This was my very first SLR camera (Nikon F50). Got it in 1997 (still have it today). It was through this lens and viewfinder that I really started “seeing” the world for the very first time…nearly 25 years ago. Long before social media platforms and algorithms ruled people’s lives, I was out there documenting this planet on 35mm film in some of the wildest environments on Earth…and having to make prints if I wanted to share any images (yes, the Flinstone era). It’s been quite a journey and an incredible education. This year, I will reflect greatly on the past 25 years of exploring, experiencing, learning and, most importantly, discovering who I am and what this world is all about through the wonderful mediums of travel & photography. #GWAGB25
Posts Tagged With: Nikon
25 years of “seeing” the world…
A Galaxy…far, far away
As I usually try to do while up in the mountains, I set the alarm for 3am the other night and got up to do some hand-numbing astrophotography at 9,000 feet. I captured something I have never captured before in what was one of the clearest of clear night skies I have ever witnessed. The “cloudy” vertical band going through the center of this photo is our Milky Way Galaxy (which we are swirling about as we speak). Every bright dot you see is a star in our galaxy, stars similar to our sun (and there are hundreds of billions just in our galaxy alone, and trillions of planets among them). But if you look inside of the red square, you will see a bright object with a slight blur (or halo) around it. That is not a star. This is the Andromeda Galaxy. It is our closest neighboring spiral galaxy, about 2.5 million light years away (1 light year = nearly 6 trillion miles, so you can do the math – hardly “close” at all, only relatively so). It has taken 2.5 million years for this light captured in this image to reach Earth, so what we are actually seeing in that square is the light that left Andromeda 2.5 million years ago…seeing back through cosmic time.
This is the first time I was able to photograph Andromeda. Think about what we are looking at here. Contained inside of that tiny little pinpoint of blurry light there is a gathering of over a trillion stars (suns), and an uncountable number of planets (and that’s just ONE galaxy among hundreds and hundreds of BILLIONS out there in the observable universe). Fascinating! Would you agree? (Now your minds are probably as numb as my hands were while fumbling around with the camera settings in the piercing cold of mountain night.)
Andromeda is on a collision course with the Milky Way. We know this by observing and measuring the wavelengths of blue light shift. Two galaxies, heading straight towards one another at astronomical speeds (a cosmic pun I just dropped there). Due to the unfathomable distance, it’ll take about 4 billion years before our galaxy collides with Andromeda and begins a long, swirling cosmic tango which will restructure both galaxies as they merge into one. The really amazing thing about it is that, due to the unimaginably vast distances between all the individual stars, it is unlikely that any of the trillions of stars will even come into contact with one another during this collision.
Before this cosmic event happens in an estimated 4 billion years, our Earth will have long been swallowed by our own expanding sun, before the sun finally explodes into a white dwarf. Either way you slice it, it’s a temporary existence we have here. But for now, we have an amazing opportunity to enjoy our planet and appreciate all that we know and have learned about the universe, and our place in it, all because we became aware of our selves and of our ignorance long ago and began to ask the questions that would lead to the expanding of our minds. Let’s be sure to take care of Earth while we have her (or while she still has us) and be grateful each time we look up into the night sky, knowing that each one of us belongs to the one lucky species among millions that beat inconceivable odds to even be here in the first place…and be grateful that our ancestors decided to look up at the night sky one day and ask the age-old question that still keeps us staring up in awe and infinite wonder: “What else is out there among the stars?”
Happy New Year from the Gringo With A Green Bag!
Moments in “Time”
(Calaveras Big Trees State Park – California)
Life goes by pretty fast. Time is the one thing we can’t control. All we can do is make the best of it. Without moments of pause and reflection, we can’t really appreciate time. Most people are allowed a lot of time in life, but we often frown upon it because we feel we don’t have enough of it or that it is passing by faster than we’d like it to. I believe time should be measured in moments, not by clocks or years on the calendar. We can’t slow time down, but when we slow down and enjoy moments in time, the less we will worry about “having” time and the more we will enjoy “living” in it.
