Photography · Travel

Chasing Dinosaurs in Colorado

Denver was a highlight of our road trip this summer, if for nothing else than probably the best meal we’ve yet enjoyed stateside (at Rioja – and we’ve had lots of good meals!). Unfortunately, we were only there for a single night before hitting the road again. On our way out of the city, we stopped at Dinosaur Ridge to track down some dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Ridge is directly outside Denver, but feels as if it may as well be half a day outside Denver. The terrain becomes mountainous almost instantly, the sun hot, the air dry.

All photos taken with Nikon D5300 paired with 35mm f/1.8 lens.

I was particularly taken with the textures and colors of the landscape around Dinosaur Ridge. The rock formations are unbelievably cool.

DSC_0150 DSC_0149

And oh yeah! There were dinosaurs, including massive dinosaur footprints in the rock formations. Definitely cooler than seeing this stuff transplanted to a curated museum.

DSC_0156 DSC_0155

Yup – the outline there is really a dinosaur footprint. When I first saw it, I was looking for the prints inside the outline. It was only after looking and looking that I realized that it was the print. Wow.

And here we are, looking out over the Rocky Mountains from Dinosaur Ridge:

DSC_0172 DSC_0184


Photography · Travel

Harriet and Dred Scott and the fight for freedom in St. Louis


St. Louis was one of the first stops on our cross country road trip this summer. When we went to purchase tickets at the courthouse to go up the St. Louis Arch, I was pleasantly surprised by the historical exhibits on the Dred Scott court case, which had originated in the very same St. Louis courthouse.

In 1846, Harriet and Dred Scott each filed petitions with the St. Louis circuit court to sue for their freedom, as they had traveled and lived in parts of the United States where slavery had been abolished. The series of court cases took over a decade, when a decision was rendered by the United States Supreme Court in 1857.

Chief Justice Roger Taney, writing for the court majority, infamously remarked that even a free black person, “whose ancestors were brought to this country and sold as slaves, is not a “citizen” within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States.” Therefore, he concluded, Dred Scott did not even have the right to bring the case, much less to demand his freedom (Harriet’s case had been dropped, and any decision rendered to her husband would apply also to her).

The case, Scott v. Sandford, is one of the most well-known cases in United States history. It rendered obsolete the Missouri Compromise that had outlawed slavery in some territories of the United States, and arguably played a significant role in paving the way to the Civil War – which concluded with the adoption of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, the 14th Amendment extending citizenship to all persons regardless of their race, and the 15th Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens (lest I fall subject to criticisms of historical naïveté, it’s important to note that these amendments have been interpreted narrowly and have had far less impact than a historical reading would suggest – but the significance of upending and overturning the Scott decision is far from trivial).

Although Harriet and Dred were separately granted their freedom around the time the decision was rendered (the woman who enslaved and profited from them had married an abolitionist politician from New England who feared the public backlash), it’s difficult to imagine the pain they endured before and during the years of the trial, as white lawyers debated their humanity. Yet, despite this, their contributions to the struggle for liberation in the United States have been immeasurable, surely greater than they ever imagined or themselves enjoyed.

Today, Harriet and Dred Scott are remembered in exhibits like the one in St. Louis, and in statues like the one pictured above, standing in front of one of the same courthouses that once denied them their basic humanity.

Photography · Travel

Shipwrecks and Thor on Videy Island


We’ve finally returned from a long series of trips that took us to the east coast, Iceland, and on a cross country trip with stops in Pittsburgh, PA, St. Louis, MO, Salina, KS, Denver, CO, Vernal, UT, Salt Lake City, UT, Boise, ID, and Hood River, OR, with lots of great stops in between. I have yet to work through the photographs from our road trip, but do have some to share from Videy Island.

Although many folks rent a car when they visit Iceland, we decided against it. Maybe it’s thriftiness, more likely it’s learning to travel when we were college students relying on late night bus connections and regional trains, but we thought it would force us to slow down and enjoy smaller bits of Iceland at a time. As a compromise of sorts, we instead purchased a Reykjavik City Card, which gave us access to public buses and national museums, as well as a nifty little ferry (read: small passenger boat) to Videy Island.

Classic rock and peace activism enthusiasts alike are most likely to recognize Videy for Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower. The tower itself is close to the small dock, and a short five minute walk upon arrival on the uninhabited island.


Unfortunately (depending on how you think of it), the sun only kind of sets in Iceland in summer. While the sun technically falls below the horizon, the country is still well lit right up until dawn. Because of that, we saw Imagine Peace Tower’s base, but not its towering light.

The tourism folks in Iceland have really figured out how to make something like an uninhabited island extremely interesting. Videy Island, as it turns out, is historically significant, once important for worship and small industry. Before boarding our little passenger boat across the bay, we picked up a map that indicated dozens of interesting points, including public art by Yoko Ono (above) and Richard Serra (below); the site of a shipwreck; Thor’s headland, thought once to have been a worship site of the Norse god; and a now abandoned village.

Serra framed beautiful views of Iceland with his stones.

Richard Serra’s Afangar (“Standing Stones”) features sets of two tall stones throughout Videy Island, each framing separate – and beautiful – views of Iceland.

The island isn’t all public art and peace, however, as this monument (below) to a shipwreck attests.


We loved our visit to Videy Island, and spent many hours exploring there – including an attack by a horde of Arctic tern (small beautiful defensive birds that dive-bomb trespassing heads).

Photography · Travel

Happy fourth! (off to Iceland)


My godson chasing bubbles. Shot on Nikon D5300 and 35mm f/1.8.


Not totally unexpectedly, this blog is most active when I’m most busy. Photography and blogging are largely a way to center myself when the world gets too hectic. Now that things have (temporarily) slowed down, so have my posting habits.

But there are photos on the horizon! Hannah and I are off to Iceland this evening, and I hope inspiration strikes.

In the meantime, how about that curious smile on my godson? We only get to see him about twice a year right now, living on the other side of the country. I love the time I get with him when we are back in Buffalo, though.

Photography · Travel

Picture This: Waterfalls, retreating glaciers, and a honeymoon


Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls (Juneau, Alaska)
Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls. Shot on Nikon D5300 with 18-55mm kit lens.


My wife and I both teach. Consequently, this means we both give up fun things like travel, hobbies, and sleep during the school year.

When we were planning our wedding, we knew it would have to be outside the school year. We also had to do almost all of the planning the summer a year before the wedding, with all the final details taken care of in the month right before it.

Planning any wedding is overwhelming, as many will surely tell you. For us, that we had to plan it in a confined space of time was even more stressful. So when we were thinking about our honeymoon, we chose something that required the least amount of thought on our part: a cruise out of Seattle to Alaska.

I’d never been on a cruise before, and Hannah had only been on one when she was young. Having now been there, done that, I think the description I heard from a fellow passenger best sums up the experience: cruises are “fat farms.” The best free entertainment on board is the endless variety of foods. And boy did we take advantage of that…

So it was always with great relief that we would come to shore and explore the beautiful Alaskan landscape.

When we were in Juneau, we hopped a bus to the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls (pictured above). We made a short hike to the falls, which really were beautiful. It’s hard to imagine, but the falls are significantly smaller than the glacier. This is true despite a 1.25 mile retreat since 1929 (wow).

Picture This is a Daydreams in Analog feature focusing on a single photograph.

Photography · Travel

Mourning in Berlin: The night the Brandenburg Gate came to life

Candlelit Vigil

Last summer I traveled to Berlin for a couple weeks for work. It was shortly after the tragic Orlando nightclub shooting, and many of the western world’s cultural monuments were lit in the colors of the rainbow.

I was traveling on my own and had nowhere in particular to be. So on June 18, I wandered out of my AirBnB, onto the subway, and headed toward Berlin’s famous monument.

When I arrived, many folks were already there. Berlin felt like a pride parade and a funeral, all at once. People cried, hugged, laughed, cheered.

As the sun began to set, the crowd broke into a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” At the end of the song, the gate’s sandstone shone with the colors of the rainbow.

It was a powerful moment of solidarity, not soon forgotten.

31 Brandenburger Tor