September 17, 2011

Now that’s a Week of Variety

Finally back at home after  10 days of serious “Jet Setting”. 

Started last Thursday with a trip to Reno for the annual Tailhook Symposium and Reunion.  That whirlwind trip included a trip up to Lake Tahoe, a Winery Tour, a 4 hour Mixer with 3,000 of my closest flight suit clad friends, an awards luncheon where two very close friends of mine – Hans and Kathy Schmoldt- won “Honorary Tailhookers of the Year”, various symposiums, a couple of trips to In and Out Burger, more than a couple of trips to the “At your leisure Beer Taps”, and finally a banquet with 1,800 in attendance where Senator John McCain was the Keynote.  All in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation!  Trust me… a great time was had by all!

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Lake Tahoe Sunset

John McCain and Rabbit at Tailhook 2011

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Then, back home to unpack and re-pack for my trip to New York for work… 

Monday I was up with the dawn patrol, wheels in the well at 0700 for my monthly visits with clients and co-workers.  Non-stop from the moment I touched down until I was once again wheels in the wells headed back to the Mile High City.

In New York I visited Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, White Plains and then in New Jersey I saw the lovely towns of Phillipsburg, Elizabeth and Newark (tongue firmly in cheek for those last two… those two towns couldn’t find lovely if it bit them!)

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Verazano at Sunset

One break from the usual fare of client visits came in the form of a company outing to Citi-Field to take in a Mets Game!  Despite being a bit of an on-again off-again rainy day we had a blast! I had not been to Citi-Field and was pleasantly impressed.  Still can’t get over the air traffic passing in close proximity as they shoot the Expressway 34 approach into LaGuardia.

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It was all fun and productive, but lemme tell you, I’m glad to be home…

September 17, 2011 in Aviation, Just Plain Cool, Navy, Photo, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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August 07, 2011

Annual Camping Trip!

My friends and I have a bit of an annual ritual… Every summer we all give up many of our daily trappings and retreat to the near wilds of Colorado for a few days of R&R, fly-fishing, steak eating, beer swilling and fire poking!

This year we spent 3 glorious days at the base of the fourteen thousand feet Colorado Collegiate Peaks along the Arkansas River.

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As I’ve gained in age, wisdom, and waist size… I’ve migrated away from the more rugged style of camping, sleeping in the tent on the ground in a 1972 psychedelic sleeping bag, to mooching off of a friend of mine, ‘Scooter’- and occupying one of his two double beds in his pop-up trailer- complete with heater!  (Yeah I know it’s August, but I’ll have you know that the ambient at 3:30am was indeed registering 38 degrees!)  Odd I know coming from a guy who does not wear waders when fly-fishing in 52 degree river water!

And speaking of wading, there was indeed opportunity to do that as well in Colorado’s Arkansas River… Note I specifically did not say fishing!  Because even though I had my fly rod in hand, casting any number of feathered bug-avatars into said flowing torrent… I’m convinced there were no fish to be wrangled this year!  (My wife and Clay, who both claim to have caught something, beg to differ -- I never witnessed either acquisition so I’m still convinced it was the river and not my angling skills!)  The rest of our herd is inclined to agree with me!  Lest their angling skills be impugned as well!

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But the views more than made up for my shut out!

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Alas, the closing day of the long weekend was upon us all too soon, and the campsite required we yuppie nomads to vacate the wilderness… with electric hookups, flush toilets… and coin op showers… no later than 11:00am.  We departed at 10:55 for our 2 hour journey back to civilization, all of us proud in the fact that not one of us deposited a single quarter in their Shower Racket!

Besides there is something immensely satisfying to arriving home, unloading the SUV and proceeding to spend 20 minutes in the master bath shower, rinsing off the smoke smell of 200+ store bought pine logs sacrificed to the meditation god known as the “campfire”! 

I bid you all a good evening, as I hope to dream of star-filled skies, gentle breezes, and the trickle of a nearby tributary… 

Thanks again to Scooter for setting this whole decompress up!  You’re a GIANT among men in my book!

