This year I am participating both in a 365-day and a 52-week photo challenge. For the first one I post an image (old or new) every day on Instagram. For the latter one I need to take or create an image a week on a certain topic. This week our topic was "Symmetry". I kind of ran out of time to go on a photoshoot, so I ended up creating my image.
A few days ago I found a piece of wood that had fallen off of a palm tree. I picked it up and took it home. Sometimes I do stuff like that... When I looked at the piece it sparked my imagination; I saw it being the wing of a butterfly.
First, I took a picture of it on a grey piece of cloth, just using my iPhone. The rest of the steps were done in Photoshop.
As a first step I cut out the wood from the background, then reflected it to create a butterfly shape. I've added a background and some textures, as well as a butterfly shaped stamp. This layer also received some textures.
Then I experimented with blend modes and different lighting effects. Finally I added a color effect and contrast, and ended up with this final image:
The goal of this creation was not to come up with a super realistic image, rather the symmetry was my main purpose. Therefore, I left shadows in the picture that clearly give away that this is not a real moth.
This was such a fun exercise!
My family moved to California in mid 2012. One of the most fascinating aspects of living close to the ocean for me was (and still is) photographing the low-tide. In the first year of living here I frequently visited Laguna Beach and vicinity to admire the interesting low-tide animals. They were abundant! During each trip I saw many various animals and plants: kelp, thousands of mussels and barnacles, sea anemones, sea urchins, some octopi and many sea stars.
Here are some close up images of the unusual and gorgeous animals (and plants) that only show themselves during low-tide:
This image shows the abundance of low-tide animals in early 2013:
Let's forward the time to early 2014. I continued to visit the ocean shore during low-tides, but I found a lot less animals. The most drastic change I saw was in the number of sea stars. First I thought that it was a seasonal thing, but sadly, it wasn't. In late 2013 a strange disease hit the sea stars living on the west coast, from British Columbia to Mexico. The disease is called Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, and it killed millions of them. Basically, after being hit by the disease, the sea stars disintegrated.
The sea stars are very slowly coming back. Some were noticed at Crystal Cove State Beach 4 years later the devastating event. I hope we'll get to see more and more of them as they slowly reappear in our neck of the world.
I am very glad that I was able to take some pictures of these fascinating creatures prior to their disappearance. Always remember: what we have in the present, might not be here in the future. Always look around and enjoy what the present gifts you with.
Although I am not too much into astro photography, I certainly wanted to watch the Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017, and to take some photos. It wasn’t a total eclipse in our area; we live in Southern California. The last Solar Eclipse I watched was a total one, and I was lucky enough to experience it in my birth country, Hungary, in 1999.
I spent a relatively short time preparing for today’s event. I purchased a solar filter sheet and made a homemade filter for my lens yesterday morning. Then I practiced for about an hour to take pictures of the Sun with the filter on. I had to find the right focusing spot, as well as settings that I could start out with today.
My equipment: Nikon d750 dslr, Nikon 28-300mm lens (set at 100mm), CamRanger (to connect my iPhone with the camera), and the filter. (The CamRanger was not necessary, but made the process easier.) I took all the images at 100mm, because I wanted to be able to record the whole eclipse and not move the camera too many times.
Solar Eclipse Photography
Solar Eclipse Photography Using a CamRanger
Live View of the Sun on my iPhone with the Help of a CamRanger
Although at the beginning of the eclipse I had to change settings often due to the changing light conditions, I took most of the pictures with the settings visible above.
To bring the different stages of the Solar Eclipse together into one image I used Photoshop (21 layers). I’ve decided not to include the second half of the eclipse in this image, because the Sun would have been too small.
The Peak of the Solar Eclipse in Irvine, CA
It was certainly a great morning, and it was awesome to get to know some of my neighbors who were also interested in this rare event.
Did you watch or photograph the Solar Eclipse on this day?
Today was a very hot day, I only had a short, one hour walk in the city. This stretch of the city, from Jászai Mari Square to Blaha Lujza Square houses lots of beautiful, old, stylish buildings. They include the Comedy Theater of Budapest, Western Train Station, and a few hotels. There are also many modern restaurants on this streets, one for every taste.
