September 15th, 2020
I was walking around Antioch, Illinois and saw these tiny leaves on the street. I took the photo with my Sony A6000 camera (I carry it with me more now that I have this photo store. I want the highest quality pic for my site if I see something that is interesting) then transferred the photo to my Galaxy S9+ smart phone via wifi that my camera creates, edited it with Snapseed, reduced the file size then uploaded it to my blog creating the post all on my phone. I absolutely love all the amazing technology we are spoiled with today. I think I use my phone more as a camera, video and picture editor and an internet connection than I do as a phone.
I am very excited about next month. The leaves start changing to some amazing colors. Autumn is my favorite time of year.
September 12th, 2020
I love taking pictures in antique shops. Wilmington, Illinois has lots of great antique shops so I've visited there many times. The lady that owns one of the antique shops would usually have her dog with her in the shop. She let the dog go wherever it wanted to in the store. Sometimes the dog liked to sit on the counter. You don't see this very often in stores so I wanted to get a pic of it.
If you love antiques, and you are in the Chicago area, it is worth a trip down to Wilmington, Illinois. They have most of the antique shops on the main street of the town so it's convenient to park on the street and be able to visit a lot of shops that are very close to each other. There are more shops near downtown. Just drive around in the area and you will find them.
September 11th, 2020
I got a chance to visit Starved Rock yesterday with my sister and brother in law. It is beautiful. We couldn't stay long so I wasn't able to get a lot of pics.
I want to come back next month in October when the leaves change color. I am sure it looks even more amazing during autumn.
The park hosts over two million visitors annually, the most for any Illinois state park.
My brother in law was walking ahead of us in one section of the park so I took some pics with him in the shot to show scale. He is the little blue spot. :)
September 9th, 2020
Last year I had a chance to visit Pripyat, Ukraine while on a Chernobyl tour. It is 2 miles from Chernobyl and has been a ghost town since May, 1986.
These are the bumper cars that the public never got a chance to ride because the city had to be evacuated a few days before the amusement park was supposed to open. It was very eerie visiting this ghost town. You have to watch where you walk and what you touch. You can't sit on the ground or eat anything in this area. Some areas still have a high level of radiation.
If you watch the HBO mini series they show this town with CGI to show what it might have looked like before the explosion.
The Pripyat amusement park is an abandoned amusement park located in Pripyat, Ukraine. It was to have its grand opening on 1 May 1986, in time for the May Day celebrations, but these plans were cancelled on 26 April, when the Chernobyl disaster occurred a few kilometers away.
September 9th, 2020
I was taking the dogs for a walk today and saw this leaf on the ground. I picked it up and then put it on some concrete to give it a lighter background.
I took this picture with my Samsung Galaxy S9+ phone because I didn't have my better camera with me. Then I cropped it and sharpened it a little with Snapseed using my phone.
The best part about seeing this red leaf is knowing that my favorite time of the year is coming soon. I absolutely love autumn. I love 70°F weather and I also love all of the different colors in the trees and from the leaves on on ground. I will definitely be outside taking pictures every day as soon as the leaves start changing. I will need to drive around to see where the color is changing first. I like the combination of the old colors with the new colors.
Now I don't mind waiting two more months for my job as MD on a ship to come back. I do not want to miss fall.
I hope I can get back to work in November. Fingers crossed. I will use this extra time to get more photos for my photography website.
September 4th, 2020
One of the best ports I was able to visit while working on a cruise ship was Sydney, Australia. We docked very close to the world famous opera house. I got extremely lucky on the day I signed up for a tour. No one else signed up at the time slot I chose and I got a personal tour with just the tour guide and me. The opera house has a fascinating history. I never knew that the sails all were sections of a sphere.
The land where the Sydney Opera House stands is called Bennelong Point. Bennelong Point was once home to Fort Macquarie (the fort was built in 1817 and knocked down in 1901). On 10 August 1902, the Fort Macquarie Tram Depot was opened at Bennelong Point. The depot was knocked down in 1958. The Sydney Opera House was built on the same spot and the work began in 1959.
It was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. He won a design competition in 1957. Utzon left the project in February 1966 because the government was not paying his invoices. The building finally opened on October 20, in 1973. The project was completed ten years later and cost more than fourteen times the original budget. In 2001, Utzon was invited back to restore the building and change it back towards his original designs.
The original cost estimate to build Sydney Opera House was $7 million. The final cost was $102 million and it was largely paid for by a State Lottery.
233 designs were submitted for the Opera House international design competition held in 1956. Jørn Utzon from Denmark was announced the winner, receiving ₤5000 for his design.
Construction was expected to take four years. It took 14 years. Work commenced in 1959 and involved 10,000 construction workers.
Paul Robeson was the first person to perform at Sydney Opera House. In 1960, he climbed the scaffolding and sang Ol' Man River to the construction workers as they ate lunch.
Sydney Opera House was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2007
There are more than 1 million roof tiles covering approximately 1.62 hectares sitting over the structure. They were made in Sweden.
Seven A380s could sit wing-to-wing on the site.
Sydney Opera House was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20th October, 1973. She has since visited four times, most recently in 2006.
When the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is on stage in the Concert Hall, the temperature must be 22.5 degrees to ensure the instruments stay in tune. Temperature and humidity are critical to musical instruments.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (former actor and Governor of California) won his final Mr Olympia body building title in 1980 in the Concert Hall.
A net was installed above the orchestra pit in the Joan Sutherland Theatre during the 1980s following an incident during the opera Boris Godunov. The opera featured live chickens and one bird walked off the stage and landed on top of a cellist.
More than 10.9 million people visit the Opera House every year.
Sydney Opera House is cooled using seawater taken directly from the harbour. The system circulates cold water from the harbour through 35 kilometres of pipes to power both the heating and air conditioning in the building.
Each year, Lunar New Year is celebrated at the Opera House with sails lit in red, Lunar Lanterns and Mandarin tours. In 2019, some 25,000 people celebrated with us.
September 4th, 2020
While I was working on a cruise ship I got to visit Lisbon several times. The first time I saw a boy playing the accordion with his dog holding the tip jar I thought it was original. After I visited a few times I started to see different guys doing the same thing. It is a great gimmick because people are more likely to tip because the adorable little dog is holding the tip jar. I don't know if the dog enjoys it or how long he has to hold that string in his mouth but the dogs usually looked pretty happy so it didn't bother me too much.
Lisbon is a beautiful city. If you go there be sure to bring a camera. There are some great photo opportunities. At Christmas time they have the guys driving the trolleys dressed up as Santa. I love the cobble stoned streets, old buildings and the trolleys driving around town. Lisbon is rich in architecture; Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern and Postmodern constructions can be found all over Lisbon.
September 4th, 2020
One of the cruise ships I worked on went from Vancouver to Hawaii on our way down to French Polynesia and eventually New Zealand. We had the whole day free so I rented a car to go see the bamboo forest. On our way to the forest we saw this gigantic Banyan tree. I asked my friend to be in the shot for scale so I could show how large the tree is.
If you go to Maui, I highly recommend you rent a car and drive the road to Hana. It is quite an experience. The Hana Highway (HI-360) has 620 curves and 59 bridges. Yowza! After you reach Hana, go ten more miles to get the trail that goes to the bamboo forest. It is amazing! At the end of the trail there is a very tall waterfall. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged. You will get some amazing pictures.
If you have a few days in Maui be sure to see Haleakalā National Park. You drive up the volcano (in total darkness except for your headlights) at 3 o'clock in the morning to get to the top so you can see the sunrise from 10,000 feet. You are above the clouds! Wear something warm (it is very cold at 10,000 feet) and get there early so you can get a good spot. Lots of people do this everyday so it can get crowded. Also bring a tripod. It is very difficult to get sharp hand held shots because you need to use long shutter times when it is very dark. Before the sun rises, so you can actually see different color stars.
Another must see is to go to a Luau. Great food and amazing entertainment.
September 4th, 2020
Cozumel is one of my favorite ports. It has grown so much since I first started going there in the early 90's. It has great beaches, lots of different types of really good restaurants and the local people are very friendly. Once in a while, if our orchestra had the day off or a late rehearsal, I would rent a moped and go around the island.
While I was riding my moped I saw this guy selling fresh coconut juice on the side of the road. I couldn't resist so I pulled over and bought one. He was a very nice guy so I asked him If I could use his face in the photo so I could get the reflection of his glasses. He said, "no problem" so was I was able a self portrait. Haaaa!!!
If you go on a cruise, be sure to go on one that goes to Cozumel. You will love it. If you have lots of time, you can take a ferry to the main land and see some Mayan Ruins.
The Mayan Ruins of the Yucatan Peninsula are very nice. These lost cities hail back to as many as 2,000 years ago, when the Mayas were practicing such mathematical genius as astronomy and physics, long before the white man had figured out the secrets. Nobody knows what happened to the Mayas, but their legends - and their cities - live on to this day.
If you only have a little time go out to get some delicious Mexican food from the local restaurant. I usually eat at Ernesto's near the ship. It is nothing fancy but the view of the water is great, the food is delicious and the staff is very friendly.
September 4th, 2020
While working on a cruise ship I got to visit Cartagena many times. I would see many people dressed up like this and would wonder what the story is behind this.
They are mimes doing their act solo or in pairs. They stand in the street completely still, silent, looking as inanimate as possible — like a statue — until a passerby drops a coin in the receptacle that sits on the ground before them. Then, WHAM! the black faced actor springs into action, doing a set sequence of movements that makes up his show.
Depending on what props they have, members of this group mostly act as if they are fishing or cutting wood, and one, who is dressed to suit, does a pirate routine.