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2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

It’s no wonder that Enzo Ferrari is credited with saying “Jeep is America’s only real sports car.” For more than 70 years, Jeep evolved with the constant changes of modern eras without forgetting their roots, subsequently developing one of the most capable vehicles both on and off the road. The latest addition to this do-anything family of vehicles is the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, the pinnacle in luxury and off-road capability.

Continue Reading…

2019 Dodge Durango SRT

Most of us daydream of owning a Dodge Challenger SRT Demon or maybe even a Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk, but many of us need something a little more practical for the everyday grind. But who ever said practical has to mean boring?  Thanks to the folks at Dodge, it doesn’t have to.

You might never take your 2018 Dodge Durango SRT to a race track, but knowing that you could, and it wouldn’t disappoint, is reason enough for many. Owning one of the baddest SUVs ever created, is another good reason.

No, this doesn’t have the full-on Hellcat HEMI of its Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk relative, but it does have SRT’s 6.4-liter naturally-aspirated version, here with 475-horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. And while on paper, that looks far shy of the supercharged Trackhawk’s 707-horsepower insanity, once you nail the Durango’s throttle, you probably won’t notice much of a difference between stop lights, as it feels every bit as fast.

A healthy seven drive modes, allow you to tailor the experience to whatever you have in mind that day. For us it was, Track mode; which sets the suspension to its stiffest setting, dials back the traction control, and quickens steering, as well as increases shift speed in the 8-speed automatic.

The lowered suspension doesn’t help the Durango feel any lighter; however, it does help it feel extremely well-planted, and Dodge was wise enough to not eliminate all of the traction control nannies for it can be a handful under stress.

When not in Track or Sport mode, it mostly feels like what you’d expect an all-wheel-drive big box Charger Hellcat to feel like, if such a thing existed. But also much like your everyday Durango, there’s sufficient comfort; and enough luxury features for passenger pampering, as it remains an amazingly comfortable highway cruiser.

It also feels nimbler on the highway than classic Detroit SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, and new Ford Expedition; and somehow more European as as well in the way it soaks up bumps with little fuss.

There is an aggressive exhaust note, but even it backs off the noise, when you back off the throttle; quite civilized indeed.

There’s plenty of room inside for hauling cargo, or a few understanding friends not opposed to whiplash; and perhaps most impressively, it still tows 8,700-lbs.

For hauling of a different sort; dial in your preferred launch RPM, step firmly on the brake, engage launch control, floor the accelerator, then release said brake. If the stars align correctly, you’ll jump off the line, and be at 60 before you know it, or 4.5–seconds in our case.

Somehow, it manages to handle all of that power going to all four wheels quite easily, staying amazingly smooth for the whole ¼-mile. Shifts are fast and aggressive, accompanied by a nice throaty pop from the exhaust. We cleared the ¼ in 13.0-seconds flat, travelling 104 miles-per-hour.

Inside, they’ve done a great job of keeping the 3-row, 6-passenger interior current even though the basic architecture has been around since 2011. No complaints about the Uconnect multimedia system as usual, and the steering wheel is chocked full of fingertip controls.

Amazingly, it really wasn’t that long ago, that we were wondering whether the Durango was going to be around or not. And now, not only are SUVs back, but they’re turning into exciting performance machines like this one.

But, poor Government Fuel Economy Ratings are the nature of this beast; 13-City, 19-Highway, and 15-Combined, which we matched exactly, on Premium fuel. That’s a very poor Energy Impact Score of 22.0-barrels of oil burned yearly with 9.7-tons of CO2 emissions.

Now, you could spend $31,090 on a base Durango and perfectly enjoy it; or you could say the heck with that, and drop $64,090 on this Durango SRT. You probably won’t regret either choice, but one of them would be a whole lot more fun, and even a much more sensible answer to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

In fact, most of us here, would prefer the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT over Jeep’s Trackhawk. It’s just a better all-around cruiser with more than enough power, as well as plenty of practicality; a true sleeper for sure, and further proof that Dodge just doesn’t do boring.

