Orlando, Florida – Sea World

Sea World - Shamu

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Summertime = vacation time!   A great vacation spot is Orlando, Florida.  If you have kids, other than Disney World, Sea World is a must visit!  You can check out the web site at SeaWorld.com.   Its a full day at Sea World and of course the main attraction is the “Believe” show with Shamu the Killer Whale.   As soon as you arrive check the schedule and enjoy the show!  If you are ready and willing to sit close….Shamu will gladly soak you with a jumping or tail swing splash!   For this photo we were about 30 rows up…with a nice overall view…and dry!!!    Its amazing to see these whales do tricks and stunts with the trainers.   Don’t forget to get to the show early…lines form (epsically summertime) and there is only a certain capacity at the stadium.   If you miss it, they have many shows per day! 

As for the other shows you can see; Clyde and Seamore take Pirate Island, Blue Horizons, Sea Lions Tonight, Reflections and much more!    There are also lots of exhibits; Shark Encounter, Dolphin Cove, Penguin Encounter, Stingray Lagoon,  Manatee Resuce and much more!   There are also rides to go on; Journey to Atlantis, Kraken Rollercoaster, Skytower and a few others.   Lots of great dining and shopping as well.   Now that is a full day!!!

Also for kids there is a water park they can play in to keep cool!   Sea World is also located in San Antonio, Texas and San Diego, California.  So if you love Sea World…and are in these areas…visit if you can!   Here is San Antonio, Texas (and the other Sea World’s)…we bought tickets to “Dinner with Shamu”.   Check the site for prices.  Here you and about 75 people dine poolside and Shamu comes to join you for dinner!   You get some close up photo opportunites and the food is not bad!   Enjoy and have a whale of a day!!

Water Lily

Water Lily - Blue

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

Thanks again per my post below for visitng….50,000 visitors in 5 months!!!!   This will just be a quick photo post of a water lily from Zilker Botanical garden here in Austin.  I enjoy photographing these flowers…they are my favorite!   This one was taken hand held on a nice sunny hot day!  

I hear the new Nikon D300s (HD Video) has been announced today…comes out in August for $1799.00!   And also they introduced a new version of my favorite travel lens….the Nikon 18-200 VRII (it has zoom lock to keep the lens in place on your neck and also improved coating to help out with lens flare) for $845.95 – out in September!    Enjoy your day…time to start saving for some new Nikon products!

Places 2 Explore – 50,000 Visitors!!!

I just wanted to thank every visitor to Places 2 Explore!  I reached 50,000 today in only my first 5 months!    A great start to this blog!   If you are an everyday, once a week, part time or only one time visitor – I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog.  It is a great pleasure to post almost everyday a photo I have enjoyed from my travels.  I hope you are enjoying the photos, stories and information.  Its nice to interact with any of you that have posted comments.  I’ll try to repsond to anyone that posts a comment or question. 

The top 5 posts on my site (hits) are: 1. Las vegas NYNY Hotel HDR  2. NYC Times Square HDR  3. Tampa, FL HDR  4. SF Golden gate Bridge HDR  5. SF – Japanese Tea garden HDR.   I think I see a trend of HDR enjoyment.  I agree!  It is my favorite style to shoot.   My HDR Tutorial has become my top viewed link!   Thanks for viewing…hope it has been helping! 

Don’t forget Talke Photography is on Facebook and Twitter!   I’d enjoy having you become a fan or follow!   Every photo posted here is updated on these sites!   Thanks again for visiting and making Places 2 Explore one of the fastest growing Travel Photo Blogs today!!!

Toronto, Canada – CN Tower (Infrared)

Toronto, Canada - CN Tower IR

NIKON D70S (Modifed IR by LifePixel), Nikon 18-70

If you have ever seen the Toronto skyline – one noticable sight is the CN Tower.   It is situated right next to the Rogers Centre (Sky Dome) and is one of the world’s tallest free structures on land. 