August 7, 2011 in Biographical, Current Affairs, Photo, Travel, Weather | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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July 01, 2011

Indoor Polo and Photography Challenges

Last week when I was back in the rain and humidity of New York I had the opportunity to watch my boss play polo… indoors!  Nope, not water polo!  Real Horse-involved-and-all… polo!

Ya see, his polo club has options, either they play on one of two 300 yard by 160 yard pitches, or if it is raining… like it was on that particular Wednesday evening… they move it indoors, in a quite sizable barn.

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I had joined up with Kevin in hopes of photographically capturing something different.  Man was I in for a challenge!

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Initially I captured a couple of decent outdoor (in the mist) shots as best as I could lighting conditions permitting.  The horses were beautiful, strong peaceful animals and quite tolerant of this camera tote’n, Bostonian wearing interloper mingling amongst the riders, the keepers and the other steeds.

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The challenge came in when the action started… again not on the field, but in the dimly lit barn.  Camera setting had to be greatly modified to even begin to capture the action.  ISO jacked to 1600 – Check!… Fastest Lens @ 3.5 – Check! shutter speed as slow as I dare go @ 60 – Check! 

Ha!  Who am I kidding these are going to be grainy as 1930’s ‘Talkie’! and blurrier than Rosie O’Donnell’s figure!

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Doesn’t mean I didn’t try!  And yep sure enough upon my opening the images on a full resolution screen, about 90% of the images were indeed crap!  Discernable yes… but still crap when it comes to quality!  My kingdom for a Nikon D3s!  and a super fast lens!

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I did however have an idea.  In a tip learned in one of my many Photoshop instructive publications it counseled to not get rid of grainy, out of focus images that have pretty good content.  Rather, alter them using any of the many image filters available in Photoshop!

And voila’ creativity in action!

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More efforts can be seen here [Link]

Enjoy…

July 1, 2011 in Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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June 07, 2011

Artistic Expression

In New York again, in preparation for a major presentation we have on Thursday.  At the end of another long day, I took about an hour and headed down to Tarrytown, along the Hudson River to exercise the Nikon… (I’ve been remiss).

I was playing a bit more with some HDR imagery.  Once again without a tripod… And about the best I could come up with was this image.  Not sure what to do about the horizon angle… played with that a bunch and still can’t settle on any particular rendering over another…

Tarrytown Artistic 

Ah well… Call it Artistic Expression.

June 7, 2011 in Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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May 16, 2011

Vegas with Friends!

Just returned from a mini-vacation in Vegas.  Six couples were meeting up in Vegas to celebrate 3 of our May Birthdays, one for 50, one for 40 and me for 45.  And to celebrate Ginger’s graduation from Grad School receiving her Masters Degree in Nursing! I have to say this was one of the most relaxing de-compressing trips I’ve had in a long time! 

And to top it all off I’m returning with more cash in my pocket than what I left with!

All did not start off smoothly on this trip however.  We were on the 9:25pm flight out of Denver to Las Vegas last Wednesday.  And it being Spring and all here in the Mile High City, the weather was forecast to be a little on the wet side.  No biggie… planes fly in the rain all the time.  Well wouldn’t you just DSC_0001know it?  As I am driving up the approach road to the airport, said rain that had been pelting the GMC the whole drive swapped places with SNOW!  Heavy big potato-chip sized flakes that grew to such intensity in the next few minutes that I could not see more than a hundred yards or so.  “Yeah this’ll delay us… I just didn’t know for how long.”  Short answer… 4 hours!  Turns out Denver International Airport hadn’t planned for a snow storm this particular day and only 2 de-ice pads were open for the first couple of hours of the delay.

