Feb 292012

The folks at HostelBookers.com came up with a great idea for sharing stories and photos, and one of my online friends, travel blogger Kathryn of TravelWithKat.com encouraged me to join in the fun. So, here I am taking part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.

1.  A photo that takes my breath away:

Kalalau Valley, Kauai at sunset from Kokee lookout

Kalalau Valley, Kauai

The Na Pali Coast on the island of Kauai is truly spectacular. Fly along the coast on a helicopter tour, take a Zodiac or kayak into coves and caves, hike the Kalalau Trail, or peer into lovely Kalalau Valley from the viewpoints at Koke’e State Park and you almost certainly will have your breath taken away by the incredible beauty of this place. On one trip to Kauai, friend and fellow photographer Carl Shaneff and I went up to Koke’e, only to find the view non-existent due to heavy fog. We hung around, doing close-ups of rain drops on ferns and moody shots of ‘o’hia trees in the fog. Suddenly, the fog parted, ever so briefly, and we watched in wonder as the setting sun lit up Ka’a’alahina Ridge.


2.  A photo that makes me laugh or smile:

visiting giving banana to elephant

Visitor feeding a banana to an elephant at Patara Elephant Farm near Chiang Mai.

Riding an elephant had been on my bucket list since I was a young kid, reading books like the adventures of Dr. Doolittle and Kipling’s Jungle Book. I finally got my chance during a visit to Patara Elephant Farm in Thailand. Just as fun as the actual ride was learning how to care for elephants (step one: hands on inspection of fresh dung), bathe them and feed them, activities that all visitors to Patara take part in, prior to a bareback ride through the forest to a stream and waterfall. While Patara Elephant Farm is a wonderful experience for travelers, it’s primary purpose is to provide a preserve and rehabilitation center for these wonderful animals.


3.  A photo that makes me dream:

Hammock and palm trees on beach at sunset, Matangi Island, Fiji

Dream in a dream-like setting - hammock, beach and sunset at Matangi Private Island Resort in Fiji.

Dreams have come true for me in the way of travels to tropical islands in the Pacific. The Hawaiian Islands were my home for many years, and I’ve had the good fortune to visit a number of other islands in Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. On a recent trip to Fiji, my travels took me from the very rustic backpacker-friendly Bulou’s Eco-Lodge in the remote village of Navala on Viti Levu, to the ultra deluxe Matangi Private Island Resort, an outstanding location if you want to get away from it all, and do so in comfort and style.


4.  A photo that makes me think:

A Shan boy carried on his father's shoulders on way to becoming a monk

A Shan boy is celebrated on his way to becoming a monk.

On a tour of Chiang Mai, a group of travel writers and photographers I was with unexpectedly came upon a colorful and noise-filled parade. In unison we yelled “Stop!” to our driver and piled out of the back of the truck to find out what all the excitement was about. Our guide told us that among the Shan people of Burma, many of whom are living in Thailand, it was customary for the young boys to be sent away to a monastery to become Buddhist monks. The send-off was cause for celebration, with a parade through the streets, the boys bedecked in finery and carried on their father’s shoulders. A group of musicians accompanied the young devotees, as did many friends and relatives, as the parade made its way to one of Chiang Mai’s ornate Buddhist temples, Wat Khun Thwong. Each of the boys – about a dozen in all – looked at me very intently as I photographed them. I wondered, what must they be thinking, about to leave their families for a year or two at that young age? The dads were obviously very proud, but I couldn’t imagine sending one of my own sons away at that stage of their lives. What were the thoughts of those fathers?


5.  A photo that makes my mouth water:

Salmon entree paired with Pinot Noir wine at Palmer House restaurant

Local fresh chinook salmon paired with Oregon pinot noir wine.

A few years ago, Compass American Guides asked me to do the photography for their guidebook Oregon Wine Country.  I told them that the only thing I knew about wine was that the stuff that came in a bottle with a cork in it was better than what came with a screw-top. The author promptly informed me that that wasn’t necessarily true, and the publisher said, no matter, we like your work, bring us some nice pictures. Most wine lovers are also foodies, so part of my job was to cover some of the restaurants in the Willamette Valley that specialize in pairing fresh, local food with Oregon wines. One of the first to do that was the Joel Palmer House in Dayton, where owner and chef Jack Czarnecki masterfully prepared this dish of Oregon chinook salmon with duxelles quinoa and chimichurri. I was definitely salivating while working on this photograph.


