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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

I was looking back at our expenses for Moshi.  Two expenses I wanted to comment on: a local sim card and a bean bag.

The sim card was with the Tigo company.  It cost me 5,500 Tanzanian Shillings or 3.60 USD.  The only real difficulty I had getting it was walking down the street to get to the shop.  I was highly irritated by the near constant hounding of street peddlers and hustlers.  I got propositioned to buy pot and all kinds of useless little things.  But having a local telephone number really helped out.

T- wanted a bean bag to set her camera on while shooting photos during the safari – which we wouldn’t arrange until we got to Arusha.  So what we did was sacrifice the shirt I got when I had the cooking class at La Vecchia Scuola.  We asked at the Kilimanjaro Coffee Lounge where we could get someone to make a bag out of it.  She took over and talked to someone out on the street to sew it for us.  It costed 1,500 Tanzanian Shillings – less that a dollar – and it had a zipper.  The idea of the bag was that T- could set her camera down on odd surfaces – like the roof of a Land Rover – and make the camera level and steady to take photos.  Later we bought some beans from a roadside vendor and filled it up.  When we were done with it we left it behind in a hotel room.

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If you live in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach or South Palm Beach, it may come from a 20 square mile wetland nature preserve called: Grassy Waters. The place is beautiful and provides fresh drinking water to more than 130,000 residents.

That is notable because, in the south Florida region, much of the water historically and currently comes from aquifers (groundwater), such as the Biscayne and the Floridan Aquifers. For the ones interested, the U.S. Geological Survey publishes every couple of years a report about the trends in water withdrawals, for FL, for the southeast region, and the whole country…

In addition to providing freshwater to WPB, the Preserve also offers a great opportunity to enjoy the native Florida. Boardwalk trails, hiking, biking, canoeing, and education programs, you can find it all there.

Today, we went there with a group who were nice enough to invite us along on a couple of outings. We had a guide who talked to us about the animals and plants. The plants you notice the most are saw grass, cypress trees and water lilies.  But in the higher ground areas you can find cocoplum, slash pine, wax myrtle and red bays – to name just a few. 

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I was happy to learn that we could plant a red bay tree in the back yard and use the leaves for cooking – bay leaf anyone? Here’s a native plant that can survive without irrigation and can save you money.  Are you sold?  Also, we learned that saw palmetto honey is quite good. 

If you enjoy this type of information, you may want to check the Animal, Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. 

Of course there were birds, apple snail eggs, turtles, an alligator and probably a bunch of other animals that we just didn’t see.  We may have seen evidence of a bob cat kill.

Since we have training and experience in water resources, we were interested to hear that some of the plants we saw out in the saw grass marsh were indicators of good water quality.  According to our guide, the city has done some restoration in the area to remove polluted soils but more restoration work can be done.  If I remember correctly, the guide said that the cost of the restoration work – draining the water, removing soil and planting native vegetation – was about 35,000 USD/acre.

If you are nearby, you should definitely check the place out.

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Portraits

We are still in the planning stage of the trip and I can’t help but feel excited about all the photo opportunities we will have.

One of my favorite types of photos are portraits and I would love to collect a series of them during the trip, especially in black and white.

When I first got into to photography, I was still living in Salvador, BA and, I must say, Salvador is a blessed place for photographers.  Great landscape, old/modern architecture coexisting all over town, colorful geminated houses, many old churches (more than one for each day of the year) and, above all, friendly and unsuspecting people. So in Salvador, because there are so many subjects, every day out would result in some decent photo.

I am confident that during the trip, there will be many opportunities for great portraits as well, but I am concern with two issues. Please feel free to enlighten me with ideas and suggestions.

From my stay in the US, I have already learned that most people are not keen on having their picture taken by strangers (me included).  But there are two drawbacks to talking to someone first and then shooting second.

1. I am not sure how that would play in US or in other Countries I am planning to visit, but I tried that approach in Brazil and the results was tragicomic. Almost everyone was friendly and granted me permission to click, but ALL of them just stared right at the camera with a huge frozen smile in their face.  (Ok, I do the same. My hubby says that in 90% of my photos I have exactly the same smile on my face). So what to do with that?  When a subject calls my attention, very rarely will it be because of their smile.  Most likely it will be because of the care-free look on their face, or the extreme concentration on a task, or the pain in their eyes, etc. So how can you get permission for a photo without disturbing what got your attention in first place?

2. This is actually a personal problem that I need to overcome. I am quite shy and the idea of approaching everyone I may want to click sounds quite challenging. Especially, when you are not familiar with the culture (I am reading about the places before of course) and you know nothing on their language (I have some phases written down, but I am sure my pronunciation will be a mess in most cases). Any tips on how to make the ice breaking moment less painful? I know that when it is over, it can result in very pleasant interactions, so I would like to work on that.

Well, hope to hear some good advice.  Thanks.

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It was a great Saturday. Perfect weather! It had been unusually cold in Florida recently, but this weekend was sunny blue sky and nice breeze.

In preparation for this trip, we went back to the old habit of making a list (or many lists for this matter) of items we need or want to do. And, in the mood of acting on them, we decided to drive down to Nana and Pepe’s house.

We had not gone to see my grandparents in quite a while and it was about time. They live in a house of solid concrete walls with a Dade-Pine roof. I brought the SLR camera with me to snap photos of them. Nana and Pepe kept asking me what I was going to do with all the photos. I guess the large lens can be intimidating, because at the end of the day, I didn’t really take that many.

I got some good photos, although I did not really capture the rich changes in the ambient light. The flash kind of eliminated that aspect, but I will always remember the daylight in the house, it lighted me up. I will always remember how comfortable it felt. I have a tendency to be nervous and uncomfortable in many situations but I really felt at home there with my grandparents.

My grandfather can really push my buttons, whether he is trying to or not. And I let myself get so worked up over it too. Race, politics, what kind of car to drive, how to be a man. We really sorted a few things out – not that the rest of the world ever noticed our solutions. My wife tells me I give him a hard time. She’s probably right. They are catholic, my wife is too (well, more on that some other time). But my wife tells me that I should finesse things a little better. What can I say? She is my better half.

I did manage to get a shot of my grandfather holding forth on some topic and my sweet, smart grandmother looking at him while he spoke. An action shot, no pose.

In addition to some new insights on the current USA politics and international markets, we also scratched another item off the list. They have an apartment over the garage behind their house. We asked them if we could stay there for a couple weeks right before we take off on the trip. The plan is to have a short period to tie up all of the loose ends before we go. During this time we would be already gone from our jobs and out of our leased apartment. We may still be trying to sell our car, arranging entry visas, firming up reservations of places to stay and so.

Of course, they said we could stay with them for the grace period. (If you’re reading this Nana and Pepe, thank you. We love you.)

Around 6PM, we left starving and roamed around until we found a small, busy Italian restaurant. We still had the camera. There were two beautiful little kids at the table next to us. They kept looking at us like we were movie stars. Their mother let us snap a shot of them.

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