28 September 2013

Southern Crete -- walking up a creek with Colin and Julian.

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05 December 2009


We loved Siena. This is a town largely within its old medieval walls. It is ancient: the city symbol is the wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. Siena claims that it is from the latter's line that the city was founded. The Duomo in the city is magnificent with carving and artwork extraordinaire. The political wards or contrada send a contingent to other wards every Sunday, all dressed in medieval costume. They wave flags and play drums and other instruments. In the summer, they have two horse races in the main city square, vieing for honors for their own contrada. Well worth a return visit.

Their sense of humor was also on display.

Climbing near Lake Como

It was a joy to climb to the Refugio Menaggio above Lake Como. It was definitely more challenging for me than for the boys. My breath gave out, but not my legs.

From the Refugio, the boys took a different and much steeper route than I. The distance was probably the same, but the rate of incline decidedly different. Julian describes their traverse:


Menaggio is located on the west side of Lake Como. The hostel there is marvelous -- clean, hospitable and reasonably priced. (See www.menaggiohostel.com/ ).The view from the window alone was worth the stay, but we also rode a bus to the foot of a mountain and spent a day climbing. The bus ride was an adventure, hurtling through narrow twisting roads, often at more than twice the speed limit. How do I know? The one time there was a radar speed indicator on our whole trip was on this bus ride when we were slowing down in a 40 km speed zone and the radar report was 82 km. I took the movie below when it was safer -- other times we had tree branches coming in the windows. Negotiating switchbacks required the bus driver to honk his horn and forced oncoming traffic to back up.


Our first stop this past summer was Nurnberg. The skies were often blue, the city is historic and beautiful, and the hospitality of the Hagens was generous and warm. They arranged for us to climb one of these towers and to walk under the roof and above the ceiling of the cathedral. The medieval construction was intriguing and the views from the steeple balcony were stunning.

09 October 2006


There were a lot of beautiful orchids at this show, tempting just to pluck one. But I realized how serious they were when I saw the sign, "No orchidectomies."

08 October 2006

Dutch Belted or Belted Galloway?

I am no expert on cattle and have never seen any with stripes. Lots of blacks and browns in solids and patches, but never a striped or belted one. This is one of a pair I discovered a few miles outside of my village here in Michigan. After a net search, I found that a few such breeds exist. Certainly not fine photography, but I would be curious how many have seen belted cattle previously (and where.)

01 October 2006


Looks like it is ready to kiss someone.

23 September 2006

Back yard

It was an overcast day, sort of dreary and a bit nippy. But the backyard of friends was still verdant.

14 September 2006

Morning mist on the river

Make - NIKON
Model - E4500
ExposureTime - 1/179.4 seconds
FNumber - 3.70
ISOSpeedRatings - 100
DateTimeOriginal - 2002:09:12 07:31:17
FocalLength - 18.20 mm
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm - 88 mm

12 September 2006

Starting time

My older son is a runner and I went to plenty of cross country races for several years. The outfits are colorful. These are shots from about four years ago with a high school cross country meet.

11 September 2006


Some folks are doodlers. A friend of my younger son is one of them. He knows what to do when he runs out of paper.

09 September 2006

One son's friend

My younger son and some of his friends like taking pictures, including pictures of each other. I encourage this to help develop a photographic eye. Here is a picture my son took of one of his friends using a panelled mirror.

06 September 2006

Les mauvailses terres à traverser

The first Europeans to see this area in southwestern South Dakota called it "les mauvailses terres à traverser." They were right -- it would be a bad land to cross. But the anglicized "Badlands" does not do it justice. This country is awe inspiring: beautiful, though rugged. Earlier in July, according to one of the park rangers, the temperature had risen to 47.7C (118F). It reached about 40C (105F) while we were there. We stayed in cabins that predated the establishment of the Badlands National Park and this were the only lodgings inside the park. The "Cedar Lodge" is a wonderful place to stay. The standalone cabins are a single room with attached sink, shower, toilet room. The room is small with a window air conditioner, no telephone, no television and no Internet connection. The "awayness" was wonderful. So very different from the awayness that Dave MacIntyre gets (see his "Concrete to cottages" blog linked to the side) and different even from the pictures Ali shows ("The Big Picture" blog, also linked) of the United Arab Emirates.

The clouds are moving in; it stormed that night. While it looks like the hills are in the gloaming, it is actually midday, but the sky had an unusual hue. The grey-blue sky, the landscape with varied degrees of sun breaking through, and the layered colo[u]ration of the rugged hills seem impossible to catch in a picture, but this gives a taste.

