Returning to Switzerland

As much as I love traveling to new places, I also find great enjoyment traveling back to countries I've fallen in love with.  While it may sound cliche, it was the crisp mountain air and sweeping, mountainous landscapes that drew me back to Switzerland.  On this visit, I stayed in Vitznau, a small, beautiful, lakeside village nestled at the base of Mt. Rigi.  Some consider warm water and palm trees paradise, but Vitznau is nothing short of an outdoorsman's utopia.  On this trip I brought along my road bike, as biking through the mountain passes of Europe has always been on my bucket list.  Vitznau provides easy access to some of the best climbs in Switzerland.

My friend, Claudia - both a great photographer and local guide - was eager to show me a few places I'd missed on my last trip.  We drove to Appenzell, a canton about an hour and a half away from Vitznau.  After a cable car ride and a short hike, we arrived at Ascher, possibly one of the most picturesque restaurants I've ever seen.  Tucked away at the base of the limestone Swiss Alps, Aescher is a charming restaurant known for its rosti, a typical Swiss dish.  I was excited to experience this place, as it has been featured on the cover of National Geographic and has been named a "Top Dream Destination."  Although it was a somewhat crowded day, I felt deep contentment watching birds glide in the steep canyon below me.  After enjoying a sparkling water and some people-watching, I was off on my next adventure.

Landscape photographers tend to feel uneasy around big crowds; for the most part, we're simple, solitary types.  For this reason, I consider Alp Weid to be one of my all-time favorite places to visit....EVER!  Once again, we began with a short cable car ride.  After a few minutes, we were greeted with unobstructed views of the southern part of Lake Lucerne.  As I gazed in awe at the landscape before me, I was reminded of a quote by Ansel Adams:  "When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence."  This was easy to do on Alp Weid.  I only needed two hands to count how many people were up there with us.  After sipping an espresso, I made my way farther up the mountain.  It took about forty-five minutes and I relished every minute of it.  Once at the top, I let the cool alpine air dry my sweat from the steep ascent, made a few exposures, then began my descent.  

As I noted earlier, I'd brought my road bike on this trip.  In-between the adventures Claudia had arranged, I biked and ran miles on end.  With the goal in mind to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, France, the Swiss countryside was a perfect place to train.  One of my more notable rides demanded climbing seven thousand feet in elevation over thirty miles.  I worked my way through enchanting villages and steep mountain passes and gripped my handlebars with excitement as I rode over cobblestones for the first time.  

Eventually my time is Switzerland came to an end and while Lake Como (in Italy) was my ultimate destination, I decided to take a quick detour to Venice.  It's always good to get out of your comfort zone, which is what I told myself about stopping in Venice.  This section of the trip was an incentive package for my father's business.  We were both treated to some of the best food Venice had to offer and stayed in a luxurious hotel next to Piazza San Marco.  During our stay, we visited the islands of Murano and Burano; Burano proved to be my favorite stop.  The vibrant houses and colorful hanging laundry made this stand out as one of the most alluring locations in the city.  After three days in Venice, I was ready for our last stop: Lake Como.  

I intentionally placed Lake Como at the tail end of my trip, as it was an ideal spot to relax and prepare for the journey back to the U.S.  After three days without riding, I was eager to assemble my bike and get back on the road.  Italy is not flat, which makes it great for someone who enjoys cycling sharp ascents, and my first ride was a dream.  One of the steepest climbs consisted of an average grade of 17%, with pitches up to 25% for a little over a mile.  This segment features split-times, and quotes from 1960's-era riders of the climb, stenciled on the road.  After four hours in the saddle, I had climbed almost 10,000 feet over fifty-five miles! 

As this vacation came to a close, it was difficult not to reflect on how lucky I am to have the means to travel.  It's been said that you can learn so much about the culture you travel to, but I think you can also learn just as much about yourself each time you travel.  I always seem to return back to the United States feeling more cultivated and well-rounded.

