Robbie and I had a nice, but hot, afternoon exploring Old San Juan. It was great walking through the colorful old buildings. And blue cobblestones, how great is that! Going up and down the hills in the heat was not so fun but Old San Juan was amazing! We went back to the ship to cool off and relax a bit. Our all aboard time wasn’t until 11:00pm. There was still plenty of time to continue exploring Old San Juan. I wore Robbie out with the hills and the heat and 1111 steps! Robbie was going to stay onboard the ship. I wanted to take advantage of the extended time in port to take some night photos of Old San Juan. I brought my travel tripod along just for tonight. I was so excited to get started that I walked off of the ship without my mask! I’m surprised that they didn’t say something when they scanned me off of the ship. Pretty much everyone in town had been wearing masks when we were in town earlier. I didn’t want to go back to the ship though, there was a Walgreens across the street from the ship. I went in to buy a mask, there were 10 or more people in line to checkout! I went down the street to a souvenir shop, I now own an Old San Juan mask.
I wanted to try and get a few photos at twilight so there would still be some color in the sky. That didn’t go quite as planned, twilight was short lived and the narrow streets hid the sky. I did get two images with twilight sky.
When I photograph a place like this, I like to wonder around and just follow my nose. I usually end up finding some interesting things. I found myself in Plaza de Armas, the original town square. The centerpiece is a fountain, the fountain was now the base for the town Christmas tree. City Hall is along one side of the plaza.
After Plaza de Armas, I ended up back at Umbrella Street. The Christmas lights were lit where the umbrellas usually hang. The Governors Mansion is at the end of the street. Earlier when we went by here the street was closed. It was open now for Navidad de Puerto Rico. There was music playing and they were projecting a light show onto the mansion. The street was narrow and there were a lot of people, so I didn’t venture down the street.
I continued walking and I saw a woman walking a dog down a narrow street. I was hoping to get a bit closer but she kept moving away from me. It was an interesting street so I kept going.
This brought me to the old city wall along the entrance to the harbor. I was just in time to see one of the other cruise ships leaving the port. I did a quick time check to make sure it wasn’t my ship! There is always a little fear of the ship leaving without you.
I knew where I was now, Robbie and I came down this hill earlier. Casa Blanca was at the top of the hill. I decided to walk up the hill. It ended up being a pretty interesting street.
I came to a wide walkway with steps, it was sort of like a courtyard/pathway. We came down these steps earlier as well. It looked pretty cool at night.
I continued walking and found some interesting places. I found the famous Puerto Rican flag door by Rosenda Alvarez that I had read about. It was originally the traditional red white and blue. In 2016 she repainted it black and white to reflect the gloomy political climate during that time. Although I had the flag door pinned on my map, I never looked at my map. I just stumbled on to it. I didn’t know anything about the Ricardo Alegria door. Ricardo was a cultural anthropologist and archeologist. He was responsible for the renovation and restoration of Old San Juan. I think they could have given him a better door, maybe a nice wall.
Then I found this beautiful cobblestone street with the Puerto Rican flag in lights! There was also a section of the blue cobblestones.
The flag in lights was like a beacon that I had to follow. I walked down the cobblestone street and found an amazing carousel. I didn’t know about any of these things. If I had been looking for some specific thing, rather than just wondering around, I probably would not halve found most of these things.
The carousel lead me to another Puerto Rican flag. I just stayed in this intersection for a while photographing the people walking around.
I ended up back at the cruise port and the Nieuw Amsterdam, it was still there, phewww! I wondered around the dock taking a few photos of the ship before boarding. I set up to take a photo of the ship with the ornamental pillars and a woman laid down and started doing some arm exercises. So I took her picture too.
I had lots of fun photographing Old San Juan at night. I was able to do two of my favorite things. Wonder around an old town with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings and night photography. Hopefully I was able to get a few good images to boot.
