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Our Latest Adventure

Aboard Norwegian Epic

It’s hard to believe, but until a few weeks ago we hadn’t been on a cruise in over 2 years.  It’s especially hard to believe when we had previously averaged almost 2 per year for a number of years before that.  Our son Kevin recently sailed on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship and liked it so much he did another one late last year and has several more on the calendar.  On his advice we decided to give it a try and booked a week on Norwegian Epic out of Port Canaveral, with stops in St. Thomas, Tortola and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.  This isn’t intended to be a cruise review, so I don’t plan to go into a lot of detail about the cruise other than to say that it was good to be back on a ship, the food was good and we had excellent weather.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

While we have friends that live and have lived in Florida, we generally think of Florida as a place to go to get on a cruise ship.  But we decided to do this vacation a little differently and check out some towns that we have heard about but hadn’t previously visited.  That led us to New Smyrna Beach and to St. Augustine.  I’ll have more about those places in another post, but wanted to get something written about the cruise itself and share a few photos.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

A couple of our ports involved the possibility of wading in salt water, which of course is not friendly to cameras or other electronics.  So I convinced myself that I needed to have a compact waterproof camera in the event we got wet, and purchased an Olympus “Tough TG-4” point & shoot.  It got good reviews and had a reasonable pricetag, so I bought one.  In fact, these photos are all from that camera.  I also took the Fuji, and it managed to make its share of photos too.

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to test the waterproofness of the Olympus.  Our catamaran sail to Jost Van Dyke took us practically onto the beach and I barely got my shorts wet getting ashore.  And we ended up not going to the private island, preferring instead to enjoy the relative peace and quiet on the ship while most of the other 4,000+ passengers stood in line for drinks and a buffet lunch.  It also gave me a chance to take a few photos on board the ship without having to worry about the paranoid and camera shy.  I did say it wasn’t our first cruise!

Aboard Norwegian Epic
Aboard Norwegian Epic

Subscribe to Comments

Fernandina Beach, Florida

Thanks to Paul’s suggestion I’ve added a “Subscribe to Comments” feature to the blog.  Even though I use that on the blogs that I follow and comment on, I never tried to add it to my own.  My technical knowledge of this blog stuff is challenged at best, even though I know it’s pretty easy.  I think I mostly just need to spend some  time playing with it, but once it works the way I want it to I kind of hate to mess with it!  Hopefully you’ll find it to be useful.  And feel free to let me know if there is anything else I should look at adding!


Beach Vision

This is a way off-topic blog post but I thought some of my readers would find it interesting:

The work I do for money sometimes involves tracking down customers who, other than the fact that we receive their payments every month, we never hear from them.  It’s pretty rare, but we can go for years without needing to know their current phone number or address.  I came across such a customer this morning.  This guy, an intellectual property attorney from another state, owns an investment property in North Carolina that he bought 7 years ago.  His loan is coming due, so I needed to contact him about renewing it.  The only phone number I had took me to what I expected was his office, but when I called I was told that “he was no longer with the firm.”  Oops.

Now I realize that in this day and age there are lots of tools available to assist in the search for missing attorneys.  But of course I turned to Google in hopes that I could turn up something that would lead me to his current position.  I came across dozens of dead ends, articles that referenced his name and some kind of presentation or case, but they all referred to his former employer.

Somewhere in all my searching I came across this guy’s LinkedIn page.  And it showed who he worked for but no contact information.  I thought about sending him a note through LinkedIn, but figured that wouldn’t be terribly professional and saved it for a last resort.  I Googled the company, but their headquarters is in another state.  No good.  But then, I went back to LinkedIn and noticed that a lot of his contacts were co-workers at his current firm.  I looked through his contacts, Googled them and finally found a phone number.  Not for my guy, but for his boss.  Ah-ha!

Figuring that there is no way a direct call for an attorney is going to go through to him, and if it did I could easily explain myself, I called the number.  Got a voicemail system, and after a few “Press #,” “Press 1,” etc. I got to where I could search a department directory using the first 3 letters of my customer’s last name.  Call goes straight through and he answers it.  Yep, he’s my guy!

I know what I did wasn’t anything really special, but I was amazed at how I was able to solve the puzzle.  It was fun, he was very helpful and we’re going to do his deal.  Not a bad way to start a Monday!

And A Few More

I'm Awake!

