Friday, July 30, 2010

My Talented Family

I just got word that two members of my family won ribbons at the Mid-State Fair!!

My mom entered this pic:

and she won a blue ribbon!!!

My grandma entered this quilt:

and she won best in show!!!

I'm so proud of my talented, creative, artistic, amazing family!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Worldwide Photo Walk 2010

Yesterday's Photo Walk was a success!!  I shared the afternoon/evening with 15 awesome people, some old friends, and some new.

Most of my group hadn't been to Ragusa Ibla before and they fell in love with the city as I do each and every time I visit.

"mew mew"  He was sooooo cute!!

Due to the "joys" of the GPS about 2/3 of the group arrived a bit late so I started off with a few people and Les ended up leading the rest of the group.

Everyone went at a different pace so some of us stayed together as a group and others branched off on their own.

At the end of the walk everyone met up for some of the best gelato in Sicily (possibly in Italy as well).  I had a scoop of Anguria (watermelon) and Moscato (a sweet wine).  So good!! Gelati di Vini rocks! I'd go back to Ragusa just for the gealto. :)

After dessert everyone was hungry for dinner.  I hadn't planned on everyone wanting to eat together so I quickly scouted the vicinity for a restaurant. Twenty minutes later we were seated.

We had a fantastic meal!  Often restaurants in touristy areas can be  hit and miss, but this one was excellent, and the prices were very reasonable, too.  I highly recommend La Piazzetta!! In addition to great food, the staff was awesome.  They were a bit suprised when I asked if they had a table for 14 but they were happy to accommodate us.

Awesome getaway car!  The wedding Cinquecento!

I couldn't have asked for a better day for a Photo Walk.  Being outdoors late in July in the Sicilian Summer sun was a bit scary but we were lucky!  It was 10-15 degrees F cooler than where we live and around the base.  In the evening it cooled to the low 70's.  Perfecto!!

I couldn't have asked for a better day!  Wonderful friends, beautiful scenery, and fantastic food - the best things in life. :)

Participating in the Worldwide Photo Walk was a fabulous experience!  I'm not sure where we'll be this time next year but I hope to participate again, wherever I am in the world.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In Local News...

Look what was in this week's base paper:

Awesome, huh?  I think so, anyway. :)

Tomorrow is the big day! I hope everyone who wants to participate has signed up on the Worldwide Photo Walk website.  As of today there are 1111 Photo Walks taking place around the world tomorrow with more than 31,483 participants!! I'm so excited to participate in this even and even more so I'm honored to have been accepted as a Walk Leader!

For those who are participating here are a few things to keep in mind as posted by Jeff Revell on the PhotoWalkPro blog:
  • #1 – Show up early There’s just no way of knowing what might delay your arrival, traffic, parking, a herd of rogue sheep. The point is that you want to make sure that you get to the starting point with enough time to feel comfortable and relaxed instead of trying to catch up with the pack.
  • #2 – Make sure you bring ground support By that I mean bring some water, maybe a little sunscreen, some comfortable shoes. What ever it takes to keep you comfortable and focused on shooting.
  • #3 – Charge up Don’t wait until Saturday morning to discover that your camera batteries are low or even dead. Put your batteries on charge tonight so you will be ready to roll tomorrow morning/afternoon. Helpful hint: put your batteries on charge next to your camera so you don’t accidentally grab your camera without the battery.
  • #4 – Think about how much equipment you want to bring and then think again I know it’s nice to be prepared but really, lugging camera gear around can really start to wear on you, especially as the temperature goes up, or down for that matter.  Try to focus on simplicity instead of carrying the kitchen sink.
  • #5 – Check the weather forecast I know that sounds like a no-brainer but I have heard it time and again, “I didn’t know it was going to be so hot/rainy/cold.” A quick peek at the Weather Channel will make sure that you are dressed apporpriately for the day.
  • #6 – Leave the tripod at home Yes, you would undoubtedly get some tack-sharp images by using your tripod but it will also tend to get in the way more than it will be a help. If you must, go for a monopod instead. You can make it double up as a walking stick and you won’t have people tripping over it while you shoot.
  • #7 – Safety first And second and third It’s so easy to become glued to your viewfinder and forget about everything going on around you and this is when accidents happen. Just a couple of weeks ago I was walking with my family down a stret in Antigua Guatemala, shooting, walking, and having a ball. The problem was that I paid more attention to what i wanted to take a photo of instead of the hole in the sidewalk in front of me. Needless to say, my foot went in the hole, my knees hit the ground, followed by my hands. My camera and I escaped with only minor scratches but it could have been worse. Take care to know where you are standing when you shoot and don’t go walking backwards off a curb and into the path of a car. Also, keep an eye out for your fellow walkers and help to keep them safe as well.
I think that covers everything.  I'm looking forward to a fantastic day tomorrow!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This morning I spent some time with a friend who I haven't seen in months!  She used to live just a few doors down, but she moved back in January and I hadn't seen her since.  We had a great time catching up over coffee and other yummy treats.  Afterward we did a bit of shopping in Mineo for fresh produce, bread, and meat.

