Wow What a Year, A Look Back

Hard to believe that a year has already gone by.  I had been meaning for a long time to get my own website up and running.  My son and I own PhotosByJarrett (PBJ).  He started a second blog site around his love of cycling over at CyclesInLife.  So I decided what the heck and launched this blog site one year ago.

After I got the domain and learned some WordPress basics I was off and running. At that time one of my friends had a cousin that was playing in the IHSA Girls 2A Volleyball.  He asked if I would go to Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena to take a few photos.  I was still rocking a pair of Gripped 7D’s.  Wasn’t in there long when I was handed a press pass and was on the floor shooting at the net.

IMG_0476

I used KodakGallery to store all my vacation photos for over 10 years, so early on I wrote a Vacations Through the Years entry.  I use this blog entry as a chronological time journey through the years.  One of favorites was my first golf trip to Arizona.

IMG_0299Web

While PBJ is our business for Weddings, Families, Seniors, and all other “people” type photography, I had been hooked on Eagles and other wildlife.

I could see my photos improving over the past two eagle seasons, but knew I was limited by the crop body cameras I owned.  I went ahead and pulled the trigger on Canon’s top of the line 1DX and the new 70-200 f2.8 L IS Mark ii. No more excuses, I am after results.

WOW, my world changed!  I got my Canon 1DX right before Christmas, set it up and immediately went after my beloved eagles!  First day in the field results.

Copyright: PhotosByJarrett {2010-2014}

I wrote the article Eagles / Birds in Flight: How to, Tips and Tricks about my eagle setup and editing techniques.  It remains my most visited post with close to 10 thousand visits.

For the past 2 years I have done and completed a 52 week project.  That is where I force myself to shoot a new photo of the week every week for a year.  I completed year two in November 2013.  Took a few weeks off and started my third 52 week project with week 1 of 2014:  Still on the fence as to rather or not I will continue to do a Photo of the week for 2015.  What do you think, keep going or are you all sick of them?

Ixtapa Hummingbird

Early January, my Eagles were going crazy due to the cold and numbers were way up!  I spent 3 weekends straight with my Eagles.  It is crazy how many photos you can click off at 12 Frames Per Second with the 1DX.  A full fishing sequence.

AV8O6534 2-FrameShop

If fact the winter was SO cold that it forced Snowy Owls out of the Arctic and all the way to central Illinois.  Snowy Owls of Illinois (Third most visited post)

PBKJ9154-FrameShop

So cold in fact the waterfalls of Starved Rock State Park froze solid! (my second most visited post)

PBKJ9296HDR-FrameShop

Even played with a little light painting with fire this winter.

PBKJ9607-FrameShop

During March I was asked by Matt and Ashly to do their maternity session.  Talk about pressure, try shooting for another photographer!  I was relieved they liked my work 🙂

T86A0468-FrameShop

Was lucky enough to score tickets to the Masters and spent a couple days in Augusta with good friends!  Bubba won again.  Both times I have gone to the Masters Bubba has won.

PBKJ0243-FrameShop

Stopped at the Great Smoky Mountains on the way back from the Masters and spend some time in Cade’s Cove.  Was too early for Bears, but still a great time!

PBKJ1546-FrameShop

No major trips during the summer, just lots of golf and a couple major home improvement projects:  First the landscaping, then granite and tile in the kitchen.

PBKJ2164

PBKJ2331-FrameShop

Little Layla Lou Jarrett finally was born on May 6th, 2014.  What a bundle of joy!

LaylaLouJarrett

Got the crazy idea that I had enough followers and interest to publish a 2015 Wildlife calendar. Being too tight to finance the project my self I turned to a crowd funding site Kick Starter.  The project came really close.  the project raised $2,000 of the $3,000 needed.  It was an interesting case study of demographics and social media.  The older crowd the wanted the calendar didn’t understand crowd funding, and the younger crowd that understand crowd funding don’t want a paper calendar.  Look for an even better 2016 calendar, just ran out of time to make a 2015 this year!

PBKJ2377-FrameShop

Another good friend opened his life long dream of his own high-tech shooting range: Central Illinois Shooting Sports.  I was proud to be asked to have my work displayed in his member’s lounge!  My gallery debut.

PBKJ2503-FrameShop

My last major trip of the year was back to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) to once again meet up with my sister to photograph the Elk of Cataloochee Valley.  What a special place.  I also spent 3 days in Cades Cove and found lots of whitetail deer, but the bears had gone back up the mountain to start on acorns.

PBKJ4096-FrameShop

Have a golf trip back to Phoenix this week, and as much as I hate winter, looking forwards to my Eagles on the mighty Mississippi river once again!  Not sure what 2015 will hold for me, but as life and wildlife happen in front of my lens, I’ll do my best to share it on this blog for you!

Enjoy what you read and the photos? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!  Feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by, Life is good, and I am blessed!
Kent

IMG_1681-FrameShop

 

 

The Masters 2014 Golf Trip Day1

We left Bloomington 5:30 AM and after a non eventful 12:45 hour drive we arrived in Augusta Ga.  We got up Sunday and headed out for breakfast.  Of course on a golf trip in the South, you have to have breakfast at a Waffle House!

We played Bartram Trail Golf Course.  Now I can say I have played golf in Augusta.

Only 3 of us made the trip, Greg, Brad and me.

PBKJ0087-FrameShop

61 degrees when we teed off and then dropped to 54 degrees and spit rain a few time. No denim at the course, and I didn’t bring dress pants.  I did have my rain pants, but too stupid to put them on.

PBKJ0089-FrameShop PBKJ0092-FrameShop

#17, 167 yard par 3 signature hole.

PBKJ0095-FrameShop

Hope the rain holds off tomorrow, but better tomorrow that Tuesday when I go to the Masters.  I am going to try and post a few photos every night.

Enjoy what you read and the photos? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!  Or feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by!
Kent

Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa Mexico

As some of you know us my now, we are Kent & Sharon. We travel somewhere warm the last week of January every year for our anniversary. We got married on the beach in St. Lucia 2003, I promised her we would go somewhere warm every year. This was our 11th trip. The rest of the trips can be found over on my vacation page.

PBKJ5858-FrameShop
We traveled to the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa Mexico from 1/25/14 – 2/1/14.

We have traveled to Mexico on our last two trips to Huatulco Mexico staying at Secrets and Dreams.  Traveling the last week of January I had been interested in Ixtapa due to price point but worried about temperatures not being warm enough.  This year I rolled the dice and the weather was perfect.  88 was the lowest and 93 was the highest.  72 to 73 every evening.  PERFECT temperatures!

Transfer from airport to resort:
This was one of the first applevacation trips where there was a mess up.  86 people from our plane was going to Sunscape.  They told all 86 people to get on the same bus, even though there were 2 buses and plenty of room.  They usually check off your name as you board the bus.  Once on the bus and we were rolling, 25 minute ride from the airport on a nice bus.

Check In:
Greeted by an attendant with a silver tray of cold facial cloths and fruity cocktails followed by a tray of chocolate chip cookies. We arrived around 3:30PM. Since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I identified our bags for the bell boys while Sharon got in line to check in.  We were the second couple to check in.  Our room was ready, and the bell boys had our luggage in our room in 10 minutes.  We freshened up, headed downstairs to get a drink and bite to eat, people were still checking in.

The room:
The placed us in a partial ocean view room, even though I only paid for the garden view.  Once again the silver tongued devil, talked us into a free upgrade.  When we got to the room, I was surprised we had 2 full sized beds instead of the King.  I was going to move us to a King, but Miss Sharon said she could really use a break 🙂

Worse part of the trip was the beds.  They set the mattress on a concrete frame.  Rock hard.  We were both pretty sore and achy by the end of the week.  We heard on the bus on the return trip to the airport that several other couples asked and received mattress toppers.  I missed the boat on that one.  🙂

GREAT water pressure in the shower.

Excellent room safe … digital combo and included no extra charge like some hotels.

Full sized bottles of shower gel (great scent … not exactly sure what it was) and shampoo were provided and the maid automatically provided “additional” when we ran low by mid-week.  Our maids were excellent the day maid was quick and always made sure we had an abundance of towels (never had to ask for more). The night maid turned down the bed and left a schedule for the following days planned activities

Beach: 
Was really nice and very walkable. Our second favorite beach of all trips.  It is1.8 miles long, flat and great soft walkable sand.  You can get sunset photos every night and three of the restaurants can view sunsets.

Food: 
The property did a really nice job of changing things up. One night a Mexican cookout buffet in the ballroom with a dinner and a show.
The food was good and very consistent with other AMstar properties we have been too. They only disappointment in the food category was the Italian specialty restaurant.

There are no limitations on how often you can go to any of the specialty restaurants. No reservations needed! We tried all the specialty restaurants; the Oceania restaurant was by far the best, followed by Gohan. We ate fish almost every meal. Highly recommend the coconut ice cream.

If Sunscape are reading this, do away with not taking reservations.  People had to line up 30 – 45 minutes early to get in when restaurants open.  Open them earlier and allow reservations.  Less stress on your travlers.

Travel Tip: 
I always travel with at least 100 USD ones, but wasn’t really needed this time. We did end up tipping the waitresses and maids and received outstanding service! By the end of the week they all knew my drink of choice and almost fought over each other to wait on me.

Pool:
Chairs and shade could be a problem.  People head down the claim their pool chairs around 6:30, they hand out the towels at 7:00, then a guy with a clip boards comes by and takes your room number then you are free to come and go.  Not a huge pain, I was able to get choice chairs every morning, just a good thing bed was hard and I was always up by 6:00.  We had read the reports about this, so we took our own beach towels and clips, which made it really easy for me to claim chairs before the chaos.   No rafts, but we took a 1.99 blow up and the pool entertainment team blew it up for me.

