February 2011 ArticlesFebruary 2011 Articles

27 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 8 - Details & Textures

I love colors and textures and the details of things I see. I take pictures of everything, looking for the beauty in the details. These images, especially the abstracts, are amoung my favorites.

This is the final post in my Zihuatanejo Mexico photo journal. I'm kind of sad to have finished it.

Coconut tree reflecting in the pool water.

Two variations of pool water reflections.

Paloma the 3 legged dog. Master of Hotel Las Palmas.

Ode to Paloma, the 3 legged statue who guards the bar at Hotel Las Palmas.

Reflections on the wet sand.

Coconut grove at sundown. I really love this image. The inspiration came from photographer Kris Moore. See her beautiful blurry images here http://www.krismoore.net/.

This is just one of those images that really capture Zihuatanejo.

Entrance to our room at Tentaciones.

Each night at Tentaciones we returned to our room lit by candle light.

Wood carving found at Playa de Gatas.

Paintings on leather.

Hippy surfer skeletons.

Two things found on the bay of Zinhuatanejo.

Two final pictures from Playa Blanca.

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21 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 7 - Tentaciones Hotel

Our final two nights in Zihuatanejo were spent up on the hill in a hotel called Tentaciones (temptations). The view is 180˚, offering endless photo ops. The changing light continually repaints the beautiful scenery. I took many, many pictures trying to capture its beauty.

morning panorama

This is a full panorama of the bay, with the town bathed in morning sunlight. The town is to the right. Playa de Gatas is tucked in the cove towards the peninsula on the left. The boats look much further away then they really were. The round pink shape in the lower right is a staircase entrance to the hotel.

This is our room, shot from the balcony looking in. The room is elegant, and the bath facilities superb,  but when you stay at Tentaciones it's really all about the view outside, not the room.

‘‘‘

The morning sunrise is lighting up the older hotels at the water's edge.

This picture was shot at sunrise. The bay faces South so the sun sets over these hills in the evening. The orange glow is a reflection from the sun rising from the opposite direction.

The patio with umbrellas is used for sunbathing during the day and becomes the restaurant at night.

These are the same umbrellas shot on a different day. The clouds and umbrellas are reflecting in the disappearing edge pool.

The pool is actually green and lined with colored rocks.

Our room is behind the canopy bed. The room balcony is in the far left of this picture.

Hanging out at the edge of the disappearing edge pool.  The pool and its view are inviting, but the town and its friendly inhabitants beckon . . .

This picture is the same view as the one above, shot later in the day with the sky and clouds reflecting on the water.

The reflecting pond is next to the pool. The architecture felt very Asian to me. My husband felt like he was in an ancient temple.

We enjoyed our last evening with a five star, five-course dinner served to us at these side-by-side chairs. The furrowed clouds above threatened rain, but luckily we felt fewer than a half dozen drops.  The restaurant staff was relieved, there would be no rapid relocation of tables this night!

Just another pretty sunset picture.

The night lights glow after the sun goes down.  Even in Zihuatanejo, the musical sounds of Friday wafting across the bay are more upbeat, and carry on into the next morning.  A spectacular last night of an unbelievable trip.

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20 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 6 - The locals

I love Mexican culture, probably because I grew up in San Diego. I love Mexican food, Mexican beer and margaritas. I love the bold colors of Mexican art. I also respect the people and how hard they work at any job to support their families.

water bottle fishing line

These guys are fishing with fishing line wrapped around plastic bottles.

orange bar

Margarita time! I loved the colors of this beach front bar.

thatched umbrellas

I'd love to have one of these thatched umbrellas in my back yard.

pink house

This is a section of the bay walkway where locals always congregated. I'm not sure why. I took quite a few pictures in this area because I liked the pink hotel.

fishing boats

The beach is lined with small fishing boats. The local fisherman take these small boats out to the ocean and fish overnight. Each returns at sunrise with the catch of the day. From our hotel balcony we could see the small boats arriving in the morning. The would approach the beach at full speed and literally drive their boat up onto the sand.

fish for sale

The fresh catch is laid out on blankets and offered for sale. When walking by this area you can smell the fish before you see them.

fish cleaning

The woman behind the counter is cleaning the fish and I'm guessing the couple are restaurant owners shopping for menu items.

bracelet craftsman

There are locals everywhere carrying trinkets and jewelry for sale. They all tell you that the creation is their own. A ten year old girl sold us a painted bowl and swore she painted it herself. It's hard to believe most of them, but this gentleman sold us a woven bracelet that he made while we watched.

bracelet

It took him less than 10 minutes to weave the letters in this bracelet.

store

I think this store owner could use some help with product merchandising.

