Tag Archives: photography

Final Thoughts on the Leica D-Lux 7

Kathy’s New Home (not really) – Belhaven, North Carolina

I wanted to wrap up my thoughts on this camera for anyone who might be interested.  Nothing earth-shaking here.  Bottom line: I didn’t buy one and won’t be buying one.  Below are a few pros and cons, some of which may repeat my earlier post, and all of them are my opinion only:

Pros:

Excellent image quality – RAW files processed efficiently in Lightroom using the Adobe camera profiles.  The “Auto” function in the Develop Module worked amazingly well.  I could be comfortable with the results and seldom feel like I am compromising quality if this were my only camera.

Belhaven, North Carolina

Lightweight and Compact – The camera was very well-constructed and has a certain “heft” to it that speaks of quality, but is very light.  I use a thin strap on my Fuji cameras, and it would easily accommodate the Leica.  Although the Leica probably deserves a fancy custom leather job…. 😉

Belhaven, North Carolina

Good battery life – this is not fully tested since I made a point of recharging it daily.  I only had one battery with the rental so I didn’t want to chance running out.

Belhaven, North Carolina

Cons:

Size – I don’t have large hands, but it is a small camera and seemed to be a little small for me.  I never felt like I was going to drop it, but some of the controls were a little touchy.

Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Manual zoom & focus – The primary zoom mechanism is a toggle switch that surrounds the shutter button.  Many camera have that but I just never feel like it is very precise.  In addition, there is a lens ring that can be set up to function as a zoom control.  I actually prefer that, except that the zoom ring is right next to the aperture ring and I kept inadvertently changing the aperture!

Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Other:

Menus – people complain about menus on all cameras.  This one was fine – I was able to figure out just about anything I needed easily.  I think I went to the manual a few times but it was mostly out of curiosity.

Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

The “Only Camera” Question – I could see myself having a camera like this as my travel camera.  The photos are good enough that I don’t think I would worry about having the “wrong” camera with me if I left the Fuji at home.  The zoom range is a little limiting for me, mostly on the long end as I like to get close to my subjects and frame tightly.  That isn’t a big deal and there are plenty of pixels for a little cropping if necessary.

Stumpy Point, North Carolina

Lens Choice – I’ve gotten used to the ability to put together a kit of lenses for a particular trip.  Going out the door with a Fuji body and a single prime lens is a great way for me to simplify and narrow my seeing.  Traveling with a lens or two or the whole bag gives me endless choices.  That can work both ways, but I’ve gotten comfortable with the idea of making a choice and living with it.

Stumpy Point, North Carolina

What’s Next? – I have a rental Fuji XT3 coming today for an upcoming trip.  I can’t wait to try it out and compare it to my aging XT1.  I’m not in the market for a new camera, but with a price point very similar to the Leica, it feels to me like the better option when and if the time comes to upgrade.

Downtown Aurora, North Carolina
Downtown Aurora, North Carolina

More words and photos to follow – stay tuned!

Stumpy Point, North Carolina

At Long Last – Italy Photo Gallery On My Website!

Kathy & I were talking to friends recently who asked me about our travels to Italy, when I remembered that I had never published a gallery of Italy photos on my website.  It’s only taken a year, but I finally got around to it.  It’s a lot of photos – admittedly way more than I would ordinarily put in one gallery.  But it was a huge trip with lots of photos!  I ended up with about 3,000 processed photos, so a gallery with “only” 180 or so images is really editing it down!

Here’s the link!

Revisiting Favorite Places

Historic Pump Station at Lake Mattamuskeet, NC

As much as Kathy & I like to explore new places, there is a certain comfort in the familiarity of places we return to often.  Such is the case with our recent visit to Belhaven, in eastern North Carolina.  Whenever we visit that area, we return to places like Swan Quarter, perhaps best known as the location of the ferry to Ocracoke Island, but also the location of a number of fishing companies and their boats.  Englehard is also the location of an inlet that houses a number of fishing boats.  Lake Mattamuskeet is the location of a number of interesting places and the photographs that can be made there.

