Friday, July 16, 2010

From Venice to Croatia to the Greek Islands...

My photography adventure this time took me to Venice, Italy where we were to pick up the Royal Caribbean “Splendor of the Seas” for our trip to Split, Croatia; Corfu, Greece; Athens, Greece; Mykonos, Greece; and finally Katakolon, Greece.  The cruise was sponsored by the Texas School of Professional Photography and led by professional photographer Don Dickson.  Being with high-speed professionals put the heat on me to produce some photos of value.  And that’s a good thing, although as Don pointed out several times, this was about FUN first.  And fun is what we got.  This time, Paradise Valley Community College teaching colleagues Jeanne Franco, a first time cruiser, and Sue Van Boven came along, which made it more fun.

I used my Canon 7D with my Tamron all-purpose 18-270mm lens carried in a ThinkTank 50 holster case.  It’s a big holster case, but gives more than adequate protection.  When I travel overseas, given how security is, I use the Tamron lens exclusively.  I do post production editing with Lightroom 3 (about 90% or more) and Photoshop CS5.  You can simulate painting with Photoshop, but I prefer using the Topaz PS5 plugin called “simplify” to do that job.  I also have the OnOne Plugin Suite that I use for color correction and more.  I use Photoshop, but I also talked with pro photographers who only use Photoshop Elements and get by.  With plugins, I think I could probably live with PS Elements over Photoshop, but now the Photoshop upgrades are pretty reasonable.  

We had two and a half days to explore Venice on our own.  Venice is, as you might guess, all about being on and around water.  AND, being that it is July it was HOT and HUMID.  Now I’m a confirmed desert rat from Arizona, so the humidity did take its toll.  But hey, THIS IS VENICE!  We stayed at the Hotel Marconi, right on a canal.  The one thing I liked about it was it was a few feet from the Rialto Bridge, perfect for photography, and there were cafes right outside our door!  One of the things I played with was making paintings out of photos.  I did that twice with scenes from the Rialto Bridge that you can view at the bottom of this blog. 

One evening we were sitting at the café only a few feet from the Marconi when a bride and groom appeared.  The fun thing was at the time we were with a bunch of professional photographers.  As soon as we saw the newlyweds, we immediately got out our cameras and started to take photos.  The groom was a bit startled, looked at us and said “Paparazzi?”  We managed to tell them both we were all photographers and we just wanted to shoot photos. 

I was in Venice the night Holland played Brazil in the world cup.  That day I decided to wear my “HOLLAND” soccer jersey.  Well, Holland won.  And everybody it seems in Venice wanted to pat me on the back.  I don’t mind if there is a beer attached.  A very excited German man grabbed me by the shoulders and said DEUTCHLAND UND NEDERLANDS!  Ok, ok... Hey I’m an American.  Cool it.  Later on we were sitting at a café when a group of people approached, one of the guys wearing a Holland jersey.  We started yelling NEDERLANDS and he came up for a photo.  I whispered, “I have a surprise for you.. I’m an American.”  He laughed and said, “Guess what?  I’m from California.”  So, Holland.. you had two Americans at least in Venice celebrating your victory.  Sorry about the loss to Spain, though.  Love those chance encounters!

Once we got on the ship, I told Jeanne what I always say, “check your brain at the front door and pick it up on the way out.”  That’s how it is on cruises.  This time Don Dickson’s Texas Professional School of Photography picked up a few cocktail hours and we had a few break out sessions.  The last one featured photographers Jon Wolf of Tucson (Tucson is special to me because I lived there many years and I am a University of Arizona graduate) and Jim DiVitale, both wonderful speakers and photographers.  Jim is also a National Association of Photoshop Professionals member and NAPP and Adobe instructor. 

Our first port of call was Split, Croatia and we were able to visit the Roman Ruins there. 

The second port we visited was the Greek island of Corfu, every bit as beautiful as you can imagine, and now see, from my slideshow at the bottom of this blog.  Jeanne and Sue have decided to buy a bed and breakfast on Corfu and have made me the chief photographer.  I’m good with that.  We had fun visiting the Achilleon Palace and monastery.  Our wonderful tour guide was a gentlemen that spoke English with a English accent.  I asked how he learned Greek and he said, “I am Greek!” 

Our next port of call was outside of Athens.  Luckily there were no strikes that day and we joined all the Texas photographers for a trip to the Acropolis.  It was HOT and HUMID and the steps up looked daunting, but dang it this is Greece and this is the Acropolis!  I have many photos of the views of the Acropolis, down to Athens and the shrine to Zeus.  After coming down, an iced lemonade never tasted so good, but I admit drinking it so fast I had a terrible brain freeze.  But it’s the Acropolis!

Mykonos was our next call, and it was every bit as gorgeous as Corfu.  I captured some cute young Greek ladies there... one wasn’t even three years old, peeking around the corner.  There are cats everywhere on that island too.  And, I was surprised by the mascot of Mykonos, Petros II the pelican, who jumped up in a café I was in.  I managed to get a quick photo of him.

Our final call was to the island of Katakonos.  We had planned to take the train up to Olympia, but once we got there they said the trains were shut down because of the strikes that happen all over Greece all the time.  So we stayed in town and shopped. 

Then it was back to Venice... and I conclude the slideshow with a few early early morning photos of the City of Bridges.  Note how different the light is at that time of day.

Now I’m done traveling for a bit.  Although I enjoyed the travel, I was never so happy to set foot back in the USA, in Newark, New Jersey of all places.  My first joy upon re-entering the USA was a GIANT diet Pepsi with TONS of ice. 

Enjoy,

Jim Patterson