2018 Monochrome Award Submissions

Over the past few years, I've focused primarily on my B&W work.  I was quite surprised how well the monochrome collection did in the gallery, especially with the amount of vibrant work exhibited.  This motivated me to enter a few of my favorites into the 2018 Monochrome Awards.  The winners will be announced later this year and will be published in the annual Monochrome Awards coffee table book.  Additionally, I'm creating a limited run of matted print boxes using handcrafted using premium linens.  The box includes six museum-grade archival matted prints from my Monochrome collection. Mats can be stored in the heirloom box or removed and framed for the wall.  The albums will be available online by the end of August.  The final six images chose for the collection will be announced at the same time.    

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Leica monochrom

I'll admit, while I do love B&W photography, living in a paradise where color is so abundant, I find myself shooting more color slide film than anything.  Even when I travel, I will typically always shoot color, then convert later using Nik Silverfx.  Not the purest way to do things, but when you have a brick and mortar store dependent on sales, ultimately you do what makes more sense for the business.  I have tried the old version of the Leica Monochrom, but I've never been impressed with the M9 bodies.  Well, when Leica announced they would release a new version based on the 240 bodies, I knew I would fall in love.  Since my workhorse cameras are all film, it's nice to have a camera to travel with where I could see a few shots instantly.  

If you're not up to speed on the technical jumbo, you can read what's going on in the camera on Leica's website.  In simplest terms, Leica removed the color filter in front of the sensor, which means the camera only records luminance values.  The quality and three-dimensional aesthetic of the files is nothing short of amazing, especially when using B+W red filters.  Leica caters to photographers that believe less is more (not in terms of price, though.)  The camera is extremely basic in terms of functions, which is one reason I love it.  For all the shots below I used Leica's 16-18-21 lens.  Typically, I don't shoot that wide, but this lens is crazy sharp from corner to corner.  It's not the fastest lens, but I would never walk around with that lens in low light conditions.  My initial thought after seeing the images on a larger screen, was the three dimensional look, they almost popped out of the screen.  By no means am I a Leica expert, but I have shot a lot of Leica's in the past ten years, this is my favorite Leica to date (with the MP being a close second).  Even on the small LCD screen, the images look stunning.  You really can't replicate the quality of the files even when converting from a high resolution camera, something is always lost in the B&W conversion.  

Now the real question, do I like the look more than my favorite B&W film stock?  Yes!  With landscape images anyways!  I feel like landscape images don't need that extra grungy-ness that film adds, unless your name is Sebastio Salgado.  Another impressive aspect is the high iso capabilities, which in the past, Leica's performs terribly in this area.  I understand this camera is not for everyone and would be a hard purchase to justify for the everyday photographer.  But if B&W is your specialty and you're an avid printer, add this camera to your arsenal!   Currently, I'm picking a few images to print as platinum palladium prints so stay tuned.  I believe that process will really give the three dimensional files justice. 


Year in Review

While my career has allowed me to travel extensively, some of this year’s greatest adventures and discoveries came from unexpected places and surprisingly simple moments.

I realized a lifelong dream when I visited Switzerland this past June. One of my favorite afternoons was spent enjoying panoramic views of the Swiss Alps from a restaurant on Mt. Riggi. I made only a few photographs in the bright midday sun, but savored the witty banter between the staff and intimate ambience as inspiration for future creations.

This embodied a theme for 2016 - shoot less, process more. Aside from my trip to Switzerland, much of my time was consumed with remodeling my first home and training for triathlons. Over the course of 2016, I competed in four triathlons and eight races in total. My disciplined training regime left little time or energy for shooting, but I found it lent a new strength to my creative work flow. Each hour had value, every time block for creation had a purpose. While I couldn’t shoot as often, I found the discipline to sit down and begin scanning and processing long forgotten slides from years ago.