Enjoy the tour! (Directions and direct link to the gallery under the map.)
This morning I headed out to the district where I lived the year prior to moving to the USA: Óbuda (3. District). I got off the tram at Zsigmond Square (2. District), because I attended a once-a-week English class in that area during that last year. Then I started walking on Bécsi Street, which has been renovated almost completely in the past few years. I soon reached the Amphitheater, which are the ruins of an Ancient Roman Military Amphitheater. I was able to walk inside of it last year, but the area is now closed. I then walked to Flórián Square, where it started raining. Luckily, I was able to go into the underground walking passage, where there were more Ancient Roman ruins. Finally, after the rain mostly stopped, I walked to Fő Square and Szentlélek Square, where they were building the stage for an upcoming concert series. I might come back to check out the festivities.
Enjoy the tour! (Directions and direct link to the gallery under the map.)
When I woke up the skies were rather dark, and I even spotted a double rainbow:
I was hesitant if I should head into downtown or not, but I decided to go. I was taking a bus from Deak Square up to the Castle District, when I spotted the breathtaking lights on the castle and its surrounding. I got off the bus, and took about a 10 second walk to reach a good spot for photos, when the Sun decided to hide behind the clouds. For most of the morning it stayed cloudy, only for short periods of time I saw the Sun’s magical work on the buildings. This cloudy day was great for one thing: I was able to photograph the Pest side from Fisherman’s Bastion, which I usually cannot do due to the Sun being on that side.
I walked only a small part of the district, I left the other side for a different day. I really enjoyed the peacefulness of the area prior to the tourists showing up.
Enjoy the tour! (Directions and direct link to the gallery under the map.)
The day started out rainy, but by the afternoon it cleared up. I started my walk from a main transportation hub, Deák Square, where three subway lines and numerous tram and bus lines intersect. I strolled on a very well known street of Budapest, Andrássy út. This long, wide road houses gorgeous buildings, elegant stores, restaurants, as well as very old, mature trees. It ends at Hero’s Square.
The biggest surprise for me on this walk was seeing a huge structure built into the City Park pond. I had no idea first what it was, but behind it I found a board explaining that it was the facility that will house the Synchronized swimming events during the Fina World Championships. Hopefully, in the remaining 12 days prior to the event they will be able to do something with the smell that surrounds the whole area that is coming from the pond, which in its current state smells like a swamp.
Enjoy the tour! (Directions and direct link to the gallery under the map.)
I traditionally spend a few weeks in Hungary every summer, visiting my family and friends. I like to visit and photograph lots of places, mostly in Budapest, and this year I’d like to invite you to follow along with me on my walking trips. I will take photos on my walks and post them on a map. If you click on a picture circle on the following map, location information will open on the left side. Click on the image to see it enlarged, then click on the back arrow to get back to the map. (Zoom in on the map to see more location circles.)
It is also possible to view the images in a gallery, without the map background, by clicking here.
Enjoy the first short trip I took between Blaha Lujza Square and Kossuth Lajos Square (Parliament).
Yesterday I visited a nearby beach, and while I was mostly taking pictures with my DSLR, I also took a quick snapshot of the sunset with my phone. I posted it to Facebook, and many of my friends liked it. Here is the image I posted:
I came home with a few pictures that I wanted to post-process. I browsed through the images and chose some that 1. I thought had a good composition, 2. the water looked silky and pleasing, and 3. had both nice clouds and cloud reflections. Here are the two images in their original, RAW format (if you are used to seeing only jpg-s, these images will probably look really blah to you – and I agree; they are. RAW image files must be post processed.)
I chose two originals to create one final image, because I preferred the sky in the second one, but everything else in the first one. I composited them.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the differences between snapshots, like the one I took with my phone, and the artwork I can create from the so-called raw images I capture in my DSLR. I should mention, that there are lots of artists who create beautiful art pieces from their phone shots using apps on their phones. I don’t do this.
First of all, I was able to create the above shot because I had planned a beach visit with the perfect timing for photos. I got lucky with the clouds, but the low tide I had known about, and this trip to the beach had been planned for a few weeks. If you happened to be there and turned your phone or point and shoot camera towards the sky, you probably would have taken a similar image. Maybe I composed it a bit better than others, but here is the reason why: I was standing at this place, because I had carefully searched for a spot to take images from. As I was taking many well planned shots with my “big camera”, I also created this quick snapshot with my phone.