Finally around 1:30am we depart for Las Vegas… and wouldn’t you know it about 40 minutes into the flight over the PA we hear, “If there is a doctor or a nurse on board, please ring your call button.”   This is actually one of those weird things…  I have literally flown on more than 1,000 flights over the course of my business career and leisure life and I have heard this announcement 3 – count ‘em… 3 times!  And EACH of these times I have been flying with my wife Ginger… The Oncology Nurse! (prior to that an ICU nurse).  So I caution you… the odds of you getting sick on an airplane increase dramatically if my wife is onboard!  Winking smile  Turns out the patient in question probably had a case of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The Mirage Hotel

We finally make it to the Mirage around 2:30 local… It’s Vegas baby!!! Its not like its dead or anything.  We drop the bags off in the room and head downstairs to grab a small snack at the 24 hour deli.  Heh… Small my ASS!  This sandwich could feed the entire front line of the USC Trojans football team… or Rosie O’Donnell whoever got to it first. 

Being that Ginger and I are both over 40 we see no sin in heading to the room for a little shut eye, besides our friends Karyn and Bob are due in on the 8:00am flight and may need our room to dump their stuff and change for the pool in the morning.  Trust me after that travel day? Slumber engulfed us like a fog on the coast!

8:00am my phone text buzzes… “Super smooth flight!!! We’ll see you guys shortly!!!”  Ginger Loves Karyn and Bob… but you wouldn’t have known it right then by the grumbled response to my reading aloud said message.  I texted back to Karyn about our tribulations the night before, to wit she was offering plenty of accommodation telling us to get more sleep… but in reality, Ginger and I too wanted to get on with our vacation.  Besides chapter 1 was simply, “Go to the pool!”  order up some Bloody Mary's (or a poison barbed mamosa), how tough could that be?  I mean really what could possibly go wrong.  Other than whist we were all in some painfully deep intellectual discussion about the various fashions arrayed around the pool… Karyn stops us cold with “Hey I have a problem, I’m having a serious allergic reaction!” as her right lymph node began to look like she had swallowed a peach pit!  And according to Nurse Ginger who happened to be sitting right there… (I’m telling you, coincidence?  I think not!) it felt like a pit too!  This time Bob to the rescue with his stash of Benadryl!  Yea Bob!  Which did indeed help reduce Karyn’s reaction… to what we still were not sure.  Olive? Strawberry? a spice of some sort?  (Plot spoiler here… a day later Karyn discovered that something had either broken off of the plastic spear used to stab the olive she ate or a piece of the pit from the olive lodged in her lower salivary gland).  Karyn is much better now!  And after removing the culprit, was fine all that trip… not counting almost losing a wallet and actually losing an iPhone… Trooper!

Ok… Festivities!   What I really enjoyed about this trip is that we did much more than sit at a slot machine and watch our 401K’s get smaller by the minute (ya know like 2008). 

We ate fantastic food at Capo’s Italian restaurant true to the “Godfather”-esque ambiance, we played golf at two really nice courses, both in good condition with stellar views of the Las Vegas Valley… by the way, if you play there… the friggn’ ball is going to break to that damn valley!  I don’t give a crap that it looks like a two footer breaking the other way.  Trust it like you would a politician!  Seriously golf is great in Vegas, that’s honestly the cheapest 5 hours you will spend!  Even if the tee was $200.00 which ours wasn’t.

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Friday night many of us caught the Circque du Solei – tribute to Elvis show at the Aria hotel in the new city center.  Good show!  Great art direction!  I was a little annoyed with the lady next to me who spent the gross majority of the show with her fingers in her ears.  PLEASE… Don’t go to shows where strong music is going to be played if you are sensitive to loud sounds!  And if you know this already… have you heard of EAR PLUGS?!!!  Your elbows are distracting me!

