Camino Day 4: I walk slowly but I never walk backward.

Quote by Abraham Lincoln
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I literally crawl out of bed since my leg muscles are protesting the previous day’s events.  Steps are especially painful, but coffee gives me the incentive to go down the two flights of stairs to breakfast. We devour a filling breakfast of tostados, fresh squeezed orange juice, cafe Americano for me and a cafe con leche (with milk)  for Randy .

A 73 year old mother from Germany and her 2 daughters, who are also walking the Camino, were our breakfast companions this morning.  We share Camino experiences with each other since we feel so experienced having 3 full days under our belts.  We could have visited longer, but the day is not going to wait for us and the rest of the gang has left without us (Even Kathy with the bum knee is speedier than me!).  We strap on the backpacks and step outside.  Overcast but not raining.  O.K., …so far so good.

Spain-1030598dmvWe dodge puddles as we stroll down the quiet, Sunday morning streets of Cacabelos, Spain. The legs feel stiff and sore but seem to work just fine.

Spain-1030594dmvYour guess is as good as mine as to the meaning of this mural we see along the narrow street.  My guess is the gorilla in the upper left has something to do with evolution, Christ with the crown of thorns is in the lower right, and the soldier on top of the largest human could be Christians dominating the Moors.  What do you think?

Spain-1030596dmvWe remind ourselves to not get so wrapped up in the surroundings that we forget to follow the yellow arrows.  Follow the seashells…follow the yellow arrows.  All are determined to walk today so no taxi is needed.

Spain-1030599dmvThe plan is to meet the rest of the gang in Vega.  Too bad the town doesn’t have an “s” at the end of its name.  I could have had fun with that!

Spain-1030600dmvOn our way out-of-town we pass by a woman mopping and cleaning in front of a church.  It is Sunday so I don’t think anything of it since they probably have mass this morning.

Spain-1030601dmvActually, it’s an albergue.  Locals call Albergue de Peregrinos de la Augustina de Cacabelos  the Old Church, since the albergue was built around the church. Yes, around.  The rooms form a ring around the church, with a courtyard in between.  It has modern facilities including showers.  As nice as the heaters and cozy room were last night, it would be so cool to stay here.  Bonus points for only costing 5 Euro per person.  My socks and boots are dry right now, so I guess that means bonus points for  last night’s lodging, Hostal Gallega.

Spain-1030617dmvThe path turns to dirt and we enter wine country with the wet, muddy path winding through expansive vineyards.

Spain-1030609dmvcrAs I gaze across and ponder this panoramic view, I feel more of a desire to do the Camino de Santiago again someday…in September during grape harvest.

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Oh, no… it’s raining AGAIN!!   AARRGGHH!! 

At least today will be a shorter day than yesterday.  

Really?  Are you sure?  

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It’s Photo Friday ~ Panasonic Lumix FZ 150 Review

My (new to me) travel camera purchased on Ebay was put to the big test the past couple of weeks.   Panasonic Lumix FZ 150 with 24x optical zoom and image stabilization.  I found the controls and features easy and quick to access with dials and buttons right on the camera.  No fumbling deep into the menu to change settings.  I was able to switch between aperture priority, shutter priority and manual quickly and efficiently.  Its compact size made it easy to pack and carry in a fanny pack even with carrying a 16 pound backpack. It handled cold, wet conditions well and the battery was long-lasting even with heavy use. I was able to shoot in raw format and was pleased with the noise level of images at 3200 ISO which is the highest ISO of this camera. Image stabilization worked well as I had sharp images even down to 1/20 of a second, hand held, while zoomed in.   I’d recommend this camera to anyone looking for a good travel camera with professional features.

Eye above the altar in the Santiago Cathedral.

Eye above the altar in the Santiago Cathedral.

Above image shot at 3200 ISO / Aperture 3.8 / Shutter 1/320 of a second.

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The above image of the nun leading singing during the Pigrims’ Mass was shot at 1600 ISO / Aperture 3.5 / Shutter 1/20 of a second.

Birds nesting at the top of a church in Segovia, Spain.

Birds nesting at the top of a church in Segovia, Spain.

Birds nesting in the above image really tested the zoom and image stabilization.  I was fully zoomed to the 24x .  Shot at 200 ISO / Aperture 6.3 / Shutter 1/1600 of a second.

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Completed 130 miles of the Camino de Santiago (135 if you count detours!) and this image was taken at the end of our walking/hiking experience. March is a cold, rainy month to attempt the Camino but that was the time that worked out with our occupations. Wonderful experience since we were able to meet people from all around the world tackling this amazing journey in a parallel realm.  A huge thank you goes out to my sister, the travel organizer extraordinaire.

