If you’re visiting Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and other nearby resort cities, you have to check out the MUSA Underwater Museum for a unique diving experience! There are over 500 underwater sculptures placed in various areas near Isla Mujeres/Cancun and the exhibit helps promote ocean and marine life conservation. The permanent sculptures serve as an attraction for divers to lessen the number of tourists to visit the main reefs. They also allow for the coral reef to grow on the sculptures and serve as permanent homes for various aquatic animals.
Diving around these sculptures was really cool and interesting, but at times it felt a little creepy looking at these statues up close. The best way I can describe the dive is like seeing objects being trapped in time, sort of like the underwater version of Pompeii, and slowly nature takes over these objects. At least the aquatic animals don’t mind, as they appear to be thriving around the museum.
Near the museum is also boat wreckage and several coral reef systems where there were huge congregations of fish and various other species!
You can also view this museum by snorkeling and also take boats with glass floors but, in my honest opinion, the best way to see it is to scuba dive so you can get up close and personal with these timeless sculptures! You can take a PADI two-dive course to learn the basics of diving, then get a chance to explore the museum.
Check out the video of my dive at the MUSA Underwater Museum:
This past weekend, we attended the RiSE Lantern Festival with several friends in Nevada. Inspired by the lantern festival in Thailand, thousands of people attended the event to watch the spectacle of floating lanterns. Check out our video of this beautiful experience.
This event was held in the Moapa River Reservation, permitted by the Paiute tribe. We arrived around two hours before the first launch time to pick up our lanterns. Everyone took the time to write personal messages onto the lanterns about hope, prayers, inspiration and other positive messages. During the wait until the first launch, there was live music and food trucks to relax enjoy.
When the first launch time came, everyone lit their lanterns and launched them, sending thousands of floating lanterns into the sky. It was a surreal and beautiful thing to be a part of. About and hour later, the second launch came and the process was repeated. After all the lanterns were launched, spectators were treated to a fireworks show as the finale.
In case you’re worried about any potential pollution, all of the lanterns are biodegradable with short burn times and trash teams pick up any leftover debris afterwards. The location is also scouted ahead of time to prevent any potential fires from happening. It’s a great event to check out and a beautiful experience to be a part of.
We kicked off the Labor Day weekend by heading back to Arch Rock in Joshua Tree for some camping and more astrophotography. The previous time I went was during the Perseid Meteor shower, but the conditions weren’t ideal since the moon was mostly out. However, this time around everything was perfect; we had good weather, clear skies, and the moon was nowhere in sight!
Unfortunately for us, we arrived at the park pretty late and weren’t able to secure any of the campsites. Mat and Splinter did some makeshift camping by setting up on the roof of my car with blankets and pillows. The stars were really shining bright and we could easily see the galactic center of the Milky Way. As we admired the star-filled sky, we took some photos by the car and ate some pizza from Pie for the People, a local pizza joint in Joshua who make some really good pizza! Mat decided to stay by the car and stargaze while I went back to Arch Rock to take some photos there.
Almost no one was at the rock when I got there, so I found a good spot to take my shots. I didn’t notice at the time but I ended up staying there for about four hours; time really flies when you’re doing long exposure shots! I also climbed to the highest point of the arch, which was actually pretty scary. The lower part of the rock isn’t so bad, but the arch was much narrower compared to other parts of the rock, so I really had to concentrate on not losing my balance in the darkness. Climbing down was another challenge as I had little grip on my way down; I pretty much slid down on my belly while hugging the rock for dear life.
But all of that was totally worth it! The shots were amazing and is only inspiring me more to find more places to chase stars. The next new moon is September 30th, so we’ll be looking for a new spot hopefully for some camping and more astrophotography!
Last Friday night, my mom, dad and I went to Joshua Tree for a night of stargazing and night photography. We were wanting to catch some shooting stars during the Perseid Meteor shower and we settled at Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park for our viewing point.
The conditions weren’t very favorable for a stargazing night. The moon was three-quarters full so it would’ve been very difficult to see any of the fainter meteors. Photographing the galactic center of the Milky Way was also challenging since it was in the same direction as the moon.
Still, we were able to see a couple bright meteors during the night and we got a couple interesting shots (although none with a meteor in them!). With the help of my dad, I got a few shots with my Maglite pointing into the sky. There are a lot of these images out there but I had to get a few of my own!
We will be looking at a couple locations for astrophotography during the next full moon, which falls on September 1st. Let us know if you have any good spots to suggest!
A couple weekends ago, we went out to Trona Pinnacles to do some astrophotography. Previously, I hadn’t made any serious attempts at night photography or photographing stars. So when Ian Norman of Lonely Speck arranged a meet-up for photographers and enthusiasts, I jumped at the chance to take my shots of the stars.
Trona Pinnacles is about three hours away from Los Angeles and 45 minutes east of the city of Ridgecrest. It’s recognized for its numerous raised spires and, unknowingly to me, has been featured in numerous blockbuster films and TV shows. The weather in the area was intensely hot, reaching highs of 115°F during the day and 90°F at night. It was also windy, so hot air was constantly blowing our faces and we constantly had to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Nevertheless, hundreds of people braved the scorching weather to camp, stargaze, meet other people and, of course, photograph the stars. The sky was clear and conditions were otherwise perfect. It was so clear that it was very easy to see the galactic center of the Milky Way. I brought out my Nikon D750 with a Nikkor 14-24 mm lens and my Sony A7s with a Voigtländer 50mm for close-up shots. I shot for 3 hours in a few different spots and the results were absolutely breathtaking. Over the horizon are city lights that help produce the yellow glow, while some shots had red foregrounds thanks to brake and parking lights from cars. Other people also used various flashlights to light the skies and light paint, creating some beautiful effects.
This coming weekend, I will be looking for a few locations to do some more astrophotography. This weekend will be particularly exciting since it coincides with the Perseids Meteor shower. If the conditions are ideal, it should yield some amazing shots. Stay tuned and comment if you have suggestions for shooting the meteor shower.