It’s been a while…

But I’m back to blogging!

Well, much has happened lately, but 90% had zero to do with photography and everything to do with life/family. In fact, I’ve only been shooting three times in almost six months. First, we relocated to El Paso, Texas from Yokosuka, Japan after my wife retired from the US Navy (couldn’t be more proud of her!!). It’s a major transition for our family to say the least. Part of that trip from Yokosuka will likely be my next post, watch for it, it’s interesting and falls sternly in to realm of Murphy’s law. Then, after settling in Texas, we bought a new home and that process in itself was no simple task. With moving, being boxed in again after moving to a new house, unpacking hopefully for the last time, getting the former house ready to sell, and all that comes with getting reintegrated in to family here while adjusting to civilian life, means there’s been big things happening. I retired after a 30 year naval career myself, then spent the last ten as a military dependent. My wife retired after a 26 year naval career, so our kids have grown up in the military since birth and this transition has been huge. That means photography hasn’t been a priority, we’ve had bigger fish to fry. This morning is the first time I’m getting in my Jeep and going out shooting, no plan, no idea if I’ll get shots (or not), but just heading out to shoot with no agenda and it feels great! The one thing I do know, I have a full tank of gas. ūüėé

I’ll be back blogging here so don’t write me off just yet. Just trying to get settled as a family, make new friends at 59 years old which is harder than it sounds, and find my place in life’s next chapter. Below are just a few photos I’ve taken since coming back to the US and hoping to have many more soon. As always, I appreciate your support!

The Last Carrier Departure.

Yesterday I was able to go out and shoot the USS Reagan as she departed for sea, through Tokyo Bay, from her homeport in Yokosuka, Japan. I was sitting at a parking lot on base looking in to the foggy bay, shooting in the rain, when my wife who is active duty Navy came from work. She came to have a glance mentioning this would probably be the last time she’d see an aircraft carrier departing. My wife is retiring at the end of the year and we’re off to Texas and we’ll both be retired, I retired 10 years ago. Until she mentioned this, the last time she’d watch a carrier depart, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It kind of hit home that I’ve been around the US Navy for 40 years now, I realized I need to get out there and shoot plenty of ships before leaving as the chances of finding ships in El Paso, Texas are fairly slim.

The USS Reagan, CVN-76, departed as I was shooting with a handful of families around me having soft conversations. It’s the part of the military most people don’t see, the part families don’t look forward to… Departing ships aren’t as much of a big deal as when they return, there was no band or ceremony, just these few families. There is nothing like the aircraft carrier departing, seeing the harbor tugs out there before waiting and clearing out the boat and ship traffic to be followed by a helicopter flying circles around the mighty ship slowly moving through the water; it’s a big evolution. On this rainy day, the weather was less than desirable as I stood there with the families photographing the Reagan. Now she slipped in to the fog bank quietly, with the loved ones aboard of those few around me.

Behind me is the USS Ronald Reagan departing Japan.

My first video

Here’s my first attempt at a video, it combines still and time-lapse images. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it!

https://www.billchizekphotography.com/Video/i-LcTDj7D/A

 

 

img_0554

Just another day…

Today I’m shooting the USS Ronald Reagan departing Yokosuka, Japan on a Tiger Cruise this morning. A Tiger Cruise is a one day trip where family and friends come along, very cool. ¬†Living on a naval base has its perks! ¬†Look for pics in the future, meanwhile check out my photos at BillChizekPhotography.com.

 

