Aboard the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

Designing our Nations Monuments

I sometimes wonder how it is that we have been so blessed in this country to have some of the greatest monuments to our heroes. What a task, honor and responsibility it must be for the designers. They are building something that countless visitors will see for all of our remaining history. Something that must encapsulate remembrance, that must honor and make us all reflect on tragedy, courage, valor. I believe the two finest examples of many in the United States are the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii.

A Different Sort of Hallowed Ground

The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial is one of the most solemn places I have visited. It is an active cemetery and most of the crew members are still aboard (only a few hundred survived the attack). The space is open and airy, serene…a very stark contrast to December 7, 1941. This life preserver struck me at the end of my visit. It’s an almost ironic thing on a memorial to so many sailors who died without enough time to even attempt to use one. It’s there for the living of course, but then again, perhaps the memorial is there for us as well. May the dead only know peace.

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Il Duomo’s Main Door in Milan, Italy

Il Duomo’s Main Door is a Bronze Masterpiece

Hulking and overwhelming is the main door of Il Duomo in Milan; much as the cathedral itself. It’s raw size is imposing and perhaps more than any other, Milan’s Cathedral most reminded me of La Sagrada Familia with its explosion of scenes, excess of fruits, stories, vegetables, insects and animals. I still don’t know how I felt about Gaudi’s Cathedral in Barcelona. Perhaps the overwhelming scale is most to be admired in both. Oscar Wilde was more harsh in his criticism of Il Duomo…I don’t think I will go so far as he, but I think my heart will always lie with Notre Dame. Regardless, the bronze work, in all its busyness is a masterpiece.

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Longing Archer at Villa del Balbianello

Coming to Italy for a Single Location

I came to Italy this time around to visit this location…Villa del Balbianello on Lago (Lake) Como just north of Milan. I spent two days in Milan. It’s a wonderful city full of life and fashion, but these days I think I prefer less the overt flash of the city, and instead enjoy the seduction of nature. This villa has played host to several films. James Bond recovers here (a hospital) in the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale. This is the Lake Retreat settings for Star Wars Episode 2 where Anakin and Padmé hide out and also the location of their wedding.

Feelings on the Lake

I can’t adequately communicate how absolutely beautiful Lago Como is and every time I try, it comes out all wrong. The wisteria was just starting to bloom and the sweet smell flooded my senses during my entire time at the lake. It seemed everywhere I turned, someone had planted another fragrant vine just to brighten my day. This statue of a female archer seemed to stare out across the beauty of the area. She had a job to do, but longed to be lost in the beauty that she found here. I know exactly how she feels.

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Saint Mark’s Square Venice, Italy

Up Early to Shoot in the Rain

It was a slow and steady rain my last day in Venice and since it was January, being both cold AND wet is not a prospect I usually look forward to. I also had an upper respiratory infection and looking back, I wonder how smart it was for me to be out in the cold Venetian air in the first place. When you take short trips, as I do, you have to make the most of what little you have. In my case I couldn’t let the rain or the cold or my cough or jet-lag stop me from getting the photos I wanted. I am trying to take this view of life as well…I could more easily stay home, be more comfortable, not get so sick so often, take fewer trips, but there are so many places I want to go and so much to see. Though it may cause me to shiver, I can’t imagine the slow cold rain stopping me.

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Bar of the Hotel du Louvre in Paris

Never Enough Time in Paris

If I had to pick…it would be Paris. There is some…I don’t know what, about the city. I was headed down for breakfast at my hotel during my 24 hours in The City of Light when I walked past this luxurious red velvet draped room. It serves, somewhat obviously as the bar of the hotel, and perhaps the liquor displays on the wall are over the top, but I just LOVED the space. Immediately I went back for my camera and was taking in all the lushness.

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Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho

Expectations are Useless

I often roll my eyes at people when they share their expectations of a place with me. Aren’t the people in Paris rude? No they aren’t if you respect their culture. Isn’t Argentina really poor? They have an host of economic problems as do we…they also have poor people and some that are quite wealthy. Despite my somewhat uppity attitude towards those untraveled…I myself constantly find my expectations blown out of the water. Bangkok was a surprisingly modern city…cue the roll of my eyes at myself.

Wat Pho

During my short (and extremely hot) time in Bangkok, I visited Wat Pho and the surrounding area. I had hands down the BEST Thai food I have ever had from a street vendor and I saw the largest reclining Buddha in the world. From the photo it almost looks like I am looking down on this shrine…I assure you, I was looking (way) up. As impressive as the Buddha was in shear size, I loved the detail work all around the temple almost as much.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 23 March, 2014
  • Focal length: 28mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

Lit Candles in Notre Dame Cathedrale Paris

The Language of Beautiful Music is Universal

I am not Catholic…I grew up Methodist but I cant help but be fascinated at the wonderful cathedral’s all over Europe. The of the grandest is of course Notre Dame in Paris, France. There is always a wealth of activity in these ancient churches and I never quite know exactly what is happening in all the nooks and crannies. While visiting this last week, I attended the Vêpres du Carême, there was some wonderful singing, but I didn’t quite know what was happening as mon français n’est pas très bon (my French is not very good)! It was interesting to me though how much I got out of the service considering I dindt understand much of the actual words…music for me tends to be universal.

Lighting a Candle

The simple notion of lighting a candle for someone seems to take on added meaning in some places. Depending on the location there seems to be different candles of different sizes. These lit candles in the Cathedral of Notre Dame seemed to be the largest and most expensive to light. Can some of my Catholic friends enlighten me as to the ins and outs of lighting a candle in church? Does it have different meaning depending on the alter or area of the cathedral?

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Waibaidu Bridge Shanghai China

Wandering in the Dark

I arrived in Shanghai after a 16 hour flight and made it to the hotel around 4pm in the afternoon. I took one of the fastest commuter trains in the world from the airport. We traveled at over 300km/hour…this is the slower speed they run the train. I was exhausted, but I left the comfort of my hotel to venture to the Bund the first night to wander alone in the dark with 1000 strangers.

Today’s Photo – With a bit of Soul Searching

I have been thinking quite a bit today about pushing myself. The constant moving has taken a physical toll on me lately, but every time I process a new photo it makes me recall the journey. I recall how alive travel makes me feel and how I find glimpses of childlike wonder on the road; a wonder I once though forever lost. There is something out there I am searching for, I know not what, but my soul has seen glimpses, even in the most usual of subjects.

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Cannon Beach Oregon Haystack Rock and The Needles

In Search of Childhood Film Locations

This was the photo I was looking for when we ended up at Ecola State Park. When we arrived at Ecola and stood on the lookout point, I realized right away we had arrived in the wrong location for the photo I wanted. This happens quite a bit. A helpful local tells you about their favorite vantage point away from all the crazy photographers on the beach, not understanding you are, in fact one of the crazy ones.

Today’s Photo – Goonies Never Say Die (and neither do photographers)!

We were lucky to make it to Cannon Beach just before the sun went down. You might recognize Haystack Rock (on the right) and The Needles (on the left) from the 1980′s film The Goonies. When the circumstances of life throw up a roadblock to what you want, it’s easy to give up…to settle. The much harder thing is to plunge in and risk everything. Sometimes the reward makes the gamble worth the risk.

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Jing’an Temple Shrine

Today’s Photo – A Personal Shrine

Jing’an Temple is a vast place full of monks, Buddhist practitioners (laypeople) and tourists alike and finding privacy must be next to impossible. One of the things that I found interesting is the large number of spaces for worship. I don’t profess to understand all the in’s and out’s of Buddhism, but this Jing’an Temple shrine seems to be made for an intimate bit of prayer. I arrived early in the day and was lucky to capture the temple with few visitors.

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