Little Planet Panoramas Of The Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace, also known as Gresham’s Castle, an ornate Victorian-style house in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas.

he house was built between 1887 and 1893 by Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton

Reportedly listed by The American Institute of Architects as one of the 100 most significant buildings in the United States, and the Library of Congress has classified it as one of the fourteen most representative Victorian structures in the nation.

Bishop's Palace - Galveston, TX

Bishop's Palace - Galveston, TX

Ireland – Giant’s Causeway Long Exposures

Shooting Giant's Causeway

One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was experiment with long, daytime exposures using ND filters. These photos of The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland were taken during the day and each exposure is approximately 30 seconds. The NDX 400 filter allows for this without overexposing the shot. The long exposure causes the crashing waves to appear as fog or smoke while the rock formations remain clear and detailed. I would have preferred a more sunny day, but the overcast skies actually aided in the final look and feel of these images.

Giant's Causeway - 1

Giant's Causeway - 2

Giant's Causeway - 3

Giant's Causeway - 4

Giant's Causeway - 5

Ireland – Day 11

First full day in Dublin and it has been raining all day. This has dampened our spirits a wee bit. It doesn’t help that we are also getting very tired. The whole trip has been so fantastic, but also very exhausting at times. We busied ourselves visiting the National Museum, the National Library and National Gallery. Admission was free to all of them, so that was a bonus.

I did get some interesting photos inside some of the spaces so I am happy for that. I was particularly mesmerised by the elevator/staircase in the back of the National Gallery

National Gallery - Dublin

National Gallery - Dublin

Cynthia enjoyed the reading room in the National Library

National Library - Dublin

National Library - Dublin

Tomorrow’s weather forecast is looking very good with sunshine predicted for the day. That means we get to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, ChristChurch and many other sites in the glorious sun (fingers crossed)

The

Ireland – Day 8

Today we set off to drive the Dingle Loop around Slea Head. We knew it was going to be a good day when we spotted a double rainbow over the Dingle Whiskey Distillery.

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

This drive was, hands down, the most beautiful and scenic drive of the entire visit to Ireland. The sun was shining brightly and the skies we blue with few clouds. The sea surrounding the peninsula was sparkling with waves crashing on the rocks. The road was quite narrow most of the drive and became exceedingly so at various points along the way.

road2

road

We drove for hours and hours, stopping frequently at many scenic overlooks just to take in the view. Cynthia was a little worried about some of the more adventurous photo opportunities I was taking.

risk

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

Every turn, around every narrow corner brought us to another fantastic site. Fortunately, there were plenty of places to pull over and park so that we could enjoy the view and take some pictures.

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

The Slea Head Drive - Dingle Peninsula

We wrapped up around 5:30 back at the B&B and took a short nap before heading out in the evening for some food and to listen to some live music. We ended up having dinner at Murphy’s Pub and got to see a local Irish band called Tintean.

Tintean - Kerry based Irish band

They were quite good. They played many of the songs you would expect, but also several we had never heard before.

Tomorrow looks a bit cloudy and rainy, but we hope to make the best of our last day in Dingle before making the trek back to Dublin

jayandcynthia

Ireland – Day 2

Today was a good day. The morning started off with thick fog. But as the sun came up, it burned off and we were treated to some very nice sunny skies.

Shooting Ginat's Causeway

Our first stop of the day was the World Heritage Site known as The Giant’s Causeway. There was still some fog around so it was a moody visit in terms of weather. We were quite happy that we remembered to bring our hiking boots. The terrain is quite rocky and treacherous. Though I suspect it would have been far worse had it been raining.

It is a fantastic site to see and we had some fun climbing around the site.

Meself On The Giant's Causeway

Cynthia On The Giant's Causeway

After hiking around The Giant’s Causeway we headed over to the Carrick-a-Rede, a rocky island connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge.

Getting to the bridge is a hilly climb, up and down the hillside. But the reward is a frightening opportunity to cross a bridge made of rope that spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below.

Cynthia on The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Cynthia was petrified and said that she waited 55 years to cross this bridge and once was enough. When pressed, she said if she lives to be 110 she would repeat the experience. Must remember to set a calendar reminder :)

A Terrified Cynthia on The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Meself on The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Seriously, though. This WAS her idea. And it was actually a lot of fun.