Now, let’s get back to the planned shoot. I had done my research about the low tide (with my favorite iPhone app called Tide Graph), and I also checked on the sunset time. For this, you can just do a quick search on the web, or use an app called TPE. Yesterday, these two lined up pretty well, and I went to a beach I had recently discovered in Laguna Beach, Wood’s Cove. My plan also included using long exposure times for the images, because I wanted to show the water silky and smooth. I used an ND filter to achieve this. Having clouds in the sky was the only thing I couldn’t plan for; I just got lucky yesterday.
My post-processing workflow includes using different kinds of software (Lightroom, Photoshop, On1 Raw, Topaz). Most of my work includes steps that change/enhance the image in a certain, pre-visualized way – like making parts lighter or darker, changing the vibrance, etc. But at a certain point, when I feel I did all the steps to reach an image I like, I switch over to more of an experimental mode. I use Topaz Impressions and texture blending this way. I know what feel my final image needs to have, and I keep trying out different looks until I see THE ONE. In the case of these images, it took me a minimum of 2 hours for each to achieve the final look. My main goal with my fine art photographs is not to give the viewers a true to life, journalistic image, but rather something that conveys the feelings I had when I was experiencing the scene. It all looked like a beautiful painting to me in real life, and my final images portray this. I hope you like them – I absolutely love the outcome.
To end this post, let me place the snapshot and my finished artwork (both were taken within seconds of each other) side by side to illustrate the difference:
If you are a photographer, do you take RAW images or jpg-s? What post-processing software do you use? Do you completely pre-visualize your final artwork, or do you do some experimentation?
Since I’ve learned about the Orange County Canon Experience Center’s educational programs about 2 month ago, I’ve taken a few night classes there. I take every opportunity to educate myself, especially about photography.
I signed up for the Harry Benson: Shoot First event at least a couple of weeks ago, and I have to tell you honestly that I didn’t read the description well enough. I thought that I was just going to see a documentary about Harry; you can imagine my surprise, when I actually saw him in person coming into the theatre, and after the movie having him answer questions from the audience.
Harry is 86 now, and he is still as funny as he was throughout his life. It was awesome to get the background stories behind many of his images, and also hear his insights about photography. This was one of the most inspiring events I’ve attended in the past decade.
A few of Harry Benson’s famous images in the gallery:
Harry gave us permission to take pictures and videos of him (at least I had my iPhone with me), and here is his answer to one of the question: “What was his most powerful, moving picture he had taken.”
The documentary of his life is very interesting, entertaining, and touching. If you get a chance, make sure you watch it. It is available after December 9, 2016: HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST
A few weeks prior to our summer Hungary trip we always browse the Hungarian deal sites (like Groupon or Livingsocial) for any unusual offers. Something caught our eyes and we decided to get the deal: a 2.5 hour long tour of Budapest with a tour guide, riding in a mini 3-wheel motor vehicle called Tuk Tuk. The deal also came with a free 1-hour boat ride on the Danube River.
Amongst all the rainy days we actually picked one with perfect weather; overcast and just warm enough. The Tuk Tuk picked us up at Erzsebet Square, in the middle of the city. Our guide and driver, Peter, was a very nice, courteous University student, who really enjoyed the driving and the interaction with us. Even though I have walked or travelled in most parts of the inner city, he was able to take us to a few places that I had not visited before. We could have had more stops if we wanted to, but our goal was to drive through as large of an area as possible. We only had 3 mini stops. Of course, I kept snapping pictures, and I’ve put together this slideshow for those of you who might be interested in taking this tour. If you are unable to take the tour, I hope I can give you a little insight into what inner city Budapest and the immediate surroundings look like. It’s a fun city to visit, for sure!
