Friday Photos from 2015.
12.25.2015. I like capturing reflections. This is from the cathedral in Siena, Italy. The ceiling of the choir chapel is reflected in the glass case that protects an ancient choir book. You can pick out the notes and staff lines of the book, and the painted ceiling is what you primarily see in the upper half of the photo. I thought the book and ceiling mixed together pretty well and made an overall appealing photo.
12.18.2015. Another from the Popoyote lagoon crocodile reserve in Ixtapa, Mexico ... it's a bit tragic for the fish, but the croc had a yummy lunch. It's more sad for the fish when you know how much of his snout has been chomped off by this time (I'll spare you) ... but hey, that's nature -- good, bad, ugly, but mostly marvelous. I was admittedly fascinated with watching the crocodile toss the fish around in his mouth. Crocodile tongues are immovable, they have important glands and stuff, but they just sit there on the bottom of their mouths, so they can't swish food around inside their mouths like we can, hence they are doomed to the poor manners of chewing with their mouths open.
12.11.2015. Spoonbill couple at home. I love the roseate spoonbill birds in the Popoyote lagoon that I have visited each year for the last several years in Mexico. They just fascinate me and each year I return, their numbers have grown. There was only one mating couple the first year I was there and now there are three. Last year I even got to see baby spoonbills. I didn't post an article from my visit in 2015, so maybe I will post a few more pics here before returning soon to my feathered friends in February 2016.
12.04.2015. Not really travel-related today, but I was just thumbing through some of my local photos to look for new card candidates (I sell photo cards of the Nederland area at a local store), and I ran across this one. I didn't think it was right for a card, but I just liked it quite a bit with the critters hanging out doing their business on the petals of this lovely flower (a mariposa lily) ... such a small and delicate thing for us to hold in our hand and yet it is large territory for an ant to explore and it's basically the bee's raison d'etre. There are so many scales of existence in this universe. How enormous our planet is to an insect! I like to imagine them building little telescopes to try to see further across the planet and deduce its boundaries like we try to see across the universe and deduce the boundaries of space. :)
11.27.2015. The dilapidated entrance to an abandoned yao ... the former home of a Chinese family in northern Shaanxi Province, where within the last decade particularly, rural homes are being abandoned as peasants leave their traditional villages in droves to land better jobs in the cities. It's a pity these wonderful homes, so energy efficient using the earth as insulation, are being unceremoniously left behind to crumble into anonymity ... unclaimed personal histories lie behind the lattice windows where the rice paper has disintegrated. This region of China is turning into a land of nameless ghosts.
11.20.2015. Just a little scene from the streets of Barcelona. In the Gothic Quarter, probably the most photographed alley with the covered walkway between the two sides. It's difficult to get the lighting decent, finding a middle road with the light meter between bright sky above and dim narrow street below. So I was pleased with this pic because that came out alright. But I also like the little scene unfolding in it -- two police officers confronting a beggar who is sitting in a doorway with his change bowl. He wasn't bothering anybody, he wasn't calling out for spare change, just sitting there with his bowl. But the police made him leave. It was a calm exchange, nothing dramatic. Just a glimpse of lives in another city -- one of those scenes that for whatever inexplicable reason, I am unlikely to forget.
11.13.2015. Earlier this year I posted a pic I love of an iguana getting jiggy with a branch from my annual visit to Popoyote lagoon in Ixtapa, Mexico (on the 13th of February, funny enough). This is my second-favorite iguana pic from 2015, taken sequentially after the other one. First he licked the branch, then he climbed up it. I like the view of his belly and the black stripes.
11.6.2015. Inside the labyrinthine Bari Gotique, the Gothic Quarter, in Barcelona, Spain. My goal here was to capture the white turret of the building behind me reflected in the window above the wooden doors. I thought that would be cool. But in the end, what makes the picture, I think, is the blue sky reflected in the window. Even though almost the entire photo is rendered in hues of red, when you look at the photo, you think, "blue." I find that interesting. Additionally, I like the doors an awful lot in and of themselves, especially the baby knocker on the lower left side.