It’s Photo Friday ~ A girl remembers Grandma’s place.

Photography is more than just documenting a time in one’s life.  It also captures the emotion of the subject and its background.

This young lady is a senior in high school and chose her grandmother’s childhood home as a location for some of her senior portraits.  The old farmyard is now beyond repair but still holds memories.  I’m sure we can all think of a time and place in our lives that we would like to go back and revisit.

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Grandma’s Place

Two images blended together. All available light

Background ~ 2.8 aperture ~  1/200 shutter  ~ ISO 400

Girl blended ~ 2.8 aperture ~ 1/1000 shutter ~ ISO 100

When past and present collide…

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The above image is a blend of images taken before renovation of the former South Dakota School for the Blind located in Gary, South Dakota and a wedding dance scene in the same room upon completion. Buffalo Ridge Resort has done an amazing job restoring the facility for modern purposes while maintaining the historic architecture and  feel of the former campus.  It is now used for wedding receptions/dances, conferences, family reunions, retreats, etc. and has lodging on site in the form of hotel rooms and camping.  The Rock Room Bar & Grill, located on site, is a unique dining experience with occasional local entertainment. In the summer the entertainment moves outside to the patio for a low-key, summer fun experience.  For more information about Buffalo Ridge Resort you can check out their website:  http://buffaloridgeresort.com

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

After the Storm

After the Storm

A little over seven years ago the eastern South Dakota/western Minnesota region experienced an ice storm of epic proportions. Heavy rain started in the morning and quickly turned to ice with rapidly falling temperatures. Power went out, schools and activities cancelled as our busy lives screeched to a halt. After the precipitation finally moved on the world appeared to be a combination of a fairy wonderland and armageddon. Powerlines and trees heaved and fell under the weight of the heavy ice which meant extended power outages for many.

I’m always amazed at what this old, gnarly tree can endure and, to this day, the tree still stands. (Click on the image for a larger view)

It’s Photo Friday and Red Riding Hood is Sad.

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ISO 160 / F 3.5 / 1/400

Combination of two main images plus treeline layers added and blended while the subject was flipped horizontally for more a pleasing composition. Creek was removed as I found it distracting ~  I wanted the emotion of the subject to be the main focus. Color was desaturated enough to give a vintage tone, wanted the dress color to tie in with the trees and a slight warming filter was added. Falling snow was added in layers with a motion blur added to the final top snow layer. Eraser tool removed any distracting snow on face.

My dilemma was whether to remove any snow in front of the face to emphasize her expression or leave some to appear more realistic. Hmmm…

I would love to give this a painted look.  Any suggestions?

Hidden Treasures in Southwestern Minnesota

Our eyes were opened due to the talents that spring up from our prairie roots at the Southwest Minnesota Arts & Humanities Council 2012 Celebration at Milan, Minnesota on October 28, 2012. The community welcomed us with open arms as we toured their city, shops and art studios within the main street and the two former school buildings which are now used to provide art opportunities and studio space for local artists.  I was amazed at the diverse talent that prevails in this little prairie village.  Pottery, weaving, fiber arts, silversmithing, blacksmithing, photography, mixed media, framing and painting which also includes rosemal, a decorative Norwegian painting style (I apologize if I’ve left an art form out.) may be found within this quaint community.  Milan Village Arts School is a tremendous asset to their community and surrounding areas.

We found the museum on main street especially interesting as it is the passion of one man for his community. The old photographs with their unique frames of depth with inside lighting added a unique twist for the viewer. Walk through a doorway from the museum and you will find a quaint little shop called Billy Maple Tree  that sells items made by local artists as well as handmade items from around the world through the  SERRV project.  SERRV is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

Outside the building we found the ArtOrg 2012 project which involved learning about the printmaking process using a steamroller method. The images below are from this “hands on” experience.  We can’t turn down an opportunity to learn by doing!

The final result – Tah – Dah!!!

Throughout the afternoon and evening we were were able to listen to local area musicians and take folk dancing lessons thanks to Tamarack Dance from Duluth, MN. A special performance by visual artist and musician,  Malena Handeen, who was presented the Prairie Star Award at the evening banquet was icing on the cake, so to speak.  Who would have thought an accordian could be so cool with a blend of gutsy blues, hip hop(?), ballads and folk. I’ve just added attending a Maleena Handeen concert to my bucket list and I’m putting a Malena Handeen album purchase on my Christmas Wish List.

A big “thank you”  to Milan Village Arts School, Milan, MN and the Southwest Minnesota Arts & Humanities Council for a wonderful Sunday.  Kudos to all of you!