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.

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.

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.

Old Section of Salerno

When I was in Salerno it rained like cats and dogs. Italy had been in a drought that was just broken with a few days of heavy rain. Despite that I was happy to walk around looking for compositions while sheltering under entryways.

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Old Section of Salerno
Old Section of Salerno Italy

I took this during one particularly heavy downpour. I was forced to stay in one spot for an extended period, which in retrospect was a good thing. It’s sometimes better to pick a spot and let the world come to you. If you wait patiently, all kinds of interesting scenes will appear no matter where you are.

This is in an old shopping district of Salerno. The buildings and shops looked like they haven’t changed much in a hundred years. I got the sense that some shop keepers carried on traditions from one generation to the next.

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As the rain let up I continued to walk and eventually the narrow streets opened up into a newer section of town. The shops there were brand-name boutiques you’d recognize in any mall. As for me I preferred the character of the old section much more.

Rome’s Shopping District

We were standing outside in Vatican City when it started rain like cats and dogs. We wanted to see the basilica but that meant waiting in line for over an hour under an umbrella. So, as the rain wasn’t stopping we decided to hail a cab and head over to Rome’s shopping district. I have no idea where the “shopping district” is, but this is from there.

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Rome’s Shopping District
Rome’s shopping district on a rainy day

I’d recently been out taking photos in the rain in New York City. Doing it again in Rome felt a little familiar and I was glad I carried a plastic bag to keep my camera dry. I know this doesn’t sound fun, but I like these kinds of rainy day urban photos and I can’t help but get a little carried away.

It was one of the last days of summer holidays for Italians so the streets were already empty. Add to that the unexpected rain and the shopkeepers were standing around looking bored with nothing to do.

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I took a bunch of photos there and ran for cover when the rain got too heavy. Sometimes we ran into a shop, other times it was an amazing cathedral, there are so many in Rome. Regardless, it was a much better way to spend the afternoon than standing in line under an umbrella.

Examination of Society

Pictures from big cities like this are a mini examination of society. The scale shrinks individuals and we are left with dwellings, their architecture and proximity. That allows us to examine like an archeologist, learning about a society by studying its pathways and structures.

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Examination of Society
Examination of society through a wide angle lens

I took this from Vancouver Lookout which is one of the must see attractions. Even though it’s mainly for tourists it didn’t deter me from spending a couple of hours here taking shots in all directions. This one in particular I took with a wide 12mm lens. It causes the buildings to appear splayed in different directions. It may not be realistic but it creates a sense of movement to the scene.

Examining these scenes teaches us about the inhabitants at a collective level. At a personal level they teach us nothing. We cannot know someone’s heart by which floor they exit the elevator. However we start to understand a person by looking into his or her eyes, the windows of the soul. Maybe there is a parallel in cityscape scenes; the windows of buildings act as portals into the soul of a city. A million windows lead to a million individuals that combined are the essence of a place.

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I am drawing a long bow, but it’s an idea, that what makes a scene like this interesting is our invisible connection to the people behind the windows. I’m sure there’s more to it, but it’s an idea I have and for now and I might just take that with a cup of coffee and call it a day.

Water Under the Bridge

I’m not sure where the term water under the bridge came from, but it’s one I often repeat in my head. If ever there was a metaphor for letting go this is it. It sums up our attempt to keep moving and not get defeated by stuff that happened.

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Water Under the Bridge
Water Under the Bridge

Events are like water; they just happen and we usually have no power to stop them. Water is the most powerful force on the planet. It carves continents, it sustains life and it’s a force that we cannot control. We are born into a place where have little control of things around us.

Water under the bridge is both an acknowledgement that we have no control and an opportunity to keep moving. I think what’s important is how we react rather than what happens to us. It reminds me of the other saying about the journey, not the destination. Life keeps moving and how we endure each day, and every moment in-between, is more important than what has happened or will be the destination.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t have goals or a direction in life. Rather, what defines us is how we live each day while working toward the goal, not the goal itself.

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We all face the same choice. We may as well acknowledge the flowing water, cross the bridge, and move on through life.