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MONOCHROMATIC PARIS

Paris is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world and to capture in a photograph the very essence of this city is quite a challenge. I have an extensive collection of photographs from my last trip to the City of Lights but I’ve been struggling how to present them in a cohesive manner. I did notice a lot of street scene photos in my collection so I decided to group together a few of my favorites and present them all in black and white. The monochromatic effect creates a timeless and romantic feel to the photographs as if they were all taken in a different era. From the magazine kiosks and roadside cafes to the charming neighborhood shops and magnificent tree lined boulevards, it is definitely very difficult not to fall in love with this city.

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FEATHERED FLORIDIANS

I have this collection of random photographs of birds most of which I took in the past few years while living in South Florida. I’ve been struggling to feature them individually on this page so today I decided to feature them together as the Feathered Floridians so I wouldn’t have to take the time to identify and research on each bird. I love to photograph birds in motion, however, my ability to press my camera button at a lightning speed is at amateur level so most of the photos below are of birds just standing still. The photograph above was taken during one of my few lucky days having captured the American White Ibis while in the process of landing on a rock. There’s so much wildlife to photograph in South Florida so I’m gonna work on my speed to focus and shoot so I can come up with better quality photos in the future. For now, please bear with my bird photography attempts for the past few years.

A NEW BEGINNING

I have been on creative hibernation for more than a month now thus the absence of new posts on this page. Apparently, I’ve been struggling to find the right words to effectively describe my photos and it seems like the year ended and so did my writing skills. To my defense,  I did mention in my profile that I am not much of a writer so I hope you guys understand.  Anyway, I am giving myself, my photography and this page another chance, which is why I decided to use this photograph I took of the sunrise somewhere in the Atlantic as my feature photo for this post. Sunrises mean new beginnings so I thought the photo best represents my return to this page.  I’m back and looking forward to hearing from you all again!

 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.

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.

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.

ISLAND OF THE WINDS

The island of Mykonos in Greece is famously referred to as the island of the winds but in Greek mythology, it is also known as the location of the great battle between Zeus and the Titans as well as the site where Hercules killed the giants after luring them out of Mount Olympus. I visited Mykonos two years ago and fell in love with this beautiful and mystical island. This photograph was taken at the town’s main section facing the Aegean Sea where this little boy was running around driving a flock of sea birds out into these beautiful blue skies. Luckily, I was about to snap my camera to photograph the town in this angle so the birds in flight came as an added bonus.

MUSÉE D’ORSAY

The Musée D’Orsay is a museum in Paris, France showcasing the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. The building used to be a train station and is one of the most visited museums in Paris due to its large collection of works by painters like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. Inside the museum is a viewing deck where you can look down into the main gallery and that was where I took this photograph. I personally enjoyed viewing the works of Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh…perhaps because they’re the more famous ones…or maybe because I am just one art ignoramous. LOL!

CITY OF GOLD

The Palace of Westminster and the Big Ben are iconic landmarks of the British capital and are probably the most photographed in the world. The palace is known as the heart of British politics as this is where the parliament of the United Kingdom meets. The city of London is very rich in heritage and amazingly the past and the present blend together harmoniously. It was an overcast day when I took this picture and the cloud filtered the sun turning everything the light touches into gold. I also accidentally forgot to remove the filter on my camera for this photoshoot resulting in a rich golden shade to the composition. I initially ignored this photo as I thought it was too golden, however, I realized that gold would be the best color to feature the home city of one of the world’s oldest monarchy.

THE PANTHEON

 The Pantheon in Rome is an ancient structure constructed around 127 AD by Emperor Hadrian. It is one of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome and was continuously used throughout its existence. The building is now a Catholic Church and houses the tombs of two Italian kings (Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I) and that of the great artist Raphael. The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza dela Rotunda and features a fountain surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk. This is the first place I visited in Rome just because it was right behind my hotel. The place is a major tourist attraction so it can get really crowded and one may have to line up to get inside the building. The square is surrounded by restaurants and cafes where you can drink and dine al fresco as well as have fun people watching.  I took this photo when I was still experimenting with the manual mode of my camera and two shots came out surprisingly good so I decided to combine them to come up with this. I’m going back to Rome later this year and this time I know my manual mode better…let’s all hope I come up with better shots this time.

HOUSE OF VIRGIN MARY

img_4911Since it’s the season of Lent for Christians, I decided to use this photograph I took back in 2014 during my trip to the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey.  This is supposedly the former house of the Virgin Mary located near Selçuk, Turkey on a hill overlooking the ruins of Ephesus. The place was discovered in the 19th century based on descriptions in the documented visions of a Roman Catholic nun and visionary named Anne Catherine Emmerich. This place is also a famous pilgrimage shrine amongst Christians and Muslims, although, the Catholic church has never acknowledged nor denied the authenticity of the house…despite celebrating masses there (one was ongoing during my visit). Close to the house is a spring where believers can collect “holy” water and I filled up two plastic bottles for my mother and also bought her souvenir containers in the shape of the Virgin Mary. Photography is not allowed inside the house and the visit is a walk through that lasts about a minute or two.

TAJ 51

img_4847The Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites was my home away from home while I was in London on vacation for a week.  This was once the home of the Lords and Ladies of the Royal Court and just a few minutes walk to the Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. This 5 star heritage hotel boasts of providing its guests with one of the most spacious and luxurious accomodations as well as the finest personal service in London.  The hotel also features a Michelin-star Indian restaurant named Quilon, which I thought the food was just okay although the service was quite impressive.  The photo above was taken in the central courtyard of the complex where one can sit and enjoy the Edwardian Victorian architecture of the hotel complex, which I think has the most colorful walls I have ever seen. I included below some photos of my residence suite taken using my iPhone. My one bedroom residence suite featured a living room, dining area, kitchen, washer and dryer and a colossal bedroom suite with a view of the 175-year-old Westminster Chapel. Overall, I would say this hotel was one of the best I have ever stayed at and the service was truly at its finest. The highlight of my stay was seeing the Dalai Lama, who was also staying at the hotel, at the hotel lobby.

ROMAN TWILIGHT

 

This photo was taken after spending an entire afternoon on a guided tour of the Roman Forum culminating at the Colosseum.  Unfortunately for me, the Colosseum was at that time undergoing major cleaning with more than half of the structure covered with scaffoldings making it impossible to capture this famous landmark in all its glory.  I took multiple photos inside and outside of the building, however, the cloudy skies made my photos look dull and flat. It was my last day in Rome so there was no chance for me to come back for a second attempt. I decided to wait around hoping for changes in lighting during the sunset anticipating for better and richer colors. Just as the sun touched the horizon, the sky turned into this explosion of pink, yellow and purple colors like some delicious Roman cocktail. I told myself perhaps someone in Vatican heard my prayers. I immediately positioned myself beside the Colosseum in the section where scaffoldings were absent and focused my camera on the structure and the colorful sky. I used a Canon Rebel XSi with an EF 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens to take this photo zooming into the facade of the Colosseum to exclude the throngs of tourists from my composition. I guess my patience paid off as my photoshoot turned out better than I expected. By the way, I recently became familiar with a small camera from a company called Light, the camera has an interactive touch screen built in allowing you to edit your shot seconds after it was taken.

BUCKINGHAM FOUNTAIN 

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Three years ago, I was in Chicago for a reunion with classmates from Physical Therapy school and it was a great opportunity to photograph  the city.  I arrived a day late and missed to join their tour around various  landmarks so I begged one of my friends to accompany me to the Grant/Millennium Park area for this photoshoot. Since I did not travel with my  camera stand, I ended up using a garbage bin to stabilize my camera and prevent handheld blurring. This is my favorite photo in the series having captured the last moments of twilight while the illuminated magnificence of the Chicago skyline served as a backdrop to this historic fountain. A few of my photos of the city can also be viewed in my gallery in an earlier post.

CYPRESS SLOUGH

Cypress SloughThe Cypress Slough (pronounced “slew”) in Fort Myers, Florida is home to a diverse population of plants and animals. A portion of the 11-mile-long preserve has an elevated boardwalk allowing visitors a glimpse of nature’s beauty without stepping into the swampy terrain. When I passed through this section of the preserve, I noticed the trees were all bare like remnants to an apocalyptic tragedy. Apparently, there is more to Florida than just palm trees and sandy beaches.

US INTERSTATE-95

I-95

US Interstate 95 (I-95) is the main highway of the US East Coast parallel to the Atlantic Ocean running between Florida and Maine towards the Canadian border. In my home city of Fort Lauderdale, the highway runs beside the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and during my return flight last month, I took this photo a few seconds before the plane landed. Gladly, I snapped my camera just as the plane was on the right spot a few feet above the highway and captured the wide expanse of the oldest route of the US interstate highway system.

NAPOLEON’S TOMB

SUNSET IN NAPOLI

Naples

The city of Napoli (Naples) in Italy was the last stop of my Eastern Mediterranean cruise. I never got to explore the city because I opted for a trip to the ruins of Pompeii, which happened to be one of the best decisions I made for that trip. This photo was one of my very few shots of Naples and was taken from the balcony of my stateroom. Maybe in a future trip to Italy I will finally be able to walk around the city and take pictures from the ground.

Athena’s Tree 

This photo was taken at the historic Acropolis complex in Athens, Greece. Our tour guide gave us a few minutes to explore the area when I noticed this lonesome tree (olive tree?) perched right by the edge of the cliff. It’s branches were spread out as if waving hello to the ancient city of Athens below.

Guardians of the Art


This photo was taken inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was alone in the gallery and noticed how the crowd at the other side was flanked by these two mystical human-headed winged lions called the Lamassu! The Lamassu is an Assyrian protective deity often placed at the entrance of palaces and cities.

Doorway To The Past


This was taken at the entrance of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. On my way out, I noticed how the doorway was framing the Blue Mosque from a distance.  I got separated from the tour group for a while but I’m glad I took the time to take this photo. I also think converting this to black and white added an element of drama and enchantment.

COLORFUL ISTANBUL

Here are more photos of Istanbul taken during my trip last year to this exotic and interesting city.

Rome in Focus

 

A trip to Rome is like travelling to a different time. This amazing city has succesfully preserved its rich heritage from historic piazzas and grand boulevards to lavish architecture and centuries old neighborhoods.  It is a city that has bred heroes, nurtured artists and inspired romantics. I for myself was smitten by Rome and all these pictures don’t give justice to what I saw and experienced while in the heart of such a beautiful city.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Montreal Botanical Gardens (Chinese Pavilion)

Istanbul at Night

Istanbul, Turkey was one of the stops during my Eastern Mediterranean Cruise with Celebrity Cruises. This city is rich in history and culture from delicious delicacies and colorful bazaars to splendid mosques, history-filled museums and multiple architectural wonders.

The moon was out the night I was there and it blanketed the city with its silvery radiance. I found myself at the top deck of the ship regretting I left my tripod at home. The siderails helped in a way for support but my photos would have been better using a tripod.

This city is a photographers dreamland especially at night. From illuminated mosques and minarets to busy waterways and brighly lit skylines, the view is just too hard to resist.  I have dozens of daytime photos but will post the night shots for now.  This city has captivated me just as it captivated the millions who visited this city for hundreds of years. I look forward to coming back to Istanbul…and when that time comes, I am definitely taking my tripod with me.

SHADOWLANDS

 
The setting sun cast shadows along the deep and rugged canyons creating a hauntingly mystical vision out of these ancient spirit lands.

Waiting for the Green Light

  

New York State of Mind

New York City is the microcosm of the world. Every race and culture is well represented in this vibrant metropolis making it the center for culture, arts, fashion, music, media, economics and world politics. This city may have retained its old world charm but it tremendously exudes a futuristic vibe. It is where the past is revered and the future is celebrated.

 
 
 
 

The Red Planet


Driving through the Arizona desert is a visually stimulating experience. The colors of nature are at its brightest and boldest in this part of the planet while the grandness and expanse of the beauty can be very humbling.

DALLAS

This is the Gables Republic Tower in downtown Dallas and I have always been fascinated by the facade of this building. Everytime I fly to Dallas to visit my sister and her family, I always find time to spend a day downtown and just walk around. That part of the city is nicely decorated with various forms of art from sculptures, waterworks and gardens as well heritage buildings and modern architecture.

TEXAS BLUEBONNETS

The bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas. I took these photos during a picnic with my sister and her family at Joe Pool Lake in Dallas, Texas.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

This photo was taken from my suite room’s balcony as we were cruising out of Bahamas back to Fort Lauderdale, FL. The ship I was on was the Oasis of the Seas by Royal Carribean.

LA BELLA LUNA

The Royal Poinciana tree in front of my house might be dead coz all of its leaves have gone sayonara in the middle of summer. Although, it came to good use for these full moon photos with a Halloweenish theme.

Key West Sunset

A trip to Key West, FL will never be complete without witnessing it’s world famous sunset. People gather at Mallory Square to witness the sun go down but the place can get too crowded so you have to come early to find the perfect spot. I was lucky to be staying at The Pier House Resort, which has its own private beach and a direct view of the sunset,  so I was able to take all these photos minus a crowd of tourists pushing to get the best shot.

Downtown Miami

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This photo hooked me into photography big time. I took this photo the day I bought my first tripod stand. This was a huge hit among my Facebook friends that I decided to submit it to the 2011 Electric Avenue Downtown Miami Photo Contest. I won first place and got myself a new camera lens.

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