The Budapest Tuk Tuk company’s web site is: http://budapesttuktuk.com/en/
This morning I was listening to Chase Jarvis’ podcast with Tim Ferriss. It was a great podcast episode, you can also watch it on Creative Live . Tim Ferriss mentioned Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech to the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) graduating class of 2012. I watched it, and decided to share it with you. If you have 20 minutes you can spare, listen to this video. His message is valuable not only to artistic people; many of his ideas could be used by anyone. (Neil Gaiman is a British novelist – American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, etc. You can find many of his books on Amazon.com: Neil Gaiman Books .)
One of my favorite quotes from the speech:
“Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.
And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.”
I’d like to give a pictorial walking tour recommendation for a few Budapest locations. I walked and photographed in the area in early July of 2016. I really like beating the tourist rush in these locations, therefore I usually take my walks early in the morning, not long after sunrise. If you’d rather sleep in a bit, expect to see a lot more people at the photographed locations. Some enjoy the crowds, I prefer to be by myself.
My walk started from the Deak Square subway station; this is a major public transportation center, where 3 of the subway lines meet in addition to some bus and tram lines. In case you are not familiar with the public transportation in Budapest, I’m including some information on it at the end of this post. My walk started towards the Danube River. There are a few options to get down there; have a Budapest downtown map handy. Deak Ferenc Street is one your options, on which you will see many renovated older buildings, as well as the modern Kempinski Hotel. You will reach Vorosmarty Square, which is the northern end of the pedestrian shopping street Vaci Street. When you walk through this street, you will end up at the gorgeous Central Market. If you visit Budapest, you cannot skip this destination. It’s open every day except for Sunday.
I continued towards the river, and soon reached my first quick architectural stop, The Pesti Vigado.
The Vigado is a beautiful concert hall in Budapest, located along the Danube Promenade in Pest. It was completed in 1865, replacing an earlier concert hall (designed by Mihály Pollack) destroyed in the Hungarian War of Independence in 1848-1849.
After walking through the pretty square, you are standing at the Danube Promenade. The very first thing you will see – after the awe-taking view of the Buda side -, is a small bronze statue sitting on the fence of the tram.
The Little Princess (Kiskirálylány) statue located on the Danube Promenade is one of the iconic images of Budapest. This small statue of a young girl, playfully sitting on the Promenade railings, wearing a princess outfit and crown is the creation of Hungarian sculptor, László Marton, who gave this statue to the city in 1972. I have to say, that without reading the title of the statue I would not have guessed that it portrayed a girl.
Taking tram #2 is one of the best city viewing options; if you have the time, travel on it from one end to the other (Kozvagohid to Margaret Bridge). Make sure that you sit or stand on the Danube side.
I walked in front of Hotel Intercontinental Budapest, and reached Chain Bridge in a few minutes.
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone bridge connecting Pest and Buda, and only the second permanent crossing on the whole length of the Danube River. It is one of the symbolic buildings of Budapest, the most widely known bridge of the Hungarian capital.
At the Buda end of the bridge you will find the newly renovated Adam Clark Square. This is the official point of origin of Hungary’s road network, represented with a “Zero Kilometer Stone”statue (seen between the two flags in the middle of the picture). The so called “connecting tram line” goes under the square, allowing tram #19 run from Obuda to Rudas Bath. The 350 meter long Buda Castle Tunnel (right side in the background) was designed by Adam Clark; it was completed in 1857.
If you continue to walk towards the Tunnel, you can start walking up to the Castle District behind the yellow building shown on the right side of the image. This time I took a shortcut and climbed the steps starting at Donati Street, and ended up at Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. If you walk up to this area early enough, you can also enjoy the view of the Danube and the Pest side from the Bastion for free. Later, the only way to see this view is if you pay an entrance fee or if you sit in one of the two restaurants.
I walked alongside the wall quite a while looking for a spot from where the Parliament looked nice, and I found this view. Not far from it I also spotted a beautiful iron gate that lead into a courtyard. I’ve never been to this little gem, I’m not sure if the gate is always open or not.
I was able to shoot a different point of view of the Fisherman’s Bastion from here.
Lastly, prior to getting on bus #16, I admired the amazing Matthias Church and froze it and the Holy Trinity Square in time on this photograph:
Some advice about public transportation tickets in Budapest:
It is rather easy to get around in the Hungarian capital city (and in its vicinity) by using pub. transportation. I personally mostly use buses, trams and the subway, but there are also trollies (electrical buses) and trains that connect the capital with nearby towns (HÉV).
