Christmas Day, December 25, 2021, we sailed into Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. The port is on the north side of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The north side of the island is in the Atlantic Ocean and the south side is in the Caribbean Sea. The port at Amber Cove is owned and built by the Carnival Cruise line, Holland America is a Carnival company. The port has two areas, a shopping area and a resort type area. The shopping area has a dozen or so shops with all types of souvenirs. The resort side has a swimming pool with a swim up bar. The pool is free for cruise passengers to use. Pool cabanas are available to rent. There are also some cabanas in the cove for rent. All types of watercraft can be rented to use in the cove. The sky bar is perched on a hilltop with a great view of the cove. If you wanted to, you could just spend the day at Amber Cove. The historical town of Puerto Plata is about 6 miles from Amber Cove. We wanted to see more of the Dominican Republic, so we chose to book a shore excursion. We could have just grabbed a taxi into town, but in this case, the shore excursion was the better option. We booked the Mountain Views and City Sights shore excursion. We met our guide Rambo, AKA Sylvester Stallone, AKA Juan Mendoza, in Amber Cove.
Our first stop was the town of Puerto Plata (Silver Port). Our guide Rambo, said that when Christopher Columbus stopped here on his first voyage, the water in the port looked like silver. It has also been said that the mountain was covered in clouds and Columbus said it looked like silver. I think that would have made it Silver Mountain though. The day we were there both were true, so it could be either or both.
Our group of 14, stepped out of the minibus at Parque Central Independencia, a cute little park in the center of town. It was all decked out for Christmas! Rambo gave us small stickers to wear, he said they identified us as “The Rambo Family.” Adjacent to the park was St. Philip the Apostle Cathedral. We were there during a Christmas Mass. After telling us all about the cathedral, Rambo said it was OK to go inside and take some photos. It seemed a little awkward to me, but we all slipped into the back of the cathedral and took a few photos.
We walked across the street to the Island Treasures Gift shop. There, Rambo was telling us about Dominican amber. Amber is fossilized tree sap that can trap all kinds of things inside of it like insects and small animals. Along with the amber color there is also red, green, and the rare blue. Dominican amber is also the inspiration for the movie Jurassic Park. Another Dominican item he told us about was Mama Juana, a spiced rum/red wine drink, flavored with tree bark. There is actually tree bark in the bottle. It was tasty but very sweet! It’s supposed to be a strong aphrodisiac. There was a very light and brief rain shower as we finished up in the gift shop.
We walked to our next location as another cruise ship was sliding into the dock at the Puerto Plata Cruise Port. Passing another HAL tour group, we came to Paseo de Dona Blanca. An alleyway painted bright pink! It was very interesting to see and photograph.
Just down the street we came to Umbrella Street. A cobblestone pedestrian street decorated with colorful umbrellas. There are several small shops along the street. Rambo took us into a chocolate shop for a sample of some yummy hot chocolate. I was having fun photographing the umbrellas reflecting in the water puddles on the street. Back to the minibus to climb the mountain!
SpaceX sent their new Dragon Crew Capsule on a test flight to the International Space Station early this morning. Night launches are always great to watch and photograph. luckily they all aren’t at 2:49 am! If this test flight goes well, SpaceX hopes to start sending astronauts to the ISS later this year.
Sometimes, when I take photographs, I have a specific purpose in mind. There is some sort of event or place that I set out to photograph. Sometimes, a subject will speak to me; it will demand that I photograph it. Mostly because it is bathed in awesome light and has some incredible shadows. Sometimes, I haven’t photographed anything for a while and my addiction can no longer fight the urge to photograph something. The other day my craving to photograph something had reached it’s boiling point. Just at that moment a leaf on a vine growing on my fence spoke to me. It was back-lit by the early evening sun. The light had created some interesting shadows along the veins of the leaf. It was literally begging me to photograph it. So I grabbed my camera and off I went to the back yard to photograph this insistent leaf. As I took some photos of the leaf, I heard the pleas of some of the other plants. They too wished to be photographed. Not wanting to offend my other plants, I photographed them as well. My plants and my cravings were satisfied, for now.
In order to get this sunrise photo, I needed to abuse my tripod a bit. I spread the legs wide and low to get the angle I wanted. I also wanted to get the water from the retreating waves in the photo. This meant that the surf was washing up over my tripod legs. Sand and saltwater was everywhere inside and out of my tripod legs.
So, when I got home, I needed to disassemble each leg and clean it inside and out. This is why you need to spend more money than you want for a really good tripod. It needs to be made of good quality materials. It also needs to have the ability to be taken apart and put back together. I have been using and abusing this tripod for nearly 30 years. It still works like it did when it was new.
An excellent photo opportunity has presented it’s self. SpaceX has scheduled a resupply mission to the International Space Station, launching right at dawn. There was a really good chance 45 minuets before sunrise, there could be some really nice color in the sky. I could not pass this up, I had to give it a try.
Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships the Niña and the Pinta are visiting our little town this weekend. My wife Robbie and I took a trip to the marina to see them. The voyage of these two ships is pretty interesting; you can check them out at http://thenina.com/. One of my favorite things to photograph is tall ship rigging! Unfortunately, I rarely have the opportunity. When I do, I tend to go a bit overboard. (pun intended) So I apologize ahead of time for posting way too many photos. I just like them all and I hope you do too.
Replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships the Nina and the Pinta are visiting Titusville Florida this weekend. The ships are docked at the Titusville Municipal Marina. I took these photos from Sand Point Park. I threw in some sunset photos as well.
I took my camera for a walk on the boardwalk at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I was just shooting anything that I found interesting. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I had a nice walk, taking some photos. At home when I downloaded my photos, I thought I had lost half of them. The first photo was one that I had taken half-way through my walk. I thought “well this is odd.” As I looked a bit more closely, I realized what had happened. Halfway through my walk I had taken photo #9,999 with this camera, so the camera started numbering the photos over again at 001. So here is the 10,000 photo that I have taken with my D600.
Also here are some of the other photos that I took on my photo walk.
Today was a beautiful day to watch a rocket launch! This was no ordinary launch. Today SpaceX performed a test launch of the new Falcon Heavy rocket. The SpaceX FH is capable of launching some very heavy things into space. So what heavy thing did the FH lift into space on its maiden voyage? If you’re Elon Musk, you launch your Tesla Roadster into orbit around Mars. Complete with a dummy astronaut (dummy so he says, has anyone seen Elon?) hanging his arm out of the window, blasting David Bowie’s Starman on the stereo.
Rocket watchers from far and wide gathered early to watch this historic launch. I don’t think we got quite to Space Shuttle crowd sizes, but I think it was close. Maybe we should get 45 to review the crowd photos. There were some very relaxed and prepared people in Sandpoint Park. I wanted to get a photo of the huge crowd at Space View Park but there were no parking spaces close by. The Max B Bridge was jam packed. This is my favorite launch viewing site. I like to call it “Titusville’s launch viewing platform.” We had some time to kill before the launch. Due to high winds, the launch was pushed back almost to the end of its 2 ½ hours launch window. After a long wait, the FH ignited its 27 Merlin engines and lifted off of Apollo/Shuttle now SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch Complex 39A. It was an amazing launch! The 27 Merlin’s really rumbled!
The FH is basically 3 Falcon 9 boosters strapped together. The plan was, to bring all three boosters back to earth, to be reused on another flight. Two of the three boosters had previously flown on F9 missions. The two outside boosters were to land back at KSC. The third booster was going to land on a barge in the Atlantic. It was amazing to see the two boosters bound for return to KSC simultaneously igniting to slow their decent. They ignited a second time and gently landed on target. Once again we heard the rumble of the rocket boosters landing, preceded by sonic booms. The third booster didn’t fare so well. Only one of three engines reignited to slow its decent and it was lost. All in all, a fantastic sight to see and hear. There is nothing like watching a live rocket launch!
Launching a Falcon Heavy, $90 million! Watching live video of a Tesla Roadster with Starman drop top orbiting the earth, PRICELESS!
Just some pinwheels from the Playalinda Festival of the Arts.
There was a unique thing that happened in January of 2018. The moon presented us with a “quadfecta” of events. First, this moon cycle was a super moon. (The moon was at its closest point to the earth) Second, there was a lunar eclipse. Third, the eclipse caused a blood moon. (It looked red during the eclipse) And fourth, this was the second full moon in January, making it a blue moon. (Not really blue, just means it doesn’t happen very often) Thus giving us a super blood blue lunar eclipse moon, phew!
OK, so the super lunar eclipse blood moon was early in the morning just before sunrise. I took a peek outside to see if I could see the eclipse. Besides being early, it was really low in the sky. It was low enough to be behind the other houses in the neighborhood. So I didn’t see the super lunar eclipse blood moon part. I did, however, get to see the full blue moon part later that evening.
I started early to take in the sunset. I met up with Chris Wiley from the Titusville Pro-Am photographers group. Our goal was to get the full moon rising through the Max Brewer Bridge. Unfortunately, there was a thick cloud bank along the horizon, so we could not see the moon through the bridge, disappointing. The moon eventually did appear once it made its way above the bridge. The thing about photographing the moon is that it’s so bright. You don’t really think about the moon being bright because it comes out at night. The moon, with the exception of the sun, is the brightest thing there is. The higher in the sky it gets the brighter it gets; this makes it very difficult to photograph. That’s why we wanted to photograph it below the bridge when it wasn’t quite as bright. Plus it would look pretty awesome through the bridge. Anyway, that didn’t work out. I was not happy with any of the photographs of the bridge and the moon. I did manage to get a few other decent images before the moon rise. I was pretty happy later though when a stray cloud covered the moon above the bridge for a short time. Wait for something to happen and it probably will.
I was doing a little prep photography for my Take Your Camera Off of Auto class and my Nighttime photography class this week at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. Stop by the festival this week at EFSC in Titusville and learn about photography as well as birding and wildlife in the area.