Now don’t assume we didn’t partake in some of the vices Vegas has to offer as well… there was gamblin’ to be commenced.  After all we know all of these people from our monthly Poker group!  Many of us played in poker tourneys, some of us played the slots, some video poker and some of us the tables.  My buddy Cliff and I?  We headed to Craps!  The two nights we played we did quite well, Cliff better on night one with the dice I better on our second excursion.  Yes we both profited… fairly handsomely actually, hell you have to be doing well to hold the table for 3 1/2 hours with your original buy-in!  More importantly Cliff and I whooped it up good!  High Five’n yelling at the dice!  Getting the table all excited!  It was tons of fun!  Hell I think our tips to the dealers made them a couple hundred… easy!

The second golf round was guys day, with four of us heading to Red Rocks Country Club to beat that little white bastard!  I had a very good round even with a couple of blow-up holes I still managed an 82.  Not bad for a course I have never seen before in my life much less played.  Damn ball still breaks up hill sometimes… I swear it does!

Red Rock Arroryo course

While we are on the links, my bride emails me with some good news… She hit another Royal Flush on a Quarter Video Poker Machine (cashing in over $1,000.00)!  Whooooo Hooooooo! Dinner on Ginger tonight!  That’s her 3rd of those in as many of years… Her first two coming in the same month a couple of years back!

This trip even had its moments of complete spontaneity.  After our group dinner at Hugo’s Cellar in downtown we walked the Fremont Experience… As we looked up into the canopy we noticed 4 cables strung from the far end to about the halfway point of the mini-strip.  ZIP LINES!  YEAH BUDDY!!!  Who’s with me?  Dennis, Bill, Farri, and Ginger!  That’s who!  We all head off to the west end of the block to get hooked up and go for a thrill!  20 minutes later we’re all 60 feet in the air hauling ass over the crowds gathered on Fremont Street!  How fun was that!!! 

All in all, a great trip!  Surrounded by great, fun, entertaining, genuine people!  Fortunately our flight home was uninterrupted by a PA announcement looking for Ginger.

May 16, 2011 in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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April 21, 2011

Washington DC

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC (West Springfield VA to be specific) and I always enjoy any opportunity to return to the Nation’s Capitol whenever I can.  Of late that opportunity has been a smidge rare.  However this past week our company was invited to present at a gathering of facility managers for the US Government (all our clients).  Of course we accepted, and off I was, winging my way to the greatest swamp ever!

On top of all of our meetings and obligations I was on a mission to meet face to face with my fellow blogger and photo-hound “Pinch” Paisley.  We’ve been exchanging stories, sharing photo tips, and commenting on each other’s thoughts for years now and I thought “Hell, he works at the Navy Yard! I should be able to swing by.” Turns out I had a meeting scheduled there and wouldn’t you know it? It was in the building right next door to his!… By fate of my and Pinch’s schedule we really didn’t have too much time to spare for a meet an greet, but we managed to carve out 10 minutes to insure we had the opportunity to finally shake hands, put a voice with a face, and snap a picture… which he’s still supposed to post! Winking smile 

It was great to finally meet the retired CDR!  I look forward to a bit more time available next time I’m in DC where we might be able to belly up to the bar to swap a few lies whilst imbibing the local tavern’s finer ale… or two.

Back to the rest of DC… Of course you know I had my Nikon with me to snap a few images… Here’s a taste:

These first couple, were taken immediately after I landed at Reagan National and had retrieved my rental car.  As I headed out of the airport there is an access to the park that lies immediately under the approach path of Runway 19.  For those of you who have landed at Regan that’s the approach that makes all the twists and turns following the Potomac River, past the monuments of the National Mall all the way to the numbers.  I pulled into the park and grabbed the camera to snap a few. 

Potomac Approach

KDCA Potomac Approach

Later that evening, after my boss landed we headed off to dinner, but first a brief stop at the Roof-top lounge of the “W” right next to the Treasury Building.  WOW what a view!

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That’s the Treasury Building in the immediate foreground on the right with the White House just beyond it.  Then panning to the left is obviously the Washington Monument with the Jefferson Memorial in the distance.

After dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill Kevin and I walked off our meals by touring the sites, including the White House, the WWII memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

These first two images were created using HDR (High Dynamic Resolution) to balance all of the light vs Dark areas of the well lit White House while still illustrating the color and richness of the grounds.  I especially wanted to try to capture the red tulips surrounding the fountain.

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After a good walk we ended up at my favorite site in DC… The Lincoln Memorial.  A place where people have taken literally Millions of pictures.  I wanted to try to capture that elegant Daniel Chester French sculpture of our greatest President in a creative light (exposure).  I think I like how I managed… what do you think?

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And there you have it… After DC we winged our way on the Delta Shuttle up to NYC where I have been the past coupla… to return tomorrow to Denver!

April 21, 2011 in Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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March 21, 2011

Now That’s What I Call a “Management Retreat”

The beauty of being involved with a small successful company is occasionally we have to get together, away from the daily grind to establish some plans for the future of the company… oh… and take a bit of a breather.

The two senior executives decided it would be good to get away for a bit, and were nice enough to bring the two Junior Executives along…

It was 5 days of roughing it, but hell… I’ve always been know to take one for the team!  Here’s some idea of how brutal our meetings were…

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Yep… 5 days at Cabo Del Sol – Fiesta Americana Resort!  With plenty of activities thrown in for good measure!  Like:

The Beach…

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The Pool!

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The Beach…

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Oh… then of course we had to play golf… 

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And then… back to the hotel… to watch some of the locals swim by…

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All to be up in the morning for the next day’s efforts!

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Four ATV at the Beach

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But again we had to watch how long we let these meetings run so we could make our dinner meetings too…

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Out to see the sights…

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Tip of Baja

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Oh, and whilst we were on our little cruise, wouldn’t you know it? The damn sun went down!

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We just had to head back to the hotel and enjoy the evening…

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Poolside Night

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We turned in early in preparation for a rough day… Fishing…

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Oh sure looks peaceful and serene now…

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But once around nature’s natural breakwater… uh… notsomuch!

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However… Sandy and Ryan took it all in stride…

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Me?  I was loving it!  I loved being at sea again!  Especially in 10 footers!  But hell… I had fish to catch!… so I did!

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Not big… But fun!  We ended up catching 3 Sierra Mackerel like these.  I caught one and our “Fishing Virgin” of the bunch Ryan (that’s right NEVER caught a fish before… not even on a pond!) caught 2 more.  (If you look close below you can even see the fish breaking the water near the top of the left image as Ryan reels him in.)

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We got shut out the rest of the day… but that’s ok too… time on the Pacific is ALL GOOD!

One of the most shocking things we saw was as we entered the harbor.  I looked over at another returning fishing boat and was surprised to see something other than a mermaid on the swim deck!

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Yep that’s a full grown California Sea Lion!  Probably in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 Rosie O'Donnell’s… (ok maybe only 2…) but a good 1,500lbs at least!  Once he tired of their boat he made a bee line over to our transom!

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Amazing!  But alas this was not the only native that knew a returning boat often bears great treats.  Upon our arrival at the slip we were greeted by a few pelicans (my personal favorite bird).

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All in all it was a great trip… and I want to thank Sandy, Kevin, Ryan, for a fun and successful first Management Retreat!

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March 21, 2011 in Biographical, Business, Just Plain Cool, Travel | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

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January 26, 2011

NYC–High Dynamic Range

For your viewing pleasure… or Dis-pleasure (as a number of people are not fans of his artistic manipulation of photography—too surrealistic).  But I wanted to play around with Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro capabilities.

Here’s two HDR images of Times Square this evening.  In the snow… and slush… and rush.  I would like to know your thoughts, opinions etc… First one is looking south…

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This one is looking north…

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Very surrealistic, I know but I wanted to have some fun with some of the extremes initially.

