MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES DE GRANADA

The Museum of Fine Arts in Granada, Spain is housed inside the Carlos V Palace right beside the Alhambra, which was the main destination of my tour. The museum houses famous artworks such as The Allegory of Death by P. Toma and a painting of St. Francis of Assisi, which were both created during the 17th century. The photograph above was taken at the round courtyard of this Renaissance building using the pano mode of my iPhone 7 plus. I was initially planning to capture the entire courtyard and its columns but at the last minute decided to capture only a section and included the hallways for a better perspective.

LA LUNA ROMANA

The full moon beautifully soared over the Altare della Patria or the National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II during my recent trip to the historic city of Rome. I took this photo just as I was turning on a corner while heading back to the hotel. I was hoping to photograph the moon above the Colosseum, however, the moon was way too high up in the sky by the time twilight made an entrance. Gladly, I looked back at the monument for a last gaze otherwise I would have missed the chance to photograph such a magical sight. The  monument was illuminated at the right spots while the sky was at its perfect brightness and blueness to allow for the bright moon to pop out. What a beautiful night that was!

MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD

I grew up in a sleepy village called Mangagoy in the southeastern part of the Philippines where the sapphire ocean meets emerald forests.  Every 19th of July, the village celebrates its “fiesta” (founding day) highlighted by the presence of a carnival, visiting from another part of the country, and offering every child’s dream ride…except for a carousel.  I remember riding a ferris wheel, caterpillar, octopus and bump cars…but never a carousel. So when I visited Florence, Italy last month, my heart skipped a beat when I saw a carousel in one of the town’s square.  A part of me wanted to take a ride but my shyness overcame me when I saw kids lining up so I decided to just take photos instead. During my photoshoot, a woman with a cluster of balloons passed by and I luckily captured her in one of my photos. While reviewing my travel album a few days ago, I came across this photo and got transported back to my childhood with flashbacks of those happy fiesta days. I eventually rode a carousel on the cruise ship I went on a few days later but everytime I see one, my heart always aches for that missing memory of a young me happily riding a carousel.

GONDOLAS AND THE GRAND CANAL

The Grand Canal in Venice is rarely this deserted so when I noticed the absence of motorized boats with only two gondolas on the water, I immediately grabbed my phone and snapped this photo. This majestic waterway, seen here from the Rialto bridge, is usually busy with motorboats sailing in all directions while transporting locals and tourists to different sections of the city. On the other hand, majority of the gondolas sail along the narrower canals for tourists to explore the unwalkable sections of Venice. The gondola and the canal are both emblematic of Venice so I am very pleased to highlight them both in this photograph.

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

A trip to Barcelona isn’t complete without visiting the world famous Sagrada Familia or Church of the Holy Family.  This architectural masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi began construction in 1882 and is expected to be completed by 2026. I have not been compelled to visit churches when travelling as they all usually look the same. However, the Sagrada Familia is not your typical church…from its ornate facade to its otherworldly interiors, visitors step out of the church with an overwhelming feeling of reverence for Gaudi. My photo above features the Nativity facade of the church, which serves as the main entrance for all visitors. I decided to take the photo at an angle to capture as much detail as possible as I was only using my iPhone.

MOON OVER DUOMO

The moon was at its fullest during my last night in Florence, Italy and the sky was blanketed with a thin veil of clouds creating a magical atmosphere in this medieval city in the heart of Tuscany. I initially wished the sky was clearer but I realized the clouds provided a dramatic effect to the night sky for my photography. My hotel (Hotel Spadai) had a viewing deck on it’s rooftop so I climbed up around midnight and happily clicked the night away without distractions from other hotel guests. Fortunately, the moon was positioned close enough to the Duomo allowing me to capture both in a single shot.

ALHAMBRA PALACE

I visited the ALHAMBRA palace and fortress complex in Granada, Andalusia, Spain during my recent trip to Europe. This palatial complex was constructed in AD 889 and then renovated and rebuilt by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada during the mid 13th century. Poets often refer to this palace as “a pearl set in emeralds” and UNESCO declared this a World Heritage Site. The Alhambra reminds me of the great contributions by Muslims to education, healthcare, philosophy and science. In fact, between 8th and 15th century Andalusia was the world’s center for education and knowledge. The photo above was taken in one of the courtyards inside the palace.

