Stern Morning

Crossing the North Atlantic in a straight line, each morning you could watch the sunrise from the stern of the ship. Without this constant, there is little else for orientation.

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Stern Morning
Watching the sunrise from the stern of the ship

Admittedly, getting up early on vacation to watch the sunrise sounds insane. But crossing the ocean on a ship leaves plenty of time to nap throughout the day. Trust me; sleep is not a problem.

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Likewise, in the evening you could see the sunset from the bow, but, at that time it seems you’re always busy getting ready for one thing or another. So early mornings and late evenings are the best time to take pictures on a cruise ship. And that, my fellow travelers, is your cruise ship tip of the day.

Cormorants

If a cormorant is out of the water, it will spread its wings to dry off. On this morning, however, they were still dry.

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Cormorants
A scene from Robinson Preserve in Bradenton

These birds spend a lot of time under the water catching food. It’s a little ironic that they even though they have feathers, they are excellent swimmers and spend a lot of time underwater. When they are fishing, you might only see their snake-like head and neck pop-up for air. We also have snakes in the water, so seeing a Cormorant’s head pop-up might give you pause.

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Just as often they’ll sit on a low branch or along the shoreline with their wings outstretched. Initially, I thought that it was to ward off predators by making themselves seem more prominent. But in fact, it’s to dry their feathers which are not as water repellant as other birds like ducks or pelicans.

NBA Cafe

It’s odd seeing an American sports bar in Spain. Maybe the NBA is popular here, what do I know? Or perhaps it just caters to American tourists.

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NBA Cafe
An American sports bar overlooking La Rambla in Barcelona

I was in Barcelona for only a day, so I took pictures of everything and anything. These are the windows of the NBA Cafe on La Rambla.

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Anyway, I just thought it was cool how the windows were outlined with neon lights. Like I said, anything and everything.

Plaza de la Merced

It might be an understatement to say it was raining cats and dogs in Malaga. But that’s of little consequence when you traveled over four thousand miles to get here.

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Plaza de la Merced
It was raining cats and dogs in Malaga Spain.

I was determined to go out, come hell or high water. The universe obliged and gave me high water. I wore jeans, a light rain shell and got utterly soaked. The bus pass in my pocket was unreadable and plastered flat against my iPhone. When I showed it to the driver, she seemed more worried about my phone than the pass. Thankfully, iPhones are water resistant these days.

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Speaking of which, I’ve read a lot about how the Sony a7RM3 is “water resistant,” so I decided to put it to the test. Imagine standing under a sprinkler. A little moisture got onto the lens mount, and the camera started giving me error warnings; however the camera and lens continued to operate, and I didn’t lose any shots. The camera got soaking wet. When I got back to the ship, I let it dry for a few hours, and it was perfectly fine. I suspect a tighter lens fit of a pro-grade GM lens would have eliminated that issue, but I was using the consumer grade 85mm f1.8, which I love as a lightweight travel lens.

All in all, I had a blast and, it was a good test of equipment and perhaps, my own craziness.

Ocean Drive

When I was last in South Beach, I hung around Ocean Drive. This is one of the many spots where they serve those half-gallon Margaritas. Only in Miami.

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Ocean Drive
A night scene on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach

This colors on this were so loud and crazy that I opted for monochrome to focus more on the people. These kinds of street scenes are fun to look at later, away from the sounds and heat of the moment. It’s taking a glimpse into a snap of time and spinning a tale in our mind of what was going on.

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Sometimes, I get looks from people that make me a little self-conscious. I don’t mind if it’s just people looking at me and wondering, but in places like this, there are quite often celebrities. I’m not into the whole celebrity thing and am really bad at recognizing faces. But I do occasional snap a star, so I hope they will realize that I’m just some guy without an agenda that probably just finished one of those half-gallon Margaritas.

Gigondas Village

Gigondas is a town in southern France known for its wine. But then, we could say that for just about every village in France.

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Gigondas Village
Up upon the hillside village in Southern France

They are sticklers for doing things the old way, and the wine from here is famous around the world. A funny little story: about a week after I returned home I was in a small store in my hometown, and they had Gigondas wine. I wasted no time bragging that I had just been there.

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Nevertheless, this image is a three frame HDR that I processed in the new Aurora HDR 2019 from Skylum. I prepared it in color so that the details weren’t washed out and then, for the last step, converted it to monochrome. For me, the memories are of the textures in the walls, gardens, and walkways.

Sarasota Reflections

When there is no breeze, the water on Sarasota Bay turns to glass. I was fortunate enough to show up one night two years ago when the conditions were just right.

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Sarasota Reflections
Apartment buildings overlook Sarasota Bay, as seen from Island Park.

Everyone likes the views from Island Park which is why folks come here to walk and take photos. I’m particularly fond of the perspective it provides for nighttime cityscapes across the water.

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Sarasota is growing, and the skyline changes about every six months or so. That means I need to get my behind down to this spot at least once a year to keep up. But I’m pretty sure nothing has changed in this one particular section.

Bloch Building

On our night in Kansas City, we drove around after having dinner in the Plaza area. I took this photo in front of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. There were sculptures all over; can you find one in this image of the Bloch Building? Maybe this Google Map link will help.

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Bloch Building
Outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City

From a quick observation, it appears that Kansas City has a thriving arts community. There were signs of it everywhere; galleries, public art, murals and of course, music venues all over the place. I would love to come back to explore and take more photos.

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I have mixed emotions about taking photos of public art. By itself, it’s not very original to take a snapshot of someone else’s art. But if it can be a part of a larger narrative, then maybe I’m okay with it. For instance, I think taking a picture of a mural is a step away from photocopying. However, perhaps it can be framed to tell a different story. That’s still derivative art, but I’m a little bit more okay with that. So going forward, I’ll have to decide whether it passes the sniff test on a case by case basis.

South Beach Pier

I was down in South Beach for a couple of days, and the first thing I did was walk over to the pier. Looking back at the land seems to help me set my bearings.

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South Beach Pier
The setting sun silhouettes a walker on the South Beach Pier

It was my first time to this spot; however, I’d seen it from cruise ships in the past as we sailed in and out of the Port of Miami. Now that’s it’s summer most of the ships are in Europe. With the hotter weather, the Miami Beach area is in low season. For me, it’s the best time to visit because prices are low and wait times are non-existent.

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I came here to take photos, so I just wandered around. It’s hot, but you expect that. Ice cold refreshments are at every turn, so it’s easy to stay hydrated. I drank twice my usual amount of water without even noticing. Even so, I prefer to be out in the morning or evening. This photo is the evening of the first day as the sun sets over the Miami downtown section.

Rainy Day in Amsterdam

When in big cities I’m usually quite happy with rain. It creates scenes and situations that are interesting to observe.

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Rainy Day in Amsterdam
It’s just as interesting to see what they don’t do as what they do.

First of all, people are carrying umbrellas which by itself creates a certain aesthetic. Then there are the motions people go through to keep out of the rain, like running from one source of cover to another. However, in places where it rains all the time, you will also notice how well people ignore it. Amsterdam is one of those cities where people are always outside, rain or shine. So it’s just as interesting to see what they don’t do as what they do.

In this case the couple were taking selfies and the gentleman was texting the pictures on his phone, oblivious to the precipitation. I noticed that in Amsterdam people are always riding bikes regardless of the weather, in some cases holding umbrellas as they go.

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I haven’t quite perfected the art of ignoring the rain. I’m a duck and cover kind of guy. But from a temporary shelter I can stand there, observe and take photos of things around me. The best part of that is stepping into a bistro and waiting it out with a hot chocolate. Then, sufficiently refreshed I head back out for more fun.