On Newsstands: Asheville for National Geographic Traveler

“How quickly can you get to Asheville?” I read the email while thousands of miles away on the deck of a tall-masted ship in the Greek Isles. I looked up at the crystal blue waters of the Aegean Sea and thought, “Soon?” Flash forward two weeks and I found myself surrounded by a different sort of blue; that of the dusky layers of forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Arriving almost directly to Asheville from Greece’s famous islands, I have to admit this assignment didn’t have quite the caché. But for what this small town in North Carolina lacks in international name recognition, it makes up for with delicious eats, creative energy, big heart, and Appalachian charm.

I discovered that Asheville is an addiction, so much so that people from all over have come to call it home…with no intentions of ever moving again. And after being in a place like Santorini, where its fame has at times become its folly, I can see how locals, newcomers, and visitors alike revel in a small town life with world-class perks and a stunning setting.

To see a sampling of Asheville’s allure, enjoy a few asignment outtakes and a glimpse of the magazine spread below or pick up a copy of the April/May 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveler, now on newsstands. Also, on National Geographic Travel you can delve into my experience on assignment in a “Behind the Scenes” article.

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Happily Ever Asheville, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s April/May 2017 issue.

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Happily Ever Asheville, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s April/May 2017 issue.

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Happily Ever Asheville, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s April/May 2017 issue.

 

A small ship passes through a narrow passage in Alaska.

On Assignment with National Geographic Expeditions: Photography in Alaska & British Columbia

This past May I had the opportunity to travel as a National Geographic Expert on a voyage from Seattle, Washington, along the Inside Passage of British Columbia and Alaska. The National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions A Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia & Haida Gwaii photography voyage was one of my favorites because as a Pacific Northwest native I felt right at home experiencing the lush forests and moody weather.

On September 3rd-17th of 2017, I’ll be joining as a National Geographic Expert on another Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia, and Haida Gwaii on board the National Geographic Sea Lion. Come join me on this intimate ship as we get up close and personal with the beauty of landscapes, wildlife, and culture of British Columbia and Alaska. I’ll be working with a talented photo team to provide insightful lectures and give tips and advice while on photo walks and photographing from the ship.

Here are a few images from last May’s expedition as a teaser of what the experience is like. To see more images from that voyage, visit my archive.

Two photographers on the bow of a ship.

On these expeditions, you’ll often find the photo team, like Photo Instructor Ryder Redfield (right), out on deck giving photo tips, especially during the beautiful sunset we had while navigating Frederick Sound.

A glacier calves in front of a zodiac filled with people.

The morning we spent on zodiacs photographing the awe-inspiring Dawes Glacier calve was something I’ll never forget. It was an experience for all the senses, from the crackling sound like lightening in the ice to the giant aftershock waves that rocked the ship anchored over a mile away.

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I never tired of photographing bald eagles, like this one perched on a tree branch in the Inian Islands, which were ubiquitous in the rugged Alaskan landscape.

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In Petersburg, also known as Little Norway, we had a photo walk through the picturesque fishing village, capturing scenes of everyday life.

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On the last full day of the voyage, we spent over an hour photographing orcas as they swam around the ship in nearly still waters on the Peril Straight.

I’d love to see you join the voyage with me in September of 2017. I can promise beautiful vistas, amazing wildlife, and loads of photographic learning…….but I can’t promise the same beautiful weather I had last May!

Man riding horses on Costa Rican beach.

On Newsstands: Costa Rica for National Geographic Traveler

Last November I had the opportunity to photograph la pura vida in a tiny corner of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula for National Geographic Traveler magazine. In a rented 4×4 I bounced my way down potholed dirt roads to the tiny surfing villages of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. There, nestled between the thick jungle and rocky coastline, I met local Costa Ricans, or Ticos, as well as folks from all over the globe that had come to this slice of paradise to soak up the surf, sun, and slow life.

Although summer isn’t quite over, the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler is in subscriber’s mailboxes now and will shortly be on newsstands. For more photos, stay subscribed to this blog where I’ll be posting outtakes from the assignment. Read the article by Johanna Berkman in it’s entirely here.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Durban and Kwa-Zulu Natal in National Geographic Traveler magazine

On Newsstands: Durban for National Geographic Traveler

In January, I went Into the Zulu Kingdom with travel writer extraordinaire, George W. Stone, for National Geographic Traveler magazine. The folks at Traveler already knew I was in love with South Africa from a piece I shot for them a few years ago and I was more than happy to return to explore a different area of the country.

