Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

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National Plan for Vacation Day

The last Tuesday in January is designated as National Plan for Vacation Day. Why? I have no idea, but I have been doing a lot of planning lately and thought I could talk about it here. As I mentioned in my annual New Years post, I have two trips coming up in the next few months and I have been busy planning for all the little details for those trips.

Since it had been a few years since we had flown, the search for the perfect flights took a lot of searching and waiting, and searching some more. One thing I learned from this search is that nowadays, most of the best deals will actually be found booking directly through the airline, instead of Expedia or a company like that. I used both Kayak and Skyscanner to search with Hopper to tell when the was the best time to book. For both of our trips, we got better deals on one-way flights than on a round trip tickets. Those sites helped us pick through all of the flights find the best deals.

For both of our upcoming trips, we are staying in AirBNBs. AirBNB is great because it allows you to find inexpensive vacation rentals for every need. You just want to crash on a couch, you can probably find it on AirBNB. You need a house for 10? They have that too. AirBNB was a saving grace for our pre-cruise stay in New Orleans because hotels near the port are $300+ per night.

There aren’t many AirBNBs near the Grand Canyon that still have availability a month out, so we went the hotel route for that night. My trick for finding hotel deals is to look at both TripAdvisor and Priceline. TripAdvisor has the reviews and Priceline has the best deals. We ended up getting a great price on the #1 hotel in Grand Canyon, Arizona by checking Priceline before booking TripAdvisor’s deal.

I have been scouring Pinterest for how to handle one day at the Grand Canyon as well as must dos for a short trip to New Orleans. TripAdvisor is great for finding the heart of an area, but it can be overwhelming, especially with a limited amount of time. I’ve been enjoying reading what Bloggers enjoyed during their trips and what they would recommend skipping.

Thank you for stopping by! Do you have any trip planning tips that I missed? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Sculpture

Toledo Museum of Art

On a rainy, late December day, we headed out to explore the Toledo Museum of Art.  We visited this museum on a field trip in high school, but we had bus trouble that left us with not much time left to explore. Ever since then and I have been wanting to return. I’m glad I finally got the chance.

I was most excited to check out the glass gallery. Opened in 2006, the glass gallery is located on the other side of the street from the main museum and the building is made entirely of glass. Several times a day, the glass gallery showcases glassblowing demonstrations. When we were there, the artists made one of the Three Little Pigs while telling the story. It was fun and kept the kids in the audience entertained as well. The glass gallery was a lot like a smaller version of the Corning Museum of Glass. They even offer glass workshops that allow you to create your own glass projects on certain days. These are not offered every day, so check the website for details.

The museum is a bit smaller than the Detroit Institute of Arts, but there was still a lot to see. The thing that I remembered most from my last visit were the ruins of the monastery at St. Pons de Thomieres (above, right). They have the artifacts put back together and arranged in a room with blue lights on the ceiling that make it look like you are outdoors. It stuck with me from all those years ago and it was good to see these artifacts are still on display for people to experience art and architecture of the middle ages.

The museum is free for anyone to visit but parking is $7 for nonmembers. To plan your visit visit ToledoMuseum.org. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Curling

Off Season Camping

Autumn at Tahquamenon Falls

Now is the time of year where people start clamoring to get the perfect summer campsite. Michigan State Parks 6 month reservation window is open now for summer and all over the internet, campers are posting about the difficulties of getting their favorite spot. All this hype makes it really hard to get into the popular campgrounds especially over the busy weekends. There is one way sure fire way to avoid all this hassle: camp in the off season. Camping in Michigan outside of the summer, you practically have the campgrounds to yourself.

The slowest season for camping is definitely winter. Winter brings less options as some campgrounds close completely while others limit availability. Many campgrounds that remain open close the bath houses in winter as well. Of course, winter camping brings lower temperatures and snow (although not much of that yet this year) so you need to be prepared with a quality tent and sleeping bag rated for the cold. Bring your snowshoes or cross country skis and take to the trails during the daylight. If you are prepared for it, camping in the winter is a unique experience.

For those who are not that hearty, spring and fall are less busy than the summer, but more comfortable than winter. And if you are able to go during the week, you might not have many neighbors. Last May we took an impromptu one night camping trip at Holly Rec just to get out of the house. There were a few other campers around, but it was much calmer than the summer and we were able to walk right in and get a spot without booking months in advance.

Of course, camping in Michigan in the fall adds a whole other layer to the experience. The trees put on a show that dress up the campgrounds. I love going up to the Upper Peninsula in the fall. The colors really add another layer to an already beautiful wilderness. We camped at Tahquamenon Falls a few years ago in the fall and there were only a handful of other campers around after the weekend. Of course, it gets chilly up there in the fall so you need to be prepared for it, but the views make it worth it!

