Normandy American Cemetery

More than nine thousand service men are buried and memorialized here at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, France. It is sobering to see the lines of crosses that mark each life lost in a courageous effort to defend freedom.

#American, #cemetery, #France, #memorialday, #remember, #fallenheroes, #dday, #freedom, #courage
The American Cemetery is located in a peaceful and beautiful spot on the coast of France.

 

#liveslost, #dday, #memorialday, #france, #American, #freedom, #1944, #honor, #fallenheroes
Reading one name, date of death and home state inspires reflection.

D-day on the Normandy Beaches

From the Normandy American Military Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, France, I share with you two maps displayed on the walls showing the Allied Landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day and the Allied Invasion of Europe that continued until 1945. Most all of us are too young to remember those days, but we should never forget the “Greatest Generation” who liberated Europe, defeated Hitler and restored freedom to the Western World.

I shot these photographs of the wall maps at the Normandy American Cemetery shortly after the 60th anniversary of D-Day in June 2004.

#American, #Allies, #Normandy, #dday, #cemetery, #greatestgeneration
From American Cemetery in Normandy, map showing Allied Forces landing in Normandy on D-Day.

This second wall map shows the movement of Allied forces through Europe from 1944 to 1945. If you want to read a tremendous book about this story, pick up Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day.

#America, #Alliedforces, #Allies, #Europe, #Hitler, #liberation, #endofthewar
Map from Normandy American Cemetery  showing Allied military operations in Europe 1944-45.

 

*Reference to Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation.

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

#memorialday, #ussarizona, #remember, #WWII, #pearlharbor, #navy, #hawaii
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial serves as a viewing platform over the sunken wreck. 1,177 crew died on board on December 7, 1941.

As we remember, honor and pray for the brave Americans who served and died for our country on Memorial Day, I’d like to share with you the beautiful and sad U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. If you are making a trip to Hawaii, I’d highly recommend an excursion to Honolulu, Oahu to visit this special place.

#ussarizona, #memorial, #memorialday, #pearlharbor, #hawaii, #wwii
View of the sunken USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor

The U.S.S. Arizona is a Navy ship launched in 1915, and it was bombed during  the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 — an attack that drew the United States into World War II. That day 1,177 crew died on board the ship, and the wreck still lies in place under the water. A boat shaped viewing platform was build astride the wreckage in 1962; it hosts over 1.5 million visitors a year.

Nearby, you may also visit the U.S.S. Missouri, a retired Navy ship that hosted the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Japan in Tokyo harbor to end that same war in 1945. I highly recommend that tour as well, as it brings history alive. This plaque names the leaders who were present, including General Douglas MacArther and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz for the United States.

#USSmissouri, #armistice, #endofwwii, #peacetreaty, #endofthewar
#USSmissouri, #armistice, #endofwwii, #peacetreaty, #endofthewar

Monte Carlo, Monaco Harbor

With the Monaco Grand Prix coming May 26 to 29, I was inspired to look back on my photographs of this spectacular location. I have visited Monaco with my family three times, thanks to my generous and adventurous Dad. The last time was in 2008 when we sailed from Monte Carlo in a cruise ship. (Our ship is docked at the upper right of the harbor.)

#Montecarlo, #monaco, #harbor, #grandprix, #palace, #yachts, #mediterannean
Memories of Monaco, 2008.

The view of the harbor from the royal palace is spectacular on a clear day, as you can see in the photo. It’s a wide view, but I captured the whole crescent using my fish eye lens (15mm). When the Grand Prix is not overtaking the rim of the harbor with race cars and crowds, you can enjoy a scenic walk along the harbor to check out the fantastic array of yachts. Enjoy a glass of wine at a cafe and a gourmet French dinner. Later on, collect your passport and go see the famous Casino. If time permits, be sure to visit the Jacques Cousteau Aquarium. Enraptured by the outdoor vistas, I never visited the aquarium until my third visit. Then, I knew what I was missing!

If you have visited beautiful Monaco, the tiny country on the Mediterranean between Italy and France, share your favorite memories here.

Primary Pink Tulip

The cool thing about a 15mm lens is that you can elevate your foreground subject to become the center of the universe. As the background blurs in the distance and rounds itself to represent the whole world, this single tulip in its brilliant pink hue and crisp focus dominates the scene, or if you will, the whole world.

#tulip, #spring, #sherwoodgardens, #baltimore, #topazlabs, #distortion, #pink
Acres of tulips in bloom? Try using a 15mm lens and showcase a single tulip.

This is one way to photograph hundreds of colorful tulips in bloom in Baltimore’s Sherwood Gardens. Scanning acres of tulips and azaleas, I found that one place to begin was on my knees with one tulip, just one.