10.30.2015. A lilac breasted roller, my favorite African bird. Captured this one in Etosha National Park, Namibia. I like it because I dig the pure blue sky behind it. A lot of times a featureless sky is not an asset to a photo -- some clouds or color gradient are better. My opinion is most likely not that of a professional, but in this case I just really like the pure blue behind such a pretty little bird.
10.16.2015. Another doorknocker I like. In Barcelona, Spain. I guess what I like is the graffiti and painted colors across it. Without those, I'd probably still like it, but it's the spray paint and graffiti that give it real character. It kind of reminds me of the animated door knockers in the movie, "Labyrinth." Like if you just pulled the ring out of its mouth it would start talking at you.
10.9.2015. Lotus flower, photo taken in China. Well, I simply find it pretty. The interior makes me think of a shower head, like the little bumps are the holes from which the water comes out. Showering us all with natural beauty. haha. So knowing that the lotus flower has a lot of significance in China through Buddhism, I decided to search on it to see what the almighty Google had to reveal about it. Besides revealing that the better analogy for the seed pod in the middle is the spout of a watering can, one site told me this: "White lotus: this color lotus is known to symbolize Bodhi (being awakened), and represents a state of mental purity, and that of spiritual perfection; it is also associated with the pacification of one’s nature. This lotus is considered to be the womb of the world." [from lotusflowermeaning.net] I like "womb of the world." The more I look at this pic, the more that resonates with me.
10.2.2015. It's another golden autumn here in Colorado. I didn't travel far down the road to take this shot, but I did take some folks with me who were visiting and it's always fun to show people around my neck of the woods. It's a pretty cool neck. This is an old farmstead house in the Caribou Ranch Open Space; it lies in a broad valley where, in the spring, herds of elk come to calve.
9.25.2015. Today we have my favorite door from our travels in Tunisia. I'm surprised I haven't posted this elsewhere on this site, but I looked through the archive posts and Friday Photo , and it seems I have not. This was in the abandoned Berber ksar of Douiret. I just like all the metal hodge-podged together, the solidness of the bolt with the dainty knocker below, and the enormous keyhole. I'd love to see the key that fits in it. Also slightly incongruous with the surrounding construction of stone. You can read more about our day among the abandoned ksars HERE.
9.18.2015. "Bombs away!" Canadian goose freeing up some space in his intestines ... at Walden Ponds near Boulder, Colorado. I like this pic because, well, I'm just that low-brow and find it humorous timing that I caught this act in the making. I didn't know it at the time of shooting, only after I got home and looked at the pics on the computer monitor. (actually I have a more graphic pic that comes first in the series ... I'll spare you) Thank goodness his bombs didn't land on me. Bombs aside, I also just like his positioning in the sky and the lone cloud behind him. And I feel obligated to include a more dignified photo below of the lovely goose flying in a blue sky.
9.11.2015. In the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona ... a marvelous place to meander. I have a penchant for door knockers and door knobs and, well, pretty much all things "door." This isn't the fanciest or most unique, but for whatever reason, I simply like it. From our second visit.
9.3.2015. The rare two-headed zebra, found in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park in South Africa. I saw tons of white rhinos while I volunteered for two weeks in this park, but this was the rarest creature of all! Oh wait, maybe that's not a mythical creature but just two zebras very cutely aligned. :)
8.21.2015. This is Sedona, Arizona. I took this vacation with my two girlfriends from high school for one of our milestone birthdays. I think I'll refrain from mentioning which one it was, though. :) After all, we are only as old as we feel, right? I just liked the sunset lighting on this photo ... the red rocks in the back and foreground and the river running through. Being early spring, the trees had not leafed out yet but their branches were golden in the setting sun.
