Today’s post is filled with travel photography tips to help you capture the best vacation memories. When we take a photo not only are we preserving precious memories but we are also documenting a place. We are capturing the essence of a place at a particular time in history.
Just a slight shift in position can dramatically alter a photo.
Unusual angles can add impact and different perspectives. They can bring out point of views we normally don’t see. How to get different perspectives:
Lighting is everything when it comes to photography.
The hardest time to get a good picture is during the bright middle of the day. The best times to shoot are early morning and early evenings. An added benefit to being out and about so early is avoiding large crowds.
Framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene.
Framing gives the image depth and layers while leading the eye to your focal point.
Zooming in can bring texture to your photos.
Zooming out can be awe inspiring.
Don’t center your subject.
Do you have any photography tips? Share them below.
The solstice marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Today we celebrate the longest day of the year and get ready for some warmer days to come. I am reminded of a photo shoot I did during a summer solstice. Several years ago I headed to a drum circle to celebrate the summer solstice when I ran into a group of performers. They were fire dancers. I remember them being very polite and humble about their skills. They answered my questions and I watched them borrow each others equipment to practice before their performance. The show was great and was the perfect opportunity for me to do some light graffiti.
Light graffiti is also known as light painting. Basically you keep your camera’s shutter open as long as possible to capture light. Here’s a round up of photos I took that wonderful warm summer evening.
How are you spending the longest day of the year?
“The festival of the summer solstice speaks of love and light, of freedom and generosity of spirit. It is a beautiful time of year where vibrant flowers whisper to us with scented breath, forests and woodlands hang heavy in the summer’s heat and our souls become enchanted with midsummer magic.” Carole Carlton
“This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath…” Margaret Atwood
“There is a Zone whose even Years No Solstice interrupt – Whose Sun constructs perpetual Noon Whose perfect Seasons wait -” Emily Dickinson
This photo was taken at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida during the Ice! display. The entire exhibition area is cooled down to 9 degrees and displays hundreds of ice sculptures. It is very cold and luckily parkas are provided. I live in Florida and do not own anything near as warm as a parka.
The sculptures are amazingly detailed. The entire Ice attraction is hand carved by a team of 40 artisans hailing from Harbin, China. The sculptures vary from cartoon characters to a giant nativity scene and of course Santa too. There’s are slides made of ice for the kids to play.
It’s a nice place to spend an afternoon but I won’t lie. I didn’t stay long because I was freezing.
“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.” Tennessee Williams
“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“I will always be the virgin-prostitute, the perverse angel, the two-faced sinister and saintly woman.” Anaïs Nin
“One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.” Steven Moffat
Because I have so many incredible photos that I haven’t posted on the site I thought I might create a weekly feature where I share an interesting photo I haven’t published before. There are tons of works you haven’t seen. Today’s photograph is from a 2010 road trip across Florida when we stopped in the tiny colorful town of Matlacha. All the shops in its downtown are painted with happy, beautiful, bright, eye catching colors. We pulled over to stretch our legs and I found this guy sitting out in front of a small town shop. I think it’s creepy that he’s fake but still has a shadow. But you know me and my overactive imagination.
Today’s word is colorful.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” Rabindranath Tagore
“I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.” Sylvia Plath
“I hunger for your sleek laugh and your hands the color of a furious harvest. I want to eat the sunbeams flaring in your beauty.” Pablo Neruda
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” William Gibson
“The first stab of love is like a sunset, a blaze of color — oranges, pearly pinks, vibrant purples…” Anna Godbersen
This is the first post of a new Florida travel series titled: Exploring the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a series of connected islands on Florida’s southern tip. Some are smaller than others and there is only a two lane road taking visitors in and out of the keys. Today’s trip is at the very top of the keys. A wonderful trip if you don’t feel like driving all the way down to Key West. This road trip stop is in Key Largo, Florida.
Instead of taking US1 straight down into the Keys we made a left onto Card Sound Road. This is a small scenic two lane road that cuts through Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. There are miles and miles of preserved West Indian tropical hardwood hammock. You will see small boats on waterways and people fishing off short tiny bridges. Somewhere along the road you will pass Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, there are gators everywhere so be aware.
Once you reach the park there are a few parking spaces at the front. There is a cemented trail as well as many other trails throughout the park. There were families riding bikes around the looping trail on the day I visited. A great way to exercise while having fun.
The park has over six miles of nature trails which is perfect for birdwatchers and photographers. There are many shaded areas to walk and rest. There is also a very cute picnic area with tables. A great spot to fuel up which can even be a lovely backdrop to have a romantic meal.
