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FLIGHT OF THE ALBATROSS 

I always envy how birds can just soar freely into the horizon and visit exciting destinations without worrying about pricey plane tickets, uncomfortable seats, lost luggages or nasty flight attendants.  I on the other hand had to work around my limited vacation days at work and patiently await for dollar-saving deals before I can start packing my bags. How I wish I was a bird so I’d be able to explore distant places to as far as my wings can take me. Just like the Albatross in my photo above, it was instantly headed towards its next adventure by just a flap of its wings.  The most I could do was enviously photograph it as it soared towards me with its gaze focused on my camera as if reminding me how I was unfortunately stuck in my stateroom’s balcony. What a cocky bird (uhm!)!

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BEAUTIFULLY RUGGED 

Having lived my entire life in a tropical climate, the Alaskan wilderness was quite a significant change of scenery for me, add to that a major change in temperature as well.  From tree lined rocky shores and rugged mountain ranges to snow capped peaks and majestic glaciers, it felt like I was in another planet…an enchanting and magical planet.  The Alaskan terrain also drew out a deep sense of adventure in me…I found myself trekking alone inside a rain forest just to see a glacier. I did realize much later what a stupid thing I did, I could have encountered a bear and that could have been the end of me. Anyway, I never saw any bear, moose or deer until the last day of my trip when my ride to the airport dropped by an animal conservation center. So yes, I was in Alaska for 8 days and only saw wildlife inside a mini-zoo.

PLACID 

It was a calm afternoon at sea and my cruise ship was sailing steadily towards our first port of call…Ketchikan, Alaska. The air was a bit chilly but that didn’t deter me from stepping out to my stateroom’s balcony to check the view.  It was foggy earlier in the day so I was excited to see the fog finally lifted and the islands visibly clear from where I was standing.  From a distance, I saw this tiny boat slowly glide towards us while staying close to the island obviously trying to maintain a safe distance from the behemoth of a ship it was encountering. As both vessels got closer, I noticed how still the waters were creating a mirror effect of the boat and the island so I immediately got my camera busy to capture as much as I can of the magical scene.  It was such a treat to photograph the boat as it carefully sliced through the silent waters and gently stirred up the serene reflection of the lush Alaskan forest in the distance.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

LIVIN’ ON THE EDGE

img_4850In the Greek island of Santorini, low-lying and colorful cubical buildings cling on the side of the remnant of a volcanic caldera hundreds of feet above sea level providing an unobstructed view of the Aegean Sea.  The island also boasts of  its beautiful sunsets and due to the layout of the buildings, you get a front seat view of the sunset anywhere you sit. Tourism is the island’s major industry and it has been ranked as the world’s top island by travel magazines and websites. When I visited this island more than a year ago, I exhaustingly maneuvered myself for hours through narrow alleys with sharp turns and steep climbs in order to truly experience the essence of this ancient municipality. Unfortunately, my feet started killing me way before sunset so I decided to head back to my cruise ship and skipped the chance to witness one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. I guess I now have a good reason to revisit Santorini in the near future so I can finally photograph its famous sunset.

LA ISLA BONITA

img_4362-1The island of Boracay in the Philippines is famous for its white sugary and powdery sand and has been awarded by multiple international travel magazines as one of the best beaches in the world. The movie Too Late The Hero starring Michael Caine and Henry Fonda was shot on this island in the 1970’s just as tourism was slowly coming in.  I visited this island 3 times and this photo was taken during my second visit around February of 2009 using a Samsung point and shoot camera, which I bought at Walmart for just $75. This photo was taken near my hotel at the rocky Diniwid Beach in the northwest part of the island where it’s mostly private resorts and is therefore less crowded and more peaceful. The main beach of the island is the White Beach, which can be accessed by a foot path from Diniwid, and is about 2.5 miles (4 kms) long and lined with hotels, restaurants and shops.

SUNSET IN BORACAY 

 This photo was one of my few earlier attempts on disciplined photography.  I took this in 2009 using my iPhone during a trip to the island of Boracay in central Philippines. Boracay is famous for its powdery white sands and is even recognized by established travel magazines like Conde Nast as one of the best beaches in the world. It’s amazing how good the iPhone camera was back then. Today, I continue to use my iPhone to take photos and so far it continues to amaze me with the quality of photos it produces.

AEGEAN SUNSET

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A sunset is one of my favorite photography subjects because the sky showcases its best and richest colors. In this photo, the sky is illuminated with a spectrum of red and gold creating a rich canvas for the setting sun as well as the dark shadows of this cluster of Greek islands. This photograph was taken in the Aegean Sea, aboard the Celebrity Reflection, a few nautical miles from the island of Mykonos where we were docked earlier that day.  The ship was already far out at sea so I had to zoom in my lens to capture the sun and the islands in this perspective.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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