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.

Fair Food

Let’s face it, for some of us, there’s only one reason to go to the fair. And in case you’re wondering, it’s not to pet the goats.

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Fair Food
A food vendor at the Manatee County Fair

It only comes around once a year, so you have to choose carefully. My wife and I checked out all the vendors so we could make an informed decision. She decided on these sausages which, as you can see was an excellent choice. However, I went with fried green tomatoes and, …deep fried Oreo cookies.

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The midway was mostly empty on account of the cold weather that night, so we had the pick of all the rides without lines. However, after my meal, I wasn’t sure that a roller coaster was such a good idea. So I stayed behind to pet the goats.

Memory Lane

Here is a photo of Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levin that I took about five years ago. Danny and I were on one of Trey’s New Zealand photo adventures.

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Memory Lane
Trey Ratcliff and Danny Levine on Lake Hayes in New Zealand

That seems like such a long time ago, but I still have a ton of photos and memories. I shot this on the original Sony A7R which was relatively new at the time. Now, I’m on the third generation of that camera, but I still own the original. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

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Actually, I processed this with the latest tools. In this case I Aurora HDR 2019 and Luminar 3. Those are also the third generations from Skylum, and I’ve been using them for three or four years now. Every time they come out with new versions I go back and find old photos like this to process. When I do that, it’s like taking a trip down memory lane.

Non-Mall

I left my wife in a shoe store as I walked around taking photos in the old streets of Barcelona. This is not your typical mall.

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Non-Mall
A small street in the gothic section of Barcelona

There’s something pleasing about photos of people juxtaposed to the surrounding buildings; especially when the buildings are very old or very new. Even if the people are just going shopping, it’s better than hanging out at the mall.

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Malls are becoming a thing of the past. Or, maybe, they are morphing into something else, less mall-like. I’m not sure I buy into that because as long as you have to drive to a mall, it’s still a mall. But I digress. Where was I?

Collioure

This picture is from a drive we took from France to Spain along the coast; we made so many stops that it was a minor miracle we made it anywhere.

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Collioure
A street scene from Collioure in the southern tip of France

One of our favorite stops was Collioure. We intended to stop only for a few minutes but lingered half a day. We walked around, sat in outdoor cafes, and mainly enjoy the Mediterranean way of things.

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This is a street scene along the main road through town. I was walking around taking pictures of the side streets. The buildings are painted every color of the rainbow which made it even more fun to take pictures.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.