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Cycling the Salento Coast

The last day of our VBT bicycle tour through Puglia and Lecce was saved for a ride up the Salento Coast.  Our longest and perhaps most scenic scheduled ride was saved for last, heading south from our hotel Tenuta Centoporte to reach the eastern coast at Castro. Castro was the site of one of many area lookout towers, the ruins of which still spot the entire coast. A thousand years ago, this area was well within range of invaders from the east. The towers thus played an important part in defending the coast. We then biked north along the Salento Coast to Santa Cesarea Terme, where we stopped for lunch.

Watchtower in Casto (click on image for a larger view)

Watchtower in Casto
(click on image for a larger view)

Santa Cesarea Terme is a beautiful town resting high on a cliff and overlooking the Ionian Sea. The day was hazy and slightly overcast, yet still a fine day for sightseeing. This image started as a photograph, but it just didn’t seem to impart the painted effect of this entire area. So, after optimizing the photo in Photoshop, I ran it through a couple of special effects by Topaz Labs. I think this finished image is far more representative of the character of the Salento Coast. Although it’s a lot different than my usual posts, I really like it and hope that you do as well.

Santa Cesarea Terme (click on image for a larger view)

Santa Cesarea Terme
(click on image for a larger view)

Following a fine picnic lunch and obligatory gelato for dessert, we continued north to Porto Badisco, a secluded little cove where we had a chance to relax while many chose to cool off in the water. After this rest stop, we continued north, following the coast to Capo d’Otranto. This marks the easternmost point of Italy, putting us only 45 miles from Albania as well as marking the division between the Ionian Sea to the south and the Adriatic to the north.

Porto Badisco (click on image for a larger view)

Porto Badisco
(click on image for a larger view)

The final part of our ride north gave us great views of the water from high up on the cliffs, until we turned inland to begin the loop back around to our hotel. There was still lots to see along the way as much of the last few miles were through olive groves, a couple of small towns, and even the odd flock of sheep.

Sheep along the roadside near Otronto (click on image for a larger view)

Sheep along the roadside near Otronto
(click on image for a larger view)

A beautiful lat day for our trip, but why post this now? Well, on our whole trip the weather was fine with moderate, warm temperatures. Despite the mild winter so far here in the Northeast, it did get cold and snowed a foot on Friday, with more on the way. That leaves me sitting here remembering what a fine time we had.  Hope that you enjoy the photos.

 

Bike trip from Bari to Castro. (click on image for a larger view)

Bike trip from Bari to Castro.
(click on image for a larger view)

Bicycle ride up the Salento Coast (click on image for a larter view)

Bicycle ride up the Salento Coast
(click on image for a larter view)

 

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Blue Angels

The Blue Angels performed at the Sun N’ Fun show in Lakeland, Florida in April. Dennis and I went on the Friday after our trip to see the Thunderbirds. Having never been to an airshow before it turned into quite a week getting to see both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. There were more clouds around, but we both still got lots of great shots. I‘m told that the Blue Angels perform the tightest diamond pattern of any aerobatic team, getting to within 18 inches of each other. So, the question is just how do they do that?Fun N' Sun, Blue Angels

Take a look at the closeup cropped photo in this next shot and you’ll see that the only one watching where they are going is the lead plane. The pilot on the right is looking to his left, the pilot on the left is looking at the wing to his right, and the pilot below and back is looking up at the tail of the lead plane. Fun N' Sun, Blue Angels

Of all the images I captured on this day, my favorite is this one of two Blue Angel F/A 18’s going past each other at around 400 mph. That’s a closing speed of 800 mph and plenty fast enough to rattle the fillings in my teeth.

Fun N' Sun, Blue Angels

I’m glad that they found the money to put the Blue Angels back in the air as this show is really something to see. All the favorite formations with some puffy clouds in the background made for a really fun afternoon for us. I hope you enjoy looking at them as I had taking them.

Fun N' Sun, Blue AngelsFun N' Sun, Blue Angels

Fun N' Sun, Blue Angels

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Thunderbirds at Punta Gorda Airshow

Florida International AirshowMany of you know that I really enjoy doing bird photography, but a recent trip to see the Air Force Thunderbirds gave me a chance to get some shots of a definitely different kind of bird.