About this…

Photo: Dirty Glass

Location: Norfolk, VA

Date: June 30, 2016

Camera & Lens: Canon 6D and 24-105mm lens

About This ¬†Photo: ¬†This is about Wisky, Wisky is not a typo, yes it’s without the H. ¬†Wisky, not the bourbon kind, this is Wisky, the Navy kind. ¬†Wisky was the nickname of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a WWII era battleship that, like her three mighty sister ships, America couldn’t seem to do without. ¬†She was originally¬†Wiskycommissioned in 1944 near the end of the Second World War but would be¬†recommissioned two more times and decommissioned a total of three times! ¬†This beautiful ship, and piece of history, now sits in Norfolk, VA. ¬†Back in 2016, I was going to one of my bestest bud’s retirement from the US Navy and decided to turn it in to a photo trip. ¬†Having lived in Norfolk a couple of times, it originally wasn’t my cup of tea but over the years it really grew on me. ¬†Going there just for a ceremony was cool, but turning it in to something much more could be even better. ¬†Besides Wisky, the plan was to get some shots at Williamsburg, Jamestown, and¬†some rural shots as well. ¬†Shooting well-documented sites and objects in a new way is¬†Centeredalways a challenge, sometimes I’ll research before leaving just to see what NOT to shoot. ¬†Upon arriving at BB-64 in Norfolk, I set up right in front of the battleship and tossing the rule of thirds out the window, shot straight down the middle of the bow to get this BW shot called Wisky. ¬†With the clouds behind BB64, no wind with calm waters to reflect, and no tourists at this given time, I took quite a few shots like this. ¬†While I tried adhering to the rule of thirds, it just didn’t speak to me on this occasion ¬†Shooting to the left would leave out the apartments and shooting to the right would miss out on the museum that houses the warship. ¬†It felt to me like both of those aspects needed to be included. ¬†Another photo, the similar color shot called Centered, came out decent and I really like both shots. ¬†Confident that I got what I wanted, I wanted to find other angles and include items located there as well such as statues and park benches. ¬†Checked all those off the list!

After shooting plenty in the immediate vicinity of the ship, I noticed a parking garage across the street and wanted to see if I could get up high and have a look. ¬†There was an elevator, why not take it? ¬†Well… ¬†it’s what I call the Chizek Luck. ¬†Here’s a summary of the Chizek Luck; almost any time that I’m fortunate, like being the guy who gets in the shortest line at the grocery store, it’s usually followed by having the “closed” sign go up with the person in front of me. ¬†Sure, the cashier is always sorry, tells me how bad they feel, but I understand the Chizek Luck well. ¬†Heck, even my 7 & 10 year old daughters picked up on my luck. ¬†If I were to take that elevator to the top, somebody, somewhere, would tell me about some missed opportunity or show me their award winning photo THEY got by taking the stairs in that building… ¬†Deciding to hoof it up five or six floors, I came around the corner on about the third floor and was looking at Wisky through a dirty window in the stairwell. ¬†I’m honestly not sure why, but something inside said, “shoot it” and up I went to the top. ¬†I reached the roof of the parking garage, forgetting about the window shot, and went to work with the intended shoot. ¬†Both of the below photos were taken from the garage, on the left is Norfolk (B&W) and on the right is Anchor Up. ¬†While I like both of these photos, it’s Dirty Glass, the photo taken in the stairwell that hangs in my little office. ¬†After returning from the Virginia trip and beginning to work on the photos, I noticed this window photo, it clicked with me. ¬†Maybe it’s because my usual luck didn’t hold true or because of the little voice inside that said “shoot it” had compelled me to listen. ¬†This was a spontaneous shot that just worked, the angle of the ship, the light and shadows, even the dirt on the window make it cool. ¬†Anyway, I love this shot and it gets looks when my Navy friends come over, and for me, that’s the best part.

 

About this…

Photo:  Windsor in Coronado

Location:  Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA

Date:  January 6, 2016

Camera & Lens:  Canon 6D and 70-300 DO lens

About This Photo: ¬†As a history nut, I love when movies like The King’s Speach refresh memories regarding events like King Edward VIII abdicating the throne to marry a divorced American lady named Wallace Simpson. Rumor has it they met at a magical ball in Coronado, California but there’s a little more to that story. While some believe Wallace Simpson and Edward met at Coronado’s famous Hotel Del Coronado, it simply didn’t happen that way… ¬†Ouch. ¬†My apologies to Coronado and the Hotel Del, but it’s¬†been “documented that the Coronado socialite was, in fact, on a trip to San Francisco when the prince visited Coronado.” So Simpson wasn’t anywhere near the San Diego area when Edward visited Coronado. ¬†DOUBLE OUCH! ¬†The two actually met in the English countryside sometime in 1931 after which time she became his mistress.(1) ¬†Yes, the romantic notion of the twice divorced socialite meeting her prince at a fairy tale ball on the golden shores of Coronado has been reduced to simply meeting in the countryside when “she became his mistress.” Simplified, no ball, they hooked up. Yes, as stated, Simpson had been married before, and that was the sticky part for the Crown. Wallace’s first husband was Earl Winfield Spencer Jr., a Naval Aviator, who was sent with his wife in 1917 to Coronado, CA to report as the first Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island until 1921.(2) ¬†That marriage didn’t last and Wallace would marry one more time before ‘hooking up’ with Edward. Earl Spencer Jr., not to be outdone, was married Not once, not twice, but five times and both possibly believed that old adage of, at first if you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. ¬†So that’s how Wallace Simpson ended up in Coronado, but what does that have to do with my photo at the top of this page? ¬†Hold on kt0s2030dm-FILEID-1.111.38sparky, I’m getting there… When Wallace and Earl arrived in San Diego, they¬†lived for a couple of months near Balboa Park but in January 1918, they moved to Coronado, first roughing it in a suite at the Hotel del Coronado but eventually renting three houses in Coronado.(3) ¬†It’s the house they rented at 1115 Flora Avenue that we’re talking about here, in the photo to the left. ¬†This house was moved from Flora Avenue to the Hotel Del Coronado in 1999 and is now “the social hub” of the “Club at The Del, an exclusive venue for members and Beach Village owners and guests.”(4) ¬†What does that even mean? Simply, it means you ain’t gettin’ in, ever.

