Imagine spending 6 days on an old diesel powered boat exploring and photographing the Galápagos Islands. Imagine waking up, stepping out onto the deck, and, seemingly from nowhere, this old wooden sailing vessel appears. It was surreal. I was in awe of the the beauty of this ship. Add to that, even more surreal light illuminating the sky and this glorious vessel. As I clicked the shutter, my imagination went wild with wonder of the places she'd sailed and the sights she must have seen. Little did I know. Now for the rest of the story. The Mandalay is truly an historic ship. This 236-foot barkentine was built in 1923 for financier E.F. Hutton Later she was put into service by Columbia University sailing over a million miles worldwide. Evidence gathered on her voyages confirmed the theory of the continental drift. For many years, the Mandalay sailed in the Caribbean. She had a very loyal following, with "Jammers" repeating year after year. Then in September of 2007, that world ended. Windjammer Barefoot Cruises went bankrupt, its remaining assets were auctioned off and all her loyal “Jammers” mourned. But the Windjammer dream never died -- It was a culture. And it was a fragile culture - one that had a rare balance of fun, adventure, informality and one that would-be imitators never understood. On January 18th, 2012 the Mandalay was purchased, with a commitment to maintain the culture of “Windjammer”. The Rum Swizzles, crab races, story time, Bloody Mary’s, peanut butter pates, sleeping on deck and the playing of Amazing Grace are back, as are many of the former crew. Mandalay has been refurbished to recall her former glory. Always a favorite of Windjammer Barefoot sailors, Mandalay iswelcomed back to the fleet of tall ships!
San Antonio based photographer Aubra Franklin has spent the past decade traveling the world in pursuit of magical moments, a spectacular sensation he calls soul light. His majestic images of landscapes are not only the result of perfect timing, exotic locales, and expert compositions, but reveal the photographer’s keen sense of space and depth. As a professionally trained architect, Aubra sees beyond flora and fauna in a beautiful landscape. Thirty years of experience designing and building have informed his distinct perspective on natural phenomena and epic destinations. As a student he became engrossed in architectural photography and over the years gradually expanded his repertoire beyond illustrious monuments and celebrated buildings to include images of magnificent seascapes and idyllic woodlands. Much like an architect meticulously visualizes his design long before pencil is put to paper, Aubra visualizes how a particular sight and feeling will appear on a print, to capture billowing clouds and towering canyons. Through his lens a grove of flowering trees becomes a collection of grandiose columns and cornices. Aubra’s diverse portfolio ranges from photographs of remote Croatian waterfalls to the soaring Maroon Bells Mountains. His travels have allowed him to capture the serendipity of a perfect sunrise in Utah’s Canyonlands, and the serenity of ships at sea near the Galapagos Islands. Each trip provides viewers with the opportunity to witness Aubra’s vision of landscapes as natural architecture and to experience the mysterious wonders of nature. Aubra’s work has been regarded as, “exemplary in both composition and spirit,” by his private collectors, which range from entrepreneurial moguls and cattle barons to creative directors and curators. His limited-series works have attracted much attention, with collectors vying for multiple pieces. “I’m not surprised by the desire for Aubra’s work,” says mentor and friend, Jeff Mitchum. “In architecture, you have to be spot on.