This is one of my favorite pictures. These guys aren't Mexican and they sure don't look like tourists. I'd love to know their stories. I spotted them sitting at this bar when we first started walking the town. I wanted to take their picture but felt uncomfortable doing so. About two hours later we passed by them again still in the same exact spots. This time I knew I had to take the picture. The funny thing is that the old guys never noticed me, but the bartender sure gave me the evil eye.

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18 Feb

Las Vegas Images For Passions

PAG group show at the Vista Wellness Center

I have four images in the PAG show Passions. This is the first time I am showing a body of work. It took a long time, and a lot of thought before I decided to participate in this show. The show theme didn’t spark any immediate ideas. I couldn’t see how any of my work or interests related to the theme Passions.

One evening, while editing some images from Las Vegas, I saw my passion rather clearly. I didn’t find it in the Las Vegas subject matter. I found it in the strong compositions and rich colors I saw in my images. I love photographing Las Vegas because it offers I everything I am passionate about, composition, color and texture.

My Passions Images

All four of these images were shot last fall in Las Vegas. The images are HDR processed in a way to enhance the colors and textures without screaming HDR. I like to capture a surreal look that is both familiar yet mysterious. All four of these images accomplish this in different ways.


Fastfood Reflections

Fast Food Reflections

This image is taken from the inside of a Subway restaurant looking out the windows towards the City Center and New York New York Hotel. The interior lights reflect in the windows creating a colorful scene. My camera’s reflection can also be seen in the lower right of the image.


Table For Ten

Table for Ten

Table for Ten and Fast Food Reflections work well together as a pair. Both images were shot in the same location and at the same time, but the first is chaotic and complicated, while Table for Ten is calm and orderly.


Moon Over Paris

Moon Over Paris

What can I say about this one? The moon really did sit over Paris with the colored lights reflecting on the Bellagio fountain waters. It’s a pretty scene with rich colors and I like it.


Mini Manhattan

Mini Manhattan

This image is from the front of the New York New York Hotel. It was shot during the middle of the day, but color corrected to create a moodier feel. I really like the composition and the surreal sense of space and size. I accomplished this with tight framing that cropped out familiar clues like people, stairs and light poles.

The Passion show runs through March, at the Vista Wellness Center. The show includes work from 12 PAG artists.

Chiropractic Rehabilitation
Wellness Center
115 Main Street
Vista, CA 92084

crwellnesscenter.com

Hours: 9-6 M-F 9-10 Sat

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17 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 5 - Zihuatanejo Bay

Panorama of bay

Zihuatanejo Bay is lined with some of the best beaches in the world. The waters calmly caress the shores with a steady beat of small waves.

This is a quick panorama shot looking south from the spot where we first landed on the beach. We cooled off under the shade of the thatched roof patio covers to the left. Almost dead center of this picture is a white hotel on the ridgeline of the hill in the distance. We didn't know it at the time, but this would be our hotel for the final two nights of our stay.

3 umbrellas

Outdoor restaurant bars like this are found all along the beaches.

hotel with big coconut tree

older hotels

The hills on the South end of the bay are filled with hotels and resorts. Some are old and some are new. They are painted in all different colors, which adds to the vibrancy of the bay.

reflections on beach

The colorful hotels reflect in the wet sand. I photographed this scene from every distance and angle. Some of my favorite images are the closeup detail shots I took. I will share a couple in a later post.