Buying fresh is so inexpensive here!  For about 3 euros (about $3.75) I got a half kilo (about a pound) of zucchini, a half kilo of tomatoes, and a kilo of nectarines!  I'm trying to make the most of these kinds of perks while I'm still here.  The next few months are going to go by so fast!

A Friend Retires

Earlier this week one of our good friends retired from the Navy after serving our country for 20 years.  I was honored that he asked me to photograph the ceremony.  Not only was this the first retirement ceremony I'd attended, but also the first event where I was the official photographer.  Here are a few of my favorite shots:

I'm excited for my friends as they move on with the next chapter in their life, but at the same time sad to see them leave Sicily. Saying goodbye is always rough, but luckily they will be living near our next duty station so I know we'll see them again soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ponte Dirillo

On Saturday I had the opportunity to go to the Ponte Dirillo memorial ceremony.  This was my second time attending, but this experience was a bit different from the ceremony I attended three years ago.  To learn more about Ponte Dirillo see my post from 2007. The most significant difference was the location - this time the bulk of the ceremony was held in Gela, with only a portion of the ceremony being held at the actual Ponte Dirillo site.

The morning started off very early (much too early for me) because Les was driving a bus from base.  We arrived in Gela early as is usual for military functions so I had time to wander a bit before the actual ceremonies started.

Italian flag garlands decorated the square and nearby streets

Italians learn to ride Vespas early in life

The massive doors at the front of the Duomo in Gela

The first ceremony of the day was Mass held in a small church just off of the square. It was a lovely building with the most uncomfortable pews I've ever sat in! :) The mass was conducted by a Cardinal, which, even though I'm not Catholic, I think is a big deal.

Alter Boy
 Once the Mass concluded there was an Italian part of the ceremony in the church where the Mayor of Gela said a few words and an explanation in Italian was given as to the significance of Ponte Dirillo.

If anyone reading this knows what this uniform is for I'd love to know!

The American portion of the ceremony was held outdoors in the square in Gela.  During this portion of the ceremony all of the names of the men who died at Ponte Dirillo were read in a roll call.

Mr. Gousman - brother to one of the fallen at Ponte Dirillo

Les played Taps after the names of the fallen were read

After the ceremony there was a parade to lay a wreath at a plaque the next street over
After the ceremonies in Gela a large group caravaned out to the Ponte Dirillo site.

Les playing Taps at the Ponte Dirillo site with Parachutes billowing in the background

I'm honored to have been able to witness this memorial event twice during my stay in Sicily. Those who serve our country today work hard to ensure that those who have gone before are not forgotten.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Patterns and Textures

This month's Photography Club challenge was "patterns & textures." I came up with the idea as I was driving down the road, seeing the Sicilian countryside plowed and mowed, each field with a different texture and pattern.

Over the course of the past month I have been trying to capture these fields, but with little success.  One day my photos were a bit blurry (too much coffee that morning I guess) and another day everything that could go wrong went wrong - didn't have the right filter, tripod mount broke before I even took a single shot, and then the shots I got all had power lines running through them!  In my frustration I didn't even notice while I was taking the photos, but they sure popped out at home on my monitor!

This evening is my photo club meeting so out I went in 97F weather to try and shoot.  Ugh, the heat sucked the life out of me, but I got a few decent shots.  I hope you like them.

So there you have it - my interpretation of patterns and textures.  Each shot is a high dynamic range image which is processed using three different exposures. I used this technique to bring out as much detail as possible.

Enjoy the photos and be glad that it wasn't you out there tromping through brush in excruciating heat to get the shot!  Everything worthwhile takes effort, right?