This was the first place I ever participated in Geo Caching thanks to the friendly park ranger who explained what it was. Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS enabled devices or an app you can download to your phone. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. When you find the treasure, you sign the log. Make sure to include whatever you’ve taken and what you have left behind. Then share with others. It was a lot of fun to hunt for treasure.
This park is a great way to observe the wildlife. During April and October migratory birds are funneled into the Keys by the landform. Some tropical species residents you might see are: the white-crowned pigeon, the mangrove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo. Tropical vagrants such as the thick-billed vireo and La Sagra’s flycatcher are frequently reported in the park.
Butterfly-watching has rapidly grown in popularity since the mid-1990s; the park features an incredible diversity of species, including the Schaus’ swallowtail, silver-banded hairstreak, and both hammock and mangrove skippers. Rare tree snails feed on the lichens and bark of the tropical trees, and can be easily observed by park visitors.
Have you been Geocaching before? Have you visited Key Largo? Do you have a tip for me?
Let me know in the comments.
Disclosure: By clicking on the links and making a purchase I receive a commission. Please use the links for your purchases.
Florida has so many incredibly beautiful places to see. It’s a treat to wander about the grand state in search of new surprises. This time I decided to take a road trip to the north western area just under the panhandle. We spent days zigzagging through hilly back roads where all you saw were cows, horses and farms. You will find many wonderful state parks throughout that area.
Visiting Rainbow River State Park is a treat for the eyes. Upon entering you will see the most beautiful crystal clear waters in shades ranging from jade to baby blue. Crystalline clear blue waters flow from the springs which you can see bubbling in the white sand.
Yes you can swim here however because there are alligators you must remain in the designated area. The water is clean, clear and very cold this time of year. They say you get used to it once you jump in. Go for it.
Rainbow Springs is the perfect place for canoeing and kayaking which are available for rent. There are also many beautiful trails that will take you through gardens and more than one waterfall. There are many places to picnic and camp.
Archaeological evidence shows these springs were used by people dating back 10,000 years ago. It was an important place for clean water, food and fishing as well as transportation. The springs are timeless and a wonderful way to spend the day. There are plenty of picnic areas and pavillions for family gatherings. The gorgeous scenic setting is great for spending romantic quality time. Have you been?
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.” Sylvia Plath
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” William Shakespeare
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein
Regardless of industry or career, developing your style demonstrates mastery and professionalism. Last night I was watching “The Eye Has to Travel” a documentary about the life of Diana Vreeland and found many great lessons. She was editor of Vogue magazine for many years and one of her most famous quotes is regarding style.
“Style is a way of life, without it you’re nothing.”
I agree style is everything and I’m not speaking about fashion. Style is what distinguishes you and your works from others. It is your essence communicated through voice, perspective and attitude. Your style is what ultimately shines through in your works whether you’re a designer, artist or teacher. Vreeland didn’t have a formal education but she had the keen ability to see style in others and encourage the development of it in other artists. Her employees, models and photographers all stated she would push them to do more until they produced their absolute best.
Vreeland worked within the constraints of industry which to this day is sexist, ageist and non inclusive. It’s pretty ironic but true, in an interview in the 1980’s she said highlighting the very thing that makes a person unique is what makes them beautiful and interesting. Like her, I am uninterested in fitting into any mold. For any apprentice it is okay to experiment and emulate others but ultimately you must design yourself.
In another great take away Vreeland also stated people only live through their dreams and imagination. What a wonderful perspective. If we give up on our dreams we are not living our lives to our fullest potential. Our imaginations have no limits therefore your capabilities are endless. Dream big then dream bigger. Create your ideal world.
And finally a piece of advice to artists. Give the audience what they can’t get at home. Take them somewhere. Tell a story. This was exactly what she was great at.
Have you seen the documentary? What did you think? I recommend it. You can find it on Netflix.
What are you inspired to create?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou
“In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“A writer’s style reveals something of his spirit, his habits, his capacites, his bias…it is the Self escaping into the open.” E.B. White
You have not visited Louisiana until you’ve driven down River Road to experience Louisiana’s romanticized antebellum past. It’s where rich elite Europeans settled, building incredible mansions guarded by giant live oak trees draped in moss surrounded by acres of fields. Every need and desire easily fulfilled. Any request brought to the Mississippi banks. Steamboats arrived often with lavish furnishings, materials and visitors. I imagined Louisiana’s countryside today would be similar to Bon Temps, the fictionalized town where HBO’s True Blood series takes place. As a matter of fact I told my sister I would be visiting Bill Compton’s McMansion this particular Sunday morning and as a good sister she told me to be careful. It was everything I imagined and more.