Lady guardian of the bay

I don't know what her significance is posing on this rock at waters edge. Her tarnished blue green color is beautiful and I wish I would have taken some better pictures of her.

boats at sunrise

This was shot at sunrise from our hotel on the hill, looking North.

ferry boat

Playa Las Gatas is a semi secluded beach on the South West end of the bay. It can only be reached by ferry boat. I don't know why I was expecting a real ferry boat lined with padded seats. I'd been here for almost a week and should have known better. The "ferry" boat was nothing more than an old fishing boat. The only other pasenger on the boat was a young gal headed to her job as a beach masseur. The boat was powered by a large plastic barrel filled with gas that sat open on the floor board next to the engine.

fishing boat

The ferry boat looked a lot like this fishing boat but not as nice. It is very popular for visitors to charter boats like this for a day of great fishing.

nice boats 1

nice boat 2

There was a school fund-raiser, sailboat regatta about to take place, so the bay was filled with some really nice boats. Many were from Northern California and Washington State. I wonder how many days it takes to sail from Washington State to Zihuatanejo.

Playa Las Gatas 1

Playa Las Gatas 2

This is Playa Las Gatas. It has clear, calm blue waters and beaches lined with restaurant owners begging us to pick their spot. Every spot is perfect though, and it seemed unfair to have to choose.

Miguel

We ended up spending a short amount of time at Miguel's restaurant because he made us laugh. Miguel said I could take his picture as long as I didn't show it to the police. Maybe he wasn't kidding.

There are some small but surfable waves right where the bay opens into the Pacific Ocean. Look close and you can see a surfer in the top left of this image.

Shells & Sandcastles and Sundown

This picture was shot late in the afternoon. There are two local children playing in the sand and two tourists wading through the shallow waters. This captures the spirit of Zihuatanejo Bay.

 

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15 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 4 - The Town of Zihua

street view of hills

Our first impressions of Zihuatanejo were not exactly positive. The hillside is stacked with rundown homes. The town is old and it is crowded. There are way more cars on the road than we expected to see.

We had no idea where we were going or what we should try and see. We just parked the car and started walking. It was hot out, really hot.

walking the town

Our intial tour consisted of me trying to take pictures while trying to keep up with my husband, who was trying to walk the town as fast as possible so he could be done with it.

We eventually found our way to the water front and an outdoor restaurant where we cooled off with the ocean breeze and ice cold cervezas. Fortunately our first impressions were replaced with a real love for the town and it's people. My pictures barely capture Zihuatanejo's personality.

Zihua hills 2

Shot from the street looking up at the hillside stacked with homes.

night club

The sign says "Bar & Live Music" but why the dancing monkeys? The building looks more like a daycare than a night club.  Maybe it doubles as both. It wouldn't surprise me.

dentist

hospital

I'm really glad we didn't have any medical emergencies while we were there, but then it's also good to know the town has a hospital and a dental clinic.

chinese food

You can eat Chinese food in town. I'm not sure why you would but you could if you wanted to.

blue building

I love the colorful buildings. Some day I will go back with a tri-pod and take some fine art street images. Can you see my reflection taking the picture?

Casa Celeste

This one is for my sister.

liquor store and scooter for rent

Why is this a good idea for a store?

girl in the open window

I have no idea what this is about, but when I saw her upstairs in the abandoned building I had to take her picture.

superbowl

The Super Bowl is a big deal because it's an excuse to sell the tourists more beer. Spelling isn't that important.

bank guard

This guy guards the bank. He really intimidated me. I managed to snap this when he was looking away. I'm happy that I live in a country where semi automatic weapons are not commonly seen on the streets. Then again, we've had a rash of local bank robberies. A guard like this would probably solve that problem.

Marlins and Soldiers

This local fisherman has hauled in 5 large marlins. He's laying some of them out on the ground presumably to sell. The navy soldiers stroll by without giving the scene a second look.

bay front shopping

This walkway is right off the beach. It is a great place to shop, eat or just take a walk.

guitar players

Looking into town from the beach walkway. Zinuatnajo is just like any other beach town. The closer you get to the water the nicer the scenery.

morning view from above

I took this picture later in the week from our hillside hotel. It is the arial view of the streets pictured in the images above.

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10 Feb

Heaven

Photographing for Photoshop

This image “Heaven” is currently on display at the Escondido Arts Municipal Gallery in Escondido as part of the PAG show “Mind’s Eye”.

image of Heaven

Mind’s Eye Show Blurb

A photographer's "mind's eye" creates in the mind a photograph before it is taken. When that photograph matches up well with what the mind's eye visualized, we have that great aha! moment: "This is why I have a camera."