In Budapest you need to use paper tickets and validate them on the buses, etc. as soon as you get on them. You also need to hold onto these tickets until the end of your trip, and show the ticket to an official in case they ask for it. When you take the subway, you need to show your ticket both at the entrance and at the exit – most of the time.
You can now buy tickets from automats. Unfortunately, they don’t always work. Also, there is a huge variety of tickets available. Out of all of them, I would recommend the following ones for tourists:
1. A single ticket is valid for one piece of transportation, although you may use it to transfer from one subway line to another one one time. This costs 350Ft in 2016. If you buy the ticket from the bus driver, it costs 450Ft.
2. If you want to take two pieces of transportation, buy a transfer ticket kit; it consists of two tickets. Do not discard the first ticket, the second one is only valid with the first one. The cost is 530Ft.
3. If you know that you would use at least 10 pieces of transportation during a few days of period, buy a book of 10 tickets (I received them individually last, not in a booklet). The 10 tickets cost 3000Ft.
4. For short stays the best deals are the day tickets. The 24 hour pass costs 1650Ft, and it is good for one person for 24 hours for any number of transfers. The 72 hour pass is 4150Ft.
5. Finally, if you are traveling with a group of people, the group daily pass is a great deal. For 3300Ft up to 5 people can travel with it for 24 hours.
There are MANY other options, which you can read about on this page: http://www.bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/.
Above info is from July of 2016.
I’d like to talk about something new I’ve tried.
Last weekend I attended a photography workshop organized by the California Center for Digital Arts. The main goal of the workshop was discovering the remains of a once very popular recreational area, the Salton Sea in California, and capturing the decay of natural and manmade items around the lake.
The most exciting part of the weekend for me was trying out nighttime and light-painting photography. In fact, the absolute highlight was seeing the billions of stars above my head in every direction. I live in a city, where it is impossible to view the stars the same way as you can far away from civilization.
Since this was my first attempt to capture light-painted objects and the night sky on my photographs, and I feel pretty successful with the results, I wanted to share my thoughts and recommendations about it. I’m hoping to inspire and help out others who have never attempted doing this before, and would like to try it.
I will tell you what equipment I used and how I made these pictures, although you certainly don’t need to have exactly the same gear or even the same settings. They will just give you good starting point. To create the shown pictures I used
And here is the attempt that produced the best image for me:
Next, we moved to a new statue. Here, my camera settings were:
My last and most favorite image was created differently. This is not light-painted, it is a silhouetted picture of the horses with the Milky Way showing in the background. You still need to light the object in order to manually focus on it, but then you need darkness. The settings for this image were:
As a first timer in light-painting photography I have to tell you, that this was super fun to try, and I hope you will enjoy experimenting with it as much as I did.
In my last post I talked about a family trip we took in April of 2015, describing the first day spent at Salton Sea.
The second day of the trip was designated for checking out the Joshua Tree National Park. Some useful info about the park:
We started out at Black Rock Nature Center and campground. This area has the densest Joshua Tree population, so if you had never seen these plants, this is a great place to start at. The Hi-View Nature Trail was an easy walk with a child, and offered spectacular views, interesting plants (many flowers), and also animals. My daughter’s favorite activity was following the “Gobble Gobble” bird, also known as the Gambel’s quail. It had a call that reminded all of us of Kevin from the movie Up.
Our next stop was Hidden Valley, which you can reach by entering through the West Entrance Station (only one lane to enter, could be backed up). The drive to Hidden Valley is gorgeous! You’ll see lots of Joshua Trees, flowers (in the spring), and wonderful rock formations.
Hidden Valley is a right turn off of the main road. For our family this was the most beautiful hike we had ever done, even more memorable than Garden of the Gods in Colorado. It wasn’t just pretty, but if you are into simple (or advanced) rock climbing, this place is a heaven for you. My husband and my daughter adventured into different parts of the rock piles, while I kept taking pictures of the beauty around me. Make sure you read the historical facts about the valley before you enter it. (Hint: it has to do with cattle rustlers.)
