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Shi Shi

At the northwest tip of the US is Cape Flattery. Just south is Shi Shi. A two-mile stretch of Paradise. A soaking wet hike through the temperate Olympic rain forest reveals the beach, bracketed by smokestacks.

Seagulls fly across the Point of Arches

Seagulls fly across the Point of Arches

On this particular trip we emerged, drenched, to a drizzling sky and wet sand. The dark overcast reminded us that we were still in the Northwest, despite other signs to the contrary.

We quickly set up tents and Spence got his board waxed. This ritual inspired some change in the atmosphere. The clouds parted and we spent the next 36 hours under bright, warm sun and wispy clouds.

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Spence waxes his board; the clouds begin to thin

Those next 36 were spent barefoot, aimlessly wandering the beach, combing tidepools, poking anemones, searching for sea otters and cooking steaks and bacon over open beach-wood flame.

Paradise

Paradise, as far as the eye can see

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Light in Denali

 

Natural Lighting

Nikon D800; AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED @ 38mm, f/5.6, 1/800 (-1/3EV)

This photograph was taken from a ridge in the Toklat River Valley in Denali National Park. The weather shifts frequently and rapidly in Denali–a relatively well-experienced phenomenon. Here clear sky has been covered by a light layer of clouds, but the bright midday sky shines through on certain aspects. The contrast is exceptionally high, adding depth to the visage of a place that already awes in its endlessness. Watching these patterns unfold, flow over this place, it’s easy to get lost, a challenge to your significance.

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East Fork, Upper Toklat, Denali NP

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A creek edges off the east fork of the Upper Toklat River. Nikon D800, f/2.8G 24-70mm @27mm, f/7.1, 1/800s, ISO 200

A mile or so off the road in Denali National Park, we descended into this rocky river shoal. This creek flows calmly off the Toklat as winds start to creep up the valley. Just before starting in, we were warned of the wind tunnel this river valley could become. As we walked south following the river, the gusty breeze turned to a gale, sand and water whipping us in the face. Despite it being past 11PM, I put my sunglasses on to protect my eyes from the projectile mist. We stared west, considering a river crossing to escape the wind. The river was too deep this late in the day, so we decided to head back for the hills. There was no protection nearby. The only aparent hope far out of our way. Foolishly, we decided to set up camp behind a short corner and a large shrub that killed only a bit of the howling air, not nearly enough. We wondered if we would sleep as we dawned our masks. Hardly did.

The photo was taken earlier that day (around 10:30 PM AST) looking south up the east fork of the upper Toklat River valley. Below is a shot from the north side of the river, taken the night before we crossed daringly through. You can see the wind whipping a particulate of concrete off the shoal.

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Nikon D800, f/2.8G 24-70mm @ f/9.0, 1/250s, ISO 160 (12:00AM Midnight AST)

 

 

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Nature in Eastern Washington

Shot in Nature 12

I love taking these up-close, detailed, not-quite-macro shots when I’m out hiking or walking around. My friends often find me in odd positions, dirtying my jeans, elbows, and everything else to get the right angle on the subject. Sometimes the back-bending results in something great. This is a random collection of those shots.
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The city of modern architecture, Chicago


Architecture surrounding the Michigan Ave Bridge

 

Without lying, I can’t say that I did much in my day in Chicago but point my lens upward at the towering buildings, the rows of immense skyscrapers. We had nearly perfect weather, a deep dish pizza and some Goose Island tastes, what a great Chicago day. If I had more time, I would have swam Lake Michigan and cooled off from the high-80s heat.

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Utah’s hills, I-70

While taking a cross-country roadtrip, one sees and feels many things. I had the pleasure of watching sun fall slowly behind these hills, just north of I-70 while completing the Denver – Salt Lake City leg of my trip across the country. Only wish I had time for Moab, Arches, Canyonlands…
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A whirlwind cruise through Paris

Part of the sweeping Arc de Triomphe vista

More than 30 million people visit Paris every year, making it the top tourist destination in the world. After an action-packed, heat-stroked three day trip around the sites, I know I hardly even skimmed the surface of what one of the cultural centers of the western world has to offer. So I’ll be brief.
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Sacre Coeur approaching from the front

My brother Oliver and I ended a quick jaunt through Europe with a food and site-filled whip around this immense city. Coming from Amsterdam, it was a big change.

We started by trying to get a vibe for the city. All senses on high alert, we wandered from Gare du Nord to Montmartre where we saw the Sacre Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart) just after being nearly assaulted by some tourist-hustlers with friendship bracelets. The Basilica is worth seeing, and despite having my camera, I was one of the only people obeying the no photography signs inside this place, so please enjoy the exterior architecture shots.

