Photo 101: Lake Gallery

Photo 101: Lake Gallery

For Weekend 1 of the Photo 101 course it was suggested that we “Experiment with Composition” using a Gallery of photos. During our time off from the daily assignments, things to explore included capturing establishing wide-angle shots considering foreground and background, compare horizontal and vertical versions of the same scene, and using a “Rule of Thirds” grid to place our subjects.

I decided to take photos of lake views since it was a fabulous sunny warm day after many cloudy days with rain. I rode around the area and tried to capture some selected views. Lake Travis will be 100% full again by the end of this week! The last time it was full was 6 years ago in 2010, and it’s actually risen about 60 feet since last spring. It’s wonderful living at the lake, and it’s great that it’s back.

I tried several different horizontal and vertical shots. Generally I think the horizontal ones highlighted the water the most, although the vertical ones captured interesting combinations of foreground and background like live oak trees, boats, houses on the hillside, etc.

Now onto the week 2 daily photo assignments.

Photo 101: Solitude

Photo 101: Solitude

Our Day 5 assignment of the Photo 101 course was “Solitude & the Rule of Thirds”, which focuses on how we interpret the state of being alone, a solitary subject, or a lonely and uninhabited place. We also explore the Rule of Thirds for composing our shots by placing the subject at the intersection of horizontal and vertical lines separating the nine parts of a photo grid. Or if we break that rule, use it as a guide to make the composition more interesting.

I love to travel, and certain places make you feel alone, yet connected to everything. Here are several photos that capture that feeling for me, taken with my iPhone 5 using the standard Camera app.

These were taken during a trip to Big Bend National Park in February 2013, and combine the solitude of golf, hiking, and desert. We stayed at Lajitas Resort and played Black Jack’s Crossing golf course which meanders in the desert adjacent to the Rio Grande river with the Mexican mountains on the other side.

This was a wonderful visit and you really get a sense of solitude in places like Big Bend. I love playing golf and usually enjoy the peaceful relaxing feeling (when it’s not very busy) just enjoying the surroundings. However, in this setting it’s even more spectacular because the place is so remote and there are so few people around in spite of all the marvelous scenery.

In the first photo, the flag pole is aligned with the vertical “third” line, with the lake and mountain horizon aligned along the horizontal “third” line, making for an engaging photo. Also notice the flag shadow and how close my approach shot got to the pin.

The photo with the scenic golf tee shot shows how the golf course layout was embedded within its natural surroundings, with the Rio Grande river visible along the horizontal “third” line beyond the green. The other shot highlights more of the Mexican mountains with the Rio Grande focused at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical “third” lines with the golf fairway aligned along the lower horizontal “third” line.

The final view shows the view while hiking inside Santa Elena Canyon on the Texas border with Mexico. There’s a wonderful feeling of solitude there as you look up at the opening to the sky along the steep narrow vertical canyon walls. It’s extremely cool on the floor of the canyon, and its very bright as you look up from the darkness. I thought the reflection in the water on the lower “third” line draws your eye there, which shows the upper canyon wall and sky quite vividly.

More photos to come with my gallery of lake views over the weekend.

Photo 101: Bliss

Photo 101: Bliss

Our Day 4 assignment of the Photo 101 course was “Bliss & Captions”, which focuses on our image of bliss. Also, we experiment with Captions and additional image metadata fields like Title, Alt Text, and Description.

Bliss represents perfect happiness, great joy, and total relaxation. For me, I think of music. I love music! Discovering new music. Listening to all kinds of music. Sharing music via my blog, which now has over 800 music posts.

I feel music, and it makes me happy (mostly). Sometimes music can be very emotional. Certain music brings tears because it’s so beautiful (or sad). Some music makes me feel like dancing. Other music is just simply pure joy. I have tinnitus (ringing in my ears) and music is good therapy. Music is very relaxing, especially solo piano.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about learning Midsummer Night by Brian Crain, I would like to learn to play piano (again). Last year, I was very fortunate to be able to attend four Whisperings concerts at Kendra and Michael Logozar’s house, including guest artists Christine Brown, Tim Neumark, Darla Bower, and Altimirano.

I asked him for a suggestion about which of his songbooks would be good for me to try to learn, and he thought his 2014 album Dreams from Afar would be easier than his others. So that gives me some other music to practice learning such as Your Smile, and maybe then Finding Hope (although the entire album is great).