After writing the last post I remembered that I left out a whole batch of photos that I classify in Lightroom as “Personal” and I forgot to include them when I made the selection of my favorite 11.  That’s probably just as well, so this way I get to show a few more favorites, and I don’t have to explain to people why I picked a tree or something over a photo of them!

I get this look from women of all ages....
Samonte triplets' first birthday party
Samonte triplets' first birthday party
Scott & Kristin's wedding at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina
Scott & Kristin's wedding at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina
Reception for Scott & Kristin's wedding at The Big Chill in Charlotte, North Carolina

Thinking and Driving

"Digital Holga" Traffic in Huntersville

This is one of those topics that could easily turn into an angry rant, but it’s something I truly find amusing and I want to have some fun with it so I’ll try to keep my commentary on the light side and I hope you will agree. This is not about photography, so bear with me.

Every morning on my drive to work, between dropping Kathy off at the bus stop and arriving at my office I pass 12 intersections with traffic lights (careful to not say that I go through 12 traffic lights!). The pattern of the lights is pretty predictable, and you sort of know which ones are going to be red when you get to them and which ones might stay green depending on traffic, etc. And the amount of traffic is pretty consistent unless there’s an accident on one of the freeways. While it is a 4-lane road it’s not like the interstate where there is a “slow lane” and a “passing lane.” Both lanes move along at about the same speed. I’ve learned in my nearly 2 years of making this commute that it takes just about the same amount of time every day. When school is in session it takes 15-20 minutes, and when school is out it can take 12-15 minutes. Not a bad drive either way, all things considered.

For the most part a group of cars moves from one light to the next. Some people turn off, some cars get through the next light while others don’t, and some people enter from side streets. But for the most part you just go, and you just get where you are going.

While I’m driving I pay attention to what other cars are doing around me. I often observe behaviors and “project” an imaginary scenario on people based on how they drive. Most drivers are content to just drive, while others drive like they are on a personal mission to get to work faster than everyone else. Maybe there’s a prize, I don’t know.

Some common behaviors and general observations:

– Coming up to a traffic light, people from the right lane make last-minute moves to the left lane, and people from the left lane make last-minute moves to the right. I guess it’s like choosing the checkout line at the grocery store. It’s an amusing dance.

– If there’s a truck in the right lane, everyone moves to the left lane until there is no one behind the truck, then the left lane gets so long that people start switching to the right lane behind the truck, figuring that they will find a spot to jump back into the left lane in front of the cars in the left lane. In reality it makes very little difference because inevitably someone who moves to the left lane won’t go any faster than the truck.

– Coming up to an intersection in the left lane, someone will inevitably move to the right lane, pass the person in front of them, move back into the left lane then make a left turn. The reverse happens too – right lane to left lane.

– People seem to hate empty space. If a car in front of someone changes lanes or turns, leaving a large gap between them and the next car, they speed up to close the gap then slam on the brakes. They don’t seem to understand that they can’t go any faster than the people in front of them, but they evidently like to try.

– I saw a car with the license plate “WHATEVA.” I thought that meant the person was laid back and casual, but their driving was anything but. I guess it meant they didn’t care what anyone thought about their driving!

– At one of the intersections approaching work, I have the option to make a left turn, make a big loop that is about 3X as long as the regular way but comes at my office from the opposite direction. Since this avoids waiting through the final two lights, I always thought this “short cut” was faster even though it was longer. But one day I timed it – exactly the same.

– You can almost always tell who is looking at their phone by how much room they leave in front of them at red lights. Then they take a few more seconds to get moving when it turns green. Look out for the ones that don’t stop when the car starts moving – they have a hard time staying in their lane!

– People frequently make left turns from the right lane and right turns from the left lane. I figure they must be using GPS. Anyone who was actually paying attention would know their right from left.

I often wonder if I should have been some kind of behavioral psychologist. I find the study of humans fascinating. I always wonder what (if?) people are thinking about and what makes them tick. It’s a lot more fun than fiddling with the radio dial, checking e-mail or sending text messages. The observation of other people is great entertainment. One of these days I’ll figure out how to make a photography project out of it!

See, I did find a way to tie this in to photography!