Perivolas Hotel Santorini, Greece

Ever since I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in high school, I’ve dreamed of visiting the picturesque Greek town of Oia on the island of Santorini. In the movie, Lena spends her time sketching on a dock by the sea, exploring winding white alleys, and finding love. It’s nothing short of magical.

Part of my dream of visiting Oia included staying in a traditional cave, so we chose to spend our time at the luxurious Perivolas. The hotel is known for stunning views, an incredible infinity pool, and cave rooms carved into the volcanic rock. We were looking for amazing, and we found it.

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The resort is only a 10 minute stroll to Oia, the main tourist destination on Santorini. You can easily walk into town for dinner or shopping, which we did at least once a day. Even though we aren’t pool people, we spent the rest of our time (a solid three days) lounging by their world-class infinity pool. The pool is the focal point of the resort, which is perched on a cliff with breathtaking views of the caldera. You can see miles of ocean and unique geological formations while watching boats come and go from the island. It’s very quiet and very peaceful. Every evening but one, we sat by the pool with a cocktail and watched the famous Santorini sunsets. Most people flock to Oia for the iconic photos, which we definitely did one night, but there are so many people you literally can’t walk down the streets. We found it much more enjoyable to sit back and enjoy the sunset at Perivolas.

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As I mentioned before, one of the main reasons we chose to spend our precious time at Perivolas was because of their incredible cave style rooms. The suites are all white caves with stone walls and vaulted, arched ceilings. Each suite looks like it could be a spa – tranquil, modern, luxurious. One of the suites even has a swimming pool that looks like a river running through it! The suites are decorated with oversized cushions and bright, hand-woven rugs. The beds are tucked into alcoves, which makes the room feel more cave-like. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the suites is that Perivolas chose to exclude TVs from the entire resort. This is intentional, so guests can fully experience the gorgeous island, which we definitely did. When we arrived to our suite, we were greeted with fresh hand-picked flowers and a traditional Greek dessert wine. Our bed was super comfortable, the jacuzzi bath tub was relaxing, and the complimentary Nespresso was a perfect pick-me-up each morning.

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Perivolas offers a great breakfast spread, included in the room rate. There is a wide variety of salads, cheeses, breakfast pastries, and fruit. You can order a custom omelette, french toast, and all kinds of breakfast entrees, along with smoothies, juice blends, and specialty coffee drinks. It’s one of the best hotel breakfast offerings I’ve ever seen. We also had a moonlit dinner by the pool of lemon braised lamb and sea bass fillet from their contemporary Greek menu, complete with a specialty Perivolas Sunset cocktail. Be sure check out their extensive cocktail menu.

Every aspect of the resort is impressive and luxurious. Perivolas one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed. It lived up to my high school dreams of staying in a romantic Grecian cave with views of the blue Aegean. Hopefully I’ll get to return to this dreamy place again some day!

Learn More: Here

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Our Top 10 Travel Photo Tips

The coastal town of Manarola, Italy, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre

1. Wake up early

I can’t stress this point enough. So much good light is wasted when we sleep in! It can be so difficult to set that alarm clock for sunrise (especially when you’re on vacation), but it is so so worth it. The soft light of the sunrise will make your memories in that exotic location even more special. Pro tip: reward yourself with some local coffee after sunrise and conquer the day.


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Hotel Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, Colombia

2. Do your homework

Going into a new city or country with an idea of what you’re looking to shoot can definitely help cut down on the overwhelming sense of newness. Finding yourself in a different environment can quickly turn into a lot of clicks of the shutter with very little to show for it. You want to have purpose and focus when going into a new environment. Researching your destination on social media before packing your bags will help offer inspiration, save you time and help you produce better results. We love using tools like Instagram to understand how the locals live and see the top photos from that location or hashtag, or even a simple Google search. However, you should always…


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Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby, Colorado

3. Be spontaneous

Going with the flow is a crucial part of traveling, especially when you’re traveling with a group of people. Even after all the preparation you’ve made for your trip, there will inevitably be some things that surprise you (that’s why we travel after all, right?). Embrace the surprises. Expect them, even! That way, when they happen, you’ll be ready with your camera in hand.


