Murphy’s Law: No Computers on the Road Trip

After spending the last week writing posts for the blog on our Honeymoon Road Trip, and editing photos, my computer crashes with no hope of repair until our return to Florida. As soon as I opened WordPress to copy and paste from my word document, the whole thing bit the dust. As long as everything is recoverable, all my stories will follow in a few weeks.

Thanks to a defect in my model of MacBook, the video graphics card became corrupted and now I have no access to anything on my computer. It turns on, but no screen makes it somewhat hard to store photos or write about the trip. So until probably June, there’ll be no posts on our trip. Ugh.

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Prepping for 7,000 Miles

Muir quoteDeciding to undertake a massive road trip takes a lot of planning and a little bit of insanity…

Our first step was figuring out  where we wanted to go and how would we get there. Yellowstone was always one of those bucket list trips that we wanted to take, but we had never thought about driving there. When we saw how expensive tickets were for us to fly from Tampa to Wyoming (roughly $1200 for 2 round-trip tickets, not including lodging or food), we knew that we could do that trip much cheaper! We plugged a hypothetical list of stops into Google Maps, just to see how far we’d be driving and what gas would possibly cost. Our first calculations put us at  about 83 hours, and 5,000 miles, with the only goal being to stop in Yellowstone. When we started plugging in places that we’d like to see, or cities where we had friends/family we could stay with, we quickly realised the limitations of Google Maps, mainly that we were limited in the number of places we could include on the route, and more importantly, there was no way to save it.

So in googling “road trip apps” I came across Roadtrippers–  a website and app service. This has been the most helpful and intelligent planning site I have ever found. Not only does it allow you to put in up to 40 “stops,” it also calculates time between locations and money spent in gas (based  on whatever mpg you set). The best part is that it can suggest things to see/do within so many miles of your route (customizable from 5 – 30 miles, or all). The categories for places of interest include: Accommodations, Attractions & Culture, Food & Drink, Outdoors & Recreation, Points of Interest, Camping & RV, Entertainment & Nightlife, Tours & Experiences, Services, Shopping, Sports, and Motoring; all with ratings from users. These are then further customizable with numerous categories, like “National Parks” or “Swimming Spots”… allowing you to be super specific in things you want to see.

Roadtrippers
Roadtrippers

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We’re Going on an Adventure!

Roadtrip
Our Great Route: St. Pete, FL; Chattanooga, TN; St. Louis, MO; Sioux Falls, SD; Badlands National Park, SD; Black Hills National Forest, SD; Big Horn National Forest, WY; Yellowstone National Park, WY; Grand Teton National Park, WY; Salt Lake City, UT; Arches National Park; UT; Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, AZ; Four Corners Monument; Chaco Canyon, NM; Santa Fe, NM; Austin, TX; New Orleans, LA; and back to Florida.

“[We’re] Going on an Adventure” – Bilbo Baggins (movie not book)

Six months ago I closed my vows to my new husband with those words…. and in two weeks I’m making good on that promise. For our honeymoon/10 year anniversary celebration, we’re heading out on a 6,000-mile, 18-day road trip from Florida to Yellowstone and back again.

Some people have said our trip is too ambitious, or joked that we’ll need to draw up divorce papers along the way… but I actually can’t think of a better way to celebrate what makes our relationship great. We’ve gotten through 10 years together – 2 bachelor’s degrees, 2 master’s degrees, 3 cities, numerous jobs both good and bad, a move to the other side of the world and back, and so much more. If anything, I see the 100+ hours we’ll spend together in a car bringing us closer together. Sure there will be “hangry” fights and some tears over long days, but it’ll all be worth it to see things like The World’s Largest Peanut or “Stuckie” the mummified dog (seriously?!). Most importantly, it’s a way for us to see some bad ass wild lands and accomplish a cross-country trip as a team.

So why an insanely long road trip? For me, my list of countries visited far exceeds the number of states I’ve visited, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. There’s also the mythos associated with “the great American road trip,” that seems alluring and challenging. Neither of us has been to Yellowstone, and with flights from Tampa to Wyoming costing roughly $40 less than tickets to Europe, hitting the road seemed like an interesting experiment for testing our sanity.

We actually started out planing our honeymoon for Italy and Switzerland, but when the tickets we booked at an incredibly low price got cancelled, we had to look for other options. We also found out that we had to be back in Australia before 2016 to make Hasha’s residency visa permanent (something we’ve been waiting on for over 5 years). Once we did some cost-benefit analysis of where we could go with our savings, factoring in that we have to be in Australia this year, a road trip was the most bang for our buck.

I also look at this as an opportunity to brush the dust off of my camera gear and get back into photography – something I’ve been neglecting for about 2 years now. It’s disheartening that the minutia of life can suck the joy out of things you once loved to do, but sometimes the best way to get back into it is a swift kick in the ass.

I’ll be updating this blog with all our highlights and pitfalls, the amazing and the bizarre. Before we actually head out, I’ll also be posting on all the research and preparations we’ve been making to do this trip. It’s not just a quick trip home, but a marathon of endurance for our bodies, souls, and our pony (aka, car), that will leave us with memories for a lifetime.

So here’s to going on adventures….

“Damn Nature, You Scary!”

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First off, I will say that I love snakes and I love birds of prey. So when we moved to south Florida, I was super excited to see so much wildlife in our backyard – pileated woodpeckers, swallowtail kites, black racer snakes, screech and great-horned owls… it’s been paradise!