Nikon D800, ISO 100, F 6.3 handheld at 1/400 second. Processed in Lightroom, Photoshop at Topaz Impression. April 2016

Beach watercolor

#florida, #Naples, #leadinglines, #beach, #horizon, #softcolors, #painting, #iphone, #palm, #symmetry
Digital processing made this photo look more like a watercolor.

It would be really cool if I were this good with watercolor painting. In truth, I make images that start as photographs, then apply my creativity with digital tools, and sometimes the end result looks very much like a watercolor. As a photographer, I look for dynamic compositions in nature. Walking on the Naples beach recently, I found this one.

The tidal pool formed a leading line to the horizon. Then, it seemed to bisect the horizon, revealing a green wedge on the land side and a blue wedge on the water side. A few interesting details offset the symmetry: the palm tree on the left side, and the tiny bird on the right. The watercolor effect smudged most of the detail in the image, and emphasized the compositional lines and soft colors. I added some finishing touches with dodging and burning in Photoshop — the digital equivalent of the old darkroom technique. I cropped the image square to eliminate what seemed like too much foreground.

“Et voila!” An iPhone photo transformed. Do you like it?

Ibis drama

I hopped off my bike to watch a flock of eight to ten ibis peck around in the swamp water in search of a meal. Then I decided to take a seat on the ground and just watch to see if any action developed. The scene presented a few photographic challenges: the birds were in constant motion. Think: high ISO and fast shutter speed. There were so many of them, that they never seemed to form an orderly or symmetrical composition. Think: I’m going to watch for a composition to form, but most likely crop later. The brightness of the birds and the dark water would foil my camera’s efforts to calculate a good exposure. Think: Meter the exposure directly on the bird; you don’t want the feathers to be blown highlights that cannot be recovered in processing.

The result: I caught a scene with some action. One ibis was acting like the bully on the playground, chasing away his peer. Preparation paid off. With all the prior analysis of the scene, I was ready to catch the split-second ibis drama.

#ibis, #birds, #wadingbirds, #chase, #florida, #bully, #drama, #preparation, #nikonD800
As I quietly observe, these ibis act like kids on the playground — or presidential candidates.

Mating Season

#heron, #nightheron, #yellowcrestednightheron, #wadingbird, #bird, #Florida, #matingseason, #plummage, #nature, #wildlife, #protect, #wildlife
The Yellow Crested Night Heron wears a fancy dress for mating season.

Inching along the grass in the Florida wetlands, I tried to get as close as I dared to the wading birds having dinner last night. I kept checking around me for alligators, but luckily, they were hunting somewhere out of sight. I was able to get a close look at two Yellow Crested Night Heron. It’s not terribly common in my neck of the woods, and I wasn’t sure what kind of heron it was at first. But I quickly became a fan of its zebra striped face, yellow crown, red eyes, distinctive accent feather,  light and darker grey feathers  and its long coral colored legs. This fellow kept a careful eye on me and in no time took flight to the safety of a nearby mangrove tree. But not before I got off a few nice shots.

 

Feeling like a bird in flight

After I captured this image of an ibis taking flight from the beach, I began to wonder what it would be like to take flight to the sky at a moment’s notice. Only birds can do this, but what a gift! I think the closest I can come to that feeling is to glide through the water while swimming. As I glide weightless with the water rippling through my hair and the cool water skimming over my body, I feel that magic combination of freedom and relaxation. I wonder, why don’t I swim more often?

#birdinflight, #ibis, #florida, #fllying,  #feelings
As I approached the ibis, he took flight, but I still captured this image — looking even better in flight.

Dogwood in My Own Backyard

Admiring some beautiful photos of the dogwood blooming in Yosemite, I realized there was an opportunity for me to photograph dogwood blooms in my own backyard — for my two white and two pink dogwood trees are now in bloom.

#dogwood, #backyard, #spring, #pink, #sigma, #macro, #bokeh
You can even find a flower within the flower in this macro image of the dogwood.

My photography practice was taking a break during the month of April, as my attention was focused on my father’s failing health, his hospice care, his death, mourning and support of my surviving mother. As you may know from experience, these events can be overwhelming.

Mother’s Day gave me a reason to pause and give myself the time to think about photography again. I sent myself to the garden in the late afternoon to look for some compositions. It’s a challenge to find a composition amid a tree full of blooms and a low vantage point on the ground, but I found a perch on my back porch and the lens to create just the right background bokeh, the 105mm Sigma macro lens.

It’s nice to be reminded that photo opportunities are right there in your own backyard.