CIRCUMNAVIGATION AUSTRALIA: In my quest to Circumnavigate the Continents, Australia has been the easiest by far! Twenty eight days onboard a luxury cruise liner, working my way around the island continent, visiting some of Australia's best known destinations. From sleepy Broome - with its picturesque Gantheaume Point to sunny Rottnest Island, I have added some great 360° images to the Atlas project. Despite the temptation of never-ending buffets and non-stop shows, I survived this 9,581 mile cruise.
TAPATI RAPA NUI FESTIVAL: My dream of attending the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival on Easter Island was realized this February. The island came alive with a variety of events, both cultural and sporting. From the unique Rapa Nui Triathlon held at Rano Raraku, to nightly singing and dancing performances in Hanga Roa, it was a great opportunity to see the islanders at their best. The trip was extra special, as several fans of the 360° World Atlas joined me for a behind-the-scenes photo shoot. Everyone had such a great time we are offering this trip again next year. Details at
AROUND THE WORLD 2010
I have always been entranced by traveling around the world, going in one direction, always traveling forward and never looking back. The routings for this type of trip always put me in a variety of unusual places, perfect to capture images for the 360° World Atlas project. This global odyssey covered 13 countries: Western Samoa, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Egypt, Lebanon, Istanbul, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Highlights included: ancient ruins of Lebanon, Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, Launch of the Soyuz rocket to the international space station, Wave Rock and the Pinnacles of Western Australia. Minor disappointment in Switzerland — the world famous Matterhorn was enshrouded in clouds, despite my patient three day vigil to acquire this signature image. This trip covered 31,129 miles, 48 days, and 24 time zones!
Easter Island Eclipse: Eclipse chasers from around the world traveled to remote Easter Island for a total solar eclipse on July 11, 2010. Preparations for this trip began two years before, as the limited hotel space and flights to Easter Island would dictate who would be lucky enough to get there for this solar phenomenon. My base was near Tahai, with its scenic Moai statues located next to the ocean. My goal: to create a transition VR image before and during totality for the Atlas. Getting up extra early I secured my spot and began my nine hour wait for this show in the sky? The photo turned out as planned, and will be in the 360° World Atlas Global Edition. I also enjoyed the opportunity to have plenty of time before and after to tour the island and create iconic panoramic images of the Moai.
The Seychelles: A life long dream was realized with a trip to Seychelles, just off the west coast of Africa. Boulder strewn beaches provided the backdrop for some of my most favorite 360° Images yet! I spent so much time photographing the amazing scenery; I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the world renowned beaches. Perhaps another time?
DUBAI, QATAR, and BAHRAIN: A race is going in the Middle East to see which country can out build the others. Legions of construction workers, along with giant cranes, are building "cities of the future" on land reclaimed from the sea. If you search long enough — you can still find remnants of the historic old city quarters!
RIO DE JANEIRO — CARNAVAL:Once a year Rio de Janeiro goes all out for Carnaval, with parades that start at 8 p.m. and continue through the night, ending only when the sun comes up! The Samba schools do their best to compete at the world famous Sambadrome, dancing and marching their way to prove they are the best. The winners get bragging rights for a whole year! Street parties break out all across the city and it is indeed one the best times to visit this city by the sea.
Timbuktu, Mali: Yes, Timbuktu really exists. This small town, near the center of Mali, has been the crossroads of West Africa for centuries. Its new international airport now serves travelers from every continent. Scholars visit the world-famous library, housing a precious collection of over 100,000 historic manuscripts. Tourists visit the mosques and other ancient structures and hunt for Timbuktu t-shirts to prove they actually made the journey to this mythical destination.
I am overwhelmed by Timbuktu’s mud buildings, which provide intriguing shapes for my 360º images. The central core of the city is tightly knit and challenges me to tell its story photographically.
Yiwu, China: On August 1, 2008, this city in China’s northwest corner became “Eclipse City.” Thousands from around the world converged on a special viewing site erected by the government to see the total solar eclipse. Taking extra pride in the event, the Chinese built an observatory and created a mini-museum dedicated to the planets and astronomy. Tickets to the site were sold for $100 US, which was funny, as you don’t need a ticket to view an eclipse. Later, I learned the fee was for the security forces, which swarmed the region to protect eclipse chasers.
Viewing and photographing an eclipse often comes down to luck. Even when you’ve done your homework, identified the best possible location, and tracked potential weather conditions, last minute cloud cover can spoil it all. I was in position — four Globuscopes loaded with film and ready to go. With five minutes to totality, clouds obscured the sun, and I prepared myself to miss the most important part of the eclipse. Would the clouds move fast enough to bring the sun back into view? With less than two minutes to go, the clouds parted just enough. My patience was rewarded with an incredible 360º image showing the sun high in the sky with the moon in front of it. Totality at last!
This image will be included in the 360º World Atlas in “transition VR” mode. The VR will transition every fifteen seconds between the two images, revealing the scene both before and during totality. This is only the second time I have created such a 360º image during an eclipse. With a little more luck, I plan to continue the series at the next total solar eclipse on July 22, 2009.
Cape York, Greenland: Aboard the Russian icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, I returned to the northeast side of Greenland to continue documenting this endangered part of the world. No polar bears on this trip, but a chance to seewalrus in the wild — what an adventure!
One of the unexpected highlights of the trip was a visit to an amazing monument at Cape York. This 60-foot memorial, built in the 1930’s and dedicated to the American polar explorer, Admiral Robert Peary, sits atop a remote mountain. The only way to get there easily is by helicopter — a method of transportation not available to either Peary or the builders of his monument. I can only imagine the work involved to construct it in these harsh conditions. The plaque also pays tribute to the polar Inuit of Greenland, who helped Peary on his expeditions, but begs the question: Who will visit it? I did and was grateful for the striking 360º vista, overlooking a glacier with icebergs in the distance.
Etah Glacier, Greenland, was another great destination with perfect weather.
Then it was on to Canada with stops at Fort Conger and Baffin Island, to capture more amazing sights in the polar north for the 360º World Atlas.