St. Thomas, USVI

Here’s a shocker: I love bringing my camera with me when I go on vacation.

Actually, when I bought my first dSLR, I considered not taking it with me to a trip to Europe and India. My dad was adamant that I NOT take it with me, claiming that evil people prey upon my camera and would snatch it even before I finish deplaning. I was THIS close to listening to him when I stopped and thought about it: why else did I buy a camera if not to record moments I might not ever experience again, in places I might not ever return to? Did I care that I was going to a place that’s foreign, dangerous, or hazardous? I decided that I would never get “the shot” if I was scared to bring my camera with me.

So, since then, I’ve pretty much lived to the rule of “always bringing my camera”. I’ve brought it with me to mountains in India, glaciers in New Zealand, and beaches in Brazil, amongst other places. I’ve tried to carry my camera despite thought of it potentially getting stolen or damaged by the elements. As it turns out, that last image of Brazil was taken in water that was chest-deep; I would have never been able to capture that shot had I been scared that I would drop my camera in the water.

All that being said, when I take my camera on vacation, I try to balance between taking photos and experiencing the moment. I actually try to do the same any time I’m out in nature, but I feel that its especially important when in a foreign place because I never know when I am bound to return.

I especially try to balance between taking photos and experiencing the moment when on vacation with others. I know it must be a real pain when people wait for me to get a shot or two… and are still waiting a couple hundred clicks later.

So getting back to the title of this post: I’d like to thank my beautiful girlfriend for putting up with my obsession during our trip to St. Thomas, and allowing me to capture a few shots. 🙂

We, like most people who go to St. Thomas, went to the island to RELAX. And by relax I mean, wake up late, eat, drink, beach, drink, sleep, and repeat. We didn’t move a muscle — so, neither did my camera. Luckily, our resorts offered enough pleasing sights to capture a couple shots.

This first one is from our first hotel, the Marriott, Frenchman’s Reef. Probably the nicest thing about this hotel is the view offered from the bar outside. I caught these two photos when we arrived at sunset our first day:

Sunset St Thomas USVI
Sunset from the hotel, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

Sunset St Thomas USVI
Sunset from the hotel, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

The next day, our first full day at the beach, we wandered down the beach to one of many points of rocks. The sun in the background provided quite a nice silhouette of the building and trees… and a passerby :):

Sunset St Thomas USVI
Bird over rocks, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

The rest of the day we spent just lounging at the beach. On the way back to the hotel, we were greeted by a one of a host of friends we didn’t know would be staying:

Sunset St Thomas USVI
Iguana, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

Yes… that’s an iguana. One of several that were roaming the hotel. We learned that the island is densely populated with iguanas of all shapes and sizes. Looking at these creatures up close felt like a journey though time: they look like they could be straight from prehistory. Especially interesting is the variety of colors on the skin:

Sunset St Thomas USVI
Iguana, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

The next morning, I woke up early to see if I could catch other interesting sights around the hotel. As my eyes gravitated towards the trees, I found dude just hanging out:

Iguana in the trees, St Thomas USVI
Iguana in the trees, St Thomas USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

This next shot was quite a challenge. Our hotel was situated on a cliff, and below it the gorgeous, turqouise water (that the Carribbean is known for) gently pushed up on the rocks. I angled this shot to show the perspective from the cliff, complete with the water, trees, rocks, and… their overseer. 🙂

Iguana in the trees, St Thomas USVI
Iguana in the trees, St Thomas USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

I wish I had a better angle, but sometimes you take what you can get.

I kept wandering around the hotel until I found a rather intruiging scene, as the morning sunlight shone a spotlight on an outlook to the water:

Sunrise Spotlight, St. Thomas, USVI
Sunrise Spotlight, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

I kept the foreground dark purposefully so to show the sliver of orange light that I found interesting.

That same day, we ventured out to Yachthaven, a local community square with shopping and restaurants at the pier. There, I captured this shot to emphasizes the columns under the buildings and the rocks below them. And of course the beautifully colored water:

Yachthaven, St. Thomas, USVI
Yachthaven, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

Later that day, we switched to the Wyndham Sugar Bay hotel. We didn’t do this because we were unhappy with the Marriott, but because (thanks to an airline error) we were able to extend our vacation by one day with no extra cost and the Marriott had no vacancy. It all was a blessing because we really enjoyed our extra day and the better ameneties at the Wyndham.

Sugar Bay was really quite striking. The rocks and coral in the shallow part of the bay created quite a contrast with the bright turqouise in the intermediate depths and the dark turqouise in the deeper trenches. The water was set with a background of blue and green mountains that stretched really far into the distance. The finishing touch to the scene was a small island of green trees in the foreground, and a cream colored building that overlooked it all:

Sugar Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Sugar Bay during the day, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

Of course we had to get a shot of ourselves against this beautiful background:

Sugar Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Sugar Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

The really interesting part about the bay was how different it looked at dusk. As the sun set, it dulled the colors of the water, turning it brackish with only a hint of blue. At the same time, the sun illuminated a large rock against the island of trees, warming the rock into an orange color, and painted the clouds pinkish blue, allowing contrast against the white boat in the distance:

Sugar Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Sugar Bay at dusk, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

On our last day at the island, we visited Magen’s Bay, which is world-famous for its crystal clear and warm waters. Unfortunately, the day we arrived, a cruise ship dumped about 3247193 people off to enjoy themselves and ruined any chance of us relaxing in peace or me taking any meaningful photos of the landscape. But, we made do with what we had.

We walked along the edge of the bay until we reached the forest, where finally I saw a shot that could include some of the 2382039209 people. The scene, which included a cascade of rocks against the blue sky and turqouise water, was more than enough reason for these kids to enjoy the moment:

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

I shot the next one a little closer up, highlighting the texture of the rocks and blurring out the background of crystal water and the mountains:

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas, USVI (click for larger version or purchase)

After just a short while at the bay, we had to head to the airport to get home. But not before I took at least one shot of my model:

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas, USVI
Sugar Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

St. Thomas was a blast — another vacation where I brought my camera but still tried to balance photography and the experience. I can only hope that anyone who goes on a trip with me is as gracious as my girlfriend was when it came to snapping away at the scene — because Lord knows I haven’t been able to stop.

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