Boats on Far Creek in Englehard, NC
Fishing Boats at Swan Quarter, NC

While I rarely return with anything truly new, it is a good place to go and look for things I haven’t seen previously.  Storms wash away old piles of debris and sometimes bring in new subject matter.  Businesses come and go and sometimes the change in decor can mean new material.  Sometimes returning to a place with fresh eyes can mean new opportunities.

Belhaven, North Carolina
Belhaven, North Carolina
Porch Swing
Belhaven, North Carolina

This is another collection of photos from the Leica D-Lux 7 that I took on our recent visit there.  I’ve got a few more batches that I’ll post once I’ve worked out the words to go along with them!

Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Retirement – One Year Later

Lunch at Johnny Rocket’s aboard Symphony of the Seas

May 25 marked the first anniversary of our retirement.  And boy, what a year it’s been!  What we most wanted to do in retirement was to travel, and I’d say we did a pretty good job of it.  Looking back over my Lightroom catalog provides a visual history of our adventures, starting with an amazing trip to Italy, shorter trips to the NC mountains and NC coast, a road trip to Ohio and Virginia and a month at the beach in Hilton Head.  And that was just in 2018!  So far in 2019 we have been away 61 days out of 151.  We’ve taken two cruises (29 days at sea, including two back-to-back 7 day cruises and a 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal), made a road trip to Florida, another to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and we just finished another Ohio-Virginia road trip.  But we’re home for a while, I think.  Frankly, we’re a little tired!  The next scheduled trip is a trip to the beach in August, although there is a pretty good chance that something will come along in the interim!

Our visit to the Colosseum in Rome
Altesino winery near Montalcino, Italy
Aboard the train from Florence to Rome at the end of our Tuscany photo tour

One of our neighbors asked us the other day if we were trying to spend all of our retirement money in the first year!  We’re not, of course, but we obviously have done more than our financial advisor might prefer (sorry, Steve!).  But travel is what we do – we don’t have other expensive hobbies, our kids are self-supporting, and we have very reasonable monthly expenses.  We are very aware of how fortunate we are to have started the savings habit early and to live (mostly) within our means for the last 39 years (our 39th wedding anniversary is in October).

Sunset Beach Bar at Maho Bay, St Martin
In Nassau, Bahamas aboard Symphony of the Seas
First Cocktails Aboard! Symphony of the Seas

Here are some of the things we have learned and experienced in our first year of retirement:

Expected (good & bad)

  • LOTS of time to do whatever we want.
  • We really like being able to come and go as we please, without having to check vacation schedules and “request” time off from a boss.
  • We especially like not having to stick to a week-to-week or weekend routine.
  • We love to cook, and having time to shop for good ingredients and be creative in the kitchen has been fun.  As a result, we rarely go out to eat any more.
  • Less going out to eat has meant that we’ve both lost weight and saved money (to spend on travel!)
  • We manage to get in a good walk just about every day, continuing a habit we had established at work.

Unexpected (good & bad)

  • Lots of time means it is easy to get lazy.
  • We didn’t expect to miss work, and we really don’t.  At first, we missed the people and were really good about checking in.  We still miss the people, but the farther away we get the less often we seem to make contact.
  • It’s hard to keep track of what day it is!
  • We’re even more laid back and relaxed than we thought we would be!
  • We’ve gotten a lot more reading done, although we read more at home and less on the road.  It used to be that we needed to go on vacation to read!  Now our vacations are busier and we’re more relaxed at home with more time to read.
  • We can go for days without getting in the car.  Other than going to the grocery store or visiting the kids we rarely leave the neighborhood.  We need to make a point of getting Kathy behind the wheel periodically so she won’t forget how!
  • Our monthly expenses have gone down, due mostly to not eating out as much and not using as much gas, but also due to just not buying stuff.
  • Without an alarm every morning, our sleep schedules have diverged.  I like getting up early in the morning and don’t mind going to bed early.  Kathy is just the opposite and our schedules can some days be a couple of hours different.
‘Tween Waters Resort at Captiva Island, Florida
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunset on the beach, Palmetto Dunes Oceanside Resort, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, North Carolina

So what’s in store for the next year?  We’re telling ourselves that we need to do a better job spacing things out.  The first 5 months of this year have seen a lot of travel, partly because of the last-minute addition of the Panama Canal cruise but also because of the January road trip immediately followed by the two cruises.  We’re anxious to continue checking off states as we try to get to all 50, so there will undoubtedly be a few more road trips.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find us on another cruise or two, and there will most certainly be visits to the mountains and the beach.

