Tag Archives: Canon 5D Mark II

Introducing Lamorra Sage Day


It’s been three months since our second daughter was born. On January 27, Lamorra Sage Day and her fiery red hair arrived in a hurry. We got to the hospital with plenty of time, and at first, things progressed smoothly — dare I say, normally. The nurses even dismissed me to grab dinner from the cafeteria — “we’ll need you to be in top form, so fill your stomach”  they said. “There’s plenty of time.”

I was at the cash register buying a couple of bananas when my phone started to ring. At the top of the elevator, a nurse was waiting for me. “You need to run,” is all she said. In the delivery room, I washed my hands, took Hailey’s palm, and the doctor immediately said to me “OK, Dad, are you ready to announce the gender?”

What? Hailey was in active labor for 15 minutes. I was there for the final three.

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Maternity Henna for Our Second Born

Maternity photo with older sister

Four years ago today, I published a post about my wife getting a henna design on her pregnant belly. She was seven-and-a-half months along, and we didn’t know the gender of the child. The baby was a mystery, a hidden identity that we couldn’t formulate until his/her birth. So the design that our artist, the talented Amy Haderer-Swagman, created on that day embodied some of that mystery. It centered on a gallant, masculine peacock within an expanding, feminine sunflower. On March 7, our little girl was born, and everything about our life has been better since.

In two weeks or so, we’re going to welcome our second born — another little mystery, an anonymous kicker and roller who keeps Hailey up at night, but delights her with little motions. Varenna will be a big sister, and life will get doubly good. To celebrate, Hailey had another henna design commissioned for her pregnant belly, and this time, Amy created an unfathomable masterpiece.

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A Visit to Burg Eltz, Germany

Burg Eltz, Germany

Just beyond Treis-Karden and Müden we turned at a sign indicating Burg Eltz, one of the most famous castles in the world, which was hailed by PBS’ boy wonder Rick Steeves as his “favorite castle in Europe.” Comprised of three households (four after the 1500s), the massive, eight-story castle has managed to remain intact with minimal damage from fires and wars since the 11th century. In fact, it is still owned by descendants of one of these families, some 33 generations later. Continue reading

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Kihei and South Maui with a Toddler

Kamaole Beach Park III, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

After Hana, we traveled around the empty and rugged southern end of Maui, up over the shoulder of Haleakala and back to Kahului, where we then proceeded south to Kihei, one of the most touristified places in all of Hawaii. Our trip was winding to a close, but we came for one reason: humpback whales. Continue reading

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The Best Beach on Maui: Hamoa Beach

Family on Hamoa Beach, near Hana, Maui

To me, the beauty of a beach lies in its circumstance. It’s not the fineness of the sand, or the amenities, or the people-watching. It’s whether the beach has a wild side to it — that’s where the appeal lies for me. Clinging to the edge of a landmass — the lone barrier from the inhospitable ocean — a great beach for me is more akin with a wilderness lake in the mountains than a local neighborhoods pool. I want to sit there, alone with my thoughts, the concussive waves and the whispering wind — and feel the majesty of nature.

On Maui, Hamoa Beach is that beach for me. Continue reading

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Staying at Travaasa Hana: Sea Ranch Cottages

Sunrise over the Hana coast, Travaasa Hana, Maui, Hawaii

Here are some more images of Travaasa Hana and its beautiful grounds. The resort is divided into two parts: the main area (where the lobby, restaurant, lounge, spa, art gallery and the Garden View Suites are) and the Sea Ranch Cottages, a more exclusive area where luxury cabins trickle down a hillside to the wild coastline. On our first morning, this is where I headed for sunrise, and I was treated to an extraordinary scene. Continue reading

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How to Photograph the Hana Highway

The Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

(Click on each image for a larger view)

Running 42 miles from Paia to Hana, the Hana Highway is considered one of the top scenic byways in America. But I think that’s misleading. It’s not really a highway, and “scenic” doesn’t do it justice.

Frequently, two lanes become one, and for several stretches, 15 miles an hour seems too fast. Blind curves segue into fleeting waterfall views, and for nearly its whole stretch, dense tropical forest enshrouds the steep hills. In fact, I’d bet that if the Hawaii Department of Transportation left the highway alone for a month, the forest would swallow the pavement. From start to finish, its wild, unkempt, and wonderfully free of everything that defines the rest of Maui.

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A Big Bust: Photographing Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii

Any travel photographer worth their salt can still create great images in terrible conditions: Low light, rain, overcast, smog … volcanic fog. Right?

Let’s just say sometimes things don’t go as well as you hoped. Continue reading

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Varenna on Lake Como: The Little Village We Love

Varenna on Lake Como, Italy

(Click on image for a larger view)

We sat under an umbrella, our table decorated with two glasses of wine and a plate of bruschetta. It was 2005, and this was my first visit to Italy … my first journey anywhere in Europe. We had arrived in Milan that morning, boarded a train, and immediately made our way north to Lake Como and a little village Rick Steves had gushed about named Varenna.

On the brick-lined shore before us, a father was teaching his two daughters how to skip stones. The warm, hazy sun gave the colorful village the appearance of a melted watercolor, and one of us — I can’t remember who — said to the other “Varenna would be a nice name for a little girl, wouldn’t it?”

Almost five years later, Varenna Autumn Day was born. Now almost 3, she has a lightness, a sense of humor, and a sweet innocence that illuminates my every day. And despite the times people ask how to spell her name, or mix it up and pronounce it Ver-EE-na, or confuse it with Verona or Ravenna, we still feel like we knocked it out of the park with her name. This town — with its vivid colors, wizard hat campanile, hilltop castle and compact lakeside location where the buildings seem to hug one another — is officially on the highest pedestal of any place I’ve ever been. Continue reading

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Morning in La Morra, Italy

La Morra, Italy

(Click on images for a larger view)

Fresh off sunrise in the magnificent Langhe Hills, we arrived among the familiar hills of La Morra. Now that the sun was shining and we had genuine baby-blue skies to photograph, there was no question where I wanted to go for a do-over. Il Cedro del Libano.

Cedar tree and La Morra, Italy

Standing 50-feet tall atop a vine-covered mound, the Cedar of Lebanon had become the icon of La Morra for us. You see it immediately as you approach from Alba. Its stateliness demands attention; its manicured perfection belongs in a massive picture frame hung on a large wall.   Continue reading

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