Monday, February 28th - Vacation Portraits

Vacation Portraits

Click to see a few more portraits.

Friday, February 25th - More Mountain Top Views from Recreo

Here are a few more of my favorite mountain top sunsets and views from our recent trip to Costa Rica. I’ve included a more detailed picture of Islas Bolanos – which I mentioned was on the far right of the previous panoramas I posted. Also, when you look south from the mountain top, you can see the town of El Jobo, which is in the picture below of the mountains – the only pic below without a view of the ocean. I’ve also included a shot of the actual cantina / tiki hut at the top of the mountain – a great place to soak up the sun during the day and see the stars at night. Enjoy.

View from Mountain Top Cantina at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

View from Mountain Top Cantina at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

View from Mountain Top Cantina at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Click to see more views from the mountain top.

Thursday, February 24th - A Sunset Boat Trip Outside of El Jobo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

During our stay at Recreo, we took a small boat out from a local beach for a couple of hours during the sunset. Our 17 foot Boston Whaler boat was captained by a local 17 year old from El Jobo – who had to swim out to the boat and bring it to us. We tried to do a little fishing during out trip, which consisted of trolling with two poles off the back of the boat, but we mainly enjoyed the views and the wine. The views and wine were well worth it, and the fish were not biting at all.

Sunset Boat Tour at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Sunset Boat Tour at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Click here to see more photos.

Wednesday, February 23rd - The View From The Mountain Top Cantina at Recreo

While at Recreo, there is no better view than the mountain top – called the Mountain Top Cantina. There is no full-service bar up on this mountain, but there is a tiki hut capable of being transformed into a bar. Most guests congregate to this spot, armed with their own drinks of choice, to enjoy the magnificent views of the sunset. In fact, the villas are so remote from each other that these sunset excursions to the mountain top may be the only interaction with other guests you experience. During the day, you can generally find solitude in this same location, with complete 360 degree panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Nicaragua and the surrounding landscape.

In the below photos, I’ve captured a nearly 180 degree view from the mountain top looking west on the left of the picture and nearly east on the right side of the picture. These panoramic images are composites of approximately 10 individual shots, and in its full size is a massive file with great detail of the surrounding area. Viewing panoramic images online or on Flickr doesn’t really do them justice, so I’ve included a link for a larger view below each image. Even still, these are extremely scaled down representations of the original image.

On the right half of the image, across the water and on the horizon, you can see a mountainous landscape. This strip is the southernmost border of Nicaragua. Also on the right side, just above the green plant in the foreground, you can see a large island in the water – this is Isla Bolanos, a 14 hectare bird sanctuary.

You can see a white home perched on a nearby mountain – nearly in the middle of the picture (this was not our villa, but that would be cool). To the right of this home and mountain is a large bay, which is the home of Playa Jobo. To the left of this home and mountain is another bay, which is the home of Playa Rajada. This is the beach that is associated with Recreo, but both bays provide remote and uncrowded beach space. You can see pictures of these beaches here.

View from Mountain Top Cantina at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Click here for a larger view of this image. Viewing panoramas online doesn’t really do them justice.

From the same location, the below image shows the sky during the tail end of a sunset – with the sun setting off to the left and the night sky creeping in on the right. It is definitely hard to match exposures across this field of view when creating a large panoramic image, but I like the change in the color of the sky. I think it paints a good picture of what to expect from the mountain top.

View from Mountain Top Cantina at Recreo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Click here for a larger view of this image.

Tuesday, February 22nd - The Beaches & Our Villa at Recreo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Of course, mother nature would call for snow my first morning back in Chicago. Late February snow is not the best way to return to reality, but luckily I have some pictures to take me back to the beaches and villa from our trip to Costa Rica. We spent the last week at Recreo, which is a resort area located in the northwest corner of the Guanacaste province, and it was fabulous.

The pictures below provide a snapshot of the two main beaches within minutes of the villas – Playa Rajada and Playa Jobo – and our villa – #20 aka the Bungalow. Every time we went to the beach, we were often the only ones there. At most, we would see a handful of other people, but these beaches were so large that you basically had your own private slice of the Pacific Ocean. The whole location was so remote and private. Later this week, I will post some panoramic photos from the Mountain Top Cantina – located at the very top of Recreo – and these photos show a great view of the Pacific Ocean, the two primary beaches and even Nicaragua.

Playa Jobo is a beach that is located at the other side of El Jobo, the closest village / town to Recreo. While Playa Rajada is the beach associated with Recreo, Playa Jobo is only a 10 minute golf cart ride from the villas. Once here, the beach is even more calm than the surf at Playa Rajada. We spent several hours on this stretch of sand and we were just about the only people there – except for a fishing boat that was constantly anchored about a hundred yards out and a few local kids passing through on their bikes.

Playa Jobo @ Recreo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Click to see more photos of Playa Jobo, Playa Rajada and Villa #20 at Recreo

Monday, February 21st - Back to Chicago…

After a week and a half out of Chicago, I’m heading back later this evening. We spent 7 days down in Costa Rica at Recreo – a gorgeous 63-acre development in the northwest corner of the Guanacaste province with private villas and genuine people. I have plenty of photos from this trip, which I will start to post once I’m back at home.

For now, here are three different shots of the Chicago skyline as the sun slowly set one cold night in early February. I sat out in the cold for way too long that evening, but ended up with some good shots of the city. I have some actual panorama shots that I’ve created, which I will post after I sort through all of the Costa Rica pictures.

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline

Friday, February 11th - Off To The Beach…

The Beach

Thursday, February 10th - The Ocean

72 hours until Costa Rica… this weather versus this weather

The Ocean

Wednesday, February 9th - Submerged Photography

I’ve played around with taking photos both underwater and above – by slightly dipping the camera into the water and splitting the lens at the waterline. This provides a pretty interesting effect sometimes, but I definitely don’t do it with any old camera – Canons hate water. My favorite point-and-shoot is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2, which is waterproof and shockproof. It has been a wonderful camera for the last year, and I’m even more excited for the next generation to come out this spring – the TS3, with full HD video and hopefully improved image quality.

Submerged Camera

Submerged Camera

Tuesday, February 8th - Beach Portraits

Since it’s February in Chicago, I keep flashing back to some older beach photos – which I will probably continue to post for the rest of this week as I anxiously await Costa Rica. Below are some black & white portraits from a great Florida day back in November. For some action shots / video from that same day on the beach, click here.

Beach Portraits

Beach Portraits

Beach Portraits