The photo at the top of this page, Windsor in Coronado, is that house now standing at the Hotel Del. ¬†I was trying to capture this semi-historic house, or part of it, in a different way that could also show it’s place relative to the Hotel Del Coronado which by the way is the real gem. ¬†I’m not sure what the connection of this house to the Hotel Del Coronado could possibly be beyond perpetuating the myth that these two met at the Hotel Del. Maybe Coronado is just proud of one of their own who became famous? Nope, Wallace was from Baltimore. ¬†Anyway, the truth is that Wallace Simpson briefly lived in this house while married to someone also not from Coronado, who was not the King of England but has a place in US Naval history. ¬†Meanwhile, the City of Coronado can proudly claim that the first Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island is buried nearby at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with his fifth wife and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, is buried in a nearby continent at the Royal Burial Ground near Frogmore House in England. This is also where Meghan and Harry will soon live, which also has nothing to do with Coronado. ¬†TRIPLE OUCH and get a band aid for that cut!

 

 

Works Cited
1.  Zuniga, Janine. Memories of Windsor. San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, [ 2009 ]. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-memories-windsor-2009oct15-htmlstory.html (accessed April 13, 2019).

2.  King, Greg. The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson. London: Aurum Press, 2000. 79-85.

3.  Larsen, Sharon. The woman who changed royal history. San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, 2012. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/books/sdut-the-woman-who-changed-royal-history-2012feb25-htmlstory.html (accessed April 13, 2019).

4.  Club at the Del. Coronado: Hotel Del Coronado.  https://www.clubatthedel.com/windsor-cottage (accessed April 13, 2019).

 

