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Category Archives: Personal Travel


“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”
― Jack Kerouac

How it took me 26.5 years before I made it to Colorado, I don’t know, but I’m glad I have it in my life now. The fact that I have now been there three times in the last six months is a true testament to how much I really love it. I will likely have to plan another trip in fall just so I can get all four seasons in. I have spent time in Breckenridge, Denver, & Crested Butte; I look forward to planning more trips to different parts of the state as well. This past summer trip came about initially thanks to a good friend inviting me to her grandfather’s ranch house that was built and unchanged since 1974. For many reasons (including the lack of cellphone service), we affectionately refer to it as the time warp ranch. Of 10 people staying at the summer home 5 of us were photographers. I cannot help but be so inspired by the talent I constantly find myself surrounded by. My friends are amazing and watching them work inspires me and pushes me to become a better photographer.

After 4 nights in the summer ranch, I spent a few extra days camping out in Crested Butte and enjoying the fun summer events they have going on like Bridges of the Butte & Alpenglow. Crested Butte is the perfect summer destination but many other Texans seem to feel the same way since there seems to be more Texans than Coloradans here.

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I couldn’t help but show off these beautiful mountains at two different times of day.

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Swampy Pass Trail

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The Secret Stash

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Road to Oh Be Joyful

Road to Oh Be Joyful


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Two months ago I was inspired by someone and forced myself to make a decision that would lead me to the big adventure I am starting today… I will be on the road non-stop for 3 months with grand intentions of enduring a year. I will be roadtripping, couch surfing, camping, flying, teaching, shooting, & everything in between. I will be back in Austin for the month of October to shoot contracted weddings of course (& one in November) but then will pursue destinations outside of the country, hopefully working with volunteer efforts. At this point I have 5 weddings for 2016 and none of them are in Austin. (Ben & Eric have taken over the local side of the business at the moment). It feels weird to pursue locations outside of my favorite city in the world but this is an adventure… and well, why not?

Over the next three months I will be visiting (in this order): Crested Butte, Denver, Los Angeles, Houston, Cusco Peru (for a month), Guatemala, Austin, Phoenix, San Jose, Lake Havasu City, Marfa, Dallas,  New York City, Wichita, Omaha, St Louis, Nashville, Pensacola, &… Charleston. Phew! If you’re in one of those areas and want to meet up I will be doing 1-on-1 mentor sessions along the way or if you just want to grab a beer, shoot me a facebook message!

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I have a bad tendency to generalize countries that are geographically close together. Panama was no exception since I have also been to Guatemala & Costa Rica but I should have learned my lesson based on the fact that every country we visited in Africa was vastly different from the other. I had no real expectations of Panama though, we went towards the end of wedding season so I hadn’t taken more than a few minutes on Pinterest to do research. I was busy and planning this trip was put on the back burner. Luckily with the help of who I was traveling with and a few random hostel goers, we were able to piece some plans together after the first day. It was a quick 10 day trip to make it through an entire country. Two days was more than enough to spend in the city. No, we did not visit the canal, although we did see it from a hill, I felt that was sufficient enough.

We then took a 9 hour overnight bus ride to Bocas del Toro. 9 hours was indeed a bit rough but after a couple Balboa, I slept pretty well. The worst part is arriving at 7am, exhausted with no bed to sleep on until about noon. A nap was necessary. The town of Bocas is more of a party city, a place that is fine for one night but I wasn’t keen on partying for more than one night with a slew of college kids (does that make me old?).

Regardless, Bambuda lodge was recommended to us while we were there; it is located on Isla Solarte, with nothing else near it the only way to get there was via boat. This lodge offered delicious food with an amazing pool overlooking the water. Despite being eaten alive by sand flies, it was downright lovely in every way.

After a couple days at the lodge we made our way to Palmar tent lodge which was a 10 minute walk from the drop off dock near Red Frog Beach. Roller suitcase not recommended! Every hostel we stayed at was very different from the last, this one likely being the most unique with the use of tents, rain water for running water, & solar power. The beautiful beaches were quite amazing and with hot enough weather for me to actually want to get in, a rare occurrence. The rain was amazing to fall asleep to, the way it hit the tent above my head was soothing, I think I actually have an app based on the sounds I experienced there. Although I could have done without waking up next to a crab above my face on the mosquito net after a rainy night.