The SpaceX Crew 3 launch, transporting 4 astronauts to the International Space Station. Photographed from the Project Gemini Memorial at Space View Park in Titusville Florida. This launch had been postponed several times. I picked this location for the original launch date. Once I pick a location I try to stick with it. I used this location one other time, but there was heavy cloud cover and the rocket disappeared shortly after takeoff. So I wanted to give this location another try. There was light rain falling as I left the house, not a good sign. The rain was supposed to stop by launch time, but what about the clouds? When I arrived, the moon was covered by clouds. It was looking like I may have a repeat of the previous cloud situation. As launch time got closer the moon and a few stars became visible, I was hopeful. The sky was pitch black and it was hard to see if the clouds were going to be an issue or not. As soon as the rocket ignited it lit up a huge cloud bank! Shortly after lifting off the rocket disappeared into the clouds. A collective “awwwww” arose from the crowd. I waited and waited, it peeked out and was gone again, finally the rocked reappeared, although partially covered by clouds. The clouds are not always bad. A good night launch photo looks better with some clouds. You just don’t want too many. If I try this location again and there is another cloud issue, I will begin to think the twins have a cloud curse. The area around the Gemini Monument was recently renovated. They installed some new LED lights. This is a really dark area and needed some light. From a photography standpoint, the lights created a bunch of crazy lens flairs and a shadow from my lens hood. I took the lens hood off for a test photo, this made way more lens flairs. I kept the lens hood on and dealt with the shadow. Over all I was pretty happy with my image and it was a beautiful launch to watch.
What a beautiful Star-filled night for a predawn Space Coast Rocket Launch! United Launch Alliance launched an Atlas V rocket carrying the Lucy Space Probe. Lucy will be exploring the Trojan Asteroid Belt in Jupiter’s orbit. After the launch the wind blew the rocket’s contrail into a cool smoke-ring in the sky.
Click on photo to see larger. You will miss all of the stars if you don’t.
After photographing the rocket launch, at Space View Park in Titusville Florida, I stuck around with a few other photographers and a few others that were just waiting for the sun to rise. It was a beautiful light show, a pod of dolphins went swimming buy as well. It was worth the wait!
Click on photo to see larger.
Another awesome Space Coast night launch! SpaceX launched a Sirius XM Radio satellite into orbit. The SXM-8 was sent to replace SXM-7, launched last year. SXM-7, also launched by SpaceX, was successfully placed into orbit but was D.O.A. and was unable to be revived. SpaceX successfully placed SXM-8 into orbit. It will be several days until the health of SXM-8 will be known.
Usually when I do a streak photo of a night launch, I like to get the arc. As a rocket launches, it ascends into the sky. When it reaches altitude it levels off and continues to fly. Due to the curvature of the earth, from the ground, it almost looks like the rocket is coming back down. During a long exposure night photo, you are actually photographing the light from the rocket engines. This makes a streak in the sky, due to the curvature of the earth the streak makes an arc in the sky.
Now, to work out the exposure. A typical rocket takes 3-3.5 minutes to reach orbit. I usually use 3 minutes for my shutter speed for testing my exposure. In real time I will hold the shutter open until I can no longer see the rocket. To work out the f-stop, I do a series of test exposures at different f-stops. The amount of lighting on the foreground will determine the proper f-stop. When the foreground is exposed properly with a 3 minute shutter speed, that’s the correct f-stop. In this case it was f-16.
This launch had two issues. The first was trajectory, the rocket was flying due east. From Titusville it was flying directly away from the camera. So no arc, it would look like it was just going straight up. The second issue was cloud cover. Shortly after launch the rocket was going to go behind the clouds. Once again no arc, no matter what direction it was flying. Normally I use the widest angle lens I have, my 24-70mm at 24mm. Knowing the rocket was going to go behind the clouds shortly after launch, I zoomed in to compress the scene. This sort of, solved both issues to make a pleasing image. Also because the rocket was going behind the clouds, it wouldn’t be visible for the full 3 minutes. To make the exposure correct I still needed to keep the shutter open for the full 3 minutes. In this case I actually opened the shutter 1 minute before liftoff.
