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Monthly Archives: September 2011
I’ve been completely redesigning my website the last few days.
When I wrote this blog entry, I was in the middle of redesigning my website. It’s finished now, but that’s one of those projects that seems like a good idea at the time, but halfway through I want to take a sledgehammer to my computer.
During the course of my recent efforts (updating the site, not hammering my computer), I have been spending a lot of time going through pictures from the various countries I’ve been to. (If you’re curious, according to the Travelers’ Century Club, I’ve been to 37 different “countries and destinations that are politically, ethnologically or geographically different.”) A lot of the past photoblog pictures are making their way into the new Travel Photography section, which I think is nifty. I like being able to take a new look at the same pictures from before.
The above picture is of dragon fruit, taken at a market in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Alisha and I love dragon fruit, and that’s a direct result of our travels through Vietnam. It’s a strange looking fruit, but our guide cut it open and we found it’s a little slice of Heaven inside.
October 2010. (5331)
This is sort of a weird picture.
The table and chairs only reach about a foot off of the ground. Because of the distance between them and The Monastery, it can easily look like a doll-sized house in the background, when in fact, the door of The Monastery stands at 60 feet tall.
El Deir (“The Monastery”) is located in Petra, Jordan. When hiking to the 2,000 year-old historical site (the farthest site from the park’s entrance), the trail doubles back-and-forth quite a bit. Some parts of the trail are flat, others involve giant steps that require a bit of effort when navigating them.
In our case, my friend and I were one of the first to arrive at The Monastery for the day. Having the place to ourselves was awesome. We explored the giant ruins and tried to imagine what life was like, back in 1812 when a Swiss explorer found and introduced it.
Since The Monastery is farthest historical site located from the entrance to the archaeological park, there is a small snack shop nearby. Bottles of water, candy bars, and other snack items are available for a hefty mark-up. These small tables and chairs are placed around so if you’d like to enjoy a cup of tea on top of a mountain in remote Jordan, you can do just that.
February 2006. (1720)
This was a particularly fantastic adventure.
Alisha and I flew into Panama City. We spent a few days exploring the largest city in Panama before heading to the small, domestic airport to catch a flight into the remote areas of the country. From there we took a four hour truck ride through the mountains, then caught a 20-minute water taxi to meet a guy at a bar, and then took another 40-minute boat ride to a nearly deserted island.
From there, we wandered and explored.
I had a near deadly run-in with a sting-ray. We explored a native village and the children wouldn’t let Alisha and me leave. We ended up kayaking into the middle of a shark going after its meal. A local indian boy tried to teach me his tribe’s whistle, and then thought it was the funniest thing when I couldn’t get it right to save my life. I saw the coolest shooting star I’ll probably ever see in my life. We celebrated my 28th birthday with piña coladas out of fresh coconuts. And we sat and watched a group of carpenter ants carry leaves of a tree for nearly twenty yards into the ground.
August 2007. (0370)
Heading to Asia for three weeks, our first stop was to Xi’an, China, home of the Terracotta Warriors.
There are over 8,000 soldiers uncovered, which is a pretty hefty amount. When you add the 130 chariots and 520 horses, it’s an enormous historical find — literally. All of that being said, my favorite part of the warriors is how they came to be.
The first emperor of China, Qin Chi Huang, commissioned them to be created so, upon his death, he could bring his army with him to the afterlife. It brings the expression to mind “Heaven doesn’t want me and Hell is afraid I’ll take over.”
October 2010. (4109)
I spent this past weekend in San Francisco. I brought along nearly every piece of photo gear I had and used most of it.
San Francisco is a fantastic place to wander around and take pictures. The fog made timing a bit interesting, but eventually it would burn off and reveal a beautiful city and its surrounding landscape. When the fog was heavy, I piled in the rental car and drove away from the water to see other fun stuff, like lighthouses and In-N-Out Burger. When the fog dissipated, I hiked all over the city taking pictures of whatever I could find.
September 2011. (0103)
I enjoy photographing Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” (also known as “The Bean”) in Chicago.
I’ve seen so many pictures of it, and even from the same location, the image is always so different; be it the clouds, the sunshine or the skyline itself.
Also enjoyable, are those quiet weekdays when I’m there by myself. On nice days, tourists can be found posing for pictures next to it, or marching underneath enjoying the echoes and relections.
June 2009. (4564)
This past weekend’s Geico 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet was postponed until Monday because of weather issues. I happened to the day off, so I thought I’d boogie down to the speedway to see what I could find.
I packed a bunch of my lenses and, luckily, ended up receiving unbelievable access to the facility. My only complaint is I needed the race to be another 400 miles because I didn’t get time to head down to the pit area and the rest of the infield.
In this picture, Robby Gordon (bright orange and facing the wrong way) fights to regain control of his car during the race. He came off of turn four, got a little bit loose and made slight contact with the white car alongside of him.
September 2011. (9079)
I spent a lot of time taking pictures yesterday. I watched the sun rise over Navy Pier and then watched it set behind Chicago’s magnificent skyline.
About four o’clock in the afternoon I realized it would be a nice sunset with the soft, wispy clouds in the sky. After arriving at the planetarium, I realized it was quickly becoming the hot spot in town.
There were nearly a dozen other photographers with our fancy cameras and sturdy tripods, and twice as many people with their point and shoot cameras laid out in the grass; up on the concrete surface were four or five guys and their high-powered telescopes. Every so often, a “segway tour” would roll by and the guide would give fun little facts about Chicago’s history to their group.
As I watched the sun set with a couple dozen of my new friends, I was thinking it’s nice that Chicago offers such a great opportunity for its residents and guests to make fantastic images of one of the world’s greatest skylines.
September 2011. (9831)
Today is supposed to be a beautiful day in Chicago with highs expected to be in the mid-70s. The morning stumbled a bit with a thick fog lofting in and out of the city.
The fog gave everything a sense of mysteriousness, masking the sun’s direct light but allowing the brightness to reflect off of buildings. At times it looked magical, other times it looked like the city was overtaken by smoke from a fire.
September 2011. (9447)
There isn’t much to this picture. It’s the third base at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.
September 2011. (8939)
I realize I just posted a picture of Navy Pier last week, but I was originally thinking of doing a “day time/night time” sequence of pictures from Navy Pier. I ended up doing a different picture instead, because I really, really don’t like the sky in this image.
This picture was taken before I learned to avoid that pitch-black night sky. It was also taken before a security guard yelled at me for using a tripod.
June 2007. (0372)
The last couple of days I’ve posted black and white images, so as a color-filled change, here is another flower picture from the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Next spring I’ll head back there for more pictures since they have such a variety and colors are always changing. Plus, going on a random week day means you avoid the throngs of tourists piling in by the truckloads on weekends.
May 2011. (9574)
In September of 2005 my then-girlfriend-now-wife and I went to Italy. While on the island of Capri, we saw a water spout out in the Tyrrhenian Sea (the body of water between Italy’s “boot” and the island of Sardinia). At the time, I didn’t think much about it.
It was my first real trip out of the country and I just sort of thought it was a frequent occurrence in Italy. Additionally, I didn’t really know what was involved in creating a water spout, so we took a few pictures and moved on.
In retrospect, I wish we would have joined the fisherman pictured above and just watched the water spout move across the horizon.
Another picture of the water spout is located in the Europe Gallery page.
September 2005. (0529)
Waking up early one morning in Bali, Alisha and I set out to walk along the beach at sunrise. My plan was to watch the fisherman take their boats out into the water to go fish.
Along our walk, we passed many boats coming and going, as well as entire families out collecting shells at the water’s edge. Eventually, we came to a gentlemen who was just finishing untangling his net. He stood up, marched out into the water, patiently waited and then, when the timing was just right, threw his net out into the water.
After the net settled, he gathered it back up and dragged it to shore. His two children were elated to see he had caught three fish, and they quickly filled their buckets with water to hold the fish, as dad repeated his process of untangling the net.
October 2010. (6420)
Growing up, I would often visit my grandparents in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The bedroom I would sleep in was upstairs and faced the Fond du Lac Lighthouse. During the winter, the city of Fond du Lac will decorate Lakeside Park with a plethora of holiday lights and the marquee decoration seems to be a cut-out of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the top of the lighthouse. Rudolph’s nose would be the lighthouse’s blinking red beacon.
For a kid, it was the coolest thing ever: after climbing into bed, I would watch Rudolph’s nose blink on the top of the lighthouse until I drifted off to sleep.
I’m fairly certain that’s why, even now, I have a weak spot in my heart for lighthouses.
I ride my bike around the City of Chicago as much as possible. Some routes pass through seedy industrial areas, other times I cruise 15 miles down the lakefront to work. Most of the time it’s me and a handful of joggers on the lakeshore bikepath, but occasionally I see fun things.
One day, en route to work, I passed by a church service doing some sort of rebirth along the 31st Street beach. I stopped for quite some time and just watched as, one by one, members of the congregation were walked into the water fully-clothed, given a prayer, and dunked under the surface of the lake. The entire time the church choir provided a fantastic soundtrack to the event.
And then, a few years back I happened upon the Chicago Half Marathon. The route comes as far north as 31st Street, so I caught just a bit of the runners as I made my way to work. That day, I took a few pictures on my iPhone but made a mental note to come back for more later. “Later” ended up being two years.
After double-checking the website, yesterday I grabbed my camera and headed out the door to work. (For the runners, it was a beautiful day to conquer 13.1 miles.)
While I was trolling the Chicago Half Marathon’s website to double-check the route, I noticed they had a photography contest; winner gets $150 and keeps their image’s copyright. Since this is one of the few photography contests I’ve stumbled upon that doesn’t take everything — including the copyrights — I thought I’d enter. (I ended up finishing third. The two pictures ahead of me featured a runner carrying the American flag for the entire run.)
September 2011. (8852)
Having spent “a long weekend” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Carnaval, I really, really wanted to charter a helicopter to go take a few shots from above Christ the Redeemer; essentially the picture would be looking over Christ’s shoulder at the city. Mother Nature, on the other hand, decided to throw cloudy and foggy conditions during our time there and made it impossible to see 100 yards in front of us, much less the city a half-mile below.
Alisha and I still made the trek to the top of Corcovado mountain to see the statue up-close, however.
As a hockey fan, I had been referencing Christ the Redeemer the entire trip as “No Goal Jesus,” based loosely on Ohio’s “Touchdown Jesus.”
In the NHL, when a goal is reviewed, the referee will skate shy of center ice and point to the scoring team’s bench to indicate a goal. If the goal is reviewed and it turns out to not be a legitimate goal, the referee skates shy of center ice and extends his arms out to his side, parallel to the ice — basically the stance above. Since hockey is my religion, Christ the Redeemer was quickly renamed “No Goal Jesus” in my book.
As if God was taunting us for renaming the statue, the weather was picturesque and charming the day we flew out.
March 2011. (0137)
The car parking on the pier is a flat fee of $24 and decent street parking is only possible at strange hours — like sunrise — but you still have to walk a half-mile to reach the end of the pier. There is no train stop close by and it’s a seven mile bike ride from my apartment. As a result, I really like photographing Navy Pier but I just don’t get to it that often.
May 2009. (3433)
This is Joseph, he’s a ten year-old cheetah in South Africa.
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animal reaching 0-50mph in just three seconds (by comparison, it took Ferrari up until 1999 to get that fast that quick — cheetah’s have been doing it for 3-5 million years). At full speed, a cheetah’s stride is about 23 feet, which helps them attain their top speed of 75 mph. Adult cheetahs have over 2,000 spots, and the fur texture varies with the color.
And they purr like kittens when you pet them.
In Cape Town we had the opportunity to pet a cheetah. South African cheetahs decimate farmers’ livestock, so farmers are trapping and killing the endangered animals. Cheetah Outreach is an organization which raises Anatolian Shepherd dogs side-by-side cheetahs, so the dogs are then placed with livestock and look after them — all the while keeping the cheetahs away.
Slowly the cheetah population is coming back, and the farmers’ livestock are now endangered by other things — like the farmers.