We really had had it with the winter this year, so Darcy and I packed up and headed south for 4 weeks from mid-March to mid-April. Upon arriving in St. Petersburg, a friend asked if I’d like to join him at the International Airshow in Punta Gorda, FL. It was an early morning that day, getting up at 3:45 for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the show. Dennis is a former Navy pilot and we met up with some of his buddies in the special photographer’s area, so there was no shortage of talk about planes or cameras all day long. We all had a great day, my thanks to Dennis and my new friends Hank, Morris, and Ron for sharing all their tips and stories throughout the day.

There was a lot of good flying and good photo opportunities, but the real hit of the day was the Thunderbirds. It really is something to see, watching the aerobatics these pilots are capable of putting the jets through. Flying at speeds of 500 to 650 mph and 18 to 24 inches apart at some points doesn’t leave them any room for error. We all ended up with a bunch of good photos and at least for me a bigger bunch of not so good photos. Wow, these jets move fast!

Besides these three images, some of my better (as in luckier) shots of the Thuderbirds can be seen by clicking on the link: Thunderbird Photos

Florida International AirshowFlorida International Airshow

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Penobscot Narrows – Cable Stayed Bridge

Penobscot Narrows - Cable Stayed BridgeLast fall, we took a few days to drive up the coast to Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, Maine and after rounding a turn in the road came upon this beautiful Cable Stayed Bridge over Penobscot Narrows located just outside of Bucksport, Maine. Granted, the last time I was in this area was 40 years ago, but seeing this bridge really struck me as a beautiful way to span the river and to replace the old suspension bridge that was determined to be in need of replacement. We pulled over for me to take some pics while Darcy read a nearby sign. When I’d had enough, she asked if I’d like to go up to the top of the tower. “Huh, how do you know about that?”, I asked. It’s that male/female thing about asking directions I guess, because the sign I never would have read clearly said you could take an elevator to an observation deck 420 feet above the river. The first picture is from the mainland looking over to Verona Island.

You can exit off Route 1 at the stop light and drive around to the base of the bridge into a parking lot shared with the Ft. Knox Civil War historical site. As you walk up to

HDR image of Penobscot Narrows Cable Stayed Bridge with Observatory in view at topthe base of the tower, it’s a relief to know that with only 440 feet to go there is an elevator to whisk you right on up. This second image is an HDR shot of 5 different exposures all sandwiched together to bring out all the detail in the concrete.

Wait for it, don’t give up and move on yet. If you can’t stay, then at least look at the last image below before you go.HDR of Penobscot Narrows Cable Stayed Bridge Observatory and Bucksport in the Background

For 10 bucks we got one heck of a view. The observation platform of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge is 2 levels high and accessed by a stairway from where the elevator drops you off. With floor to ceiling glass, the view is fantastic but not for those who don’t like heights. Taken from the south side of the observation tower, you can see the stairs in front of a spectacular view of Bucksport and the surrounding area. This is another HDR composite of 5 images to bring out the detail of the interior of the Penobscot Narrows Observatory while still showing the much brighter view outside the viewing deck.

Panorama of Penobscot River looking at Bucksport from the Penobscot Narrows ObservatoryNow, finally we get the real view. This last image is a hand held panorama shot through the glass of the Penobscot Narrows Observatory. We are looking north, right at Bucksport I’ve cleaned up most of the glare from the glass, although you can still see some reflections on the lower left side. Pretty neat sight for a lovely autumn day and well worth the time and the 10 bucks for the elevator ride. If you’re every passing by the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and it happens to be a nice day, stop by and visit for a while. You won’t be disappointed in the view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Morning Fog

Sailboats, FogFog is one of those love/hate relationships.  If you’ve got to drive to work it’s a pain to deal with and if  you’re boating it can put knots in your stomach pretty quickly.  On the other hand, if you don’t have to go anywhere it can be remarkably peaceful and feels cool but not cold on a summer morning.  Early on, it’s thick enough that things are really hard to see, colors are so muted and although you can hear engines of moving boats you can’t see them or even figure out where they are.  Then as the sun starts to work it grows lighter and doesn’t so much lift as settle.  It’s not as thick and pockets of clear give glimpses of the work boats as they move back and forth across the cove.  Colors go from neutral, almost black and white to warm and much more colorful. The sun gets higher and after about an hour that early morning glow starts working Sailboats, Fogdown through the fog, leaving sharp yet soft images and you know it’s going to be a great day.

