Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Viva Las Vegas? Or Not.








Las Vegas. I went there once (I won free airline tickets), but am in no hurry to return. When I think of the city, the term "sensory overload" comes to mind. The colors, the come-ons, the sounds of slot machines at six A.M. and Elvis impersonators throughout the night.It was fun to experience, but the novelty wore off by the third morning. Perhaps if I were a serious gambler....but I'm not. Enjoy the glitter and the hype, you owe it to yourself to experience it all. Personally, wandering though a small town in a country new to me or a ramble through the streets of Paris holds more attraction. I have, however, experienced Las Vegas. The experience will last me a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Evening's Clouds Over Water







These photos combine two of my favorite aspects of nature. Clouds change from minute to minute, as do large bodies of water. Together, clouds and water create a natural kaleidoscope that is "awesome" in the true sense of the word.

While location isn't really important in this series, the third photo was taken in coastal Maine (the state where I was born); the other photos were taken in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on the western shore of Lake Michigan (where I now live).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Passage Through the Pyrenees







Let’s start with a basic premise: Close to sea level is good; heights are bad. Perhaps this is oversimplified, but the fact is I don’t like high places. Take the thought one step further; high places can scare the hell out of me! Given that information, what’s the story behind these photos of traveling through the Pyrenees?


We were traveling mostly by rail in Italy and France. Our British friends said that they’d meet us in southern France, drive us through the Pyrenees in northern Spain and then along the western coast of France. When I considered going through the Pyrenees by car, I remembered a driving trip through the Rocky Mountains on our way from Wisconsin to California. Yes, there were high places, but the roads were multiple lane highways with long, gradual inclines and excellent guard rails protecting the traveler from unwanted falls off of the mountain side. Let’s do it! Fear of heights can be mastered and I HAD gone over the Continental Divide. We weren’t talking about scaling Mount Everest, after all.

Much to my surprise, I found certain basic differences between traveling through the Rockies and traveling through the Pyrenees. Narrow one-lane roads with numerous switch-backs are a LOT different than wide, multiple lane highways with gradual inclines. The traveler feels much closer to the mountains in the Pyrenees. This traveler also felt a lot closer to exploring issue of the existence of an afterlife. First of all, on a winding, narrow road the traveler is much closer to the edge of the guard rail. This gives a much better view in terms of travel photography. It also induces fear by a factor of about 100. Secondly, when the wary mountain traveler sees part of the sold steel guard rail has been replaced by florescent orange plastic mesh until the part of the guard rail destroyed by a plummeting car has been repaired, a sense of unease arises. In the USA, that orange mesh is only used to prevent top soil on a hill side from tumbling on the highway. If a solid steel guard rail couldn’t prevent a vehicle from falling off the mountain, what can a section of orange plastic mesh do?! Among other things, it can over stimulate your imagination in terms of possible events yet to come.

In all honesty, I had an excellent time in spite of the occasional white knuckle effect caused by my grasping solid objects as we rounded certain bends. My friend was an excellent driver, and I really appreciated the chance to see sights I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. The views during the drive, the wonderful towns nestled in the mountains of Spain and France, the good people that we met, the great food and drinks that we had-all of these made the trip worth while. Would I do it again? Yes, if there was a guarantee that there would be no rain, fog, or snow as we traveled those winding and beautiful narrow roads. Especially fog. Lost in the clouds on narrow, winding roads with huge drop offs and no turn offs is not my idea of "a fun time".

P.S.

I’m in the process of exploring photo scanners. There are photos and slides of Morocco, Israel, Greece, and Kenya that I took with 35mm cameras during my earlier travels that I would like to edit and share if the end results are worthwhile. If anyone has any suggestions about which photo scanner to explore, I’d be very interested in your comments.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Cultural Landmarks: Can You Locate Them?






Some of these are easier than others. All of the photos were taken in places that I have enjoyed and plan to revisit in the future (once the dollar regains some of its relative value, that is). How did you do in your guesswork?