Italy in Black & White… Mostly

As I said in my post on Sunday, Rich doesn’t often alter his photos beyond cropping and a bit of contrast enhancement. But occasionally he will dabble with Black & White, as was the case after our trip to Italy (among other places) in 2010.

In each of the following photos, we felt something in the original colours distracted from the subject, so I got Rich to convert the offending articles to Black & White. Although sometimes he didn’t go the whole way. And since it’s Italy, arches abound!

Courtyard of the Palazzo Publico (the town hall), Sienna

IMG_2250Although the reds of the bricks are nice, the dull grey sky and green water stains down the tower spoil the original

Siena (8x12)

The Colosseum, Rome

IMG_1972In the flat, overcast light, the colours of the crowd’s clothing draw the eye too much, and for some inexplicable reason make the photo look like it dates from the 1970s! (click here for more photos of my visit to the Colosseum)

Colosseum (8x12)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

IMG_2308Again, the strong colours at the tower’s base demand too much attention, but Rich left the red flag at its summit (because Sue really liked it)

Pisa - red flag

Pompeii and Vesuvius

IMG_2042Yet again, the colourful group of visitors right in the centre of the photography was too intense, but the more subtle hues of Vesuvius and the sky were quite pleasant, so Rich converted the foreground to Black & White, while leaving the background alone

Pompeii (8x12)

This post was inspired by the themes Black & White, from Cee of Cee’s Photography, and Arches, from Sue of A Word in Your Ear.

If you’ve enjoyed these shots of Italy, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my brand new websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

Jaspa's Journey Logo (Bigger Bucket)

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Liebster Award

A big Thank You to the Flying Goannas (isn’t that a great name, by the way?!) for unexpectedly nominating me for a Liebster Award!

For those that don’t know, the Liebster Award is presented to lesser-known bloggers by their peers. In turn, the recipient nominates their own favourite bloggers for the award. As a consequence, cynics have compared it to a chain letter. But I prefer to think of it as like-minded people telling you you’re on the right track!

Here are my answers the questions posed by the Flying Goannas in their nomination:

1) Your worst GPS moment?

Funny you should ask, since one of my favourite hobbies is geocaching, a world-wide scavenger hunt based on GPS technology.

Without doubt, my worst geocaching experience was my very first attempt. Imagine the scene… Rich and Sue have just got a new puppy (Crumpet, aka The Toad), who is suffering from a wicked bladder infection and so has very little control, if you know what I mean. We can’t find the cache, but do discover a swath of freshly-broken glass, requiring Rich and Sue to take turns carrying the frequently-leaking puppy. Then, about an hour after we arrive home, Sue gets a phone call from the bank… Turns out that while we’d been failing to find the cache, and getting soggy from puppy pee, someone had broken into the car, stolen Sue’s wallet, and gone on a spending spree for power tools and the like.

Crumpet as a puppy

Crumpet as a puppy

Unsurprisingly, it was more than a year before the GPS was retrieved from the back of the drawer where it was frustratedly abandoned. Although to be fair, since then we haven’t looked back. So far I’ve found over 5300 geocaches, spread across four continents, 39 countries, eight Canadian provinces and all 50 US states. Which all goes to prove, If at first you don’t succeed…

2) Do you enhance your photos and why or why not?

I generally use Rich’s photo’s, since they’re yet to make a regular camera small enough for me to operate. He doesn’t usually enhance his photos beyond straightening, cropping and (more recently) adding a Jaspa’s Journey logo. Occasionally, Rich might play with the contrast or brightness but not very often. To be honest, I don’t think he really has the patience for that sort of thing.

On rare occasions, Rich has been known to experiment with black and white. For example, I particularly like the photo of Pisa below, in which he left the flag at the top of the tower in colour.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

3) What’s your worst menu mistake?

A soft-shelled crab po-boy in Miami.

I normally love crab, but didn’t realise it would come whole in this case. It looked like a great big spider on a bun! I couldn’t eat it.

The Miami skyline from Key Biscayne (Rich didn't take a photo of the offending sandwich)

The Miami skyline from Key Biscayne (Rich didn’t take a photo of the offending sandwich)

4) The weirdest place you’ve slept?

Långholmen Prison, Stockholm. Check out My Night in a Swedish Prison for the whole story!

My 'cell' in Långholmen

My ‘cell’ in Långholmen

5) Your best accidental encounter?

This is a tough one.

A throwaway comment on the deck of a cruise ship in Alaska leading to a friendship that lasts to this day?