During my trip to New Orleans I heard many tales of extravagantly rich families owning plantations and acres upon acres of land and industry in the countryside and the extreme poverty of its slaves and laborers. These tales peeked my curiosity so I hit up Louisiana’s back roads to do some exploring to experience it for myself.
It was much closer than I thought it would be. After only twenty minutes I was already approaching the massive cable stayed bridge allowing me to cross the Mississippi River. Leaving behind the highway and it’s view of a swampy area where I could see the tops of tall trees covered in moss standing in sappy brown waters. Hale Boggs Bridge is quite an impressive feat of engineering due to its gargantuous size. I think everything in Louisiana is done with the intention of being bigger and better. There was a soft drizzle as I reached the Mississippi’s West bank. Large ships, barges and cargo carriers floated by with all the patience in the world leaving behind small ripples that would crash into the shore. The contrast of industry and bright green vegetation once you reach the other side is beautiful.
At the stop light there was a lovely perfectly manicured small town to my right, looking up large brown metal and steel cables of the super structured bridge and then I made a left turn onto River Road. The first thing I saw was new money, a community of large brick mansions with long winding gated driveways. Continuing past a very ugly industrious zone I got an unexpected surprise, miles and miles of nothing but sugar cane. The seemingly endless fields of sugar cane reminded me of my summer visits as a young girl to Puerto Rico. I would have to pass miles and miles of sugar cane fields on small back roads to get to my grandparents home.
The view is green for miles on a road that twists and curves along the river. Unfortunately you cannot see the waters of the Mississippi River because the banks have been built up high in order to prevent local flooding. Sprinkled in between farm lands were the old plantations I had heard about. Some were grand in beautifully maintained condition while others in disrepair or completely abandoned. It is very expensive to maintain large old historical homes which in addition often have several more structures on the property. Small rural communities would appear after miles of fields. Some more modern than others but most look quite poor.
There is nowhere to stop on winding River Road unless you are visiting a plantation. I was warned not to pull over on this back road because its heavily used by big freight trucks and visibility is poor due to its many curves. I recommend a visit to one of the many plantations. I visited Oak Alley Plantation which was so nice it will be featured in its own post.
River Road is a great way to see Louisiana’s past reflected in its present just a beautiful short drive away from New Orleans. I turned around after about an hour but River Road continues winding right alongside the Mississippi
Bring plenty of water and snacks. There are no restaurants or shops including gas stations so gas up beforehand.
Visit a plantation to learn the incredible history of the area.
Don’t stop off River Road. There is one spot I found where there is designated roadside parking just past Oak Alley Plantation. You will be able to see a tiny part of the Mississippi River there.
Have you driven down River Road?
“Time is like the Mississippi River. It only flows in one direction. You can never go back.” Suzanne Woods Fisher
Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Aidan Chambers
The Tigris, the Euphrates, the Mississippi, the Amazon, the Yangtze. The world’s great rivers. And every one of them finds its way to the ocean.” Alison McGhee
Recently, I went for an early morning walk run. I didn’t get very far down the path before spotting a huge dragonfly on the ground. I wasn’t sure it was dead but it was lying perfectly still. Thinking about having it fly onto me gave me the creeps and its large dark fly like eyes made me feel disgusted but as I got nearer I noticed the stunningly beautiful colors on its body. Vibrant shades of green and blue coming alive before my eyes in feigned movement under the glare of the morning sun similar to the optical illusions of cracker jack prizes. This creature does have extraordinary beauty which gave me the courage to get close up for a photo.
We each have the power to change our perspective if we take the time to do so. There are days when everything seems so hard. There are times when we just cannot find the right solutions. Sometimes it takes slowing down and looking at things in another light to spark the right answers or at least get us going in the right direction.
When I am behind the camera lens I am slowing down to really look at something. For example, I was on the beach one afternoon and I noticed debris all along the shore. From far away it looked like garbage but when I got near enough to really see the details something magical happened. It became mysterious to think of where these bits and pieces came from ending up together at my feet on the shore. At what precise moment did they become beautiful? Maybe when I began to define each and everyone individually. Searching with hungry eyes for beauty.
I lost something and I’m searching for solutions with this creative exercise.
Do you have methods to help you with problem solving?
