Week 8: Memories

P1030315In Positano, Italy, you can take a little speedboat (not the boat above) from the main beach to a smaller beach called Arienzo. You’ll travel across clear turquoise water and approach a pebble beach lined with orange lounge chairs and one restaurant. The boat will pull up alongside the rocks, and a man will help you jump from the boat to the rocks. (And on a day when the waters are a little rough, you will wonder how safe all this actually is, especially getting back on when the boat has to wait for just the right time to approach the rocks and you have to scramble like mad).

While on this gorgeous, secluded beach, you’ll watch the man who helped you jump onto the rocks take a little row boat (above) to get to another boat, and then return with more beachgoers from who knows where. He’ll go back and forth on this little row boat on unknown missions, and you’ll watch him all day, wondering what he’s up to, becoming enthralled with the comings and goings of this man and his boats. And when you leave, you’ll know that in this little part of the beautiful Italian coastline, there’s a man going back and forth on a little boat, here and there, doing this and that. Day in and day out. And that–knowing about this man and his boats–is one of my favorite parts of traveling.


Week 7: Nighttime

P1030350A pier in the bay of Naples, taken from the deck of a ship. Feels like I’m still there. Literally. Because I don’t mean that comment in a wistful, looking back on vacation sort of way. I mean that I feel like I am still on a boat. My Google searching indicates that I am suffering from Mal de Debarquement. And despite the fact that this condition has a lovely French name, in reality it is not charming at all.

So what is this condition? It’s sort of the opposite of sea-sickness. While some people feel ill on boats, my brain adapts to the swaying quite well. The only problem is that when I get back on land, my brain gets confused and I feel a sense of rocking and movement. Now I can only hope that this feeling goes away. And the sooner the better.

I’m a little nervous about going to dance class tonight. Because with this lurching, off-balance feeling there is the very real chance that I will fall on my ass…But nice photo, right? And the night ferry from Naples to Sicily was pretty great. So as long as this feeling goes away SOON, it will all have been worth it. But maybe next time we’ll fly.

Week 6: Old Timer

P1030481In an earlier post, I mentioned a trick that my sister Erin told me about surreptitiously snapping photos of people in public. I really, really wanted to get a photo of this old Sicilian man sitting on a bench in Cefalu, so I tried the trick…and it worked! The framing isn’t perfect, but overall I am happy with the photo.


P1030481I also like it as a close-up cropped photo, but you lose the sense of place.

P1030480Here is the first photo I took, but I prefer the shot when he is looking at the camera (even though the framing is a little better here).

Week 5: Mirrored Image


Hanging out by yourself sounds kind of sad. But hanging out with yourself? Now that’s always a good time. I captured this photo in a club in Positano called Music on the Rocks, and when I took it I do believe we were the only people in the club. Typical Americans. I mean, really, what kind of boobs get to a club before one a.m.? Brett and his mirrored image. That’s who. (OK, I was there, too).

I’d like to note that I didn’t do a single thing to this photo. It came out just like this. When I took it, I was delighted. And then something about it cracked me up and I had a laughing fit for about 15 minutes. I guess because it just really looks like Brett is hanging out with himself. Or rather, ignoring his other self. The image in the background looks a little lonely, don’t you think? Waiting for his friends. Strangely enough, a friend of sorts did actually arrive later. Our waiter from dinner, Pepe.

Week 4: Three of a Kind


One of these things is not like the others…I’ve been trying to get into birding lately and while camping this past weekend in Morro Bay I was lucky enough to spot the majestic seagull. A rare find indeed. Add this sighting to the pigeon I espied the other day bathing itself in a puddle of dirty city water and you could say I am quite the birding pro already. Not to brag.

We actually did spot wild turkeys on our trip, although they walked brazenly onto our campground looking for food so the sighting was a little short on the thrill of discovery. However! Judging by the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, I am almost certain we spotted a Long-Billed Curlew, listed in the book as “uncommon.” Of course my SD card was full at the time, but I swear! We spotted ol’ Long-Bill.

Bonus Photo


I also liked this photo of the power plant, but thought the one above with the seagull had more character. Plus, it provided proof of my sighting of that oh-so-elusive bird.

WEEK 3: Letters


The other day I spent a stupid amount of time trying to snap a good shot of this sign that is just up the street from my apartment. After finding the SLR camera, I decided to venture out and see the city with new eyes, snapping gallery-worthy photos by the dozens. I mean, hey, it was a beautiful day in San Francisco with that California blue sky, I was surrounded by architectural gems and natural wonders, and I had a camera. A fancy one.