Thank you for stopping by! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Wordless Wednesday: Church at Sunset

Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Point Iroquois Lighthouse is located in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, on the shores of Whitefish Bay (that is the same body of water guided by the Whitefish Point Lighthouse), at the entrance to the St. Mary’s River. Point Iroqouis Lighthouse is located in the Hiawatha National Forest and is operated by the National Forest Service. Because of this, it is very hard to find information about it, such as their hours. Despite this, this summer, while camping at Straits State Park, we made the drive east to check out this historic lighthouse.

Interestingly, the name Point Iroquois comes from a 1662 battle between the local Ojibwa people and an invading Iroquois war party, looking to dominate the fur trade. The Ojibwa were able to stave off the Iroquois, halting their westward expansion. It is said that the Ojiwa refer to Point Iroquois as “Nau-do-we-e-gun-ing”, which means place of Iroquois bones. (NFS)

The lighthouse itself, is a classic, Michigan lighthouse with attached lighthouse keepers’ quarters. The current lighthouse was built in 1870. After 107 years of lighting up the bay, it was replaced by an automatic light. I am so glad these beauties are being preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn about the Great Lakes maritime history.

Thank you for stopping by! For more information about Point Iroquois Lighthouse and to plan your visit, visit the Hiawatha National Forest. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

New Year, New Travels!

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Egg Rock Lighthouse

As with the last few years, for 2019 I have set the goal to go at least one place I have never been before. In 2018, I barely went anywhere I had been before. Within the next three months, I have two trips coming up to two places I’ve never explored before so that shouldn’t be a problem. After having not flown on a plane since January 1, 2014, we are going to take two flights in 30 days. And Chris was very excited to point out that neither of them are on Spirit.

The first thing coming up is a trip to Phoenix for a conference. I have never been that far west before so I am hoping to get a little bit of exploring in between sessions. We are also planning on staying an extra day and heading out to the Grand Canyon. You can’t send me that close and not to go! Right now we are trying to figure out where we want to stay. If you have any advice, please tell me in the comments. I’m a little overwhelmed right now.

And of course, the cruise I have been talking about has pushed back so many times I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen is coming up early this year! We are sailing out of New Orleans, which I have been to Louisiana several times but never to NOLA before. From there, we sail to Mexico and Belize. I’m excited to get back to the sea and smell the salt air while enjoying a floating hotel. Cruising is the best.

After that, I don’t have anything planned, which is very weird feeling. I’m sure we will get some camping in this summer, exploring more of our beautiful home state. Be sure to stay tuned to find out where we end up!

Thanks for stopping by! Where are you traveling to in 2019? Let me know in the comments! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

2018: A Year in Review

2018 has been one of the biggest years for photography for me so far. While I feel like my landscape work has been pretty stagnant over the last few years. I definitely improved my portrait game this year. We continued our photography tours in 2018 and we are looking at how we can continue and come up with new classes for next year.

Catwalk at frozen St. Joseph Lighthouse

We had our biggest portrait job ever this year, photographing over one hundred families for our church directory. We also shot a wedding this year and I did my first ever infant shoot. We even got a few senior shoots in too and did a little more sports photography.

In terms of landscape photography, we started off the year with a trip to frozen Lake Michigan lighthouses (left). Early in the summer, we explored the Hocking Hills region of Ohio which really blew me away. I really want to return there when the colors change. That would be beautiful!

We also returned to a favorite campground, Straits State Park in St. Ignace and took a day trip to Sault Ste. Marie to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Michigan’s oldest city. Of course, at the end of the summer, we took a great road trip to Boston,  Acadia National Park, and Watkins Glen. As unbelievably beautiful as it was at Acadia, the sheer vastness was difficult to capture. Watkins Glen (right) was one of the most stunning places I have ever visited and I have been telling everyone I meet that they need to check it out. It really isn’t a bad drive from Michigan. If you would make the drive to the U.P., Watkins Glen is a similar distance.

Us at Watkins Glen

We finally upgraded our camera this year to a Nikon D7200. I can no longer say that I shoot with an entry level camera. We had rented them a few times so I was excited to finally own one. When you hit the top of your camera’s abilities, it feels so good to upgrade and be able to do the things that your camera was keeping you from. In this case the biggest thing was ISO sensitivity and low light capability. Even with the new camera, I think my favorite photo I took all year may be the Jordan Pond House photo I took with my iPhone (top).

This has been a good year for photography and exploring new places. I am looking forward to 2019 for more of the same! If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram, and Flickr! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Merry Christmas

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