Saturday, August 28, 2010

Photo Club Trip to Caltagirone - Part VI

Our Caltigirone Photo Club adventure ended at Il Palazzo dei Marchesi di Santa Barbara.  One of our club members had found a restaurant in the palazzo on a previous trip and he raved about it so we decided to try it out.  We were not disappointed!  Everything was fantastic,  and I will definitely go back again.  Many of us ended our meal with dolce and I chose a Fantasia of Semifreddo.

What is semifreddo?  According to Wikipedia it is " a class of semi-frozen desserts, typically ice-cream cakes, semi-frozen custards, and certain fruit tarts. It has the texture of frozen mousse because it is usually produced by uniting two equal parts of ice cream and whipped cream."  Sounds fantastic, right?

Well, here is what my fantasia looked like:


No idea what flavor this was, it had dried fruits and nuts and had a fruit sauce


I think I liked it!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo Club Trip to Caltagirone - Part V

One of the high points of last weekend's Photo Club trip to Caltagirone was a club member who was generous enough to let me borrow a couple of his really nice lenses!  I had a great time playing with his Fast 50 and 100mm Macro. Being able to get so close to a subject and having that amazing bokeh rocked my world!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Photo Club Trip to Caltagirone - Part IV

On my trip to Caltagirone I was on the lookout for repetition.  My eyes were repeatedly drawn to lamp posts, many of which were attached to the sides of buildings.  They draw my eyes down the street and make me wonder what is down the road and around the corner.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photo Club Trip to Caltagirone - Part III

Caltagirone is the Citta della Ceramiche - the city of ceramics.  Its difficult, if not impossible to visit Caltagirone without taking photos of the beautiful, hand painted ceramics. From the tiles adorning Le Scale (the steps) to the trinkets in the shops, all are eye catching and fun to see!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Photo Club Trip to Caltagirone - Part II

Italian architecture never ceases to amaze me. The age, the beauty, the detail.  I love it!  Here are a few more shots from my Photo Club outing last Saturday:

When I have my camera in my hand I pay attention to detail. I'm always on the lookout for a new perspective, especially in places like Caltagirone where I've visited many times.  Each time I have to get a bit more creative so I don't end up with the same shots that I took the trip before.

I love how how photography has given me a deep appreciation for detail. I see the world differently, even in places that are as familiar as my home town.  I see the world as it looks through my viewfinder and suddenly most anything can become new and exciting!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Photo Club Trip to Caltagirone

This past Saturday I met up with a bunch of friends from my Photo Club for a trip to Caltagirone. We had so much fun that a trip that was originally only supposed to be for a couple of hours (because of the warm summer sun) lasted until around 11PM at night.

One of the ways that I know I'm having fun is when I'm feeling creative, and boy, was I creative that day!  I shot over 4GB of photos so its taken me a few days to sort through and process them. I have quite a few photos that I want to share here, but too many for a single blog post.  Keep an eye out because I'll have new posts throughout the week.

I had several photographic ideas when I went out with the club on Saturday. I looked for lines, repetition, and color. Recently I realized that I hadn't done a black and white with a bit of color painted in for awhile.  I love taking and processing those types of shots so while I was out shooting I looked for scenes that would be ideal for that process.  Here are my favorites:

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sitting at dinner the other night...

Yesterday I had to say "see you later" to good friends.  It is one of the the crummiest parts of military life - making wonderful new friends and inevitably having to say goodbye at some point.  I wouldn't trade the friendships, but I could do without the goodbyes.

Earlier this week our friends moved out of their house (which was just down the street from us) and into a hotel for their last few days in Sicily.  They shipped their car and were stuck on base so we went and picked them up for one last night on the town.  Our evening started at the mall where we entertained ourselves until dinnertime in a play area similar to Dave and Busters (not quite as cool as D&B, but still fun).  After exhausting all of the Euro change in each of our pockets we headed out for Chinese food.

My favorite Chinese food restaurant in Catania is Ristorante Cinese Acquario.  Their food is delicious and inexpensive.  During the summer you can't beat the view while seated on their terrace over looking a small harbor and the sea. We had a great time just hanging out and chatting with our friends over dinner.  While we were sitting at dinner that night I shot this photo, I think it may be my new favorite:

I'm really happy that we were able to spend one more evening with our friends before they left the island.  Buon Viaggio M, K, & H!  Ci vediamo a presto! You will be missed!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What I want to be doing...

As my time in Sicily draws near its end I'm left wondering what I want to do with the next chapter of my life.

Pre-Sicily I worked as a freelance financial consultant and I loved it!  It was challenging and no two days were never the same.  The only downside was that it didn't challenge my creative side, but luckily I didn't work full-time and had a bit of free time to pursue creative things.

In Sicily I haven't had a J-O-B.  In addition to being a housewife I got my MBA, became a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator, and dove head first into photography. I have focused much more on my creative side and have loved every minute. I've also discovered my LOVE of travel.  If I don't go somewhere new at least every couple of months I start to go stir crazy.

