This past week I headed out west to Portland for a recent project. Having been to Oregon before, but only in the summertime, I had not witnessed the infamous damp winters of the Pacific North West...this trip was an exception. For the majority of our time in Oregon, it did not stop raining. Growing up in dry and drought prone, rural Australia, I was amazed at how much it rained while we were there. However, because of the wet oceanic climate, it enriches the beautiful green and misty backdrop of the PNW. During our trip we headed up Highway 30 along the Columbia River, the bloodline of "Cascadia" dividing Oregon and Washington. Despite the various forms of precipitation on our drive through the misty fjords along the Columbia, it made for an incredible spectacle. Winding through bends of lush, forest covered mountains, hidden and revealed by mist, it certainly gave the optic nerve a refresh. I really enjoy the moments in the midst of our busy work lives to step back and allow for these situations to surprise us. Check out the photos from the drive below and look forward to more of the unknown this year.
Nestled on top of Costa Rica’s continental divide, sits the small town of Monteverde, a region surrounded by cloud forests, coffee plantations and agriculture. Based at an altitude of some 4,662 ft (1,440 m) above sea level, Monteverde receives a steady supply of sunshine, clouds, fog and an annual average rainfall of around 3,000 millimeters, making a more than ideal ecosystem for growth and life.
On our visit to the mountainous town, we ventured to the family run farm of El Trapiche. My original draw to the farm was to explore an infamous Costa Rican coffee plantation, but upon exploring the farm, I realized the vast diversity of the Costa Rican agricultural industry. From sugar cane, coffee, coco beans, bananas, plantains, macadamias, pineapples and oranges, the high altitude climate is ideal for year round growth of a variety of produce. A lot of which is shipped around the world to regions which aren't as fortunate ie. Minnesota...
In the span of our walk around the farm, we were exposed to the coffee process, starting from plantation to the crushing, peeling and roasting of the beans, as well as sugarcane cultivation and the drying, roasting and grinding of cocoa beans to make chocolate. Agriculture and tourism make up the majority of income in Monteverde. With a ride on the back of a traditional Ox Cart, a "carreta", and being surrounded by mountainous backdrops, the experience makes you appreciate the value of the Costa Rican land.
A journey to Monteverde, should not be taken lightly. Like most travel in Costa Rica, the roads aren't the greatest and getting anywhere takes time. The road to Monteverde, in our case, traveling from the Pacific coast, seemed relatively simple for the first couple hours. It's the last leg of ascending up the semi-vertical dirt terrain of rocks and boulders, which puts you to the real test. Whilst the rocky dirt road and the odd cattle crossing will give you the authentic mountain experience, you will be more likely to enjoy it with 4 wheel drive and the relief of knowing you went with the maximum insurance coverage. Upon finally arriving in Monteverde, the ever long, slow and bumpy climb up the mountain side is rewarded with a gem of town. Surrounded by the beauty of the cloud forest along with a culture of welcoming people makes the trek worth all the while, "Vale la Pena".
Stay tuned for a further post on trekking through the Cloud Forest and check out the full photo gallery and story from Monteverde here.
There is only one road leading in and out of the small surfing town, Playa Tamarindo. But over the years, that once dirt and now paved road, has acted as a rendezvous point for many travelers, backpackers and nomads from around the world. Supporting the theory that if you’re traveling in Costa Rica, "all roads will eventually lead to Tamarindo". With its sun kissed beaches, consistent swells, and surfer bohemian vibe, Tamarindo is the essence of the Tico's expression "Pura Vida", meaning "Pure Life". After spending some time in the Surfing Utopia, it is easy to understand how you could extend your stay from days to weeks, months and even years, with many foreigners now calling the sandy beaches their home. On my many outings through Tamarindo, I photographed a glimpse of the sights, smells and culture of the vibrant costal town. Check out the full photo gallery and read the photo story here.
On a recent trip to the Costa Rica, I ventured one evening to the small town of Villareal, Guanacaste to take part in the local festivities of "Corridas De Toros" (a cross between bullfighting and a Texas rodeo). While the main event is the bull fighting, the arena is surrounded by other local attractions, rides, bars, outdoor dance floors and more importantly the smell of barbecue, offering a buffet of carne asada, fried chicken, arepas, carnitas and arroz con pollo. From the moment I arrived, it was amazing just to observe and photograph the festival as it was happening.
As exciting and entertaining as the Bull Riding was, I found just as much, if not more, enjoyment observing the surrounding festivities and interaction with the local people. With sabañeros, ranchers, the brave agile youngsters, quiet observers, mothers and children and the very interesting Vendedores selling food and merchandise in the stands, it was a spectacle rich with culture unique to the region. See the full gallery and read the photo story here.
On a recent trip to Naples, Florida I ventured an hour north to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a 13,000 acre preserve, home to the largest remaining stand of old growth bald cypress in North America. The 2.25 mile boardwalk winds through pine flatwoods, wet prairies, marshes and is home to hundreds of alligators, otters, white-tailed deer, reptiles and over 200 species of birds. While meandering through the sanctuary I photographed the unique beauty offered at every turn encountering the various wildlife and plants of the boardwalk trail. During the 1940's and 50's, cypress forests in Florida were being leveled for their timber, thanks to the National Audubon Organization, the sanctuary conservation has been a great success. What was once isolated and almost impossible to access is now protected and preserved for generations to come and enjoy. If ever in the area, the Corkscrew Swamp is a great pit stop and I highly recommend supporting the cause. See the Full Gallery and Photo Story here.