January 26, 2011 in Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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December 29, 2010

Back from Jax

This year Ginger and I celebrated Christmas with my family in Jacksonville FL.  We took the red-eye on Thursday night (Friday Morning really) which put us in JAX around 9:30am Christmas Eve day.  My Sister and her Husband Peter had arrived from New York via Amtrak only about 1/2 hour before us.  So all of the clan was present and accounted for.  Mom and Dad were thrilled to have all of us under one roof again.

It was cold for Florida… like 22 degrees cold!   That was colder than here in Colorado for the week!  But at least we avoided the snow storm that molested the rest of the east cost.

Because of the cold temps, the wisest of the family decided to bail out on the customary golf outing.  Pretty sure that was a good choice… especially because my boomerang cold… returned!  (Turns out to be a sinus infection!  Gotta love the recirculated air on airplanes!)

As usual, I had the Nikon in tow and managed a few snaps of the week.  If too personal for your tastes… tough toenails!  Tis my blog!  Otherwise… enjoy.

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Always present at Dad’s pond are egrets, herons and a variety of other water fowl.

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Above… On Christmas Eve, my sister and I strolled around the all but deserted Hidden Hills Country Club Golf Course, taking in the beautiful North Florida Sunset.

Below, of course I have to have the obligatory Carmichael Family Christmas Picture 2010!

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And this next picture is absolutely one of my favorites of Mom!  God Love her, Mom is a photographer’s nightmare!  Every time I have a camera pointed at her she frowns… is talking… is looking away… is moving… is eating… is smirking… has her eyes closed… or is otherwise leering at me!  I have learned the best way to snap a good, honest representation of my mom is to make her laugh!  Fortunately I have made mom laugh (intentionally or not) for most of my life!  In the image below, I know I made some smart-ass remark that struck mom and dad just right!

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After Christmas, my sinus infection hit me pretty hard and I didn’t do much exploring.  But on the day Ginger and I were to return to Denver we decided to load up in dad’s mini-van and head to the beach.  Gotta get a little sand between the toes when the opportunity presents itself!  These below are of Jacksonville Beach near Hanna Park (for those of you familiar with the neighborhood) it was a beautiful afternoon.

Jacksonville Beach December 2010

Jax Crab Shell on Jax Beach

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Whilst at the beach, we noticed a family of porpoise frolicking in the surf, certainly don’t see that in Denver!  Wish I had the bigger lens mounted for this one… oh well.

Kelly and Dad Jax Beach 2010 Hoagy Searching the sea

I had to post what I think is a great shot of my sister Kelly and Dad enjoying the day.  The one on the right was a candid snap I managed to capture of the Retired Admiral looking out to sea, I would love to think he had a particular John Masefield poem on his mind… but in actuality he was just trying to figure out if the white things bobbing on the swells were seagulls.

They were…

There you have it, the all too brief Jacksonville Christmas 2010.

December 29, 2010 in Biographical, Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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November 07, 2010

Bridge on Croton Lake NY

Back from NYC… Not to many photo ops this past week.  I did however make a point of taking about a 10 minute detour on my way back from a client visit to try to capture a bridge that I’ve come to admire.

Driving north on the Taconic Expressway between White Plains and Poughkeepsie, one will cross the Croton Lake Reservoir, over a fairly simple Steel Arch bridge.  Not too long ago this bridge was a painted a very muted grey-green, pretty bland if you ask me.  Then for whatever reason NY decided to paint the bridge a wonderfully bilious red, and I think it really makes the scene now. I’ve always wanted to take a few shots at capturing this bridge’s simple croton bridgeshape and stark appearance.  Previously, I’ve grabbed a image or two of this bridge as I passed over it’s southbound sister, shooting over my shoulder out the window of my rental car… (Yeah I’m sure that’s safe!) the resulting images were… to put it bluntly… CRAP! I’ve always wanted to do this bridge justice and take a little more time with a concerted effort to capture a bit of the grace of this simple structure.  Here’s a few of my latest attempts.

Big Honk’n image of the one above click here… caution, not for the feint of modems! [link]

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And there you go… Hope you like…

November 7, 2010 in Photo, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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