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Tango, Tango

May 9, 2016

“Tango should come with a warning label – this could be highly addictive” Rommel Oramas told my friend Victoria Braden and me as we were about to start our Tango lesson in Buenos Aires. Francisca Durao – our instructor and guide for the evening – and Rommel, her dance partner,  should know. Both of them changed their lives for this dance. Francisca even moved here from Portugal!

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Vicki and I had been traveling through Patagonia for two weeks and decided to spend an extra day in Buenos Aires on the way home. And how can you go to Buenos Aires and not experience Tango?? I realize there are many touristy Tango shows in this city, but I wanted to experience it the way the locals do, in a traditional Milonga, and to start things out right have a Tango lesson myself.

We met Francisca and Rommel at a small dance studio for our introductory lesson. During this time we were taught how to correctly walk, do some simple turns and most importantly how to listen to your dance partner. Argentine Tango is a dance which is mostly improvised and the man will lead the dance.

The lesson passed much to quickly, we said good-bye to Rommel and continued on with Francisca to a local Milonga (a dance hall for Tango). The hall was filled with people of all ages and it was clear that they were all pretty experienced dancers. We spent over two hours here during which we were able to observe the dancing while Francisca explained  Tango etiquette and its history to us.

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In the room women were sitting on one side of the dance floor, men on the opposite side. If a man would like to dance with a woman, he will nod at her. If she looks back at him, he will ask her to dance, if she does not want to dance with him, she will look away. There are different types of hold in the Tango – a close hold and an open one – and the woman decides which one she prefers.

 

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The dances are grouped into sets of four, each set lasting about 12 minutes (sometimes referred to as the 12 minutes of love). Each set is interrupted by a non-Tango piece of music. It would be very bad manners to leave your dance partner during a set! At the end of the set everyone sits down and will then pick a dance partner once the Tango music starts again. Three types of music are played in a Milonga: the traditional Tango, a Tango waltz and a Milonga (which has a bit of a faster rhythm than a Tango). The music will not change during a set so nobody will end up dancing to music they do not like.

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We had a wonderful evening and were sad when it ended but very grateful for this experience.

If you happen to travel to Buenos Aires and would like to have a perfect Tango experience, you can contact Narrative Tango who set up this wonderful experience for us.

And if you would like to see pictures of the rest of my Patagonia trip I invite your to take a look at my website.

 

 

Happy 99th Birthday to the National Park Service

August 25, 2015

The National Park Service is celebrating its 99th birthday today. It was created by an Act of Congress and signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25th, 1916.

The image below was taken right here in New England – Acadia National Park.

cobblestone bridge

Book review – The Parks of Western USA by Digital Guru Publishing

July 9, 2015

Vacation time is here and maybe you are planning a road trip to some of the parks in the western part of the US. Helping you with this is a wonderful new eBook by Digital Guru Publishing – “The Parks of Western USA” .  On over 140 pages the authors, Marco Ryan and Jasper Dalgliesh, provide you with a wealth of information to help you plan your trip – how to get there, accommodations, day trip options, even local photography guides and stores. Areas covered are the San Francisco bay, Yosemite, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope- and Rattlesnake Canyon as well as Monument Valley.

But that’s not all. This guide is also filled with inspiring photographs including EXIF data, equipment used, GPS data, directions to the locations, hyperlinks to external web pages, as well as  shooting and post processing tips. Furthermore a list of Apps is provided that will come in handy during and before your trip. There even is a kit check-list to ensure you will be fully prepared for your road trip.

As a special launch offer Digital Guru Publishing is offering this eBook at a 20% discount (which will get you this book for $ 15) through Friday, July 17th, if you use the coupon code PARKS20 during checkout. So if a road trip out west is in your future, head on over to Digital Guru Publishing and get your copy!!

The archers of Bhutan

April 7, 2015

Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and on weekends there are tournaments everywhere.

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The game is played with two teams with a target at each end of the field.The target is all of 82 cm (33″) tall and 31 cm (12″) wide. Every hit get celebrated with a little song and dance.

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And just take a guess at the length of this field? I could hardly see the target at the end of it. I have no idea how anyone can hit it.

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It is 145 meters (about 158 yards)! That is twice the Olympic distance and a much smaller target! Pretty amazing to watch!

For more images from Bhutan feel free to follow this link.

The cave temples of Hpa An

February 12, 2015

In the limestone mountains around the town of Hpa An in southern Myanmar are several caves most of which contain elaborate cave temples.

The largest of these caves is  Sadan cave (also called Saddar cave). The entrance is a large open cavern filled with Buddha statues and walls decorated with golden frescos.

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From here it is possible to walk through the cave system until you finally exit on the other side of the mountain. The walk takes about 15 minutes and leads through a couple large halls but also some narrow and low passages. You will need to bring a headlamp or flash light since it will be in complete darkness. But beware – thousands of bats live in this cave, the floor is wet and slippery and you are required to walk barefoot! You will exit the cave at a small lake and I have read that it might be possible to hire a fisherman to take you across the lake, but remember, your shoes will be at the entrance to the cave and it might be a very long walk back on a hot dirt road surface. Your best bet is just to retrace your steps through the cave.

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Another large cave is Kawgoon (Kawgun) cave. The walls are covered with thousands of tiny clay Buddhas dating back to the 7th century when King Manuaha had to seek sanctuary here after being defeated in battle. On the ground floor are numerous newer Buddha statues in various positions.  As impressive as this cave still is, a lot of the wall decorations have unfortunately been destroyed due to mining of the limestone in the area. The vibration caused by blasting the stone has caused several pieces of this beautiful artwork to come crashing down.

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Fairly close by is the smaller Ya The Byan cave also with decorations from the 7th century and newer Buddha statues.

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Between Hpa An and Thaton you will find another small cave filled with Buddha statues – Bayin Nyi.

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At the entrance to the cave is a small temple with a pool fed by a hot spring. It seems to be quite popular with the local monkey population.

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Since all these caves are temples and therefore considered sacred, please be aware that you need to respect the local custom and will have to enter them barefoot. They are off the beaten path and there is no public transport to any of them.

You can find more images on my website by following this link.

Playtime in Lake Clark

February 4, 2015

I never realized just how playful bears are until I traveled to Lake Clark National Park in Alaska last summer. This particular sow and her year-old cub seemed to have a wonderful relationship and enjoyed playing on the beach and in the meadows.

Here are just a few of the entertaining moments.

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bear cub beach web (1 of 1)Do you mind if I play with this stick???

 

 

bear cub beach web (1 of 1)-2I guess you do!

 

 

bear cub beach web (1 of 1)-3Whoa, mom, just kidding!

 

 

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Catch me if you can!

 

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For more pictures of my Alaskan adventure feel free to browse this gallery.

Which books inspire you?

January 27, 2015

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In a recent blog post Jay Goodrich gave some great advise what to do if you think that your photography sucks – we all go through that at some point (you can find his excellent post here). One of his suggestions was to study photography books – something I love to do. Not just the “how-to” technical books, but the beautiful coffee table books, study the images, get inspired by them.

I would love to hear from you which books you turn to for inspiration.  To start of, here are some that I own and turn to frequently:

Light on the Land – Art Wolfe

Earth is my Witness – Art Wolfe

The living wild – Art Wolfe

Mountain light – Galen Rowell

Working the light – Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward

The unguarded moment – Steve McCurry

Light, Gesture, Color – Jay Maisel

Exposures – Guy Tal

There are many more I am hoping to get and it would be wonderful to get a great list together. I am looking forward to find out which books inspire you!

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