About this…

Photo:  Morning Blues

Location:  Naples, Italy

Date:  July 31, 2007

Camera & Lens: Sony DSC-W7

About This Photo: ¬†While serving in the US Navy as a musician, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time in Naples, Italy, first arriving in January of 1982. ¬†I had the good fortune of living about 15 miles from the crater of Mount Vesuvius¬†at Capodichino. ¬†Yes, this was the same Vesuvius that erupted and buried Pompeii in 79AD. ¬† Pompeii is about 15 miles from the crater in the opposite direction of where I was now living… ¬†In the 79AD eruption, Vesuvius shot one and a half million tons of rock per second up 21 miles in the sky at 100,000 times the force of both atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. ¬†Wow, that was kind of dark, but you get the point, this mountain will erupt again and it ain’t gonna be pretty. ¬†People back in 1982 were saying, “it’s overdue, it’s going to blow again gal_fun_10soon.” ¬†At that time, Vesuvius had lights going up the eastern side from a chair lift that had been installed sometime in the early 1950’s allowing you to see the silhouette of the mountain at night. ¬†I left Naples after almost three years in December of 1984, sadly thinking I’d never come back and not knowing that the chair lift also closed. ¬†I did come back, a lot, in 1986, 1988, 1996, and 2005, and even after retiring in 2011. ¬†Frankly, returning to Naples became more of a hobby than a military reassignment, somebody thought it would be fun to keep sending me back, and I loved just about every minute it. ¬†I came to figure that if I actually asked for it, they wouldn’t send me. ¬†The chair lift lights were gone at night and the base had changed dramatically from a couple of softball fields, two airplane hangers, and a pool that didn’t hold water, to a modern military facility; but that silhouette of Vesuvius was still amazing, especially in the mornings. ¬†My final tour on active duty began in 2005, it was also about this time I again became interested in photography. ¬†For 20+ years, like a moron, I traveled all over Europe and Asia on the Navy’s dime but didn’t have a camera. ¬†Why? ¬†Mostly because I was younger and much smarter than I am today, apparently knowing it was much better to blow one’s money on beer rather than some trivial photography hobby. ¬†That’s basically sums it up, it’s also a major regret today and up there with not paying attention, ever, during high school… ¬†A SQUIRREL!!! ¬†Stay with me, in 2005, Ipre-1245831580 bought a Sony Cyber Shot (DSC-W7) not knowing if photography was something I’d continue. ¬†This digital photography thing kind was kind of scary. ¬†I had been used to mailing in rolls of film to get developed and waiting weeks to see how my skills did, or didn’t, improve. ¬†Taking pictures had changed and instead of paying a lot of money for multiple blurry shots of one subject, at multiple f stops and shutter speeds, there was now a touch screen where the undesirables could be deleted forever – and free of charge! ¬†How cool was that? ¬†We take things a little for granted these days, my kids find it unbelievable that there was a time without cell phones and Google. ¬†During those last years of active duty in Naples, I’d get in to work early and go to the top of the parking garage and get some shots with a little tripod. ¬†It was almost always incredible and in the years to come this was my spot for morning shots. ¬†I did this mostly out of not wanting to forget the huge part of my life that Naples had become. ¬†Even though the above photo was taken with a little pocket camera, it’s still an important memory for me because it’s the first photo I took that kind of wow’d me. ¬†Below are a few other photos taken from the same basic location where blue, orange, and purple skies can be found if you get there early. ¬†I’m not one for photography without clouds, but the above photo, Morning Blues, works perfectly for me with a clear sky. ¬†Every time I went to Naples from 1982 to 2011, people still said, “it’s overdue, it’s going to blow again soon” but fortunately it hasn’t…. ¬†yet.

 

A Great Day

Today was a great day, I drove about 30 minutes down the road to Hayama and the location of this selfie in Inamuragasaki, Japan to shoot photos of Mount Fuji.  Along the way I stopped at 7-11 for something eat, why 7-11?  Because it rocks in Japan!  I did my thing of grabbing something to eat that I’ve never had before, no idea what it was, but as usual it was awesome!  For practically my entire Navy career, I tried to get to Japan.  However, it wasn’t in the cards, I was fortunate to spend many years in Italy and I’m not complaining because that worked pretty well too.  Everything happens for a reason and I’m thrilled to be in Japan at this point in my life, retired with a camera, living here as a military dependent and all the time in the world to experience this incredible place.  Yup, today was definitely a great day!

Patriotic Homes of Coronado

Flags 1Selling stock photos has been going well this year. ¬†However, while most photos for my website make it to the stock sites with logos and trademarks removed, the reverse isn’t true as many stock photos don’t make it to BillChizekPhotography.com. ¬†These can range from the texture of a wall, grass with morning dew, or a piece of wood; subjects that allow copy space for advertisers to insert text, nothing appealing for a photography website. ¬†That said, I try to post a variety of photos about five days a week to my website and all the stock photos taken that week. ¬†Posting one photo daily ensures website traffic, if I posted thirty photos most visitors would just look at them one time and move on. ¬†Posting as many stock photos weekly as possible is important because they don’t make money sitting on a hard drive. ¬†However, this year I decided to post nothing but patriotic stock photos for the long Fourth of July weekend. ¬†For this, I used stock photos of flags flying in the yards near where we live in Coronado, California. ¬†Not surprising to anyone living in Coronado, but many homes here fly the flag year round. In fact, only the photo at the top of this post was taken on the actual Fourth of July weekend (click HERE for original photo). ¬†Yes, you’d be hard pressed to find a more patriotic community west of the Mississippi!

