Hawaii: The Rainbow State

Because Hawaii is the rainbow state, and because rainbows are our sign of choice for celebrating our recent ruling on gay marriage, and because I have yet to gather my Kauai photos together–and because I’m truly trying to create the longest sentence ever–I’m giving you, my faithful viewers, an oh-so-simple photo post.

Here is a rainbow of colorful photos that are very, very representative of this lovely state. And no, I didn’t put any actual rainbows in here. That would be just too literal, and aren’t rainbows full of mystery and wonder? This is surely a lame excuse for not posting stories from Kauai, but with medicine, prayer, and a good-ol’-fashioned bit of patience, I’m sure we’ll both make it through the waiting game.

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A gecko sits atop a giant red flower in Akaka Falls State Park

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Do sunsets get any better than this? Not a smidge of editing needed.

Mango and pineapple shave ice atop ube (purple potato) ice cream. The. Best.

Mango and pineapple shave ice atop ube (purple potato) ice cream. The. Best.

The beautiful green Akaka Falls

The beautiful green Akaka Falls

I think dis is pretty blue. Hiking the Na Pali Coast, Kauai

I think dis is pretty blue. Hiking the Na Pali Coast, Kauai

The Milky Way, as seen from Puako, Big Island

The Milky Way, as seen from Puako, Big Island

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Explore the Elements

 

What are these random photos doing together, you’re wondering? Funny you should ask, because Explore the Elements is a contest being held by Thomas Cook–and if you look closely, you’ll see four elements loosely interpreted in all of my travel photos presented before the grand jury today. Hey, I could have used standard landscape photos to post about earth, fire, water, and air–but the judges specifically asked for unique interpretations. So here goes. Enjoy!

Earth:

When I think of earth, I think of it not only as an element, but of our Earth as just a small speck in the grand scheme of the universe. Here is my photo from Joshua Tree National Park, in California–with a night shot of the here and now along with hundreds of stars. It’s that looking beyond in this very desert that has always made me feel very, very small.

 

Fire:

While one would think everyone submitted fire photos, it turns out that not everyone has one–but everyone has a beautiful “fiery” orange sunset! In this shot of my photo of a Tibetan refugee in her one-room family home in Nepal, we realize just how important fire still is. The years of hard work etched on her face, the look in her eyes, the crouching position as she gets ready to grab the boiling water–it all revolves around fire and the concept of still doing everything by hand. While we have microwaves, ovens, toasters, waffle makers, George Foreman grills (does anyone still use those?), fire is the only method available to cook in these remote, electricity-less homes. Here she is boiling water to make yak butter tea. Yes, I sort of regret having tasted it. I originally shot this scene in black and white, because it helped my eye focus on the two most important aspects of the photo: Her and her fire.

 

Air:

I had so many lovely earth-meets-water-meets sky photos I wanted to post, but when I think of air, my mind goes to breathing, mountain bikers/snowboarders, and birds. Who hasn’t wanted to fly? Well, besides those who have a fear of flying, I mean. It’s incredible that only one type of animal on our entire planet has the ability to see from above, and personally, I wouldn’t mind being a bird for a day. While working on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I photographed this beautiful pelican just after taking off from the water (see the falling water droplets?). What I wouldn’t give to glide through the air and see the world from above like this creature.

 

Water:

 

Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to work on beaches around the world, photographing underwater life, weddings, and other things I’d rather not lay claim to (pet photography, anyone?). But it was during a recent work trip to West Africa that I worked with an NGO to photograph water well installments and maintenance, and met people who had little access to water. This little boy made a lasting impression, and surely the joy of being able to splash water all around for the first time in his life was a special moment for me to capture on film.

 

My many thanks to Savannah Grace for nominating me to enter this contest in the first place! She’s a lovely and talented young lady who is also dedicated to co-hosting #travelpics (the travel photography chat on Twitter) with me each and every Monday.

