road trip

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In a very unexpected turn of events, I ended up going to West Virginia last week! Around 1p, my cousin, Jennie asked if I wanted to go with her on a road trip to Seneca Rocks. We were going to leave that evening, spend the night in an airbnb and wake up in the morning to go on a hike. With nothing much else planned but to prepare for Thanksgiving eating, I was all in! *In a way, this help prepare me further for my Thanksgiving eating LOL* My sister in law, Audrey came too and the three of us had an amazing trip!

It’s been a while since I’ve been to West Virginia. To be honest, I didn’t even know where Seneca Rocks was or what it looked like. So when Jennie told me that we were going to be able to climb on the top of the rocks in less than 1.5 miles, I was very skeptical. The morning was a bit chilli, 30 degrees or so but I learned my lesson from Norway. I knew that as soon as I started hiking for a bit, my body heat was going to warm me up and I wasn’t going to need so many layers. I felt so prepared LOL.

The hike itself wasn’t bad at all. It was a slow ascend up the mountain with nice views along the way. From what I saw on Alltrails.com it looked like it was a busy hike but so I feel lucky that there was barely anyone on the trails! We probably saw 6 people max and for the most part, we were the only ones on top of the rocks. It was awesome and I’d definitely do it again.

My camera settings for this image is F5.6 at 1/1600sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens

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I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this at least 100 times since we’ve been back from Norway, but my favorite part of our whole trip was our stay in Geiranger. It seriously took my breath away and every time I think of our trip, Dalsnibba pops straight into my head.

I know if I had to do it all over again, I would have wanted to cut out a few things just so we could have stayed in Geiranger an extra night. The cabin, the scenery, the atmosphere was absolutely perfect. I even found myself thinking about Norway the other day and being amazed how a place like this even exists in the world. It was truly breathtaking and I’d highly recommend anyone visiting.

After driving up the long, windy road to the top of the mountain, Andrew and I were greeted by snow and lots of wind. It was an unexpected surprise but in some ways it felt more like “Norway”. I loved it. We got to see the mountain tops in a whole new way. The sky was dramatic so I thought I would take advantage of the textures in the clouds by making them more than half of the image. I love how it’s blue monochromatic and in some ways the clouds are sort of imitating the mountain tops. I don’t have too many images printed of mine that are hanging in our house but I’d definietly consider it for this one. I feel like I could stare at it for hours and it bring back so many great memories of our trip.

Other photographers reading the blog- do you print out your images and hang them in your house?

My camera settings for this image is f4.0 at 1/1000th sec at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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So this is the type of weather I would expect for October. When it’s cool and crisp outside but still indecisive enough so you can get these really moody sunrise/blue hour type images. Not the 80 degree weather we have been getting.

I took this image last year with my friend, Larry. Pretty much ever since we’ve met, we’ve made it an appoint to go to Shenandoah National Park to check out the fall foliage. I think last year was our third year in a row. But I remember this day VERY clearly. It was crazy, crazy foggy. So foggy to the point where we could not see much of the mountains. It was all just fog. It was even difficult to drive at some points. Obviously Larry and I got out of the car to capture a few images here and there but we soon decided that we needed to have a second trip in order to actually capture the type of images we wanted.

This particular image was taken along side of skyline drive. We parked the car and were pretty much the only ones in the park that early in the morning so it was easy to just get out and walk in the middle of the road. It could have been a little dangerous considering how foggy it actually was and the visibility was basically zero. But luckily, I was with Larry and we would look out for each other in case a car was coming. The yellow and red leaves in this image just make me so happy.

Looking forward to the leaves changing this year in the park and hopefully visiting again sometime soon with Larry.

My camera settings for this image is F4 at 1/30th sec at ISO 250 with my Sony A7II and my 16-35mm wide angle zoom lens.

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If you asked either me or Andrew what our favorite part of the road trip was, we would both say Dalsnibba. I think it was both of our favorites because it was so unexpected. Let me paint you a picture.

So driving from Flåm to Geiranger was our longest day of travel. Not to mention that the day before we had put in the wrong address in our GPS and ended up driving an unintended extra 2 hours. So when we left Flåm we made 100% sure we had the right address and I think we both just wanted to get to Geiranger as fast as possible so we didn’t have to spend another day in the car. Midway through our drive, Andrew and I stopped for lunch which was just a quick sandwich from the grocery store and we switched places driving. It was my turn to drive. Andrew was tired so he put his seat down and took a nap while I navigated the Norwegian roads.