US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

Bus tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Jungle Gardens in Avery Island, Louisiana
Lunch at Johnny Rocket’s aboard Symphony of the Seas
Outdoor display area at Homestead Furniture Company near Mount Hope, Ohio

So watch this space!  I’ll do my best to keep posting articles and photos – when I have time!

US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

Hot Stuff!

Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana

Tabasco sauce is one of those condiments that I think everyone has heard of, and that many people always keep on hand.  I’m not particularly a big fan, instead preferring sauces with more flavor and less heat such as Cholula (Mexico) and Pickapeppa (Jamaica, mon).  But when it comes to pepper sauce, I’ve got a bottle and suspect a lot of readers do too.

Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana
Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana
Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana
Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana

When I realized that the Tabasco plant and museum, located in Avery Island, was just a few miles from where we stayed in Lafayette, Louisiana, going there was a no-brainer.  Adjacent to the grounds of the Tabasco plant is Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre botanical garden and bird sanctuary created by the father of Tabasco, Edward Avery “Ned” McIlhenny.  Jungle Gardens is a separate story and a separate post.

Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana
Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana

I learned a few things about Tabasco during our visit.  I hadn’t fully realized the time, effort and craft that goes into making hot sauce.  And I didn’t realize that there were so many varieties!  We got to try a number of them in the store after our tour, although I stopped myself before my taste buds got damaged!

Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana

All in all, the Tabasco story is an important part of Louisiana heritage, and I’m glad we had a chance to pay a visit!

Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana
Tabasco Factory Tour in Avery Island, Louisiana

Ready, Set, Go!

Costa Maya, Mexico

One of the things Kathy & I are really loving about this retirement thing is the ability to pretty much come and go as we please. No, we didn’t win the lottery jackpot so we are kind of limited to what we do and how long we go, but it is no longer dictated by an arbitrary vacation allowance.

Arrival in Cozumel, Mexico aboard Symphony of the Seas

We were driving near the airport shortly after we returned from our cruise, when I asked Kathy if she wanted to just go get on a plane to “somewhere.” We didn’t have our passports with us, otherwise we might have done it, but that didn’t stop her from saying “why not?”

Departing Miami for our second week aboard Symphony of the Seas
Departing Miami for our second week aboard Symphony of the Seas

I suppose we’ll eventually get tired of the coming and going, but so far all we seem to have is itchy feet! And for us the cure for that is to pack up a suitcase and go somewhere.

Marigot, St Martin
Arrival in Costa Maya, Mexico aboard Symphony of the Seas

I’ve had in my mind for a while that I wanted to check out the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi and Tennessee. So in a few days we’re going to head out on a little road trip. We’ll be hitting a few highlights only – this won’t be an in-depth trip of any kind – through Alabama to Louisiana before heading back up to Natchez and up the Parkway to Nashville. No ‘Nawlins’ or ‘Opryland’ for us this time – that will need to wait for a more focused trip. In the mean time I think we’ll have plenty to see and we are looking forward to seeing it!

Costa Maya, Mexico
Breakfast at Johnny Rocket’s aboard Symphony of the Seas

PDF Books for Download

Road Ends

My reply to a recent comment from Monte reminded me that I needed to find a way to link to some of my old PDF books so I could share them.  My website doesn’t allow me to upload the files directly, but it does allow me to link to a 3rd party location.  I’ve added a link to a Dropbox folder from my website, and am also posting it here.

Toms PDF Books

Cruising for Photos

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

One of my many personal projects is to look for and photograph bits and pieces of the architecture on cruise ships.  For that purpose I hardly go anywhere without my little point & shoot camera.  It isn’t as intimidating as a regular camera and doesn’t look a lot different than a phone, which everyone is used to seeing.

There are things to see everywhere on board, just like on land.  Sometimes it is simply a shadow or a reflection, and occasionally it is just a piece of glass or metal that has an interesting shape.  Symphony of the Seas was no exception.

Cocktails at the Rising Tide bar aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

Sunrise and arrival in Nassau, Bahamas aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas

Aboard Symphony of the Seas