Tag Archives: Photos

Water Abstracts from 2014

Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I’ve been cleaning up some old folders and came across some abstracts from 2014 that I hadn’t processed.  Interesting what saw then, and what I see when I revisit old photos.

Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Evening on the Beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

A Weekend With a Fuji X-T3

Roy Taylor Forest Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Milepost 433.3

For our recent visit to Waynesville I rented another camera – the Fuji X-T3.  It’s the latest version of my existing camera, the X-T1, and I wanted to see how it compares.  It was an interesting experiment, with mixed feelings.  The Folkmoot photos from my previous post were taken with that camera, and here are a few more.

Clouds and rising fog from Waterrock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 451.2
Clouds and rising fog from Fork Ridge Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway MP 450.2
Clouds and rising fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waterrock Knob

All in all, the camera would be a worthy upgrade from the X-T1 if I happened to be in the market.  But I’m not.  The obvious reason would be cost, because in addition to the camera itself I would need to upgrade my memory cards, buy new batteries (my current batteries fit but have a lower power output so will supposedly not last as long), buy a new L-bracket and eventually – because of the 26MP files vs. my current 16MP – I would need to buy larger hard drives.  Sorry, that would cover the cost of a nice vacation!

Clouds and rising fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waterrock Knob
Roy Taylor Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, North Carolina

Another, albeit minor, negative would be the slightly larger size of the X-T3 body.  In my opinion the X-T1 borders between just right and a little large (weird to say since my initial impression 4 years ago was that it was tiny compared to the Canon 5D!).

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Oak Park Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina
Oak Park Inn in Waynesville, North Carolina

On the positive side, the files were quite nice, although I wasn’t blown away by a huge difference between the newer camera and mine.  There is definitely a slight improvement in detail, and I found that with files almost twice as large, zooming in to 50% instead of 100% is far enough.  Any closer than 100% just accentuates the flaws, and I don’t need to accentuate them any more, thank you!

Waynesville, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina

The menus are a bit more complex, necessary due to the customization the camera allows.  But it wasn’t impossible to figure out, probably because I’m already used to the setup.  I liked being able to see blinking highlights in the viewfinder, which I can’t do with my current camera.  That’s not a big deal but it is helpful in certain situations.  The EVF is nice and bright, and contains all of the information found on the main screen.

Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Waynesville, North Carolina

One of the things I should have paid more attention to is the ability to set different autofocus parameters based on specific shooting situations.  I tried tracking subjects in the parade but found a lot of missed shots because I didn’t have it set up correctly.  That’s not something I usually do, so I didn’t think about it until after the fact.

So, no new cameras for me – yet!  Although those new Canon point & shoots are due out any time…hmmmm! 😉

Waynesville, North Carolina

Curves Ahead!

Curvy shadows along main street in downtown Waynesville, North Carolina

Kathy & I are spending some time in Waynesville, NC trying to beat the heat in Charlotte.  We’ve driven some curvy mountain roads during our sightseeing.  This is a scene I have passed by many evenings without a camera, and decided to take one along last night just to capture a few shots.

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

A Toe In The (Photoshop) Water

Pink Plemmons General Store, Luck, North Carolina

For years I have been steadfastly avoiding the use of Photoshop for processing my photos.  No particular reason other than stubbornness and preferring to only use one program (Lightroom) for the work.  Recently, Adobe began sending out free special effects actions for Photoshop.  It sort of got me intrigued enough to download them and I finally got around to trying them out.  This is a photo that I took a few years ago but never really liked the “straight” version.  I’m not sure how much I really like this version using the “Watercolor Artist” action, but it is starting to grow on me.  Like any recipe I’m going to need to work with the options a bit to get a “look” that suits me.  But in the mean time it’s something interesting to look into, and it may even motivate me to spend more time catching up my Photoshop “chops.”  I only have a 10~ year learning curve to catch up on! 🙂

Yes, It’s Rocket Science!

Docents in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

As a kid I was a real space geek, and followed everything about the space program that I could get my hands on.  As part of our recent trip to Alabama and beyond, Kathy & I spent a day at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville and took the bus tour.  It was a fascinating experience and brought back a lot of memories.