MORNING HAS BROKEN

It was my first Transatlantic cruise and I was prepared for a rollercoaster ride in the Atlantic Ocean on board Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. The trip took 13 nights from Barcelona, Spain to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with only two stops…Palma de Mallorca and Malaga. A friend cautioned me that during her crossing last year, she experienced 25-foot waves so I had my prayers ready. I was a little bit confident though knowing that I was on the largest cruise ship in the world…although, we all knew what happened the last time somebody bragged about being the largest ship in the world. To my amazement, we had the smoothest sailing with the ocean so calm it felt like we were crossing a lake. Being in the middle of the ocean, my only photo opportunities were sunrises and sunsets aside from taking photos of the ship. One morning, I decided to wake up earlier than usual to witness the sunrise from my balcony. I was astounded by the fiery glow of the cloudy skies that I thought we got transported to an enchanted sea and was waiting for a pirate ship to appear from out of nowhere. I grabbed my iPhone and snapped this photo before the lights could change as the sun rose higher and higher. This happened during the fifth day of our cruise and was never duplicated again. I tried waking up early to catch the sunrise but we never had one as beautiful as this. Thankfully, I woke up that day just in time to witness and capture that beautiful moment.

PONTE VECCHIO

The Ponte Vecchio is probably one of the most photographed bridges in Italy and I made sure I got my photo when I visited Florence about two weeks ago. This medieval bridge crosses the Arno River and was the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed by the Germans when they retreated from the British liberators during the Second World War. The bridge is lined with jewelry and souvenir shops although centuries ago butchers were the main feature of the bridge. Most photos of this famous landmark are usually taken from the bridges on opposite sides or along the river banks and I did a number of shots at those angles. However, during my visit to the Uffizi Gallery I noticed that one of the upper floor windows looked down into the bridge although the reflection on the glass window became a challenge. I decided to use my iPhone to take this photo by laying it flat on the glass window to avoid any reflections. I finally got my photo of the Ponte Vecchio at an angle different from your typical tourist photo.

FONTANA DI TREVI

When I visited Rome two years ago, the Trevi Fountain was closed for renovation and the pool was totally drained of water.  Visitors were able to walk on a ledge above the pool for a photograph and some were even throwing coins into the empty pool. I took a number of photos but none were worthy of a feature on my page. Two weeks ago I found myself again in Rome and this time I made sure the Trevi fountain was a major stop during my walk around the city. Unfortunately, my back was killing me after I pulled it while clearing my backyard for Hurricane Matthew that carrying a DSLR around my neck was intolerable. I had to use my iPhone 7 this entire trip so as not to aggravate my back. Surprisingly, using my iphone allowed me to capture wider panoramas like the photo above. I wouldn’t have been able to photograph the fountain in a wide span like this using an ordinary lens. I also wanted to capture the fountain devoid of tourists but my parents are not filthy rich enough to lock down the area so bear with the humanity bordering my photo. LOL!

CASTELL DE BELLVER

This Gothic style castle on top of a hill in Palma de Mallorca, Spain is one of the few circular castles in the world and was built for King James II of Majorca during the 14th century. From the 18th to mid-20th century, the castle was turned into a political prison before it was eventually turned into a museum in 1932.  The castle was my first stop on a tour of Palma de Mallorca a few days ago and I was having a hard time photographing the place as it was filled up with tourists. While on the roofdeck of the castle, I noticed that the last tour group was heading for the second floor so I immediately ran down to the ground floor to take advantage of the empty halls. I only had a 10-second window to capture this part of the castle as the first tour group came down just as I finished my panoramic shot using my iPhone 7 Plus. This was just a single attempt done hurriedly and I could not be any happier with the outcome.

VENICE…LIKE NO OTHER

A week ago I arrived in Venice with very high expectations having known so much about this Italian city from movies, books and magazines. This was my first trip to this romantic city and true to my expectations, I was bowled over by what I saw. I may have to mention my wonderful stay at the Baglioni Luna Hotel, which made the entire experience more memorable, from the amazing service to my fabulous suite with a panoramic view of the Venetian lagoon (I will post a photographic review of the hotel later). A trip to Venice won’t be complete without a gondola ride and the tourist in me insisted that I had to give it a try. I found myself gliding through narrow canals between centuries-old buildings seeing a side of Venice one won’t get to see from the streets. Venice is such a beautiful city that I can’t find the right words to best describe it. This is one of those places that is better experienced than described.

FIRENZE

I am currently in the enchanting city of Florence and I’ve never said wow so many times in my life. This city in the heart of Italy’s Tuscany region was once a powerful kingdom and a major trading point in Europe. The city is rich in culture and traditions as well as impressive architecture such as the Basilica of Saint Mary the Flower with its behemoth of a dome towering above the city as seen in the middle of my photo. The city’s other famous landmarks include the Ponte Vecchio (bridge on middle left of the photo) and  the Church of Santa Croce (middle right), which serves as home to the remains of famous Italians like Galileo, Michelangelo and Dante. This photo was taken on top of a hill at the Piazza Michelangelo and the view from the top was worth every step of the climb.

