Bucket List Part 2

Artist Portrait | Beebower Productions

So last week we counted down five locations that have Dad drooling.  Let’s finish off his photographic bucket list with the top five spots he’s dying to visit.

5.  Churchill, Manitoba, Canada: 

It’s the polar bear capitol of the world.  During October and November, the polar bears move toward Hudson Bay to feed on ringed seals.  You can catch a ride on a specially designed tundra vehicle that keeps hungry bears out and people inside.  Of course, be sure to bring some heavy-duty winter clothing since you’ll have to roll down the window to shoot out of the vehicle.

Out in the bay you can see thousands of beluga whales that move back from their winter ground to the Churchill the area during July and August.  Belugas are curious about humans and playful with their compadres, so great photographs are possible.

Birds also flock to Churchill since it’s part of a busy bird flyway and you can catch the best show of Northern Lights January through March.  Churchill has a lot to offer photographers.

4.  New Zealand: 

Peter Jackson picked a location winner for his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” movies.  New Zealand, Jackson’s homeland, is packed with sweeping waterfalls, extraordinary glaciers, imposing mountain ranges, mysterious ice caves and even an active volcano. 

Don’t let the Kiwi nation’s relatively small size and remote location (900 miles east of Australia) throw you.  The long, narrow islands that make up New Zealand are packed with possibilities.  The great news is that a small population makes it easy to escape crowds and photograph that unspoiled scenery.  Neither Dad nor I would have trouble finding material for panoramic, stunning images. 

In addition to the landscape, Dad’s itching to photograph some of the enormous rainbow and brown trout that call New Zealand home.  Western author and fisherman Zane Grey called New Zealand an “angler’s El Dorado”.  This gold mine of fish provides super-sized and, apparently very wily, trout.  No problem.  Dad will employ a bit of movie magic to take that memorable fishing shot.

3.  Costa Rica: 

Good thing come in small packages and Costa Rica packs a punch.  The small country, about the size of West Virginia, is sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama in Central South America.  It boasts shores on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  Best known for its coffee, Costa Rica also contains amazing wildlife and scenery that shouldn’t be missed.

To kick his trip off with a bang, Dad could choose between six active volcanoes to photograph.  Maybe he could even do one of those nifty exposures that show the volcano and stars.  Or he could photograph the rain forest that meshes seamlessly with the white sand beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park.  Or maybe he could do waterfall photographs in the cloud forest near the Talamanca Mountains.  Or he could photograph white-faced monkeys at Damas Island Mangrove Estuary.  And then there’s the Osa Peninsula with breathtaking views and an equally breathtaking list of wildlife.

With 812 bird species and 45 types of hummingbirds plus howler monkeys, coatimundi, sloths and jaguars to name a few, Dad could spend months happily photographing in Costa Rica.  And we didn’t even discuss the mindboggling array of lush and unusual plants that cover Costa Rica from top to bottom.

2.  Ecuador: 

Dad salivates over Ecuador because 132 types of hummingbirds, the glittering jewels of the garden, that make their home in this South American country on the Pacific Ocean.  They come in all shapes and sizes including the sword-billed hummingbird whose beak is longer than its body and the rainbow colored long-tailed sylphs.  Ecuador even has a hummingbird that survives at glacier level!  Dad would give an arm and a leg to stay at the Guango or Tandayapa lodges or hike the Papallacta Pass trail just for the hummingbird action.

If, by some chance, he managed to photograph all 132 hummingbirds, Dad would still have plenty of photo opportunities.  Between the 16,000 bird species and 300 or so mammals make their home in the country, he could spend years wandering through Ecuador capturing wildlife photos. 

But the magic of Ecuador doesn’t stop with the animals.  The Amazon River flows through the country creating dramatic scenes.  On the eastern side of Ecuador Dad could photograph San Rafael Falls, the highest waterfall in the country.   The Andes Mountains span seven countries in South America, including Ecuador, and provide dramatic peaks and valleys for landscape images.

Ecuador is well worth a top spot on your bucket list.

1.  Iceland:

Greenland and Norway sandwich the small island of Iceland between them.  The country, about the size of Ohio, is one of the most sparsely populated places in Europe.  That makes photographers very happy because they have lots of room to capture the volcanoes and glaciers that dot the landscape. 

For photographers, Iceland provides an abundance of a key picture ingredient—light.  The sun shines 24 hours a day during the peak of summer, providing plenty of time to capture images.  Mid-winter has short days of 4 to 5 hours of sunlight, but it makes up for the lack of light with the stunning Northern Lights displays.

Surprisingly for a country named Iceland, the island (on average) doesn’t get as cold as New York.  However, visitors may find the daily mini earthquakes a bit unsettling.  The Eurasian and North American plates meet here causing the frequent geologic activity.

If you can get beyond all of that, there’s no end to the photographic possibilities.  The Snaefellsnes Peninsula holds many treasures including the highest mountain in the country complete with a glacier.  Dad could also photograph the multi-cascading Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, a real stunner, or wander over to the beaches for scenic ocean images.  At the Floi Nature Reserve an ancient lava field hosts gobs of birds at the wetlands and ponds.  And Latrabjarg’s cliffs house millions of birds, everything from atlantic puffins to northern gannets.  The cliffs also make stunning landscape photos.  And we can’t forget while in the country Dad also could photograph reindeer in eastern Iceland.  When I was a kid, a photo of a reindeer would have gone a long way in convincing me Santa was real.

So there you have it.  Dad’s list of ten amazing locations you shouldn’t miss.  Now we just need a priceless artifact we can sell for a pile of money and Indy’s plane so we can fly off into the sunset.  It would be a perfect movie ending.