My motivation for processing these slides was also driven by the purchase of my first home – a four bedroom house overlooking expansive views of Kahala. It became a blank canvas for my creation, and I spent eight months stripping the house down to the basic framework and remodeling every detail from cabinets to coat hangers.

For the first time, I had a space where I felt inspired to hang my own work, and I was driven to create pieces that spoke to me on a personal level. As I processed a waterfall image I shot over three years ago in Iceland, a few sheep grazing along the cliffside caught my eye. In color they were barely noticeable, but when I converted the frame to black and white and dropped the exposure, the sheep found their feet as a striking accent. While much of my gallery features bright, cheerful photos, there was a compelling beauty in the dark mood this process evoked. It became one of my favorite images from the whole Iceland trip.

In turn, decorating my own walls allowed me to experience firsthand how an image could transform the environment and affect my mood. I was inspired by the new black and white processing, and began to expand my gallery images to embrace a complex spectrum of human emotions.

In the coming year, I’m looking forward to further developing this process with a new collection of black and white waterfall images. I’ll also be training for my first Ironman in April, and preparing to hopefully qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2018. My travels will take me through Montana and the East coast, and possibly even Antarctica.

I’m also planning a solo road trip to explore and get back to the roots where my photography all began. I’m excited to explore with fresh eyes, and let my shooting take a backseat to purposeful process and creation.

The kitchen the way it stood the first day I received the keys.  

 First day of demolition.  First things first, removing the cancec ceiling!  


Approximately one month into renovations.  A new ceiling with recessed lights, new door, added vent hood and the quartz counters are about to be installed. 

The original hardwood was in terrible shape.  Since I have two dogs and live a very active lifestyle, I went with a lighter oak tone flooring that is very resilient to water, sand, and dirt.  

Six months into renovations the big changes came.  I busted out the back wall to open up to a 300 sqft lanai that overlooks Kahala.  This wall will feature four, six-foot glass sliding doors.  

My kitchen almost complete, just a few finishing touches needed. 

My kitchen after eight months of renovations.  I chose every detail very carefully.  From the oil rubbed bronze pulls and handles, to the Greek Villa tone paint.

Even on stormy days, the view is beautiful.  

Charles and Oliver love the lanai.  

The Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland.  Originally shot on color slide film, I converted it to B&W after noticing how much the sheep stood out on the cliff.  


First olympic distance triathlon.  

Xterra 10k Trail Run.

Switzerland and Lake Cuomo

In June I made my first trip to Switzerland, photographing the swiss alps has always been a dream of mine.  The flight is fairly easy from LAX, twelve hours non-stop.  I flew Swiss-Air, which was like flying in a big swiss army knife. Every nook and cranny seemed to have a purpose.

Once I landed it Zurich, I had a short drive to Lucerne. After check in, this was my immediate view! 

This is the view from my room at Hotel Schweizerhof. Since they opened in 1845, the original architecture and design have remained the same.  

Another view from my room.  Every morning I would sit on my little balcony, sip on expresso, and watch the morning commuters.  

The morning after I arrived, I took a cable car to the top of Mt. Pilatus.  You couldn't ask for a better view. 

I couldn't help but notice how close this church was to the ledge!

If you look closely, you can see hiking trails.  I can't wait to come back and hike around Switzerland.  

My guide wanted to show me her friends house, her view was stunning! 

The village of Vitznau sits at the base of Mt. Rigi with beautiful views of Lake Lucerne.  

Instead of sitting in traffic back to Lucerne from Vitznau, I took the ferry back to the city.

Another lakeside Village on the way to Brienz.

Behind Geissback Falls.  

Front view of Geissback Falls.

I visited a swiss family owned farm, the swiss love their dairy! 

Everyday at 2:00PM the cows are free to roam.  

A swiss farmer and his collie. 

The chapel bridge in Lucerne.  

Swans were a gift to Lucerne from Louis the Great.

Alpaca's on the way to visit the cheese man (as my guide called him). 