Space Shuttle replica “Pathfinder” on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Saturn V rocket replica on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Saturn V rocket replica on display at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

It would be possible to just tour the exhibits at the museum, but it was really special to take the narrated tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center grounds, with visits to several operating facilities.  We visited a the Payload Operations Center, training center with mockups of some of the actual ISS modules that are used to recreate situations on earth to help the astronauts deal with problems or answer questions aboard the station.

Payload Operations & Integration Center at the Marshall Space Flight Center at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

The Payload Operations Integration Center is the “mission control” for all of the scientific activities that are happening on the space station.  The folks at the various workstations monitor these operations remotely, as we learned the the majority of experiments happening on board are not actually handled by the astronauts themselves unless hands-on is required.

Astronaut toilet in the International Space Station exhibit at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

The Environmental Control & Life Support Systems facility deals with the systems required to sustain life aboard the station.  A lot of the work done here deals with developing systems to maintain the environmental and sanitary needs of the crew aboard the ISS.

Exhibits at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Docents in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

The entire day was great, but the highlight for me was the visit to the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, which is a huge building that houses an actual Saturn V rocket along with tons and tons of memorabilia from the early days of manned space exploration through the Apollo moon landings.  One of the things I thought was really cool is that they employ retired scientists as docents, so it is not unusual to find yourself talking to one of the heros of the space program.  In fact, I didn’t realize it at the time, but one of my photos is of Brooks Moore, who headed the Astrionics Laboratory and is actually in the black & white photo in the picture of the old computer hardware!

An actual Saturn V rocket on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
An actual Saturn V rocket on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
An actual Saturn V rocket on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Apollo 16 command module on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

It was a great day and an excellent way to highlight our visit to Alabama!

Moon rock on display at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Redstone Missle Test Stand, a National Historic Landmark, at the Marshall Space Flight Center at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

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

Scanning Old Photos – Thoughts from the Process

My First Car – Probably traded it in on a tricycle

As I went through all of these old photos, I had a number of random thoughts which I’ll attempt to remember and summarize.  I’ll probably miss some.

Volume:  In a lot of the older albums, there would be 3-4 photos from each birthday, a dozen or so photos from the family vacation, a handful of photos from Christmas and that was it. Today we take 30 photos of our salad.

Volume 2:  It was interesting that sometimes an entire year’s worth of photos would appear to have come from a single roll of film.  And not 36 photos, usually 12-20.

Volume 3: The amount of space devoted to storing old photos is amazing.  I was able to clear off three shelves of albums and boxes, and the digital photos will all fit on a USB drive.  And we really didn’t have all that many photos, comparatively.

Argus C3. I still have it. I’m pretty sure this was taken at Morton Overlook in the Smokies.

Emotions: My parents have been gone for 30 years, Kathy’s about 6, so grief isn’t something we usually deal with these days.  And it didn’t bother us too much to look at photos of them.  In fact, it mostly brought fond memories and good feelings.  The hard part for me was tossing out the school photos and professional portraits of the kids.  I guess it is similar to the emotions that made us spring for the entire package of photos from Sears – we couldn’t live with the idea that some of those prints would be thrown away, so we bought them all!  Many of those photos were still in the original envelope.  Scanned now, but never looked at in the interim.  Sears made a mint off of us, but they are now out of business anyway.

My brother Bob & me, 1964

Family: When I look through these photos and realize how many of those people are gone, and how many of them are still around, it reminds me to not forget about the actual people.  Saving the photos is one thing, but remember that there are still relationships.  We need to care for the relationships as much (or more) as we do the photographs.

Evolution: One of the thoughts I had during the process was the fact that our generation is sort of acting as an “interface” between the analog and the digital.  People younger than us have never used film, and people older than us don’t generally use digital technology as much as we do.

Evolution 2: The idea of us being stewards of the old was something that occurred to me.  I realize that digital files will eventually be replaced by something as foreign to us now as the idea of computers was to people in the 70s and even 80s.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the really old photos still have a value as “artifacts” whether or not we know the people.

I know exactly where this was taken, and it is still there.

Remember: Even though we take a lot more pictures these days, it’s important to be sure we are diligent about recording the people, places and things that matter to us, not just the foods we eat or ourselves in front of some random landmark.  And be sure to save those photos somewhere within our control, and not entrusted to a faceless corporate entity that ultimately cares more about our money and our data than our memories.