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An Amazonian village outside of Iquitos, Peru

4. Capture something uniquely local

When getting off of the plane, we always look for opportunities to capture an image that really defines where we are in the world. Some of the things we look for are signs in other languages, unique vegetation or trees, photographing people with specific regional clothing or capturing unique foods.


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Lounging poolside at Perivolas Hotel in Santorini, Greece.

5. Know your equipment

The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time and money on planning a trip, only to get there and be woefully unprepared with the equipment you have. We like to rent equipment sometimes from places like lensrentals.com, but we always schedule the delivery for a day or two prior to our trip. This gives us time to familiarize ourselves with the equipment so that we’re ready to focus on capturing the image when we finally get to our destination. The image here, for example, was taken in very bright sunlight and was wanted the final image to still look soft without too harsh of shadows. Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop are two very powerful software tools we heavily rely on and help us fix a lot of our mistakes! It’s best for us when we can use them to enhance an image that already looks good, rather than spend time correcting it, because we had improper equipment.

Something that we’ve found handy is using Adobe Lightroom in sync with Lightroom Mobile. The iPhone is such a powerful camera and so discreet that sometimes it makes sense to use the iPhone. With Adobe Lightroom Mobile we can remotely sync our phone photos onto our laptop for editing when we get back. It’s such a huge space and time saver!


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Traversing a tributary on the Amazon River

6. Go outside of your comfort zone

There are so many exciting things happening in this world. Sometimes putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation can lead to some incredible photos. When we travelled to the Amazon Rainforest, there was a lot of concern about safety from the animals, plants and, unfortunately, some of the people. A little element of risk can make capturing a great photo that much more rewarding. To travel to an area that few would venture and bring back images to the masses is really an exciting feeling. When we travelled to Israel there was a severe travel warning issued by the United States for US citizens traveling to Israel. We had a fantastic time and this was one of the most memorable trips we’ve ever taken. That said, you should always check travel warnings before you leave home.


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A rice field outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand

7. Always be ready

Some of our most favorite photos are taken when a person is initially unaware that we’re taking their photo. Something changes in a person’s demeanor when they know a camera is pointing towards them. It’s our job to capture the image before that spark disappears.


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Native Thai musicians from Chiang Mai, Thailand

8. Learn the culture

Take time to read as much beforehand about the place you’re about to travel. The amount of time you put in beforehand will give you an idea of how to communicate that culture or experience through photos. You’ll be happier and you’re audience will be happier when you can do this. You can do this in a variety of ways, but we highly recommend Rick Steves and his travel guides. He has been traveling his entire life and has tremendous insight into local culture. Other ways to learn the culture asking a friend who has been there, asking someone who is from there, reading about the country or location on Wikipedia, talk to your Airbnb host if you’re booking through them. So many ways to learn about the culture!



Seljalandsfoss waterfall in southern Iceland

9. Use people for scale

Oftentimes it’s difficult to convey the size and scale of a new place. Something we like to do is put a person in the picture. It helps the viewer quickly gain perspective on, say, the grandeur of that waterfall you’re looking at. (Side note: This is a lot easier to achieve when traveling with a spouse!)


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Water buffalo in Thailand

10. Have Fun

You’re in a new place, after all. Enjoy it! Sometimes it’s better to leave the camera at home for a while and just take time to soak in the experience.

Bonus: Editing in Action

*This post has been written in partnership with Adobe.

