Wisconsin Photo Trip

Shooting in Wisconsin Again

Day 2

Below are a collection of iPhone 13 mini shots of my photo subjects for today, it was a fun day! My day was interesting, lots of cool photo subjects while driving about a hundred miles of back roads over 5 hours. The day ended photographing one of my absolute favorite subjects, more on that in a bit. So, after waking up a little after 4am, I headed down to the harbor to catch the sunrise over the north pier on Lake Michigan here in Manitowoc, it didn’t disappoint! Other than getting eaten by some gnats, I think it paid off and I got some great shots. After shooting the sunrise I made my way down Mariners Trail to shoot the Spirit of the Rivers statue by R.T. Wallen depicting three Native Americans carrying a birch bark canoe. Manitowoc has a long history with the Native Americans but that’s an entire blog post on its own. This beautiful statue sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and is simply amazing at sunrise. I shot another nearby statue called On Eagles Wings by sculptor by Carl Vanderheyden.  After shooting a few other sites in the city, I drove out to the county to shoot several lakes, a few farms, old cars sitting in yards, and a few other things. Then, I happened upon some horses…

Having lunch with my dad was THE highlight of my day but the horses were the best time with a camera in hand. I drove by this farm with nothing short of stunning horses and man… I LOVE taking horse photos; they are amazing creatures. I drove on the property and asked permission to shoot these beautiful horses and the owner was a super nice lady who let me go wherever I wanted. These horses were magnificent, I could have stayed here all day! When I have a camera in hand, horses seem to either spook or become interested in what I’m doing. It seems some are attracted to the shutter sound and when that happens it’s something beautiful. All in all, a great day shooting here in my hometown. I’m here till Monday when I’ll start making my way back to Texas with a few blog-able and interesting stops that should prove fun.

As always, thanks for following and reading!

All photos taken with the iPhone 13 mini

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.


Canon Pancake Lens


In my opinion, when it comes to lenses, there’s practically¬†no better bang for the buck¬†than Canon’s¬†¬†EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, better known as the “pancake” lens. ¬†Are there better lenses? ¬†Sure, so what’s so good about this one? ¬†Well, for roughly $149 or less you’ll get a quality lens that is extremely small for when you don’t want to lug around the big lens or want to be discreet and blend in. ¬†Sure, it’s not a zoom lens but you can go manual zoom and use your two feet for that. If you’re a¬†photography newbie, or on a budget, this is a bargain! ¬†Even though I own better lenses, my pancake lens takes up so little space that it’s always tucked away in my bag as another tool in the toolbox. ¬†It’s perfect for shooting on the street or in tight spaces, I’ve even shot sunrises to see if it could handle it! ¬†The above image is from the Canon website where you can also see the technical specs of this lens. ¬†All of the below photos were taken with the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens.


I always¬†mention¬†that¬†I lived in Italy for many years, the reality is that it’s a big part of me and I miss it. ¬†At the time, there was so much to photograph around me that I almost forgot how lucky I was to just be there. ¬†While the food lived up to its reputation and the people were amazing, the other experience¬†I loved from day one was the coffee! ¬†This photo, Cappuccino?, is the the norm for Italy. Coffee isn’t some fad, novelty, or trend; it’s always been a part of daily life in Italy and taken seriously. ¬†Italian bars, very different from American bars, are where Italians meet on the way to and from work, where they socialize, conduct business; you name it and it¬†happens¬†in the bar. ¬†Italians serve real coffee, not the S*******s cup of ‘God knows what’s in it’ stuff we get in ‘Merica. ¬†There aren’t a bunch of flavors either, just a simple cafe of a few varieties depending on how strong your want it or if¬†you’d like it with milk; then there’s the ever popular cappuccino. Made of simply coffee, milk, sugar, and a little coco on top, the cappuccino isn’t¬†complicated and appears pretty much the same all over Italy! ¬†I love the USA, but if any county can complicate something and distort it so far from it’s origins, it’s us. ¬†Man, I miss that Italian simplicity… ¬†This black and white photo, Cappuccino?, was shot with a Canon 7D, at¬†f/2.8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 100. ¬†Can you tell I miss Italy yet?

