Sarah Sue’s Hiking Adventure in the Alps!

I realize I have been pretty MIA this summer. That has been partly due to the INTENSE Texas heat. We are talking “feels like 109” sort of thing. Who wants photos in that sort of weather? Sweaty people, that’s who. But aside from the heat (and much more fun), I have also been traveling this summer! A couple of weeks ago, I returned from hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc – a 100ish mile trek that circles Mont Blanc, traveling through France, Italy, and Switzerland. I brought along my big ole camera because… how could I not? These views were quite possibly once-in-a-lifetime sights. Lugging the camera each day was a small price to pay for a record of this incredible experience.

So here’s how it went: Each day we got up early, assembled our gear, and headed “up up up” (as our chipper guide told us). Most days our goal was to climb up to a mountain pass, traverse for a bit along a flat ridge, and then descend into the next valley. And let me tell you – I developed a much healthier respect for mountain hiking after just one day of this routine. Because, as it turns out, this trek is both beautiful and PAINFUL. My muscles and my feet screamed at me every day and I considered quitting more than once. As the days wore on, though, I began to discover that the views were worth the pain. Life lessons right? More on that another time… In the meantime, enjoy the sights!

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Film Friday – Hamilton Pool!

A couple of weekends ago, I spent a delightful Saturday with my friend Nancy at Hamilton Pool outside of Austin, TX. Ya’ll, this place was beautiful. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…

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Film Friday: Brenham

Will Film Friday become a thing? We shall see. This week, though, I happen to have some lovely film photographs to post and it also happens to be Friday. So why not?

Last week, I took a little drive out to Brenham (home of fantastically delicious Blue Bell ice cream) toting both my Nikon n2020 AF (which I first tried out in this post) and my Yashica tl-electro, complete with brand new non-mercury batteries. I had my doubts as to whether the Yashica would be functional or clean (despite my best efforts, I still see lots of dust through the viewfinder). In addition, I had to learn to use the light meter, which is essentially just an LED indicator light providing rough clues about exposure to the photographer – quite a change from my Canon 5d Mark iii. In the end, though, it did quite well. I’m sure there was a fair amount of user error, which will hopefully decrease with a bit more practice. I guess we’ll find out when the next Film Friday roles around.

 

Yashica tl-electro:

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Nikon n2020 AF:

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Santa Fe Photography Workshop

Last week was fantastic. For my summer vacation, I spent several days visiting friends in St Louis (and managed to squeeze in a newborn session – more about that soon!) and then relocated to Santa Fe for an absolutely incredible photography workshop. Our instructor was the legendary photographer Joe McNally. I have to pinch myself to believe that I really did get to learn from that guy for 4 days. We covered the gambit, from camera basics to advanced lighting techniques. Joe encouraged us to focus on crafting high-quality photos straight from the camera, with only minimal post-processing. So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite shots…

Assignment 1: Santa Fe

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Assignment 2: Ghost Ranch (Georgia O’Keeffe country!)

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Assignment 3: Eaves Movie Ranch (Ever seen The Cheyenne Social Club? Or Wyatt Earp? They were filmed here along with a slew of other Westerns. And yes, I know that my model is in the jail with his gun and with the doors open. We decided that he is seeking revenge on the sheriff, and is waiting to ambush him at the jail. All in good dramatic movie fashion.)

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What I like about Texas…

It’s funny what happens when you live somewhere your whole life – that place makes up the air you breathe. It seems totally normal, uninteresting, mundane. But when you leave, all of a sudden home becomes fascinating, interesting, worth talking about. During my years in St Louis, I tried to explain the beauty, nay the glory of my beloved Texas. I had a few enthusiastic listeners but they were outnumbered by the eye rollers (“you Texans“). But now that I am back in my home state, I am soaking in those things that seemed so mundane before. Here are just a few of the things that I have loved about Texas over the last couple of weeks…

The storms and views in the Hill Country:

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Rodeo clothes:

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Rodeo events:

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Rodeo food:

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And rodeo… miscellaneous:

 

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The beautiful view of the Houston skyline from Buffalo Bayou:

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Spring bluebonnets:

 

 

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The Kite Festival at Hermann Park:

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Stay tuned. My love affair with my home state has only just begun…

Sarah Sue’s Tales of NYC Street Art

I will never claim to be edgy. I go by Sarah Sue and love nothing better than taking pictures of babies and flowers. But… I think graffiti is beautiful. Legal/moral debates aside, there is something about color and creativity bursting out of the concrete jungle that I really love. So when I took a trip with a friend to New York City back in 2010, I found myself taking lots of photos of street art. But because I am so entirely un-edgy, I had no idea whether I was photographing anything artistically significant. Luckily, I have friends who are much more culturally attuned than I. And, as it turns out, I saw this:

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If you saw the movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” you may recognize the entrance to the Mr. Brainwash show in the Meat Packing District. True street art or elaborate ruse? I have no idea. You can read about it here and here and decide for yourself. Either way, I’m happy that we wandered past.

Then there was this:

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I took a picture of this subway entrance for the sole reason that I thought “elbowtoe” was an odd and therefore hilarious combination of body parts. As it turns out though, this guy is a street artist by the name of Brian Adam Douglas, a.k.a. Elbowtoe (read about him here).

So in retrospect, we saw some fun and interesting art on the streets of NYC. And with these new discoveries, I wonder what else I captured unwittingly. Anybody out there in the blogosphere have some info on the street art gems pictured below?