8.7.2015. Well, since last week was about black and white, today I'll throw one up about color -- green! I've shown you this place before on Friday Photo (3.12.2014) ... it's a remarkably beautiful place. The terraces you see on the hillside across the way are rice paddies. Everywhere is the sound of water flowing downhill from one paddy to the next through a series of bamboo pipes that help irrigate the fields. Behind this gate is a family's personal crop of other fruits and vegetables for themselves. This area is known as the Longji rice terraces. I've always liked this pic. This was the second year in which I had taken up an interest in photography, and I had my own camera and Erik had his. Mine was a just a little Canon point-and-shoot, but I think a number of my pics from this trip came out pretty well in spite of my nascent skills ("skills") and what is by today's standard very low-tech "gear." But then, one is always partial to their own pics. :)
7.31.2015. I've been on a black-and-white kick the last week or so, converting some of my images from Iran into black and white. The architecture seems particularly well-suited with its successive layers of arches and intricate painted patterns. I've posted several on my Facebook page and here's another one I just did this morning. Just something new and fun to try ... LightRoom software is pretty neat to play with in doing these conversions. This is the Imam Mosque in Isfahan. (you can see loads of color pics in my post Mosque Madness)
7.24.2015. This is a 2015 capture from my oft-raved-about crocodile sanctuary in Ixtapa, Mexico (Popoyote sanctuary). It is often referred to as "the crocodile pit." I like this shot of it for the motion it shows -- most of my pics from here are pretty static ... the crocodiles are usually just sunning themselves near the banks, or cooling themselves off with their mouths wide open. Once in awhile I witness a moment of excitement when they catch a fish or bird to eat. (And then, of course, there was the day one escaped.) But mostly they are very still. So I like this shot for the sense of motion and interaction between the crocodiles. The one on the bottom right has an awfully swell set of teeth, as well.
7.17.2015. Bee balm just coming into bloom. I think the pods look like little aliens, with alien limbs sprouting out of them, or like an explosion in slow motion. Very brightly colored. I read that this is also known as wild bergamot, as in the ingredient in Earl Gray Tea. There are fields absolutely full of these near my house along the Peak to Peak Highway in Colorado. You may need to prepare for an onslaught of flower photos over the next coming Fridays ... this year's wildflower season is spectacular. Come travel to my neck of the woods!
7.10.2015. Today I'm posting another picture from last year's Dale Chihuly glass exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens. I posted a few others you can find here in Friday Photo on 3.13.2015 and 8.08.2014. Such magical sculptures. As I'm often perusing through my photos for one reason or another, in doing so yesterday I ran across this one and I really quite like it. Interesting, beautiful, soothing ... These pieces are sitting in a pond of water.
7.3.2015. Columbines just coming into bloom yesterday in a field of yellow pea wildflowers. Didn't have to travel far for this one ... Mammoth Gulch near my home. Though I personally didn't travel far, many people do travel here from other states and countries. And though I didn't travel far distance-wise, this area has provided me plenty of adventures with our 4x4 vehicles. Only two weeks ago, we sank into a muddy bog to half-way up our wheels, the truck body was pretty much on the ground, and we were hopelessly stuck. There was one single other vehicle in the whole area we happened to run across earlier. We hiked back to where we had last seen them ... fortunately they were still there because they had gotten stuck themselves in a snow bank. Erik helped them shovel out, then they came and yoinked us out of the bog with tow ropes. Yesterday wasn't quite so adventurous, but was awful darn pretty with fields of wildflowers in bloom. You can read about one of our other adventures in this area at Gamble Gulch. I mean to post more someday ...
6.26.2015. Kitty in a tree ... hope a fireman doesn't have to come rescue him, could be a little dicey. Nah, I think this beautiful male leopard can find his own way down. Scouting the scene for I don't know what exactly -- food, threat, a female mate, a human to lick. In any case, especially against a crystal-clear blue Namibian sky, this guy exemplifies the true essence of magnificence in the animal kingdom.
6.12.2015. Here is how the brochure for this ruined monastery begins its narrative: "The origins of the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes are lost in the mists of time and legend." How can you not love an ancient ruin lost in the mists of time and legend? Erik and I ran across this completely unexpectedly. We took an afternoon to drive from Cadaques to Port de la Selva along the Costa Brava in Spain. We saw this large castle-looking thing on the hillside and drove up to it. We arrived just before their posted closing time, but at the ticket window the gal said they were staying open half an hour later than that. So we had time to explore. The historical overview provided by the brochure is actually very interesting; I'm tempted to reproduce it for you here. But in sum, the monastery rose from mysterious beginnings in the 6th century to become one of the most important centers of spiritual, political and economic power in the region during the 12th and 13th centuries. Moral and financial decay began to affect it in the 15th and 16th centuries, and it was increasingly subject to pirate attacks! Cool! Gotta love pirate attacks. It was desecrated repeatedly as well by bandits and plundering French troops, until the monks abandoned it in 1798, and the monastic community of Sant Pere de Rodes was "definitively dissolved" in 1835. Really, the most joyful sightseeing experiences are nearly always the ones you didn't expect. I like this view of the monastery through the trees because it kind of lends it that lost-in-the-mists aura ... peeking through a veil of branches to see it shining in the sun.
