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Photography Travel

Infrascapes: Havana Cuba

Earlier this month, I traveled with my husband from our home here in Mexico to his fatherland – Cuba.  It was the first time he had been to the country where his father was born and raised. The plan was to have this trip be a way of discovering the spirit of Cuba by spending a week in Havana. We spent time with a local guide/photographer and visited various classic locations in Havana and strolled along the streets where his father likely spent time as well.  My husband really enjoyed discovering “his people” and we’ve already talked about returning to Cuba again.

I brought my color infrared camera with me and took a series of images while we were in Havana.

For more images, check out my Steller story:

For more images, check out my Steller story:

Photography Travel

Infrascapes: Keukenhof Gardens

This past Spring, I traveled to the Netherlands for the first time with my daughter. We happened to be there right in the middle of tulip season, so it was imperative that we pay a visit to the famous Keukenhof Gardens. The gardens were not far from Amsterdam and even closer to where we stayed in Haarlem. We bought tickets for the gardens at the tourist center in Haarlem. Our tickets included a bus ride that let you off a few blocks away. Keukenhof is massive and there were a ton of people spread out over the large gardens. This place is a flower-lovers dream! Thousands of varieties of tulips and many other flower varieties are arranged along various pathways dotted with buildings that contained more flowers plus cafes and gift shops. There were bike rentals (of course!) just outside the garden entrance so you can cycle around the tulip fields in the area.

I took an incredible amount of color photographs while I was there but also had my infrared camera with me. Here’s a few of my color infrared photographs that I shot during that visit:

 
For more images, check out my Steller story:

For more images, check out my Steller story:

Photography Travel

Happy 150th Birthday Canada!

July 1st is Canada Day and this year Canadians are celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.  On July 1st, to honor this special celebration, I spent most of the day gazing through 15 years of photographic archives and selected 150 of my favorite color images shot in Western Canada where I was born and raised.  Oh Canada, my home and native land.  You’re so beautiful!  Here’s my Canada 150 in a slideshow:

Canada 150 – Happy Birthday to my home and native land! from Carol Watson on Vimeo.

Photography Travel

Infrared Photographs: Faves from 2016

I traveled a fair amount again this year and my infrared converted Nikon D300 comes with me. I thought I’d finish up 2016 with my favorite infrared images from my travels throughout this year.

Zion National Park (left), Barcelona, Spain (right)

Santa Maddalena Val di Funes, Italy

Lago di Carezza, Italy (left), Passo Gaiu, Italy (right)

Passo Sella, Italy

Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain

Barcelona (left), Mineral de Pozos, Mexico (right)

Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

Near Cortona, Tuscany, Italy

Passo Giau, Dolomites, Italy

Michoacan, Mexico

Michoacan, Mexico

Check out more of my images by viewing my story on Steller:

Photography Travel

The Italian Dolomites in Infrared

Photographing landscapes in digital infrared can yield some interesting and surreal results. I brought my coverted Nikon IR camera with me to Italy. Check out my digital infrared images of the Italian Dolomites by viewing my story on Steller:


Photography Travel

Australia: The Ruthven Kelpies

I admit it, I have a fondness for herding dogs.  I grew up with Border Collies.  My husband and I had a Border Collie with us in Texas for 15 years. When I flew across the Pacific to Australia to visit my sister Judy, I had the opportunity to spend time with their five black and tan Kelpies. It was impressive to watch my brother-in-law, Bruce, work with them on their little hobby farm. Time with the Kelpies was a part of his daily routine (he’s also an accountant). You could tell that working with these dogs was his true passion. These Kelpies are gorgeous dogs and were so attentive to Bruce’s mustering commands.

It was great fun to get to know each of their personalities.  Tia, the only female (mother to the 3 younger kelpies) is very sweet, but likes to terrorize the chooks (chickens). Max loves to hide and sneak out from behind the trees on the property. Two of the brothers enjoy taunting Charlie until he suddenly runs off at high-speed. His two brothers chase him until he stops — and the taunting and subsequent chase begins again.

I spent a morning with Bruce photographing the dogs during their exercise time as Bruce played fetch with them. Here they are, the Ruthven Kelpies in all their wonderful, playful, hard-working glory.

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Photography Travel

Borgo di Vagli – Our Medieval Casa in Tuscany

Late last year, we became fractional owners of a Tuscan medieval hamlet in the forest not far from Cortona, Italy. Here’s the story on why and how we invested in Borgo di Vagli.