Here is some info from the web:   The concept of the CN Tower originated from a 1968 Canadian National Railway desire to build a large TV and radio communication platform to serve the Greater Toronto Area, as well as demonstrating the strength of Canadian industry, and CN in particular. These plans evolved over the next few years, until the project became “official” in 1972. Construction on the CN Tower started on February 6, 1973 with massive excavations at the tower base for the foundation. The CN Tower opened to the public on June 26, 1976, although the official opening date was October 1st. The construction costs of approximately $330 million 2005 Canadian Dollars (approximately $260 million 2005 US Dollars) were repaid in fifteen years. CN sold the Tower prior to taking the company public in 1995, when they decided to divest themselves of all operations not directly related to their core freight shipping businesses.

Tickets are available at the base of the tower and you can take the elevator up and get some great veiws of the city!  The SkyPod is the world’s second highest observation deck in the world (second to Shanghai’s World Financial Center).  On a clear day you may be able to see across Lake Ontario and see Rochester or even the mist rising from Niagara Falls! 

This shot was definately a neck bender!   I took this with my IR (infrared) camera and added a filter in Color Efex Pro 3.0.   Hope your day is looking up!!

Brussels, Belgium – Town Hall (HDR)

Brussels, Belgium - Town Hall HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

Here is another photo of the Town Hall located at the Grande Place in Brussels, Belgium.   This is a close up with an extreme angle!   Standing next to this beautiful building its hard not to look upwards at the fantastic architecture.   After seeing this shot…I wondered about all the people on the facade…here is what I found on the web:  

After the destruction of Brussels in August 1695 by the French troops, only the tower and outside walls of the town hall had been saved.  Restoration works almost started immediately after the catastrophe.  In the 17th and 18th centuries the oringal decorative statues withered away or disappeared.  By 1840 a complete restoration was necessary.  It was then that the entire facade became decorated with a total of 203 little staues representing the Dukes and Duchesses of Brabant who ruled the dukedom between the year 580 and 1564.

I’d like to re-visit Brussels again one day.  The Grand Place is amazing!   Hope your day is as Grand!

Miami, Florida – Miami Beach

Miami, Florida

Nikon D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, Topaz Adjust

If you are young and single, Miami Beach is the place for you!   Great Beaches, restaurants, clubs and lots of wealthy people!  We were in town for a tennis tounament in Key Biscayne (20 mins south of Miami) and had our little one with us.  Unfortunately, we learned a lesson, this is a party town!  Not too fun for kids!   The room next to us liked to party through the whole evening and early AM.  Needless to say we moved to another hotel away from the action the next night.  Then we were ok!  

The water is amazing, but the beaches are a bit dirty (watch where you step).  You can also see some strange people here…so if you are into people watching…this is a great spot.  Main Beach action at night cannot be topped.  Its like a show when you are walking the streets…everyone is dressed up and expensive cars rule the main strip as traffic moves slowly….its seems like cruising was invented here.  LOL   I really enjoy tropical locations and Miami must be experienced at least once in your lifetime if you can.

This is from the Miami Beach web page:  Beyond the radiant sun, surf and sand, discover Miami Beach’s rich history as an entertainment and cultural destination, from world-famous Art Deco architecture to renowned nightclubs to designer fashions on Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road.  There’s so much going on in Miami Beach, you’ll need an extra hour to enjoy everything that makes this city so vibrant.  As the world’s elite playground, Miami Beach promises a 25-hour day; and whether you are an arts enthusiast, foodie, shopaholic, socialite or sun worshipper, there are plenty of options for where to spend that extra hour (or at least wish you had).

The photo above is one of the famous colorful Lifeguard Stations located on Miami Beach.   Its just a standard shot and I added a little effect to it using Topaz Adjust.  Topaz is a new “HDR like” plug in that seems to be a new favorite for many people.  It is kinda cool…I am just trying out the downloaded free demo.   I’ll keep using it and maybe will write a review one day in the future.   Have fun!

Toronto, Canada – CN Tower (HDR)

Toronto, Canada - CN Tower Reflective HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

This photo above is from within the city of Toronto near Union Station.   I was walking and noticed that the CN  Tower was nicely reflected in the building.  I set up my tripod and cable relase and took 5 exposures to capture this HDR.   The smoke stack from the one building adds a nice effect! 

