Now and Then

Now and then, without warning, the view from a cruise ship can be over the top. This is why I like booking a room with a balcony.

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Now and Then
The sun sets after leaving Cozumel Mexico

The Oasis of the Seas was just leaving the dock at Cozumel, and everything came together. As the ships leave, smaller boats are returning to dock after depositing their tour groups. By six in the evening, all the ships have departed, and the little towns and villages become sleepy again. That’s why I think Cozumel is the closest thing to Margaritaville.

see the sunset/sunrise gallery here

My apologies if this image seems overly saturated. I’ve desaturated the colors a couple of times because it doesn’t seem realistic. Every now and then that happens. More and more I pay attention to the levels of color saturation while I’m taking the picture, and sometimes it’s quite high. Then I have to tone it down in post-processing because it can look fake. This is one of those cases, but I’m still not sure if it’s enough.

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The Fritz

Ocean Drive in Miami Beach on a Monday night. And the later I stayed, the busier it got. I repeat, it was Monday.

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The Fritz
The Fritz on Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami

But then I shouldn’t be surprised, because when I’m on vacation, every day is Saturday and most of the people in South Beach are on vacation. So it could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday night and the place is still going to be full of life.

more from Miami in the gallery

As I look at this photo, I wonder why they had two TVs set up outside? I get it with TVs in restaurants, but to set two up on the sidewalk seems a little extreme. It’s not enough that we are continually communing with our phones. I’m as guilty as anyone. But maybe it’s a good idea to get unplugged, if even for a couple of hours while we eat. Perhaps I’ll try that tonight, as long as there’s nothing important on.

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Siesta Time

We walked down the road looking for a place to chill and found a quiet little beach bar with tropical beverages. It was our third stop, and it was a charm.

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Siesta Time
Hammocks at the Blue Angel in Cozumel, Mexico

It’s called the Blue Angel, and it’s about a mile south of central Cozumel. If you’re in the area, you can’t go wrong. It’s a resort and dive shop, and from what I could see, very laid back. There were half dozen cruise ships in port, so this is a spot to get away from crowds.

check out the panorama gallery

We’ve had a problem with red tide in Florida, so it was refreshing to see so many fish in the clear turquoise water. There were divers and snorkeling which we lazily watched all afternoon. It’s the kind of place I could waste away in Margaritaville. I can envision myself napping in one of these hammocks half the day and the other half looking for my lost jigger of salt.

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Morgan “Moose” Wright

Morgan Write aka The Moose is a regular competitor on the Emmy nominated hit NBC show, American Ninja Warrior.

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Morgan Wright after his third stage run in a local Ninja event.

Though not affiliated with NBC, I’ve shot several of the local Ninja competitions here in central Florida. These events are frequented by many of the show’s competitors as a warmup and training for the series. Morgan is a regular at these competitions and is a standout, not only for his physical abilities but for his overwhelming positive energy.

According to his Instagram page, he is a public figure/speaker, American Ninja Warrior, Teacher, Veteran, Husband, and Father. As a PE teacher in his home town of Cape Coral, he has integrated Ninja Warrior training into the program. Here’s are a couple of news clips on that: here and here.

There are also local events for junior ninjas, and Morgan is usually right in the middle; motivating, instructing and cheering on the young competitors (including his own children).

I have tons of pictures, but here are a few of my favorites of Morgan over the last couple of years, all taken from various events at the Live Training Center here in Palmetto Florida.

Follow Morgan on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Following is a video of Morgan’s most recent season from the Miami Qualifiers of American Ninja Warrior.

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Ice Cream

They have it all wrong because I think ice cream is the real gateway drug. And besides, it’s highly addictive.

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La Rambla Ice Cream
A woman holds an ice cream cone in Barcelona’s La Rambla at night

I want to be in Barcelona at La Rambla on a warm night having an ice cream cone. I can be clumsy with food, so I got a small cup instead. There’s something about walking around with ice cream; for the time it takes to eat, reality gets suspended, and you have not a care in the world.

more travel photography from the gallery

We were walking back to our hotel after spending time in the gothic quarter, and I was randomly snapping photos of people and vendors. For me, this captures some of the magic of that night, and believe me; there is always a bit of magic here. But now looking at it again, I think it might be time for ice cream. Not that I’m addicted or anything like that.

