CFFC: Tombstones or Cemeteries

Here’s my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Tombstones or Cemeteries.

I took these photos (and a lot more) at a meet up for the Brazoria County Models and Photographers group. This one was at the cemetery in honor of Calaveras Day (Day of the Dead).  I haven’t been to many of their meet ups yet, but they seem like a fun group and I’ve enjoyed them so far. I wish they would have more frequent meet ups!

WPC- Focus

I’m getting a late start, but wanted to get into the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge (Focus). I usually try to take photos with very clear focus.

But sometimes I want to try for a different effect. I like to play with reflections, light trails, water, sun, atmosphere. All those things can make for more interesting photos than a clearly focused one can sometimes.

New Challenge: Topic Generator

I just found Jennifer Nichole Well’s latest challenge. It’s a ‘topic generator’ that takes a random phrase and then adds a noun. She has a list of 6 topics (so far). I chose photography. This is what I got when I clicked the button…

experiment with the photo/editing topic Self-Portrait by using or taking a photo of Foot

This is what I came up with. I’m not one for selfies, I don’t really get that whole fad. Actually, I really don’t like having pictures taken of me at all. I did manage to find this shot I took a while back as I was chilling out by the pool on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.

One Word Photo Challenge: Giraffe

Here’s my entry for Jennifer’s One Word Photo Challenge: Giraffe.

Last November I went on a photography safari in Tanzania where I took these photos. It was fantastic! I went on safari with Great Escape Publishing, they’re great at running their trips. I always have fun and learn a lot while I’m at it. I can’t wait to go again!

Art, Architecture & Antiques in Galveston

My friend D called the other day and invited me on a trip up to Galveston for the day. We decided to leave around 1000 so we wouldn’t get there ‘too early’ or stay ‘too late’. Our friend B, the artist, wanted to check out a place she had heard about to show some of her art.

I was all for that. I have been working on some arty stuff myself lately. I found a couple of places to show some of my work a couple of months ago. I was curious to see if there had been any interest (at all) in my work.

It was a beautiful sunny day, not too hot yet when we left. We got stuck in some of the cruise ship traffic on the way in, but found our regular parking place near the Strand (only $10/day). There are a lot of interesting shops in that area of town so we checked out a few.

Lots of really touristy stuff right on the Strand, but wander off it a little and there are more small businesses with local people trying some cool projects. One of those is the place I have some of my paintings and photos- From the Heart Gallery. They show all different kinds of work from at least 20 different artists. They also play good music and have classes for kids. 🙂

While we were there, S told us about a new place -Metamorphosis- just opened across the street. We wandered over to take a look and had a nice conversation with Liz who is really excited about getting her shop up and running. Looks like both B and I will have another place to work with. 🙂

We were getting hungry and since we were right there, we decided to give the Star Drug Store a try. They had a really interesting window display with all the old ads, pills, and elixirs from way back when. It claims to be the oldest drug store in Texas. It feels like an old fashioned soda fountain inside. Looking over their menus, I can see why it’s so popular.

We showed up right at the end of lunch hour, but it was still packed. We sat at the bar since there were no open tables. D had already ordered and B wasn’t hungry. I ordered a cheeseburger (my favorite meal) with a chocolate float. 🙂 The cheeseburger would have been 10 times better if they had grilled the bun. Considering how long it took to get it, I didn’t want to ask them to take it back. I ate most of it anyway. 🙂

Their ice cream sundays, floats and cakes really got my stomach growling, but since I already had a chocolate shake I passed on dessert. Diets suck!

I love this sign!

After fortifying ourselves, we started making our way over to the place B wanted to see, on Broadway and 22nd St. D and me were taking pictures of everything. I especially like all the really cool architecture. Lots of different building styles, from classical to island bungalow.

Along the way, we stopped in to check out a few art and antique shops. Lots of really neat stuff! If I was rich…

But I’m broke. So. I had to adhere to my budget and not buy anything but ice cream. 🙂

B bought a cute little statue of a meerkat. D bought a couple of small mementos in one of the antique shops. My taste is too expensive, I would have bought a beautiful ruby ring (if I had still been working).