6.5.2015. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. This is my own 'hood ... about 45 minutes from my house. This year Erik and I bought a 7-day pass to check out the spring vistas ... my favorite time of year is when the mountains are still heavily capped in white snow and the valleys are green and flowering. Add in a pure blue sky, and it's my idea of divine.
5.29.2015. A very intimidating ostrich at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center. Seriously, I was so scared of this thing. For full effect, open the pic in a new tab to see at larger size and get a feel for this creature hovering above you with its very damaging, pokey beak and foul demeanor. Feeding the ostriches is one of the least favorite duties of zookeepers at the UWEC because of their unpleasant and aggressive dispositions. This one was literally running after our little tractor as we drove through their enclosure. I like how the photo came out, but the shutter was snapped in fear! You can read more in my Uganda archive about feeding the ostriches and other zookeeper duties at the UWEC.
5.22.2015. Elephant taking a bath at a shrinking water hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia. I liked how the water holes here often had a bluish tint, which made them more picturesque (to me). The soil when extracted from the holes and along the shores was often a gray color, so elephants often shimmered with a blueish-gray layer. I have a bunch of pics in a series from this elephant taking his shower ... mostly a mud shower ... I like this one because of the big glob of muddy water suspended above his trunk.
5.15.2015. Close-up portrait of a Himba child, Namibia. I just think they're all so beautiful. End of story. (see more Himba here)
5.8.2015. Abbey in la Seu d'Urgell, Spain. The bishop of Urgell is one of the co-princes of the country of Andorra. He and the prime minister of France co-rule with a parliament elected from each of the seven provinces in Andorra. The bishop is actually quite a liberal guy, it turns out, and no one in Andorra seems to have a problem with him. We visited his church, quite near the Andorra/Spain border. I expected it to be really lavish, somehow, I guess just on account of him having this extra bit of power. But actually the cathedral in la Sue d'Urgell was pretty much the most spare and humble of all the ones we'd seen. This is the abbey's inner courtyard ... a feature you'll see in nearly all medieval style cathedral compounds. I'm looking through one set of pillars across the courtyard.
5.1.2015. Today's pic comes from Cadaques, Spain -- along the northern end of the Costa Brava. There are bushels and barrels of cats roaming the narrow streets of the small town of Cadaques. Of course, I love seeing cats while traveling, so the first one we saw while we were meandering the streets, we were so excited over, tried to get its picture. Then a minute later, we saw another one, then another one so there was a gang of three. This, to be sure, was super exciting. Then even more kitties were padding around us, and soon we discovered the source.... the kitty mine, where miners dig them out of the famous Cadaques cat caverns. Nah, just kidding. It's really just a deep kitty hole where they crawl up all on their own. Or ... well, perhaps it was because we found the cat care center ... a house like any other house on the corner of a maze of streets near a church, except this house is full of cats. If you look in the window, there are cats sitting on the furniture, on the floor, in the window sills, walking through the rooms. There was a donation box outside and it explained how Salvador Dali, who lived just up the road, loved cats and in his name this society was founded. They spay and neuter the street cats and clip their ears a wee bit to show the ones who've been fixed. They can come in and out of the house, and large bowls of food and water surround the outside of it. These kitties lined up patiently on the windowsill to get their turn at the food bowl. As soon as one got its fill, it jumped down and the line moved forward. So so so cute.
