Category Archives: Photography

Part 3: Delicate Arch

Part 1: Road to Arches
Part 2: Arches Galore

Delicate Arch is one of the most famous arches, if not the most famous, in Arches National Park. If you’re not hiker, or just plain lazy, you can catch a glimpse of this magnificent arch from below. Two short walks from the parking lot offer lower and upper viewpoints. But if you can muster the energy, skip the viewpoint, and huff and puff for three miles (round trip) to the base of Delicate Arch.

It is totally worth it.

The elevation gain is only 500 feet, but most of it is condensed into a short one mile. Bring plenty of water and just remember: There’s a beautiful arch at the end.

The hike starts out on a dirt path. As we walked past a log house, I thought, “this isn’t so hard.” I admired the exotic desert flowers and oddly shaped trees.

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After a half a mile, the trail peters out into steep slick rock. Sporadic cairns to guide the way, but we simply followed the stream of hikers in front of us.

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A small arch to tempt your appetite before you see the real thing.

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One minute, I’m hiking, and the next minute…… I’m standing in awe. Mouth open, eyes bulging, drool trickling. For this, I would hike 10 miles if I had to.

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In peak season, you’ll have to contend with a throng of other tourists taking photos under the arch, but people are pretty good about not hogging the spotlight. When my turn came, I eagerly inched my way underneath the gigantic miracle. Suddenly, it seemed overwhelmingly large. I felt like I was standing at the edge of the world. Maybe, because I was.

I am just a tiny spec in the pictures. You can barely see my goofy, triumphant grin. But rest assured, it is there.

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Part 2: Arches Galore

Part 1: Road to Arches

Arches National Park is one of the country’s smaller national parks, with one main road running 18 miles from top to bottom. It’s possible to see the best sights in one day if you’re short on time. In the end, we spent two half days in the park, and managed to check off most of the key sights on our list.

Arches Map

As we drove through the long windy road past the entrance, we took it all in. Red, flaming rocks everywhere. It was glorious. Our first top was Park Avenue, so named because the towering rocks resemble Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

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Can I just pause to compliment myself on the below shot? I love it.

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We hopped back in the car and continued north towards our first hike of the day. Of course, we had to stop a couple of times along the way…

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Here’s a gorgeous view of the Petrified Dunes with the Lasalle Mountains in the background.

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Tada! Balanced Rock.

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Shortly after admiring Balanced Rock, we turned right and headed toward the trail head for the Windows and Double Arch. We chose the 1 mile hike around the North and South Windows.

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The view of Double Arch from the parking lot.

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There are so many fascinating types of trees and flowers even in the desert

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The view of one of the Windows with many tourists

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As you face west away from the Windows, you have a wide open view of Turret Arch

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Slightly tree obsessed

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As we headed around to the back of the Windows we enjoyed some tourist-free views

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A perfect arch

The trail map gives visitors two options at this point: To circle around Turret Arch and head back the way we came, or to take the “primitive trail” around the back of the Windows. We opted for the primitive trail – and it was rather primitive. We followed a series of random cairns, only getting lost once. On the plus side, we left the crowds behind. From this vantage point, we enjoyed clear, perfect views of both arches, unmarred by throngs of tourists.

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There really aren’t words to describe how weirdly beautiful the arches are. Even better, they are easily accessible. The Windows is just a mile long, with little elevation. In other words, you have no excuses!

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Utah #1: The Road to Arches

Why on earth do I live on the east coast?

This is the question I was asking myself as my sister and I made our way to Moab, Utah. From the moment we left Grand Junction, Colorado we could not stop gasping and squealing in awe. The west is magnificent. As we rolled along Interstate 70 and then the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway, we left our stress behind and simply enjoyed the view. Perhaps, we stopped too many times for pictures, but what is too many times?

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I made my sister take a picture of this truck.

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In a short while, we crossed over into Utah.

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A fellow traveler pointed out this burrowed owl. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be excited about this.

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I don’t know what this is, but I found it fascinating.

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The open road turned along the Colorado River.