ROMAN HOLIDAY

It’s great to be back in Rome…the weather is beautiful and the air crisp and comfortably chilly. I arrived here yesterday and immediately made the rounds of every tourist landmark featured in a travel book. A number of them were under clean up renovation the last time I was here so it’s good to finally see them minus the scaffoldings. Fortunately, my hotel is just 15 minutes walk to all of these landmarks so I conveniently strolled my way around while enjoying a cone of my favorite gelato flavors from the landmark shop, Giolitti! I culminated my walkathon at the Colosseum and immediately played with my camera just like the thousands of tourists there that day. In order not to bore you with the same touristy photo of this ancient architectural wonder, I decided to capture its reflection on a puddle using my new iPhone 7. I’ve seen a number of photos using this technique so I decided to try it on the Colosseum…not bad for a first try…and the 12-megapixel iPhone camera did not disappoint.

BEAUTY AFTER THE FURY

I was driving out of a shopping mall parking lot when I saw this magnificent display of colors in the darkening sky. I had to step on my brakes, pull out my phone and roll down my window in order to capture the beauty before me. Mother nature sure has her ways of making us shudder in fear as well as exclaim in wonder. Just a day before, she was unleashing all her fury on us then a day later here she was flaunting off her breathtaking beauty. This photo was taken a day after the hurricane Matthew threat to my home city thus the title of this post. By the way, thank you all for your kind messages on my previous post…it was comforting to read them while waiting for the arrival of the hurricane. I’m also happy to announce that we luckily dodged the storm with no significant damages.  This won’t be the last so I will need to always be prepared.  I guess it’s also the price we pay for living in this tropical paradise state of Florida.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE

Living in sunny Florida is like a dream come true, however, not all dreams can be pleasant experiences. Sometimes, nightmares happen and sad to say, I am experiencing one right now. In a few hours, the eastern coastline of Florida will be hit by one of the strongest hurricane in about a decade. Hurricane Matthew is on its way to unleash his fury on the sunshine state and we are expecting for the worst and hoping for the best. Matthew is now a category 4 hurricane and will be closest to my home city of Fort Lauderdale around 7-8 pm today (about 4 hours from now). I just hope we don’t get hit that bad later tonight…wish me luck, guys!

LONDON’S EYE

img_6534When I was a young kid back in the Philippines, I always look forward to fiesta season when the carnival comes to town with various rides and shows. The centerpiece of the carnival was the ferris wheel and I never missed a ride despite the funny feeling on my stomach when the gondola comes down. So when I visited London last year, I made sure to ride their landmark ferris wheel called the London Eye. The ride was much slower taking 30 minutes for a full turn and was intentionally built as an observatory to provide visitors a bird’s eye view of the city. I took this photograph a day before I took the ride while exploring my hotel’s neighborhood. I also booked the champagne experience package to skip the lines and for a less crowded gondola and synchronized my ride with the time of the sunset. Unless one is scared of heights, every visitor to London should ride the London Eye where the view of the city is just breathtaking.

THE SIREN

This photograph reminded me of sirens in Greek mythology known to lure poor sailors to their doom using their enchanting voices. In the case of this siren, she was too busy taking selfies for her Facebook profile thereby saving the souls of a few lonely sailors. I took this photograph in Mykonos, Greece at the section of the town referred to as Little Venice. The rich blue waters of the sea was a beautiful contrast to the white washed walls of the buildings, which were mostly restaurants with great views of the sea.  I don’t know how this woman got to this rock but I’m glad she did coz she added an interesting and fun story to my photograph.

SAFAUXRI

I have always wanted to experience a safari adventure but when friends told me about camping out in the wild I immediately crossed it out of my bucket list. Camping for me includes hot showers, plush towels, soft beds and 24-hour wifi access. Thankfully, Disney had me in their thoughts when they built an African safari at their Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida. The 15-minute tour takes you through forests and grasslands filled with “free roaming” animals for an Out of Africa experience.  The photo above was taken at the grasslands sections with these rhinos crossing behind our tram. Luckily, I was sitting on the last row thus providing me an unobstructed view of a great photo opportunity behind me.

TEMPLE OF HEAVEN

imageThis replica of the majestic Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China is found in the heart of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida. The park has a world showcase complex featuring pavilions representing individual countries. The China pavilion features a paifang at the entrance as well as shops and restaurants showcasing Chinese art, cuisine and culture. The Temple of Heaven is the entrance to a 360-degree cinematic tour of China, which is the entertainment highlight of the pavilion. The tour takes you around China visiting natural and man-made landmarks as well as provide a basic understanding of the Chinese people and their rich culture.  This pavilion is my favorite part of the park and I took this photo using my iPhone 6.