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” Paulo Coelho
“Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.” Gerard Way
“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner)
It takes one year for human remains to decompose in the above ground tombs of New Orleans cemeteries. These vaults are an example of Spanish influence on the city. Before then citizens tried various methods of interring the deceased but nothing worked because the city built on a swamp is prone to flash floods. Flooding would cause buried coffins to pop out of the ground and float into the streets of the city. Not good. New Orleans cemeteries adapted to this method creating a unique series of tombs and vaults which look like miniature cities, cities of the dead.
New Orleans is a great example of a city which celebrates its cultural heritage by preserving its past. Gone but certainly not forgotten. There are no less than 42 cemeteries in the metropolitan New Orleans area. Many remain highly visited tourist attractions. The largest cemetery is Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery but the most famous is St. Louis Cemetery Number One, the burial place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. During her life she was revered for her legendary voodoo powers and remains so to this day.
Her grave is encircled with gift offerings from believers and non believers making the pilgrimage to visit her tomb in exchange for blessings. A cluttered pile of odd offerings at the foot of the grave the day I visited consisted of feathers, gum, dolls, beads, flowers and even booze. I’m imagining some arrived ill prepared and just left whatever they had on them. The markings you see on the tomb are little x’s but our tour guide discouraged it seeing it as vandalism. He suggested to knock three times on the tomb instead. Somehow I just knew I would receive a response if I did. I didn’t want to bring anything back home with me other than these wonderful photos so I did not knock.
The St. Louis Number One is the oldest continuously operating cemetery in New Orleans. The tombs and vaults range in both size, condition and decor from concrete to brick or wrapped in wrought iron. The largest belong to the wealthiest or are community vaults designed to share the cost of maintenance. On its outer walls the cemetery has vaults available for rent to help out those who can’t afford a tomb. A few world famous buried there are chess champion Paul Morphy, activist Homer Plessy, the family of impressionist artist Edgar Degas. Actor Nicolas Cage’s pyramid shaped tomb also draws big crowds.
Visiting NOLA Cemetery Tips
– Take a tour. You will learn so much about the city’s rich history rather than looking at a bunch of names on graves you’ve never heard of. I did the New Orleans Voodoo Cemetery tour which contributes a portion of its proceeds to maintain the site.
– Go in a group. Some of the cemeteries are in worse shape than others and you may run into a dead end and get lost. It was also recommended to me because there have been instances of muggings in the more solitary locations.
– Take an umbrella. It gets really really really hot especially during the summertime months. An umbrella will help shield you from the bright sun.
– Bring water. When I was exiting the cemetery I bumped into someone selling water bottles in front of the cemetery but he was not there when I arrived. There are no fountains and it gets extremely hot when the sunlight reflects off the vaults.
– Plan accordingly. Not everyone can handle walking in the sun during hot weather. There were a few people who left our tour early because they were not prepared nor used to extreme heat.
Have you visited a NOLA cemetery?
I posted more photos than usual in this post. Do you prefer having more or less photos?
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I grew up fearing I would make the wrong choices. Then two years ago I made a decision to do only things I am passionate about. I will no longer allow fear to steal any more of my precious time. For me that means doing what I love every day. Every day I write, I take and edit photos often and as I type this I have the greatest urge to play with yellow paint. And I will paint very soon. By giving myself permission to practice my passions I have discovered my Bella Vida. My mission is to share each and every positive discovery that has enriched my life with you. Subscribe here.
Taking the first step is a big deal. It is opening yourself up to the universe. It will change your life for the better. Once you determine what your passions are you can create a plan with a mission and goals to accomplish. Here are a few questions to help you discover what your passions are.
How to Find Your Passion
– What do you spend hours doing?
– What can’t you help but do?
-What is it you sacrifice time and money to do?
Writing this post has reiterated to myself that I am on the right track. I hope you feel that way too. Your contributions matter. When you follow your passions everything you create will be authentic and that is your gift to the world. Every day is an opportunity to learn and discover. Begin by owning your uniqueness.
Have you found your passion?
Have you said it out loud?
Are you living your passion?
“Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.” Pablo Neruda
“To create art with all the passion in one’s soul is to live art with all the beauty in one’s heart.” Aberjhani
“Stop living within the confines of how others define you! You weren’t created to live their life; you were created to live yours – so LIVE it! ” Steve Maraboli
I’m obsessed with photography and when I heard about the Capture the Colour Travel Photography contest it sounded like fun. I’m constantly taking photos wherever I go so it was very very very hard to chose just one photo to represent the five different colors: red, blue, green, yellow and white. Here are my selections. Which do you like best?