This is largely due Coronado having a unique military history, a good portion of Coronado’s land is occupied by Naval Air Station North Island. ¬†Almost since the beginning of Naval Aviation, many Naval Aviators have relocated to Coronado at various points in their careers.Flags 6¬† Many homes proudly display blue yard signs reading “Home of a Naval Aviator” and these are everywhere. ¬†To say this little town is kind of proud of the US Navy is like saying that little town back in Wisconsin is kind of proud of their Packers. ¬†That’s why most of these photos were shot months ago in anticipation that advertisers would be looking for patriotic photos for their Independence Day deadlines. ¬†Coronado was the perfect location for this because with flags flying year round, my patriotic stock photo search was mostly complete last May. ¬†This photo to the left may look like it’s been set up for an upcoming holiday, but this street looks like this practically for 365 days of the year! ¬†Yes, even with the white picket fences.

Flags 2

Coronado is home to many active duty and retired military, plus it’s the home of the US Navy SEAL’s who train here. ¬†Since 2007, Coronado has been home to our family for about seven years. ¬†It’s where I, like many others, retired from the military. ¬†It’s probably because Coronado is just one of those places that’s comfortable to military people because being retired military here isn’t a novelty. ¬†This is probably another the reason that flags fly year round here. ¬†Shooting stock photography here couldn’t have been easier, if I liked a particular photo but felt it was missing something, I didn’t have to spend hours in Photoshop doctoring the pic to get it right nor did I need to seek new locations. ¬†All that was needed was to return to the same location at a different time of day! ¬†The differences between morning and evening lighting, seasons, and weather all ensured a variety of photo settings.

Flags 3The photo location for this shot at left didn’t work the few times I tried, it was always lacking something. ¬†However, returning one morning and catching the sun behind the flag seemed to make it click. ¬†As a photographer, that’s one of the nice things about living somewhere that others travel to for vacation, if you don’t get a photo the way you want it you can just return later. ¬†While I’ve loved living here, my wife a service member and it’s our time to roll to the next place to call home for a while. ¬†Fortunately we’re moving to another incredible place that should prove interesting not only for photography but for our family as well, Virginia. ¬†As a former adjunct history professor and lifelong history buff/nerd/geek, I can’t think of another place I’d rather be located other than at my own house in Texas. ¬†Coronado has been a great place to raise our daughters, who have loved the beaches and learning to swim at the rec center, leaving friends and Coronado will be tough. ¬†While moving an entire house every three years or so can be draining, once settled at the new location this nomadic lifestyle can be rewarding. ¬†Since taking up photography, military transfers seem to recharge the creative batteries. ¬†In Coronado, even the below photo of springtime and blooming flowers came out patriotic, ya… it’s just that kind of place.

Nado Spring

 

 

Coronado, CA

I had the good fortune of living in the coastal city of Coronado, California from 2007-2011, courtesy of the US Navy. ¬†Photography was reentering my life as I had not taken many photos in over 25 years. ¬†I found myself in the land of sunsets, beaches, ocean views, and I loved it. ¬†When I found out in 2014 that I would be returning to Coronado, I was a happy camper! ¬†I began searching online for photos of Coronado to see what other photographers were shooting, something I often do to get ideas. ¬†I found sunset photos, the Hotel Del Coronado, sunsets, the beach, the bridge, the boathouse, and even sunsets! ¬†I made a decision right then and there to take photos of Coronado, the city; sure I’d shoot the San Diego skyline, the bridge, boathouse, and yes, the legendary Pacific coast sunsets; but I hoped to capture¬†something different. ¬†Let me say upfront, there are many amazing photographers in Coronado who I respect, they shoot everything including the incredible sunsets, and I love checking out their amazing photos! ¬†However, I hoped¬†to do something else and wanted¬†to catch another side of Coronado while I was here. ¬†The photo at the top of the page was taken¬†at the Fiddler’s Cove Marina when the¬†sun was just starting to burn through the morning fog.

Super Moon    Fog

The main marina in Coronado makes for an excellent photo subject just about 24/7 (above left). ¬†I hoped to show that there is life in this marina, even at night, because¬†many people live aboard their boats. ¬†This was the night of the “super moon” and while this isn’t a spectacular super moon photo compared to others, I think it captures the vibe of this marina at night with the calm waters and reflection of the moon. ¬†Since sailing and boating are a major activities in Coronado, it’s not difficult finding sailboats virtually everywhere. ¬†The above right photo was taken from Tidelands Park which is a great location to shoot sunrises as well. ¬†You might be able to¬†tell by this photo, and the one at the top of this page, I LOVE fog! ¬†When it comes to photography, I find that while blue skies are amazing to the naked eye, they just do nothing for me with my camera. ¬†I’ve found the trick to shooting fog in Coronado is to have the camera bag ready to go at all times, the fog can appear and disappear quickly here. ¬†Unlike the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin where I grew up, the sun can literally burn off solid fog in minutes, and in both of these photos the fog was gone within 10 minutes¬†after snapping these.

