Overhead- Paris

I had another photo challenge come up in my Reader tonight. This one is the Tuesday Photo Challenge hosted on the Dutch Goes the Photopage. This week’s theme is: Overhead. 

I took these 3 photos in Paris last winter. This first one is the ceiling over a stairway at the Palace of Versaillesjust outside Paris. 

Hard to believe they spend so much time and effort on a ceiling, big contrast to modern times, right? The next one is also at the Palace of Versailles.

And, looking up at the Eiffel Tower. I spent much more time looking at it from this angle than I spent at the top. The line was hours long. I’ll never make that mistake again. Totally NOT worth it!

Head on over to the challengeand see what everybody’s come up with. 🙂 

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Friendly Friday: Meeting the Sunrise in the Sky

I meant to get this done earlier, but a lot’s been going on the last couple of days. I found this “Friendly Friday” blog challenge last week on the Manja Mexi Moving blog and made a post for it. This week there’s a different host- the Something to Ponder About blog- and a different subject. 

It’s already Thursday so they’ll probably come out with something new tomorrow. Check out everybody’s posts for sunrise this week. Here’s mine…

I was able to fulfill another bucket list fantasy- ballooning over the incredible landscape of Cappadocia. We floated silently around rock spires and canyons, with only the occasional burst of the burner to give us more height and the clicks of the dozens of cameras. 

We headed out before dawn so we’d be in the air to see the sun rise. it was spectacular. My photos don’t do it justice at all. We slowly drifted down where the ground team met us in a dry field to pack up the balloon while we had a champagne toast to celebrate our morning. 

Casa Colon

I’ve been able to go ashore a couple of times this hitch. It’s just so nice to be able to get off, walk around, see something different, maybe have a nice snack. Try the local flavors. I love to explore, I live to travel! It’s one of the main reasons I chose to go to sea as a career. I don’t get around anywhere near as much as I’d like to, so I take every opportunity to go out as I can. 

I’ve never been to Las Palmas, or Grand Canary before. We did stop at La Gomera (one of the other islands) for a week or so and a short stop on Tenerife when I was on the sailing ship in high school. I remember the small town, white washed houses and hiking through the dry, rocky hills to go swimming at the beach. 

Las Palmas is nothing like that. 😉

I love looking at beautiful old architecture and the old part of the city- Vegueta– has plenty of it. The cathedral was one great old building, another was the Casa Colon. The house of Columbus. They didn’t open ’til 10, so we (me and my local friend Josito) went to look around a couple of old churches, wander the neighborhood peeking into courtyards, and had a snack. It was still early when we were allowed entrance (4 euros) to the restored house/museum. We were practically the only ones there for the first hour. 

After that, the tour groups started arriving and in the small rooms of the house, it got quite crowded and noisy. The place impressed me. Not only the rooms full of interesting articles, but the house itself.

I especially loved the intricately carved designs of the wooden ceilings. I’m pretty sure they must be modern replacements, but I wonder if they’re copied from the original? I tried to ask at the museum, but no one there spoke English well enough to answer my questions. I’ve since sent an email, but no response yet.

I also wondered about the exterior doors. They’re surrounded by a thick stone mantle, carved with all sorts of decorative motifs including 2 large upright dogs. There are priests and centaurs, I saw a mermaid and a cow. I wonder what, if any, the significance is? I assume the large dogs (I think they’re dogs) represent the Canaries (canis is Latin for dog- canine is English). I’m just guessing though. They’re posted at either side of the entrance along with the shield of arms.

Inside, the house is typically Latin. Two stories surrounding an open courtyard filled with gardens, fountains and a couple of brightly colored macaws that freely wander around the place. We were warned, don’t get too close, they bite.

The recommended route through the house starts with a replica of Columbus’s ship. Wooden masts, blocks hanging from the rigging and barrels line the bulwarks. Steps lead up to the master’s cabin where he’d have slept and kept his charts.

From there, you enter a long room with models of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. The ceiling is covered with the zodiac and the walls hung with flags. Continue on and there are documents (copies) from the times of his voyages of discovery including his logs, letters he wrote to Queen Isabella, important treaties like the Treaty of Tordesillas which divided the world between Spain and Portugal.

Charts showing each of his voyages are hung on the walls. I didn’t realize he did so much exploration. All I remember from school was his discovery of the islands of the Caribbean. I know he went to Hispaniola only because I was there and saw monuments to that effect. He actually spent many years exploring the “New World” before retiring.

The ground floor continues on with the theme of exploration, showing the trade from the Canary Islands and the Americas. The people of the Canaries wound up in some places I wouldn’t have expected. Texas, Louisiana and Florida for example (tho I’m not sure how much I trust their figures since their map shows Louisiana up about where Missouri would be).

Further on, a couple of rooms full of antique nautical instruments (astrolabe, quarterstaff, compass, etc) and historical charts from the age of discovery complete the first floor.

The second floor is full of paintings (mostly oil) from the 16th to the 20th centuries. A lot of them (especially the earlier ones) are of religious subjects. The later ones are mostly portraits, but a couple of nice landscapes are there. I’ve never heard of any of the artists, but that doesn’t mean anything. They’re very good. I especially liked the “Bather” and the landscape with a tree.

Then we focus on the Canary Islands, theres a room with models and maps. There’s a model of the original fort that formed the foundation of today’s city of Las Palmas. Another one of the Castle de la Luz. It’s still there, you pass by the ruins in the surf on the way in from the airport. A model of Grand Canary shows the volcanic origin of the island.

My ship is docked at the end of the long pier off the peninsula

In the basement- the “crypt”, the focus is all on the New World. The cultures of the Amazon, Ecuador and Mexico. There are cases full of ceramics and all kinds of small objects. Careful not to step on the graves (I couldn’t read the Latin-or old Spanish- to figure out who was in there), we passed through fairly quickly and back up to the courtyard.

The macaws were entertaining a group of local school kids, so we decided to head on out. I needed to pick up a few things before heading back to the ship to get some rest before going on watch for the night, so we headed up Triana street. It’s a famous shopping street. Pedestrian only, hung with baskets of brightly colored flowers, benches along the way, occasional musicians busking the people meandering through.

It was easy enough to catch a cab back, and only about 11 euros. I spent 9 for a bag full of snacks to last the rest of the hitch. I love all the history here, but maybe next time I go ashore I’ll look for something different. 😉

Morning in Vegueta

I’ve been working here in Las Palmas, Canary Islands for about 3 weeks now. This hitch I’ve been working nights on the DS-11 (drillship-11). I like it. It’s been pretty quiet so far, so I have some time to catch up on writing and photos. I can even go ashore once in a while in the daytime when things are open. 

It’s not often we get the chance to go ashore any more as mariners. At least not when we’re working for any of the oilfield companies. It makes such a huge difference in crew morale. I don’t even know how they get away with it. In the Deep Sea fleet, companies must pay overtime if they restrict us to the ship. No such thing in the oilfield. 😦

I do very much prefer sailing deep sea. Of course I would be doing that if I could. I have been looking for the opportunity to get back out there since I was laid off my last ‘regular’ job- late 2015. There still is nothing out there. 

In the meantime, I’m happy to get any work anywhere. It’s been so long between jobs! This gig is one of the best I’ve had lately. I love working overseas (outside the USA). The traveling was one of the main reasons I chose to sail as a career. The other was that the job depended on your skills and knowledge- not what you looked like or how you dressed or talked (too bad that’s changed so much).

I’ve been able to go ashore a couple of times this hitch. It’s just so nice to be able to get off, walk around, see something different.

Plaza de las Ranas

Tuesday morning I met my friend Josito who lives in town. He works here too, but he’s on his off time. I took a cab from the ship in to town and we met at the Plaza de las Ranas (frogs). I get off watch at 7 am and need to get some sleep before watch, so I wanted to get to town as early as possible. But the people here like to stay up late and they don’t get started early in the morning.

Nothing was open, the streets were empty at 0800 when I met Josito. We decided to go to the market in Vegueta- the old town. The market was old too, it opened in 1863. It was full of individual little shops selling fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, breads- and pastries that made my mouth water (I skipped breakfast). Josito explained that lots of the shops were closed because so many locals go on vacation this time of year.

I wasn’t really shopping for food anyway. I just like to see how other people do. I always like to go look around the grocery stores whenever I travel. Just to see what’s the same and what’s different.

Here, we met a very friendly storekeeper who answered all my questions about his exotic wares. He had so many things on display: guavas, mangos, papayas, passion fruit, huge (6″) tomatoes, raspberries, dragonfruit, lychees, kumquats, loquats, 4-5 different kinds of bananas, all kinds of spices fresh or dried and packaged.

Jose and Josito
me and Jose at his fruit and vegetable stand

He had things I’d never seen before like guanoabana (not sure of spelling). It’s the big green fruit in the photo, above the tomatoes. It was white and fibrous inside, full of juice, and tasted very tart. Jose let us taste anything we wanted. I have to admit, I was not thrilled with a lot of the tropical fruits. We bought a big bunch of Canary Island bananas to bring back to the ship.

Vegueta is compact, it’s easy to wander around the old cobblestone streets and find all the major attractions: the Cathedral, casa Colon, the market and lots of little shops, bars and restaurants. We stopped for a snack as we wandered the neighborhood.

The Cathedral de Canaries (or Cathedral of Santa Ana) is one of the most important historic sites in Las Palmas. They started building it around 1500, they built and rebuilt it over 500 years (that’s why the different architectural styles- gothic, renaissance and neoclassical). It’s dedicated to St Ann.

The people here haul a float through the town with her statue and a huge silver ‘crown’ that surrounds the entire statue. They keep the float in a barred off section of the cathedral. There’s Semana Santa (Easter Week) and Corpus Christi in June, and the feast on the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral on November 26. I imagine these processions must be a real sight to see.

You’re allowed to go up the towers of the cathedral. The view should be fantastic, since these towers are the highest point for miles around. There’s an elevator, it costs 1.5 euros, but there was no one in attendance so we had to pass on going up.

The walls of the cathedral are hung with beautiful old paintings of Jesus, Mary and the saints. A gorgeous pipe organ stands close to the entrance on the left. They were having a small funeral in one of the chapels while we were there. I felt like an intruder so didn’t get too close to that side of the church.

I took a close look at the pulpit, with its excellent carvings of angels and saints. I’m not really religious, so can’t say much more about the place except that it was cool, quiet and peaceful. A nice place to relax and rest and meditate or pray if you want.

Next to the famous Viva Vegueta sign, we found the Iglesia de San Agustin, another beautifully decorated church. It’s not as grand as the Cathedral, but had some very interesting artwork inside. It’s also mentioned as the Sanctuary ofSt Rita, patron saint of “impossible causes” (also of abused women). I had an aunt named after her. Mary Rita- quite a saint herself. 

There were quite a few more churches to explore around Vegueta, including the Ermita de San Antonio Abad, which was where Columbus prayed while he was here. I would’ve liked to check it out, but it wasn’t open while I was there.

I never have enough time to explore when I’m working, but at least I got the chance to see a few of the more interesting things around Las Palmas. The old area of Vegueta was a perfect choice to spend the morning. I did get to see the Casa Colon too, but it would be too long a post to write it up here. Check back later. 😉 

Friendly Friday: Istanbul

I was looking at everybody’s posts for this week’s Friendly Friday challenge, and I just had to post one more time. 🙂 

When I made my post the other day, I totally forgot about all the other places in Istanbul where they had such beautiful tile work. Different than the gorgeous stuff some people were posting from Portugal, but beautiful in another way altogether. Combined with the architecture, the artistry with the tile work makes so many of their buildings really special.

Here are a few photos I took in the mosques. I was really affected by how much time and effort went into building these places. The total devotion it must take to spend years, decades, centuries even- to build something so impressive.

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque with thousands of blue tiles decorating the interior

Those were from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The photos below, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure they were in the Hagia Sophia. It was a Christian cathedral before it became a mosque and it’s now a museum. The shimmering gold tiles of these mosaics really shine when the sun hits them. 

Imagine the skill and patience it must’ve taken to make these things. How to make sure all those little pieces go together just right. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle! And all such a long time ago too. Of course, they didn’t have the internet to distract them back then. 😉

One more note re: tile. Have you heard of Dixie Friend Gay? She’s a modern day mosaic artist with some absolutely stunning projects. Here’s a photo I took to pique your interest. Check out this earlier post...

View From the Harbor

I’ve been here in Las Palmas (Canary Islands) since July 10. I’ve been working nights, from 7 pm to 7 am every day. I’ll be doing that until I go home. I’m scheduled to leave August 8th (early). 

It’s interesting watching what’s going on around the harbor. Yes, it’s really sad to see so many drill ships stacked up over here, but at least I can see they’re working on 3 of them. That’s a good sign. They must have work coming up or they wouldn’t be spending any money. It would be great to see them all leave soon.

My old ship the Discoverer India was docked right in front of us for a couple of weeks. I watched their dive boat working on their stern and the bunker operations over the last couple of days. They just left last night. 

Discoverer India

I never realized how busy this port was. Other than all the drill ships, I see quite a few LNG ships coming and going. There are a few ferries every day- they go to Tenerife and around the islands. You can even take a ferry all the way to Spain (in about 40 hours).

There’s a container terminal right across from me. I see the container ships working there almost every night. There’s a yacht harbor a little further across. There are hundreds of boats over there. The sailboats are fun to watch, especially when they want to get so close to the big ships passing by.

LNG ship in the harbor, Las Palmas, Canary Islands

Yes, sailboats do have the right of way over power driven vessels- but- common sense should prevail, best get out of the way of someone 100 times bigger than you are that takes a half mile to stop.

The weather has been overcast since I’ve been here. I’ve been told this is normal for this time of year. Not to expect much sunshine. It doesn’t rain. We’ve only had one night with just a drizzle, not even enough to really wet the decks, but it looks like it’s going to rain every day.

I can see the lights of the city climbing up the hills across the water. It makes me want to take a ride over and explore. I did get to go over one day last week. My cab driver told me that one guy actually did try to swim over once…

A “Scottish guy, off one of the drill ships” took a swim for the city, they had police boats and helicopters tracking him down. The company sent him home, no doubt the Spanish officials were in complete agreement on that. I bet whichever company that was does not allow shore leave any more. Sadly, most don’t no matter what. 😦

Harbor scene at night

CFFC: Close Up of Flowers

Cee has more challenges this week. I saw this one and had to jump in. Here’s the rules from Cee…

“This week the topic is Close Up of Flowers.  Any flower will do.  It can be a natural flower, artificial, or even handmade.  Just get as close as you can with your favorite camera, and lens, if you have an interchangeable lenses.  Macros are allowed too.”

A single waterlily, details are beautiful

Take a look at Cee’s blog and see what everyone’s posting. There are some real beauties. 🙂

Bokeh

I found another photo challenge thanks to Cee. She has compiled a whole list of them. This one is a ‘photo adventure’ from the Little Pieces of Me blog. It’s going on for a whole month. You can post once, or as many times as you want. This month, the theme is

bo·keh/bōˈkā/nounPHOTOGRAPHY

  1. the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.

I usually try to get my subjects in focus. I get blurry photos a lot more than I’d like. The point with bokeh is to leave the background (usually) out of focus. Sometimes, even the whole photo out of focus looks good.

I’ve been trying lately to practice doing this. I don’t really know what I’m doing with my camera, so when the photo turns out good I’m always happily surprised.

I usually use a point and shoot camera. Just because it’s easy to carry around with me. I usually keep it in my pocket all the time when I’m out and about. Some people can take really great photos with their phone, but my phone is not one of those.

When I know I’m going somewhere I will be taking a lot of pictures, I take my good cameras with me. I love my Sony NEX-5R even though it’s old and should probably be upgraded. It’s much lighter than my other cameras and takes great pictures, even in low light.

Here’s my entry to the challenge. I took this one with the Sony camera.

I may be able to come up with more later. 😉 If you want to join in and see what everyone else is doing, click the link here.

CYW: Asparagus

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I don’t have any asparagus around the house to photograph, tho I do have some out in my garden. It’s not nearly ready to harvest yet, and it doesn’t match the color swatch anyways. I’ve looked through my photo stash and this is what I’ve come up with for Jennifer’s Color Your World Challenge for this week- Asparagus

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Most of what I found were of some type of plant/vegetation, but some were man-made. I found this display of tiny dinosaurs at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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This asparagus colored plate (with delicious entree) was served to us at the Lemala Mpingo Ridge Camp in Tanzania.

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I always enjoy these challenges. It’s fun to try to come up with something to enter and to see all the different ideas people have to play along. If you want to see the rest of the Color Your World series and see what’s coming up in the future, click this link.

Stock Photography

I’ve been stuck at home since my last job got cut short (again). I get antsy when I’m not working for months at a time. I start freaking out about money and bills, then start feeling trapped and depressed and don’t feel like doing much of anything at all. Since October, I’ve only had 5 weeks of work and it’s looking pretty slim for the next few weeks as well. 😦

I’ve been trying to keep busy. I go see a movie to cheer up if there’s anything decent playing. I’ve stopped going to my usual (entertaining and interesting) Tuesday night political meetingssince they’re just so frustrating now. I go to art class on Tuesdays (this morning was the last one for a while- the teacher is taking a break). I may start going to ‘open studio’ instead. It’s on Wednesdays, or Monday nights. 

I’m getting around to doing things I’ve been putting off: I was working in the yard til it got too hot, working on my taxes, re-reading books I’ve been saving before deciding if I can now bear to get rid of them, uploading some photos to the stock agencies.

Here are a few examples…

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Herd of buffalo in the Serengeti
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Lilac breasted roller
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Palace of Versailles- rear view
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Pair of pink tulips
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Fresh, organic vegetables at a farmers market

Stock photography- like the blogging, was supposed to be a side gig. A way to earn some income when I wasn’t able to get offshore. I hate to say it, but neither one has worked out that way. Both take a hell of a lot of work to keep up with. So far, I’ve earned a grand total of $7.83 on Bigstock and $6.46 on Dreamstime. A big, fat $0.00 from the blogs. 

My thought was to sidestep the editors. To get my work out in front of the public where I figured at least somepeople would like it enough to buy something. I know it’s possible to earn an income from both blogging and from photography. I know people personally who are doing both. 

I wish I knew their secrets. It seems the main issue is how to attract attention? How to be found among the 81 million on Bigstock alone? Or the 500 million ++ blogs in the world?

Just curious, does anyone you know earn anything from either stock photography or blogging? If so, do you know how? 

FOTD: Bearded Iris

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Here’s another of Cee’s photography challenges to join. This one is for the Flower of the Day- May 26th- Bearded Iris.

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I just took this photo the other day. Couldn’t help pulling out my i-Pod at the grocery store and snapping shots of all the gorgeous colorful flowers. 😉

Small Subjects

Cee’s Black and White Challenge’s topic for this week is: small subjects.

Here’s the kind of thing she’s looking for…

  • Black and white photography
  • Sepia tones (browns)
  • Selective color with the majority of the photo being in black and white
  • Desaturated – very little color tone left in your photo

So, here’s my entry…

I was up in Galveston a while ago. Wandering around town with a friend after dropping off some of my paintings at the From the Heart Gallerywhere I’ve been trying to sell some of my art. We were enjoying looking at all the historical buildings, taking lots of photos, and window shopping. I took these photos in one of the antique shops around the Strand. Just a bunch of little china statues of cute little buildings. 

Twisted

Here’s a new photo challenge to join in. From Maria at citySonnet.

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I took this photo at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It’s labeled as a “sandstone concretion”. I really loved looking at all its twists and turns. I always enjoy this museum, they have a great exhibit on insects and a butterfly ‘garden’, and they have frequent very interesting lectures and presentations.

Less Is More

I love a good photo challenge. Here’s one from Amy and The World Is A Book blog. Here’s what she says about it

This week, I am hosting L-A Photo Challenge. I hope you’ll join me and share what “less is more” means to you. Looking forward to reading your interpretation, e.g. how you focus on a subject when you take a photo of a landscape, building, person, or your pet, and perhaps how you simplify your life style. Make a link (ping back) here and remember to tag your post Lens Artists so followers/ readers can find you.

Here are a couple of my photos on the theme of ‘less is more’ or simplicity…

I loved the contrasting colors and radiant pattern of this water lily
trying to capture the entire parade was too busy and chaotic, the details were more interesting to me
the amazing colors, patterns and textures of this orchid really caught my attention
I loved the lines and patterns here (the roof of a market building)
incredible textures and patterns of the underside of a starfish

You can see I like to concentrate in my photos on the details. I tend to do that in life too. It probably works better in photography. 😉

If you’d like to check out everybody’s posts or join in yourself, just click the link at the top of my post, or right here. 🙂

TPC: Crawling Creatures of the Sea

I found a new photo challenge in my reader the other day. It’s hosted by Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo. This week the topic is ‘crawl‘.

I already posted once with a couple of photos of insects. I found a couple more of some sea life. Here goes…

I took all of these at the aquarium. This first one is a close up of a sea urchin (from underneath it). It was crawling slowly up the side of the tank when I got this shot.