We had one more stop in the park, Keys View. If you drive up here, you can see Coachella Valley, as well as the St. Andreas Fault. The view is hazy, but breathtaking.
Although we were planning on going back to the park for stargazing, the strong winds and temperature drop changed our mind. We still would like to do this at another time, possibly while camping in the park.
Monday early morning we entered the park through a third entrance, which you can reach from the town of Twentynine Palms. The first destination this time was the Cholla Cactus Garden, which lies on the edge of the Colorado Desert. The previous destinations are located in the Mojave Desert. Walking through this unusual cactus colony was pretty interesting, especially with our cameras. Don’t make the mistake we did: begin your journey at the beginning of the path instead of the end, and pick up a guide to help you identify the different kinds of plants. Do not let children touch the cacti, because the spines are very painful to remove from the skin. No, we did not have to do this, in case you were wondering.
The final destination in the park for this trip was visiting Skull Rock and its surroundings. What a fun place with its countless ways of climbing the rocks. Some are easy and some more difficult.
The only part of our trip I wouldn’t recommend visiting was Pioneertown. As a “fake” ghost town it was simply – boring. But the whole trip was awesome, and it inspired us to go back again, possibly for camping.
For more info check out these websites (they open in a new window):
Salton Sea State Recreational Area and Current weather
Joshua Tree National Park official site and Current weather
We stayed at the Best Western Joshua Tree hotel in Yucca Valley. Room and breakfast were OK, and it is close to the National Park. It has a very small pool.
And don’t forget, that you are visiting the desert. Bring and drink plenty of water, and be ready for big changes in the temperature. Don’t forget about the sunscreen and the lip-balm either. And most importantly, have fun!
During the Easter weekend (April 4-6, 2015) our family took a vacation in California’s low- and high desert areas, near Palm Springs. My daughter is 10.5 years old, so we tried to plan activities that would entertain her as well.
We left quite early on Saturday morning and arrived to our first destination by 9am. Salton Sea, California’s largest lake is a place you’ll never forget. It is currently 35 miles long and 15 miles wide, but it used to be much larger. We only stopped at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area ($5 day use), but there is a lot more around there to discover. I am actually going back in May with a group of photographers to capture the eeriness of this extraordinary land.
Let me tell you just a bit about the history, so that you’ll understand why this area is so unusual. There has always been more or less water in the Salton Sink, which is basically a landlocked extension of the Gulf of California. This lake is a very important winter stop for over 400 migrating bird species. The problem with the lake is, that it has no natural outlet flowing to the ocean, so the water can only leave by evaporation or by percolation into the ground. Everything that flows into it, including agricultural runoff, will stay in the sink, and the water never gets circulated. The Salton Sea is also getting saltier; it has a higher salt content than the Pacific Ocean. Due to the high salinity, only a few species of fish continued to reproduce. The chemicals have been poisoning and killing the fish here, which consequently causes birds to die. It is rather a sad situation that is not taken care of due to state budgeting restrains.
After this brief intro into the natural history of the lake (I’ll talk about the human history after my May trip), I am ready to show you what you can expect when you enter the park. I should also warn you, that as you are approaching the lake, an odorous smell will hit you. The smell probably has a different intensity at various times of the year, and I can only comment on the spring one: it’s not that bad. It gave us a good opportunity to talk about how our nose and eyes have the ability to adjust and get used to some odd smells or darkness. By the time we got out of the car, even my daughter was OK with the smell.
First, I’d like to point out the abundance of beautiful birds. I would recommend that you start your visit at Sneaker Beach, if you want to see lots of birds. During our short visit we saw White Pelicans, seagulls, White Herons, and lots of smaller shore birds. But as you are walking from the parking lot to the shore on the white “sand”, expect something unusual. The sand is not sand at all (or at least not yet). The beach is covered with up to a foot deep layer of fish bones! Most off them are tiny, maybe a quarter inch in diameter, but at random you will see larger pieces as well – a skull here, a backbone there. These are the remains of hundreds or thousands of dead fish.