Exploring Makhtesh Ramon in the Negev Desert, Israel

Makhtesh Ramon is the world’s largest natural crater, and it’s located is Israel’s Negev Desert. It was formed hundreds of millions of years ago by water erosion. The area is huge, so we took an off road tour in a Land Rover to explore the depths of the crater. This area is rich with human and geological history, and we had a great guide named Adam Sela who explained some of that history to us. Adam is extremely knowledgeable about the desert and made our experience much more enjoyable than if we had tried to explore on our own. The best part of the day for me was getting to rappel down the crater. I’ve never done that before, and it was exhilarating! You can also hike, camp, and go stargazing at night.

How to Shoot Travel Photography

I remember the very first trip Sarah and I had ever taken. We went to Paris, for our honeymoon. We were newlyweds and ready to take the world by storm. Our camera of choice was a tiny Canon Rebel with the standard kit lens. It wasn’t fancy, but for us it was the ticket to a lifetime of memories captured.

Like most things, the more you travel the better you get at it. You learn how to navigate a new city, how to find good food and (most importantly!) how to hone your photo editing process. When I went back to look at all of the “amazing” pictures I had taken on that first trip, I was really disappointed. Sure, I was hitting the shutter button a lot, but I wasn’t being very intentional with each shot. The camera acted as an extension of my face rather than a useful tool to collect great content.

It was at that point I decided it was important for me to learn how to take better photos. Here are a few tips I learned over the years. They’ve helped me tremendously, and I hope they help you too!

Where + When

So much of taking good photos while traveling has to do with where and when you take the photos. Before we go anywhere, we look up exactly what we want to shoot (but always keep an eye out for those spontaneous shots!). If you know the general region, we suggest just typing it into Google image search. If you know specifics, you can use apps like Instagram or VSCO’s search tool to really get an idea of great photo locations.

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We used both Instagram and VSCO’s search tools throughout a recent Thailand trip to find places we wanted to photograph, while also giving ourselves the freedom to wander around, discovering new places. This balance of research and wanderlust are what we love about travel photography and help us to always make the most of our time in a new place. The images we return home with have become proof of a trip well spent! When you’re in a new place, figuring out what to photograph can be overwhelming. Everything is a new sensation and new experience, so you want to document it all. Finding your personal passions will help to hone in on what you really want to focus on. Personally, we love photos that highlight the simplicity of nature. The world is so chaotic and busy that finding an area of serenity that exists naturally is so beautiful and appealing, but also reflective of the city we’re in. It’s one of the reasons we travel!

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Timing is also HUGE.

Some of our best photos were taken during what’s called “The Golden Hour.” Basically it’s anytime the sun is at the horizon (sunrise/sunset). Setting the alarm clock to be up before sunrise is so painful but also so worth it. This is the time of day when the lighting produces the richest colors and most even lighting. You get some warm, creamy highlights and the deep blues that start to set in with the evening.

You’ll want to capture these colors naturally, but editing in Adobe Lightroom will also help enhance and pull the richness of those colors out of the image. I dive more into some Lightroom editing basics later in this post to help you really capture your travels. However, when working with images captured during Golden Hour, we like to use the Color Selection tool in Lightroom. It allows you to individually adjust the hue, saturation and luminance of a specific color. See below.

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If you’re unable to capture the perfect shot during Golden Hour, don’t fret. During the day, we try to take photos in the shade or with overcast skies to avoid harsh contrasts between sunlight and shadows. This makes a world of difference in the editing process because you’re working with even tones across the image. It allows you to adjust the entire image without destroying the highlights or lowlights.

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Gear Selection

Most often we shoot with our Canon 5d Mark III. It’s a fantastic camera and really meets the needs of what we’re going for. We love the full sized sensor, tons of AF points and video features. With that, we will often shoot with Canon’s 24-70mm LII lens. In a perfect world, we’d all shoot with specific prime lenses for every scenario, but we’ve found that the 24-70 provides incredible sharpness and versatility. The marginal gains that we’d get from swapping out prime lenses hasn’t outweighed the cost to purchase them, especially when you can achieve a lot of those added features in Adobe Lightroom. Specifically, using the Lens Correction tool, you can remove chromatic aberration, lens distortion and lens vignetting. Adobe Lightroom also has camera profiles baked into the software that “fix” common lens distortions associated with specific lenses. It’s a very neat feature and one that will help you achieve those marginal improvements that prime lenses typically offer.

