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Passion and Jumping Cactus- Scottsdale, AZ

In Travel Photogaphy by porteengear

Passionate people and jumping cactus! I had been to the desert in the southwestern part of the US but not to Scottsdale, Arizona or the Phoenix area. Sundresses packed and sandals ready to go, I boarded a plane for Arizona, looking forward to feeling the sun on my skin after a long dark winter in the midwest. I had done some research before I left on the area and decided to look up hiking in the desert. I came across a couple of sites that warned of jumping cactus that attach to your skin and embed their tentacles if you try to pull them off! Now I had visions of hiding under my sheets with a flashlight spoofing on the Blair Witch Project, scared of heading out to the trails of the Sonora Desert Preserve. But when I arrived and connected with the Scottsdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the lovely …

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4 Amazing Apps for Nighttime Photography!

In Photography Tips by porteengearLeave a Comment

I have had a recent fascination with photographing the night sky. It all started with a trip to a cabin in the woods in northern Michigan this summer. After quickly becoming bored photographing green ferns and woodland scenery, I planned a night shoot of the Milky Way. I became hooked! After that, my poor husband was at the mercy of the weather and the timing of the Milky Way with late night drives out into the countryside to get away from the light pollution of the city. (yes, I am still scared of the dark!) It gives me a sense of security to have a tagalong or fellow photographer, especially out on the back country roads in the middle of the night. It did not take long to figure out which apps would help me with this venture and take a lot of the guess work out of the positioning and best time …

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Cosanti- A Unique Desert Studio!

In Travel Photogaphy by porteengear

When you visit Scottsdale, AZ, a must-see stop should be Cosanti just outside of Scottsdale! This magnificent studio was home to Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri before his passing in 2013. The structures are formed with concrete using the ground as a mold. All of the details were carved in a mound of earth, concrete was poured over and when dried, the earth was removed beneath the concrete. This technique is called earthcasting. Cosanti is also known for it’s wind bells which are created on-site. These bells are know world-wide and are a favorite gift for an Arizona resident to send out on the holidays to people outside of the area. I was lucky enough to be present during a casting with several of the day’s visitors. Molten metal is poured into the sand forms and will set quickly. The forms have been shaped and etched with designs beforehand. Using different …

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Scottsdale, Arizona Invasion! Art, History and Culture.

In Photography Tips, Travel Photogaphy by porteengear

Day one of the Scottsdale Invasion in Scottsdale, AZ! Check-in at the retro and funky Saguaro hotel was a treat. Vintage leather furniture and beautiful artwork hangs all around the property. Dinner at The Distrito was a taste experience to die for! From the Duck Fundido to the Pecado a la Veracruz, they have a great menu for the food connoisseur. The ArtWalk in the Downtown Scottsdale was a great way to walk off the evenings dinner and drinks. The galleries are on a street adorned with lights and outdoor sculptures. And who could resist a wall of John Wayne movie posters! Disclaimer: This experience was provided free of charge for review purposes by Scottsdale CVB, but all opinions expressed are my own.

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Grand Rapids, MI Best Little City in The Midwest

In Travel Photogaphy by porteengear

Grand Rapids, Michigan is located on the Grand River in western Michigan. This little city has been getting a lot of attention lately with several “best of” nominations and awards. Nestled inland about 35 miles East of Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is evolving into a creative hotspot with a revitalized urban downtown. Full of festivals and events, there is always something to do here especially in the warmer months. Voted 4th out of 10 Best Cities for Finding Employment by Forbes Voted Best City For Raising a Family Number One Travel Destination in 2014 by Lonely Planet Top 10 Emerging Cities in the US by Global Trade Best Beer Town by USA Today Best Place to Retire by AARP ..and the list goes on and on! Grand Rapids even broke a World Record for most people doing a 5000 person lip dub to Don McLean’s American Pie! The city hosts …

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No Snakes in Ireland! The Story of St. Patrick

In Skies and Coffee by porteengear

St. Patrick banished all the snakes in Ireland, and that’s is why it’s one of my favorite places to hike! It’s also a great country of stories and myths. There are entire books on Irish fairies and story tellers used to roam the lands. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I will share the story of St. Patrick and the snakes. The story goes: On a cold, windy March day in 5th century Ireland, St. Patrick awoke early, drank a cup of hot coffee, ate a buttered biscuit, grabbed his favorite wooden staff and headed out the door of the church. He was a man with a mission. His mission—to rid the beautiful, green Irish countryside of those slithering, slimy, evil-eyed snakes. Having spread Christianity throughout Ireland, St. Patrick now felt it was his duty to drive all the snakes into the sea. Snakes and serpents were symbols of paganism, …

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3 Spring Flower Landscapes to Photograph in the US

In Skies and Coffee by porteengear

Spring is almost here for the US and those of us that have seen nothing but white landscapes in the past 4 months are definitely ready for it! Maybe this blog post will trigger the weather to warm up and bring on those Spring Flowers! There are many sites all around the world that photographers gather to get the perfect floral landscape shots. I have picked my top 3 places to photograph Spring flower landscapes in the US. 1. Sunflower Fields in North Dakota I had the rare opportunity to travel in North Dakota on business a few years back and had to drive across the state. There were endless rolling fields of sunflowers as far as the eye could see! It’s a memory I will retain forever and if you get a chance to visit this beautiful state, do so! You can pull over on the side of the …

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5 of the Most Colorful Festivals to Photograph

In Skies and Coffee by porteengear

If you’re a photography enthusiast, you know that color and composition transform ordinary photographs into intriguing and compelling art work. One of the best places to find that color is at one of these world festivals. You’ll not only come home with some terrific shots, but you’ll have a good time as well. 1. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. From the floats to the beads to the king cakes, New Orleans is an explosion of color during Mardi Gras season, the two weeks preceding Lent. The daily parades and nightly parties offer wonderful photographic opportunities. Of course, New Orleans isn’t the only place in the world that celebrates the week preceding Lent. Brazil and the Caribbean island of Trinidad both have large Carnival festivities. 2. Day of the Dead in Mexico. On November 1st (All Saints Day), Mexicans honor their ancestors with colorful costumes, paper flowers, pastries and street parties. …

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Castle Hopping Off the Beaten Path

In Skies and Coffee by porteengear

Ireland is my favorite spot to visit and I have been there several times. I have many stories to share about this beautiful country. Fascinated by history, the first thing planned was to explore the old castles and homesteads and imagine what life was like a few centuries ago. We take pride in history in the US, but we are hard pressed to find many structures or sites that are more than 300 years old. Many of the Castles have been turned into tourist traps and there are long queues just to get inside. So I made the decision to explore the abandoned castles off the beaten path. Research was done online and I found an older book published by The Daily Telegraph called Castles & Ancient Monuments of Ireland. It was published in 2001, but I figured that some of these castles have been standing since the 1200’s so …

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Irish Fog Creates a Mood

In Porteen Gear News by porteengear

I have the pleasure of traveling to the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland every 1-2 years. It’s the most beautiful place in the world to me. Time is slower there, people are in no hurry, they still run herds of sheep down main street and there are no trains and very few buses that go there. It’s my own peaceful retreat. I have photographed this area many times and captured the beautiful sun drenched western coast line with its magnificent waves crashing on the shore. I was thinking that I had photographed every nook and cranny of this area except for many areas inland without roads, so I made a plan to set out on one of the hiking trails called the Saints Path north of Dingle on my last day there. In fact, I had saved a whole day just for this photo trip. The weather had been beautiful and …