Here are photos of my Yamaha piano and Michael’s music for my daily dose of bliss, taken with my iPhone 5 using the standard Camera app.

I have also included the album if you would like to listen to hear what it should sound like if I get it right.

Dreams from Afar by Michael Logozar (2014) – 12 songs, 42 mins

Photo 101: Water

Photo 101: Water

Our Day 3 assignment of the Photo 101 course was “Water & Orientation”, which focuses on our relationships to and stories about water. Also, we experiment with the orientation to see whether horizontal or vertical work better.

I live on Lake Travis northwest of Austin, Texas. It’s actually just one of seven lakes established along the Colorado River. It’s one of two reservoir lakes which are primarily intended for water storage and recreation. The others are “constant-level” where they control the water height so levels don’t rise or fall by selectively releasing water from their dams as appropriate, which makes it attractive for houses and other lakeside amenities. There’s Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake.

Finally, it is almost full again (97%) after many years of extreme drought where it got very low. After the tremendous extended rains during May 2015, as well as the recent El Nino rains over the past several months, amazingly it has actually filled back up. We have a wonderful view of the lake with many large windows on the back side of our house as well as a full-width deck. But for many years, we can hardly see the water any more, and it didn’t help that the trees have grown higher too. However, now we can really see the water once more, and it makes such a difference. It’s especially beautiful at sunset many evenings when the sun goes down, with various pretty effects depending on cloud configuration, etc.

Unfortunately, we’re having several days of rain again. But I decided to take my water photos of the lake and rain anyway, since so often I tend to take them when it’s sunny. So I thought this might be interesting. Most of my photos captured the lake horizontally since that way you see more of it, but I did try different views (left, middle, right). Also tried to get several pictures during the rain around the deck, where it’s obvious that it’s wet. I cropped several of them to make them more interesting and to eliminate unnecessary stuff. You probably can’t see the rain drops, although it was a nice steady slow rain all day.

It’s great living here and so nice to have a view of the water. I’m not sure what it is, but it tends to make you feel more peaceful, calm, and relaxed. We haven’t really taken advantage of being at the lake that much other than swimming, since we don’t have a boat. However, we keep intending on going kayaking, although it was so low for so long, we thought there might be more risks until it filled up to normal levels again (which is has).  So now I can we just need to do it.

I visited local swimming pools and the beaches in South Jersey when I was growing up, and always enjoyed the water. My wife also loves the water since she grew up at the Central Jersey shore and went to the beach almost every day in the summer. We had a swimming pool in our back yard when we lived in the Dallas area for about 27 years, and that was wonderful. She and our boys (and often our neighbors) would enjoy it. We decided not to put a pool in our current house, especially since we’re at the lake.

The photos in this gallery were taken with my iPhone 5 using the standard Camera app. More photos tomorrow…

Photo 101: Street

Photo 101: Street

Our Day 2 assignment of the Photo 101 course was “Street & Establishing Shot”, which focuses on a wide-angle street scene.

I captured several interesting street scenes during a visit to Philadelphia in 2010 – Urban Landscape, Cheesesteaks, South Philly Musicians, and Chinatown. The photos were taken with my father’s point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot A400 camera. I might not have had an iPhone at that point.

Our Urban Landscape

This first photo suddenly jumps out at you when we encountered it during our drive through South Philadelphia. This wall mural called Our Urban Landscape was originally painted in 2006, and then restored in 2014 (after my photo). 

It is a colorful collage of neighborhood residents, landmarks, and foods, which is painted on the side of the Colligas Family Shop Rite at Front and Snyder. The large faces of the people stand out in the foreground with everything else in the background. See an updated photo on the web site for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

Colorful Wall Mural


Pat’s King of Steaks, self-proclaimed “inventor of cheesesteak”, has offered classic versions of Philly’s favorite sandwich since 1930 at 9th & Wharton Streets in Philadelphia (where Passyunk and Wharton meet). Because of their popularity and high volume, the line moves very quickly so you need to be prepared.