So where am I going with all of this?  Well, the more I think about it I would love to combine my love of photography with my love of travel.  In leading the Sigonella Photography Club I've discovered that I thoroughly enjoy helping others realize their photographic vision.  I've also led several field trips and its always fun to take people to a place that I find beautiful and interesting and then seeing how everyone sees the same place differently through their lens.

The more I think about it I'd really like to find a way to lead photography tours around the world.  I have no idea how to get a position like this, but I can't help but think a job like this would be perfect.  I would be able to see the world (and get paid for it) while helping others become better photographers.

 My intuition tells me that a job like this isn't going to fall into my lap - I'm going to have to make a name for myself as a photographer and as an instructor. I've come a long way at Sigonella: from learning how to use my camera, learning its settings and putting them to use creatively to leading the photography club and gearing up to teach my first photography classes! Now its time to dive into a much larger pond: San Diego, CA.

I have no idea where my photographic journey will take me, but I have big dreams!  If any of you, my readers, have suggestions on how to get my foot in the door as a photography tour leader please let me know.  Otherwise I think I will network, network, network when I get back to the states and then see what happens.  Wish me luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Taormina and Castelmola

Yesterday I spent the day with friends as they did some last minute shopping and sightseeing in Taormina and Castelmola.  They leave the island next week (sniff, sniff) so I was happy to spend time with them.

On the way up to Taormina Mt. Etna was smoking up a storm.  Its not the best pic ever, shot from a moving car from the passenger seat through the drivers side window, but it shows that we live near a very active volcano!

It was quite warm and crowded in Taormina and my friend was on a mission.  I didn't have time to take many pictures as we darted through the crowds and in and out of shops.

After getting what they came for in Taormina we headed up to Castelmola.  In three years that they have lived here they'd never been.  It is a beautiful little town with an amazing view!

Looking down at the Taetro Greco in Taormina

We stayed long enough to enjoy the view and get a gelato then it was time to head home.  I had a great time and am so happy I got to spend this day with my friends. I'll miss them so much when they leave!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Say Cheese!!

These are what Americans in Sicily fondly refer to as "geep".  Geep are herds of goats and sheep that often block roadways as they move from pasture to pasture.  While I know some who get annoyed at having to wait on the geep I've always loved seeing them.  For me it is one of those authentic Sicilian moments, something unique to my life in Sicily.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Prickly Pear

For the past (nearly) four years I've driven the SS 385 to and from Palagonia.  Each time I pass a building with a prickly pear cactus growing out of the roof.  It never ceases to amaze me!

I've wanted for quite some time to stop and take pictures of this building, particularly bracketed shots for HDR. I've been waiting for the right moment, but as my time here draws near its close I thought that I should go out and take a few shots, even if the conditions weren't ideal.

I had a lot of fun taking and processing these images.  I hope to get back to that spot again when the conditions are better (a stormy sky or big puffy clouds would be great). But if that doesn't happen at least I now have a few shots to remember this particular place by - not that I could easily forget a cactus growing out of the roof!

For those of you who aren't as head over feet into photography and are wondering what the heck HDR is, HDR stands for Hight Dynamic Range.
"In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight." (

If you'd like to learn more about HDR I highly recommend Rick Sammon's book HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers.  While it doesn't give step by step instructions he does give a good explanation on the different types of software available for processing HDR as well as detailed descriptions of what the different sliders do in the industry standard software Photomatix Pro.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pantalica and Valle dell’Anapo

Yesterday Les & I headed down to the Pantalica nature reserve. It was a bit warm for my taste but I knew it would be good to get out. We ended up in the Anapo Valley (Valle dell'Anapo) and spent a couple of hours exploring.

It was gorgeous, especially down by the river. The water flowed and pooled in various shades of blues and emerald greens.

In some places the water was quite deep. There were quite a few Sicilians making use of these gorgeous swimming holes.

Les was in his element, loving the outdoors.

The vegetation ranged from typical Sicilian brush to lush, almost tropical varieties.   

The dragonflies were by far the most fascinating wildlife I witnessed on this trip.  I caught a few decent pictures of the black ones, but we also saw blue and pink dragonflies!

Wild grape vines had attached themselves to trees along the water. We didn't eat any, but they did look tasty!

Although the heat made me uncomfortable I'm glad I sucked it up and went out.

The afternoon was a fun and memorable time that I shared with my husband.

The sights were definitely worth the walk in the heat (at least I think so today, yesterday I might not have agreed as wholeheartedly.)

I would definitely like to go back to Pantalica when the weather is cooler.  There are other areas of the nature reserve that would be lovely to see.

I wouldn't mind heading back to the Valle dell'Anapo, either.  I wonder what it looks like in the fall?  Hopefully we have a chance to go back before we move.