Tag Archives: Ecuador

Ecuador Minus the Galapagos

I’m about to implement a serious revamp of www.tanagerphotography.com, which will include my 2010 wedding and portrait packages, as well as an overhaul of the galleries section by splitting weddings from portraits. While I was at it, I decided to take another look at the travel galleries, which got me thinking about whether I should include Ecuador in my portfolio, which got me thinking that Ecuador isn’t anywhere on the blog, which got me thinking how much I want to go somewhere pretty much at any moment now, which made me realize I’m not going anywhere for a while … what with the baby and all.


Just because I’m not traveling doesn’t mean I can’t spice up the blog with photos of faraway places here and there. Ecuador has been on my mind lately because of the birds and monkeys. Impending fatherhood naturally lends itself to daydreams of future adventures with the kid, and tops on that list is looking for animals in a rainforest, be it Costa Rica, Panama, Peru or some Caribbean Island.


We visited this magnificent country in April and May of 2007, visiting the Napo Wildlife Center in the Amazon, the capitol city of Quito, the Otavalo Indian Market, the rainforests of Mindo and the hot springs of Papallacta. Conspicuously absent from that list are the Galapagos Islands. Too much time, too much money, and being the mountain boy that I am, I’m always going to pass over islands to insist we see something like the Andes.


My lasting memory of Ecuador was a place of insane topography. Ravines inside canyons wedged between mountains with volcanoes on top. Quito’s size and scope was unfathomable because of the way the land buckles and swallows the city. It is amazing place to see from a window seat on arrival.


But right now, I’d bypass the Andes, the volcanoes sitting on top of them, and pretty much anything to do with that dusty wrinkled city, for a little hut in the rainforest and the sound of howler monkeys and parrots piercing the air.

NPR’s Morning Edition ran a great story on a Brazilian farm town’s efforts to restore the Amazonian rainforest and balance nature with farming. The soundtrack alone transported me back to Ecuador this morning. Soon enough, we’ll get back out there …

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All I Want for Christmas…

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If you are looking for an interesting Christmas idea or two for yourself, a spouse or that impossible-to-shop-for person, I’ve got a few.

  1. Individual portraits of you for your spouse. We can work on a theme or a setting that is right for you. You don’t have to wear a Santa hat necessarily (or sport a tinsel fu man choo — who does such a thing anyway?), but a Christmas tree in the background makes for a lovely effect. To see part of my portfolio of individual portraits, visit my website and click on Mikey + Cheerio.
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  3. Family portraits of the whole crew. This past weekend I had a great time working with the Luellig family (see below), doing a mix of in-home and white-seamless portraits. A separate blog post will come in the next few days on that shoot.
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  5. And then there is my favorite…fine art for your walls. My archive of images at Tanager Fine Art Prints is entirely available for purchase. See an image you like? Select it, click “Buy/License” and scroll through a variety of print sizes available for online purchase. Prices range from $40 for a 5×7 to $400 for a 30×40, and don’t worry about my logo…it will not appear on the photo print (the watermark is an online security measure). There are also other objects for sale like photo mugs, decks of cards and more. Prints are then delivered to your door without that tinsel-bearded middleman having to get in the way.
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Speaking of tinsel, as much as I loathe the stuff (I swear, it’s like sand in your shoe…it never goes away!) it sure is photogenic. Happy holidays.

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Tanager Fine Art Prints + PhotoShelter Photography

Haven’t blogged in about a week. There’s this little thing called a “day job” that has kept me busy, distracted and a wee bit fried. However, there will be a new blog post in the coming day or so…I did a portrait shoot two days ago with the Vannoy family, so look for that in a bit. Also, Hailey and I will have some new travel photography by mid-November as we head to Seattle for a four-day weekend.

What is left of PhotoShelter has made a comeback this past week with their PhotoShelter Personal Archive product, something that I’m trying to utilize. Among the enhancements is a flash gallery of my pics that I’m supposed to be able to embed, but it just won’t work. Either way, you can link to the gallery and images for purchase. And it ain’t all $300 20×30 prints (though they look amazing at that size). There are coffee mugs, greeting cards, and other little products available. It’s as simple as buying something off Amazon.com, only prettier I’d like to think.

Below is a screen grab of the PhotoShelter Archive home page, which featured one of my shots in the rotation.

