Archive for June 2011

Face Painting, Lancaster City   Leave a comment

Beginning the process . . .


And the finish . . .


Posted June 29, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People

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Yei bi chei, Monument Valley   Leave a comment

Rock formation at sunrise in Monument Valley.  The Navajo people named this formation after traditional yei bi chei dancers.  Early morning warm light makes the sandstone and dunes practically glow.


Posted June 28, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Landscapes, Travel Photography

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Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point   1 comment

A hiker’s reward for enduring the 3,200 foot elevation gain from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is this breathtaking view.  My son Eric and I made the hike along Four-Mile Trail, which is somewhat incorrectly named since it’s much closer to five miles in length.  It was a lung-burner of a hike, and it was a good three or four minutes after we reached Glacier Point before my hands were steady enough to hold the camera.

You can also take an hour-long drive to get there by car, but if you are fit enough to hike the arrival is sooo much sweeter on foot.  On the other hand, I absolutely hate hiking downhill for long distances, so I was very happy to have Melanie and Hannah meet us with the car and drive us back to the valley.



Posted June 27, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Landscapes, Travel Photography

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Marilyn and Ella   1 comment

Not my typical post and certainly not my photo, but a fascinating story of friendship between a pair of one-time entertainment titans — Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald.  It’s a small story, just a glimpse really,  that altered what I thought I knew about both, but especially about Monroe.

On the surface both women could not have been more different.  Monroe, the beautiful blonde sex symbol of her generation, parlayed her beauty into stardom and power.  Fitzgerald, with the purest and most powerful jazz vocals of any generation, lived her life wishing for greater outward beauty.  What brought them together was a mutual love for music, especially jazz.

Monroe would attend Fitzgerald’s shows whenever the two were in Los Angeles or New York at the same time.  The problem was that Ella, despite being considered the Queen of Jazz, was still not able to sing in the major clubs in segregated 1950’s era America.  As Monroe and Fitzgerald developed a personal friendship, Marilyn decided to leverage her fame to help her friend, so she called the owner of one of the clubs that had been blacklisting Fitzgerald — the Mocambo in Los Angeles.  What did Monroe do and say?  In Ella’s own words:

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Ella later said. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

A push back against prejudice and discrimination by a Hollywood icon.  But more importantly, an act of kindness for a friend.  I’ve always had an appreciation of Ella Fitzgerald, the singer.  And now a new-found appreciation for Marilyn Monroe, the person.

Posted June 24, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Off Topic, People

Corn Lilies   Leave a comment

Near Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park.  I spotted these corn lilies and was taken by the graceful curves and subtle color variation.

Posted June 22, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Nature and Wildlife

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Ephrata Cloister Stairs   Leave a comment

A photo a little closer to home today.

About 20 miles northeast of Lancaster City is a small museum and restoration called the Ephrata Cloister.  The Cloister was an experimental community formed in the early 1700’s by Johann Conrad Beissel and his group of Brethren followers.  This community was based on Beissel’s teachings of Sabbath worship and celibacy.  (Funny how sects based on celibacy, like these Brethren and the Shakers, are only found in history books today.)  Anyway, this particular sect made it into the early 1800’s before the last of the 80 or so original celibate members died.  For a brief time some remaining non-celibate members reorganized into the Seventh Day German Baptist Church.  They finally dwindled into the history books in the 1930’s, leaving a somewhat puzzling but fascinating history and some wonderful German colonial era architecture behind.

Today the Cloister is a National Historic Landmark and a very interesting glimpse into an early American religious community.  You can learn more about the Cloister here.  If you are thinking of visiting Lancaster my suggestion is that you skip the shopping outlets and the faux-Amish attractions.  Visit the Ephrata Cloister instead.

The above photo was taken at the bottom of a very dimly lit outdoor stairwell on the grounds.  It required a tripod mounted 20 second exposure at 100 ISO.   There are dozens of good photo opportunities for anyone interested in architecture and detail photography.