I think we were all kind of disappointed in how quiet it was. It just seemed dead. I know a lot of people haven’t returned to Galveston after the devastation of hurricane Ike, but it’s been almost 10 years now. I would’ve thought more people would have shown up by now. For a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon, the whole place seemed deserted.

these plaques all around the Strand refer to the 1900 Great Storm- not Ike

We’re planning to go back up there in a week or so. I need to change out some of my art at the From the Heart Gallery and maybe I’ll be able to put some across the street at Metamorphosis too. B is hoping to get a shot at making a sign for them too. 🙂

I was really hoping to hear some good news, that something of mine had sold. But nothing yet. The area around the Strand is becoming known as an arty kind of place. They have ‘art walks’ every 6 weeks. Those can bring in some crowds. We are going to try to make the next one.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order

I was at work last week (finally!) and while taking a break I was watching the fish swimming around the ship. It was a beautiful calm clear day, one of the few like that I saw in the month I was offshore. It was entrancing watching the fish swim around.

They mostly moved together, it looked like some sort of order. Was there a boss fish leading them all around? If there was, I sure couldn’t tell which one it was. They all just seemed to be meandering around, then all of a sudden they would change direction. All together. Weird. Spontaneous order.

I know some people don’t believe in such a thing (especially when it comes to human society). I see it all the time.

There have actually been studies done on how fish school together like that. On birds too. 

The science behind it is pretty interesting, but I think just watching is cool. Too bad we seem to have lost the ability to just sit and observe nature. That’s one of the things I love the most about working at sea. I haven’t even been home a week and I’m already missing it.

Check out more on “order” from the Daily Post here.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Buildings

Cee always has some interesting challenges going on. She posts some gorgeous photos and the people who join in put some really good one up there too. Everyone is welcome to join in.

I don’t usually work in B&W, nor do I do much fiddling around with my photos. I may crop them a little, or straighten the horizon, but that’s about it. I can see where it can be a lot of fun playing around with the editing software. Here’s what I came up with…

Galveston has some really cool architecture. I was up there a few weeks ago, trying to schmooze my way into some of the art galleries up there (I actually succeeded and have some of my stuff up at From the Heart Gallery now). 🙂

Thursday’s Special: Portrait vs Landscape

I found another photo challenge by Paula over at her Lost In Translation blog (thanks to an old friend blogger Cee for sharing).

All you have to do is compare a vertical (portrait) version to a horizontal (landscape) version . Choose any subject you want.

I took these photos a couple of months ago. I drove up to the Dallas Travel Show and stopped on the way home to see some of the Bluebonnet Trail. I really wish the weather was better. Would have been fantastic if the sun was shining rather than the dreary rainy day it was. But the flowers were still blooming and made up for the weather.

 

Flower of the Day- Tulip

For Cee’s Flower of the Day post, here’s my contribution…

I do love to see the stunning displays of flowers in the Spring. These tulips were planted in a park in Korea (Incheon). Another place I would love to be able to spend more time in. 🙂

Z is for Zanzibar- #AtoZChallenge

Z” is for Zanzibar. And the last post in this year’s A to Z Challenge! I can’t believe I managed to finish and post for every letter. Usually, in these long challenges, I get so far behind I just give up. I’m glad it’s over tho. It’s hard to find time to post every day.

I have to say I loved Zanzibar! I was there on vacation last November. I took a long trip for a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing. I really enjoyed the safari. We went all over the Northwest area of Tanzania. From Arusha to Lake Eyasi, the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti…

It was fantastic! We got to see all kinds of animals from our jeeps. The drivers were great at finding the game. We would sit quietly and watch them do their thing while we furiously took thousands of photos. 🙂

It was a week of amazing experiences, but a week of early mornings and late nights. I was exhausted at the end of it. I was glad to have scheduled some extra time before flying all the way home to Texas.

I had thought about climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. It is on my bucket list. I just didn’t think I was up to it at that point. I wanted some rest and relaxation. I decided to head over to the nearby island of Zanzibar for a few days.

Wow! Such a gorgeous island. Stone Town is intriguing. It has an interesting history, it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the days of the Sultans as you wander the winding lanes of the old town. The people were friendly and eager to show you around town, or entice you to buy their specialty spices or colorful paintings.

   

The food was cooked with exotic local spices and served with a smile. The night market near the docks and the fort was a great place to hang out. I liked to grab a fruity drink and watch the sun go down before wandering around and choosing a cook for my dinner.