George and I, with the unfailing support of our fixer Rhys, made it our mission to discover the highlights of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. We ventured to the near unpronounceable iSimangaliso Wetland Park and were rendered speechless by the wildlife we spotted. We explored Zulu culture in the beautiful rolling hills outside of Durban. And while in the Northern Drakensberg Mountains, we went in search of the world’s second tallest waterfall only to be foiled by fog and spoiled by other gorgeous vistas.

And then there was Durban. We got to explore this breezy city on the banks of the Indian Ocean and its rainbow of cultures, flavors, and activities. We sniffed out the up-and-coming scenes and visited old classics.

I gauge the real success of an assignment on how badly I want to return to a place. This assignment has done nothing to abate my desire to return to South Africa and catch a wave in a pastel sunrise on Durban’s waterfront.

Click on a photo below to see it larger. Bonus: Can you find my cameo?

Head to a newsstand to read the full story in the current May 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine and see more photos in an online gallery here.

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Thanks to the team at Traveler for a great story, especially Dan, Christine, and Jerry. And kudos to George for being such a wonderful travel companion and collaborator!

Editor’s Note: The recent xenophobic attacks in Durban and other parts of South Africa are shocking and tragic. If I’ve learned anything from my visits to the country, it is that South Africans are proud, strong and resilient. I hope that this dark, passing cloud is brief over the sun of South Africa. I encourage you to visit this amazing country to see the beauty of its people and culture firsthand.

Vieux Port in Marseille

On Newsstands: Paris & Marseille in Virtuoso Life

Last September I was on my way to visited my talented writer friend in the south of France and was lucky enough to receive two assignments for Virtuoso Life in Paris and Marseille.

In Paris I meandered through the old streets of the Marais neighborhood, photographing beautiful shops and meeting talented designers. In Marseille, I ensconced myself in the old neighborhood of the Panier. Even though I was in the middle of the second largest city in France, I felt transported to another world where old men still played pétanque by the port, laundry was strung out to dry, and every shop was cute as a button.

The stories are both out in the January/February 2015 issue of the magazine, which you can find digitally here.

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Article about Purity vodka in Somm Journal

Saying Skål in Sweden

I once had a dream I woke up in Copenhagen, took a train to Sweden and was whisked away to a 13th Century castle where I learned about vodka distilling. Oh, wait, that actually happened.

Known for popular brands like Absolut and Svedka, Sweden is also home to Purity, a small-batch organic distillery located at Ellinge Castle, near Malmo, Sweden. Along with journalist Marguerite Richards,I journeyed there on assignment for The Somm Journal magazine for their August/September 2014 issue (see the PDF here).

Ellinge Castle is a 13th Century castle located near Malmo, Sweden.

Purity Vodka is distilled in Ellinge Castle, a picturesque estate still surrounded by a moat.

We delved into the distillation process (Purity undergoes thirty-four rounds) while hearing from master blender Thomas Kuuttanen about his obsession with Purity. Then we wandered the verdant grounds of Ellinge Castle, imagining the fairytale setting for a wedding that was busily being prepared for the next day, and pondering older times when estate workers were actually paid in vodka. And, of course, we tasted.

If it takes thirty-four rounds of distillation to achieve the results that reached my lips, I’ll happily wait patiently.

I don’t know if it is Sweden talking, but I just might have fallen in love with vodka. I’ll cheers, or as the Swedes say, skål to that.

The copper still at Ellinge Castle and the pure gold spigot for Purity Vodka.

The copper still at Ellinge Castle (left) and the pure gold spigot (right) for the final product.

Interior of Ellinge Castle and vodka tasting.

The inside of Ellinge Castle is filled with old paintings and furniture (left). We compared Purity to its rivals in a vodka tasting (right).

Marine iguanas at sunset

On Assignment with National Geographic Expeditions: Galápagos Islands

I’m recently back from my first trip to the Galápagos Islands. I was lucky enough to visit these islands located 600 miles off of the coast of Ecuador while working as a Photo Expert and Instructor for National Geographic Expeditions and Lindblad. Calling these pristine volcanic islands my “office” for two weeks while navigating above and below the Equator on the National Geographic Endeavour was an unparalleled experience.

With my background as a photo editor, you can imagine that I’ve seen quite a few images from the Galápagos Islands. I knew I’d be seeing giant tortoises (for which the islands are named) and the popular blue-footed booby. What I wasn’t prepared for was what it felt like to be on the islands.