4.24.2015. I chose kind of a random photo for today's Friday Photo ... there are many I could have chosen that illustrate the power (mwahaha) of the totally fun 10-22mm wide-angle lens I rented for our latest trip to Europe, knowing we'd be around a lot of grand architecture. With my new fancier camera and the wide angle, I rose to a new level of enjoyment photographing. I found out it doesn't cost much to rent lenses so I decided, "what the heck." Though now, I believe I'm going to have to buy me one of this model when I can afford it, I enjoyed it so much. So this happens to be Montserrat in Spain. I'm just plain tickled at the ability to capture so much foreground and so much of the side corridors. You don't have to be a professional photographer to get a kick out of your photography. I used to think the cost of a higher-grade camera and renting lenses wasn't justified for being just a podunk amateur photographer, but I've changed my mind. I've decided it's OK to have a little fun. I'm sure I'll post a lot more of these wide angles. :) Please note that you can open this photo in a separate tab to view at a larger size.
4.17.2015. Above Port de la Selva, along the Costa Brava in Spain, lies a very large, imposing monastery and in contrast, this small, humble ruin overlooking the village of Port de la Selva. While the large monastery (Sant Pere de Rodes) is impressive for its size, I found this small ruin impressive for its commanding view over the bay and the village of white buildings. The juxtaposition of the humble ruin and the opulent view was appealing to me.
4.03.2015. Looking through a wooden doorway in the outer wall into the courtyard of an old, abandoned ksar in Tunisia. These Berber villages usually had an outer defensive wall encircling a courtyard with several levels of small homes with adorable little Hobbit-sized doorways. We loved exploring these in Tunisia -- some, like this one, had been restored mostly for the sake of visitors (see some more HERE) and yet we paid an admission fee only to one of them, most were free to wander into on your own. I like this photo just for the feeling of what it's like to look through a door or window into a world so different from your own -- such a feeling of magic and wonder at the world ... an awe at its diversity and design.
3.20.2015. It's spring solstice today ... the first day of spring, hurray! To celebrate, I found a picture with flowers in it for today's Friday Photo ... so original of me. As my own yard is still mostly covered in snow, the bright red poppies and green fields of Tuscany make me smile. In the background you can see olive bushes and rows of grapes ... I wonder what type of yummy wine they will eventually make. This is right outside Sant'Antimo Abbey, in Montalcino, Italy. In other places around Tuscany, we saw fields of red poppies stretching on and on, but I liked the little sprinkling of them here in front of the iconic Tuscan fields and stone buildings. I was kneeling down, shooting through a hole in a fence.
3.13.2015. Taken at the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens last fall. On a crisp October night, it was pretty magical to have the glass sculptures reflected on the still, black water of a pond, and strings of Christmas lights in the trees seemed like stars in the night sky.
3.06.2015. From the crocodile sanctuary in Ixtapa, Mexico. This photo is humorous to me. It's somehow like a Far Side cartoon -- the egret walking by so casual ... doo doo doo hum dum dum ... as if there isn't a giant crocodile with its mouth wide open behind it, and the crocodile lying there as if he's trying to be all incognito, not daring to move a muscle. I've seen crocs snatch egrets right there in that very spot. I didn't want to see that happen, but I can't help chuckling a little every time I look at this photo, imagining a range of cartoon captions. How would you caption it?
2.27.2015. The red dunes of Sossusvlei National Park in Namibia. Did I mention the sand is red? And the sky is blue? Just like over in the dead vlei I showed you earlier. One of the things I love best about being in nature is how adept it is at emptying one's mind of frivolities and daily life concerns. This environment was like being inside a meditating mantra. The phrase wasn't "om mani padme hum," but simply, "red, red, red." For some perspective on size, look at the small trees on the far left. The gigantic tree in the middle, a very old specimen, casts a funky monstrous shadow on the face of the dune.