To take part in the contest, I’m to nominate five other travel photobloggers. So…

Alex Elliott, a talented photographer based in Scotland

Poonam Parihar, a friend and photographer from India and New Jersey

Alex Harford, a UK-based creative photographer

Joseph Cyr, an Arizona and South Korea expert

Jessica Painter, an adventurer living in Egypt

 

 

My Photos of India, as Featured in the Huffington Post

I had quite a nice surprise this weekend: I discovered that several of my photos were featured in a popular HuffPo article!

My photos were posted as part of this article written by bestselling Indian author Chetan Bhagat, an English writer who pens both novels and non-fiction about contemporary India. It describes how the Western world is obsessed with old, exotic India, and not the India of 2014–a modern-day India full of technology, jeans, cyber cafes, and investment options. Mr. Bhagat has millions of Twitter followers, millions more fans, and millions of book copies sold, but he finds it hard to communicate the fact that India is a changing nation. And it’s easy to understand his point. While living in India, I felt lucky to see both sides of the spectrum, and to not only photograph them, but live in them. I spent time with farmers in the poorest of areas, used wi-fi in hip cafes, slept on concrete slabs with locals, and rode the subway in the cities. Sometimes these everday events occurred within hours of each other! There is still so much to be seen of the “old” India–the areas with no running water, mud huts, and poverty–but there is a modern-day India that westerners often ignore.

The six photos of mine that were published as part of Mr. Bhagats article are, funny enough, all about the “old” India. Even so, there are modern-day stories about each one. In the photo above, for example, the bride was the niece of my friend and co-worker. I am friends with the bride’s uncles and cousins on Facebook, and she attended the college where I spent the bulk of my time in India working. On the other hand, she had only met her groom a few times, and the wedding took place in a remote part of Rajasthan. I traveled for days with her extended family in order to reach the wedding temple. In the photo below, these kids were indeed working hard while barefoot, and they lived in extremely basic concrete and salvaged wood shanties. Yet just down the street, people lived in beautiful homes with Western toilets (believe me, that’s big), mostly reliable power, and garbage bins. No matter that these garbage bins were only emptied by cows during my entire time there; they were placed there with forward-thinking intentions. As India works toward being a modern-day society, from what I observed while living there at least, still many obstacles stand in their way. Will Modi change some of that? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Read the entire article right here, and see all the featured photography of India on HuffPo’s site.

I’m delighted that my photos were showcased in such an interesting piece, and I’ve already received some thought-provoking messages from passionate Indian citizens. Please feel free to ask me any questions by leaving a comment below, or by tweeting me @AntiTourist. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

More musings from Chetan Bhagat, a man named Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2010, can be seen here.

My photography, including a photo essay on India and plenty more travel photography, can be seen at KathrynCooperPhotography.com.

 

Things that are Precarious: A Vertigo-Driven Photo Essay

It seems that when traveling outside the USA, I find many things that just don’t look stable or safe. Case in point: houses on mountains, motorcycle rides over landslides, or me on anything. Here’s a collection of precarious things that would freak any mother out–especially mine. And yes, I use the term “precarious” quite lightly. So what here is precarious?

The girl who leaned out to take this photo of me rock climbing, for starters.

Or these homes in the Cinque Terre, Italy.

Or these schoolboys in Thailand mugging for my camera over the previous night’s landslide.

Or really, everything about this photo. No wonder we didn’t have power for a week.

How about any of these mountain roads in Nepal?

Or this giant fly, trying to function on this planet on its measly legs?

Or me on other cliffs:

Or me…not on any cliffs?

Or this village dessert’s contents, in my stomach, given to me during an event at which I was the honored guest?

Or me in this hammock in Malaysia (because the first one I was in broke, and I still have the scar to prove it)?

How about these bridges in India, Cambodia, and Thailand? If only you could see the true angles…

What is the likelihood that this Maltese road does NOT suddenly end and drop into the sea?

Or that my hiking buddy is NOT going to be caught in a gravelanche?

Or that several teenage girls CAN actually live in this tiny house on stilts in Asia?

And finally, will you trust that this egg-carrying bicyclist will never have to suddenly swerve or stop short?

Precarious or not, I’m still alive. Barely, but I still am. Remember: If you’re a mom, do not look at this post. Sorry for the late warning.