The Masks of Venice

Almost exactly a year ago we flew to Venice, Italy to start our two week tour through the best of Italy (Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Florence and finally Rome). Venice hosts Carnival annually and the masks are a staple of this celebration. The good ones are made of papier-mache while the more touristy ones like those in sold at one of these stands near the canal are made from plastic. We spoke with one of the more famous mask makers in Venice (he has created the masks for many hollywood movies – such as the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut) but ultimately decided not to purchase one because we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to keep it in one piece traveling throughout the rest of Italy. It would have made for an interesting piece of wall art though.

This year we are sitting in the Dallas airport ready to make the connecting flight to Belize this afternoon for what should be a much more relaxing vacation without the go, go, go of trying to hit five cities in a short time span. We only have a few things planned and the weather looks like it is going to hold up so hopefully we get to enjoy a little bit of the warmth after the never-ending winter in Chicago.

The Masks of Venice – Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Happy Easter everyone!

Pre-Dawn at the Golden Gate Bridge

I drove to the Marin County side of San Francisco to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise when I was on my way to Seattle for work in January. I was treated to a wonderful sunrise but as I always want to be early I wound up being there about an ninety minutes before the sun actually came up. This gave me the opportunity to drive to a couple different viewing areas and determine which one I liked the most. The ultimate location I settled on was a little closer to the bridge than this one but I did take this (and many other shots) from the other viewing areas as I was trying to figure out whether I liked the angle or not.

Golden Gate Bridge in the Pre-Dawn Light

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco California Sunrise

We are heading down to Central America and tonight I was going to load the iPad and computer up with some movies/TV shows to watch at night and on the planes given that the areas we are staying in tend to be more disconnected than I’m used to. However, I found myself perusing iTunes and realizing there was nothing really that I wanted to watch. I’d say I don’t watch alot of TV but sadly I do – its just I tend to watch sports or documentary/reality show programs (First 48, Shark Tank, The Profit) and neither of those really travel well once you’ve already watched them once. I’ve already watched many of the HBO shows on Demand or ‘live’ when I’ve had a subscription so I guess the question is what should we bring on the plane with us? Keep in mind we will be spending a few nights in a jungle, completely cut-off from many ‘modern amenities’ so my wife isn’t really looking for anything even remotely scary. Suggestions on anything?

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Milan, Italy)

One of the world’s oldest shopping malls – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy – is an architectural marvel. Four stories high with a beautiful vaulted ceiling sitting over the main walkway connecting the city’s two main squares the Piazza del Duomo (city’s main church – Il Duomo) with that of the Piazza della Scala (the historic and world famous opera house).

Milan Shopping Mall

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milan Italy Mall

We spent a few nights in Milan during our trip to Italy (almost exactly one year ago – time flies!) and one of those nights we sat in this mall at one of the restaurants overlooking the walkway drinking wine and making up stories about the people passing by and sitting around us. It was one of our favorite nights there and we didn’t really do very much (except drink a lot of very good, yet very cheap wine).

Running Eagle Falls, Glacier National Park

Normally a “double” waterfall – the forty foot ‘top’ waterfall that would normally obscure the hidden waterfall wasn’t running due to the lateness of the season. Running Eagle Falls is one of the more easily accessible waterfalls in Glacier National Park as the trail is short, about a mile or so, and well maintained. As a result it is frequented so if you are expecting some time alone I would not spend time on this short hike.

Running Eagle Falls, Glacier National Park

Running Eagle Falls, Glacier National Park

Five more days of work and then Belize! Woo-Hoo!

Leading Lines

The second Vermillion Lake in Banff National Park provides open water even in the winter which allows for the opportunity to capture reflections of the widely recognized Mount Rundle in the distance. The open water can provide leading lines through the image to draw the eye from the front of the image to the back as it does here. Leading lines are an important element to composition as are the triangular shapes formed by the mountain peaks in both the background and the reflection of the water.

Mount Rundle in Banff National Park

Mount Rundle in Banff National Park

Presentation to prep for tomorrow – bright and early – then the weekend. One more week until we are off to Belize. Can’t wait!

Twin Peaks, San Francisco

I was heading back to the San Francisco airport for a flight that evening. I was hoping I’d be able to catch the sunset and the ‘golden hour’ at “Twin Peaks” which is supposed to provide the best views of the downtown San Francisco skyline. This views didn’t disappoint but unfortunately the ‘golden hour’ lingered for much longer than I anticipated and I had to take off before the buildings downtown started to lightup and become more prominent against the hills and bay in the distance. The road leading up to and out of the Twin Peaks area is one of the most filmed roads in America – the backside of this viewpoint looks out on the Pacific Ocean – and so the windy road is picturesque.

Twin Peaks, San Francisco

Twin Peaks San Francisco

Opening Day (for me at least)

I’ve had a client in Denver for the past three years which has blessed me with the opportunity to go Rocky Mountain National Park around eight times. The best part about the quarterly meeting cycles with the clients is that the park is different each and every time I see it because of the changing seasons. I took this picture about a year ago when winter had finally left the Rockies and the park was coming alive for the summer. The grass was greener, the rivers were full and running fast with the melting snowpack from the mountains and the temperatures were still moderate enough to hike and explore all day.

Slightly after sunrise I headed back to Moraine Park which is near the entrance and where Bear Lake road will take you back to the downtown area. There is a parking area right next to a bridge on the south side of the road and a fenced area that is accessible (just make sure to lock the gate behind you so animals don’t get into the area since they are trying to re-grow the aspen trees that the deers will eat in the winter months) and then you can work your way up and down the river’s edge. I hopped out on some rocks and set my tripod low, composed the image and then put the 10-stop ND filter on so I could make the water silky looking as it rushed by me. The exposure time was sixty seconds for this shot.

Rocky Mountain Stream in the Morning

Rocky Mountain River in the Morning

I’m heading back to Detroit for the weekend for a little Tigers baseball with my family tomorrow. This is my favorite time of year – I absolutely love baseball and there is nothing better than the first visit to the ballpark. The smells, the sounds and the game are all fantastic. The bonus this year though is the poutine hot dog – a hot dog smothered with french fries, cheese curds and gravy. If the Tigers could top it off with a win over the Orioles (and maybe a Cabrera HR to right field) I’ll be a happy man.