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Hulihee Palace in the Heart of Old Kailua, Hawaii

November 8th, 2017

Hulihee Palace in the Heart of Old Kailua, Hawaii

"Hawaii is paradise. It sounds cheesy to say it, but there's music in the air there." - Bruno Mars

Paradise comes with a palace and that happens to be Hulihe'e Palace on the Big Island of Hawaii. Located along Ali'i Drive in old Kailua town, it was built in 1938 by Governor James Kuakini and subsequently use by the Hawaiian Royalty as a summer get-away. Today the palace is open to the public as a museum and is operated by the Daughter's of Hawaii.

There's no photography allowed inside so I had to settle for this exterior shot. I also had to stand back from the coconut trees because there was a sign warning, "Watch For Falling Coconuts." I guess there more than music in the air in paradise!

Aloha my FAA friends!

Happy Travels!

All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text �Sam Antonio Photography 2015

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A classic shot that you cannot duplicate

March 18th, 2016

A classic shot that you cannot duplicate

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The classic view of The Grand Tetons from the Snake River Overlook, a viewpoint made famous by Ansel Adams in a black & white photograph bearing the same name.

If you have the inclination to duplicate Adams’ classic shot, bring a chainsaw since the growth of the trees now block the famous s-curve of the Snake River that was a key compositional element in his photograph.

Of course, do not bring a chainsaw, cut down trees and when handcuffed by the Park Rangers mentioned to them that some crazy photographer named Sam Antonio told you to do so.

I added in my own interpretation to this classic view by including into the composition a splash of color from the vibrant fall colors of a nearby tree. That smudge you see at the base of the Teton Mountain is haze from a controlled burn the National Park Service was conducting that week. As a result, they ruined many of my shots over the three days I was photographing in the park.

On second thought, if you make it out to Grand Teton National Park tell the parks rangers that I am still pissed off for what they did back in 2006. I may just come back and cut down a couple of trees!


All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text ©Sam Antonio Photography

Happy Travels!

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Come Sail Away in San Diego

March 14th, 2016

Come Sail Away in San Diego

The Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge in downtown San Diego connects the convention center with Petco Park (home to San Diego’s Major League Baseball team the Padres). At 550 feet, the bridge is one of the longest self-anchored pedestrian suspension bridges in the world and is supposed to look like a sail to fit in with San Diego's nautical history.

I took this photograph from the top floor of a parking garage. I like this view since it not only includes the new Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, but also Petco Park, the new Central Library and the East Village District, which is San Diego's largest and most rapidly developing neighborhood.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Reflecting on the Fall Colors at Oxbow Bend

March 7th, 2016

Reflecting on the Fall Colors at Oxbow Bend

Reflecting on the Fall Colors at Oxbow Bend – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA

While Yellowstone National Park is a wildlife photographer's park, Grand Teton National Park is the home to landscape photographers. Some of the world's best mountainscapes are located right here. Located in northwestern Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park’s mountains were named by a French trapper who viewed them from the Idaho side of the range and called them Tetons, French slang for "breasts" (I'm not kidding)!

On my first trip to the park I couldn't see the Teton Mountains at all since the fog hid them. This time around my view was almost ruined because the park service was doing a controlled burn in the park and is the reason why you see some haze in this mountain shot.

I took this shot of the fall colors at Oxbow Bend at about 10:30 a.m. in the morning. Yes, I broke the cardinal rule of landscape photography of only photographing in the warm, soft light of sunrise and sunset, but I was glad I took this shot in the late morning light. Normally the classic shot of Oxbow Bend is taken at sunrise, but in autumn the light is a little flat in the early morning. With the front lighting of the sun in the late morning, the autumn colors were deeply saturated. It seems like they are popping right out of the photo! After I came back from my trip I found out this was a similar shot on the front cover of Outdoor Photographer Magazine.

All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text ©Sam Antonio Photography

Happy Travels!

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The Dangers of being a Travel Photographer

March 3rd, 2016

The Dangers of being a Travel Photographer

I was standing in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. when I took this photograph between honking cars and speeding bicyclists. I was arrested by the local police because they considered my tripod a dangerous weapon. I was handed over to the Department of Homeland Security, interrogated and labeled as an “enemy combatant” ready to be renditioned to Guantanamo Bay.