Back in August, while on the road working on the film Driven By Bacon, we stopped in Sturgis, South Dakota... otherwise known as "The City of Riders". For the first week of August every year, the town of only 6,500 people, plays host to the infamous American motorcycle rally which attracts up to 600,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from around the globe. Documenting a motorcycle journey across America, naturally we had to make Sturgis apart of our journey.
As a first time participant of the event, I was drawn to the the visual splendor of the bizarre festivities and whilst intermixing with the people, music and mayhem of Strugis, I photographed what we encountered as the crew wondered through the town. It’s hard to describe the spectacle of Sturgis; it's a combination of Mad Max, Woodstock and Thelma and Louise rolled into one. Whilst your hearing is rendered useless with the constant sound of music and exhausts, what your eyes take in will make up for any hearing loss. As you walk down the strip, you eye the many lines of bikes parked on display and encounter a halloween like array of outfits with the only connecting theme for all things two wheels. From flamethrowers to mechanical bulls. Blow-up dolls to blow-up pools. The endless selection of stickers and patches, the facial hair, tent covered front lawns, sun-burned faces, scantly clad bartenders, past their prime ladies with fox tails, body paint or bearing for all to see; Sturgis packs a punch that leaves a taste of smoke and bourbon in your mouth. The gathering isn't for all and is very much a love or hate reaction. However, the common goal shared by all during that first week in August is for the love of riding and all that encompasses that lifestyle. To see more, check out the full gallery of photos here.
A few months ago, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport played host to the Ukrainian owned Antonov AN-225 Mriya, otherwise known as... the largest plane in the world. I was hired by 651media to film the loading of five Trane Cen-Tra-Vac chillers bound for Doha, Qatar, nearly 7,000 miles away. Above are some still frames from the visual's captured on the day.
In Ukrainian, the word “Mriya" means “Dream”, and was initially developed for transporting the Buran spaceplane in the Soviet space program in the late 80's. It was then refurbished and re-introduced, and is in commercial operation under Antonov Airlines carrying oversized payloads. The AN-225 is powered by six turbofan engines and has a 32 wheel landing gear system. With a wingspan of 290 feet, a length of 275 feet, and weighing in at over 628,000 pounds, it is capable of carrying an additional 600,000 pounds in fuel and cargo. Objects once thought impossible to transport by air are able to be flown as far as 2,160 nautical miles in one trip. Despite it's sheer size, the AN-225 is able to cruise at 527 miles per hour at an altitude of 36 thousand feet. The AN-225 is the only airplane in the world capable of carrying a payload of this size, hence transporting cargo is an expensive proposition. Securing the plane and it's crew requires a seven-figure commitment, and a full tank of fuel costs approximately $US 200,000.
As an admirer of aviation, having been inside Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" and flown as a passenger on an Airbus A380-800, getting full access inside the largest commercial plane in the world is defintely one for the bucket list. Being able to witness first hand 3 of the greatest achievements in aviation engineering is pretty inspiring as to what mankind is able to create and achieve. Check out the full gallery of photos here.
Melbourne is a city exploding with culture, sport, festivals, music, film and the ever changing colors of Street Art. Australia’s second largest city has gained international notoriety for it’s support of street art subcultures. The city, nicknamed the “stencil capital of the world”, approves permits for artistic expression on public spaces, with the building owner's permission, and hires contract artists from around the world.
I recently ventured down Hosier Lane in Melbourne and photographed Mark Harrison aka "Sleep for Dinner", a street artist from Leeds, UK, while he was working on a large scale art piece. I was fascinated by his process and style, showing influences from New York Style Graffiti among wild styles from his high school days and abstract artwork. Harrison commented: "I'll paint on pretty much anything with whatever is in my head at the time. I often enjoy using bright colors and materials like inks and acrylics with spray paint on my canvases to create contrast between the two elements.”
Harrison has been traveling around Australia since 2012, floating between Melbourne, Sydney and Byron Bay, making and selling his artwork in the form of pieces, murals, characters, canvases, illustrations and street art. When he landed in Melbourne he instantly felt at home. “It’s somewhere between a European, American and British City, the culture and artwork about the place grabbed me, it felt chilled, it had both good graffiti and street art scenes…”
Harrison studied fine art at Kirklees College and later at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. "Spending my high school career with my head phones on sketching away in a smokey haze I knew I could never work a 9-5 with artwork in my head and an itch to paint... My grades weren't good and I struggled to attend but even the teachers would ask to look at my sketchbook…”
Graffiti is often considered vandalism in most places and there appears to be a fine line between the realm of legal and illegal artwork. Hence my interest was sparked when I learned that Harrison was a contracted street artist for the city. "I began doing commissioned pieces and murals after been approached through friends of friends...or a piece I have done has caught someone's eye and they look me up... I just enjoy painting and I have to earn a living somehow so it is nice to be paid for something I would otherwise be doing illegally anyway.”
The continually changing colors of the walls of Melbourne contribute to the vibrant urban environment of the city, which has been profiting from tourists keen to walk down the colorful lane ways and alleys. Undoubtably I have only skimmed the surface of Melbourne's street art and have no doubt that there are plenty more artists who share Harrison’s love of the sub-culture. "I live to paint, explore cities and new spaces and leave a mark spreading color on our environment in and amongst all the hustle and bustle of modern life.”
It was great to meet and collaborate with another creative from a different country and industry. Check out the full gallery of photos here and to see more of Harrison's work visit his website and follow on Instagram and Facebook.