This week's photo challenge at I Heart Faces is Scenic Black and White.
I shot this while visiting my sister in London. We took a day to explore Central London, walking along the Thames.
I Heart Faces is a great resource for photography inspiration, tutorials and challenges. You can check out the wonderful assortment of Scenic Black and White photos there this week.
I don't know what it is with the kids and Walgreens - they love the Walgreens! And chance they get, they want to go to the Walgreens. Probably because they can get lots of goodies there - you know - gum and candy.
Scott and I ventured out on this rainy night to take the car to the shop to have some repairs done. Brian came along for the ride, just because he knew we would pass by the Walgreens. And we stopped and he bought some gum.
Ah, gotta love the Walgreens......
The local newspaper prints submissions from readers for their Travel pages. The article I wrote on the Cinque Terre was published this morning, along with several photos from that portion of the trip.
Since I never blogged about our Cinque Terre hike between all five villages, I am including it here. With more pictures as a bonus.
Along the Ligurian coast of Italy, the Cinque Terre offers travelers a respite from the museums and historical attractions of the main cities in Italy. The Cinque Terre consists of five villages, all built into the rugged coastline. The area surrounding the villages is part of the Cinque Terre National Park. To reach the Cinque Terre, you have two main avenues – by car or by train. The train from La Spezia services all five villages and if you have a car, you can park at the La Spezia station. If you plan to drive, be prepared for steep and narrow roads as well as hairpin turns that seem to take you over a cliff. Once you reach your destination, you’ll have to park the car, as most roads are limited to pedestrian traffic.
The main attractions in the Cinque Terre include beaches, breathtaking coastal scenery, and the network of hiking trails along the coast and up through vineyards and olive groves. During our visit, we chose to hike the Blue Path, or “Sentiero Azzurro”, which allowed us to experience each of the five villages. To gain access the hiking trails you must purchase a Cinque Terre Card, available at each of the train stations in the villages. A basic day pass costs 5 Euro, and multi-day passes are available. The entire Blue Path can be traversed in one day, or in portions spread over two or more days if you prefer a more leisurely pace.
Perhaps the most famous portion of the Blue Path is called the Via Dell’Amore (Lover’s Walk) and takes you between the southernmost village, Riomaggiore, to its sister village of Manarola. Along the paved walk, locks and graffiti adorn the fence line, even the rocks. Couples write their initials on the locks, along with a date (maybe an anniversary, maybe the current date), in order to represent "locking" their love forever. This trail only takes half an hour to complete, and at the height of tourist season is extremely crowded.
Locks of Love Along the Via Dell'Amore
From Manarola, it’s a leisurely 90 minute walk along the path (portions are paved), winding you along the coastline towards Corniglia, smallest and quietest of the Five Lands. But before you think you have arrived, you must climb the Lardarina, or series of stairs, comprised of 382 steps. Alternatively you can take the bus instead of the stairs.
The Walkway to Corniglia
The Rugged Coastline
After Corniglia, the hiking trail becomes much more challenging. The trail to Vernazza takes you away from the coast and up through olive groves and vineyards. The path is un-paved, uneven and rocky and takes you up and well above the villages. Be sure to look back at Corniglia because the view back is as stunning as the view going forward. After two hours you will be rewarded as Vernazza reveals itself from behind the trees.
Looking Back at Corniglia
Overlooking Vernazza. We're Pretty Tired at This Point, but Push On towards Monterosso
The final leg between Vernazza and Monterosso will take another two hours, up and down through the lush forest and then through more vineyards. The trail includes steep stone stairs and narrow paths, but is less rocky than the previous leg. Once you reach Monterosso, you can dip your tired feet in the turquoise waters of its large, sandy beach front.
Scott and Dave Pose Among the Grapes
Our Last Look at the Hiking Path once in Monterosso. Can You Tell the Sun is Setting? I think we arrived back around 7pm. The hike took us over 8 hours!
In between each leg of the Blue Path, we took time to rest and explore each village. The villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola are a delight to wander through, with narrow, winding alleys, colorful Italian buildings and boat filled marinas. In quiet Corniglia, we enjoyed lunch at an outdoor café in the small piazza. Vernazza’s main plaza opens up to a small beach and harbor. Two towers flank the town – the clock tower of the Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia and the Doria Castle. Of the five villages, the northern most Monterosso Al Mare feels more resort-like and touristy. Monterosso boasts a large sandy beach and numerous modern hotels - perhaps not as quaint as the other villages, but with plenty to see and do.
The Beach in Monterosso
Rooms rates during the summer range from $100 for basic accommodations to upwards of $250 for a three star hotel. Off season rates will be lower, and the area less crowded with tourists.
With so much natural beauty, the Cinque Terre is a beautiful diversion to enjoy. Even if hiking isn’t your thing, you can still relax on the beach, eat delicious seafood, pasta and gelato – all with a beautiful view of the sea.
Just in time for the holidays - the Lego set Brian ordered last week arrived yesterday and the boys made quick work of putting it together. It's perfect for displaying on the piano with the other Christmas decor.
I placed several of the pieces on a tray table in the hallway to photograph in front of the Christmas tree lights. But I'm not just capturing the Lego set, I'm trying to capture that twinkle light bokeh in the background.
And while I managed to get a smattering of it on the left side, I'll try some different angles tomorrow.
The above image was also processed with CoffeeShop's Golden Vintage action.
More photography goodies arrived today, a 50mm f1.8 prime lens, a lovely gift from my friend, Mark, who upgraded to the newer version of this lens.
The lens is in perfect condition and even has a haze filter.
I played with it a bit this afternoon, and discovered that it is sharpest at f2.2, two stops from wide open. This is pretty common for wide aperture lenses.