This is a beautiful blue starfish, I wish my photo could show the true blue color, it’s really much brighter.

This little hermit crab was crawling around its tank for a while, he finally stopped and stared at me through the glass. I remember growing up on the beach in Florida when we used to see these guys all the time. I don’t see them here in Texas. I wonder why not?

FOTD: Anthurium

Here’s another one of Cee’s photo challenges: Flower of the Day. This one is for “Anthurium“. I don’t see these around very often, but I did get a couple of shots a while back up in Houston.

If you want to see what everyone else is doing, or join in yourself, just click the link here.

TPC: Crawl

I found a new photo challenge in my reader tonight. It’s hosted by Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo. This week the topic is ‘crawl‘.

I have a few that will fit the challenge…

I took this photo a while ago at Moody Gardens in Galveston. I used to have a membership and so went fairly often. I gave that up a couple of years ago when I got laid off….

I took this one at the Houston Zoo. They have a ‘bug house’ with a couple of dozen terrariums with different kinds of insects. I believe this one is called a ‘blue death feigning beetle’ which is native to Texas (though I haven’t seen any wild ones around here).

I took this one at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It’s a tarantula. Bigger than my hand (I’m estimating, I didn’t pick it up). I go there and to the zoo a lot when I get up to Houston. I have memberships to both so it doesn’t cost me anything. Both the museum and the zoo always have something new and interesting to see.

I went again last Friday night, hoping to spend a little while looking around the museum before the event I was going to (Biophilia). Sadly, they had the entire place blocked off so I just had to wait around, bored, for 45 minutes until they let us in to the exhibit. It was worth the wait.

The amazing creativity of the artist was incredible. The museum did a great job. They had a few tables set up where we could make our own art magnets, check out some of the insects they keep around downstairs, and talk to some of the docents. I got to pet the tarantula, it was silky soft. 🙂

They also had free food (pulled pork sliders, chips, pecan breaded chicken skewers and cookies). Drinks were available too.

There was a pretty decent crowd, the tables were full of people eating before or after looking through all the beautiful artwork. I loved the bright colors and fantastic designs. I never would’ve thought to make something so beautiful out of a bunch of bugs. Even tho when you look at almost anything in nature close enough you can find beauty.

They’re having another event at the museum tomorrow, but even if you can’t make it the exhibit will be on display for a while. Don’t think you have to go only if you can go with someone from the museum. It’s definitely worth going if you like anything to do with art, nature, design.

Sunday Stills: Fire at MC 252

This post is for Terri’s Sunday Stills. This week the topic is “fire”. I don’t have many photos of fire. It’s not something I see very often (and not hoping to see more of). I’ve tried to take photos of campfires and they turned out as just one giant glob of white against a pitch black background.

I have been trained in fire-fighting. So I have fought quite a few fires during that training. I’ve taken the basic fire-fighting course at least a dozen times since my first in 1978. I’ve taken the advanced class a couple of times too. The US Coast Guard recently decided we have to take both of these courses a minimum of every 5 years (another painful expense due to STCW). Now, I teach it sometimes. It’s very rare that I can get a photo during the classes.

that’s me- 2nd from the left, back row

I was still working full time during and after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Luckily I was working as second mate/SDPO onboard the Helix Producer 1 (HP-1). I say luckily because President Obama declared a ‘moratorium’ which forced hundreds of boats into lay up and thousands of people to lose their jobs.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster was the worst oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico (but not even in the top ten worldwide). 😦

for some it’s just another day in the oilfield- check out the guy getting his exercise walking the helideck!

I have read some of the investigations results, watched the movie, read a couple of good books, and I have my own ideas about what caused it. President Obama and his moratorium tried to come up with some ideas to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again. Although they did come up with some ideas and some changes have been made, I don’t think they’ve actually done much to get to the root of the problem (and Trump’s revisions won’t make much difference either).

I was Senior DPO on the HP-1 throughout the major response to the Macondo incident. That means I was in charge of the bridge and my job was to keep the ship stable and on position. The HP-1 was brought out to try and capture the oil that was spewing out of the blown out piping at the bottom of the ocean, about 5000 ft down.

HP-1 from the air

The HP-1 is a specialized type of ship. She’s a Floating Production Unit (FPU). Ordinarily she sits on top of the designated location, stabilized by the use of a dynamic positioning (DP) system. She’ll be attached to a series of marine risers (floating hoses). Those risers are flowing raw product (crude oil) from various production platforms in the area. The risers come aboard the HP-1 through a specialized buoy. As the product comes onboard, it is diverted through the ships systems to separate the oil from the water and other contaminants and then sent back through the buoy to facilities ashore to further refine the product.

We succeeded in connecting up to the well. We were only a small part of a massive response to the disaster. There were entire fleets of boats out there working to contain and clean up the mess. It looked like a major city all lit up at night. It was pretty hairy sometimes trying to maintain position so close to all those other vessels, especially when the weather kicked up. The SIMOPS and the people involved were incredible!

a few of the vessels responding to the blow out

We sat there for weeks, bringing what we could of the flowing oil up to our onboard facility. There was another similar vessel stationed on the far side of the drillship Discoverer Enterprise (which was stationed directly over the well). On the HP-1, we took what we could, we separated the gas from the fluid and flared (burned) the gas.

#flaring the gas off the stern of the #HP-1

We did not have a whole lot of storage capacity on our ship (a FPSU- floating production and storage unit) would have much more. Instead of storing it ourselves, we passed it on to a tanker. The shuttle tanker Loch Rannoch sent their hose over to us with the help of a couple of smaller boats. We would connect it up and pump over the oil and they would bring it in to shore for processing. They would go back and forth every couple of days as long as we were there.

Loch Rannoch getting ready to send over her transfer hose with the Seacor Rigorous

After they finally got the well capped and the oil stopped flowing, we were released, along with most of the other vessels that were still out there. We had to go to a shipyard (in Tampa) where we could get hauled out of the water for cleaning. We had been coated with oil all over our hull from the spill. Once we were all cleaned up, we went back to our buoy. As far as I know, the HP-1 has not had to leave it again since. I wish now I hadn’t quit that job!

LAPC: Landscapes

I found another cool photography challenge in my WordPress reader. This one is by the Lens-Artists. They have a challenge every Saturday. The topic for this week is Landscapes.

I don’t usually take a whole lot of ‘landscape’ photos. If anything I take ‘seascapes’. I take more photos of ‘things’. Like animals, or plants, or flowers, or boats, or even people (tho I’m not real comfortable taking photos of people yet).

I recently took a long trip overseas. Part of it was a week long photo safari in Tanzania. The animals were amazing, but I have to admit I was equally impressed by the landscape. It was just so wide open. Miles and miles of nothing but the tall grass waving in the wind. Maybe a lone tree on the horizon. Or a herd of buffalo slowly making their way across a river.

I loved how everything seemed so wide open. There were so many miles of space with no sign of mankind (even tho of course we did see towns and villages full of people while passing through). The landscapes sometimes seemed empty, but if you looked harder there was always some sign of life. Maybe an ostrich popped up from under that lone tree. Or a lioness wandering by a herd of wildebeest, or a bird hiding in the grass or basking in a far off lake.

I don’t get to see so many wide open and interesting spaces around here. Even tho Texas probably has more of them than most. My neighborhood is on the wide coastal plains but full of homes and businesses (mostly chemical plants).

I do have some wildlife around my house: raccoons, opossums, owls, squirrels, bats, rats, etc. We even see an occasional coyote around the beach. Somehow it’s not the same. Compared to the African landscape, the one around here is pretty boring. 😉

RDP: Fish

I was skimming through my WordPress Reader and came upon this prompt by curioussteph at Ragtime Daily Prompt. You can click on the link to check out what’s happening and join in the fun. Todays prompt is FISH. Since I grew up on fishing boats and still work on them occasionally, I figured I should have plenty to say about fish and a few good photos, so here are a couple…

I took that one while I was wandering along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. There were thousands of these catfish swimming around near the ferry docks. I suppose people coming and going on the boats must feed them. I saw a few people fishing nearby, I wonder if it would be safe to eat the fish in this river. It didn’t look very clean, I doubt it would be healthy.

I took that one on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. I wasn’t doing the fishing, but the entire bridge was crowded with locals who were. On the bottom level, there were restaurants serving up the catch. I’m not sure what kind of fish they are, but the silver ones look like some kind of mullet.

I’m not sure what kind of fish this cute little orange guy is. I took this photo at the Houston Zoo a while ago. I’m a member and I like to go up there and spend the day taking photos. It’s really hard to get good ones, since none of the fish ever stays still!