Chillaxin'    Spreckels Christmas

Capturing everyday scenes in Coronado has been interesting because common events¬†we do daily are set in front of an incredible backdrop. ¬†In the above left photo, a bird dives in to the water for a fish while a guy is relaxing with¬†his hands behind head checking out the view. ¬†Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up, Coronado is¬†really like this at times! ¬†The above right photo was taken at the Spreckel’s Park gazebo after my daughters had their Girl Scout meeting there. ¬†The below middle sunrise photo was also taken at Spreckel’s Park, if there is a hub for Coronado, in my opinion it is this park because concerts, flower shows, playtime with the kids, and even craft shows on Sunday mornings happen at this park. ¬†Below left are two VW vans that I drive by practically every day, and for over a year I meant to shoot them. ¬†There’s nothing fancy here, I just thought it looked cool as a typical street scene with these classic vans. ¬†Finally, the shot below on the right is a front yard swing, it could be Anywhere USA, which was the point of this photo; there are many times when¬†Coronado feels like any other small town I’ve visited, I mean that in the best possible way!

V-Dubs  Spreckles  Swingin'

Coronado has a rich military history as both the US Army and US Navy maintained a presence here until the late 1930’s. ¬†However, it has been the Navy that remained and Coronado has been the major training location for the US Navy SEAL’s for decades. ¬†In 2016, Coronado erected a statue honoring all maritime commandos called the “Naked Warrior” sculpted by artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. (below). ¬†These ‘naked warriors’ would later evolve in to the Navy SEAL’s of today. ¬†For a great book on this, check out¬†The Naked Warriors: The Elite Fighting Force that became the Navy SEAL’s by CDR Francis Fane. ¬†While I was shooting this photo, a young man actually slowly passed by the statue on his beach cruiser bike, fist bumped his heart and flashed a peace sign to the statue in respect, this is Coronado. ¬†While I love the ocean, beaches, and sunsets, I think there is more to Coronado. ¬†While it’s a place of seaside mansions and a major travel desination, if you peel back it’s layers you’ll find a simple coastal village and military town rich in history. ¬†Look past the streets filled with tourists and you’ll see¬†swings hanging from trees, VW’s parked on the¬†streets in front of simple cottages, and quiet neighborhoods like most other little towns. ¬†Oh, and if you wait till the evening, you might even experience¬†an incredible sunset.

Naked Warrior 2

Hampton Roads

StopsLast summer one of my best friends retired from the US Navy after a long and distinguished career. ¬†His retirement ceremony was held near¬†Norfolk, Virginia, a place I used to live years ago. ¬†To say Norfolk is a Navy town is like saying there’s a little bit of ocean near San Diego. ¬†When I lived in Virginia Beach¬†I wasn’t in to photography, I played music back then, but I was in to history. ¬†As a result, I regretted those years without a camera, chalk that up to “what were you thinking?” ¬†Two things I knew about the Hampton Roads¬†area and my trip was that there would be¬†many¬†sights to see and that I’d be meeting up with numerous friends living there. ¬†I also knew¬†I’d be up late and waking early to shoot the places I wanted. ¬†There was¬†so much to see that I couldn’t possibly squeeze everything in to just a few days. ¬†Online research was necessary to find what I wanted to see, prioritize them, and have back-up plans for each day and site. ¬†In the Norfolk are there were a number of things that could prevent me from getting to where I wanted to shoot; the¬†Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel¬†and closures, traffic, meeting up with friends, weather, and the possibility of sights actually being closed were all things to consider. ¬†One place in Virginia Beach¬†that seemed an interesting place¬†to shoot was the Ferry Plantation House, a former slave plantation, where¬†this photo on the right, called Stops, was taken.