OF LIGHTHOUSE AND SEA OATS

I have always been fascinated by these rice looking grasses growing along the shorelines of South Florida beaches and love how they turn gold during the summer reminding me of rice fields back in the Philippines during the harvest season.  I recently learned that this grass is named sea oats and is mostly found in the southeastern United States from Virginia to Florida. I took this photograph in the island of Key Biscayne from across mainland Miami and in the background is the historic and 191-year-old Cape Florida Lighthouse. It was quite a struggle taking this photograph as my autofocus was going insane switching focus from the sea oats in the foreground to the lighthouse in the background.  I tried to be creative with this composition and I’d like to believe I did okay on my first try. What do you think?

 CASTEL SANT’ANGELO

The Castle of the Holy Angel in Rome, Italy was originally built as the mausoleum for the Roman emperor Hadrian and his family as well as for the emperors who eventually succeeded him. The place has been looted centuries ago so the urns of the emperors have never been recovered.  Eventually, the castle became a fortress for the popes before being converted into the museum that it is today. I never got to step inside the museum as I was hurrying for my guided tour of the Vatican, which was about half a mile away from the castle. I took this photo hurriedly while crossing the bridge so this is my only photo of this ancient Roman landmark. Perhaps on my next trip to Rome I can finally step inside and take another photo of this historic building at a better angle.

CHANDELIER MANDALA

The opulence of the Château de Versailles in Paris, France can never be captured in a photograph. One has to be there to experience the luxury and lavishness of the place and understand the kind of lifestyle the French royals once lived. I found myself exploring one of the many rooms of the palace when my vision got diverted into a heavily decorated ceiling with a crystal chandelier suspended right above me. At first thought, the whole vision reminded me of a mandala, which is a geometric and religious symbol of the universe in Indian religions. In the case of my photograph, I decided to name it a chandelier mandala…a symbol of a lifestyle that most of us will never get to experience.

SUNSETS ON CRUISES

I never anticipated I would enjoy cruising considering my first experience was quite an unpleasant one. However, despite my nauseating initiation into cruisedom three years ago, I eventually learned to love it and have been on five cruises so far and looking forward to my sixth in a few months. The photo above was taken on the top deck of the Celebrity Reflection during my cruise in the Mediterranean two years ago while we were tendered off the shores of Santorini, Greece. The sun was just setting behind this world renowned Greek island when the sky suddenly turned into a beautiful canvas of pink and gold splashes. I always enjoy walking around the top deck of a ship at sunset with the hopes of witnessing a beautiful celestial phenomenon for my eyes to enjoy and for my camera to capture.

ANCIENT EPHESUS

imageThe ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey remains at the top of my list for the best places I have ever visited in my entire life. I have always been fascinated by ancient cultures and what I saw in this archeological heaven blew me away. Built in 10th century BC, the city featured an advanced acqueduct system, mosaic-tiled sidewalks, a hospital, temples, schools, public baths, library, theaters and an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 25,000.  My hometown was founded less than 100 years ago and we don’t even have an amphitheatre.  The photograph above shows the Library of Celsus, which was built in memory of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus who was a former governor of Roman Asia. He was buried in a sarcophagus beneath this library, which used to house almost 12,000 scrolls. Ephesus may not be familiar to a lot of people, but if you remember the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World…this city used to be home to one of them…the Temple of Artemis.

WORLD TRADE CENTER MALL

The World Trade Center Mall reopened Tuesday last week after more than a decade since its destruction during the 9/11 attacks. The mall is a part of the entire World Trade Center complex featuring an architectural masterpiece of a roof, which looks like the wings of a bird in flight. I visited the mall last Friday and the interiors were quite impressive although I think it looked too sterile for a shopping complex. The mall also serves as the transportation hub of downtown Manhattan connecting pedestrians to various train stations. The whole complex is still in construction mode, however, a good number of retail stores are now open to the public. The best feature of the complex is the glass spine of the roof, which provides visitors a view of the Freedom Tower just a few feet away from the  mall.

NEW YORK TWILIGHT

I’m in New York City for the weekend for some touristy stuff thus my missing a photo post or two for a few days now.  Yesterday, I revisited the top of the Rockefeller Center to photograph the NYC sunset. After lining up for ages, walking through a labyrinth of walls and riding the speedy elevator to the 67th floor…I finally made it to the first ledge of the observatory.  The observatory provided me with a 360-degree view of the city, however, I decided to focus my camera on the southern side of Manhattan to capture the Empire State Building and the new World Trade Tower just as the sun was setting. The view from the top was amazing and viewing it during twilight was such a breathtaking experience. It was also awesome to see the city lights slowly turn on one by one like Christmas lights on a tree just as the cloudy skies slowly turned darker each passing minute. I took a number of photos and this one turned out to be my personal favorite.  I hope you guys like it too…would appreciate your feedback. Thanks.

THE WALL

The thick walls of the Fort San Cristobal in San Juan, Puerto Rico protected this former Spanish settlement for centuries from foreign invaders.  This once military complex is now a museum under the United States National Park Services and is one of the most visited heritage sites in Old San Juan.  Last February, the Eastern Caribbean cruise I was on made a brief stop at this US territory giving me ample time to explore the neighborhood close to the port.   The fort was conveniently located a few minutes from the ship so I braved through the humidity and found myself standing in front of this behemoth of a wall. At the gate, I noticed the golden light of the setting sun casting geometric shadows while making the walls glow creating an interesting photo opportunity for me. The rich blue cloudless sky also made the golden yellow walls of the fort pop out in this photograph. Unfortunately, my cruise only stopped for a few hours so I never really got to explore much of Old San Juan. I hope to visit again someday and maybe include a visit of the El Morro for more photo opportunities.

ROMA DI NOTTE

My first night in Rome was spent leisurely exploring the city and visiting famous landmarks close to my hotel. Fortunately, I was staying right behind the Pantheon so almost every landmark was just within walking distance. My steps took me to the Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo and all the way to the Victor Emmanuel Monument and the Capitoline Hill where this photograph was taken. It was also a good opportunity for me to burn my first Italian dinner of pizza, pasta and wine. I was never a fan of this photo, however, the sky looked amazing so I decided to feature it today. Rome is such a beautiful city and every street corner transports you to a different time in history. It is also impressive to see how this city have managed to save and protect its heritage sites effectively. Seeing Rome for the first time was a dream come true moment for me…and in a few weeks, I will relive that dream again.

VIEW FROM MY TABLE

My Friday nights are usually spent at a favorite restaurant to celebrate the end of another work week for some munching and sipping. About four Fridays ago, I had dinner with neighbors at this Fort Lauderdale landmark restaurant called Seawatch. This restaurant has balcony tables offering a spectacular view of the ocean and the beach. Initially, I was annoyed about the palm leaves partially blocking my view but decided to include them to add an interesting touch to my composition. I always sit at this section of the restaurant as the view de-stresses me from the crazy week that just passed. The salty ocean breeze and the amazing view transports me to a lalaland until my favorite plate of crunchy calamari gets served…then I float back down to reality.

PARIS IN PINK

The elegant and sophisticated city of Paris was my home for a week in the summer of 2015. It was my first trip to the French capital and I made sure to visit every major Parisian landmark during my stay.  On my first few hours in the city, I visited the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower as both monuments were just a few blocks away from my hotel along Avenue Kléber. The Arc de Triomphe was quite majestic in the middle of this roundabout providing a gateway to the world famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This monument, which is a museum with access to the rooftop, was built in honor of those who fought during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. When I took this photo, I forgot to remove a filter on my lens thus looking a little pink-orange…and so did every other photo I took that day. 😬😜

VENETIAN CAUSEWAY

I took this photo 5 years ago the day I bought a tripod camera stand and just a few weeks after I bought my first DSLR camera. A friend joined me for a photo walk of our neighborhood to play with our new cameras when we found ourselves on the Venetian Causeway, a bridgeway which connects mainland Miami through the Venetian Isles composed of 6 artificial islands all the way to Miami Beach.  During this shoot, I was still ignorant on how to set the manual mode of my camera so I used instead the night mode feature out of convenience (horror!).  I also made sure the bridge was empty of vehicles and pedestrians when I took the shot in order to create the deserted atmosphere of the photo.  This shot never really caught my eye until a few days ago while reviewing my photo bank that I realized it has an interesting look to it. I attempted to convert it to black and white, which turned out really nice, but decided last minute to post this colored version instead.

PLEASE VOTE FOR MY PHOTO “THE OMEN”


PLEASE VOTE for my photo THE OMEN on The Weather Channel 2016 Photo Contest by clicking on the link below:

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FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY/ FONTAINE DE TOURNY

Today, I decided to feature my cover photo on this post to celebrate my page’s first year anniversary. This photo of the Fontaine de Tourny was taken during my trip to Quebec City, Canada in 2013. I love how the statues glisten under the fountain while the water carelessly sprinkles all around them. This has been an amazing twelve months since I launched my photography page and so far the journey is still a long way to go. So far, my page has published 163 posts which attracted 6,840 visitors and 17,100 views as well as received 10,470 likes and 1,230 comments. Furthermore, 5 of my photographs have been featured in the Sun Sentinel travel page and 4 have been printed in the Lifestyle Section of their Sunday edition. One of my photos also won in Peter Lik’s “This Is Home” photo contest where I received an autographed copy of his photography book, Las Vegas. I have to admit that despite all of these mini achievements in a period of one year I am still not that confident with my photography skills. I still continue to explore the capabilities of my camera and experiment with new techniques that I learn online. Although, I remain determined to continue with my photographic journey and I am taking you all along on this adventure that we started a year ago. You all have been very generous expressing your appreciation for my work through your constructive and inspiring comments, which encourages me to continue snapping photos of wonderful places and share them all with you. Thank you all very much for your support and I hope you will continue to pay my page a visit!

FONTANA DEI QUATTRO FIUMI

The Fountain of the Four Rivers created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1651 is the centerpiece of Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. This was the second major landmark I visited in Rome after the Pantheon, which was right behind my hotel. This impressive work of art represents the four major rivers of the four continents where the pope had supreme religious authority. These rivers are the Danube representing Europe, Nile representing Africa, Ganges representing Asia and Rio de la Plata representing the Americas. I was overwhelmed with emotions being in Rome for the first time and seeing all these monuments that I’ve only seen on pictures and films. Rome is such a beautiful city and photographs do not give justice to its real beauty. I may have taken at least 200 photos during my first five hours in Rome and I feel like I have not captured enough. I look forward to my next trip to Rome in a few months and I hope to capture a few hundred more photos to share with you all.

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK

imageWhile exploring the charming neighborhood of Greenwich Village in Manhattan, I found myself stepping into this park featuring a huge square marble arch and a central fountain attracting a good number of people obviously there to take advantage of the cool waters and escape the summer heat. The park is named Washington Square in honor of George Washington, the first president of the United States of America.  The park is also adjacent to the New York University  (NYU) campus and is surrounded by a number of NYU buildings. This square also draws a huge number of tourists being one of the many famous landmarks of New York City. I remember this park very well in the movie I Am Legend starring Will Smith with those zombies giving me quite a few good nightmares. Thankfully I did not photograph nor encounter any during my walk around that park.

AYASOFYA

The Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish), which means Holy Wisdom, is a grand piece of architecture that beautifully defines the Istanbul skyline. According to our tour guide, it was originally an Orthodox church which was turned into a mosque and eventually converted into a museum. It was truly a humbling experience to stand before this ancient wonder and be able to walk along its endless halls and explore its grand chambers.  Inside was generally empty except for a few relics and lighting fixtures, however, the walls and ceilings are covered with a spectacular array of religious artwork. It was fascinating to see Christian and Muslim symbols beautifully complementing each other. I think the world can learn from the walls of Ayasofya on how to coexist harmoniously despite our differences.  Sadly though, recent developments in Turkish politics may eventually lead to reviving this museum back into a mosque. I just hope the people of Istanbul decide to retain this as a symbol of secularism where people from all faiths can enjoy the beauty and wonder of this great human achievement both in construction and architecture.

SAX AND THE CITY

imageIt was my first trip to New York City and a visit to Central Park was obviously inevitable. It was quite an adventure walking through the maze of busy streets and skyscrapers and then finding myself standing at the edge of this oasis right at the heart of a concrete jungle called Manhattan. I immediately dashed for the park and found myself walking through landmarks I was familiar with from watching movies and tv shows since I was a kid. While exploring the park, I found myself at this underpass with a man and his saxophone right by the entrance of the tunnel. I paid him little attention until I was at the other end of the tunnel when I looked back and saw this beautiful silhouette-like image of him romancing his saxophone. Too bad I missed to capture the moment when he arched his back and pointed his sax up in the air.

THE LIGHTHOUSE

While cruising out of Nassau, Bahamas, our ship sailed past Paradise Island before heading out for the Atlantic Ocean towards our final destination. At the tip of the island before the open ocean was a lighthouse standing in solitude as if sadly bidding  us goodbye at the same time wishing us a safe sail home. Upon further research, I discovered its name as Paradise Island Lighthouse although it is more commonly known as the Nassau Harbor Lighthouse. This piece of architecture was built in 1817 making it the oldest lighthouse in the Bahamas and the oldest surviving lighthouse in the West Indies.  I took this photo 2 years ago using my iPhone 5 and is quite impressed by the color quality and sharpness. I can’t wait for the release of the iPhone 7 with hopefully a better camera as it comes very handy on days when I feel too lazy to carry my DSLR around.

EYEing LONDON 

imageDuring my trip to London last year, I made sure a ride on the London Eye was part of the itinerary as I wanted to photograph the city from above. I booked their “Champagne Experience” assuming there would be fewer people as it costs more and probably no kids due to the alcohol thereby allowing me to move around freely and take photographs from all angles without elbowing my way to the front.  I also scheduled the ride to synchronize the time my capsule reaches the top and the sun setting in this historic and magnificent city. The best thing about the champagne experience is that you don’t have to line up outside like everybody else. Instead, they appointed a waiting room with a bar at the ticket center and a guide will walk you to the capsule who at the same time will serve as the bartender during the ride. The whole experience was fun seeing London and its famous landmarks from above and watching the lights around the city turning on one by one. The only downside was the glass casing of the capsule was a tad dusty so all my photographs turned out a little hazy. Anyway, this photo I’m posting came out as the most decent one capturing another capsule, the river Thames and the illuminated Big Ben on the right. The London Eye experience was worth every dollar spent and next time I visit London I will try it again but will no longer go crazy with the photography. I will instead spend all my time enjoying the breathtaking view and cheer the sunset with a glass of bubbly or two.

4th OF JULY

imageToday the United States of America is commemorating that fateful day in 1776 when thirteen American colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence and formed this great nation by declaring freedom from the British Empire. Being of Filipino descent, this date is also significant in my home country’s history as this commemorates the day the Philippines ceased to be a US territory and became an independent nation.  This year I celebrated the 4th of July at a friends condo where we had an amazing view of the fireworks from his building’s rooftop.  As I was taking this photo, I noticed lightning flashing inside this huge dark cloud in the distance creating an interesting backdrop to the fireworks. This photoshoot was a true test of my patience as I wanted to capture the lightning together with the fireworks and it took me 165 shots to finally capture this. While everybody was busy lighting fireworks, nature also joined in and flashed her spectacular version of fireworks display. Happy 4th of July to everyone!!!

ISTANBUL

The great city of Istanbul has recently been a victim of unnecessary violence resulting to a wasteful loss of innocent lives. However, I do not wish to dwell on this negative incident but instead focus on what is positive about this mesmerizing city. I visited this mystical metropolis two years ago on a cruise and had the best trip of my life. The colorful culture, ancient architecture, rich heritage and friendly people makes Istanbul an amazing destination for those who want to see a perfect blend of  east and west as well as that of the past and present. This photo was taken at the top deck of the cruise ship while docked at the Istanbul Cruise Port, which is located right at the heart of the historic section of the city.  The tower on the left is the Galata Tower, which is a medieval stone tower built to spot fires and now home to a restaurant, cafe and a night club. Istanbul may have hit a road bump a few days ago but it will bounce back just as it did for centuries. Stay strong Istanbul…I will see you again, soon!

LILY

img_0146I never had a pet my entire life and the decision to have one was totally unexpected and unplanned.  I did not anticipate that a trip to the Broward Humane Society would transform my life significantly…in a good way. The decision to visit the pound was made after I saw on their website a litter of 8 cute puppies. Curiosity may have brought me there but somehow I had a hint of suspicion that I may end up taking one home that day. Imagine my disappointment when the receptionist informed me that all puppies have been adopted except for one and that I was 5 minutes late as someone just confirmed to adopt the last puppy.  With a heavy heart I headed back to the exit when suddenly this woman came running towards me. She advised me to stay put as she was trying to match the puppy with her dog and in case of a mismatch I can adopt the puppy instead. I immediately requested to meet the puppy (a female) to check how she would interact with me and as soon as they laid her on my arms she immediately  started licking my face and climbing all over me like she has known me for so long. I felt a strong connection with her and I knew at that very moment that she was meant to be my pet.  The woman who was supposed to adopt her saw everything and happily gave her up to me. I immediately rushed through the paperwork and scooped her out of the pound just in case the woman changes her mind. I decided to name my new bestfriend Lily after the beautiful flower which symbolizes purity and perfection. This happened almost three years ago and Lily and I have been inseparable ever since. We have been through a lot together and I know we still have a lot to go through. Lily is a Chiweenie (a mix of Chihuahua and Dachshund) and today is her third birthday. I am featuring her on my page to celebrate her special day, her presence in my life and for the unconditional love she showers me everyday. Happy Birthday, Lily!

MORADA BAY

Morada Bay Beach Cafe in Islamorada, Florida was a pitstop during my drive home from a weekend of fun and sun in the island of Key West. This restaurant, which was highly recommended by a coworker, does not only serve delicious meals…it also offers a breathtaking view of the bay from your table. The tables, chairs and umbrellas are painted with bright colors providing a festive atmosphere and complementing the spectacular scenery. I was truly lucky to arrive before the lunch crowd and got to photograph the place empty. This place will now be my official stop next time I drive down to Key West in the future.