Internet: 
was included and free. Not as fast at home but good enough. I was able to use my MacBookPro, iPad2, and iPhone everywhere on the property. Photo uploads were slow.

Time Share:
We had been to the time share last 3 or 4 years, I like messing with them.  I was in there for 90 minutes I got 270 USD out of them.  100 in resort money, we used it for a tour, and 170 cash.  Used it for a lobster dinner across street and pocketed the rest.

The Spa:
This was the first time Sharon didn’t use the Spa.  The Spa and Gym both looked nice.  However, if you walk north on the beach, right out of the hotel.  There is a public entrances the beach, 10 minute walk.  There are massage huts.  Hut #4, Carla, will do a 60 minute deep tissue for $15 USD.  Sharon said it was better than any $120 dollar she has had anywhere else.  She ended up getting 2.

Shopping:
We rode the public bus to Zihuatenejo for 9 pesos each.  We got off at Elcktra and walked down to Cino De Mayo Ave to the fish market and local shops.  Went smooth and felt safe.  On the way back they were setting up a local circus and I got some photos of camels, zebras and tigers.

I got 13.4 pesos on the dollar at the bank next door to the hotel, but mostly got pesos at the hotel desk for 12.70.

Elevators:
Every ride on the elevator was a little bit of a gamble.  We never got stuck or had any problems but we heard other horror stories.  They are due to upgrade.

Overall:
AM Resorts are trying and have been pumping in some money.  They property is on the smaller size, but they do a good job of fitting a lot into that space.  They never open all restaurants, on any one night mostly due to they share sitting space.  You come in one entrance it is  Blue Water, you come in the other side the next night, different name and menu.

Great value and one of our favorite beaches.  Will go back to Ixtapa, but probably not this property until they give it some more love.

Hope this helps!
Kent

Gallery Of Photos:

Slideshow

Vacations Through the Years

Lot of the older vacations are before digital camera and were scanned from film. Some link off to Kodak, some to Shutterfly and the newer stuff to Facebook.  Soon, this will be the only site to follow my photos.

Enjoy!

Kent

“2015 Anniversary Trip: Breathless Resort Punta Cana Dominican Republic”

“2014 Sept Great Smoky Mountain National Park Elk”

“2014 April Great Smoky Mountain National Park”

“2014 Masters Golf Trip”

“2014 Ixtapa Anniversary Trip”

“2013 Phoenix AZ Golf Trip”

“2013 Ozark’s Golf Trip”

“2013 Great Smoky National Park Trip”

“2013 Huatulco Anniversary Trip”

“2012 Ozark’s Golf Trip”

“2012 Masters Golf Trip”

“2012 Huatulco Anniversary Trip”

“2011 Punta Cana Anniversary Trip”

“2010 Panama Anniversary Trip”

“2009 Punta Cana Anniversary Trip”

2008 no trip 🙁

“2007 Coast Rica Anniversary Trip”

“2006 Curaco Anniversary Trip”

“2005 Costa Rica Anniversary Trip”

2004 = no trip, was still paying off wedding and reception.

“2003 St Lucia Wedding Trip”

Phoenix Golf Trip, Friends and Family

Had a really nice visit with the Vandermoon’s and Sharon Sister Connie.  I was able to pry Brad out of work early on Thursday and Friday and he managed to slip out of Desert Code Camp a little early on Sunday.  4 rounds of golf.  Whirlwind Devil’s Claw, The Gold Club of Estralla Mountain, Ocotillo, and the last day we were invited to play Terravita Country club.

A few random shots form the trip.

Whirlwind: Devil’s Claw

IMG_0219Web

BradKentWeb

 

The Golf Club of Estralla Moutain

IMG_0237Web IMG_0238Web IMG_0240Web IMG_0242Web IMG_0226Web

 

Ocotilla Golf Course

 

 

IMG_0247Web IMG_0248Web IMG_0249Web IMG_0256Web IMG_0265Web

 

Terravita Country Club – huge thanks to Denny & Brad Flachsbart for hosting us!

IMG_0293Web IMG_0296Web IMG_0297Web IMG_0299Web IMG_0300Web IMG_0301Web IMG_0302Web IMG_0303Web IMG_0305Web IMG_0308Web IMG_0317Web IMG_0319Web IMG_0323Web IMG_0325Web IMG_0332Web IMG_0333Web IMG_0336Web

My hike up South Mountain.

IMG_0291Web IMG_0288Web IMG_0287Web IMG_0286Web IMG_0281Web IMG_0280Web IMG_0278Web IMG_0277Web IMG_0274Web

Sharon’s sister Connie (Con Con)IMG_0342Web_pp