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.

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

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.

Moving to Maryland

Arizona-Maryland Alaina Ann Photography is relocating to Maryland at the end of May! Deciding to leave Arizona and head back to Maryland was a big decision to make. Ultimately, being close to family and friends sealed the deal.

What does this mean for Alaina Ann Photography? A few things, actually!

As you might imagine, my nature photography portfolio will expand to include photographs from Maryland and other locations along the East Coast. I am also planning a scenic trip across the country and will have my camera with me along the way :)

I will miss Arizona tremendously and plan to spend as much time capturing this lovely state before I hit the road! Once I arrive safely in Maryland, I will share my travels across the country :)

Change and new journeys are all part of the adventure we call life. And I do love a good adventure!

Snow in Arizona

Saguaro National Park Snow When I moved to Arizona a year ago, I never thought about the possibility of snow in the desert. I must say, when it does snow in Arizona, the sights are magnificent!

The photograph above was captured with my iPhone 4s during a brief snow shower in Saguaro National Park. The rainbow came out for just a few moments! I was quite pleased to share this rare experience with my sister :)

Snow in Arizona | Nature Photography | Alaina Ann Photography

Another amazing sight here in Vail was snow covered saguaros after an overnight storm. When I woke up and realized the saguaros would be covered in snow, I ran around my house throwing on warm layers and grabbing camera gear. The snow melted so quickly!

Snow in Arizona | Nature Photography | Alaina Ann Photography

There have been three significant snowfalls here in Vail. One storm produced over six inches of accumulation here at the house! I truly enjoyed walking around my neighborhood as the snow was coming down, capturing the unexpected beauty that comes with a desert scene covered in fluffy, white snow.

Snow in Arizona | Nature Photography | Alaina Ann Photography

If you happen to find yourself in Arizona during winter, and snow begins to fall, I highly recommend bundling up and going for a walk!

Photography Contest Finalist

Last Thursday, while eating lunch, I logged onto facebook and started to scroll through my news feed. I immediately noticed my Windy Flower Prayer photograph posted on the Arizona Highways Magazine page with the announcement for the finalists in their annual photography contest!! I was ELATED! I jumped out of my chair and even squeaked out a little scream of joy :) The photograph is one of my favorites from this summer in Tucson, Arizona. I am truly honored to be a finalist among so many talented photographers. The winner will be announced in the September 2013 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine!

I want to thank my family, friends and facebook fans for the outpouring of support and enthusiasm! Thank you for sharing this very exciting moment with me :)

Windy Flower Prayer