First, I’d like to apologize for my lack of posts lately – no particular reason other than my utter dismay at our current political state. For my entire life, I have been proud to be a citizen of this country. I truly believed that this was the greatest country on earth – a beacon of freedom and democracy that stood as an example to other countries. That feeling was consistently validated during every one of my foreign travels – people routinely expressed their admiration of our liberty and our institutions as they lamented their own country’s corruption and inability to serve “the people”. In six short months that admiration has turned to scorn and ridicule as we have swiftly lost the credibility that was dearly earned through our (mostly) principled behaviour on the international stage. At the same time, here at home, our white house occupant continues to offer empty promises to his electorate (he never speaks of the majority of the country who didn’t vote for him) without a clue on how to achieve them. Somehow we are supposed to believe that his imagined victories over his enemy of the day and his unending placing of blame (on anyone other than himself) is a good substitute for actually serving the nation. In his own words, it is indeed “sad”. Sorry for the rant but I thought I’d express my dis-satisfaction before turning to more positive thoughts.
One of the most satisfying experiences in my life of late was a 16 day trip down the full length of the Grand Canyon. Believe me, at least some of that satisfaction was due to the lack of communication with the outside world and a respite from the White House’s fright show. But one of the other extreme joys was the opportunity to take morning hikes in the canyon. Often these hikes led us upward to incredible vantage points and vistas where the sheer beauty was overwhelming. Combined with the exertion of climbing and rock hopping up the trails, we were treated to that wonderful feeling of physical well-being at the same time we were experiencing the wonders of mother nature. I chose this particular photo from one of those hikes as a great example of that satisfaction. I actually left our hiking group at this spot just so that I could enjoy the solitude, quiet, and magnificent view here as the sun started to fill the canyon.
I’ll “go with the flow” for this week’s challenge. This is the latest addition to our home defence force, Cady. She is a rescue that is combat equipped with a bark that would scare off any approaching foe (or at least ones smaller than a young bunny), she comes with a face that is more “hi” than “get the heck out”, and she is more likely to bite her “sister” (our equally vicious 14lb schipperke) than any intruder. Other than that, she is the best security system you can buy (and continue to feed). Let this vision speak for itself…”Beware of (Sleepy) dog!!”
I must admit that I was tempted to just post a picture of the guy that currently occupies our oval office…
I thought that might be a little crass so I opted for a different interpretation for this week’s challenge: Dense. I took this photo from a small boat off one of the largest Ghats in the holy city of Varanasi, India. Tens of Thousands of people gather every night to participate in the prayers led by the holy men along the banks of the river Ganges. Our guide told us that during the religious holidays, Varanasi is the densest population center on the planet. While I cannot verify that information, our attempt to exit the area after the prayers certainly had to go through one of the densest and most chaotic traffic jams I have ever seen.
Just did a quick search to find a photo for this week’s challenge. While this may not be the best fit, this guy seems to be enjoying his green surroundings…… I took this in the very early morning at one of the stops on a European River Cruise a few years back. I found this statue on a wall just off the empty main square of a beautiful little town (can’t remember the name right now). I loved the look on his face, the natural flora, and even the bikes parked nearby. I still find this photo relaxing and a nice reminder of that solitary morning.
Feeling lazy so I’ll take the easy way out this week and choose another photo from Edinburgh for this week’s challenge, atop. This is a fairly regular view from “atop” one of the hills surrounding Edinburgh. Although it is a normal view for postcards, you can understand why it is popular as it gives you a nice vantage point for the primary sights of the city. In particular, the clocktower on the right centre of the photo is on the beautiful Balmoral Hotel, to the right of that is the Scott memorial (to Sir Walter Scott), and to the left is the Edinburgh Castle high on another hill. I normally don’t like to take views from above cities (skyscrapers or observation towers) because they seldom provide a view into the character of the city. I think this view is different in that it is not high enough to hide the character of the main buildings and it provides a nice overview of where everything is……
I should mention that the memorial in the foreground is to Dugald Stewart, a Scottish mathematician and philosopher of the 17 and 1800s.
I hate to climb on the church related responses to this challenge but we recently had the opportunity to do some photography in and around St. Giles cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a rainy couple of days so I was able to get some external and internal shots of this beautiful church which dates back to the 1100’s and was rebuilt in the late 1300s after a fire destroyed much of the original structure. I am not normally drawn to take lots of photos of cathedrals but I found this one to be very photogenic and we also used it as a refuge to stay out of the downpour.
I took this first photo not long after we arrived in Edinburgh. There were actually quite a few people on the rainy streets but this long exposure “ghosted” most of them out of the picture. Even though the photo was taken over a period of about 50 seconds, the two ladies in the foreground kept chatting for the entire time so they were captured along with the cathedral. I liked the context they added so I didn’t reshoot the picture or try to remove them in processing……
The next photo is of one of the main chambers of the church. The lighting was low but dramatic and yielded just enough color to make the stone building seem warm on this stormy day. Any time I am in a historic place of worship such as this one, I cannot help but to try and imagine the different ways the people lived during the lifetime of the building and how their hopes and dreams differed over time while at the same time remaining fairly constant in theme.
We had lots of roads taken over the last week as we were in Scotland, London, and Ireland. Many of the roads were very shiny as it was raining- a lot. On our first evening in Dublin we went wandering around the city looking for a place to eat and have a drink. We ended up right in front of the famous Temple Bar so I took a couple of shots there before we went on to eat and drink elsewhere. In any case, we were glad to see it and we went on to a great night on the town in Dublin.
We just happen to be in London for a few days and snapped a shot yesterday that “matches” this week’s challenge perfectly. I called this “three symbols of London” because it has the iconic underground sign for the subway system, Big Ben in the distance, and it also shows a cloudy sky….which has been consistent since we’ve been here……
I’m a little late on my photo for the week as I wanted to finish my political thoughts before I looked at the challenge. While this photo may not scream Against the Odds to you, it sure does for me. Back in October my friend Ross and I were out in Rainbow Canyon (near Death Valley) taking photos of military aircraft who often fly through that canyon. The photographic process for such an endeavour is a lot like fishing – hours of quiet boredom punctuated by moments of frenzy when an aircraft enters the canyon at high speed. While we were just sitting there waiting for the aircraft to cooperate we amused ourselves with trying to catch a photo of a kangaroo rat running in and out of the rocks that formed our perch on the canyon edge. The fact that the animals were very quick and very small combined with the reality that they can appear from anywhere to make this a very difficult photo shoot. After a plethora of failed attempts, we finally resorted with trying to bait the little fella out of the rocks. While that sounds like cheating, it still did not make for an easy shot – our “model” would still vary his approach direction and timing and also make all of his attempts with a very quick in and out run. We finally did get some pretty decent shots of the little guy but I though I’d post this one showing him on his way in to the Cheeto lunch table that we had prepared for him….
I chose a local photo from our neighbourhood for this week’s challenge shadow. I took this about a month ago when my wife pointed out this kitten sitting on a doorstep across the street. I thought the very prominent shadow being cast against the bright wall made for an interesting photo – I’ll let you be the judge….