Back with new posts and photographs!

Well, I never planned to take a three month hiatus from the blog. Here we are, at the end of July with one rogue post since the end of April. Quite a bit has happened since my last Friday Favorite post. The most notable update is my move to Oregon, clear across the country from my last home in Maryland! Between the moving preparations, a scenic drive across the country, arriving in Oregon with no home, to finding a home, unpacking, settling in and then venturing back across the country for some family time, posting on the blog simply fell through the numerous available cracks.

Here's what's going to happen now:
  1. Catch up on Friday Favorites. I've been stashing weekly photographs away to eventually share.
  2. Get back on a regular schedule, posting each Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. May toss in a Wednesday post here and there.
  3. Focus on travel. Aside from a weekly Friday Favorite, the blog will be full of travel photographs and a few thoughts from my visit. I'm going to step away from a top five list for each place and focus on the hikes, drives, sights taken in during that specific trip.
  4. Update the gallery with recent captures, because let's face it, it's been a while since new photographs have been loaded to the online shop.

I hope you have been well the last few months! It's been a whirlwind of a summer for me :)

20 Days on the Road | Fall 2016

20 Days on the Road | Fall 2016 | Alaina Ann Photography Today I'm hitting the road for the shortened version of my fall road trip. Originally planned for 50 days, the trip was cut down to 20, allowing me time to visit with doctors during the month of September. More on that here.

Stop by the travel page for planned destinations (September and October).

This trip will take me as far west as Colorado and New Mexico, before heading back toward Maryland. Feel free to follow along as I make my way around the country.

iPhone Photographs Instax Photographs Updates from the Road

I had every intention of writing and scheduling all my upcoming blog posts, but ended up running out of time. Since my travel days are a bit more aggressive than usual, I'm taking the pressure of myself and planning to post when time permits.

Enjoy the last few days in September :)

Travel Self Portraits

Travel Self Portraits | Alaina Ann Photography Before hitting the road for 23 days, my cousin suggested spending time capturing travel self portraits.

I LOVED this idea. For several reasons...

Most of my travels are solo and I rarely make my way into the photographs I capture. Having travel self portraits will be a nice, personal keepsake.

Adding a person to a scene provides a new perspective. Especially a small person :)

It's always fun to capture behind-the-scenes images in my happiest places.

For now, I will attempt to share one travel self portrait each month.

Christmas Stocking | Friday Favorite

Christmas Stocking | Alaina Ann Photography It most certainly feels like Christmas around here :) The tree is up, presents are wrapped, stockings are hung and most importantly, family is on the way!

For the first time since last Christmas, everyone in my family will be together and I absolutely can not wait! We will have a full house, making great memories to carry on throughout the upcoming year.

This year, my mom hung these little stockings with our initials on them. This is my little Christmas stocking, hanging on the railing :)

Camera: Nikon D800 Lens: 50mm ISO: 1000 Aperture: f/1.8 Shutter Speed: 1/13 sec

Journals | Travel

Travel Journals | Alaina Ann Photography I love making lists, writing in journals and often day dream about places I want to visit and explore one day. Over the years, I have actively written in two photography journals - a travel journal and a travel bucket list.

Travel Journal Tips

Whether you are a photographer, traveler, or simply someone who pops into new places now and again, I highly encourage keeping a journal from your trips. You never know when you might return and need a little reminder of great finds from years prior :) My travel journal helps me remember the amazing hikes, views and side roads from recent (and distant!) travels.

Below are a few items you may consider recording:

  • Dates/Season visited and any weather or variations in experience related to that time of year
  • Locations to remember - pullouts with scenic views, roads traveled, landmarks
  • Hikes - great trails you explored, ones recommended for your next visit
  • Lodging and campsites
  • Restaurants and local markets
  • Stories from your travels and experiences
  • Names of people you met along the way
  • Notes on wildlife and vegetation
  • Cautious reminders for a return visit, possibly related to weather conditions or wildlife encouters

I have mostly use my travel journal for short notes. I would like to get into a habit of keeping a diary of my travels and experiences while in certain places and moments. I retain many of the memories quite well, but trust that may change one day!

Travel Journals | Alaina Ann Photography

Travel Bucket List Tips

My travel bucket list keeps me excited and motivated to drive, fly and sometimes walk to new places! When I first started my travel bucket list, it was quite general and mostly listed countries or cities to visit. Now that I have been traveling more and more, my journal is quite specific with some items narrowed down to a specific location within a hike!

Below are a few recommendations for organizing a travel bucket list:

  • Set aside a page or two for each state/country/city (depending on your focus)
  • Consider dividing your entries by region, if necessary
  • Name specific locations, restaurants, landmarks, etc.
  • Gather GPS coordinates if you plan to backpack into a location, on or off a trail
  • Note seasons that are optimal for the desired visit, hikes and/or photograph being captured
  • Highlight/Note destinations that are particular to a season using different colors to easily plan for upcoming trips
  • Include websites or other resources that may help with trip planning

Do you have questions or suggestions about keeping a travel journal or two? If so, I would love to hear from you!

Plum Island | Travel

Plum Island Piping Plover | Alaina Ann Photography My youngest sister and I spent a chilly and peaceful morning on Plum Island, in Massachusetts, toward the end of summer. We decided to visit this beach because of the piping plover preserve. Naturally, they are my favorite bird :)

Plum Island Piping Plover | Alaina Ann Photography

I first fell in love with piping plovers when I lived on Long Island. While visiting Fire Island, my sister and I came across a handful of baby piping plovers and were delighted watching them run all over the beach, sometimes getting a bit too close to the crashing waves. We always giggle together thinking about these tiny birds running beneath our feet.

Plum Island Piping Plover | Alaina Ann Photography

The skies were gray and there were scattered rain showers the entire time we were visiting. The crowds were thin and, as you can see, the birds were abundant! Naturally, we came across a few seagulls during our walk.

Plum Island Seagull | Alaina Ann Photography

We even saw a seal bobbing in the ocean! If you live in the area, I highly recommend stopping by during the fall and early winter months to see the migrating seals as they spend time in the ocean and rest on the beach :)

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Sunrise at the Grand Canyon | Travel

Grand Canyon Sunrise | Alaina Ann Photography After an adventurous four days crossing the country with my mom, we decided to hop back in the car and drive north from Vail, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. Even though our trip was short and somewhat of a blur, we truly had a great time exploring the South Rim.

Grand Canyon Sunrise | Alaina Ann Photography

My favorite part of our visit was watching the sunrise, filling the Grand Canyon with light and color with each passing second. I hope to witness this beautiful moment many more times in the future!

Recommended Sunrise Locations
  • Yavapai Point
  • Mather Point
  • Maricopa Point

We chose to watch the sunrise from Yavapai point and were quite pleased with the decision!

Grand Canyon Sunrise | Alaina Ann Photography

Trailing White Fireworks | Friday Favorite

Trailing White Fireworks Traveling into Washington, DC each year on the 4th of July to watch the fireworks is one of my favorite family traditions from my childhood. I remember laughing and playing with my siblings on the same red blanket, year after year, followed by colorful skies.

This year I invited my parents to join me at the Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) to watch the fireworks. This was my first time setting up a tripod to capture fireworks and I am very glad I did! Even though the Washington Monument is covered in scaffolding, I still consider it to be uniquely beautiful in the photographs.

I have spent the last hour trying to choose a favorite from last night and am still bouncing back and forth between four photographs. I decided to let my mom choose her favorite for today's post :)

Today's Friday Favorite comes from the beautiful fireworks display in Washington, DC!

Camera: Nikon D7000 Lens: 28-300mm at 170mm ISO: 100 Aperture: f/10 Shutter Speed: 5 sec

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Dare to Dream | Friday Favorite

Dare to Dream The weeks seem to be flying by as I get more settled into my new home. And my camera seems to be collecting dust because I have not made time to sneak away with it one day each week. I will be getting back on track with my planned photography day next week :)

A handful of months ago, everything in my life was a bit rearranged. And for a brief period, I considered stepping away from my entrepreneurial role with Alaina Ann Creative and Alaina Ann Photography to join an organization full time. Luckily, one day I came to terms with my truth; I am meant to be doing the work I do each day with my companies that I love SO much. Both are successful and filled to the brim with my true passions and the career I want to have.

Today's Friday Favorite is a simple photograph that any of us could have snapped. For me, it resonates with my heart because the simple words, "Dare to Dream" have kept me on the path in my life that I love. I have always been a big dreamer and I trust I always will be!

Camera: iPhone 4s

National Park Bucket List | Travel

National Parks A few years back, I set a goal to visit each National Park in the United States before the age of 45. As shocking as this is to write, I am only 13 years from that age! As of today, I am about one third of the way to reaching my goal :)

National Parks Visited

Acadia - Maine Arches - Utah Badlands - South Dakota Big Bend - Texas Bryce Canyon - Utah Canyonlands - Utah Capitol Reef - Utah Death Valley - California Everglades - Florida Grand Canyon - Arizona Grand Teton - Wyoming Great Sand Dunes - Colorado Great Smokey Mountains - Tennessee | North Carolina Mesa Verde - Colorado Petrified Forest - Arizona Rocky Mountain - Colorado Saguaro - Arizona Shenandoah - Virginia Theodore Roosevelt - North Dakota Yellowstone - Wyoming | Montana | Idaho Yosemite - California Zion - Utah

National Parks to Visit

American Samoa - American Somoa Biscayne - Florida Black Canyon of the Gunnison - Colorado Carlsbad Caverns - New Mexico Channel Islands - California Congaree - South Carolina Crater Lake - Oregon Cuyahoga Valley - Ohio Denali - Alaska Dry Tortugas - Florida Gates of the Arctic - Alaska Glacier - Montana Glacier Bay - Alaska Great Basin - Nevada Guadalupe Mountains - Texas Haleakala - Maui Hawaii Volcanoes - Hawaii Hot Springs - Arkansas Isle Royale - Michigan Joshua Tree - California Katmai - Alaska Kenai Fjords - Alaska Kobuk Valley - Alaska Lake Clark - Alaska Lassen Volcanic - California Mammoth Cave - Kentucky Mount Rainier - Washington North Cascades - Washington Olympic - Washington Redwood - California Sequoia and Kings Canyon - California Virgin Islands - U.S. Virgin Islands Voyageurs - Minnesota Wind Cave - South Dakota Wrangell-St. Elias - Alaska

As you can see, I have a few trips to plan :) Hopefully I will be editing this post regularly, shrinking the second list over the years!

**Updated on October 1, 2013.