A detour to find a geocache in rural Ohio, which took us past an old-fashioned, 50s-style drive-in restaurant with fantastic ice-cream sundaes?

Heading out of the woods to avoid a bear while hiking in Whistler, British Columbia, only to find another bear eating grass beside the road?

Or just last month, bumping into a couple in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia, only to discover they were Canadian? (And then helping them back to their car on the other side of the park when it closed.)

There are so many contenders.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

6) The place you’d most like to go back to?

Another tough question, since I rarely leave a place without feeling I have unfinished business there!

That said, my normal, automatic response to this question is Venice. But since that particular wish came true (for the second time) only last week, I should really pick somewhere else. So I’m going to go with the ghost town of Kennecott, Alaska.

In fact, Kennecott and Venice are so important to me, they’re going to be the settings for the next two Jaspa’s Journey books.

Kennecott ghost town, Alaska

Kennecott ghost town, Alaska

7) When you make a TV series about your travels, what will it be called?

Now this one’s easy… I Think I Need A Bigger Bucket!

Jaspa's Journey Logo (Bigger Bucket)

Here are some of my favourite blogs, which I in turn nominate for a Liebster Award (in alphabetical order):

Jaap Kroon

Robert Rayner

Shooting Venice and Berlin

Something For Pok

Travel Monkey – The Adventures of Kongo

Travel Tales of Life

Wise Monkeys Abroad

 

My questions for my nominees are:

1) What made you decide to write a blog in the first place?

2) Of all the blogs you’ve posted, which is your own personal favourite?

3) What is the absolute #1, must do item on your Bucket List?

4) If you were exiled from your home country, where would you live, and why?

5) Hot or Cold? Do you prefer the baking heat of summer or the chill days of winter?

6) Not including family or friends, who would be your ideal travelling companion, and why?

7) Character or Clutter? When photographing landscapes, places, etc., do you like to have people in your pictures, or do you feel they detract from the subject in question?

 

For any nominees who would like to participate, the ‘rules’ are:

Post the award on your site

Link it back to the person who nominated you

Answer the 7 questions posted by the person who nominated you

Nominate other deserving blogs

Post 7 questions for the blogs you nominate

 

If you agree with the Flying Goannas, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

 

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The Cranes of Pula

On July 30th I awoke and looked out at the horizon from my hotel room in Pula, Croatia. The sun wasn’t quite up and the cranes across the harbour were silhouetted against a sky threatening rain.

IMG_2361IMG_2360The previous evening the cranes… or are they giant birds?… or perhaps monstrous pterodactyls?… or maybe even giraffes?!… had formed very different silhouettes against the pitch black horizon of a still Adriatic night.

IMG_2355IMG_2353IMG_2352IMG_2354This post is inspired by the themes Horizon (from Ailsa’s of Where’s My Backpack?) and Silhouette (from Cheri of the Daily Post).

While you’re enjoying Pula’s industrial artistry, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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An Icebound Lake Louise

Nestled in a deep glacial valley of the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is the jewel of Banff National Park, Alberta. The waters of this celebrated lake are renowned the world over for their beautiful, opaque emerald colour. Yet the one time (so far) I saw Lake Louise, back in 2008, its surface was predominantly white.

IMG_9026Despite it being late May when I visited, and so technically probably spring, winter had yet to fully release its iron-hard grip on Lake Louise, and ice still covered much of its surface.

IMG_9027IMG_9028Having said that, this just made the reflections of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, perfect blue skies and pristine white, fluffy clouds, all the more dramatic.

IMG_9030IMG_9020This post was inspired by the theme Water/Winter, from Cee of Cee’s Photography.

While you’re enjoying the beauty of and icebound Lake Louise, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my brand new websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Islands of the Venetian Lagoon

It’s hard to believe that yesterday morning I was 7000 kilometres (4300 miles) away, discovering some of the lesser-seen parts of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, and this morning I’m sitting at my computer at home writing my blog as usual. What a difference a day makes, as they say.

Yesterday morning, outside the Doge's Palace

Yesterday morning, outside the Doge’s Palace

Although it was my third (and Rich’s sixth) visit to Italy’s slightly-scruffy masterpiece of canals and bridges, I never get tired of exploring its labyrinth of alleyways and ‘Campos’. Of all the cities I’ve ever visited, Venice is without doubt my favourite.

