west coast

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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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One of the first things we did when we arrived in Norway was head over to the Fløibanen funicular in Bergen. Luckily our hotel was really close by and it was only a 10 minute walk to the station. I was happy to see that we were able to purchase either one way tickets or round trip tickets. Andrew and I decided to do the one way because neither one of us wanted to hike up the mountain but we thought it would be cool to see the views walking down.

Well, it was stunning to stay the least. It was raining on our way up which wasn’t too bad since we were covered by the tram but once we arrived to the top of Mt Fløyen I didn’t even notice the rain anymore. We spent some time walking around the 180 degree semi circle which provided amazing views of Bergen and the surrounding area.

While we were walking down the mountain, the rain was off and on but mostly on. We stood under some trees hoping that the rain would pass quickly but it didn’t. So we just kept it moving. But during the times when the rain was off, the sunlight would come through the clouds and it would create this gorgeous light on the buildings below us. It was like the whole world was glowing. So if you’re ever in Bergen, I’d highly recommend the Fløibanen funicular. It’s a great ride up and an easy walk down. I just hope it won’t be raining like it was when we went.

Quick tip: While walking down Mt Fløyen, I noticed that any scenic view had a bench right by it. It’s like a little sign saying sit down, relax and enjoy the scenery. But it wasn’t just in Bergen that they had that. It was all over Norway. So if you ever had a doubt you would see something nice, look for a bench!

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/2000 ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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Have you ever gone on a trip for a week and it seems like you’ve been gone for a month? That’s what I’m feeling now but in the best way possible. I think it feels like we were gone for so long because everyday Andrew and I were in Norway there was something thing new and exciting to do and see. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the country before I left. Now I can’t wait to go back. We only got to see a little portion of the massive country and there’s so much more I need to experience and photograph.

This image was taken on one of our last stops on our road trip around Norway in Ålesund. It was one of our first views of the city and had to immediately pull over. The water was pristine and the reflection was amazing. Andrew and I walked all around this water when we decided we wanted to cross the bridge to see what the view looked like from the other side. I tend to walk slow in general but if I have a camera in my hand, I walk even slower. Andrew, on the hand, walks fast. So it’s not uncommon for him to walk about 10 feet ahead of me whenever we’re going somewhere. I love how it worked out though. The scale of this 6 foot guy compared to this massive mountain makes him look so tiny. Next time I just have to get him to wear a more colorful jacket or something. We both tend to wear dark colors all the time.

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/4000th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

PS If you’re interested in learning more about how I planned the road trip, all our stops, and things I would do again, let me know! I think it would be fun to write a guide to share all my experiences. Plus this was one of the best trips ever and I think a lot of people would enjoy it.

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We didn’t spend time at Donner Lake. Just a quick pull over to stretch our legs and check out the scene. At this point I was just excited to be out in nature.

The whole time we were there, this was the only really cloudy day that we got. It even rained a little bit which made slightly nervous about the idea of mosquitos waiting for us on top of the mountain but everything ended up being perfect.

By the way, thank you so much for all the birthday wishes yesterday! I had a fantastic day of just doing whatever I wanted to do. Andrew and I went out to eat dinner and had the best seafood ever. This past weekend, I celebrated with my girlfriends and other than that my birthday has been real low key this year. I kinda almost forgot about it because we just got back from the west coast and as soon as I got back, I started preparing for our next trip. Our next trip is in less than two weeks and I can’t even tell you how excited I am for it. There will definietly be a lot more nature images coming your way.

This past year was one of the best ever. Never would have I imagined that I would write and publish a book, work with the Trust for the National Mall for the Ball for the Mall or even have my work in the gift stores at the National Mall. I was able to see my images in various publications and multiple business’ walls and everything is just so exciting. So thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way or even has taken the time out to view my images. I appreciate you!

My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/320th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that Navin Sarma was one of my first ever photo friends…. ever.

I’m not sure how we found each other but it had to have been before instagram was even a thing. I even remember being kinda hesitant meeting up with him for the first time because I was just meeting some guy I met from the internet really early in the morning. And as usual, he was late.

But in the end, he has become one of my favorite people to go out to shoot with. It’s always been super casual and talking about the most random stuff. He was with me when I unintentionally captured my very first lightning shot! And the following year we sat on the hill by the Air Force Memorial and intentionally captured even more lightning shots like this one.

Last year he left the Washington DC area to move to California. We’ve stayed in touch so when I booked the trip to San Francisco, he was one of the first people to know about it. I definietly wanted to try to meet up and shoot again. So luckily it worked out that the first night we were in the Bay Area, Navin was able to pick Andrew and I up and take us to Marin Headlands. We noticed the fog approaching and thought a higher point of view would be really cool image  of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was so great to see him again.

You can notice the fog a little bit above the Golden Gate Bridge but what I like most about this image is the light that hitting the top of the bridge. I love how it just pops. Betcha didn’t notice the sailboat in the water. I actually didn’t notice it at first either. HAHA

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1/250th of a second at ISO 640 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens handheld.

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SURVIVEDDDDDDDD! I survived my first ever experience in camping. It was actually better than expected but more about that later.

A few little updates from even before we left for our trip to California:

I originally booked the trip so that I could spend more time with family. I have cousins in Palo Alto and in-laws in Lake Tahoe. But before I met up with them, I wanted to spend a little time in San Francisco just photographing the city. I was going to go by myself when very last minute, Andrew decided to join me on this whole adventure. I was so happy! This trip would not have been the same without him. When I’m talking about last minute, I’m talking we booked his flight 4 days before we left for the trip so I’m glad it all worked out.

Also I received my repaired A7II the day before I left for the trip. But funny enough it was also the same day that I was to receive my Sony A7III from borrowlenses.com. In effort to keep things simple and easy, I decided to just receive the A7III and ship it right back to Borrow Lenses. I didn’t even touch it. I just feel more comfortable with my own camera and I didn’t want to fumble around with a camera for my trip. I wanted it to be as easy and light as possible. Glad to have you back, baby *kissy face*

Last but not least, I got some of the most exciting news ever. Click here if you didn’t read my blog post from Friday. I still can’t believe I have prints and postcards in the bookstores of the National Mall. Please someone come and pinch me to make sure this is real!

This image was taken one more from Baker Beach, San Francisco, California. It’s funny because it was not foggy during the sunrise but as the day went on, it got foggier and foggier. This image was probably taken around 7:30a. We stopped by Baker Beach on our way to the farmers market. Andrew’s obsessed with the fruit in California 🙂 So am I. My camera settings for this image is F7.1 at 1/640th of a second at ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom.