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A NIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

The Piazza della Rotonda is a city square in the heart of Rome where the ancient Pantheon majestically stands. The square features a central fountain surrounded by shops and restaurants where one can leisurely sit, eat and people watch.  When in Rome, I always stay in this neighborhood at a hotel just right behind the Pantheon because every major landmark is just a few minutes away by foot. Walking around this neighborhood can be quite an experience…one gets magically transported to a different era while walking on cobblestone streets, through narrow alleyways and along historic buildings. I also personally enjoy walking around this plaza at night, which can be quite romantic with the golden lights illuminating the entire plaza just like in the photo above, which I took on my way back to the hotel after a hearty Italian dinner.  So when in Rome, I never pass up the chance to enjoy a night in this beautiful piazza.

SHOT ON THE 4TH OF JULY

Yesterday the United States of America celebrated its Independence Day commemorating the day the 13 American colonies declared independence from the British empire. The highlight of this holiday is a festive fireworks display celebrated all over the country.  Luckily, I live 5 minutes walk to the beach where my home city’s firework showcase was to be held. It being a last minute decision I ended up not finding my tripod and taking the photos handheld. I enjoyed watching the fireworks display and captured a few decent shots. I am posting 16 shots that I personally like and hope you guys like them too. The settings I used were f/16, 4 seconds and ISO100. Happy 4th of July to all!

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!

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!

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.

 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.

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.

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.

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.

FIERY SKIES

One of my favorite photography subjects is the sunset as it always bring out a multitude of rich colors creating a kaleidoscopic sky that can inspire the lover, artist, writer, poet and dreamer in each one of us…or in my case, the photographer in me.  The beauty of a sunset is further magnified by the presence of cloud formations as they add depth and dimension to the multihued sky. This photograph is one of my personal favorites as this made the sky look like a painting creating a moment that was worth capturing and cherishing.  I took this photo somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea while cruising around that part of the world during the fall of  2014. Rarely do I encounter sunsets as visually stunning as this so I’m glad I was there to capture that polychromatic moment. 

MAGIC KINGDOM

imageThe Cinderella Castle is the very heart of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in reference to its location and it being the access point to every themed land in the park. I took this photo of the castle from Main Street USA, a street lined with shops depicting early-20th century small-town America and inspired by Walt Disney’s childhood. I was about to head out of the park when I decided to take one last look and saw the magical magnificence of the illuminated castle in the distance. I thought its light blue illumination made it pop out in the darkness while the golden lights of the Main Street buildings framed it beautifully from both sides. Truly a beacon for every child’s dream (and adults too).

BLUE MOON

imageThe full moon last Saturday (May 21,2016) was called the Blue Moon being the third of four full moons this Spring.  Each season has three full moons but every two to three years, a season may have four making it a special and rare occurence thus the phrase “once in a blue moon”.  Apparently this year, the full moon in the month of June is about 11 hours earlier than the start of Summer making it the fourth full moon for Spring.   So when I heard about this on the news I knew very well that I had to photograph this moon. I drove to the beach with hesitation because it was raining that afternoon and the sky was partly cloudy. I was expecting a disappointment, however, the moon found its way out of the clouds to greet me. It was an amazing experience standing in an almost deserted beach watching the full moon slowly float up from the horizon. I will have to wait for another two to three years to witness this celestial show again.

WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL

The National World War II Memorial in Washington DC was built to honor and remember ALL Americans who served during the Second World War.  It consists of 56 pillars representing each US state, territory and protectorate involved in the war as well as a pair of  arches surrounding a plaza and fountain. As a Filipino, it was heartwarming to see a pillar for the Philippines as my home country played a significant role in winning this war in the Pacific being an unincorporated territory of the United States until our independence in 1946.  This photo was taken during a trip to Washington DC to conduct personal business with the Philippine Embassy. It was my first time in DC and gladly a friend based in this city was kind enough to tour me around giving me the opportunity to play with my camera.  I do hope to return again in the future to explore more places to photograph in this beautiful and historic city.

WINDSOR CASTLE

The Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world and it’s where Queen Elizabeth spends most of her private weekends.  The castle has been the family home to British kings and queens for over 1,000 years.  During my visit to Windsor the queen was not around, which is signaled by the Royal Standard flag flying from the castle’s Round Tower.  My tour of the castle included viewing of the royal apartments, state rooms, galleries, changing of the guards and the magnificent St. George’s Chapel. I joined a guided tour of the castle, which I think is the best way to experience it as you hear a good number of royal trivias and learn a generous amount of information and history about this famous home. Furthermore, being part of a tour allows you to skip the long lines to the ticket booth which can take at least an hour of your time. The castle is a reflection of the massive wealth of the British Royal family and throughout the tour I kept imagining how fascinating it would be to be a royal…even just for a day.

ROCKS OF AGES

The Stonehenge was created by a culture that did not leave any written record so every assumption about this ancient structure is debatable. During my visit to this famous site, our tour guide mentioned that this was once the site of musical concerts…made me wonder how many seasons of Stonehenge Idol ran on this site.  People also say that a visit to Stonehenge is like taking a spiritual trip…however in my case, it was more of a photo opportunity trip. The site is surrounded by a cordoned pathway to prevent visitors from touching the rocks and this photo was taken at the section closest to the ruins. Seriously though, I did feel a strong force of energy and an unexplained sense of joy while walking around this site. This has been on my bucket list for a long time and I am certainly very glad to finally write it off.