6.  A photo that tells a story:

trees and tracks in snow at Paradise Valley, Mount Rainier National Park

Tracks in the snow, Paradise Valley, Mount Rainier.

The Paradise area at Mount Rainier National Park is best known for the wondrous displays of summer wildflowers on acres of lush meadows, but it’s also a winter wonderland, averaging over 600 inches of snow each year. Cross-country skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers flock to the meadows, slopes, and roads around Paradise. While snowshoeing around Paradise Valley on a quiet Monday, I came across this scene that told the story of a busy weekend. Tracks made by snowboards crisscrossed those of snowshoes and intersected with the footprints of a deer looking for food or shelter amongst the trees.


7.  A photo that I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot):

lava from the Puu Oo eruption explodes when it hits the ocean

Lava from the Pu'u O'o eruption explodes when it meets the ocean.

Some of the most thrilling and enthralling moments of my life have been witnessing volcanic eruptions at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Several times during the years that I lived on the Big Island, I had the opportunity to see Madame Pele in action. There is nothing to compare to seeing in person a rift eruption on the flanks of Mauna Loa, lava fountaining hundreds of feet in the air at the Pu’u O’u vent, or watching the fireworks as molten lava pours out of a lava tube and drops into the ocean. “Awesome” seems like a trite descriptor for such scenes, but I was definitely in a state of awe on those occasions, hanging out of a helicopter or precariously perched at the edge of a new and still warm flow. Of course I’ve got nothing on this compared to my friend, master volcano photographer Brad Lewis, but I’ve managed to get a few good shots, and I’m happy to say that National Geographic has published some of my photos.


Thanks to the good folks at Hostelbookers.com for coming up with this idea, and Kat for inviting me to participate. Want to join the fun? click on the Hostelbookers link to get the details.

Here’s some of my travel and photography blog friends that hope will post their own 7 Super Shots:

Brenda Tharp – Notes From The Field

Pam Mandel – Nerd’s Eye View

Chris and Don Faust  – C Around The World

Erik Gauger – Notes From The Road 

Ken Kaminesky – Ken’s photo & travel blog

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  12 Responses to “Seven Super Shots”

  1. Amazing photos. So glad I nominated you and thank you for taking part. I love the tracks in the snow and I can only imagine what it is like to see a volcanic eruption. Looking forward to seeing the next round. 🙂

  2. Thanks, Kathryn. It was your stories and photos, as well as the nomination, that got me motivated to participate. I always enjoy your posts on The Gambia and Senegal.

  3. i was born and raised in Maui so you pictures from Hawaii mean even more to me! Thanks for sharing!

    If you are interested can check out my 7 super shots at http://fluentinfrolicking.com/2012/02/15/7-super-shots/


    • Hi Alexandra! I really like your selection of photos, too. That hot air balloon ride in Turkey must have been truly amazing – what a fantastic landscape.

  4. Hey, I’m flattered to be one of your picks. I don’t know that I could ever get it down to just seven, though, plus, it totally depends on what day it is and where I am at the time.

    I sure like that happy elephant feeding pic. Nice!

    • Thanks, Pam. Doesn’t have to be your all time top 7, so whatever strikes you on a day in a place is fine. No worries if you don’t want to give it a go. Keep it up with your fun and witty blog.

  5. GREG, the photo of the Napili coast is beautiful.
    The food photo is great and I want some.

  6. During the past few decades I have shared some of your pictures with my friends who find them as amazing as I do. While I live at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and witness the many moods of the sea, it still lacks the clarity, composition and keen eye that you bring to our understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

  7. Amazing photos! I especially like photo #1, the colors are amazing. I’m also drawn to the mountain photo, I love all the tracks in the snow…

  8. Vic: next time you visit Oregon, we’ll have to go to that restaurant!
    Scott and Anwar: Thanks very much for your comments – they are much appreciated.

  9. […] Wanders and Wonders […]

  10. last two are my favorites.
    Here is my 7 photos

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