We have two black racers that live on our yard – one in the front, one in the back (and I’m sure the above photo is a give-away as to how this story ends) – and I really valued them being in our yard! They’re very friendly and are great ecosystem managers. We also recently have been getting broad-winged hawks all over Ft. Myers, and we recently saw this young one hanging out on our daybed in the backyard. I was ecstatic to see such a beautiful raptor just chillin’ in our yard.

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Stealing photos or just clueless?

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Who is Chasing Snowflakes and why do they have my photo!?

I recently read a blog post about how to reverse search for your own images. This is incredibly useful to see if your photos are being used without your permission. In following all the steps, found here, you can quickly see where your photos are.

Nine times out of ten my photos were where they were supposed to be. But in a few instances I found my photos, with the watermark removed, being used on someone else’s page. This raises the question as to whether the image is being blatantly stolen or just used out of admiration.

Recently a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers – an amazing group who promotes conservation through the lens – had one of his images stolen. He found his image being sold by another “artist” who even had it hanging in his gallery. This is obviously an egregious violation of rights on many levels. And it happens with increasing regularity. There are websites dedicated to calling these thieves out all over the internet.

But then there are the people who like a photo so much they want to put it on their Facebook, or other social media account. Are these people stealing your photo? What do you do if the watermark is removed? Or are they just clueless?

I found a few of my images on people’s blogs. If the watermark had still been there, I would have had no problem with it. I would have been flattered that someone I didn’t know wanted to share my image with the world. But in removing my watermark, my ownership of that image was also removed.

In conclusion, if you find an image you truly love, by all means share it with the world, but give that photographer their due credit. Make sure you know where that photo comes from. Maybe you found it through someone who removed the watermark, but at least do some research and make sure you aren’t infringing on copyright law. In my case, I wrote a polite email asking them to either take down the photo, or use it with my watermark. No one wants to involve the courts, but as photographers we work hard for our craft and are due the recognition for our art.

Brian Skerry

A truly incredible interview with ILCP photographer Brian Skerry. Had to share!

True To Me Too

I was having a hard time writing a summary for you because you do so many things, you’re a photojournalist for National Geographic Magazine, you’ve written several books including the upcoming From Above and Below: Man and the Sea, you’ve spoken at TED conferences, you’re the explorer in residence at the New England Aquarium, and you help found the New England Ocean Odyssey.  Can you try to sum it up for me?

It all generates from the fact that I’m a photojournalist.  I’ve been working for National Geographic Magazine for fifteen years and I specialize in making pictures and telling stories about ocean wildlife mostly.  There’s a blend of celebratory and sort of issue based coverage that I do, a lot of the stuff I do these days has an environmental or conservation theme but generally that’s where everything begins. I go out and do…

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Slogging through external photo websites

500px screen shot
500px screen shot

It seems like there are a million and one different ways to put your photos online. Websites, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Photoshelter, Photobucket… it’s almost like an entirely new language. And that’s just brushing the surface.

For a number of years I had a Zenfolio account, they do photo hosting as well as allowing you to create private portfolios for clients (the main reason I signed up). They have some really beautiful examples of websites that members have created. But after about a year, I realized that I hadn’t been using the site at all (when I received a few emails saying my account was going to be deleted – eep!).

I’d recently read an article about alternatives to Flickr that got me perusing the internet for some other options. I’ve had a pro Flickr account for 6 years, and will always have one. But I’ve also had accounts (or at least free trials) for  Photobucket, SmugMug, Photoshelter, Zenfolio, and now 500px.

I’m still on the free trial for 500px, but so far it seems superior to all the other sites I’ve tried. It mirrors Flickr in that you can upload photos with the option to create sets to organize said photos. Also like Flickr, people can comment on your photo and make it a favorite. Where it deviates however, is that there is also the option to vote for and like a photo. Upon uploading my 1st few photos, within minutes the community had begun providing feedback on the images – which was a welcome and surprising event.

There is also the option to create private, password protected sets of photos. This is the exact reason that I had used Zenfolio. It’s a must for client photos, and 500px makes it insanely simple to create a private photo set. Another added bonus is that you can link your photos to a market – essentially a very easy way to sell your photos.

The only downside I can see to 500px is the lack of the ability to customize your page. You can write a bio, upload a profile photo, link to your numerous other pages, etc. But you can’t customize the background and other such things, like Zenfolio provides for. But that aside, it’s a wonderful photography community and really fits exactly what I was looking for. Feel free to check out my page. And good luck slogging through all the great photo hosting sites out there! Hope this has been helpful.

My 1st Photo

1st photo copy

I have an obsession with old photos – especially old family photos. So as I was digging through piles of photos, I found this one. I honestly remember taking this photo when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My dad called me outside to the pond and showed me this little frog hiding in the lily. I grabbed his film SLR (thinking back I don’t know if I’d trust a child with my camera around a body of water), laid on my stomach and took the shot.

I love it for its simplicity, and the fact that it’s the 1st photo I remember taking. I’ve since framed it and hung it in my office as a reminder of my long love of nature photography and for motivation to get out there and keep adding to my portfolio!

Digital Photography School Article

Reflections over the Sounds

Wow, it has been an insanely long time since I’ve posted anything on here! I’m super embarrassed and a little sad that I’ve definitely let this slip in the chaos of life.

Well, here’s a link to a post by Digital Photography School that I have a few photos in
By the way, DPS is an incredible site to learn so much about photography! Hopefully this will be my motivation to get this thing going again! I miss photography and writing about it!