From here we made our way over to Dunluce Castle to see the ruined structure before it completely collapses into the sea.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle

All in all, it was a fantastic day. When the sun was shining, short sleeves were just fine. But when the clouds began to return in the evening we were once again glad we had our heavy coats.

Tomorrow we check out of our lovely hotel and make our way to Derry and on to dear old Donegal Town.

Ireland – First Full Day

cynthiabandb

We got up bright and early and had ourselves the full Irish breakfast. Mmmmmm, blood pudding! Cynthia’s feeling much better after the whole incident with breaking my glasses.

irishbreakfast

We only chose to stay in Dundalk because it wasn’t far from the airport and made for a good jumping off point to head north.

After breakfast we packed up our gear, loaded the car and headed off to drive to Belfast and then link up with the Causeway Coastal Route.

The first place we wanted to see was Carrickfergus. We stopped to see the castle and take in the view of the sea. It was a pleasant stop.

jayshipwreck

The coastal route takes you along the upper north coast of Northern Ireland and is something to see. Beautiful landscapes along a winding, twisty road that sometimes gets down to a single lane for two way traffic. This can be quite intense as you drive along, having to yield to oncoming traffic with practically nowhere to go. To make matters even worse, there was a bike rally of some kind going on and we had to carefully and frequently pass cyclists along the way.

We made our way to Ballygally Castle around lunchtime and stopped to get some food.

cynbally

We also paused to take a few photos.

jaylandscape

Head of Ballygally Bay

Coastal Road Rest Stop

From there we continued to wind our way to Portballintrae where we had a hotel reservation for a few nights. We got checked in and cleaned some of the road from our weary bodies and went for dinner at the Porthole Restaurant. The food was fantastic. Be both had locally caught salmon and shared a bottle of wine to toast our success.

cynthiawine

For now we say goodnight to Portballintrae

Ballintrae Bay

Tomorrow we visit Giant’s Causeway, The Rope Bridge, Dunlace Castle and The Bushmill’s Distillery.

La Crema Las Fallas 2013

This is the event that the whole Las Fallas festival leads up to. All those fantastic Falla sculptures are burned to the ground. There’s no way to see them all. You pick one you want to watch and stake out a spot. We chose the one named “Que se mueran los feos” which translates to “May the ugly ones die”. It cost over 100,000 Euro to build. It is located just north of the dry river bed and is easy to get to from our hotel and has the added benefit of not being in a cramped little street corner or the one in the city center, all of which are very difficult to get to and very, very crowded.

This is what our Falla looks like in all of its pre-Crema glory

Before it was Burned

We arrived just before midnight to stake out our spot. The burning was only about 20-30 minutes late as we waited for the fire men to get in to position. There was a sudden detonation of some aerial fireworks and then the lights went out and this happened.

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

c8

And POOF!

Las Fallas - Crema

All gone!

We walked back to our hotel exhausted, but satisfied. Tomorrow we head off to Madrid to spend the night and the fly back to Houston for some much needed rest and relaxation.

La Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade) – Las Fallas 2013

The Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade) is one of the highlights of the festival. The Falleras parade down the street followed by an amazing group of pyrotechnic specialists who put on one heck of a fire show. Words can’t really describe this event. Hopefully my photos will convey the spirit.

Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade)

Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade)

Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade)

Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade)

Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade)

Cabalgata del Fuego (Fire Parade)

We were pretty tired after this, but we needed to stay up for the Crema which happens at midnight, give or take. That will be in the next update.

Valencia – Day 4 Addendum

Cynthia did the smart thing and rested most of the day. We did go out in the afternoon as the Ofrenda was beginning. It seems all the marching bands pass right by our hotel so sleeping was futile.

The Ofrenda is when all the people of Valencia put on their traditional costumes and parade in from all corners of the city to offer flower to build the statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral square.

After chasing the Falleras for awhile we decided to go to the City Of Arts And Sciences so I could take some night shots.

City Of Arts And Sciences

City of Arts and Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences - Fisheye

City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

Later in the evening we found this restaurant called Alma del Temple that was simply fantastic.

squid

Everything was presented well and the restaurant itself had a nice atmosphere. Oddly, the music playing over the sound system was 80′s gothic new wave. Bands like The Cure and Joy Division with some Brian Ferry and the like sprinkled in. I enjoyed it quite a lot and asked our waiter about it. Turns out it was his selection of music. I let him know I appreciated it and that seems to please him to no end.

