Porto, Portugal (Infrared)

NIKON D70S (modified by LifePixel), Nikon 18-200 VR

While in Porto walking around is very enjoyable!   This late afternoon I walked over the  D. Luis Iron Bridge and overlooking the city is this small park.  Great views from above!  Its nice to see Palm trees in a city.  As I walked by I took this shot using my infrared camera.   When taking architecture shots throughout the day…it is nice to take a different shot using my IR Camera.   In a city… parks offer such an opportunity!   Porto is just lovely in standard, HDR or IR photographs!

Prague, Czech Republic – St. Vitus Cathedral (HDR)

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

One word for Prague…Wow!!  In all my travels to Europe….I had never visited Prague until a few weeks ago!  I was amazed at how beautiful and old it is!  Not sure if this is correct (what I have heard), but during WWII only 1 building was destroyed in Prague…so it has kept its old world charm unchanged through the years!  In Prague you will not find skyscrapers, just spectacular buildings, old style roads, truly beautiful churches, many shops and restaurants!

I would say my favorite cities in Europe are  1) Paris 2) London 3) Rome 4) Prague 5) Vienna  …Prague jumps up to number four only after one visit!  So many sights to see – I can’t wait to go back one day!  I’ll get into Prague more in future posts….but here is an HDR from St. Vitus Cathedral.   It was my first stop during my visit and I was lucky to get this photo!  No tripods are allowed and I kinda knew this was the option ahead of me when I entered…so I prepped my camera, tripod and cable release…snapped off 5 exposures and took the shots before the guard was one my in a matter of seconds!  After this shot..I had to put the tripod away and take hand held shots.  Not bad..but at least this shot came out perfectly!

Here is some info from the web:  For more than 600 years, the roofs of Prague Castle have been overlooked by the towers of St Vitus Cathedral. The cathedral, whose original name is St Vitus, St Wenceslas and St Adalbert Cathedral, is the biggest and the most important church in the Czech Republic. It’s the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and the place where saints, kings, princes and pmperors of Bohemia are buried. The coronations of the kings of Bohemia were held there until 1836. It’s one of the best examples of Gothic architecture.

When you walk from the II courtyard to the III courtyard the first thing you notice is the impressive western part of St Vitus Cathedral. There is also the official main entrance to the cathedral. This part of the cathedral is the newest, it was built at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century (see St Vitus Cathedral History). The western part of the cathedral is characterized by two tall towers and the Rose Window. The author of this window, Frantisek Kysela, let himself inspire by old gothic windows in famous cathedrals in Paris. Notice four figures at the bottom of the window, two at at each side. They represent important people in the newest reconstruction of the cathedral.

Now Prague is surely one of the top Places 2 Explore!!

Grapevine, Texas – Gaylord Texan Hotel (HDR)

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

It is now holiday season..time to enjoy holiday music, lights and shopping!  Just this week we went up north and visited the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, TX.  It is about 20 minutes west of Dallas.  A wonderful hotel to stay at and visit during the holidays!   They have this large beautiful atrium all done up in X-Mas lights…an amazing sight to see!   The fisheye captures to grand scale of this fun place!  We had fun and took lots of pictures!  You will see more shots from here during the month of December on my blog.

The whole hotel was decorated.  There are 3 atriums to visit and explore:  Lone Star Atrium (pictured above), Hill Country Atrium and the Riverwalk Atrium (after the San Antonio Riverwalk). A small river runs through all sections of the hotel and restaurants and shopping are located throughout!  Basically an all-in-one hotel.    It was fairly inexpensive…$159/nite (may be more for weekends)…so check pricing for other dates.  It was a photographers paradise!  In the AM we saw a few professional photogrpahers taking family portraits.  We were there for the same reason!  To take an X-Mas portrait of our little one!   So the place is surely photographer friendly!