 

After a couple of days in the city, I headed up North to relax on the beautiful white sand beaches. I spent a few blissful days relaxing under the casuarina trees, wading in the ocean, sailing on sunset cruises and SCUBA diving around the area.

 

The diving was excellent! Best I’ve seen in quite a while. I saw lots of colorful coral and all kinds of sea life. I brought my camera, but only one dive was shallow enough for me to use it. 😦

  #sea cucumber #Zanzibar

It’s a long, long way from Texas, but if I ever get the chance to visit Zanzibar again, I will definitely take it!

Y is for Yarn- #AtoZChallenge

Y” is for Yarn. Nice that I can use this post for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post, especially since I am behind again on the AtoZ (it’s actually finished already). I don’t know why, it seems like I’m busy all day every day, but I never seem to get caught up!

Here’s my yarn… 

I took these photos during a photography workshop with Great Escape Publishing in Washington DC a few years ago. I had just bought a new camera (Canon EOS Rebel T3). I was there to learn how to use it.

I’ve been trying for years to figure out a way to earn an income without having to be out on  a ship. I’ve spent my whole life working at sea, but it’s a very cyclical industry and lately has been getting much, much harder to keep working out there.

I could see my future unemployment and really wanted to find some way to be able to support myself while not having to be somewhere specific. I really wanted to move outside the USA. Somewhere more affordable and less stressful.

I had heard about stock photography. It seemed to be a way to possibly earn enough to get by on. I started trying to get accepted onto Bigstock, I-stock, Alamy, Canstock, etc. I didn’t have much luck. I was constantly rejected and had no idea why. Some of them told me why, but at that point I didn’t understand what they were telling me.

So, I went to take the course. I learned a lot. One thing I learned was that I really didn’t need that fancy new camera! I almost never use it now. It’s too big and bulky for me. I have had quite a few photos accepted taken with my favorite little Olympus Tough (it fits in my pocket and it’s even waterproof). 🙂

V is for Vegas- #AtoZChallenge

V” is for Vegas! “Las Vegas” technically, but what the heck. I figure I can play a little fast and loose with the technicalities, right?

So, I actually made (most of) this post a couple of years ago. The last time I went to Vegas.  It was for a challenge using the word “dreamy”. But I figured, it never really changes much there. So, why not do it again. 🙂

Here goes…

I already posted one photo from my trip to Las Vegas, but it’s such a dreamy kind of place. I thought about it and came up with some more ideas.

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’. Then I posted some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

Las Vegas really is a dreamy kind of place. I think it’s one of those places that’s built on dreams. All kinds of dreams going on there. People go there dreaming to hit the jackpot and get rich. They go there hoping to hit it big and make a name for themselves as a singer or a dancer or chef or…

I love to hang out in old downtown. It’s not like the Strip (which is interesting in a different way), where things are spread out and isolated. Every casino has it’s own attractions and you pretty much stick to one since it’s a pain to move on to the next.

Downtown is different. Everything is close together. There’s lots to do (Mob Museum, Container Park, Neon Museum), and all kinds of things going on. Fremont Street is the hub of all the action. There are at least a dozen different casinos all within easy walking distance. It’s easy to hit one for drinks, another to eat, try the poker at one, blackjack at another…

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. You can go zip-lining right over the top of all the crowds. There are artists at work, lots of little shops along the street. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play. 🙂

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               

U is for Underground City- #AtoZChallenge

U” Is for the underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey. It’s only one of the most famous of them, there are quite a few others in the area (200+). They are very old. Derinkuyu is supposed to be at least 2000 years old. I was impressed with the amount of work it took to carve out the huge labyrinths of rooms, tunnels, wells, and even defensive falling stones. All underground. All done without electric lights, or power tools.

 

The people lived their lives down there. Their whole families, even their animals (sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, etc). I kept wondering how much smaller than us they must have been. I barely made it through some of those tunnels, and was really glad to get to one of the larger spaces.

It’s hard to imagine how someone could spend so much of their lives below ground like that. No wind, no sun, no rain. I don’t think they lived like that all the time. Just for especially dangerous times. But it must have been pretty dangerous a lot of the time to make it worth all that effort, right?