How My Mind’s Eye Sees and Works

“Heaven” was shot last March in Borrego Springs. It was taken during an all day photoshoot outing organized by Calumet Photo. This was my first organized photo outing with other photographers and an instructor. It was a great day. I took a lot of pictures, made some new friends and learned a ton.

I shot this photograph from the bottom of slot canyon. I had my camera on a tri-pod aimed straight up to the sky. As I set up for the shot I heard the instructor’s wife explaining to another student why it’s a bad idea to photograph the bright sky from the dark canyon. I laughed and said, “That’s what Photoshop is for.” I didn’t mean her any disrespect. She laughed at my comment so I’m pretty sure I didn’t offend her.

Photographing a scene with highly contrasted light is usually a bad idea. The camera can’t capture the entire range of light from brightest to darkest like the human eye can see. I take every photograph with Photoshop in mind. I know what Photoshop can do for my image before I take the picture. In truth I have more of a Photoshop’s Mind’s Eye than a photographer’s Mind’s Eye.

There is no right or wrong way to approach photography. The right way is the one that works best for you. I love Photoshop and I love taking photographs that can only work with a little help from Photoshop.

Three Original Exposures

Heaven original 1

Correct Exposure - ISO 100, f/10, 1/125

Heaven original 2

Under Exposed - ISO 100, f/10, 1/500

Heaven original 3

Over Exposed - ISO 100, f/10, 1/30

Understanding The Camera's Eye

The underexposed image captures all of the information and detail for the sky. The overexposed image captures all of the detail for the rocky canyon. The correct exposure finds a balance between the light and dark and ends up sacrificing detail in both.

The instructor was correct. It is a bad idea to point your camera out of a dark canyon towards a bright sky, unless of course you plan ahead for Photoshop.

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09 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 3 - Ixtapa

We spent a couple of hours one afternoon in Ixtapa. I'm really glad we visited the town and even happier that we didn't stay there. Ixtapa is a short drive north from Zihuatanejo but it feels miles apart for so many reasons. I remember hearing about Ixtapa back in the 80's when the town was pretty new and being heavily marketed in the United States. It's still a popular resort destination for Americans and Canadians.

I didn't take many pictures of Ixtapa, just a few snapshots to remember the town.

Ixtapa street

The street is lined with well manicured lawns and beautiful landscaping.

Senor Frogs

I thought we should eat at Señor Frog's because we were on vacation in Mexico and I had never been to one before.

Senor Frogs Lunch

We were the only customers. The servers were barely friendly, though one did offer to take this out of focus picture of us. The food was down right awful. Neither of us finished what we ordered. At least the water and beer were cold.

B at Frogs

I did enjoy the colorfull murals and the warm light created from the orange walls.

casa tequila

We did a little window shopping but didn't buy anything.

iPhone poster

This poster made me laugh. Why an Aisan model? We didn't see any Asians in Mexico. We also didn't see any iPhones for sale in Zihuatanejo. This poster perfectly sums up the difference between Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa beach 1

Ixtapa beach is beautiful and lined with high rise hotels. I felt like I was in Miami not Mexico, but then again I have never been to Miami.

Ixtapa Hotel

There are plenty of lounge chairs to choose from, but no privacy.

Ixtapa Beach 2

Ixtapa Beach 3

The beach has lots of white people and very few natives. The only Mexicans we saw were running the parasailing operation or selling trinkets. This is a stark constrast to Zihuatenejo beaches where we saw lots of local families and young couples enjoying their beach.

Final thoughts - If you are from the US or Canada and you want to vacation in Mexico without feeling like you've left home, then stay in Ixtapa. It is a beautfill town with large fancy hotels. If you want to enjoy some local culture and beautiful beaches, then stay in Zihuatanejo.