The cheese man.  

Arrived at the Villa d"Este in Lake Cuomo via train from Lucerne.

Villa d'Este was built in 1568 as the summer residence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio.

More marble at Villa D'Este

The grounds at Villa D'Este are perfectly manicured. 

Villa D'Este Alfa Romero.

Tensions were high this week in Europe.  

Private tour of La Scala Opera House.

Some of the original decor is still preserved.

Musicians getting ready for a German opera.  

A Rolls-Royce used as a prop on the backstage of La Scala. 


Thank you for following along with me on my travels.  Twenty-sixteen will be another exciting year for me with new endeavors and adventures to new locations.  I appreciate the continued support! 


Aina Imagery Tokyo Exhibit

October was a huge milestone in my career.  I had my first international exhibit in Tokyo.  The exhibit was at the Fuji Film Photo Salon in Roppongi.  

Fuji Film was very accommodating; I didn't have to lift a finger! Set up was a day before the exhibit and within one hour the exhibit was completely ready to go.  

A shot of the interior of the booth.  Hawaii was the theme for the exhibit, all of the images were taken on Fuji Film Velvia 50.  The film is known for its superb vibrancy and clarity.  

First Day of the Exhibit.

Even though I'm not fond of cities and night life, I found Roppongi quite enjoyable to walk around.  The area had a very modern and clean aesthetic.

Like something out of the Jetson's! 

Just a short walk from the exhibit was a fantastic little sushi bar inside the Ritz Carlton.  

The Otoro was the best I've had, at $24.95 a piece it better be! 

A shot of my Pumpkin cheesecake and ice latte, typical tourist.

Evening glow at the FujiFilm Square.

A common scene from my walk back to my hotel from Fuji Film Square.


Halfway through the week I needed to get out and do a little exploring.  So I spent a few hours at the Mori Art Center.  

An exhibit of drawings and paintings done by Vietnamese soldiers.

Thousands of photographs of families that were separated/killed during Vietnam. 

You can visit the very top of Mori Art Center for panorama views of Tokyo. 

One of my favorite places to go in Ginza for lunch, Kaika Teppanyaki!  

Japanese A5 Waygu.

The lobster came to the grill halved and still alive.  

Simple and tasty.

The last day of the exhibit I got a very special gift from the musician Koshi Inaba.  He visited my gallery in Hawaii Kai and fell in love with a few of my pieces. 

My only free day I ventured out of Tokyo and took the Shinkansen to Hakone.  

With only 7 minutes to clean the train, these ladies are always hustling around.  

After being in Tokyo for ten days, I greeted the small town with open arms.  

This winding little road was something like the Road to Hana on Maui.  

The escalator down to the Hakone Open Air Museum. 

Fresh air and beautiful sculptures.  

This made me feel like I was in the Amazon.

Floating Orb.

I was too old to play on the jungle gym, but that didn't stop me from taking photos of it.  

Next stop was the Hakone Shrine. Unfortunately, I came five minutes after they closed.  

The Hakone shrine is only a 5-minute walk to Lake Ashinoko and I was there just in time for sunset.  Sugoi! 

The fisherman is wrapping it up for the day, yes that's a pirate ship in the background.

A complete 360 from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Completed the day with a very tasty bowl of ramen From Fu-Unji.  This place was so popular, and it's only a few steps from the Shinjuku station.  

On my last day, I went to the IMA Design Center in Roppongi.  I highly suggest giving this place a look.  One of the buyers visited my exhibit and was interested in carrying my book in the bookstore pictured below.  

I could spend days in this store.

The bottom floor of IMA, I loved the look of the frosted plexiglass on this staircase. 

The exhibit was a huge success.  I would like to thank everybody that stopped by and all the amazing people that made the exhibit possible.  I look forward to future exhibitions of my work in Japan and exploring more of the beautiful country.  Thank you for the continued support.