A slideshow of some of my favourite recent pictures

A love of sunsets, my pups & my marina home is the essential subject of this video slideshow.

The first dog silhouette is of Boeing, my Australian Shepherd who passed away a few years ago.  An array of marina photos and sunsets follows.  The one bridge pictured within is the Richmond San Rafael bridge with Mt Tamalpais in the background.  The bridge is not visible from the harbour but a great sunset just the same.

The last two dog-sunset-sihouettes are of my current family members, Zulu (a 4yo catahoula) and then Sky (a 6yo Australian shepherd). The slideshow ends with a couple of stunning moonrises!

The background music is “Oh! Mio Babbino Caro” sung by Gianni Schicchi.  I’m not really an opera music listener but this piece of music inspired me to get the photos together and there is always the option to turn your sound off if the music doesn’t suit you.

Overall the slideshow is for me to remember special moments and images from the last several months and if they suit your taste you will enjoy as well.

The Secret Garden Hostel in Quito, Ecuador

Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Writing 101’s prompt of ‘where would I be?’  takes me back to my trip to Quito in 2006 and is definitely a trip I would love to repeat with the added benefit of a little more knowledge of the environment and what to expect along with the added flavour of knowing it’s been almost 10 years since my initial visit.

The Secret Garden Exterior
The Secret Garden ExterioDay Two: A Room with a View

I’d never stayed in a hostel before March of 2006.  I happened on the Secret Garden hostel as I was researching places to stay for my upcoming trip to Equador.  It was a very well-reveiwed place and an extremely affordable place to stay.

The word hostel had always left me with the vision of rows of bunks and youth mentally equating to parties and ultimately no sleep.  As I started researching the Secret Garden I came to realise that it did not fit into my preconceived notions.   It had to be too good to be true!  The Secret Garden as it turns out has the option to reserve your own room with a shared bathroom (shared with one other room) for at that time $14 a day.

I arrived in Quito knowing no-one but ready to venture out.  A modest taxi ride from the airport brought me to the colourful front door of the Hostel.  It was after dark and I could only hope I was in the right place.  It’s not like there were illuminated neon signs floating around (thank God!).

steps to roomI rang the doorbell and was able to check in and receive a key to my room.  Uneven colourful stairs took me to my room where I settled in with a fullsize bed a nightstand and a beautiful wall hangings.  Everything about the hostel and the room was clean and just right.  There was a common area just outside my room that had virtually no furniture in it but that was probably just as well in terms of keeping there from being loud gatherings there.

porch with a viewThe two primary meals at the Hostel were breakfast and dinner.  You could order a cooked sort of breakfast as I recall or just have a bowl of cereal and fruit.  The kitchen and seating area were upstairs on a covered porch that overlooked the historic area known as Old Town.

I’ve never really been a very outgoing person so I was a little apprehensive about the meeting of new people in this shared environment.  It was perfect and I quickly found myself very comfortable and at home in this paradise.  The dining veranda area was like a hang out area where you could hear the travels of others and get tips and advice or take part in signing up for one of the variety of trips offered by the staff.  There was a variety of day-trips etc you could arrange through the Hostel.

People of all ages were guests/residents there.  Some people had traveled there intending to spend a short time and wound up staying and working for the Secret Garden.

I fell in love with Quito and the Secret Garden.  I did find a hostel close by that was a few dollars cheaper and went by to take a look.  I don’t recall the name of the place but remember it being dark and the room tiny and no sense of comradery  -it really came across as a cheap room with no view or atmosphere.

I really enjoyed the people at the Secret Garden.  The weather couldn’t be better and probably is what would seal the deal for me as far as living there if that were an option.  Due to it’s elevation, though Ecuador is on the equator as the name implies, Quito itself is not a hot or humid place.  It can actually be quite cool and very reminiscent of the the San Francisco Bay area where I currently live.