I walked up hills and peered down alleys. I dodged cable cars and darted across traffic. I looked up, under and all around. And then I walked home with burning thighs, a farmer’s tan, and a very strained neck. Ah, all in a photographer’s day’s work.

When I got home, I eagerly took out the SD card and slipped it into my computer. I tried to look away as iPhoto imported my world-class shots (better to see the oeuvre all together!). I created a new folder entitled, “SF: Day 1” and then I was ready to edit, finesse, and select. Only problem? As I started going through the photos one by one, I discovered to my horror (and mild embarrassment) that out of all the photos I took there was not a single good one. Nope, not a one. All duds. Bad crops. Bad lighting. Bad focus. The only thing that wasn’t bad? The experience. Because despite not getting a single good shot all day, I had a blast. I did see the city with new eyes. And I can’t wait to get back out there again.

The shot I selected above? Taken in two seconds with my iPhone on my way to Trader Joe’s. Hey, you never know.

WEEK 2: Complementary Colors


Chinatown in San Francisco is always a kaleidoscope of sensory stimuli, swimming with sounds both raucous and serene, smells both enticing and off-putting, and always exploding with color–lots and lots of color.

I quickly snapped this photo with my iPhone while scurrying off to my Italian class in North Beach. I always love taking photos of people but usually get a little nervous doing so. My sister Erin and I were talking about this during her visit out here this past June, and she told me about a sneaky trick that I haven’t used yet. Here it is:

Taking a Sneaky Portrait Shot

You pretend to take a photo of something above your subject (the person or people). And then you pull the camera down as if you’re looking at what you just shot. But! This is when you are actually taking the photo. I will try it out and report back from the field.

Bonus Photos


Runner-Up: I liked that the woman in the red shirt was so close-up, but there was something about the photo I selected above that I found more appealing. I think the fact that there is just one woman surrounded by a bounty of colorful fruit.


A second opinion: I didn’t like how the man was cut off in this photo, but Brett (who is a very good photographer and actually knows what he’s doing) said this one was his favorite. But selecting and editing the photos is just as important as taking the photos when it comes to photography. Even though I preferred the other photos, hearing that someone else loves this one makes me see it differently, and can help push my photography by being more open to trying out new compositions.

WEEK 1: A Worm’s View

DSC_0670Just when you think you’re going to get all fancy and get a luxurious cream-colored faux-sheepskin throw, your black cat decides that, yes, this is where I’m going to sleep. Every day. And to make matters worse, we have two black cats, and the other, Frankie, is just as fond of this creamy white, oh-so-perfect sleeping spot. The good thing is that the combination of their sleek black fur against the cream looks pretty great.

Bonus photo:



A serendipitous discovery

Seems like everyone is de-cluttering these days. Or perhaps more specifically, discovering the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. So, the other week I ventured into the coat closet, a super tiny space with a rack that protrudes directly out from the back wall rather than laying horizontally like every other coat rack I have ever seen. Ever. (I mean, really.) But while this coat rack is small and unusual (literally “off the wall”), it still holds a lot of stuff. Like tons. Winter coats that my husband and I still hold on to despite the fact that we live in San Francisco and it rarely dips lower than 45 degrees. Rain jackets that we sadly haven’t used in an eternity (thanks, drought!). And then of course the coats that seemed really sweet at the thrift store, but in reality make us look like we stepped out of a vintage ad for Kool cigarettes. Circa 1984.

So anyway, I’m pulling coats off of this rack, digging in deeper and deeper until I grab hold of something that is not a coat. Is it some kind of strap? But a strap to what? I reach in further, trying to figure out what mysterious thing could be at the end of this strap and…OH. MY. GOD. Could it be?? Is it really…?? Yes. Yes, it really is the SLR camera that Brett and I thought we left in a Zip Car TWO YEARS AGO after Thanksgiving at his mom’s house. TWO YEARS. Which in reality is two years of each of us secretly thinking that the other carelessly left the camera in the Zip Car. Two years of us silently, stealthily, and ever so smugly thinking that the other was to blame. (Or is that just me?) But no matter. That is all in the past. Because now we have our SLR camera back. Just in time for the photo challenge.

Is tidying up “life-changing”? I don’t know,  but I can now attest to the fact that, yes, tidying up can be magical! Because that’s the right word to describe uncovering buried treasure in two years of clutter, right?