Special RatesSometimes, as a traveler, I try to find things that are routine to the locals and often overlooked by those of us visiting. ¬†Recently, a photographer mentor¬†of mine gave me the most incredible advice, he said I should constantly ask myself, “what am I not seeing here?” (thanks EM). ¬†It sounds simple in concept, but if I actually¬†ask¬†this question to myself I begin¬†spotting things and shoot¬†subjects I would have previously overlooked. ¬†I doubt this old room and board sign hanging on a motel wall in Balmorhea, Texas draws¬†much attention to the folks who live there but it did make for a nice photo and memory for me. ¬†I was putting our luggage back in the car and spotted this sign. ¬†I call this photo Special Rates, it¬†was shot with a Canon 6D, at¬†f/4.5, 1/250 sec, and ISO 100. ¬†The sun had been up for about an hour and was casting some nice shadows. ¬†This little pancake lens did a pretty good job grabbing the details in the wood too.

The AmaliThis pretty red flower was sitting next to a parking lot in Vietri sul mare, Italy on the Amalfi Coast. ¬†I wanted to see if the colors of the flower became washed out¬†but the pancake seems to have done just fine. ¬†This photo, The Amalfi, was taken with a Canon 7D, at f/11, 1/80 sec, and ISO 100. ¬†There is so much beauty in Italy at every turn of the road that it’s mind boggling. This little pancake lens was very handy when out walking about and really not on a mission to photograph anything in particular. ¬†However, once when I was out shooting a Neapolitan sunrise and I thought I’d test my pancake. ¬†The photo at the bottom, Red Skies, was shot with a Canon Rebel T3i, at f/9, 30.0 sec, and ISO 100. The pancake¬†lens performed¬†well, even on a 30 second exposure!

Brand spankin’ new this lens sells for $149 and I don’t know of a better lens for that price. Sure, it has limitations like any lens and as I mentioned earlier it is not a zoom and it probably¬†wouldn’t fair well for macro work, shooting sports, or action shots. ¬†However, for most other situations this lens does a capable job and much better than some other lenses I’ve owned. ¬†Lastly, I would offer this, if you’re considering shelling out the bucks for a 50mm prime lens, consider this first to see if shooting without a zoom lens suits you. ¬†At $149 you can’t go wrong and might even find this lens a lot of fun as I have!

Red Skies

My Favorite Mountain 

There are so many things to write about living in Italy; the people and their way of life, the history that surrounds you every day, and the incredible food (my favorite). ¬†When people ask me if I miss Italy my reply is, “every day at dinner time.” ¬†When I first arrived in Naples in January of 1982, I remember seeing this huge volcano called Vesuvio and was amazed by how close it sat next to the city of Naples when we landed. ¬†Even back people said¬†things like, “it’s overdue” and “it’s going to blow soon.” ¬†Over the next thirty plus years I would live there numerous times and visit Mount Vesuvius often, so many times that I should have become bored with it – not so. ¬†The numerous times friends came to visit, I would take them to the crater of Vesuvio and it was as amazing for me as it was for them seeing¬†it for the first time. The¬†above photo was taken when I was getting back in to photography in January 2007 with a¬†Sony DSC-W7 pocket camera on a little mini tripod that costs me 10 Euro. ¬†I would take many more photos of Vesuvius and honestly, it was as exciting for me the final time as it was the first.


This photo on the left, Vesuvius, was taken on December 21, 2011 at sunset with the sun behind me as I shot. ¬†I knew I’d be taking plenty of sunrise photos so I wanted to try something different. ¬†In order to hopefully give the photo a little pop, I really wanted to shoot¬†Vesuvio¬†with snow on its peak. ¬†You can see the traffic moving on the Tangenziale in the lower left corner as well.¬†Vesuvius was shot with a Canon Rebel XSi, EF-S 18-55mm USM kit lens at f/4, 1/12 sec, focal length 27mm, and ISO 100. It was good thing I shot this when I did because it was one of the last times there was snow on the mountain before I left.

October Sunrise

There is a section of Naples called Vomero, on its hillside runs a little curvy road called Via Orazio that continues down to the water in Mergellina. ¬†It’s the perfect place for panoramic and sunrise photos of Napoli because of the view of the Bay of Naples and the numerous¬†places you can set up a tripod. If you don’t believe me, check out these photos taken from Via Orazio at Google! ¬†¬†October Sunrise (right) was shot on October 13, 2013 with a Canon Rebel T3i, EF-S 18-55mm USM kit lens at f/8,1/8 sec, focal length 23mm, and ISO 100.

Sunrise at Naples Harbor

The photo to the left, Sunrise at Naples Harbor, was taken in Mergellina next to the Castel dell’ovo¬†on April 7, 2013. These days, I rarely go out shooting if there are no clouds. Shooting on a blue sky day makes for boring photos, give me clouds any day! ¬†This photo would have a completely different look with a blue sky, I believe the¬†clouds add an element of drama the way the sun pokes through. The sailboat is an added feature too. This was shot with a Canon Rebel T3i, EF-S 10-22mm 3.5-4.5 USM¬†lens at f/9, 1/80 sec, focal length 22mm, and ISO 100.

Shortly after the below photo was shot, I purchased the Canon EOS 7D and stopped using the Canon Rebel series. ¬†The Rebel XSi and T3i allowed me to learn photography at my own pace by shooting in auto mode at first and later progressing to¬†aperture priority and manual modes. ¬†Had I tried using the Canon 7D at first, I would have likely been overwhelmed and miss much in the learning process, or given up altogether. ¬†The Canon Rebel T3i will always be the camera that really gave me the “photo bug” and confidence. ¬†I still believe the Canon Rebel line of cameras is great bang for the buck!¬†Below is a panoramic photo, a sequence of five separate photos combined to form one long panoramic photo called Stormy Napoli. This was one of the last photos I took of Naples and “my favorite mountain” in September 2013. Each photo was shot on a Canon Rebel T3i,¬†EF 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/7, 1/200 sec, focal length 50mm, and ISO 200. Needless to say I miss the people, traditions, and cuisine of Naples…

Every day at dinner time. ūüėé



Stormy Napoli








Manitowoc, Wisconsin

The North Pier

About 80 minutes north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin sits Manitowoc, a city¬†known for a¬†Maritime Museum, a car ferry, and where a piece of the Soviet Sputnik 4 fell out of the sky in 1962. ¬†It is also where I grew up until I joined the Navy in 1981. ¬†These photos¬†were taken in July of 2011 with a Canon EOS Rebel XSi¬†and the stock¬†18-55 kit lens¬†that came with the camera (it was all I owned). ¬†I still use a kit lens and found they do a decent job as an all-purpose lens. ¬†Recently, after making the decision to not sell mine, I read Andrew S. Gibson’s article entitled¬†Why your Kit Lens is Better than You Think,¬†it made me feel good about the decision. ¬†The above photo,¬†The North Pier, was taken¬†during the photographer’s “golden hour” as was the photo at the bottom of the page.


Wet Sub

A major tourist destination in Manitowoc is the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. ¬†The centerpiece of the museum is a World War Two submarine, the USS Cobia (SS-245). ¬†The Cobia came to Manitowoc in the early 1970’s and has been restored to an incredible condition. ¬†I’ve seen other WWII subs on display and don’t know of any in as good of condition. ¬†In fact, Cobia’s engines still run and are started on occasion, click here for a video. ¬†When I go home, I usually squeeze in a trip to the museum and the Cobia. ¬†At right is a photo I took of Cobia one morning on a walk.


Badger Departing

Many tourists arrive and depart Manitowoc on the SS Badger¬†car ferry. ¬†The Badger travels about sixty miles to Ludington, Michican; by car this trip is over 400 miles! ¬†Manitowoc has a rich maritime history and car ferries once played a key role connecting this Lake Michigan town to major cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago. ¬†Both of these photos (left & above) are¬†black and white photos with color accents. ¬†Next week’s blog is devoted to these types of photos.


homeThis photo, called¬†Home… ¬†was also taken in July of 2011 ¬† This is the old mill at Manitowoc Rapids¬†located¬†northwest of Manitowoc. ¬†Also here is an¬†old truss bridge from 1887 when this road was the major highway connecting Milwaukee and Green Bay. ¬†Nearby is the grave of a prominent Native American named Chief Mexico. ¬†Mexico¬†was Chief of the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Menominee tribes of Manitowoc County; he died and was buried here in 1844. ¬†The old mill, truss bridge, and Chief Mexico’s grave are about a five minute walk from each other.

I’m already planning my future trip home and may take the Badger to Ludington, film a sunset along with Ludington’s lighthouse, and come home the next day. ¬†Also on the agenda is to film the lighthouses of Manitowoc County. ¬†If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll go in winter.