We took a 3.5 hour shuttle to Boquete to stay for only 1 day. We didn’t have any intentions of hiking but it was raining non-stop there so that would have likely prevented us from doing so anyway. The volcano is said to be quite the trek but also worth a visit. The highlands had a vastly different feel to them, from the culture to the weather (much cooler). The showers at the hostel were even heated! We walked around the entire city taking the opportunity to eat when it was rainy, played an hour of pathetic pool, & had a few beers at the Boquete Brewery before heading to David. David was just a 1 hour & $1.75 ticket away, the closest thing to a chicken bus as I have ever been on. Then… another 8 hour, overnight bus ride back to Panama City before we had a morning flight back to the states. That one was a bit rough but not too terrible as I ended up sleeping the entirety of both flights back.

With exception to the constant moving from city to city every few days I felt that the trip was overall low pressure and easy. We followed the path that most backpackers took and never felt obligated to over plan or cram too many things into one day. It certainly helps that it was mid-season and not overrun with people. Overall, Panama was moderately priced, very accepting of Americans (maybe too accepting?), a bit touristy, and easy to travel. There are many expats there, which I can understand but it definitely takes away from the authentic culture & experience of Panama. I do appreciate the wide variety of climates and culture that Panama has to offer. If I find myself back there again I would like to pursue the less beaten path of Panama.

~Caroline

Panama City
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Bocas del Toro

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Isla Solarte

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Red Frog Beach

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Bastimento

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Boquete

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Three main foods of Panama, seafood (ie ceviche), sweets (water apple & chocolate), & booze (beer & tequila).

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I am not typically a big review person, I’ve never written one before and I’m not by any means attempting to compete with the bigger review sites out there. However, this is my travel blog and I want to write about my travel camera that I feel very passionate about!

After almost a month of owning the Fuji XT-1, I think I am ready to give my professional opinion of it. Ben has owned it since the beginning of the year so I decided to purchase it based on his, as well as many others, recommendations. In short? I’m in love. I have had a terrible habit of only bringing out my 5d Mark III when it involved work and shooting only with my iphone while out and about. Weddings and portraits are amazing but it’s nice to refresh myself with different scenes and to challenge myself with situations I’m not necessarily comfortable shooting, or at least, not as confident shooting. I am so happy to be able to travel with a camera that doesn’t say “Hey! Look at me I’m a photographer!” – so yes, size matters. It’s a great size, just perfect actually, substantial enough to fit in my small hands but unobtrusive enough as well. I have many good things to say about the XT-1 – the look and quality of photos in most situations can compete with a dSLR camera. The low light is decent, I would feel comfortable taking the camera out at night with intentions of shooting natural light but the light needs to be pretty good for a night scene to focus & not look really grainy. I have not played with the flash much at this point… yet. I set my focus to be back button, like my Canon, and it feels nice. Having had the Fuji x100s at one point as well, I can confidently say that it is light years ahead of that camera but, naturally, it’s still going to feel limiting at times. The focus is good but not great, it has trouble at night and don’t be expect to be shooting a fast paced sports game. The high speed mode is almost too fast! I can’t get a single click off when on that setting, it’s a minimum of two it seems like but the single shot mode is a bit slow for my taste. Of course it also has a few more kitschy features like double exposure & panorama, which I played with a bit as well and may explore further at my next opportunity. As far as editing is concerned, I found the x100s files to be a bit tricky to edit, I couldn’t get the tones quite right. The raw files from the XT-1 edit great though! The skin tones are more yellow/green than I am used since Canon has much more magenta in the files but as long as the exposure is spot on there is no issue. As soon as the exposure is off I found myself having to go into camera calibration to tweak things a bit more. Otherwise I use my same Canon preset in Lightroom. So what lens(es) should you get? It depends on why you’re purchasing it, however, I imagine that most of us photographers are in the same boat. dSLR is work, mirrorless is for traveling fun. I chose the 18-55mm lens with a varying 2.8-4.0 aperture, which is 28-85mm in full frame speak. Personally, I think it’s the perfect lens for what I am using it for. If you’re looking to do more portraits or are just truly that in love with primes, which I would understand, then the 23mm or 35mm may be more up your alley. I have heard really lovely things about those as well but the last thing I want to do when traveling is to have to bring a camera bag around with me. Stacy Reeves also mentioned that she really loves the 55-200mm since it provides a look that most tourists aren’t getting when they travel. I am inclined to trust Stacy a lot based on the amazing work she produces from her amazing European adventures! Feel free to message me on facebook if you have any other questions!

~Caroline

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Photos below by Ben in New Zealand :
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