It is a weird feeling to walk on the bones; it’s an experience that you can’t get anywhere else. After the beach walk we watched a short movie about the history of the lake at the Visitor Center (open between 10 am – 4 pm), and walked on a short nature walk. We had a good time here, but we were not too impressed. It was great to see it once, but we won’t be going back for a family visit.
Read about the second part of the visit (Joshua Tree National Park) here.
In the past two weeks our family got better acquainted with two of history’s grandest ocean liners. The previous weekend we visited a traveling exhibit in Buena Park, CA entitled Titanic, the Artifact Exhibition. It started by handing out boarding passes of passengers who boarded the ship on April 10, 1912. From these passes our family learned about three people in detail: who they were, why they were traveling, and a few other interesting facts. At the end of the exhibit we learned “our faith”: were we among the lucky ones who survived the accident, or was April 14, 1912 the last day of our life. (In case you are curious: only one of us survived.) Throughout the exhibit we marveled over 200 artifacts that were recovered from the bottom of the ocean, and we even touched part of the ship. We really enjoyed this exhibit.
We enjoyed it so much, that the following weekend we decided to visit an actual ocean liner, which happened to be the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. This over 1,000 ft (300m) long ship sailed the North Atlantic Ocean between 1936 and 1967. During this time she carried over 2,000,000 passengers between England and New York as well as mail (being a Royal Mail Ship or RMS). The Queen Mary became a soldier transporting ship during World War II, once carrying 16,082 American soldiers from New York to Great Britain. After the war she was refitted for passenger service again, and sailed over the Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Her last trip brought her to Long Beach, California, where she became a hotel and a museum
After this brief historical introduction, let’s get to some images from our recent visit of the ship. First, we walked around in the Engine Room:
Our next stop was a Ghosts and Legends tour. During this 30-40 minute tour/show we entered the lower parts of the ship, where we heard some ghost stories about the ship. We really enjoyed this show, the actors/tour guides were great. The best part of it was visiting the boiler room. We were standing on the bottom of the ship in this extremely large room that used to hold the boilers. It was a pretty amazing place. Unfortunately, during the tour no photography is allowed.
After this program we continued out tour of the ship. First, we walked by the shops in the Main Hall, then we visited the deck in front of the bridge, and upon returning to the inside of the ship we walked through a corridor which takes you to the hotel rooms.
Finally, we walked from the front of the ship to the back on the Promenade Deck. We took a look at the funnels (which are replicas), admired the size of a cruise ship (Carnival Miracle), and I just had to take a few pictures of the resting Cormorants.
And now it was time to say good bye to this beautiful, full of history location. One more image of the side of the ship that also shows the life boats – which are replicas of the original ones.
Today is Sunday, which means Farmers Market day in Irvine, at the Orange County Great Park. This gave me the idea to tell you a bit about Hungarian Farmers Markets.
There are a lot of differences between markets in Hungary and the US. When we visit the one in Irvine or in nearby towns, they give me the feeling more of a festival than a market. Only part of the market stands offer fruits and vegetables, and the other ones are homemade food products (honey, roasted nuts, bread and pastry, etc.), crafts and live plants. Food trucks and live music are also not unusual at these markets. Going to the market here is kind of like a fun family outing.
The markets in Hungary are quite different. Most of the sellers offer produce, and a really wide variety of them. Their quality and price greatly differs from stand to stand. When we shop at the market with my parents in summer time, it is never a quick trip. It involves a walk through the market a few times, comparing prices and quality. Finally, we need to find our way back to the chosen stands – which seems almost impossible for me, but my mother is an expert at it. In the US markets, at least at the ones near us, almost everyone sells similar produce and for nearly the same price. Not much comparison needed before you buy your desired items.
Most markets in Hungary are located outdoors, but there are some indoor markets as well. One of the largest ones in Budapest is in a huge, historic building. The Great Market (Nagyvásárcsarnok) is visited by lots of tourists in addition to the locals, therefore here one can purchase specialty Hungarian folk items and foods as well.
Smaller, outdoor markets also offer interesting items other than produce. For example, you can buy these Hungarian outdoor cooking kettles (bogrács), or even small live animals.
People sell a wide variety of items from homemade sausages to pumpkin seeds and paprika. I am not absolutely sure what the yellow bag holds in this picture.