First light on Rainbow Bay
(Rainbow Bay – Eleuthera, Bahamas)
This was my first morning on my recent trip to the Bahamas, up early (5:45am). I always love to catch the sunrise on my first day in any new place. It’s my way of connecting with nature…having some personal time in my new surroundings. This is the best way to set the tone for the experience that lies ahead. Sit in silence. Get a feel for the environment. Breathe in the freshest air of the day. Listen to the earliest whispers of the wind and sea. You can’t beat it. You really can’t. (unless you brought along a rum bucket and an endless supply of jelly donuts)
Fall “Freedom Tour” Part 1 in the books!
Just wrapped up the first leg of the #FreedomTour 2015 (literally…got my knee sleeved up as a result of some rugged hiking and shifty-legged Glidecam work. Took me a few embarrassing attempts to jump up on that rock, lol). The first stop was in the Eastern and Western Sierras of Central & Northern California (my home state). It could very well be the most beautiful and naturally diverse state in the union (but I’ll leave that judgement for a later day…once I’ve seen all 50 of those bad boys.)
Autumn in California…we’ve got some colors too folks. 🙂 More photos and video clips coming soon. Walking and gliding (sometimes stumbling) through nature…nothing quite like it.
Finding a true “Oasis in the Desert”
If you spend enough time in a desert landscape – under a scorching sun, surrounded by endless monotone dunes whose wind-carved domes blend seamlessly into the next – sometimes you start to imagine things. The “mirage” is a real thing. I often imagine buckets of cold beer and a Vegas pool party (as I enjoyed when I stayed at the actual Mirage). But sometimes you stumble upon a real life oasis. The endless horizon of white turns into a revitalizing mosaic of green and blue. Wild animals graze in the goodness of nature’s gift to this remote and barren land. My eyes, though stinging from the sunscreen-laced sweat dripping down my forehead, have not fooled me on this day…even with the bikini-clad woman trekking the dunes in the middle of nowhere (I’m surely suffering the effects of dehydration…or am I?) This is the contrasting beauty of life. I tell myself to take a moment, pause, breathe it in…and promise that the next time I hold a glass with an ice cold beverage in my hand I will raise it in its honor. #Jeri
La Selva Maya – Petén, Guatemala
So here I was, in the jungle of Petén, Guatemala just a few short weeks ago. I made my way up the zigzagging wooden staircase that ascends to the top of Temple IV in the mighty ruins of Tikal. Far less neck-slapping of mosquitos this time around. A dry, sunny April day made for an incredible contrast to my last experience in this mystical world of wonder, which saw me slipping around the ruins wearing a bright yellow rain slicker that made me look like a greased up banana with legs…hairy legs, even less flattering to the locals (perhaps not to the howler monkeys). I had made this trek and climb before, about 7 years ago. Same green bag, different shoes and camera. You always know you’re in a special place when, even though you’ve been there before, it feels like a unique experience the second time around, one that has your eyeballs peeled away in total awe of your surroundings, with an equal or greater impression felt than that of your first visit.
The jungle is raw, alive…constantly whispering its stories of the past though ancient structures and their decipherable remains. It breathes a silent air and echos a mystical tune as you stand above a canopy of endless green and inhale sweeping views of this storied land that has harbored centuries of warriors, kings, slaves, innovation, peace & prosperity, death & destruction. La Selva Maya – The Mayan Jungle. It’s still there…with the same sun casting its rays upon it daily, whether dampened or glowing. Oh, the stories it could tell…
(A floating mist blankets the jungle on my first visit to Tikal back in 2008)
Shadow selfie…tropical style
This morning on the beach in Acapulco, Mexico…host city of Tianguis Turístico México 2015. The shadows have since shortened and the temps have risen. A beautiful place to be.
New GWAGB Logo…click, click
Big THANKS and shout out to my buddy Vinny (www.beensentoe.com) and author of the webcomic Tako-Salad for hooking me up with the new GWAGB logo! Check out his work, he’s a true talent if there ever was one! By the way, the Gringo loves taco salads. Be sure to get your weekly dose of Tako-Salad every Tuesday.