Iceland is the country of fire and ice. Volcanos and glaciers cover the land, and visiting there is like traveling back in time to see the continental land masses growing. With active volcanos spewing lava, Iceland’s land area continues to increase. In the freshly grown sections of the country, the views are much like one would expect from a moonscape vista: asphalt black, igneous rock everywhere, contrasting against bright blue, mineral-rich springs. Jokulsarlon is a glacier lake, with its population comprising mainly of floating calf ice and lazy seals. In the height of summer, when the midnight sun never allows the sky to sleep, the beautiful blues of the lake morph into pastels of pink and purple. It is easily one of the most photogenic places on earth!
|Wildflowers, St. Paul, MN, USA|
In unassuming St. Paul, Minnesota, at the edge of neighborhood field, the yellow wildflowers caught our eye. We had just finished a 4-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, so we found ourselves conditioned to seek out the beauty in the nature around us. This photo serves as a constant reminder that you don’t have to travel to far off, exotic locales to enjoy being a tourist and photographer!
|Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey|
Generally, when we travel we prefer Mother Nature’s beauty as opposed to the architectural feats created by human hands. That’s why we often use major cities strictly as arrival and departure points. But Istanbul was different. The call to prayer awoke an appreciation within us, and it became something we looked forward to hearing (even at 4am!), and it was impossible not to be impressed with the attention to detail, immense size, and artistic creativity of the mosques that are as ubiquitous there as 7-Elevens are in Thailand. We were good tourists when we investigated Istanbul: we ate Mecimec (a red lentil soup served with lemon and fresh bread); we enjoyed an afternoon at a Hamam, or Turkish bath; and we visited the Blue Mosque and participated in a session to learn about the pillars of Islam. Despite its awe-inspiring size and touristic appeal of the Blue Mosque, we were much more impressed with the Suleymaniye Mosque, located a stone’s throw away from the famous Spice Bazaar. The blues of the Turkish tiles, coupled with the reds of the sprawling carpet, was a gorgeous sight. Don’t miss this if you ever find yourself in Istanbul!
In the ancient world, the city of Hierapolis, was a major tourist attraction. Actually, it was possibly one of the first medical tourism destinations, as society’s ailing elite would come from all over the empire to experience the healing waters of the mineral hot spring. Since the ruins of Hierapolis also has the ancient world’s largest necropolis (or cemetery), the waters likely couldn’t perform health miracles.
|High Park, Toronto, Canada|
Canadians often refer to Toronto as “Canada’s New York”. It’s the country’s biggest city, a financial hub and even has a street dedicated to showing musicals, much like Broadway. To continue the analogy, High Park is much like Central Park, albeit much smaller in size. Regardless, the nature in the city is a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle. In the Spring, the cherry blossoms bloom, and as you can see, the Autumn showcases one of the highlights of the great boreal forest. The trees provide us with one last curtain call before the blankets of winter replace the warmth of summer.
|Everest Base Camp, Qomolungma, Tibet|
And finally, since this photo has all five colors of the competition, we agreed that it simply can’t fit into one color category. From Everest Base Camp, on the Tibetan side of the Himalayas, the air is thin, crisp and cool, and the sun shines brighter. “Qomolungma”is the Tibetan name of Mt. Everest, and since the mountain was scaled by Tibetans long before the White man came along to conquer it, we feel it’s fitting to honor its first name. Like all of Tibet, the smells of incense and yak butter float by your nose, as your lungs struggle to get as much oxygen as possible from each inhale. If there is ever a place that is literally breathtaking, it is here at the base of Qomolungma.