Belize – Jay The Wedding Photographer?

As I mentioned previously, I do not see myself as a wedding photographer. I think it is a challenge I would be too fearful to face. At least currently. I dread the thought of being responsible for the photographic memory of an event so special only to find that I blew it. Aside from my general lack of photo talent, there’s potential mechanical failure or just brain fart where you shoot the whole event using the wrong ISO or something stupid. It’s not like you can just declare a wedding mulligan and shoot again.

Luis and Sarai hired a pro to shoot the wedding, as I suggested and for the reasons I stated above. This meant that I had to stay out of the pro’s way. Something the pro made VERY clear when she arrived. But it did not mean I had to stay idle. I took advantage of the time before she arrived to catch some candids and then I was up to the balcony of the villa to shoot long distance and then back down to take advantage of some of the time after the actual ceremony.

These are the results

Next – Defying certain death!

Belize – Part 3 – Wedding Day

Rainbow

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Rainbow

Click the above image for full size

The room cooled down pretty well during the night and I was able to sleep. Unfortunately I woke up around 6:30 am which is 7:30 am back home and pretty much the latest I sleep in these days. I putted around a little and the decided I would go to the villa and see if Luis and Sarai wanted to get some breakfast. They had mentioned a place in town called Estelle’s which was supposed to have good and cheap breakfast and I figured with it being wedding day, they’d be up early getting ready.

I got into my golf cart and made my way to the villa.

It’s worth mentioning that the roads in San Pedro are paved with cobblestone (when they’re paved at all) which makes for a rather jostling, bumpy ride. Add to that the most severe speed bumps you can imagine and you have a pretty rough ride moving around the island. The charm of driving around in one of these things wears off really quickly.

On the way to the villa it started to drizzle and then I spotted the rainbow you see at the top. I stopped on the side of the road and was able to get a reasonable photograph before resuming the journey.

Of course, when I got to the villa not a creature was stirring. I wasn’t prepared to wake anyone up so I headed back to town for breakfast.

Let me say this, if you are ever in San Pedro and looking for a good breakfast, Estelle’s is the place. Cup of coffee, 2 eggs over medium, potatoes, toast and bacon for right at $5 U.S. And so delicious! And the patio is perfect for enjoying your meal while watching watching the sun rise over the sea.

Sunrise

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Sunrise

After dawdling over breakfast and coffee for a few hours I decided to head back to the villa once more, certain they’d be awake by now. Plus, I had no Internet in my hotel. They advertised “free Internet” but I am thinking they meant to say “Internet free” as I saw no wireless signal. Luis mentioned that the villa had wireless and packed up the laptop to go get online.

As expected, they were awake now and ready to eat. They headed in to town while I tried to get online. I was able to do a few things, but overall the connection was very slow and the online experience was just too painful.

I headed back to town once more to get my things in order for the wedding this evening. I decided to turn in my rented golf cart and figured I would catch a cab back to the villa when it was time.

Around lunch time I went to Estelle’s to get something to eat and they had the World Cup on. I watched Spain narrowly defeat Paraguay which was a treat.

Around 2:30 I hailed a cab and was back to the villa once more, which was now a hive of activity as everyone was getting ready.

This was the time I was going to use to photograph the wedding preparations. The “real” photographer would be along after awhile and I had agreed to stay out of her way, so if I was to shoot, this would be the best time.

Up next – Belize – Jay The Wedding Photographer

Copenhagen – Last Full Day

The last day in Copenhagen. New Years Eve. We’d wanted to go to the Nationalmuseet (National Museum) after running out of time the previous day (read: we couldn’t find it). Alas, it was closed due to the holiday

We figured not much would be open and decided just to walk around for awhile which lead us to the Børsen (Stock Exchange) building which features a tower formed by the tails of four dragons twined together

From there we spied the telltale tower of Vor Frelser Kirke. If you look closely you’ll see there’s a spiral staircase that goes around the outside of the tower.

It’s open to the public, but not at this time of year….

Even more unfortunate, the church was closed for the day but we did spend some time outside shooting pics.

From there we walked leisurely back to the hotel and upon arriving asked the hotel concierge for a recommendation on a place to get a traditional Danish meal and we were directed to Cafe Nytorv just off the Strøget. It was a charming place and the food was delicious. We ordered Carlsberg beers and snaps as our beverages. Cynthia is not a beer drinker. She hates it in fact. But she decided to be adventurous and ordered one and when she took the first sip she found that she actually liked it.

She did not, however, like the snaps. I had to drink hers as well as mine. Drat the luck! 🙂

After lunch we walked a bit more but then headed back to the hotel to pack and get ready for the fireworks.

Copenhagen Day 3 Part 2

After our great day visiting the castle and seeing The Little Mermaid we rested for a bit in the hotel. Next on the agenda was Tivoli Gardens to see the lights and witness the fireworks show. The park opened on August 15, 1843 and is, with the exception of Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, the oldest amusement park in the world.

Sadly, my shots of the fireworks didn’t pan out. We staked out a spot that was too crowded and also behind a giant Christmas tree which obscured the view. Still, the park is amazing. I can’t even imagine how people ride those rides in the freezing temperatures, but they do. The whole park is filled with screaming and laughter as the rides buzz, whirl and whoosh right over your heads. And everything in the park is completely covered in multi-colored lights.

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

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Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen

Copenhagen Day 3 Part 1

The sun comes up late here. Somewhere around 9:00 am. We woke up at 8:00 am and it was still pretty dark outside. It was raining pretty steady so not so appealing to walk around and see the sites. On top of that, it’s Monday and as is common in this part of the world, most tourist sites like museums and so forth are closed.