Sacre Coeur from the northwest corner

Cafes, boulangeries and patisseries line the winding streets at the top of Montmartre, near the Sacre Coeur Basilica

A man walks with his bag down a street in Montmartre

The late afternoon invites friends and lover to the banks of the Seine

Sun falls behind the buildings of another beautiful winding Parisian street

The Eiffel Tour is rather prominent in this otherwise short and flat city

From Gare du Nord we took the subway to Champs Elysees where we stayed in a fifth floor cupboard. It could have been cooler, but it was actually pretty fun. We walked up the Avenue des Champes-Elysees past the Arc de Triomphe and down toward the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel). Determined to climb the thing, we found the shortest line, paid 5 euro and made our way up to the second level, where we bought lift tickets, huddled in an anxious line and made it to “the top.” The Champagne bar had closed, saving us a minimum of 15 euro each on a top-of-the-world toast. I have to say, we were at first hesitant about the lines and the cost of the tower, but it was well worth the experience and the view.

The view from the center of the Eiffel Tour blueprint, looking straight up. The signs on the way up remind you of the extensive use of pylons for in its design and construction.

Guess where this is taken from!

Taken from really high up, looking at the Seine River, Place de Trocadero and downtown Paris in the background.

The Arc de Triomphe in all its glory at sunset. A full moon rises beneath the Arc.

On the way back from the tallest point in Paris, we hit the Arc de Triomphe in all its glory. You can see a full moon rising under the Arc. The next morning brought an early trip to the Louvre to beat the lines. We beat them, but only with our Museum Passes. Already at 9 there was maybe an hour long line for those buying a regular single entry ticket. The Paris Museum Pass was well worth it.

The facade of the Richelieu wing of The Louvre stands high above a short glass pyramid.

For all you may have heard about The Louvre, it is truly remarkable. In 4 hours Oliver and I saw one floor of each of its massive wings, catching the Mona Lisa in the early morning before it got “too crowded.” You could spend days at The Louvre and never run out of new art and history. The building itself is a work of art.

Notre Dame perched above the Seine on Ile de la cite.

We visited Notre Dame.

The front of the Notre Dame de Paris

A humanesque chimera juts out of the northern wall of Notre Dame

The pulpit of Notre Dame de Paris. More than 700 years old!

And climbed the tower to see the vast city once again, under the protection of hundreds of chimera (gargoyles).

A chimera sits quietly at Notre Dame. Looking northwest, you can see Sacre Coeur at the top of Montmartre in the background,

The main hall at the Musse d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay had great air conditioning. Also the class of impressionist galleries.

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The main entrance of the Chateau de Versailles. They used some gold. It looks nice.

On our final morning, we took an early train to Versailles, only to be beat to the line by… hundreds of visitors. The Palais was yet to open and already had an hour and a half wait. We perused the massive gardens and enjoyed some beouf tartare at a bistro in town. Good decision.

A tiny chapel juts out of the east wing of the Chateau de Versailles. Wow.

After all our sweaty adventuring and excellent French, we ate some food. Thanks to the recommendations of friends we dined well around the city, despite recent suggestions that the culinary heart of the city needed a few hundred joules. These photos are from a meal at Le Relais de Venise. It’s a simple place with excellent food. You have two decisions: 1) How do you like your steak cooked? and 2) What kind of wine do you prefer?

Self portrait with Oliver. Taken at the Relais de Venice.

Oliver slicing into some steak frites at the Relais de Venise.

Down the hatch!

I hope you enjoyed this post. To see more of my pictures from Paris, go to the Paris Gallery, here!

If you have questions or comments, please leave me a note! Don’t forget to follow me if you like what you’ve seen!

The sunset of sunsets: Oia, Santorini, Greece

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As sunset approaches, as the sun falls over this equatorial Disneyland, the crowds flock. You’ve seen the pictures, you’re looking at more now. There’s something mystical about this place. That something is slightly lost as thousands gather daily, herded from cruise ships by tour bus on this small, but bustling, unprotected island at the far end of the Greek archipelago.
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Maybe it’s the windmills, the brilliantly painted rustic, adobe walls, the bright blue domes perched perfectly atop white walls.

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Whatever it is, this sunset drags in the crowds (see below if you don’t believe me. Sure, people travel to experience Santorini, but this is the number one stop for any visitor to the island. If sunsets are famous–and maybe they are–this is very possibly the most famous sunset in the world.

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I would be a fool to argue against such a distinction. But sunsets are special because they invite you to lose yourself in the world, to admire pure beauty and to undertake the admiration singularly. In an era of constant electronic distraction, the information rat race nudging us all to “stay connected” and multitask, sunsets are powerful. Perhaps the crowds become a distraction, in some way making the visitor it’s not just there’s, clamoring to get that one seat at the edge of the ruins that puts everyone else out of site. I fought that urge. I didn’t feel like it was mine. But it was special, it was breathtaking.

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I was lucky enough to spend a few days with my family on the island. This gave me the ability to head over one morning for sunrise. Somehow this was a singular experience, devoid of another soul. I watched as sunshine intermittently broke through a cloudy sky and in a sweep, illuminated the Oia cliffs. The colorspray was just as awesome, if not better than sunset. If you visit, go in the morning. Enjoy these photos and see all of them in the Santorini gallery.

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You can approach from Thira on stone paths through Imerovigli until you tread on volcanic rock toward the most unlikely of places. Looking left of the trail, the oceanic caldera ripples, inviting you to take a refreshing 1,200 foot plunge. Warning: not for those weary of height.

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In broad daylight it seems just as magical, just as improbable and unreplicable.

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See all my photos from Santorini here!