Behind the Scenes of Our Funtivities

Learn more about our adventures when we are out Browning Around!

What we Learned on our Iceland Adventure

We decided to go to Iceland for our honeymoon!!  We got engaged in June 2018 on our way to our Canadian Adventure of 2017.  Wasn’t too long after we decided we wanted to spend our honeymoon in another country and Iceland became top of the list.  The reasons are clear, such a beautiful country that is a short hop away from Portland, OR.

 

Going to another country wasn’t going to be easy and there was a lot of work ahead.  We bought a couple of maps of the island and taped them together on large cardboard sheets and circled all the spots we wanted to go.  Then Natalie worked her magic and started to plan our airfare, lodging, site seeing, excursions, transportation and everything else in between.  She became a student of traveling to Iceland.  I would say she probably spent 6-8 months planning the trip; reading travel books almost every night forwards and backwards.  It showed when we put boots on the ground….. 

 We arrived in Iceland on May 10, 2019 via Icelandair direct from Portland Oregon.  We left Portland around 3:30pm and arrived in Iceland at 6:30am. It was about an 7.5 to 8 hour flight to Iceland.  Pretty smooth flight too.

 I am not sure what to write about Iceland that the photos won’t tell you….  I think in this case the photos will speak volumes about the country and what we saw.  In addition to the photos, I have listed some notes I took on what we wish we would have known (good or bad) and what we learned along the way…  We knew most of it, but there some small pearls of wisdom. 

 What we learned on our trip to Iceland:

**Check what credit card has no additional fees for international charges – use that one.

**Look into whether or not you want to rent a WIFI hotspot or use your data plan.  Verizon will charge up to $10/day for each phone.  The WIFI hotspot is $10/day and you can take it with you and charge it in the car. Maybe make one of your phones a mobile hotspot for the other phone?!

**To get the WIFI hotspot, you go to a computer terminal just outside a grocery/market just past the last check point.  Then you go to the counter where the hot food is to get it from the clerk.  You will mail it back when you are all done and it comes with a stamp on it.  There is a red mailbox in the airport near oversize baggage and Icelandair to drop it in. 

**Gas stations are where you will eat most of your meals outside of major cities.  The food is actually pretty good. 

**Restaurants in some part of the island are few and far between.

**To save money split meals.  Food is expensive.  We had fish and chips and one coke and it was about $42.00 (just a café)

**When you stop for gas, get snacks for the road.  There can be a bit of time between stops and some gas stations are just pumps and no store.

**Follow the speed limit.  There is no point in wasting money on getting a ticket.

**Speed camera signs are along the ring road, but isn’t until you get closer to Reykjavik that there are actual cameras.  (at least we didn’t see any and they are pretty obvious)

**Check which tunnels have fees.  You can pay them online that day or 3 hours after.  If you don’t the rental company will charge your card. At this point there was only one tunnel that had a fee.

**There are some roads that are paved and some that are like fire service roads; so don’t panic that you have made a wrong turn.

**Bring a cigarette adapter to charge multiple items in the car.  You will spend a lot of time in your car and there is just one charging port in some cars.

**Bring a small converter if you need to charge camera batteries or drone batteries. Amazon has plenty for $30.

**Not all stops allow the use of drones.  Download “AirMap” and it will help you figure out where you can fly your drone.  You cannot fly them in national parks or Reykjavik.  Be sensitive to the locals, as they are not big fans of drones. 

**Look into getting a camping van and exploring Iceland all on the road.  They have vans or RVs ready to rent and there are places to pull over for the night all over.  A very cool way to explore Iceland.

**There isn’t a charge to stop at any of the locations, except Stokksnes.  It is private land and they you have to buy a day pass to walk and drive through the park.  Be sure to walk down to the old farm.

**Carve out some time to explore the small towns. We arrived too late and I was disappointed we didn’t get a chance to see the small towns.

**The towns on the ring road open late and close early, so plan accordingly.  A lot of places closed between 8-9pm and open around 10am.

**Purchase a big plastic bottle of water and then refill it at your hotel.  The water is so good and clean from the taps, there isn’t a need to buy any.

**Anything and everything is expensive.

**There are not many bathrooms on the road or even at some of the attractions.  Some of the gas stations will charge if you are not a patron.  There are no trees or hills to hide behind and so you may just have to hold it.

**Bring a towel and swimsuit.  There are thermal pools in random spots.

**Keep your passport out and available until you get onto the plane.  We needed it several times throughout the airport in Iceland.

**You can make your seat assignments 24hr in advance of your flight and can do it on a mobile device.  Just need your reservation number.  We found there weren’t any real selection on the way to Iceland, but more options on the return home.

**The duty-free shop is big and they have carts for your shopping experience.  It seems to mainly be booze, perfume and candy.  You won’t get staples here. 

**You have to pay for your groceries before you can bag them otherwise an alarm goes off.

**You have to buy shopping bags.  So if you have those reusable shopping bags, bring those.

Hope this helps and feel free to to reach out with questions. Also visit my portfolio to see many more images from Iceland.

Why Engagement Photos are Important

Until this weekend I felt engagement photos were something to add to the wedding photo package and part of the memories. Reflecting back, not too many couples select to do engagement photos. Probably a cost thing and also they know the wedding day will produce several amazing photos.

I think there are a couple of factors that make the engagement session so important.

Jeff and Aida

The Hunts

  • You don’t have the pressure of your wedding day. Your wedding day is full of seeing old relatives and friends, dancing, eating and of course photos! You don’t get a chance to slow down and breath. Engagement photos allow you to slow down and just be the two of you plus the cameraman.

  • You have the option of going to a couple of different locations. There might be a place that holds a special place in your relationship and wouldn’t it be nice to have professional photos done there. Even if there isn’t a special place, there are so many amazing locations just around the Portland and Columbia River area or the coast.

  • Engagement sessions allow you to have different outfits and perhaps adding props. Let’s say you both kayak together, bring the boats and paddles. If I can photograph you on the river, I will. I always encourage my clients to bring a couple of different looks depending on where we are going

  • Not too many people have their wedding photos up around their house. But they do have photos up of their adventures and fun times. I always include in my final product what I call are the outtakes - the funny moments.

What really got me thinking today was the story behind each photo that made me realize the importance of the engagement session. It doesn’t have to be one of my Grand Sessions, it can be a local session done at Cathedral Park or some other great Portland location. Every Grand Session I have done, we all walk away with some funny memory from the day together. Perhaps it is falling in the snow, the champagne bottle that got dropped or getting soaked by the waterfall…..

If you are on the fence about engagement photos, lets talk and make it happen!

Ashley and Steve at Eugene Fire

Every Photograph has a Story #1- White River Falls

I have always felt that a photograph is just a photograph until you here the story behind it. You talk to any photographer about the images they are proud of and I bet they will talk to you for 10+ minutes about each image. Even as I photograph people, there are stories behind the image that I love to share. Could be intimidated by the subject matter, the effort to get there or just what happened as the subject was being photographed.

Joe and Tracy at White River Falls Park in Dufur Oregon

Here is one such image that has a fun story behind it. A month prior, I photograph Joe and Tracy’s wedding reception in downtown Portland. For the first time I had camera issues, location challenges and prop issues. My game was thrown and I was not sure what to do after i built myself up. Eventually I rallied and got through the night, but felt bad I didn’t give them all of what I was hoping for.

After I delivered the final product, I asked them if they wouldn’t mind getting back into their outfits and come with my wife and I to White River Falls out in Dufur, Oregon. I was looking for a couple that I could stage a photo shoot and not be under any pressure at all. Where I could slow down and direct the scene how I wanted. In return they would have a fun time and get some photographs they would enjoy.

They were such sports and we switched between formal wear and casual dress. We even enjoyed some Buffalo Trace and Flaming Hot Cheetos for our efforts. We used the river, the waterfall, the drone and the pump house as backdrops.

Framed through the pump house window

At the end of the day it was so nice to slow down and enjoy the moment and set a photo like this up. I was balancing on a railroad tie about 8ft above the ground. I told them to dip for a kiss and just be themselves. No real instruction as I wanted it to look natural. We got natural and a beautiful image for them and my portfolio. This really taught me to be more of a director; afterall my customers are paying me to play the role of director and photographer. The photos from this day have taught me to have a different approach to my engagement sessions and senior portraits.

Unplanned Funtivities with Walmart Christmas Onesies

We decided to spend a couple of days in Hood River and get in a couple hikes before we head north to Bellevue for the Christmas holiday.  We had looked at going to Cougar or down to the southern coastline, but decided the shorter drive after work and snow was what we wanted. 

Natalie having fun in the fresh snow

Natalie having fun in the fresh snow

Thursday after work we headed out for the slow drive out I-84E to Hood River.  But this drive was much better than the +4hr drive down to southern Oregon like we planned.  Natalie booked a familiar hotel for us to spend a couple nights in.  We don’t ask for much and really just need a place to feel safe and hang our coats.  The Sunset motel seems to be perfect for us.  Only a mile from down town Hood River, just off the freeway and right across the street from a Safeway and other stores.  The room isn’t big, but enough room for us to spread out. 

