Bike Lot

I expected to see a lot of bikes in Amsterdam, and I wasn’t disappointed. However, not until I visited the bike parking lot did it sink in.

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Bike Lot
A bike parking lot in Amsterdam

Surrounding the public transit stations are huge bike lots. Some of them are multi-stories high and comfortably house tens of thousands. Some like this were outside and stacked to make efficient use of space. Maybe it’s not so strange, but I was amazed nonetheless.

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Since everyone is accustom to it, biking seems like a natural thing to do here. It made me wonder why we can’t seem to get it together in places like Florida where I live. From a transportation perspective, we are like dinosaurs, relying on our cars to get everywhere. If we don’t figure out a better way, we may soon end up like the dinosaurs.

Amsterdam Night 1

Arriving into Amsterdam from Florida I had the advantage of my time zone. So I walked around the central section of the city late into the night.

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Amsterdam Night 1
The scene of central Amsterdam upon my first night exploring

At that time I was doing some software work for a client. These days I do most of that type of work remote, so I felt it unnecessary to mention that I was out of the country. From my hotel, I could take meetings as if I was sitting at home. Then, when done, I would step outside and explore the city.

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What brought me there in the first place was a photo exhibit I was participating in just outside the city. I was able to attend the exhibition, explore the city and, for all intents and purposes, continue helping my client as though I was sitting right at home. It was a new experience that worked out well on all fronts.

Streets of Salerno

It was one of the hottest days of the year, and for the life of me, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would carry a sweater.

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Streets of Salerno
A summer day in Salerno, Italy

Maybe the stores were air-conditioned in the shopping district of this Italian port city. In Florida, we freeze going to a movie in summer. You dress in shorts and flipflops but then need a jacket in the theater.

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When I was here in Solerno, it rained cats and dogs in the morning, and within an hour the streets dried up from the heat. I got a wide range of pictures that day that included different types of weather. It reminded me of Florida summers but with a lot more to explore.

Manarola

This picture of Manarola is one I took from a boat ride along the Cinque Terre coast. It makes me want to pack my bags and go back now.

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Manarola
From Cinque Terre region of Italy

The villages lie one after the other along a rugged coast, all connected by train. So while they are somewhat remote, they’re easy to get to. They also have a trail that runs the length of the coast so you can backpack as well.

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When you look closely at the construction on top of the rocks, the difficulty involved boggles the mind. Also, the terraced hillsides have been carved out of the most inhospitable soil for crops, yet they are fertile and well tended. If you let your mind wander, you’ll go back the many hundreds of years to see the first inhabitants removing one rock at a time. And that is why I’d rather be a tourist in this century.

Nice, France

This is a section of Nice where cruise ships dock and people come ashore on a tender. That’s what I was doing when I took this picture.

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Nice, France
Nice as seen from the harbour

While waiting for transport to other parts of Nice, I walked up and around the narrow streets. It was in the middle of summer and hot. I remember trying to decide whether to have a beer or ice cream to cool down. My only hesitation was that it was nine in the morning so I opted for ice cream.

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The famous beach is west of here, but since I live close to beaches in Florida, I visited other parts of the city including an art colony in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. As that was up on a small mountain, it was a little cooler, but still quite warm. I ended up getting a beer there, but it was midday at that point. Such are my memories of ice cream and beer.

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.

Pigeon Portrait

Here’s a common pigeon from Plaça de Catalunya in the heart of Barcelona. It’s a fun place to watch the craziness in all directions.

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Pigeon Portrait
A common pigeon in Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya.

It had just rained, and that’s when the reflections are best. I used the Platypod to get a low perspective and shot this at f2.0 which creates big colorful bokeh balls in the background. It’s a technique generally used in portraits, so I guess this we could consider this a bird portrait.

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The pigeons are used to people feeding them they’ll come right up. They have almost no fear of humans. A little boy next to me caught one in his hands and then released it. I only had the desire to capture one with my camera. I got several shots, but I think this is my favorite.

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.

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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.

Angry Seas

Isn’t it funny how we anthropomorphize all things? Here are some defiant colors against the angry Mediterranean.

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The tempestuous Mediterranean as seen from the port of Barcelona
The tempestuous Mediterranean as seen from the port of Barcelona

I do it all the time with animals, but between you and me, I think most animals have emotions, so it doesn’t seem like such a stretch. However, sometimes I do it for the weather or inanimate objects; then I’m surely projecting my own feelings into the world. The sea can’t really be angry, can it?

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As we journeyed out into the North Atlantic, things got worse. There was a hurricane a long way off that roiled the ocean. The winds across the deck were seventy-five miles an hour, and the swells fifty feet high. At that time I looked out at sea from the comfort of a massive cruise ship and tried to imagine myself on a small ancient craft crossing the ocean in the midst of a storm. Admittedly I had feelings, but I’m pretty sure the sea had none at all. And that was maybe, just a tiny, bit, scary.

More Rain

You’ll forgive me if I post another photo of the rain. Personally, it’s something I can’t get enough and just think it’s kinda cool.

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A rainy October day in Malaga Spain
A rainy October day in Malaga Spain

Taking photos in the rain is akin to low light photography, the weather has a way of creating a mood. In Europe, it’s enhanced by the architecture of the old streets.

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This was taken on a rainy October day in Malaga when I got soaked to the bone. About a year or two prior I did the same thing in Solerno. Back then I bought an umbrella from a vendor who magically appeared as soon as the rain started. I paid too much for the umbrella and then lost it on a bus. I’ve since given up on umbrellas when taking photos. Besides, it’s not really feasible to hold an umbrella and take a picture, unless you have three arms.