It was rainy, it was foggy and hard to see even 5 feet ahead of me but I made it through all the downhill hairpin turns. We finally got to our cabin that we were staying at and decided to walk around the little town area. That’s when we saw a poster and sign for Dalsnibba. It looked beautiful so we took a picture of it and kept it moving.

The next morning we ate breakfast and went on a little hike. After the hike was over, we knew we still wanted to stay in Geiranger but didn’t know what to do. Our next destination was only 2 hours away so we wanted to make the most out of the the beautiful Geirangerfjord. Luckily we took a picture of that poster and decided that we should just go checkout what it was. When I put the address in the GPS, I realized it was probably off the road we drove in from, but couldn’t see it because it was so foggy. Holy COW. As soon as we started making our way up the mountain, my jaw immediately dropped. I could not believe that both of us had missed out on such amazing views! Like seriously, it was probably one of the most surprising and beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

This was taken on the very top of the mountain at the Dalsnibba skywalk. I used my 70-200mm to zoom in on the snow because I thought the low hanging clouds would bring in this extra moodiness. But I’m also in love with the texture. Man, I loved that long lens while on this trip. There are just so many details that would be difficult to see if it weren’t for that extra zoom.

My camera settings for this image is F4.0 at 1/8000th ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm lens. 

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Just got home from an amazing trip to Norway. It was honestly one of the best trips I have ever taken! The scenery, the culture, the experience was something I will treasure for a long time. But it took a lot of time and research to plan the whole trip. So I thought I would take some time out and lay out everything I did to prepare for the trip to help future travelers.

Side note: This trip was Andrew and I’s big trip for the year but he didn’t plan any of it. He was so great that he let me plan whatever I wanted to do and he was going to be ok about it 🙂 So obviously I planned this trip all around taking pictures. 

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Norway before I booked this trip. Obviously I have seen some stunning images of the country on Instagram but it wasn’t until I was saw this one old episode of the Amazing Race that really got me interested in going. I know, cheesy but true. The very next day I received an email from TravelZoo with a promotion to travel to Norway. I figured that if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is!

Prior to booking, I read that the best landscapes were along the west coast so Andrew and I booked round trip tickets to Bergen for a week. From then on I was all over pinterest and tripadvisor looking for recommendations of what to do in Norway but in the end it was the advice of my friend, Frithjov who helped out the most.

The Goal:

  1. To drive as much of the Norwegian coast as possible without being in a car all day
  2. Not have to drive past the same sights when traveling back to Bergen
  3. Some short hikes here and there would be great

Frithjov asked one of his friends for recommendations and laid out an ambitious itinerary for us including Kristiansund, Dombås and Odda.  But I did not want to have to be on a very strict time table. So after a lot more research and several changes, here’s what our more relaxed schedule finally ended up being

Side note: Booking a ticket on the Hurtigruten was key! It’s a cruise ship that stops at many ports along the west coast of Norway. Luckily you can customize your travel with shorter segments. I’m so thankful for that ship and the ability to bring back the car with us back to Bergen. So booking this ship was the first thing I did and the rest of our travel based on the fact that we were going to take it from Ålesund to Bergen at the end of our trip. Consider goal #2 accomplished.

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Driving in Norway was an experience all in itself. Initially everything about it seemed pretty normal to me. They drive on the right side of the road, car works the same as they do in America, etc. No big deal. But actually driving in Norway is super different. First road signs are so hard to see. In the cities, Bergen and Ålesund, they were just little signs on the side of a building. I may be getting older but they are so small that you really had to be the first person at the stoplight to see them. Otherwise, we were just guessing if we were turning on the right street or not.

Second, there aren’t many stop lights but there are so many roundabouts. I guess this is there way of making turns easier but we also noticed that not a lot of people don’t use turn signals at these roundabouts either. I swear at one point there was like 3 in a row within 2 miles of each other.

Third, Norway is a very mountainous country. Well, at least on the west coast. So driving up and down these mountains can be a little difficult, especially when you have hairpin turns like this! I showed this image to my brother and he was saying how there’s a lot of car advertisements who film on this road, but I will have to say that this isn’t the only road that’s like there. The whole country is full of them! This is probably just the easiest to capture on camera. While we were driving into Geiranger it was so foggy I could barely see 10 feet ahead of me. It was an experience that would be hard to forget.

My camera settings for this image is F10 at 1/80th of a second at ISO 200 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.