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The Hills of Galilee

After our stay in the desert, we headed back up north to the rolling, green hills of Galilee. This is the land of Nazareth (Jesus’s hometown) and Capernaum (Peter’s hometown and Jesus’s “home base” for most of his ministry). This land provides the backdrop for much of the New Testament. And, after the frantic pace of Jerusalem and the desolation of the desert, the green hills and sparkling lake were like a breath of fresh air.

View of Mount Hermon from Hazor, an Israelite city built by King Solomon:

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Dan Nature Preserve. This is the area where the Israelite tribe of Dan eventually settled after they failed to drive the Philistines out of the coastal plane. It is also the spot where Jeroboam set up an altar to discourage his people from traveling to Jerusalem to worship in the temple:

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Caesarea Philippi. In this town, Peter professed Jesus to be the Son of God:

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View from the Golan Heights on the northeastern border of Israel:

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We stayed in Ginosar (Biblical Gennesaret) on the Sea of Galilee and spent a good amount of time lounging on the pier outside our hotel. This is the lake where Jesus walked on water:

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Looking out from the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the Seromon on the Mount:

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Inside the church commemorating the feeding of the five thousand:

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Capernaum, Peter’s hometown. The darker basalt structures were from Jesus’s time. The synagogue was built in the 4th or 5th century over the original basalt foundation:

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Excavated corner showing the original basalt foundation of the synagogue in Capernaum:

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Beit She’an – a Roman city built next to the Tel (or mound) an ancient Israelite city:

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View from Mount Precipice near Nazareth. It is said that the Nazarenes attempted to throw Jesus off of this cliff after his reading from the Isaiah scroll in Nazareth. Though the sign on top of the mountain says that he escaped by flying away, the Gospel of Luke states that “he passed through their midst”:

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One of many beautiful mosaics in Sepphoris, a Hellenistic city near Nazareth:

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Megiddo – another Solomonic city. This city is referenced in the word Armageddon (“Armageddon” comes from the Hebrew “Har Megiddo” meaning “Mount Megiddo”). The Bible, therefore, connects this location with the final battle between good and evil.

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Caesarea Maritima – a Herodian city and harbor on the Mediterranean Sea. It was here that the Gospel first reached the Gentiles when Peter baptized Cornelius the Centurion. Paul was also imprisoned here as he awaited trial in Rome.

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Next Stop – The Desert

After exploring Jerusalem, we headed south to the area around the Dead Sea. The Israeli desert was like no place I have ever seen – no rolling dunes, no flat monotony broken only by cacti. This desert was rugged and wild, full of mountains and cliffs and punctuated by the water of the Dead Sea. And I have to say, I could feel the desolation of the place. This is where David ran when he was being pursued by Saul and where Jesus was tempted by the Devil. Each morning I woke up and felt that the sand and the salt had sucked all the moisture out of my body. Though I loved the strange beauty around me, I could not wait to return to greener pastures. Which we did… stay tuned for part 3: Galilee!

Ancient Beer Sheba, described as the southernmost point of the Promised Land. Modern Beer Sheba in the background:

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View of an ancient Roman siege camp from Masada. Masada was originally the winter palace of King Herod, but later became the final stronghold of Jewish zealots during the revolt of 70 AD:

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Sunrise over the Dead Sea:

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Palm trees at the oasis of En Gedi. David found refuge here when he was being hunted by Saul. It was here that he wrote many of the Psalms:

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Dead Sea Scroll on display at Qumran, the location of the ancient Essene community where the scrolls were written and then hidden in nearby caves.

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Location on the Jordan River near the place where Jesus was baptized. The river forms the present-day border between Israel and Jordan:

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On the Road Again – Jerusalem

Your friendly photographer has been traveling again! This time my travels took me to Israel, a land that I have wanted to visit for so long, I can still hardly believe that I actually saw it in person. In order to get the lay of the land, we began our trip in Jerusalem, then traveled south to the desert area around the Dead Sea, and finally north again to the Sea of Galilee. This post includes some of my favorite photos from our time in Jerusalem. This city was such a mixture of cultures, religions, and even time periods that it was both breathtaking and overwhelming.

One of our first views of the city. Breathtaking:

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The Mount of Olives on the left, residential area on the right. The Mount of Olives is covered with Jewish graves:

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The view from inside a chapel commemorating the location where Jesus wept over Jerusalem:

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The Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went to pray and was then betrayed by Judas. The gnarled olive trees could be up to 2000 years old:

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A view of Bethlehem from the top of Herod’s summer palace. Herod was almost close enough to touch baby Jesus while his family was in Bethlehem.

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Inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Tradition says that this was the location of Jesus’s birth:

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A little corner of the little town of Bethlehem:

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The ramparts of the Jerusalem Old City Wall:

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The Temple Mount:

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The Muslim Quarter:

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The Western Wall (or “Wailing Wall”). This part of the wall was closest to the Holy of Holies in the second Temple, and therefore a very special place for the Jewish people. Notice the written prayers filling every cranny between the rocks:

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The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Tradition (backed by archeological evidence) says that this was the location of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial. If you don’t know the story of the ladder leaning against the window on the right, it is worth a read here.

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Ireland, Part II

For your viewing pleasure, here are more pics of the Emerald Isle.  A few are from Dublin but I’m sure you can tell I was mainly enamored with the countryside – green hills, grazing sheep, rock walls, dramatic cliffs, and celtic crosses.  It was exactly how I imagined Ireland would look.  Plus, we had gorgeous sunny weather for 10 days, which is basically unheard of.  Made for a lovely vacation in a beautiful country.