T is for Travel- #AtoZChallenge

T” is for traveling. One of my all time favorite things! I love a good book, but I love it even more when I’m reading it in some new place, somewhere I’ve never been.

My last trip was a big one. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for a while. I pretty much accept now that I won’t be able to go back to work for months, if not years. Until I start ‘earning a living’ again and have more than enough to just barely pay the bills by using up my savings, I won’t be going anywhere.

I did go to the big Travel Show in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. That was just to see what’s on the RADAR. Exploring what I can work on for my new travel writing and photography career.

I took a detour on the way home, stopped in Ennis and did the Bluebonnet Trail. The flowers were beautiful. Fields full of bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and other spring blooms.

I will be going to the TBEX in Huntsville AL next month. I’m really looking forward to that. I hope to make some contacts and improve my blogging. 🙂

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite travel quotes. I hope they inspire you, like they do me. Enjoy. 🙂

     

Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush

Here’s a post for Cee’s Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush. 🙂

S is for Spike- #AtoZChallenge

S” is for Spike. Today, I’m posting about the letter S for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post. I love it when I can do double duty here. 😉

It’s easy to come up with S words, not so easy to come up with things to say about “spike”. Then I remembered those beautiful doors from my last vacation. Stone Town, Zanzibar has the most ornately carved doors. Many of them have spikes, “to keep out the elephants.”

 

N is for New Orleans- #AtoZChallenge

51b8d-n

“N” is for New Orleans, a city like no other. It’s one of my all time favorite places to visit. I first started going to New Orleans back in 1978-79.

I was in the Ocean Marine Technology Program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program where I would be able to earn my AB and QMED certificates from the Coast Guard. One of the things we had to do was to take fire-fighting training. We also had to take a ‘Spring Cruise”. We combined them and took a couple of boats up to Delgado Community College in New Orleans to take their fire-fighting course.

That’s me, 2nd from left, back row

I was 17 at the time and the youngest in class. We had a nice and easy trip up, the weather was fine and we all got to practice our celestial navigation skills. We all looked forward to seeing New Orleans and we were not disappointed. We all had a blast and will always remember getting underway bright and early after a late night out on Bourbon Street. 😉

I used to go home to Florida to visit family a couple of times a year and always stopped in New Orleans if I could. I liked to hang around the French Quarter and recharge my batteries for a day. Maybe longer if I met up with some ‘cool’ people. 😉

Years later, when I got older and had to slow down on the partying, I started to enjoy more of the city than Bourbon Street. I’ve gone for conferencesworkshops and training, and layovers for traveling to and from work offshore. I always try to spend a little extra time just to relax and enjoy the city.

It’s so easy. New Orleans has it’s own special vibe. They say it’s got “soul”. Yeah, I agree. It feels sultry, hot and humid most of the time. It almost oozes history. You can see it in the architecture all over the French Quarter. It smells delicious. Chicory coffee, beignets, seafood gumbo, salty oysters, and boozy concoctions around Bourbon Street.

The food is amazing! Classic French, Creole, Cajun and all combinations thereof. Soul food, muffaletas, po-boys, fresh seafood, fine steaks, you can get all that and more. Some of the best cooks in the world call New Orleans home.

New Orleans is a city of music. Jazz, Cajun, Creole, Rock, Soul, Blues, it’s all there. All over the place. I love wandering around the French Quarter, finding musicians playing out in the streets. You can almost always find some around Jackson Square or Royal Street. Then there are the second line parades. It’s always fun to join in the party. Where else can you get that?

New Orleans has so many parades, parties and festivals. I love it! I wonder if I would ever get anything done if I actually lived there? 😉

L is for Lion- #AtoZChallenge

“L” is for Lion. I was lucky to be able to see some of these amazing animals in the wild. I went on a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) in November. We spent a week exploring Northwest Tanzania. We saw lots of lions and their cubs. I could have spent hours watching them, but we had to move on. So much more to see.

  

J is for Java- #AtoZChallenge

J” is for Java. One of the main islands of the Indonesian archipelago. I love to explore and Indonesia is an incredible place for that. 🙂

I usually go to Bali, but Java is the next island over to the West. It’s very easy to get there from Bali. You can take a quick flight, or take a ferry over. I was on vacation when I went (and so short on time), so I decided to fly over to Yogyakarta. It turned out to be an excellent choice and I only wish I had more time to spend there.

