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

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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!

Mount Rushmore, lessons learned.

Our oldest daughter was studying Mount Rushmore last year so when planning a trip to Wisconsin it seemed like a no brainer to stop in South Dakota. ¬†Long before leaving, a little research seemed in order. ¬†Why? ¬†Well, I hadn’t been there¬†since the early seventies and this time I was going there to shoot photos; this was probably going to be a one time thing so I wanted to get it right. Our¬†girls would love Mount Rushmore¬†no matter what but I needed¬†to get educated on how to shoot this famous landmark. ¬†I wanted my girls to have the time of their life and still get some photos. ¬†During this process, I learned two important points after literally reading many posts¬†from a¬†photoprapher’s perspective. ¬†Some people actually felt it was a let down, many¬†thought it was good but not worth a specific photo trip, and a others really enjoyed it. ¬†However, most were in¬†agreement that the morning sun was best time to shoot because the it¬†rises on the faces. ¬†The second, after looking at all the photos that went along with the articles, most had the same postcard type captures of Rushmore which meant mine needed to be different. ¬†There had to be more than this one shot… ¬†Then I remembered some recent advice from someone I would consider a¬†Jedi Master of photography; he said I always need to ask myself, “what am I not seeing here?” ¬†I literally need to ask myself this question because it’s not built in automatically. ¬†When I force this question upon myself and look at the subject, sometimes¬†an aspect out of the nothingness will get my attention, somthing that was seemingly not there before.

Rush at Night

With Jedi Master EM’s advice in my ears, I looked at everyone elses photos of Mount Rushmore and pondered, “what am I not seeing here?” ¬†First, most of the photos were shot from the edge of the¬†Grand View Terrace, so I needed to shoot from other places if possible. ¬†These locations needed to be nearby and¬†still offer a great view or shoot from the Grand View Terrace and actually include it as part of the subject. ¬†Second, those who tried to do close up shots of the individual presidents didn’t have long enough lenses. ¬†Problemo solved, I’d bring my¬†Tamron SP 150-600MM F/5-6.3 Di VC USD¬†so I’d be sure to get in close (see the photo, Abe, at the top of this blog). ¬†If I hadn’t researched, this lens would have stayed home because¬†it’s huge and doesn’t go out unless there is¬†a reason… ¬†Third, I noticed that most people just showed up and hoped to get a decent shot. ¬†My response to this, not be in a hurry and arrive in the afternoon and stay the night. ¬†This way I could shoot when we arrived, come back in the evening for night shots, then get some sleep and come back in the morning before leaving on the rest of the trip. ¬†Lastly, in most photos, there were no people so capturing¬†tourists gazing at the famous sculpture was a priority. ¬†The photo at right, Rush at Night, was an attempt to capture¬†both Rushmore at night as well as¬†people viewing it.

Rushmore Clouds

The¬†plan of making Rushmore an overnighter in the Black Hills town of Keystone, SD worked out pretty well. ¬†Not only was the weather a¬†bit cloudy before sunset, I was able to capture night shots and the morning sun as well. ¬†Once you pay for parking, your ticket is good for a year so you’re not out any extra cash by seeing Rushmore three times¬†in two days as we did. ¬†In fact, we paid our $11 to initially enter and park, then left the park to check in to our hotel and get dinner. ¬†Later, we returned in the¬†evening and came back the following morning; all at no extra charge. ¬†You only need to pay for a hotel room in Keystone, SD but you’ve got to sleep somewhere right? ¬†Why not Keystone? ¬†Just come back in the morning when Mount Rushmore¬†opens at 7am and there are very few people. ¬†The photo at left, Rushmore Clouds, was taken as clouds were approaching just before sunset. ¬†Personally, what made this trip unique was not simply showing up to see Mount Rushmore and check it off the list, but actually spending a little time there and discovering the different lighting!

All photos were taken¬†with the¬†Canon EOS 6D¬†using the¬†Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM¬†lens¬†including those¬†below; Flags¬†(L) & SD-244(R).¬† However, Abe, at the top was shot with the¬†Tamron SP 150-600MM F/5-6.3 Di VC USD.¬† Planning ahead and dedicating time¬†to Mount Rushmore worked out for us; I got my photos and our¬†girls got memories that will last a lifetime. ¬†Honestly, we would have spent the night near¬†Keystone, SD¬†anyway and left about the same time in the morning; so the Mount Rushmore stop in no way¬†negatively impacted our timeline. ¬†It’s now been two months since our vacation¬†and the kids are still talking about it, they even want to return. ¬†If you can, attend the lighting ceremony, you won’t regret that either. ¬†All in all, the¬†research beforehand was well worth the time, listening to the Jedi Master also paid off, and planning to do more than check off the “we saw it” block for our summer vacation ended up being the highlight of our visit to South Dakota.

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.

Vesuvio

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