Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Photo Club trip to Taormina

This past Sunday photo club got together again for our monthly "field trip." This month we chose to go to Taormina, one of the most beautiful places in Sicily.  Some of the members of our group had never been to the Greek Theater so that was our first stop, and luckily it was open.

Although the conditions weren't perfect (hot, humid, lots of people, and direct mid-day sun) I did get a few pictures inside the theater.

Photography Tip: When shooting mid-day in bright and hazy conditions, most pictures will likely have areas that are over or under exposed.  The sky will often be over exposed, almost white, and areas where you want detail will be quite dark.  The trick to saving some of these pictures is to convert them to a high contrast black and white and dodging and burning the areas that are under and over exposed to bring out the detail. If you use Adobe Lightroom this can be easily done by choosing the high contrast B&W preset and then using the brush tool to fix problem areas.

The view from behind the theater, looking north toward Messina

After a bit in the theater I was exhausted from the heat.  Les and I took off and found a nearby bar to cool off in.  This bar had a charming little patio outback that was shaded by grape vines.

Somewhat refreshed, Les & I wandered some of the smaller street and enjoyed the scenery.

Isn't he cute?

Eventually we met back up with the rest of our group and headed to dinner.  We found a charming ristorante and enjoyed delicious food and great company! I'm so glad our photo club has such great members. Everyone is truly a joy to spend time with.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yoga Silhouettes at Sunset

One of the girls in my photography club had a great idea for this month's challenge photo (silhouettes) - yoga at sunset on the big round hay bales that are all over Sicily.  Unfortunately or original plan was foiled when the hay bales were collected a few days ago.  We quickly came up with a plan B because I really liked the idea of an outdoor yoga shoot at sunset.  We chose the rocky coast of Giardini Naxos, just south of Taormina.  I had a great time and am really happy with how the photos came out!

Monday, August 17, 2009

GPS Adventures

Yesterday Les & I decided to give geocaching a try.  You may be thinking what the heck is geocaching?
"Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online." (www.geocaching.com)
 We picked a hunt that was within 50 miles of home and plugged the coordinates into our handy Garmin nuvi.  Our journey took us up through Mineo and out into the hills on a gorgeous drive.  We saw parts of Sicily that were new to us and thoroughly enjoyed our time.

Along the way we stopped to enjoy a fantastic view of Vizzini, a small town on a hill out in the middle of nowhere.

The GPS coordinates took us to the town of Palazzolo Acreide and up to the Area Archeologica Akrai.  We searched and searched but couldn't find the cache, which was supposed to be a black film canister stuck in a wall behind a lamp post.  Oh well, at least we found a cool archeological site and a beafutiful town!  As we were searching we came across some wild blackberries that made a tasty snack.

Finally we gave up on trying to find the cache and decided to go into the archeological park.  It was hot so we didn't stay long but it was definitely worth the visit, and will likely get a second visit from me once the weather cools off a bit.

Greek Ruins of the Theatre of Akrai

To cool off and fill our tummies we headed into the centro of Palazzolo Acreide for lunch.  We found a very cute bar with some yummy savory treats as well as granita to cool off.  We finished off our meal with caffee freddo; mine with latte di mandorla (almond milk) and Les' with panna (whipped cream).

From Palazzolo Acreide we took a drive to Ragusa to see if the mall was open.  Another beautiful winding road through the Sicilian countryside. The mall was closed so we went to Bricco instead (a sort of home improvement/housewares store) and wandered for a bit.  We didn't find anything that we couldn't live without so we headed home.

Our geocaching adventure was a great success, not because we found the cache (we didn't and that frustrated me) but because Les & I got to spend the day together exploring this beautiful part of the world.  We'll definitely give geocaching another try, if only to discover new roads and where they lead and to see more of Sicily.

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Summer Evening in Taormina

A week ago (yes I'm a bit overdue on this post) Les and I spent an evening in Taormina.  The purpose of the trip was to take pictures for the Photo Club "Sweet Tooth" challenge.  I took several pictures but the creative juices just weren't flowing that night, especially with the sweets. I picked one of my pictures for the challenge, but I wasn't terribly happy with it.  It isn't that it is a bad picture, but it doesn't really catch my eye.  Oh well.  Win some, lose some, right?  Anyway, here are my pics from that evening...

Marzipan Fruits
This is the one I used as my "Sweet Tooth" submission.  I shot it at f11 to maximize my depth of field while still getting a reasonable shutter speed.  I set up my tripod across the street from this shot and zoomed in through the open door.  My shutter speeds couldn't be too long because there was a constant flow of foot traffic in front of my camera.

Ice Cream Cannolo

This was my 2nd runner up for the photo challenge. It actually grabs my attention a lot more than the marzipan fruits but I had already taken a bite of the ice cream and it bugged me that I didn't think to take a photo until AFTER I started eating.  Notice the little bite missing on the end? :)

Marzipan Figs

More Sweets

At this point I was getting a bit frustrated with my photographic ability for the day.  To try and "get in the mood" I started taking pictures of anything that caught my interest...like this hat rack:

Or little architectural details:

Or wacky shop signs:

And finally one last try for a "sweet tooth" photo:

The evening had worn late enough to where our American internal clocks were saying it was dinner time (around 6:30PM), still quite early for Italy.  However, we were in a touristy town so food is always available.  We saw the following sign and had to check the place out:

Excited? Scared? A bit of both?  I will say that it wasn't too bad.  The salsa tasted like salsa, the guacamole tasted like avocados (not sour cream) and the rest of the food was good, not exactly authentic, but good.  The best part, though, was the beer!  I'm not a big beer drinker but the beer was outstanding.  They have two varieties that they brew in-house.  Les tried the red and it was creamy like a Guinness, kind of a chocolate flavor, but not sweet and definitely not a bit bitter.  It was awesome!  We bought two (pricey but worth it) liters to bring home with us.

And that was pretty much the end of our evening.  After dinner we walked a bit more but it was getting late and the drive home was long so we headed out.  We'll be back soon!