Looking down on Venice's main waterfront, the Riva Degli Schiavoni, beside St Mark's Square

Looking down on Venice’s main waterfront, the Riva Degli Schiavoni, beside St Mark’s Square

Yet sometimes it’s nice to escape the hordes of other visitors (especially at this time of year) and head out into the lagoon, to sample some of its other islands. Being so close to Venice, the glassmakers’ island of Murano is by far the most popular, and can be almost as busy as Venice itself.

Murano is quiet in the evening, but can be very busy on a summer's afternoon

Murano is quiet in the evening, but can be very busy on a summer’s afternoon

Between Murano and Venice is the peaceful cemetery island of San Michele.

View of San Michele from Fondamente Nuove, Venice

View of San Michele from Fondamente Nuove, Venice

Most remote is the semi-deserted Torcello, with its beautiful cathedral.

Torcello, as seen from neighbouring Burano

Torcello, as seen from neighbouring Burano

But my personal favourite of the Venetian Lagoon’s outlying islands is Burano. Forty minutes from the closest Vaporetto (Venice’s main waterbus service) stop in Venice, and only five minutes from Torcello, it’s distant enough to deter the worst of the crowds. And although Burano can still be quite busy, it’s certainly more sedate than Murano, let alone Venice.

Mid-afternoon on Burano's main 'street'

Mid-afternoon on Burano’s main ‘street’

Its brightly-painted houses give Burano a unique and endearing charm. The vying colours of its buildings providing a texture matched only by the lace for which the island is famous.

Looking the other way

Looking the other way

A typical back alley on Burano

A typical back alley on Burano

The park beside the Vaporetto stop in Burano

The park beside the Vaporetto stop in Burano

The tower of Burano's San Martino church could give Pisa a run for its money

The tower of Burano’s San Martino church could give Pisa a run for its money

Rich's Mum in a lace maker's shop on Burano (2003)

Rich’s Mum in a lace maker’s shop on Burano (2003)

This post is partially inspired by the themes Endearing (from Ailsa’s of Where’s My Backpack?) and Texture (from Natalia of the Daily Post).

While you’re enjoying the colours of Burano, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Raining Molten Lead

The theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Metal/Fall. I know the ‘Fall’ in question is supposed to be the season otherwise known as ‘Autumn’. But I’ve decided to take it more literally.

The Phoenix Shot Tower (as it was originally called) is located close to downtown Baltimore, Maryland, and was completed in 1828. Standing almost 235 feet tall, at first glance it looks like a chimney. But a chimney with windows?

IMG_2646In fact, it’s actually a rather clever yet simple structure (a nod here to Ailsa’s – of Where’s My Backpack? – theme of Simplify) that used gravity to turn liquid lead into shot for pistols, rifles and even cannons. Molten lead was poured through a sieve in the top of the tower. The resulting lead droplets then fell through the tower and began to cool, forming spheres that fully solidified when they landed in a water bath at the tower’s base. Hence the term ‘drop-shot’.

IMG_2645While you’re pondering the ingenuity of 19th Century manufacturing, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my brand new websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Erik the Red’s Icelandic Home

IMG_1037-1Who hasn’t heard of the famous Viking, Erik the Red, right? So you can imagine it was a special moment when, during a visit to Iceland in 2011, I got to visit the site of his actual home, in the north-west part of the country.

In truth, all that’s left of Erik’s farm, Eiríksstaðir in Haukadal, is a an outline of his house in the turf of the hillside.

The outline of Erik the Red's house is still visible in the turf on a hillside above Haukadal, north-west Iceland

The outline of Erik the Red’s house is still visible in the turf on a hillside above Haukadal, north-west Iceland

But close by is an impressive reconstruction of the infamous Viking’s home, made from earth sods.

The reconstruction of Erik the Red's House, made from earth sods

The reconstruction of Erik the Red’s House, made from earth sods

On the hillside above the remains of Erik the Red's house (on the left side of the photo) and its reconstruction (in the distance). Incidentally, this photo was taken from the location of my most northerly geocache find to date.

On the hillside above the remains of Erik the Red’s house (on the left side of the photo) and its reconstruction (in the distance). Incidentally, this photo was taken from the location of my most northerly geocache find to date.

Erik's son, Leif, who 'discovered' North America half a century before Columbus

Erik’s son, Leif, who ‘discovered’ North America half a century before Columbus

This post was inspired by the theme Earth/Harvest from Cee of Cee’s Photography) and Red (from Sue of A Word in Your Ear)

While you’re daydreaming about Vikings and Iceland, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my brand new websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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