I photographed this launch from the newly renovated Rotary Riverside Park along US 1 in Titusville. The park had been destroyed by a hurricane a few years ago. It had just been reopened a few days earlier.
We took in the sights of the beautiful city of Lisbon Portugal for most of the day. It was after dark and we were in the Parca Rossio. The Rossio is a large plaza with two beautiful fountains. It is paved with a wavy mosaic. Our group was ready to head back to the hotel. We had a flight back to Miami in the morning. I really wanted to see the Elevador da Gloria. I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, but I knew it was pretty close to the Rossio. So as Robbie and the rest of the group started back to the hotel. I set off to find Gloria in the direction that I thought it might be.
Lisbon has several fairly steep hills. They have several ways of getting to the top of the hill to the Barrio Alto. We passed the Elevador de Santa Justa earlier, an ornate iron elevator to Barrio Alto. The Elevador da Gloria, also known as the Ascensor da Gloria, is a trolley/funicular that carries people up the hill to and from Barrio Alto. Gloria is actually two trolleys that are designed to climb the steep hill. One trolley goes up as the other trolley comes down. They pass in the middle of the hill so there is always one at the top and one at the bottom. A new group of passengers climbs aboard and the process starts all over again.
After leaving the Parca Rossio I passed the Rossio train station. It was a beautiful building and I wasn’t sure at the time that it was actually the train station. I continued past the train station and only a few blocks farther I found Gloria. It was totally worth the extra walk. Gloria was amazing! I spent quite a bit of time watching Elevador da Gloria making the trip up and down the hill several times. I was able to get one of my favorite photos of the trip. I set up my tripod and camera and pointed it at the empty tracks waiting for Gloria to make the return trip back down the hill. A cute couple in orange coats stopped on the corner under a streetlight also waiting for Gloria. The guy was looking at his phone, and just as Gloria appeared the girl nibbled on his ear. I took the photo. It was one of those fleeting moments in time that unless captured, go unnoticed and unseen. I doubt that I could have setup the image any better. It’s possible that she did the ear nibble for my benefit. I had a big camera set up on a tripod pointed in that direction. I’m pretty sure they knew I was going to photograph Gloria. I had lots of fun photographing Gloria. I probably could have stayed longer, but it was getting late and I thought I should get back to the hotel.
Robbie and I woke up early the next morning and packed our bags for the last time. One of the perks of cruising is that you travel to all of these wonderful places and you unpack and pack once, while you’re on the ship anyway. We checked out of the hotel and met everyone in the lobby. Sandy hired a van to get us all to the airport. We got a box breakfast from the hotel that we ate while we waited for the van. The van arrived and we loaded our suitcases into the back and made the short trip to the airport. The Lisbon airport is bigger than it seems. It was pretty far from the front desk to the gate. We were a little early so we got a little more to eat on the way to the gate. Once we were at the gate, once again, we needed to take a bus out to our plane on the tarmac. Just like on our previous flights to and from Lisbon. We boarded the plane and found our seats. This plane was a little bigger and more comfy than the one we had on our first flight from Miami. Robbie and I were in the middle row with 4 seats. Luckily we had all 4 seats to ourselves, whoo-hoo! The flight to Miami was good, well as good as a long flight can be anyway. We picked up our rental car, Robbie, Barb, and I drove back home to Titusville. Sandy, Jerry, Marcia and Jack had another rental. Sherry and Jeff were not going to Florida, they took different flights out of Venice and were not with us in Lisbon. Kris and her sister Kim made other arrangements out of Venice as well. Everyone made it home safe and sound.
Wow, what an awesome trip! Robbie and I had an amazing time! I know everyone else did as well. This was a trip that we will always remember. A huge thank you to Sandy and Jerry for inviting us to come along with them! Sandy did an awesome job arranging flights and the trip! We had a great time with everyone. What a great group of people to travel with, we had fun, it wouldn’t have been the same trip without all of you! Stay tuned, we have been making plans for our next trip after Covid in 2022. It’s going to be full of lions and leopards and giraffes, OH MY!