So if you know anyone who could use a coffee mug with an image of an adorable daschund on it (don’t laugh), a mouse pad bedecked with Orvieto (you’re still laughing) or a pack of Christmas cards with a birdhouse for your soul or a puzzle of surfboards for the holidays (damn, that one would be tough), just click the link above.

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Introducing Tanager Fine Art Prints

Well, if the fall of PhotoShelter Collection has taught me anything, its that I need to get out and market these photos in more places, and a little bit harder. So with that in mind, I’ve pimped out my PhotoShelter Personal Archive account this past weekend and I’m launching Tanager Fine Art Prints.

Now you can order enlargements of our work directly off the web. A total of 334 of the best images Hailey and I have taken are now available. The inventory will expand over time, and enlargements go as big as 30×40 inches.

Photos of Italy, Spain, Colorado, Cape Cod, Hawaii, Santa Fe (above), Ecuador and delicious food are available, plus I created a separate gallery of images that work well on walls.

Prints are processed automatically through EZ Prints and delivered on high-quality Fuji Crystal archive print paper. While I always like going big with my own personal prints here at home, Hailey has mastered the art of photo collages. She recently made a custom frame of our food photography for the kitchen. Since we like to cook, it gives us inspiration to try and duplicate the meals we had in Italy.

If you have any feedback, please let me know. Looking forward to Tanager Fine Art Prints’ first customer.

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What the Hell is a Tanager, Anyway?

So the other day I was looking at my WordPress dashboard, seeing my traffic, seeing where people were clicking and how they found the blog. One of the items it gathers is how people found the blog through search engines, and what those search engine keywords were. That’s when I saw this bizarre search request: “sexy tanager photo.” M’kay. It got me thinking: maybe I should do a post on tanagers so people can get it.

This was paired with a strange dream last night in which I was walking around a meadow with someone (just who slips my mind) and we spotted a black, gold and red songbird flying by. “Hey!” I said. “That’s a western tanager. That’s where Tanager Photography gets its name.” The other person simply said: “That’s lame.”

Anyway, lame or not, Hailey and I opted to name our photography business after a family of extremely colorful birds that migrate between the Americas. Most of them don’t go further north than Mexico, but one visits us here in Colorado — the aforementioned Western Tanager — and it is in my opinion the prettiest bird we get here.

So, do you get it? Colorful, migration (i.e. travel), beauty. OK….moving on.

The above collage is from our trip to Ecuador in 2007. Everyone of these birds are tanagers, with the bay-headed tanager (upper center) being the most ridiculous.

We were visiting a place in the Andes west of Quito called the Mindo Valley. It was a family reunion of sorts — Hailey and I, her parents, her brother Jason and his wife Ali — and we were spending most of our time birdwatching.

Now birdwatching and photography are like oil and water. They simply don’t mix. I have yet to get the hang of juggling binoculars and camera gear, and furthermore, most of the prettiest birds we’ve chased congregate in the tropical rain forests of Latin America. The environment is dark, wet, cluttered with tree branches, the birds are small, far away, and the highest any of my lenses goes to is 300 mm. It just doesn’t yield good photo results. If I had the Canon 40D I now own, I probably would shot in a completely different way since it does so much better with low light.

The tanagers and the pale-mandibled aracari (a small toucan) were all photographed in the span of five minutes at a restaurant in the town of Bancos. They were coming in to feed and I was basically in a blind. Hailey got the best shot, the one above of the toucan. It was the only time we got good results. The rest of the time in Mindo, I was getting shots of rain clouds moving along ridges, and the peculiar habits of birdwatchers:

That’s Hailey’s dad, Michael, smiling for the camera. He’s seen more than 2,600 bird species around the world. We did see some amazing wildlife on the trip…just few of them were photographed.

On our last day in Mindo, before crossing the Andes to the Amazon watershed to visit the hot springs at Papallacta, we rose at 4am, drove an hour to a rural farm, and were led to a blind where we watched — don’t laugh, don’t laugh — the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock. It is one of those Holy Grail birds for birders, a bright red rooster-kind-of-pigeon that squeals like a pig to attract its mate.

Yes, we saw it. No, I don’t have pictures to prove it.

But afterward the farmer’s wife served us balones, a traditional Ecuadorean breakfast dish consisting of shredded meat served in a plantain ball. They were absolutely delicious.

Perhaps another day I’ll dip into the archives and do a post on Papallacta in the Andes, or the Napo Wildlife Center in the Amazon. Both yielded better landscapes and images. But until then, at least you now know what the hell a tanager is, and this whole thing can stop haunting my dreams.

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