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St Marks Water Level

Walking back to the ferry late at night I stopped in St Marks Square to capture reflections. To get this shot, I held the camera right above the water.

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St Marks Water Level
Taken at water level in Venice, Italy

Nowadays, days I use a Playpod which is similar to a tripod with a small base you attach to the camera. The first time I saw it I didn’t know what to think, but I’ve had it for a few months now, and I take it everywhere. I like doing low perspective shots, and the Platypod excels at that, and it saves both time and the camera body. Before, I would use whatever I had in hand like a strap or iPhone to prop the lens up, and that takes time and patience to get it right. But the Playpod it’s like having a mini tripod at ground level.

more from the gallery

Anyway, we had a late meal along the canals and walking back there were fewer people than during the day. The next time I go back, I’ll probably sleep all day and walk around taking photos all night. And you can be sure I’ll be carrying my trusty Platypod.

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Morning Routine

On most mornings I have a routine, doing the same things I did the morning before. Once in a while, I take photos instead.

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Morning Routine

I’m a creature of habit, and if I don’t put my keys in the same place, I’d spend half my life looking for them. Habits and routines go hand in hand and can be good, or not so good. But you get my drift.

It’s a little like having an autopilot in our car. It allows us to do one thing while doing another. Again, nothing wrong with that unless we forget where we are going.

more of Sarasota from the gallery

I guess my point is that it might be a good idea to step outside our comfort zone now and again to see where we are. For me, that means getting out to take photos. For you, it would be something completely different, but just as important.

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Fishing Pier 4.0

Some scenes like this I keep coming back to. But since the sky is different each time it counts as a new pic. I’m not trying to justify it, I’m just saying.

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Fishing Pier 4.0
The fishing pier at Bradenton’s Riverwalk

I’ve posted this same scene at least three times; here, here and here. I considered not posting yet another, but I like it and so why not? It makes sense to repeat a composition over time to gauge subtle difference as your technique or gear changes.

more images from the riverwalk

This is the first time I used the GM lens for this scene, and so now I can take the time to notice that. I’m doing that with a few repeat scenes, and I’m enjoying the results. I usually save the GM lenses for commercial or portrait work, but I’m starting to use them for landscapes as well. Anyway, here is the latest version of the pier in Bradenton’s Riverwalk. Stay tuned for version 5.0 in about a year.

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Bo De Gracia

Having only one night, we had to find the best tapas in town. Fortunate for us it was just around the corner. In Barcelona, that’s any corner.

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Bo De Gracia
A view inside on of Barcelona’s best tapas bars

I really don’t think you can go wrong, but Bo De Gracia was especially right if that makes any sense. There were quite a few things we ordered, but I remember sardines and olives the most. My wife doesn’t generally like sardines, but we both had to split the last one. And the fresh green olives have a taste and texture I’ve never experienced in America. It was all washed down with a local Spanish wine that complemented everything perfectly.

more interiors from the gallery

But I’m a photographer, so I had to pick up the camera and take this quick shot from the bar where we sat. The only people here were us and this couple. Probably because it was early in the evening. Around nine or ten is when these places start to fill up. By “these places” I mean the worlds best tapas bars around every corner of Barcelona.

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Elevator Bank

Why do we call it a bank of elevators? My guess is that at one time, only banks had lifts. Rest assured, this is no bank.

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Elevator Bank
Elevators on Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean ships have elevator banks that are functional, stylish and serve as a showcase for hanging art. No two banks are the same which is not only refreshing but helpful. Helpful, in that, on some of the larger ships, it’s easy to get disoriented. Having distinct elevator banks helps with getting your bearings. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot whether I was at the front or back of the boat. Unless you’re up top or by a window, it’s almost irrelevant, but knowing which direction to walk for a meal is an acquired skill.

favorites from the gallery

Also, each night the crew replaces a floor tile in each elevator with the name of the day. So not only do you know which part of the ship you’re on, you’re reminded the day of the week. Little orientation hist never hurt anyone. Anyway, if memory serves me, this was at the back of the Oasis of the Seas, or was it the front?

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