That wasn’t even the bad part.

My poor Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera was scanned, swabbed and fingered by some unsavory guys wearing pink shoes, purple smocks and white gloves.

I finally yelled out from the top of my lungs, “Photography is not a crime!” and handed them a copy of this:

Find out your rights as a photographer by clicking this link

They put a black bag over my face and forced me into some vehicle. After an hour or so I was then thrown out of the vehicle and found myself in some place called Freedom Plaza back on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Yes, it’s tough being a travel photographer.

I also have a wild imagination.

None of this is true (but this could be the next Dan Brown novel) with the exception that I really was on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. taking this photograph from Freedom Plaza.

This is a great location to photograph the U.S. Capitol with a city view. It looks like I’m standing in the middle of the road, but actually Pennsylvania Avenue takes a slight bend where the plaza is at so you have a direct view of the Capitol with the traffic coming straight toward you.

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Life is a Balancing Act

February 29th, 2016

Life is a Balancing Act

"Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah"

Life is all about balance, achieving perspective and growing as an individual.

Over the years I have taken many trips to America’s national parks with many different cameras. Starting with my pre-digital days with an Olympus Stylus point and shoot film camera to my first digital camera a Canon Powershot 100, then progressing to a Canon Powershot G1 and then temporarily borrowing a Nikon Coolpix and now shooting with Canon digital SLRs. My purpose back then in taking photos were with “I’m here and you’re not” manner. I really did not take into account very seriously composition, exposure and the use of light. I did not even know what aperture mode was on my camera?! So all my photos were taken mainly in the automatic (dummy) mode.

When I got my first digital SLR camera (a Canon Digital Rebel), I came across this article by travel photographer Phil Douglis. I read the second paragraph and I screamed out to myself, “I’m at phase two and phase three is what I have been searching for!”

“Most travel photographers start out by making pictures of things to simply describe what they see. I call this the literal travel snapshot. Some, however, will eventually move on to a second phase and making aesthetically pleasing pictures that enhance what they saw. I call this the ‘artistic’ snapshot - essentially the same as a lovely picture post card or a calendar illustration. This cyberbook does not concern itself with either of these phases. Instead, I demonstrate what goes into a third phase in interpreting the things you see on your travels to express meaning to others. I call these pictures ‘expressive’ images.” -Excerpt from Phil Douglis

I know I have a lot to learn and whole lifetime to master this art form called photography.

Okay, so that was a long introduction to say this is Balanced Rock in Arches National Park located in Utah.

Go see it in person before it topples over!

All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text ©Sam Antonio Photography

Happy Travels!

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How this view almost killed me

February 21st, 2016

How this view almost killed me

“A View to a Kill” – Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

I am finally posting a photograph that has been residing on my hard drive since 2008. This was from a not so productive photography trip I took to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Perhaps I am sharing this since I will be leaving for a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon this Friday.

Or it could be that making this photograph nearly killed me.

Let us backup for a moment.

I started 2008 with many ambitious goals to photograph as many iconic landscapes throughout the American Southwest as possible. First on my list was photographing winter landscapes at the Grand Canyon. I was there for four days and from a landscape photography point of view it was a bust because the entire time the sky was a uniform blue and devoid of any clouds (as you see in the photo).

After photographing from all the popular viewpoints (i.e. Mather and Yavapai Point), I tried my luck as lesser known and less crowded viewpoints. One area I have seen photos of is the Desert View Watchtower located near the eastern entrance of the park.

The watchtower is a 70-foot four-story stone structure that was designed by American architect Mary Colter, who also designed many other buildings in the Grand Canyon such as Hermit's Rest and Lookout Studio.

After I toured the interior of the tower I walked outside to scout for a composition for a sunset shot. Immediately I started getting a sharp, stabbing pain to my abdominal region. I bent over in pain and fell on the cold ground as I silently screamed in pain. After whimpering like a little baby, I managed to stumble back to my car. Sitting in the driver’s seat things only got worse. It was still a good 20-mile drive back to the Grand Canyon Village where I was staying, but I was in no condition to drive. After gritting my teeth for five unbearable minutes the pain suddenly subsided. Common sense would dictate I drive back to my motel room and seek medical attention, but my unreasonable photographer mind said I needed to stay to get that sunset shot! I wasn’t going to let a stomachache dictate my time at the Grand Canyon.