My first impression was that I’d arrived in a prehistoric land, sans dinosaurs but, as Darwin learned over a few short months in 1835, teeming with a variety of species who have adapted quite uniquely to their environments. You could not only feel the age of the islands, but you could see it as we traveled from west to east, from the youngest to the oldest islands. At the young age of less than a million years old, Fernandina is still volcanically active and growing while nurturing scores of animals.Visiting older Genovesa you see only the crescent moon of a sinking caldera, an island in the final stages of life yet still home to thousands of seabirds.

During the two weeks on board I met guests from as near as Oregon and as far as Australia, children whose ages were in the single digits and retired folks who made being in their eighties look easy, and eager-to-shoot photo enthusiasts and people who didn’t know they’d have so much fun with their cameras while on the islands. I worked with a talented photo team, namely Jennifer Davidson and Jose Calvo, and for one week had the chance to work a legend of National Geographic, Annie Griffiths. During every outing I was impressed with the knowledge of Lindblad Expeditions’ naturalists, whose passion for the islands is palpable. And every time I was on the ship I was taken care of by a friendly and professional crew.

And the best part is that I get to go back. I’ll be returning to the islands for two more photo-specific expeditions on October 24th and 31st (details here). I hope these photos give you an idea of what it feels like to be on an expedition in the Galápagos. And I’d love to see you there in the fall!

A sea lion approaches people on a beach.

One of the most delightful things about the Galápagos is how close humans can get to the animals. Sea lions, like this one at Punta Pitt, are as curious about us as we are about them. Because the animals on the islands have few predators, they are unafraid. Using their energy to get out of our way would be wasteful, but visitors must keep a 6-ft distance to comply with national park rules.

National Geographic Endeavour ship at sunset.

The hull of the National Geographic Endeavour glistens in the last light as we return from a hike on Genovesa Island. The ship was our base as we explored the islands using small inflatable boats known as zodiacs to ferry us to shore or out on deep-water snorkels.

A red footed booby on Genovesa Island

Everyone hears about the blue-footed booby, but my personal favorite booby is the red-footed species. Their bright blue and purple beaks won me over.

Photographing a Peruvian booby in the Galapagos Islands

Speaking of boobies, we were lucky enough to be present for the first spotting of a Peruvian booby on the Galápagos Islands. Here naturalist Walter Perez and his zodiac full of guests photograph the surprising animal. Read more about the news on the Lindblad Expeditions blog here.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands.

Snorkeling is an almost daily activity while on expedition in the islands. With visions of ancient pirates in our minds, we swam into a cave at Buccaneer Cove on Santiago Island and found a large school of fish. During the snorkels we not only swam with fish, but also with sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, penguins, and cormorants.

Naturalist on the Galapagos.

Naturalist Pato Maldonado explains to some young guests how different animals use the cacti growing on Santa Cruz Islands as food. Every hike, zodiac ride, or snorkel is led by a naturalist guide in groups of 16 or less. All naturalists in the Galapagos are required to be residents of the islands.

Joyful woman hiking in the Galapagos.

One of the guests expresses her joy at reaching the top of the hike near Darwin Lake on Isabela Island. This photograph of her happiness captures what it is like to explore these beautiful islands.

Guests on the bow of the National Geographic Endeavour

One evening before heading to the recap session, guests had a cocktail at sunset while the ship cruised near Daphne Major Islet. The nightly recap sessions in the lounge included a briefing on the next day’s activities and could include mini-sessions on photography or natural history and perhaps a short screening of underwater footage from that day’s snorkel.

The barrel at Post Office Bay

You’ve got mail! There are few signs of the history of man on the Galápagos Islands, but on Floreana Island there is a post office barrel where whalers and sailors would leave their correspondence to be picked-up and hand delivered by others who happened to be passing in the right direction. The tradition continues and I happened to pick up two postcards that I’ll be able to deliver in Oregon.

Lava cactus and landscape in Fernandina

Visiting the islands, you quickly learn how different each one can appear from the others. Fernandina is the youngest of the islands in the Galapagos. It is home to a large colony of marine iguanas and the endemic lava cactus species.

Walking back to ship in Galapagos.

A hike comes to an end as guests walk back to catch a zodiac to the National Geographic Endeavour. On the two photo-focused weeks I taught on, we spent as much time as we could shooting the islands at sunset and sunrise.

Krista photographing a sea lion in the Galapagos Islands. Photo by Naturalist and Photo Instructor Greg Aranea.

A photo of me photographing a sea lion in the Galápagos Islands. Perhaps I’ll see you in the Galápagos this fall? Photo by Naturalist Greg Aranea.