SUMMER SOLSTICE

imageSummer has finally arrived and what better way to present it than a beautiful sunset on a tropical island in South Florida.  This photograph was taken during the last few minutes of sunset just as the sun was about to take a bow before diving deep into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was also great to capture the golden lights of the sun in the horizon at the same time capturing the deep blue expanse of the upper sky behind a bravura display of wispy clouds. Lastly, the silhouette of boats sailing across the ocean provided a sense of adventure as well as a romantic perspective to this composition.  What a beautiful world we live in and I find myself very lucky to witness breathtaking views like this as it also continues to fuel my passion for photography.

KEY WEST

imageIf you are looking for white sandy beaches, colorful coral reefs, breathtaking sunsets, rich culture, top rate dining and laid-back island vibe…then Key West, Florida is a must visit for you. The adventure begins when you drive down from Miami through the Overseas Highway passing through hundreds of islands home to amazing nature reserves. The long and slow drive ends in the island of Key West also known as the Southernmost Point of Continental USA and just 90 miles away from Cuba.  A trip to Key West has become part of my annual tradition and each trip is just as wonderful as the previous ones with new places to explore and more photographs to capture. The photo above was taken at the pier of The Reach Resort by Waldorf Astoria where I captured the emerald waters, sapphire skies and lime-colored buildings of a nearby resort. I was also lucky to capture this seabird soaring in front of me adding a touch of nature in this photo of a tropical dream. So if you are planning to visit South Florida, don’t miss a chance to drive down to Key West and let this spectacular view greet you everyday during your stay.

SUNSET WEDDING

A wedding is a beautiful celebration of life and love and is probably one of the most unforgettable moments in every couple’s life. I witnessed one this weekend as the ceremony was right below my room’s balcony, which had a great view of the resort’s beachfront. The wedding was celebrated just as the sun was setting in the horizon providing  a spectacular backdrop and a romantic touch to the occasion. The whole scene inspired me so much that I immediately grabbed my iphone and captured the moment on panoramic mode sweeping from the wedding party, the beach and water to the setting sun in the distance. May this lovely couple be blessed with all the love and happiness in the world throughout their marriage.

PIER AT THE REACH

imageI am currently in Key West, Florida for the weekend for some sun, surf and munch. I was a little worried that the weather would be horrible as we just had a tropical storm a few days ago. Thankfully, the Sunshine State lived up to it’s name and blasted this island with lots of sunshine and some nasty humidity.  Key West is the southernmost point of continental USA and is one of the most visited places in Florida. It is a very picturesque island town with an old world feel to it inspiring the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams who onced called this place home. Today, I decided to enjoy some island sun and beautiful blue waters by taking photographs of the pier at the beachfront of  The Reach Resort – Waldorf Astoria. I am not a beach person so I happily stood by the shore and took a few panoramic photos of the pier using my iPhone 6. After a few sweaty attempts to capture this photo, I immediately headed back to my hotel room for some much needed airconditioning and lots of pillow time…this is how I spend my vacations. LOL!

HALL OF MIRRORS

The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles was constructed in 1678 during the reign of King Louis XIV of France. It is the central gallery of the palace and features 17 mirror-clad arches reflecting the palace gardens from the 17 windows across the hall. When I took this photograph, I wished the entire hall was empty although the chances of achieving that in the most visited place in France was beyond impossible. I visited Versailles during the last few weeks of summer right about the end of tourist season and yet the place was packed with tourists from all corners of the globe. I guess I’ll just have to be content with capturing this famous hall with a good number of faces expressing fascination and awe over the opulence of the French nobility. The last royal residents of this palace was the family and court of King Louis XVI and his infamous wife…Marie Antoinette.

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY

The United Nations General Assembly established in 1972 the World Environment Day to create global awareness about environmental problems around the world. The celebration is observed every 5th day of June with a specific theme and a host country.  This year, Angola is hosting the occasion and the theme is “fight against the illegal trade in wildlife”. I have already posted my very few photos of wildlife so I’m using instead a photo I took of this waterfall at the Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum. I also decided to add an old Native American saying,  which was supposedly spoken by Chief Seattle, although no one really knows its origins.  Anyway, regardless of who spoke this saying the message remains the same that we are all responsible for the preservation of our environment and the protection of every life on it. In my part of the world, there is a huge debate about climate change with a significant number of people denying it and insisting it’s just a hoax. I believe this is a cause that is not negotiable and shouldn’t even be debated upon and politicized. Regardless of our political views, nature in itself must be protected and preserved for the very survival of humanity and its future generations.

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