Beyond the beach, getting in touch with Dom Rep’s wild side
Feb15

Beyond the beach, getting in touch with Dom Rep’s wild side

It’s no secret to anyone that the Dominican Republic is mostly famous for its popular beach resorts, sprawling beaches and fine selection of all-inclusive resorts. Yet, that’s not all there is to a holiday in Dom Rep, neither should you stop at beach-basking and forgo the opportunity of immersing in the nation’s wildest side. If you’ve got a thirst for adventure and discovery, the Dominican Republic has plenty to offer, probably more than you imagined. Here we proceed to list five incredible adventures for experiencing the Dominican Republic’s rawest, most beautifully natural and wild side. For true nature lovers or adventurers at hearts, the places mentioned below will provide a fresh break from beachside monotony (and all-inclusive gluttony). So, if you can bear (or are desperate to) tear yourself away from the beach during your Dominican Republic holiday; these are your options. The last two attractions on this list are close to coastal towns, which means you can combine a relaxing stay on the beach, digging your toes in the fine Caribbean sands and working on your suntan before kicking it up a notch with some livelier, action-packed pursuits. Jarabacoa The first in our list is not a single attraction per se, but a variety of them contained in one single place – the beautiful town of Jarabacoa, the second largest municipality in the province of La Vega, surrounded by misty mountains in the heart of the Cordillera Central mountain range (also home to Pico Duarte, the next attraction in our list). It´s home to Dom Rep´s tallest peak (we´ll get to that one in a minute) and is the complete antithesis to the typical Caribbean holiday, the very reason that makes it a very special place to take a break from sun and sand. Take in the verdant countryside ambience, soak up the laidback charm and enjoy the scenic beauty of the “City of Eternal Spring”, one that has attracted hundreds of locals to set up holiday homes here. Choose from a variety of invigorating and engaging activities: hiking, canyoning, biking, river-rafting or horse riding. Or, take it easy and explore rural life at your own leisure. Pico Duarte This is not just Dominican Republic’s highest mountain, it is the Caribbean’s highest peak, simply no other mountain in the region quite compares in all of the region, making it a very special and challenging peak to climb for both advanced hikers and beginners alike. There are several routes to make your way to the top and conquer its admirable height, ranging in various levels of difficulty, from the most accessible, easier trails to follow to more strenuous (yet...

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Getting Settled in Spain
Jan26

Getting Settled in Spain

I’ve said it a couple times over the past few blog entries, but the theme of 2017 is home. Or, at least the idea of starting to look at options for a future home.  Spain has always been the obvious location for me to start to put down some roots.  It’s centrally located, I speak the language, I like the lifestyle, and it’s fairly affordable to live in as well. However, logistically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense this year.  I have projects in Argentina, Peru, and Iceland already sorted out for this year.  And, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be jumping back and forth across the Atlantic when flight prices are so high.  But, I still kind of want to explore the idea of Spain as a future home.  So, I have given myself nearly a month to wander around Spain looking at different towns and getting a feel for what it would be like to live there. The first place I’ll be checking out is Madrid. Welcome to Madrid! After about a week of full on travel that had me jumping from Medellin, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to London, and finally to Madrid, I was exhausted.  I was also extremely jet-lagged. The truth is, I wasn’t going to go out and explore or shoot photos, or do anything on my first day in Madrid.  But, I got the feeling that if I stayed tucked away in my hotel room all day I’d have a harder time getting over the jet-lag.  So, I made the most of my first day in the city.  I got out and had a really nice lunch off of a set menu.  It’s so nice to be back in Europe where you have the option of eating street-side and watching the world go by.  Then, in the afternoon I wandered around town doing some location scouting and shooting a little video. Some Photography of Madrid Day 2 in Madrid, I wanted to get out and do some shooting.  So, after taking care of some chores in the morning, I wandered out into the streets of the city to do some photography.  I hit a lot of the same places I scouted the day before.  And, for a little while I got some really fantastic light. Honestly, I somehow remember the last time I was in Madrid I had a hard time finding photography locations that I liked.  This time in the city, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of different locations there are to shoot.  In one afternoon – or, really, in just a couple hours –...