So what did I do? I got out of my car, grabbed my photo equipment and composed this shot. I still had about two more hours until sunset so I figured I would walk around and find more creative compositions, that is until the stabbing pains came back with a vengeance. Once again I stumbled back to my car where I started to sweat profusely as a result of a flu coming on. I passed in and out of consciousness for the next two hours while laid out in the backseat of my car.

So after all this you would think I would contact somebody for medical help?

Of course not!

I gathered up what remaining strength I had and setup for a sunset shot. In the end, the sunset was terrible and so was my condition. To this day I still don’t know how I did it, but I managed to make the 20-mile drive back to my room where I promptly passed out.

The next morning I felt drained, but much better. I finished the rest of the trip without any further complications.

After I got home I continued to have these stomach aches off and on for a month. Because I am a stubborn person I refused to see a doctor thinking it would all go away. My philosophy is to see a doctor when death is imminent and that is exactly what happened. At a family gathering at my sister’s house I passed out once again due to the pain and she drove me to urgent care, which upon performing a quick medical check referred me to the local hospital emergency room.

Long story short, I had some weird and rare form of appendicitis (I can’t recall the exact medical term) where it would flare up constantly and leak dangerous fluids into my intestines. After two one-week long hospital stays, a colonoscopy and $100,000 in medical bills (doctors and hospitals love to milk great insurance plans…now you know why I hate going to the doctor), I was back to somewhat normal, but most of 2008 turned out to be a bust for my photography goals.

I hope this trip to the Grand Canyon will be much more pain free, at least I will be traveling a little lighter since I’ll be without an appendix!

All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text ©Sam Antonio Photography 2008

Happy Travels!

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A Swinging Sunset from the Secret Swings

February 17th, 2016

A Swinging Sunset from the Secret Swings

San Diego is a world class travel destination, but there are many secrets to my city unknown to tourists. One secret is that the best time to visit San Diego is in the winter. Not only are the tourists crowds thinned out, but weather wise it is a great time to experience some amazing sunsets along our beaches. Our “winter” weather still averages about seventy degrees and because the absence of the marine layer, that plagues our beaches during the summer, we have clear skies that lead to some amazing sunsets.

For the past month I have been scouting around San Diego searching for new and unique compositions. For years I have been doing the proven circuit of beach locations to photograph the sunset. To shake things up I have been scouring the internet and putting some mileage on my walking shoes to discover some new vantage points. I finally made it out to these “secret swings” which have a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.

And yes I did hop on the swings and relive my childhood memories!

Happy Travels!

All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text ©Sam Antonio Photography 2015

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Reflecting on the Past

February 15th, 2016

Reflecting on the Past

“To be killed in war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen… to be forgotten is the worst.” -Pierre Claeyssens (1909-2003)

I had the great opportunity to partake in a moving and patriotic experience when I was in Washington, D.C.. Every December an organization called Wreaths Across America coordinates a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a wonderful way to remember, honor and teach our youth about our fallen veterans.

They also lay wreaths at other memorials such as the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Vietnam Veterans War Memorial is most abstract memorial on the National Mall. It is also, to many, the most profound and emotional. The two sunken black granite walls, dedicated in 1982, are inscribed with the names of the 58,000-plus American service members who died in the Vietnam War. Designer Maya Lin called her controversial design an “anti-monument.”

What was your most moving travel experience?

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Getting my Caffeine High at 7,000 feet

February 13th, 2016

Getting my Caffeine High at 7,000 feet

Condesa Neighborhood, Mexico City, Mexico

I don’t always drink coffee when I am in Mexico City, but when I do, it is at Café Toscano de Mercado Michoacan in the Condesa neighborhood. Stay awake my friends!

Question of the day: Are you a coffee or tea drinker?


All Rights Reserved. Photos and Text ©Sam Antonio Photography 2014

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