Toronto, Canada - Rogers Centre HDR

 Toronto, Canada is a beautiful city to visit. The people are so nice and there are many sights to see and experience.  Here is some info from the web on Toronto:  You may already know that Toronto is home to the world’s tallest building (CN Tower at 553.33 m) and that the world’s longest street starts at the City’s lakeshore (Yonge Street at 1,896 km), but did you know that Toronto is as far south as the French Riviera or that more people live in Toronto than in Canada’s four Atlantic provinces combined?   Some great sights to see in Toronto are the CN Tower, the Sky Dome (Rogers Centre – where the Toronot Blue Jays play baseball),  Air Canada Centre (where the Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey), Fort York, New City Hall, the Pier and Toronto Zoo.

 This additonal photo is an HDR of the Rogers Centre with the CN Tower in the background.   I’ll post an HDR of the CN Tower in the future and give you detials.  Its a great spot to sightsee…especially when you are high above the city!    From Buffalo to Toronto is about a 90 minute drive.  And in between you can visit Niagara Falls!  About 1 hour south of Toronto via car.    Have a great day…aye!

Toronto, Canada – Union Station HDR

Toronto, Canada - Union Station HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

I have been traveling alot recently and just got back froma trip to the North East.  I visited one great little city…Toronto, Canada.  I didn’t have much time to take tons of photos…just took a few I was looking for.  This shot was my main goal.  I have been enjoying HDR shots of train stations.  This is Union Station located near the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower.   This location is where Union Station and the Metro Convention Center (South Building) meet.  There is a walkway that opens into this great view! 

I set my tripod and dodged the people with my cable release in hand and took 5 exposures.   The angle and color were perfect for an HDR.  Added to it… the light at the end of the tunnel effect…lucky timing!  The remainder of the staion is just ok, maybe at night it may be better?  I’ll post some details on Toronto with another photo tomorrow.   Until then!

Paris, France – Eiffel Tower B&W

Eiffel Tower B&W

NIKON D300, Nikon12-24, Photoshop

A solid Black & White photo is always enjoyable!  For some reason, black & white photos have a certain feeling, maybe sometimes more than a color photo due to the fact that you are viewing it in only two colors…so it makes you focus on the photo itself.   How many times have I seen a B&W photo and said… that it is cool…so simple…I like it!  Such a style can be inspiring.

This was an easy one to accomplish.  I visit the Eiffel Tower often and am always looking for something different.   Using a wide anlge lens and laying down on the ground at the base of the tower…gives this great angle!   Add in a black an white stamp filter in Photoshop and this is the outcome.  Simple and to the point.  

I never shoot in black in white as it creates limits.  Software can easily convert in numerous black and white styles.  Nik Software Silver Efex Pro is one great piece of black and white product!   I’d like to do more b&w…maybe I will have a swing this way for a bit in the future.  That is the fun of photography…so many styles and so little time!  Enjoy!

Baseball – New York Yankees

Baseball - Hideki Matsui

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

It is almost August and in the US this means the playoff races begin in Major League Baseball.   These days sports are a business, so if your team has the money, you can win championships.  In the American League its always the Yankees and Red Sox battling it out.   I do enjoy the matchups!   Two teams filled with great rosters!  Occassionaly a cinderella story team like the Tampa Rays will somehow make it in….like last year.

I am a Pittsburgh Pirates fan…we have had 17 staright seasons of losing baseball.  Maybe one day while I am alive my Bucs will be that Cinderella team??   Doubtful!  But I can have hope!  Most of my family and friends are Yankee fans…so I will give them their due…they have another solid team this year.  So lets see how October plays out in 2009?? 

This photo is from Spring Training in Florida this past year.  It was just a standard photo and I added a motion blur in Photoshop (very easy to do) around Hikedi Matsui to give his running out of the batters box a little flair. Another photo tomorrow…1-2-3 strikes I’m out!