It’s also worth noting that we like to shoot everything in RAW so we have more flexibility in the editing process. Keep following along for a deeper exploration of how we edit!

Publishing + Editing

After you’ve taken all of these amazing photos, getting them published to your platforms is the next step. As mentioned, our primary camera is a Canon 5d Mk III, which hasn’t always played nicely with platforms like Instagram, but now it is easier than ever. We use an Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter to import our photos to our phones on the go and have never looked back! When we get back to the hotel, we also back them up on our laptop and sync across our Adobe platforms (when there’s wifi!).

One of our biggest creative influences has been the film emulation products created by VSCO. They sell presets for Adobe Lightroom that mimic film photography and really bring a creative approach to digital editing. Once you download a VSCO preset, install it to Adobe Lightroom and have fun! We try to use them as a starting point for our creativity. Every image is different (lighting/composition/tones), which means that there is no perfect VSCO preset to make your photos instantly look incredible. All of them should be viewed as a jumping off point to set the direction you want the photo to go, and then you can perfect the image with Adobe Lightroom’s potent adjustment tools.

Some of our favorite VSCO presets for Adobe Lightroom are TRI-X and Kodak Portra 800 (Film 01 pack), 400H+1 and Kodak Portra 160 +1 (Film 06 pack), and Agfa Portrait XPS 160, Ilford Pan F 50, and Kodak Ektar 25 (Film 07 pack).

Behind the Scenes

For those of you with Adobe Lightroom, you’ll definitely want to follow along here – for those of you without, what are you waiting for? We’ve put together this little tutorial to show you how we edit and some of the tools we use most often. Here is a before and after photo of a beautiful rolling hillside in South Dakota. Hopefully some of these adjustments will give you an idea of how to achieve a similar look with your own travels!
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One of our favorite things to do is to enhance the greenery in photos. We do this in several ways, but it always starts with the Color sliders in your toolbar. We typically start with adjusting the greens, but where we are determines how we adjust them. In this particular photo, we want the field to have a blueish hue to the grass. So we select the green color, move the hue towards the right which changes our grass to a bluer cooler. In general, the hue slider will move a color up or down the color spectrum (ROYGBIV). Blue, for example, can be made to look more like an indigo/violet if you move it to the right, or a greenish-yellow if you move it to the left.

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You can see the exact adjustment made here.

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The photo below is a screen shot of all of the adjustments made in the Color toolbar for this photo. The most dramatic adjustments were made to the warm colors in the photo. These adjustments allowed me to really draw out the colors in the sunset. Given we shoot everything in RAW, we retain more of the color data and therefore have greater flexibility in the editing process.

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We also like to use the Graduated Filter to enhance large sections of a photo. For the following photo in particular, we used it to pull out some of the detail in the clouds by increasing the clarity. We also wanted to make the sky appear a little bluer and achieved that by making the shadows darker and increasing the saturation. You can see the affected areas here in the pink tint. The Graduated Filter can also be used on the bottom of an image to create a base, giving the image a sense of balance and stability.

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These are just a few ideas on how to get started. Some other links that I’ve found particularly useful can be found here.

*This post has been written in partnership with Adobe

UScooter Electric Scooter

Normally the term “electric scooter” brings up images of Segway-like vehicles complete with pretentiously obnoxious riders. The uScooter Electric Scooter may redefine the stereotype though. Its wheel base is slightly longer than the Razor scooter of yore, but it provides comfort to riders over long distances and offers far better stability thanks to the front and rear shock absorbers. In terms of range, this scooter boasts a radius of 21 miles on a full charge, with a max speed of 18 mph (although we’ve seen up to 21 mph on a downhill stretch).