My trip to Quito was an aside to my final destination of the Galapagos Islands.  The Galapagos are a part of Ecuador and the only way to get there besides by boat is via an aeroplane ride from Ecuador.   I was meeting friends in the Galapagos and cruised with them on their sailboat for about a week around a couple of the different islands.  The cruising part was fun but I cannot foresee myself ever returning to the Galapagos.  The heat was torturous and the only relief was the water and swimming.   The sights were certainly spectacular but if you didn’t go do your sightseeing and adventuring in the very early morning – well it was a  miserable day otherwise.  I felt sorry for those who came on the cruise boats with their schedules pre-planned by their hosts with real regard for the intense heat.

I digress.  To summarise: Quito wonderful, cool, comfortable, very friendly people and very affordable.  I would walk all over in the day time and catch a taxi back the hostel at night that would never cost more than a3-5 dollars.  (The currency in Quito is the US Dollar and that’s what you get from ATMs there too so no money denominations to learn as a foreigner).  Galapagos, lots to see as long as you don’t mind the unbearable heat!!

Photo 101: Day Seventeen: Glass, Squared

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Incorporate glass in today’s image: a window, a mirror, a wine glass, sunglasses, or something else. It doesn’t matter what form the glass takes.

Today’s Tip: We’ve practiced shooting at different angles and from unique POVs. How can you interact with glass to create an interesting photo?

  • Look through.
  • Look between.
  • Find an unconventional surface.
  • Experiment with your flash both on and off.

Photo 101: Day Fifteen: Landscape

Panoramic view of harbor -click for full size
Panoramic view of harbor -click for full size

Today, snap a picture of a landscape. Focus on the gestalt — the entire setting as a whole, …— rather than a specific subject or focal point within the scene. The setting itself is the star.

I decided to use a panoramic shot for my landscape and then crop it down to be the actual desired image.  See the cropped image below.

Cropped panoramic of harbour
Cropped panoramic of harbour

Tip: Ready to do some basic image editing? After your shooting session, sift through your landscapes and find one that needs cropping. (You can look back to previous shots from the course, too.) Look out for:

  • Stray objects in the background, near the frame’s edges and corners.

  • People around the perimeter of the frame that might have “photo-bombed” your picture.

  • A foreground or background that is too prominent or “heavy.”

  • A composition that is too-centered, with your subject right in the middle, that might benefit from cropping along two sides (in other words, cropping to the Rule of Thirds).

Photo 101: Day Fourteen: Scale

Today, play with scale: you can use anything and everything to help convey size in your image, from your Chihuahua to your Mini Cooper, to an aerial view or perspective from a penthouse floor.

Lisa Simpson showing scale!
Lisa Simpson showing scale!

Tip: Don’t just point and shoot. Observe your scene closely before pressing the shutter, considering how all the elements in the frame interact with your subject, and how all objects in your foreground and background relate to one another. Make an object appear larger through a ground-level POV. Place two things side by side in an unexpected way. Surprise us!

Ha Ha …What’s the difference between a pilot and a jet engine?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ha Ha Ha.”

(not to be mean … but I am an aircraft mechanic so please put it in perspective)


What’s the difference between a pilot and a jet engine?

The engine quits whining when it gets to the gate!

Photo101: Day Eleven: A Pop of Color

clouds with a pop of sun!
clouds with a pop of sun!


clouds with a pop of sun 2!
clouds with a pop of sun 2!


Today’s Tip: As you train your eye to look for color, keep it simple:

Choose one bold color against a neutral background, instead of several colors competing for attention in a scene.
Look for a strong color within a basic composition of uncomplicated lines — your pop of color will stand out more.
Continue to experiment with light and POV as you shoot color-as-subject — the color may transform as you move.
Don’t ignore soft, pastel shades — colors like mint and pink can make statements, too.
Juxtapose pastels with black and darker shades.
When in doubt, pair an accent color with white — you’ll see its impact immediately.