332/365 - Birds on the Wire

I have been meaning to get a picture of birds on the electrical wires ever since I saw a ton of them coming out of the Red Lobster back in September or October. I got my chance while stopped on a country road today, on my way to violin lessons.

10.11.30 - Birds on the Wire

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I Heart Faces - Scenic Black and White



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.

Along the Banks of 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.

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331/365 - Walgreens

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.

10.11.29 - Walgreens

Ah, gotta love the Walgreens......

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330/365 - Published - A Hike Along the Cinque Terre

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.

10.11.28 - Published

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.

A Quintessential View of Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore Marina

Locks of Love
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.
On the Edge
The Walkway to Corniglia

The Rugged Coastline
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.
100727DSC_6547_lowres
Looking Back at Corniglia

The View Once Reaching Vernazza
Vernazza Appears

The Marina
Vernazza's Marina

Vernazza Overlook
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.

Along the Terraced Path
Scott and Dave Pose Among the Grapes

A Last Look Of the Path
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.
Bulls-eyes
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.
The View from the Hotel

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Lego Winter Toy Shop

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.

Street Scene

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.

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329/365 - Ornaments on the Tree

Just a few of the ornaments on the tree.

Illuminated

10.11.27 - Snowflake

And "my" ornament, transformed into a "fake Polaroid":
The Mom Reindeer

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The 50mm Prime

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 50mm f1.8

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.
Lined Up

Ready for Take Off

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.

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The Day After Thanksgiving

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:
Our Traditional Tree Search

And the start of the decorating:
The Mini Tree

Trim The Tree

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:
The Entire Rudolph Gang

We finished up the day with a trip to the movies to catch the latest Harry Potter movie. A great post-Thanksgiving day.

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Hello Canvas - Hello Family

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!

Our Hello Canvas Masterpiece

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!

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Happy Thanksgiving

“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.

Tiny Sprinkling of Snow

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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327/365 - Happy Thanksgiving

From our house to yours.

10.11.25 - Happy Thanksgiving

We didn't include Rascal in the picture - too much work.

And some of pictures leading up to the whole family:

After Picture Motion

Checking Out the Feast

On this cold, rainy Thanksgiving, we are so thankful for our friends, family, our warm home and so much more.

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326/365 - The First Ice Storm of the Season

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.

10.11.24 - The First Ice Storm

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!

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325/365 - Pickles and Glee

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.

10.11.23 - Glee Comic

Ah, so much fun. I wish life could be as fun as Glee sometimes, breaking out into full song, with a full orchestra accompaniment.

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Opteka Fisheye Adapter

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.
Adapter Connections

View of the glass on the adapter:
Fisheye 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.

Sam's Big Head

Distorted Dinner

Like a Rain Snow Globe

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Wake Me Up

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.

Napping

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....
You Woke Me Up

I think she didn't appreciate my taking her picture. What do you think?

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324/365 - Love and Peace

The first of the Holiday decorations to be displayed at our house.

10.11.22 - Peace and Love

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.....

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Suspended Lights

From the restaurant last night during dinner with "The Girls".

Pretty Lights All in A Row

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.

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Foggy Morning

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.

10.11.20 - Mile 3

Pines Along the Water

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323/365 - These Boots Are Meant for Sloshing

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.

10.11.21 - Birthday Present for Jill

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.

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Grain Silo

Taken when I was waiting for the train to pass - a local grain silo, lit by the setting sun.

Grain Storage

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322/365 - Mile 3

This morning's fog didn't burn off until almost noon and made for a very peaceful morning run.

10.11.20 - Mile 3

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.

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321/365 - Carnage in the Village

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.

Carnage in the Settlement

Close Up

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