The weather was not supposed to be great in the afternoon so we weren’t sure how to spend our Saturday afternoon.  We wanted to go somewhere with a view of Mt Hood and maybe not too many people.  We settled on Chinidere Mountain; a hike we have done during the summer with some amazing views of hood and the forest below.  We thought there might be a light dusting of snow, but nothing we couldn’t hike through. 

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We arrived on FSR 1310 and began to ascend.  There was a sign mentioning that there was “no winter maintenance” on the road ahead.  With a lifted 4x4, I wasn’t too worried about the road.  Our first obstacle was a rock slide that threw some rocks and boulders onto the road.  We took a few minutes to clear out the worst of the rocks and boulders and then pressed on.  We then started to hit snow, which got deeper as we ascended.  As we trail-blazed and the snow got deeper the truck started to hop and bounce around.  The truck was working harder to get through the snow and I started to question if we should try and go another 2.5mi in the snow to the trail head.  The only tracks in the snow were from a fox and my Goodyear tires.  This meant we were alone!  Great for the solitude and quiet, but not so good if we have a breakdown or get stuck.  It was time to pause and come up with a new plan.  Looking up towards where we would probably be hiking, the clouds started to roll in and we would not have a great view from the top.  On top of that I didn’t bring a sweatshirt or something to wear under my jacket, so I would have been cold the whole way. 

Our new plan was to get out the Walmart Christmas onesies, crack a beer and take some funny photos.  I had this idea in mind of story-boarding the photos when I shared them on social media.  I tried to craft them around a naughty elf breaking into my cooler.  Having fresh snow and the place to ourselves we had a blast.  We ended spending 2 hours goofing around. 

This was an unplanned spontaneous afternoon in the snow with Walmart onesies and had a blast.  We seem to always structure our outings and they are pretty much predictable.  But days like this are my favorite; where we make something out of nothing.  These are probably some of my favorite goofing around images that we have done.  So, get out there and don’t be discouraged if everything doesn’t go as you planned.  Sometimes those unplanned afternoons are the most memorable. 

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Get Outside:  Metolius River Trail

We followed up the Tam McArthur Rim trail with the Metolius River trail on Sunday.  A couple years ago we had a hiking adventure from trailhead following the river downstream to the hatchery at Wizard Falls and then back to the car.  This time we drove to Wizard Falls at the Hatchery with the thought of getting a photo of the blue water that flows under the bridge and then go see the fish at the hatchery.  Such a beautiful drive through Camp Sherman down to the hatchery.  The area was empty and so there was no traffic to distract me as I drove us to our destination. 

The weather was having some fun with us.  Sprinkling on and off with the sun and blue skies poking through every now and then.  The question became do we bring the rain jackets or not.  Ultimately being from the Pacific Northwest, we erred on the side of caution and brought our coats.  Seemed like we would put them on and then the sprinkling would stop.  Take them off and then it would start sprinkling again. 

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Our hike took us upstream a mile or so in search of some fly fisherman.  I really wanted to photograph fly fisherman out in the river.  I was rewarded on this trip with 4 fishermen on various parts of the river.  Although I was happy to exercise my 24-70mm 2.8, in some instances I wish I brought my other heavyweight the 70-200mm 2.8.  I needed a little reach through some of the tree branches.  Regardless I was not disappointed by what I put into the can. 

 

Hiking off season has some benefits – no crowds.  We probably saw a total of 10 people on the trail system.  There were a few more visiting the hatchery, but that was it.  Once we returned to the hatchery, we decided to keep hiking and exploring down the river.  Neither of us had done the whole trail and the weather was looking promising enough.  I believe it is 6mi roundtrip from Wizard Falls.  You hike down one side of the river and then cross the bridge to travel upstream on the other side.  Downstream we found a couple fisherman that I could get a good angle on and photograph.  I was in photographer heaven because of the fall colors still hanging around, the peaceful nature of the Metolius river and catching people out doing what they love – fishing!

He had the river to himself

He had the river to himself

 

Once back in the car we saw the large dark cloud that was hanging over Hwy20 and our route home.  Although I was grateful it held off on dumping on us on the trail, I knew we were in for a long ride home.  Sure, enough the heavens opened up and the wipers were on full speed.  Thankfully we had to slow our pace due to a severe accident near the junction of Hwy20 and 22 involving 4-5 vehicles.  Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to driving down the curves in the pouring rain.  A lifted truck with knobby tires doesn’t instill confidence around wet corners.  Thankfully we made it home in good time and in one piece. 

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I really am glad we took the time to explore down stream and enjoy the fall colors.  We were thinking of hitting a trail on the way home instead.  But we would have missed having the river to ourselves and being able to enjoy those lasting fall colors.  If you go bring a few quarters to feed the fish in the pond. It is fun to see all those fish swarm to the food.