THE ROMANCHE UP CLOSE

Two years ago, I sailed through the Beagle Channel, which is a strait between Argentina and Chile in the southern tip of South America, passing through the breathtaking Glacier Alley. Charles Darwin himself sailed through this very channel and saw glaciers for the first time back in 1833. This was also my first time to sail in this part of the world but not my first to see glaciers. Of the many glaciers we sailed past, the Romanche intrigued me the most because of the waterfall flowing out of the edge of the glacier cascading down into the channel. I took these photographs of the Romanche from the balcony of my stateroom as we slowly sailed through this magical land named Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire).

LUNA GIBBOSA CRESCENTE DAL COLOSSEO

The title of this post is a literal translation of the phrase “Waxing gibbous moon by the Colosseum” to Italian. I thought the translation sounded sexier than the original English text. LOL! When I took these photographs my intention was to capture the Roman Colosseum in multiple angles until I noticed the moon in one of the arches so I started including it in my compositions. It would have been nicer had it been a full moon but a waxing gibbous moon was just as good, it being the phase prior to a full moon. Thankfully, the sky was still bright enough for me to capture the details on the moon’s surface. Had I taken these an hour later the moon would have been just a pale yellow ball in the sky.

If you visited Rome between 2011 and early 2016, you would have seen the ongoing restoration work on the Colosseum, which was mostly covered in scaffolding. The shoe-and-luxury goods maker Tod’s donated millions for the restoration of this architectural wonder so lucky me to have visited it just as the project culminated. Anyway, it’s good to see the Colosseum in a cleaner state and am glad to know that more restoration work are being done to this day. Maybe the next time I’m in Rome I’ll get to see the additional renovations and when I take new photographs a full moon will be high up in the sky to photobomb this magnificent piece of architecture.

BLUE RIDGE IN THE DUSK

I first came to know about the Blue Ridge Mountains from the lyrics of the John Denver song “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. Growing up in the Philippines, this was totally an entire world away from me, an insignificant part to the lyrics of a famous song. But life is indeed full of surprises and I found myself immigrating to the United States and suddenly all these places I once heard in songs are now just a drive away.

Two years ago, my better half and I went on a road trip to Pittsburgh, a drive which actually took us through the very heart of this legendary mountain range. Since it was my first time in the area, we decided to stay for a few days in Asheville, North Carolina to explore the city and the surrounding mountains. We booked a stay at the luxurious OMNI Grove Park Inn, which sits on the western slopes of Sunset Mountain within the Blue Ridge Mountain range. One of best things about this resort is the breathtaking and unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge Mountains across the valley where the city of Asheville sits. We then splurged a little bit and got a room with endless views of the mountains.

On our last day at the resort, we decided to watch the sunset from one of the many viewing decks while enjoying a few cocktails to celebrate this leg of our trip. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy so we failed to see the sun go down behind the mountains. Although, the clouds filtering the last of the sunlight created this pinkish sky which perfectly complemented the hazy blues of the mountains. I also love how the shadows came in varying shades of blue further emphasizing the multiple peaks that make up the mountain range. The photographer in me immediately saw the need to capture the beauty before me so I rushed back to our hotel room to grab my camera.

I took dozens of shots of the mountain range before me zooming my lens in and out to capture multiple perspectives. I do love how dreamy the photographs turned out to be. Finally, the Blue Ridge mountains are no longer just a line from a song. They now evoke beautiful memories of our brief stay in Asheville as well as of our lovely drive through it on our way to our next adventure.

THE GUANACOS OF PATAGONIA

We were on our way to Peninsula Valdes, a nature reserve in Argentina listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, to see a colony of Magellanic penguins, sea lions and seals when our tour guide started pointing at these llama looking animals with the face of a camel. We were driving through the grasslands of the Patagonia so there was barely any obstruction to our view of these beautiful creatures. They’re called guanacos and they are close relatives to the camels, vicunas, llamas and alpacas. Unfortunately, we were on a scheduled tour so the bus didn’t stop to allow us to take photographs. All these photos were taken from inside a moving tour bus. I had to adjust the settings on my DSLR for sharper images. Thankfully, I had my zoom lens on my camera which allowed me to photograph them from a distance.

THE RESIDENTS OF MAGDALENA ISLAND

The Magdalena Island near Punta Arenas, Chile has probably the cutest of residents in the entire planet. This tiny island located in the Strait of Magellan is home to almost 50,000 Magellanic penguins and a few other species of seabirds. I visited this island back in December of 2018 and was initially hesitant to go due to stories of unpredictable weather producing very rough seas…and I easily get seasick. In fact, 50% of the trips to this island are cancelled last minute due to inclement weather. I guess luck was on my side that day as we had the most ideal weather the entire duration of the trip. As soon as we stepped out of the boat we were immediately surrounded by hundreds of penguins like a huge welcome party. To protect the penguins, petting and feeding is prohibited but photography isn’t so I took as many shots as my memory card could accomodate. The island is small and treeless so you have unobstructed views of the rolling hills dotted with thousands of penguin nests. A cordoned pathway around a section of the island was also built so tourists can stroll around without interfering with the penguins. I took hundreds of photographs during my visit and these are just a few of my personal favorites.
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