There are also a few spots to take portraits already set up by the hotel.  Santa is also there!  So we had a picture taken with him.  I asked him not to give me coal this year.  LOL  A fun great time!  I didn’t even tell you about the main attraction…ICE!  Ice sculptures of the Grinch and much more!  I’ll post a pic from ICE next week and give you more details.   If you are near Dallas for the holidays….I’d visit the Gaylord Texan for the holidays!   Enjoy!

Paris, France – Eiffel Tower

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US!  With the 120 anniversary of the Eiffel Tower going on now until Dec 31st, per my last post, there is a light show every nite from 8-11 PM.  The light show is located on the front of the tower and it lasts about 10 minutes.   They play some wonderful music and the lights dance on the front of this majestic icon!  A wonderful sight I was lucky to see!  Lots of colors….purple, green, orange, blue, red, pink, etc…   Through the next few months I will post more color shots from this show.   The tower in purple looks great!!!   Grape soda anyone?  Enjoy!

Porto, Portugal

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24

Almost every year I get to travel to Porto (can also be called Oporto), Portugal.  Such a beautiful old city!!  I had an evening to take some photos and how could you not with views like this?  My hotel is right on the waterfront with amazing views of this lovely bridge (D. Luis Iron Bridge).  It was only a 15 minute walk to get to this point.  Porto is avery old city and they have tried to keep the charm by allowing very old buildings and houses to stay close to the river.  Unfortunately, most are falling apart and need a major renovation…but it gives a historical view to anyone walking around.   During November this area is quiet and it seemed just like town people around.  I can assume during the summer it is very busy and lots of action going on!

For those who are wine drinkers…Porto is the origin for Port Wine!   Across the river you can see below the bridge some buildings…these are the wine cellars of many port wine companies.  One wine cellar had very large signs – Porto Cruz.   Not sure if it is the largest cellar  in Porto?  I would enjoy one day visiting and taking photos of the cellars!  Maybe next trip?

Here is some info from the web:  Port is a fortified wine from the remote vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Here, in the Douro Valley, time has almost stood still. You will not find the latest wine making techniques and fancy equipment. Instead, you will find a wine industry much the way it was over a hundred years ago. Yet, in spite of it, or because of it, vintage Port is one of the world’s greatest wines.  Port takes its name from the city of Oporto that is situated at the mouth of the 560-mile long Rio Douro or River of Gold. Although many port-style wines are made around the world – most notably Australia, South Africa and the United States – the strict usage of the terms Port or Porto refer only to wines produced in Portugal. It is these wines that we will explore here.

I have a few more pictures from this amazing place…will post em soon!  Enjoy a glass a wine for me!

Paris, France – La Tour Eiffel

NIKON D300, Nikon 10.5 Fisheye, HDR in Photomatix

This shot was from Paris on Friday nite.  I had an evening to enjoy the city and my first stop is always the Eiffel Tower!  I arrived just at sunset and this was my first shot with my new fisheye lens!  I set up my tripod and dodged the tourists and a few sprinkles to take 5 exposures with my cable release.  I see the tower has a little refurbishing work being done on it…but it still looks great in the blue hour!    I was excited as the tower had a 120 year celebration light show occurring every hour from 8-11 PM.  Some great colors!  I’ll post some soon after I get to process them.    Look for more shots soon!

London, England – Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace Fence

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

There are so many sights to see in London…I truly love this city!  I could easily spend 2 weeks (a fortnight) here!   This is as close as you can get to the Palace…it is surrounded by this fence.  As you lean up against the fence to watch the famous “Palace Guards” do their routine…you see this fence and its beauty!  I thought..why not take a close up of the top…add a little bokeh and here it is!  A Royal Top of the Fence!   Not your typical London shot?

Here is some info from the web:  Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a rallying point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and crisis.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building which forms the core of today’s palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 on a site which had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. It was subsequently acquired by George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, and known as “The Queen’s House”. During the 19th century it was enlarged, principally by architects John Nash and Edward Blore, forming three wings around a central courtyard. Buckingham Palace finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the East front which contains the well-known balcony on which the Royal Family traditionally congregate to greet crowds outside. However, the palace chapel was destroyed by a German bomb in World War II; the Queen’s Gallery was built on the site and opened to the public in 1962 to exhibit works of art from the Royal Collection.  Cheers!!