Posted June 21, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Travel Photography

Horse Guards   Leave a comment

We stumbled upon this bit of ceremony at the Horse Guards Parade Ground on the day that Diana died.  It was eerily quiet in London that day.  No car horns.  No shouting or laughing.  As we waited for the changing of the Horse Guards, the horse on the right was acting up.  The soldier in charge (standing) was telling the horse’s rider — in no uncertain terms — to get his horse under control.

I’ve always liked this photo for the symmetry and the color, but it will always conjure up the memory of that sad day.

Posted June 20, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Travel Photography

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Take My Picture   2 comments

I posted this photo on a blog several years ago, but since it’s Father’s Day I’m going to post it again . . .

At the tail end of a long and boisterous Notting Hill Carnival parade there was a bus that had picked up participants too tired to walk the entire route.  I was waiting for the crowd to clear out so that I could put my camera away when I saw the bus and this little girl at the window, watching me and still blowing her horn.  She seemed to be saying “take my picture!”.  The bus was moving, but I was able to raise my camera and take two or three shots before the moment passed.

This has always been one of my favorite photos.  It was one of those rare moments when I felt a personal connection while looking through the viewfinder.  To this day, nearly 15 years since we went to that carnival, I look at this photo and wonder what became of her life.  I hope it has been filled with good things.

Addendum:  For those unfamiliar with the Notting Hill Carnival, it is the largest street carnival in Europe, and ranks up there with similar celebrations like Mardi Gras (New Orleans) and Carnival (Rio de Janeiro).  Held over a two-day period every August in London’s Notting Hill section, it is a sight to behold . . . if you don’t mind being elbow to elbow with a million other visitors.

Posted June 19, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People

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Flowers, Kings College, Cambridge   Leave a comment

The British are wonderful gardeners, and the various colleges in Cambridge are beautifully landscaped.

Posted June 16, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Travel Photography

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Lismore Lighthouse   2 comments

I’ve seen a few lighthouses in my life (boy, have I) thanks to my wife’s passion for them.  The most beautiful by far is Lismore Lighthouse on the western coast of Scotland.  Besides being visually stunning Lismore has an interesting heritage, having been built in 1833 by Robert Stevenson — grandfather of Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

The official location of Lismore Lighthouse (which only a Scot could possibly understand) is “on Eilean Musdile in the Firth of Lorne at the entrance to Loch Linnhe”.  I could come up with a pretty good drinking game involving reciting that really fast while sipping single malt Scotch.  Not that anyone in Scotland needs an excuse to drink, at least based on what I observed on my trips there.  Like when we shared a train ride from London to Edinburgh with the Scottish national rugby team . . . a story for another post.

In any case, the best way to capture a good view of Lismore is to take the ferry from Oban toward Mull and Iona.  We had a particularly cold ferry ride even though it was June, but that is what you can expect in Scotland, especially on the water.  One other photographer and I left the warmth of the cabin and went out on deck to take photos.  I was able to take about two dozen shots as we passed by.  Thanks to strong winds and the vibrations of the ferry’s engines only three or four turned out acceptably sharp.  I was looking forward to another chance on the return trip but the ferry return route was far removed from the lighthouse.

The fare to ride the ferry is pretty steep but well worth the cost of seeing this magnificent lighthouse.  Throw in the chance to see Iona Abbey, Fingal’s Cave, and the rugged Scottish coast, and I would part with double the fare.  Highly recommended for photographers and non-photographers alike.