We had a bottle of wine and enjoyed our meal and finished the evening off with a coffee and postre (desert)

After this we were pretty beat and called it a night.

Valencia – Day 3

Today Cynthia woke up in pretty bad shape. While the one eye is getting better, the other is starting to have trouble. She is very fatigued and in need of rest.

manel1

We had scheduled lunch with our friend Manel who we met during our first visit to Valencia. When he arrived at the hotel Cynthia simply didn’t have the energy to accompany us. This was unfortunate as Manel speaks little English and I speak little Spanish. Cynthia usually acts as the translator, but today we were on our own.

Manel and I had a good time using our iPhones to make the more difficult translations and it was a fun morning, if not slightly comical.

We made our way back to the hotel so I could check in on Cynthia and so that Manel could make his way to his other commitments. When I check with the desk clerk, Cynthia had left a note saying that she was feeling better and had walked over to the park to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air.

When she did make her way to the room she was looking to be in pretty good spirits, but confided that while sitting on a park bench and enjoying the various dogs and birds passing and flying overhead she apparently looked so sad and pathetic that a passing cyclist stopped and offered her food (which she politely declined).

Suffice to say, she was mortified. It took me some time to convince her that she did not look like a wretched, diseased homeless person with a bad eye.

Since Cynthia was feeling better we decided go for a walk and get some lunch. We enjoyed sitting outside the restaurant and soaking in the sunshine.

After lunch we went back to the room and had a siesta.

When we woke up we were both feeling a bit better. I wanted to go to the City of Arts and Sciences to take some photos and Cynthia was going to go see some things she wanted to see. I ended up making a short trip of it as the City of Arts and Sciences was having some kind of event and I couldn’t really get the shots I wanted. When I got back to the hotel I ran in to Cynthia who was excited that she was able to photograph an unusual pigeon we had spotted a few days ago.

Painted Pigeon

We suspect he has been painted by someone. The bird seems ok and flies around the plaza without a problem.

We took the rest of the afternoon and evening to do some more site seeing. We’re still not 100% but we’re not giving up.

Fairy Falla

Laurel and Hardy Falla

Ruzafa Lights

Tomorrow and Monday are the days of the Ofrenda when the women of Valencia parade in to the Plaza Of The Virgin and offer to her their prayers and carnations. The carnations are used to make Mary’s gown. It’s quite a site.

Preparation for Ofrenda

Madrid – Day 3

jaycynreina

Today, to our surprise, the sun came out again. There was still enough cloud cover to indicate that rain was still a possibility, but we ventured out without our raincoats or an umbrella anyway.

We decided to go to the Reina Sofia to see Picasso’s “Guernica” painting. This was our second opportunity to see this painting and it always moves me. Sadly, no photos allowed.

From the Reina Sofia we made our way to The Prado to see even more masterpieces.

Museo Prado Ceiling

This museum contains the definitive Goya collection. It is also home to Las Meninas by Velázquez which is always worth seeing in person. Sadly, no photos allowed in this museum.

We walked down Paseo del Prado taking in the sites. We stopped and had some lunch and the went off in search of the Caixa Forum to see the living art wall which is an outdoor vertical garden green designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc. This wall of green has 15,000 plants of 250 species covering a 460 meter square wall.

Caixa Forum

While we were admiring the wall it started to rain a bit so we made our way to the subway to go back to the hotel and have a siesta. I have to say, the siesta is now my favorite Spanish tradition.

After sleeping for a few hours we made our way to the Metropolis for some night photography.

jaymet

(thanks to Cynthia for this photo!)

It was cold, but we had a great time shooting the Metropolis and the Plaza de Cibeles

Metropolis

Plaza de Cibeles

After the photo session Cynthia and I found our way to a lovely tapas restaurant and had a fantastic dinner and a bottle of wine. We sat down around 9:30 and left around 11:30. Dinner comes late in Madrid.

Fisheye Fun

I just acquired the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 HD Fisheye Lens with Removable Hood. It doesn’t quite give a full circular fisheye result, but it comes close on my new full frame Sony A99. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive when compared to the Sigma. It yields some rather dramatic results and I think it will be a lot of fun to play with. The focus peaking feature of the A99 combined with the large live view screen allows for greater manual focus control.

Disco Expressions 1

DJ SUN