There are a lot of things I would love to explore on the island of Java. So many things I just didn’t have the time to do. I’d love to see the sights of Jakarta and especially check out the harbor. I must definitely find a guide this time so I can communicate with the sailors. I am still very interested in their beautiful Pinisi schooners. 🙂

If I ever get to go again, I’d like to hike up Mt Bromo, and catch the sunrise. Cool off at the Hill Stations and hike the rice paddies. Cruise the Green Canyon. Watch the Shadow Puppet shows and a few troupes of traditional dancers. Wander through the markets, investigating all the different things on offer than what we see at home.

One of those things I did manage to see was the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur. It’s long been on my bucket list. 😉 I’ve always loved to explore. I love history, old buildings, ancient civilizations, different religions. Borobudur was a combination of all of those things. It is also a world heritage site (along with the nearby Hindu site of Prambanan– which I also got to visit on this trip). 🙂

Prambanan temples Java Indonesia

I is for Istanbul- #AtoZChallenge

“I” is for Istanbul. Turkey. I was able to take a nice long stop there on the way to my photography safari last November. I’m so glad I did! Here’s a recap of my first day…

Istanbul! What an exciting city! I hear the seagulls cry, the ships distant whistle, the calls of the street vendors selling roasted chestnuts and corn on the cob. I smell the sea air mixed with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and apples.

The sense of history here is intoxicating. The locals are used to it, but it amazes me to walk along the hippodrome past the Spiral Column sunk almost 10 feet down into the ground. The ground level of 2000 years ago.

I spent yesterday soaking up the history of this place. I started out practically next door to my hotel. Walking up the street to the Arasta Market and right next door to the Mosaic Museum.

Again, the mosaics were at ground level from 2000 years ago, so we walked along a platform to see them on the ground. Some smaller ones were mounted on the walls where we could see them close up. There were good explanations in English (and other languages).

Outside the Mosaic Museum is the Blue Mosque. Just across the street is the Islamic Arts museum. Pass by the construction in front of the entrance door and climb the stairs. Make your way around dozens of small galleries showcasing various ancient civilizations with an Islamic focus.

I was most impressed with the books (Qu’rans mostly). They were absolutely gorgeous! The fine, delicate decorations, the flowing script, the golden ink. The information cards listed the calligraphers (as they should), their work was simply stunning!

From there, cross over behind the Aya Sofia (museum) to find the Carpet Museum. This one was not included on the Museum Pass (85 TL for 5 days). It cost 9 TL. There were 3 galleries to look at. The carpets were displayed very nicely, but except for the 2nd gallery they were very short on information.

Outside the Carpet Museum is the main gate into Topkapi Palace. I managed to look at the Aya Irini (another old Byzantine church), and the Archaeology Museum before being chased out at closing time (5 pm).

The church is old and empty, you’re not allowed to go upstairs and there’s netting to keep the pigeon shit and feathers from falling on you. I would skip it if I was pressed for time. The Archaeology Museum is another story. It was very impressive!

There is a whole forest of ancient tombstones, columns, and statues outside. There are at least 3 different buildings to explore. The first one I looked at had a huge selection of tombstones and sarcophagi. It was very impressive. The detail work was amazing. Some of those things were huge! I wondered how many people did they put in there?

There is another building full of ceramics. It had a domed ceiling, surrounded by stained glass windows, and tile on the walls- some of them decorated with gold paint. How beautiful!

Each room showed the different styles of ceramic from different time periods and civilizations. Some of it was fairly crude work, some of it was extremely fine and delicate. I loved the beautiful swirling patterns of blue and white.

The last building I was able to explore was under construction. I had to walk through a long passage covered in white plastic. The actual museum started out with life sized marble statues of the gods. Artemis, Apollo and more.

They were setting up an exhibit with TV screens, ‘Are We Human’. It looked very interesting. I saw something about 2000 years of history in Aleppo, showing the latest destruction. I would have liked more time to try to figure out what was going on. There was something else about oil- ‘leave it in the ground’- which I really wanted to learn more about, but I was running out of time.

Upstairs, Istanbul through the Ages was a very thorough timeline of artifacts found nearby and more history of the people who lived around this area and Turkey. I was only halfway through the second floor when a guard told me it was time to leave (at only 20 til 5).