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Major Yard Cleanup

20130715_D4_7763We had 10 or 12 trees taken down in the yard and it was a sight to watch.  Five or six guys showed up at 8 am with a crane, major sized chipper and the expected pickup trucks and chain saws.

20130715_D4_7878The crane was set up tight to the garage and they boomed the pieces either down the side of the garage or right over the roof and into the driveway.

Logs got stockpiled and everything else went straight into the chipper.  By 2:30 or so everything was all down, cleaned up and off they went.  Of course, that was the week that the temperatures were pushing 100 degrees every day, so with a lot less shade we burned the daylights out of what passes for our lawn.  Oh well, out with the sprinkler hoses and we’ll try again on the lawn part.

 

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New Addition to Robinhood Marine Center

Nancy Lou Under the ThundercloudsWe just returned from 6 days on board the Tessie Ann, a houseboat moored in Robinhood Cove, Georgetown, ME.  This is the third summer we’ve enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere, great weather, and the superb hospitality of everyone at the Robinhood Marine Center.  We were again moored out in the cove and left to our own devices for kayaking, reading, sunning  and generally finding plenty of ways to just relax.

Andy and his crew have responded to the success of the Tessie Ann by adding the Charles Andrew last year and have now just finished the launch of the Nancy Lou.  These two pictures of the brand new Nancy Lou were shot right from the deck of the Tessie Ann.

This year we seem to have picked the best week of the summer.  Temperatures at home were well into the 90’s every day, as the condition of our lawn can attest!  But we had great weather with temps in the mid 80’s, a light breeze, and cool evenings.  Couldn’t ask for more than that.  Hope that you all are enjoying your summer as well.

Nancy Lou in Morning Fog

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Old Stone Church

The Old Stone Church in West Boylston is a local landmark on the shore of Wachusett Resevoir.  It remains as a landmark to the many buildings that were taken for the construction of the resevoir as part of the water supply for metropolitan Boston.  This church has quite a history, having burned down and rebuilt only 10 years before being abandoned for the new resevoir.  I seem to remember it being without a roof for many years, and three of the walls actually collapsed shortly before a new roof and was to be constructed.  This left only the tower and north wall, which is what you are looking toward in this photo.  The building was rebuilt as a landmark in the seventies and today remains a popular picnic and fishing spot as well as a favorite for small weddings. 

Although I’ve lived with a few miles of the church for most of my life, until today I’d never bothered to stop and view the inside.  It was a beautiful New England Sunday morning and I was able to catch a few shots.

The first one inside the church is an HDR composite of 7 frames which allowed me to get all the detail in the ceiling and walls while still keeping detail in the bright sun outside the windows.  The roof framing is neat even if it’s not the original.  The real trick to this photo comes from the cooperation of the local Preservation Group.  They have placed a sodium vapor light in the back of the church that points up into the ceiling and apparently is left on all the time.  That’s what is giving the framing such a lovely, warm color. 

The third image was shot from the far side of the resevoir and shows Mt. Wachusett in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beached Whale(watchers)

Beached Whale(watchers)

It’s still a bit early to be on the water, but the great weather a couple of weeks ago really brought activity out around the whale watch boats in Newburyport.  Docks aren’t in the water yet, and neither are the boats, but most every boat had people working on getting ready for the season.  The smell of fresh paint was in the air, radios playing, sanders and grinders all working away.  And there were even a few aboard just kicking back and enjoying a warm and cloudless spring day.

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You Should Have Been Here Last Week

Newburyport

Remember the weather last Sunday?  A perfect day for a day trip so Darcy and I headed for Newburyport.  We go once or twice a year as it’s generally fun to people watch while sitting on a bench by the river or in the park, stroll around and browse a few shops an galleries, and of course an opportunity to eat a great seafood lunch.  It was clear and very close to 80 degrees, so everyone was out for a walk.  Dogs on leashes, babies in strollers and kids running everywhere looking to let off some steam. 

 

 

Simply Sweet

Many had ice cream from a local shop, making it just a great preview of steadier good weather to come. 

We were glad to have arrived early, because by the time we left around 2 pm, the inbound traffic was backed right up down Route 110 and right to the top of the exit ramp from I-495.  It really did look just like a summer’s day, traffic and all. 

Well, that was last Sunday.  This Sunday was overcast, 45 degrees and spitting rain.  Still, it was nice weather while it lasted and we’re glad to have had it.

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