For my mom’s generation going to the market once or twice a week is an absolute must. They rarely buy produce at the supermarkets. But, as I look around the market, I start wondering about an important question: why doesn’t my generation or the next one shop at farmers markets? And what is going to happen to these markets and the small farms in about a decade or two? Will there be a change, and will younger people turn back to buying fresh vegetables and fruits from the growers? I really hope that markets will once again be “hip”, and younger generations will discover their value. Something that might have influenced this trend: my parents’ generation still does canning for the winter months, but I cannot say the same about younger generations. A few people might do it, but most do not. I also do less than I used a few years ago.
Finally, a few more images from a smaller city’s farmers market:
Do you shop at farmers markets? How often? Why are you choosing farmers market produce over supermarket produce? Have you visited markets in other countries? What were your impressions of them?
In the spring of 2013 I heard about a photography workshop series lead by the The Legacy Project team at the OC Great Parks. I was able to attend two of the 5 classes, and a couple of my images were included in the gallery exhibit entitled A Different Point of View. (Post about last year’s event.)
A few weeks ago I found out that another three part series was offered at the Great Park. Although I couldn’t attend the first part, I very excitedly signed up for the other two classes. The first one was lead by Jacques Garnier, who explored the peaks and valleys of the creative spirit. The workshop was more of a conversation than a lecture, and participants explored different ideas of how to overcome the ‘blank page’ syndrome, or the ‘photographers’ block’. Ironically, one of Jacques’ great ideas was to switch lenses for some new point of view. Just days prior to the workshop I purchased a fish-eye lens, and I was looking forward to trying it out at the airbase location we were going to see. This day we visited the Raider Country former hangar, which is partially occupied by a recycling company. We were able to explore the left side of this building, at least a few rooms in it.
The place is a photographer’s paradise – it hasn’t been cleaned for many years, possibly over a decade. For a person like me, who likes to record messages from the past, this was a place hard to leave. I mostly used my new fish-eye lens, and I feel, that I captured some important elements of the deteriorating building and its history. I’ve created a thematic entitled A Decade of Decay, which portrays rooms from the above mentioned building, and a few images from another abandoned building. To see the whole set, please click here.
The second workshop was lead by Mark Chamberlain, and he educated us in great detail about the history of the park, the Legacy Project, and the future green corridor that is supposed provide a safe route for wild animals between the Santa Ana Mountains and the Pacific Ocean (Crystal Cove State Park). As part of the workshop we rode the Great Orange Balloon (my first time!), and we visited a fenced, closed from the public area that will become the green corridor. A few images from the balloon:
I LOVE THE OCEAN! I grew up in a landlocked country in the middle of Europe, and I was already fourteen years old when I saw the sea for the first time. The occasion was very special, because I visited St. Petersburg (then called Leningrad) in Russia during the White Nights – the time of the year when day and night intertwine. It was an amazing view, even though I only saw a small portion of the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland.
The first time I experienced the actual ocean happened a decade later, when I moved to the East Coast of the US. My favorite places to visit the shore were in Maine, on Cape Cod and in Rhode Island. Two decades later I moved to the West Coast, where visiting the ocean has become one of my regular activities. I don’t actually like to swim in the ocean, but I love looking at it, listening to it, and even smelling it. The early morning beach (without the crowds) is very calming to me. It’s just me, a tiny spot on Earth looking at the vast, powerful body of water that covers almost three quarters of our planet. The weirdest feeling is to be actually standing on the very edge of a continent. I am standing on the land, and before me is the “never ending” ocean. One of the reasons I am more drawn to the ocean during low tide is the fact, that I am able to take a few more steps into the ocean, but still stay on the land. And while I’m walking there, I get to experience plants and animals that are usually hidden from me.
I took some pictures of the low tide at Little Corona del Mar a few days ago – it wasn’t the lowest tide, but it still felt and looked amazing. How did it feel? Like this:
Experience Life Today!
Hi! I'm Gizella. In this blog I'll be sharing my thoughts, images and experiences. I am the mom of a teenage girl, a California based fine art photographer, a former educator, a gardener and an avid reader. Hopefully, my posts in these topics will be inspirational to you.