My first visit to Tuscany, Italy was in early March of 2008.  I was in Hungary on a business trip, and decided to take a long weekend and hop over to Tuscany to scope it out as a possible return destination with my husband. I booked a tour with Tania von Barkenhagen, who runs a small custom tour company that specializes in wine tours of the area.  Since she is also an avid photographer, I thought we’d be a great duo running around the countryside, trying to capture as much beauty as we could in a few short days. Tania’s tour was the beginning of my love affair with Cortona and Tuscany.

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I came back in the Fall, this time with my husband, Chuck, so he could experience Tuscany and fall in love with it too. We stayed in Tania and Keith’s vacation rental near Cortona and went on various day trips to the small hill towns in the Val di Chiana. We tasted lots of terrific wine and wonderful cheeses, ate fresh pasta and Chuck savored the wonderful varieties of sausage and salumi. After this trip Chuck, despite his dislike of long flights, decided that he’d like to come back to Tuscany and discover more of what this area is about.

During two more trips we were able to attend festa celebrations with Tania and Keith, took a cooking class (from Alessandra – highly recommended!), attended wine dinners in Cortona (amazing!) and visited Assisi, Buenconvento, Creti, Firenze, Pienza and San Quirico. Chuck was also able to fulfill a fly fishing dream and went fly fishing on the Nera River in Umbria. And, of course, I photographed the area to my heart’s content.

We added Tuscany as a possible retirement destination along with Central Mexico since they both had the things we wanted — a relaxed pace, a sense of community that is centered around piazzas and jardins, access to fresh food grown locally, friendly people, a sense of culture and history, and beautiful landscapes and architecture for me to photograph.  In the summer of 2013, after my 25 years as an Information Technology manager, and after Chuck’s 30 years as a librarian at a university, we retired to our casa in Mineral de Pozos in Central Mexico (not far from San Miguel de Allende). The choice was based on proximity to our families for visits. But, Tuscany was never far from our minds.

Last year, I read a post online from Alessandra about her visit to a “paradise on earth” not far from Cortona called Borgo di Vagli, a restored hamlet that you can invest in as a fractional owner (along with other people from all over the world).  I asked her more information about it and she put me in touch with Lee Cogher. After reading about Borgo di Vagli and visiting their website, I approached my husband about the possibility of investing in Borgo di Vagli as a vacation home. We contacted Lee and arranged a “Discovery Visit” in September. We flew across the ocean, drove up the steep and curvy road deep in the Tuscan forest to the Borgo. We stayed at the Borgo for a week in a beautiful and rustic stone house with an amazing view of Pierle Castle in the valley below. The pergola outside the front door was covered in grape vines and we were able to reach up and pluck the sweet juicy grapes to enjoy with our breakfast. It was so peaceful, the views were magnificent and the air was fresh. Then there was the food, the amazing food. The delicious meals were prepared fresh by Dina at the trattoria right at the hamlet. What a great way to win over two foodies!  By the time we had been there for 4 days, we decided that we were going to buy a 15% fraction of Borgo di Vagli. The actual sales process was very simple and we were able to do it remotely. So, now we have a vacation home in Tuscany that is cared for by a terrific staff, both when we’re there and when we’re back home in Mexico. We plan to share the Borgo with our family and friends and will return at least twice a year.

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We feel very fortunate to be truly “living the dream” — we live in a casa in a former ghost town in Central Mexico and now have a vacation casa in a restored medieval hamlet in Tuscany!

 

 

Photography Travel

Las Fallas: The Sights and Sounds at Night

The Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain is filled with activity all day and is especially colorful, loud and bright at night. Every neighborhood comes alive with street parties, music, processions, loud firecrackers and crowds milling around the fallas monuments while eating buñelos or churros dunked in hot chocolate. The atmosphere at night was very festive!  Here’s some night shots I took during the 2016 Las Fallas festival in March.

The fallas monuments are lit up and take on a new mood after dark.

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The beautiful “Illuminations” shine brilliantly and light shows are choreographed to music. These huge lighting structures take up an entire city block and are several stories tall. So beautiful!!

illuminations

illuminations 02

The massive fireworks display during Nit de Foc is well worth staying up until 1:00am to watch among the massive crowd near the Alameda.

nit de foc 01 nit de foc 02The grand finale, on March 19th, is the night of La Crema, when more than 700 fallas monuments scattered throughout Valencia are set ablaze surrounded by millions of spectators. There are a large number of firefighters carefully watching these massive structures burn and shoot flames high into the air, readily spraying water on them to make sure the fires stay under control and don’t damage nearby buildings. It was spectacular!

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Here’s a few videos of La Crema taken by people who had a much better vantage point to film than I did:

Falla Convento (the one on the corner of the street where we stayed):

The Main Falla in Plaza del Ayuntamiento:

Falla L’Antiga de Campanar: