Photography United States

Virgin Islands National Park

Visiting a national park is always cool when you’ve got the opportunity. Virgin Islands National Park is… slightly more out of the way than many of them, but definitely worth checking out.

Getting there involves flying in to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and then taking a ferry over to St. John. The view from the ferry is a pretty good introduction:

Photograph of St. John Island, taken from the ferry leaving St. Thomas Island.

There’s a few options for ferries; if you’ve already rented a car, the Love Island Car Ferry is your best bet, and has a pretty reasonable schedule. Depending on which of their ships you wind up on, it’s worth hopping out after you’ve parked and paid/checked in and going to the upper deck to watch the ride.

Photograph of a decaying, partially-sunken vehicle ferry in Cruz Bay on St. John island.

You’ll be dropped off in Cruz Bay, a dense town that doesn’t offer much by way of walkability, but overflows with options to rent… Jeeps, mostly, though there’s a some variety thanks to the Bronco.

Photograph of a stop sign in Cruz Bay, St. John. It has many stickers added, including letters that make it read "Don't Stop Believin"

Get into the park, though, and there’s a whole lot to do. We’d hoped to do the Snorkeling Trail at Trunk Bay Beach, but it was packed, and hiking there from a parking lot that wasn’t at capacity seemed like a great way to get heat stroke. Instead, we wound up at Cinnamon Bay.

Photograph of the Cinnamon Bay Beach and Campground sign in Virgin Islands National Park.

There’s a good setup; a campground, a little restaurant, and, once you walk past the park information signs and some ruins, the beach.

Photograph of overgrown ruins in Virgin Islands National Park. A sign reads "Danger: Unstable Ruins. Do not enter." A rock formation in the ocean is faintly visible through an open window in the ruins.

And oh, what a beach! The Caribbean, it’s got some great beaches, who knew? Though there’s no snorkel trail here, it’s still good snorkeling – almost directly out from these ruins, about level with the buoys, there’s a coral reef that’s fun to float around. (Treat the wildlife well, though! Don’t touch anything, don’t step on any coral, and make sure that any sunscreen and/or bug spray you apply is coral-safe.)

Photograph of Cinnamon Bay in Virgin Islands National Park.

There’s also at least one stingray out there – we spotted him close to that rock formation on the left in the photo above. Sadly, the only “waterproof” camera I own is my phone, and the water resistance of an iPhone is more “you can rinse it off if it gets dirty” than it is “lol spend an hour underwater.”

Blurry photograph of a deer at Virgin Islands National Park

We also spotted some more terrestrial wildlife; a deer stopped to enjoy the view, as well, just a few feet behind where we’d put down our towels on the beach.

Photograph of a tree-covered pathway next to the ruins at Cinnamon Bay in Virgin Islands National Park.

And, of course, what would a photography post of mine be without a picture of an aesthetically-appealing pathway?

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Mt. St. Helens

If you’re looking at that and thinking “hey, that looks like a lot of mountain to climb,” you’re right! It is a lot of mountain to climb, and from that angle, you can’t see the half of it. (Literally.)

It’s an interesting hike, in three sections – the woodsy bit at the bottom, the bouldering bit in the middle, and the ash fields at the top.

This last photo was from the bouldery bit, but you can see a wash of the ash fields extending down in the back there.

But now, dear reader, I must admit to you that I didn’t make it to the summit; I got as far as the ash fields and realized that, if I tried to continue on to the top, I’d wind up replacing my “I went on a cool hike!” story with an “I went on a ride in a Forestry Service rescue helicopter” story.

One day, I’ll be back. And hey, it was a cool hike! Anywhere with signage like this is going to be a cool hike.

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Tubbs Hill

I was in Coeur d’Alene a while back, and had the chance to go for a hike around Tubbs Hill. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend it – it’s a nice little hike, and there’s some great views along the way.

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Silver Falls

This weekend, I am attending a wedding and then moving; in place of my usual weekly words, please enjoy a couple photos I took at Silver Falls State Park.

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Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park has been on my ‘places to visit’ list for quite a while. Honestly, I’m not sure how it wound up there, but I’m happy it did – from what I saw, it’s a pretty cool place.

These are some Hanna-Barbera looking rocks.

(I was told by a friend that you should really try to stay for the whole day, especially sunset, and just see what it all looks like with different lighting conditions, but unfortunately wasn’t able to do that this time; next time, though…)

I also climbed some rocks, but the ones I climbed were… less vertical.

The park was established in the 1930s by FDR. At the time, the Works Progress Administration – among other things – was running a poster campaign intended to inspire the American people, I believe along the lines of ‘look at all this neat stuff our country has!’

Panoramas are fun.

As far as I can tell, Joshua Tree didn’t get any of those posters, unfortunately; something about the federal government very busy all of a sudden.

Seriously, these rocks are fun to climb. I wish I’d brought some proper climbing clothes, I would’ve… probably injured myself much worse than the scraped elbow I got.

A lot of the posters that were produced are lost now, more’s the pity. It was an interesting aesthetic, and I’m a big fan of the whole “advertising for the national parks” thing.

The nice thing about making these with a DSLR and Lightroom as opposed to my phone is that I can pause and wait for people to walk by.

Apparently somebody else was as irritated by all this as I was, because there’s a modern imagining of what a WPA poster for Joshua Tree would’ve looked like; they’re for sale in the park’s information center.

Fun fact about the Joshua Tree: they don’t form rings in the way that other trees do; when scientists want to figure out how old one is, the preferred method is to measure the height, then divide by the species’ average growth rate.

The moral of the story here is that our national parks are a treasure, and we should continue to support them. (And expand them! Write to your congresspeople about it.)

I titled this photo ‘support’ before I started writing this post, so it’s really just an amazing coincidence that I worked it in right after I talked about supporting the parks.

After all, who doesn’t love a whole bunch of beautiful nature?

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You can’t go to Louisiana without visiting a swamp. It took us until the last couple weeks of the program, but we did eventually get around to it, and boy was it wonderful. Some of the best weather (in my opinion, at least) that we’ve had the whole time – it was a cool summer day, and the brief spat of rain we had while we were out there was very light, of that nice kind where you never get wet enough that it won’t dry off after a couple of minutes. It was wonderful.
I brought my camera, of course, because how could I not? By the end of the tour – it lasted a couple of hours – I’d snapped almost 500 pictures. It was one heck of a trip, and I’m incredibly glad that I went. (It also turned into one heck of a road trip getting back – the Atchafalaya Bridge had a couple accidents in the direction we were heading, and we wound up taking a detour that more than doubled the actual length of the bridge. It was an Adventure.)
As I write this, I have been sitting down for a couple hours, working away at sorting those pictures. By the time this goes up, I’ll have posted a few on my Instagram, because I’m not above a bit of shameless self-promotion. For the ones I kept for this here site, head below the fold.

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New Orleans

Recently, we (the REU group) spent a day in New Orleans, wandering around and basically being Touristy McTouristface.1

Anyhow, I took my camera with me – how can I be a tourist without it?2

So, if you want to see some pictures of New Orleans looking pretty, head below the fold. (And I’ll add that ‘in pictures’ is one of the better ways to experience the French Quarter – it’s old, the water table is very shallow, and that means that it’s a rather fragrant area, even after the invention of sewers.)

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So, not mentioned in my last post was the fact that, before going to Myrtles Plantation, we’d tried to go to the Louisiana State Capitol Building. Not that we were prevented from going or anything – it’s open to the public. (Though, admittedly, the fact that the main doors are blocked off is a bit foreboding.) The problem was more that it was very rainy, and we figured that the view from the top wouldn’t be the best through the clouds.

So instead we put it off for the next day. The weather was a bit better then – still cloudy, but not rainy and gross, and the clouds actually made it better, in my opinion.

The Louisiana State Capitol Building was constructed in the 1930s, and it looks like something out of Gotham City. It’s very cool. Photos below the fold.

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Myrtles Plantation

I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere that I’m doing a bit of traveling this summer, though I’m definitely too lazy to go back and find where, exactly, I mentioned that.

Still, it’s a thing. I’m spending the summer in Louisiana, doing research on neural networks at Louisiana State University. Which is a full-time job, 40 hours a week, 9-5 and all that, but my weekends are free and I do occasionally leave my room in my free time, so I’ve got some photos to show y’all.

This first set are from Myrtles Plantation, which markets itself as “the most haunted house in the American South.” Went with my family, when they made the trip down here to visit – my sister is a big fan of all things spooky.

I brought my camera with me, of course, because what’s a paranormal investigator without a camera? Photos are below the fold – I’m not a fan of making people load lots of images on the front page, even with the new CDN up and running. It’s rude to people on mobile, or with metered connections.

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Los Angeles Against the Mountains

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’m doing a bit of traveling this summer. The first trip was down to Los Angeles, because that’s the only place where you can go to get an Austrian Visa-D, if you live on the West Coast.1

Anyhow, while I was there I was able to meet up with a family friend and take some pictures out in Santa Monica. There’s a conference center there, the Serra Retreat Center, and it’s got some awesome views. Take a look, and feel free to click on any of these pictures to see them in a larger size:

One of the things I wanted to do while I was in LA was look at the mountains. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do since I read the essay after which I titled this post: Los Angeles Against the Mountains.

I read the essay for an English class I took, fully expecting to hate it – I have an inherent dislike of anything that’s intended to be ‘literature.’ I was wrong: the essay was a fascinating look at an aspect of Los Angeles that I’d never considered. Long story made incredibly short, the mountains over LA are unstable, and the city has to deal with flooding that gets turned into pseudo-pyroclastic flows by the amount of rubble put out by the mountains. It’s a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it.

  1. Because heaven forbid we be able to turn in a stack of paperwork and get our fingerprints taken anywhere less than a thousand miles from home. 


So, the other day I wound up going to the zoo with my mom and my cousin – he’s at the age where nothing is more fascinating than animals and trains. Fortunately, our local zoo hasĀ both of those things, so he was just in hog heaven.


Bridge (redux)

Click here for high-resolution image.



Click here for high-resolution image.



I noticed the other day that the sunset was being very pretty! It was a nice break from the ‘being grumpy’ that I was in the middle of, and it turned an all-around grouchy moment into a contemplative one. So I took a picture. Enjoy!



I took this picture a few days ago on a lovely cold day. Fall took its sweet time arriving, and I have been quite tired of the melting heat; having a bit of fog and some colder weather is a nice change.

Oh, and this photo was taken with my iPhone 6, instead of with my fancy camera, because I didn’t feel like running around trying to get my camera at 6 in the morning. Pretty good, no?