New York, NY – Radio City Music Hall (HDR)

Radio City HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 12-24, HDR in Photomatix

I was in NYC a few weeks back and had a few hours to grab a few shots.  We walked around Rockefeller Center and I had always wanted to get an HDR of Radio City Music Hall.   I took a few versions, but I liked this grand shot with the car lights cruising by.   A colorful street corner!    I have never been to any event at Radio City…I hear it is wonderful!

Here is some info from the web:  The names “Radio City” and “Radio City Music Hall” derive from one of the complex’s first tenants, the Radio Corporation of America. Radio City Music Hall was a project of Rockefeller; Samuel Roxy Rothafel, who previously opened the Roxy Theatre in 1927; and RCA chairman David Sarnoff. RCA had developed numerous studios for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, just to the south of the Music Hall, and the radio-TV complex that lent the Music Hall its name is still known as the NBC Radio City Studios.

The Music Hall opened to the public on December 27, 1932 with a lavish stage show featuring Ray Bolger and Martha Graham. The opening was meant to be a return to high-class variety entertainment. The new format was not a success. The program was very long and individual acts were lost in the cavernous hall. On January 11, 1933, the Music Hall converted to the then familiar format of a feature film with a spectacular stage show which Rothafel had perfected at the Roxy Theatre. The first film was shown on the giant screen was Frank Capra’s The Bitter Tea of General Yen starring Barbara Stanwyck and the Music Hall became the premiere showcase for films from the RKO-Radio Studio. The film plus stage spectacle format continued at the Music Hall until 1979 with four complete performances presented every day.

Radio City has 5,933 seats for spectators; it became the largest movie theater in the world at the time of its opening. Designed by Edward Durell Stone, the interior of the theater, with decor by Donald Deskey, incorporates glass, aluminum, chrome, and geometric ornamentation. Deskey rejected the Rococo embellishment generally used for theaters at that time in favor of a contemporary Art Deco style, borrowed heavily from a European Modern aesthetic style, of which he was the foremost exponent at the time.

Great stuff!  I’d love to see a concert there one day!  New York is one of the best cities in the world!!!  I can visit again and again!

Laguna Beach, CA (HDR)

Laguna HDR

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR, HDR in Photomatix

California Dreaming!  Whenever I post a photo from Southern California – it makes me want to move back!  Hopefully one day!  Here is a photo from the beach by the Montage Spa & Resort.  If you check back on my older posts from Laguna…you can read all about this wonderful SoCal location!     If you are here and want to go for a swim…its chilly year round!    If you are in Orange County…you must stop here for some amazing views of the California Coast!   Life is a beach!

Innsbruck, Austria – city view from Bergisel


NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200

I travel to Innsbruck every year for business. Its a lovely small city in Austria.  Austria is filled with great cities: Innsbruck, Vienna and Salzburg.  If you are a skiier…Innsbruck is for you!  Take a look at those mountains!  Last year they opened a tram to the top…we went up in May.  It was spring in the city and snow up at the top!   This photo was from a location called Bergisel Hill.

Flying into Innsbruck airport when there is snow on the mountains, is possibly the most beautiful inbound flights in the world.  The city is surrounded by amazing moutain ranges that go on for miles and miles.  Unfortunately, most flights are prop planes and the ride can get bumpy…but well worth the view…make sure to get a window seat.

The so-called Battles of Bergisel were four battles fought between the forces of French Emperor Napoleon I and Bavaria against Tyrolean militiamen and a few Austrian soldiers at the Bergisel hill nearInnsbruck. They occurred between 12 April and 1 November 1809.  At the top of the hill now you can find the famous ski jump from the 1976 Olympics.  We went there and had lunch at the top of the ski jump and this is the view of the city below.  I do enjoy visiting Innsbruck.  It is always a very small plane ride in from Germany or wherever I am coming from.  Enjoy.