Robbie and I along with our other traveling companions explored Lisbon all afternoon. We really enjoyed this beautiful city. The sun was setting and it was time for a break. We moved off of the main street to find a restaurant for dinner. We found a quiet little Portuguese restaurant. Although we were quite hungry, it was still a little early by European standards, for dinner. That was good for us, we had the place to ourselves. We had the undivided attention of the owner and staff, we were treated like kings! We had a really nice Portuguese dinner and relaxed with some refreshments. We were all refreshed and ready for more of Lisbon.
Lisbon really shines after dark. It becomes even more charming, almost fairy-tale. The lights of the city were beautiful. We meandered down the mosaic sidewalks. There were chestnuts roasting on an open fire, adding to the charm. As we were walking, someone would see a shop they wanted to go into. While they were doing a little shopping, I would take the opportunity to take a few photos. We found ourselves at the beautiful Santa Justa Lift. Lisbon is by no means flat! The old town area where we were, the Baixa Pombalina district is in a valley, surrounded on three sides by large hills. We in fact had a bit of an uphill climb to get back to the hotel. The Santa Justa Lift was built in the early 1900s as an easy way to get to Barrio Alto on the top of the hill. It’s a beautifully ornate iron elevator. The lift was designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, an engineer from Porto who was a student of Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. You can see the similarities in the ornate iron work on both towers.
We continued taking in the beauty of Lisbon after dark. We then found ourselves at the Rossio (town common). Its official name is Parca de Dom Pedro IV. The centerpiece of the huge plaza is the bronze statue of Dom Pedro IV, king of Portugal, on top of a tall column. An interesting urban legend about the statue says it is actually a statue of a Mexican king who looked like Dom Pedro and was purchased at a bargain price. The statue is flanked by two beautiful fountains. The plaza is paved with a wavy tile mosaic. It’s meant to mimic waves, highlighting the seafaring explorers of Portugal’s past, as are many of the mosaics. If you stare at them, you actually feel like you are on the ocean. The beautiful National Theater and the Rossio Train Station are at the far end of the plaza. The group was ready to head back to the hotel. I wanted to try to find the Elevador da Gloria. So Robbie and the rest of our group set off for the hotel, I went in search of Gloria.
SpaceX launched another flock of 60 Starlink broadband internet satellites. I stayed close to home this time. I took this photo from my driveway in Titusville Florida.
The first Space Coast rocket Launch of 2021. SpaceX launching a Turkish telecommunications satellite into orbit. Photographed from Kirk Point Riverside Park in Titusville Florida.
I was in downtown Titusville to photograph a night rocket launch. The rocket launch was scrubbed. So I started roaming around town taking photos. I really like this old Hotpoint sign. I have photographed it several times over the years. The woman’s clothing boutique that is now located in the old appliance store was named for the sign. It is called Hotpoint Boutique. I was happy that they restored and kept the old sign.
I had a blast last Saturday taking part in Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. This year there were 868 walks in locations all over the world. There were 17,768 photographers taking photos all over the world on the same day. The walk I participated in was lead by my friend and fellow photographer Chris Wiley. We had 13 photographers in our walk. We started our sunset walk in Sand Point Park in Titusville Fl. We split the group in half, Chris took a group to photograph the sunset overlooking the marina. I took a group to photograph the sunset from the top of the A. Max Brewer Bridge. The Max is one of my favorite spots to photograph. After sunset we did a bit of night photography around the bridge. One of the best things about photographing the Max, is the Pier 220 outdoor restaurant and bar. They had a great live band and the place was hopping. So no better way to cap off a day of photography and meeting some new photographers, than to have a bite to eat and some ice cold beers at the Pier 220. I had fun meeting new people and taking some photos. I’m sure there is a walk in your town. Next year you should take a walk.