Bucket List: 10 Places You Shouldn’t Miss

Artist Portrait | Beebower Productions

His list reads like an Indiana Jones adventure:  mysterious ice caves in New Zealand, giant hungry grizzly bears in Alaska, colorful and glittering jewels in Ecuador, ghost towns baking in Wyoming and unpredictable, angry volcanoes in Iceland.  We’ve all got a bucket list, places we’d love to visit if we had found a pile of gold at the end of the rainbow.  My Dad is no exception.  His bucket list, however, revolves around places with outstanding photographic possibilities. 

He’s been to some of these spots, but it was usually for a commercial advertising shoot on a tight schedule.  Dad would love to go back and explore on his own.  (Incidentally I plan to stowaway in his camera cases for these adventures since I’m currently lacking a pot of gold.)

10.   Wind River Valley and Mountains, Wyoming:

With a motto of “Where Real Cowboys Work and Play” how could you go wrong visiting the area around Dubois, Wyoming in the Wind River Valley?  The valley, located in northwestern and central Wyoming, overflows with century old ranches, alpine meadows teaming with wildflowers, petroglyphs, ghost towns, rodeos, and wildlife.   The valley lies below the impressive Wind River Mountain range that stretches 100 miles through Wyoming.  The Continental Divide marches through the range too. 

Dad could easily fill all three categories of our website (old West, landscapes and wildlife) with stellar new images.  The wildlife alone would make him a happy camper.  You can find pronghorn antelope, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, eagles, badgers and bears roaming the land. 

He could also shoot his latest interest, gorgeous nighttime skies filled with a canopy of stars.  And the landscapes!  Oh my.  Seven of the largest glaciers in the Rocky Mountains inch through the Wind River Mountains.  The sculpted, giant spires and peaks in the Cirque of the Towers provide a spectacular backdrop for impressive landscape images.   Massive rivers sculpt the land and crystal clear lakes dot the landscape.

No matter where you look both the Wind River Valley and the Wind River mountain ranges are a photographer’s dream.

9.  Absaroka Mountains, Wyoming and Montana:

Next on the list, the Absaroka Mountains.  Nope it’s not the fictional Absaroka County, WY of “Longmire” fame, but a mountain range near the eastern border of Yellowstone National Park.   

The mountains cross the border of Wyoming and Montana and stretch for 160 miles.  This bad boy of ranges contains multiple peaks that reach 10,000 feet or higher many of them whittled into unique shapes.  The climbs can be treacherous due to the crumbling “kitty litter” of rocks.

The Absarokas are one of the most remote areas in the US brimming with wildlife, stunning landscapes, thick forests, active glaciers, tundra plateaus and mountain lakes.  Again, Dad could easily fill our website with old West, landscape and wildlife photos.  You can even go ice climbing on numerous frozen waterfalls at the south fork of the Shoshone River in the southern portion of the Absarokas.  Now that would make an interesting picture!

Dad also could capture images of grizzlies, wolves, big horn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, elk, deer and black bears while exploring this area.  In fact, many local guides lead popular hunting expeditions and packhorse trips into the mountains. 

No matter where you look in the Absarokas, there’s a picture lurking. 

8.  Oregon and Washington State coasts:

Dad’s actually done many commercial shoots in both of these states, but he never had time to explore the coast.  Simply driving along US 101, which closely follows the coastline, provides enough eye candy to keep any photographer happy.  Sea stacks, beach caves, tide pools, sand dunes, lighthouses, shipwrecks and wildlife abound along this stretch of highway.  With so many great photo subjects, the trouble maybe tearing yourself away from one photo op to drive to the next.

7.  California:

The Golden State overflows with great scenic spots.  Dad would love to explore in great detail Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Yosemite and Redwood National parks.  He’d happily return to Mt. Shasta too.  All of these locations have outstanding landscape possibilities as well as abundant wildlife opportunities.  Dad will get to shoot at a few of these sites soon since I recently moved to the California.  Plus he gets the bonus of free room and board at my house during his photo expeditions. Throw in the free location scouting and taxi cab service I provide and Dad’s got it pretty easy in California.

6.  Alaska:

Without a doubt, Alaska is synonymous with landscape and wildlife photography. While Dad has been to Alaska several times, he’d gladly return.  Living glaciers, forests, stunning mountains and beaches make taking landscape photos easy.

The wildlife is impressive too, but three areas hold Dad’s interest.  Kachemak Bay near Homer teams with marine life in the protected Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  You can also find gobs of bald eagles.  If you want to capture our national symbol in flight, Kachemak is the place.

Admiralty Island near Juneau also has eagles.  In April and May it’s common to have over 800 bald eagle nests on the island.  Admiralty, also known as the island of the bears, really does have a whole lot of bears, about 1,600.  So if they don’t eat you for lunch, you have a pretty good chance of capturing them with your camera.

At Lake Clark National Park and Preserve west of Anchorage you can see bears as well as a plethora of volcanoes, glaciers, salmon, moose, seabirds and pristine lakes.  What’s not to like?

For the truly adventurous, Saint Paul Island in the Bearing Sea between Alaska and Russia is the place to photograph breeding seabirds and northern fur seals.  It’s also a major flyway for migratory birds.  It’s not, however, for the faint of heart.  Saint Paul is considered a polar climate because even during the summer temperatures it only reaches a high of 50 degrees.  During the winter, temperatures dip into the negatives.  And there’s only one city on the island, Saint Paul.  We don’t know if you can see Russia from your backyard while on Saint Paul, but you sure can get some stellar shots of birds and seals.

No matter where you look in Alaska, there’s definitely something to shoot.

Join us next week when we reveal the remaining top 5 locations that have Dad drooling over polar bears, ice caves, volcanoes, jewels of the garden and reindeer.

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