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As Route 128 winds its way into Utah, it’s called the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway. With few other cars on the road, we had the luxury of taking silly shots like this one.

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And this one.

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The drive west took us deeper into canyon country, with gorgeous red cliffs rising around us. Sometimes I had to force myself not to stop or we’d never make it to Moab. 

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A Local Explores D.C. Like a Tourist

M and I took a break from our insane work schedules to enjoy the pleasant spring weather and explore D.C. I’ve lived in the nation’s capital for seven years, but sometimes I forget what a great city D.C. is. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day slog of getting work done, going to the gym, collapsing in bed, etc. It was nice to set aside one day to push that all aside and just explore.

Our walk started with a visit to the Phillips Collection, a private art collection in Dupont Circle. I’ve dragged M to more than a handful of furniture stores, but I had not yet stepped foot inside an art museum — which is M’s version of happiness. It was time to change that.

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Stunning flowers growing on the bark of a tree in Dupont Circle

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A cool shot of the Indonesian embassy

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A statue of Ghandi outside the Indian embassy, kitty-corner from the Phillips Collection

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An eerie tree outside the Phillips Collection

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not exactly an art expert. I can handle an hour or two in a museum, but I’m not one of those people who gets lost in meditation in front of a painting for 20 minutes, pondering the deeper meaning of whatever it is people ponder. It’s not that I don’t appreciate beautiful things. I am just too impatient, too distracted – in museums and in life. M tells me to slow down. I tell him to hurry up. We are a good team.

M, however, is an art critic by profession. So this trip was kind of like walking into his temple. He was a bit dismayed when I got too close to paintings with my camera and spoke too loudly – especially in the Rothko room. Museums are really meant for proper, quiet adults – and I am none of those things. For some reason, M is still dating me.

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A new exhibit at the Phillips. Gotta be honest: I don’t get it.

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I like this series

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A moving sculpture

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A Van Goh

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Pretty stained glass window in the Phillips

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M taking a picture

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Yours truly

We left the Phillips and headed to my temple – Room and Board – one of my favorite furniture stores on 14th Street. I’m in the market for a new table and wanted to check out the wood options in person. On the way, we walked through pretty, residential neighborhoods.

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A beautiful lamp post on Swann Street. I love the fire. I love the reflection in the glass. Basically, I love everything about it.

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Memorial bricks at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History

After Room and Board, we headed down T Street to the Shaw neighborhood, a gritty area that is in the process of modernizing. Dilapidated storefronts mix with brand new condos and hip restaurants. There is a palpable tension between old and new.

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Right next to the historic Howard Theater, I found a sprawling mural on the side of an ethnic restaurant. I can’t resist good street art.

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A new, modern restaurant with a very interesting logo (and name)

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Here’s lookin’ at you… A door on a ramshackle storefront on 7th Street

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A Liz Taylor mural overlooking Dacha Beer Garden at 7th and Q Streets

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As we headed through Chinatown, I stopped to photograph this church. I love the way the street lights cast a glow on the brick facade.

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The Greater New Hope Baptist Church

Our last stop of the day was CityCenterDC, a new development in downtown DC. A mix of apartments, retail shops, restaurants and a public park, CityCenterDC is a great place for this camera-crazed girl.

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An up-close shot of water jumping out of the ground

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These colorful lanterns line the narrow alleyways of CityCenter and reflect on the windows of high-end stores and office buildings

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Pretty

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One day, I will bring a tripod. Then, I can really have some fun.

I love traveling the world, but days like this remind me that I’m lucky to live in a beautiful, historic, and thriving city, filled with old and new surprises. I’m a local getting to know D.C. like a tourist, and I’m okay with that. 









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Running While Carrying (My Camera) Take 2

It was a cold, blustery day – the kind of day meant for sitting on the couch and ignoring the call of my running shoes. I am very good at both of those things. But amazingly, the call of my camera was stronger, so I laced up my sneakers and took the camera out for another spin.