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Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park
Dec28

Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park

I love being based in Phoenix. While there’s not a massive amount of things to do in the city itself, it’s surrounded by really cool locations all within about a 4-5 hour drive.  One of those places is Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go back and shoot under the stars for a while now.  So, while here in Phoenix, I’ve been checking the weather and the moon cycle for the past week waiting for a dark night with clear skies.  As soon as a clear night came, I jumped at the chance to make the 3 hour drive to the park to shoot the stars. Testing the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens Another one of the reasons I wanted to make the run to Joshua Tree was because I got a new lens.  I picked up the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens which is a bit of a specialty lens for star photography.  It’s manual aperture and manual focus, but at an aperture of f/2.8 it’s great for star photography.  And, at only $290 it’s not a heavy expense either. Overall, I’m really happy with the lens. It’s sharp and crisp, and from a technical standpoint I haven’t noticed any major issues of vignetting of chromatic aberration.  I’m very pleased. Although, I do want to use it a few more times before I come to any conclusions. Star Photography I feel like star photography is one of the skills where I still have a lot of growing to do.  So, I love heading out and shooting the stars because it’s always a learning experience.  On this trip to Joshua Tree, I really focused on putting myself in the frame as often as I could.  So, I set my camera up on an intervolemeter and raced around to different parts of the image to capture myself in the scene.  I’m so incredibly happy with how they turned out.  Especially this first photo.  I shot it on December 26th, and I think it’s my favourite photo of 2016. What’s Next I’ve got a lot of new gear coming, so look for some reviews as well as some new vlogs.  I’m only in the Phoenix area for a week longer, and I have a few more areas I want to explore. Then, I’m off to Colombia for 2 weeks before heading back to Europe.  After a couple weeks of catch up over the holidays, it’s about to get busy...

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Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal
Dec25

Zhiyun Crane 3-Axis Gimbal

Well, I’ve got a new toy.  For a while I’ve been going back and forth on whether to buy a 3-axis gimbal.  But, I’ve always kind of just fallen back on my GoPro to vlog on.  But, in Cuba when I lost my GoPro, I made the decision that it was time to start putting the effort in to up the quality of the vlog.  And, to do that, I’d just my Sony a6300, but I really wanted the footage to be stable as well as higher quality.  So, I decided to pull the trigger on a Zhiyun Crane. On this episode of my vlog, I take the Zhiyun Crane out for a test drive here in Phoenix with my parents.  If you want to see the specs on the Crane, click here. Quick Thoughts on the Crane Although I’ve only used the crane for a couple days, I have a few thoughts that I thought I’d share. 1) It’s Heavy I have my Sony a6300 mounted up on the crane right now, and I think for the most part that’s how it’ll be.  It’s heavy.  It’s not so heavy that it’s impossible, and in reality when I’m filming most things I don’t really notice the weight.  However, where I do notice the weight is when I’m holding the camera out in “selfie” mode and filming myself. I’m going to get a serious workout holding this thing for long periods of time. The benefit, I guess – aside from the free workout – is that it’ll force me to talk less per clip, which is a good thing. The other thing is that even if I’m a bit shaky holding it, it’s a stabilizer so you don’t notice. 2) I Need a Mic Solution Currently, I have a Rode Video Mic Pro attached to my Sony a6300.  I love the mic, the sound is great, and it rarely picks up wind.  But if I’m using the gimbal, the mic hits the top of it on rotation. So, I have to pull it off and on each time I want to use it. And, that wouldn’t be a bad thing except for the fact that I need to re-balance the gimbal each time I take off, or put on, the mic.  I need to find a small mic solution.  Any suggestions? 3) It’s Smooth! Yeah, the Zhiyun Crane is smooth.  I’m pretty blown away.  There are times it jumps – like when I spin it 360 – but it is very smooth.  There was one shot I did while hiking the other day that almost looks like a drone shot....