Continue Reading…

Exploring the Coastal Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument

“From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”

We finally got to see the redwood forest from the Woody Guthrie song! If you’re visiting the San Francisco area, you should not miss visiting the coastal redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument. I’m from East Texas, with big, beautiful pine trees, but these redwoods put them to shame. They are tall, lush, and just beautiful. Ferns cover the ground to make a magical looking forest floor. Jonathan kept asking if the trees are real because they’re so impressive!

We rented a car and drove about 45 minutes from SF through the curvy, hilly roads along the coast to get to Muir Woods. There are lots of tour busses that can take you, but we already had a car from our time exploring Napa Valley. Admission is $10 for adults, and their hours vary but are 8 am-8 pm during most of the year. We arrived midday and spent 2-3 hours walking around and exploring. The main path is a smooth, wooden boardwalk. We saw several older visitors and people in wheelchairs. There are tons of hiking trails that veer off from the main boardwalk that you can explore (and we did!). Even though we went in June, and it was pretty chilly. I had a medium weight North Face jacket to keep me warm in the woods, and it was perfect for exploring.

LL Bean rucksack (similar) // North Face jacket (similar) // striped top (similar) // shoes

See What I Did There

We absolutely love photography. We love trying new things with a camera, pushing the settings to the very max and then bringing them all the way back down. We love learning from photographers who inspire us, and we are so flattered when people say that we’ve inspired them. Photography is a journey, an evolution even. Where you start is not where you’ll end, but the stops you make along the way piece together the mosaic that is your unique style.

This marriage of travel and art is the root of our passions around travel photography.

“What camera did you guys use? Do you use photo editing software? How do I get a picture to have THAT look?” These are some of the questions that we often get from readers and friends alike. It’s so fun for us to talk about this that we figured we should write a whole post on it.

Throughout the years, we’ve used different editing tools to create different looks. These days, we rely heavily on the entire Adobe Creative Cloud but mainly Lightroom and Photoshop. In Photoshop, we like to use the content aware tool to remove many distracting elements from a photo. In travel photography this often includes items like light poles, fences, clouds, or anything else that distracts from the natural beauty of the image that we’re trying to capture.

In partnership with Adobe, we decided to select one of the images that brings to life our love of traveling and take a deeper dive into how we got there.

CCPp_SeeWhat_-TFL_TW FINAL

Before the shoot

The day started with a lot of coffee. We were determined to make it up Pacific Coast Highway to our Airbnb in Carmel Valley before sunset and had several hours of driving ahead of us. We shot with a Canon 5d Mark III, and we always bring my 24-70mm L II lens. In my opinion, it’s the best lens money can buy. While we knew PCH had a lot to offer, we didn’t select this location specifically. Sometimes you have to let the road dictate what you should see and go with the flow!

During

We discovered this beautiful cove along the coast with the fog rolling in. The idea was to capture the vastness and cruelty of the sea, mixed with the ominous fog. To do so, we made sure to use a fast shutter speed. We wanted to catch the waves in motion. We wanted to show how crisp and sharp they were and how rocky the landscape was.

Post Processing

We used Lightroom and Photoshop to edit this photo, starting off in Photoshop to remove any distracting elements in the photo. We wanted to emphasize the sky and the fog, so we removed any variation of color in the sky. In Lightroom, we desaturated all of the colors except teal. We wanted the colors of the ocean to capture what we felt looking at the landscape in real life. The goal was to capture the wind and the waves and how unrelenting the sea can be. We increased the clarity on the mountains and sharpened the waves.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 5.42.56 PM

For us, editing is more about transporting the viewer to a feeling, rather than a place. We want the viewer to understand what it felt like in that moment. We like to capture a memory and romanticize the photo through the editing process.

This post was developed in partnership with Adobe.

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