We’re a little down at this point. We were ready for rain but wanted it on days when we could hit the museums and such that didn’t require walking around outside.

I found out that the Rosenborg Castle, though usually closed on Monday, was open on this Monday for some reason. We headed to Central Station to catch the metro two stops out to have a tour of the castle and see the crown jewels which are on display there.

This worked out well. The castle is an interesting thing to see. I had to leave my camera bag in a locker as they didn’t want anything smashing into the displays. I could take my camera, though, once I paid the additional photographer fee.

After touring the castle we headed into the guarded basement to view the crown jewels.

It’s a pretty awesome display. There are many shiny trinkets I could see having in my own personal collection. Like these gold soldiers

Or this handsome pair of his and her sparkling bejeweled crowns.

At this point it’s about noon and the sun is coming out. We finish our tour and decide to head out to the waterfront and see The Little Mermaid.

It’s a pretty long walk, but the bright shining sun has really lifted our spirits and we’re happy to be walking along in the 35 degree warmth. The waterfront is really pleasant with a blue sky over the blue water.

As we were walking along the waterfront we came across the Greenpeace ship “Rainbow Warrior

The walk continued and it was indeed a long, long walk. Eventually we came across the throngs of excited sightseers all jockeying for position on the treacherously wet and uneven rocks leading to the water where the Little Mermaid perched on here rock formation.

Yes, she’s tiny. And yes, this is probably one of the most overrated tourist attractions on the world. But you can no more go to Copenhagen and not see The Little Mermaid than you can go to Paris and not see the teeny weeny tiny Mona Lisa.

And on this day, she looked particularly nice, glinting in the low hanging sun with the blue sky and the blue water as a backdrop.

We took our touristy photos and the hoofed it back to the hotel. What started as a possibly off day turned into a wonderful day after all.

Next up, Tivoli Gardens at night.

Copenhagen Day 1 Part 1

My catch phrase for this trip is “Every photo I take is a blessing” as an ongoing reference to the Copenhagen Christmas Miracle.

Once we got checked in to the hotel we decided to head out and do a little sightseeing. At this point we’re pretty jet lagged, but the adrenaline rush of the near disaster is still coursing through our veins and it is important to push on through to get the internal clock synched up with the local time.

bhday1-6

The room is very spacious and modern inside and we’re quite comfortable. The plumbing, specifically the shower, took some sorting out but we got it eventually.

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Our hotel is right across the street from City Hall Square and, as such, is VERY centrally located.

We noticed that things seemed rather tame. Shops were closed and there wasn’t all that much foot traffic, even on the Strøget which is the main shopping boulevard here in Copenhagen. It wasn’t until the next day that I snapped and realized that Saturday was Boxing Day.

We got the obligatory shot with the Hans Christian Andersen statue

bhday1-4

Everything here is VERY expensive. Cynthia made the comment while we were getting some snacks at the 7-11 that being here was “Like living in the airport.” 20 Kroner for a half a liter bottle of Coke. That’s over 4 dollars for a 16 ounce bottle.

I told Cynthia during the planning for this trip that I would be eating at least one Pølser during the trip.

bhday1-3

Also referred to as a “Dead Man’s Finger” they’re sold from carts all over town. They’re very tasty and I may have to have one more before we leave.

The sun comes up late and goes down early. Also mostly overcast with the occasional drizzle of rain. Not ideal photographically, but a challenge and…every photo I take at this point is a blessing.

Ballunar Festival

Ballunar Festival
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Ballunar Festival

I always seem to miss the annual Ballunar Liftoff Festival held each year down at the Johnson Space Center but this year I heard about it in time to get down there for a look see. I was really only interested in the balloon glow which is where they use the burners to illuminate all the hot air balloons they have gathered for the festival. And this only happens the first night of the festival.

I wanted to set up the tripod and use the Sigma 12-24mm wide angle lens and shoot a few shots. Cynthia and I arrived just as this was underway and I did manage to get a few shots. The “glow” only lasted about 30 minutes and then it was over. We didn’t hang around after that, opting instead to head back to Houston.

Ballunar Festival
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Ballunar Festival

Westchase Park

Out here on the west side of Houston, most of the developers seem to lack any sense of style or creativity. One ugly uninspired office park after another lines Beltway 8 from I-45 South to I-45 North with a smattering of cheesy chain restaurants and extended stay motels sprinkled in for extra yawn appeal. It is fairly bleak and only inspires you to press a little harder on the accelerator to move on through. The one and only reason to intentionally go near the beltway (other than using it to flee the west side) was the Cinemark Tinseltown movie theater but even that became a place to avoid and was eventually closed down.

Recently I noticed that the Tinseltown had been demolished and construction had started up for a new building. Swamplot reported that they had received a demolition permit in January of 2008 so it wasn’t a total surprise. I didn’t pay much attention as it was going up but over the last few weeks I did see that it was nearing completion. From what I can tell, it’s called the Westchase Park and it looks like it is nearly ready for its first tenant.

Westchase Park

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Westchase Park

There’s a water feature in the front of the building that sports a metallic sculpture which sort of reminds me of the contraption from the movie “Contact.” It’s by far the most interesting piece of architecture I have seen out here on the west beltway.

The building itself is glass and chrome and glints in the daylight. I was kind of hoping the sculpture was a corporate logo of some kind and that this was going to be to world headquarters of some up and coming conglomerate or something. Alas, it is simply a business park and will soon be selling office space to those looking to setup shop in the Westchase District.

On the plus side, it looks pretty cool at night.

Westchase Park

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Westchase Park