It’s located right opposite Geno’s Steaks, it’s long-time rival since 1966 with a constant battle 24 hours a day for the title of best cheesesteak. There’s an interesting article about Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks on the Philadelphia official visitor site, including tips on how to order, like “one whiz wit(h)”. And yes, Cheez Whiz is the most popular topping. Here the Pat’s Steaks sign is in the foreground, with the buildings in the background. In fact, that wall mural with a clock behind Pat’s is my next photo.

Pat's Steaks

South Philly Musicians

Across from the world-famous Pat’s King of Steaks is a towering tribute to seven of South Philly’s music and film stars. This wall mural has huge portraits of Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Fabian, Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, and DJ Jerry Blavat. It was created at this Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue location in 2005, but now is chipped, faded, and crumbling, apparently damaged by roof leaks.

The Mural Arts Program had planned to paint it over for a “dignified retirement”, especially with a proposed four-story development for the lot next door that would block the mural. but the whitewashing plan was scrubbed so see if it could possibly be moved to another wall somewhere. Apparently donations by Frankie Avalon and Jerry Blavat for the restoration project may result in a revamped mural in the fall of 2016, possibly with the additional of James Darren and Charlie Gracie. Again the musicians (and clock) occupy the foreground with a street scene in the background.

South Philly Singers


As we were driving around, we ventured into Chinatown, which had lots of interesting street scenes. Here’s one view of the street with several restaurants (and signs) in the foreground and buildings as the background.

Chinatown in Philadelphia

That’s all for today. More photos to come.

Photo 101: Home

Photo 101: Home

Our Day 1 assignment of the Photo 101 course was “Home”, which reminds me of some of the places where I have lived.

St. Nicholas Hospital - Sheboygan


I was born at St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which was my first home (very briefly). Now it has been converted into an affordable apartment housing complex for senior residents.


My parents loved me all my life. These photos of my mother and father were taken when they were married during the last year of World War II. She’s almost 96 in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, but he died 3 years ago.

Photo-Elinor      Photo-Corky

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I was blessed to have a wonderful family with two brothers and two sisters. We grew up in a small house and my father raised the back roof for more bedrooms as our family grew.


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After marriage and 4 years in the Air Force, we lived in a townhouse in New Jersey . Our 2 boys initially grew up there before moving near Dallas, Texas. There was a nice common area with playground and swimming pool near an elementary school.


Now we’re very lucky to be retired and living on the north shore of Lake Travis near Austin in the Texas hill country. It’s very comfortable in a quiet community which is close enough to our grandchildren as well as downtown when we want to visit.  We have two lovely golf courses and tennis courts nearby which we love to play.  There’s quite a bit of wildlife in our backyard to watch like white-tailed deer, hummingbirds, squirrels, birds, butterflies, etc.

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We have a wonderful view from our deck where I captured this panoramic iPhone photo of a morning rainbow at breakfast after a light rain several years ago when the lake was very low. At least the recent El Nino rains have filled it back up again to about 97% full.

Morning Rainbow

I will be sharing more photos with daily assignments over the next couple of weeks.



Great news! I have reached another significant milestone. WordPress says that today I now have 1,000 Likes on my web site. Thanks for letting me know what you like. I’m glad that you’re enjoying the music, photos, and travel posts. It always helps to see that my blog is on track with its readers.

Currently, I have 1,034 Likes from 6,111 Views (17% Liked) by 3,455 Visitors (1.7 views/visit). I have created 547 Posts and 80 Pages, and received 294 Comments. There are 137 WordPress followers, 167 Email subscriptions, 22 following on Twitter, and 8 on Facebook. The most views per day was 74 on November 7, 2014.

I have really enjoyed my experience over the past 9 months since I started my blog on September 17, 2014. I reached 200 Likes on Nov 3 (first 2 months during Blogging 101), then 500 by Dec 15 (just 1 month during both Blogging 201, Photo 101, and Christmas music), and now 1000 (6 months later). It’s wonderful to meet so many interesting people whose blogs I get to read every day.

I have been preparing a series of posts which feature my recent Viking River Cruise on the Rhine and extended trip through Germany. I took almost 4,000 photos during our three weeks visiting so many interesting destinations. It has taken quite a while reviewing and organizing my photos, including selecting highlights for sharing in my blog. I am creating a photo web site as a better way to store and share my photos, and I will integrate that with my WordPress blog. I expect to begin daily posts starting in the next several days.