ISOSpeedRatings - 200
ShutterSpeedValue - 1/640 seconds
ApertureValue - F 8.00
ExposureTime - 1/640 seconds
ExposureProgram - Shutter priority
DateTimeOriginal - 2006:07:26 12:58:02
FocalLength - 130.00 mm
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm - 195 mm

04 September 2006

Northern signs

Some folks have to see the aurora borealis to know they are in the north. Real woodsmen use other signs, such as these by the highway between Thunder Bay and Dryden, Ontario:

31 August 2006


On one of our camping trips, the boys brought along some smoke bombs.

Lots of great colo(u)rs. I liked the contrast with the blue of the sky.

28 August 2006

Go fly a kite

Such a simple photo, but both the colors and symbolism are beautiful to me. One of my boys and a friend enjoying summer as only a couple of kids can. I was permitted to participate in their joy only because of my propinquity. And I love the clear blue sky and the brilliance of the kite. Of course, I could have cropped it, but I didn't want to.

Blogger has not been kind to me lately. I have had to attempt several times for each upload. Being oft refused does frustrate, but the price is right.

EXIF: 1/3200 sec; f5.6; 300mm (450mm equivalent); ISO 800 (Why???? Must have left it from dusk shooting the previous evening.)

23 August 2006

Badlands sunset

Two renditions of the same picture, taken in the Badlands National Park (South Dakota), with the sun setting behind us. I took the picture in RAW format (Nikon's name is "nef"). Of course, I can't load a "nef" image onto blogspot and expect anyone to view it, so I change it to a jpeg. Curiously, when I used Nikon Capture, it reduced a 6 meg file to a 78k jpeg (the lower image here). I like the layering of the sky in this massively compressed file.

RawShooter does a much better job of allowing permutations (or at least I find it more intuitive.) Their best jpeg is 3-4 megs and this one came in a about 1.5.

The softness of the colors and the harshness of the landscape make a contrast that is intriguing to me.

21 August 2006

King of the road

This is a bit better, obviously a repeat of yesterday. This heat was rising from the road in waves and that fades the original somewhat.

I tried to encourage my 16-year-old to stand by this bison -- what a picture that would have been! But he was uncharacteristically reticent (my son, that is). But he is a generous lad; he offered to take a picture of me sitting on the bison's back. I was concerned that some folks might think I was being cruel to the bison, although if my son continued taking pictures and watched the bison stomping my body for a bit, that might have mitigated concern of animal cruelty. There were about a dozen bison in this group.

I have to be careful; I took hundreds of pictures. But I have a warning light that goes off in my addlepated memory. When I was a freshman in college, I joined the choir and we travelled in the spring break. One night two of us were staying with this family who had a bunch of friends over and were showing slides of their trip to Mexico. These folks had not deleted any picture they took, and they took a lot. I remember seeing eight slides from varying distances of the entrance to a Mexican cemetary. When I noticed that my roomie Maury had fallen asleep, we bowed out, claiming it was a long day (not true.)

"Cemetary," by the way, is distinctly Christian in the origins of the way we use it. It is etymologically identical to the French "dormitory." Early Christians did not like "necropolis" (city of the dead), so they took the available equivalent of the place for sleep and applied it to the graveyard, thinking of the words about Lazarus, among others, "He is not dead, only sleeping."

20 August 2006


I am very unhappy with the way this last shot turned out, although it was really, really hot in the Badlands. It had just cooled off from 114F. Obviously I need to go back to the drawing board and do a lot more postprocessing, but not tonight. I had a wonderful vacation with no Internet access. Got home to discover we had a torrential rainstorm and had water in the basement with carpets, library and computer equipment. Got my younger son's PC up and running and then he downloaded some new drivers and did some other things so I ended up rebuilding that PC from scratch. Piles of work awaiting.

Bison stop

Sometimes it is wise to stop. This bison was almost as big as the car coming from the opposite direction. Taken in Badland National Park, South Dakota. Humming "Buffalo gal, won't you come out tonight" for those who know "It's a wonderful life."

20 July 2006

Boy with cactus

Just to give you an idea of size, I have included a small lad in this photo.
After some very busy weeks, I have one more work day before vacation begins. The greater part of three weeks I will be without Internet access. Off to Mount Rushmore, the Badlands National Park, the Custer Memorial, the Mammoth Site, Thunder Bay and Dryden. If you are in the area, introduce yourself and I will buy you a Coke.

15 July 2006

Buxom cactus

In my high school days, when we lads had to travel out of town for a bit, the favored girls left behind would say, "Look, but don't touch." My suspicion is that the locals would have wished their distant siren sisters were bedecked in accoutrements such as these. Gives a whole new understanding to "the living bra." (Which of the actresses on "Laugh-In" had the line "I dreamt I wore a living bra and it bit me?") Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona.
Freud could write a book with this entry.

14 July 2006

Sunset over Lake Michigan

The last glimmers of sunset on the last evening of our camping trip. ISO 800; 1/60 sec.; f4.5, 62mm (93mm for 35mm equivalent).

Music I'm listening to: The Irish Tenors, Be Thou My Vision.

I am in my last two weeks of work before three weeks of vacation. You know how that is -- a month of work in the last two weeks and a month of work in the two weeks when you get back.

09 July 2006

The voyageurs

The boys are testing out the raft in a place of 2 or 3 foot depth; it is a big lake for a vessel of such seaworthiness.

08 July 2006

The raft builders

On the last evening of our camping trip, the boys combined their genius and set themselves to build a raft. These are two digital natives, weaned as cyberboys. I was concerned that cold turkey withdrawal from their toys might be too much, but they filled every minute with activity. On the other hand, the raft might have been a means to head south for their XBox, etc., etc., etc.
(Aside for photographic purists: The horizon may seem tilted, but the further north you get, that happens. At the pole, the horizon is vertical. I lived in New Zealand for a year -- the horizon tilted the opposite way: I have the pictures to prove it.) ;-)
I, as a digital immigrant, tempered my withdrawal pangs by bringing along my camera and my iRiver. (For Toronto Dave: I was listening to John McDermott singing And the Band played Waltzing Matilda, a haunting and poignant ballad of the plight of the wounded after the war is long forgotten.) It was 9:47 in the evening when I took this shot, so ISO was 1250 (hence the graininess), shooting at 1/60 sec (metric time), 29 mm, f4.5.

06 July 2006

Gunwhale pumping

The idea is to stand on each end of the canoe and get it rocking until you dump. The water is cold, so even when they were out in the lake, these lads thought it better to be out of the lake as much as possible.

But inevitably, Neptune claims the gamesmen.

The third time they toppled, their zeal had been dampened and they headed for the beach. The air was 27C (80 degrees F), but the water in the straits between Lakes Michigan and Huron was much colder.

04 July 2006

Independence Day USA

There have been fireworks for several days (much to the dis-ease of my collie "Guy"). But parades are in the daylight and make it easy to take pictures and small towns are great for "people parades." Happy 230th birthday to the United States!

01 July 2006

Canada Day

From the cable car on Grouse Mountain, one of a trio on Vancouver's north side, looking down to inlet and city. The picture below is looking back at Vancouver from the ferry headed over to North Vancouver (one of the ways you can get there in the public transport system.)
Celebrate Dominion (oops, strike that) Canada Day. These are a couple of shots of Vancouver taken several years ago on vacation. What a beautiful city, wonderful people, and great public transportation.

Wild thing

I took 4 or 5 shots of this stump and yellow flower.

Some wild things are well rooted. The camping outing last weekend produced a lot of flower shots, but many more views of meadows filled with a great variety of flowers. So peaceful and refreshing.

29 June 2006

Just a pair

This is Saturday night's sunset. The lake was so calm and its peace was infectious. ISO was pushed to 800 for this shot. (f8.0; 1/250 sec.)
I called this flower the pie flower because of its shape. It was 18-20 inches high and I lay down in the sand to take this picture with the blue sky and clouds for background. I did not see the goose dung until I got up. Fortunately it was quite dry and hard.

27 June 2006


We actually did go camping and looked at a lot besides classic cars. The weather was great, except for some rain Sunday morning. This was the sunset Friday evening, looking west to the very top of Lake Michigan.

I am told that this moose is featured in a photographic book of Michigan. Just right out there by route 2 at the western edge of St. Ignace.

The camping spot we were at is within sight of the bridge that joins the two peninsulas of Michigan. Natives and residents of the upper peninsula or "U.P." are known as "Yoopers." Those in the lower peninsula are called "trolls" because they are below the bridge. I didn't know if I could survive for four days without my laptop and an Internet connection, but with great fortitude I was able to endure. :-)

This is a bush.

And I will show a few more shots of the classic cars driving around St. Ignace over the weekend.