I headed south down 23rd street toward the Lincoln Memorial like I always do. I had plans to check out a stunning painted church in Southwest DC, but never made it there due to a disease I like to called “obsessive photography.”

I started snapping at the John Ericsson National Memorial, dedicated to the man who invented the screw propeller.

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I headed east toward the FDR Memorial, a sprawling celebration of FDR’s four presidential terms.

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The memorial hosts a recreation of the depressed bread line – men waiting on line for a scrap of bread during the Great Depression.

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A collage of bronze panels, called Social Programs, features the 54 social programs President Roosevelt initiated under his presidency. It makes for beautiful photography.

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This wall is dedicated to FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program that existed from 1933 to 1942.

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I love the way the light peaks through the trees and shines down on the grey stone.

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Here, I zoomed in on a statue of FDR. The statue was somewhat controversial because the designers chose not to depict FDR in his wheelchair. The wall in the background reads: “They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers… call this a New Order. It is not new and it is not order.”

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As I left the FDR Memorial, I cam across this tree and stopped suddenly. I can’t get over how much this tree looks like a face.

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Beautiful trees. Enough said.

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I looped around to the Jefferson Memorial before heading home. A bride sat on the marble steps, taking a pause in the cold to touch up her makeup.

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Conclusion: Running with my dSLR makes running bearable, even in cold, blustery weather.

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Running While Carrying (My Camera)

Can someone please invent a contraption that allows me to run with my dSLR camera? I would get a lot more running done, and take a lot more pictures in the process. The former keeps me relatively in shape; the latter keeps me relatively happy.

As many of you know, I’m an avid photographer and reluctant runner. But taking pictures with my iPhone just doesn’t cut it. So yesterday, I did something weird. I strapped my bulky dSLR around my chest, laced up my sneakers, and went for a run.

Yes, I looked a bit ridiculous. Yes, it was not the most comfortable way to log miles. Yes, the camera awkwardly bounced against my hip. Yes, my running got interrupted by “oh my God, I must take pictures of that” epiphanies. But…it was possibly the most enjoyable run I have had in a long time. I was actually excited to venture off my couch. The weather was brisk but beautiful – bright blue skies with steady sunshine. And Washington D.C. is full of interesting sights to satisfy any hungry photographer.

I’ve never photographed the Korean Memorial soldiers before. It was a fun challenge.

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Then I jogged my way over to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

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Look how blue that sky is.

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And then the creme de la creme: Washington D.C.’s floral library. It’s not massive, but it is beautiful. The colors are simply breathtaking.

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Full disclosure: I am not a fast runner on my best days. Running (jogging really) with a camera is that much easier if you are limited to a glacial pace (silver linings, right?). I also switched out my regular heavy lens for the smaller, lighter 50mm lens. It takes great pictures and makes running with a camera less cumbersome.

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Bring it On: April 2016

I’ve been woefully absent due to a deluge of work and way too little nap time. You know how I get without my beauty naps… not pretty. But spring is officially upon us, and there are a slew of things I’m looking forward to.

  • Outlander returns! I’m a little bit obsessed with this show, and you should be too.
  • Passover. I’ll be spending passover with my family, and of course, my adorable three-year-old niece will be there. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to squeeze in some hiking.
  • Baking. I’ve been experimenting, trying new recipes, and trying my hand at food photography. These cookies are a hit with my family every single time.2016-03-20 11.30.33
  • 15 minutes of fame. I’ve started publishing more in my day job, and I have my first TV appearance next week!
  • Cubbies! I don’t actually follow baseball unless the Cubs make it to the post-season, but this guy on ESPN – who must be smart because he’s on ESPN – predicts the Cubs will win the World Series. It’s been 108 years. I think it’s time.

Two more items to add to the list.

  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I love this zany show from Tina Fey on Netflix. Season 2 returns April 15th.
  • Marimekko. I have a penchant for modern, expensive design. The Finnish design company Marimekko meets both criteria. But on April 17th, Marimekko is coming to Target. Woohoo.
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HOUSEKEEPING ITEMS

I’ve updated a couple of items on the blog to make life easier for people who want to find things. Namely:

1) I’ve updated many destinations in the travel gallery if you’re looking to get a quick photographic taste for a particular city/state/country.