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08 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 2 - Playa Blanca

Hotel Las Palmas is located on Playa Blanca (white beach), about 15 minutes South of Zihuatenejo. The resort is down a dirt road behind the airport. The road takes you to the beach, and a small handfull of residences and resorts that are located there.

dirt road

This is the road as you enter Hotel Las Palmas. I'm not even sure it has a name.

beach walk

The beach is long, sandy, mostly clean and mostly empty. We took nice long walks in the morning.

buzzards

dead porpoise

The most activity we saw were buzzards feeding on a dead porpoise.

porpoise

We saw a number of live porpoises swimming close to shore too. Unfortunately I wasn't too successful at photographing them.

beach house

beach house 2

There are a number of residences that look uninhabited but may not be.

resort construction

We saw one new resort under construction. It's interesting to note the limited use of wood and complete absence of dry wall. The buildings are constructed with rebar, stone block and cement. The only wood is rough, unfinished logs used for accents and roofing.

empty roadside building

abandoned restaurant

From the dirt roadside we saw empty structures like these that may have once been restaurants.

playa blanca south

At the very south end of the beach, at the base of the small hill in this picture is a town called Barra De Potosi.

Barra De Potosi

It is a very small quiant town that obviously survives on tourists who eat at the beach front restaurants. The town must barely be surviving because we saw almost no one there.

restaurant decorations

The restaurant patio covers are decorated with colored crepe paper. In the background are all the empty plastic chairs and tables.

restaurant owner

Here is a restaurant owner trying to get our attention after we had already eaten at a neighbor restaurant.

tourists

We did see van loads of tourists from Ixtapa who boarded this boat for a trip around the lagoon. I thought the boat might get stuck on a sand bar. There were some really large gringos in this group and the water is only about 2 feet deep. The whole scene amused us. Ixtapa is an Americanized touristy city without a lot of local culture. We guessed the van outing must be a common way to get a little "Safe" taste of Mexico, though I have to say we never felt unsafe while we were there.

Playa Blanca North

This is another look of the Playa Blanca looking Northwest. Each day provided a new beautiful scene.

beautiful ocean

I love this picture. I might even have to make a big print of it.

north beach

This one is pretty nice too. Both pictures were taken on our final morning at Playa Blanca.

private beach sunset

This is Hotel Las Palmas private beach taken at sundown. Barra De Potosi is in the background.

another sunset

Another sunset picture – because I never get tired of beautiful sunsets.

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07 Feb

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Part 1 - Hotel Las Palmas

We just returned from a week long vacation in Zihuatanejo Mexico. The trip was a gift from my husband's boss for his 50th birthday. The gift was over the top. I have no idea how I can ever say thank you enough.

I was nervous about the trip for numerous reasons, all of which melted away when I stepped through the doors of The Hotel Las Palmas. Seriously, I imagine heaven to be exactly like it. The realization startled me just a bit because I am not quite ready for heaven.

I have never been so relaxed in my life. I wish there was a way to bottle the feeling. We spent long days doing almost nothing and it felt perfect. Time moved slow. Days were long. I woke up for the sunrise every day. There was no TV, email, facebook or twitter. I didn't care.

I took 1500 photos, some of which I like but none of which completely capture the moment. Yet, I can tell a story better with pictures than words so I will share a bunch of them here.

welcome bed

The room was just completed this past December, and everything still looked brand new. Our bed was decorated to welcome us.

sunset

We were treated to a spectacular sunset shortly after arriving.

coffee window

A coffee tray is delivered to a special coffee window every morning before we awoke. Very classy!

morning coffee

Private morning coffee on our back porch. Thanks to Photoshop no third party photographer was required.

lounge chairs

We spent a lot of time here in the back yard

me pool

and here in the pool

hammock Blaise

and here

hammock Theresa

and here. Yes, the backyard has two hammocks.

shower

The coffee window, hammocks and beach front lounge chairs were enough to qualify the resort for heaven status but the outdoor shower solidified it.

room

This building houses four rooms, three on the bottom and one penthouse suite on the top. Our room was on the bottom left.

entrance

Las Palmas Hotel Entrance. The outdoor bar and restaurant is on the other side of the doors.

pool view

The view from the other side of the entrance door. Our room was in the building in the distance.

bar

Looking the opposite direction at the patio bar and entrance doors.

skeleton

These guys kept us company at the bar.

rocks

I took at least 100 pictures of these rocks and never got tired of looking at them.

foot prints

Rocks and footprints at sunrise.

sunrise

My favorite sunrise picture of the rocks. It comes close to capturing the feeling of slowed down time.

permanent residence

Permanent residents.

more pool

One last picture of the pool looking North West.

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