2.20.2015. So the spoonbill birds are another of my favorite inhabitants of the crocodile sanctuary in Ixtapa, Mexico ... unarguably the most exquisite of the creatures who find refuge here. There are many challenges to photographing them. Each year I try to capture them in flight, but it's a maddening endeavor. First, finding a place where they are hanging out which is high enough in the trees for the chain-link fence not to be in the way (most iguana and crocodile shots are actually shot through a square in the fence, which is difficult and severely limits the angles available). Then, they hang out in very dense foliage above a little lagoon. They make micro-flights from tree to tree ... extremely short distances so that their wings are extended for a very brief period of time -- they are fairly large birds to be flying in such cramped quarters among the leafy trees. So the light metering is also pretty miserable, looking up into bright sky through dense jungle, so it's like polkadotted lighting. Then in the 2 seconds or so, literally, in which their wings are open to fly, I have to aim, focus, shoot. And if I wait there focused on the bird with my finger on the shutter, after 10 minutes or so my arm gets too tired to hold the camera up anymore. So I lower it, then whoosh, that of course is precisely when the spiteful bird takes off for flight. Anyway, here is a shot that hopefully can illustrate these challenges ... just so you are more impressed whenever I post a pic of a spoonbill which is actually identifiable as such. haha.
2.13.2015. From my favorite crocodile sanctuary (well, ok, the only croc sanctuary I know) in Ixtapa, Mexico, which also teems with iguanas. This guy was getting rowdy, doing a little fancy pole dancing before trying to climb up the branch. (And you may already know I'm particularly fond of photos of animals with their tongues sticking out.) The funny thing is that this branch was a little too skinny and slick for him to get a grip with his large feet. Clearly, he deeply desired to climb it, as he tried and tried, slipping back down over and over, for about 5 minutes. Very entertaining, this old fellow, getting jiggy with the slender branch.
2.06.2015. Miss Pouty. As I call her ... child in the Himba village I visited in Namibia. Funny thing is, a friend took a photo of her the previous year and she had the exact same expression on her face. Most all photos of her showcase this face, which I find very amusing in its severity. But I have one of her smiling gently and it took awhile to convince my friend it was the same girl. I find the intensity in her signature expression compelling. So here is one of the photos of her that I like.
1.30.2015. A kitty cat inside the medina in Tunis, Tunisia. There are many stray cats in the cities of Tunisia. We were told that in Islamic culture, cats are special because the prophet Mohammed was very fond of them and said they should not be harmed or killed. So ... the Tunisians clearly take this to heart. Some cats appear well taken care of and some are difficult to look at in their suffering. But by and large, most looked relatively healthy, and if you are a regular reader here, you may have picked up on the fact I love kitty cats! So I had fun trying to capture them in the cities. I kind of like this photo here ...contented in front of a typical Tunisian doorway.
1.23.2015. Totem pole on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We were staying in Victoria and took some day trips to see some of the other nearby towns. Duncan City is a lovely town hosting a large collection of colorful, intricate totem poles; the area is home of the Cowichan tribe of the Coast Salish Nation. What's nice (if cold) is that the totem poles are all around the city outside, not crammed into an austere, dimly-lit museum of history or art. You can walk all around town and inspect them, or pose with them, and appreciate them better in their "natural environment." Some of the totem colors are very vivid. So OK, maybe this guy's wardrobe of paint was missing a few colors, but I loved his expression. This is kind of what I want to say to the world some days ... just stick my tongue out at it. At one time his eyes would have been colorful shells.
1.9.2015. Lady in Red .... I haven't played much with color sampling on my G9. It's where you can sample a color around you into the camera, and then it will shoot in black and white except for the color you sampled. So in this case, I found something red near me, sampled that, then took this photo of Celetna Street in Prague. As it happened, only one lady was wearing a red shirt that matched the sample. So she rather stands out. (though it would have been awesome if she'd been wearing a long red dress instead of only a shirt) It's kind of a fun trick, and I think I should play with it more. Celetna is a lovely street around the old town area of Prague.
1.2.2015. Today's Friday Photo is posted with melancholy in remembrance of Papa Dang, who passed away at Christmastime. Here he is bringing water home from the spring in the valley across from his hillside village, Dang Jia Shan. Papa was the gentlest of souls. A wise soul, a happy soul, a generous soul. In total I spent 4 weeks living in Dang Jia Shan and spending time with him nearly every day. My second visit to the village was especially joyful in his presence. I have featured him in several posts here on SKJ Travel. To read more about him, you can find him as one of the subjects or the sole subject in these posts: Secret in the Earth, The Christmas Tree, The Earthen Heart, Waking Death, Revelation on a Rainy Day.