Scheduled Maintenance

Morning fog along US Highway 264 near Pungo Creek Road west of Belhaven, North Carolina

Just this morning I experienced one of the less-pleasant rites of passage into the realm of approaching-old-agedom. It wasn’t a lot of fun but as it turned out the anticipation was far more difficult than the reality. In the course of answering all the questions and giving my name and date of birth for what seemed like a dozen times, one of the nurses mentioned something about my age and said something like “we don’t usually see men under 60 in here unless there’s a problem.” I hadn’t given it much thought other than to wonder how many people actually follow their doctor’s advice, and I guess her comment kind of answered my question. Sometimes you just have to do something even though you really don’t want to because it’s the right thing to do. So I did, it’s done, everything is fine and I couldn’t be happier.

Arnold Palmer used to do a commercial for Pennzoil where he talked about “taking care of the old equipment.” He was primarily talking about using the right motor oil, but the implication was that the right maintenance was important regardless of the actual “equipment” being referenced.

We change the oil in our cars, check the air in our tires, change our furnace filters and (sometimes) clean out our refrigerators. And that’s all fine, but don’t forget to first and foremost take care of yourself. Do the scheduled maintenance.

This has been a public service announcement.

Looking at Good Prints

This afternoon Kathy & I visited The Light Factory in Charlotte to view their current exhibition entitled Group f64 and the Modernist Vision, which includes original prints from Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston and Ansel Adams. I’ve seen some of these prints before, but never tire of seeing them again and again. One of the things that The Light Factory is doing with this exhibit is offering personalized tours of the exhibit with Chief Curator Dennis Kiel. I organized a group tour with Dennis and offered it up to our nature photography group, figuring that an opportunity to learn something about the history of photography – particularly of this era of photography that has been so influential – with someone so knowledgeable as Dennis Kiel would be an opportunity no one would want to miss. Suffice it to say that I grossly overestimated the level of interest. After some cajoling and persuasion I did manage to attract 9 people, including myself, and I think those who attended are nearly as serious about their photography as I am and enjoyed the tour very much.

I’m continually amazed that for all people like to talk about their photography, and how serious people say they are about photography, that there is a general lack of interest in seeing work that is so important to the history of photography. This may sound silly to some, but just standing in front of some of this work brought tears to my eyes, it is so beautiful. No matter how many reproductions you have seen and how good they might have been, there is no substitute to seeing work of the masters in person. And to have the tour narrated by an expert in the field really appealed to me. Most of the others in our group seemed to think so as well, although after an hour and a half most people had reached the limits of their ADD. I could have stayed another couple of hours!

As I have written here previously I am currently on a personal mission to learn more and more about the history of photography, and am simultaneously trying to develop my printing skills. I have a long way to go on both, but seeing work like this is so inspirational and motivating that I want to do more and more. I’ll never be an Edward Weston or Ansel Adams, but learning what really good prints look like and experiencing them firsthand gives me a much stronger foundation upon which to base my own work. All of a sudden I see things in my own prints that I want to go back and re-do. It certainly gives me something more to work with on future work. I can’t get enough of this stuff!

Why People Photograph II

I just finished reading issue #83 of Lenswork, which is a tribute to Bill Jay who passed away earlier this year. The issue is a compilation of Jay’s End Notes column which has been one of my favorite reasons to subscribe to the magazine. I admit to being one of those folks who would read End Notes first.

Needless to say, a magazine devoted solely to writings of Bill Jay has a number of gems, but this one made me stop and re-read a number of times, as it echoes my own thoughts on why I love to do what I do:

There are some things you know but you don’t know that you know them – and then you do.

An earnest psychologist friend, for years puzzled by my devotion to photography, recently asked, “Why do you photograph?” The question held no trace of disapproval; it was a sincere desire to understand my motive for what to him seemed like an inconsequential act. I prattled on for some time, increasingly self-aware that my words were empty, not untruthful, merely similarly inconsequential. I felt uneasy.

Then I went out photographing. At the first sight of a potential picture my spirits lifted and I knew what I should/could have said if he had been with me:

“Look,” I would say, “This is life. It is everywhere, and it is here for the taking. I am alive and I know this, now, in a more profound way than when I am doing anything else. These sights are ephemeral, fleeting treasures that have been offered to me and to me alone. No other person in the history of the world, anywhere in all of time and space, has been granted this gift to be here and in my place. And I am privileged, through the camera, to take this moment away with me. That is why I photograph.”

Bill Jay

The photo is a recent gift I found on the Torrence Creek Greenway, about 1/4 mile from my house.