2) I’ve created a category dropdown menu at the top if you’re looking for all posts having to do with a particular topic.

3) You can also now follow me on Instagram.

4) If you don’t give a flying fuck, that’s okay too.

Cheers!

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Part 15: The Children of Peru

Part 1: Getting to the Sacred Valley is Not Easy
Part 2: The Most Awesome Hotel Ever
Part 3: When in Urubamba…
Part 4: A Town Called Olly
Part 5: Can You Pass the Salt?
Part 6: How to Get to Machu Picchu
Part 7: I Came, I Saw, I Conquered (Machu Picchu)
Part 8: My Love Affair with Starwood Continues
Part 9: Hats Galore in Pisac (and other things)
Part 10: Cusco: The Highs and Lows
Part 11: 10 Things You Can Buy at Cusco’s San Pedro Market
Part 12: Exploring Cusco’s Countryside
Part 13: Regards from 12,000 Feet
Part 14: Lima – The Worst Capital City Ever?

In another life, I’d like a job photographing children all around the world. Photographing the children of Peru and showing them how to use my camera was one of my favorite experiences of our trip. Warning: Be prepared for a ton of cuteness.

In Urubamba:

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In Ollantaytambo:

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In Aguas Calientes:

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In Pisac:

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The kids in Cusco were unbelievably adorable. As I traveled across Peru, I was initially shocked when some of the children put out their hands and said, “Propina,” right after I took their picture. Propina, I learned, means “tip.” Peru is an overwhelmingly poor country, and the children, I realized, learn from their parents who seek an extra soles from tourists every chance they get. But the children we found playing in an empty courtyard in Cusco had no interest in a “propina.” They just wanted to have fun, and fun they had.

They loved posing for pictures and then loved seeing their goofy poses on the screen. They had no inhibitions about jumping on me, on each other, and just generally trying to one-up themselves. I was laughing hysterically the entire time.

It started out with a simple pose.

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And ended up with a Peruvian version of a pyramid:

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And then they stole my hat, and attempted to steal it from each other:

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When one of the girls started crying – I think having five other kids jump all over you might have that effect on a person — I offered them granola bars and band-aids which they thought was the greatest present ever.

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On the side of the road in the Sacred Valley:

At a stop along the highway in the Sacred Valley, we chanced upon these adorable girls who were wrapping their dolls up in scarves just like Peruvian women wrap their babies. The girl in red was strikingly beautiful.

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On Taquille Island:

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Part 12: Exploring Cusco’s Countryside

Part 1: Getting to the Sacred Valley is Not Easy
Part 2: The Most Awesome Hotel Ever
Part 3: When in Urubamba…
Part 4: A Town Called Olly
Part 5: Can You Pass the Salt?
Part 6: How to Get to Machu Picchu
Part 7: I Came, I Saw, I Conquered (Machu Picchu)
Part 8: My Love Affair with Starwood Continues
Part 9: Hats Galore in Pisac (and other things)
Part 10: Cusco: The Highs and Lows
Part 11: 10 Things You Can Buy at Cusco’s San Pedro Market

You know you’re obsessed with photography when you hire a driver to take you on a photography trip. But that is exactly how we spent our last day in Cusco. We hired a taxi to take us to Chincheros and the surrounding countryside in the Sacred Valley simply to take pictures. The driver’s English was severely limited and our Spanish was not much better, but we communicated simply by saying “Photo!” every time we wanted him to pull over to the side so we could snap away.

Most tourists visit Chincheros to see the town’s ancient ruins, but when we tried to visit, we were informed that we could only enter by purchasing the costly tourist ticket that includes many sites in the region. Since we had already been to many of those sites and were off to Puno that afternoon, we shrugged our shoulders and told our driver, “more photos!”

The views were truly beautiful, and I literally took over 1,000 pictures in the span of two hours. So don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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The dynamic duo!

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