Spokes

Given the¬†many places I wanted to shoot, only one would happen rain or shine and I’d need to allot an entire day, Colonial Williamsburg. ¬†One of the really cool things about Colonial Williamsburg is that if you just want to shoot outside, it’s totally FREE! ¬†That’s right, FREE as in you pay nada, zero zero point zero zero! ¬†That was exactly what I wanted because I had no intention of shooting indoors with¬†so many cool buildings, streets, and residents walking about in period clothing. ¬†If it rained, I’d get wet and that was just fine because anybody who knows me will tell you that I love shooting in just about any weather, except sunny. ¬†The photo at the top of this blog, Riders, was taken¬†in Colonial Williamsburg and is not an uncommon scene if you visit. ¬†To the left is Spokes, a revolutionary war era canon sitting behind the¬†Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse. ¬†Williamsburg is littered with colonial items that make for interesting¬†photographs. ¬†The best thing about shooting outdoors is that you won’t be trying to shoot around tourists. ¬†Had I paid to go inside the historic building, I would have been filing through buildings on one of the many tours hoping to get decent pics with indoor lighting. ¬†I could go back to Williamsburg and spend another day shooting completely different subjects. ¬†Yes, it’s that cool.

FiremakerThere were another three locations that I wanted to¬†shoot and they were all close to each other; Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, and the Yorktown Battlefield¬†where the British surrendered to George Washington ending the American Revolution. ¬†One thing to consider about a Jamestown visit is that there is a considerable difference between Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement. ¬†If you want to visit the true¬†Jamestowne site, the historic location of the British colony and where archeologists are actively digging to this day, this is¬†Historic Jamestowne. ¬†This is where the history actually happened and an incredible place. ¬†However, the other location, Jamestown Settlement, is a living museum nearby that is a reconstruction of the historic colony; these are completely different. ¬†The good news is that they are only about ten minutes apart and you’ll pass by Jamestown Settlement on the way to Historic Jamestowne. ¬†The photo above at right, Firemaker, portrays a Native American woman tending to a fire and was taken at Jamestown Settlement.

The USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a World War Two era battleship is the centerpiece of Norfolk’s maritime science center called the Nauticus. ¬†It sits in the heart of the city and makes for great photos, especially if you climb the stairs fo the parking garage across the street!
Here I was able to capture three completely different images from the same location. ¬†The photos on the left (Anchor Up) and the in the middle (Norfolk) were taken from the exact same location but with different lenses. ¬†The photo on the right (Dirty Glass) was taken walking up to the roof of the garage. Country Road¬†The nice thing about the Norfolk area is that there is so much to see that I actually found thing to shoot on the way to thing I PLANNED to shoot! ¬†One of those times is in the photo at right,¬†Country Road, taken one afternoon while driving to one of my destinations when¬†shooting rural areas was part of my back-up plan¬†if I got caught north of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel during a closure.¬† Guess what? ¬†The tunnel closed because of an accident and I had a plan! ¬†Virginia has some of the most beautiful countrysides if you get off the trail a little bit. ¬†Sometime in the future I’d like to just drive Virginia’s countryside searching out places like this, no agenda, just drive and see what’s out there.

In the end, the weather held out and everything went mostly as planned, even enacting my back-up plan proved great for photos! ¬†On the left below is the Royal Palace at Williamsburg which seems like it could be straight out of England and on the right is the Cape Henry lighthouse (1792) located in Virginia Beach. ¬†Returning to Norfolk with my family is now a priority, not just for visiting friends but getting our girls out and to have some fun seeing incredible American History. ¬†If you like history, you need to check out the Hampton Roads area, there is so much to see! ¬†I’m thankful that my parents had¬†me traveling when I was a kid and it stuck, hopefully the same will happen with my kids and they’ll appreciate the history of our country!

Point Loma, San Diego

I have a few ‘go-to’¬†places to shoot in the San Diego area, places I can count on to hopefully take¬†a few “keepers” when the weather is right. Point Loma is one of those locations because of the view of San Diego, the altitude (400+ feet above the sea), and the numerous photo subjects readily available there. The history geek in me loves that Point Loma is where¬†the first Europeans landed in California exploring¬†the new world in the sixteenth century.(1) ¬†There are three main locations at Point Loma that are of interest for photography; the old lighthouse, the monument commemorating the Europeans landing in California, and a national cemetery that honors many heroes of our nation. As my friends know, I hate shooting on sunny days, so when I see clouds I usually head to Point Loma or Imperial Beach, my other ‘go-to’ place (see earlier blog entry: Why I Love IB).