Most visitors to the Florida Everglades come to see the alligators but what they might not know is, it’s a wonderful place for bird watching. I patiently canvassed the swampy waters and sawgrass with my camera lens when to my luck I noticed a red beak. I walked as close as I dared without scaring this beautiful bird away or getting bit by one of the gators sun bathing on the tar road to capture this image. This beauty is called a purple gallinule and as you can see has a variety of colors in its feathers. It was the red beak contrasting with the green vegetation that gave him away.
This photo was taken from the top of a glass bottom boat in the United States first undersea park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. That day the water was choppier than I had ever experienced so even though I don’t get seasick I was playing it safe above deck savoring a peppermint candy. It was a gorgeous sunny day. Toward the coast the water was a lovely jade color and toward the Atlantic it was a gorgeous deep blue shade that reminded me of a blueberry lollipop. While enjoying the view a boat full of scuba divers anchored near us. It’s scuba diver flag bobbing up and down over choppy waters. Every day divers from all around the world come to explore the living coral reefs and natural wildlife habitat of this beautiful place.
This photo is a of a statue in haunted Bonaventure cemetery in Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah. There are many famous poets, writers, government officials and civil war heroes buried here. It was a sweltering summer day even though we were shaded under the thick branches of the moss covered live oak trees when this solemn girl caught my attention. Maybe it was the contrast between the living and the dead. The bright green vegetations which has been growing for centuries and the inanimate statue sitting there for what may be an eternity. The dedication reads: “Allured to better worlds and led the way.” 1877.
I capture so many Florida sunsets it was very hard to chose just one. I finally decided on this one which just happens to be my first ever instagram upload.
This photo was taken at one of my favorite places on the planet, Wynwood Florida. Wynwood Walls is famous for its murals and graffiti. They are everywhere. This particular mural stood out to me not only because of its size, which takes up the entire side of a warehouse, but also its subject matter. A beautiful boy pausing out of curiosity to dig for some treasure. Sweet.
Now I will pass on the fun by nominating a few of my favorite travel bloggers. I will be updating this post with more nominations. My nominations are:
“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” Karl Lagerfeld
“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” Marc Riboud
“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.” Henri Cartier-Bresson
A couple of weeks ago I went on a road trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a blast and I will be sharing the entire month of September. I’m giving you a sneak peek with these postcards I created of some of the places I saw.
Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar
National Historic Landmarks
Louis Armstrong Park
Dirty Linen Night
Old River Road
Oaks Alley Plantation
The Spotted Cat
St. Charles Avenue
Historic Voodoo Museum
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Red Dress Run
Louisiana State Museum
St. Louis Cathedral
Have you been to New Orleans, Louisiana? What was your favorite thing there?
Three weeks ago Instagram announced the capability to embed photos because it was its most requested feature since they disabled the twitter share capability. This is fantastic because now I don’t have to download the photos from my phone then upload them again to my website.
On the Instagram website it says you will see a new share button but for some reason I don’t see that share button on my laptop. I do see three dots. So whether you see the share button or the three dots when clicked, you get the embed option. Simply copy the code and paste it into your preferred editor. I currently use WordPress.
When you use this code you do not have to worry about photo credit, a link right back to your instagram profile appears right above the photo along with creator’s username, the number of Likes and comments it has received. Regardless of where it is embedded everyone can see who the content belongs too. Another important note is ONLY photos marked public can be embedded.
10 Reasons to Use Instagram
Have you used the instagram embed feature yet? What do you think?
Are we connected on instagram? If not, leave your links in the comments.
I grew up listening to frases y dichos (quotes) from my Puerto Rican family. Colorful ways of passing on advice. I enjoy reading and pinning inspirational quotes but don’t always come across ones written in Spanish so I thought I would share a few with you today. I’m thinking of making this a weekly or monthly series.
“El amor es invisible y entra y sale por donde quiera sin que nadie le pida cuenta de sus hechos. ” Miguel de Cervantes.
“En un beso sabrás todo lo que he callado.” Pablo Neruda
“Lo último que se pierde es la esperanza. “
“Lo que dejes para después para después se queda.”
Crecí escuchando muchas frases y los dichos de mi familia puertorriqueña. Consejos en forma de dichos. Me gusta leer y fijar citas de inspiración, pero no siempre los encuentro escritos en español, así que pensé compartir algunas con ustedes hoy. Estoy pensando en hacer de esto una serie semanal o mensual.
My Pinterest Board, Frases en Español is one of my most popular.