Posted June 15, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Seascapes, Travel Photography

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No Respect   2 comments

Lancaster — like many cities — has a parking problem.  :o)

Posted June 14, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Signs of the Times

Eilean Donan / Changing Weather   1 comment

I’ve never been a big fan of picture postcards for one simple reason — so many of them are taken on blue-sky idyllic days (and then over saturated into colors that don’t normally exist in nature, but that’s a slightly different gripe).  Now, there’s nothing wrong with sunshine and blue skies when traveling and vacationing.  But for interesting photographs, I’ll take changing weather over blue skies any day.  And no where does the weather change more frequently than in the Western Highlands of Scotland.  I spent a good ten hours visiting Eilean Donan castle, and in that one day experienced sunshine, lightning, heavy downpours, rainbows, and everything in between.  Those “in between” moments, like the one above, can be spectacular.

Even if they’re not postcard worthy.


Posted June 12, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Travel Photography

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Somewhere in Tuscany   Leave a comment

One of my favorite photos in the Tuscany region of Italy.  Unfortunately, I lost my notes that identified the town where this was taken.  Montepulciano?  Cortona?  I’m not sure — but I took hundreds of photos in those two towns.  Regardless, if I had to choose just one place in Europe to go for photography it would be a toss-up between Tuscany in Italy and the Western Highlands in Scotland.

Posted June 11, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Europe, Travel Photography

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Checkerboard Guitar   Leave a comment

A partially completed hand-made guitar.  I can’t wait to go back to the shop and see this one when it has been lacquered and strung!

Posted June 9, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

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Midnight Guitar   Leave a comment

Photo from a store on King Street in Lancaster.  Processed with Topaz Adjust software.

Posted June 8, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Digital Art

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Hands   2 comments

Another photo from Sunday’s “Rock the Block” event in Lancaster.  The gentleman was very gracious in allowing me to photograph his hands.  I think he was surprised but also pleased by the request.

Posted June 7, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People

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Rock the Block   Leave a comment

The 300 block of Queen Street in Lancaster was closed off to traffic today for a “Rock the Block” party.  Good music and good food.  These gents were just relaxing and taking it all in.

Posted June 5, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People

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Canal Swan, Surrey, England   Leave a comment

A photo with a digital art effect (via Topaz Simplify) to give it a more painterly look.

The place where we lived in England — Weybridge, Surrey — had nearby canals where people traveled in and stored their canal boats.  There were also many swans gliding around the smooth waters.  The shaded banks and dark waters made a perfect backdrop for the white swans.  I was able to catch a little late-afternoon light on this one, making it a “keeper” photo.

Posted June 4, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Digital Art, Nature and Wildlife

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Schooners at Sunrise   Leave a comment

Just after sunrise on a September morning in Maine.  Warm light, cool temperatures, calm waters and a beautiful reflection.  Just what the photographer ordered.

Posted June 2, 2011 by ~ Bruce in Seascapes

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Captain Doug   Leave a comment

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that the Maine coast photo was taken from aboard a ship called the Schooner Heritage.  The Heritage is a 95′ long, 24′ wide two-masted wooden schooner, and it was our home for a week along with 25 or so other passengers and crew.  It was designed and built in the early 80’s by Doug and Linda Lee — the owners and captains of this magnificent vessel — and sails out of Rockland, Maine.  You can learn a lot more about The Heritage here.  Doug and Linda even have a link to an old blog of mine on the Captain’s Log page here.  Scroll to the bottom and click on the travelogue link if you’re interested.  I think they’ve been carrying that link for 6 or 7 years now.

I have nothing but good things to say about our week on the Heritage.  The food, the people, the hospitality, the photography . . . well, you can read that old blog.  But if I had to choose ONE photo to convey our experience it would be the photo of Captain Doug, above.  Not the lobster boats, the coastline, other schooners or the light houses.  Doug made the trip F-U-N.  If you look up the definition of “character” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Doug.  A real down-east piece of work.

So if you ever get the urge to spend a week as an indentured servant, hoisting sails and coiling rope on a wooden sail ship, by all means sail on the Heritage.  And no, I don’t get a commission from Doug and Linda.  But I do occasionally get emails from photographers and other travelers thanking me for pointing them to the Heritage.


Posted June 1, 2011 by ~ Bruce in People

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