The Old Light

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is an amazing way to begin any morning. The lighthouse was first lit on the evening¬†of November 15, 1855 and was functional for approximately 36 years until a new lighthouse was built at a lower elevation and closer to the coast.(2) On the grounds are two buildings; the lighthouse itself which also consisted of living quarters for the lighthouse keepers and their families; the other is the small museum building. These grounds are completely kid friendly and even though I’ve taken my kids here numerous times, climbing to the top of the lighthouse never get old for them! The photo at the top of the page, Distant Lighthouse, is the lighthouse captured¬†through the grass that surrounds the lighthouse. The photo at right, The Old Light, shows the walkway around the light itself. ¬†The lighthouse itself is a great subject close-up or at a distance.

Cabrillo (B&W)

It’s hard to imagine a better view of San Diego and Coronado than that from the Cabrillo National Monument. ¬†Here there are actually two views worth considering; by the monument itself and the patio area at¬†the nearby visitors center. ¬†This monument celebrates the arrival of European explorers¬†commanded by¬†Juan Rodr√≠guez Cabrillo¬†of Portugal. ¬†The Cabrillo National Monument was established in 1913 and¬†features¬†a stone statue of Cabrillo commemorating his arrival¬†on September 28, 1542.(3) ¬†Again, this is another area that my kids can run a little but need to be somewhat careful because of the cliffs near the monument area. Any time I can let my kids run and can shoot pics, it’s a win-win. ¬†The photo at left, Cabrillo (B&W), was shot with an approaching storm in front of the camera while the sun was still out behind me creating a strange lighting effect on the statue.

The Gathering

When you travel to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and Cabrillo Monument, you’ll pass through the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. The cemetery sits on the hills overlooking San Diego Bay and is a beautiful final resting for our fallen service members. There are so many incredible people buried here that, as a retired¬†Navy Musician and former history professor, I could spend an entire day searching the historical people as well as paying my respects to a couple of former bosses. The photo at right, called The Gathering,¬†is the grave of Medal of Honor recipient Michael Monsoor taken a few years ago around the¬†anniversary of his death. It appeared his shipmates gathered for a beer with their friend. Michael Monsoor threw himself on a grenade that landed¬†on a rooftop in¬†ar-Ramadi, Iraq. His actions¬†saved the lives of his fellow SEAL’s; you can read about Monsoon’s action on¬†his Medal of Honor citation. Monsoor is a hero and the very definition of selfless service in my opinion. Another grave, although not a military hero in the same category of Michael Monsoor, is musician¬†Conrad Gozzo.¬† Gozzo is still considered one of the greatest trumpet players-ever, decades¬†after his death. ¬†The photo below, entitled simply Goz, shows his grave not far from that¬†of Monsoor. ¬†During World War Two, many top musicians entered military service to do their part, Gozzo was no different and joined the US Navy. Click this link to here Conrad Gozzo play Torna a Sorrento.

"Goz"

The Meyer

Many times US Navy ships can be seen arriving and departing San Diego and Point Loma offers the perfect view! ¬†The photo at left, called The Meyer, was taken earn¬†the Cabrillo Monument Visitor Center as the USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) departed for the ocean. The below photo, CVN-73, was taken from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery as¬†the USS George Washington departed. ¬†Both of these photos were taken with a Canon¬†EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM lens, while a bit heavy its size allow me carry it daily and it sure comes in handy for moments like these. However, you don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate what Point Loma has to offer but in my case, it’s a plus. ¬†Whenever friends or family come to town, were usually make a trip to Point Loma. ¬†However, Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo Monument share the same parking lot so it can get busy, especially in the summer months, and on weekends. If you’ve got the time and don’t like crowds, try going during the week and you won’t be disappointed.

CVN-73

 

  1. Wikipedia, Point Loma, San Diego, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Loma,_San_Diego  (accessed July 6, 2016).
  2. National Park Servvice, The Lighthouses of Point Loma, 2016, https://www.nps.gov/cabr/learn/historyculture/the-lighthouses-of-point-loma.htm  (accessed July 6, 2016)
  3. National Park Servvice, 2016, Cabrillo National Monument California, 2016, https://www.nps.gov/cabr/learn/historyculture/juan-rodriguez-cabrillo.htm  (accessed July 6, 2016)