I like the shallow depth of field and resulting bokeh.
The paper cranes are extras from a holiday tree our friends won at the recent Festival of Trees. They are beautiful origami cranes and will look great on our tree.
Tradition - to pick out our tree the day after Thanksgiving. We started this tradition eight years ago, being new to the area, just having moved into the house. So this will be the ninth time getting our tree. We go to the same tree nursery, and on the ride back home, we stress about that tree tied to the roof of the truck, fearful that it will come off. Because it nearly did eight years ago and we haven't forgotten about it - seeing the tree out the side view mirror of the truck, something one should never see.
I think the tree place changed their policies around securing the tree to the roof of vehicles, because in the past, they had always helped with the rope and the weaving of that rope through the tree trunk and branches. Not this year - they give you some twine and you are on your own. They must have had other customers experience what happened to us, eight years ago - and maybe even lost the tree to the pavement. I shudder to think about that!
But enough about tying the tree to the car - here we are with this year's tree:
And the start of the decorating:
We were so lucky to have a beautiful, sunny day today, after yesterday's rain, sleet and sprinkling of snow. But a bit on the cold side, so we only got the indoor decorations up. And unpacked some of our favorite holiday friends:
We finished up the day with a trip to the movies to catch the latest Harry Potter movie. A great post-Thanksgiving day.
Way back in early October, I won a 24"x36" canvas from Hello Canvas. Well, here we are, almost two months later, and I finally uploaded the picture to be printed and it arrived today!
Wow, it is truly impressive. And beautiful. I shouldn't have waited so long to get it ordered!
It's now proudly displayed above the fireplace mantle. When picking out the picture to be printed, I chose our recent family shot which included the cats. I set up the tripod in the backyard and with the remote shutter release, took several pictures before rounding up the cats. They really don't get along, so I was happy to get them all in picture.
This is our second canvas from Hello Canvas and I plan to have more canvases printed up for the house. They would make a great holiday gift, too!
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
I am thankful for our warm house and family on this cold, wintry day. So glad we didn't have to go anywhere today - just hanging out at home with good food, football and movies.
From our house to yours.
We didn't include Rascal in the picture - too much work.
And some of pictures leading up to the whole family:
On this cold, rainy Thanksgiving, we are so thankful for our friends, family, our warm home and so much more.
Yup, this morning, completely out of the blue.
Because it was 75 degF on Monday, I think we were caught off guard.
After all, I ran outside in shorts on Monday. Today, I'm bundled up in my winter coat with a hood and I was still cold.
Fortunately, the temperatures have warmed up since this morning and the sheeting of ice that covered the cars at work. But it's still cold and rainy out there, so please slow down on the roads when traveling tonight!
We love the comic strip, Pickles (does that mean we are getting old and can relate?) and I love the show, Glee, so imagine my delight when the two are paired up today.
Ah, so much fun. I wish life could be as fun as Glee sometimes, breaking out into full song, with a full orchestra accompaniment.
After hemming and hawing about a fisheye-type lens, I finally purchased an inexpensive fisheye adapter. The adapter screws on to an existing lens and will allow me to play a bit without a huge investment.
I purchased the Opteka 0.20x Fisheye adapter. I also purchased a 67mm to 52mm step down ring, which allows me to use my 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.
View of the glass on the adapter:
The 0.20x means the starting focal length is multiplied by 0.2 for the final focal length. Wider means more distortion, and I've shot all these photos at 18mm. I really like the effect and can't wait to experiment with it more.
Hannah was napping on the makeshift couch in the kitchen that Scott sets up when the kids take over the family room TV.
Of course two minutes before this was taken, Scott was resting comfortably on the "couch" but got up to do something. You know what they say - you snooze, you lose. Or you move, you lose your spot.
Can you make out the "cat bokeh" in the background? That's Sam, the Siamese. This is the closest the two cats get to one another.
Of course, I took Hannah's picture, which woke her up....
I think she didn't appreciate my taking her picture. What do you think?
The first of the Holiday decorations to be displayed at our house.
I generally don't want any Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving, but Scott saw Snoopy and Charlie Brown at the Walgreens and couldn't resist. [But somehow he resists buying a Sham-Wow - go figure]
But that's it until Friday.....
From the restaurant last night during dinner with "The Girls".
I wish I had spot metered the front lantern - I would have been able to capture more detail of the glass. The software I use is able to recover some of the blown detail, but I'm sure it would have been better if I had captured it properly from the start.
I posted this on my personal blog, but I like it so much that I thought it would nice to post here, too.
I try to run at least 6 miles each Saturday morning. This Saturday, I ran through the dense fog, marveling at the muted landscape that would only reveal itself as I ran through it.
I spotted the ravine the slough runs through - all misty and ethereal. I made a mental note to come back after my run with my camera.
Unfortunately, by the time I finished my 7 miles and drove back out, the fog had burned off in the ravine.
But I drove past the large lake and found the fog.
We assembled at a local restaurant - an informal gathering to celebrate Jill's birthday. Jill didn't want any gifts, but Heather couldn't resist these funky rain boots.
Too bad we didn't have them two weeks ago. Oh, except it rarely rains in Vegas. I guess that's why they are sold here instead.
This morning's fog didn't burn off until almost noon and made for a very peaceful morning run.
I drove back to this spot, along the golf course. Much of the fog had burned off by then, but not along the water here.
Jill's kids have a great sense of adventure and humor. Example - Jill set up an Indian Village scene off her kitchen to commemorate Thanksgiving. While we were in Vegas, it appears the boys rearranged thing in the village - the animals revolted and attacked the villagers. From the raccoon to the bear - all the animals can now be found on top of a person in the village. Even the turtle was found on top of a papoose.