Miami Travel Photographer | Kate Benson Photography | Sailing with the 50mm 1.2L

I’ve been daydreaming this summer. The lenses I’ve had have served me well but it has been quite a while since I added one to my collection. When I needed a special lens, I rented them from But I have a rule, don’t rent the lens 3 times. So I started lusting for the 50mm 1.2L Canon lens. The Bokeh is untouched (in my opinion). But I could only find the willpower to resist for so long and the lens arrived. As I’ve written about before, I don’t usually shoot while being social. My brain has a hard time switching back and fourth which leaves me in the work mode full time and not always very communicative. But when my husband and I were invited to come along for a moonrise sailing picnic, I couldn’t resist bringing along the new beauty.

Few things in life are as relaxing as sailing on calm waters with light breezes. Add in good company, tasty food, and a few beers, you can imagine the relaxation deepens. As we casual sailed around Biscayne Bay between 79th st causeway and Bal Harbor causeway, I found that the 50mm was everything I hoped it would be. As the light grew dim, the 1.2 f-stop preformed great. The weather did not preform as well forcing me to tuck away my gear and switch out of work mode to relax and chat with good friends. I highly, highly recommend investing in prime lenses as soon as your budget allows. It’s easy to be lazy and just zoom in or out and primes will keep you on your toes will delivering stunning results. Bellow are some of my favorites from the day, a combination of portraits and details. As we sailed, I spotted another photographer with a 600mm chasing another sailboat around to get shots, maybe next time I’ll have to try that. But if he or she knew anything about light, I’m sure that other photographer was not disappointed as the light was truly beautiful.


Fishing and shooting (also known as what did I take pictures of on my vacations)

It seems when I am going to travel somewhere my schedule fills up completely before and after the trip. This, I’m sure, has nothing to do with me calling and warning clients I’ll be going away and so if they want images before I travel to schedule asap (note my cyber sarcasm). So everything went on hold while I busted my butt photographing everything possible. Then off I went to Phoenix, Oregon, and Kentucky. It’s a really nice time of year to get away from Miami, where it is brutally hot. But, in true Miami style, I was welcomed back by Tropical Storm Isaac.
So I’ve got nothing to do but sit down and write. Actually write a blog post. I couldn’t leave the house if I wanted to and shooting from in here to out there would look about the same as shooting a grey card at the moment (get it, because of all the rain? It’s not a white out like in a snow storm, it’s a grey out… like in a rain storm…. oh never-mind).

Truth be told, I didn’t take too many pictures while I was traveling. But in Kentucky, I couldn’t resist documenting our “Fishing & Shooting” day. Yes, a day where you drink beer, fish and then drink more beer and shoot. It took a lot of convincing to make me stop shooting my camera and try my aim at the guns, I’m not really into firing guns. I have no problem personally with them but (and this is really girly of me) we had a wedding 3 days later and the last thing I wanted was a bruised shoulder with my pretty little dress. I know, such a girl. Alas, I did fire a few rounds, I believe hitting mark (clay pigeons, not anything alive) a few times. I actually re-applied some of the gun aiming technique to my camera shooting in low light and found it really worked. It was a pleasant surprise. Here are some of my favorite shots of the day.

(2018 Edit: I took this gallery down because looking back on it years later, it was a little bit embarrassing! Luckily, my photography skills have significantly improved!)

Chilian coast

A few more fun pictures here of the sunsets in Ritoque. Every night we stayed at the beach we would hike out on the cliff’s and watch the sunset. Although scale is hard to see in photo’s like this, the waves were easily 6+ feet. Sam and I took surf lessons earlier this day as it was a “small wave” day.
If you every have the chance, Ritoque was where we had our favorite day of the trip and although it was also the coldest of the two weeks we hated to leave it.




Wine Tasting in the Southern Hemisphere

The last two weeks were a true adventure. Sam and I took our long awaited honeymoon to Argentina and Chile. It helps that we are both lovers of wine and amazing food because Buenos Aires and Mendoza, Argentina truly shine at both. If it weren’t still somewhat overshadowed by corruption and poverty Mendoza’s wine regions of Maipu and Uco Valley, Napa would be off the map. Fortunately for Napa (and somewhat unfortunately for us) Argentina despite having a reputation of being a safer South American country is still suffering in some places. Buenos Aires seemed to be an oasis from this. Although this post is about Mendoza. Perhaps to be fair, I should clarify that one of our best experiences was riding bikes to the smaller wineries, the ones it will be hard (if not impossible) to find bottles from here in the US. These more subtle and modest bodega’s did not require a reservation which if you’ve ever tried to navigate on South American roads is a very good thing. Just hope on your bike and go. Letting luck guide us down the correct side of the fork in the road, we found and tried some of the best wines of our lives.

We traveled the red line. Our hotel was the #13 on there. Almost every stop ended in wine purchased because they were that good.

So if you ever see these wines in the US, grab a bottle and maybe one for us if your feeling generous.

#12 – first stop, Bodega Carinae – Carinae Winery, small 100 year old winery (across the street from #11, an olive oil farm)

#7 – second stop, Bodega Tempus Alba – Tempus Alba Winery, had a lunch reservartion here so had to ride to the top and work our way back. This was a great idea. Tempus Alba had VERY generous pours for the tasting and the much needed food to keep us somewhat sober was sublime (as was the view). Bought a Merlot, yup, a Merlot!

#8 – third stop, Bodega Viña el Cerno – Viña el Cerno Winery, a bit more touristy but the only place besides Martel & Co in Reims that had hand turned bottles of sparkling wine.

#9 –  Bodega Familia Di Tomasso – Di Tomasso Family Winery, another older vineyard, although they don’t do tastings of it (or sell it by the glass) this Italian family makes their own Limoncello.

#10 – last stop, Bodega Vistandes – Vistandes Winery, ran in just before closing and bought bottles of both wines we tried. The Torrontes was a perfect example of what the grape is meant to do, sweet and fruity on the nose and crisp on the tongue. The Malbec was equally impressive, we couldn’t resist and drank both these bottles on our trip our in Ritoque.

The shady side of the Mendoza region should have been a  common sense realization. Mendoza is still country, which many wealthy tourists have recently started traveling to. There are still a lot of people who do not have much or anything at all. Usually we found those people to be kind and actually somewhat wary of us. It was the industry that makes you a target. The wine tourism industry. Although some of the bigger issues we had with corrupt cops, greedy entrepreneurs, and often being made to feel like we were not worth much to people, we would still be happy to go back. Just with a little less Uco Valley and a little more Maipu (but not at the Aguamiel Hotel, maybe Club Taipaz instead). Trying to do the big things worked for the photography that I had to shoot to submit to the Wine Spectator Magazine but it was not the place to spend much time doing anything else.

So although I should have started with images from Buenos Aires, these are the shots that I went to get (although some played with to be fun) so we start in Mendoza. Enjoy the pictures!

All images © Kate Benson Photography INC, 2011

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