lake that doesn’t allow dogs in most areas of the park, Frankie was allowed everywhere else we wanted to go. So we booked 3 plane tickets off we went!

Here is a recap of everything we did and the things I would do differently next time:

Day 1: Fly into Portland

We arrived early in the afternoon, grabbed our rental car and went straight to pick up the essentials: Blue Star Donuts. I know I don’t normally give food recommendations but if you like fancy donuts, then Blue Star is where you want to be. I’ll have another donut recommendation later on our trip that ended up being our favorite.

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I be dronin’. LOL.

We had gorgeous weather here in Virginia over the Thanksgiving weekend. What could be better than spending that time outdoors? So Andrew and I decided to grab the drone and practice flying. Checking out the maps, we decided to go to Reston. I was looking forward to capturing some lake images but once I got to our location, it was the trees that really caught my attention. I can not believe that it is almost December and the trees are still this colorful and hanging on. It seems kinda late doesn’t it?

Either way, I loved the way my very first drone image turned out. It’s actually a small piece of a larger image but that word “slow” really caught my attention. With some fancy cropping and rotating, I came up with this.

Practicing my flying skills is always a good thing, but I also need to practice my composition skills with the new point of view. It’s a totally new way to see the world and I need to know when to fly up higher or get down low and when there’s too much in the frame. I think that was my problem when I viewed the images on my computer. There’s just too much going on and you have no idea what to focus on.

Regardless, I’m loving my mavic. Every opportunity I get, I want to fly. I was even showing Andrew how to fly too. He didn’t take any pics but I bet if he did, it would some how turn out blurry. He’s just that good. LOL

My camera settings for this image is F2.2 at 1/100th of a second and ISO 100 with my DJI Mavic Pro. Now that I think of it, I need to update my gear page with my new flying camera 🙂

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It seems a little early, but I’m already thinking about pictures this year for fall foliage. Like I mentioned in my blog post last week, our trip to Acadia National Park is already booked.  I’m really looking forward to that adventure, but I want to  find more local places to take pictures. Great Falls Park has always been one of my favorite for this reason. The trees are beautiful and I love seeing the bright colors in contrast with the gigantic waterfall. I also really like it when you can see leaves falling on to the rocks. One of my favorite images from the past couple of years was one at sunset with the evening glow lighting up the Maryland side. Click here to see what I’m talking about. It’s not photoshopped. It was really that bright orange.

On a side note, I have also created this guide if you wanted to check out Great Falls Park yourself. You’ll love it. The guide and the park 🙂  If you’ve never been, the Virginia side is my personal favorite. The Maryland side doesn’t seem to have as many great viewpoints.

In more technical preparations for the fall color, I’ve invested in my first set of circular polarizers for my wide angle and zoom lenses. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try them out before our trip. But I’ll let you know how I like them when I get back. Here’s a really informative blog post by Digital Photography School that pushed me to actually get them.

The camera settings for this image is 0.4 seconds at F/14 at ISO 100. Shot with no filters on a tripod. My favorite part of this image is being able to see the color of the sky in the water. I think I could stare at that one little section for hours.

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Soon after this image was taken, this lady got yelled at for letting her dog go into the water. LOL! Aw man!

It was literally picture perfect. This girl was just relaxin’, having a great time with her dog and that awesome hat she was wearing. The dog was having a blast swimming into the middle of the water and fetching the stick. The snow capped mountains, beautiful weather, both of them were loving life. It was seriously like a scene straight out of a movie. But after getting yelled at, the park service woman told them about another body of water that was close by that dogs were allowed to swim in – so it was all good by the end of the day 🙂

But looking at this image, it still gives me that calm/relaxing feeling that I never want to end. Next time I visit Colorado, I definietly want to make sure we spend more time in Aspen. It looked like such a cute little town with beautiful scenery. Best part is that Maroon Bells is just 15 minutes away from the town. I’d love to capture it at sunrise or sunset. That would make me so happy.

A big shout out to photography for teaching me to love the outdoors.  I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate it as much as I do now if it weren’t for photo. It has allowed me to go to places I would have never imagined and meet some amazing people along the way. Some of my most precious memories have been from exploring the outdoors and trying to capture its beauty.

My camera settings for this image is F16 at 1/400th of a second ISO 200. I pulled out my 16-35mm wide angle to make sure I captured the entire scene.

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We didn’t get to spend enough time in Tucson, Arizona. Mainly because it was so freakin’ hot! We drove through a serious heat wave where it was 90 degrees at 8a in the morning. By noon it was up in the 110 to 115 range. It was just so uncomfortable to be outside. Like if you’ve ever gone to Bikram Yoga you know what it’s like in the room. It was hot, humid and you kinda feel like you are having trouble breathing. Well it was like that in Tucson but outdoors. There was no way to get any kind relief except to stand next to the air conditioning. I think the majority of our visit was spent hanging out in the hotel pool to cool off. When we woke up the morning, we packed our bags and left as soon as we could. No offense, Arizona.

But the little bit of it that we did get to see, I really enjoyed. My fav was seeing all the saguaro cacti. I’ve never seen so many in one place. And they were huge! I wish I could have taken one home with me. And the part that I was most surprised about was how many airplanes there were. Granted, our hotel was near the airport but even driving around other parts of the city, it felt like it was a grave yard of airplanes. As if all the airplanes in the world just laid to rest and picked Tucson to hangout in.

The ice cream ain’t bad though 😉

I’d definietly would want to go back again. I didn’t get to see or experience nearly as much as I wanted to but next time I visit Arizona, I’m thinking it will be in the winter time 🙂 Maybe at that time they’ll have some descent weather.

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I love Colorado. There I said it. I fell in love on our trip. Everything was absolutely amazing. As soon as I stepped out of the airport in Denver, I could definietly tell a difference in air quality. It was just so fresh and crisp. The weather was absolutely perfect the whole time we were there, 70 degrees with a little breeze.  I really think it’s something I could get used to but I don’t know if we were just lucky with the weather or if it’s always like that in the spring/summer. Either way, I was lovin’ it. (Like McDonalds).

At one point, Andrew and I were walking around after we had a big lunch and we saw this lady with her dog. We stopped to talk to her for a little bit and as we were walking away, Andrew said “I never realized how many nice people there are”. LOL! I thought that was hilarious but so true. I feel like everyone in DC is always in such a rush to get things done. You can definietly tell the slow paced, enjoying-life/nature type of of people in Colorado. Seriously, I can’t wait to go back.

This image was taken in Rocky Mountain National Park on the last day we were there. Andrew thought he “discovered a secret” vantage point however, it was just the parking lot of a museum. Moraine Park, specifically. We didn’t have a lot of colorful sunsets while we were there, but we did have some pretty cloudy ones which is really all you need. I shot this with my 16-35mm at F/10 for 4 seconds with my Ice Neutral Density filter. At one point we spotted a herd of deer running around on the grass in the foreground which was so cool to watch. But don’t worry, I’ll have more deer stories for you in the future. Oh man. HAHA.