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A 360 Vlog From the Drakensberg Mountains
Nov01

A 360 Vlog From the Drakensberg Mountains

After shooting some extremely high quality 4k footage in the Drakensberg Mountains yesterday, I went a completely different direction in this episode. Today, I tested out a new gadget that I bought: the LG 360 degree camera. It’s only a $200 camera, so I didn’t really have high expectations for it from a quality standpoint. But, I do have to say it was a lot of fun. Rather than just doing a typical (read: boring) review of the LG 360, instead I took it out on a hike in the Drakensberg Mountains and did an in-the-field review. I think it makes it a lot more fun. Look for most of my reviews in the future to be this style. Now, check out the footage from the LG 360: About the Camera The camera is probably not good. That’s the short end of the discussion.  The image quality is horrible. It’s soft, it’s muddy, it’s over-saturated, and the stitching is terrible.  Honestly, it’s a bit of a novelty item rather than a usable camera.  At only $200 that’s really how LG is selling their 360 camera I think.  Even the photos are soft.  I would love for them to come out with a camera of similar size that was far sharper.  I would pay $800 for a camera like that. Because, these 360 videos are actually a lot of fun. The two real strengths to this camera, though, are the audio quality (which is very good), and the app (which is also very good).  Other than that, I can’t really recommend it for anything aside from using for fun with some friends. So, yeah, for now, I won’t really be making this a staple of my photography gear. But, I may add a 360 camera at some point in the future. Hiking Sterkhorn Peak in the Drakensberg Mountains It’s kind of funny, I stayed at a place called Inkosana Lodge which is run by a mountaineer. I told him I was looking to do a summit and asked for some advice. Basically, he shrugged me off like it wasn’t going to be possible. Of course, he didn’t ask if I had experience, if I hike a lot, or if I have any mountaineering experience. Had he asked, he’d have found out I grew up in the mountains, and that just last month I was climbing peaks like this with a 50lb Google trekker on my back. In the end, he recommended a peak called Sterkhorn. The way he described it, it was going to be a challenge to summit. I was told it would take about 7 hours from the...

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Turn Your Regular Vacation into a Spa Holiday
Jul11

Turn Your Regular Vacation into a Spa Holiday

You’ve always wanted to go to a special spa holiday with an exacting regimen, a healthy, refreshing diet, massages and sea and sand. The advantage of a spa vacation is that you are in a regulated environment where it is difficult to cheat on your diet or avoid exercising. In addition, you are vacationing with other people who are involved in the same health regimen as you are, and therefore, you can enjoy companionship and support. If a spa holiday is what you are looking for, but it is not within your budget, try creating a mock spa holiday that has all of the elements of a healthy getaway without the price tag. Finding Accommodations First of all, it is a good idea to do this along with a friend who will also have useful ideas and can give support for achieving fitness goals. A vacation by the sea is conducive to good health and provides many opportunities to relax and enjoy the scenery while soothing your body and mind. You can take a jog on the beach, swim a mile in the ocean, surf, snorkel and simply relax in the sand. Hotels that are close to beaches tend to carry a high price tag, so choose a hostel within reasonable walking distance to a beach. Walking or jogging to and from the beach can be part of your exercise routine and can save you money. The advantage of hostels over hotels go beyond budgetary considerations. People tend to be more friendly and outgoing in a hostel, and often there is a shared kitchen and refrigerator where you can keep your own items. This provides a great advantage to those who are committed to healthy eating because you can prepare your own natural and organic dishes while you are on vacation and don’t have to go out of your way to find healthy restaurants. It is a good idea to locate cafés and restaurants in your area that have vegan and vegetarian options. One of the first places you will want to visit is an organic supermarket to stock up on supplies. Your Spa in a Suitcase Consider taking an extra suitcase filled with items that are focused on your spa experience. These can include mud wraps, gel packs, massagers and essential oils. Roll up your yoga mat and you can lie down in the room of your hostel beside an aromatherapy candle while you and your travel companion can take turns giving each other massages. Bring some relaxing music on your iPod, put in some earplugs to eliminate distractions and let the warm soothing energy wash over you....

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