Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Great Blue Heron

As much as I hate getting up really, really early, there are usually photographic rewards for doing so.   It helps to have a partner to share in the misery of interrupting a perfectly good sleep and our daughter Stacey agreed to join me on a pre-dawn outing to Lake Lynn in Raleigh.  It was much colder than we expected (about 25 degrees) and I made the mistake of not bringing gloves and carrying a nice metal tripod.  Freakin' brrrrr.
BUT, in addition to beautiful morning light, we got the opportunity to photographic a Great Blue Heron who was enjoying some early morning fishing.  The first three pictures are Stacey's.  She is SO good with her camera!  She has a great gift for composition and "seeing" the subtleties of light. Click to see full size pics.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Amazing Asia

Our Asia trip is over but the sites, sounds, and smells of this month-long adventure are still fresh. The highlights of the trip were our incredible hosts: my good high school buddy, John, and his wife Cindy gave us a magnificent Singapore experience while Claire's golfing buddy Sharon and her husband Chris could not have been more fun helping us explore every corner of Beijing. The sun during our trip was not nearly as cooperative. After leaving Singapore we had only rain, clouds, and polluted skies, so photography goals were somewhat constrained. That said, I found some great opportunities for twilight, nighttime, and pre-dawn pictures, testing my new camera, fast lenses, and high ISO speeds. Never even had to put the camera on a tripod! Viewing these magnificent buildings from up high, with their colorful lights glowing, somehow gave serenity to the chaos of the millions of people below. Here are some of my favorites.


The first picture is the iconic Marina Bay Sands Casino. Click on picture for larger view. Use the "X" in upper right corner to return.

VIETNAM (travelling up the river to Phu My port before dawn)

Fishing boat in early light



Beyond the colorful nighttime scenes, there were many others that reminded us that we weren't in Kansas (or North Carolina) anymore.

Flying over the Arctic Circle (iphone pic)

The most amazing array of shoes!

Endless high rise apartments in Hong Kong

Stunning Vietnamese women in traditional au dai dress

A covered escalator in Hong Kong that is over 1 mile long and only goes up!

Buddhist Temple ceremony in Singapore

Chinese Junk in Hong Kong Harbor

No diapers in China. Just split britches so babies can squat and go.

Wild Monkeys in Singapore (iPhone pic) - Parents with their baby
A little grooming on the sidewalk

Yummy. Live scorpions on a stick at "Critter Alley" in Beijing

Frogs on a stick

More delicious critters

The Chinese would do well on "Fear Factor" they'll eat just about any critter

Surfing at Fort Siloso, Singapore

Kebun Baru Birdsinging Club - Singapore

Delicious Peking Duck dinner - Beijing

Motorbikes by the thousands in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (many riders with surgical masks to block dust and pollution)

Seatless toilets in many of the ladies rooms in China.  Just squat. 


Cindy, our magnificent Singapore hostess, showing off her baby belly!
John and Cindy

Ancient Chinese Attire
Roy, our incredible Chinese driver, leading the way up the steep, LONG, stairs of the Drum Tower
Our amazing Beijing hosts, Chris and Sharon, on the Great Wall
Beijing Bride and Groom - we saw many photographers on the streets of China with couples in their wedding attire.  Apparently, they will take several days, in multiple locations, to shoot the couple prior to the wedding.  This couple was happy to strike a pose for me, even though they spoke no English.
Shanghai fashion?
Our host Chris, playing in the Lenovo (his employer) basketball tournament.  Not sure his knees appreciated it.
Lenovo employees served as cheerleaders and the company newsletter commented the next day on how "hot" they looked.  Somehow I think HR departments in the US would frown on this.

Vietnamese fish vendor
Claire on the Hong Kong Escalator
John by the Voyager of the Seas
Bride and groom mugging for my camera
Yet another bride and groom in Shanghai
Vietnamese street vendor on her iPhone, in au dai dress
Vietnamese street vendor in her pajamas?
Watching a little tv on the street
Chinese child

Fountain fun at a Beijing mall


The Great Wall of China, shrouded in fog and mist

After hiking a seemingly endless number of steps on the Great Wall, Chris and I went beyond the "no visitors beyond this point" to have the last vendor take our picture with the Chinese flag.

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden city was the Imperial Palace for emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  It was first constructed in 1406, has over 980 buildings, covers over 7,800,000 square feet and is surrounded by a 170 foot moat.

Emperor's Throne

 Ceiling relief in the servants quarters

Shanghai Museum

World famous museum of ancient Chinese art.  

Furniture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties - incredible detail and construction with only hand tools!

 Funerary Ornaments
Ancient Jade carvings

Hutong Villages - Beijing
Narrow streets with courtyard residences from the early days of China

The Olympic Village
The Olympic Torch
 The Water Cube

 Inside the Water Cube
 The Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium
 Diving Pool

John practicing his reverse layout 3 1/2 off the 10 meter platform

Other Cool Structures
China TV building - Beijing
 Bird's Egg Opera House - Beijing
The Dragon Building - Beijing
Oriental Pearl Tower (the funny looking one) - Shanghai
Apartment complex in Singaore
The Drum and Bell Towers - Beijing - used to announce time in ancient China
 Original drum from the Ming Dynasty
Buddhist temple - Singapore

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Included in the Botanic Gardens is the world's largest tropical orchid display - a photographer's dream!

One of the many orchids displayed in the "mist house" which would turn on a fine spray of warm mist every few minutes

One of the carnivorous varieties in the "cold house"

Rare glimpses of the sun

More from Vietnam
We had a delicious bowl of pho at the Rex Hotel, where correspondents stayed during the fall of Saigon
This woman was a Vietnamese street vendor, trying to sell Claire some cheap fans.  Although the woman spoke no English, Claire was able to communicate through the universal language of "mom" and brought big smiles to their faces.

Vietnamese art
Claire on our crazy pedicab ride

More from Hong Kong
An early morning welcome to the largest cruise ship to arrive in Hong Kong

Central terminal in Hong Kong

The Peak Tram in Hong Kong takes you up the side of the mountain at a 45 degree angle.  Another ticket gets you on the observation deck, where I took the nighttime harbor pictures.

 Hong Kong rain and fog obscuring the International Commerce Centre, fourth tallest building in the world
Leaving Hong Kong in the rain

More from Shanghai
Unique shoes seemed to be an obsession in this city!

More from Beijing
Delicious Chinese restaurant near the Hutongs
 Lotus flower
One of many crowded markets in Beijing

Chinese art at the Dirt Market

We spent over an hour tasting wonderful different teas at the tea market

Our cruise ship - Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas
 The ship took us from Singapore to Shanghai

The pool deck

The dining room
The auditorium

And finally... a few iPhone pictures

 John and John at one of the many wonderful outdoor restaurants in Singapore
 Pictures guided our selections
 Lots and lots of outdoor markets
 Beach at Xiamen on a rainy day

 Brand new beautiful Marriott in Shanghai.  Claire and I enjoyed a fantastic 90 minute head to toe massage in their great spa

 More pho.  This time at the Marriott in Shanghai

 On Sunday we went to the Yashow Clothing Market in Beijing.  On Wednesday we picked up our tailor-made cashmere overcoats that we had made for us!!!

 John  and Cindy sure know their wines and entertained us with several fine bottles!

 Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh city

 Our Big Bus Tour in Hong Kong - definitely worth it!

Still smiling with only 22 hours of flying to go!