MOON FOR NISHKA

Early this year, I found myself in Leesburg, Florida to become the godfather of my friend’s daughter during her baptism into the Catholic faith. My goddaughter’s nickname is Nishka and I consider it an honor to be asked as her godfather. The baptism party gathered friends from different parts of the state and it also served as our mini-reunion. After the baptismal party at a hotel ballroom, we moved to my friends home for more food, drinks and karaoke (it’s a Filipino thing. LOL!). While everybody was busy singing and partying, I stepped out into the backyard and was greeted by this bright and beautiful full moon. I took a few shots and all I got of the moon was a solid ball of light. I decided to take a separate photo of the moon to capture more details and superimposed it on the foreground photo for a better effect. I was never a fan of manipulating photos so I was quiet hesitant to post this. However, I saw a photo of my goddaughter earlier today and decided to go ahead and dedicate this photo to her…thus the title of this post. May she grow up to be as lovely as the moon on the night of her baptism.

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.

FLAMME DE LA LIBERTÉ

The Flame of Libety Memorial in Paris, France is a replica of the flame on the torch of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. It is common knowledge that the Statue of Liberty is a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States of America. On the other hand, this memorial is actually a gift from International Herald Tribune (an English language newspaper in Paris) as a token of thanks for the restoration work on the Statue of Liberty by two French businesses that did the artisanal work on the project.  The Flame has also become the unofficial memorial for Princess Diana who died on the tunnel right beneath this flame in 1997. I visited the memorial on my first day in Paris and my only wish for this photo was for that tree and lamp post blocking the Eiffel Tower to be gone. Glad also that there was nobody there to block the memorial as this usually gets filled up with people laying down flowers and cards for the late princess.

SEA FOAMS

A few hours ago I made a last minute decision to drive to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small town north of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and 10 minutes away from my house, to try to photograph the moon rising from the horizon. The town’s beach area features a pier, which I decided to use as subject for my photography. While waiting for the moonrise, I practiced photographing the waves trying to capture them in a foam-like effect. This one is my favorite as the spread of the waves were consistently the same from where I was standing all the way to the pier. As for the moon, I found out that moonrise was at 9:12PM and I already made dinner plans so I decided to pack up and head back home. I’ll just do my moon photography on the next full moon.

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.

PALAIS BOURBON

img_4300-1The Palais Bourbon is located in the beautiful city of Paris along the banks of the River Seine and is home of the French National Assembly. The palace was originally built for the daughter of Louis XIV and was designed by Italian architect Lorenzo Giardini. After spending a few good hours at the Musée D’Orsay, I decided to walk to the Invalides for more touristy sightseeing and found myself in a square facing this impressive piece of architecture. Fortunately, the square was devoid of human activity so I was able to position myself right in the center from across the building and captured this photo without a single soul to block the view.

LONESOME COWBOY

This was an old photograph taken at the Grand Canyon back in 2010 and also one of my personal favorites. This guy was a tourist like me standing in solitude at the edge of the cliff while enjoying the grandness of Mother Nature before him. With his cowboy hat on, he reminded me of the Marlboro man minus the cattle and the horse so I decided to include him as an additional element to my composition. It was a beautiful and clear afternoon that you can see the Colorado River snaking between the canyons and the eagle on flight just below us. This photo was taken around 3 pm just as the sun was transitioning to its golden glow phase. The silence of the place was deafening only to be interrupted by the flight calls of the eagle every now and then. I am glad that I decided to add a human element to this photograph…..after all, we are all a part of that circle of life…and we are no more than special than the land or the water, the animals and the plants, and every other element that also call this planet home.

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.

DISTRICT OF FATIH

The Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey is located on the European side of the city and is right on the historic Constantinople proper where most of my sightseeing was spent during my visit. This district is home to historic landmarks like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Çemberlitaş Column (Column of Constantine), Grand Bazaar and the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, which is one of the best mosques built using the Ottoman Baroque style prominently defining the Istanbul skyline with its dome and minarets as seen in my photo above. I took this photo just as the sun was setting with its rich golden light bathing the city with an aura of mysticism and enchantment. I decided not to include the more commonly known landmarks in order to create a sense of mystery. The city of Istanbul surprisingly gives you a different kind of high…it’s no wonder people who once visited it wants to come back again and again.

ST. THOMAS SKYRIDE

The composition of this photo is very similar to those postcards they sell at souvenir shops that I personally think it looks kinda cheesy.😁  However, I didn’t take a lot of photos while at St. Thomas so you will have to bear with this one.  The St. Thomas Skyride is a $20 ride up a mountain on these scary looking cable cars and at the summit is a restaurant and bar as well as a few souvenir shops offering an amazing view of the island. I took this photo just as the cable cars were approaching interestingly adding a focus to my composition. Unfortunately, I was not able to explore the island as it was so hot and humid that I decided to go back to the ship immediately after I stepped out of the ride.

CARIBBEAN SUNRISE

Midway through my cruise, I decided to wake up early one morning to witness and photograph the sun rising somewhere in the Caribbean Sea.  The ship was passing by a group of islands when suddenly a flock of sea birds started flying in front of the ship as if guiding it towards its destination. I moved to the front of the ship for a more unobstructed view and I was astounded by the sight of the golden sun rising from the horizon. I was all alone at the top of the ship and I felt very privileged to have been there for that moment.

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